A Paul B Review: Betrothed: A Faery Tale by Therese Woodson

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Rating: 5 out of 5 stars             ★★★★★

Betrothed A Fairy Tale coverAfter the war between the faery kingdoms ended, it was decided that heirs to the three victorious kingdoms would intermarry to prevent another war from occurring.  When Prince Chrysanths of the Earth kingdom is informed of his upcoming marriage to the prince of the Air kingdom, he runs away preferring to marry for love.  Will he change perform his duty or will this lead to the next faery war?

Prince Chrysanths is the heir apparent to the throne of the Earth faery kingdom.  However, some in the kingdom believe he is not fit to sit on the throne, as he is actually also half human.  One day while he taking lessons on the history of the great faery war, he is summoned to meet his mother.  She informs him that the marriage clause is being invoked since the announcement of the engagement of the Water prince and an Air princess has been announced.  Chrysanths is to be wed shortly to the prince of the Air kingdom.  Chrysanths, who prefers to be known as Puck, sees this as an interference of wanting to marry for love and decides to run away to the human world and visit his father to wait out the engagement period and marriage date.

Prince Sky of the Air faery kingdom takes his duty seriously.  While he is not thrilled with his impeding marriage, he sees no option but to go through with it.  He figures that it could be worse…he could be marrying the Water prince.  He travels to the Earth faery kingdom for the three-week engagement period to learn more about his betrothed. When Sky finds out that Puck has run away to the human world, he decides that he must go after the wayward prince and convince him to perform his duty and come back for the wedding.  However, he finds that Puck is less than enthusiastic about the arranged marriage.  The one bright spot seems to be Puck’s father Jim.  He overhears Jim giving Puck advice about the situation and Sky is somewhat encouraged that things might work out after all. When Sky gets ill like his deceased father, will he be marrying Puck just to leave him a widow a short time later?

I found this modern day fairy tale thoroughly entertaining.  It hits most of the themes of both a good romance and fairy tale.  In a twist to the classic fairy godmother helping out the main character, it is Puck’s human father who fills that role.  Sky fills in the character that is out of their element when he travels to the earth realm and finds things not totally to his liking.  The Fire faeries, which were defeated in the faery war, also make their presence known.   The only disappointment with that part of the story is that they seem to give up too easily once it becomes clear their plans did not work out.  After working so many years to try to retake the faery kingdoms, you would think that their leader would do more than the equivalent of “Oh well.  I tried my best” and give up.

The cover art by Anna Sikorska shows a shirtless man in blue jeans with dots where his missing wings would be.  The young man has blue marking on his upper arms.  I assume that this is possibly Sky with those markings but I’m not sure.  It’s a nicely done cover for the book.

Sales Links: Dreamspinner Press | All Romance (ARe) | Amazon | Buy It Here

Book details

ebook, 200 pages
Published September 23rd 2015 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN 1634765168 (ISBN13: 9781634765169)

A Stella Review: Rough Road (Lake Lovelace #2) by Vanessa North

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Rating: 4.25 stars out of 5

Rough Road coverEddie Russell is many things: A wealthy pillar of the community. An outrageous flirt. A doting best friend. A masochist with a kink for brawling with his bedmates. But he is definitely not a man who invites intimacy. His friends are close but few, his lovers rarer still.

When Eddie runs his Mercedes off the road on a hot July afternoon, Wish Carver comes to his aid—and leaves his number in Eddie’s phone. Wish, a road crew worker half Eddie’s age and sexy as sin, seems fascinated by Eddie’s different sides. Mutual attraction and compatible kinks ignite the sheets, but it’s their connection outside the bedroom that Eddie begins to crave.

When the two come down on opposite sides of a local issue, Eddie finds his growing feelings for Wish at odds with his business interests and his devotion to his best friend, local wakeboarding legend Ben Warren. Torn between old loyalties and his new love, Eddie is reluctant to make a choice. But he knows he can’t make Wish wait too long to make up his mind.

Rough Road was my first book by Vanessa North. It’s part of the Lake Lovelace series but if you haven’t read the first one yet, Double Up, don’t worry. It can be easily read as a standalone. Still I was so nicely surprised by Rough Road that I’m going to come back to the first one soon. I’m so curious about Ben and Davis story.

