Love Epic Fantasy? Check Out the Blog Post for The Twelfth Knight (Guardians of Camelot #1) by Victoria Sue (excerpt and giveaway)

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The Twelfth Knight (Guardians of Camelot #1) by Victoria Sue

Published October 1st 2019

Buy Links:

Amazon US |  Amazon UK

Bitly: bit.ly/TwelfthKnight

 

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Ginn Hale here today on tour for her latest novel The Twelfth Knight.  Ginn has brought along an excerpt as well as a great giveaway.  Check out both below!

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Blurb

To battle an ancient evil, the greatest weapon each hero will have is each other.

Hundreds of years ago, facing defeat, the witch Morgana sent monsters into the future to vanquish a humanity King Arthur wouldn’t be able to save. The King might have won the battle, but now, centuries later, a few chosen men will have to fight the war.

Merlin always hated being named after some mythological wizard. His dad had been obsessed with the magic man of King Arthur’s Court before his untimely death – a loss that had sent Mel reeling in a downward spiral. He is ill-prepared, to say the least, for the outrageous claims of a proper English knight bent on overcoming evil.

Born a commoner, Lancelot was never supposed to be a knight in his own time, never mind now in a modern world he is so woefully untrained to protect. Thrown into a battle centuries in the making, this flawed hero, and a young man too-used to battling monsters of the present day, will have to come together in a last desperate fight to save humanity.

Can Mel and Lance defeat the greatest enemy the world has ever known? Or in the midst of fighting evil, will they discover the real threat has always been a shattered heart?

And what if the one fight they cannot ever hope to win is with themselves?

Excerpt

We know there is something different about you because you can see them. That is an absolute fact,” Gawain said at last.

“You think?”

Mel looked up at the mildly sarcastic tone Ali used, wondering why she sounded irritated.

“Merlin told Lance that he would know when the final battle was nearing. That something would happen to him. A sign.” Gawain stretched out his hands, almost in supplication.

“But I’m not yours, you said so.” Mel stared at Lance, unsure why he still felt the need to point it out. Turn the knife as his gran would say.

Lance bent his head, looking at the floor and frowning in concentration, and Mel felt almost bereft if that was the right word. Like he’d lost something he didn’t know he had in the first place. Am I mad? He barely existed in a crappy apartment and sold his body every night. He’d been originally going to save for something else, to be something else. It had been temporary, he had promised himself. And somehow nearly five years had gone. Would he still be selling sex in another five years, or would some psycho have slit his throat by then? Mel stared at the computer screen. He was protesting the loss of something he didn’t have in the first place.

A change is as good as a rest. His gran said that all the time as well. His earliest memories of his dad were being pulled onto his knee and told stories of knights and dragons and all the heroes his little heart could ever wish for.

And one day it had just stopped. It had seemed like his whole world had been on fire when his dad had woken him frantically and told him to run, as fast and as far as he could, and wait until he came for him.

But he never had. He’d hidden behind some old car and cried until a cop had found him. He’d been reunited with his mom a few hours later, and they’d had to go live in some awful motel. Then the other nightmare started—not worse than losing his dad, but like he’d lost him all over again. He used to lie in that room and have nightmares, some while he was asleep and some while he was awake. His mom was drinking, and it wasn’t long until she had gotten a boyfriend. And more importantly, no one had ever tried to explain what had happened. The sickening realization that his father might have died trying to protect him was a horrible one.

His life became a downward spiral, and his dad had never found them no matter which city Mom dragged him to. As a child he used to sit out at the end of the road and just wait for his dad to show up because he never believed he was dead. And somehow in the years that followed, he had forgotten that.

“What about my dad? I don’t believe with what you have told me his death was accidental, but I would have been easily found if they had looked. And I definitely didn’t meet any mysterious strangers that wanted to look after me.”

He wasn’t that lucky.

“I don’t know,” Lance admitted again. “The only clues we were given were fifteen hundred years ago from a dying man. You may be different because of the name.”

“No,” Mel challenged. “You are clutching at excuses because you refuse to believe Guinevere isn’t coming for you. You have this idea you are going to get her as a reward, but I have news for you, oh mighty knight of the realm or whatever you are. Life isn’t like that. Shit happens. Good guys die and bad guys win.”

