New Release Blitz for The Merchant’s Love (Chronicles of Tournai #6) by Antonia Acquilante (excerpt and giveaway)

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Title:  The Merchant’s Love

Series: Chronicles of Tournai, Book Six

Author: Antonia Aquilante

Publisher:  NineStar Press

Release Date: June 18, 2018

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 106100

Genre: Paranormal, Fantasy, fantasy, paranormal, shifters, cats, magic users, demisexual, bisexual, family drama, royalty, friends to lovers, slow burn

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Synopsis

Faelen, cousin to the prince and son of a diplomat, has finally come home to Tournai after years away. The pull to return was almost tangible, and the sense of rightness at being back is absolute. He wants nothing more than to put down roots and build a life among family while pursuing his linguistic studies. Becoming involved in magic meant to protect Tournai isn’t part of his plans…but falling in love is even more unexpected and unfamiliar, but he finds himself doing just that as his friendship with Maxen deepens into something more.

Maxen, second son of a wealthy merchant family, longs to leave Tournai and see everywhere he can. All his life, he’s found places on maps and dreamed, planning out routes to get to them. For now, he’s tied to Tournai’s capital city by family obligations and his position in their shipping business. Someday, though, he’ll be able to travel. His sudden attraction to Faelen shocks him, but their friendship soon becomes a necessary part of his life. Love, however, has no place in his plans, especially not love for a royal cousin with secrets who wants nothing more than to stay in one place.

For Faelen and Maxen to build something real between them, they must resolve their differences, but when magic goes awry and all Faelen’s secrets are revealed, will Maxen remain at his side?

Excerpt

The Merchant’s Love
Antonia Aquilante © 2018
All Rights Reserved

Chapter One
In the last decade since his father was appointed ambassador to the kingdom of Teilo, Faelen had been on the grounds of Tournai’s royal palace three times, if he included today. The relief, happiness, and utter sense of home flooding through him as soon as he stepped off the boat had been shocking in its intensity, but not surprising otherwise. Sometime in the middle of the journey, he’d been hit with the bone-deep certainty that he needed to be back in Tournai. He’d mentioned it to Alexander, who admitted feeling the same—which Faelen was happy to hear from his twin, even if it did make the whole thing stranger.

He tried not to dwell on it, which was made a bit easier because of his discomfort that they were arriving unannounced and uninvited.

Well, not entirely uninvited. Faelen’s cousin Etan was getting married in a couple of weeks, and the entire family had been invited to the wedding, but Faelen couldn’t imagine Philip, the crown prince, and Amory, his husband, expected them to descend on the palace for it. Faelen certainly hadn’t expected them to make the long trip to Tournai, but Mother had other reasons for bringing him, Alexander, and Thibault back home.

He and Alexander would be staying in Jumelle longer than that if they had their way.

They alighted from the hired carriage at the palace, a servant handing Mother down and the rest of them following. If the servant was surprised to see Princess Edine and her three sons (and quite a few trunks), he didn’t show it, even if their arrival would cause a scramble to ready rooms for their party.

Faelen stopped as soon as his feet touched the stones of the courtyard and looked up. The palace towers soared above him, white stone glowing in the afternoon sunlight. Like something out of a tale. He’d always thought so, and no amount of visits could end that fancy.

Alexander leaned into his shoulder, just enough to divert Faelen’s attention. He looked into his twin’s face, nearly identical to his own. Alexander’s eyes were without their usual gleam of mischief. “Come on. No time to daydream.”

“I’m just looking.” Still, he set off walking quickly at Alexander’s side, but not so quickly that they’d catch up to Mother and the others who’d gotten well ahead of them. “I always think I’m exaggerating how beautiful it is in my thoughts, but I’m not.”

“No.” Alexander smiled slightly as he trotted up the stairs to the open doors. “We’ll get to see more of it now. Unless we get shipped off to Grandfather with Thibault.”

Faelen went cold all over. No. He loved Grandfather, but he didn’t want to be stuck so far from Jumelle and the university. He and Alexander had been pursuing their studies at the university in Teilo before Mother insisted they return to Tournai. Thibault would be going to Grandfather to help him with running his modest estate, which would one day be his. Faelen and Alexander had no part in that, and Faelen refused to give up all he’d accomplished so far and all he hoped to because of the move.

Alexander clasped his hand. “Don’t worry. We’ll stay in the city.”

The “somehow” was unspoken. Their parents didn’t keep a house in the city. Before the marriage, Father’s family wouldn’t have been able to afford it. With what Mother brought to it, they could have, but it would’ve been pointless with Father’s diplomatic ambitions. Faelen and Alexander couldn’t afford a house on their own at this point, and Mother had made no mention of providing lodgings in her hasty, yet vehement, instructions that they pack everything. Faelen and Alexander had discussed it in whispers on the boat, wondering whether they could take rooms together in the university quarter. They’d talked before about returning to Tournai on their own, but Mother had surprised them before they’d made any plans.

“Of course, we will,” Faelen responded.

“Faelen, Alexander. Don’t dawdle.” Mother’s voice floated back to them, not loud but still echoing in the enormous entry hall.

Alexander rolled his eyes eloquently, and Faelen forced back a smile and nodded. Nevertheless, they obediently quickened their pace to catch up. Mother sailed through the palace corridors, her heels tapping on the marble floors with authority, as if she wasn’t following behind a servant leading them somewhere.

Which turned out to be a small parlor in the guest wing of the palace. Mother’s lips turned down in a slight frown, but Faelen wasn’t sure what she’d anticipated. No one expected them. It was unrealistic to think rooms would be waiting for them at all times.

“Have the princes been notified of our arrival?” Mother asked the servant.

“Their Highnesses are being notified now, Princess Edine. I’ll bring refreshments for you.” He bowed and left at her dismissal.

“I’ll suppose we’ll have to wait, then. I’d prefer to have been settled in our rooms first, but we’ll have to make do.” Mother seated herself in a velvet-cushioned chair near the fireplace where a small fire crackled. Thibault took a chair near her, but Alexander wandered to the windows. Faelen paused for a moment, indecisive, and then drifted over to where Alexander stood.

The windows looked out over the garden, their position one floor up giving them a decent vantage point. In the falling dusk, lanterns had been lit along the paths closer to the palace, and Faelen caught sight of a couple strolling along one of them, the men holding hands and seemingly in no hurry. He squinted, trying to see who they were in the shadows, but the door opened before he could.

He turned to find not a maid with the expected refreshments but Philip and Amory. Philip was Faelen’s cousin—his father had been Mother’s oldest brother—and he’d come to the throne only about five years ago after the sudden, untimely death of his parents. Faelen and his family had returned to Tournai for the funerals and the coronation, the first time he’d been back since they’d left for Teilo when he was all of ten years old. They returned again when Philip shocked everyone by marrying Amory, a man and a commoner. Faelen liked what little he’d found out of Amory then, and Amory had certainly won over Tournai in the meantime. Faelen was hoping to get to know him better—and Philip too, as the last he’d spent time with Philip he’d been a child and Philip just into his teenage years. He looked forward to meeting their son, Julien, as well.

Philip had the look of Tournai’s royal family—something Faelen and Alexander strayed from slightly—with his dark hair and classically handsome features. He carried himself as the ruler he was, and his hazel eyes were sharp as they took in the room. Amory was a match for him in looks with his dark eyes and shining auburn curls. He seemed to have grown into his role, carrying himself with more confidence than Faelen remembered at their wedding.

