Review: Demon Assassins: Audio Book 3 Book Series, by Ann Gimpel Reply

Available For Purchase On:

Audible    Amazon     iTunes

Listen to Hollie Jackson narrate a snippet right here!

Witch’s Bounty Demon Assassin Book 1

4 out of 5 Stars

Review:

Once again, author Ann Gimpel has created an enchanting world full of witches, demons, Sidhe, and more. This is the tale of Colleen, the first of the demon assassin witches we will meet. Colleen, Roz and Jenna are witches. They have a relatively peaceful life in Alaska, running a small shop and keeping to themselves. One dark day, the most incredible man Colleen has ever met saunters through the shop door. His name is Duncan, and he is Sidhe. He comes advising the ladies of a major problem…the Irichna demons are back and stronger than ever. Toss is a smartass changeling called Bubba, and let the mayhem begin!  I am a huge fan of Ms. Gimpel’s books, and this series is no exception. I found Colleen and Duncan to be exceptionally strong characters, and the story is a delight to read. It’s fast moving, but not too fast. There’s plenty of spice, and lots of pulse-pounding action. I would absolutely recommend this novel. I would also highly recommend reading the books in order. I am very eagerly anticipating book 2!

Reviewed by Deviant Diamond

Our Blog was given this book in exchange for an honest review.

Description:

assassin witches, Colleen is almost the last of her kind. Along with her familiar, a changeling spirit, she was hoping for a few months of quiet, running a small magicians’ supply store in Fairbanks, Alaska. Peace isn’t in the cards, though. Demons are raising hell in Seattle. She’s on her way to kick some serious demon ass, when a Sidhe shows up and demands she accompany him to England to quell a demon uprising.

Witch’s Bane Demon Assassin Book 2

4 out of 5 Stars

Review:

WOW! After an explosive first book, this second book in author Ann Gimpel’s incredible Demon Assassin series is fantastic! This tells the tale of Roz, a demon assassin witch with incredible powers, and an attitude to match. After the last demonic assault, Roz, Colleen, Jenna and Bubba all need a break. It won’t last long. The Irichna demons are growing bolder than ever. Back in Fairbanks for just a few days at the most, Roz, Colleen and Jenna are all taken by something that really wants to hurt them.  In comes a rescue party. All of the changelings, the Sidhe nobility (including Ronan, who Roz made quite a connection with), and more come riding to the rescue. I fell in love with Roz and her snarky attitude, while Ronan is a hero for the ages. I adored this book, and I’m eagerly anticipating book 3! I do suggest reading in order, as this book has more than enough heat and plenty of action that builds off the first book. This is not intended for young reader.

Reviewed by Deviant Diamond

Our Blog was given this book in exchange for an honest review.

Description:

Demons strike in the midst of Colleen’s wedding, and Roz launches desperate measures. As she shape-shifts to keep one step ahead of evil, it takes her mind off her other problems. Personal ones. She burned through a couple of marriages and hooked up with a string of loser men before, after, and in between. Though she wants to be happy for Colleen, the jealousy bug bit deep.

In Roz’s secret heart, she’s attracted to Ronin, one of the Daoine Sidhe. He’s so profanely beautiful she can barely breathe around him, but he’s also headstrong and arrogant. Not good partner material – unless she wants to end up dusting her heart off one more time.

Witches Rule Demon Assassin Book 3

5 out of 5 Stars

Review:

Absolutely explosive! I simply could not put this book down! This is book 3 in author Ann Gimpel’s incredible Demon Assassin series, and what a tale it is! This is the story of Jenna, the demon assassin witch who truly has no clue about who (or what) she is. She’s always felt like the odd one out in her group, the weak one; the one everyone had to protect. Things will soon change. With Jenna, Roz, Ronan, Duncan, Colleen, and the changelings all off to England to plan a final assault on the Irichna demons border world, things seem quiet. But that peace is not to last. Between political moves among the Sidhe, the changelings manipulations, and Jenna’s origins being revealed, she’s more than overwhelmed. And then there’s the issue with Tristan and Kiernan, two gorgeous fey men who both want Jenna. Can she handle them both? Will they survive this most daring plan of assault? Read on. I absolutely adore Jenna and her two fey. They are incredible characters, both strong and courageous, while still being doubtful and insecure. This series is going on my favorites pile! I would highly recommend reading in order. There is plenty of heat and more than enough action. This is not a story for young readers.

Reviewed by Deviant Diamond

Our Blog was given this book in exchange for an honest review.

Description:

Jenna’s a special witch, sort of, when her magic works, which it often doesn’t. Frustration about her limited power eats at her. It would be pathetic to get killed for lack of skills a teenager could master.

Tristan is a Sidhe warrior. He fell hard for Jenna, but hasn’t had an opportunity to act on the attraction beyond a few kisses. Kiernan is haunted by visions, particularly an apocalyptic sending that seems to be coming true. A confirmed bachelor, he doesn’t understand his attraction to Jenna, but it’s so strong he can’t fight it. After a while, he doesn’t even try, despite recognizing Tristan’s claim to her.

Startling truths surface about Jenna’s magic, and then there’s the problem that she’s falling in love with two very different men.

About the Author:

Ann Gimpel is a mountaineer at heart. Recently retired from a long career as a psychologist, she remembers many hours at her desk where her body may have been stuck inside four walls, but her soul was planning yet one more trip to the backcountry. Around the turn of the last century (that would be 2000, not 1900!), she managed to finagle moving to the Eastern Sierra, a mecca for those in love with the mountains. It was during long backcountry treks that Ann’s writing evolved. Unlike some who see the backcountry as an excuse to drag friends and relatives along, Ann prefers solitude. Stories always ran around in her head on those journeys, sometimes as a hedge against abject terror when challenging conditions made her fear for her life, sometimes for company. Eventually, she returned from a trip and sat down at the computer. Three months later, a five hundred page novel emerged. Oh, it wasn’t very good, but it was a beginning. And, she learned a lot between writing that novel and its sequel.

Around that time, a friend of hers suggested she try her hand at short stories. It didn’t take long before that first story found its way into print and they’ve been accepted pretty regularly since then. One of Ann’s passions has always been ecology, so her tales often have a green twist.

In addition to writing, Ann enjoys wilderness photography. She lugs pounds of camera equipment in her backpack to distant locales every year. A standing joke is that over ten percent of her pack weight is camera gear which means someone else has to carry the food! That someone is her husband. They’ve shared a life together for a very long time. Children, grandchildren and three wolf hybrids round out their family.

Find Ann At:

www.anngimpel.com

http://anngimpel.blogspot.com

http://www.amazon.com/author/anngimpel

http://www.facebook.com/anngimpel.author

https://twitter.com/anngimpel

Spotlight/Excerpt: Divine Justice Series, by Mary Abshire 1

Available For Purchase On:

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Demon-Hunter-Divine-Justice-1-ebook/dp/B071LR83KQ/ref=pd_sbs_351_1?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1&refRID=KT2HNYP6VS55E6AD9P1M

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/demon-hunter/id1241917289?mt=11

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/demon-hunter-divine-justice-1

Description:

The demon population is growing out of control and vampires are mankind’s best hope for survival.

Divine Syndicate’s top field agent, Anna, hits the streets with her partner to locate the master demon responsible for the increase in possessed humans. But finding the person won’t be easy. The city is in a state of disarray with crime, poverty, and drug use at an all-time high. While Anna and her partner search for the master, they encounter more trouble than expected. As defenders of the human race, vampires want to save lives and exorcise the demons to send them back to Hell for good. Anna fears the worst is yet to come when demons aim to destroy the best protectors for all species. She’ll stop at nothing to prevent evil from ruling on Earth.

Excerpt:

Glenn parallel parked two blocks from the club. “What’s your plan?”

“I’m going to go in and find a spot at the bar. I want you to wait a minimum of five minutes before you walk in. Pretend you don’t know me. I’ll get a couple of drinks, show the picture, ask if anyone knew Jamal, and see what happens. And don’t worry, if they ask my relationship to Tim, I’ll say he was my brother and I took the photo while he was sleeping.”

“So you’re not going to create a scene or start a fight?”

“I will do my best to keep the situation calm. But if someone is going to try to intimidate or touch me, I’m going to defend myself.”

He grinned. “Do you want me as backup?”

“Yes. Right now I don’t know who is innocent and who isn’t. I need another set of eyes scanning people. But if I leave, don’t follow right away. Someone might be watching and I don’t want us to be seen together.”

“Are you carrying?”

“Have you ever known me not to?”

“No.” He smirked. “I’ll wait here for a while.”

Available For Purchase On:

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Demon-Tracker-Divine-Justice-Book-ebook/dp/B071FKQQPZ/ref=sr_1_3?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1495985055&sr=1-3

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/demon-tracker-divine-justice-2

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/demon-tracker-divine-justice-2/id1241920736?mt=11

Description:

While the Divine Syndicate is working to prevent an outbreak of demons, vampires are disappearing and turning up as corpses.

The Union of Justice is known for tracking and serving justice on vampires. With the increase in departed vamps spiraling out of control, the UoJ’s top field agent, Zale, and his partner must switch from their normal job to investigate the remains of destroyed vampires. Identifying those responsible is proving to be a big challenge. Zale needs the assistance of the vamp community, only they have their own idea of ending the bloodshed. They want to kill demons. But murdering humans, possessed or not, is against the law. Complicating matters, neither vampires nor the UoJ trust each other. Mankind’s future is dependent upon vampires and vice versa, but both are at stake as the demon population grows. Zale will do anything to save lives and end the madness, even if it means working with the one species he’s chased his entire career.

Excerpt:

“There are always casualties in war,” Gordon said. “No one wants to kill an innocent, including vampires. I’m sure they have plenty of guilt for their actions weighing on their consciences.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yes, I’m certain they don’t want to take life from anyone. You should ask one sometime if you don’t believe me.”

“I respect your opinion. You’ve seen and lived through more than I have. But it’s difficult to find anything good about them when I’m constantly hunting down those who have killed humans.”

“Trust my words, the majority of vampires are moral and they are here to defend us from evil. If demons wipe them off the face of the Earth, we will be doomed. Demons will come for us and the rest of the non-human population. Humanity will have lost.”

