New Release Blitz for The Wolf and the Sparrow by Isabelle Adler (excerpt and giveaway)

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Title: The Wolf and the Sparrow

Author: Isabelle Adler

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: November 25, 2019

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 72000

Genre: Fantasy, LGBT, fantasy, nobility, arranged marriage, abduction, enemies to lovers, witches, magic users, action/adventure, family drama, pansexual

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Synopsis

Derek never wished to inherit his title as a result of a bloody battle. With the old count dead and the truce dependent on his marriage to the rival duke’s son, Derek has no choice but to agree to the victor’s terms in order to bring peace to his homeland. When he learns of the sinister rumors surrounding his intended groom, Derek begins to have doubts—but there can be no turning back from saying I do.

After the death of his wife, Callan of Mulberny never expected to be forced into another political marriage—especially not to someone like the new Count of Camria. Seemingly soft and meek, it’s only fitting that Derek’s family crest is a flighty sparrow, worthy of nothing but contempt.

Another war with the seafaring people of the Outer Isles looms on the horizon, and the reluctant newlyweds must team together to protect those caught in the circle of violence. Derek and Callan slowly learn to let go of their prejudices, but as they find themselves enmeshed in intrigue fueled by dark secrets and revenge, their tentative bond is all that keeps their world—and their lives—from plunging into chaos.

Excerpt

The Wolf and the Sparrow
Isabelle Adler © 2019
All Rights Reserved

“Derek, you lucky devil,” Macon said. “A marriage proposal the minute you inherit a title. How propitious.”

Derek ignored the note of bitter mockery in his brother’s voice. Instead, he focused on the letter lying on the table in front of them. Words were scribbled across thick paper in an almost careless hand, with nothing to indicate its earth-shattering contents at a casual glance. The red wax seal bore the emblem of a wolf’s head, and an unpleasant jolt went through him as he recalled the same sigil splashed over black-and-silver banners streaming above a bloody battlefield. Pain flared in his injured shoulder, as if in response to the memory, and Derek shifted uncomfortably in his chair, adjusting the sling that held his left arm. He made himself focus on the words again, tracing them as if they could somehow magically rearrange themselves into a different message upon rereading.

“Macon, this is not helping,” Lady Casea chided.

Macon threw their mother a sullen look that clearly indicated he wasn’t there to help. He was sixteen, the age when everything was painted black and white, right and wrong, with nothing in between. Both Derek and their mother knew all too well how washed-out those colors became with time.

They were all sitting at the round table in Lady Casea’s drawing room. The upheaval of the last few days hadn’t seemed to reach it, unlike the rest of the keep. Embroidered tapestries lined the walls, displaying flowers in fanciful patterns, and the chairs were lined with soft cushions. A familiar scent of lavender and sage permeated the warmth from the fireplace. How strange it was to discuss the grim future of their family in this cozy room, with the only reminder of the presence of death in the gray mourning ribbons tied around their sleeves.

“Let us go through this again,” Ivo said, picking up the letter. His tone was neutral, as if he were discussing a passage from a recently read book. He was the scholar among Derek’s siblings, but Count Johan had long refused to send him to one of the royal colleges in Oifel, the capital. Father hadn’t approved of bookishness, especially not in a nineteen-year-old man who was perfectly capable of holding a sword.

“Duke Bergen offers Lady Casea condolences on the passing of her husband, and asks for Derek’s—the new Count of Camria’s—hand in marriage to his eldest son and heir, Callan, ‘to secure the recently signed truce in hopes of reaching a standing peace treaty between our fiefdoms and show goodwill.’”

“‘Passing,’” Macon sneered. “‘Goodwill.’”

“Derek, have you even met Callan?” Ayleen asked, turning to him. “I had no idea he was interested in you.”

“I doubt he’d know me from a signpost,” Derek said dryly.

He’d only ever seen Callan in passing while visiting the Royal Palace a few years ago, and they had paid each other little heed. Undoubtedly, Callan had been in the field along with his father, Duke Bergen, when they fought Camria’s forces, but fortunately, Derek hadn’t encountered them directly, and neither of them had been present during the signing of the truce, delegating it instead to their field commander.

Ayleen was only twelve, and still somewhat charmed by the notion of romance. Derek was a little sorry to disillusion her, especially so soon after all the other shocks she’d had to endure in the past few days, but it was better if she knew exactly what was going on. Ignorance and pretense weren’t going to help any of them when their situation was so precarious.

“The proposal isn’t coming from Lord Callan, but from his father. There’s nothing to it but politics.”

Ivo looked up. “I fear Bergen’s essentially trying to annex us. Derek would keep the title while he lives, but with him being a lower noble, it’d eventually pass to his husband or to their heirs. Not to mention that his spouse—whoever they are—would be an equal ruler of Camria while Derek lives.”