This book was really really good, there wasn’t one thing I didn’t like, on the contrary. I’m a huge fan of characters with an age gap between them and with some kink elements or light BDSM. So from the blurb Rough Road had the potential to be a winner and I wasn’t disappointed at all. the age gap was an important one but not so evident cause Wish (*swooning over him*) was more mature for his years, he was sure of himself and what he wanted or better who he wanted. I particularly liked the MCs, Eddie was hilarious, too many times over the top but that’s why I loved it so much. He and Wish hit it off from the first time they laid eyes on each other and I can guarantee the chemistry came out from the pages in waves. I rushed into their story cause I was engaged by the scenes and the dialogues.

Their relationship was hot and sweet and just what I was in the mood for. I think you can’t go wrong picking this book, it was wonderful, light and quick. It was well written and I enjoyed the little but important hitches the author put in front of the MCs, they gave depth and reality to a story that could have been too simple to be loved so much. I liked the author’s style, she was so good she was able to make me like a story written in the first person using the present tense. I usually have a hard time with these choice but not in this case, I honestly noticed it on the second chapter. I think she did great and I can’t wait to read more by her. Highly recommended!

Cover art by LC Chase. The cover is nothing special to me and that’s probably why it caught my attention but it fits the book.

Sales Links:   Riptide Publishing |  All Romance (ARe) | Smashwords | Amazon | Buy It Here

BOOK DETAILS

ebook, 185 pages
Expected publication: September 28th 2015 by Riptide Publishing
ISBN 1626492980
Edition Language English

Series Lake Lovelace
Double Up #1
Rough Road #2

 

Return to Lake Lovelace with Rough Road by Vanessa North (contest)

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Rough Road cover

Rough Road (Lake Lovelace #2)
by Vanessa North

Published by Riptide Publishing
Cover Art by L. C. Chase

Series: Lake Lovelace

Sales Link:  Riptide Publishing Rough Road Page

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Hi, Welcome to the Rough Road Blog Tour!

I’m Vanessa North, and I’ll be sharing some of my thoughts throughout the week on writing the second book in the Lake Lovelace series, Rough Road. Join the conversation by commenting on the posts and you’ll be entered in the drawing for a $25 Riptide Publishing gift certificate. Thanks for reading!

You can find all of the Rough Road tour stops at http://riptidepublishing.com/titles/rough-road

Blurb

Eddie Russell is many things: A wealthy pillar of the community. An outrageous flirt. A doting best friend. A masochist with a kink for brawling with his bedmates. But he is definitely not a man who invites intimacy. His friends are close but few, his lovers rarer still.

When Eddie runs his Mercedes off the road on a hot July afternoon, Wish Carver comes to his aid—and leaves his number in Eddie’s phone. Wish, a road crew worker half Eddie’s age and sexy as sin, seems fascinated by Eddie’s different sides. Mutual attraction and compatible kinks ignite the sheets, but it’s their connection outside the bedroom that Eddie begins to crave.

When the two come down on opposite sides of a local issue, Eddie finds his growing feelings for Wish at odds with his business interests and his devotion to his best friend, local wakeboarding legend Ben Warren. Torn between old loyalties and his new love, Eddie is reluctant to make a choice. But he knows he can’t make Wish wait too long to make up his mind.

About the Author

Author of over a dozen novels, novellas, and short stories, Vanessa North delights in giving happy-ever-afters to characters who don’t think they deserve them. Relentless curiosity led her to take up knitting and run a few marathons “just to see if she could.” She started writing for the same reason. Her very patient husband pretends not to notice when her hobbies take over the house. Living and writing in Northwest Georgia, she finds her attempts to keep a quiet home are frequently thwarted by twin boy-children and a very, very large dog.

Connect with Vanessa:

Website: vanessanorth.com
Facebook profile page: facebook.com/AuthorVanessaNorth
Twitter: @VanessaNWrites
Goodreads: goodreads.com/VanessaNorth

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Giveaway

Every comment on this blog tour enters you in a drawing for $25 in Riptide Publishing store credit. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on October 3rd. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Don’t forget to leave your email so we can contact you if you win!  Must be 18 years of age or older to enter.