His ears screamed with how loud the silence was.

Then Lance jumped up so quickly his chair toppled back, but he was out of the room before it hit the floor.

And Mel deflated. That wasn’t fair. He was sick of never being good enough, but that wasn’t Lance’s fault. “Should I go after him?”

“It depends if you are staying, I guess,” Ali said bluntly and righted the chair.

Mel stared at all of them, their expressions equal with hope and worry. He chewed at his bottom lip. He didn’t feel special, and he wasn’t sure even if Thor decided Mel was his he wanted to belong to him anyway.

Liar. He glanced around the room and weighed up the possibilities before him. Gawain? He wasn’t into the tortured-genius vibe really and had a feeling—even unintentionally—being around Gawain might make him feel a little inadequate.

Kay? On the surface Kay seemed to be as capable as Lance. He was certainly as hot—maybe even better-looking—but there was something about Kay that hinted at a great hurt and hidden vulnerability. He had a feeling it was going to take a strong man or woman to unravel him, and Mel wasn’t sure he was in the right headspace at the moment to be fair to either of them.

Ali? She was a badass, and he had a feeling they could become great friends, but the other half of her soul? Maybe not.

Lucan? Appearance-wise, Lucan was exactly what Mel would go for. Large, brooding, probably dominating in the bedroom, and muscles in exactly the right places…but.

But? Mel nearly screamed the frustrated thought. What was it about Mel that always made him want the very thing he could never have? Stability, honesty. Love?

He pushed the little voice away. “Is it safe here?”

Kay nodded to the computer screen. “More of Gawain’s genius.”

But Thor was still in his head no matter how much he wanted to push him away. How his gray eyes lit with determination. The strong lines of his face that screamed dependability. Mel could imagine him on a horse—would have to be a stallion. Full armor, arm brandishing the huge sword as he yelled his battle cry.

“Show me what to do.”

It was a decision. He lowered his eyes, not wanting to see either triumph or gratitude in theirs. Their enemy might be something unspeakably evil, but becoming dependent on Lance especially was just as dangerous. Someone who—despite his less than definite denials—was in love with someone else, a dead woman. It would be too easy to get carried away and imagine this knight belonged to him.

Giveaway

Victoria Sue is generously offering a $5 Amazon US gift card and an eBook of choice from her backlist to one lucky reader.  Please leave a comment and your email address where you can be reached if picked.  Must be  18 years or older to enter.

About the Author

Victoria Sue

Victoria Sue fell in love with love stories as a child when she would hide away with her mom’s library books and dream of the dashing hero coming to rescue her from math homework. She never mastered math but never stopped loving her heroes and decided to give them the happy ever afters they fight so hard for. 
She loves reading and writing about gorgeous boys loving each other the best—and creating a family for them to adore. Thrilled to hear from her readers, she can be found most days lurking on Facebook where she doesn’t need factor 1000 sun-cream to hide her freckles.

www.victoriasue.com

@vickysuewrites

https://www.facebook.com/victoriasueauthor

https://www.facebook.com/groups/1182647028418709/

Newsletter: http://bit.ly/VictoriaSueNewsletter

Check Out the Blog Tour for Master of Restless Shadows by Ginn Hale (excerpt and giveaway)

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Master of Restless Shadows, Book One by Ginn Hale

Series: The Cadeleonian Series, Volume 5

Publisher: Blind Eye Books

Release Date (Print & Ebook): October 8, 2019

Length (Print & Ebook): 401 pp

ISBN Print: 9781935560630

ISBN digital: 9781935560647

Cover artist: Zaya Feli

Subgenre: epic fantasy, romantic fantasy, LGBTQ fantasy, queer fantasy, high fantasy

Order it now:

https://www.blindeyebooks.com/publications-1/pre-order-today-master-of-restless-shadows-book-one-by-ginn-hale

https://www.amazon.com/Master-Restless-Shadows-Book-Cadeleonian/dp/1935560638/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=ginn+hale&qid=1561242936&s=gateway&sr=8-1

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/939510

Book synopsis:

Freshly graduated Master Physician Narsi Lif-Tahm has left his home in Anacleto and journeyed to the imposing royal capitol of Cieloalta intent upon keeping the youthful oath he made to a troubled writer. But in the decade since Narsi gave his pledge, Atreau Vediya, has grown from an anonymous delinquent to a man renowned for penning bawdy operas and engaging in scandalous affairs.