“Aunt Edine,” Philip said as he came into the room, and they all bowed or curtsied. “And Thibault, Alexander, and Faelen. What a surprise. We didn’t expect you.”

Mother didn’t move to embrace Philip. She wasn’t the type for demonstrations of affection, especially to the crown prince, even if he was her nephew. “We left Teilo quite suddenly. A boat was about to depart that would get us here in time for Etan’s wedding.”

“Etan will be happy you’re all able to attend.” Philip didn’t mention that no one had dreamed they would. “And, of course, Amory and I would be delighted if you would stay here at the palace while you remain in Jumelle.”

“Thank you, Philip. We’d be honored to accept your hospitality.” She left it unsaid that she’d certainly anticipated the invitation. Faelen doubted there had been a thought otherwise in her mind.

Purchase

NineStar Press | Amazon | Smashwords | Barnes & Noble | Kobo

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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A MelanieM Review: The Dragon of Ynys by Minerva Cerridwen

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

 

Every time something goes missing from the village, Sir Violet makes his way to the dragon’s cave and negotiates the item’s return. It’s annoying, but at least the dragon is polite.

But when the dragon steals a person, that’s a step too far. As Sir Violet ventures out to get the missing baker back, however, he quickly realizes things are not at all what they seem..

Ever read a story that made your heart smile? That left you feeling warm, happy, and with an urge to read it out loud to someone?  Children, adults?  Just because you wanted to spread the joy a special tale had given you?  Well, The Dragon of Ynys by Minerva Cerridwen  is that story.

After I finished it, I wanted to grab onto the author and publishers and beg them to put it out in a hardback version, complete with illustrations.  One I could pick up and read to groups of children, no matter the age or even adults for that matter.

This book is charming, adventurous, and brings out the best in it’s characters.  Perhaps in its readers as well because it speaks to the heart in a gentle, kind, and  humorous way.  It has a dragon that steals things because it’s lonely and wants companionship. And just maybe  because certain things strike it as pretty or downright hilarious.  It has a knight named Sir Violet who’s nature is gentle and home loving.  And a village that suits them both.  I mean really, it’s full of characters who are absolutely a delight to spend time with (as you will) and whose lives will pique your interest (oh yes, they do).

I can’t remember reading any novelette I loved more recently.

I need to find more stories by this author.  This story is beautifully written, concise, and yet it flows just as it should.  The characterizations are perfect for the story.  Would I mind a return?  No.  Do I need one? No.  I think its marvelous as it.

Do you love fantasy?  Here’s a jewel you shouldn’t miss out on.  There is a romance but not the one you might be thinking of. Definitely no sex.  I told you I would read this to children.  There is a F/F couple, a dragon and knight to die for and so much more.  I highly recommend  The Dragon of Ynys by Minerva Cerridwen.  

Cover art:  Kirby Crow.  I love it.  It’s perfect really for the tone of the story.

Sales Links:  Less Than Three Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 94 pages
Expected publication: May 16th 2018 by Less Than Three Press
ISBN139781684312863
Edition LanguageEnglish

A MelanieM Review: Magic Ties Together by Nina Begonia

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Rating: 2 stars out of 5

Ira has one eye, a back-alley accuracy charm, and a policy of taking what he can get.

Lajos has a sword, a stoic façade that crumbles quickly under pressure, and a mysterious past.

When a routine monster attack leads to the men being magically bound together, unable to part without being violently ill, Ira is horrified. Worse, the link means they can sense each other’s every emotion. And as time goes on, Ira starts to wonder which emotions are truly his, and which are just a result of the magic…

I just love fantasy and always search out new stories and new authors. So I had high hopes for Magic Ties Together by Nina Begonia.  It had a neat, interesting premise that linked the couple right from the start…a type of magic handcuffs.

But while this story did contain some nice elements and places where my interest was definitely piqued, for the most part, it was jammed full of just a weird mixture of not enough world building (had no idea of the sort of world these characters really existed in) and one in which we got far too many extraneous details.  Really should have been the other way around.

The characters started having sex almost immediately, because the bracelets “made them do it”.  Trust me, not sexy at all.  Then there were hodgepodgy creatures whose physical descriptions made even less sense than some of the world building (what there was).

The characters had potential but didn’t seem to reach it imo.  This story is 100 pages yet it felt as though the author was trying to jam 500 pages worth of things the author had in mind for the story that just kept flowing on, regardless of whether it fit or not into the current scenes or storyline.

The ending was probably the best thing about this story.  It was the most pulled together.  The characters felt as though they might actually care about each other but everything leading up to it is such a narrative quagmire.

Not a story I would recommend.

Cover art: Aisha Akeju.  Gorgeous cover, definitely eye catching.

Sales Link:  Less Than Three Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 103 pages
Published April 4th 2018 by Less Than Three Press (first published April 2nd 2018)
Original TitleMagic Ties Together
ISBN139781684312382
Edition LanguageEnglish

New Release Book Tour: Kim Fielding on Bunker Hill and her new release ‘Creature (Bureau #3)’ (excerpt and giveaway)

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Creature (Bureau #3) by Kim Fielding 

 

Hi! Kim Fielding here. I’m happy to be here to celebrate the release of my new book, Creature.

One upon a time, there used to be a fairly tall hill in the middle of Los Angeles. It was called Bunker Hill, and in the late 19th century, that’s where the wealthy hung out. The top of the hill had extravagant mansions and luxury hotels.

But there were problems. Eventually the wealthy moved elsewhere, and the city itself was annoyed with the hill, which made it hard to travel from downtown to the western suburbs. Tunnels were dug for streets. Many of the mansions were converted to rooming houses, and as poorer people moved in, many of them immigrants or the elderly, Bunker Hill gained a reputation for being a slum. Much of this reputation was overblown—a fake news campaign by those who wanted to redevelop the area—but the idea stuck. One man even made a serious proposal to obliterate the entire hill.

Although completely leveling the hill proved impractical, the push for redevelopment eventually won. In the late 50s and 60s, those beautiful mansions were torn down and the top of the hill was chopped off. Now LA’s tallest high-rises reach for the sky atop the remainder of Bunker Hill. It’s also the location for several museums and performing arts centers. My daughter and I recently toured the Disney Concert Hall, a Frank Gehry-designed extravaganza that stands across the street from where the Melrose Hotel once was.

Old Bunker Hill lives on in photos and film, however. You can see some great pictures here. If you’re a film noir fan, as I am, you can see it in several films such as Cry Danger, Kiss Me Deadly, and the American version of M. Here’s a list of movies filmed there. And of course Bunker Hill appears in books as well—such as Creature, for instance.

As the story opens, it’s 1953, Harry Lowe’s dreams have turned to dust, and he’s about to get evicted from his cheap room on Bunker Hill. Then he gets an offer he can’t afford to refuse, and… well, you’ll have to read the story to find out what happens next!

***

Kim Fielding is about to release book three in her “Bureau” series, and we have the over reveal for you here! The book comes out on May 7th, and can be read as a stand alone. You can preorder it now!


About the Book:

Alone in a cell and lacking memories of his past, John has no idea who—or what—he is.

