A Lila Review: The Dragon’s Devotion (Chronicles of Tournai Book 5) by Antonia Aquilante

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

 

Corentin is a scholar with a secret—his magical Talent allows him to turn into a dragon, and he isn’t alone in that ability. Long ago, dragons were hunted fiercely, until they went into hiding, becoming things of legend. Corentin has traveled the world with one aim—to protect his people and keep their secret safe. Drawn to the principality of Tournai by news of someone close to discovering that secret, he hopes to avert suspicion. His attraction to the too-serious Bastien isn’t convenient for his purpose, but it isn’t something he can ignore either.

Lord Bastien, Earl of Ardesia, inherited his title unexpectedly when his parents were killed in a sailing accident along with the parents of his cousin, Prince Philip. Since then, Bastien has devoted his life to the obligations of his family and estate—so much so, that it has caused tension between him and his siblings. His world is further shaken when he receives an anonymous letter informing him that the tragic boating accident may, in fact, have been murder. Bastien throws himself into investigating whether the allegations are true and finding out who killed his parents.

As Corentin and Bastien become closer, the mystery of Bastien’s parents’ death draws him further into danger. Corentin feels compelled to protect Bastien, but the threat is closer than they know. Now, Corentin must decide whether preserving his secret—and potentially his people’s safety—is more important than saving the man he loves.

 

The Dragon’s Devotion is a slow burn, suspense story. It can be read as a stand-alone, but the details would make more sense after reading at least one of the previous books. In my case, I have read books three and four, which give a good overall background about the world-build and the rest of the cast.

 

This installment starts shortly after the last one and we get to know how important is for Corentin to keep his secret from others, including the royal family and their sorcerer. Etan’s research is the main reason he comes to Tournai and thanks to an invitation to Etan’s wedding to Tristan, Corentin gets to meet Bastian.

 

Bastian’s responsibilities have taken over his life since his parents’ deaths and only his obligation to attend the wedding and his need for answers brings him to town. This secondary information becomes the plot of the story, adding obstacles to the main love story.

 

The story moves slowly and has a lot of details. Most of them add to the story’s enjoyment, but others drag the pacing a bit. This isn’t a quick book to read, details matter and the story threads are important. It’s perfect for fantasy lovers and for those looking for more than a romance angle.

 

The book is well-written and entertaining. It has angst and dramatic moments, but it also has some comedic relief. I wish the MCs had a stronger connection, but their times together were lovely. I did enjoy their courting, too.

 

The cover by Natasha Snow is nice, but a bit dark for the story’s tone. It does have the basic elements described but it lacks a connection to the heart of the tale.

 

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Book Details:

 

ebook, 286 pages
Published: September 4, 2017, by NineStar Press
ISBN: 9781947139787
Edition Language: English

 

Series:  Chronicles of Tournai
Book #1: The Prince’s Consort
Book #2: The Artist’s Masquerade
Book #3: The Scholar’s Heart
Book #4: The Sorcerer’s Guardian

Book #5: The Dragon’s Devotion

Antonia Aquilante on Dragons and her latest release ‘The Dragon’s Devotion (Chronicles of Tournai #5) – (author guest post, excerpt, and giveaway)

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Title:  The Dragon’s Devotion

Series: Chronicles of Tournai, Book Five

Author: Antonia Aquilante

Publisher:  NineStar Press

Release Date: September 4, 2017

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 108100

Genre: Fantasy, fantasy, paranormal, shifters, dragons, magic users, bisexual, family drama, abduction/kidnapping, political intrigue, royalty

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Antonia Aquilante on Dragons

I’ve been a fantasy reader forever, it seems (and a romance reader too, but that’s probably another post). When I was very little, fairy tales were always my favorite stories. As I got older, that love of magic and magical worlds (and happily ever afters) in my stories stuck with me. I don’t exclusively read fantasy or fantasy romance, nowhere near that really because I read so many things, but I still love those stories. I really loves stories that have dragons in them.

I’ve been trying to remember if there were any books with dragons in them from when I was very little, but I can’t really remember any. Disney’s Sleeping Beauty is probably one of the first movies I saw with a dragon (maybe?), but while Malificent’s dragon is very impressive, it’s never my favorite when the dragon is bad and has to be defeated. At some point in elementary school, I found Patricia C. Wrede’s Enchanted Forest Chronicles, which begins with Dealing with Dragons. I think I discovered it at a school book sale, and the combination of princess, dragon, and enchanted forest was irresistible to child me. I remember loving those books, and I still have the battered copies on my bookshelf. I’m tempted to pull them down and reread them now. I think I was twelve when I discovered Anne McCaffrey’s dragonriders, and I binged through those books and then faithfully read new ones as they came out, all the while dreaming of being a dragonrider. There have been so many other books in the years since that I’ve loved (I probably have recs, and please rec me dragon books you love!) and sparked my imagination.

So it was probably inevitable that I would write about dragons sometime. There’s just something about them—the power and the beauty, the awe-inspiring majesty of a dragon in flight. Before I wrote one word of the first Tournai book, I knew that dragons existed in this world. Granted, I had an entirely different story in mind to write about them—though the basics of the dragons’ backstory and abilities remained the same—but when does anything I write go exactly to plan? I’ve dropped vague hints about dragons in a couple of the previous books, none of which are necessary for you to understand this one, but enough that some readers noticed and have been asking me what’s going on with the dragons. I’ve been mean and didn’t tell, but The Dragon’s Devotion will give you some answers.

My dragons in the world of Tournai are people with the magical ability to turn into dragons. They are the stuff of legends, having faded into stories as time passed, and that’s just the way they want it for their own safety. I spent a lot of time figuring out dragon history and society. Some of it comes out in The Dragon’s Devotion, but some of it wasn’t necessary in this story. I definitely have plans to work more of it in future stories, though, and maybe even spin something off for more about dragons outside Tournai. We’ll see.

Writing the scenes with Corentin using his magic to become a dragon was so much fun. He’s keeping what he is a secret, so he has to be very careful about when and where he changes, but when he can, there is such relief and joy in him. I loved imagining what he would look like and how it would feel for him to fly out over the ocean. The scene when Bastien finds out is one of my favorites in the book. We get to see Corentin as a dragon through Bastien’s eyes and Bastien’s reactions. I’m hoping you’ll love it too.

Synopsis

Corentin is a scholar with a secret—his magical Talent allows him to turn into a dragon, and he isn’t alone in that ability. Long ago, dragons were hunted fiercely, until they went into hiding, becoming things of legend. Corentin has traveled the world with one aim—to protect his people and keep their secret safe. Drawn to the principality of Tournai by news of someone close to discovering that secret, he hopes to avert suspicion. His attraction to the too-serious Bastien isn’t convenient for his purpose, but it isn’t something he can ignore either.

Lord Bastien, Earl of Ardesia, inherited his title unexpectedly when his parents were killed in a sailing accident along with the parents of his cousin, Prince Philip. Since then, Bastien has devoted his life to the obligations of his family and estate—so much so, that it has caused tension between him and his siblings. His world is further shaken when he receives an anonymous letter informing him that the tragic boating accident may, in fact, have been murder. Bastien throws himself into investigating whether the allegations are true and finding out who killed his parents.