What Narsi―and most of the larger world―cannot know is the secret role Atreau plays as spymaster for the Duke of Rauma.

After the Cadeleonian royal bishop launches an unprovoked attack against the witches in neighboring Labara, Atreau will require every resource he can lay his hands upon to avert a war. A physician is exactly what he needs. But with a relentless assassin hunting the city and ancient magic waking, Atreau fears that his actions could cost more than his own honor. The price of peace could be his friends’ lives.

About Ginn Hale:

Ginn Hale lives with her lovely wife in the Pacific Northwest. She spends the many cloudy days observing plants and fungi. She whiles away the rainy evenings writing fantasy and science-fiction featuring LGBTQ protagonists. Her first novel, Wicked Gentlemen, won the Spectrum Award for best novel. She is also a Lambda Literary Award finalist and Rainbow Award winner.

Her most recent publications include the Lord of the White Hell, Champion of the Scarlet Wolf and The Rifter Trilogy: The Shattered Gates, The Holy Road, His Sacred Bones.

She can be reached through her website: www.ginnhale.com as well as on Facebook and Twitter. Her Instagram account, however, is largely a collection of botanical photos…so, be warned.

Excerpt:

Inside the smoky confines of the Fat Goose, surrounded by boisterous drunks, gamblers and cold-eyed cardsharps, Atreau’s attention strayed from his cards to the wonderful book on the table before him. The leather cover looked supple and already well-worn as a favorite glove. He could see where fingers had cradled the spine and bent the cover, leafing through the pages again and again.

Placed in my callous hands, a testament of devotion, unspoken, and yet laid bare as a naked breast.

Atreau snorted at his own conceited turn of thought.

Still, the simple fact of the book’s existence pleased him.

He’d not seen the Haldiim translation and had half suspected that the publisher had forgone printing after the Cadeleonian volumes had been transformed into so much ash and smoke.

For a moment he pictured the dark young man who’d handed him the tome. How striking he’d appeared amidst so many Cadeleonians, and yet something about him—his angular jaw? Perhaps his long, lean build? Or it might have been his sharp brows and dark lashes?—Atreau didn’t know but something about the Haldiim physician had filled Atreau with a sense of familiarity. Absently, Atreau wondered if the young man had known that marigold petals clung to his dark curls like drops of gold.

“Stare at the cards all you want. The winning hand is still mine.”

Across the table from him Sabella Calies tapped the four cards she’d laid down and then took up her beer mug. Tall and weathered as a warhorse, Sabella was as much a fixture of the capital’s unseemly side as was her uncle’s Red Stallion sword house, where people gambled fortunes and lives on the speed of their blades. Over the course of her forty-odd years Sabella had taken both from a good number of men. But here at the Fat Goose the stakes were very different, as was the game. Here the kingdom stood to be lost to the church. Or won for Prince Sevanyo.

Atreau’s cards came very near winning but missed by only a point. He had indulged himself in the drama of making it appear a close match. Sabella played along, since the money would be hers no matter what cards he dealt. This game, like almost every other hand of cards he played, served as a pretext for Atreau to dole out Fedeles Quemanor’s payments to his informants and agents across the city.

Atreau pushed a plain coin purse to Sabella. She opened it and then pulled the drawstring closed again and dropped it into an inner pocket of her leather coat.

Between her lanky build, plain face and close-shorn brown hair Sabella nearly passed for a man. Certainly the heavy doublet and thick riding trousers she sported added to the impression, though they did not create a perfect illusion. Nor did she need them to. She’d patronized the Fat Goose for more than twenty years and all but the most callow of youths knew better than to cause her trouble.

She drew a sheaf of papers from her doublet and pushed them to Atreau. He skimmed the content quickly. It seemed that the royal bishop was collecting ancient scriptures, most having something to do with the Holy Savior’s final battle and the Shard of Heaven. Likely the bishop believed the holy blessings that had destroyed the demon hordes so long ago were desperately needed again now to combat a new threat to Cadeleon.

