An anthology of short fiction featuring the finalist selections from the 2021 Saints+Sinners Literary Festival.
By Lee Lynch
MJ Beaudry, an angry, brilliant, abused runaway, is dumped in Rainbow Gap, Florida, and almost immediately discovers an aptitude for crime. The lesbian cop who catches her expects good-hearted lovers Jaudon Vicker and Berry Garland to save the kid. Although Jaudon’s business has suffered a killing blow and she’s frantic to make it right, she was once a besieged gay kid herself and reaches out, only to find herself in cahoots with MJ.
Berry is left in the dark, her own big dream on hold, and fears losing her love as Jaudon is swallowed by work and guilt. Berry, salt-of-the-earth Gran, besotted-with-MJ Vonnie Lowe, Allison the social justice warrior, and scofflaws Shady and Tad all stand behind Jaudon, but are they enough?
Or will it take this next generation of lesbians—MJ and Vonnie—to lead the way?
When Dovana was a child in Lithuania, Roze saved her life. Roze is a Laume, a type of Lithuanian fae. The two became fast friends, staying in touch by leaving a letter and a present for the other every year.
Now, Dovana is in college in Toronto, and while those letters still mean the world to her, she wants to see Roze again. She investigates everything she can think of to learn more about the fae and stumbles upon a hidden society of fiends.
Meanwhile, Roze has been focusing on her duties of saving children in danger, while trying to prevent the fate that she knows Dovana is destined for, but nothing she does seems to change it. When she has to come to Toronto to save Dovana from her own investigation, she finds that she can’t avoid destiny…or love any longer.
Lieutenant-Colonel Greyson Walsden returns to her hometown of Gloucester after a fulfilling career as an Army doctor. She takes a position as a general practitioner while pursuing ordination as an Anglican priest. Overworked and naturally reserved, she doesn’t have time or patience for socializing, let alone for falling in love.
For Angela Arlingham, life as she knows it is over. God played a cruel trick on her by robbing her of her daughter, Sybil, and Angela refuses to believe in Him any longer. When she meets Greyson Walsden, she’s impressed by the handsome doctor, but struggling with her loss makes falling in love with a priest all but impossible.
As circumstances throw them together again and again, the choice to follow their hearts may be the most difficult one of all.
Natasha Parsons is a ride-along mental health clinician attached to the local police department. She charges into danger without a gun or badge to de-escalate crises. She’s quick on her feet and confident in her opinions. If only she could convince her by-the-book, humorless partner that she’s an asset, not the enemy.
Being a cop is in Tommy Finch’s blood. She comes from a long line of cops and grew up learning how to protect and serve with honor and integrity. Getting saddled with a shrink who’s reckless and brash isn’t something Tommy signed up for. How can she do her job when she’s responsible for the safety of an unarmed civilian?
No matter how often they clash on the job, an undeniable attraction simmers just beneath the surface. Can they find the courage to change so love has room to grow?
By Sam Ledel
The kingdom of Venostes is in upheaval.
Her sister’s cure in hand, Jastyn races home to find her family in chains. The Dark Fae has grown more powerful, and malevolent forces reign. When Jastyn is forced to work alongside the Diarmaids, things become even more complicated.
Aurelia is dragged back to Venostes to confront not only her brother’s killer, but her own parents’ dark past. As evil takes hold of her kingdom, Aurelia fights to destroy the Dark Fae and his masters once and for all.
Together, Jastyn and Aurelia face unimaginable dangers. Can they take back Venostes? Even more, can two people as different as they—a princess and an Odium—be together? Are they destined for one another, as Aurelia hopes? Or, as Jastyn fears, are they simply impossible?
Morgan Thompson likes her life just fine. She has a tight-knit family, two opinionated cats, and her job as office manager for her brother Perry’s medical practice. Perry’s an eligible bachelor, but his divorce left him gun-shy, so Morgan has fun tweaking his responses to potential dates online, using her affinity for words to make him sound impressive. When new pharmaceutical rep Zoe Blake walks into his office, though, he’s smitten, and he needs Morgan more than ever.