While he lives. The words sank into Derek’s mind, laden with meaning. The marriage contract would still be valid, even if he were to die, effectively passing the fiefdom of Camria to the duke’s family. And with Derek out of the way, they’d be free to do what they wished with it.

He said nothing aloud.

“Can we possibly refuse? Find some pretext to decline the offer?” their mother asked.

Ivo shook his head. “I cannot see how. This is not exactly an offer. More like an order, if courteously worded. The letter continues on to stipulate that the wedding take place as soon as possible. In fact, as soon as it would take Derek to arrive at the duke’s ancestral castle at Irthorg.”

“What about postponing it, then?” Lady Casea turned to Derek in concern. “You’re badly injured. Surely, they cannot expect you to stand at the altar, still bleeding. At least a few months, until you’re well. It will give us time to petition before the High Queen. This is nothing short of coercion under duress.”

There were fading bruises on her neck peeking above the collar of her dress, a yellow imprint of fingers that had nothing to do with the recent battle. Not for the first time, Derek thought that perhaps their father’s death was more of a blessing than a tragedy. It felt treasonous to entertain such notions, as though he was betraying his father’s memory, but he hadn’t imagined the relief in his mother’s eyes when the messenger delivered the awful news. He was ashamed to admit, even to himself, that he’d felt the same relief.

But it also meant he was now the head of the family. It was his duty and his responsibility to protect them after Count Johan had failed to do so. Even if it meant marrying a man he’d never met, who’d nearly destroyed everything he held dear, who might still want him dead.

“I’m not hurt that badly,” Derek heard himself say. “Besides, I hardly think they’d care—or if the Queen would see it quite the same way. The truce expires in a week. If I don’t give an answer by then, I’m afraid there will be no long-standing treaty.”

Casea frowned and was about to say something else, but Derek forestalled her.

“I don’t see any solution other than conforming to Duke Bergen’s wishes. I’d rather not aggravate him while his troops still have free rein within our borders. There would still be an opportunity to do something when we’re not in such dire disadvantage. A marriage can always be annulled should the Queen prove sympathetic to our case.”

“So, we just roll over and give the duke our land?” Macon said. “That’s what he’s really after, isn’t it? He basically threatens us with another war, and he has the audacity to call it a gesture of goodwill!”

“It is goodwill,” Derek said quietly. “He doesn’t need this union to take the land away from us. In fact, nothing is stopping him from storming the keep and killing us all when the truce ends. It would be his right to do so since he was provoked, and frankly, we’ve already seen that Camria cannot hold its own when it comes to military strength.”

As a warrior himself, Derek was loath to admit it. But Camria was a small fiefdom, and its contingent consisted of the Count’s Guard, which numbered only two hundred men, while the rest were mostly peasants who had been hastily called to arms and had little to no fighting experience. That was hardly a match for Mulberny, a much larger and more prosperous domain with a long and bloody history of fending raiding sea pirates off its shores. But of course, these considerations had meant little to his father in the face of a perceived slight.

“You seem very eager to go through with it,” Macon sneered. His eyes were rimmed in red and recessed in deep shadows. “Can’t wait to become the bed toy of our father’s murderer?”

“Macon!” Casea said sharply. “Watch your tongue.”

“I will not!” Macon slammed his hand against the table, making everyone save Derek jump. “He’s only trying to save his own hide while his new husband turns us out of our own home!”

“Will you stop that?” Derek said levelly, fixing his gaze on Macon. He kept a tight rein on his anger. There was no point in getting into a shouting match with his brother, whose grief was perhaps the most acute of all of them. “No one said anything about turning you out. I’m trying to keep all of you safe, and it would be much easier to do from within the duke’s castle than from the chopping block.”

“Yes, much easier for you! You’d be the duke’s lapdog while the rest of us are reduced to beggars!”

Derek’s patience, already frayed, finally snapped.

“Maybe Father should have thought about that before he waged war on Bergen over a fucking river dam and got himself killed!”

Macon rose to his feet so abruptly he knocked over his chair. Without another word, he stormed out of the room, slamming the door with enough force to rattle the flower vase on the side table.

There was an awkward silence while everybody avoided looking at one another.

Derek sighed and ran a jerky hand over his face. “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have said that.”

Lady Casea got up from her seat. “I’ve had quite enough of this squabbling. There are still soldiers’ wages and widows’ allowances to be distributed, and I have work to do. Ayleen, come.”

With an apologetic glance at Derek, Ayleen followed Casea out the door.

Derek slumped on the table, propping his head with his right arm. He wasn’t used to being in his mother’s rooms without her there; however, he was in no hurry to leave. They were all tired, hurt, and confused. Derek had barely slept since signing the temporary truce between Camria and Mulberny. The nagging ache in his shoulder had worsened, and now his head was throbbing as well. But he welcomed the pain. It was the only thing keeping him from numbness—and he couldn’t afford to sink into it at the moment.

