The night before his Coming-of-Age, Ghyll and his two friends escape their castle on a clandestine boar hunt that will forever change their lives.
The hunt proves a disaster, and with one of them badly wounded, they return just in time to see their island castle destroyed by macabre warriors from a dragon boat, and by flocks of fire-breathing birds. Ghyll’s eighteenth birthday turns into a nightmare as they flee into the night.
Now begins an epic journey to find out who is trying to kill them – and most importantly, why?
Fortunately, they can count on the help of new friends, including a sometimes overly enthusiastic fire mage, an inexperienced paladin and a young beastmistress who is also a ferocious mountain lioness.
It soon becomes clear that not one but several sorcerers want to kill them. Are those blackrobes really followers of a terrible, long-forgotten organization?
And whose cold hand reaches across the boundaries of space and time to crush weakened Rhidauna?
Excerpt from Rhidauna (Book #1: The Shadow of the Revenaunat):
Olle sat concealed in the shadow of the willow tree, motionless. The stars cast a faint light over the sleeping field and it was quiet, very quiet. His thoughts went to his foster brother, and that murderous creep. Vasthul and the Dar’khamorth – what had Ghyll to do with them?
Some movement caught his eye and he saw a shape creeping towards the tent. A second and third followed. He recognized their jerky movements. Golems! Noiselessly he rose and raised his huge sword. Then he took a deep breath and hurled himself at the three shadows.
The golems’ reaction was slow enough for Olle to hit one of them full on the forehead. As he turned to the second golem, he saw Ghyll coming from the tent, sword in hand, with Damion close behind. The third golem lashed out at Ghyll, who parried the blow, stumbled and cried out, grabbing his wounded side. The golem raised its weapon for the kill, but at that moment, Damion sprang into action. He jumped the mademan from behind and clung to his back with one arm around its neck, while with the other hand he rammed his poniard into the golem’s forehead. Then he leaped away.
Ghyll tried to avoid the toppling golem, but his leg buckled and he fell. With a roar of despair, Olle turned toward his own opponent and split its head in two all the way to the shoulder blades. As he was about to run to his foster brother, a warning shout stopped him. From their tent, a fireball sizzled into the night. A blinding flash lit up the area, followed by a scream and the clip-clop of a running horse. From the brook rose the deafening croaks of a thousand frogs, protesting the disruption of their sleep.
‘Missed him, damn it!’ Bo’s voice shouted from the renewed darkness.
Olle, blinded, was for a moment disoriented. ‘Ghyll!’
‘It’s… all… right.’ His foster brother’s voice sounded full of pain. ‘I made a wrong move, that’s all.’
Olle resisted an impulse to run to his side and forced himself to inspect the fallen enemies first. After he had ascertained that all three were down for good, he strode back to the tents. ‘How is it?’
Uwella looked up at him. ‘It’s not so bad; his muscles aren’t up to these capers yet. He must be careful of that leg.’
His foster brother said something Olle didn’t hear, but Uwella shook her head.
‘Go back to bed. I’ll give you something for the pain and tomorrow morning we’ll see how it goes.’
Olle turned. ‘Was it… Vasthul?’
‘No idea.’ Bo ran both hands through his long hair. ‘I just saw a shadow in a cloak.’
‘Oh, yes, that was Vasthul all right.’ Damion came back from the direction of the road. ‘I heard him swearing and shouting as he fled. He had the same voice as that guy I chased in Theridaun – a voice like a file, and he wasn’t sparing with it.’
‘I could go after him,’ Uwella said, scowling.
Olle shook his head.
‘Too dangerous.’ He stooped and picked up something. ‘Here,’ he said to Damion. In his hand glistened a white crystal. ‘Keep it, you’ve earned it yourself,’ he said. ‘Idiot!’ He gave his friend a comradely punch in the shoulder and walked away. Moments later, he returned with two golems by the ankles. ‘Does anyone want to see them?’
‘Not me,’ Ghyll said, from inside the tent. ‘Only the crystals, please.’
‘I got two for you. Away with the muddies, then.’ With a casual heave, Olle dumped the makemen one after another into the stream, where they sank, gurgling, to the audible annoyance of the frogs.
‘That’s the end of the show, noble lords and ladies,’ he said as he sat down again under the willow tree. ‘Try to sleep; it’s an early day tomorrow.’ The others went back to bed, but the sounds of their twisting and turning betrayed that further sleep avoided them.