Zoe is beautiful and a little mysterious and doesn’t seem terribly interested in Perry. Morgan decides she’ll need to get to know Zoe before she plays matchmaker. But soon, she’s talking books and movies and writing to her as Perry, and the more she knows, the more she wants to know, until she begins to wonder: Is she wooing Zoe for her brother? Or for herself?
By Aurora Rey
Sometimes, a second chance comes when you least expect it.
Kate Cormier thought she’d love Sutton Guidry forever. But when one bad decision ended things, she moved on, building a life for herself and her daughter. These days, she hardly thinks about all those dreams. Until Sutton shows up, acting like she never left and looking more gorgeous than ever.
Sutton has spent a decade avoiding her hometown, memories of first love, and the girl who broke her heart. She’s built a career, but the life that goes with it leaves her uninspired. When her father needs surgery, she decides coming home to help him recover is a chance to face those ghosts once and for all. But with so many pieces of her life still there—including Kate—it’s hard not to imagine trying again. Can she find a way to put them together without falling apart all over again?
By Ali Vali
Levi Montbard loves history and isn’t afraid to search it out no matter where it takes her. A scroll she acquires to sell in Montbard’s Antiquities in New Orleans leads Levi on an adventure that will take her from London to Morocco, by way of the Sahara Desert. A story of a female Templar Knight should sound like a hoax, but to Levi the new information rings true. Proving the scroll accurate becomes an obsession. She’ll stop at nothing to uncover the truth.
Yasmine Hassani spends her days teaching female studies in Marrakech to women who want to leave a mark on their country. An arrogant Westerner storming into her office is highly unexpected and leaves Yasmine laughing off the absurdity of her claims. No one knows more about the history of the Templar Knights than Yasmine, and reluctantly intrigued, she agrees to help Levi.
But their search turns down one dead end after another, almost as if someone is working hard to keep old secrets buried. They’ll have to fight the Catholic Church, centuries of tradition, and their growing attraction for each other to uncover the mystery of the female Templar Knight.
Unexpectedly, loss can teach us how to love.
For Eliza Walsh, life is full of risk. She knows a thing or two about pain, and not just from her job as chief resident at the hospital. She’s reeling from a car accident that took the life of the only woman she’s ever loved, and her parents’ betrayal has strained their relationship to the point of nonexistence.
But Blake Navarro enters the picture and challenges Eliza’s cautious way of living. Blake’s everything she isn’t: open, carefree, and a little reckless. When Eliza discovers that Blake, too, is healing from a huge loss, she feels seen, understood, and less alone.
As Eliza and Blake fall for each other, they heal in ways they never expected. But when Eliza’s troubled past catches up with her, it changes everything, and she has to decide if fully opening her heart is worth the risk.
By Fiona Riley
Lauren Calloway can’t get a date, her newly lovestruck bestie is never around, and she just blew a major deal at her luxury real estate job. So, a one-night stand with an attractive stranger seems like the perfect distraction and the immediate gratification she’s lusting for.
Thea Boudreaux left her family’s dairy farm to escape the painful memories of her father’s tragic death, but when her mother tells her they’re going to lose the farm to debt, Thea is devastated. Can she live with her father’s legacy being torn down for luxury condos? Or can she still save it and honor her father’s memory?
When Lauren’s boss tells her about a lucrative land sale that could help her get back on track, she jumps at the opportunity. Never would she have bet her unforgettable one-night stand would be the person stopping her from making the deal of the century.
By Nance Sparks
Aren Jacobs trusts no one. Reeling from a devastating altercation with her foster family that left her scarred inside and out, she’s suddenly unemployed and all too happy to isolate herself from the world. But when a severe storm threatens her small community, Aren goes out to help and ends up saving Carol Matthews’s life.
Carol doesn’t know who to turn to after the storm leaves her homeless and grief stricken. Taking refuge with the woman who saved her is only one of her bad options, but there’s something about Aren that makes her feel safe despite all the rumors flying around town about what really happened the night Aren returned to visit her foster family.
