Category Archives: Fantasy

Promo Tour & Giveaway – Orlosian Warriors Series – Dariel Raye

 

ORLOSIAN WARRIORS series

Books 1 & 2
by Dariel Raye



Genre: Paranormal Romance/Urban Fantasy

CALM ASSURANCE

Two hearts, two different worlds, uncompromising love.

 

A straight-laced Nephilim-descendant and a human trouble-magnet?
When Asriel – Orlosian Warrior, descendant of Nephilim, law enforcer – is sent to guard Malina, a human with a penchant for drawing trouble like a tornado, she becomes his obsession.
With no hope of finding love in his dimension, he breaks the cardinal rule, leaving his home to protect her, but she has also drawn the attention of his enemies, and he is forced to face demons from his past. If Asriel chooses to stay with Malina, not only does he risk forfeiting his right to ever return to his dimension, but he will need her blood to survive.

 

 

DESTINY’S FAVOR
His world shifted the moment she was born. Now, nothing can stop him from making her his…
Imagine a man who looks like an angel, wings and all. What would you do if you met such a man, and he told you that he exists for only one purpose, to claim you and only you?
Destiny Carter is a feisty, take-charge, Rubenesque beauty with a tough façade. She finds herself caught in that age-old quandary of always being the bridesmaid but never the bride. A string of lackluster relationships leaves her hopeless and ready to settle for whatever comes along, until she meets Japheth, the man her fiancé claims is his best friend. Japheth’s arrival is heralded by an attack on Destiny’s life, but somehow, from some instinct deep within her, she knows this is only the beginning.
Born more than 200 years ago, Japheth looks like an angel, but he’s far from it. In his world, the ratio of men to women is 500 to 1, and although he’s a superior being, he’s willing to break the most sacred law of his brothers, even to drink human blood, if it means having the one that he believes is meant for him alone. When he meets Destiny, he knows she’s the one he’s been searching for. To claim her, though, Japheth will have to betray a friend, risk his life, and, perhaps hardest of all, humble himself enough to win her love. 

Still too far away to get a good look at the legendary J, Destiny watched the two men pull each other into a brief man hug. As she did, her mind wandered back to her conversation with Memaw: “Destiny, you be extra careful the next few days, okay? Memaw’s got a feeling.” She wondered what all the sudden drama was about, especially since she was always careful. The older woman was always right, though, so she couldn’t help glancing around cautiously as she walked. Memaw had said those same words to her the night she was attacked, so it was always good to heed her advice, always better to be safe than sorry.
J bent to pick up his one bag, and before she could even close the gap between them, they were heading back toward her.
Destiny overheard part of their conversation as they neared: “Man, I know it’s after two and all, but I’ve never seen people sleepin’ at a bus station like this before. I swear, everybody’s laid out but you.” She also couldn’t help but notice J’s striking gait as he stalked closer, almost graceful but with a natural swagger. All jungle cat in a man’s body, was the only thought that came to mind. Realizing that she was staring far too much, she dragged her gaze from Robert’s friend and surveyed the station, but she was still hesitant to stop admiring him. Something about the way he moved sent a jolt of energy rushing through her, punching her guilt button in the process. Surely, she and Robert were not a match made in Heaven, but that certainly didn’t make it okay to have the thoughts she was having about his best friend.
Even during that beautiful season of the year, the dreary bus station looked and felt dank, grim, and hopeless. The floodlights, although strategically placed, barely pierced the darkness, and the skinny trees left over from the last time anyone cared reminded her of how she really felt about being alone.
A sudden blur of movement caught Destiny’s attention as they walked on, and fear and nausea invaded her, welling up from their hiding places. A tall, dark figure rushed toward her, his hands reaching out like claws, eager to grab her. Time stood still as waves of nausea struck, rendering her unable to move, a predicament she’d never found herself in until that reality-changing attack.
Destiny stumbled and fell to the ground. Every one of her survival instincts kicked in, and she was ready to fight if necessary, but just as quickly as the shadow appeared, it was gone. The station was eerily quiet and still again, and she found herself standing there, with no memory of getting up from the ground. She glanced around, checking all sides, then turned to face Robert and J as they stopped in front of her as if nothing had happened.
“Baby, this is Japheth Danaelson, J. J, this is Destiny Carter, my fiancé,” Robert casually said.
She tried to dismiss the hazy monster as nothing more than a flashback, but subconsciously, she knew better; Destiny was convinced that something really had just tried to attack her again, even if it did stop in its tracks and vanish. Despite her disorientation, wobbly knees, and the feeling that she had somehow skipped through time, and despite the fact that her mind was now reeling with doubt over what she’d just seen, Japheth’s presence overshadowed everything else. Up close, he was absolutely breathtaking.

 

 

Dariel Raye is an animal lover, animal rights activist, musician, and award-winning author of powerful paranormal romance and dark urban fantasy with IR/MC (Interracial/Multi-cultural) alpha male heroes to die for, and strong heroines with hearts worth winning. She fell in love with books and started reciting stories at the age of 3. A counseling psychologist, classically trained vocalist, and pianist, she plays over 11 musical instruments, and naturally incorporates behavioral psychology into her characters. Her stories tell of shifters, vamps, angels, demons, and fey (the Vodouin variety). She is also a Netflix paranormal TV series binger.

Dariel is currently writing two series: “Dark Sentinels” (wolf shifters), and “Orlosian Warriors” (Vampire-like Nephilim). For more about Dariel, follow her blog or visit her website. She also publishes a new release newsletter. If you enjoyed this book, please post a review on review sites. You can also follow her and contact her on Twitter, Facebook, or Pinterest.

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Filed under Blog Tour, excerpts, Fantasy, giveaway, Mixed Genre, Paranormal, Promo, Romance, Series, Urban Fantasy

Promo Tour & Giveaway – The Kronicles of Korthlundia – Jamie Marchant

THE KRONICLES OF KORTHLUNDIA series
Books 1-3
by Jamie Marchant


Genre: Epic Fantasy
The crown princess Samantha fears she’s mad; no one but she sees colors glowing around people. The peasant Robrek Angusstamm believes he’s a demon; animals speak to him, and his healing powers far outstrip those of his village’s priests. Despite their fears, their combined powers make them the goddess’s choice to rule the kingdom of Korthlundia. Samantha’s ability enables her to discern a person’s character through their multi-colored aura, and Robrek’s makes him the strongest healer the kingdom has seen in centuries. But their gifts also endanger their lives. Royals scheme to usurp the throne by marrying or killing Samantha, and priests plot to burn Robrek at the stake. Robrek escapes the priests only to be captured by Samantha’s arch-enemy, Duke Argblutal; Argblutal intends to force the princess to marry him by exploiting Robrek’s powers. To save their own lives and stop the realm from sinking into civil war, Robrek and Samantha must consolidate their powers and unite the people behind them.

The Princess Samantha sat at her dressing table and glowered at her reflection as her maids dressed her hair. She detested balls and loathed the hundreds of suitors who flocked around her, spouting empty flattery: “I have never seen a lovelier flower, Your Highness!” or “Your eyes rival the brilliance of the stars, Your Highness!” If I hear that one again, I’ll vomit. It wouldn’t be quite so bad if even one of them meant it. Sometimes she wished . . . . She pushed the thought away. She was the heir to the throne. She couldn’t expect romance.
“Let us be painting your face tonight, Your Highness!” Ardra begged, in her north Korthian accent. Samantha’s maid was as small and slight as the princess herself and had hair so blonde it was almost white.
“Yes, Your Highness,” Malvina chimed in. “Lady Shela’s maids said just yesterday we couldn’t possibly know our business ’cause you never wear paint.” Malvina, more of a typical Korthlundian woman, was tall and broad and not nearly as pretty as Ardra.
“Lady Shela,” Samantha snorted in disgust. Shela wore so much paint she resembled some ghastly sea creature. Samantha knew she wasn’t pretty, but she was fond of the freckles that speckled her nose and thought the emerald green brilliance of her gown set off her white skin and auburn hair beautifully. Besides being appallingly uncomfortable, paint would absolutely spoil the effect. The princess gestured toward the huge portrait that covered one wall of her bedchamber. “Do you think Danu wore paint?”
Malvina shrugged. “The Princess Danu was said to be a powerful sorceress, Your Highness. She probably didn’t need to wear paint to attract men.”
Samantha laughed bitterly, as she thought of the army of men waiting below. “I wish not wearing paint was all it took to scare them off. They say Danu never married, and see how happy she is.”
Samantha yearned for Danu’s freedom. The long-dead princess was laughing as she galloped across the fields. Danu’s auburn hair flew out behind her in the wind. The stars on the forehead and chest of her horse shone against its gorgeous coat. Samantha loved this painting, which was just as well because it was bolted to the wall and couldn’t be removed without tearing her chambers apart. She’d decorated the rest of her bedroom to match. Tapestries of horses covered the walls. Her dressing table, armoire, and large four-poster bed had horses carved into the woodwork. A quilt, embroidered with horses and stars, was spread over the bed. The mantle over her fireplace sported figurines of horses in gold, silver, jade, crystal, and precious stones. Every new ambassador added to her collection.
“Your Highness, you’ll be having to marry one of them eventually,” Ardra persisted. “The king won’t be letting you hold out forever. You are seventeen, after all. Your mother was only thirteen when she married the king.”
“You needn’t remind me, Ardra.” Samantha picked up her silver-backed brush from the dressing table. The gift from the Neaserian ambassador was inlaid with an amber Horsetad; diamonds marked the stars at its forehead and chest. She fingered it lovingly. “Do you think it’s true Danu rode a Horsetad?”
“So the bards sing of her,” Ardra said.
Malvina made an impatient noise in her throat. “And they also sing her kiss turned suitors into toads! You don’t really believe such nonsense, do you, Your Highness? Nobody can tame a Horsetad.”
“No, I suppose not,” the princess sighed wistfully, then smiled at the toads that hopped around the feet of Danu’s horse. How I wish my kiss could do that!

