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Dec 16, 2013

Unknown by Melissa Pearl

Darkness is covering the land. As the city of Mezrah grows with power and greed, the rest of the world can only stand by and wait for their inevitable destruction. The only hope against this growing power is an ancient prophecy that people have stopped believing in.

Then a star begins to fall.

Princess Kyla of Taramon stopped trusting in the power of light the day her father died. Trapped in a city she does not care for, under the watchful glare of her mother, the queen, she struggles to accept her fate.

Then a star begins to fall.

Jethro has loved Kyla for as long as he can remember. Learning that she was to marry his cousin drove a wedge between him and the feisty princess. Watching her from a distance is a torture he is unable to free himself from.

Then a star begins to fall, sparking an ember of hope and sending these two seekers on a treacherous journey into the unknown.

Download Unknown, Book 1 of The Elements Trilogy, from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo and iTunes.

Excerpt


“Nikara?” Mordekai poked his head into the room, he saw the small lump in the bed and hurriedly approached his apprentice. “Nikara, my dear.” He shook her shoulder.

She let out a soft groan and turned towards him. “Morning already?”

“No. No.” He shook his head. “Sorry to wake you, but this is of the utmost importance.”

Her wide, slanted eyes looked dry as she gazed at him. He knew she would never have the impudence to consciously show it, but he could sense her reticence.

“Please, child. You must see this.”

Biting her rosebud lips together, she slid out from beneath the covers and took the candle he held out to her. Throwing a robe over her shoulders, Mordekai danced like an excited child as he beckoned her to follow.

Her steps were too sleepy and slow for his liking, and he found himself dragging her through the streets. She knew not to question him before she must and stayed silent throughout the short journey. They reached the top of the stairs and stepped out onto his small perch.

“Mordekai, what are we doing up here?”

He turned away from the inky blackness below and gazed up at the sky. His white teeth beamed through his grey beard. “Look through the telescope.”

Nikara covered her yawn with delicate fingers. “Mordekai…”

“Just look, child.”

She blinked slowly. He knew she didn’t like him calling her child anymore; she was nineteen years of age and quite a beauty. He noticed how men now stopped to glance at her, something he was struggling to adjust to. To him, she would always be the little waif he found bleeding on his doorstep.

He bit his lip as she stepped towards the telescope he had spent hours gazing through. He knew the night sky better than anyone in the city.

Nikara squeezed her left eye tight and peered into the lens.

“Do you see my star?”

Her small fingers swivelled the telescope to the north. “Yes,” she mumbled.

He watched her in agitated silence. Her body was rigid, her fingertips turning white as they pressed against the smooth wood.

Had she noticed? Why wasn’t she saying anything?

Finally unable to bear it, he whispered, “Do you notice—"

“It’s moving.” She glanced up at him, her lips parted. “I thought I was seeing things, but…” She bent down to have another look. “It’s…” Stepping away from the telescope, she leaned against the wall. “Mordekai, is it falling?”

He let out a chuckle. “Look for a diamond glowing in the north, though it falls, it will not fail.” He quoted the second part of the prophecy with a laugh.

“What does that mean?”

“It means I was right. The diamond of the prophecy is not the crystal in Taramon Tower. It is this star.”

The one he had discovered sixteen years ago.

Nikara swallowed. “Mordekai, it’s been too long. No one believes the prophecy anymore.”

“Well maybe they should.”

Her lips pressed together in a tight grimace as she looked out into the inky blackness. “Do we tell—?”

“No. No, we mustn’t. He forbade talk of the prophecy years ago; we must keep this to ourselves.”

His face scrunched in thought as he turned his gaze to the far borderlands.

“Mordekai?”

The tremor in her voice was hard to miss, and he felt a touch of guilt as he turned to her. “Pack your things, child. It’s time to leave Mezrah.”




Find more from Melissa on her website, Facebook and Twitter.

Dec 13, 2013

We're Moving!


I'm moving my website to bestfantasynovel.com. From here on out, this will be the website to visit for all of my latest updates, thoughts and featured books. I should be getting the feed transitioned soon, but go ahead and explore the new site!