A world filled with evil, hate, and murder was not one Zale cared to live in. He’d seen enough death and chaos from the last outbreak and never wanted to see another.

“We can’t let that happen.” Zale gave a single shake of his head. “I won’t let that happen.”

About The Author:

Mary is a romantic at heart and a lifetime lover of the paranormal, fantasy, and science fiction. When she’s not working or binge watching television, she enjoys creating fantastical stories with vampires, demons, werewolves, angels, and/or other supernatural creatures. She often adds mystery and suspense to spice up her books. For the most part, she lives a quiet life in Indianapolis. She aspires to become a full time writer one day. She also hopes to meet a vampire, werewolf, or angel who will sweep her off her feet. Hey, a girl can dream. And Mary does.
Author Links:

www.facebook.com/MaryAbshire.Author

www.goodreads.com/maryabshire
twitter.com/maryabshire

For latest news and special deals, sign up for her newsletter: https://app.mailerlite.com/webforms/landing/k0i2e8

Other books available by Mary:

Heaven Sent Series: Divine Justice series:

First Kill Demon Hunter

Second Demon Demon Tracker

Third Love Crisis Alert (available Aug 22)

Fourth Fight

Fifth Regret

Sixth Surprise

Seventh Heaven

Soul Catcher Series:

Claiming the Evil Dead

Catching an Evil Tail

Fighting Evil

Love Conquers All Evil

Freedom From the Evil Dead

The Evil Next Door

Project Eve Series:

The Awakening

The Quest

 

Review/Excerpt: Illumination (Penton Legacy Book 5), by Susannah Sandlin Reply

3 out of 5 Stars

Available For Purchase On:

Goodreads

Review:

This is an unusual telling of paranormal entities. This is also a little bit of a dystopian future. The vampire world is unable to feed off of humans, due to a special vaccination against a pandemic flu.  A group of vampires kidnap a few females and hope a “breeding” program can create a new generation of humans who can be fed from.
The story is very confusing and can be interpreted in different ways based on the reader’s views. This type of story is a very different view future and may take a while to get involved.

Reviewed by Angel

Our Blog was given this book in exchange for an honest review.

Description:

He came to Penton seeking peace. Nik Dimitrou joined the Army to escape his family legacy, only to have his psychic abilities exploited as a weapon. Now, as a civilian, he turns to the bottle to veil the images that haunt his mind whenever he touches anyone—except vampires. With them, he has finally found a home. But as Penton, Alabama, moves into open warfare with the Vampire Tribunal, Nik finds himself a linchpin in the deepening conflict, not to mention facing a transformation in his own body more frightening than anything he’s encountered before.

She wanted to change the world. Shay Underwood watched her Peace Corps parents move from one third world country to another—until both died following an outbreak of fever. Driven to her own career in tropical medicine, Shay works in New Orleans to cure the disease that killed her parents—until a careless weekend outing draws her into a world far more dangerous than the diseases she studies: a vampire society engaged in human trafficking and on the verge of all-out war.

Two cities, two strangers, one world. With Penton rebellion leader Aidan Murphy making risky choices and chief vampire lieutenant Mirren Kincaid forced to take a leadership role in Penton, it will fall to two outsiders, Nik and Shay, to find a way for the town—and themselves—to survive in this much-anticipated conclusion to the multiple award-winning Penton Legacy series.

Excerpt:

“Right then. We have an obscenely large vehicle on the other side of that brick wall,” Cage said. “Archer or Nik should be able to help you over. Once I’m sure you’re in the car and locked up tight, I’ll collect Robin and Glory from the cemetery entrance and we’ll all be on our way back to Penton.”

Shay bit her lip. She had absolutely no reason to go to Penton, wherever the hell it was. Her home and life and work were here in New Orleans. She knew she’d have to be careful, but now that the breeding house was broken up and Jonathan was dead, the vampires and their minions had no reason to come after her. Whatever feelings Shay had nursed for Nik Dimitrou in high school, they were long dead. Gorgeous only took a person so far. Besides, he was a vampire.

She’d wait until they got her out of this cemetery, though, to decline her visit to Vampire Central. Maybe the handsome cat boy would drop her off somewhere. But where? She had no money or identification with her. She didn’t even have the keys to her own apartment or lab.

Maybe a police station. They could come up with a plausible story for her disappearance. Maybe even name Simon as her kidnapper, and the warehouse location. Let the authorities make of it what they would.

Shay was distracted by the sight of Archer leaping to the top of the brick wall behind the Le Boeuf crypt, followed closely by Nik. Her old classmate might be injured and hungry, but that wall had given him no challenge. Shay wasn’t sure she could climb over it without a sturdy ladder on a good day. Today had not been a good day except that she hadn’t died.

Nik reached down and motioned to Shay. “C’mon, let’s get out of here.”

Shay looked at the wall, at Nik, and back at the wall. “I don’t think you can lift me. You’re hurt.”

“Trust me.” Nik grinned, giving Shay a glimpse of an older, even more handsome version of the boy she’d known so many years ago. She’d thought she loved that boy; this man, though….was a vampire. Don’t forget that, idiot.

She nodded, dried her hands on her jeans as much as she could, and reached up toward Nik. He leaned over, wrapped strong fingers around both of her wrists, and lifted her to the top of the wall with what seemed like little effort, setting her down beside him.

“Swing your legs over, and I’ll lower you down the other side. Or I can leap down with you in my arms.” His grin widened, and her heart beat double-time when their gazes locked. Vampire. He’s a freaking vampire. He’s a freaking vampire involved in a war with other freaking vampires. You cannot trust him. Lust, yes. Trust, no.

“Whatever you do, would you please move your arses?” Cage stood beneath them. “I’m getting soaked and—”

A loud pop sounded from the Washington Avenue end of the cemetery, followed by a splintering noise and another pop pop. Shay had lived in New Orleans long enough to recognize the sound of gunfire.


About The Author:

Susannah Sandlin writes award-winning paranormal romance, including the popular Penton Legacy series for Montlake Romance, and romantic suspense and thrillers, including two series, The Collectors and Wilds of the Bayou, also for Montlake. Writing as Suzanne Johnson, she writes the Sentinels of New Orleans urban fantasy series for Tor Books. Suzanne grew up in Alabama halfway between the Bear Bryant Museum and Elvis’s birthplace and lived in New Orleans for fifteen years, so she has a refined sense of the absurd and an ingrained love of college football and fried gator on a stick. She currently lives in Auburn, Alabama, where she is a full-time author who does copy editing on the side through Reedsy.com.

Web: www.suzannejohnsonauthor.com

Blog: www.suzannejohnsonauthor.com/blog

Twitter: @SusannahSandlin, @Suzanne_Johnson

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorSuzanneJohnson/

Tour Giveaway:

2$25 Amazon gift cards (or equivalent order from Book Depository for entrants outside the U.S.)

Rafflecopter Link:

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Spotlight/Excerpt: The Unlikeable Demon Hunter: Sting (Nava Katz Book Two), by Deborah Wilde 1

Available For Purchase On:

Amazon

Description:

50% boobs. 50% sarcasm. 100% new breed of hunter.

After a bumpy start as the only female demon hunter in the top secret Brotherhood of David, Nava Katz heads to Prague for her first undercover mission: unmasking a demon movie star. She’d be all kinds of thrilled if it weren’t for the fact that her fellow hunter-with-benefits, Rohan Mitra, has reclaimed his rock star status and assigned Nava the role of groupie.

Rejecting her “be a good girl and follow orders” directive, Nava unleashes an alter ego guaranteed to hook their celebrity target and drive Rohan crazy. No downside-until she finds herself up against Rohan’s past, the Brotherhood’s antiquated thinking, and her own identity issues, turning her personal life into a bomb that could blow up the entire operation.

Sparkly and deadly; it’s a plan.

Excerpt:

Looping my fingers into his belt, I jerked his hips to mine. Rohan’s breath caught and when I brushed my lips over the shell curves of his ear, his whole body went tense. “Prove you’re worth it, baby.” Then I pushed him away, stalking off without a look back, mostly sure that he followed.

The second we got inside the empty elevator, Rohan shoved me up against the wall. I groped for the third floor button, leaning into him. He ran his hands feverishly over my body, hot tingles shivering through my breasts like a sexed-up call and answer. The focused hunger in his expression had me craving more, except my rapid breathing wasn’t all from arousal.

Given the barely banked rage evident in the tense bunch of Rohan’s shoulders, the feeling was mutual. Hopefully, he’d show no mercy in orgasm form and not body count, though I couldn’t promise the same right now.

I bit his earlobe, wanting to hurt him.

Rohan shot me a cavalier smile in response. Holy crap. My knees buckled.

The sprint to my room was a blur.

The second the door slammed shut behind us, Rohan edged his face in close to mine, his palm ghosting my cheek in the barest caress that sent slivery shimmers tumbling through me.

I raised my fingers to my mouth, not realizing what I’d done or that I ran them over my lips until Rohan tracked the movement, his eyes glittering dangerously.

His tongue flicked out, wetting his lower lip. He swayed in toward me and–

“No.” Taking his hands in mine, I forced them behind me. Forced him to hold me there, his rings biting into my skin. Forced him to make a decision; play by my rules or go.

Check Out The Unlikeable Demon Hunter Book One:

On Sale Today for .99

About the Author:

A global wanderer, hopeless romantic, and total cynic with a broken edit button, Deborah writes urban fantasy to satisfy her love of smexy romances and tales of chicks who kick ass. She is all about the happily-ever-after, with a huge dose of hilarity along the way. “It takes a bad girl to fight evil. Go Wilde.”

Website: http://www.deborahwilde.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/wildeauthor

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16189297.Deborah_Wilde

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DeborahWildeAuthor/

Tour Giveaway:

$10 Amazon GC

Rafflecopter Link:

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Review: Gallowglass (Book One), by Jennifer Allis Provost Reply

4 out of 5 Stars

Cover Artist: Deranged Doctor Design

Tagline: Karina didn’t set out to free the Seelie Queen’s gallowglass. Now she’ll do anything to keep him.