The Crown Princess Samantha and Sir Robrek struggle to solidify their rule in the aftermath of the king’s murder and Duke Argblutal’s attempt to usurp the throne. They are thwarted at every turn by those who seek power for themselves and desire to prevent their marriage. Just when they think their problems are solved, a deadly curse begins to spread throughout Korthlundia and Samantha becomes pregnant. Samantha must fight off priests, enemies, and her closest advisors while Robrek discovers the reason the goddess chose him as king, to defeat the Soul Stone, a stone capable of sucking the soul out of its victims, which threatens to obliterate all life in the joined kingdoms. Their archenemy, the Bard Alvabane, awakens the Soul Stone and plans to use its power to reclaim Korthlundia for her people (a people driven out over a thousand years ago by the hero Armunn). Armunn had to sacrifice his life and soul to contain the Soul Stone. Will Robrek have to do the same? Will the young couple have only a few short months to love each other?

At bedtime, Alvabane sat at her dressing table brushing her long hair. It had once been a bright, rich red, but it had dulled with age and was now mostly grey with only a few strands of color to remind her of what once had been. It seemed a metaphor for her life—small flashes of color to remind her of her once bright purpose.
One of those flashes, Erick, set her nightly goblet of fortified wine next to her hand. She needed the strong alcohol to dull the pain of her joints so she could sleep. Erick had served her for ten years. When her former servant had died, he’d been sent by her people, despite the fact that she’d only been a disappointment to them.
She turned to thank him, but the words died on her lips as she saw the reproach in his eyes. Alvabane turned back to her mirror. Tonight was the night of the new moon. She should have been preparing to perform the rites of the dark gods, not preparing for bed. “They have forgotten us,” Alvabane said. “The Soul Stone does not live.”
In the mirror, she saw Erick’s eyes narrow. He was not yet twenty and still had the optimism of youth. He still believed the Stone would come to life again when the gods willed it. He believed it would again be the weapon it had once been. Created in the far past by magic which had since been lost, it had been used by her people to protect themselves from the barbarians that now ran free over Korth and Lundia.
“I will perform the rites next month,” she promised, but so had she promised last month and the month before that. The stairs to the bottom of the East Tower were agony to her knees. Erick made a mewing sound, reminding her what he’d sacrificed to serve her and the dark gods. She herself had cut his tongue from his mouth when he came to her as a ten-year-old child. He had surrendered it stoically. Only the Bards were allowed to sing the rites of the gods. All others who heard them had to be rendered mute so they couldn’t repeat music not meant for their tongues.
“Do you think you have sacrificed more than I?” She turned to face him. “I submitted to the brutish duke’s bed for years. I gave birth to a child of rape. All so I could remain near the Stone. I performed the rites faithfully every new moon for decades. And for what, I ask you? The power of the Stone remains trapped behind the shield the demon Armunn created from his own soul. That shield can’t be destroyed. I have dedicated my life to trying, but it is impossible. The Soul Stone won’t live again!”
Erick mewed again and looked toward the tapestry on the wall. It showed the map of the desert of Sehra, to the south of Korthlundia, where her people had lived in exile since Armunn and his hordes had trapped the Stone and then driven them from their homeland. Blinking back tears of despair, she turned from him. “Do you think I have forgotten? Every generation fewer of our children are born. Only by returning to the land of our birthright can we be strong again.”
She got up and went to the tapestry, touching it lovingly. “Do you not understand? The dark gods have found me unworthy to be their messenger. I once thought I was the child of the prophecy, the one who would drive the descendants of Armunn’s hordes back across the mountains into Korth and reclaim the land they call Lundia as our own. But I was wrong. I’m an unprofitable servant, an unfit vessel.”
The Ghost is going to hell. Not even the goddess can forgive his sins: assassin, oath-breaker, traitor (an affair with the queen earned him that title). No one can ever learn the princess is his daughter. To keep this secret, he flees to the land that turned him from a simple stable groom into an infamous killer.
His mission now? To find evildoers and take them to hell with him. But when an impulsive act of heroism saddles him with a damsel who refuses to be distressed, her resilience forces him to questions why he really ran from his daughter. 

The Ghost knelt at Ares’s feet, where the stench of blood was nearly overpowering. The altar was stained with it, and the bowl at the god’s feet was full from a fresh sacrifice. The power present in this place was undeniable—dark and forbidding, far from the peace and serenity in Sulis’s temples. But he was no longer worthy of Sulis’s blessing. The Ghost drew his dagger, held his left forearm over the sacrificial bowl, and sliced a new cut alongside his numerous scars. As he bled into the bowl, he felt the magic of the place coalesce around him. His blood sizzled as it hit the bowl, and the wound on his arm healed instantly, signaling that The Ghost truly belonged to the Saloynan god.
A door opened behind him, he stood and faced the high priest. Zotico was completely bald and looked no older than he had when The Ghost had first met him ten long years ago. He had small, beady eyes and a typical Saloynan narrow nose. “Pandaros! How wonderful!” the priest beamed, calling The Ghost a name he’d decided he must take up again. He could no longer be either “Ahearn” and “Darhour”; they were both dead. “Rumors said you were no longer among the living. Come in, come in.” Zotico gestured toward the doorway. “I can’t tell you how happy I am to see you.”
Zotico’s enthusiasm seemed excessive even for him. Warily, The Ghost followed Zotico down the corridor to the high priest’s office. It was large, the walls covered with instruments of war—swords, shields, battle axes, and plaques ornamented with what looked suspiciously like human ears. The ears were new. Zotico caught The Ghost looking at them and swept his hand over a plaque that contained five ears nailed side by side. “Do you like the new decor? Sacrifices, all of them. I had them moved from our private sanctuary so I could better remember the devotion demanded by the god I serve.”
Zotico may not appear to age, but his ghoulishness grew with each passing year. The Ghost carefully schooled his features to avoid betraying any sign of revulsion.
In the center of the office was a large desk with one chair behind it and two large, comfortable chairs facing it. Zotico gestured The Ghost into one of the facing chairs. The Ghost sat, and the high priest offered him a glass of oenomel, a sweet mixture of honey and wine. Zotico poured himself a glass from the same pitcher and sat behind the desk. “Pandaros, my friend. Why have you neglected your obligations to Ares?”
The Ghost waited for Zotico to take a sip of his drink, then took one of his own. It was cloying in its sweetness. “I’ve been distracted.”
Zotico smiled sadly. “A true tragedy. There’s no one better with a blade.” The priest mimed drawing a knife across his own throat. “I’ve had acolytes scouring the city more than once looking for you, but I gave up years ago when not the slightest sign of your whereabouts could be found. Tell me, my son, where have you been?”
“Away.” The Ghost had no intention of ever letting Zotico learn anything about Samantha, who was both his daughter and his queen. Because of his careful disguise, Zotico believed The Ghost was a Saloynan.
Zotico laughed. “Long have I wished for the power of Delphi to penetrate your secrets. Is there a person in the world who knows even half of them?” Zotico looked expectantly at him, but The Ghost didn’t answer. “I see my curiosity shall have to be contained. Ares is a harsh master and not attentive to trifles. Still, I can’t tell you how happy I am that you have now returned to his fold. His temple has truly felt your absence.”
The Ghost grunted, “Do you have a job for me?”
Zotico’s eyes gleamed. “Do I ever! I’d nearly despaired of finding a capable assassin, but your fortunate arrival proves that Ares will never fail those who serve his name.”
“Who do you want dead?”
“I think it would be best explained by the one in need of Ares’s assistance, but I assure you it is your sort of kill. May I tell the client you’ll meet?”
The Ghost nodded.
Zotico’s entire body relaxed. “Good, good. The client would prefer not to be seen here. I’ve an arrangement with the high priestess of Aphrodite. The two gods were lovers, after all. Enter the goddess’s temple tomorrow morning and choose the acolyte wearing the pendant of a vulture.” Zotico smiled broadly. “Pandaros, my friend, it is a great day for you to have returned.”
“You are not my friend.” The Ghost left with Zotico’s laughter ringing in his ears.
Jamie began writing stories about the man from Mars when she was six, and she never remembers wanting to be anything other than a writer. Everyone told her she needed a back up plan, so she pursued a Ph.D. in American literature, which she received in 1998. She started teaching writing and literature at Auburn University. One day in the midst of writing a piece of literary criticism, she realized she’d put her true passion on the backburner and neglected her muse. The literary article went in the trash, and she began the book that was to become The Goddess’s Choice, which was published in April 2012. Her other novels include The Soul Stone and The Ghost in Exile. In addition, she has published a novella, Demons in the Big Easy, and a collection of short stories, Blood Cursed and Other Tales of the Fantastic. Her short fiction has also appeared in the anthologies–Urban Fantasy and Of Dragons & Magic: Tales of the Lost Worlds—and in Bards & Sages, The World of Myth, A Writer’s Haven, and Short-story.me. She claims she writes about the fantastic . . . and the tortured soul. Her poor characters have hard lives. She lives in Auburn, Alabama, with her husband and four cats, which (or so she’s been told) officially makes her a cat lady. She still teaches writing and literature at Auburn University. She is the mother of a grown son.
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Release Tour – Rana: Teenage Queen – Liza O’Connor