Dec 11, 2013

SNAP: Happily Ever After? by Michele Drier

Loving Jean-Louis for eternity doesn't mean that Maxie Gwenoch will let him turn her. Jean-Louis is a vampire, is gorgeous, is the second-in-command of the Kandesky Family of Hungarian vampires, and is her boss at SNAP, the multinational, multimedia celeb gossip empire where she is the VP for International Planning. She moves to Kiev to build a home with Jean-Louis and finds her future under a cloud from Leonid, a rival from the Huszar family, now living in a bolthole in the ruins of Chernobyl. Will Maxie find safety by giving up her days and joining Jean-Louis in the vampire nights?

Download SNAP: Happily Ever After? from Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Excerpt


Had I forgotten Leonid? Oh no, I’d never forget him.

He’d captured me, held me hostage for Jean-Louis, beat and raped me, let his toady Jules rape me. Much of the immediate horror of that time was pushed so far back in my mind that it took an effort of will to bring it out, but the fact that it happened never left me.

And I hadn’t forgotten that Leonid got away after the murder verdict and execution of Matthias, the head of the Huszar family.

“You said he couldn’t be found. You said there were only some tales of people and animals going missing in Romania and Belarus.”

His glimmer dimmed then flared back again, a sure sign he was going to try to convince me of something. “It’s true, we believed he was disappearing back in to the countryside. He had no contacts, no money and only a few followers. We didn’t think he’d try and head for Ukraine, but he did. He still had a small nucleus of followers here in Kiev.”

There was no oxygen in the room. I couldn’t breathe. My heart pounded. I knew Jean-Louis saw that. He may not have hunted and killed humans for food for more than 500 years, but his instincts were still there. I tried to keep myself calm around the Kandeskys, hoping they’d forget I was a regular. Fat chance.

On occasions like this, with blind panic and fear running along my nerves and affecting my circulatory system, the vampire’s internal hunting responses started to kick in.

He looked at me. “This is not something I wanted to tell you and I certainly didn’t want to tell you until we had a chance to decipher the information coming in. I had a very different ‘Welcome to Kiev’ planned.”

OK, I knew he’d explain things. But, wow, I didn’t even think that Leonid would be part of the explanation. He watched my eyes fill with remembered terror and reached over to hold me, but I pushed him away.

“And when were you planning to tell me this?”

He sighed. “Nik and I planned an evening with you. We’d tell you about Leonid then go over all that we knew and all that we’re planning to neutralize him. I, we, never want him coming within miles of you ever again.”

I flashed back to my first glimpse of him, standing on the steps of Nik’s mansion so coldly angry that the air around him looked crystalline. “I hope your anger wasn’t part of the plan.”

He threw his head back and laughed. “You ninny! Even teasing me, you do entertain. No, of course not. Now you’ll have to wait. Nik’s already gone up to his room.”

Rooms! Ah ha, an opening. “Speaking of rooms...”

He looked at me, gazed around the room and looked back. “What’s the matter, you don’t like the accommodations?”

I threw my reader at him and followed it up with a pillow. He was fast, batting the pillow back hard enough to knock a gasp out of me. I found a breath. “No, I wasn’t expecting to be put up in an economy hotel. And where’s the help?”

“We were going to hash all of this over with you until you forced a change of plans. You’re going to have to wait for this, too. I will say that we had other ideas about accommodations, but we’re having to use a fall-back position. And until yesterday, we didn’t have one.”

He was up, pacing, a movement I knew well. His mind worked more creatively and clearly when he was on the move. Then his pacing stopped as he threw himself down on the bed next to me, turned my face to his and kissed me, so hard, so long and so deep I melted from the heat that rose to engulf me.

“My love, my love.” He was murmuring into my hair. “I’m desolate without you. If you’re not around when I expect you to be, I panic. I know I react badly, in what looks like anger, but it’s fear...fear of losing you.”

His hands were stroking my hair and moving down my back, then he started pulling my shirt up.

“What do you have on? Where’s all your lingerie? Didn’t you pack it?”