Alone on the streets of 1950s Los Angeles, Harry has far too many memories of his painful past and feels simply resignation in facing his empty future.

When Harry is given a chance to achieve his only dream—to become an agent with the Bureau of Trans-Species Affairs—all he has to do is prove his worth. Yet nothing has ever come easy for him. Now he must offer himself and John as bait, enticing a man who wants to conquer death. But first he and John must learn what distinguishes a monster from a man—and what a monster truly wants.

Preorder “Creature” Now From Amazon


Giveaway:

One lucky winner will get an audiobook copy of “Ante Up,” Kim’s Czech vampire tale, and an eBook copy of the first two books in “The Bureau” series – Corruption” and Clay White.” Enter via Rafflecopter.

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Excerpt:

John savored every page of the book, which told a story of soldiers stationed in Hawaii as a war with the Japanese began. He didn’t know anything about such a war, so he couldn’t tell whether the tale was true. And with Frankensteinas his only comparison, he couldn’t tell whether this was a goodbook. But he enjoyed it very much because it was his and because he’d been granted the great luxury of reading it.

One luxury among many, of course. He also had comfortable surroundings, nice clothing over a clean body, and the joy of seeing a great many wonders he’d only imagined. And he had Harry, who’d never once hurt him or made him feel like anything less than a man.

Ah, but John was nota man. When he finished the book and sat in the comforting puddle of lamplight, he again faced some painful truths and their corresponding questions.

What use did Harry intend to make of him? What would happen to John once Harry was done? Those were the practical questions. But more fundamentally, he wondered what it meant to be a monster. When he wore clothes, read books, conducted conversations, was he only fooling himself? Did he actually possess human qualities? What if he, like Frankenstein’s monster, turned murderous in the end?

And what did he want? What driving force kept him animate in a lifeless body? He thought he might know the answers to those questions, but the answers were far too uncomfortable to face. Perhaps that made him a coward.

Lost in contemplation, he startled when the front door opened. A moment later, Harry came stumbling into the room with his coat poorly buttoned, his hat askew, and a carrier with six brown bottles grasped in one hand. His cheeks looked ruddier than usual; his eyes, usually soft and warm, appeared dull and flat. “You’re still here,” he said.

“You told me to stay.”

“Yeah.”

Harry left the room for a few minutes, although John could hear him rummaging in kitchen drawers. When he returned, he’d shed the coat and hat, and he held one of the brown bottles. He collapsed heavily onto the couch before taking a long draw. “Blah,” he said, face twisted in disgust. “The Irish coffee was better.” But he drank more anyway.

After some time passed, Harry sighed. “What’d you do tonight?”

“I read one of the books you gave me. Harry, was there really a war with the Japanese?”

“Yeah. Germans too. My Uncle Jimmy died in it.”

“I’m sorry.”

“Yeah. I liked him.” He sniffed. “You don’t remember that war?”

“I know of… the Great War. That was against the Germans, I think.”

“That was over forty years ago. World War Two ended eight years ago. Now we’re fighting in Korea instead.”

John shook his head in confusion. There was so much he didn’t understand. During the silence, Harry drained his bottle. He left the room and returned to the couch with a full one.

“I’ll prob’ly be sick in the morning,” he said thoughtfully. “I used to think the word hangoverwas kind of scary. Made me think of a corpse hanging from a noose.” He glanced quickly at John and then away.

“Is there anything I can do to help you?”

“No.”

Maybe if John were a real person, he’d know what to do. He understood that something distressed Harry but had no idea what, or what actions he should take. It was possible that John himself was the cause of Harry’s misery. Surely it was repugnant to spend time so close to a monster. John worried about Harry—and worried about himself as well. Harry had brought him so much freedom and happiness. What would become of John if Harry abandoned him?

Harry held his half-empty bottle aloft, peering into the liquid depths. “Do you s’pose there’s demons in there?”

“Demons?”

“Townsend said that one demon keeps his ex-agent from going wild, so I guess maybe some demons ain’t so bad. Unless Townsend lied.”

Unable to make sense of this, John simply listened.

After taking another swig, Harry wedged the bottle between his thighs and stared down at it. “Mama used to tell us that Daddy was a good man. She said the Devil got into him during the Depression, when Daddy lost his job at the feed store and we were poor as dirt. When he— Those things he did, those weren’t really him, she told us. They were the Devil’s work. If we all prayed real hard, Jesus would chase the Devil away.” He looked at John. “We went to church every Sunday and said our prayers every night. But Jesus never did nothing.”

Those things he did. John’s otherwise faulty mind easily supplied him with possibilities about what those things might have been. His memories, it seemed, included a catalogue of cruel actions a man might visit upon his family.

“I never drank before tonight,” Harry said. “I didn’t want to swallow the Devil. But maybe now I have.”

John moved the Hawaii book from his lap to the little table beside him and slowly pushed himself to his feet. His legs felt unsteady, and although it required tremendous effort to walk the few steps to the couch, he made it without falling. After kneeling on the floor near Harry’s legs, John looked steadily into his eyes. “I don’t think there’s anything evil about you.”

Harry shook his head. “You don’t know that. I’m…. Everyone’s always said I’m worthless, but they ain’t exactly right. I could do a whole lot of bad if I wanted to. Maybe if I keep drinking, I’ll want to.”

“Then don’t drink.”

Anger flashed across Harry’s face, and John braced himself for a punch. But then Harry sighed and rubbed his own chin. “I lied to you.”

“About what?”

“You asked me if you were good… before. And I said yeah.”

“I wasn’t?” John was grateful he had the strength to keep his voice steady.

“I don’t know. I have no idea who the hell you were before you… before you died. You coulda been a mobster for all I know. A murderer. Maybe you deserve everything they done to you.”

Although John swayed on his knees, he didn’t fall. And he didn’t pull his gaze away from Harry. “Maybe I do,” he whispered. “But I doubt you deserve whatever your father did to you.”

Harry paled and blinked his eyes rapidly. Then, moving slowly like a very old man, he stood. “Going to bed,” he muttered. He shuffled away, the bottle still in his hand.


About Kim

Kim Fielding is the bestselling, award-winning author of numerous m/m romance novels, novellas, and short stories. Like Kim herself, her work is eclectic, spanning genres such as contemporary, fantasy, paranormal, and historical. Her stories are set in alternate worlds, in 15th century Bosnia, in modern-day Oregon.

Her heroes are hipster architect werewolves, housekeepers, maimed giants, and conflicted graduate students. They’re usually flawed, they often encounter terrible obstacles, but they always find love.

After having migrated back and forth across the western two-thirds of the United States, Kim calls the boring part of California home. She lives there with her husband, her two daughters, and her day job as a university professor, but escapes as often as possible via car, train, plane, or boat. This may explain why her characters often seem to be in transit as well. She dreams of traveling and writing full-time.

Author Website: http://www.kfieldingwrites.com

Author Facebook (Author Page): https://www.facebook.com/KFieldingWrites/

Author Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/KFieldingWrites

Author Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4105707.Kim_Fielding

Author QueeRomance Ink: https://www.queeromanceink.com/mbm-book-author/kim-fielding/

Author Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Kim-Fielding/e/B006FN2T78/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1521954454&sr=8-1

New Release Blitz: Midnight Twist by Rian Durant (excerpt and giveaway)

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Title:  Midnight Twist

Author: Rian Durant

Publisher:  NineStar Press

Release Date: April 2, 2018U

Heat Level: 1 – No Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 19700

Genre: Paranormal, LGBT, fantasy, humor, demons

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Synopsis

Jaydon can’t afford to lose a bet he’s made, so when the sweet as sin Eluin offers him The Contract, it may be exactly what he needs. Or is it? Things get a little twisted with the cheeky demon being around.