This was not how he’d imagined coming into his inheritance. Shouldering responsibility was not unfamiliar to him. His father had been more than happy to let Derek handle the more mundane affairs of daily life in the keep and the surrounding villages—though Derek sometimes thought it was so he’d have someone to criticize. But this…this was almost too much to take on. He was good with a sword and possessed sound common sense, which was perhaps enough for a minor ruler of a small fiefdom, but now he had to admit he was in over his head. Despite trying to present a solid front to his family, he had no idea what to do to prevent more harm coming to them.

Ivo coughed delicately, drawing his attention.

“I didn’t want to say anything in front of Mother, but there is something you should know before you make a decision.”

Derek raised his head. He didn’t like the sound of that, but what could possibly make this entire affair worse than it already was?

“What is it?”

“Did you know that Lord Callan was married before?”

“No.” Derek straightened in his chair. He didn’t like the look on Ivo’s face, the one that said he was troubled. It was a bad sign. Unlike Macon, Ivo was rarely visibly upset over anything.

“Well, he was. To an Agiennan clanswoman, no less. I don’t recall her name, but it was about two years ago. Apparently, the duke has a thing for offering his son in marriage to secure his peace treaties.”

“What happened to her?” Derek asked, already knowing he wasn’t going to like the answer.

“She died. Some sort of accident, but…there were whispers about something not being quite right with that story.”

“And you know all of this how?”

Ivo smiled faintly.

“Unlike you, dear brother, I pay attention to rumors. Most of them are nothing more than idle gossip, but some contain a kernel of truth.”

“All this might be just that—nothing more than gossip,” Derek said.

“I’m absolutely certain he was married,” Ivo repeated. “Accidents do happen even to the most lofty, but you’d better be careful. Some people have an unfortunate tendency to bury their spouses all too often.”

“What are you saying?”

“You should consider why Callan wants to marry you—or why his father wants him to. Camria is a well-off fiefdom, but it’s hardly of much strategic importance. The duke’s heir could set his eyes on a much more advantageous match, striking a union with a foreign noble, or even marrying into the royal family. Your nuptials could be nothing more than a stepping stone for whatever larger scheme he envisions.”

“He can’t subjugate Camria based on a marriage contract alone, not until Callan and I either name or produce heirs. The law is clear—if something should happen to me, the fiefdom would pass to my next-of-blood kin. To you.”

“I am not yet of age to inherit. Your husband could be legally appointed regent, and if that is what they’re after, they don’t need you for any longer than your wedding night.” Ivo shrugged. “Once you say your vows and the marriage is consummated, he could contest the inheritance of your fiefdom at the Queen’s Court if you happen to die under tragic circumstances. And then Callan is once again free to take another spouse. Maybe someone more lucrative.”

It appeared Derek had not been the only one to have thought of that, but again, Ivo had always been the smartest of his siblings, and the most astute, despite his age.

“You make him sound like some sort of fairy-tale villain,” Derek protested, out of some stubborn determination to refuse to be intimidated, whether by Ivo or by his own apprehension.

But he couldn’t help feeling there was something odd about the proposal. It seemed entirely extraneous. Whatever treaty Bergen wanted to sign would have been achieved without a marriage contract to strengthen it, given that Camria was at a dire disadvantage. And Derek entertained no illusions about being so desirable a match as to be of particular interest to the other party. Moreover, while arranged marriages were par for the course among the aristocracy, nobles of similar rank (in this case a newly minted count and the heir apparent of a duchy) did not usually enter such unions for precisely the same considerations of seniority of inheritance Ivo had voiced earlier. If this was all about upholding the peace, it would have been much more reasonable for Duke Bergen to ask for Ivo’s hand in future marriage for his son, as he was the only one of Derek’s younger siblings close enough to the age of maturity.

“I’m saying that by agreeing to accept this proposal you might be placing yourself in danger,” Ivo said.

A Free Dreamer Review:Kogitsune (Takamagahara Monogatari #1) by Xia Xia Lake

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

A coming of age story set in medieval Japan. A friendship between a young fox god and his human childhood friend is built on deception, but grows stronger and purer as it’s driven by common purpose. However, the vast differences of the worlds they live in can’t be ignored, as their relationship is frowned upon by both humans and spirits.

As Kogitsune’s feelings for his human friend turn from friendship to something deeper, he will learn that love can be all consuming and heartbreaking.

‘Kogitsune’ is a retelling of the famous Noh theater play ‘Kokaji’, a story about a swordsmith who requests the help of the Inari god to build a sword for emperor Ichijo (980-1011).

Read it here: https://xiaxiastorylake.com/2018/11/20/kogitsune/
Or download it from Smashwords for free: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/909645

Usually I don’t read short stories, but “Kogitsune” did not just tempt me with its blurb, but also with the promise of a real novel for the next part. I just couldn’t resist a historical fantasy novel set in medieval Japan and it was absolutely worth the time.

