A Lila Review The Mercenaries of the Stolen Moon by Megan Derr

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

For twenty years Myra has served the High King, so familiar, respected, and envied the rest of the palace calls him the High Secretary. For twenty years he has kept his secrets buried, and after so long he dares to believe he has left his past behind. But during the Festival of Harmony, tragedy strikes, and Myra’s past is dragged into the present.
Once third in command of Fathoms Deep, Charlaine is used to shadows and secrets, but even he is shocked to learn what his best friend, and the man he secretly loves, has been hiding all these years. In the wake of a terrible tragedy, he doesn’t know what to do—except whatever it takes to help his friends.
Though Jac is a member of the Three-headed Dragons and primary bodyguard to the High Consort, she is used to being overlooked and underestimated. But she didn’t earn her spurs by backing down, and she’s not about to do so now—even if she must defy the High Throne itself to save the man she’s falling in love with.

The Mercenaries of the Stolen Moon is slower than the previous books. Perhaps due to the amount of plot twists in it. They don’t take away from the overall story but delayed the romance aspects.

I love triad stories but in this case Jac seems a bit in the peripheral of the relationship. The author does an excellent job bringing her in the established attraction between Myra and Charlaine but it still not enough.

The story isn’t all love and flowers but the battles, suffering, and adventures of the main characters are interesting and engaging. The world-build is exceptional and the cast as diverse as the author’s ideas.

This is a nice addition to the series. We get updates from all the previous characters and their current lives. I’m definitely looking forward to the next installment.

The cover by John Coulthart follows the style of the previous ones. It’s pretty but not as detailed as the others.

Sale Links: LT3 | Amazon | Nook

Book Details:

ebook, 284 pages
Published: November 19, 2018, by Less Than Three Press
ISBN: 9781684313860
Edition Language: English

Series: Tales of the High Court
Book #1: The High King’s Golden Tongue
Book #2: The Pirate of Fathoms Deep
Book #3: The Heart of the Lost Star
Book #4: The Mercenaries of the Stolen Moon

A MelanieM Review: The Gallery: The Special Exhibits (The Gallery #2) by Megan Derr

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Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

 

Welcome to the Gallery, where you can admire hundreds of beautiful paintings, and perhaps find what you didn’t know you were looking for…

In these rooms you will find the Special Exhibits, those paintings which remain at the Gallery only temporarily. Their time here can range from weeks to decades—even centuries. But they do eventually leave, so admire while you can. The subjects of these paintings come from all walks of life, from lonely individuals seeking respite while they await their true love, all the way to dangerous beings captured by the Curator or given to him for safekeeping until such time as they can be trusted out in the world again.

Today’s featured Special Exhibits include: The Assassin, about a killer on the run and a painting of a man who once chose surrender over murder; The Lion and the Mouse, where a grouchy accountant escapes the snow only to find himself on a beach with an ancient gladiator; The Gargoyle is a beautiful, erotic statue not for the faint of heart; Shapeless brings a new and rather unique guest to the gallery when he is bequeathed to Silenus by a dead alchemist; and finally, in Fallen Soldier, a man escaping his kidnappers hides behind a statue of an unusual being who once betrayed a dying kingdom…

I absolutely loved the first book in this series,The Gallery: The Permanent Collection.  Derr gave us a wonderful concept, than an complicated buildup introduction to the owner of the Gallery, the Lord of Satyrs, and a terrific foundation of world building. Just magical.  So I was really looking forward to the sequel.  We had a brief peek at this “area” of the  Gallery and small explanation but no more.

Now the The Special Exhibits are on displayAnd depending upon the “art work” the very nature of this portion of The Gallery made it less….magical or something.  You see all the inhabitants here are only temporary.  The amount of time they have spent living inside their “art” can be a thousand years to decades.  It depends upon the person they are waiting to find them.   And what happens after that.   Which is that they leave the paintings/sculptures etc. (actually small bubble universes) to join that one they’ve been waiting all this time for.

Now in the Permanent Gallery, that person joins their fated one within the art work.  Makes sense because again.  That art work is really a contained universe.

But here the inhabitants, such as the Lion, a Gladiator who had never lost a battle, steps out of his painting into our century to become a…bouncer at a leather club with his sex club accountant boyfriend leading him?  For me that was just nonsensical.  Talk about culture shock.  A fracas at the door of a local club  is put down by a man using a net and trident? That would bring in the media.Yes, yes, I know that wouldn’t happen but that is the picture that sprung to mind.  How do all these beings face life and relationships in our world and with our technology?  Hard to answer in 66 pages to my satisfaction. As each long-term being left it’s temporary holding place in The Gallery, I just couldn’t help but think…what happens next to them?  What about the culture adjustment?  Where do the couples go? None of these questions really arise in The Permanent Collection for obvious reasons.  That book just had more depth to it imo.