 

 

RANA: TEENAGE QUEEN

by Liza O’Connor

Genre: YA Fantasy
Rana was only sixteen when she became queen. Her first challenge was quelling an internal coup while a massive army stormed the gates of her castle. Her enemies thought her a child, but she had powers they never suspected. She also had great dreams for her people, and she would do whatever was necessary to make them happen, even marrying a prince she did not want.
Claiming the right to be queen and becoming ruler of Stronghold turned out to be two very different things. Upon locating the bodies of the king and queen, the first point became established as fact.
However, the ministers wished to declare her a child, incapable of ruling Stronghold.
“I may be small in stature, as my mother, but I am a woman and if you call me a child again, I will have you thrown in prison.”
Minister Jerome sneered and shook his head. “Listen to her! Only a child would make such a threat. We have laws. One cannot be thrown in jail for speaking the truth.”
“General, arrest this man for treason.”
General Collins did not budge from her side, but with the slightest nod, two of the general’s soldiers moved quickly to secure the errant minister.
The minister attempted to break from their hold. His attempts would have been laughable if the situation was not so dire. “You cannot arrest me for treason just because I speak the truth! And who are these men? They are not of our army. Where is General Hack?”
She waited until the man was gone before addressing the others. “General Hack assassinated my father.”
“Do you have proof?” Another minister challenged.
“You have my word on the matter. I was there. I saw it all. He ordered his men to fire into the tower, claiming it had been overrun with the enemy. Only he knew that was not true since he had just left the tower. He knew the only two people within were myself and his king.” She eyed the ministers, waiting for further traitors to identify themselves by arguing with her.
Unfortunately, the remaining ministers, whether for her or against, had the sense to keep their mouths shut.
Liza O’Connor was raised badly by feral cats, left the South/Midwest and wandered off to find nicer people on the east coast. There she worked for the meanest man on Wall Street, while her psychotic husband tried to kill her three times. (So much for finding nicer people.) Then one day she declared enough, got a better job, divorced her husband, and fell in love with her new life where people behaved nicely. But all those bad behaviors has given her lots of fodder for her humorous books. Please buy these books, because otherwise, she’ll become grumpy and write troubled novels instead. They will likely traumatize you.
You have been warned.



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Filed under Blog Tour, excerpts, Fantasy, New Release, Promo, Release Day, YA

Release Tour – The Game Begins – Victoria Danann

 

 

THE GAME BEGINS

R. Caine High School
by Victoria Danann
Genre: YA Sci-Fi Fantasy Myths
When it came to the attention of the old ones that their creations, the Earth gods, had been playing games at the expense of humankind for millennia, they put a stop to it. But the rebellious gods were far too addicted to their games to give them up. After several summit meetings, they voted to use their own children as players and locate the playing field in the most treacherous environment in the known universe. High school.
To make it even more interesting, they would strip their children of their memories and withhold the rules of the game. The players believed they were ordinary kids until they were transferred to R. Caine High School. When odd things begin to happen, the players gradually realize they have special gifts or attributes. But that doesn’t mean they can’t die.

My name is Ever Moore.
I know. It makes me wince every time I say it. When I’m eighteen, I plan to have it legally changed to something that doesn’t make people laugh. But right now I’m stuck.
My dad thinks puns are the highest form of humor. He calls it ‘word play’. That’s right. I’m the spawn of nerds. My dad creates video games. My mother is an ethics professor at UCLA who thinks the battle between good and evil begins at home.
If you want to know just how weird it can get at the Thanksgiving table, I can go one better. My grandfather was a big deal rock star in the seventies. You wouldn’t know the name of the band. So there’s no point in name dropping. After a visit, he exits with a two-finger peace salute like all the other well-adjusted hippie grandparents, but he doesn’t say, “Peace.”
He says, “Rock steady.”
Ugh!