Available For Purchase On:

Amazon      BN      Kobo      iBooks

Review:

This was a fun read.  I was left with a bit of a feeling that there was another shoe waiting to drop that never did.  Karina, Chris, and Robert are easy to read about characters.  The story is not to complicated so the story line is easy to follow.  I was a little annoyed with Karina when she was trying to hide out in the cottage so she wouldn’t see any more of the Good People.  It wasn’t like she had been attacked or anything.  I understood that some of them were terrifying to see, but that just seemed a bit too drastic of behavior for her to be displaying.    Everything comes together and you see how and why some of the things played out the way they did.  I was happy to see Karina become strong in the end.

Reviewed by Fawnzy

Our Blog was given this book in exchange for an honest review.

Description:

After Karina and her brother, Chris’s, lives fall apart in separate yet equally spectacular ways, they leave New York behind and head to the UK. Karina buries herself in research for her doctoral thesis, all the while studiously not thinking about the man who broke her heart, while Chris—who’d been a best-selling author before his ex-fiancée sued him for plagiarism—drinks his way across the British Isles.

In Scotland, they visit the grave of Robert Kirk, a seventeenth- century minister who was kidnapped by fairies. No one is more shocked than Karina when a handsome man with a Scottish brogue appears, claiming to be the Robert Kirk of legend. What’s more, he says he spent the last few hundred years as the Gallowglass, the Seelie Queen’s personal assassin. When they’re attacked by demons, Karina understands how dearly the queen wants him back.

As Karina and Robert grow closer, Chris’s attempts to drown his sorrows lead him to a pub, and a woman called Sorcha. Chris is instantly smitten with her, so much so he spends days with Sorcha and lies to his sister about his whereabouts. When Chris comes home covered in fey kisses, Karina realizes that the Seelie Queen isn’t just after Robert.

Can Karina outsmart the Seelie Queen, or is Robert doomed to forever be the Gallowglass?

Excerpt:

I sped back to the ruined kirk, my knuckles white as I gripped the wheel. The real reason I didn’t get on Chris about his constant mooning over Olivia was that at least he and Olivia had had something. I’d had nothing with Jared. No it hadn’t quite been nothing, but it may as well have been. One thing that Chris and I had both learned on this trip is that an ocean is not nearly enough distance to outrun your past.

I parked in the kirk’s tourist lot, leapt out of the rental and ran across the bridge and up the fairy hill, startling some of the local wildlife along the way. When I reached the Minister’s Pine I was panting, my heart pounding as sweat poured down my back.

I had to find that quartz. I just had to.

I dropped to my knees and felt around near the base of the tree. I found my brush rather quickly, along with my hairclip and the stupidly expensive Mont Blanc pen that my advisor had given me when I earned my masters degree. But the quartz, the quartz wasn’t anywhere. The bits of lunch I’d had turned to lead in my stomach; if the quartz was gone, then it was really, truly over.

“Lookin’ for this, are ye now?”

I turned toward the voice, blinked, and pushed my glasses up to my forehead. Yeah, he was really there. Standing in front of me was a tall man in what I assumed was period dress. Instead of a kilt—we American girls tend to think that all Scotsmen run around in kilts, no matter the occasion; sadly, this is not the case—he was wearing a padded brown leather coat topped with chain mail, along with matching brown pants and well-worn leather boots. A helmet was tucked under his arm, and I could see the hilt of a claymore, one of those medieval broadswords that were so heavy you had to swing it with two hands, poking up over his shoulder. A shield rested next to the sword’s hilt, its curved edge just visible above the man’s shoulder.

I hadn’t realized they did reenactments at Doon Hill, and I made a mental note to check the brochure for show times. I also noticed that the actor had his hand extended, with my lump of rose quartz sitting on his open palm.

“Yes!” I got to my feet, and grabbed the stone. “Thank you,” I said once I remembered my manners, stroking the stone with my thumb. The man looked at me intently, his expression wavering somewhere between confusion and curiosity. “What made you think it was mine?”

“Saw ye drop it, I did,” he replied.

“And you’ve been waiting here since then?”

“I knew ye would be back for me.”

I blinked, since I must have misunderstood his accent. What I’d heard as ‘me’ must have really been ‘it’. Accents do tend to garble words. “I really appreciate you waiting for me. Thank you,” I said, extending my hand.

He eyed my hand, dark brows low over his blue eyes. Then he grasped my fingers and brought them toward his mouth.

“What are you doing?” I snapped, snatching my hand away.

“I thought ye wanted me to kiss your hand,” he explained.

“I wanted to shake your hand!” He looked befuddled rather than offended, so I attributed this to yet another cultural misunderstanding. It was becoming quite the list. “Well, regardless, thank you. I’m Rina.”

“Rina,” he repeated, that Scottish brogue of his making my nickname sound positively decadent. “’Tis quite an unusual name.”

“It’s short for Karina,” I explained. “Karina Siobhan Stewart,” I added, wondering why I’d felt compelled to give him my full name. Historically I’d only been called Karina Siobhan when I was in trouble.

“And I am Robert Kirk,” he said, extending his hand. This guy was way deep in character, like method actor deep. I shook his hand, and we both smiled.

“Good to meet you, Mr. Kirk.”

“Reverend Kirk,” he corrected.

“My apologies, Reverend Kirk.” These reenactors sure liked to stick to their roles, though I’d never expected to see a reverend wearing chain mail. We stood there for a moment, holding hands and grinning like a couple of fools, and I took the time to really look at him. He was older than me, probably a bit older than Chris too, with dark, tousled hair, chiseled features, and a roguish glint in his blue eyes. They had obviously picked reenactors that would appeal to the ladies.  

“Do no’ fash, Karina lass, no offense was taken,” he murmured, and my cheeks were suddenly hot. I took back my hand, barely resisting the urge to fan myself.

“I should be going,” I said. “My brother’s waiting for me.” I scanned the area around the Minister’s Pine, ascertained that I’d left nothing else of import behind, and turned toward the path. A hand on my arm stopped me.

“Ye canna leave me here,” the reenactor said. “Ye must take me with ye.”

“What? No!” I faced him, planting my feet before him and whipping out my cell phone. “I don’t know what goes on here in Scotland, but I’m an American citizen. Stay back, or I’ll call 911.” I didn’t even know if they had 911 in Scotland. Would I have to call Scotland Yard instead? I hoped my phone had some kind of app for international emergencies. I waved my phone in what I hoped was a menacing manner, and Robert—or whatever his name was—eyed it as if it would bite him.

“Put away your tricks, lass,” he said. “It was ye what called me here in the first place.”

I shook my head. “This is an act, right? Reverend Kirk, freed at long last from the Minister’s Pine?”

“’Tis no act, lass. Would that it were.” He stepped closer, and took my hands in both of his. Robert’s hands were warm and callused, and, despite all this nonsense, comforting. “I am Robert Kirk himself, and ye have freed me no from just a tree, but from Elphame, and the Seelie Queen herself.”

“Elphame?” I asked.

“Aye,” he replied. “Some refer to it as the Fairy Realm.”

I leaned against the Minister’s Pine. He claimed he was from Elphame. Of course he was. How did I always attract the weirdos?

It was generally agreed that when magic left the world, it was because the fairy realm had closed its doors to humans. Some claimed that human industrialization, and its rampant use of iron, had caused the fae to retreat, while others claimed the global shift from pagan to monotheistic faiths was the culprit. No matter which theory you favored, the end result was the same; there was no new magic. For hundreds of years humans had made do with a few crumbling artifacts and enchanted items, but those items were wearing out too. It was as if magic had a half-life, and we’d long since passed the middle point.

“You can’t be from Elphame,” I said. “It’s closed. It’s been closed for centuries.”

“Has it, now? I will say this, when I was a boy the land was thick with magic. Ye could hardly walk the roads without encountering one o’ the Good People.”

“When you were a boy,” I repeated, then I remembered that Robert Kirk had lived in the seventeenth century. Magic hadn’t started disappearing until a century later. “Still, it’s closed now.”

“Just because a door has been closed, does no’ mean it canna be reopened.”

I slid down to the ground and Robert sat beside me, both of us leaning against the tree he’d recently emerged from.

Wait, when did I start believing him?

“So, um, you think all of this is real?” I ventured, gesturing around the clearing. “The legend and all?”

Robert smiled wanly. “Ye have heard o’ me, then?”

“They say you told the world of the fairies’ secrets, so they imprisoned you in a tree.”

“That is no the whole of the tale.” Robert closed his eyes as he leaned his head back against the trunk. “I did have dealings with the Good People, but it was no them who abducted me.”

“Then who did?”

“’Twas Nicnevin, the Seelie Queen herself.”

My jaw dropped, and if I hadn’t already been on the ground I would have fallen. As it was, my arm went out from under me, and my shoulder bumped into Robert. “Are ye all right, lass?” Robert asked.

“Yes,” I lied. There was nothing all right about this. “Why did the queen take you?”

“She fancied me,” he replied. “Offered me an apple, ye ken. I said no, it angered her, she cursed me. And here we are today.”

I looked up at him. He still had his head tipped back against the tree, his eyes closed. “That sounds like the ridiculously oversimplified version.”

At that, he opened his eyes and speared me with his gaze. “Would ye be likin’ all the details, then, lass?”

I swallowed. “Um, maybe not just yet.” My gaze moved from Robert’s face to the quartz in my hand. “What makes you think I freed you?”

“Ye made contact wi’ the tree, wishin’ to rescue me. Wishes are powerful things, ye ken.” Robert leaned over and touched the quartz. “Then ye dropped your stone, and a door opened for me. I ha’ been waitin’ for ye ever since.”

“Wishes are powerful things,” I repeated. “Why do you want to leave with me? You don’t even know me.”

“I know ye freed me, and that is no small thing,” Robert replied. “I also know that as soon as Nicneven kens I’ve left me post, she will send her creatures to retrieve me.”

“Creatures?”

“Aye. And I do no’ want to be here when they arrive.”

I took a deep breath and got to my feet, Robert following suit. Once we were standing I looked into his clear blue eyes, his guileless face, and sighed. He was either telling the truth, or he was the greatest actor in the world. Or I was the world’s biggest idiot; the jury was still out on that.

“Well, let’s go.”

“Go?” he repeated hopefully.

“If you’re telling the truth—and I’m not saying that you are—I can’t just leave you here. And, if you’re not telling the truth, I’ll drop you at the nearest police station,” I added, trying to act tough in front of the armored man with the sword.