The only ones I wasn’t worried about particularly, was the  Mist.  Very imaginative.  And playful. Plus the Merperson/Octopii being and the human mate. Yes, there is tentacle sex. Just a fyi.  Their ending seemed rather wonderful although I  still wanted to know  what happened next to them as well.  Especially as they were the end story to  The Special Exhibits, with the notation that another would soon replace them.  Yes, this gallery is one constant turnover.

Plus there is only a brief mention of the demon problems here that were such a major element in the first story.  All in all, this is a lighter short story collection without the depth of the first.  I would have loved to have known more about what happens next for many of the couples, a question that arises out of the nature of their temporary status in the The Gallery.

We have two books.  I wonder where Megan Derr is going next.  Will we find out more about the demons and the humans who have brought this problem into the world?  What will happen to the Gallery and it’s owner next?

I can hardly wait.

Love this series. So will you.

Cover art by Aisha Akeju is beautiful, compelling and perfect for the story and cover.

Sales Links:  Less Than Three Press | Amazon

Book Details:

Author’s Note: Two of these stories were freebies on my website. They have been edited for re-release, and received minor changes, but nothing major.

ebook, 66 pages
Published July 18th 2018 by Less Than Three Press
ISBN139781684312986
Edition LanguageEnglish
Series The Gallery #2

A MelanieM Review: The Gallery: The Permanent Collection (The Gallery #1) by Megan Derr

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Welcome to the Gallery, where powerful beings enjoy peace, quiet, and the company of each other, where they are free to love as they choose, be it one, many, or anything in between.

The Permanent Collection comprises those paintings which never leave the Gallery. The beings within these paintings have bargained with the Curator to stay on forever in return for gifting him their powers, resources, or knowledge. They help the Curator in running the Gallery, and provide sustenance for the Curator.

Today’s featured pieces include: The Assistant, about a lonely, misunderstood young man and the unusual new job he is offered by the mysterious curator; The Tycoon is about a rough and powerful man who went missing several years ago, and has every intention of remaining so; Three Kings once walked away from their kingdoms, and now spend their days with each other; The Bastard Son is about a man who once fled betrayal and heartache, and now uses his deadly skills and famous sword to defend the Gallery. And in The Demon Slayer, an angel arrives to find the gallery under attack, and soon one demon is slain while another falls…

I have always loved this concept.  The idea of pictures actually being alive and here Megan Derr carries it into an unusual gallery.  This is the first Collection with another installment in the works.  This one introduces us to Rex upon his entrance into the Gallery.  And as he starts to understand it’s peculiarities and occupants, so do we.  It’s also presided over by one very special owner.

Rex, who’s identity is key here becomes a thread that ties all the paintings together, along with its owner.  It’s a unifying touch that pulls all the stories together as a whole, as well as creates a foundation for the set to follow.  I truly loved Rex and wished we knew more of his background.  Perhaps that’s coming still in the Semi-permanent Collection Gallery of Stories to follow (the one that he originally played a part in).

Each painting forms very quick tales of passion and love, flashes of depth (a man alone in a tower) to a twist  on King Arthur to three Kings…all different in taste.  I wanted more of some, not of others.  But with another book to come and an overall arc appearing, I’m hopeful that I’ll see more of these occupants as well.

This us just such a juicy novella…it wets your appetite for more.  More of these fascinating paintings, more of the owner and Rex of course.  And more from Megan Derr.  You just can’t go wrong.

Cover art:  Aisha Akeju.  Not a fan.  Most of the paintings in the gallery are formal and this should have reflected that.

Sales Links:  Less Than Three Press | Amazon

Book Details:

Author’s Note: A few of these stories were freebies on my website. All have been edited for re-release and some, like The Tycoon and Three Kings, have undergone significant changes.

Kindle Edition, 65 pages
Published May 9th 2018 by Less Than Three Press, LLC
ASINB07CQ1SXBZ
SeriesThe Gallery #1

A Lila Review: Fighting for You (Lifesworn #2) by Megan Derr

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

All Penli wants to be is left alone. After nearly a decade of blood, violent soldiering, and a lifetime of enduring his cold, ambitious family, it’s almost a relief to be practically alone in the middle of a desert kingdom with no way to return home because of the warrant out for his arrest.