My family is big on manners. They’re too strict to let me say what I think, especially about Buzz’s love life. My grandfather doesn’t want to be called Grandpa or Grandad or Gramps or anything close to normal. Oh no. He wants to be called ‘Buzz’. I have no idea why. That is not his name.
Anyway, the best protest I can mount is rolling my eyes. I keep trying to get his attention and roll my eyes back further into my head when he does the ‘rock steady’ thing, but he will not be deterred.
Anyway I was leading a completely typical and deliciously angsty teenage life in Austin, Texas when my parents were suddenly offered jobs in the LA area at the same time. It was weird, but weird is part of my normal. Always has been.
Since my grandad, the rocker, still lives in LA with the latest girlfriend who’s barely legal – she’s two years older than I am and her name is Charmin, yes, like the toilet paper. If that was my name, I’d have the decency to go by something like Charm, which would really be making lemonade from lemmons. But not Charmin. I don’t think she’s bright enough to understand what people are thinking whenever they say her name. Anyway, with the jobs and the fact that ‘Buzz’ lives there, moving seemed like a good idea.
To them.

~~~

Now here we are in beautiful Oxnard. Yeah. I know. It sounds like somebody was in the middle of a sneeze when a cough barked out. I try looking it up to see what an oxnard is. Of course that was a circular exercise; ‘see city in California’. So I try ‘nard’. Closest thing is spikenard which is an herb. At that point I lose interest.
I’m stuck with Oxnard and, at least for the time being, Oxnard is stuck with me. So here’s a rundown of the good, the bad, and the boring.
The good news is that we managed to get a boat dock house. It’s on the water, but not on the beach. No extra space. There are three bedrooms. Guess who gets the ‘master’? That left two little rooms for my brother and me to fight over. I pulled rank – I’m four years older – and got the one facing the front. That means the water view.
Among other noteworthy travel facts, Oxnard is in a valley between the Santa Monica Mountains and the Los Padres, which is a cluster of mountain ranges. I’m told that you could be surfing at the beach while looking at snow-covered mountains. Put that in the kind of cool column.
Now for the bad. The house is tiny compared to where we lived in Austin. It’s going to be an adjustment.
As far as boring, I know no one here. As in NO ONE!
The only thing that could be worse than that is the fact that on Monday I’m going to have to walk into a new high school. Did I mention that I know NO ONE? Not even my brother will be in my school, which, okay, I admit I’m thankful for that because, if things could be worse, that would be it.
I’ve seen it. The school, I mean.
When nobody was there, I walked around the grounds with my dog, Elke. She’s a Norwegian Elkhound, really smart, really pretty, and really sure she doesn’t have to do what I say.
The school is kind of a gothic monstrosity that couldn’t be more out of place in SoCal. It looks like a Wizard of Oz tornado picked it up in Crumbling, Maine and dropped it in Oxnard.
I imagine the ground shaking when it hit. Boom.
How do I feel about starting a new school in two days?
As a sophomore?
Let me put it this way. Last summer my parents decided we were going to take a family trip to England. They said the educational value was astronomical. It would be like a field trip on steroids. Their words. Not mine.
So we went. But we didn’t go like normal families and stay in hotels. Of course not.
We stayed in family hostels. What’s that, you ask? Imagine going to camp with other families and sleeping in big bunk rooms with people of all ages, both sexes, some of whom make noises in their sleep that you wouldn’t think were possible for humans.
Don’t even ask about the shared bath.
Anyway, we went on one of those Bloody Tower tours in London where they trot you past all the torture tools and devices. Our guide tried to give cryptic descriptions about how they were used, because of his perception that my brother is of a tender and sensitive young age. The guide kept glancing at my brother nervously like he was afraid the information would scar the boy’s precious psyche, imprinting evil on the tabula rosa. On the contrary my brother probably invented some of those devices himself in past lifetimes.
The point I’m getting to is this. Given the choice, I’d gladly choose the rack over having to walk into a new high school as a sophomore where I know NOBODY! But this is the real world and I don’t have a choice.
I’m feeling sorry enough for myself to consider curling up into a ball when my brother barges into my room without knocking. “What the…? We moved here three weeks ago, Never. You’ve had time to unpack. You’re supposed to be the neat one. Miss Smart Perfect Suck up.” He punctuates that with a perfectly disgusting sucking noise.
Following his line of sight to the bed, the chair, the desk, I’m forced to agree that clothes draped everywhere looks like a breakdown straight ahead. Naturally I counter by going on the offensive.
“Nobody invited you in. Try knocking! I could have been getting dressed.”
“So what? You’ve got nothing that interests me.”
“Idiot. It’s called privacy. I deserve to have some in my OWN ROOM!”
“What’s this about?” He waves his arm to indicate the trunk show.
“I’m deciding what to wear the first day.”
He laughs that unbelievably aggravating laugh that never fails to make me want to pitch him out a second story window. By the way, there is one close by. It draws my gaze and gives life to my fantasy of hearing him scream on the way down.
“You’re worried, aren’t you?” he asks, wearing his smarmiest smuggest sneer face. “Well, sit at the feet of the master, little girl, and I’ll tell you how to conquer first day fever and win.” He sounds like an infomercial for a self-help guru. Maybe he’ll do okay in SoCal. “When you walk in, look for the biggest toughest-looking girl around. Then you walk straight up to her and punch her in the mouth.”
No. He’s not going to do okay in SoCal.
“Levi. This is California. They have zero tolerance for that kind of thing.” He shrugs, completely unconcerned. I put my hand to my head. “Wait. Wait. I’m getting a premonition. Yes. Yes. I can see it now. Mom and Dad are going to get a call from your vice principal within ten minutes of dropping you off at school. He’s going to tell them that they’re raising a barbarian who’s prison bound.”
“Just telling you. It sets the tone for the entire year. Your life can be bumpy or smooth. Take it from me. Your barbarian is my bad ass.” He holds a finger up. “Oh. Did I mention the part about run like hell after you punch Alice Assault in the mouth?”
I blink at him, wondering for the multi-thousandth time which one of us was adopted. It was probably me. “Say your name slowly.”
He rolls his eyes, but gets the message and leaves.
My brother’s name is Levi. We’re not Hebrew. My parents just liked the jeans which, I guess, must have been cool at one time. If he says his name slowly, it sounds like, “Leave. I.”
If you’re thinking that’s mean, don’t even go there. He gets back at me by calling me Never and cawing like Edgar Allen Poe’s raven, especially if I have friends around.
Naturally he leaves the bedroom door standing open just to irritate me. I slam it, hear my mother’s faint shout saying don’t slam the door, lock it, and turn back to the impossible task of figuring out what people at this alien outpost consider first day of school clothes. If only I could…
That’s when I realize I might get a preview into life at R. Caine High School. I open the laptop and pull up images.
Why didn’t I think of this before?
Track and field. Lots of running and jumping enthusiasm then.

Football. Concussion anyone?

Basketball. No comment.

A CPR dummy. How many times has that thing been kissed?

Softball. Hmmm. Maybe.

Graduation. Gold robes. Ew.

And finally, a photo of kids swarming a large paved area, not wearing athletic gear or some kind of club tee shirt. Whether they were coming or going I can’t tell. The main thing is I can see the clothes and they aren’t all that different from what I’m used to. In fact, the picture could have been taken at my old school. Sigh.

So alright. I can do this. All I have to do is pick out something that makes me feel reasonably attractive. It’s the first day of school. Not the end of the world.
Right?
Right?
Lots of people have been through this and survived.
Yes.
I know I’m taking that on faith, but since I haven’t heard urban myths about kids going to new schools and never being heard from again, I’m going with that assumption. Or trying to.
~~~
Who am I kidding?
Doomsday looms.
I mean you wouldn’t think a person could actually fear lunch. Not the food, of course. Although some might say fearing the food made in the cafeteria is a test of Darwin’s theory. I don’t think Darwin’s theory applies to humans anymore. Modern medicine is pretty good at interfering with the impending doom and saving the day no matter how badly we botch genetics.
It probably seems like I’m obsessing over the word ‘doom’, but it’s just that kind of weekend. The kind that will live in infamy forever.
What was I saying? Oh, yeah. I was talking about the rites of lunch. The quest for that magical place where you can be part of a herd of the like-minded; meaning people who understand you well enough that you can talk to each other, eat together, gossip about whatever, and kid yourself into thinking they don’t gossip about you when you’re not there.
I look at the clock. Again.
The first day of my sophomore year should be a celebration of not being a freshman anymore. But that’s for kids who get to stay put. Not for people like myself who’ve been forcibly relocated, that means moved against my will, to the other side of the country.
By this same time tomorrow I’ll know if my quest was successful.
Will I be able to locate the magical lunch herd on the first day?
Have I been a good person?
Do I deserve that fate?
Why yes. Yes, I do.
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New York Times bestselling author of eighteen romances including paranormal, scifi, fantasy, contemporary, and teen. Victoria’s Knights of Black Swan series won BEST PARANORMAL ROMANCE SERIES and PARANORMAL ROMANCE NOVEL OF THE YEAR the past FOUR YEARS IN A ROW. This past year two of her series took the top two places and two of her books took first and second place Paranormal Romance of the Year category. – Reviewers Choice Awards, The Paranormal Romance Guild.
Her paranormal romances come with uniquely fresh perspectives on “imaginary” creatures, characters, and themes. She adds a dash of scifi, a flourish of fantasy, enough humor to make you laugh out loud, and, occasionally, enough steam to make you squirm in your chair. Her heroines are independent femmes with flaws and minds of their own whether they are aliens, witches, demonologists, werewolves, hybrids, psychics, or past life therapists. Her heroes are hot and hunky, but they also have brains, character, and good manners… usually.
The rich characterizations come from being a lifelong student of behavior, casually, and a serious student of behavior academically. She also studied comparative religion, myths, and Dark Ages history.
Victoria lives in The Woodlands, Texas with her husband and a very smart, mostly black German Shepherd dog.
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Release Blitz – On Unfaithful Wings – Bruce Blake

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ON UNFAITHFUL WINGS

Icarus Fell series, book 1

by Bruce Blake

 

Genre: Urban Fantasy

To some, death is the end; to others, a beginning. To Icarus Fell, it should have been a relief from a life gone seriously awry.

But death had other plans.

Icarus doesn’t believe that the man awaiting him when he wakes up in a cheap motel room is really the archangel Michael, or that God’s right hand wants him to help souls on their way to Heaven. Icarus doesn’t believe there’s a Heaven, so why should they want his help?

But the man claiming to be the archangel tempts him with an offer he can’t ignore–harvest enough souls and get back the life he wished he’d had.

It seems Icarus has nothing to lose, until he botches a harvest and the soul that went to Hell instead of Heaven comes back to make him pay by threatening to take away the life he hoped to win back.

To save the wife and son he already lost once, Icarus will have to become the man he never was. Somehow, he will have to learn to believe.

I stood with my back to the church, much the way I’d lived my life.

Rain poured down the eaves, splashing my shoes. Each drop pattering against the leather felt as though it landed directly on my mood. I tugged my suit jacket tighter and glanced at my watch—almost eleven p.m. If the rain didn’t let up soon, Trevor would be in bed, his belated birthday present another day late. After letting him down again, Rae probably wouldn’t let me give him the gift, anyway. A heavy sigh drew the taste of rain on dry soil into my lungs as I suppressed the desire to call her names in my head, to blame her for everything. It wasn’t her fault.

There I stood, spirit as dampened by the April shower as my clothing, thinking I waited for the rain to stop, not knowing it was something else I waited for, something entirely different.

My death.

I shifted again and the plastic Best Buy bag hidden under my jacket to keep it dry slipped out and hit the stairs with a splash.

“Damn it.”

I stooped to retrieve the bag, feeling unremorseful for swearing outside a house of worship. There was no God to hear anyway and—with the Pope dry in the Vatican—who’d be offended? A plump drop of rain punished my Godly disdain with a direct hit to my left eye as I fetched my son’s gift from the top step.

I suspected the rain might not let up any time soon.