I all but giggled. There were times when I even slept in one of his old shirts, so that I had his scent with me, but tonight I’d been too upset to want anything of him around. And sexy lingerie to sleep alone! No way.

“No thanks to you, but yes, Elise and I packed some things. Of course I don’t have anyone here to help me...”

I stopped. He was helping me. Sort of. He managed to pull the tee over my head, which trapped my arms, and began kissing and slowly licking my breasts, working his way down my body. The bed shifted and I heard sounds of clothing coming off, the soft snick of buttons and the hiss of a zipper. As tangled as I was in the tee, I hadn’t managed to get an arm free before I felt the length of his naked body against mine.

Now I truly melted and lived for the sensations he brought to me.

As I came back to consciousness, I was aware of movement in the room. I opened my eyes to the faintest glimmer of dawn and saw him silhouetted against the window as he pulled the heavy drapes shut.

He turned to me. “It’s six, true dawn is still half an hour away. I’m leaving now. We’re planning dinner and a long conversation tonight. No matter what, remember that I love you for eternity.”

I slept, my body remembering his touch and my mind drifting in an ocean of caring.

Without Elise to wake me, I jerked upright from a deep sleep, disoriented. Where was I? What time was it? The room was dark. I groped around on the bedside table, found a lamp and flipped it on. Memory came washing back. Last night, the wretched fight, Nik’s guest room, Jean-Louis...ah, Jean-Louis. I lay back on the pillows remembering the last look of him closing the curtains...oh, crap! What time was it? I was supposed to meet Jean-Louis and Nik for dinner and a discussion.

I rolled back over and checked. Four in the afternoon. Enough time to shower and get ready, even without help.

The tap on the door came as I was putting the final pins in a wrapped updo. He came in and I stood. I’d chosen a short, layered dress the colors of autumn leaves and strappy two-inch Via Spigas and felt confident enough to hear what the two had to say.

Jean-Louis looked me over and smiled. “I knew when we offered you the job that we’d chosen well. A woman who can overcome adversity, a few little bumps along the road, and still come up looking good enough to eat!”

This time I picked up a pot of blush to throw but decided I didn’t want to waste perfectly good Lazlo on him. He knew I hated those stupid vampire cracks, made them only to push my buttons. I gave him the evil eye as I sailed out the door.

Something was wrong. Something was missing. I looked around as Jean-Louis joined me and took my arm. Bam, that was it. No demons!

Even after the execution, I had demon guards outside the door to my suite in the Baron’s castle. Though the Huszars may have been scattered or co-opted, their centuries-old headquarters was only a few miles away and Stefan Kandesky and Jean-Louis didn’t believe in taking chances.

Here in Kiev it was pleasant being able to come and go without a trailing demon, as fond of them as I’d become.

Under the freedom of not having a guard, though, there was a twinge of nervousness.

Leonid was alive.



Find more from Michele on her website and Facebook

Dec 9, 2013

Blur by Kristen Middleton

Danger lurks in the dead of night...

Seventeen year old Nikki and her twin brother, Nathan, move to the small town of Shore Lake to start over after their mother is brutally attacked. When a missing teenager washes up on shore during their first night at the cabin and there are whispers of vampires in Shore Lake, Nikki begins to realize that there are things roaming in the darkness that are far more sinister than what they left behind in the city.

Blur is recommended for mature readers. You can download it at AmazonBarnes and NobleiTunesSony and Kobo.


Excerpt



A strange noise jolted me awake, and I looked towards the window, only to find myself alone.

Must have been dreaming…

Sighing with relief, I checked the time and noticed I’d been in the tub for a half hour. The water was too chilly to enjoy anymore so I decided to get out. I toweled myself dry, put my robe on, and unplugged the bathtub. I then padded into the bedroom where I stopped dead in my tracks. Ethan was on my balcony, leaning against the railing watching me. He reminded me of a predator studying its kill before striking.

Time seemed to stand still as the realization of what Ethan really was sunk in. Obviously, he’d made it up to my balcony all by himself, and yesterday, we’d soared through the night faster than what was humanly possible. There could only be one explanation now, and it chilled me to the bone.

We stared at each other for what seemed like forever and then he pointed to the door.