The very last thing he needs is to be consumed by a fit of honor and nobility—but he would much rather die than ever see the two sweet, intriguing men who cross his path forced apart, one to be thrown to the streets, the other to marry a malicious bully Penli has despised for years.

Though he means only to free them, having no desire to marry after barely escaping one unwanted marriage, with each passing day Penli fears the only thing more difficult than throwing his life away will be resisting the urge to build a new one with two men he barely knows.

Fighting for You is the second book in the Lifesworn series but is one of those rare stories that is better than the first one. Perhaps because the reader is already familiar with the world-build, the characters, and the culture. With all that information already in-store, it’s easy to get swept away by great characters and an interesting triad.

I did return and read the blurb after reading the prologue. For a moment, I thought it was going to be an enemies-to-lovers story. But that’s my fault because I have read what the book was about a while back and didn’t check again before I start reading. This didn’t take from the story but it gets it more interesting with the introduction to a strong anti-hero.

As you can deduct by now, the characters are the strongest part of this story. Each of them has a personality to go with their backstory and are enough to carry the plot. I was fascinated by Penli and even when we didn’t get much about his two partners they showed the levity he needed.

This story is more about what you will do for love than a romance. We get to experience Penli discovering his need for company and how he fell in love with every challenge. The rest of the characters make the book shine and it’s nice to see the previous triad once more.

Definitely, a quick read for fans of fantasy stories and polyamorous relationships. Worth reading.

The cover by Natasha Snow has a similar format with a different color and anchor picture than the first book in the series. Pretty but it doesn’t provide much information about the story.

Sale Links: NineStar | Amazon | Nook

ebook, 95 pages
Published: April 16, 2018, NineStar Press
ISBN: 9781948608473
Edition Language: English

Series: Lifesworn
Book #1: Waiting For You
Book #2: Fighting for You

A MelanieM Review: Dragon Magic by Megan Derr

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Rating: 4.75 stars out of 5

Four strangers. A shared moment long forgotten. A bond forged in desperation.

On the first day of the Festival of Counting, the beginning of the royal census that takes place every ten years, the royal city is filled to overflowing. Everyone is happy, excited, and proud to be counted amongst those who live in the glorious kingdom of Orhanis.

Then a demon strikes, killing thousands in mere seconds and leveling the city. As the royal castle burns, only four men remain to drive the demon away—and in their desperation, accidentally bind themselves together in a legendary Oath, unable to part ways until they find and kill the demon once and for all.

Mahzan, the King’s Jester, an orphan who clawed his way to the top and hides a fearsome magic… Sule, the notorious North Captain, who sacrificed everything to live as a strong, capable, highly respected man… Cemal, a priest who traveled the continent bent on revenge and now lives lost… and Binhadi, the mercurial shadow mage with a dark history and bloody ties to the throne…

Four men used to standing apart, standing alone, who must learn to stand together if they hope to save themselves and all of Orhanis.

When it comes to fantasy, Megan Derr is  one of my go to authors.  I love her marvelous ability to transport me out of the mundane and into realms where dragons soar,  wounded mage’s seek reparation and love, and unique bands of warriors go forth on sagas that have continued to live on in my heart and mind long past those words…The End in book after book.

In Dragon Magic Megan Derr brings together another unusual band of mages.  This time, they will form not only a working relationship but a romantic one between the four of them.  Not something of a norm in her stories. Or in the stories I normally read because I haven’t found many authors that make a  polyamorous relationship work within a storyline to my tastes.  Here, among four strong mages, who fight the bonds between them from the beginning, watching the emotional ties form, along with the lust and love feels natural.  It helps that they can “feel” each others thoughts and emotions, so the instinctual walls  others erect start breaking down or are broken between the four of them from the start, laying their “secrets” out before the others.

Derr switches the story back and forth between the emotional vulnerability and revelations that is happening between the four as they become a true “family” and the perilous state they find themselves in while searching out the demons and those responsible for the destruction of the Capitol.  I expected to “like” one of the characters more than the rest, maybe Mahzan or Sule, but each mages here is a little broken each in their own way.  Each strong as well.  Turned out I loved them equally.  Semal and Binahdi  no less than Mahzan and Sule.  What great characters all.

The only thing that kept this from a 5 stars story was the odd little out of timeline break at the end.  I understand why the author did it but it still felt jarring.  And honestly asked more questions than it answered.  I didn’t need it.  And in my opinion the story didn’t either.  But that’s just me.

Either way, if you are a lover of high fantasy, Megan Derr or both,  Dragon Magic is a book you won’t want to miss.  And yes, once again she has created some wonderful demons for our mages to fight against.  Can’t miss out on those either!  Put this and this wonderful band of mages on your TBR list today!  I highly recommend it!