How did his parents and brothers die? Where their deaths really accidents, or were they killed? These questions young Ghyll Hardingraud must answer before he can ascend Rhidauna’s throne.
Ghyll’s search for the truth leads him and his Companions on a journey back to the past as he slowly unravels a dark conspiracy.
Once crowned, the young King Ghyll still has to finish the mission his dead uncle imposed on him. The journey takes him and his trusted friends through inhospitable lands and dangerous swamps to the endless steppes of Zihaen, looking for the Voice from the West. He discovers he isn’t the only one. His vindictive enemy pursues him, aided by undead forces.
Excerpt from Zihaen (Book #2: The Shadow of the Revenaunt Series):
The lieutenant saluted Ghyll and turned to the men. ‘Volunteers for a simple task.’ Everyone took a step forward. ‘Yes,’ Embit-Koy said grimly. ‘As long as it’s simple, eh?’ Quickly he chose eight guards. ‘You’re the lucky ones.’ To Ghyll’s astonishment, the warriors grinned as if they’d just got rewarded.
Embit-Koy pointed to Derivall. ‘See that little door? The mage will blow it up directly. Then we go inside and we open the main doors. After that, we conquer the castle. Got it?’ The soldiers laughed as if it was a big joke, and again it surprised Ghyll. What they had to do was dangerous and yet they didn’t hesitate. Was their faith in the young sublieutenant so strong? Embit-Koy turned back to his superior. ‘We’re ready, Captain.’
Davall looked at Ghyll, who turned to Bo. The mage took a deep breath, closed his eyes and raised his arms to the sky. Everyone stared at the flame growing between his hands. Bo kneaded it as a pastry cook kneads his dough and the flame became a ball. It crackled and sparked threateningly, but that didn’t bother Bo. The ball seemed to leap in his grasp and then Bo threw it in a high arch at the wicket door. From the battlements came a taunting laugh. The fireball hit the wicket with a fierce bang, followed by a shower of wood splinters, smoke and clouds of dust. Bo sighed and slumped down on the ground, where he remained seated with his head in his hands.
‘Get going!’ Davall roared.
Under cover of the smoke, Sublieutenant Embit-Koy with his eight guards ran to the ragged hole where the wicket had been, and disappeared inside the castle.
Agonizingly slow minutes later the heavy doors swung open.
Ghyll didn’t hesitate. ‘Attack!’ He spurred Ulanth on and galloped towards the castle, with flaming Childegard singing in his hands. Halfway, the mounted guards dashed past him and the noise of their charge echoed against the walls. With a loud ‘Hallali!’ Ghyll steered his horse towards the mercenaries who were fighting the vanguard.
Embit-Koy was the last of them standing. The sublieutenant fought two mercenaries at once, as coolly as if he was on the training field. Just before Ghyll was close enough to assist him, the young knight stumbled over the corpse of one of his men. For a moment, he lost his balance and then he died with blood spurting from his throat.
Ghyll screamed in rage and the mercenaries turned. They raised their reddened blades, but Ghyll was faster. Still screaming, he felled the first man and turned to the next. The mercenary yelled something and dropped his sword. In his anger, Ghyll didn’t care about his enemy yielding. At a slight tug on the reins, his steed reared and brought his sharp hooves down on the man’s shoulders. Screaming, the mercenary fell. His voice broke off abruptly when Ulanth danced over him. Now the gateway was empty of life. Ghyll turned his horse, ready for the next enemy, but it was no longer necessary. The last mercenaries had surrendered.
Ghyll rode through the courtyard, past the dead and wounded, with Childegard in his hand and Torril hurrying up to him with the bannered lance. In the middle of the courtyard, he stopped and looked around. To the left he saw a row of gallows, each occupied, and to the right, tiny cages with crouching figures inside. Disgust nearly choked him.
‘Amdal Ridaud!’ he shouted. Only silence answered.
Around him, Guards took possession of the castle and disarmed the remaining mercenaries. Nobody resisted them; the castle population seemed stunned by the reversal of their fate.
From a side door the sound of voices came, and a scuffle. Then a tall man in leather armor appeared, holding a second figure as a shield in front of him. The knife at the throat of his prisoner spoke plainly.
‘Zethir!’ Torril’s whisper sounded shocked.