The number of demons in Jaydon’s apartment grows, with Eluin’s big brother Eluel and his wayward lover Sam showing up. The couple is at a breaking point in their own on/off relationship and this time getting back together seems as probable as hell freezing over.

Excerpt

Midnight Twist
Rian Durant © 2018
All Rights Reserved

It all started with an espresso machine, even though I’d seen him drinking espresso only once in all the time we knew each other. Then he complained for three days that he hadn’t tasted such swill in his whole life. The fact that I’d made it for him with all my love didn’t cause him to show an ounce of tact.

I felt in my gut it was a tremendous mistake to enter the mall, but even if I’d tried to avoid it, I doubt he would’ve taken my opinion into account. He would’ve thrown a temper tantrum of magnificent proportions, which wasn’t a pretty sight. I’d been a witness and a victim of such antics once, only it was in front of a restaurant, which I hadn’t dared come close to ever since.

The glowing look in his eyes while we passed by the shop windows made my heart sink, because I couldn’t afford most of the things he stared at, especially with the plans we had for the rest of the week. My lovely boyfriend possessed a seductive appearance and a good heart, but his perceptions were terribly distorted due to eighteen years of systematic spoiling at the hands of his parents. He used to reassure me this wasn’t going to come between us since he was madly in love with me, but he couldn’t be further from the truth. After the ironic remarks I had been subjected to in the past few weeks, I knew I wasn’t going to get away with it.

I didn’t want to lose him, but it was clear that if I didn’t overcome my financial issues, his love for me would vanish into thin air together with his rebellious spirit, and he’d settle with any of the “appropriate partners” his parents tried to match him with. Once, one of his father’s business tycoon friends with his three hot lovers landed in front of my door and pounced on me, obviously not familiar with the appearance of his intended chosen one. I led a fierce battle using all means possible, which ended up being the shoehorn lying next to the shoes at the front door, in order to preserve my honor. Things deteriorated when Lyte came out of the bathroom in his short, sexy bathrobe to check why I was wreaking such havoc. We had to barricade the door and listen to a serenade for more than an hour before the police came to take them away.

I turned to Lyte with a smile, intending to remind him of that time the tycoon came calling, but when I caught his hand, he didn’t react at all. He had already seen it. He gazed at the window with an oblivious smile, and then raised his finger and pointed at it. A second later he issued a brief statement with a determination I’d rarely heard in the voice of another human being.

“I want it!”

At first, I couldn’t understand what the item in question was, wavering between a weird CD player, a hat rack, or Darth Vader’s helmet. But when the price tag next to it caught my attention, I shivered.

“You want an espresso machine? What do you need it for, sweetheart?”

“It will look great in the kitchen, don’t you think? The color scheme is the same, and besides, it’s so fancy with all these buttons!” He clapped. “You are going to buy it for me, love, won’t you?”

“But you don’t even drink coffee, sweetie.”

“It doesn’t matter. I can make tea in it. I mean, I’m sure it has such a function.”

I was positive it had a TV-watching function at least, judging by the price, which caused me severe trauma. I tried to sound as gentle and as reasonable as I could.

“We can’t buy it now, dear.”

His amazing blue eyes shot a quick malicious look at me, and he pouted. “So it wasn’t enough for you to turn me into a housewife, was it? Now you refuse to buy me this little sweet espresso machine. Did I understand you correctly?”

I didn’t know why he was always harping on it, given that there wasn’t an ounce of truth in his accusation, unless lying on the sofa with the remote control all day long was termed housekeeping these days. If it wasn’t for me, we would’ve both been dead by now because of the weird things he tried to cook a few times right after he’d moved in with me. I hardly let him do anything around the house, as I preferred to leave him enough free time to study. Week in, week out, he’d go to class to sit for some exams. There was a time when I suspected he was taking them in another way, not fit for a mixed audience, but he finally succeeded in persuading me in the opposite by quoting the declaration of human rights by heart.

I looked at him with regret and repeated to myself he wasn’t guilty in the least. His parents had driven him to this state of mind. I tried to hug him, which, naturally, I was denied.

“Are you really going to be mad at me over some stupid espresso machine?”

“It is not stupid!” he snapped. “You are stupid.”

I laughed, hoping he was joking like he sometimes did, but this time it was different. I suppose this was the proverbial last drop, so when we got home, he locked himself in his room without giving any explanation. After about an hour, he came out dragging his big red suitcase behind him.

“Eh? Sweetie pie…”

He hissed in my face like a kitten deprived of its food, with an expression showing me that if I breathed a word, anything I said would be used against me as he stomped past me, out the front door, slamming it behind him. Apparently, he’d realized there were two alternatives to obtaining his beloved espresso machine. One was to go back to his family, and after an enlightening reprimand on how he shouldn’t choose penniless partners like me, they would give it to him as a present. The other was to use his infinite charm and extort some other idiot with enough money into buying it for him.

I could get a credit card and buy the accursed gadget, but his leaving was a mixed blessing. I might’ve gotten him back, but next week he could decide he couldn’t live without some other splendid invention of modern science, and I couldn’t count on giving in and buying him every single thing he set his heart on.

Part of me wanted him back, but another part insisted that walking away was the best thing he’d ever done for me. We’d had great moments together, especially in the beginning, but to be honest, I’d wondered whether it wasn’t better we called it a day. Exhausted by all the thoughts swarming inside my head, I went to bed. The most difficult part was sleeping alone under the cold sheets after having someone to cuddle with for such a long time.

Purchase

NineStar Press | Amazon | Smashwords | Barnes & Noble | Kobo

Meet the Author

Rian is one of those who are both blessed and cursed by the insatiable desire to write. Short stories, sometimes longer stories and yeah, primarily M/M (you can insert more Ms if you like) romance stories.

Always having a plot in mind sometimes proves being hard when having a day time job but Rian manages them both for the time being, assisted by the
priceless support of her soul mate, large amounts of coffee and pure obstinacy.

What makes Rian smile is a sunny day, a beautiful flower, a piece of chocolate, a nice song, a good book and anything that could be the reason for that spark in the eyes, accompanied by the exclamation: “Oh my, I just saw something!”

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest

 

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BLITZ for Teacher’s Pet Anthology by Multiple Authors (giveaway)

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Title:  Teacher’s Pet

Author: Kashmira Majumdar, S.A. James, Asta Idonea, Hudson Lin, Aila Alvina Boyd, Valentine Wheeler, Damian Serbu, Jack Harbon, Arden Powell

Publisher:  NineStar Press

Release Date: March 12

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male, Female/Female

Length: 88500

Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal. Sci-Fi/Fantasy, age gap, contemporary, Fantasy, paranormal, romance, teacher/student

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Synopsis

Nine Stories of Lessons Outside the Classroom

By Virtue Fall by Kashmira Majumdar – The rules have changed…and so have the consequences for breaking them.

Striking Gold by S.A. James – Sometimes when we think we have no choice, life brings something brighter.

