Posted in #Book, #Giveaway, Author, blog, Book, Fantasy, Romance, Silver Dagger Scriptorium Tours, Story, Tour, Writer

The Spoils of Allsveil by S.N. McKibben – Book Tour + #Giveaway

28/04/17

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The Spoils of Allsveil
by S.N. McKibben
Genre: Fantasy, Romance
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Murder. Marriage. Forgiveness. The kingdom of Allsveil is the chessboard, and
the royals are the pieces.
Two noble families meet in a whirlwind of battle, conquest, hate, and
passion.
When a neighboring army conquers her home, Princess Alexia is forced to
marry her father’s murderer, Darrin, the new king’s young prince.
While Alexia grapples with revenge and flirtation, finding her own
strength in the process, the new king, Goththor, seeks forgiveness
from his queen and from himself. Two generations learn that the game
of chess is nothing compared to the game of love and forgiveness…
Play chess with a princess…get your copy today!
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soa- excerpt
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1 – Alexia

Months of fighting, and finally it had come to this—an evacuation. The City of Allsveil defending against The Empire of Dreshall. The Horse against The Hawk. My father, King Fieron Tyilasuir, fighting King Aiden Goththor at the gates of our regal castle. All because two men couldn’t see eye to eye about a small city being under one banner.

At that moment, I’d never wanted anything more than to be a son for my father. Especially while I stood in the high tower evacuating the servants, wet nurses, and maids. But I was not a boy or a man. I was my father’s doted-on princess. A girl allowed to swing a sword with my father’s permission because he was the monarch.

My mother had a sword of her own and used it in defense of my unladylike desire to hold more than a misericorde. Her blade was not tempered in metal, but its steel cut and the ring of her tongue drove deep. They say the pen is mightier than the sword. I’m personally aware that my mother’s word is mightier than a frail quill from a duck’s arse.

Mother kept sneaking glances out the windows. I could tell that, like me, she wanted nothing more than to be down there, wielding a sword against invaders beside our king.

Horrors I’d been told about in stories lay on our courtyard battlefield. Arrows stuck out from the chests and sides of our men as thorns to a rose. Not one man died with feathers in his back. Brave warriors, all of them, who knew they would never see past this day and did not turn away from protecting us.

Mother’s dark eyes expressed more fire than a hearth flame when she said, “Get them all out.” Worry tainted her expression even through her unwrinkled skin and hair pulled back in a severely tight bun. My mother, the queen, never out of place, never out of sorts, remained that way even in dire situations.

“Come, Emvery.” I offered my maid a hand and stepped patiently while the woman, who tended me since birth, waddled down the stairs one step at a time. “We’re under attack. You have to move faster.”

My mother drilled that sword of flesh with tone and timing. “Alexia, respect those who’ve protected you from rain and wind down to their bosom.”

“It’s all right, milady.” Emvery’s plump hand patted my arm. She always defended me—even against a queen.

“I’m sorry.” I took my maid’s arm firmly. She had a tendency to fall and was careful going down stairs. “But the castle gate is failing. We must hurry.”

Near the bottom of the stairs, Mother spoke to the guards assisting our escape. “Are we the last?”

The two queen’s guards, Clay and Heinsley, looked at each other.

“I asked you a question, gentlemen.”

“No, my lady,” Heinsley answered. “Samalia refused to leave her quarters.”

Mother huffed and spun on her heel, stomping back inside the tower.

Emvery held me tight, or I would’ve followed.

“My lady!” Heinsley leapt and caught Mother’s arm. “We must leave.”

The queen of Allsveil ripped out of her guard’s grasp. “Do not touch me, Heinsley. I will not overlook your inappropriateness again.”

Clay grabbed both my mother’s arms from behind. “I’m sorry, my lady, king’s orders.”

“Emvery, go!” I left my maid’s side and rushed back up the stairs.

Mother elbowed her guards while I passed them to get my Nanna, Samalia. A stubborn old nanny wasn’t going to be my martyr.

“Heinsley! The girl!” Clay said.

“You will address her as princess, or Princess Alexia!” My mother even now concerned herself with propriety. My practice in skirmishing with castle guards quickened my feet but while I could take three steps at a time, Heinsley, with his long legs, could take five or six even in his heavy armor.

Hands scooped me up by my waist. “No, Heinsley! We can’t leave her here!”

“We can and we will.” The guard’s rough voice rushed in my ear.

We struggled down the stairs. Heinsley squeezed my arms together while he leaned against the wall. I kicked and hit all the right places to tumble us both, despite the stupidity of falling down a stairwell. I was too angry. Too fevered in my desperation to get to my Nanna. We could not leave her to these plunderous savages.

Heinsley took my blows without so much as a grunt. My attempts became an embarrassment and after the eighth strike, I stopped. I didn’t want to hurt him or me. He was only trying to save us.

Clay held Mother fast by the shoulders, his back to the open escape. He was the brawny type that filled an entire doorway. If he stood in the archway, Mother wouldn’t be able to get around him. Not even if she crawled. Which, no matter the dire consequences, could I ever see the queen of Allsveil doing.

“Good.” Clay’s relieved face swept over me and Heinsley. “Let’s get out of here.”

Clay took hold of Mother’s wrists and turned around, engulfing the open door. A buzzing, the sound of a thousand whistles, then screams echoed off outside the tower walls. Clay stumbled back. My mother scrambled away just in time before Clay fell flat on his back. If it wasn’t for Clay’s size, we’d all have arrows in our bodies. Twenty or more bolts stuck out of Clay’s chest, stomach, and legs.

“Oh bloody hell!” Heinsley let go of me and leapt down the stairs.

My legs wobbled and I leaned against the wall. Heinsley pulled Clay all the way in and slammed the door. Thuds pelted the thick oak door.

“Clay?” Mother knelt to the man who’d saved her life and took hold of his hand.

Clay lifted his head. “Go, my lady.”

Dread shot through my stomach. The pain Clay must be in. Not only that, but in pain and knowing he was going to die. I leaned forward to force myself out of my locked position. “Nanna can help!” I turned and ran up the stairs.

“By God, Alexia, duck under the windows!”

Tears threatened behind my eyes, knowing but hoping that wouldn’t be the last warning Clay ever gave me.

The thousand whistles of death came again and I dropped and shielded my head. Glass tinkled. Arrows broke through and clattered against stone.

I ran up the tower of stairs until the next window. I didn’t hear whistling, but I ducked under the sill anyway. Five flights of stairs and endless windows later, I reached the top of the tower and into the sixth-floor corridor. Rooms were on the right, while the left wall displayed sculptures, paintings, glassware, and artisan creations of our people. There was no time to save most of the precious items. Only my Nanna and my people were more valuable than the items of culture. Empty corridors greeted me as I raced down the hall.

“Nanna!” My breath labored. I barged in to her room, not bothering to knock. “Nanna!”

No answer. I went to her bedchamber and there, in bed, surrounded by all her scrolls, sat Nanna Samalia. The wrinkly old woman nestled a book the size of a small tabletop between her knees.

“Nanna.” At my wits’ end, I crossed the room.

“And I’ll repeat myself.” Nanna’s jowls shook. “I’m too old to run around. Leave me.”

When I was younger, her scowl, chin whiskers, and wrinkles could scare me into behaving. Now that I was older, I searched beyond her gruff manner. I saw a woman born from a life that cut and made people wise to the ways of the world or devoured them whole. Nanna told me the truth, when so many slathered butterscotch or jam over the rubbish of innocence.

“You will run or I will carry you.”

Nanna pinched her face into a scowl. “I told Clay to carry you and the queen out.”

“Clay is dead.”

Her face never changed. Almost as if she expected as much.

Ringing of metal and shouts brought my attention to the window. I peeked through, careful not to be spotted by the enemy. Shadows cast down on the courtyard. Arrows flew. But not even their arrows could reach up to the top of Nanna’s tower. A hole in the twelve-foot-thick front wall looked like a screaming mouth with angry ants pouring out. The portcullis was breached.

“Nanna, we have to leave, now.”

The old woman flung her comforter and turned to get out of bed. “Damn guards can’t even get you the hell’s breath out.”

My attention went back to my father’s men. Every one of those brave souls was trying to stave off the attackers to enable us to escape. To fail them and be captured would not honor their deaths. Beautiful steeds of white, bay, and chestnut charged into an onslaught of enemy soldiers. We had spirit, but they had numbers. The clanging of swords reached my ears, the sound making me shake from anticipation. And then I saw him, my father, in his plate armor. I could tell it was him even from this height. No one could spot the riveted armor, the subtle grandeur, the meticulous detail in the gorget, breastplate, and vambrace, and say it didn’t belong to a king. And that king was at the front of the lines, protecting us.

“No!” He should be protected! What was he doing meeting the battle head-on? But father in battle was magnificent. No one escaped his flank. Soldier after soldier fell under his mace and sword. Hope grappled with fear, but my elation at seeing Father at his finest was a boon. Clay would not die in vain.