Robert inclined his head, and took both of my hands in his. “Lass, soon enough ye will ken that I only speak what’s true.” He once again brought my knuckles to his lips; this time, I let him kiss me. It was nice, having one’s hand kissed by a dark, handsome man. “Karina Siobhan Stewart, I am now your charge, and I shall follow your every command.”

“Okay. Um.” I looked him over and issued my first command. “First of all, you can’t tromp around Aberfoyle wearing chain mail. You’re going to have to take off your armor.”

About the Author:

Jennifer Allis Provost writes books about faeries, orcs and elves. Zombies too. She grew up in the wilds of Western Massachusetts and had read every book in the local library by age twelve. (It was a small library). An early love of mythology and folklore led to her epic fantasy series, The Chronicles of Parthalan, and her day job as a cubicle monkey helped shape her urban fantasy, Copper Girl. When she’s not writing about things that go bump in the night (and sometimes during the day) she’s working on her MFA in Creative Nonfiction.

Web and blog: https://authorjenniferallisprovost.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/copperraven

Twitter: https://twitter.com/parthalan

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/2975887.Jennifer_Allis_Provost

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Jennifer-Allis-Provost/e/B003LXSUFU/

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/jennallis/

Tour giveaway:

1 $10 amazon gift card, to be sent electronically to the winner’s email.

Rafflecopter Link:

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/ba112ffc1612/

Review/Spotlight: Spellbound (A Limited Edition Paranormal Romance and Urban Fantasy Collection Bleeding Hearts), by Ash Krafton 1

3 out of 5 Stars

Cover Artist: Rebecca Frank

Available For Purchase On:

Pre-Order Sale Only .99

Amazon      Kobo      BN      Apple

Review:

This review is for Bleeding Hearts by Ash Krafton

At least the first half I found to be pretty slow.  The second half picks up and gets a bit more interesting.  I had trouble connecting with Marek and it might have been the author trying to give you the mysterious romantic interest.  Sophie is a young lady who has been holding her own and is successful, yet with Marek in the picture she now acts much different.  This story has a good plot idea, there just felt to be that little something that was missing.  This is not your typical vampire story for sure.

Reviewed by Fawnzy

Our Blog was given this book in exchange for an honest review.

Box Set Description:

The Spellbound Boxed Set is a compilation of 20+ Full-Length Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romance reads!

Readers of all ages will be swept away by this fascinating mix of existing titles and brand new content, full of pages brimming with faeries, witches, vampires, shifters, psychics, Greek gods, angels, demons, and even ghosts!

With over a million words of fiction, this is your one stop shop for urban fantasy, epic fantasy, sword and sorcery, shifter romance, vampire romance, elemental magic, time travel, and MORE from today’s New York Times, USA Today, and internationally bestselling authors!

Although some of these reads may be gritty and dark, this is a collection of clean reads that anyone will enjoy!

The collection includes titles from…

International bestselling author Jade Kerrion

NEW YORK TIMES bestselling author Joanne Wadsworth

International bestselling author Nicole Zoltack

International bestselling author Rachel E. Carter

International bestselling author Andrea Pearson

International bestselling author Alicia Rades

International bestselling author Sophie Davis

USA TODAY bestselling author Michael J Ploof

International bestselling author Megan Crewe

International bestselling author C.E. Wilson

International bestselling author Kelly Carrero

International bestselling author Jess Haines

International bestselling author E. Blix

International bestselling author Alexis Kade

International bestselling author GP Ching

International bestselling author Gaja J. Kos & Boris Kos

International bestselling author Dara Fraser

International bestselling author Ash Krafton

International bestselling author Jim Johnson

NEW YORK TIMES bestselling author Tom Shutt

International bestselling author Emily Martha Sorensen

International bestselling author S McPherson

Book Description Bleeding Hearts by Ash Krafton

Sophie Galen is an advice columnist whose work leaves her neck-deep in other people’s problems. Thanks to her compassion, her gut instinct, and her magnetic charm, Sophie really knows how to attract little black clouds.

Marek Thurzo is no little black cloud; he’s a maelstrom. Marek is Demivampire, a race with the potential to evolve into vampire. A warrior who’s taken his share of spiritual damage, he hovers dangerously close to destruction.

He seeks salvation. She’s driven to save him. But what if he can’t be saved?

Sympathy for his plight becomes true empathy as Sophie’s hidden nature is revealed. Marek suspects she may be one of the Sophia, oracle and redemption of the damned Demivampire. She alone can turn back the evolutionary clock.

All she needs is the courage to face her fears. Can she save him from Falling?

The following is an excerpt from BLEEDING HEARTS Demimonde Book 1 by Ash Krafton

In the great hall housing the Egyptian exhibitions, I immediately noted the change in the atmosphere. The room was cool and dry, its climate controlled to mimic the conditions in which the relics had existed in their native land.

The entire room had been designed to resemble an Old Kingdom temple. The main lights were dimmed while strategically-placed spotlights emphasized massive columns and magnificent wall carvings like sunbeams through temple windows.

I scanned the room. No other tourists. Even better. I meandered, enjoying the rare opportunity to linger.

Craning my neck, I ran my gaze up each of the columns, reading the images, admiring the palm leaves carved at the tops like great stone trees. Eyes toward the ceilings, I turned slowly around, admiring the handiwork of the ancient artists.

What was it like to live in those lands and those times? Could an ancient version of my spirit have been there, stepping barefoot and silently through a sandy temple like this one?

Lost in contemplation, I was completely unprepared for the shock of smacking into someone, bumping him hard enough to lose my balance. I’d have fallen had he not caught my arm. Wide-eyed with consternation, I stammered an apology to the handsome but serious-faced gentleman.

“You are not hurt, I hope?” His voice, deep and smooth, sent shivers marching down my neck, between my shoulders, down my spine.

“I’m okay.” I shook my head, too shy to make direct eye contact, wishing I’d checked my hair and lipstick before coming in. “I’m far too adept at being inept.”

He flashed a grin and I caught a glimpse of nice white teeth. “Temples are places for spiritual reflection. It is forgivable if your vision was turned inward, rather than toward where you were walking.”

His expression softened by amusement, he tilted his head toward the pillars. “Majestic, aren’t they?”

I stole another glance at him—black hair smoothed back into a discreet tail, clear light skin framed by long sideburns, strong jaw culminating in a square, cleft chin. Like the other items in the museum, something about him made me want to look closer, inspect each detail.

A subtle flush warmed my cheeks and ears so I quickly turned back to the heights of the exhibition. Murmuring a sound of agreement, I circled the column, stepping a few feet away so I could see both him and the stone. “Do you visit this museum often?”

Furtive glances allowed me to take in more of his appearance a tiny section at a time. Clothing dark as his hair. Long blazer, something in between a suit coat and an overcoat. In one hand he carried a bound book and fountain pen, as if he’d been making notes.

His gaze was calm and steady and entirely on me. Taking a deep breath I permitted the contact of the direct look. My boldness was well-rewarded. His Paul Newman lips brought to mind the sculptured busts on display in the Greco-Roman Quarters and he wore a stern expression that cast a veil of hardness upon his features, enhancing the impression he’d been carved from marble.

Except for his eyes. The Roman busts bore eyes that were blank and white but this man’s eyes were alive with bright green color. Like gemstones, they glittered and drew my gaze.

“No, actually,” he said. “My first time here. Although, I admit, I’m drawn to places like this.” His voice made music of the words—deep bass notes and soothing rhythm.

“Ah!” I said. “A man after my own heart.” His left eyebrow arched so sharply I thought it might disappear into his hairline and I hurriedly continued. “Are you a professor?”

“No, nothing like that. I do studying of my own, it’s not a living. It’s more of a hobby. Personal research, of sorts.”

“Studying past times is one of my pastimes. It’s my preferred form of entertainment.”

“Mmm.” Eyebrow cocked again, he cast a disapproving look at me and swept his hand around the contrived temple. “Would the gods be pleased to know they are reduced to the level of entertainment?”

“I hope so.” I kept my tone light. Considering the seriousness of his expression, I didn’t want to accidentally insult him. “Otherwise, they’d have to be content with staying dead, right?”

His gaze swept over me and I shivered again as if the touch had been tangible, a brush of fingertips against my cheek.

“Well, I’ll leave you to your worship. I mean, your wanderings.” He gave me a conspirator’s wink. “Unless…”

He hesitated, with a quiet clearing of throat as he tucked his notebook and pen into an inside pocket. “You wouldn’t mind a companion? Sometimes one sees things differently when seeing through another’s eyes. I would appreciate a new perspective.”

I mulled it over, listening to the rain spattering the windows and distant voices echoing faintly from other rooms. Although I’d looked forward to a quiet afternoon, it might be nice to spend it with someone who seemed to share my interests. He certainly was attractive, and his pleasant voice intrigued me.

I realized I’d become used to living inside a shell. This man made me want to step outside for once.

“I’d like that.” I smiled at his pleased expression. “I’m Sophie, by the way.” I stuck out my hand in introduction.

Instead of shaking my hand, he bent his head over it and pressed polite lips to the backs of my fingers. The quaint gesture would have seemed strange and out of place had we been elsewhere. “I am Marek. Pleased to make your acquaintance.”

Fingers tingling from the unexpected kiss, I fought the urge to curtsy. “Well, Marek. Lead me into the past.”

His almost-smile sent a thrill down the back of my neck. “That’s exactly the sort of thing I’d hoped you say. Shall we?”

He turned on his heel and swept out a hand with a slight bow, indicating the archway to another exhibit. For the first time since I’d been coming to this museum, I wondered what I’d see on the other side, and was surprised to realize I wasn’t afraid to find out.

The first chapters of books by each featured author are also available in the Spellbound Sampler, available on Wattpad

About the Author:

A speculative fiction girl through and through, Ash writes paranormal romance and urban fantasy novels as well as poetry and short fiction. She also writes for New Adult audiences under the name AJ Krafton. Her work has won a bunch of awards and was even nominated for a Pushcart Prize. When she’s not writing, she’s practicing Tai Chi, listening to loud rock and metal, or crushing on supervillains.