It probably couldn’t have happened any differently. Do we have any choice in what we do, or is it all pre-planned? I used to believe we did, but my beliefs—or lack of them—were about to be thrown into question, along with my opinion of what happens after we die.

I stepped back and shook moisture from the bag impatiently. It had been half an hour since the unexpected downpour began, its torrent catching me unprepared and forcing me from my planned path—to sneak Trevor his birthday present without Rae noticing me—to my current hiding spot at the church. This church of all churches.

See what I mean about choice?

If the rain wasn’t going to let up, I’d just have to get wet. I stepped from under the pathetic cover of the church’s eaves and my foot splashed in an unseen puddle, cold water soaking the Wal-Mart loafer on my left foot. Raindrops pelted my cheek and I bit back another curse as I jammed the Xbox game purchased for Trevor’s birthday into the pocket of my suit jacket and pulled the coat over my head. I felt like an idiot as my saturated footwear slurped with each step down the concrete path.

Halfway across the churchyard, I noticed two men blocking the path ahead. They wore jackets with hoods pulled up to hide their faces, keep the rain from their heads. At first glimpse, the sheets of rain gave them a ghostly quality, a glow, and made me doubt my eyes. My gaze flickered sideways to the graveyard beside the church, with its broken, moss-covered headstones canted at odd angles, but I quickly dismissed the thought. A trick of rain and poor light.

There’s no such thing as ghosts.

I slowed, wondering if the men could be avoided. Probably not. Living in the city my entire life taught me to be wary of men hanging out on the streets at night with their faces hidden. But this wasn’t the streets, it was a churchyard, and rain this heavy gave good reason to use a hood. Maybe they’d come for a little midnight prayer, eager for the best pew in the house.

Right.

“Good evening, gentlemen,” I ventured drawing closer to them. “Beautiful night, isn’t it?”

Apparently they didn’t think so. The man nearest me pulled a knife from under his forest-green rain slicker and jabbed it toward me, stabbing the rain between us. Hell of a reaction.

He could’ve just said ‘no’.

“Give me your money,” he growled.

I know you’re supposed to do what a mugger says: it’s your best shot at survival, but I didn’t. Maybe the rain made me hesitate, or the wetness in my shoes, or knowing the boy would be disappointed again; whichever, my brain wouldn’t let my body do what it knew it should. I stood taller than either of them, but they had the knife. All I had on them was fifteen years of poor eating and neglect.

“C’mon guys. It’s a crummy night and I’m two weeks late for my boy’s birthday. Let a guy be, will you? There must be some little old ladies running around practically begging to have their social security cheques stolen.”

“Shut up and give us your money, asshole.”

The man holding the knife remained in front of me as the other circled to my right, presumably to hinder any escape. I watched him out of the corner of my eye, saw rain bouncing off his gray raincoat, noticed that his runners didn’t match, but he quickly passed from view, blocked by the jacket held foolishly over my head, keeping my hair dry in case they killed me. Cool rain peppered my face as I dropped the coat back onto my shoulders and reached to pull my wallet from the inner pocket. The man with the knife lunged forward, brandishing the blade at my nose. My stomach jumped into my chest and I threw both hands up in the air like a good mugging victim.

“Whoa. You want my money, you need my wallet.”

The tip of the knife waggled in the air, gesturing for me to continue. I stared at the point of the blade, at the man’s fingerless glove and the way he’d chewed his fingers until they looked painful. Beyond his arm, I thought I saw a smile hidden in the darkness beneath the hood.

I sighed, a shuddering breath lamenting how little my wallet contained for them to steal as much as it did the fact they were stealing it. The man behind me snatched it away before it cleared my pocket, his nails raking my wrist, and rifled through the meager contents. He snatched the three bills it contained, made a face at the fifteen bucks, and then took the VISA card I’d fought so hard to get after ruining my credit a few years back. Joke’s on him if he uses it, they’ll probably ask for a payment first.

He showed the sparse loot to his partner.

“Fifteen bucks? That’s it?”

“Look at this.” He’d dug out my driver’s licence. I knew this would happen. “The guy’s name is Icarus Fell. Icarus, like in the Iron Maiden song”

“Yeah,” I said. “The guy who named me didn’t like me much. Call me Ric.”

“Sure, Icarus,” the guy holding the knife said in a schoolyard-bully lilt. With a name like Icarus Fell, I’d heard that tone enough to recognize it. He stepped toward me, blade extended to within an inch of my face. I wanted to take an equal step away, but knew his partner wouldn’t like that, so I stood my ground, hoping to look more brave than stupid. “What else you got?”

“Nothing. That’s it.”

“Check his pockets. He put something in his pocket.”

The man tossed my wallet onto the grass where it landed with a mucky-sounding splat. He advanced on me and this time I moved. He grabbed my arm, pulled me toward him.

“Don’t do nothing stupid.”

Why didn’t he tell me that twenty-five or thirty years ago?

He patted my pants pockets first—the most action I’d seen in a while—then moved to the pockets of my suit jacket; the right hand outer one produced a hollow, plasticky thud. I cringed.

“What’s that?”

“Nothing,” I said inching away. “A game for my kid.”

“Give it up.”

“Guys, really. What are you going to do with a video game?”

His fingers dug into my bicep. “Give it to me.”

“I already missed his birthday. Can’t you let me keep it?” I yanked against his grip knowing I shouldn’t—people got killed for less—but I couldn’t let Trevor down. Not again. “Take everything else. I won’t tell anyone.”

“There is nothing else. Give it to me,” the knife-wielder demanded.

I wondered what Rae would tell Trevor when he didn’t get a present from me again. Probably that, since someone else was his ‘real’ father, I didn’t care.

Adrenaline flooded my brain, but it didn’t heighten my senses the way they describe in books. Instead, it made me stupid. Before I realized what I was doing, I swung at the man holding my arm, my fist contacting his nose with a satisfying crunch. The move surprised both of us and he lifted his hands to his face.

It took a second to comprehend that he’d let me go. My heartbeat quickened, pulsed in my ears. I ran, or attempted to: dress shoes aren’t made for sprinting on wet grass. Both men jumped me before I got going, riding me to the ground like they were the cowboys and I was the calf. A knee pressed into my back, an elbow in my ear as my cheek sank into soggy lawn knocking breath from my lungs and hope from my heart. My clothes soaked instantly, plastering cloth to skin, the smell of wet earth filled my nose, literally.

“You stupid bastard,” one of them said, but the mud in one ear and elbow in the other precluded me from identifying which one. “Couldn’t give us the stupid game, could you?” He yanked it out of my pocket.

The pain of the knife’s tip pushing through the flesh of my lower back into my kidney hurt more than I could ever have imagined. The shock of it made me suck a mixture of cold air and dirty rain water through taut lips and expel it all in an agonized howl. The knife rose and fell again, then again, perforating my internal organs, each stab more painful than the last. Each time it pulled free, I prayed to a God I didn’t believe in that it would end, that I would get up and hurry on my way to see Trevor.

My body jerked and spasmed beneath the men straddling me, my bladder let go. After the fourth time the knife entered me, my flesh went numb. It may have pierced me a few more times, but I lost interest in counting. I gasped air in through my mouth and the breath tasted like the black crud scraped off bread left too long in the toaster. And blood.

“That’s enough. Let’s go,” one of them said, presumably the one not engaged in shredding my bowels.

Their weight lifted off my back and my mind told me to roll over and sit up, defend against further attack, but my muscles would have nothing of such a proposal, so I lay on the wet grass doing the only thing I could: bleed. Maybe I wept a little, too, but who can tell in the rain?

“I guess Icarus really did fall, didn’t he, Ric?”

Their laughter didn’t sting nearly as much as the knife, and it dissipated much more quickly as they ran off. I was used to being teased but couldn’t say the same of being knifed. After they left, my ragged breathing and the sound of rain pattering around and on me became my world. I never realized how much noise rain hitting grass made until my ear was pressed to the ground with no choice but to listen.

My stomach knotted as the gravity of my situation set in: after eleven on a Wednesday night, bleeding on the lawn outside an empty church in the kind of downpour that convinced people not to venture out for a chat with God.

Did I mention I was bleeding? A lot?

Water pooled in my ear canal until the unnaturally loud plop of rain drops splashing into the tiny pond drowned out even the sound of my breath. Not steady, metronomic drips like I imagined a water torture would be, but an uneven patter that, should I live long enough, would likely prove equally effective at driving me crazy.

“Help.”

In my head, the single word came out a scream, shaking trees and rattling windows, attracting the attention needed to save me so I could see my son again, even if it was for the last time. In reality, it was more of a peep. I closed my eyes and sucked dirty water through my nose then coughed it out my mouth. The pain it induced in my back and side hurt worse than the original stabbing, like someone stood over me with a hot poker pressed to my side, except I was cold and wet and bleeding to death, too. A hot poker didn’t sound so bad.