‘Safe conduct,’ the man cried. ‘A free retreat for me and my men. ‘At the first raised weapon your boy will die!’
About the author and where to find him:
Paul E. Horsman (1952) is a Dutch and International Fantasy Author. Born in the sleepy garden village of Bussum, The Netherlands, he now lives in Roosendaal, a town on the Dutch-Belgian border. He has been a soldier, a salesman, a scoutmaster and from 1995 till his school closed in 2012 a teacher of Dutch as a Second Language and Integration to refugees from all over the globe. Being unemployed and economically overage, yet still some years away from retirement, he is a full-time writer of epic light fantasy adventures. His books are both published in the Netherlands, and internationally.
How well do you ever REALLY know another person? Their secrets? Their fears? Their doubts?
Meet Thompson. The real Thompson. Underneath this polite chauffeur’s exterior beats the heart of a warrior. A warrior who has been through hell and back. A warrior trying desperately to deal with the demons of his past. Trying desperately to bury the disappointments of his life, his actions, his failures.
Meet Maria. Sweet. Creative. Funny. With a heart of gold. Even confined to a wheelchair because of an accident, no one could define her as disabled. She longs for all the things any young woman longs for: love, connection, maybe a family. But for now, she’s put that aside.
In the best-selling series, High Stakes Seduction, you got a glimpse of Thompson and Maria… the parts of themselves they normally show to the world. Now, come discover the private sides of two people struggling to leave their pasts behind. Two people fighting the limitations others have imposed on them. Two people whose lives and souls can only be Healed by Love.
About the authors and where to find them:
Ami LeCoeur: Like most romance writers, Ami LeCoeur is a romantic at heart, but in her heart it’s the classic Romanticism of the late 18th and early 19th centuries. She is also a painter, glass artist, and award winning poet, as well as a writer. When she isn’t traveling, she lives on California’s Redwood Coast with her husband and two kitties. She loves her wonderful ocean view, and when the fog comes in – as it always does – she’s either curled up with a good book, or busy writing. If you like Ami’s stories, please let your friends know.
Elle Dawson: Sharing ones thoughts on paper is an intimate experience, and should not be taken lightly. Some days I fear this process, as my mind can be a scary place to dwell. Other days I realize I’m not alone in this journey, and although the very action of expelling ones deepest thoughts onto paper is intensely personal, it is deeply healing. Funny how that works. The ideas for this book, and the ones that will follow, came at a time when I was hurting, and needed a release that only writing can bring. As a romance lover, I couldn’t make myself write of new love, when it is easy to be in love, easy to be mad for each other, easy to have sex every night. Instead, I found a need inside me to re-connect couples, to shine a light of inspiration into a bedroom that has grown cold. So I will continue to write as Elle Dawson, and be a mom, sister, daughter and friend in my real life. And read books that take me away or speed up my heart.
After his partner was murdered, Simon Dunn was done with MI6. But the cold, violent world of British intelligence never lets anyone go free. Now Simon has been blackmailed into a new job…with a beautiful new partner who’s going to get them both killed. Robotics expert Cassie Watson is a newbie field agent with as much sophistication as…well, a pacifist, vegan computer nerd. Now she’s abruptly thrust into the cutthroat world of espionage with a partner who is as cold as he is brutally-and brutishly-handsome. But when their mission is betrayed from the inside, Cassie will be forced to place her life in the hands of the one man who’s anything but trustworthy…
Excerpt from True Deceptions:
Simon didn’t want to know what the future held, and he didn’t want to acknowledge the past. At this exact moment, however, he wanted Anna Marie from Wisconsin, an all-American blue-eyed, blonde pharmaceutical sales representative looking to experience everything life offered. During dinner, he’d given her his usual warning that people weren’t always what they seemed, but she’d ignored his words and stroked the length of his leg with her foot, requesting some private time with him.
“Listen love, I think we should call it a night. I’m leaving Bermuda soon and so are you, and, at this point, I don’t have room in my life for a relationship.”
She laughed and reached across the table for his hand. “I’m looking for company for one night only. I have to return home tomorrow, and so far, I have nothing to take home with me but memories of business meetings and a tour of the local hospital.”
She caressed the top of his hand and weaved her fingers between his. How could he turn down such an offer?