I love Japan, I love mythology in general, and I love fantasy and Kogitsune is a  combination of all three things. I’m somewhat familiar with Japanese folklore, but I’ve never heard of this play before. That didn’t stop me from fully enjoying this book. You don’t need to be an expert on all things Japanese to understand and enjoy this story, but you should probably be familiar with common Japanese terms and titles. The author did provide a link with explanations at the beginning of the story, though.

The story itself is incredibly romantic, beautiful and yet heartbreaking all at once. I don’t want to reveal any details about the plot, they would probably be a spoiler. So I’ll only say that I loved it.

Overall, the story felt a little bit short. But it definitely did it’s job. It made me curious to find out more and I happily read part two. If you’re curious too, give it a shot. It’s short and free, so there’s really nothing to lose.

The cover is cute and fits the story perfectly. I like it.

Find the story here.

Book details: ebook, 40 pages

Published November 20th 2018

In Need of a New Fantasy? Check Out the Release Blitz for No Ordinary Drakeling (D’Vaire #12) by Jessamyn Kingley (excerpt and giveaway)

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RELEASE BLITZ

Book Title: No Ordinary Drakeling (D’Vaire, Book 12)

Author: Jessamyn Kingley

Publisher: Self-published

Cover Artist: LJ Anderson of Mayhem Cover Creations

Release Date: May 16, 2019

Genre/s: M/M Urban Fantasy Romance

Trope/s: Fated Mates

Themes: Love, Courage

Heat Rating:  3 flames

Length:  97 670 words

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Blurb

Emperor Chrysander Draconis rules not only the dragons but the entire Council of Sorcery and Shifters. From the moment Fate selected him, he has devoted himself to ensuring his people thrive and prosper. His life revolves around duty; nothing stands in the way of his dedication to his job. One of the most prominent issues on Chrysander’s plate is the lack of hybrid drakelings that have survived the road from man to beast. When he receives word that one such rare soul is living in an obscure tribe, he races to help.

Ellery of the Fen-Lynthi elves is different from the rest of his people. He does not understand why his ears are shorter, why he stands taller than the others. Then his mother explains why the other children mock him and call him a mongrel: his father, a dragon, abandoned her the moment he learned of Ellery’s impending birth. With his mother’s often-fragile mental state, Ellery does not know if he can trust her words, but they are all he has. He spends his days ostracized, doing what he can to improve his lot.

Chrysander is overjoyed to find his mate among the Fen-Lynthi, but when it is confirmed that Ellery is half dragon, he is terrified Ellery will be ripped apart by the beast inside him. Regardless, Chrysander proceeds with their matebond ceremony, though he delays the event, believing duty demands they bypass elven tradition. This troubles Ellery, and he wonders if moving forward is what Chrysander truly wants. Their schedules present them with little opportunity to spend time together, which gives him further cause for worry. If that isn’t enough, Ellery is apprehensive over his new role as emperor. Chrysander and Ellery must confront their fears and learn to face the world as a united and loving front. In doing so, not only will they be able to defy the impossible, but they will change the world.

 

Buy Links

Amazon US

Amazon UK 

Excerpt

“I’m only trying to be realistic. We can’t ignore statistics, even if you are Chrysander’s mate,” Wesley stated.

“I am afraid I do not understand.”

“Ellery, what do you know about hybrids?” Chrysander asked, his voice warm with concern. Ellery liked his tone and wished they had a few moments alone to get to know one another, but for some reason Fate had paired him with a powerful man who had abundant responsibilities.

“Not much. My tribe did not interact with many people. I am the only hybrid I have ever heard of. I just know the other elves did not like that I was different. Is the Council the same way?”

“I won’t deny that there are those ignorant enough to think hybrids are somehow lesser than others, but they are very few. What Wesley’s referring to is survival rates for hybrids,” Chrysander stated, and his words were measured to Ellery’s ears, though he couldn’t discern why.

“What is the survival rate for hybrids?”

“In general, they’re quite high,” Damian revealed. “The ones who are half shifter almost always have a beast, though there are exceptions. However, the larger and more powerful the animal, the more trouble hybrids have surviving their first shift.”

“Dragons are very large,” Ellery observed.

“We’re also the strongest shifters,” Zane added quietly. “To date, no dragon hybrid has survived their first shift.”

Ellery let that tidbit of information settle into his mind. He reached down inside of himself where the entity inside him dwelled. It had always been a warm and inviting presence and at Zane’s words, all he felt was peace. A voice inside his head told him his dragon wouldn’t hurt him, and he decided to trust it. Just because no other hybrid had managed the feat did not mean Ellery was going to die. In fact, he refused to accept that it was his destiny. “How many dragon hybrids have there been?”

“Not many that we’ve known of, though hybrids in general are growing more common. Fate seems to be pairing more combinations of people than ever before,” Chrysander told him.

“How old are dragons when they shift for the first time?”

“Around one hundred,” Zane replied.

“So, my dragon is ready?”