Five years ago Atreau would have found the entire matter amusing or perhaps thought the royal bishop deluded. But since then he’d seen both the wonders and horrors that ancient spells unleashed. He understood why previous generations of wiser men and women had attempted to hide them away.

“We need to know when and exactly what he intends to do with this,” Atreau said. “Actual places and dates would be good.”

“You don’t ask much, do you?”

“I don’t pay so little that I should,” Atreau replied.

Giveaway: Readers, enter to win 1 of 3 complete e-book sets of The Cadeleonian Series, Volumes 1 – 4 (Lord of the White Hell 1 & 2, Champion of the Scarlet Wolf 1 & 2)

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Giveaway: Readers, enter to win 1 of 3 complete e-book sets of The Cadeleonian Series, Volumes 1 – 4 (Lord of the White Hell 1 & 2, Champion of the Scarlet Wolf 1 & 2)

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Review of Burning Bright, Lost Gods Book 2 by Megan Derr

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Rating: 5 stars

Nine hundred years ago in the land of Pozhar, Zhar Ptitsa, god of souls and rebirth, nearly destroyed all his people in a fit of rage.  To stop him, a mage broke him into 1,000 pieces and scattered them into the souls of people present and not yet born throughout the land.  Now the world is dying. For some the only way to save it is to resurrect the Lost Gods.  For others, they would sacrifice everything, including themselves, to make sure that never happens.

The Sacred Texts call those whose souls carry  pieces of the god  Vessels. The  people of Pozhar so fear the rebirth of Zhar Ptitsa, that they have systematically hunted down and sacrificed the Vessels through the years.  As one Vessel is thrown on the flames, another is called into awareness by magical means. One by one, nine hundred and ninety eight Vessels have been sacrificed on the alter of fire and rebirth.  Now only two Vessels remain unaware that their souls contain pieces of a god.

Raz and Pechal are two of the best thieves in the Kingdom. When Ailill, a White Beast of Verde hires Ivan and his a band of mercenaries called the Wolves of Pozhar to steal back a piece of sacred jewelry, there are only two thieves capable of such a high profile theft.  For the jeweled  comb is in the hands of the Minister of Magic who lives within the castle and only Pachal has been successful in entering without rousing the guards. Raz has been looking for that retirement job, one where his fee is so high that he and Peshal can buy a small farm and become honest again.  He worries constantly about his best friend who is much younger than he is and so fragile. This theft will see an end to their life of constant hunger, rags for clothes and fear of constant imprisonment.  He agrees to take this mission and join the diverse gang of mercs, thieves and noblemen.

As the small band prepares to steal back the jewels,the hunt resumes with fervor to identify, capture and sacrifice the last two Vessels on the alter inside the Cathedral of Sacred Fires.  For the king, Tsar Zarya, is dying, the snowfall is earlier and heavier than ever before, and the people grow weary of the killing of innocents.  Dym, the High Priest of Pozhar, is desperate to finish the sacrifices  and set in motion his long held plans.  But the best thieves are hard to catch.  What will happen when they realize they are the last Vessels of Pozhar?

The Lost Gods is turning into such a stunning series, diverse in content and emotional flavor, complicated plots populated with complex, sympathetic, all too human characters that will make you laugh and weep, sometimes on the same page.  Treasure was a rousing adventure on the high seas, with dragons, princes, mermaids and hidden agendas. For all its title, Burning Bright heads in another direction, more localized in geographical area and deeper in content while still continuing with the overall theme of sacrifice and predestination.  Pozhar is a kingdom of fire and rebirth.  It’s citizens eyes and hair carry the colors of fire, from the deepest of reds to red hot oranges and yellows.  They greet each other with “May the fires warm and greet you.” Their epithets use adjectives such as scorching idiot , to the affectionate “little sparks” to shutting someone up with an abrupt “douse it” – fire and ash are always with them.  Yet now the snows come early and often, and the formerly hearty and gregarious people are losing their well known warmth as the constant killing, squabbling, and conflict takes its toll on the population. Through the eyes of each character, you get a real feel of a nation falling apart from the ground up.