He lifted her fingers to his lips and kissed them. His gaze rested on full lips painted blood red to entice and seduce. “I’m sure I can provide you with some far more interesting memories to take home.”
“Good.” She stood up and encouraged him to the door of the restaurant. “I bet I can leave you with a few as well.”
Once they were alone in his hotel suite, Anna Marie poured them each some champagne, bending over enough to reveal an amazing pair of breasts about to cascade out of her floral sundress. Biting her bottom lip, she lifted her gaze to peek at him through golden hair. Seductive energy swirled around her. Simon read her intentions like the cover of a tabloid.
He stood on his balcony. The view overlooked Castle Harbor at night, but he faced his dinner companion who continued to pour them each a drink. Dinner had dragged for two hours, and he was ready for his dessert. Her eyes lifted from her task. Her smile reminded him of the carefree and happy life he’d enjoyed before Nicola had died in a blaze of heroism.
“This is the most luxurious hotel I’ve ever seen. It’s four stars up from the hotel I’m staying in.” Looking like a child in a candy store, she’d probably sacrifice everything to live in Simon’s world. She had no idea how costly it could be. And he’d never allow her to find out.
“I’m glad you like it.” He sat on the couch and stretched his legs under the bleached wood and glass coffee table.
“Wisconsin is beautiful in April, but there’s no ocean breezes like here. Even the smell of the water is nice. Bermuda must be totally different from England, too.”
“Have you ever met anyone with a title?”
Besides his father and half brother? “No. The British aristocracy doesn’t lower itself into my social circles.”
She laughed and whipped her hair over her shoulder. “I love the royal family. The dresses. The hats. It’s all so glamorous.”
“Come here.” He had the perfect cure for her tiresome prattle.
She carried the crystal flutes to the couch and handed him one. He placed it on the table and focused his attention on her. Her blue eyes could swallow a man whole and keep him hypnotized. He had difficulty looking away.
She sipped the champagne too fast, without seeming to enjoy the taste, only the exclusivity of the beverage. “I haven’t had champagne since my sister’s wedding. I usually drink cosmos. What do you usually drink?”
“Most of the guys I know drink beer.” She took a few more sips. Her eyelashes fluttered, and her tongue peeked out of those perfect lips to lick a leftover drop of her beverage.
Simon reached his conversational limit. He took her glass and placed it next to his. Her smile became demure, but seductive. She placed her hand on his leg, both an offer and an acceptance. That was all he needed. Tonight, nothing mattered but the beautiful woman in his arms. He pulled her toward him, his hand caressing her back. Straight blonde hair fell across her shoulders. He brushed it aside in order to taste the salty air flavoring her neck. A sigh escaped her lips. He wanted all of her, all night.
When he pulled the straps of her dress down and claimed an exposed breast, she sighed again and spurred him on by brushing her fingers though his hair. His thumb played with her nipple until her sighs turned into moans. Soon he had her sprawled across the couch, topless and begging for attention. He complied with her wishes and provided her with pleasures small town farm boys had probably never shown her.
His kisses moved up her neck, stopping to nibble her earlobe. She turned toward him, demanding his attention on her soft, full lips. His mouth feathered over hers until she parted her lips, and their tongues met. She tasted like champagne mixed with nuts. Almonds. Bitter almonds. Shit.
Her eyes widened, and she gasped for breath. He pulled away just before her body began to convulse. Five to ten minutes since the last sip—someone must have spiked the hell out of the champagne for the poison to hit her so quickly. It didn’t help that she’d spent dinner flirting instead of eating. She had nothing in her system to stop the cyanide from killing her.
Simon turned away from Anna Marie and spit out her saliva. He wiped his tongue on his shirt and then spit again. He’d be fine, but she wouldn’t be. He knelt next to the couch and brushed her hair back. Her body rocked, and he held her steady by her shoulders, whispering stupid nothings, but the horror reflected in her eyes didn’t subside. Her convulsions had slowed, and tears fell fast down her cheeks. She would die in the arms of a stranger who didn’t know her, love her, or have the capacity to mourn for her.
Anger rushed through him. Another woman dies because of me. “I’m so sorry. I didn’t know.”
Struggling to breathe, she stared at him as though he was a monster, until her eyes shut, and she faded away from Bermuda and the glamorous life she’d never have.
No one was supposed to know his location. He’d stayed hidden for the past eight months. It was time to relocate and hide somewhere new.