“We’ll give you some time with a trainer but yes, you should be ready,” Chrysander assured him.

“I think we should wait until after Ellery’s shift for any of this. He can live here and concentrate on his beast. We’ll deal with the rest of the details afterward,” Wesley suggested.

“If that’s what Fate wanted, she wouldn’t have led him to Chrys until after his shift. The title is his,” Damian responded.

“I agree,” Chrysander said. Ellery found himself smiling. At least Chrysander appeared glad to have met him.

“Fine, but it’ll take at least six weeks to put together an appropriate mating ceremony,” Wesley argued.

“That’s fine, but everything else needs to be put into action immediately,” Chrysander replied, and Ellery grew irritated as his grin faded. No one was going to observe elven tradition or even ask him what he wanted, but he was now a dragon too. He needed to keep an open mind and learn about his other culture. This was his opportunity to put his life as an elf behind him and embrace dragonkind. He wanted to forget the isolation and sadness he’d endured and create something worthwhile that made him happy. But what he most required was to collect himself from the shock of his afternoon. There was a beast inside him ready to grow wings.…And even more astounding was the man he was going to share an eternity with. He was handsome, appeared kind, and Ellery welcomed the opportunity to discover more about him.

Ellery got to his feet. “Perhaps you could show me where I will be sleeping?”

“I’d be happy to,” Zane offered, and Ellery followed him out of the room. He wasn’t sure what his future held, but he wasn’t going to spend the next few weeks as if they were his last. The other hybrids may have failed, but Ellery was determined to make history.

 

About the Author

Jessamyn Kingley lives in Nevada where she begs the men in her head to tell her their amazing stories which she dutifully writes it all down in what has become a small mountain of notebooks. She falls in love with each couple and swears whatever book she wrote last is her absolute favorite.

Jessamyn is married and working toward remembering to start the dishwasher without being distracted by the scent of the magical detergent. For personal enjoyment, she aids in cat rescue while slashing and gashing her way through mobs in various MMORPGs. Caffeine is her very best friend and is only cast aside briefly for the sin better known as BBQ potato chips.

Visit her website at: www.jessamynkingley.com

Follow her on Facebook at: www.facebook.com/jessamynkingley

She loves to engage with readers there.

 

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Release Blitz and Giveaway for Prisoner Of Shadows (Lord of the Underworld #2) by Sam Burns and W.M. Fawkes

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Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK | Universal LinkExclusive to Amazon and Available to Borrow with Kindle Unlimited
 
Length: 70,000 words approx.
 
Cover Design: Natasha Snow
 
Lords of the Underworld Series
 
Prince of Death – Amazon US | Amazon UK | Universal Link
 
Blurb
 

For more than five thousand years, Prometheus has been chained in the underworld. Every day, an eagle tears out his liver. Every night, he heals. When Hermes releases him in a gambit to save himself from his father’s wrath, Prometheus must adjust to a world that’s forgotten him. Hunted by the twins, Artemis and Apollo, he finds help in an unexpected place.


Julian Bell is a vampire lost. He left his Louisiana home in 1936 and hasn’t settled since. Ten years ago he followed his best friend to New York, but the country they came to wasn’t the America he left. After losing his friend, he found himself unmoored in a strange land. As he nears his hundredth birthday, he’s realizing how truly alone he is.


When Prometheus and Julian’s paths cross one fateful night, they find in each other a safe path through the shadows.

 

About The Authors



Sam Burns wrote her first fantasy epic with her best friend when she was ten. Like almost any epic fiction written by a ten year old, it was awful. She likes to think she’s improved since then, if only because she has better handwriting now.
If she’s not writing, she’s almost certainly either reading or lost down a Wikipedia rabbit hole while pretending to research for a novel.


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W.M. Fawkes is an author of LGBTQ+ urban fantasy and paranormal romance. With coauthor Sam Burns, she writes feisty Greek gods, men, and monsters in the Lords of the Underworld series. She lives with her partner in a house owned by three halloween-hued felines that dabble regularly in shadow walking.


Website: https://www.fawkeswrites.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/fawkeswrites
Twitter: https://twitter.com/FawkesWrites

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A Stella Release Day Review: Coming Up for Air by Amanda Meuwissen

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RATING 5 out of 5 stars

It’s not easy being someone’s fairy tale.

Leigh Hurley is making a name for himself among thieves and criminals, even if it isn’t the life he would’ve chosen. He shouldn’t have screwed over the Moretti brothers, though. It landed him in the river with weights on his feet. But somehow he’s escaped certain death. The last thing he remembers before waking on the riverbank is a beautiful face and a soft kiss.

Then, Tolomeo turns up naked at Leigh’s apartment.

Tolly comes from a race of killers—merfolk who drown humans for fun. But Tolly is different, and when he sees a human in trouble, he offers a kiss, granting the man the ability to breathe underwater… and himself the ability to walk on land, at least until the next full moon. The ancient laws state that if he is given a vow of love by the one he kissed, he will be able to keep his legs. If not, he will be put to death when he returns to the water.

