I am happy to share that today I’ve got another Book Roulette post and this time I get to help promote an exciting new Urban Fantasy/ Paranormal Romance trilogy. Paula Millhouse’s latest novel, INITIATION, kicks off the series with a fierce heroine and a best friend who may be more than he seems. Keep reading to find out more plus read the first chapter and enter a fun giveaway!
Hunters’ Watch Brigade: Initiation by Paula Millhouse (2018)
NA Fiction | Urban Fantasy | Paranormal Romance
Publisher: ImaJinn Books
Publication Date: March 09, 2018
It’s never just another day at the office . . .
Demigod Samantha Silverton, a full-time monster hunter in the Hunters’ Watch Brigade, is on a mission with her familiar, Max, to hunt down a scorned mermaid when she finds out she has bigger fish to fry. Her mother—a powerful witch—has been abducted. And the most likely villain is her mother’s enemy, Francesca Rosencratz.
Being a familiar to a sexy monster hunter has its perks, but Max wants more. He might look like a cat, but he’s also Sam’s best friend . . . and the man who loves her. But in order to defeat Francesca, he’ll have to shift into his human form, something he’s avoided. Because once he’s officially a shifter, he’ll have to join the Brigade. And that could take him away from Sam for good.
But Francesca’s becoming increasingly dangerous. She and a mysterious ally are working to take down the Brigade, and take over the paranormal community. Sam will have to dig deep if she’s going to save her mom. But Max will have to risk even more . . . to save Sam.
When supernatural creatures go rogue, who are you going to call?
The Hunters’ Watch Brigade!
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Hunters’ Watch Brigade: Initiation by Paula Millhouse
“JUST MY DAMN LUCK!” I pointed into the blue-green waves of the Gulf of Mexico, held on tight to the side of the Fish & Get-’Em, and peered into the crystal clear water for my prey. A deep-sea fishing rod whirred right next to me, and yards of translucent fishing line screamed out behind the charter boat, arching the rod tip over until it disappeared into the ocean. “I think we foul-hooked the mermaid!”
Hunting mermaids is not for the faint of heart. I flung off my Aviator Ray Bans, and peered over the side of the sixty-foot charter boat, searching the churning turquoise waves for my catch. She darted off behind the boat. Looked like I was gonna have to go in after her. I wasn’t about to let her get away.
This was a different way to spend a day in always-sunny Key West. Hey, at least I wasn’t dodging drunken crowds of tourists down on Duvall Street. Five miles off the coast of the Southernmost Point in the middle of the ocean was definitely more my speed.
One glance back at the captain’s face revealed a grim expression, his weathered old face pinched tight, his eyes wide. He wasn’t the first old salt on Charter Boat Row out of Garrison Bight Marina who’d lost a boat to the mad mermaid in the past three months. We’d barely convinced him to help us go out this far and fish for the creature—and that had taken a lot of cash.
My bare feet slipped and slid across the white fiberglass floorboard when the stern of the mighty Fish & Get ’Em groaned, and dipped dangerously close to the water’s edge.
“That little bitch. Watch out, Max! She’s got the anchor line, and she’s coming around for the kill.”
Rumor had it this particular muse from the deep, whose name was Moriah, had it in for the sailors of Key West, but no one knew why. I didn’t really care. I’d volunteered for the assignment when the Hunters’ Watch Brigade posted it on the mission board.
Legend has it my boss, Shade Vermillion, organized the Hunters’ Watch Brigade after some asshole turned him from a human into a vampire against his will about two hundred years ago. We’re a tight-knit group of paranormal peacekeepers who protect humans from things that go bump in the night.
My official badge reads Samantha Silverton, Water Elements Specialist, Lieutenant Hunter. I’ve worked on the team of supernaturals who police activities of other supernaturals for ten years now.
Okay, so I’m a monster-hunter.
Our mission statement is simple. When creatures like vampires, werewolves, or even innocent-looking fairies go rogue and endanger human lives, we show up and stop them.
I don’t get involved in the whys of my missions. I just get the job done.