Full Marks by Asta Idonea – When Jacob seeks out his favourite lecturer at a university reunion, will he get full marks?

Lessons for a Lifetime by Hudson Lin – A second language, a first chance at love.

Welcome to Ms Skinner’s Freshman Composition by Aila Alvina Boyd – After auditioning for a play, professor and student find themselves cast opposite each other as romantic leads.

Piece of Cake by Valentine Wheeler – All Richard wanted was a nice, quiet retirement. His kids aren’t going to let that happen.

Professor Ghost by Damian Serbu – An otherworldly mentor might be his way out.

Bare by Jack Harbon – When a passion for art turns into something more.

The Botanist’s Apprentice by Arden Powell – Don’t get too close to the flowers.

Excerpt

By Virtue Fall by Kashmira Majumdar
Jonah Shapiro is no model student, even by the lax standards of his preppy New England boarding school. His penchant for rule-breaking and leather makes him the bête noire of his teachers—except the earnest, tea-drinking, cardigan-wearing Mr. Donovan, who’s determined to not give up on Jonah. Life used to be simpler five years ago when Mr. Donovan was just Head Boy Nick and Jonah’s best friend. Easier, too, for Jonah to kiss him when it was dark and no one was watching. Now the rules of the game have changed, and so have the consequences for flouting them…

Striking Gold by S.A. James
The day Daniel met Silver shone brightly for a number of reasons. It was the last day of high school, but it was also the day he realized he could never leave home. Being the son of an alcoholic mom didn’t leave many choices for Daniel. He could only hope that life and love would treat him kindly.

Full Marks by Asta Idonea
Jacob Corby decides to attend his university reunion for one reason only: Professor Hobbs. Arthur Hobbs is surprised to see loner Jacob’s name on the attendance list, but it is enough to make him change his mind about going to the event. After all, he’s always harboured forbidden feelings for his favourite student.

Lessons for a Lifetime by Hudson Lin
When high school English teacher Patrick signs on to teach an adult ESL course on the weekends, he doesn’t know his life is about to change. Into the makeshift community center classroom walks Salim—tall, soulful, a refugee from Ethiopia with a heart for storytelling and a talent for music.

A midwinter offer to drive Salim home after class one week leads to the breakdown of the student-teacher boundary. As their relationship grows, the prospect of moving in together brings out both their insecurities about commitment and money. But working through differences makes them stronger and Patrick soon realizes that perhaps he had been the student all along.

Welcome to Ms Skinner’s Freshman Composition by Aila Alvina Boyd
After auditioning for a college production, a first year professor finds herself being cast as the romantic lead opposite her least favorite student. Just as it appears as though the production is going to be an utter failure, something clicks. From there on out, chemistry between the two of them no longer needs to be faked.

Piece of Cake by Valentine Wheeler
Richard’s daughters are worried about him, alone in his house after retirement, so they sign him up for a cooking class at the local community center. But what he ends up finding is more than just baked goods.

Professor Ghost by Damian Serbu
Antonio arrives on campus for his first day of college a little overwhelmed from the experience of moving from a rural area to the big city, not to mention that he firmly planted himself in the closet and intends to stay there. When a ghost appears before him on the first night, his terror gradually gives way to curiosity, as this hot specter promises to mentor him toward a better, and out, life at college.

Bare by Jack Harbon
Before his best friend went away for vacation, Levi Singh promised her that he would take life by the balls and live on the edge. So, when the nude model for his art class doesn’t show, Levi takes it upon himself to volunteer. To his surprise, no one seems to be staring too long at him. No one, that is, except for his professor.

When Noah Rose suggests working with him on an assignment after class, Levi suspects he might be looking for something else. Something Levi will happily give him.

The Botanist’s Apprentice by Arden Powell
Graduate student Eli Katz approaches the accomplished botanist, Robert Lord-Harding, to request access to his greenhouse of magical flora. Though Lord-Harding is reluctant to take on a new apprentice after the scandal of his last one, he is intrigued by Eli’s academic work, and agrees.

Eli is primarily interested in the violet man-eater, a carnivorous plant that preys on men by emitting a certain pheromone, luring them in close and then devouring them. Eli wants to return the man-eater to its classic status as a sexual performance enhancer, and spends his days studying the plant. But is it as safely secured in Lord-Harding’s greenhouse as they both believe, or will its pheromones wreak havoc with their new apprenticeship?

Purchase

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In the Spotlight: Apocalypse Alley (Blue Unicorn #2) by Don Allmon (Riptide Publishing Tour and Giveaway)

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Apocalypse Alley (Blue Unicorn #2) by Don Allmon
Riptide Publishing
Cover by: Simoné

Read an excerpt/Buy It here

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Don Allmon here today on tour for his latest novel, Apocalypse Alley.  Welcome, Don. 

 

 

Hello, all! I’m Don Allmon and this week I’ll be touring the web to promote my new book, APOCALYPSE ALLEY, the second in the Blue Unicorn series.

 

If you’re looking for fast-paced cyberpunk/fantasy romance – Terminator 2 meets Fury Road with two sexy guys and a dragon – this is your jam.

 

Join in the fun by leaving a comment which enters you to win a Riptide gift card!

 

About Apocalypse Alley

 

Home from a six-month assignment to war-torn East Asia, genetically engineered supersoldier Noah “Comet” Wu just wants to kick back, share a beer, and talk shit with his best friend, JT. But JT’s home has been shot up like a war zone, and his friend has gone missing.

 

Comet’s only lead is a smart-mouthed criminal he finds amid the mess. His name’s Buzz Howdy. He’s a con man and a hacker and deserves to be in jail. Or in handcuffs, at least. The only thing the two have in common is JT. Unless you count the steamy glances they’re sneaking at one another. They have those in common too. But that just makes Comet all the more wary.

 

Despite their mutual distrust, they’ll have to work together to rescue JT before a cyborg assassin gets to him first. Racing down a miserable stretch of road called Apocalypse Alley, they must dodge radioactive spiders, a killer Buick, and rampaging cannibals. They also try to dodge each other. That last bit doesn’t work out so well.

 

Available now from Riptide Publishing!

About Blue Unicorn

 

JT is an orc on the way up. He’s got his own boutique robotics shop, high-end clientele, and deep-pocketed investors. He’s even mentoring an orc teen who reminds him a bit too much of himself back in the day.

 

Then Austin shows up, and the elf’s got the same hard body and silver tongue as he did two years ago when they used to be friends and might have been more. He’s also got a stolen car to bribe JT to saying yes to one last scheme: stealing the virtual intelligence called Blue Unicorn.

 

Soon JT’s up to his tusks in trouble, and it ain’t just zombies and Chinese triads threatening to tear his new life apart. Austin wants a second chance with JT—this time as more than just a friend—and even the Blue Unicorn is trying to play matchmaker.

 

Check out the Blue Unicorn universe!

 

About Don Allmon

 

In his night job, Don Allmon writes science fiction, fantasy, and romance. In his day job, he’s an IT drone. He holds a master of arts in English literature from the University of Kansas and wrote his thesis on the influence of royal hunting culture on medieval werewolf stories. He’s a fan of role-playing games, both video and tabletop. He has lived all over from New York to San Francisco, but currently lives on the prairies of Kansas with many animals.