“Help,” I peeped.

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ALL WHO WANDER ARE LOST

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If we’re good, we go to Heaven; if we’re bad we go to Hell. No one wants to go to Hell.Except one man who wishes people would just remember to call him Ric.

In the aftermath of a serial killer’s murderous spree, souls who didn’t deserve damnation went to Hell. The archangel Michael doesn’t seem concerned, but Icarus Fell can’t bear the guilt of knowing it’s his fault they ended up there.

But how can he save them when the archangel forbids him from going and his guardian angel refuses to help?

The answer comes in the form of another beautiful, bewitching guardian angel who offers to be his guide. They travel to Hell to rescue the unjustly damned one by one, but salvation comes at a cost and the economy of Hell demands souls.Is it a price Icarus is willing to pay?

Bruce Blake lives on Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada. When pressing issues like shovelling snow and building igloos don’t take up his spare time, Bruce can be found taking the dog sled to the nearest coffee shop to work on his short stories and novels.

Actually, Victoria, B.C. is only a couple hours north of Seattle, Wash., where more rain is seen than snow. Since snow isn’t really a pressing issue, Bruce spends more time trying to remember to leave the “u” out of words like “colour” and “neighbour” than he does shovelling (and watch out for those pesky double l’s). The father of two, Bruce is also the trophy husband of a burlesque diva.

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Pre-Order Tour & Giveaway – Naughty Novellas – Various Authors

NAUGHTY NOVELLAS

Genre: BDSM, Contemporary, Fairytale, Fantasy, Historical, Paranormal, Shape-shifter, Threesome

Seven Sensuous Romance including BDSM, Contemporary, Fairytale, Fantasy, Historical, Paranormal, Shape-shifter, and Threesome by bestselling authors

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By day, Belle Scarlett is a mild-mannered story consultant, film producer, and award-winning screenwriter in Lost Angeles. By night, she assumes her super-secret identity as Belle Scarlett, author of futuristic and paranormal romances with a high sizzle factor. Belle is also a proud member of The Naughty Literati – romance authors who publish boxed sets of their hot stories several time a year.

Aiding Belle in her quest for kick-ass, magical romance and out-of-this-world, passionate-ever-afters are her trusty sidekicks, Tall-Alpha-Blue-Eyed Boyfriend, upon whom her heroes are based, and Evil Feral Cat, upon whom her villains are based.

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Colorado: The new frontier. This is the voyage of Nicole Austin. It’s been a lifelong mission. To explore awe-inspiring vistas. To get out of the rut, seek new experiences. To boldly go where she’s dreamed of being.

And she’s not taking this crazy journey alone. With some arm-twisting, kicking and screaming, she stuffed her best friend and co-author in the trunk of her muscle car, traded tropical beaches for snowcapped mountains and headed off into the great unknown.

A passion for erotic romance, along with the voices in her head that refuse to be silenced, have led to the creation of provocative stories that push boundaries and release inhibitions, resulting in extreme reader satisfaction. Scandalous!

Now she lives in an incredible world where fantasy comes to life in bold, vivid detail. Well, until real life intrudes, but Nicole fights a valiant battle to keep reality moments at a minimum and hold on to the dream.

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Tina Donahue is an Amazon and international bestselling novelist in erotic, paranormal, contemporary and historical romance for traditional publishers and indie. Booklist, Publisher’s Weekly, Romantic Times and numerous online sites have praised her work. Three of her erotic novels (Freeing the Beast, Come and Get Your Love, and Wicked Takeover) were Readers’ Choice Award winners. Another three (Adored, Lush Velvet Nights, and Deep, Dark, Delicious) were named finalists in the EPIC competition. Sensual Stranger, her erotic contemporary romance, was chosen Book of the Year at the French review site Blue Moon reviews. The Golden Nib Award at Miz Love Loves Books was created specifically for her erotic romance Lush Velvet Nights. Two of her titles (The Yearning and Deep, Dark, Delicious) received an Award of Merit in the RWA Holt Medallion competition. Take Me Away and Adored both won second place in the NEC RWA contest (different years). Tina is featured in the Novel & Short Story Writer’s Market. Before penning romances, she worked at a major Hollywood production company in Story Direction.

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Berengaria Brown is an award-winning, best-selling, multi-published author of erotic romance with over one hundred published digital, print and audio books. She writes contemporary, paranormal (magic, ghosts, vampires, fairies, dragons, and werewolves), futuristic, medieval, and Regency-set historical. She loves to read all different kinds of romance so that is what she writes: MMF, MFM, FMMM, FFM, MM, FF, and MF. Whatever the characters need for their very hot happily-ever-after, Berengaria makes sure they get it.

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Katherine Kingston is the author of a dozen or so novels and novellas, most of which are currently out of print but re-edited and re-released now. Currently the first three of her Suburban Dominants series are available at most ebook retailers. She’s also a member of The Naughty Literati and has had a story in all of their anthologies so far. Kate writes in a number of genres including contemporary BDSM, historical, paranormal, and fantasy.

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Kathy Kulig is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling novelist of erotic contemporary and paranormal romance. She’s a science geek by day and escapes into her writer’s world at night. Known for writing dark and edgy stories, Kathy’s books are passionate, emotionally-charged and always have a happy ending. She began her writing career in journalism, publishing articles in magazines and newspapers. Now she lives in a fantasy world making up sexy stories to entice her readers.

When she’s not writing, she loves to work out, travel, read stacks of books, watch movies and have dinners out with her darling husband. She lives in Pennsylvania in a 100 year-old Victorian house with a garage built out of reject tombstones.

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Release Blitz – Heart of the King – Bruce Blake

HEART OF THE KING

Khirro’s Journey Book 3

by Bruce Blake

PUBLISHER: Paper Gold Publishing

GENRE: Epic Fantasy

 

It began with a vial of blood, a curse, and a quest to a haunted land.

Now, Khirro’s Journey comes to its end.

A king’s spirit. A coward’s heart. Together, a kingdom’s last hope.

Sheyndust, the Archon, desires to be Necromancer and wield dark magic the likes of which the world has never seen. For years, her deadly plan has fallen into place piece by piece, treachery by treachery, death by death. With her enemies on their knees and an army of the dead at her command, nothing stands between her and the ultimate power for which she thirsts.

Nothing except a farmer and a dead king.

The curse that bound Khirro to his task was broken when the blood of the king spilled, but the king’s spirit—a tyger of vengeful flame—burns bright within him. It pushes Khirro through hostile lands to return to his home. It pushes him to be more than he ever thought he could be despite the doubt and fear devouring him. It pushes him in a race against time to save the kingdom, a race he is bound to lose.

As the final pieces of the Archon’s plot fall into place, and her power and army grow, it looks certain that all will be lost.

Unless a coward can look inside himself and find the heart of a king.

 

Chapter One

“They’re coming.”

Therrador sat on the pile of dirty straw, elbows on his knees, head hung. He didn’t raise his head when he heard the words.

Enough days had passed for him to lose track of their number; the guards had woken him every time he appeared to doze, and brought only water enough to keep him alive, nothing more. No food, no change of clothes, no medicine. The filthy bandage wrapped around his hand reeked of infection, and the stump of thumb hidden beneath ached with numb pain, though not so much as the untended wound in his thigh.

“They’re coming.”

A woman’s voice spoke the words, so he knew it to be either hallucination or the Archon toying with him. He had no interest in either.

“They still carry the essence of the king.”

The muscles in Therrador’s back and shoulders went rigid at the last words.

“Leave me be, witch. Haven’t you punished me enough?” His voice cracked in his parched throat and its tone of defeat surprised and embarrassed him.

The temperature in the cell dropped, and the feeling of a presence beside him brought goose flesh to Therrador’s arms. He looked up into the burning green eyes of a young woman, her freckled cheeks framed by red curls, and thought she might be the most beautiful woman he’d ever seen.

A trick.

“I am Elyea. I’m here to help you.”

“You’re not real,” Therrador croaked. “You’re another of the Archon’s tortures.”

“I’m not.”

She crouched in front of him and held her hand out to him. In the dim light cast by the torch in the passage outside the cell, and with his lack of strength and focus, it took a minute for Therrador to realize she held a cup.

Hallucinating like a dying man in the desert.

He stared at it but made no move to accept it. The woman didn’t move, either.

“Take it.”

Therrador considered for another moment before reaching out a weak and shaking hand. His fingers brushed the side of the clay mug, felt its solidity, its realness. Saliva rushed into his mouth at the thought the cup may contain relief from the thirst burning at the back of his throat, but he kept his eagerness carefully hidden. His fingers wrapped around the vessel’s cool surface and brought it close to his face; he peered over the lip at the liquid inside.