Cover art:Phillip Lloyd Simpson.  It’s colorful.  Don’t know that it’s my favorite of Megan Derr’s covers.

Sales Links:  Less Than Three Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook
Expected publication: March 28th 2018 by Less Than Three Press
ISBN139781684312016
Edition LanguageEnglish

A MelanieM Review: Deceived by Megan Derr

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Five stories of men and the secrets and lies that shape their lives…

Deceived—The hatred between Prince Benedict and his secretary Rae is well-known, and the source of much gossip at court. Each one too stubborn to walk away, determined to make the other one the first to break, they spend their days fighting or ruthlessly ignoring one another. Determined to put an end to the matter once and for all, and to give the notoriously rakish Benedict a taste of his own medicine, Rae sets upon a deception only to realize that there is more than one deception afoot…

Scandalous—Gideon has led a very strict life since the death of his parents, determined not to live the scandalous life that led to their untimely demise and to bring up his little brother in a more stable home. Journeying home to settle the matter of a new tutor for his brother, Gideon is waylaid overnight by foul weather at an inn. He encounters a beautiful young man who is more temptation than he is able to resist, and Gideon impulsively decides that one night, with a complete stranger, cannot possibly come to any harm…

From Afar—Pierce has all that anyone could want in life—an adoring brother who raised him when their parents died, the fame and adoration from being an accomplished fencer, and the best friend a man could have. What he wants, however, is to know the identity of the person who leaves him ardent love letters and why his admirer will not step forward…

Lessons—There is very little that Jude has not tried or seen, and his shameless behavior has earned him the reputation as the most notorious rake in the city. The one thing he does not do, however, is innocents. Then he chances upon a young man late at night in the park, amused to learn the man is attempting to write a love letter of all things. When he learns that Crispin despairs of ever catching the eye of his love because he is too innocent to be appealing, Jude impulsively offers to teach him all that he needs to know…

The Highwayman—When he receives word that his home is being plagued by a highwayman, Bartholomew immediately sets off for the family estate to see to the matter. When he arrives home, however, he learns that very little is as he remembers it. Instead of one problem to solve, Bartholomew finds himself contending with a highwayman, a murderer, strangers, and an old friend who is nothing like the boy he grew up with…

I love this collection of stories each linked together by location and primarily characters, flowing easily from one to the other.  Arranged in perfect order, they build like a 3-star Michelin food experience with Megan Derr, the chef with all the prime ingredients and exquisite recipes.

Here are my thoughts on each.

Deceived – This is a enemies to lovers story between Prince Benedict and his secretary Rae. Each day is spend trying to force the other to quit/fire him based on the false assumptions each has allowed to accumulate over the years about the other.  Until an upcoming masked ball changes everything.  With the ability to hide behind gorgeous masks, their true personalities draw the men together. That and their shared love of fragrances.  This is a wonderful story and a sensual one as well.  I love the element of perfumes woven throughout.  5 stars.

Scandalous – Gideon is on his way home to his estate and his young brother when he’s waylaid by a storm and a night of hot sex with a delightful stranger. So many things to love about this story.  There’s a fencing scene with where a lonely Gideon is caught ‘dancing’ with his shadow, the younger brother yearning for his older brother’s love and approval, and of course, a love story as well.  So charming.  And from this story we get to see the younger brother grown and looking for love in From Afar.  5 stars

From Afar – Pierce has all that anyone could want in life—an adoring brother who raised him when their parents died, the fame and adoration from being an accomplished fencer, and the best friend a man could have. What he wants, however, is to know the identity of the person who leaves him ardent love letters and why his admirer will not step forward.  I liked seeing Pierce all grown up as well as Gideon and Tem too.  This is probably the the story with the least depth.  The admirer is easily identified,  although I liked the poem aspect.  4 stars.

Lessons – This is  absolutely perfect.  A Rake who takes on an innocent who needs lessons in love because he wants to snare the attention of the man he loves.  The story builds just the way you want it too, as does the love Jude starts to feel toward Crispin, something he’s totally unprepared to feel.  Just a terrific story, one to give you butterflies, along with that great ending.  5 stars.

The Highwayman –  Bartholomew, older brother to Crispin and all around family meddler, decides  that he has to take charge of the situation when he hears that a Highwayman is working the area around the family estate.  Once at the estate, after years away, Bart realizes that nothing is as he remembered it and perhaps there are more problems than he anticipated.  He’s got a highwayman, a murderer, strangers, and an old friend who is nothing like the boy he grew up with.  This is the longest story of them all and easily the most complicated in every way.  The relationship dynamics, the convoluted plots,  and the tricky resolution.  It is also the most satisfying.  A great way to end the collection.  5 stars plus.