A man, in a suit of armor equal in quality to Father’s, fought against the tide, headed straight for my king. Some men avoided the two. The other king was certainly bound and determined to reach father. Desire to be there, to protect the one man I truly loved fueled my frustration at being born a girl. I should be down there, fighting with him. The two equals met and my father gave the man no soft touch, no breath to hold, no shield to hide behind. I recognized the emblem across the opponent’s breastplate. A white hawk with a gold eye. The emblem of Dreshall. For his salt, the other man took the blows and delivered his own. But the aggressor overreached and left his right side open. Father swung his mace and knocked the man down.

“Yes!” I hopped in my excitement.

The bird’s golden eye faced the sky and my father maneuvered his sword to punch a hole through the metal. A cry as high-pitched as an eagle’s ripped through the air. I covered my ears and watched a blond man bound from the aggressor’s ranks like a gazelle. Father looked up, and the bloody tip of a sword broke through his back plate. My eyes saw, but I refused to believe.

Father dropped his sword and I staggered back. The king of Allsveil sailed backwards and the window that let me see the battlefield now seemed too high to reach. My vision tunneled. My breaths came with excruciating clarity. My palms hit the floor. My neck could no longer hold my head. The long braid of my hair curled in a perfect circle under me.

Cool hands touched my cheeks. The wrinkled face of a woman who scared most men looked into mine. Her pitiless glare softened. Nanna, whose life’s ravages destroyed her youth but not her wisdom, was there to comfort me. But her face faded, and all I could see was my father tumbling down and the blood on his back.

Soldiers came inside Nanna Samalia’s room. Mother was there. Heinsley disappeared into what seemed a sea of men entering the bedroom. I watched with numb precision Heinsley’s extraordinary footwork as he battled to protect us. Our man, the queen’s guard, was both beautiful and deadly while protecting us. But Heinsley’s life’s work, keeping the queen safe, wasn’t enough. Seconds later, he too fell. My death was coming and I welcomed it. For the rest of my days I would not forget the blood on the sword and my father’s descent.

I stood for our turn. Mother stood in front of us, hands clasped in greeting as if accepting one of her subjects for conference. The men, solemn and wary, kept an eye on her, but their swords remained low. One man dipped his head and approached.

“I’m not here to hurt you.” He sheathed his sword. “I’m looking for hierarchy.”

Mother’s posture remained straight, her chin held high. “You’ve found the queen of Allsveil.” She held her hand, exposing the ring with our house emblem, a red rearing horse.

The soldier dipped his head. “I am Paul Cartell, King Goththor’s military commander. In the name of my Liege King Aiden Goththor of Dreshall, I ask for your submission.”

“Submission can only be given by my husband.”

She didn’t know Father was dead.

Sir Cartell’s face turned stone hard. “I’m sorry, but your king has been dispatched. The fighting continues despite the loss. Please tell your man-at-arms to submit and we can avoid any more useless deaths.”

Mother swayed but I could do nothing to help her. I leaned upon Nanna, my life ending before my eyes. Sir Cartell reached to steady her, but thought better and remained where he was. My noble queen stood her ground. “If I agree…you’ll not go after the survivors.”

“Agreed. Do you yield?”

“Stop fighting and we’ll yield.” Mother slipped off the ring in clumsy diminution of status and handed it to Sir Cartell. “Show them this.”

Sir Cartell turned to a man in front of the line and handed him our family ring. “Get word to our liege.”

The man took my heirloom in hand, nodded, and pushed through the other soldiers. A voice from the hall echoed through the corridor and into Nanna’s apartments. “Paul? Have you found anyone yet? This place is as deserted as a friggin’ desert.”

Paul winced. “Excuse me.” He turned and the men behind him stepped in line, making a human corridor and letting Paul walk past. Though his voice was hushed, even I could hear Paul admonish whomever he was talking to. “Darrin, women and children are present, watch your mouth.”

Sir Cartell and my mother had propriety in common. Said women and children had just seen a man killed. Why would cursing matter? Then again, why would a queen preoccupy herself with formalities while fleeing from enemies? But mother drilled politeness in me and everyone around her. Much like Paul.

A blond man, just beyond his gawky years, strode with confidence and bloody clothes through the corridor of soldiers. My haze of loss cleared. Revenge burned off the rest of my murky reflexes. I bolted from Nanna’s grip and lunged for Heinsley’s sword. The grip of the steel handle burned cold. Its weight was unfamiliar, but I was no stranger to this type of weapon. Heinsley’s sword wobbled heavily as I lifted the massive blade.

Dreshall’s soldiers were slow to raise their swords against my newfound weapon, laughing at my challenge. I didn’t care for those men. My sole mission was to kill the man who took my father from me. The blond man raised his weapon and a slight smile brightened his face. A mischievous twinkle in his eye scalded me more than a thousand suns. He pushed one guard out of the way and barked an order to “stay back” before metal hit metal and I swung, not as an angry youth who takes up arms in spite, but as the warrior I’d wanted to be.

“Alexia!” Mother screamed. But the name slipped past. The other men faded to gray.

My father’s killer barked words, but I heard nothing. My breath, slow and deep. My strength, hard and flowing. My skill poured from my soul. I was going to kill this man. His smile infuriated me. But it didn’t affect my footwork, or my strikes. He deflected blow after blow, but the art of battle guided my actions. I would not lose.

A force of nature slammed into my back and pinned my arms. Both my backstabbing assailant and I went down. “No!” I shouted. The tool of my vengeance clattered on the stone floor. We landed and I thrashed, wanting to resume my vendetta.

“Alexia, stop!” My mother’s voice shattered my cracked heart. “I gave my word. Stand down.”

“Let me go!” I wailed at Mother, the traitor to father’s memory.

“No! I will not lose you, too.”

I froze. Her loss of faith in my abilities, when she had fought for my right to take up arms, cut the flow to my reserve of energy. My father, my light in the dark, my rising sun, had slipped beyond the hills never to return. Never to see my wedding or hold his grandchild or meet the man I’d call my own. I cried for death. The murderer sat at the far end of the chamber smudging blood all over Nanna’s chair.

“I can see where the spirit of their people comes from.” He gripped his thigh. I’d struck him and hadn’t known. If I had my way, he’d be little pieces to feed pigs.

“Paul, warn the others. If the fairer sex fights like her, we’ll be crushed.” He flashed a smile my way. I scowled.

“Stay here. I’ll bring the barber surgeon.” Paul clasped the man’s shoulder and left.

No one spoke for a very long time. Swords pointed at me from every angle. Mother clutched me, but with my reserve depleted, there was nowhere I wanted to go. With little will to stand, Mother helped me up and we both leaned on each other for support.

Paul returned, and the men holding a seventeen-year-old girl and her mother at bay parted for Sir Cartell.

“Noblewoman…” Paul trailed off, asking for a name.

“Aighta Tyilasuir.” Mother squeezed my arm and we separated.

Cartell raised his eyebrows and proceeded to slaughter my family name. “Noblewoman Talliassher.”

I huffed. “Tyilasuir, Tie-la-ser, Tyilasuir.”

Cartell dipped his head to me. “Tylasure.”

“Close enough.” I crossed my arms. Across the room Darrin the orphan-maker, for I was sure Mother would be killed before me, chuckled. I hated him for it.

“Yeah, Paul, get it right. Tyilasuir.”

My hate bloomed to a full loathing of everything Darrin. He’d been able to say my name flawlessly the first time. That only fueled my desire for vengeance.

Paul bowed to Darrin and gave an ungracious smile. “As you say, my prince.”

That wiped Darrin’s smile clean off with an extra dose of soap-root. Paul, my newly endeared enemy, turned back to us. “Lady Aighta Tylasir, may I present Prince Darrin Goththor, heir to the White Hawk, son of Aiden Goththor.”

Mother pulled me close and gripped my arm so tight my fingers tingled. If she hadn’t let go so quickly I might have lost my arm from lack of blood. “This is Princess Alexia Tyilasuir. King Fieron Tyilasuir’s only daughter.”

Paul’s eyes flicked to Mother and he gave her a slight nod.

Darrin rose from the chair. He looked pained. Good. “Well, now that we know each other, your new lord and master awaits.”

Nanna stepped over to me, taking my other arm in a death grip. “Hopefully, the father is not as abrasive as the son.” Nanna’s tenacious rasp cut through our whispers. Mother glared at Nanna, but Nanna never shied away from a contest of will.

A line of soldiers escorted us out of Nanna’s rooms and into the hallway. Where before the halls were empty, now soldiers hulked about. They took no care as to what broke. The glass sculptures, the priceless art, the best of our people all became loot.

“What are they doing?” I said.

“Plundering.” Nanna scowled at one man shoving a glass chalice in a sack. He went for another item and I cringed at the sound of shattering glass muffled by burlap. That was one of the artisan glassblower’s finest gifts to Mother. I knew she loved it.

“Fool,” Nanna said under her breath.

Men roamed everywhere. No room was without soldiers grabbing anything and everything they could. My heart burned all the more.

