Where There's Smoke by Cari Z. Blog Tour, Excerpt, Review & Giveaway!

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Hi guys, we have Cari Z. stopping by with her newest release Where There’s Smoke, we have a great excerpt, a brilliant giveaway and my review, so enjoy the post of this great book where the villain gets his man and leave a comment (with email address in the comment) <3 ~Pixie~

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Where There’s Smoke

(Panopolis 01)
by

Cari Z.

Panopolis is a rough place to be an average Joe. I came here looking for adventure and excitement, but nobody cares about one more normal guy in a city filled with super-powered heroes. The closest I’ve come to glory is working in a bank that villains often rob.

But then I maybe accidentally-on-purpose helped a villain escape the hero who was trying to save the day. Imagine my shock when, a week later, that villain asked me out for coffee. One date turned into more, and now I’m head over heels in love with Raul.

Falling in love with the guy dubbed the Mad Bombardier isn’t without its downsides, though. I’ve had to deal with near-death encounters with other villains, awkwardly flirtatious heroes who won’t take no for an answer, and a lover I’m not sure I can trust. It’s getting to the point where I know I’ll have to make a choice: side with the heroes, or stand fast by my villain.

Either way, I think my days as a normal guy are over.

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Excerpt

SuperTruther here, guys, bringing you the real McCoy on Heroes, Villains, and the twisted quagmire that is life for us regular Joes in Panopolis. Sometimes you have to wonder what it is that brings the nonnatives to Panopolis, huh? I mean, where else in the world do you have insurers who include “acts of domestic terrorism and/or damage incurred by accidental heroics” in their list of exclusion clauses? And yet we have the highest influx of newcomers on the Eastern seaboard. Every year, more people flock to Panopolis than New York City, looking for . . . well, I can only guess, since I was born here. Looking for opportunity? Danger? Thrills? Chronic hypertension? Trust me, doctors do a real business in antianxiety medication here in the big city.

***

I’m no Hero.

In fact, I’d never even met a Hero, despite living in downtown Panopolis, where there tended to be the most sightings. Before I moved here I thought that Heroes were practically part of the welcoming committee, they showed up in the news so often. Even if you didn’t live in Panopolis, you heard about it. I was addicted to the anonymous reporter SuperTruther’s blog, which was all about Heroes and Villains and Panopolis politics. For me it became a siren call, one that I eventually gave in to. My folks thought I was crazy to move to the City of Heroes, away from safe and boring suburban Kansas, where the only thing people get excited about on a regular basis are college sports and the fall harvest.

But it seemed that Heroes had better things to do than go around shaking hands with out-of-towners. Apart from some distant sightings at the mall or stadium, I was hardly any closer to meeting a Hero living in Panopolis than before my arrival. I shouldn’t have worried, though. Heroes went after Villains, and Villains? Well, they went after money, and it just so happened that I worked at a bank.

At two in the afternoon almost one month after I arrived, during the bank’s slowest traffic time of the day, a sudden fizzing spray of sparks erupted at each of the front doors, fusing them cherry red down the midline. The overhead lights flickered, and I heard the teller next to me frantically pushing his panic button. I should have been doing the same, should also have ducked down behind the counter with the rest of my coworkers like I’d been shown in my first week during our “robbery and mock holdup” seminar. But I was too stiff with fear to move. The customers cowered, and our security guards reached for their guns only to find them stuck in their holsters.

The lights went out completely for a moment, throwing everything into shadow, and when they came back on he was there, standing in the middle of the lobby. He was wearing all black, from the buckles on his boots to the trench coat that hung heavy around him all the way up to the mask covering his face. The only spot of color on him was a red digital readout on his forehead—a long string of blinking numbers I couldn’t make out from where I sat behind the booth.

The Mad Bombardier.

That was the press’s stupid name for him; he’d never bothered to announce one for himself. Most Villains, and all Heroes, gave themselves larger-than-life monikers meant to inspire awe, fear, or both. The Bombardier was different. He was . . . well, subtle wasn’t exactly the right word, not for a Villain, because none of them did subtle very well. He wasn’t much of a grandstander, but he’d pulled off some huge jobs, and that made him interesting enough to not dismiss out of hand. Plus, the name might be dumb but it fit: he was a bomber, and he was definitely more than a little crazy.