 

Connect with Don:

Giveaway

 

To celebrate the release of Apocalypse Alley, one lucky winner will receive a $20 Riptide credit! Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on March 3, 2018. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Thanks for following the tour, and don’t forget to leave your contact info!

A MelanieM Review: Apocalypse Alley (Blue Unicorn #2) by Don Allmon

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Rating: 4.75 stars out of 5

Home from a six-month assignment to war-torn East Asia, genetically engineered supersoldier Noah “Comet” Wu just wants to kick back, share a beer, and talk shit with his best friend, JT. But JT’s home has been shot up like a war zoars out of 5ne, and his friend has gone missing.

Comet’s only lead is a smart-mouthed criminal he finds amid the mess. His name’s Buzz Howdy. He’s a con man and a hacker and deserves to be in jail. Or in handcuffs, at least. The only thing the two have in common is JT. Unless you count the steamy glances they’re sneaking at one another. They have those in common too. But that just makes Comet all the more wary.

Despite their mutual distrust, they’ll have to work together to rescue JT before a cyborg assassin gets to him first. Racing down a miserable stretch of road called Apocalypse Alley, they must dodge radioactive spiders, a lonely cannibal, and a killer Buick. They also try to dodge each other. That last bit doesn’t work out so well.

When I last put down  The Glamour Thieves (Blue Unicorn #1), the first story in this amazing series, JT, Austin, and his elf lover were headed to his  home that he shares with the teenage orc he’s mentoring having stirred up more trouble and uncovered even more disturbing information after freeing the virtual intelligence known as the Blue Unicorn.  Trust me, you need to read that story.  One, it’s a dynamite adventure tale and two, without it, you will be lost diving into this one.

I love Apocalypse Alley but the truth is you won’t get a solid foundation of the world or overall series ARC without reading The Glamour Thieves first.  This story and series builds upon each other like building blocks and you can’t enter midway point.  It’s like being dropped on a warped yellow brick road and not knowing you’re headed to Oz.  Not that you’re all that sure of your destination here.  So many twists  and turns await you!

And it all happens at break-neck speed.  What an adrenaline rush.  I had to read it twice to gather together all the story threads and hints I missed the first time.  Props btw to Allmon for creating a character with the name of Urushiol.  As a park naturalist/Ranger, I’m highly familiar with this chemical compound as is anyone who’s come in contact with poison ivy.  I laughed myself silly when I saw that name.  Perfect in every way.  Anyhow, from the moment the story opens we start picking up speed as Comet returns expecting to find JT waiting to pick him up at the airport and  goes looking for him when he doesn’t show.  Each scene as Comet interacts with both Buzz Howdy (we’ve met him before) and others foe and friend gives the readers more information about the man.

Buzz is a known entity but we get into his head and yes heart here.  He falls for  Comet, quick yes, but you can see how and why it happens.

But mostly it’s a race.  A race to keep ahead of some of the worse villains out there, a race to find JT and crew, a race to stay alive…all in heart pounding, white knuckle…go all out scenes.  It’s wildly imaginative, horrifying, and incredibly suspenseful.  Did I say I loved it?  And just when you think it’s safe…a surprising twist shows up at the end that makes you want to go back and read books one and two again to see if there was anyway you could have seen this coming.  And now I need The Burning Magus (Blue Unicorn #3 to come out in the worst possible way.

So, yes, I  absolutely recommend this series.  It’s one wild  ride.  It has great characters, it’s gritty, suspenseful, full of twists and turns and more plots threads then you can shake a VR stick with.  It’s even got love such as it is.  But you need to start with The Glamour Thieves and then to Apocalypse Alley.  I’ll be waiting for you at The Burning Magus!

Cover by: Simoné. I love these covers.  Perfect in everyway from the tone and characters.

Sales Links:  Riptide Publishing | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 201 pages
Expected publication: February 26th 2018 by Riptide Publishing
Original TitleApocalypse Alley
ISBN 162649665X (ISBN13: 9781626496651)
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesBlue Unicorn #2

New Release Book Blitz for Ibuki by Kathryn Sommerlot (excerpt and giveaway)

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Title:  Ibuki

Author: Kathryn Sommerlot

Publisher:  NineStar Press

Release Date: January 29, 2018

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Female/Female

Length: 26000

Genre: Fantasy, LGBT, lesbian, fantasy, cleric/priestess, magic users, abduction, royalty

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Synopsis

Ibuki: the gift of healing through breath. Chiasa has possessed the ability since childhood and shares it with her father as they care for their Inuru community. Chiasa has never doubted the stability of her simple life. That is, until Namika, a water-gifted priestess, shows up outside the Ibuki shrine gates with information promising Chiasa’s doom.

With Namika’s help, Chiasa is determined to find the secrets behind the ritual that will claim her life, but her growing feelings toward the other woman reach beyond her control, adding to the confusion. Time is rapidly running out, and Chiasa can’t seem to sort out the lies woven through the magic of Inuru and its emperor.

Caught in a tangled web of immortality, betrayal, and desire, Chiasa must find the right people to trust if she hopes to stop the ritual—or she will pay the consequences.

Excerpt

Ibuki
Kathryn Sommerlot © 2018
All Rights Reserved

When Chiasa first saw the young woman standing outside the shrine, her throat seized in fear around a single thought: the emperor is dead. A moment later, she realized the woman appeared far more nervous than grief-stricken, and she relaxed, only to wonder why a seseragi priestess would be on her doorstep before the sun had fully risen.

The woman was unmistakably one of the water-chosen. Her hands were fidgeting and pressing tiny creases into the telltale blue of her silk robe, its pale folds hanging uneven above her shell-lined sandals, and above the short collar, a silver clip in the shape of an ocean wave held her hair in two overlapping plaits. She glanced down either side of the empty road, shoulders bowed, before starting up the stairs.

Chiasa hung back to observe.

It took the woman a minute or so to climb the steps that led to the small fountain, and with the shrine deserted, her footsteps echoed through the grounds. Her hair seemed to have been hastily done as an afterthought—long strands had come free and hung down her back like splatters of black ink across parchment.

She did manage a jerky half bow when she reached the slotted board holding the wooden ladle, though most of the water she then tried to pour over her hands ended up splashing onto the front of the blue silk, a testament to the shaking in her arms. Chiasa let her continue without interruption until she reached the top of the stairs and clapped her hands together before the silver bell. Any farther, and the seseragi priestess would make her way inside the sanctuary, to where the ibuki power-stone was held, and the thought was unsettling enough to push Chiasa forward.

“If I can help you with something,” Chiasa began, slipping out from her hiding spot between the side of the sanctuary and the hall of worship where she spent many hours praying in solitude.

The young woman started, nearly tripping on the hem of her robe. One hand went to her mouth as she stared far longer than was comfortable, and then she bowed again, the force of the action throwing the loose tendrils of hair over her head.

“I’m sorry,” she said. “I didn’t send word, and…well, I know it’s strange for me to be here, but I must speak with an ibuki priest, please.”

Chiasa took a step back, one corner of the hall’s intersecting wall panels jabbing between her shoulders.

“My father is the head priest, but he’s not here. He’s out with the herbalist to tend the sick. If you wish, I can leave him a message for when he returns—”

“It’s urgent,” the other woman whispered. “Please.”