 

Cover art by Aisha Akeju is dark and hard to see.

Sales Links:  Less Than Three Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 225 pages
Published October 26th 2011 by Less Than Three Press (first published May 21st 2008)
Original TitleRegency
ISBN139781936202324
Edition LanguageEnglish
Series Deceived #1

A Lila Review: The Heart of the Lost Star by Megan Derr

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

 

Kamir is on the verge of losing everything. Knowing full well he can’t meet the ultimatum his parents have issued, he instead finally puts in motion his plans to live completely independent of them. His plans are interrupted, however, by the unexpected return of his despised ex-husband—and thrown even further into upheaval when he ends up comforting the man he’s secretly loved for years.

Jader may not know where he comes from, but he knows where he belongs and what he wants—until he helps rescue some stranded Bentan travelers, one of whom look almost exactly like Jader, throwing his life and everything he thought he knew into tumult. Scared and overwhelmed, Jader flees—and lands unexpectedly in the arms of a man he’s always seen, but never really noticed.

 

The Heart of the Lost Star brings two lonely men together despite their differences. They come from different stations in life and have achieved success through hard work. They complement each other and understand their need for independence and to have space to take their own decisions.

 

Some of those decisions put them at odds with their families, the court, and those around them that want to control their lives or feel the need to look down at them due to their circumstances. Throughout the story, we experience how they deal with all this and the future they built, separate and as a couple.

 

This is an unorthodox romance story since the characters spent more time apart than together. Even so, their relationship works and we get invested in their journeys. We do follow their courtship from the distance and that allows the reader to experience, in real time, what the characters did.

 

The differences between genders and nonbinary characters are shown a bit more in this installment. I need to admit that I didn’t realize them during the first two books in the series. The author did an excellent job integrating all the information between the culture and world-build. Every small detail added to the overall feeling of place in the story.

 

We also get updates about the previous couples and they do play a recurring role. Also, we learn more about the relationship between the kingdoms and their geography, politics, and culture. And during the story, as it is to be expected, we get small hints about the next story in the series, The Mercenaries of the Stolen Moon.

 

The cover by John Coulthart follows the style of the previous two books. It’s beautiful and it fits the story to perfection, showing us a profile view of Jader and Benta.

 

Sale Links: LT3 | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

 

Book Details:

 

ebook, 320 pages
Published: August 23, 2017, by Less Than Three Press
ISBN: 1684310601 (ISBN13: 9781684310609)
Edition Language: English

 

Series: Tales of the High Court
Book #1: The High King’s Golden Tongue
Book #2: The Pirate of Fathoms Deep
Book #3: The Heart of the Lost Star

A MelanieM Pre-Release Review: The Heart of the Lost Star (Tales of the High Court #3) by Megan Derr

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Rating: 4.75 stars out of 5

Kamir is on the verge of losing everything. Knowing full well he can’t meet the ultimatum his parents have issued, he instead finally puts in motion his plans to live completely independent of them. His plans are interrupted, however, by the unexpected return of his despised ex-husband—and thrown even further into upheaval when he ends up comforting the man he’s secretly loved for years.

Jader may not know where he comes from, but he knows where he belongs and what he wants—until he helps rescue some stranded Bentan travelers, one of whom look almost exactly like Jader, throwing his life and everything he thought he knew into tumult. Scared and overwhelmed, Jader flees—and lands unexpectedly in the arms of a man he’s always seen, but never really noticed.

Megan Derr is one of my favorite fantasy authors.  Her Lost Gods series remain at the top of my list of books and series to recommend.  Derr continues to demonstrate why I love her so with series and books like Tales of the High Court and The Heart of the Lost Star, the third story in the series.

Derr has built such an incredible universe through three stories now, threading through more mythology, cultural facts and world geography in each one, enriching each stories foundation, and enlarging our knowledge of the world these characters live in.  Even of the characters themselves.  Here gender isn’t assigned by physiology but chosen by the child when they feel  comfortable enough to choose.  And no parent has the right to force the child to live otherwise.  So Kamir, a male, can bear children, with his own twins of age to choose their own gender and it’s a lovely easy fact of life.