Swallowing hard, I stepped over and unlocked it.

“Aren’t you going to invite me in?” he asked softly.

My heart was hammering in my chest and I bit the side of my lip, trying to decide what to do.

“Well?” he asked, smiling devilishly. “I promise I won’t hurt you, Nikki. In fact, I imagine you’ll enjoy my company immensely.”

I let out a ragged sigh and nodded.

He stared at my mouth. “I’d like to hear you say it.”

“Come in, Ethan.”




Find more from Kristen Middleton on her blog and Facebook.

Dec 6, 2013

The Shifter: Book One of The Healing Wars by Janice Hardy

A dangerous secret. A deadly skill.

Nya is an orphan struggling for survival in a city crippled by war. She is also a Taker—with her touch, she can heal injuries, pulling pain from another person into her own body. But unlike her sister, Tali, and the other Takers who become Healers, Nya's skill is flawed: she can't push that pain into pynvium, the enchanted metal used to store it. All she can do is shift it into another person, a dangerous skill that she must keep hidden. If discovered, she could be used as a human weapon.

But one day Nya pushes her luck too far and exposes her secret to a pain merchant eager to use her shifting ability for his own sinister purposes. She refuses—until Tali and other League Healers start disappearing mysteriously. Now Nya must decide: How far will she go to get Tali back alive?

You can find The Shifter on Amazon, Barnes and Noble or IndieBound.

Excerpt


Danello lived in one of the better boardinghouses on Market-Dock Canal, in a neighborhood I could only dream of affording. His family had three rooms to themselves—two bedrooms attached to a small kitchen and dining area. Though a woman’s touch still showed, it had been a long time since it showed strong. Two dying plants—possibly coriander—sat on a shelf near the window, holding back faded and singed curtains bunched on one side. A rack of worn copper pots hung above a small stove, its skinny pipe chimney snaking up the side wall. They did have a view, though it was only a grassy corner of a market square. Two people were huddled under a bush, a ratty blanket tucked around them. I looked away.

“Did you find her?” a boy called, running out of the room on the left. “Oh, I guess you did.” His mouth wiggled as if he was unsure whether to be happy I was there or scared that I had come.

“This is—” Danello turned to me and laughed sheepishly. “I don’t even know your name.”

“Nya.”

He nodded. “Nya, this is Jovan. The other two are with our da.”

Not knowing what else to do, I waved, and the smaller version of Danello waved back. Same rich brown eyes, same pale hair, same determined yet sad set to the chin.

“Da’s unconscious now,” Jovan said in the measured tone of someone trying very hard to sound grown-up. Saints, he was so young. Too young to carry pain that wasn’t his. “Do we need to wake him?”

My stomach twisted, but I shook my head. “Don’t wake him. I can do it while he’s asleep.”

We moved into the back bedroom, small but cozy. Paintings of flowers hung on the walls, some painted on wood, others on squares of cotton. By the bed, Jovan’s twin brother sat on a yellow stool, his unhappy face pale and tight. Their little sister sat on the floor at his feet. Her blond head rested on his

knee and her arms were wrapped around his shin. Neither looked up.

“That’s Bahari, and Halima there on the floor.”

I backed away. No bed was worth this. I wasn’t healing, I was deciding who suffered. Saints did that, not me. “I can’t do this.”

“Yes, you can. So can they.” Danello squeezed my hand, drew me forward. “What do we do?”

“Change your mind, find a pain merchant who’s buying, drag him here by his hair if you have to, just please don’t make me do this.”

He took both my hands, held them tight. They were warm, and for one irrational moment I felt safe. “What do we do?” he asked.

What we had to, even if we didn’t like it. Hadn’t I always wanted to be a Healer? It might not be what Tali did, but I could help them. The shift was only for a few days, until the pain merchants were buying again. It wasn’t as if I were permanently hurting them. I gulped down air and reluctantly pulled my hands away.

“Nothing yet,” I whispered. “I have to see how badly he’s hurt first.”