The next few hours involved moving her body to a vacant room in his hotel. The task was easily handled with the help of a laundry cart and knowledge of the security cameras. He cleaned off the champagne bottle and left it by her side for the local authorities to play with.
When he returned to his suite, he had a visitor. An unexpected and unwanted visitor.
“Simon Dunn. On a stakeout, are you?” Dressed in white trousers and a pink polo shirt, Tucker Magee looked like a pretty boy on a modeling assignment instead of a spineless intelligence officer.
“I’m on vacation.”
“For eight months?”
“How the hell did you find me, Tucker?”
“The problem with shagging every sexy woman on the island is their love of social media. The boys at headquarters have had the facial recognition program scanning for you for months.”
“Glad to know the vast resources of the Secret Intelligence Service are used for employee retention instead of actually protecting the commonwealth. You could simply offer more vacation time and a better benefits package.”
Tucker glanced at the back of his hand. No doubt he’d just had a manicure and was admiring the handiwork. His image had always taken priority over his actual job requirements. “Her name was Sarah, here on break from university.”
“I don’t remember her.”
“A picture of her in a bar with her friends showed your ugly face in the background. They tagged you ‘hot guy.'” He smiled, the snotty prat.
“What the hell do you want?”
“My assignment is to bring you back to London.”
“I’m not ready.”
Tucker’s eyebrows rose. “Word on the street is you killed Luc Perrault after he stole away your latest piece of ass. They even say you snuffed Nicola in a rage of passion.”
His accusation fueled Simon’s anger. “I didn’t kill her.”
“Doesn’t matter. The rumor will increase your influence brokering arms deals.
Everyone’s going to mind you now that you’re a known murderer, and that makes it even more important that you return to your post.”
“I don’t think you understand your options. Come back immediately or stay here and face a murder conviction.” Tucker tapped his fingers together beneath his chin and grinned. “Choose wisely.”
Simon’s heart accelerated to full speed, drugged by adrenaline and fury. The bastard had framed him, killing a beautiful someone in order to punish him for leaving a job that slowly burned away his soul. He stormed over to Tucker’s chair, intent on ripping his heart out. Before he reached him, Tucker pulled out his revolver and pointed it directly at Simon’s crotch. His eyes narrowed, and he waved Simon back with the barrel of the gun.
“What makes you so sure I won’t disappear again?” Simon asked.
“You’ve always hated collateral damage. It’s your biggest weakness. We don’t have time to insert anyone else into the game right now. Return to work or we’ll create a bloody trail behind you so deep you’ll drown in it.” Tucker rose from his seat and strode to the door. “I expect to see you back in your flat by tomorrow.” He left the room without looking back.
Other romantic suspense by Veronica Forand!
Untrue Colors: Available HERE
Snowed: Available HERE
Code RED: Available HERE
About the author and where to find her:
A Bostonian by birth, Veronica Forand regrettably lost her Boston accent while moving from state to state and country to country. Cleveland probably had the most profound effect on her ability to pronounce the “r” in the word “park.” She does try to return now and then to visit family and eat long neck clams and lobster. Summers on Cape Cod are also high on the priority list. Her experience in crime involves time as a court appointed attorney. Eventually, she switched fields to where bigger crimes take place, corporate tax. The allure of spending mornings in her pajamas homeschooling her children and writing fascinating fiction inspired her to change careers again. Now that the kids are out of the house (in school), she writes romantic thrillers by day and is the perfect wife and mother at night. Her experience in romance is limited to one man. Luckily, he’s still finding ways to charm her by taking her on vacations to the south of France, Fiji, and the Green Mountains when time is short. Avid travelers, they love to roam with their kids across continents in pursuit of skiing, scuba diving, and the perfect piece of chocolate. She’s lived in London, Paris, Geneva, Washington D.C., and the accent destroying city of Cleveland. She currently resides near Philadelphia.
Can you live a life of lies?
That’s exactly what Geneva finds herself doing to protect everyone she loves. While Geneva and her friends embark on a dangerous mission to fulfill her destiny, the dark forces that seek her powers are closing in, putting everyone she cares about at risk. Geneva must lie about who she is, what she knows and her true feelings. Are all these lies worth it or will she go too far and lose everything she’s been fighting for?