My job here today was to round up the frisky mermaid, then turn her over to my superiors at the Hunters’ Watch Brigade, or the HWB as I called it, for questioning and possible reform. To do that, I’d brought along my trusty sidekick, Max. I turned and yelled at him over the chaos of the lurching, and soon-to-be listing, charter. “Cut her loose before she sinks the damn boat!”
Max, my thirty-five pound, black-tabby Maine Coon cat had skills. He leapt up, extended razor-sharp claws, and slashed the fishing line. The rod sprung free. Max bounded up to the back of the fish-fighting chair, and yelled, “Cut that anchor loose, Captain Tom. Now! If you don’t, we’re all going down to meet Poseidon.”
Captain Tom’s expression fell, and his jaw went slack. Yeah, poor guy. It was hard for humans to comprehend a talking cat. To his credit, he moved into action and obeyed the cat’s commands. The back of the boat lurched free from the threat of the deep.
I stalked to the stern, and pointed my index finger at Max. “You stay here, understand me? Keep the captain safe, and do not follow me into the water. Our guys from the HWB should be here any minute to collect the mermaid.”
He flipped me a black-striped paw. “You get to do all the cool stuff while I wait for the cleaners. That’s just great, Sam.”
I tossed him a half-smile. Max had always fancied himself a monster-hunter too. But even with his awesome skills, cats had limits.
I leapt up onto the wide side rail of the Fish & Get ’Em, double-checked the ties on my pink string bikini, then dove down into the cool, blue water.
The sea is my home, and, as soon as the salt water covered my sunburned skin, things felt right. As a halfling daughter of Poseidon, it took only seconds to adjust my inner sensory gills. The sensation of breathing underwater was liberating, like a cool breeze on my face on a sunny afternoon. I looked around for my catch, balancing on a bank of fire-red coral rock just fifteen feet under the drifting boat.
I grinned. This capture was sure to make Shade and his fellow commanders sit up and take notice.
Max wasn’t the only one with skills. With ninety-nine successful missions behind me, my intention was to be the best damn monster-hunter in the Hunters’ Watch Brigade.
“Freaking mermaids . . .” My words were clear and pure underwater, but if any humans had been near, they would have only heard a distortion, a fracture of my voice. The stories I’d read in human literature spoke of mermaids as denizens of the deep who lured sailors to their deaths. Those tales were, in truth, based on fact.
Moriah the mermaid was the latest uber-bitch of the deep, and I wondered if her story would change the history books. My father always warned me to steer clear of the mermaids, and mermen were strictly off-limits.
I tapped the raised line of a seven-inch scar with three distinct barbs on my left wrist twice. My scar looks kinda like a cool tattoo to any curious human eyes, and it mimics what lies beneath. My trident, Atlantis, sprang forth from the scar and materialized before me.
Seven-foot long, with three crystal tines, Atlantis felt secure in my hands. The ice-blue sparkling staff was both my weapon and a gift from my father for my twelfth birthday. He’d insisted I take it for protection if I chose to remain on Earth with my human mother, so I’d complied. Besides, how could I turn down a super-cool weapon that had bling, and magic?
I gripped the crystal staff diagonally, with both hands in front of me, then aimed the three tines out to show I meant business. Spotting the fish-tailed floozie, I stalked over the red coral toward the floundering mermaid.
The top of her body was human-like, her generous boobs uncovered, with perky nipples that jutted skyward. That topless slut. And, just like in the movies, her bottom half was scaled and fishy. Her green tail looked powerful, its fin the biggest part of her. The fishing line from Captain Tom’s charter boat was tangled around her emerald-scaled hips. She struggled to free herself, and plucked the fishing hook out of her side.
“Looks like I foul-hooked you,” I said.
She turned and glowered at me, her blond hair floating around her like an angel’s halo. “How dare you interfere?”
I jabbed my index finger upward, motioning to Captain Tom’s boat. “I dare because these men have done nothing to deserve your anger. I’m here to take you in for questioning, to make sure you leave these innocent humans alone.”
Planting her fists on her green hips, she said, “Just who the hell do you think you are?” She eyed Atlantis with suspicion.
I beamed. I’d never met a monster who hadn’t given my weapon the respect it deserved.