Lake Lovelace Series

Welcome to Lake Lovelace: a small town that’s big on charm!

Lake Lovelace is famous for its wakeboarding competitions and the local athletes who dominate it. Legends of the sport and stars of the future share the glory, and everyone celebrates. Whether on the water or around town, the men and women of Lake Lovelace collide, clash, and ultimately find love under the scorching Florida sun. – See more at: http://www.riptidepublishing.com/titles/universe/lake-lovelace#sthash.FcS4OefA.dpuf

– See more at: http://www.riptidepublishing.com/titles/universe/lake-lovelace#sthash.FcS4OefA.dpuf

Books in the series to date:

Double Up (Lake Lovelace #1) and Rough Road (Lake Lovelace #2) – see links to our reviews.

Double Up coverRough Road cover

 

Coffee Sip & Book Break: Where the Grass is Greener by Debbie McGowan & Raine O’Tierney (excerpt and contest)

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Where the Grass is Greener by Debbie McGowan & Raine O’Tierney
Release Date: September 28, 2015

Goodreads Link
Publisher: Beaten Track Publishing
Cover Artist: Debbie McGowan

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Buy the book: Beaten Track Publishing | eBook | Paperback | ARe |

Amazon | Amazon UK | Smashwords

My Mini Interview with Debbie McGowan and Raine O’Tierney

Today I’m very lucky to be interviewing Debbie McGowan & Raine O’Tierney authors of Where the Grass is Greener!

Hi Debbie & Raine, thank you for agreeing to this interview. Tell us a little something that will let your readers get to know you all a little better.

Hello! We’re Debbie McGowan and Raine O’Tierney, two halves of a fantastic writing whole. We started collaborating early in 2015 and we’ve been writing recklessly together ever since! Our new book is Where the Grass is Greener (book 2 of The Seeds of Tyrone)–in addition, we’re working on book three, have almost completed a new humorous intrigue book, and are about halfway into something dark and mysterious. Any time our queue gets low, we just add things to the pile! Oh, we haven’t tried this…

  • What hobbies do you have for when you’re not writing?

DM: Hobbies? Ah, alas all my hobbies have gone by the wayside. I probably should do something about that. So…assuming I still do have hobbies…I’m a mediocre musician. My instrument is the concert flute, but I can also get a tune out of most brass instruments (with the exception of the French horn and trombone). I can twang chords on a piano, and if I had a sax I could probably play a passable Baker Street. I also have a few geek hobbies—making 3D characters and video. Sometimes I listen to music, and of course, I read. In fact, reading is the only hobby that seems to have survived my present work-sleep lifestyle.

RO: Okay, I did not know my collaby could play Baker Street (passably or otherwise!) I friggin’ LOVE Baker Street. Now I’m singing it… Oh, hobbies. I play video games, huge gamer nerd–most any console you can think of and handheld. I draw sometimes! I “collect” dachshunds and snuggle on them. Um…I write, oh damn! No! What I do when I’m not writing… I can also play the flute, though not well. I love anime and appreciate a sweet yaoi manga from time to time. Ooh! And I like to do grid logic puzzles and collect weird/alternative Christmas music.

 Now on to Where the Grass Is Greener….

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Blurb

Mistakes were made, that’s for sure. But was it the night of passion? Or walking away afterward?
That’s the question Seamus Williams must face when he gets a late night phone call from someone he never expects to hear from again.
“I miss you, Shay.”
Chancey Bo Clearwater is a cowboy through and through. He spends his days finding work on whatever ranch will take him and his nights at the pool hall. He’s always done what needed doing and never thought much about what he wanted. ’Til that drunken night with Seamus.
A world of problems now stand between Seamus and Chancey exploring what might have been, the least of which being the Atlantic Ocean. On one side there’s Chancey’s daughter who mood swings from angel to demon in two seconds flat; on the other there’s the new lodger, hogging Shay’s telly and his cornflakes, and making private Skype time hard to come by.
Is this relationship doomed before it ever begins? Or can a surprise announcement from Seamus’s brother be enough to help the two find their second chance?
Where the Grass is Greener features Seamus Williams – the older brother of Patrick from Leaving Flowers.