His da’s forearm bent the wrong way, so that was broken for sure. The thigh was bloody and gouged, but the leg was straight. I glanced at Jovan and my stomach rolled. Just think about their father . I went to the opposite side of the bed and placed my hand on his forehead. Cold, wet strands of the same pale hair as his children’s stuck to my fingers.

Tali’s voice echoed in my head. She’d been teaching me what they taught her, claiming it was in case the League ever let me in one day, but I wasn’t so sure of that. I figured it was just her way of making it up to me ’cause she got accepted and I couldn’t.

I took a deep breath. Feel your way through the body, to the injury. My hand tingled as I felt my way through blood and bone. Broken arm, as expected. Three broken ribs. Torn muscle on the leg, but not broken. Cuts and bruises all over, but he’d heal that on his own.

“It’s not as bad as you thought.” I explained his injuries as best I could without scaring the little ones. Bahari already looked ready to bolt.

“I’ll take the arm and leg,” Danello said as if ordering dinner. “They can each take a rib. That won’t be too bad, will it?”

Spoken like someone who’d never had a broken rib.

“It’ll hurt to breathe deep. Bending and stretching will be hard.” Three sets of brown eyes went wide. I almost smiled, but figured my grin would scare them more than the pain. “No roughhousing ’til the pain merchants are buying again.”

Bahari jumped up, his fists clenched at his sides. “I don’t want to do this.”

“We have to. It’s for Da,” Jovan snapped back.

“I’ll”—Bahari looked around the room—“do something else to help. Go to the herb sellers.”

“Bahari!” Danello gasped. “Half the time they sell you poisons. I’m not risking Da’s life like that.”

I shuffled back against the wall. I wasn’t sure I wanted to do this either, and I didn’t want to shift anything to Bahari if he didn’t want it.

“It’ll hurt,” he said.

“Yes, but you can handle it for a few days.”

“But—”

“Do it, Hari,” Jovan said in a voice too old for such a small boy. “Da’s never let us down, and we’re not letting him down now.”

Bahari didn’t agree, but he didn’t say no again either.

“Fine, then it’s settled. Me first.” Danello dragged over a chair from under the window and sat down, grabbing the arms tight.

“Danello…”

“Do it.”




Find more from Janice on her writing blog, website, Facebook, and Twitter.

Dec 5, 2013

Violet Skies by Edward L. Cote

To break up my writing time, I design book covers for fellow authors. Here's my latest cover design and a bit about Edward L. Cote's Violet Skies, the first book in his new series of the same name.  Each book is a novella, short and easy to read. This is a fresh twist on classic fantasy, but it keeps its essential nature intact.


Taya Mindaerel and her mother, the Oracle of the Prairie Winds, must flee their home or face certain death at the hands of a dark hunter and his man-eating horse. Their journey takes them to Aurum, the City of Gold, where they seek the aid of the Great Magus Olbinaar.

On the way they meet three allies- Alex, a vagabond, Brand, a master swordsman, and Ogger a wild creature. They will need all the help they can get to surmount all the obstacles in their path.

In the city however, they learn that their journey has just begun.

Download Violet Skies on Amazon and Smashwords, or purchase the paperback.

Prologue


Olbinaar stood in the Grand Library of the Hall of the High Council. Two stories of books lined the walls, which were divided by oak doors at regular intervals. Six ladders granted access to the higher bookshelves. Two huge windows stood opposite each other, displaying grand views of Aurum, the City of Gold. Through each he could see the city’s aqueducts, markets, buildings and towers short and tall. The window on the western side brought light from the setting sun.

The blue robes Olbinaar wore and the insignia decorating them spoke plainly of his station and power as a Great Wizard of Aeovas. Long years and hard days had worn upon his face. Thick gray hair formed half a ring around the bald spot on top of his head and matched his well-groomed but bushy beard. His blue eyes studied the room, and his stocky frame stirred impatiently.

“Ah, Olbinaar. I thought I’d find you here,” a jovial voice said.

Olbinaar turned to find a younger colleague entering the room. “Dibian,” he said. He offered a slight bow, a courtesy not returned. “I’m waiting for the Council.”