What’s not so easy is how they were born, and Kamir’s ex-husband’s treatment of Kamir and the children.  That is an element here that’s unfortunately too familiar even within a fantasy setting.  But Derr has created in Kamir a truly remarkable character, vulnerable, yet strong in his perseverance, graceful and kind.  Trust me, you’ll fall under Kamir’s spell just as Jader does.  Kamir has a complicated life, one he’s trying to uncomplicate himself, although love has a way of throwing in one more unexpected entanglement.  The same goes for Jader, an adopted Islander who’s now risen to a top position within the Kingdom.  Last thing he expects is his attraction to Kamir and his children, then events happen that throws Jader into turmoil…and more complications ensue for all.

At times this will seem like separate stories, one for Jader who is undergoing his own journey, one for Kamir who is fighting his own battles, and then one for them as a couple. All three stories are emotionally tumultuous, fraught with danger and suspense for each individual and the couple, and yet so full of love, especially towards the end, when it all pays off.  It’s full of adventure, high court politics (never a good thing), and passion.  In other words, a stunning great tale!

And yes we see something of the couples from the other stories as well, a trend I hope will continue because I want to see more of Kamir and Jader too.

If you can’t tell by now this is a book and series I highly recommend.  The writing is fluid and dynamic!  The characters memorable and the situations charged full of action and emotion.  I can’t wait for the next book to appear.  Neither will you once you get started!  Enjoy!

Cover art by JohnCoulthart.com  Love the covers.  It brands the series and works for the story.

Pre sales link:  Less Than Three Press | Amazon to come

Book Details:

ebook
Expected publication: August 23rd 2017 by Less Than Three
ISBN 1684310601 (ISBN13: 9781684310609)
Edition Language English
Series: Tales of the High Court  (add to Goodreads)

A Lila Review: Waiting for You (Lifesworn #1) by Megan Derr

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Rating: 3.25 stars out of 5

Shanna has spent her whole life waiting—waiting to be old enough, waiting for the day she must pick a consort, waiting for a chance to finally overcome her despicable stepfather… and waiting for someone to finally banish the loneliness that comes with being a queen-in-waiting one step away from being murdered.

On the eve of the two-week event during which she must pick a consort from a bevy of suitors, two strangers arrive claiming to have been invited—though she knows full well they did not receive any such invitation. But the handsome, mischievous Prince Kallaar is too intriguing to resist, and his quiet bodyguard too compelling to ignore…

But she’s learned the hard way never to let anyone get too close, and on the verge of gaining true independence her stepfather will stop at nothing to see she never gets it.

Waiting For You is an interesting take on triad stories in a fantasy setting.  Between this and the fairy tale-like plot, it almost felt as a fae poly troupe. It starts directly into the action and we get to meet Shanna and learned about her life up to that moment. At the same time, we are introduced to other relevant characters in the story.

As with other stories by this author, the main characters’ sexuality is not an issue. In their world, they have a sort of implicit bisexuality that it’s natural and accepted. Which opens the door to a diverse group of consort prospects for Shanna. They come, by invitation, to take part of the two-week festivities and we learned enough about the candidates, their lands, and how they all would benefit from a marriage alliance—including the uninvited prince and his bodyguard.

I enjoyed the story, but the world-build and the characters’ connection wasn’t strong enough to carry the plot forward. It is a good introduction to the series and it’s probably going to get better in the next books, but at the moment is hard to see how they would work as a triad in the future. We will have to wait and see.

The cover by Natasha Snow is pretty, but similar to other covers by the artist. It has a fantasy feel but could be used for other genres as well.

Sale Links: NineStar | AmazonNook

ebook, 173 pages
Published: June 5, 2017, NineStar Press
ISBN: 9781947139169
Edition Language: English

Series: Lifesworn
Book #1: Waiting For You

Megan Derr on How the Trilogy Came About and her latest release ‘Waiting for You’ by Megan Derr (guest blog, excerpt and giveaway)

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Title:  Waiting for You

Series: Lifesworn, Book 1

Author: Megan Derr

Publisher:  NineStar Press

Release Date: June 5, 2017

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male/Female (Male/Male interaction)

Length: 40000

Genre: Fantasy, fantasy, friends to lovers, reunited, royalty, bodyguard, established couple, political, spies

Add to Goodreads

How the Trilogy Came About by Megan Derr

So a question that crops up pretty often is what comes first, plot, setting, or characters? For me, that varies from story to story. This particular one started with the characters and some of the plot (I wrote another post on the exact inspiration for this story).  I had a princess in danger, a prince, and his bodyguard, and an eventual threesome. I had an evil parent (though father become stepfather).