We were escorted to the dining hall, where we had our meals most nights. It was the largest room in the castle because father wanted to…had wanted to…dine with servants and nobles alike, right alongside each other. Every man was a jewel, he said. Fascinated by the “colors” each person reflected, Father had wanted to know them all. He had wanted to soak in their knowledge, their creativeness. But even with my father’s geniality, I did not wonder why he could not get along with the sullen, stern, forbidding chunk of a man that now sat in my father’s chair. If I were on the battlefield with my king, this one would be dead. Cold gray eyes assessed Mother. I expected him to ask, “How much for the sow?”

I’d never met King Goththor, but this man was a king, no doubt—his air overconfident, comfortable with everyone looking to him. But he also looked devoid of any love. His eyes were hard. Much like the glaze of death I saw in soldiers’ eyes after battle. Straussler, our man-at-arms, warned me of men like this one. I didn’t believe one could be soulless. The king of Dreshall proved me wrong. His eyes skated away from Mother and I felt the stone in my belly lift.

Paul nodded. “Lady Aighta Tillyasuir of Allsveil, may I present to you—”

“Aiden Goththor,” my mother finished. “We’ve met.”

Darrin strode up to his father, pushed a chair out with his foot, and fell into the seat. A tiny spark of life lit up in the king’s eyes when Darrin joined him.

“Your king is dead, and your people still fight,” King Goththor said. “Call in your men-at-arms.”

“I’ve given you my ring and my word, what more do you need?” Mother clasped her hands.

“Which Paul showed your commander,” King Goththor’s cold gaze remained on my mother. “He thought you were dead and fought all the more.” He’d said it more as a threat than fact. As if Mother had given them the ring to set a trap in motion.

Darrin leaned over and whispered in his father’s ear. King Goththor grunted and said, “We’ll find him.”

Straussler, head of the Black Knights, was still alive. He had to be. A Black Knight would not surrender. They would avenge. All eyes stared at Mother, who said nothing. The span of silence grew. King Goththor flicked a finger and a guard pulled Emvery through.

Leaning toward Mother, King Goththor said, “If you want your maid to live, tell them to stand down.”

I grabbed Mother’s hand. Emvery trembled, fear in her eyes, but she didn’t speak a word.

“Father,” Darrin leaned forward. “Hasn’t there been enough for one day?”

The words didn’t remove that cold, dead mask on King Goththor’s face. Instead he ignored his son and gave the signal, a raised thumb, to slit Emvery’s throat. The soldier holding Emvery flicked a knife from his palm and brought the sharp edge to Emvery’s neck.

“Wait!” I stepped forward. Emvery’s eyes popped out.

“Alexia,” Mother whispered. I ignored her. The gray, lifeless eyes of a king who no longer cared for much other than himself stared at me.

“Blow the horn four times,” I said.

“And you are?”

Paul cleared his throat. “Sire, may I present Princess Alexia Tyilsure.”

Darrin snorted. “Keep trying, Paul.”

King Goththor did not look amused with his son or his commander. “And what will happen if the horn is blown four times?”

“The people will know that we’ve yielded and they will retreat.”

The golden eye of the hawk on King Goththor’s breastplate flashed. He glanced at Paul. The man-at-arms bowed and walked behind the row of chairs at the long table to the end of the room. A large horn spanned the wide window. Its pipe tapered from the mouthpiece and was long as a man was tall. My spine went rigid. For an enemy, Paul seemed a decent man. It would be painful to watch him convulse and die when his lips touched metal.

An arm twirled me around, a sharp blade pressed upon my neck. Mother yelled but I couldn’t see her. “What aren’t you telling me?” King Goththor whispered in my ear. “Tell me now, or you and the maid die.”

“Poison, the mouthpiece is poisoned.” But only to those not immune to the drug. Father had bested an enemy by the same tactic.

“Paul, stop.” The king’s baritone boomed down the dining room. I staggered as the pressure around my neck relaxed abruptly. King Goththor sprawled back into my father’s throne and glared death at me. His eyes glinted dire threat if I defied him again. The soldiers around me echoed his expression, disdain painted across their features. I held my neck. Red, sticky fluid coated my fingers.

“Clever.” King Goththor smirked wickedly. His eyes found my mother. “You have another mouthpiece? Or is that even the method?”

Mother nodded. “Four blasts will halt the fighting.”

“You do it.” King Goththor stared at me. “If things go well, I’ll let your mother live.”

I could hear the lie. But it was my mother’s life. I looked to her. With a pause, and her reserve back in place, she nodded once. I paraded down the hall with my head lifted, past Paul and to the horn. The closer I came to the window, the more I could hear the shouts of men, the ringing of steel; our forces were still fighting. All for naught. I could only hope the invader on my father’s throne would keep to his word.

“Stop,” King Goththor said. “You don’t dally to your death, do you, child?”

I whirled around. “What does it matter to you?” Before anyone could stop me, I blew four times. Outside, the fighting slowed. The clatter of swords dropped on stone rang in the air. Goththor’s people called out, my people shouted in surrender. The stench of death that had surrounded us for months still lingered, but the battle was over. I turned around, walked back to my mother, and stood next to her.

“You’re still alive.” Darrin smiled. He had the kind of smile a girl could swoon over, but he would not win me.

“The Tyilasuir family is immune.” My prim voice did me proud.

“Or maybe it’s not poisoned,” Darrin said.

“Want to try it for yourself?”

Darrin waved a hand. “Oh no, you did a fine job. A surprise to see such a talented horn-blower.”

Soldiers around me laughed. Confused, I frowned and looked to Mother. She gave me a stern look that told me to say nothing. Still…I expected to die anyway. “I could teach you, although you might do better if you used your other end.”

Paul snorted but regained himself. Some of the soldiers snickered. Darrin flushed and frowned. Mother grabbed my arm. “That’s enough.”

It was slow in coming, but King Goththor started to cackle. “Fiery like my Bridgette, that one.”

The soldiers went silent. Paul gave me a very sad look—a look you’d give a favorite goose before the hatchet went down on its neck. Chills ran down my spine. I’d forgotten about the stories of King Goththor. For every laugh of his, another dies. Was he truly that mad?

Still chortling, King Goththor said, “Take them back to their rooms. Make sure they’re comfortable.”

At his command, we were escorted out of the room.

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Slave to a 100 lbs. GSD (German Shepard) and a computer she calls “Dave”,
you’ll often see her riding a 19 hand Shire nicknamed “Gunny”
to the local coffee shop near the Santa Monica mountains.
Stephanie reads for the love of words, and writes fiction about Dark Hearts and
Heroes revolving around social taboos. When ever asked, she’ll reply
her whole life can be seen through a comic strip ~ sometimes twisted,
sometimes funny but always beautiful and its title is adventure. Come
play!
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Posted in #Book, #Giveaway, Author, Bewitching Book Tours, blog, Book, Paranormal, Pre-Release, Story, Teen, Tour, Writer, YA

The Knight by Victoria Danann – Pre-Release Tour + #Giveaway

28/04/17

 