He saw me before I could duck. “You.” His voice sounded like an echo of itself somehow, hollow and deep. “Fill this.” He threw a small canvas bag over the counter at me. “You have two minutes.”

He turned to the manager’s desk where our boss, who knew the routine way better than I did, calmly stood up and said, “The vault is this way.” They walked into the back together.

So far, so good. No shots fired, no one had been hurt. Just a few flashy pyrotechnics and a demand for cash—all fine. My hands trembled as I opened my drawer and reached for the money. There wasn’t that much in there, no more than a thousand dollars, but I placed it all into the bag.

“Psst!” one of my coworkers hissed at me from his place on the floor. “Edward! The dye packs!”

I stared at him blankly. “What?”

“Add the dye packs! Look under your drawer!”

Oh, right. We stocked little containers of indelible ink that you could set to go off and drop into a money bag. Perfect for a situation like this. Our bank really did have getting robbed down to an art. I pulled the drawer and fumbled for some of the packets, the small sachets slipping through my clumsy, clutching fingers. I finally grabbed one and put it in the bag, way down at the bottom where he’d be less likely to see it, and punched the button that would set it off in about five minutes. Doing so made me feel strange, almost guilty, but the feelings were quickly buried under the resurgence of fear as the robber appeared again, alone this time, holding a safety-deposit box under one arm.

“The money,” he demanded, thrusting his hand forward. His other hand held a small circular device, his thumb poised above it, just waiting to jab down and . . . and what? What if he’d set a bomb beneath the desk? What if he was going to blow me up the minute I handed him the bag? He was a Villain; that’s what Villains did!

I couldn’t tear my eyes away from the sight of it, a precarious, unknown fate resting in this man’s hand. I didn’t even hear him speak, I was so lost in my own terror. Blood rushed hard through my veins, my hearing turned fuzzy, and my lungs fluttered in my chest like a pair of landed fish, flapping and striving and useless. My vision blurred around the edges, slowly closing in on me like a collapsing tunnel.

A firm but not cruel grip tightened around my upper arm and pulled me out of my panic. As my sight cleared I saw him, closer now, his black goggles reflecting my own startled gaze back at me.

“It’s going to be fine,” he said, still deep and resonant but not as loud as before. “I won’t hurt you. I promise. Just give me the bag.”

I knew I couldn’t trust him, but for some reason his assurances made me feel better. Slowly, I handed the bag over to him. He let go of me to take it, equally slow and controlled. I thought that was the end of it, then the fused front doors broke off their hinges, carried straight through the gaping entrance, and into the lobby by a huge, hulking man. He stopped, but the doors kept going, crashing down flat, sliding right into the tellers’ booths and knocking the Mad Bombardier off his feet. He lost his grip on the device, which flew across the counter at me. I caught it reflexively, then almost forgot I was holding it as the newcomer straightened up.

Freight Train. There were a few exclamations, and a sob of relief here and there. Freight Train was one of Panopolis’s greatest Heroes, an institution in the city for the past five years. He was a former cop, which maybe explained why he tended to respond whenever the city police got involved. He’d been accidentally exposed to an experimental chemical meant to create temporary force fields around living organisms as an emergency quarantine measure. On him, it had turned into a permanent force field, and scientists had barely been able to figure out a way to penetrate it before he died of dehydration. Nothing beyond the field that wasn’t a gas could get in without some very proprietary technology to help. That meant he was immune to bullets, knives, acid—just about everything that could kill him. With enough momentum he could power his way through walls, so the doors . . . definitely not a problem for him.

“I hear there’s a vermin problem in this bank.” Freight Train’s voice rang loud and clear through the ruin of our foyer. “Show yourself, scum! Let’s see if you’ve got what it takes to go up against a Hero!”

I couldn’t see the Mad Bombardier any more, but I heard a pained moan from somewhere in front of me, faint and echoing. The edges of the device I held in my hand bit into my palm, my grip on it was so tight. What I did next, I did without thinking too much about it, an impulse I couldn’t quite control.

My teller booth was the last one in the row, and I slid out of my chair onto the ground and crawled over to the door that led to the main lobby. I opened it, then peeked around the corner at the wreckage, the people, and the Hero himself. Freight Train was still glaring this way and that, his hands on his hips. He hadn’t seen me yet, and it seemed like he hadn’t seen the Mad Bombardier either, who was trying to press up onto one elbow, his black clothes coated in gray plaster dust. The Bombardier’s head lifted, and even though I couldn’t see his eyes, I could still tell when he focused on me.