Most recently, she’s re-released her urban fantasy trilogy THE BOOKS OF THE DEMIMONDE because she never really left the world of Sophie and her Demivamps. She’s also working on the next installment of her Demon Whisperer series.

Find out more when you visit www.ashkrafton.com

Blog: http://ash-krafton.blogspot.com/

Twitter: http://twitter.com/ashkrafton

Facebook: http://facebook.com/ashkraftonauthor

Goodreads: http://goodreads.com/Ash_Krafton

Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/demimondeash

Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/ash_krafton

Website: http://www.ashkrafton.com/

Newsletter: http://www.subscribepage.com/b1w9p1

Tour Giveaway:

$25.00 Amazon gift card

Rafflecopter Link:

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/ba112ffc1574/

Bonus Giveaway

Enter the Giveaway HERE

Review: The Unlikeable Demon Hunter (Nava Katz Book One), by Deborah Wilde 2

5 out of 5 Stars

Available For Purchase On:

Amazon

Review:

What a blast! This enchanting novel had me hooked from the very first page. I fell hard for Nava, the star of this tale. She’s a seriously amazing girl who, in the most unlikely of circumstances, becomes a Rasha, or a Jewish Demon Hunter. The story is a rollicking roller coaster of ups and downs, which kept me laughing the entire time. I will definitely be reading more of the tales of Nava Katz.

Reviewed by Deviant Diamond

Our Blog was given this book in exchange for an honest review.

Description:

Bridesmaids meets Buffy with a dash of the seven deadly sins.

The age-old story of what happens when a foul-mouthed, romance impaired heroine with no edit button and a predilection for hot sex is faced with her worst nightmare–a purpose

Ari Katz is intelligent, driven, and will make an excellent demon hunter once initiated into the Brotherhood of David. However, this book is about his twin Nava: a smart-ass, self-cultivated hot mess, who is thrilled her brother is stuck with all the chosen one crap.

When Nava half-drunkenly interrupts Ari’s induction ceremony, she expects to be chastised. What she doesn’t expect is to take her brother’s place among the–until now–all-male demon hunters. Even worse? Her infuriating leader is former rock star Rohan Mitra.

Too bad Rohan’s exactly what Nava’s always wanted: the perfect bad boy fling with no strings attached, because he may also be the one to bring down her carefully erected emotional shields. That’s as dangerous as all the evil fiends vying for the bragging rights of killing the only female ever chosen for Demon Club.

Odds of survival: eh.

Odds of having a very good time with Rohan before she bites it: much better.

Excerpt:

Mornings after sucked.

Walks of shame were a necessary evil, but that didn’t mean I enjoyed shimmying back into the same trollop togs twice. I picked glitter out of my hair, then straightened my sequined top. I was officially decommissioning it. Multiple washings never quite managed to remove the lingering aura of bad decisions I made while wearing party clothes. My philosophy? Cross my fingers and hope for the most bang for the bucks spent later on new outfits.

The surly cabbie evil-eyed me to hurry up.

I complied, rooting around in my clutch for some crumpled bills before handing them over and stumbling out of the taxi onto the sidewalk.

Fresh air was a godsend after the stale bitter coffee smell I’d been trapped with during the ride. I pressed a finger to my temple, a persistent dull throb stabbing me behind my eyeballs. My residual feel good haze clashed big-time with the glaring sun screaming at me to wake up, and the buzz of a neighbor’s lawnmower cutting through the Sunday morning quiet didn’t help matters. Best get inside.

Smoothing out my mini skirt, I readied myself for my tame-my-happy-slut-self-to-boring-PG-rating body check when a wave of dizziness crashed through me. Whoa. I brought my gaze back to horizon level, swallowing hard. That sea-sickness technique was doing dick-all so I rummaged in my bag for my ginger chews.

No puking in the bushes, I chided myself, letting the spicy smooth and sweet candy fight my nausea. My mother would toss my bubble ass out if I defiled her precious rhodos.

Again.

The rise and fall of my chest as I took a few deep breaths spotlit a slight problem. My spangly blouse was missing two buttons. And I was missing a bra. Hook-up Dude had been worth the loss of a pair of socks, maybe a bargain bin thong. But the latest in purple push-up technology? No. I allowed myself a second to mourn. It had been a good and loyal bra.

The sex, on the other hand? Total crap. The girls, who were normally perky C cups, seemed a bit subdued. I couldn’t blame them. What’s-his-name had started out with all the promise of a wild stallion gallop, but he’d ended up more of a gentle trot. I didn’t know if the fault lay with the jockey or the ride, but it had been a long time since I’d seen a finish line.

Since I couldn’t keep examining my tits on the front walk with Mrs. Jepson side-eyeing me from behind her living room curtains, I thrust my chin up and clacked a staccato rhythm toward my front door on those mini torture chambers that had seemed such a good idea yesterday.

Every step made our precisely manicured lawn undulate. I clamped my lips shut, willing the ginger chews to kick in while fumbling my key into the lock. Dad had screwed up the measurements on our striking cedar and stained glass front door and, being a touch too big for the frame, it needed to be shouldered open.

I crashed into the door like a linebacker. Once I’d extricated myself and my keys from the lock, I brushed myself off, and stepped inside. Our house itself was comfortably upper middle class but not huge, since my parents preferred to spend money on trips and books instead of the overpriced real estate found in here in Vancouver. A quick glance to my left showed that the TV room was empty. I crossed my fingers that Mom and Dad were out at their squash game, my main reason for picking this specific time to sneak back in.

Really, a twenty-year-old shouldn’t have had to sneak. But then again, a twenty-year-old probably should have kept her last menial job for longer than two weeks, so I wasn’t in a position to argue rights.

I kicked off my shoes, sighing in delight at the feel of cool tile under my bare feet as I padded through the house to our homey kitchen. No one was in there either. Someone, probably Mom, had tacked the envelope with my final–and only–pay stub from the call center that I’d left lying around onto our small “miscellaneous” cork board. The gleaming quartz counters were now free of their usual clutter of papers, books, and latest gourmet food find. That meant company. Come to think of it, I did hear someone in the living room.

A study in tasteful shades of white, the large formal room was off-limits unless we had special guests. Mom had set that rule when my twin brother Ari and I were little tornados running around the place and while there was no longer a baby gate baring our way, conditioning and several memorable scoldings kept us out.

Hmmm. Could Ari be entertaining an actual human boy? Le gasp.

I beelined for the back of the house, past the row of identically framed family photos hanging in a neat grid, my head cocked. Listening for more voices, but all was quiet. Maybe I’d been wrong? I hoped not. Both finding my brother with a crush–blackmail dirt–and helping myself to the liquor cabinet were positive prospects. What better way to lose that hangover headache than get drunk again? Oh, the joys of being Canadian with socialized health care and legal drinking age of nineteen. After a year (officially) honing that skill, I imbibed at an Olympic level.

The red wine on the modular coffee table gleamed in a shaft of sunlight like its position had been ordained by the gods. I snatched up the crystal decanter, sloshing the liquid into the glass conveniently placed next to it. Once in a while, a girl could actually catch a break.

I fanned myself with one hand. The myriad of lit candles seemed a bit much for Ari’s romantic encounter, but wine drinking trumped curiosity so I chugged the booze back. My entire body cheered as the cloyingly-sweet alcohol hit my system, though I hoped it wasn’t Manischewitz because hangovers on that were a bitch. I’d slugged back half the contents when I saw my mom on the far side of the room clutch her throat, eyes wide with horror. Not her usual, “you need an intervention” horror. No, her expression indicated I’d reached a whole new level of fuck-up.

“Nava Liron Katz,” she gasped in full name outrage.

My cheeks still bulging with wine, I properly scoped out the room. Mom? Check. Dad? Check. Ari? Check? Rabbi Abrams, here to perform the ceremony to induct my brother as the latest member in the Brotherhood of David, the chosen demon hunters?

Check.

I spit the wine back into what I now realized was a silver chalice and handed it to the elderly bearded rabbi. “Carry on,” I told him. Then I threw up on his shoes.

About The Author:

A global wanderer, hopeless romantic, and total cynic with a broken edit button, Deborah writes adult urban fantasy to satisfy her love of smexy romances and tales of chicks who kick ass. She is all about the happily-ever-after, with a huge dose of hilarity along the way. “It takes a bad girl to fight evil. Go Wilde.”

Website: www.deborahwilde.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/wildeauthor

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/deborah.wilde1

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16189297.Deborah_Wilde

Tour giveaway:

1 signed paperback copy The Unlikeable Demon Hunter

Rafflecopter Link:

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/ba112ffc1572/

Spotlight: Out of the Shadows (Shadowlands Book One), by Ashlee Nicole Bye 1

Available For Purchase On:

Amazon      Amazon AU      Amazon UK

Tagline: Nobody ever said death would be easy

Description:

From the streets of Melbourne to the bowels of Westminster, the delicate balance between life and death that is so painstakingly maintained by the Reapers of The Order of Dark and Light is being tested by the return of an ancient threat. Tensions are rising within the hidden world of The Shadowlands and if this threat is not contained war will be inevitable. And the destruction of the human world is bound to follow in its wake.

Amidst this tension, eighteen year-old Sachi Manning is struggling to cope with the grief and guilt that has plagued her ever since her best friend was murdered six months earlier—that is, until she spots him seemingly alive and well and being held at scythe point by a hooded figure who looks more like a GQ model than the Grim Reaper.

Sachi shouldn’t be able to see through the glamours that shield Shadowlanders from the human world, so the Reaper in question wants some answers. And so begins the craziest couple of weeks of Sachi’s life as she is drawn into a world of mysteries, magic, monsters, and mayhem, encountering dragons, Faeries, soul-sucking Demons, not-so-grim Reapers, and even the Horseman of Death.

With a mix of heart, humour and hair-raising action, Out of the Shadows is the adventure of an after-lifetime, perfect for fans of Cassandra Clare and Kresley Cole.

Excerpt:

As Julian studied the mangled remains of the boy who had once been Campbell Locke, it was easy to see how the humans could have mistaken the death for a homicide. The latest in a string of vicious murders by the now infamous “Melbourne Slasher”, who had plagued the streets of this city for near on three months now—or so the papers said.