The Knight
R. Caine High School
Book Two
Victoria Danann
Genre: YA Paranormal, Teen
Publisher: 7th House Publishing,
Imprint of Andromeda LLC
Date of Publication: April 26, 2017
ASIN: B06W5QZ81Q
Number of pages: 268
Word Count:  63,000
Cover Artist: Victoria Danann
Tagline: The gods are playing games with their own children on the most treacherous terrain in the universe… high school.
Book Description:
“FIVE STARS for one of the most peculiar high school experiences of all time!”  – The World is Hers for the Reading
New York Times bestselling author, Victoria Danann dishes up a stunning new teen/young adult series like nothing else.
Jean Marre’s recent life has been one big surprise right after another. First his family moved to SoCal from a remote French Canadian town. Then he began feeling a strange compulsion to watch over a smart little blonde named Ever Moore. In fact he found himself restless, distracted, and uncomfortable if she wasn’t around.
Before there was time to adjust to any of that, he was informed that his parents were going to South Africa for a few months and leaving him with his mother’s friend, who happened to be Ever’s mother.
Life just couldn’t get stranger.
Or could it?
Find out why readers are calling #rcainehs funny, fast paced, and fabulous with flair.
If you haven’t already read the introduction, The Game Begins, get it on Amazon and start reading today.
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Excerpt:
Jean Marre
folded himself into the front passenger seat of Ever’s car to ride to school.
For the entire fifteen minutes it took to get there, neither said one word to
the other. That did not, however, mean that they didn’t dork with each other
all the way there.
 Jean Marre’s opening shot was to change her
satellite radio to a different channel. Hair Band Nation. She gaped at him for
a full four seconds when her eyes should have been on the road before punching
the number one button to return to Sounds of the SuperNow. He stared at her
blankly for a matching four seconds then, without taking his gaze away from her
or changing expression, reached over and pushed the button to return to “last
played”. Hair Band Nation.
After three more
volleys, Ever turned the radio off with a snarl. When Jean Marre started to
reach for it, she gave him a look that froze his had midair. He withdrew the
offending appendage, but the challenge Ever offered with her look brought a
gleam of amusement to his eyes. 
He did not touch
the radio again.
Instead he
rolled down his window which, of course, threatened to make a beachy wreck of
her hair. She rolled it back up. He rolled it down. She rolled it back up and,
with a sneer of victory, pushed the child lock into place before he could do it
again. His bark of laughter surprised her and, if she was being perfectly
honest, pleased her.
She was not
being perfectly honest. He had a nice laugh, but she was not ready to give him
any concession.
She pulled into
her assigned parking space, which was located in the remotest region of
Mongolia because she was a sophomore, got out, and started walking without
looking back. It was a hike, but at least she could bring a car, unlike
freshmen.
Halfway there
she looked over her shoulder. Jean Marre was about twenty feet behind her.
“Don’t worry about me.” He grinned. “I like the view from here.”
Understanding
the implication, Ever sped up, which made Jean Marre laugh loud enough for her
to hear. The boy seemed to revel in being exasperating. That realization caused
Ever to think she needed to reform her approach to Jean Marre. Perhaps she
needed to think in terms of opposite world, since everything she did rendered
the reverse of a desired effect.
She stopped, got
control of her breathing, waited for him to catch up and fell in at the same
pace. She would never admit that they were walking together. Only that they
were moving toward the same place at the same time at the same speed. Together.
When he said,
“Excellent choice,” she knew she’d been manipulated. By a boy who didn’t even
want to go to college. It was vexing, to say the least.
***
About the Author:
Victoria Danann is the New York Times bestselling author of eighteen romances. For the past four years in a row, Victoria’s Knights of Black Swan series have won prestigious Reviewers’ Choice Awards for both BEST PARANORMAL ROMANCE SERIES and PARANORMAL ROMANCE NOVEL OF THE YEAR. This past year three of her series and three of her novels were nominated. Two of her series took the top two places and two of her books took first and second place in the PNR Novel of the Year category.
In addition to vampire hunting knights, Victoria writes other paranormal romance, scifi, fantasy, contemporary bikers, and teen.
The rich characterizations come from being a lifelong student of behavior, casually, and a serious student of behavior academically. She has 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.
Victoria co-hosts the popular ROMANCE BETWEEN THE PAGES podcast which can be found on itunes http://apple.co/2fhRrOE or at → www.romancecast.com  
***

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Posted in #Book, #Giveaway, Author, blog, Book, Giveaway, Paranormal Romance, Silver Dagger Scriptorium Tours, Story, Tour, Writer

Beneath the Night by Jen Colly – Book Tour + #Giveaway

27/04/17

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BENEATH THE NIGHT
by Jen Colly
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Pub date: 4/25/2017
Genre: Paranormal Romance
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Sometimes survival means surrendering everything . . .
Lord Navarre Casteel wakes from a long sleep to
find the vampire city he rules forever changed and his future in the
hands of a mysterious beauty who offers her life for his.
Fiery-haired Cat survives his feeding, fueling Navarre’s body and
mind—as well as his suspicion that she is one of the Forbidden—a
lethal mix of vampire and human blood. Yet that doesn’t stop the
throb of Navarre’s desire, the feeling that she is destined to be
his mate, to hell with consequences. . . .
A solitary fighter sworn to protect the
children in her charge, Cat never expects to feel so much for Navarre
in the face of his savage feeding. Which is why his offer of
protection is nearly her undoing. For how can she let down her guard
when she has always walked alone? But Cat has never faced an enemy
like the one she faces now, never felt such a powerful need to
surrender to the force of love . . .
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btn- excerpt
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Chapter 1

 

Peace. He didn’t care for the word, didn’t believe in its existence. The

concept seemed possible, and certainly desired, but he’d yet to witness it

in his own life. Even when Balinese had been under Lord Navarre’s rule,

the city prospering and harmonious, Devlin Savard had not been at peace.

Savard glanced over his shoulder for the second time tonight. Something

had him on edge. He scanned the tree line at his back. Nothing.

From where he stood, high on a hillside, the impressive château below him

seemed somehow benign. Yet it concealed the entrance to Balinese, a vast

underground city of vampires. The forest surrounding the château took it a

step further, cloaking the stone structure from any who might wander near.

Winter was well on the way, and though snow had yet to fall, it would

come soon enough. The château had been sealed and prepped months ago,

and only in the last few weeks had the chill of the night permeated the

ground and seeped into the city below.

Savard cocked his head slightly. A low ripple of energy in the air sent

his senses on high alert, rousing survival instincts that had refused to fade

over time. Someone, or something, approached.

He curled his fingers around the hilt of his sword, but then the shift in

energy became substantial and settled at his right side. Heavy, like waves

on the ocean. Then, though the air around him was already cold, a chilled

patch of air pushed toward him.

“Report,” Savard commanded. Keir dropped out of his invisible Spirit

form and appeared at Savard’s right.

“You’re damn hard to sneak up on,” Keir said, and then suddenly

thinking better of his words, he raised his hands in mock surrender. “Not

that I was sneaking.”

Savard nodded, but said nothing. It was best others didn’t know how

Savard’s talents worked, especially when he knew of no other who possessed

a similar gift. In Spirit, Keir moved with a certain high-energy fluidity,

something Savard had yet to encounter in another vampire, and was

easily recognizable.

Finally glancing at the man who had joined him, Savard asked,

“What did you find?”

“Nothing,” Keir said, supremely confident in his own abilities.

Savard simply nodded.

“I give you the same answer every night. Seven years of nothing. You’re

not paying me to say ‘nothing’ to you every night.” Keir scratched his chin,

the goatee darkening his already sinister look. “You bought my loyalty.”

“Have I?”

Keir cracked a grin. “Yeah, you have.”

“Perhaps.” Savard looked over his shoulder, once again peering deep into

the forest, but still finding nothing amiss. “One day your answer will change.”

“And when it does?”

“Then everything will change,” Savard said, his tone even, expectant.

Savard would have been a fool to not at least attempt to buy Keir’s loyalty,

and so far it had paid off. The man was an ace in his pocket. While Savard’s

own ability to travel in Spirit was extensive, Keir’s was unsurpassed.

Since the phenomenon of traveling in Spirit only seemed to surface

when a vampire was caught in a fight-or-flight situation, Guardians tended

to be the most likely to possess the ability. The species had lived in peace

for centuries, and few had experienced even a small taste of taking Spirit.

Once the trick of walking in Spirit was learned, it was simple to duplicate,

though most couldn’t advance beyond several feet in this invisible form.

Some grew physically ill should they pass through an object. The process

also seemed to deplete the body so extensively that most vampires needed

to feed soon after traveling in Spirit.

Not only could Keir travel great distances and pass through multiple

structures with ease, he could linger in Spirit for nearly an hour. Invisible

and undetectable, he was the perfect spy. Having Keir on his side had been

useful, and on occasion, life-saving.

“Same time again tomorrow?” Savard asked.

Keir shook his head, smiling just a little. “And again and again.”

The radio at Savard’s hip popped with static and Steffen’s voice came

through, sounding hollow as it floated away on the chilled night breeze.

“Several animals were just spooked.”

Savard searched the edge of the forest surrounding the château and

saw nothing. Whatever movement Steffen noted had settled back into

the safety of the trees. He gripped the radio in his hand, brought it to

his lips. “Where?”

“North forest. Deer.”

The north forest was at his left, the château his right. A call concerning

the north forest made him nervous. The entrance to the château, the gate,

faced north. In the recent past, his Gatekeepers had occasionally reported

the night going silent, or animals fleeing the woods. They’d come to

associate these signs with the presence of demons.

“Damn it. If the deer are moving at this hour, then something deep in

the forest disturbed them,” Savard said as he switched radio channels.

“Briona! I have Keir. I need two more Guardians at the gate. Now!”

“Already on their way!” the cheeky little half-Irish dispatcher yelled.

“Move your arse, m’lord.”

Savard broke into a run, Keir at his side, racing down the hill toward

the château. The disturbance warranted an investigation. If demons had

made their way onto the property yet again, his Guardians would engage,

but it was near dawn and he risked the sun, and their lives.

He checked his watch. They’d have a tight timeline to work within, but

thanks to Briona, they’d have a chance. A few years ago, Briona had barged

into his office and promised she was the answer to problems he didn’t know

he had. She’d been right. Briona was a technical genius. Whatever it was

she did in that little room surrounded by buttons and wires, she did well.

She’d boosted his Guardians’ response time, increased overall efficiency,

created a number system for different high-priority zones in the city, and

became adept at predicting situations and reactions.

Briona listened to all Guardian radio chatter, often making the call for

backup before a Guardian could ask for help. She’d saved lives, and she’d

been on top of this situation as well. No doubt the men Savard trusted at

his side would already be waiting for him.

The door to the château was in sight. His Gatekeepers, Steffen and Ivan,

stood guarding the entrance to Balinese. As Savard and Keir approached,

Osric and Titus emerged from the château. No one spoke. Steffen simply

pointed to the forest where he’d seen the deer in flight.