But love is not something Leigh offers easily… and Tolly has a secret of his own.

I have to be honest, I picked this new release just for the cover, as soon as I saw it I wanted to have the book on my kindle. I think it’s definitely my favorite cover of the year, so far. I didn’t even read the blurb, I wasn’t interested, I was willing to give Coming Up For Air a chance no matter what the blurb said. Sure, I saw the author name and I recalled another great novel she wrote, Model Escort, that I liked a lot.

Then, when I started the reading, since the beginning, I knew I was going to like it a lot, maybe more than the cover and this says how much. I adored everything: first of all the characters, Tolly and Leigh, the second characters, Alvin and Cary, Ger and Gar, and so many others.

There was never a dull moment, something was always happening, or someone was at the door asking for help or reparations. But it wasn’t chaotic or a mess, never.

I ached for both Tolly and Leigh, I cared for them since the first chapters, I wanted to shelter them from all the adversities the human and merfolk worlds were putting against them. I loved how the relationship developed, the way they fell so easily in love, also how much Tolly fell in love with all Leigh’s friends and vice versa.  I so appreciated how ready all of the people that, in such a short time, learn to love Tolly, were to accept his true nature, with no hesitation or fear.

I want to highly recommend Coming Up For Air by Amanda Meuwissen, nothing was as it seemed and the epilogue was so lovely I had tears and hearts in my eyes the whole time. This was a wonderful novel, I will reread it so soon.

The cover art by Tiferet Design is great, my favorite cover so far, so well done and fitting, simply amazing.

Buy Links: Amazon |  Dreamspinner Press Paperback and  eBook

BOOK DETAILS

ebook, 200 pages

Expected publication: April 30th 2019 by Dreamspinner Press

ISBN13 9781644051757

Edition Language English

A Free Dreamer Review: Soulstealers by Jacqueline Rohrbach

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Rating: 2 stars out of 5

Arnaka Skytree grew up believing she was chosen to bring new magic to the world. As the heir to the cult of druids responsible for keeping their floating palace habitable for the wealthy aristocracy, she’s expected to wield her power as those before her did: by culling the souls of peasant women.

But when Arnaka learns more about the source of her magic, and that her best friend’s soul will be harvested, she embarks on a journey to end the barbarous practice and to restore a long-forgotten harmonious system of magic practiced by the original druids. Along the way, she discovers she’s not the only girl chosen to restore balance to their world—many others have powerful magic inside, and with them, she will tear the floating palace from the sky so everyone can live in the sun—out of the shadow of the eclipse.

NineStaPress has published many brilliant Fantasy novels. Sadly, “Soulstealers” was not one of them.

I can’t even say what exactly I didn’t like about this book. For some reason, it just didn’t work for me at all.

I didn’t feel any sort of connection to Arnaka, other than vague annoyance at times. I didn’t care at all for any of the minor characters. And I didn’t care too much about the plot. I felt a vague disconnection, occasionally broken by vague annoyance. I started skipping paragraphs and only reading the dialogue somewhere around the 60% mark.

There was some worldbuilding and while the idea of druids harnessing souls as a source for magic is not something I’ve come across before, it all felt a bit generic. I missed depth, like religion. There’s talk of a “merciful goddess”, but there’s no explanation of any kind of religion or religious practice other than that. I thought it odd that this was a patriarchal society, when men didn’t have magic and there was apparently a female god.

Since I didn’t care about any of the characters, I really didn’t feel the connection between Arnaka and her love-interest. I’d actually expected a different love-interest, since she expressed feelings toward that girl. But it turned into a sort of enemies-to-lovers trope, which I don’t like under the best of circumstances. It also felt a bit sudden, which might be due to my skimming. And the way they behaved somehow didn’t really fit with their previous characterization.

The editing could have been a little more thorough as well. While there weren’t any obvious grammar/spelling mistakes, there were other inconsistencies. For the first 20% or so, souls are judged “devious”. And then, all of a sudden, it’s “deviant” souls, only to switch back to “devious” somewhere toward the end. There were also several instances, where the women traced “ruins” instead of “runes”.

365 pages isn’t all that long for a Fantasy novel and I’m usually a fast reader. But it took me ages to finish this book, because I kept getting distracted all the time. It just couldn’t hold my interest for any length of time.

Overall, “Soulstealers” just didn’t work for me at all. Which annoys me, because I have yet to find a F/F story that I actually really like and that just doesn’t make sense. The pairing shouldn’t matter, if it’s not primarily a love story. But I often have trouble with female MCs in fiction, so maybe this just isn’t my kind of thing.

The cover by Chelsea Geter is okay, though I think the woman on the cover doesn’t look like a 16-year-old.