Pages or Words: 75,000 words
Categories: Bisexual, Contemporary, Fiction, Gay Fiction, M/M Romance, Western/Cowboy

Excerpt

“You’re quiet today, Seamus. What’s up?” the landlord asked.
“Just tired, is all. Got a leaky roof and the fecker was drippin’ all the damn night. And didn’t I get up this morning and kick the bucket?”
“You look alive and well to me, so you do. I say well…you look like shite.”
“Yeah, thanks very much. Think I’ll go join the lads, see if I can’t get a few more insults thrown at me.”
Seamus gave the landlord a wry grin and went over to the others, who were already well into the first of the three games they got in every lunchtime. He watched one of them take a bad shot and accidentally pot the black, the clunking of the ball as it rolled its way through the machinery of the table setting Seamus’s teeth on edge. John was right: he was dog-tired and probably did look like shite. He’d barely slept after the missed call, trying to decide whether to return it or not. His mind played tricks on him, one minute convincing him it was urgent and he should call back, the next telling him to stay strong. He’d made the move. He’d come back to Ireland. That’s what he’d wanted all along.
He had wanted it. Ever since Mam died, his sights had been set on coming home. He’d only stayed for Paddy’s sake, and now Paddy had Aidan there was nothing to keep Seamus in the States, although he was no further away from his brother now than he had been in Kansas. Never mind that he’d already made the decision before he knew Aidan even existed. No. It was a good decision. He was just—
He already knew, before he pulled his phone from his pocket: same Kansas number, same caller. His thumb hovered over the red button. Reject the call. Reject the call.
He answered.
“Seamus Williams.”
“At last! I thought I was calling a wrong number. Man, it’s so good to hear your voice.”
“Er, yeah. Yours too. What’s up? Has something happened?”
“Nothing new. I just…”
The rapid-hard thump of Seamus’s heart filled the pause, two seconds, three, four, and more. He drew breath to speak, but there was nothing to be said. Or nothing he should say.
“I miss you, Shay.”
***
The first call had been a drunk dial. Thank the heavenly father that Seamus Williams hadn’t picked up. Lord, the shit that might have come tumbling out of Chancey’s mouth. Now he was dead sober, but only slightly more composed. Had he really just said he’d missed Seamus? He tried for a laugh. It sounded as fake as it felt. Well he had missed Seamus. Nothin’ wrong with that.
“You gonna say somethin’?” He knew he was putting on the accent. Drawing out his vowels, droppings his g’s. His grandmother—who was from south Texas and who had an accent so deep it was digging itself a hole to the centre of the Earth—used to yell at him when he’d get lazy with his words.
You jus’ sound ign’rant, Chancey Bo Clearwater. Full name, cue snickering cousins, and young Chancey sank down low in his chair, ashamed at the way he sounded despite the fact they all talked just alike. The accent followed him when he moved to Oklahoma, where he picked up a whole set of strange ‘O’s, and even having lived in Kansas now for the better part of his life, it was still there underneath, just waiting to crop up in stressful situations.
“I didn’t expect to hear from you, that’s all.”
“Surprise.” He was trying for friendly, for calm. Trying to keep the I wanna put my fist through the wall and did you really mean to let me find out through Lulu? out of his voice.
“Isn’t this call costing you a million dollars?”
“Skype. On my phone. I bought minutes, y’know?”
“Is that right then?”
“But I didn’t think. It’s probably charging you too.”
“It’s fine.”
Is it? Seamus sure as hell wasn’t saying much. There was a long pause as Chancey considered his next move. He’d called because he’d wanted to talk. Not talk. Not like that. Nothing to say on that front. Seamus had made it all as clear as crystal dropped in the mud when he’d left his parting message with Lulu down at the pool hall, Rack ’Em. In a last-ditch effort, Chancey said the only thing he could think: “Boss Tina asked after you the other day when I went around for work.”
That got a laugh out of Seamus, which gave Chancey more relief than he cared to admit.