As Corentin and Bastien become closer, the mystery of Bastien’s parents’ death draws him further into danger. Corentin feels compelled to protect Bastien, but the threat is closer than they know. Now, Corentin must decide whether preserving his secret—and potentially his people’s safety—is more important than saving the man he loves.

Excerpt

The Dragon’s Devotion
Antonia Aquilante © 2017
All Rights Reserved

Chapter One

In the privacy of his small office, Corentin circled his neck and rolled his bare shoulders and back, trying to loosen the stiffness there—impossible because his muscles weren’t really stiff. But he did it anyway. It was just that he hadn’t changed and stretched his wings in far too long. Whether real or imagined, it had always been this way if he didn’t use his Talent regularly. Only how was he to accomplish that in this place?

There wasn’t anywhere in the capital city where he could change unseen, and few places close to Jumelle where a large dragon would go unnoticed.

But while he was in Tournai, he’d have to deal with it. He’d managed a few night flights out over the sea when there wasn’t much moonlight. He’d have to get away for another as soon as he could without rousing suspicion. Not that he was being watched, or that anyone suspected what he was, but if a foreign scholar slipped away too many times with no explanation and someone were to notice… He didn’t want to take the risk. He’d come to the principality of Tournai to make sure no one knew of dragons; he wasn’t going to risk anyone finding out from him.

With a sigh, he reached for a fresh shirt from the cabinet in the corner. It wasn’t entirely appropriate for the university, but the more formal shirt and tunic he’d been wearing for this morning’s early lecture had been ruined when he’d walked into a sorcery student’s experiment out on the lawn. The lack of formality of his new attire wouldn’t be a problem since he’d only be working in his office.

He’d just lifted the shirt over his head and was letting it fall over his shoulders when he heard the creak of the floorboard a step inside his office, warning him too late that he wasn’t alone.

His own fault. He’d gotten complacent about pushing the door closed since he was usually the only one on this corridor. And he’d just been chastising himself about not giving away his secrets.

He whipped around, and the man who’d caused the creak froze just inside the room. His tall frame was elegantly and expensively attired, his pale blond hair perfectly styled, his exceedingly handsome face brimming with shock and curiosity. Corentin’s stomach sank. He knew what this man was—he’d made a point of avoiding him because of that knowledge. Master Savarin, the most powerful sorcerer in Tournai, stood just inside his office. He’d obviously seen the markings on Corentin’s back, the faint, shimmering scale pattern that marked him as one with the Talent to become a dragon.

Corentin froze as well, a litany of curses running through his mind. Anyone who saw the pattern would know what he was. Or, anyone at home would know, at least. He’d come to Tournai because there were whispers of the prince’s cousin Etan looking into dragon legends. Lord Etan, a young scholar who often lectured at the university, was well-respected, and his interest was enough to worry Corentin. But Etan had only theories—some quite close to the truth but nothing proven.

The question was: what did Master Savarin know? He was a powerful sorcerer, and a scholar as well, which was why Corentin made a point of avoiding him. Corentin had already displayed too much of his power by using it recently to help find a kidnapped child, but it could still be passed off as merely a powerful fire Talent. Dragons were myth and legend these days. He could bluff his way through this… as long as Master Savarin didn’t know what the markings signified.

Corentin forced himself to relax, to present a casual demeanor he didn’t feel. He reached for his spare jacket, shrugging into it as he spoke. “Master Savarin, isn’t it? What can I do for you?”

Silvery gray eyes focused on him. “What are those? On your back.”

Corentin buttoned the jacket, keeping his movements unhurried. He would not look as if he was trying to hide anything. “On my back? You mean the tattoos? I suppose they’re not quite genteel, but…” He shrugged.

Master Savarin’s gaze sharpened. “Those are not tattoos. I’ve never seen tattoos that look like that.”

“Have you seen many tattoos?” Corentin asked, keeping his voice mild.

“Some.”

“I wouldn’t think they’re very common in the circles you move in. Or at least I haven’t seen many tattoos during my time here at the university.” Was this argument going to get him anywhere except into more trouble? He needed to divert attention from the markings, not discuss them interminably.

“Perhaps I know different people than you think.” Master Savarin’s attention never wavered even as Corentin used his most forbidding stoney mask.

“I got these on my travels. Perhaps they’re different from the ones you’ve seen.” Maybe that would be the end of it.

“I’m rather well traveled myself. I still haven’t seen anything like that.”

“You can’t have seen everything.”

When he saw the suspicious glint sharpen in Savarin’s eyes, Corentin wondered if he’d gone too far. Was it the words or the smooth tone with just a hint of flirtation that took him a step further than he should have gone? The question was what would Savarin do. And what did he know?

Savarin laughed, a smooth, practiced laugh probably not out of place at the court of Prince Philip and his consort Amory. “No one could, but I’m certainly doing my best.”

Corentin propped a hip on the edge of his desk, letting out a laugh of his own and fixing a charming smile on his face. He could still divert this conversation. “A fellow traveler. I’m doing my best to see everything as well. Insatiable curiosity, I suppose.”

“A thirst for knowledge and new experiences.”

“Yes, I’m always eager to see and experience new things on my travels.”

“I am as well.” Savarin tilted his head slightly, regarding Corentin in a way he couldn’t decipher. “Of course, sometimes I don’t have to leave home to find new experiences.”

For a moment, he wondered if Savarin was flirting. “A true scholar is always learning.”

“Yes, exactly.”

“It’s why I came here, why I travel in the first place.”

Savarin nodded. “I don’t think I ever heard where you’re from.”

Corentin’s guard went back up. “Far from here. A small place in the foothills of the Nashira Mountains.” Not exactly the truth but close enough. “No one’s ever heard of it. A reason to travel, yes? If you come from somewhere so small and isolated?”

“I suppose it is. I grew up here, so I didn’t have the same experience.”

He hadn’t heard much other than that about Savarin’s vague origins. “No, you wouldn’t have. Jumelle is a vibrant, busy city from what I’ve seen. So many people from so many places. So much knowledge here at the university.”

“Yes. And with all that, and all my travels, I’ve never heard of magic of the kind you performed.”

Corentin forced himself to remain calm, to appear calm at least. “Magic I performed?”

Playing dumb to stall would probably get him nowhere, but he did it anyway. And of course Savarin proved him right, because the man wasn’t stupid. “Yes, the magic you used to help recover Master Tristan’s baby daughter when she was kidnapped earlier this year.”

Since the incident, he’d been kicking himself for using the magic, and he’d done his best to avoid Savarin’s attempts to question him about it. But what could he have done? He hadn’t met Master Tristan, who was a merchant in Jumelle, before that day. He’d gone to have lunch with Etan and found the palace in an uproar because his infant daughter was missing. As much as he wanted to not draw attention to what he was, he couldn’t have lived with himself if he hadn’t offered to help.

And his help had aided the royal guard and Savarin in finding the baby. Both Etan and Master Tristan had been extremely grateful, and Etan, who was soon to marry Tristan, had said he was in Corentin’s debt.

“It was no great or special magic, but I was happy to be able to help. Horrifying that a baby would be stolen from her home,” he said.

“I have to disagree about the magic being special. I’ve never seen anything like it.”

“You didn’t see it, so I can’t imagine how you would know.” His words came out sharper than he intended, and he regretted it immediately, but there was nothing for it now.