Savard nodded to his Guardians, and they vanished, as did he. Moving

effortlessly up the hillside, speeding toward the woods, Savard floated

unseen, like a ghost over the grass. He couldn’t see his men, nor they him.

Titus would hold the west. He was young, but the extent of his abilities

so great that his careless and cocky attitude was rarely a hindrance. When

Titus put a man down, he stayed down.

Osric was a recluse, his main goal to hide the rippled burn scar that ran

from high on his cheek down the side of his face and neck, disappearing

beneath his shirt collar. He only emerged from his home as a Guardian,

and he served his city well. Osric would take the east.

And Keir? As a former assassin, he’d have the north well in hand. Savard’s

personal bodyguard was without question an exceedingly capable Guardian.

Savard took the southern position, cutting off the direct path to Balinese.

He would stay in Spirit. An observer. As lord, he was not to engage in

combat unless necessary.

Traveling in Spirit had definite advantages, one of which was speed.

Savard easily raced over the dense forest floor, through trees. His passing

startled only a few small rodents.

In a clearing just ahead, nearly a dozen men sat in a circle and focused

on their leader with eyes glowing red in the dark. Demons.

Attacking a group while in Spirit was underhanded, and in most cases,

a guaranteed win. The expertise in this sort of warfare belonged to

the assassin. Without making so much as a whisper of sound, his men

surrounded the demons and waited for Keir’s command.

Savard kept his distance from the demons, as would the others, until

signaled. He had no problem holding his Spirit this night, and Titus never

wavered, but Osric couldn’t linger in this state for much longer. They

needed to attack soon.

What does Keir wait for?

Then Savard felt a ripple as the assassin passed near, or maybe through,

his Spirit. It was Keir’s way of pinpointing their locations, confirming they

were in position. Seconds passed. Still, Keir waited.

“We enter through the front gate at dawn. Only two guard the door,”

one of the demons said, its red eyes glimmering oddly in the night. “Even

if we catch them in the middle of switching shifts and their numbers are

doubled, it’ll be easy to get by such a small group.”

Grunts followed, acknowledging their leader.

Suddenly the blond demon sat tall and rigid, its eerie red eyes searching

the surrounding trees. “I feel…”

Several other demons stilled, shared glances. The man in charge finished

the sentence. “Like the night air has changed.”

“It has, demon,” Keir said, his body still invisible, his distorted words

floating through the cold night, everywhere and nowhere.

The assassin appeared behind the blond demon. Keir’s wild, curly hair

and goatee lent him a wickedly sinister look. And that smile of his. That

nasty gotcha smile. In one quick, clean motion, Keir sliced the demon’s

throat, then disappeared again.

Demons scrambled to their feet, drawing swords. Osric dropped from

Spirit first, drove his shoulder into the nearest demon like a linebacker,

and knocked it to the ground. He ignored the downed demon, bent on

sinking his sword into the next, much larger foe.

Titus appeared beside the demon Osric had just knocked down. Flipping

his grip on the hilt of his sword, Titus took only a moment to jab the blade

through the fallen demon’s chest, barely sparing it a glance. Ducking

under the sweeping blade of an approaching demon, he spun to catch it

across the torso, then left it incapacitated on the ground to search for a

more active target.

Keir was surrounded, but he seemed to like it that way, taunting those

red-eyed creatures. He’d leave himself open to their attack, then move with

an uncanny speed to slice through major arteries left and right, weakening

those he didn’t have time to kill.

Titus took on two, using anything at his disposal, be it sword, elbow,

hilt, or head. The vicious physicality of his fighting style made Savard

wonder why the young vampire never brought his teeth out to play.

Savard scanned the scene before him, desperate to remain in the here

and now, to be mentally present for his Guardians. The chaos of swords

hitting in repetition, of men grunting and yelling in the throes of battle

messed with Savard’s head, threatened to throw his mind back to a different

time and place. Making a sincere effort to block the sounds, he focused on

movement instead. Short, contained blows from his Guardians suggested

everything was well in hand.

Then a demon broke away from the center of the battle and threaded

through the melee, its sights set on Osric. The Guardian’s sole focus was on

the big bastard he was trying to take down. He didn’t see the demon coming.

Savard, still in Spirit, moved to intercept. He appeared, sword drawn

and braced for impact. Clotheslined, its head nearly severed, the demon

never saw Savard.

Now visible, Savard turned to fight anyone left standing. Only two

demons remained, each engaged with a Guardian and fighting for their

lives. Keir stalked through the battlefield, checked the downed bodies for

signs of life, but suddenly he stopped, stood motionless. Savard felt it too.

The telltale tingle at the back of his neck signaled the rising of the sun.

Savard assessed their now-urgent situation. Osric had taken down his

demon. Titus battled the last. Weapons lost, the two were face-to-face,

throwing punches, wrestling for higher ground.

Keir was on the move before Savard could say a word. Knife bared,

Keir came up behind the last demon and sank his blade deep into its back.

Titus shot Keir an angry glare. “What gives?”

“We don’t have time for this. Not anymore.” Keir stepped back and the

demon slipped off his blade, crumpled to the ground.

“He’s right,” Savard said, sending a short nod in Keir’s direction. “Drag

the bodies east, outside the tree line.”

Osric and Titus shared a concerned glance, but it was Titus who spoke.

“You want them to burn in the sun? Let their ash become part of our earth,

their evil seep into our lands?”

“Do you know how long it will take the four of us to drag twelve men

back to the city, remove their heads, encase them in coffins, and bury them

deep?” Savard didn’t wait for an answer. He grabbed a demon’s ankle and

began hauling it through the forest. “We have no other options, no time

to appease an ancient superstition, and it doesn’t take long for demons to

come back after they’ve been killed. I, for one, prefer them as ash and dust.”

The four men hauled the bodies, and the occasional detached head,

out into the open. Vampires didn’t care to admit they shared several base

similarities with demons, but they did. One of which was their inability to

dwell in sunlight. Direct exposure would cause cells to destroy themselves,

slowly at first, but once the chain reaction began, the body would combust.

A few demons still lived. Barely. The sun would finish what the

Guardians had begun.

When the last demon was dropped at the east edge of the forest, Savard

turned to his men. “Get home. Now.”

Titus vanished, as did Keir, but Osric ran. After holding his Spirit for

so long initially, Osric had nothing left to give. Damn it. He’d never make

it back before the sun claimed him.

Savard didn’t know Osric’s story, or how he’d gained those burn scars,

but being vampire there were only two possibilities: trapped by a fire

below ground or burned in the sun. If Savard didn’t help him, then the

final moments of Osric’s life would be spent burning, reliving the fear, the

pain he’d already suffered to a point of leaving him crippled inside and out.

There was no decision to make. Savard couldn’t allow Osric to die this

way, even if it meant exposing one of his unknown abilities.

Savard disappeared into Spirit and was at Osric’s side in seconds. He

released his Spirit, became corporeal just long enough to take hold of

Osric’s arm and drag the Guardian into Spirit with him. He raced home,

speeding through the trees and down the hillside, Osric in tow.

They made the shelter of Balinese just before the sun brightened the

east sky. Once inside, Osric stumbled as he fell haphazardly out of Spirit.

Savard appeared a dozen feet away from him. They shared a glance, and

for a moment Savard thought Osric would say something, point out the

impossible feat. The marred Guardian only nodded, a quick and silent thankyou.

Then all four were on the move again, headed through the kitchen,

down the back stairs, into the cellar, and through the door to Balinese.

When their feet touched the corridor that encircled the city, the men

scattered. Each went a separate way, never saying a word, and acting as if

the entire event had never happened. Unless Savard decided the skirmish

would go on public record, it hadn’t happened. He trusted these men, and

his Gatekeepers, to keep quiet and never acknowledge the incident unless

directed otherwise.

If the citizens of Balinese knew how many demons had been found

above ground on their land, or how many had entered the city, they’d never

sleep. Unless a citizen witnessed a demon, any encounters the Guardians

had with demons never officially occurred.

Savard walked alone now, taking the back route to his home. He needed

to clean up. Black demon blood had spattered across his face, dotted his

shirt. Thankfully, these exterior corridors in Balinese tended to be empty,

lit only by sconces hung high on the wall.

“M’lord?” Briona chimed through the radio.

Savard scanned the corridor. Empty. “We’re clear. Go ahead.”

“Bravo, then, you lived.” She took a breath, then pushed on as if

his survival was expected and his response unnecessary. “You wanted

notification if anyone was scheduled to enter the royal storage. Why am

I still doin’ this? Isn’t this Soren’s job, since, I don’t know, he has the

keys to the room?”

“It is. I’m just overcautious when it comes to safeguarding Navarre’s

possessions. What is Soren having removed?”

“He just sent two Guardians to collect a golden birdcage.” There was a

pause, but Savard knew better than to think Briona was finished talking.

“We’ve a birdcage?”

“No. We do not. The Casteel family was gifted with the large golden cage

from a Chinese ambassador in the late 1600s, along with an assortment

of birds. Did you fail history class?”