“You’ve got two choices, Moriah. You can come with me, surrender to the Hunters’ Watch Brigade and take your chances on rehabilitation with them, or we can conclude this conversation with my father, Poseidon.”
The mermaid flinched, and swam backward. “How do you know my name?” Her face was awash in terror and surprise, her eyes as wide as sand dollars. “You’re no daughter to Poseidon. You’re half-human.”
“My dad and his brothers get around. What can I say?” I shrugged. My father’s reputation was well-known around the seven seas. I didn’t have to justify his behavior.
I jabbed Atlantis toward her. She jerked back like a fish on the line, but I pursued her. “You violated the supernatural code Moriah—you’ve injured humans. You’ve sunk four charter boats in the last month.”
“What business is that of yours?” Her words were haughty. Most monsters had the same reaction when they found out the HWB tolerated zero interference with humankind. Hey, I didn’t make the rules. I just enforced them.
I’d joined the Hunters’ Watch Brigade when I turned twelve years old. My mom signed me up under Shade’s protection when it became apparent that my demigod heritage made me stick out in a crowd. And honestly, working for Shade is the only thing I’ve ever wanted to do. I get to travel to exciting locales, use super-cool weapons, and stop supernatural bullies from picking on unsuspecting humans.
“Call it a public service of sorts. I volunteered for this assignment, and we don’t take kindly to supernaturals misbehaving.”
“You’ll never stop me, halfling. You don’t have the guts.”
Okay. Now she was pissing me off.
“Yes. I will. We’ve been tracking you, collecting data on your shenanigans up and down the Florida Keys.” I flourished my hand through the water. “Some of the humans wised up. They reported your activities. Sure, the sailors were stinking-assed drunk because you scared them witless, but you know as well as I do that humans can’t know about us. By that breach, you put a target on your back.”
“You could not possibly understand my pain.” Moriah frowned, and for a minute I thought she might cry. In another context, I would have found her beautiful, ethereal, like a siren of the deep. But when the mermaid turned to hurting people—whatever her reasons—it wasn’t pretty at all.
“So, what happened to you? Let me guess. It’s a tale as old as time, right?” I glanced at my nails and almost yawned. “You fell in love with a man, and he did you wrong?” It was the same old story . . . and the reason I maintained my rule of not getting mixed up with human men.
“He told me he’d come with me,” she said, and lowered her head, her beautiful expression almost broken. Could mermaids cry? Underwater? Her story was really tugging at the heartstrings. I could almost hear violins as she went on, “He told me he loved me.”
I firmed my lips. “So, one jerk of a sailor rejected you, and now you’re taking your grief out on all these innocent men? By sinking their boats? How is that right?”
“They’re all in it together,” she cried, her sweet frown morphing into a mangled grimace. Seriously, if I hadn’t seen all sorts of freakish monsters in my time with the HWB, I might have been terrified. “All men leave. None of them can be trusted,” she said.
So, she’d figured out the truth about life, and love. I nodded my agreement, totally empathizing with her fishy story. One thing was for sure, Moriah was one pissed-off mermaid. “Totally sucks that happened to you, girl, but I won’t allow this to continue.”
She fisted her hands on her curvy green scaly hips again. “And just what do you think you can do to stop me?” She tossed her blond head back, her voice echoing through the water.
Yes, I felt bad for her. But trust her, no. Not even close.
“I can do this,” I said, and aimed Atlantis at the angry mermaid. A bolt of electrical energy snaked out from the three tines. The charge blasted her back against the white sandy bottom. She landed with an audible oomph, totally incapacitated. The blast from my trident fried the remaining threads of monofilament fishing line tangled around her.
I grinned. You’d think a weapon from Poseidon would just move water around, but no, sometimes Atlantis surprised me with these freaky bolts of lightning. Totally cool, it was like the weapon knew what I needed before I did.
I ran across the coral reef, stopping before the mermaid. A rather large flounder startled away from my bare feet, and swam off to safety. I held my crystal fish fork up, ready to lance her about the throat. “I’m taking you in so you can explain yourself to my supervisors.”