“It was described to me in detail,” Savarin said, showing no reaction to Corentin’s slip in tone. “You told Lord Etan, Master Tristan, and Lord Flavian that you have a fire Talent, but I’ve never seen someone with a fire Talent do what you did.”

“I doubt you’ve met every person with a fire Talent in the world.” He tried to say it lightly, almost joking, but annoyance at the questioning was layering over his worry.

“No, but I’ve spent my life studying magic and the different Talents people possess. I have a touch of a fire Talent myself. So I know something about it.” Before Corentin could decide what to say next, Savarin continued. “At first, when I’d heard what happened, I was simply curious. I wondered what you’d done and if I could learn how to as well. But when I asked to talk with you, you put me off. And soon I realized you were avoiding me. That’s when I got suspicious. Because you had no reason to avoid me.”

“Perhaps I didn’t feel the need to be interrogated about an uninteresting bit of magic used to help someone recover his child.”

“But the magic wasn’t uninteresting to me. And it wouldn’t have been an interrogation. It would have been two scholars—two men with Talent—discussing magic. From what I’ve heard, you have no problem engaging with scholars here. You and Lord Etan meet often to talk about your respective work. Given that, surely you can see how I might suspect you’d done something you wouldn’t want anyone to know about? Something that might even be dangerous to Tournai or its royal family.”

“I resent that implication. You’ll remember I used the magic to help Tournai’s royal family.” Corentin kept his voice steady, but he silently cursed himself. He hadn’t meant to become more conspicuous by putting Savarin off, but he’d needed more information, and a plausible story. Keeping away from him had seemed best if the alternative was giving away who and what he was. Now he wasn’t so sure.

“I haven’t forgotten.” Savarin’s tone wasn’t anything other than what could be termed condescending. But Corentin expected arrogance from him. “Neither does that mean you don’t have bad intentions. A smart man knows to bide his time, to gain the trust of others, before—”

“Before what? Betraying it? I do have some loyalty, and whatever you think, I helped out of the desire to see an innocent child brought home to her father.” Corentin regarded Savarin steadily, not giving him a flicker of anything he might twist into more suspicion. “I assume you used your magic to help for much the same reason.”

“I did. But it’s your behavior afterward that reflects poorly on you. You’re lucky I haven’t alerted anyone else to my suspicions.”

Corentin forced himself not to react to the threat in those words. He’d heard rumors, whispers, of spies being found in Jumelle, sent to ferret out information by the conquest-mad emperor of Ardunn. The Ardunn empire had been conquering and absorbing countries to its east for years, and it was rumored that its emperor had his sights set on Tournai, which was wealthy and strategically located on the western half of the continent. He had no love for Ardunn himself—the empire’s borders had expanded far too close to his home, which remained safe and hidden only due to the impassable mountains—so he could understand that there might be an air of caution. Would vague suspicions be enough in Tournai’s current climate? Savarin was trusted. Would his word be taken without any other proof?

“I don’t know what you think I’ve done, or am planning to do.”

“My suspicions might be nebulous, but my concern is for the safety of my country and its royal family when they are in such close proximity to an unknown and potentially dangerous magic.” Savarin seemed about to say something else, but at that moment, the university bells chimed the hour. He cursed under his breath. “I have to go to the palace for a meeting with the princes.”

Corentin nodded, glad for the reprieve. “Of course. We’ll finish our discussion at another time.”

A time long in the future, if ever.

Savarin hesitated and then seemed to come to some sort of decision. Dread flooded Corentin. “No. I’m not going to chance you getting away from me again.”

“Excuse me?”

“I’m going to make sure you’re here waiting when I return from my meeting,” Savarin said as he stepped back through the doorway.

“I say again, excuse me? I might agree to wait for you, but I can’t see what you can do otherwise.”

Savarin’s lips curled into something that was almost a smile, but very definitely smug, and Corentin’s dread grew stronger. Corentin strode toward Savarin, not sure whether he would throttle the man or stride past him and away, putting an end to an infuriating and nerve-wracking confrontation. Before he could make the decision, he hit an invisible barrier in the doorway and stumbled back a step.

He put a hand up, flattening it against the magic that barred his path, a wall he couldn’t see. “What have you done?”

“Ensured that you’ll still be here to finish this,” Savarin said, as if it made complete sense for him to trap another person against his will, as if it was all right.

“You think I’m going to run away?”

“I think you’re going to go back to avoiding me, and I can’t have that. We’ll continue our discussion when I return.”

“You can’t do this,” Corentin bit out, but the sorcerer had already turned away, and a moment later he had disappeared down the stairs.

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Meet the Author

Antonia Aquilante has been making up stories for as long as she can remember, and at the age of twelve, decided she would be a writer when she grew up. After many years and a few career detours, she has returned to that original plan. Her stories have changed over the years, but one thing has remained consistent—they all end in happily ever after.

She has a fondness for travel (and a long list of places she wants to visit and revisit), taking photos, family history, fabulous shoes, baking treats (which she shares with friends and family), and of course, reading. She usually has at least two books started at once and never goes anywhere without her Kindle. Though she is a convert to e-books, she still loves paper books the best, and there are a couple thousand of them residing in her home with her.

Born and raised in New Jersey, Antonia is living there again after years in Washington, DC and North Carolina for school and work. She enjoys being back in the Garden State but admits to being tempted every so often to run away from home and live in Italy.

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Amy Rae Durreson on Writing and Recovery (DSP PUBLICATIONS GUEST POST)

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Recovery (Reawakening #3) by Amy Rae Durreson
Published May 9th 2017 by DSP Publications

Available for Purchase at

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Amy Rae Durreson here today talking about writing, characters, and her latest story in her Reawakening series, Recovery.  Welcome, Amy Rae!

✒︎

 Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Interview with Amy Rae Durreson

How much of yourself goes into a character?

Hmm, I think this is less about character traits than experiences. I’m a fairly quiet, easy-going person—some of my characters are too, but others are completely the opposite. What is more important, in my view, is finding enough common experience that you can emphasize with the character. Unlike Raif in Recovery, I’m not a twenty-something ex-resistance fighter on a quest to wake a sleeping dragon, but I have many experiences of anxiety, of not being sure what to do next with my life, with travelling to new places, and meeting people who are more complex than they seem at first. All of those are stepping stones to getting inside a character’s skin, even one who is superficially very different from me.

Do you feel there’s a tight line between Mary Sue or should I say Gary Stu and using your own experiences to create a character?

For me, the difference is in how the writer presents the character to the reader. If the reader is expected to admire and idolize a character without question, that’s a Sue/Stu. If the reader can emphasize with them and see their flaws and hesitations, then you have a real character. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with using bits of your own life to create a character. The problem arises when you demand that everyone worship your self-insert as flawless.

Does research play a role into choosing which genre you write?  Do you enjoy research or prefer making up your worlds and cultures?

I just going to sit here and laugh hollowly. I do enormous amounts of research when I’m writing a fantasy novel. I look for historical analogues to my fantasy setting and mine them for little details which I can integrate into my imaginary world. For Recovery, I read a lot about Renaissance Venice, which is the inspiration for Aliann, the main setting, but I also read a lot of travel writing, from various centuries, and researched details from the design of an early printing press to formal garden design in medieval Europe to the history of pirates in the Mediterranean. Recovery was actually a fairly light research book—the previous book in the series, Resistance, was much more demanding—I learned enough about the bubonic plague for that one that I actually managed to pass the CDC’s online CPD module for ER doctors despite being an English teacher in real life (easier than it sounds—it was multiple choice and I guessed a few). I also read quite broadly on topics which look like they might come in handy for later books. Nothing is ever wasted.