Dibian closed the door behind him. “Yes, I know.” He wore not the blue robe of his official position, but his own black robes of fine silk. His flippant self-indulgence and habit of overeating gave him a large gut and a soft visage, but his weight was not the first thing most people noticed when they saw him. No, that would be the damnable smirk he always had on his perfectly shaven face. He kept his brown hair trimmed with the same meticulousness, but that did not draw the eye in the same way.

“You’re out of uniform,” Olbinaar said, adjusting his own robes proudly.

“Trust me, you’re the only one who cares.” Dibian walked over to a table, where he found a bottle of blue wine that had been left for Olbinaar. It was an excellent vintage, carefully crafted from blueberries and four other fruits, each more rare than the last, then aged for decades. Dibian examined the bottle’s markings and nodded in approval. With a quick gesture, he chilled it. He poured himself some of the rich dark blue wine in a crystal glass. “Are you sure you don’t want any?”

The elder wizard shook his head. “I hate to think of what that bottle must be worth. I wish the Council would spend its taxes more wisely than on attempts to impress us.” He sighed. “But frankly, I’m wondering what’s keeping them so long.”

Dibian smiled. “I wouldn’t worry about it.”

Olbinaar scoffed. “Really? They’re scared, Dibian. Ultimately, there’s no telling what they will do. They must have some reassurance that we won’t simply run roughshod over them, but what . . .” he lowered his voice, “what can they really do to protect themselves?”

The younger man peeked over his glass, clear blue eyes shining. “What indeed.”

Olbinaar allowed himself a small smile. “This is unlike you. I’ve grown accustomed to you opposing everything I say out of habit.”

Dibian laughed quietly. “Whose habit is that, old man? I do what I do for my own reasons. It is you who always react to my moves, and second-guess my motives.”

Just when he thought his colleague might say something to soothe the sting from that barb, Olbinaar saw something through the western window. Three explosions lit the evening sky, quieted by distance. People filled the streets with panic.

For a second, Olbinaar stood shocked, but he roused himself to action. “The city is under attack! We must warn the Council!”

“The Council is dead,” Dibian replied flatly. He took a drink of wine then set his glass down on the table.
Olbinaar's knees wobbled. “What? Are you mad? How do you know this?” He started off toward the Council Chambers. “If this is some kind of prank—” Another explosion tore the top off of a tower. Rubble fell to the streets below in a violent cloud of dust. Olbinaar stopped walking when he saw it through the window, which shook with the roar of the blast.

Dibian sharpened his voice. “It’s no joke. They’re dead, old man. Every last one.”

“But how?”

“I killed them.”

The silence stood thick, until broken by another explosion, this one closer to the window.

Olbinaar turned to face Dibian with eyes wide in shock. “Why?”

The younger man laughed. “Why? Isn’t it obvious? Did they think they could ride us like donkeys? Or leash us like dogs? What good is a law, against us? Against this kind ofpower?” As if to punctuate his words, another explosion shattered the great window behind him. Glass shards rained on the wizards, but both protected themselves with shields of their own power, raised by well-trained reflex. The wind howled through the broken window.

Dibian raised his voice. “Pieces of paper won’t stop this. When Ruegar went mad and took it upon himself to exterminate the rest of us one by one, what did they do?”

“There was nothing they could do!”

“Exactly! We’re practically gods!”

“Are you mad? What gives you the right?”

“What right do they have to try to bind us with their laws? And now this latest farce? Do they expect us to surrender the very means to defend ourselves?” Dibian shook his head. 

Olbinaar slowed his breathing, and closed his eyes.

The murderer sighed. “Would you prefer it if I turned them into puppets? I’m fed up with even pretending to subjugate myself to those petty politicians. We all are, whether we admit it or not.” He paused. “It will be better for us to rule openly. You’ll see.”

The elder frowned. “You mean for wizards to rule the world? What of democracy?”

Dibian laughed. “Democracy is the rule of the best con artist. Let those who have true power rule over those who do not.”

The explosions continued, growing more intense. Olbinaar knew there had to be a terrible panic in the streets, and untold dead and wounded. What he could see would not be the half of it. He looked out the broken window, a breeze blowing his robe and beard. He asked, “Are you doing this somehow?”
Dibian scoffed. “What would I have to gain? This city could stand to be redecorated, but there must be some easier way to do that.”