RC

Meet the Authors

  • DEBBIE McGOWAN is an author and publisher based in a semi-rural corner of Lancashire, England. She writes character-driven, realist fiction, celebrating life, love and relationships. A working class girl, she ‘ran away’ to London at seventeen, was homeless, unemployed and then homeless again, interspersed with animal rights activism (all legal, honest ;)) and volunteer work as a mental health advocate. At twenty-five, she went back to college to study social science— tough with two toddlers, but they had a ‘stay at home’ dad, so it worked itself out. These days, the toddlers are young women (much to their chagrin), and Debbie teaches undergraduate students, writes novels and runs an independent publishing company, occasionally grabbing an hour of sleep where she can.
  • RAINE O’TIERNEY wants to change the world…one sweet story at a time.
    Known as “The Queen of the Sweetness” (well, a few people have said it anyway!) Raine loves writing sweet, character-driven stories about first loves, first times, fidelity, forever-endings and…friskiness? In addition to her solo works, she’s one half of a collaborative team with author Debbie McGowan.
    When she’s not writing, Raine is either playing video games or fighting the good fight for intellectual freedom at her library day job. She believes the best thing we can do in life is be kind to one another, and she enjoys encouraging fellow writers.
    Contact her if you’re interested in talking about point-and-click adventure games or discussing which dachshunds are the best kinds of dachshunds!

Where to find the authors:

Debbie’s Social Media Links
Twitter: twitter.com/writerdebmcg
Facebook: facebook.com/DebbieMcGowanAuthor and facebook.com/beatentrackpublishing
YouTube: youtube.com/deb248211
Tumblr: writerdebmcg.tumblr.com
LinkedIn: uk.linkedin.com/in/writerdebmcg
Google+: plus.google.com/+DebbieMcGowan
Goodreads: goodreads.com/author/show/4401329.Debbie_McGowan
Website: debbiemcgowan.co.uk

Raine’s Social Media Links
Homepage: Raineotierney.com
LGBT Author Interviews: raineotierneyhatparty.blogspot.com/
Facebook: facebook.com/RaineOTierneyAuthor
Twitter: twitter.com/RaineOTierney
Goodreads: goodreads.com/author/show/7770350.Raine_O_Tierney


Tour Dates & Stops:

28-Sep – Jessie G. Books, Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words, Full Moon Dreaming

29-Sep – Velvet Panic, Book Reviews, Rants, and Raves, Vampires, Werewolves, and Fairies, Oh My

30-Sep – All I Want and More Books

1-Oct – Amanda C. Stone, Michael Mandrake, Bayou Book Junkie

2-Oct – Divine Magazine, Mikky’s World of Books

5-Oct – Love Bytes, V’s Reads, Sinfully Addicted to All Male Romance

6-Oct – It’s Raining Men, Happily Ever Chapter

7-Oct – Louise Lyons, Hearts on Fire, Molly Lolly

8-Oct – BFD Book Blog, Two Chicks Obsessed With Books and Eye Candy, Prism Book Alliance

9-Oct – My Fiction Nook, Wicked Faerie’s Tales and Reviews, Inked Rainbow Reads, MM Good Book Reviews

 

Final

Giveaway

Enter to win a Rafflecopter Prize: e-copy of one Debbie McGowan title and an e-copy of one Raine O’Tierney title (winner’s preference of file type and title).  Must be 18 years of age or older to enter.  Link and prizes provided by the authors and Pride Promotions.
Rafflecopter Code:
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Cover Reveal for Leythe Blade by Jaye McKenna (cover reveal and excerpt)

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Leythe Blade by Jaye McKenna
Book Release Date: October 26, 2015
Cover artist: Chinchbug

A Guardians of the Leythe Universe story

 Leythe Blade Goodreads Page

Jaye McKenna is here to reveal her gorgeous new cover for Leythe Blade, a new story in her Guardians of the Leythe Universe series.  Luckily for us, a mini interview ensued.  Welcome, Jaye.