It looked like water.

He leaned closer to it and sniffed deeply.

No odor.

The edge of the cup touched his mouth and a splash of water lapped against his lips. Cool, tasteless. He slurped a little onto his tongue, the promise it held making his parched throat howl for more and, before he could stop himself, Therrador quaffed the water as fast as his mouth would take it. Water spilled over his chin, ran down his neck into his shirt. The cup’s supply never seemed to end allowing him to drink and drink and drink.

He drank until his belly hurt.

Energy flowed back into the king’s limbs. He pulled his mouth away from the rim of the cup and tilted his head back, drawing a satisfied breath in through his nose before gazing at the woman’s face. Her full lips tilted up at the corners in a gentle smile, her eyes shone. He didn’t know her, had never seen her before, but inexplicably felt he should trust her.

“Elyea, is it?” he whispered. “Who is coming?”

“You’ll know him when he comes, but he’ll need your help.”

Therrador scratched his stubbled cheek, felt the heat of fever burning in his head, and wondered if this woman and her words could be real. He turned the clay cup between his fingers; it felt real enough.

If the man bearing the king’s blood was coming, and he aided him, perhaps the Archon might be defeated. But this knowledge of her enemy’s inevitable arrival might also be the bargaining chip he needed to get his son back. He looked toward the cell door and saw the shadow of his undead guard beyond, so leaned toward the woman. She smelled of roses.

“When will he come?”

“Soon, and there will be a battle. That is where your help will be needed. Not even the king’s spirit can defeat the army of Kanos without help.”

Therrador nodded and stroked the long beard trailing from his chin, the braid which normally held it in place abandoned soon after he landed in the dungeon cell.

“I’ll need out of here.”

“I can’t help with that; it’s up to you. But I can help with this.”

The tips of her fingers brushed his wounded thigh. Pain flared along Therrador’s leg as if she’d touched him with a lit torch, and he sucked a breath between his clenched teeth, biting down against the agonized cry in his throat. The wound throbbed and burned, his body tensed. She pressed her palm flat against it and, a minute later, the pain settled to a tingling sensation, then finally disappeared.

The woman removed her hand and Therrador replaced her touch with his own. The flesh felt tender and sore, but the wound was gone. He raised his right hand wrapped in the stinking bandage, hoping she would do the same for the wound beneath the gray cloth. She looked at it and shook her head, then stood, and Therrador saw her form was translucent.

“You have some time, but not much.”

The imprisoned king stared as she seemed to float across the cell toward the door, feet hidden beneath her long white gown. She didn’t pause when she reached the bars, but passed through and faded from sight like a morning mist burned away by midday sun.

A ghost?

Therrador touched the back of his hand to his forehead and found his fever had broken, disappeared along with the wound to his leg. Perhaps sickness and hallucination weren’t to blame. The king had never believed in apparitions, but neither did he believe in men brought back from the dead until they laid siege to the fortress. It had been a season of oddities: the king’s blood, undead soldiers, and now a spirit come to his aid.

Is this an opportunity to save my son, or is my mind finally snapping in two?

If the ghost’s words were true, he had little time to decide which was the case and how to best use it to his advantage.

He rose from the filthy straw, joints creaking with disuse, and brushed dirt from the seat of his breeches before taking an unsteady step toward the cell door. When his previously injured leg didn’t falter beneath him, he strode across the floor, energized by the ghostly woman’s water. He reached the bars and wrapped the fingers of his good hand around the cold steel, pulled his face close. A short way down the hall, his undead guard stood motionless, staring at the blank wall ahead, as always.

It didn’t see the woman.

“Guard,” he called, his voice strong and filled with the authority bred of years commanding men. “I need to see the Archon. Now.”

 

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Blood of the KingSpirit of the King

Bruce Blake lives on Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada. When pressing issues like shovelling snow and building igloos don’t take up his spare time, Bruce can be found taking the dog sled to the nearest coffee shop to work on his short stories and novels.

Actually, Victoria, B.C. is only a couple hours north of Seattle, Wash., where more rain is seen than snow. Since snow isn’t really a pressing issue, Bruce spends more time trying to remember to leave the “u” out of words like “colour” and “neighbour” than he does shovelling (and watch out for those pesky double l’s). The father of two, Bruce is also the trophy husband of a burlesque diva.

 

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Promo Your – Haven – Katherine Bogle

HAVEN

by Katherine Bogle

Genre: YA Fantasy

 

Princess Haven was never meant to be Queen.Her immortality has saved her time and time again, but when the last of her royal family dies at her feet, she is next in line to rule a nation on the brink of war. With no formal training on how to be Queen, Haven must rise to the occasion with the help of her best friends, and personal guard, or risk losing everyone she has ever loved.

With war to the West, and no escape to the East, the evil tyrant Kadia sets her sights on the six kingdoms. Haven’s neighbors are quick to fall under the swords of Kadia’s shadow soldiers, leaving a sea of bodies and a clear path to Haven’s only home. Haven must make a choice; take her people and flee to the foreign Republic across the sea or lead a last stand against a powerful dictator.

 

 

 

“You will be perfect. You will be great. You will be a just Queen.” Haven paced the length of the hall, trying to calm her rattled nerves. “You will lead them fairly. You will save them. By the grace of the gods, you will.”The distant boom of drums startled her. She stopped abruptly, her gaze lingering on the large oak doors leading to the throne room.

“All rise,” a muffled voice said behind closed doors.

The time had come.

Clearing her throat, Haven smoothed her regal skirts and stepped up to the ornately carved entry. Warm afternoon light spilled across the floor, bathing her dark red dress in fire. Sparkles from her jewel-covered throat cast a dazzling pattern across her olive skin.

Haven never thought she’d live long enough to take the throne. In a family of two older brothers, and a healthy father, it would never be expected that the eldest daughter would ascend. But it was her misfortune to be blessed with longevity. Haven had outlived much of her family, and as the idea of becoming Queen grew nearer, that blessing had only become a curse.

✯✯✯✯ A new fantasy debut that promises an intriguing seriesBy Faith

An epic fantasy led by a powerful female protagonist, Haven’s narrative unfolds in a world where magic is rare and war is brewing. A newly crowned queen & gifted with immortality, Haven is granted ultimate power in her kingdom in the wake of her family’s murder. Thrown into the role of Queen, she must rely on her friends, advisors and fellow kings to survive the coming storm and grow confident in her ruling ability.

It is a well-written novel, full of conflict and layered with unexpected themes. At the core is Haven, a protagonist and heroine who is compassionate and insecure. She is a relatable human being whose concern for her subjects’ well-being also makes her rather endearing.

Her major arc deals with her conflict with Kadia, a woman who has a perverse fascination with her powers. This leads to rather dark and disturbing turn of events. The events that Haven is forced to contend with are life-altering and character building. Where many authors might fumble with the repercussions of them, Katherine deals with the fallout deftly, elevating the strength of the story in thematic terms.

The secondary characters have interesting stories of their own, and while most aren’t as fully developed as I wish they would be, the primary male supporters are given enough depth and room to grow.

The setting descriptions and world-building are intricate, bringing Warshard to life. There is a lot of foundation laid for future installments, promising new lands and characters that will delight as well as the first.

The conclusion of the novel was a little jarring and wrapped up too quickly, but it does not take away from the general enjoyment of the narrative. I look forward to the next one!

Fans of epic fantasy will be drawn into Haven’s story, discovering in her a strong female protagonist. Looking for a new world to get lost in, look no further.

✯✯✯✯✯ Some things are worth fighting for ~ Haven must decide what it is

By Meagan @ Blooming with Books

War has come to the Six Kingdoms of Warshard and the Kingdom of Rythern is the latest victim of Queen Kadia’s insanity. With the murder of her parents and her brothers Haven Fyre is now queen of Rythern, a role she was never suppose to hold. But her people need a queen, and in Haven they will have one that cannot be killed.

Going to war against Kadia seems suicide with the kingdoms various armies having suffered losses to her shadow soldiers. With this seeming impossibility the Royals are faced with an impossible decision – fight, flee, or do nothing.

Does Haven commit her remaining soldiers to aid King Corrin in his plan to retake his fallen capital? Or are her troops needed first and foremost in defense of Rythern? Or does she offer Rythern as a place of sanctuary for those who are fleeing Kadia’s aggression?

Relying on the advise of her closest friends and her desire to protect her people, Haven makes a decision that will forever change her life and the future of the Six Kingdoms.

Haven is a book that takes the reader on a journey – a journey of emotion, of loss, of friendship, of betrayal, and of promise. And this is a journey of growth as Haven becomes the queen she never expected to be by facing her fears and learning to live life.