Olbinaar rounded on him, but before he could speak, Dibian scowled and said, “Who do you think it is out there? Telaron and Sela are in the city as well, and that makes four. Did you really think Ruegar would pass up a chance to come after four of us at once?”

Olbinaar sighed. “I did not know you were here, or that you had brought your lover.”

“Ah yes, but I am, and I did. Hmm.” Dibian paused to take a fig from the tray and bite into it. “I wonder if he simply followed me here. I've made no secret of my whereabouts.” He finished the fig and licked his fingers. “Oh well. What’s done is done. Ruegar is here, and I know none of you can defeat him alone.” He walked over to the broken window and put a finger to his lips. “Perhaps . . . I could . . . but I've too little to gain to risk my life on those odds.” Dibian looked down, where Olbinaar could see a crowd running through a street below. The murderer looked back at Olbinaar with that arrogant smirk. “It seems we’ll have to work together this time.”

Olbinaar looked out the window, at the fire and crumbling buildings. He knew what Ruegar wanted— he was trying to smoke them out. He also knew that he could not hope to defeat Ruegar the Mad on his own, but Dibian had some skill in magical combat, and his lover Sela was twice as fierce as any man. Olbinaar’s apprentice Telaron might already be dead, but if he were not, only swift action would save him. Justice for Dibian's crimes would have to wait. The only way to prevent much more bloodshed was to fight alongside a half-mad devil of a woman and a cold-blooded murderer.

Olbinaar growled, frowned, and fumed, but there was nothing else he could do. He looked over his shoulder and said, “For now.”



Find more from Edward on his website, Twitter and Goodreads.

Dec 4, 2013

Dangerous Depths by Karen Amanda Hooper

Hell hath no fury like a selkie separated from his true love.

The gate to the sea creature realm is finally open. Yara wants to bask in the glow of her budding relationship with Treygan and explore Medusa’s world, but as the new leader of Rathe her powers are needed to save a sea creature she’s never met.

Rownan assumes the worst is behind him when he returns home to be reunited with his wife, Vienna, only to discover she’s gone. She traveled to the evil realm of Harte to find another gateway to Earth and was never heard from again. Rownan claimed he would go through hell to be with her, and now he must prove it.

Rownan, Yara, and Treygan will put their lives and souls at risk by traveling to the most dangerous realm of all. Love is supposed to conquer all, but no one has ever conquered Harte.

Purchase Dangerous Depths in ebook or paperback on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Find more from Karen on her website, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and Pinterest

Dec 2, 2013

The Art of Forgetting: Rider by Joanne Hall

A young boy leaves his village to become a cavalryman with the famous King’s Third regiment; in doing so he discovers both his past and his destiny.

Gifted and cursed with a unique memory, the foundling son of a notorious traitor, Rhodri joins an elite cavalry unit stationed in the harbour town of Northpoint. His training reveals his talents and brings him friendship, love and loss, and sexual awakening; struggling with his memories of his father who once ruled there, he begins to discover a sense of belonging. That is, until a face from the past reveals a secret that will change not only Rhodri’s life but the fate of a nation. Then, on his first campaign, he is forced to face the extremes of war and his own nature.

This, the first part of The Art of Forgetting, is a gripping story about belonging and identity, set in a superbly imagined and complex world that is both harsh and beautiful.

Download The Art of Forgetting: Rider on Amazon.

Excerpt


The first gleam of dawn found Rhodri back on the river bank, while most of the town still slumbered. Mounds of stone, abandoned the previous night, were heaped near the edge of the water. He coerced the early-rising wherry pilots to deliver it to the top of the dam. The river was peaceful, sparkling silver in the morning light. It was hard to imagine it as the scene of yesterday’s violence, if not for the splashes of blood staining the stonework, and his own vivid memories.

By noon, the dam was almost complete, the water on the south side of the barricade considerably lower than that on the north. No sign of the demon. Rhodri hoped it had fled downstream in the night, but his reading suggested that once a territorial creature like that latched on to a place, it would die rather than leave it.