Sales Links:  NineStar Press | Amazon

Book details:

ebook, 365 pages

Published April 1st 2019 by NineStar Press

A Free Dreamer Release Day Review: I’m Not Who You Think I Am by Felicitas Ivey

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Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

Mykayla’s parents’ marriage is in trouble, but they’re working on it. Unfortunately for Mykayla, that means she’s getting shipped off to Boston to spend her summer with Uncle Yushua while they work out their issues. Mykayla has issues of her own-like her confusion about her sexuality, or apparent lack of it-that she’d like to explore alongside her best friend, Xiu. The situation at her uncle’s house is weird to say the least. There’s something off about his coworkers-aside from the fact that they won’t go away. Things go from strange to stranger when a supernatural being shows up to protect Mykayla from someone he calls the Shadow Pharaoh. Sutekhgen is a sorcerer who never made it to the afterlife, with a huge Set Beast as a companion… and the mistaken assumption that Mykayla is the reincarnation of his lost romantic partner. She doesn’t know what’s worse: being caught in a metaphysical conflict between ancient gods or being stuck with a pushy jerk who doesn’t know the meaning of personal boundaries.

“I’m Not Who You Think I Am” was a bit of a mixed bag for me. There were some elements I really enjoyed and others I didn’t really care for.

I haven’t seen a lot of books that mix old Egyptian mythology and urban fantasy, so this was a nice change. While I’m not completely ignorant of Egyptian history and religion, I’m hardly an expert and I did feel a little bit lost at times. Sometimes the in-depth on page research actually bordered on info-dump for me and it was hard to keep track of all the facts.

Mykayla is a girl after my tastes. She thinks museums are just as interesting as bookshops and can easily spend hours there without getting bored. That made me like her immediately. She’s also obsessed with knitting and still struggling a bit with her asexuality. Or rather, how and who to tell about it. She did get a little bit annoying toward the end, with her seemingly endless internal rants about sexism and how she was very much NOT attracted to anybody.

Her best friend Xiu was kind of annoying from the beginning. She never shuts up and kind of refuses to accept Mykayla’s asexuality. She’s the only person who knows about it and yet she keeps going on about how she wants to date Mykayla. It seemed quite insensitive to me, even if it was passed off as a sort of running gag. Plus, she acted awfully mature for a 15-year-old and not at all how I think a normal teenager would behave.

The adults were also very lenient towards the two teenagers. Who allows two 15-year-olds to go out alone at 11pm to have a coffee at the train station of a big city? And Mykayla’s parents were extremely neglectful. They weren’t abusive or anything, but they just seemed to not be as concerned about her as I’d expect. They’re actually somewhat important to the story, even if they don’t get all that much on-page time. That was actually a nice change from the usually absent parents of the YA genre.

I did like the fantasy elements and the scenes with Sutekhgen and his adorable Set Beast. Kudos to the author for creating two truly unique animal characters in this story. I’m still halfway convinced Yushua’s cat is secretly not a cat at all, but a shapeshifter or something like that. I think the animals were my favourite characters of the entire book.

Not a lot actually happens here. There’s one big event pretty early on, followed by lots of talking and research, and then there’s another big event toward the end. I didn’t quite understand the big reveal at the end, tbh.

Overall, I did find “ I’m Not Who You Think I Am” a mostly rather entertaining read. It does have its ups and downs, though, and it was far from a “great read” for me. I do believe there’s going to be a part two, the overall story arc definitely isn’t done just yet, even if there was no horrible cliffhanger at the end. I’m not sure if I want to read the sequel, yet.

I’m not a huge fan of the cover by Tiferet Design. While the cover model definitely has the right hair and skin tone, she just doesn’t look like she’s 15. Plus, I’m fairly sure Mykayla didn’t wear make up. I do like the font that was used for the title, though.

Sales Links:   Harmony Ink Press | Barnes & Noble | Amazon

Book details:

eBook, 200 pages

Expected publication: March 19th 2019 by Dreamspinner Press LLC

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

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sale Links: LT3 | Amazon | Nook

Book Details:

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

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

A MelanieM Review: The Dragon’s Legacy by Robin White

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Rating: 2 stars out of 5

Valgaforis wants to be left in peace. And if he must be bothered, he would prefer goblins to humans. But these humans come searching for something that sounds like it just might help him figure out what happened to the rest of his kind. He can tolerate some bothersome humans for a little while to answer that burning question.

Things just seem to keep going wrong for Alessio. While on the hunt for the regalia of his bloodline, which will finally secure him the throne, he stumbles across Erik, who’s somehow already discovered the dragon cave Alessio seeks. Erik, a native of the Northland, offers to help, and Alessio gratefully accepts, despite the unexpected complications added to his already difficult journey.

Along the way they encounter spirits, hobs, a river bride, and even trolls. In fact, the only thing they don’t seem to encounter is the dragon Alessio expected to find when they finally reach their destination…

The storyline and the characters of The Dragon’s Legacy by Robin White show promiseI just can’t resist a dragon or dragon shifter story.  And this sounded like a wonderful fantasy tale.   I think it could be as all the elements are here just waiting to be enlarged into the fantasy saga it hopes to be.