The story is told from the  POV of several of the main characters.  In other books I’ve read this technique sometimes renders the story disorientating.  Here it gives us immediate access into the thoughts and emotions of each character which is crucial when showing the impact the sacrifice of the Vessels has on each of them.  The death of innocents is an explosive emotional theme and it is essential to our ability to empathize with the characters to grasp what this means to them. Especially the High Priest Dym who personally  attends to each Vessel before he sees them to their death in the flames. He is tormented by doubt, wavering between his belief that the sacrifices are necessary to achieve his goal and the actuality of being the one to watch each and every one die consumed by flames, burned alive before his eyes. Dym would be so easy to hate if you were unable to feel what this has cost him, his unrelieved pain and anguish hidden behind his calm resolve.

Then there is Lord Nikolai Krasny, Duke of Alkaev and Advisor to the Tsar.  He was introduced in Treasure and his promise as a fascinating character there is fulfilled here in Burning Bright.  Brilliant in demeanor and mind, cold in character, his vision is large in scope.  He’s very aware of  the conflict within his nation, court intrigue is a mere game compared to the losses he has already endured, his sister was a Vessel and the only man he has ever loved refuted him and now lies dying.  His remote, sarcastic voice is a needed contrast to those characters grounded in obligation and quiet suffering.  Also reappearing from Treasure, is the wonderfully slutty and adventuresome White Beast of Verde, Ailill.  The noble shapeshifter brings a much needed levity and sexuality with him.  I adored the brief glimpse of him onboard the Kumita and was thrilled to see how heavily involved he is here (and in future books).  Ivan and his band of mercenaries, the Wolves of Pozhar, form a sort of outlaw Greek chorus.  They don’t care much for religion, and see no reason for the sacrifices.  Loyalty to each other and their own flexible set of morals/rules is what guides them.  Finally, there is Raz and Pachal, the little sparks and our endearing young thieves.  They become the heart and heartbreak of this story.  You will quickly come to love them, as do all the denizens of the markets, brothels, and poor of the city.  Megan Derr has almost done too well a job with these two because you care for them so deeply and root for them with all your heart.  I am not sure I have forgiven her yet for some of the events here but forgiveness also seems to be a common thread throughout the Lost Gods saga so I am waiting to see how it all plays out.

Each book centers on one Kingdom and its Lost God.  In Treasure it was Kundou and the Three Dragons of the Storm.  Burning Bright is the  story of Poshar and it’s Lost God, Zhar Ptitsa.  Book 3 is called  Stone Rose and the kingdom of Pierdre with its Lost God, the Basilisk, to be followed by the books Poison and Chaos. Slowly, each convoluted puzzle piece falls into place as the tale of the Lost Gods is painstakingly assembled.  Like a Rubric’s Cube, each story has the same intricate structure.  Each character plays multiple rolls, each supposed dead end reveals a hidden passage, a character of seeming little consequence later reappears much changed in status and power.  Death and rebirth are constant companions.  Little things that bothered me in Treasure are resolved (somewhat) here but the final solutions and answers to all our questions won’t come until the very end of the last book in the Lost Gods series.

Can one love a book when you find no joyfulness in reading it?  For me the answer is yes. I gloried in the tale even as I had the taste of ash in my mouth. In fact I will reread this one and will probably hold the entire series close.  This is not a tale of romance, although love plays its part. Megan Derr is giving us an incredible epic, spanning the ages, continents and even death.  Each book should be read in succession and as a part of the series to get the full impact and role each kingdom and its people will play in the final battle for the Lost Gods.  You will both love and hate Burning Bright.  Have several boxes of tissue handy.  I did and still do.  I cannot wait for Stone Rose to come out and the epic of the Lost Gods to continue.  Kudos to Megan Derr for giving us two remarkable books in what promises to be one of the most extraordinary fantasy series in recent memory.

Cover: Art work by London Burden.  The covers are growing on me.  Each cover is a map of the kingdom involved, done in a way to resemble parchment.  The color choice carries over from the colors of the people of each kingdom.  Treasure has a blue cover to go with a kingdom by the sea and its people with hair and eyes the color of the sea.  Burning Bright has an orange or burnt cover perfect for citizens of Pozhar with hair and eyes the color of fire.  A simple concept for a cover of a book complex in story and character.

Available from Less Than Three Press.