“Nah, slept through it. Want me to send a couple extra Guardians up to help?”

“No, I’m sure they can handle it. Make sure Soren has them log out the

cage when they return the keys to him. Thank you, Briona.”

“And now I’m your wee secretary,” she mumbled before the radio died.

Savard shook his head, almost entirely certain she’d left the radio channel

open a second longer on purpose.

He continued past the corridor leading to his home and stopped a good

four feet before the next. Taking Spirit once more, he floated up through

the ceiling. When in the room above, a large attic with angled ceilings, he

released his Spirit. This was the royal storage, and the Guardians would

be here any moment.

Treasures from all over Europe had been covered, hidden from view,

while others lay exposed, collecting layers of dust. A gold, jewel-encrusted

urn half the size of a man glinted in the dim light seeping from beneath the

door. A golden yellow chaise in Greek styling was half hidden beneath a

sheet, the craftsmanship elaborate. Yes, he grew nervous when Guardians

were scheduled to enter this room, but theft was not his fear, nor was the

handling of such priceless artifacts.

He’d have given his life to protect what was beyond the row of five

large French curio cabinets in the corner of the attic. Savard slipped into

Spirit long enough to move through a curio, and once inside the makeshift

seclusion, returned to his true form. Here, easily hidden behind the towering

cabinets, was the most priceless treasure in Balinese.

Navarre Casteel, the true lord of Balinese, lay motionless on a small

bed, trapped in a deep healing sleep. Not waking, not dying.

Navarre had fallen in the demon attack nearly seven years ago. A demon’s

blade had pierced his chest, and from what they could tell, nicked his heart.

Navarre had slipped into a healing sleep, his body shutting down to repair

from the inside out. After that point, nothing could be done to help him.

Their lord would have to heal on his own, or not at all.

Every day since, Savard expected his lord’s death, even planned for

the loss. It never happened. Months had passed. Years. Seven years of

total stillness.

Savard blamed himself. He never should have set foot inside Balinese.

Decades ago Lord Navarre had taken him in, and the people of Balinese

had hatefully labeled Savard “the stray.” They’d watched him, judged him,

from the moment he’d stepped foot inside their grand home. While the

people of the city suspected he did not belong in their rich and secluded

world, Savard knew for a fact that he did not. Navarre seemed not to

notice. Or care.

Months into his tentative stay, Navarre had placed him in command of

the city’s Guardians. Savard had objected, along with Navarre’s council,

but the lord would not be swayed.

Savard had reluctantly taken the position, and for the first time in his

life buckled his sword to his hip with a great deal of trepidation. Becoming

captain to such a great lord and legendary city had felt wrong.

Every night Lord Navarre had proudly said, “I’m glad you’re here.”

Savard’s consistent response? “It’s only a matter of time before I’m gone.”

Navarre would nod, and they’d move on with life. The same conversation

repeated. At first once a day, then as time went on, once a month. After

five years Navarre had stopped triggering the conversation altogether,

never believing his captain had any intention of leaving.

Leaving was no longer an option. He had a responsibility, not just to

Navarre, but to the city Navarre loved. Savard had done everything in his

power to keep the city functioning smoothly, and to keep threats away.

But if Navarre died? If his friend left this world, then there was no reason

to care for the things Navarre had held dear, and Savard couldn’t live

surrounded by memories of yet another massive failure.

The padlock outside the door rattled, the heavy hinge laid back against

the door. Then the large wooden slide latch was moved, wood scraping

wood, until the handle hit the end of its range with a solid thud.

Savard knelt beside the bed and took his lord’s lifeless hand in both of

his, ready to weather the brief intrusion, prepared to Spirit Navarre away

should it become necessary.

The hinges on the thick door creaked as it opened. The Guardians

stepped inside, flipped on the lights. Boots scuffed the uneven floorboards

beneath their feet, and long, purposeful strides quickly carried them deeper

inside the room.

“There it is,” Dyre said, his young, smooth voice trapped in the low

ceiling of the attic. “It doesn’t appear heavy, only awkward.”

“Why are we putting an empty birdcage outside the dining hall?” Cat

said, suspicion bleeding through her tone.

The presence of these two was unexpected. As arena Guardians, Titus

and Graydon often drew the short straw, being sent on random missions

that sometimes involved moving furniture. Not today. Somehow Dyre and

Cat had taken their place.

“Don’t ask, just do,” Dyre said.

“Ugh.” She exaggerated the guttural sound. “I hate your motto. It’s stupid.”

“It’s not my motto,” Dyre said, the effort of sliding wooden furniture

across the floor temporarily halting his speech. “And you seem to like it

just fine when you’re the one barking orders.”

“Fair enough,” she said, relenting.

Savard smiled slightly, shaking his head. In public those two barely spoke

a word to each other, and after the parade of Guardian partners Cat had

gone through, he never would have thought Dyre would be the one she’d

accept. But then, Dyre was one of the few able to bring her unpredictable

temper down to at least a simmer.

“Here, take this end,” Dyre directed. “I’ll go down the stairs backward.”

“You think I can’t go backward?” Cat snapped at him, instantly geared

up for a fight, offended her partner might find her lacking.

“No,” he said calmly, his tone hinting at simple honesty. “I

think you’re short.”

If Cat gave him a response, Savard didn’t hear it. Boots scuffled across

the floor, the lights went out and the door closed, the bolt slid home, and the

padlock clunked into place. The room was left in silence once again. Savard

peeked through a crack between the dressers to make certain they’d left.

Turning Navarre’s hand over, Savard pressed his fingertips to his lord’s

exposed inner wrist. As he did with each visit, Savard searched for a pulse,

craved confirmation that Navarre still lived. Beneath his fingers, the

normally slow, lurching rhythm of Navarre’s pulse seemed to have sped

  1. Not rapid or racing, but simply stronger. This could be his body’s last

surge of energy before death. Savard looked at Navarre’s face, fearing it

might be the last time.

Navarre, still deep in a healing sleep, turned his face slightly toward

the door. He wasn’t dying. He was waking.

“Oh, God. It’s her.” Jaw slack, Savard sank back onto his heels.

He shoved his hair off his face. How had he not seen this connection?

When Cat had first arrived on the night of the attack, he hadn’t known

what to do with her. He’d put her in one of Navarre’s extra homes. That

home was on the floor beneath this attic, not terribly far from where

Navarre lay sleeping.

Most vampires could recognize the beckoning call of their fated mate.

Supposedly, though he’d never seen it happen, the presence of your mate

could even negate the deadly call of the sun. Her proximity was most likely

the only reason Navarre still clung to life. Cat must be his mate. If so, then

she was the key to Navarre’s awakening. Ironically, her continued presence

in the city was contingent upon Navarre allowing her to stay once he woke.

Plans quickly took form now that Savard at long last had a clear solution.

If Navarre’s condition was going to change, it would happen tonight. He

would make it happen tonight.

While this new development should bring elation, Savard’s skin crawled

with a morbid anticipation. Something unstoppable was happening in the

world around him, a life-altering force headed his way. He’d felt this same

unease the night he’d become lord, an awareness that he balanced at the top

of a mountain and would soon fall. He just didn’t know in which direction

*
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Jen Colly is the rare case of an author who
rebelled against reading assignments throughout her school years. Now
she prefers reading books in a series, which has led her to writing
her first paranormal romance series: The Cities Below. She will write
about anything that catches her fancy, though truth be told, her
weaknesses are pirates and vampires. She lives in Ohio with her
supportive husband, two kids, one big fluffy dog, and four rescued
cats.
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Posted in #Book, #Giveaway, Authors, Bewitching Book Tours, blog, Book, Paranormal Romance, Story, Tour, Writer

My Defender by Alanea Alder – Book Tour + #Giveaway

27/04/17

 


My Defender

Bewitched and Bewildered

Book Eight

Alanea Alder

Genre: Paranormal Romance
Publisher: Sacred Forest Publishing
Date of Publication: April 25, 2017
ISBN: 978-1-941315-18-7
ASIN: B01N18RZXY
Cover Artist: Kim Killion
Tagline: She’s been Bewitched, he’s Bewildered

Book Description:

When a mysterious illness begins to sweep through Noctem Falls affecting the children, Eleanor Kimball is called to the city to see if she can determine what is wrong. As a pediatrician Eleanor loves children and desires many of her own, however, after several dating disasters she has not only sworn off men, but has given up her dream of a family, and the promise of a destined mate.
After discovering Grant in Noctem Falls she is faced with her own insecurities and finds it hard to believe in his love.
Grant Douglas is a man of few words and doesn’t do well surrounded by others. He is scared to death of finding a mate. He believes the harshness of his past, where he struggled to survive, didn’t cultivate a gentle heart. After a series of terrifying nightmares where his mate is at risk, Grant has decided he doesn’t want a mate at all.
When he meets Ellie, he realizes there are some things worth fighting for. Even if it means putting himself out there by becoming the Alpha he was born to be and facing the power he desperately tries to hide.
As Ellie starts to believe in Grant’s love it will take every ounce their combined strength to discover why the shifter children are suddenly falling ill before it’s too late.
Amazon       Amazon UK       Amazon AU     Amazon CA