Needless to say, I get twitchy whenever someone tells me that is must be so lovely to write fantasy where you can just make stuff up (my mother is notorious for this).

Has your choice of childhood or teenage reading genres carried into your own choices for writing?

The first book I remember reading is The Ladybird Book of King Arthur Stories. The first I remember loving so hard I cried when the library wouldn’t let me keep renewing it was Diana Wynne Jones’ Charmed Life. I was pretty much doomed to write fantasy.

Have you ever had to put an ‘in progress’ story aside because of the emotional ties with it?  You were hurting with the characters or didn’t know how to proceed?

No, but there are some stories I couldn’t have written any earlier. A Frost of Cares was like that—it was the final cathartic stage in a long process of healing. I went through a relationship similar to the one Luke has with his ex in that book, and it left its mark on me. I wasn’t ready to write about it for a long time, but now I’ve written that book, it seems to have lost its power to hurt me. The story I’m working on at the moment is hard, and is drawing on a lot of issues I encounter in my day job to do with childhood trauma, but in a way that’s actually feeding back positively—I’m all the more determined to take those problems seriously, having been inside my characters’ heads and considered them from a different perspective.

Do you like HFN or HEA? And why?

I’ve given up trying to write HFN—I always end up making it HEA by mistake. I like to think that at the end of my books, all my couples have the potential to continue living happily together. For some of them, I even have little bits of personal headcanon (I know, for example, that after he retires, Siôn from Spindrift likes to go and sit in the back row of Mattie’s lectures and listen to him being passionate and inspirational. Mattie’s got a beard and a belly and a bald patch by then, but Siôn still thinks he’s the most beautiful thing in the entire world).

Do you read romances, as a teenager and as an adult?

I’ve always enjoyed romantic subplots in my reading, but I didn’t read any pure romance until my early twenties. I was spending every other weekend with my boyfriend at the time, who was studying on the other side of the country, and before I headed back to the station I’d buy myself a few romances to see me through the journey home (fellow Brits with experience of Sunday travel will know why one book alone was not enough). They brought me a lot of comfort, but my reading was restricted to a few authors. It wasn’t until I got my first e-reader and discovered m/m that I really started reading lots of romance. That probably explains why I always have a lot of plot in my novels—my roots as a storyteller lie in other genres and I have to weave the romance around those instincts.

Who do you think is your major influence as a writer?  Now and growing up?

I can definitely see the influence of the books I read a kid in my own writing—I loved Susan Cooper and Diana Wynne Jones, as well as the warmth and benign eccentricity of Noel Streatfeild. As a teenage writer I was lucky enough to stumble across a copy of Ursula K LeGuin’s essay collection The Language of the Night in my local library. I read it over and over again and it completely changed the way I approached writing. As a adult reader, I find it harder to identify recent influences—I read a lot, and absorb it all into the churning creative mess that is my subconscious. A lot of the writers I love most tell very different stories from me, in very different ways.

How do you choose your covers?

I’m very lucky in having Dreamspinner’s art department create my covers. Catt Ford has done all the covers for the Reawakening series and I love them. I don’t know how she transforms my vague ramblings about character and setting into such lovely things, but I’m glad she does.

Do you have a favorite among your own stories?  And why?

Usually the most recent one, simply because it always feels the most vivid and alive to me. Looking back at past works, some have faded in my head a bit and others shine a little brighter. A Frost of Cares and Resistance will always make me proud, I think. Frost because I did something I’d never done before and it worked better than I expected, and Resistance because I’m damn proud of how I put that story together. There were a lot of tears shed over that book, but the end result was beyond what I thought I could do. Ironically, those two are respectively my most and least successful books.

What’s next for you as an author?

I’m working on another ghost story at the moment—this one set in the Scottish borders in an old orphanage with a dark past. There will also be more fantasy. I’m currently playing around with an idea for something fairy-tale inspired with a ridiculously over-the-top love interest with secret motives. There will be more Reawakening books, but they’re on hiatus until I get the last traces of Recovery out of my imagination and figure out how to end the next one.

Blurb

Resistance, exile, plague. Raif has survived them all, but now he finds himself in search of a new purpose. Traveling north to wake the dragon Arden, he hopes he has finally found a leader worthy of his loyalty, but Arden turns out to be more of a frivolous annoyance than an almighty spirit lord. Now bound to Arden’s side despite his frustration, Raif follows the dragon to the rich and influential lagoon city of Aliann, chasing rumors of the Shadow that once cursed his homeland.

With the election of a new duke at stake, Raif struggles to make sense of the challenges he meets in Aliann: a conspiracy of nixies and pirates, selkie refugees in desperate need of a champion, a monster that devours souls, a flirtatious pirate prince, and a machine that could change the world. For nothing in the city of masks is what it seems, from the new friends Raif makes to the dragon he follows—or even himself.

About the Author

Amy has a terrible weakness for sarcastic dragons, shy boys with sweet smiles, and good pots of tea. She is yet to write a shy, tea-loving dragon, but she’s determined to get there one day (so far, all of her dragons are arrogant gits who prefer red wine). Amy is a quiet Brit with a degree in early English literature, which she blames for her somewhat medieval approach to spelling, and at various times has been fluent in Latin, Old English, Ancient Greek, and Old Icelandic, though these days she mostly uses this knowledge to bore her students. Amy started her first novel twenty-one years ago and has been scribbling away ever since. Despite these long years of experience, she has yet to master the arcane art of the semicolon.

Social media:

Twitter: @amy_raenbow

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/amyrae.durreson

Blog: https://amyraenbow.wordpress.com/

An Alisa Review: Russian Blau (Dragons Schooled #1) by Emily Carrington

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Rating:  3 stars out of 5

 

russian-blauIce dragon Blau Lepa seeks nothing more or less than to be a professor at SearchLight Academy. He’s wanted to teach his whole life, and considers it a sacred calling. When he meets Professor Rob Boyle, he’s instantly attracted. But both he and Rob are convinced that teachers and students shouldn’t have sex, not to mention that Blau’s afraid to bond with a human who will pass away so quickly.

 

On top of his scruples, Rob’s suffering from a broken heart. Eventually he gives in to his attraction and finds being dominated by Blau fills him with soaring desires and heals his wounded heart. But is that enough to make him decide to throw away his humanity and accept magical powers so that he can spend all eternity with his lover?

 

Blau is in his last semester of school with Charlie, Rob’s former lover and friend, as his advisor.  Rob and Blau have an immediate attraction, but don’t act upon anything until they are manipulated together by Charlie.  Once they both let their walls down they can work on their connection to each other.

 

We get to see both characters’ points of view which helps as they both have their own struggles in this story.  I felt Rob’s getting over his heartbreak from Charlie was quickly resolved and just kinda done instead of work through.  Blau’s biggest fear is loving someone who isn’t immortal and he would have to watch them die.  I felt that there were some back stories in this that I was missing regarding Charlie and Rob’s former dragon student (it looks like this series references characters from some of the author’s previous series) which would have help some of my confusion at points, but for the most part I liked the story.