The teenager’s throat had been slashed with what, to human eyes, looked like a knife. But Julian knew better—that wound was the result of an incredibly sharp claw.

Julian had positioned himself on a first floor window ledge not ten metres away from the crime scene. It was the perfect vantage point, or would have been had his legs not been cramping from the awkward crouching position he’d been forced to assume in order to balance his tall frame on the narrow ledge. The preternatural eyesight bestowed upon him almost a century and a half ago allowed Julian to make out every detail of the narrow alleyway: the ground a peculiar patchwork of cobbles, concrete, and bitumen; walls the brick exterior of low rise buildings whose original colour could not be determined through the layers of graffiti—some of which, Julian had to admit, was quite remarkable. There was a blue industrial rubbish bin set up against the wall of the nightclub that backed on to the alley, overflowing with black bags and glass bottles. Julian could feel the vibration of the heavy bass from the club’s music thrumming through the walls around him. The song was something modern, with a powerful female voice interweaving through a thumping dance beat. He couldn’t say what it was called—it all sounded so similar to him.

At the mouth of the alley, a row of uniformed police officers stood guard over the crime scene, sending any curious onlookers on their way. Julian was tempted to move closer. To walk right up to the crime scene and stand amongst the mingling investigators. After all, with his invisibility glamour in place no one would be able to see him.

But it was a risk he could not afford. He was well aware of how far crime scene technology had progressed since his time amongst humans. They had something called “forensics” now, where scientists could track a killer using the smallest piece of evidence: a drop of blood, a strand of hair, even the tread of dirt from a foreign location. Julian frowned as he glanced at his boots, the soles of which were crusted with the remains of the Faery he’d disposed of three hours earlier. These humans would be baffled enough as it were with the lack of evidence to be found at this scene, he didn’t think it wise to confuse them further with the presence of an otherworldly substance. Not to mention that the invisibility glamour was somehow affected by flash photography—he was not in the mood to explain to Lord Mortem why there had been a “ghost” sighting at the most recent “murder” scene.  

An awareness brushed across Julian’s mind and he immediately looked up, scanning the rooftop opposite. It didn’t take long to spot Moss; he had his hood down and even without Julian’s superior vision, it would have been difficult for him to miss that mop of bleached dreadlocks contrasting starkly against the midnight sky.

Julian swept his gaze over the crime scene one last time before letting the ledge fall away from him. It was a split second of dark emptiness as he passed through the shadows, and then he was standing on the roof next to Moss.

‘Crazy night, dude,’ Moss said in his Floridian surfer drawl.

Julian ran his eyes over his friend. They had gone their separate ways tonight, and it was clear by the smears of blood over Moss’s face and the tear in his sleeve he’d had almost as interesting a night as Julian. Moss always looked slightly rumpled, though; unlike Julian, who, even after killing the Banshee that had been about to take centre stage in front of twenty thousand humans under the guise of a popular musician, a passionate kiss of gratitude from said musician (whose memory Julian had, most unfortunately, been obligated to alter moments later), and crouching on the window ledge for a good two hours, was still as tidy and well-pressed as usual, not a hair out of place.

‘You could say that,’ Julian said. Though a hundred and forty years had passed, he still spoke with the same accent and manner he had cultivated during his life as the son of an English peer. He would have liked to believe there was little else from that life that remained, though he knew this was not the case.

‘So, this one makes three.’ An uncharacteristically sombre expression crossed Moss’s face. ‘Any ideas?’

Julian shook his head. ‘Something with claws—which narrows it down to at least a thousand Shadowlanders.’

‘It’s hot.’ Moss emphasised the statement by rubbing the back of his forearm over his sweat-streaked brow. It was indeed. The Australian summer was only a week away, and Melbourne had been hit with a blast of the kind of humidity usually reserved for the northern parts of the country. ‘That should rule out an Infernal creature, yeah?’  

Julian frowned. ‘I think it would be foolish to rule anything out at this stage.’

About The Author:

Ashlee Nicole Bye is a self-confessed bibliophile, sports fan and music lover. She also writes sometimes—when she’s not busy mastering the art of procrastination, that is. She writes mainly Fantasy, mainly Young Adult, although some of her current works in progress have seen her step firmly outside her comfort zone.

Her first novel is OUT OF THE SHADOWS, a mature young adult contemporary fantasy set in her beloved home town of Melbourne. It is the first installment in the five-book series, SHADOWLANDS, and will be released on Kindle on April 11, with paperback to follow shortly after.

Website: https://ashleenicolebye.wordpress.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/ashnicolebye

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Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ashleenicolebye

Goodreads:

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16469357.Ashlee_Nicole_Bye

Tour Giveaway:

(4) $5 Amazon Gift Cards
(3) ebook copies of Out of the Shadows
Rafflecopter Link:

New Release: Paid In Full: A Jax Rhoades Novel (The Jax Rhoades Series Book 2), by Rachel Rawlings Reply

Available For Purchase On:

Amazon     BN    Kobo

Description:

Demon hunter, Jax is back battling the beasts of Hell in Baltimore’s underbelly. Dealing with the Devil is as dangerous as ever, especially when your immortal soul is on the line.

But that’s nothing compared to the Angels.

Charged with finding the one relic that can end her life, Jax puts her faith in the only man she can trust – the Sin Eater.

Dane swore to protect her, but can he save her from herself and her personal demons?

Caught between Heaven and Hell, Jax’s next move might just be her last.

About the Author:

Rachel Rawlings was born and raised in the Baltimore Metropolitan area. Her family, originally from Rhode Island, spent summers in New England sparking her fascination with Salem, MA. She has been writing fictional stories and poems since middle school, but it wasn’t until 2009 that she found the inspiration to create her heroine Maurin Kincaide and complete her first full length novel, The Morrigna.

When she isn’t writing, Rachel can often be found with her nose buried in a good book. An avid reader of Paranormal/Urban Fantasy, Horror and Steampunk herself, Rachel founded Hallowread- an interactive convention for both authors and fans of those genres.

More information on Hallowread, its schedule of events and participating authors can be found at www.hallowread.blogspot.com  and www.facebook.com/Hallowread .

She still lives in Maryland with her husband and three children.

www.rachelrawlings.com

www.authorrachelrawlings.com

www.twitter.com/@rachelsbooks

www.facebook.com/themaurinkincaideseries

www.facebook.com/hallowread

www.hallowread.com   

Goodreads Author Page http://goo.gl/FZW0RN

Amazon Author Page http://goo.gl/Q6Ubn1

 

Review: Alphas in the Wild Books 1-4, by Ann Gimpel Reply

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5 out of 5 Stars

Available For Purchase On:

Amazon: http://a.co/66cltHf

The books are also available individually.

Dark. Daunting. Unforgettable.

Survival adds a demanding edge to love in the wilds.

Tumble into second-chance love, where magics collide, mountain gods are out for blood, and aliens invade Earth.

Review:

Quick and to the point. A couple sweet and hot sexy scenes in the first story.

In the second story Craig and Tina act as if they have never been apart. Tina had caught the attention of a God who was willing to break the rules to get what he wanted.  Craig knows he won’t let Tina get away again. 
Sara and Jared have a sci-fi sort of story.  Very interesting read as they find each other out in the middle of no where.

Three very different stories with drama, excitement, and survival.

Reviewed by Fawnzy

Our Blog was given this book in exchange for an honest review.

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Hello Darkness, Alphas in the Wild Book One

Earth magics collide, forcing Moira Shaughnessy to take a chance on a man who hurt her so badly she never forgave him.

A ranger for the U.S. Park Service, Moira is in serious trouble. Fleeing from Ryan, her cheating husband, who’s also a Native American shaman, she stumbles into the arms of a man she never thought she’d see again. He hurt her once by choosing his magic over her. Would she be a fool to take a chance on him now?

Tim hasn’t seen Moira in ten years. When her name shows up on his patient roster in the rural clinic where he’s a doctor, he can’t believe his luck. Deeply held secrets forced him from her side, but he’s never forgotten her. Never stopped loving her. This time, he’s determined to make different choices, even if it costs him his birthright as the next Arch Druid.

Pursuing very different motives, Tim and Ryan follow Moira deep into the backcountry, catching her in a crossfire between Celtic and Native American magic. A freak blizzard compounds her problems, taxing her survival skills to the max. Against the specter of almost-certain death, Moira has some hard choices to make.

Click here for information and buy links.

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Alpine Attraction, Alphas in the Wild Book Two
Tina made a pact with the devil seven years ago. It’s time to pay the piper—or die.

Independent to the nth degree, Tina meets everything in her life head-on—except love. When an almost-forgotten pact with the devil returns to haunt her, Tina throws a trip to the Andes together to face her nemesis. Better to die on her feet than wait for him to make good on his threats.

Craig never understood why Tina walked out of his life years before. He’s never loved anyone like he loved her. His mountain guide service takes up all his time, but he’s never forgotten her. When his back’s been up against the wall, he’s invited her to fill in as expedition doctor, but beyond that, he’s kept his distance. Having his heart stomped on once was quite enough.

Caught between misgivings and need, Tina signs on as team doctor for one of Craig’s climbing trips to the Andes. Though he was the love of her life, she pushed him away years before to keep him safe. Even if he doesn’t love her anymore, there’s still no one she’d rather have by her side in the mountains. And if she’s going to die, she wants to make things right between them.

Click here for information and buy links.

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A Run For Her Money, Alphas in the Wild Book Three

Sara’s day begins like any other. A routine extraction in tandem with a local Search and Rescue team. Routine crashes to a halt when she ends up trapped in a hut, high atop Muir Pass in the Sierras. Four days later, running out of food for herself and her dog, she makes a bold dash for safety.

Jared’s walking the Muir Trail when all hell breaks loose. After hunkering beneath a boulder pile for days, he dares a difficult cross-country route, hoping it’ll put him into position to approach a backcountry ranger station. Surely one of the rangers will know what happened, because he sure as hell doesn’t. Jared locates the cabin, but it’s locked tight. He’s getting ready to leave the next morning when a helicopter lands, with Sara at the helm. There’s no time to trade war stories. It takes a leap of faith, but they throw in their lot together. Can they face the impossible and come out the other side unscathed?

Click here for information and buy links.