This is the first (per the title) in a series and I for one am looking forward to additional books in this series. Though the book is complete in the story it is telling there is most definitely plenty of material from which more could come. The writing style of Katherine Bogle is steady and flowing. There are periods of endless action mixed with those of waiting which is true to what one would experience in one’s own life if one were in a similar situation.

This book is definitely aimed at older teens and adults due to the subject matter of a few scenes – this book after all deals with war and the violence that comes with such a state of affairs. Overall I highly recommend this book and this author’s work.

 

Katherine Bogle’s debut young adult novel, Haven, came second in the World’s Best Story contest 2015. She currently resides in Saint John, New Brunswick with her partner in crime, and plethora of cats. She can be found at www.katherinebogle.com.
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Release Blitz – The Lost – Holly Barbo

THE LOST

Book 5 of the Sage Seed Chronicles
by Holly Barbo
GENRE: YA Fantasy
Long-lost artifacts lure people from a lost population out on a secret quest. At the same time, an unexpectedly strong winter storm forces Erin to take refuge in an isolated cabin. Unbeknownst to her, this was the last known location of the missing items that Kai, one of the lost, is looking for.
Dismayed to find Erin at the cabin, he reacts in the only logical way: Kill any witnesses to protect his people.
With a ferocious blizzard ravaging the realm, will the sages be able to prevent bloodshed? And what would it take to avoid war with THE LOST ones?
Prologue: The Penal colony on Obsidian Island

Bure glared at the old man, his whole body vibrating with his effort to suppress his frustration and be civil. He wanted answers and would prefer not to beat them out of the coot. The guy was older than him but looked tough. “How do you get out of this place? I’ve been all over this valley and I’ve not found even a crevice of a cave or a finger hold to scale the walls. You’ve been here awhile. Tell me!”
The grey-haired fellow met Bure’s eyes with a calm confidence. “I’ve watched you. I know. We all search this valley when we first arrive until we come to the same conclusion. So son, tell me, what part of ‘Once you’re in Obsidian Island there is no getting out’ don’t you understand?”
He chuckled when he saw the flare of rage in Bure’s eyes. “It’s true. There’s no exit. Look all you want. Let me tell you what you found: The walls of this crater are glass smooth and very hard so you can’t chip any climbing grips. The trees aren’t tall enough to reach the top if you climbed them. The stream that feeds this valley starts as an artesian spring in the small lake over there and exits in a seep at the west end of the basin. If it didn’t, this whole crater would be a lake with an island in the middle.”
Bure’s growl interrupted the recitation. “Yeah, well, what about that stone uplift?” He gestured to the huge column of stone rising from the floor of the basin.
The veteran mused, “It’s interesting, isn’t it? A former resident of this place had been a geologist. He said that before Obsidian became extinct it was trying to rebuild itself. That huge stone column is just as smooth and unscalable as all the other walls. It’s high enough that birds perched on the edge are beyond bow range, and even if you could get up there, you still would be out of reach of the outer walls.”
Bure snarled.
The older man shook his head. “It isn’t so bad a place when you accept the inevitable. You’ll see. There are resources to build a life here. We’ve all tried to escape and take revenge against those who sent us here but there’s no way out.” He studied the fuming young man. “So, what did you do? What laws did you break? My guess would be murder.” He watched as the new man clenched his fists.
Now the seasoned inhabitant threw back his head and laughed deeply. “Thought as much. I know the signs. I’ve been in this extinct volcano for nearly thirty years; killed a witch, I did. Murder is against the law on this world and one of the sure ways to end up here.” The old man’s gravelly voice took on a harder edge. “This crater is the exception, so don’t get ideas, son. I may be older than you but I’m fit and can defend myself. I can still kill you if you push me to it.”
Bure’s scoff of disdain was cut short by an unnervingly strong hand around his throat. The older man laughed with a mad glee, “You’ve heard the phrase, ‘I brought you into this world and I can take you out’? It’s very true, son. I’m Kald … your daddy. So nice of you to provide this little family reunion. Welcome to Obsidian Island.”
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Holly’s world is shaped by her love of family, the beauty of the natural world and an irrepressible creative drive. She has always been curious and sees life through questions. These four characteristics color her writing voice and her stories frequently evolve from her asking “What if….?” Her tales tend to have non-urban settings with nature contributing to the plot, building discordant themes inside a seemingly peaceful refrain.

My motto: Weaving Alternative Worlds with Threads From Today.

 

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Promo Tour – Angels Fly 0 Donna Simonetta


ANGELS FLY
by Donna Simonetta

Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Contemporary Fantasy Romance

 

 

Two years after her husband’s death, Kelly believes her romantic life is done. Until she reconnects with her girlhood crush on social media, and as fate would have it, he lives across the street.
James is over the whole true-love thing. His grasping ex-wife tore that belief out of him, when she left him for a rich, old man. Then he finds out his first love moved to San Diego too, and their attraction burns as hot as ever.
What they don’t know is that Fate didn’t bring them together – the Guardian Angel Corps did, led by two unlikely Cupids – Kelly’s late husband and Zane, a rough and tumble, 19th century cowboy. When a Fallen Angel decides to tear Kelly and James apart, cherubs and harps aren’t going to cut it, and Zane’s unique skills might be just what they need to get a second chance at their first love.

“Grace and Janie bullied me into signing up on one of those social networks, and I’m wondering if anyone’s tried to get in touch with me.” She flashed a bright smile at her old friend. “I sent a friend request to Susie Davidson, and I want to see if she’s responded.”
“Susie Davidson,” Grace’s voice dripped with disdain. “We didn’t badger you into doing this so you could reconnect with Susie Davidson.”
“Hey, what’ve you got against old Susie? She was an integral part of our nerd squad in high school,” David said. “Right, Kel?”
When she didn’t reply, he glanced over at his old friend to see her frozen at her computer; all the color drained from her face. “Kel, what’s wrong?”
“I didn’t hear from Susie, but I did get a message from James Flynn,” she whispered.
David jumped to his feet and peeked over her shoulder at the computer screen. “Yummy James Flynn from Rye?”
Grace snickered. “Sounds like a sandwich. I’ll have a Yummy James Flynn on rye. Hold the mayo.”
Kelly and David swung their heads in unison to stare at her.
“What? It’s not my fault you two come from a town named after a bread.”
David shook his head mournfully and intoned, “Californians.”
“Native, baby.” The blonde woman grinned playfully. “And don’t you New England Yankees forget it.”
“What does he say, Kel?” David asked with interest.
Kelly gulped. “He wants to get in touch and maybe meet for a drink.” She twisted her head to look up at David, her eyes huge in her pale face. “He lives here, David. In San Diego.”
“Oh. My. God. You have to meet him, and if you don’t, I will,” David said.
He managed to bring a small smile to Kelly’s previously stunned face. “I don’t think you’re his type. Sorry.”
“What do you mean? He prefers brunettes?” David winked. “A man can hope—you don’t have to be such a dream dasher, Kel.”
“Is there a picture?” Grace asked, as she strolled over with her wine. “I’ve got to see the man who’s got David drooling, and you looking like you’re about to pass out.”
“I’m not drooling,” David protested.
“Oh, please, darling.” Grace pretended to wipe the corner of his mouth with a cocktail napkin.
“Okay. Maybe slight droolage, but James Flynn is totally drool-worthy. At least he used to be. Is there a picture of him now?”
Kelly shook her head. “Nope. Not much of anything on his profile, it looks like he just registered.”
David raised his eyebrows. “And he contacted you right away? In-ter-es-ting.”
Grace got the bottle of wine from the terra cotta bottle holder on the kitchen island, which separated Kelly’s computer area from the kitchen in the large open living space. She topped off all of their glasses.
“Call me Nancy Drew, but I sense a mystery here. What’s the story with Yummy James Flynn from Rye?

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Average of 5✯ over 5 reviews on Amazon.com

✯✯✯✯✯Great read for summertime or anytime
By JoeS Verified Purchase
I loved this book! Well-developed characters and a unique story that’s a breath of fresh air among a sea of same-old same-old offerings. So many stories follow one of a few basic plots, but Angels Fly takes a charmingly different tack. You’ll laugh and you’ll cheer. If you’re looking for a good read, look no further — and let’s hope there’s more to come from Zane and company.

✯✯✯✯✯A Page Turner – couldn’t wait to see what was going to happen next !

By CarpeDiem Verified Purchase
It more than met my expectations ! Great read – great escape book. Loved the twists and turns! Great characters and great story. Enjoyed the setting in San Diego too. Take a moment and check out this book ! Enjoy.


After years working in the business world, my love of reading led me to get my MLS, and I currently work part-time in a school library, a job that allows me lots of time to explore my other love – writing romance! I live in Maryland, with my husband, who is my real-life romance hero. We both enjoy traveling to visit our far-flung family and friends, and spending time on the beach with an umbrella drink and a good book.

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