At a loss, Chiasa looked around the shrine grounds she knew by heart. There was no one else to summon. Her father wouldn’t be back until much later, perhaps even after midnight, and old Isao was seldom of much use anymore, relegated to menial groundskeeping tasks and selling talismans. As the morning breeze broke through the tree line and nipped at the exposed skin of her cheek, she felt acutely alone.

Chiasa tried to imagine what her father might do were he present as the young woman, still bent in an awkward bow, began to shake with the exertion of it. Chiasa, afraid she would topple over entirely, sprang forward and dropped the broom she was holding, the tool clattering noisily across the pathway.

“He’s not here,” Chiasa repeated, though she wanted to help the woman when she was in such a state. “But please don’t panic, I will not send you away. If you’d like, I could make you some tea?”

“Yes,” the woman said. Her hands went to her face, cupping cheeks that were tinged with an uneven smattering of powder. As Chiasa watched, her gaze seemed to get lost in nothing, until she finally blinked and focused once again, settling on Chiasa’s face. Again, there was something sparking in her eyes that Chiasa couldn’t entirely read. The woman lowered her hands and nodded. “Yes, I would appreciate it. I’m sorry to intrude.”

Chiasa thought briefly of disagreeing, but it felt best to avoid lying. Instead, she led the seseragi priestess into the hall of worship and through to the small back room where they kept a low, small table and supplies unrelated to the shrine itself. There was a heavy iron kettle, which was so old that one side of it was slightly lower than the other, making the whole thing lopsided. Chiasa placed it onto the small fire in the center of the room with care and waved the smoke up into the open flume built into the roof’s small, soot-blackened bricks. Her strange guest knelt at the table, smoothing her silks beneath her knees.

“I don’t know when my father will return,” Chiasa apologized as she waited for the water to bubble. The other woman deflated somewhat, her shoulders curving in and over on themselves as she ran a finger over the grain of the table.

“Is there no one else?” she asked. Then, a half second too late, her eyes snapped up, wide and frightened. “I didn’t mean… I meant no offense. I’m sure you are quite capable at the breath—”

Chiasa waved her apology away. “I’m not offended. But I am afraid there is no one else. It’s only my father, myself, and old Isao.”

“Then, your father is part of the emperor’s circle?” the woman asked. The expression on her features changed from nervous to suspicious, and Chiasa couldn’t follow the reasoning behind it. Her guest tapped her fingers against the tabletop as she pursed her lips together, and her gaze shifted away from Chiasa and the teakettle. “Perhaps it was unwise to come here. I thought there were more in the ibuki shrine.”

The kettle whistled its completion, and as she poured the fragrant hibiscus blend, Chiasa frowned, puzzled by the transformation in both the conversation and the woman’s demeanor.

“My father is not advising the emperor today,” she said, again, in case it had been missed, as she handed the other woman the small teacup of hollowed bone. Her guest held the cup between her fingers, but didn’t sip from it. Her gaze seemed lost again, her eyes focused on something far beyond the table and the crackling fire pit, in a place Chiasa could neither see nor touch.

After quite some time, the woman raised her head once more. “My name is Namika. I suppose with your father too close to the source I should not have asked for him at all. You are the youngest within the shrine?”

“Yes,” Chiasa answered, though she regretted doing so in the next heartbeat when the oddness of the question fully registered.

Namika’s brow furrowed as her fingers knit together around the bone cup. “Then I must tell you of my discovery.”

“Discovery?” Chiasa repeated.

“I’m afraid it’s not good news,” Namika said and grimaced. “I was tasked with sorting through our cellar, where many of the old texts and records are kept. The majority of them are simply logs of visitors to the shrine and the actions our priests performed at the emperor’s command. But within the piles, I discovered what seemed to be a set of entries detailing the truth behind the emperor’s longevity.”

“The gods have seen fit to bless him with immortality,” Chiasa said, but she felt suddenly very cold, crossing her arms over her chest and running her hands over her sleeves. The small room seemed to constrict even further around them, squeezing the air from Chiasa’s lungs until she was gasping for it. They should not even be discussing the emperor. They were far too young and unimportant to think they had more wisdom than a man who had been ruling Inuru for nearly three hundred years, and despite their solitude within the shrine, Chiasa got the distinct feeling someone, somewhere, could hear them. The sensation sent toe-curling shivers down her back.

“No,” Namika said. She leaned forward, like she, too, was reacting to the sudden chill permeating the air. “It’s unnatural, his lifespan— He is stealing it, all of it; he is stealing his life.”

“That’s impossible,” Chiasa snapped. “No magic could grant a mortal so much time.”

Namika shook her head and set the cup of tea down, still just as full as when Chiasa had handed it to her. “He is stealing it through blood. He’s drinking blood to absorb the life within it and add it to his own.”

Chiasa stood so suddenly that the table shook, splashing tea across the surface. The scent of steeped flowers and herbs grew even stronger.

“You’re lying,” she said through clenched teeth, hands curled into fists at her side. The flash of indignation that flared up beneath her skin came from a source she couldn’t identify, but she knew from years of practiced obedience that it was necessary. “My father is on the emperor’s circle, and he would never allow such a thing, even if it were possible.”

“But that is why I had to come!” Namika exclaimed. “It’s written in the documents, by the seseragi high priest himself. I swear to you I did not come here with a lie!”

Chiasa wove her hands through her hair, tugging bits of it free from the tortoiseshell clasp holding the twist snug at the nape of her neck. Her father couldn’t possibly be implicated in such a monstrosity—and beyond that, the insult to the emperor weighed like a stone within her gut. The emperor protected them all. The emperor loved them all.

“It’s impossible,” Chiasa said, letting her hands fall back down to her sides. “What blood could possibly grant such—”

“Those with the breath!” Namika cried out and then sat back on her heels, cheeks flushed and pink. As Chiasa stared at her across the table, the unwanted and uninvited woman with the poison-tipped tongue of lies inhaled deeply and then pushed the air back out, slowly, through red lips.

“He is drinking your order,” she said. Her voice was far quieter, filled with something that sounded an awful lot like sympathy. “He is drinking the blood of ibuki priests.”

Purchase

NineStar Press | Amazon | Smashwords | Barnes & Noble | Kobo

Meet the Author

Kathryn Sommerlot is a coffee addict and craft beer enthusiast with a detailed zombie apocalypse plan. Originally from the cornfields of the American Midwest, she got her master’s degree and moved across the ocean to become a high school teacher in Japan. When she isn’t wrangling teenage brains into critical thinking, she spends her time writing, crocheting, and hiking with her husband. She enjoys LGBTQ fiction, but she is particularly interested in genre fiction that just happens to have LGBTQ protagonists. You can find Kathryn on her Website.

 

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BLITZ Tour for Beneath the Surface (The Outsider Project #1) by Rebecca Langham (excerpt and giveaway)

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Title:  Beneath the Surface

Series: The Outsider Project, Book One

Author: Rebecca Langham

Publisher:  NineStar Press

Release Date: January 15, 2018

Heat Level: 2 – Fade to Black Sex

Pairing: Female/Female

Length: 93700

Genre: Science Fiction, Fantasy, Sci Fi, interspecies, captivity, teacher, politics

Add to Goodreads

Synopsis

When a change in collective conscious sends the Outsiders, a group of aliens, to the shadows below the city, humans reason that the demonization of their peers is simply more “humane.” There’s no question, nor doubt. Just acceptance.