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4 out of 5 Stars

Fire Moon, Alphas in the Wild Book Four

Available For Purchase On:

Amazon: http://a.co/hpWwI4k

Review:

Cara and John find romance all while fighting off dragons…yup, angry dragons.  This is a very descriptive story of climbing and surviving through a raging wild fire.  These two learn that believing in each other, even in some unrealistic circumstances, is the only way they will survive.  Dragons, magic, and spirit guides, all lead to a dramatic story.

Reviewed by Fawnzy

Our Blog was given this book in exchange for an honest review.

Description:

Cara, a mountain guide with a hard luck past and John, a doctor running as hard as he can from his own demons, become unlikely allies. Fire raging through the Sierras forces them away from their planned route and makes escape a dicey proposition.

Cara struggles to outwit the inferno before it’s too late. John’s long-denied psychic side escapes its bonds, refusing to be ignored any longer. He recognizes the fire for what it is: magical creatures bearing the worst news of all. Fire dragons want Earth for themselves, and they’ll stop at nothing to make it theirs. Protecting Cara from the destiny that’s finally hunted him down turns into John’s top priority, but spirit guides shanghai him, forcing his hand.

He never wanted a woman in his life. Too many complications—but something about Cara touches his heart.

She was burned out on men and vowed she’d spend the rest of her life in the mountains, guiding clients—but something about John sings to her soul.

If they can survive the dragons that set the earth ablaze, a different kind of heat just might bind them to each other.

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Excerpt from Hello Darkness:

Hello darkness my old friend. I’ve come to talk with you again.

Paul Simon, Sounds of Silence

Chapter One

Moira Shaughnessy’s booted feet hit the ground in front of the Family Medicine Clinic. Slamming the door of the dusty white Park Service pickup, she considered ignoring her boss’s orders, peeling out of the parking lot, and heading for the Baxter Pass trailhead. She had a crew to oversee, goddammit. A work project to complete. But her boss, John, had been painstakingly clear, both yesterday at Park Headquarters in Three Rivers, and a mere ten minutes ago on the sat phone. Granted, he’d been far more pointed on the phone.

“It’s not a suggestion, Moira,” he’d growled. “This is a directive—from me. I want to hear from someone with MD after his name before I authorize you to head up that work detail. Do not set one foot on the trail before you receive my orders, e-sign them, and e-mail them back to me.”

“But that’s usually a formality—”

“Not this time. No buts. I made you an appointment at the clinic in Bishop that clears some of our crews. They’re open until six. I already lost two rangers this summer in the Pinecrest fire. That was two too many in my book, so get your butt into that clinic.”

Moira gritted her teeth. She’d thought she could avoid dealing with the whole mess by leaving the office early yesterday and taking one of the northern passes over the Sierra Nevada Mountains, but John tracked her down.

Phooey. I ran, but guess I couldn’t hide…

It was downright annoying that her boss needed a doctor to reassure him she wouldn’t collapse—or something—in the backcountry. For the briefest of moments, she felt like pounding her fist into the nearest tree, but then she pulled herself together. Nothing was wrong with her, except her slimy, cheating husband. Sure, she’d lost a few pounds since she left him, but she hadn’t been all that hungry.

Problem was, John remembered similar struggles from years ago when she first started working as a park ranger. She hadn’t eaten enough then, either, and grew far too thin. Just her luck, he’d been overseeing a backcountry work detail when she got woozy and fell off one of the mules.

Understanding surfaced; embarrassment followed. Her boss cared about her. That wasn’t a bad thing. Anger bled out of her with a whoosh.

“May as well get this over with,” she muttered.

Moira walked briskly to the clinic, pushed the door open, and headed for the counter. The antiseptic smell common to all medical offices hit her like a wall as she strode across the scrubbed linoleum floor.

“Yes?” A young woman with dyed red hair looked up from her computer screen with eyes so green she had to be wearing colored contact lenses.

“Moira Shaughnessy. I think you’re expecting me. My boss called from Kings Canyon-Sequoia Park Headquarters.”

The receptionist clicked a few keys. “Your insurance card, please.”

Moira blew out a frazzled breath and dug through her fanny pack for her wallet. Once she found it, she extracted the plasticized Blue Cross card, handing it over. “I’m really in a bit of a hurry—”

“Here’s your card back.” The clerk gestured at the nearly full waiting room. “The doctor will be with you as soon as he can. He had a full schedule before he agreed to work you in.”

“Is it okay if I go outside for a few minutes? I need to lock my truck. I, uh, didn’t think I’d be in here for very long.”

“Sure. So long as we know where to find you.” The phone trilled, and the receptionist picked it up, Moira obviously forgotten. “Family Medicine, how may I help you?”

Moira let herself back outside. Too restless to return to the overcrowded waiting room, she paced up and down the parking lot. Fall had turned the aspen trees lining Bishop’s streets to shades of red and gold that were quite striking, but all she could think about were the minutes ticking by. It was twelve miles from the trailhead to the top of the pass, and a couple more to where her trail crew was. Leaving today would be foolhardy at this point. She’d never even make the pass before night fell.

“Damn it!” She glanced at her watch. How long was this going to take anyway?

“Ms. Shaughnessy?” A man’s voice sounded from behind her.

She spun, surprised out of her funk.

And stopped dead.

“Tim?”

Moira stared at the tall, rangy man with long, white-blond hair and ice-blue eyes. He was dressed in teal scrubs and sandals with a stethoscope draped around his neck. A broad grin split the clean planes of his face. She’d forgotten how heartbreakingly beautiful he was.

“I saw the name and hoped it was you.” He held out a hand, but she remained frozen in place. “After all, how many Moira Shaughnessys could there be?”

She stood there, flabbergasted. What were the odds? She hadn’t seen Tim O’Malley since they’d both graduated from U.C. Davis. When she realized her mouth was hanging open, she shut it with a snap.

“Is that any way to greet an old friend?” One corner of his mouth turned down in an expression she remembered all too well.

“It’s just… I mean I never expected…” She felt warmth rise from the open neck of her buff-colored uniform shirt. Heat suffused her face until she was certain every freckle was outlined in bright, living color.

“Hey, mo ghrá. I know we didn’t split up under the best of circumstances…”

“No shit. And you can skip the beloved part.” A familiar anger stirred, but she batted it aside.

“Moira, I’m sorry. I was sorry then, and I still am.” He sounded so sincere, it tugged at her heartstrings. Part of her wanted to believe him, and part of her was afraid to.

“Grannie told me some of it—about the Arch Druid stuff. And you having to be celibate or something.”

He creased his brow, the smile fading. “I’m glad she did. I was sworn to silence about Druid affairs.” He cleared his throat. “In truth, I still am.”

“What she told me didn’t make it any easier. I tried to call you—a bunch of times.”

“I know.”

“Christ, Tim, it’s been close to ten years.”

He looked chagrined. “I suppose I know that too.”

Her heart, already damaged from her sham of a marriage, squeezed painfully in her chest. She’d loved Tim once. And thought he loved her. They’d known one another since they were children growing up in the same sprawling Irish immigrant community.

“So what happened?” She eyed him, struggling for equanimity. “It’s a long way from Druid to doctor. Or are you a nurse here?”

“Nope, I’m the doc. My training took up eight of the ten years since—”

The clinic door flew open. A harried-looking, overweight woman in white scrubs rolled her eyes. Her short brown hair stood up in spikes, and her muddy green gaze shot darts. “There you are. Dr. O’Malley, you have patients.”

He waved her to silence. “Fine, Bridgette. I’ll be in soon.”

“But—”

He made shooing motions with both hands. “I said I’ll be in soon.”

Bridgette screwed her face into a disapproving frown. “Whatever,” she snapped and banged the door shut.

Tim closed the few feet between them and laid his hands on Moira’s shoulders. “Can I buy you dinner? Or maybe just a cup of coffee, if you’re still mad at me and not willing to risk an entire meal.”

“I’d like that, but I’m on my way to work. See…”

She took a big breath, and an annotated version of her story tumbled out. She mentioned her divorce and her lack of appetite, but skipped the low points about her marriage, figuring it wasn’t really any of Tim’s affair.

“Last time I wasn’t very hungry was right after you and I broke up. I’d just started working for the Park Service. Unfortunately, John—that’s my boss—has a long memory.”

Tim listened until she was done talking, and then placed his stethoscope in his ears. “Take a deep breath.” He moved the bell to several locations on her chest, and then had her turn around and positioned it on her back. “Your heart sounds healthy to me.” He gripped her wrist, taking her pulse as he ran his gaze over her body in a familiar way that tightened her throat and made her belly clench with heat.

“What do you weigh?” He eyed her again. “Maybe one thirty?”

Moira nodded. No point in lying since he could drag her inside and plunk her on a scale. “One twenty-two.”

“It could be worse. Have you had issues with anorexia since—” color blotched his cheeks “—well, since us?”

Moira shook her head. “I’ve maybe lost ten pounds this time round.” She looked away. “The problem was a whole lot worse ten years ago.”

“Moira.” His voice cracked with emotion. “I’m sorry. Scarcely a day goes by—”

“Don’t.” The word tore out of her. “Just don’t. I have to get to work. I’d never have stopped, except John insisted.”

He stepped back a pace and nodded. “You should be fine, so long as you start eating again. What is it your boss needs?”

“A phone call, I think.”

“Not a fitness for duty statement?”

She shook her head. “No. Nothing so formal.”

Not yet anyway.

“Good, because that would require a real physical and some labs. Jot his number down for me.” He pulled a small notebook out of a pocket and handed it to her, along with a pen.

As she gave it back, he caught her hand in his. “I’ve thought about you so many times over the years. I guess I always believed—” The color in his face deepened. “When will you be back through Bishop so we can talk? Or better yet, I’ve got a few days off after today’s clinic. I could backpack with you. Meet you wherever you’re—”

“Uh-uh.” She shook her head. “It’s against regulations to bring civilians, other than the trail crew, on Park Service work projects.”

His blue eyes twinkled. She’d forgotten how intense they were, like a multihued ocean. “You told me you were heading over Baxter Pass.”

“Yeah.” She smiled back because she couldn’t help herself. “So I did. I’m also telling you not to follow me.”

He bent his head, and brushed his lips over hers. The kiss was so sweet and so fleeting, memories flooded her, and she pulled away, her heart doing flip-flops.