Excerpt from Lies (Volume #3: The Geneva Project):
We marched forward out of the protective tree line of the forest and into the open field; a wall of bodies, hands clasped moving with purpose toward the Troian Center. Even though we had the protection of Remi’s invisibility power, I still felt tense and exposed. My heart pounded with uncertainty as a cool wind rushed past and we picked up speed. I could barely feel the strange sensation of lightness that being invisible provided. My skin tingled, but it felt more like nerves than magic. The last time I’d been invisible the sensation had felt much more intense, which had me worried that maybe it wasn’t working right. The possibility that Remi wasn’t strong enough to stretch his power over all of us made me shutter with uneasiness. This was more people than he’d ever tried to share his power with before .
About the author and where to find her:
Christina Benjamin is the Award-Winning Author of the Young Adult series The Geneva Project. Her debut novel, Truth, has won multiple awards, including the 2014 FAPA Gold Medal for YA fiction. Benjamin’s writing hooks fans of mega-hit YA fiction like Harry Potter and The Hunger Games, and offers them a new series to obsess over. She paints a vivid world, where magic and imagination run wild in her epic tale of adventure, courage and friendship. Benjamin studied English at the University of Central Florida. She’s dedicated to giving back to the community and speaking at schools to inspire creativity in young writers.
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One accident. Four lives. Forever changed.
It was only a single moment, but it destroyed us all.
Changing Course After a tragic accident robs him of a future with his wife, Brett Sharp must let go of the past and learn to love again. But what happens when the woman he used to love refuses to accept the woman he can’t live without?
Stolen Course After the loss of his fiancée, Caleb Jones is angry and numb. His only goal is to make the woman who killed her pay. But what happens when everything he knows to be true explodes around him? Who will be left to pick up the pieces, and who will need to be saved from the wreckage?
Among The Echoes After being stripped of her identity, Dr. Erica Hill had long since stopped living. The day she meets celebrity boxer, Slate Andrews, her life drastically changes for the better…and the worse. She’s on the run, determined not to take him down with her, but absolutely unable to let him go.
Broken Course After the fated accident that killed her best friend, Sarah Erickson is left consumed by guilt and self loathing. But
can a second broken soul be enough to fill the voids of her own? Or will such scarred pasts prove too much for love alone to overcome?
Excerpt from Changing Course (Wrecked and Ruined Series):
Brett: “Sarah, don’t do this. Damn it! Stay with me.” I reach over and gently brush the blood-soaked hair off her forehead.
Even in this horrific moment, I’m in absolute awe of how beautiful she looks. Bleeding and broken, unmoving in my arms, she is still the most mesmerizing woman I have ever laid eyes on. Deep down, I know this is just the husk of my wife. My Sarah would never have done this to herself. More importantly, she would have never done this to me. Maybe it takes this level of madness, but I finally realize that I have lost her completely.
Whether she lives or dies, Sarah is gone. This is not the woman who made me laugh more in seven years than the rest of my life combined. She definitely isn’t the woman I spent years planning a future with, a future that now no longer exists. I feel a heavy weight in my chest at my silent confession, but oddly enough, I also feel a weight lifted off my shoulders. I have watched this woman disintegrate in front of my eyes for almost seven months. Every day, losing her a little more. The light in her eyes fading, while piece by piece and bit by bit, she lost grip of reality. Mentally, emotionally, and now physically, she’s left me.
My Sarah died seven months ago on her way home from dinner, and I will never see her walk back into my life. Suddenly, I can’t breathe. I’m terrified—and not only because Sarah might finally succeed in taking her own life. I’m paralyzed by the realization that my life is spiraling down in a free fall headed straight for misery, and the only thing I can think to do is anchor myself to this dying woman. I love Sarah with all my heart, but I am not clinging to the woman in my arms. Rather, I’m clinging to the life I thought we were going to have together. I have to accept that she isn’t there anymore. Her heart might still be beating, but the bloody, confused, emotionally lost woman I am holding now is only the shell of my first and only love.
“Where the fuck is that ambulance?!” I yell as loud as my cracking voice will allow. Stroking the little bit of her unmarred skin I’m able to reach, I whisper in her ear, “Hang on, baby.” Then I repeat the one sentence I have said almost daily since the tragic event that stole her from me. Maybe I say it for her, maybe just for me, but I know that it’s the biggest lie I have ever uttered. “Just hang on, baby. It’s all going to be okay.”