  • Fans who’ve read more than one of your series have noticed that they actually all tie together. You recently posted a timeline on your website, but could you talk about how the series fit together? How does Leythe Blade specifically fit in with the others?

The Guardians of the Leythe series, which at the moment contains only two books: Human Frailties, Human Strengths and Human Choices, take place in the earliest period of Aion’s history that I’ve written about so far, a thousand years or so after humans first arrived on Aion. These stories take place in the Westlands, the lands west of the mountain range called the Dragon’s Spine.

Burn the Sky takes place a few hundred years after the Guardians of the Leythe stories, in the years leading up to the first cataclysmic event in Aion’s history, the Wytch War, a conflict between the Westlands and the Kingdoms of Skanda. The story is set in Altan, a small mountain kingdom located east of the Dragon’s Spine.

Leythe Blade takes place perhaps another thousand years after that, when the Wytch War is a distant memory and the Middle Kingdoms have arisen in the lands that were laid waste to during the Wytch War. Leythe Blade takes place in the Middle Kingdoms, and I have a fantasy trilogy planned that takes place only a few years after Leythe Blade. The characters from Leythe Blade all have important roles to play in the Kingmakers trilogy, so you’ll be seeing them again.

The Guardians of the Pattern series takes place some six hundred years after Leythe Blade, after a second cataclysm has pretty much destroyed the population of Aion.

  • How many more books will be in the Guardians of the Pattern series?

The Guardians of the Pattern series will be six books long, so there are three more to come. Wildfire Psi, book 4, should be out in early 2016.

  • Will there be a sequel to Burn the Sky? Who will be featured?

Yes, the Burn the Sky sequel is my next project. I have already outlined the story and I’m planning to write the first draft for NaNo (National Novel Writing Month) in November. This story will feature Kian, Garrik’s close friend from Burn the Sky, and you’ll be seeing Garrik, Ilya, and Prince Jaire again, as they all have important roles in this story. It will take place in the late winter/early spring following the events of Burn the Sky.

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Blurb

Sasha is a healer forced to take on the role of a warrior when his clan is attacked. Trapped in his caravan, the only weapon he can lay hands on is Ryka, the sword that was once wielded by his great, great grandmother. To Sasha’s horror, the blade takes control of his body and turns him into a ruthless killer. Worse, Ryka sets in motion an irreversible process that will bind them together for life — if he can survive the bonding.

Jace is a mercenary soldier, charged with protecting his commander’s brother, Eredwyn, on a journey through the Middle Kingdoms. When Eredwyn’s sometimes-prophetic visions lead them to the dying Sasha, Eredwyn insists that they must save him.

As Sasha struggles to come to terms with Ryka and his need to avenge his clan, Jace finds himself torn between his orders to protect Eredwyn and his growing feelings for Sasha. Can Jace walk the fine line between duty and desire, or will Sasha’s plans for vengeance lead all three men to their deaths?

Excerpt

Jace’s cheeks burned until he was nearly halfway to the lake, and the words he’d said to Sasha wouldn’t stop bouncing around in his head.

I’d like to see you dance, Sasha.

Where the hell had that come from?

No, he knew where it had come from. Right from his heart, without passing anywhere near his brain. He would like to see Sasha dance, but he’d never meant to say so, and certainly not within Sasha’s hearing. The young man had quite enough to deal with as it was.

Still, it pleased Jace to see him beginning to take an interest in things. The air of grief was still there, but since the day they’d taken Sasha to the massacre site, there had been a subtle change in him. He’d started to help with some of the chores, and even joined in when Jace and Eredwyn talked, offering the occasional quiet comment.

Sasha still whimpered in his sleep, though, and Jace wished he could wipe the sadness from those mesmerizing violet eyes, and put a real smile on Sasha’s face.

No, he couldn’t deny — not to himself, at least — that he would very much like to see Sasha dance. And laugh. And he’d most definitely like to see the man smile…

Shaking his head, Jace continued on down the path until he heard something large moving near the shore. He stopped, crouched down, and peered through the underbrush. In the spaces between the leaves, he could just make out a light-colored shape by the water’s edge.