About the Author:

USA Today Best Selling Author, Alanea loves reading almost as much as she loves writing. She began writing at a very young age, some of her first scribblings are treasured in a keepsake box and written in green marker. She started when she was still in grade school and continued on through college.
She believes that love truly conquers all and that everyone no matter what, deserves a chance at that love and a place they can call home. She absolutely loves to hear from her readers so don’t hesitate to reach out to her. As always, her promise to her readers remains, “If you keep reading, I’ll keep writing!”
Website        http://alaneaalder.com/
Newsletters  http://bit.ly/2eazN2l
Twitter         https://twitter.com/AlaneaAlder
Tumblr        http://alaneaalder.tumblr.com/
Goodreads   http://bit.ly/1TcaNlJ
Amazon       http://amzn.to/23P41XW
Promotions Page    http://bit.ly/129Kfw1  
Blurbs and Teasers http://bit.ly/1cYyQUJ
Short Stories          http://bit.ly/2eoDW2r

FAQ  http://bit.ly/1IZcElJ

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Posted in #Book, #Giveaway, Author, blog, Book, Contemporary, Fiction, Romance, Silver Dagger Scriptorium Tours, Story, Tour, Writer

A Charmed Little Lie by Sharla Lovelace – Book Tour + #Giveaway

26/04/17

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A CHARMED LITTLE LIE
by Sharla Lovelace
Pub date: 4/18/2017
Genre: Contemporary Romance
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Charmed, Texas, is everything the name implies—quaint, comfortable, and as
small-town friendly as they come. And when it comes to romance,
there’s no place quite as enchanting . . .
Lanie Barrett didn’t mean to lie. Spinning a story of a joyous marriage
to make a dying woman happy is forgivable, isn’t it? Lanie thinks
so, especially since her beloved Aunt Ruby would have been
heartbroken to know the truth of her niece’s sadly loveless,
short-of-sparkling existence. Trouble is, according to the will, Ruby
didn’t quite buy Lanie’s tale. And to inherit the only house
Lanie ever really considered a home, she’ll have to bring her
“husband” back to Charmed for three whole months—or watch Aunt
Ruby’s cozy nest go to her weasel cousin, who will sell it to a
condo developer.
Nick McKane is out of work, out of luck, and the spitting image of the man
Lanie described. He needs money for his daughter’s art school
tuition, and Lanie needs a convenient spouse. It’s a match made . .
. well, not quite in heaven, but for a temporary arrangement, it
couldn’t be better. Except the longer Lanie and Nick spend as
husband and wife, the more the connection between them begins to seem
real. Maybe this modern fairy tale really could come true . . .
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Buy Links:
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Sharla Lovelace is the bestselling, award-winning author of sexy small-town
love stories. Being a Texas girl through and through, she’s proud
to say she lives in Southeast Texas with her retired husband, a
tricked-out golf cart, and two crazy dogs. Her novels include The
Reason Is You, Before and Ever Since, Just One Day, Don’t Let Go,
and Stay with Me.
Sharla writes modern day, quirky love stories with dysfunctional families,
love problems, and snarky humor. Because who doesn’t love a love
story? Especially one with strong women and drama and baggage and hot
men that can’t get enough of them.…
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Posted in #Book, #Giveaway, Author, blog, Book, Historical, Romance, Silver Dagger Scriptorium Tours, Tour, Writer

Only a Mistress will do by Jenna Jaxon – Book Tour + #Giveaway

25/04/17

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ONLY A MISTRESS WILL DO
by Jenna Jaxon
Pub date: 4/4/2017
Genre: Historical Romance
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The man of her dreams . . . belongs to another woman.
Destitute and without friends, Violet Carlton is forced to seek employment at the House of Pleasure in London. She steels herself for her first customer and is shocked when the man rescues her instead of ravishing her. A grateful Violet cannot help but admire the handsome Viscount Trevor. But she must curb her desire for the dashing nobleman she can never have because he is already betrothed to another…
Tristan had gone to the House of Pleasure for a last bit of fun before he became a faithful married man. But when he recognizes the woman in his bed, he becomes determined to save her instead. Now, his heart wars with his head as he falls for the vulnerable courtesan. Unable to break his betrothal without a scandal, Tris resolves to find Violet proper employment or a husband of her own. Still, his arms ache for Violet, urging him to abandon propriety and sacrifice everything to be with the woman he loves…
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Chapter 1
London, November 1761

 

Shivering in the brisk wind cutting straight through her thin gown, Violet Carlton trudged across the small dirt-packed backyard, littered with tufts of dead grass and scattered brown and red leaves. Teeth clenched to stop their chattering, she mounted the short three steps of the back stoop, straightened her shoulders, and rapped three times on the dull gray door of the silvery clapboard house. Beyond the weathered board fence of   the house next door a dog barked, but no one stirred. No prying eyes to witness her shame.

 

The door opened a crack, and a lad of about twelve stuck his head out. “What you doin’ ’ere this time o’ day?”

“I would like to speak with Madame Vestry, please.” Perhaps she should have waited until later in the morning. Such an establishment would obviously keep late hours. But the ache in her belly had forced her here as soon as the sun had risen.

 

“She’s still sleep. Come back later today.” He started to push the door closed but Violet rammed her boot between it and the jamb. The boy kept shoving, squeezing her foot until she winced in pain, but she gritted her teeth, put her shoulder to the door and pushed back. If she didn’t do this now, she wouldn’t have the courage, or the strength, to come back.

 

“I need to see her now.” She raised her voice, and threw her weight against the rough boards. Despite her small stature, she was stronger. He staggered back and she fell into a narrow back foyer with a row of coat hooks and the devastating yeasty smell of baking bread. Her mouth watered and her stomach rumbled. She hadn’t eaten for days.

 

Blond hair straggling from under a mobcap, a girl, maybe fourteen, rushed into the room. “What the hell’s going on in here Willie?” She wiped her hands on her apron, streaked with flour and grease. Warily, her gaze shifted from Willie to Violet. “Who are you?”

 

“I’ve come to see Madame Vestry.” Violet focused on the girl’s narrowed eyes.  “I need to talk to her, please.” Her heart gave a sickening lurch.

 

In one practiced glance, the girl took in her appearance, from what used to be her second-best hat to the rumpled and stained deep-purple dress to her scuffed black boots, and sniffed. “I see you do.”

 

The appraisal stung, but was probably fair. She’d come down fast in the months since her grandmother’s death. Her possessions long gone, her wardrobe—reduced to two dresses and a well-worn cloak—had been sold, leaving her with only the dress she stood up in. These clothes wouldn’t fetch a shilling in a secondhand shop now.

 

The servant girl nodded to Willie. “Close the door before we freeze to death, jingle-brains. Come on.” She led Violet out of the foyer. “I’ll ask if Madame will see you. But she won’t be happy being woke up this early, you can bet your dippers on that.”

 

The last thing she wanted was to antagonize her future employer. Still, she couldn’t risk waiting until later.

Taking a firm grip on herself, she followed the girl down a shadowy hallway until she motioned her into an equally dim reception room. “Wait here.” The girl turned on her heel and left.

 

Violet let out the breath she’d been holding. She hadn’t fainted yet, though her empty stomach had tied itself in knots. The pain meant she was alive and by God she intended to stay that way. She strode farther into the room and perched on the red cushioned sofa. Let the woman arrive swiftly to get this over with.

 

Sitting rigidly, she stared at her hands clenched in her lap, then shook herself. She had better be stronger than this. Determined, she sat straighter. A classical-style painting in a large gilt frame across from her caught her interest. A naked woman lay on a chaise, her legs spread. Oh, good Lord. Her womanly parts were exposed and a swan lay with its beak pressed between her thighs.

 

Her face heated and she had to look somewhere else, anywhere else but at that painting. The fireplace on her right held two candlesticks, shaped like naked women. Wax had dripped onto the figures, drops hanging from the nipples. Was there nowhere in the room without a lewd image? Violet gripped the end of the sofa. The plush red carpet seemed safe to study. The smooth, polished wood under her fingers had been carved in an oval with folds in the middle. She traced the pattern absently, still unable to get the image of the painting out of her mind. The swan’s long neck lying at the apex of the woman’s open legs. Her forefinger stroked the wooden oval, so similar to the—

 

“Dear God!” She snatched her hand away and rubbed it against her gown. “Miss Carlton?” A small, dark-haired woman in an exotic scarlet silk robe seemed to fill the room.

 

Violet jumped to her feet, her heart thudding wildly.

 

“My maid said you wished to see me?” Madame Vestry’s dark eyes took in every detail of Violet’s appearance. She raised an eyebrow.

 

On the tip of her tongue to retort of course, she did not wish to see the owner of a brothel, she instead swallowed back her anger. She could ill afford to provoke Madame Vestry. “Yes, ma’am. My brother told me if things went very badly for me I should…” Words stuck in her throat like a fish bone.