 

Cover art by Fiona Jayde is a sweet picture of Blau and Rob.

 

Sales Links: Loose Id | Amazon | ARe

 

Book Details:

ebook, 68 pages

Published: October 24, 2016 by Loose Id

ISBN: 9781682522325

Edition Language: English

Series: Dragons Schooled #1

A Free Dreamer Release Day Review: On Wings of Thunder by MD Grimm

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Rating: 2 stars out of 5

On the Wings of ThunderTrystan is an unchosen angel—shunned by society, bullied, and without a future. In a hidden well, Trystan discovers a carving of a dragon, who were once the commanders of demons and now believed extinct. But Trystan learns the carving doesn’t depict an ordinary dragon. Stories tell that millennia ago, the great dragon Asagoroth and his demon army nearly conquered the three realms but was killed by the five elders. The powerful angels combined their life forces to cast a spell, sacrificing their lives.

But history is full of falsehoods. The five elders only managed to imprison the dragon, and Asagoroth had cast his own spell—one of releasement. It only needs the blood of an angel to liberate him from his cage….

Asagoroth, enemy of angels, conqueror of realms, is free. But even as the angels prepare for war, the great dragon surprises them with an ultimatum: hand over the angel who awakened him or face annihilation.

Okay, so I had several issues with this book. The general plot idea sounds good and I love dragons and demons and angels (as long as they aren’t sent by God or something), so it definitely had the potential to be great. Unfortunately, “On Wings of Thunder” mostly fell flat.

The beginning felt a little unrealistic to me. Trystan falls into an old well and discovers a gorgeous carving of a dragon at the bottom. He realizes that the blood from his cut hand does strange things with the carving. Instead of being scared or at least a little cautious, he’s fascinated and makes the cut worse to get more blood on the carving. And didn’t for a second think about the consequences. He lives in a world full of magic and doesn’t worry that blood magic and an ancient carving of an evil dragon might be a bad idea? That’s extremely naïve.

When Asagoroth is finally awakened, he essentially blackmails Trystan into joining him. He’s all, “Come with me, my love, or I will kill every last angel, destroy your entire realm and take you by force afterwards.” (Not his exact words, but the gist of them) And yet again, Trystan isn’t scared or worried at all. He seems to think that’s incredibly romantic. I was kind of uncomfortable with that premise. It didn’t feel like a very good start for a consensual relationship.

Once Trystan and Asagoroth are finally joined, self-doubt ensues on Trystan’s part. So much self-doubt it soon had me rolling my eyes. I do get that he’d be unsure about Asagoroth’s love for him, given his life as an Unchosen, but it was just too much.

One of my biggest issues was the sex scenes. With phrases along the lines of, “Trystan shuddered at the violation of his secret entrance”, it almost read like rape wrapped up in purple prose.

There wasn’t all that much plot overall. Around the 80% mark I was still looking for things to really get going. There is a big showdown at the end, but even that left me a little bored.

Essentially, “On Wings of Thunder” very much wasn’t for me. It felt a little silly and I was kind of bored for the most time. I’m sure there are people who will enjoy this, but I’m not one of them.

The cover by sin shows Trystan and Asagoroth. Just like the story itself, it isn’t really to my tastes.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | ARe | Amazon

Book details:

ebook, 144 pages
Expected publication: July 20th 2016 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN 1634774094 (ISBN13: 9781634774093)
Edition LanguageEnglish

A MelanieM Review: Brandywine Investigations: Open for Business (Brandywine Investigations #1-3) by Angel Martinez

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Rating:  5 stars out of 5    ★★★★★

Brandywine InvestigationsWhen humans forsake the temples, the gods need to find other employment. Hades opens Brandywine Investigations after his divorce and his subsequent move to the modern world. If he was hoping for boring infidelity cases and lost dogs, he’s sorely mistaken as murder and mayhem find his agency and his extended family at an astonishing rate.

Includes:
Canines, Crosshairs & Corpses: Brandywine Investigations #1
No Enemy But Time: Brandywine Investigations #2
Dragons, Diamonds & Discord: Brandywine Investigations #3

Please note: The stories in this omnibus have been reedited, and expanded by about 18K (total.)

Its no secret, if you’ve been reading this blog, that I’m a huge fan of three things: fantasy, mythology, and the author that always manages to combine them in her imaginative and often addictive novels,  Angel Martinez.  So, I was thrilled to see a omnibus of tales that I had not encountered before, Brandywine Investigations: Open for Business (Brandywine Investigations #1-3) by Angel Martinez.  What I found was pure Angel Martinez heaven.

While the main focus is the Pantheon of Greek gods, others like the Egyptian god Set for example make appearances, along with the Gilgamesh mythic figures, and norse legends, all set elements of a Martinez narrative.  The author takes the whole of world’s theology and mythology and weaves it together in a wonderful literary tapestry, connected by larger than life characters as well as human.  Then she makes them so real, so heartstopping believable that you fall deeply in love with them and boom,  the connection between you and the characters and their world snaps into place.

The stories are stacked logically and chronologically.  I would rate them all equally, really I had no favorites here.  I loved them all.

Canines, Crosshairs & Corpses: Brandywine Investigations #1:  This one introduces all the characters and sets up a mystery that will thread itself through all the stories.  Here we meet Hades and Charon shortly after Persepherone has asked for a divorce.  It was, as we all know, never really a love match but Hades is bereft and has left the Underworld.  Martinez makes us believe in his emotional devastation, his climb to understanding and rebuilding his “new God life” and the street boy Ti he rescues.  The emotions here are killer, in so many ways.  There is humor, pain, angst, and yes, love.

No Enemy But Time: Brandywine Investigations #2: This involves all of the characters from the first story, but the focus is on Hades’ son, Zack (short for Zagreus, God of the Hunt or Resurrection) and his fallen Angel lover, Michael). This is one for breaking your heart several times over.  Turns out that Michael was Zack’s guardian angel but fell in love with his charge.  That cost his his wings.  Not in a nice way but in a come down from heaven and cut them off your body in front of your lover while you are screaming sort of way.  Still they have been happy.  But there are other fallen angels in the city and someone has been killing them and now they are coming for Michael.  The mystery is a wonderful one, the entire family comes together for Zack as its a race to help figure out who’s behind the plot against the fallen angels and how to stop it.  Just a 5 star story all around.

Dragons, Diamonds & Discord: Brandywine Investigations #3:  The collection ends with this story that pulls all 3 together, tying up the plot lines, the family stories, several relationships and ending with an altogether wonderful storyline about a dragon childrens author and Hermes, (yes that Hermes) nephew to Hades, corporate CEO and member in a band.  Really there is no end to Angel Martinez’ imagination, or depths to her stories.

Each line here sparkles with humor, a touch or more of pathos, swathed over  with layers of mythology and appreciation for the finer points of storytelling and relationship dynamics.  All that and a great tale too.  Plus dragons. I get dragons!

I don’t know if there are other Brandywine Investigations stories out there.  I certainly hope so, Angel Martinez has barely broken the surface of gods she can pull into Hade’s and Charon’s circle.  I know I need to know more.  And check in to see how Hades and Ti are getting on, along with Zack and Michael and the rest of the gang.