About the author and where to find her:
Born and raised in Savannah, Georgia, Aly Martinez is a stay-at-home mom to four crazy kids under the age of five, including a set of twins. Currently living in South Carolina, she passes what little free time she has reading anything and everything she can get her hands on, preferably with a glass of wine at her side.
After some encouragement from her friends, Aly decided to add “Author” to her ever-growing list of job titles. Five books later, she shows no signs of slowing. So grab a glass of Chardonnay, or a bottle if you’re hanging out with Aly, and join her aboard the crazy train she calls life.
Review, Excerpt, and Sweepstakes: Counterfeit Countess (Book #1: Brazen Brides Series) by Cheryl Bolen
Maggie thought she was married to an earl . . . but it seems that her late and unlamented husband lied to her from the day they met. Now—penniless and stranded in London—she has thrown herself on the mercy of the real Lord Warwick. What’s a counterfeit countess to do?
Edward, the Earl of Warwick, desires only to get rid of the beautiful woman who arrived at his house with no less than fourteen trunks, a younger sister, a maid, and a very large cat. Her preposterous explanation is of no importance—but her late husband held the clue to the identity of England’s greatest traitor, a clue the Foreign Service must get at any cost. Edward will have to guard her night and day—but he cannot guard his heart.
Source: ARC from author
My Rating: 4/5 stars
It’s not every day Edward, the Earl of Warwick wakes up to the dulcet tones of a gaggle of women in his front room. It is most certainly not every day one of those women announces she is the countess of Warwick and she has finally come home to claim what her late husband left her. Since, Edward is fairly certain he is both unmarried and still alive, there must be some mistake.
Maggie has had one hell of a life. Born and raised in America, she never thought she would find herself married to an English earl nor did she ever think that earl would turn out to be a traitor and leave her and her sister, destitute and alone in a foreign land. Not one to be kept down for long, Maggie makes the bold decision to be the countess she legitimately thought she was and that means taking over Edward’s home until she can figure out her next move. What Maggie did not at all count on is how exceedingly handsome and kind the Earl of Warwick is.
From the moment Edward sees Maggie in his entryway, he is taken with her. Not just her appearance but also her intelligence, quick wit and penchant for simply speaking her mind. She is clearly in a fix and though Edward has no idea what to do about her presence in his home, he does know who to ask. With a bit of information from Maggie, Edward learns her traitorous husband is indeed dead and that is information Edward’s employer will certainly want to know. Maggie’s late husband wasn’t just a fraud, he was a spy and with England embroiled in a war with France, it is risky to let Maggie go before Edward can gain every bit of intelligence possible. Maggie agrees to help Edward but only if he will allow her and her sister to stay in his home until she can find an appropriate husband.
Within just a few days’ time, Maggie is introduced to society, the suitor’s line up, and it becomes very clear that someone thinks Maggie knows far more than she does about her late husband’s activities. When her room at Edward’s home is searched and virtually destroyed, a possible informant is killed before she and Edward can question him, and she is attacked, Edward decides it is time to take her into hiding until the mystery can be solved. Danger always seems to breed intense attraction and it doesn’t take long for Maggie to fall into Edward’s bed. Wracked with guilt over his actions, Edward must quickly determine exactly where Maggie fits into his life and what he is willing to sacrifice to be with her long-term.
The Bottom Line: Once again, Cheryl Bolen comes through for me with a solid historical romance. Maggie is by far my favorite character in this read with her strong will, her often runaway mouth (the candy to keep from talking had me laughing out loud!), her quick mind, and overall resilience make her an easy to root for character. Edward is really just an excellent match for Maggie and once he accepts she is meant to be his, he goes all out in efforts to help her. The suspense and level of drama in this read is just right to keep the plot moving along at a brisk pace but it is really the dialogue that carries the story. From start to finish, Maggie and Edward are engaged with one another, with the mystery surrounding her late husband, and all the other characters that factor into their lives. Of those other characters, Maggie’s younger sister is a favorite and I was most pleased to see her story is up next in the Brazen Brides series.
Click HERE to read an excerpt on Cheryl’s website.