 

“Come to my establishment?”

 

Face flushing, Violet nodded. “Yes.”

 

“Who is your brother, Miss Carlton?” A narrowing of the woman’s eyes echoed the suspicion in her voice.

 

“James Carlton, ma’am.”

 

Vestry’s head rose slightly and she relaxed. “Ah, yes, Jamie. You are his sister? Then I am sorry for your loss, Miss Carlton.”

 

“Thank you, Madame Vestry.” Thankfully, her voice held steady, the months since her brother’s death easing the grief to the point she did not weep instantly at the thought. Her current plight was enough to do that.

 

“And you have now come to that desperate point where you seek employment with me?” The business-like tone, neither condoning nor condemning, stiffened Violet’s resolve.

 

“Yes, ma’am. As of today, I have nowhere else to go, no one to turn to.” A sickening churn of her stomach that had nothing to do with hunger sent tension through her. “Nothing else of value.”

 

Except herself.

 

“You are how old, Miss Carlton?” “Nineteen, ma’am. Almost twenty.”

 

“Let me see you walk, please.” With a crisp snap, Vestry pulled the curtains open and nodded to the path between the sofa and fireplace.

 

Violet straightened her skirts as best she could. Suddenly stiff and self- conscious, she concentrated on putting one foot before the other until she came face to face with another obscene painting. She clenched her hands and averted her eyes.

“Turn please.”

 

Feeling more and more like a horse or a cow at Smithfield market, she did as she was told, hopefully with a bit more grace.

 

In reward, Vestry gave her a slight nod. “You speak and move as befit your station, Miss Carlton. With a little training, I suspect you will be quite popular with our patrons. I should be able to command a high price for your virginity.”

 

Violet’s feet tangled in the plush carpet.

 

The scant approval vanished as Vestry glared at her. “I  assume  you are intact?”

 

Oh, the shame. How could this woman suggest she had already lain with a man? Bitterness flooded her mouth and her chest ached with mortification. Finally, she managed a curt nod.

 

“Lie down on the sofa please.” “What? Why?”

 

“I am not fool enough to take your word, Miss Carlton.” Vestry smiled mirthlessly. “A brief inspection will allow me to assure your buyer he is indeed purchasing a virgin.”

 

Her cheeks heated at the humiliation this woman suggested. The cold inevitability of her situation rolled over her, engulfing her as though she was drowning beneath a relentless sea. Madame Vestry demanded almost nothing compared to the real horror awaiting her at the hands of her buyer. Still, she had chosen to live. She could no longer afford the luxury of respectability.

 

Vestry stood immobile, a flicker in her eyes the only hint of interest.

 

Steeling herself, without word or plea, Violet lay down on the disgusting sofa, raised her knees and turned her head toward the garish red satin cushion. Cool air rushed past her thighs. Hot tears slipped down her cheeks. She hadn’t wanted to cry. The time for weakness had passed.

 

“You may sit up now.”

 

Indignant, Violet sat up and raised her chin. “Are you satisfied as to my honesty now?”

 

“I always was, Miss Carlton.” Madame Vestry stared into Violet’s eyes, her gaze seeming to penetrate to her soul.

 

“Then why—”

 

“I needed to test your mettle.”

 

Rising, Violet scowled. Simply coming to this place should have shown her determination.

 

“Respectable women often believe they can eschew respectability to save their lives, only to find, in the end, starvation far pleasanter than immorality,” Vestry continued matter-of-factly. “You, however, I believe will do, Cassandra. Come with me.” Motioning her to follow, she headed out of the room.

 

“Cassandra?” Violet hurried to keep up.

“All of my girls have false names, false identities.” At the end of the hallway, they headed up a flight of stairs.

 

“The life they lead in the House of Pleasure is just as fraudulent. Cassandra is the mask you will wear to protect a vestige of your self-respect.” When they reached the landing, Madame twitched her silky robe out of the way and turned to her. “Think of it as a role, very like one an actress might take upon the stage. It is not who you are, unless you allow it be.” The vehemence of the last sentence rang in the cramped stairwell.

 

Violet stumbled back a step. “Why Cassandra?” It was a classical reference she couldn’t quite place.

 

A peculiar smile curled Madame Vestry’s red lips. “She was a prophet and a spoil of war. A woman men used but dismissed because they could not understand her prophecies, although they came true with a vengeance.” A fire glowed in her cunning eyes as she scrutinized Violet’s body.

 

More than her earlier examination, Vestry’s calculating perusal made Violet uncomfortable.

 

“What prophecy will you reveal to your customers, I wonder, Miss Carlton? A promise of pleasure or one of pain?” The light extinguished as quickly as it had come. “This way.” She started down a corridor to the right. “You will have a room of your own on the second floor. Depending on circumstances, you will entertain your clients either there or in one of the ground-floor rooms.”

 

Violet followed, each step hardening her heart.

 

“I will see to your training during the next week.” Passion drained from her voice. The businesswoman had returned.

 

A shiver shot down Violet’s spine.

 

“I will also inform certain special clients I have an item of interest for them.”

 

No going back now. She had become a whore. Tears threatened, but she beat them back.

 

“You can only sell your virtue once and I will make sure you receive the highest price, my dear. Half of those proceeds are yours.”

 

Violet wavered between fainting and nausea, then steadied. Perhaps thinking of the encounter as a business deal might make the situation tolerable. Madame Vestry showed her into a small, clean room boasting no lewd artwork, only a wide oak bed, a chest on chest, an armchair and table.

 

“This room is yours as long as you work for me, though should you receive a better offer, I’d advise you take it.”

 

“A better offer?” Who on earth would want her after this?

 

“Many of my girls have gone on to become exclusive mistresses to the noblemen who take a fancy to them. Such arrangements are often quite lucrative. With judicious saving one might have enough to start their life over after four or five years.” A mischievous smile flitted across Madame Vestry’s face. “One of the girls who passed through here briefly—very briefly, mind you—ended up marrying a marquess. That smacks more of fairytale than reality. Still the tale is true.”

 

The animation drained from her face as the brusque woman of business returned. “I will leave you to settle in, although I’ll expect you ready for your first lesson this afternoon. We serve late luncheon at four and supper after midnight. The house opens for clients at dusk.” She looked Violet up and down once more, lingering on her face. “You might want to stay in your room tonight. Just ignore anything you may hear. You’ll get used to the noise rather quickly.” Abruptly, she shut the door.

 

Violet dropped into the chair as her legs finally gave out, praying to God she could get through this nightmare, if only one moment at a time.

 

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Jenna Jaxon is a multi-published author of historical and contemporary romance. She has been reading and writing historical romance since she was a teenager. A romantic herself, she has always loved a dark side to the genre, a twist, suspense, a surprise—so expect her to incorporate these elements into her work! She lives in Virginia with her family and a small menagerie of pets where she is currently working on the next House of Pleasure book, Only A Mistress Will Do, as well as a Regency series. When not reading or writing, she indulges her passion for the theatre, working with local theatres as a director. She often feels she is directing her characters on their own private stage when she writes. Jenna equates her writing to an addiction to chocolate—once she starts she just can’t stop!
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It had to be You by Melissa Kate – Release day Blitz + #Giveaway

25/04/17

 

 
 

It Had To
Be You

Crystal Valley

Book Two

Melissa Kate

Genre: Contemporary Romance , RomCom

Publisher: Fire Quill Publishing

Date of Publication: 25 April 2017

ISBN:  978-0-9984714-1-9

ASIN: B06ZZ2TPJ9

Number of pages: 200 pages

Word Count: 50 k

Cover Artist: Amy from Q Design

Book Description:

Emma
Wyatt has had enough of her ex best friend and his lady killer ways. Gone was
the sweet boy of her youth and in rides the womaniser. But this time he has
ready gone and done it!
Oliver didn’t expect to be coupled with Emma. She was in an awkward situation
and he couldn’t help the words that came out. She should be grateful, he saved
her.

Now the whole town knows. And Emma is pissed! She’s going to kill him.

But a heated argument leads to a fiery moment of passion and suddenly the two
are fighting an unlikely attraction that neither saw coming. But Oliver has a
secret that could tear them apart…

Amazon     BN     Kobo


 

About the Author:

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Melissa Kate is a self-confessed book-a-holic who lives in a small town along
the coast in sunny South Africa. She writes contemporary romance with quirky
characters and witty banter; a true romantic at heart, she loves the moment of
falling in love. Her pet Beagle and maniacal lovebird keep her company while
writing and often inspire senseless moments in her stories.

When she’s not furiously tapping away on her laptop, Melissa can be found
laughing away with her husband (who happens to be her pre-school sweetheart…
you just know there’s a story there) or scouring online stores for additions to
her ever growing stiletto collection (ehm addiction).

She balances her day job and conjuring up new romantic tales with a local personal
blog with arb ramblings about her life in Durban.

http://www.melissakatebooks.com/

https://twitter.com/MelissaKate_1

https://www.facebook.com/melissakatebooks


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