My hand was trembling so badly I thought I was going to just drop the device, but instead I managed to slide it across the floor in his general direction, praying my poor treatment of it didn’t set anything off. The Villain grabbed it, but the noise attracted Freight Train’s attention.

“Ah, Bombardier,” he sneered, coming forward. “You’re looking done in.” The Mad Bombardier sat up and leaned away from Freight Train as he got closer. “You know, I’ve always wondered about those numbers on your head. What do they mean?” He stepped onto the wreckage of the doors and leaned in with a grin. “A countdown to your capture, maybe? Because if that’s the case, they should already read zer—”

That was when the secondary explosives set on the undersides of the doors were set off. I hadn’t even seen them, but they catapulted the sides of the fused piece of metal up at the edges, squeezing Freight Train like the filling in a taco. He toppled to the ground, wrapped up tight in a metallic embrace. The Bombardier got to his feet, brushed his coat off, then grabbed the bag of money and shoved the safety-deposit box into it. He glanced my way once more before sauntering out the gaping entrance, leaving behind a lot of astonished civilians and an utterly irate Freight Train.

***

I thought that was the end of it, nothing more than my first interaction with the darker, more exciting, and certainly more explosive side of Panopolis. It had been every bit as thrilling as I’d thought it would be, and way more terrifying than I’d dreamed of. My move to Panopolis was meant to be the start of a new beginning for me. I’d find purpose, feel alive. I would do something with myself. As it was, I was mostly just happy to still be alive. I wrote the whole thing off as a close call that, hopefully, wouldn’t repeat itself.

Imagine my surprise when a week later, once the bank was open for business again, I was sent a bouquet of flowers at work. It was pretty simple, one long spray of pink flowers surrounded by a few attendant red-and-black blossoms. Attached was a little envelope. The card inside was matte black, and the writing on it was red.

You’re either extraordinarily kind or inordinately brave. I’d like to meet with you and discover which one for myself. If you’re interested, come to the coffee shop on Pinnacle and 24th at six tonight.

If you’re not interested, then at least let me say very sincerely, thank you.

“Those are nice,” Wendy, another teller, commented as she passed my booth. “Who’re they from?”

“Ah . . .” Why did my lungs feel so tight? “No one in particular, just a friend.” Why was I lying? “Just a way to welcome me back to work.”

“Well.” She arched one lovely eyebrow at me. “You’ve got a very nice friend.” She walked away and left me to ponder my ridiculous life choices.

Why lie about it? For heaven’s sake, why not tell the truth and get the police involved? The man had robbed our bank; people could have been hurt. He’d compression-locked a superhero with our own doors. It had turned out there were bombs all over the bank, inactive unless triggered by remote, and practically invisible unless you happened to be standing right next to them and staring at just the right angle. I didn’t even know what he looked like.

But I wanted to. It hadn’t taken me long to discover that a regular person couldn’t amount to much in Panopolis; it just didn’t happen. But maybe I could get to know someone who did.

For more excerpt visit here: http://riptidepublishing.com/titles/where-theres-smoke (just click the excerpt tab)

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About Cari

Cari Z was a bookworm as a child and remains one to this day. In an effort to combat her antisocial reading behavior, she did all sorts of crazy things, from competitive gymnastics to alligator wresting (who even knew that was legal!) to finally joining the Peace Corps, which promptly sent her and her husband to the wilds of West Africa, stuck them in a hut, and said, “See ya!” She also started writing in earnest then, because when you have no television, no car and nothing to read other than a French translation of Twilight, you find ways of entertaining yourself. She’s been back in Colorado for a while now, but stuck with the writing.

Cari enjoys a wide range of literary genres, from the classics (get ‘im, Ahab) to science fiction and fantasy of all types, to historical fiction and reference materials (no, seriously, there are so many great encyclopedias out there). She writes in a wide range of genres as well, but somehow 90% of what she produces ends up falling into the broad and exciting category of m/m erotica. There’s a sprinkling of f/m and f/f and even m/f/m in her repertoire, but her true love is man love. And there’s a lot of love to go around.

Cari has published short stories, novellas, and novels with numerous print and e-presses, and she also offers up a tremendous amount of free content on Literotica.com, under the name Carizabeth.