The last thing Aren expects is to fall for Carol. Sharing her home is one thing, but sharing her heart means sharing the demons in her past and risking everything to keep Carol safe
By Elle Spencer
Whitney Ainsworth has had a very tough year. First up was the very public divorce from an A-list actress, and then the third book in her popular suspense series bombed. She’s got a chronic case of writer’s block and feels like a fraud getting paid to give speeches about achieving success. After a particularly disastrous event, Whitney’s manager suggests a romantic distraction might be in order.
Gabriela Talbot never expected to hear back when she requested an interview with her favorite author—certainly not after the scathing review she’d given Whitney’s latest book. She’s thrilled when the opportunity arises.
What happens next isn’t what either expected, and although passions flare, Whitney is furious when she learns she’s slept with the enemy. Their already rocky road to friendship—or something more—is complicated by a pair of Hollywood handlers who don’t particularly care what’s best for either of them. Will they find their way to love or will insecurities and outsiders prove too much to overcome?
Guided by a vision of her recently deceased mother, Dallas socialite Barbara Allan travels through Cambodia searching for clues about her mother’s enigmatic past. After a busy two-week adventure tour, Barbara intends to rest on a tropical island off the southern coast, but instead contracts a deadly virus that’s swept the country.
Her tour guide, Dara, unemployed because of tourists’ fear of the virus, helps Barbara recover. Determined to uncover her mother’s secrets, Barbara and Dara motorcycle up the east bank of the Mekong River. On their way, they discover an irresistible attraction that only grows stronger as they unravel the mystery of Barbara’s mother’s early life in Cambodia, with the help of the wise, altruistic Chantha.
By Lesley Davis
Landing the lead role in a movie is exactly the break TV actress Cole Calder needs. Her rise to fame has made her the target of an obsessive group of fans who ship Cole with her straight, married costar, turning what used to be her dream job into a nightmare. Thankful for the opportunity to start something new, Cole is more than ready to leave the show, and its troublesome fans, behind.
Eris Whyte has her career path all planned out, and accepting her first movie role opposite Cole Calder is an unmissable opportunity. Eris has no plans to be distracted from the course she’s set for herself, but unfortunately, Cole is gorgeous and very distracting.
Cole and Eris are dedicated to making their movie a success, but one fan won’t accept that Cole has moved on. She’ll stop at nothing to see her favorite characters together again, no matter who she has to hurt in the process.
By Jen Jensen
Jamis is still healing from her last adventure when she’s pulled into another dangerous mystery.
There’s an inherited house in the middle of the Arizona desert and a strange spirit visiting the new owners at nighttime, repeating, “She knows.” There’s a living person creating mayhem. There’s a demon whispering in Jamis’s ear. Behind it all is a woman Jamis only glimpses in shadows.
Somehow, it’s all connected to Jerome, Arizona, where Jamis witnessed a terrifying vision years before. Jamis is about to learn her path wasn’t arbitrary and the truth of her origins as a ghost hunter. But will she and her new relationship withstand the answers she finds?
Zoey Cohen spent a lifetime learning to hide disappointment and loss behind a mask of unshakeable calm and control, even when her longtime friend-with-benefits lover moves on for true love.
Declan Black returns to Philadelphia Medical Center after an accident costs her the life she’d built and her career. She’s resolved to protect herself from ever being vulnerable to past mistakes by rebuilding her life around her new role as an ER attending, and that life does not include love.
Zoey will never accept second place in matters of the heart, even when her rival is a career, and Dec has nothing left to give of herself or her heart. Sometimes change is a force more powerful than will.
By Ronica Black
Nev Wakefield is happy working as a blacksmith on her sprawling ranch, until one fateful evening driving home, her past comes rushing back, literally running her off the road. Kinsley Padovano escapes to a spiritual retreat only to be nearly run down by Nev, a woman she never expected to see again.
Nev and Kinsley share a history of heartbreaking loss. Twenty-five years ago, Nev’s twin and Kinsley’s best friend, Vivian, died in a plane crash, leaving Nev alone with parents too caught in their grief to notice her and spurring Kinsley toward a career as an aviation expert.
Now, Kinsley’s retreat is right next door to Nev’s ranch, and they’re thrust together as undeniable attraction becomes too irresistible to ignore. Can they overcome the pain of their past to turn fate around?