Since this had originally been meant as an erotic short for ARe, I decided to keep the setting simple. Two countries, one with obvious medieval Europe influences, the other with medieval Middle East influences. No magic. Pretty confined plot, in that there’s a small cast and they don’t move between a whole lot of locations. But as is my want and practice, I also built a world where all things queer are accepted. Her stepfather hates her, but only because she’s a threat to his power, not because she’s bisexual. It doesn’t matter to him if she marries a man or a woman, if they’re cis or trans. He just wants her out of the way or under his control once and for all.

And I felt it was important to lay out how this story came about, because there’s this idea that persists in writing, in art, that we must wait for inspiration! and be struck by muses! and listen to the voices! and that to purposely write something with a goal like money in mind makes us less. And that’s stupid and worse harmful. I always write what I want, but sometimes what I want is something that does not tax and exhaust me the way High King or Dance-verse or Tavamara-verse does, something that is easy to write, appealing to more readers than usual (since queer fantasy romance is never going to have the draw that contemporary romance does), and makes good money.

So that is how this trilogy came about.

Synopsis

Shanna has spent her whole life waiting—waiting to be old enough, waiting for the day she must pick a consort, waiting for a chance to finally overcome her despicable stepfather… and waiting for someone to finally banish the loneliness that comes with being a queen-in-waiting one step away from being murdered.

On the eve of the two-week event during which she must pick a consort from a bevy of suitors, two strangers arrive claiming to have been invited—though she knows full well they did not receive any such invitation. But the handsome, mischievous Prince Kallaar is too intriguing to resist, and his quiet bodyguard too compelling to ignore…

But she’s learned the hard way never to let anyone get too close, and on the verge of gaining true independence her stepfather will stop at nothing to see she never gets it.

Excerpt

Waiting for You
Megan Derr © 2017
All Rights Reserved

Prologue

Shanna sighed in the gloom of the stables, enjoying the dark and quiet, even the smell of horse, dragon, and manure.

Gingerly touching her sore cheek, the result of a stepfather who’d succumbed to a rare fit of temper and struck her, she went to get some treats for the animals.

After she’d given apples to the horses and hazelnuts to the dragons, she pulled out the small flask of wine she’d brought with her, upended a bucket to make a seat, and settled in front of her favorite dragon’s stall for a night of drinking.

She’d prefer to be making merry, a proper ceremony honoring her mother, two years dead now, but of course her worthless stepfather, Mercen, preferred a much smaller, quieter, and more somber affair. Just one more occasion for him to do what he needed to further his own goals while paying token respect to the woman who’d made him consort.

At least it was late enough she’d be left alone out here. Everyone else was asleep or on duty. The only person who’d be in the stable at that hour was Tikki, the stable boy, and even if he woke and realized she was there, he’d leave her alone.

All the problems of the day—week, month, past two years—tried to rise up, but Shanna had endured more than her fill of them for the present. They’d have to wait until tomorrow. Instead, she drank wine and tried to focus only on happy memories of her mother, the sorts of things her mother would tell her to think about.

She’d almost managed to achieve a good mood, or something close enough, when she heard voices outside. Voices that were not speaking Remnien. If she wasn’t mistaken, they were speaking Morentian, which was bizarre. Morentians didn’t travel this far north very often, and certainly not in the dead of a winter night.

Pushing to her feet, Shanna headed for the stable doors—and barely jumped back in time to avoid being whacked in the head by one.

Two figures, accompanied by horses, hurried into the stables and closed the doors behind them. The shorter of the two said something, and Shanna caught snatches of “finally” and “snow” and something she didn’t understand but suspected was a curse. Her mother had never taught her those words, though Shanna had tried to learn them.

“Can I help you?” she asked.

They spun toward her, going still a moment before removing the snow-crusted wrappings from their faces—which revealed extremely handsome men, tired and travel-worn though they were. Shanna swallowed, painfully aware suddenly of her own unkempt state: the old, ragged dress she’d thrown on, her hair only loosely knotted back, the bruise slowly forming on her cheek.

Oh, what did it matter? She was a princess—a queen in waiting—what did it matter if she looked good to a couple of travelers she’d never see again?

“I am sorry to disturb,” the shorter man said, mouth curving in a smile that reminded Shanna of the kitchen boy, Benni, who caused no end of trouble but always charmed his way out of it with smiles like that. “We are humble peddlers from Morentia and not accustomed to your wretched snow. We were hoping to reach the royal castle tonight, but I honestly have no idea where we are right now.”

Shanna laughed. “You’ll be relieved to know you’ve reached your destination, though you’ll have to wait until morning to peddle your wares. But come, there are places aplenty for you to stay the night, and the kitchens can give you a meal.”