The river on the north side drained away into two deep channels that ended in hastily-dug ponds. They were keeping the water away from the houses, for now, but soon they would be swamped. The King’s Third needed to work fast. The water slowly drained away downstream of the dam, unveiling broad swathes of gravel and patches of dark, sticky mud. Fish thrashed in the dregs of the water as the cavalry gathered on the bank, weapons drawn. Rhodri squeezed the hilt of his sword, anxious to see what they faced. And still the water level dropped, with no sight of the demon. A ripple of impatience ran through the crowds of watching townsfolk. They had come to see blood spilt, and if the demon wouldn’t bleed for them, they would find another target.

The water dropped another inch. In the depths, something stirred, a ripple running crosswise to the current. The hilt was slippery in Rhodri’s hand, point drooping as he tried to hold it steady at Garrod’s command. He could cut and run; it would be easy, compared to facing what lay beneath the surface of the water. But his captain had ordered him to hold the line, and years of training, of drill morning and night, bell after bell, obeying Garrod’s every word of command, had changed him to his core. The discipline driven into his mind overpowered his body’s instinct to flee so strongly it was barely more than a fleeting thought, instantly overridden. Captain Garrod said hold the line. The line would be held, until death or fresh command released him. Beside him he could hear Nik’s heavy breath whistling through his teeth, hear the jingle of mail as his leg twitched in the stirrup, but he kept his eyes on the water, on that treacherous ripple that ran the wrong way.

“Advance!”

The gravel of the riverbed crunched under Liberty’s hooves. The circle was slowly tightening. If the creature was to make a move, it had to be soon. The rippling had increased, the surface of the water agitated, broken up until Rhodri wasn’t sure what he was looking at. Sweat prickled his scalp, trapped under his helm. This was not like patrolling in Northpoint, where the enemy was visible, understandable. This was fighting magic, a beast that might not act in any logical way, that had unknown power. Nik whimpered softly at his side.

Hold the line hold the line hold the line hold

The surface of the pool exploded, an eruption of water white and freezing and blinding. Beyond it, through the mist, the spray, Rhodri heard a horse scream, a howl of pain, a voice yelling orders. Nik was yelling too, and Rhodri caught the cry and echoed it in his own throat, exultant, furious, released from the tension that had held him still. The line, moving as one, pounded forward down the sloping bank, blades levelled, cutting a swathe across the drying riverbed.

There was water everywhere. It was like riding through a nightmare storm, a waterfall, that churned the gravel to mud. It was in Rhodri’s eyes, his ears. He was deafened by the pounding on his helmet, blinded by the torrent. He had lost Nik, lost the Captain, had nothing but the feel of Liberty plunging forward between his knees, ears flat, teeth bared, and the cold, slippery leather of his sword hilt against his palm. In the rushing white ahead, it struck squealing softness, an inhuman sound, and the water rushing around him turned red. When he breathed in, he tasted copper.

“No!” He struck out again, fighting more than the beast, fighting his own evil memories that sought to trap him and drag him under. His blade stuck, ripped free. Something tore loose and was flung away, and the crimson rain deepened to black.

“Fall back!”

Which way was back? There was only the mud, the rain, the endless slashing against an enemy that seemed to be everywhere at once, hiding behind its shield of falling water. Liberty backed up, one step at a time. The torrent was thinning; Rhodri could see the blood-streaked faces of his companions, teeth set in morbid white grins, like the faces of skulls. There was grass beneath his hooves, and when he wiped his eyes, he could see the far bank of the river. The black water pattered down, lightly now, and in the sludge at the bottom of the stream a bloodied lump of flesh writhed as squealed, hissing through razor teeth, scrabbling in the last of the water as if it was a blanket it sought to hide under. Blood pulsed from a dozed slashes in its hide, and gobbets of pulsing flesh were scattered up and down the riverbank. Its body shimmered and bulged, as if its skin was too thin to contain the surging currents held within, and it was sucking the water around it back into its body, healing its own wounds, raising its savage head to snarl at the watchers on the bank. It was down, but it wouldn’t stay down for long.



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