Do I recommend Brandywine Investigations: Open for Business (Brandywine Investigations #1-3) by Angel Martinez?  I absolutely do.  Its plain out terrific in every way.

Cover Artist: Mila May.  I am only so so on the cover.  I really don’t believe it does the stories justice, It was the title and author who grabbed my attention, not the cover which I would have passed on.

Sales Links:  Mischief Corner Books | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, First
Published April 27th 2016 by Mischief Corner Books, LLC
Original TitleBrandywine Investigations: Open for Business
ISBN139781310044854
Edition LanguageEnglish

SeriesBrandywine Investigations #1-3

Its Face Off Time! Check in Here for Lexi Ander’s Special Guest Post for Sumeria’s Sons#5 (guest post, special excerpt and contest)

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Dragon’s Eye (Sumeria’s Sons #5) by Lexi Ander
Release Date: October 7, 2015

Goodreads Link
Publisher: LT3 Press
Cover Artist: London Burden

Buy the book: Less Than Three Press

Face-off: Marduk verses Ashur

I’m not a fan of Marduk. In the Sumeria’s Sons, he has been set up to be one of the villains because he is the one who holds the lock to the chains shackling the children of Tiamat. To me, Marduk is like a strutting peacock full of his own importance. He doesn’t go out and perform his own heroic deeds but steals them from both Enlil and Enki. As one of the lesser gods, Marduk’s background is pretty sketchy (non-existent) until he’s proclaimed the patron god of Babylon. The creation myth, Enuma Elish, which includes the battle against Tiamat (or as it’s called in Sumeria’s Sons, the Igigi War) was written to tell the story of Marduk’s heroic deeds, propaganda for the era and ruling civilization. The text was modified from an older epic replacing Enlil with Marduk as slayer of Tiamat.

Through the subjugation of the Tiamat’s children, Marduk used magic to transform them into protective charms used at the doorways to palaces, temples, and sometimes bedrooms. The only real threat to Marduk in his reigning era was the Assyrian god Assur (Ashur). As the supreme deity of Assyria, his popularity threatened Babylon and Marduk. Responding to that popularity, during the reign of Hammurabi (the king best known for the Hammurabi Code, the earliest surviving codes of law in recorded history) Marduk was elevated to the level of supreme god. He even took on Tiamat’s symbol of the snake-dragon.

Historically, the God Assur’s origin was much like that of Marduk, rising from obscurity. First becoming the equivalent of Sumeria’s Enlil and absorbing both Enlil’s consort and children. Then later after Assyria conquered Babylon, Assur became associated with Anshar, Sumeria’s sky god. Anshar’s name literally means “whole heaven” elevating Assur to the head of the Babylon pantheon. As such, Assur took the place of Marduk in the creation myth, slaying Tiamat and becoming king of the gods.

The author in me loved the competition between Marduk and Assur, but I also nitpicked what I wanted for the god’s history for Sumeria’s Sons. Anshar is and elder god called the skypivot, the God of the Horizon of Heaven and balanced by his consort Kishar the earthpivot, Goddess of the Horizon of the Earth. Together they make up the celestial poles and that balance coincides with the Twin Flames theme of Sumeria’s Sons. I used that animosity between them in the plot that further drew that line between good guy/bad guy between him and Marduk.

There is also a something else that I used after coming to understand the competition between the two cultures. These two gods derived their power from their worshippers. The more popular and widespread the god, the more powerful they became and I made that a physical manifestation in the series. I coupled that with the Marduk’s prophecy. Oh yes, he had his own prophecy stating that one day he would return and bring salvation to Babylon and wreak a terrible revenge. He-he. How could I leave that alone?

A huge thank you for allowing me to be a guest on the blog today! Throughout the blog tour for Dragon’s Eye, I hope you enjoy the behind the scenes look at the gods and mythos, and how they play a part in Sumeria’s Sons. For a visual representation, please visit my Pinterest page. (https://www.pinterest.com/lexiander1/sumeria-sons-inspirations/) During the tour I discuss the Sumerian pantheon, about who and what the Gods/Goddess are, and how I use them. Make sure you stop by the other blogs to get a complete look at the Gods and Goddess the Lycan’s follow.

Also, Less Than Three Press is running a special sale on Sumeria’s Sons from September 23rd  through October 7th (dates inclusive).

Twin Flames is $0.99.

Amazon () LT3 Press ()

25% off Songs of the Earth

Amazon () LT3 Press ()

25% off Dreams of the Forgotten

Amazon  | LT3 Press

25% off Surrounded by Crimson

Amazon |LT3 Press

Thank you for stopping by and reading!

RC

Blurb

In the wake of birth and betrayal, Ushna takes the God Ashur to Tristan in a last desperate bid to save Tristan’s life—and is helpless to do anything but watch as Ashur instead buries him in a grave. Though he has no desire to go on living, having now lost Brian and Tristan, Ushna has no choice. Not only do their children need him, the mysterious Simurgh has come out of hiding and forces him to continue on—for there is much to do and little time to do it, especially with treachery and danger closing in on them from every side.

Pages or Words: 98,000 words
Categories: Fantasy, M/M Romance, Menage/Poly, Paranormal, Urban Fantasy

Exclusive Excerpt #9

Prowling through the trees, I dared not use the new path that had been created with all the recent foot traffic. Sticking to the deepest shadows until the storage shed came into view, I crouched down, waiting and watching. Occasionally I scented the wind to make sure no one was around before I moved from the gloom. The darker patch of soil called to me. After so long, the dirt no longer appeared freshly turned and the fall leaves blanketed the area, partially hiding the spot where Ashur had placed Tristan. Even if snow covered the ground, I’d know the exact spot.

Dropping the bag to the side, I moved around the outer edge. Here the scent of magic was so sharp I sneezed several times. Ashur’s energy still lingered, faint with the passing of time, but that wasn’t what caught my attention. There was the trace of another’s power, heavy and bitter, and the scent clung to the back of my tongue. The soil hadn’t been physically disturbed but the magic permeated the ground.

Panic clawed at me. Why was someone casting spells over Tristan—unless, like me, they knew he was merely resting? I began to dig, the softened soil flying behind me as I envisioned discovering a dozen terrible things.

The embroidered hem of the red tunic Tristan had worn that day was revealed. After I changed back to my human form, I hastily put on my clothes. I hadn’t worn shoes or socks when I slipped away from Nathan’s and now the frosty ground quickly chilled my feet, but I didn’t care. Climbing down into the hole, I gingerly brushed the dirt away from material until I came to the edge where Tristan’s body should’ve been.

I didn’t understand; where was Tristan?

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About The Author

Meet Lexi Ander
Lexi has always been an avid reader, and at a young age started reading (secretly) her mother’s romances (the ones she was told not to touch). She was the only teenager she knew of who would be grounded from reading. Later, with a pencil and a note book, she wrote her own stories and shared them with friends because she loved to see their reactions. A Texas transplant, Lexi now kicks her boots up in the Midwest with her Yankee husband and her eighty-pound puppies named after vacuum cleaners.