“We’d be most grateful, Lady…”

“Shanna.”

Both men stilled again briefly before venturing farther into the stable, closer to Shanna. She moved backward a few paces and nearly collided with one of the two lanterns that lent the stables light.

The shorter man said something in Morentian she didn’t understand, the words spoken too low and fast to catch. “You are no lady, but the fine princess herself,” the man said, his wickedly charming smile returning. “We are most honored to make your acquaintance, my princess.”

Shanna shivered. My princess. She liked the way he said that.

“Shall we tend the horses before you attempt to flirt with someone too good for you, Kallaar?” the second man asked gruffly.

“Yes, Ahmla.” Kallaar glanced back at Shanna. “Where should we put our horses, Your Highness?”

“This way.”

Once the horses were tended, Kallaar returned to her side immediately, almost but not quite standing improperly close. “Now then, what brings a lovely princess to the stables so late at night? And all alone. Surely there are better places to be in this terrible weather? I should think anywhere else at all would be better.”

“It’s not that cold.”

Kallaar looked at her like she had lost her mind. “There is snow.”

Shanna laughed at his affronted tone. “Yes, but it’s early winter yet. Soon it will be so cold every breath feels like knives in your lungs, too cold even for snow, and everything that ventures outside unprotected freezes immediately.”

“How can it be too cold for snow?” Kallaar sounded affronted. “That sounds like a nightmare come to life.”

Ahmla made a noise that sounded like agreement.

“I’m certain many people say the same about the heat of Morentia. What brings you so far afield this time of year? Surely your wares could wait to be traded in weather you find more pleasing?”

“I come from a very bossy family, and there are things that must be done, and I am the one to do them,” Kallaar said, looking oddly intent for a man who probably traded in bobbles and knickknacks. “Not that I mind, of course. I am just as bossy and demanding as the rest of them—” He gave a snickering Ahmla a look. “Anyway, despite our grousing, we are happy to be here, my princess. Now, I do not suppose there is anywhere in this place where a couple of frozen strangers might thaw?”

“I think I can help with that,” Shanna said, smiling in a way she hadn’t since her mother had died two years ago. Hard to find anything to smile about when she was a prisoner in her own castle, constantly afraid she would join her mother in the afterlife while Mercen stole their kingdom.

“Splendid!” Once they were outside, Kallaar offered his arm.

Amused and charmed despite herself, Shanna made to accept—and slipped on a patch of ice, but even as she drew breath to scream, she was scooped up before she hit the cold, hard ground.

Shanna blinked at Ahmla, who held her like she weighed nothing, and was shockingly warm for a man who had seemed cold and miserable. “Are you all right?” he asked.

“Um. Yes. Thank you, Master Ahmla. That would have been a nasty fall.”

“My honor to serve, princess.” Instead of setting her down, though, Ahmla carried her all the way to the castle and only put her on her feet once they reached the stones of the kitchen yard, which were kept clean by the staff so they could work safely.

“Thank you again,” Shanna said and hastened inside to hide her flushed face.

In the kitchen, she found the late-night cook in the pantry and requested she see about food and beds.

Returning to Kallaar and Ahmla, she said, “You’ll be taken care of quite well from here by the staff.”

“It’s most appreciated, my princess. You are even kinder and more gracious than rumors say.”

Shanna highly doubted any such rumors existed, but she smiled all the same. “It’s sweet of you to say so.”

“No, it’s not. Don’t encourage him,” Ahmla said. “He’s enough of a brat.”

“You wound me,” Kallaar said with a pout.

Shanna laughed. “I will leave you to charm sweets from the cook, for I must to bed. It was a pleasure to meet you both. Perhaps I’ll see you again before you continue your travels.”

“Count on it, my princess. I could never leave here without seeing your lovely face at least once more.”

Ahmla lifted his eyes to the ceiling, and even the cook snorted as she brought them bowls of the soup kept on the fire for staff and soldiers working through the night.

Smiling again, Shanna bowed her head as they bowed. “Goodnight, dear sirs. Sleep well.”

“And you, my princess,” Kallaar said. “Sweet dreams.”

As she headed off to her room, still smiling at Kallaar’s antics and how nice it had felt to be held so easily by Ahmla, Shanna thought maybe for the first time in a long time, her dreams just might be sweet.

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Meet the Author

Megan is a long time resident of LGBTQ fiction, and keeps herself busy reading, writing, and publishing it. She is often accused of fluff and nonsense. When she’s not involved in writing, she likes to cook, harass her cats, or watch movies. She loves to hear from readers, and can be found all over the internet.

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