“If it won’t be different this time, don’t start.” Her voice held a thin, strained note.

“Things will be different. I would’ve called you. Almost did a hundred times, but I felt so rotten about—”

“Dr. O’Malley.” Bridgette clumped across the yard and grabbed his arm. “You have patients.”

He shook her off. “When have you ever known me to leave before I’ve seen each and every one of them?”

“Never.” She sounded sullen.

“And it won’t happen today, either. Get back inside, and hold down the fort. If you could take vitals on everyone it would be a big help.”

Bridgette’s gaze moved from Tim to Moira. Pursing her lips in an unpleasant expression, she stalked back into the clinic.

Tim turned to Moira. “It was wonderful to see you again. Here.” He scribbled something on one of the tiny sheets of notebook paper, tore it off, and handed it to her. “My cell. Call anytime.”

“I just may take you up on that.”

* * * *

Tim wasn’t ready to go back into the clinic. His emotions were too close to the surface. He watched Moira’s truck drive out of the parking lot heading south. The last time he’d seen her ate at him like an out-of-control cancer. They’d spent hours in his apartment arguing. Though he’d dissected it a hundred times, trying to figure out what he could’ve done differently, he’d never come up with anything useful.

He made a strong effort to stuff the memory into its subterranean hidey-hole, but it wouldn’t cooperate. Since the professional objectivity he’d need to face a waiting room full of patients had just scattered like so much dust, he set off at a brisk pace intending to circle the block. He knew from experience that once that particular memory surfaced, he had to let it play itself out.

Bridgette and the clinic would just have to give him a few minutes more.

“I tell you I’m done. Not just done. Fucking done.”

Tears streamed down Moira’s swollen, blotchy face.

“I’ve waited for you since I was sixteen years old, Tim O’Malley. That’s six years in case you can’t count. I didn’t expect much back then, but we’re nearly done with college. You won’t do any more than kiss me. You won’t live with me. You won’t talk about getting married. Fuck! Why am I even bothering?”

She jumped to her feet and ran to a window, gripping the sill hard enough to whiten her knuckles.

He grabbed her arm. “I—I do love you, Moira. I’ve told you I want to save sex until after we’re married.”

“Well I don’t. Besides, you never asked me to marry you.”

“You’re not being fair. There are things I can’t tell you.”

She whirled, her golden eyes on fire. “Fine. Keep your fucking secrets. And keep your fucking virginity. I talked with Father O’Brannigan—”

A chill marched down his spine. “You what?”

“You heard me. I had to talk to someone. Even he said it wouldn’t be the end of the world if we had sex. He said God would forgive me so long as we got married. What’s the problem? Do you like boys? Jesus, even the clerk at the corner store is hotter for me than you are.”

Mo ghrá—”

“Don’t ‘mo ghrá’ me.” She twisted out of his grasp. “Get out of here. Don’t worry. I’ll be gone by the time you get back.”

“Moira—”

“For the love of Christ, just leave. If you ever loved me—” Her face crumpled and she sobbed helplessly, turning away from him.

Feeling like he was being torn in two, Tim stormed out of his apartment. The minute he got to the bottom of his steps, he began to run. He loved Moira. Loved her with every fiber of his being. But he understood his duty to his Druid heritage too. Slated to be the next Arch Druid, he was forbidden physical congress with women. His magic needed to be honed to the highest possible level.

Sex would interfere.

Tim ran until sweat streamed down his sides, despite the chill of an unseasonably cool June in California. A full moon hung low, clinging to the horizon. It was a lover’s moon. He cursed, drowning in irony. A lover’s moon, but not for him.

He wasn’t surprised when he ended up ten miles north of Davis at the Druids’ priory. Despite it being three in the morning, he pulled the bell chain. Its somber chime matched his mood.

The intercom next to the carved oak door crackled. “What business brings you here?” It was a standard Druid greeting, though the speaker sounded half-asleep.

“I must see Liam. Now.”

“Tim O’Malley. Is that you?”

Tim blew out a ragged breath. “Yes. Let me in, goddammit.”

A tone sounded, and the door swung open soundlessly on well-oiled hinges. A man he didn’t recognize hustled up the long hallway. “Master.” He inclined his head.

“I’m no one’s master. Go back to sleep. I know the way.”

Liam McAllister’s quarters were on the third floor of the rambling stone structure that had once been a Catholic monastery. Tim pounded up the stairs, his stomach so tight he wondered if he’d vomit. He’d just raised a fist to hammer on Liam’s door when it opened, and the Arch Druid stood before him. If the older man had been asleep, it didn’t show.

“Welcome, son.” Liam held out his arms, but Tim shook his head. Without waiting for an invitation, he stomped into the spacious quarters lined with leaded glass windows on two walls. The moon mocked him, front and center in those windows.

“You have to release me from my vows.”

Liam drew his thick eyebrows together. “You must know I cannot do that. You didn’t take vows. You were born to your calling.”

Tim spun to face the man who’d been like a father to him. Long, white hair framed his bearded face. Bright blue eyes radiated concern. The Arch Druid was tall—of a height with Tim—and wraith-thin. Black robes flowed around him.

“But it’s not like I’m the Dalai Lama.” He took a breath to steady himself. “You don’t understand. I love Moira. It’s tearing me up that I can’t have her. Christ! I can’t even tell her why I can’t make love to her—or marry her.”

Liam nodded slowly. He reached a kindly hand toward Tim. “Actually, you are a lot like the Dalai Lama. ’Tis the goddess who picks our progression. Would you care to sit, son? I believe a spot of spirits might calm you.”

“Irish whiskey won’t solve this.”

Liam made a snorting noise. “A dram of good Irish whiskey will solve practically anything. Or at least soften it till it feels more manageable.”

He pulled a decanter close and poured amber liquid into two cut-crystal shot glasses, pushing one toward Tim. “You will be able to wed once your training is complete, and you sit in my place.”

Battling frustration, Tim drained his glass. The whiskey burned going down. It matched the fire in his soul.

He trained his gaze on Liam. “You don’t understand. That may have worked hundreds of years ago. Not anymore. Look at you. Goddess willing, you’ll live another twenty or thirty years. Maybe more. By then Moira will be long since married to another. Hell, she could be a grandmother.” He banged a fist on one of the tables scattered about the room. A lamp rattled ominously, and he reached to steady it.

“Please,” Tim begged. “At least let me tell her why I can’t wed her.”

Liam shook his head. “I cannot do that. The workings of our society have always been secret. ’Tis how we’ve shielded ourselves from the machinations of the Church.”

“The Church isn’t still out to get us. Not actively, anyway.”

Liam turned on him, blue eyes ablaze. “Thinking like that will land you in trouble. Have you not followed their exorcisms? Or their dogma? And ’tis not just the Catholics I’m talking of here. What do you believe clerics think of those like us who call magic, engage in astral travel, and commune with gods, spirits, and the dead?”

Tim’s shoulders sagged. He felt like a sail with the wind knocked out of it, attached to a ship that would never find port. “That we were evil.”

Liam nodded. “Organized religion’s raison d’être is to rid the Earth of wickedness. Moira is Catholic. She goes to confession. I tell you, son, we cannot risk it. ’Tisn’t been so very long since they killed one of us. Surely you recall Sean Newbry. ’Twas scarcely an accidental drowning. His astral self came to me whilst he was dying.”

“And?”

“The parish priest caught him in the midst of a blood offering ceremony, talking with Earth spirits. Sean was certain the cleric followed him since he’d taken care to go deep into the Sierra foothills.”

Tim fought a sinking feeling. “You said drowning.”

“Are you certain you want the grisly details?”

“Yes.”

“Four priests waylaid him late one night, bound him, gagged him, tied a heavy weight about his waist—”

“Enough.” Tim sat heavily. He dropped his head into his hands and remembered what Moira told him about talking with Father O’Brannigan. What a fucked up mess this had turned into. He still cared about Druidry, but did he care enough to give up Moira for the rest of his life?

“Tim?” Liam asked after a long silence.

He looked up. “No matter how I slice and dice this, I don’t want to live without her. Hell, I don’t know if I can.”

“I understand.” A considered intake of breath and Liam continued. “I gave you permission to attend medical school. That was a concession as I’d rather you were here by my side. Then you came up with that idea about a public health degree.

“Mayhap it would be best if you didn’t see Moira—or even call her—at least for a while. Try to immerse yourself in your studies. Believe me, son, when I tell you the goddess takes care of her own.”

A sob rose from the depths of his soul. Mortified, Tim tried to swallow the next one down. He stuffed a knuckle in his mouth and bit down hard.

“’Tis all right. Life does not give us easy choices.” Liam got to his feed, walked around the table, and patted Tim’s back. “There is no shame in tears.”

Forcing himself to return to the present, Tim took a deep breath, and then another. He wasn’t twenty-two anymore. He could stand up to Liam if it came down to it. He pulled open the side door to the clinic and went to the tiny staff room, where he knew he’d find the afternoon’s schedule posted. Despite reliving painful memories, he felt more alive than he had in years.

The goddess had brought Moira back into his life. Things would be different this time. He’d see to it, even if it meant confronting Liam and walking away from Druidry forever.

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About The Author:

I’m basically a mountaineer at heart. I remember many hours at my desk where my body may have been stuck inside four walls, but my soul was planning yet one more trip to the backcountry.

Around the turn of the last century (that would be 2000, not 1900!), I finagled a move to the Eastern Sierra, a mecca for those in love with the mountains. Stories always ran around in my head on backcountry trips, sometimes as a hedge against abject terror when challenging conditions made me fear for my life, sometimes for company.

Eventually, the inevitable happened. I returned from a trip and sat down at the computer. Three months later, a five hundred page novel emerged. It wasn’t very good, but it was a beginning. I learned a lot between writing that novel and its sequel, and I’ve been writing ever since.

In addition to turning out books, I enjoy wilderness photography. A standing joke is that over ten percent of my pack weight is camera gear, which means my very tolerant husband has to carry the food — and everything else too.

Links:

www.anngimpel.com

http://anngimpel.blogspot.com

http://www.amazon.com/author/anngimpel

http://www.facebook.com/anngimpel.author

@AnnGimpel (for Twitter)

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