Where to find Lexi Ander:

Web site: http://www.lexiander.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/lexi.ander.9
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/LexiAnder1
Blog: http://lexiander.blogspot.com/
E-mail: lexi.ander.author@gmail.com

Contest

Enter to win a Rafflecopter Prize:
• Prize offered: Prize offered: $20 Amazon Gift card, $20 All Romance Gift card, hard copy of Dragon’s Eye, swag (pens, bookmarks)
• $20 All Romance Gift card, hard copy of Dragon’s Eye, swag (pens, bookmarks)
• hard copy of Dragon’s Eye, swag (pens, bookmarks)
• e-book copy of Dragon’s Eye
• e-book copy of Dragon’s Eye

Must be 18 years of age or older. Link and prizes provided by the author, and Pride Promotions.

Rafflecopter Code:
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Final

Tour Dates & Stops:

24-SepAndrew Q. Gordon, Christy Loves 2 Read

25-Sep Wicked Faerie’s Tales and Reviews: http://wickedfaeriesreviews.blogspot.com/2015/09/dragons-eye-by-lexi-ander-blog-tour.html

Dawn’s Reading Nook: http://dawnsreadingnook.blogspot.com/2015/09/book-spotlight-and-giveaway-for-dragons.htm

Bayou Book Junkie: http://bayoubookjunkie.blogspot.com/2015/09/virtual-tour-mm-dragons-eye-by-lexi.html

28-Sep Hearts on Fire: http://heartsonfirereviews.com/lexi-ander-dragons-eye-sumerias-sons-5-deleted-scene-excerpt-and-giveaway/

Decadent Delights: http://machurch00.blogspot.com/2015/09/pride-promotions-presents-dragons-eye.html

MM Good Book Reviews: https://mmgoodbookreviews.wordpress.com/2015/09/28/dragons-eye-by-lexi-ander-blog-tour-guest-post-exclusive-excerpt-giveaway/

29-Sep Amanda C. Stone: http://www.amandastonebooks.com/2015/09/lexi-anders-dragons-eye/

Jessie G. Books: http://wp.me/p5wi3H-FO

The Novel Approach: http://thenovelapproachreviews.com/2015/09/29/guest-post-excerpt-and-giveaway-the-dragons-eye-blog-tour-with-lexi-ander/

30-Sep The Jena Wade: http://www.thejenawade.com/blog/book-blast-dragons-eye-lexi-ander

1-Oct Louise Lyons: https://louiselyonsauthor.wordpress.com/2015/10/01/new-release-dragons-eye-book-5-of-sumerias-sons-by-lexi-ander/

Lee Brazil: http://leebrazilauthor.blogspot.com/2015/10/crawl-in-bed-with-lexi-ander.html

BFD Book Blog: http://wp.me/p5fGQT-2BO

2-Oct Love Bytes: http://lovebytesreviews.com/2015/10/02/blog-tour-guest-post-exclusive-excerpt-giveaway-lexi-ander-dragons-eye/
Chris McHart: http://chrismchart.com/2015/10/02/blog-tour-guestpost-giveaway-dragons-eye-by-lexi-ander/

TTC Books and More: http://www.ttcbooksandmore.com/2015/10/sumeria-sons-by-lexiander1-blog-tour.html

5-Oct   Molly Lolly, Wake Up Your Wild Side

6-Oct   Three Books Over The Rainbow, Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words, GGR Review

7-Oct   Inked Rainbow Reads, Prism Book Alliance, Crystal’s Many Reviewers

 

A MelanieM YA Review: The Oracle’s Sprite (The Oracle #4) by Mell Eight

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Rating:  3.75 stars out of 5

Cover - The Oracles FlameAt just eighteen years of age, Keir became the leader of the army fighting against the usurper king while Princes Edan and Egan led the navy. At his side, willing to help from time to time, was Sprite.

A friendly ghost, Sprite likes to keep Keir company and occasionally play tricks on Keir’s sister. When the Oracle demands Keir’s presence, he expects Sprite to travel with him.

He doesn’t expect the gale that knocks him overboard and into an adventure that might just kill him.

The Oracle’s Sprite adds in the Dragon of the Air to Mell Eight’s imaginative, and wonderful Oracle series.  As with each book, the present Oracle is rebuilding her pantheon of elemental dragons.  Most of the elemental Castes have lost their way, fallen to madness or self preservation, their Dragons gone missing or not found one to be “chosen” to be reborn. The Oracle needs that to change in order to restructure their guilds to better serve the kingdom of Altnoia and deliver it from the dark times ahead.  So the Oracle’s been arranging the Dragons return, manipulating matters , sometimes brutally at the cost to the various Dragons to be, at least that what they  see at the time.  So far, we seen the return of The Dragon of Flame, The Dragon of Ether, and the Dragon of Earth.  Now comes the Dragon of Air.

Our introduction to The Oracle’s Sprite is somewhat different than the rest.  A castle hold has been invaded by a false king’s men and their are killing its inhabitants.  A young boy wakes and manages to steal away with his baby sister. Its a brief introduction to the perilous times and places this book’s timeline exactly along side all the other books. What we don’t start with is the dragon.  Not at first.  That comes a little later and it comes in clues. What Mell Eight gives us is clues, lovely, descriptive clues that pile up everywhere as to who the Dragon of the Air is.  Yes, when he appears, the reader will go “oh, there you are”, but its appearance is welcoming instead of frustrating.

Sometimes  some of my most favorite elements in a Oracle story are the smallest ones.  In this story its the description of the pattern that appears on the Dragon of the Air’s back when he walks out of the Testing Chamber.

“..he emerged from the testing chamber, his hair had paled to pure white and the Dragon of Air was tattooed on his back.

The dragon was formless. His back might have still looked blank if it weren’t for the slightest blurring of the skin, as if an invisible wind was forever etched there.  The Oracle could see a pair of eyes hidden there, as well as a pair of clear wings attached at to a massive body.  She knew where to look  to find the Dragon…”

The Dragon that the boy would turn into as The Dragon of the Air.  I have always loved the idea of tattoos that come alive.  Here the tattoo and the boy are one in the same, two forms, one being.  But its the boy that we will meet first.

Keir and Sprite are the only fully formed characters in the story, there are other minor interesting characters but they don’t get enough time within the plot to make them as multidimensional as they should be.  Still, within the short scenes they appear in, this character is powerful and certainly scary.  I just think the story lost depth by not including more of this character role and reasoning (if any).

While Keir and Sprite are in a sexual relationship (parts that have a funny aspect to it), there is little to no sex n the story, to the point that you could label this a YA story.  Its high adventure, young love, dragons, pirates and a fight for a kingdom.  Come on, who doesn’t love that?  For me, that never gets old.

I did find it ended a little too abruptly, in fact, that has been my main complaint with every book of the series.  All the endings just seem a little rushed.  But Mell Eight’s creativity, her world building and, darn it all, her fabulous imagination that conjured up these Dragons, the Oracle and that Mountain.  Well,  that’s amazing, and now I can’t wait for the next dragon to appear.  That would be The Dragon of Water.  Roll it out, Mell Eight!  You have me on air!

Cover art by London Burden.  The Dragon of the Air is a  tough dragon to portray but  since most of the harrowing scenes take place at sea, this is a fitting image.