Cari posts a free weekly serial on her blog at carizerotica.blogspot.com. Come read, come say hi, or check out her other works at cari-z.net.

Twitter: @author_cariz 
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Giveaway!

Every comment on this blog tour enters you in a drawing for a paperback copy of Rules To Live By

(Just leave a comment on this blog, Don’t forget to add your email so we can contact you if you win!)

Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on May 2. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries.

(Ends 2nd May 2015)

Review

Cari Z. - Where There's Smoke _500x750Title: Where There’s Smoke

Series: Panopolis 01

Author: Cari Z.

Genre: Superhero, Supervillian, Action, Alternative World

Length: Novella (88pgs)

ISBN: 978-1-62649-296-7

Publisher: Riptide Publishing (27th April 2015)

Heat Level: Moderate

Heart Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥ 4 ½ Hearts

Reviewer: Pixie

Blurb: Panopolis is a rough place to be an average Joe. I came here looking for adventure and excitement, but nobody cares about one more normal guy in a city filled with super-powered heroes. The closest I’ve come to glory is working in a bank that villains often rob.

But then I maybe accidentally-on-purpose helped a villain escape the hero who was trying to save the day. Imagine my shock when, a week later, that villain asked me out for coffee. One date turned into more, and now I’m head over heels in love with Raul.

Falling in love with the guy dubbed the Mad Bombardier isn’t without its downsides, though. I’ve had to deal with near-death encounters with other villains, awkwardly flirtatious heroes who won’t take no for an answer, and a lover I’m not sure I can trust. It’s getting to the point where I know I’ll have to make a choice: side with the heroes, or stand fast by my villain.

Either way, I think my days as a normal guy are over.

Purchase Link: http://riptidepublishing.com/titles/where-theres-smoke

Review: Edward moved to Panopolis the city of heroes and villains looking for adventure and excitement, what he got was a mundane life working in a bank; that is until the day a villain robs the bank and Edward accidentally-on-purpose helped the villain escape. The Mad Bombardier sends him flowers and asks him on a date and Edward finds himself falling for the villain. Falling in love with a villain isn’t without its risks especially when another villain is pissed at the Mad Bombardier, a hero wants to date and won’t take no for an answer. Deciding if loving a villain is worth it becomes a lot easier when said villain will do anything to rescue you.

This is a fantastic story where the villain finds true love and the good isn’t necessarily really good. Edward finds his love match the day he helped a villain escape, when he meets the villain for coffee Raul isn’t as bad of a villain Edward first feared. Raul is a self-made villain, unlike the rest of the villains or heroes who have all had ‘accidents’ that gave them superpowers, many of which can be laid at GenCorp’s (the parent company of several large GMO corporations) feet. Edward’s and Raul’s relationship grows strong but when Edward is confronted with the danger of being involved with a villain he panics setting into motion a chain of events that changes his life forever.

I really enjoyed this story, Edward is just your typical guy who wanted more excitement in his life but settled for his mundane life, until he meets a villain who rocks his world. Raul has forged a life for himself doing what he enjoys most, blowing things up, he falls hard for Edward but has no intention of giving up his villain status. Edward also finds himself pursued by a hero who rescued him, a hero who doesn’t take rejection well.

The world we find ourselves in is very much like ours except for Panopolis were villains and heroes are rife, the explanations we are given for the circumstances of the creation of these heroes and villains is brilliant and the little snippets at the beginning of each chapter from SuperTruther brings us truths about the world of heroes and villains and the corruption of city officials. The storyline is great and we fall easily into Edward’s life, the sudden twist towards the end is fantastic and I look forward to seeing just what happens to Edward and Raul in the future. 

I recommend this to those who love it when the villain comes out on top, where love stands strong through harsh reality, who love great characters, who love stories where there’s still much to come. 

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Check out the other blogs on the blog tour

April 27, 2015 – Cup O’ Porn
April 28, 2015 – MM Good Book Reviews
April 28, 2015 – Love Bytes Reviews
April 29, 2015 – On Top Down Under Book Reviews
April 30, 2015 – The Jeep Diva
May 1, 2015 – Rainbow Gold Reviews
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13 thoughts on “Where There's Smoke by Cari Z. Blog Tour, Excerpt, Review & Giveaway!

  1. I loved reading the excerpt (and am hooked, if I hadn’t been already), and I’m so glad to read the great review by Pixie!

    caroaz [at] ymail [dot] com

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