The high keening sound of a speedboat’s motor cut through the silence of the clear seawater. I looked up toward the charter boat. Good. My backup is approaching. Once they arrived, we’d haul the fishy bitch up to the surface so the soldiers I work with could take her in. I just hoped they had some reliable way to contain her. All in a good day’s work, though. I practically beamed, thinking of how pleased Shade would with be with my catch of the day.
I’d worked hard to make my way through the ranks to become a Lieutenant Hunter for the organization. Was I a little competitive? Well, yes, but in my line of work, that was an asset. I liked it when my boss was happy with me. It meant more missions, more money, and more advancement. Bagging the mermaid had been way easier than I’d counted on.
“I’m not leaving until they all pay, halfling!” Moriah’s voice boomed through the water, popping my ears like a sonic boom. Oh, shit. I whipped around to the sound of her voice. I’d forgotten lesson number one—never take your eyes off a furious mermaid.
She was fast, I’d give her that. In one fishlike dart, Moriah was on me. She swung her mighty finned tail around, and pounded me in the legs.
She caught me off guard with my preemptory victory dance. The force of her tail fin dislodged Atlantis from my grip. The trident flew from my hands and landed on the bottom twenty feet away. I landed on my back, stunned, the water knocked out of my gills. Sand billowed up all around me, obscuring my vision, and my chest burned like the fires of Hades. Oh, hell no, she did not nail me with that slimy green tail. . . .
Sitting up, I blinked sand out of my eyes. I waved my arms up to clear the cloudy water obscuring my view.
I heard a splash, and looked up. Max had jumped into the water, and was swimming toward the mermaid, fury lighting up his blue-green eyes. His black-striped fur was plastered against his hide. Why the hell was he in the water?
And then I saw the reason. Max had disobeyed my direct order to stay on the boat because he was coming to protect me. He swam toward the lady fish with iron-sharp claws extended.
Moriah ignored Max, and dove for Atlantis.
I shook my head no. She was going to pick it up, and use my own weapon against me. I blanched, then screamed, “No, Moriah! Don’t. Touch. Atlantis!”
But my warning came too late.
Max didn’t have time to intervene, though I was impressed that he’d tried. He had this insufferable thing about protecting me, and while I loved him for it, sometimes he tried my patience. I darted up from the sand, caught Mr. Super Kitty in my arms, and sheltered him from the impending explosion.
When the blond green-scaled denizen touched my trident, a surge of blue-white magic blew through the water, and blasted Moriah into a million tiny little fishy bits.
The explosion was remarkable, and the shock wave blew us back through the water. Damn. . . .
It generated a blast that would hammer the shores of the Gulf and the Atlantic with waves all the way up to the coast of Miami. Captain Tom’s boat lurched above us, but stayed afloat. I bit my bottom lip. Oh, boy, my dad was sure to hear about this mishap, and then there’d be hell to pay. Well, at least the surfers on the coast of Florida would see some action today.
I curled my fingers, calling Atlantis home. When my trident bolted toward me, I gripped the staff firmly.
The only issue now was, Moriah’s accidental death meant my vampire handler Shade wouldn’t have anyone to question. He was a furious taskmaster. As founding leader and co-commander of the HWB, Shade made every monster hunt his business. Unlike me, he prided himself on understanding the reasons behind bad supernatural behavior. Sometimes I wondered if he wasn’t a little obsessive-compulsive about conspiracy theories. Crap. He was gonna be mad as hell. He liked to interrogate bad supernaturals, and he hated it when I killed them.
I snagged what was left of the Mayhem Mermaid, one lone green tail fin, and ascended toward the surface with Max in my arms.
A second later, we bobbed our heads above the waves.
Max held on to me tight, gasping for air, his sharp claws caught in the top of my pink bikini. With a furious kick of my long legs, I leapt out of the ocean onto the deck of the sleek black HWB speedboat.
Paula Millhouse was born and raised in Savannah, Georgia, where Spanish moss whispers tales in breezes from the Atlantic Ocean to her soul. As a child, she soaked in the sunshine and heritage of cobblestones, pirate lore, and stories steeped in savory mysteries of the South.
She lives in the mountains now, but honors her Southern heritage as a story teller by sharing high-heat adventures with her readers. Escape your daily routine with books where justice does exist, true love is worth fighting for, and happily ever afters are expected.
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