Sales Links:  Less Than Three  |   All Romance (ARe) | Amazon | Pre order now Amazon links to follow later Buy It Here

Book Details:

ebook
Expected publication: September 30th 2015 by Less Than Three Press

YA Saturday ~ YA Reviewer Aurora on Her First Novel, Beneath The Scales (YA LGBT Fantasy)

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Beneath The Scales Cover

Beneath The Scales by Aurora Peppermint
Released July 9, 2015
Published by Harmony Ink Press
Cover art by Anne Cain

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More from Aurora on her first novel, the YA fantasy Beneath the Scales, released by Harmony Ink Press.  And if you missed her blog yesterday, you can find it here along with the giveaway!  Enjoy.

Hi everyone!

So as many of you know I’ve been working for a really long time to finish, submit, edit and make into being my young adult novel, Beneath the Scales. It has been a labor of love every step of the way and I am so proud and so excited to be sharing it with everybody now.

The cover art was done by the lovely Anne Cain, who I’ve always been a huge fan of and was extremely lucky to get as my cover artist. And the book is now on the coming soon page at my publisher, Harmony Ink! What that means is that you can pre-order it, you can go and check out the blurb, see what it’s about and whether you’re interested, and see the cover art on the official site.

Thank you all so much and I’m so, so excited for this! Check out the book below and that great cover!

          – Aurora

STRW Author BookSynopsis

A desperate quest forces a young man to question all he knows about truth and loyalty.

Fifteen-year-old orphan Martus is struggling to provide for his magically gifted sister, Elsaben. Stealing and working shady jobs might feed them, but it doesn’t bring in enough for the arcane books and training she sorely needs, and he knows he can’t keep it up forever. His reputation as a troublemaker is starting to put him in danger.

When Elsaben is carried off by a dragon who attacks their village and burns it to the ground, Martus swears revenge, expecting to either die or return a hero. He isn’t prepared for what he discovers in a cave in the mountains.

If he can put aside his prejudices, he might find a chance for a better life, a faithful new friend, and the opportunity to help someone more like himself than he realizes. His adventure could change everything—even the beliefs he’s always taken for granted.

STRW Spotlight Book Excerpt

Martus ran a hand lazily through his hair, then trailed his palm down to rub at his eyes, and finally let his arm flop down onto the bed beside him. It was light out already and he had to get up, much as he didn’t want to, but he was going to postpone waking fully as long as possible, just as he did every morning.

As a boy who had been punched in the stomach many times before, it was easy to recognize the feeling, but, through the crack of his eye—rather than the angry ex-lover of someone he’d pulled into his bed the night before, as he would usually see—his curly-haired little sister was visible.

“Mar! Up, up, up! You promised you’d take me with you today! ‘Member?” Bright eyes peered down into his, and Martus easily threw an arm around the small girl and pulled her off his stomach, mindful of her head when he plopped her down on the wood floor beside him.

“Yes, Elsaben. Sh.” Pulling a pillow over his face for a moment, Martus heaved a loud sigh, then tossed the pillow to the side and sat up. “Wh—” A yawn cut his question off, and his eyes wrinkled shut for a moment. “Where d’you want to go, darling?”

“I want to go wherever you go, Mar! “ Elsaben grinned, flopping on her stomach to grope under his bed before standing triumphantly with a bent up stick in her small hand, “You have my sa-word!” Martus couldn’t help laughing at that, ruffling his little sister’s hair and standing up.

“All right, then, little warrior, get dressed.” As he spoke, Martus tugged on his shirt and went looking for his day pants. The siblings didn’t have much since their parents died, but Martus always made sure his little sister had the basic necessities—clothes, food, water, something that could at least pass for a house—and a little more when he could manage it.

“Bet I’ll be ready quicker than you!” With that, Elsaben was out the door and hurrying down the stairs, hair flying out behind her.

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

Beneath The Scales Cover

A MelanieM Review: Lukos Heat (Heart of Fire #1) by Megan Derr

Standard

Rating:  4 stars out of 5

Lukos Heat coverDragon Najlah is on the hunt with his fellow shifters in the Royal Shifter Corp.  His quarry? The court assassin who just tried to kill the King and his brother in the process. So far the mage has eluded them, but now Najlah and his battle brothers have chased the betrayer to the snowy Shide Mountains where few would dare venture, including themselves.  The cold is beyond frigid and the peaks fearsome in their height and ruggedness.  The Shide territory controlled by the Lukos,  the wild wolf shifters.  And it is the Lukos who meet them as they enter the range on their hunt.  The feral wolves hate interlopers but agree to help in the search for the mage, if for no other reason than to get the hunters out of their territory.

Barkus, the head of the Lukos pack that intercepts the King’s Shifters is amazed to see a dragon among them.  Dragons are so rare in the Shide that they are assumed to be folklore, beings used to scare small kits.  But there roaring and unhappy in the cold, appears Najlah and Barkus is intrigued.  Najlah returns his interest but first the race is on to find the mage and navigate the treacherous conditions they find themselves in.   When a fight turns deadly, Najlah and Barkus must use every advantage they have to survive, including one that just might bind them together forever.

Lukos Heat is another intriguing start to a new series by Megan Derr.  Heart of Fire’s first story, Lukos Heat introduces us to the Kingdom of Restuel, its Rulers, and the non humans among them.  At the top of the group are the Dragons, not dragon shifters but dragons who can assume a somewhat human form but remain always dragons in mindset and action.  Derr starts laying out her universe and beings almost immediately.

There are 3 types of dragons.  Najlah is a hornless black scale, the most fearsome warriors.  His brother Fayth?  Huge, horned and a protector who just happened to have married a human who is royalty.  And then there are the Bitches, the awe-inspiring female dragons who live in the caves, have the young and are basically the rulers in dragon society. Najlah’s home is inside a volcano where the fires sooth and refresh him.  I expect more dragon natural history to appear along with more stories.  What Derr gives us is fascinating while provoking more questions.

By royal marriage and agreements set between their rulers, dragons have come to live in Restuel, along with bird and cat shifters.  The wolves?  They are a feral group that lives apart in the Shide territories, content to remain aloof and isolated by choice and geographical and meteorological  conditions.  But a war is brewing and the attempt on the King’s life is just the start of the attacks.  Who is behind it and how will they stop it?  More questions pop up then are answered here.

This short story is all about the hunt for the poisoner and the meeting between wolf and dragon.  Each is a fierce warrior, courageous, loyal, and impulsive in their actions.  Both Najlah and Barkus recognize like souls immediately and how they pull together is the charm of this story.  I love the descriptions that let us know that Najlah retains his poisonous claws, scales and even fangs in his human like form, fangs so long that he is unable to talk but communicates through growls and hisses.   Barkus is as entertaining as he is savage and able.  The two make an aggressively attractive pair. I can’t wait to see where Derr takes them and this series.

I recommend this story and will be waiting along with the rest of you to see what happens next to our dangerous duo and the Kingdom of Restuel.  I can imagine the battles and snark now, and that’s just the courtship between wolf and dragon!  Whatever it turns out to be, I am sure it will be entertaining,  inventive and a must  story for all lovers of dragons and fantasy!

Cover art by Julie Wright.  Love that cover, works perfectly for Najlah.

Sales Links:   Less Than Three Press (preorder)

Book Details:

ebook
Expected publication: October 22nd 2014 by Less Than Three Press LLC
(first published May 17th 2013)
original title”Lukos Heat” published in Dracones
ISBN139781620044438
edition languageEnglish
series:  Heart of Fire