With any story, especially a fantasy one, you need a solid foundation of world building to rest it on and this one lacks that.  You get bits and pieces of the culture and the reason why Alessio and group is off on his mission but you have gaping holes in his history and in Valgaforis’ as well.  Those are never answered either by the end of the story to the reader’s dissatisfaction.  You need to pull all the threads together, answer at least the important questions in the readers minds to make the story a cohesive whole in order for any book to be an enjoyable reading experience.

I appreciated little touches here and there.  The fact that the dragon joined in on the quest with no one any the wiser was a cute aspect to the story, over too soon for my tastes.   And I liked the whole dragon’s sword bit but that should have been explored more as it was a huge part of the storyline.

But the biggest loss here is that of character development.  Each character lacked depth and that “realiness” that comes with a layered personality and time given over to making us believe in them as a person/beings.  Same goes for the relationships here.  All have that shallowness about them that feels one dimensional.  It lets you appreciate some of the nicer points of the story but removes you from any emotional contact or connection to anyone within the story.

This is the first story I’ve read by Robin White and I would certainly read others, based on the promise this one displays.

Cover art: Aisha Akuju:  The cover art is stunning with the dragon’s hoard.  Love it.

Sales Links: Less Than Three Press

Book Details:

ebook
Expected publication: May 30th 2018 by Less Than Three Press
ISBN139781684312610
Edition LanguageEnglish
Other Editions
None found

A Free Dreamer: Review: The Seeds of Dissolution (Dissolution Cycle #1) by William C. Tracy

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

On a bright August day, the sun disappears.

Sam van Oen barely escapes freezing to death in his house, as his watch stops and fire ceases to burn. He is pulled into the Nether—a nexus between ten alien cultures—where he meets Rilan and Origon, two maji who can control the musical foundation of the universe. While coping with anxiety attacks prompted by his new surroundings, Sam must learn to hear and change the Symphony, and thus reality, in order to discover what happened to his home.

But more freezing voids like the one that started his journey are appearing, and Sam’s chances of getting back are fading. The Assembly of Species is threatening to dissolve and the maji are being attacked by those they protect, while rumors grow of an ancient, shape-changing species of assassins, returning to wage war.

The Dissolution is coming.

“The Seeds of Dissolution” is brilliant, to put it simply. It has everything I love in a book and I’m so glad I didn’t let the relationship dynamic put me off.

First of all, the world building was incredibly well done. Anybody who’s read a few of my reviews knows it’s hard to impress me with that. I have very, very high expectations of Fantasy and SciFi authors and William C. Tracy fulfilled them all. I’ve read countless books that deal with magic in one way or another, but never before have I come across anything like this. I’ve seen magic by colours a couple of times, but never by music before. It was a very unique and interesting approach.

The author did a brilliant job of slowly introducing all the different species and really making them all appear distinct and unique. I really enjoyed getting to know the Nether and its inhabitants together with Sam. There were a few drawings throughout the book and they really helped my imagination along.

Over the course of the story, we get to know characters from a few of the different species closer. The character cast was actually quite large, but they all had a very distinct voice. We get four three different POVs, but it’s immediately obvious who’s head we’re in at any given moment.

Our main protagonist is Sam. I really liked him. He’s so not your average fantasy hero. He suffers from crippling anxiety attacks, brought on by his agoraphobia and social phobia. That he still makes himself get up every time made him an extremely strong person to me. Far more than any typically perfect fantasy hero you happen across all the time.

The main plot of this book is definitely the fantasy. The romance plays a very minor part overall. This is just the type of book I want to see way more of: a brilliant plot with an MC who just so happens to be homosexual (or bisexual, as in Sam’s case). It’s incredibly difficult to find a really good fantasy novel with a protagonist who isn’t straight. There’s plenty of M/M romance with fantasy out there, but it’s just not the same. I grew up reading epic fantasy novels and I’m still not much of a romance reader, so this book had me extremely pleased. Thank you, dear author!

Long story short, “The Seeds of Dissolution” is brilliant fantasy. If you are, like me, a lover of epic fantasy with serious world building, then I’m sure you’ll love this unique approach of magic. If, however, you’re just looking for a nice romance novel with a bit of fantasy, keep looking.

Oh, this was also my first ever MMF book and I actually hesitated before picking it up just because of the relationship dynamic. I am SO glad I decided to diversify my reading habits a while ago. I think “The Seeds of Dissolution” will very likely end up being one of the best books of the year for me. And the best part: This is only part one and there are two more books that are set in the same world (but aren’t part of the series). Gonna read those very soon!

The cover is pretty cool. It looks very mysterious. Love those black flowers.

Sales Link:  Amazon

Book details: Kindle Edition, 436 pages

Published December 19th 2017 by Space Wizard Science Fantasy