Lydia had embraced that sense of “truth” for as long as she can remember. The daughter of a powerful governor, she has been able to live her life with more comforts than most. Comforts can be suffocating, though, and when the opportunity to teach Outsider children in their private, “humane” community becomes available, she takes it.

What she finds beneath the city is far from the truth she had grown to know. There she meets Alessia, an Outsider with the knowledge and will to shake the foundation of all those who walk above ground. The two find a new and unexpected connection despite a complete disconnect from the technological world. Or perhaps in spite of it.

Still, it takes a lot more than an immutable connection to change the world. Lydia, Alessia, and a small group of Outsiders must navigate a system of corruption, falsehoods, and twists none of them ever saw coming, all while holding on to the hope to come out alive in the end. But it’s a risk worth taking, and a future worth fighting for.

Excerpt

Beneath the Surface
Rebecca Langham © 2017
All Rights Reserved

Prologue
Alessia’s mother roused her from a peaceful sleep. “Darling,” Rey whispered. “They’re coming for us. We need to move.”

Alessia blinked several times, forcing the tiredness from her eyes as she looked about the dimly lit cave. Outside, an owl hooted and tree branches fought back against a gust of wind, but she heard nothing else.

“We’ve talked about this,” her mother said, guiding her up from a nest of blankets and cushions. Alessia had never heard Rey so concerned. “You need to get moving.”

“But I want to stay with you,” Alessia replied. Her mother, and the reality of the situation, were coming into focus.

“I know, Lessi. But if you do, it’s more likely they’ll track us all down. Start down the eastern tunnel. Go carefully and try to stay as quiet as possible. You know where to meet us when they’ve left.”

Living in a cave may not have been especially comfortable, but at least they knew their way around in the area closer to the cave mouth. Within minutes of leaving her mother’s side, she felt lost, having no experience of navigating this area of the system.

Alessia slid a hand along the smooth, slime-covered rock of the cave wall. Shuffling along at a snail’s pace, she played a life-threatening game of hide-and-seek. The edge of her shoe acted as a poor guide, but it was all she had to help her avoid any sudden drop-offs. A depression in the stone could be anything from a small trench to a gaping hole one could fall through for hundreds of metres. Caves were like wild animals. They could protect you, take small bites out of you, or swallow you whole. For a moment, she wasn’t sure what was more terrifying: being captured, or trying to find a place to hide.

She inched along the wall as quietly as possible, until the echo of hurried footsteps brought her to a halt. Her legs felt like hollow reeds, liable to snap at any moment. Be calm. It’s just how sound works down here. The humans could be anywhere. You’re safe, she told herself, it’ll be all right.

The footsteps faded, leaving only the steady dripping of water from stalactites. Alessia put a hand to her chest and willed her heart to slow its exhausting pace. She didn’t want to pass out before she had moved deep enough to avoid detection. It took all her strength not to call out for her parents, to see if they had been rounded up, or if they’d managed to find somewhere to hide.

Get moving. She probed forwards with her foot once more.

No matter how many times she blinked, Alessia’s eyes would not adjust to such thick darkness. Her family rarely ventured so deep underground, and for good reason. Supplies were scarce, reserved for passages closer to the surface, and not to be wasted in such labyrinthine zones. With no food, water, or even so much as a torch, she had to move far enough into the tunnels to hide, but not far enough to lose all hope of finding a way back out.

The ground gave way, and her leg plunged through the earth, taking her courage with it. Her arms flailed as she fell, seeking something to stop her fall, but they found no purchase. Alessia cried out as her backside hit the wet rock, her leg lodged in the hole she had fallen through.

An icy sense of fear stabbed at her chest. They’d probably heard her. With eyes clenched shut, she forced herself to take slower, deeper breaths. One. Two. Three…she counted to twenty before she let herself believe no one was running towards the sound she’d sent reverberating through the space.

Finding the ground, she pushed herself up. A bolt of pain shot through her thigh. The unpleasant sound of fabric tearing frightened her more than the warm blood gushing over her knee. Alessia bit her lip to hold in another cry.

Damn it to hell! The thought screamed its way through her body. She felt the waxy indignation of it in every muscle. She pictured her mother’s face, paler than ever, as she had pulled Alessia to her just before they parted ways; a tight hug goodbye before tossing their wrist-lights to the ground. Alessia shook her head, banishing the image. Rey, her mother, was fighting her own battle somewhere else. She couldn’t even hazard a guess as to why her father wasn’t there when she’d been roused. She was on her own.

Alessia needed to focus on reality. It was pointless to wish they’d stayed together.

Trying to pull her leg out again might cause more damage, and then she might be unable to walk, which meant death. If she didn’t, though, she would be trapped in that spot, left to her own thoughts until her body gave out. There wasn’t a choice. She had to free herself and it was going to hurt.

A flash of light swept across the wall in front of her. The sudden severity of it burned her eyes and she clenched them shut. When she opened them again, two more beams of light joined the first. She had been walking towards a dead end draped in sand-coloured sulphurous flowstone. And now they’d cornered her. It was over.

“Boss! I’ve found one!” came a bombastic voice. “Down there. Looks like a teenager.”

Heavy footsteps moved closer, dashing through puddles and navigating uneven ground. They’d found her. The human government had changed its mind about her family’s freedom, as they’d been bound to do eventually, and they’d hunted them down. Her fear evaporated with each outward breath, with each jump or sweep of the torchlights. The terrifying darkness that enveloped her had been broken, and for the moment, that was all that mattered.

“It’s the daughter,” said another voice, more mature than the first. Alessia glanced at the dancing beams of light, two of them growing larger and rounder as the United Earth Alliance’s bounty hunters closed in on her.

Alessia’s leg throbbed. She bent her elbows, leaning back to rest on her forearms. Tightness had taken hold of her body, and it brought on a manic kind of exhaustion. Two men approached and stood before her. The older of the two, a sweaty beast of a man, took another step forwards. He bent down and examined what could be seen of her leg before dimming the light and turning it towards her. After the dense darkness, it was too bright, and she turned away.

“Well, then. Premier Abel will be pleased we found you all alive, Alessia.” His voice dripped with pleasure at his own achievement. She released a soft sigh. The UEA had gone back on its promise to her family. They’d get nothing from her.

Dropping the light between his legs, he leaned forwards and rocked on the balls of his feet. Stale remnants of musky cologne made Alessia’s stomach clench, but she kept her face as still as she could. Her discomfort belonged to her alone.

“It’s for the best, girl,” he told her. “This isn’t exactly an ideal way to live, is it? In the dark. Now, let’s see about getting you out of this hole.” The man stood, removed a handkerchief from his pocket, and then wiped the condensation from his glistening forehead.

“You’re not going to kill me?” Alessia asked, her mouth dry.

“Kill you?” he laughed. “Of course not! We’re not monsters.” He faced the other man. “Spray the wound and get her out of there, Mick. Let’s see about taking these people somewhere safe and protected.”

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Meet the Author

Rebecca Langham lives in the Blue Mountains (Australia) with her partner, three children, and menagerie of pets. A Xenite, a Whovian and all-round general nerd, she’s a lover of science fiction, comic books, and caffeine. When she isn’t teaching History to high schoolers or wrangling children, Rebecca enjoys playing broomball and reading.

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