He crept forward and breathed a quiet sigh of relief when the shape resolved itself into a horse, not a soldier or a predator. The white mare stood with her head lowered to drink. Her mane and tail were rough and tangled, but there were a few scattered braids and beads left in both. An Ajhani horse, then, which meant she belonged to Sasha.

“Easy, lady, Easy.” Jace used the same soothing tone he used when speaking to Rakki as he approached her. “I’m not going to hurt you.”

The mare turned her head and gave him a look that Jace chose to interpret as sorrowful.

“Been out here on your own for too long? Would you like to come back with me, pretty one? I can get you fed and get all these dried weeds brushed out of your hair. Come on.”

She snuffled at Jace and allowed him to guide her down the trail toward the shelter. In the stable, he settled her in the empty stall next to Rakki and prepared some feed for her. After she’d eaten, he brushed her down and groomed the tangles and remnants of beaded braids from her mane and tail.

“That’s better,” he said as he stood back to look over his handiwork. “You look like a proper lady now.”

When Jace entered the shelter, Eredwyn looked up from his seat on the floor, where he was sorting bundles of herbs. “That was quick. Did you find us some dinner already?”

“No, something better than dinner. Come, Sasha, come see.”

Sasha gave him a questioning look, but got slowly to his feet. “What did you find?”

“I’ll show you.” Jace led him around the back of the shelter to the stable.

Sasha’s face lit up when he saw the mare. “Dena!”

A long string of soft, lilting words followed. Jace understood none of it, but the mare apparently did. She nickered softly, and when Sasha drew close, she hung her head over his shoulder. Sasha put his arms around her neck and reached up to scratch her, fingers tangling in her blond mane.

“I found her having a drink on the shore,” Jace said. “I wondered if you two might know each other.”

Sasha turned his head toward Jace, still smiling. “She was my Da’s favorite. He’d ride her up and down the caravan line, making sure everyone was all right. She’s the sweetest of all of them.” He frowned then, fingers still working the mare’s mane. “I don’t suppose you’ve seen any more of them?”

“No, I’m afraid not.”

“She would have been tied separately. Da—” Sasha stopped for a moment, and Jace saw his throat working. “He… he kept her by the wagon when we were camped, in case he needed her in a hurry.” He turned back to the mare and murmured softly to her in Djhara.

Jace hung back, taking the opportunity to observe the man. Sasha was slender, and not particularly tall, although he was perhaps a finger’s width taller than Jace. It was his coloring that fascinated Jace, though. The golden skin, violet eyes, and pale, silver-blond hair were an unusual enough combination to make him worth a second — and perhaps a third — look.

Unaware of Jace’s scrutiny, Sasha continued crooning softly to the mare. Jace could have listened to the sound of that deep, husky voice wrapping around those lyrical sounds for the rest of the day.

He didn’t get nearly that long. All too soon, Sasha pulled away from the horse and approached Jace. “Thank you, Jace,” he said softly. “This… it means so much to me. Thank you for bringing her to me.”

Mesmerized by those beautiful eyes, Jace could only stare. When he realized he was staring, he looked away quickly, face flushing. “I… what else would I do?” He swallowed hard, then added quietly, “It’s good to see you smile.”

Sasha didn’t say anything, and when Jace looked up again, his attention was on the mare.

“With her along, we won’t need to limit our baggage quite so much,” Jace said, more to fill the silence than anything. “Maybe… maybe you can pack some of those pretty clothes you set aside this morning.”

When Sasha turned his head and gave him an unreadable look, Jace muttered a curse under his breath and fled.

He should have just kept his mouth shut, and wished he had.

 

 

About the Author

Jaye McKenna icon

Jaye McKenna was born a Brit and was dragged, kicking and screaming, across the Pond at an age when such vehement protest was doomed to be misinterpreted as a “paddy”. She grew up near a sumac forest in Minnesota and spent most of her teen years torturing her parents with her electric guitar and her dark poetry. She was punk before it was cool and a grown-up long before she was ready. Jaye writes fantasy and science fiction stories about hot guys who have the hots for each other. She enjoys making them work darn hard for their happy endings, which might explain why she never gets invited to their parties.

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