About the author and where to find her:
Cheryl Bolen is the New York Times and USA Today best-selling author of over 20 romances, both historical and contemporary mystery. Many of her books have placed in contests, including the Daphne du Maurier (romantic suspense) and have been translated into ten languages. She was Notable New Author in 1999. In 2006 she won the Holt Medallion, Best Historical, and in 2012 she won Best Historical in the International Digital Awards and she’s had four other titles place in that competition. Her 2011 Christmas novella was named Best Novella in the Romance Through the Ages.
Raven: Two people. That’s how it usually starts right? I grew up believing one thing, only for one day to completely mess up everything I’ve ever been taught. Was I a good girl? No, not by any means. But, the world I’m about to be thrown into is unlike anything I’ve ever known.
Mace: Multiple people. I live for club life. As the President of the Hell’s Storm MC I protect my brothers at all costs, and they do the same for me. After a rival club killed what was mine, I vowed to live in as many chicks as possible. Never tasting the same one twice. But, all it takes is that one look to completely bring a man, even me, to my knees. Two people. Brought up on different sides of the tracks. Two different paths in life. Both will be tested, taken to the very edge of darkness that threatens to consume them both. Will they be able to withstand the heat of hell? Or will they fight to death and lose themselves? Amazon US | Amazon UK | B & N | iTunes
About the authors and where to find them:
S.L. Schiefer: So, as some of you may know, my first jump into the Indie World was with a light and fluffy romance. But, I think I’ve finally found my niche, the dark! *insert evil laugh* I love reading anything and everything, will read even when I’m supposed to be working. I’m really not that cool of a person, I love hiding behind my electronic devices. But, if you can grab my attention I will talk your dang ear off. I was born and raised in Ohio, O-H-I-O! I’ve been with my high school sweetheart for 10 years now. I’m surprised one of us hasn’t killed each other by now. lol. I have two beautiful little boys, that can give Satan a run for his money. I would love to hear from any of you.
Jen Cousineau: Romance Author. ItWorks distributor. Mother. Wife. Adventurist wannabe. Fitness enthusiast. Coffee and chapstick addict.
All she can remember is hunger…for him. A year ago, Alexandria Stevens strode through the doors of Wicked Ways and into the arms of a man—a monster, really—who stole everything from her. Her memory. Her life. Now she’s a creature of darkness with only hazy images in her mind of that night and a confusing jumble of emotions. A fierce hate…and an even fiercer desire for Markus Santini. Markus has walked through this world for more than a hundred years, knowing exactly who and what he was, until Alexandria undid it all. Undid him. When a former vampire colleague threatens one of the Enclave’s own, Markus is needed—but only as the dark, powerful creature he once was. And in order to become that, he must find redemption…in the arms of a woman who despises him with every breath she can no longer take.
My Rating: 4½/5 stars
BAH!! It took me three books to get here but I finally made it to Markus and Alex’s story and damn it all if it wasn’t totally worth the wait!
Markus Santini has been hanging around since the first book and from read-to-read he has gone through cycles of evil, something similar to goodness, evil genius, depravity, and warped kindness. He’s been a member of the Enclave, a partner to the sick and twisted Marguerite, and a prisoner of the Enclave. He is also absolutely certain, to his core that Alexandra, the woman he kidnapped and turned against her will, is his mate. If he has any hope of claiming Alex for his own, Markus has a lot of work to do and that work begins with getting out of a silver lined cage.
Over and over again, Alex’s trust has been tested, pushed to the limit, and violated but through it all, she has survived. Not only has Alex survived she has become stronger and though she wouldn’t have chosen a vampire’s life, it’s what she has and she is bound and determined to make the best of it. Alex is beyond tired of being a victim and if she is going to claim her life and become even stronger she is going to have to start with getting some answers. Most in the Enclave think Alex is keeping her distance from Markus because of what he did to her but in truth, she keeps her distance so she can keep her intense attraction to him under control.
There is no denying the sexual chemistry between Alex and Markus but that is about the extent of their relationship. Markus has no desire for Alex to know all of his dirty little secrets and Alex has no desire to be used and/or victimized yet again. However, when Markus begins to take real steps toward healing and making amends with his fellow Enclave members, Alex takes notice. Trusting Markus is a difficult task but every once in a while, Alex sees a glimmer of goodness in Markus and she slowly begins to let her guard down. Markus knows there is a threat to Alex and the Enclave still out in the world in the form of Enrique and it is his intention to protect Alex (and the Enclave if he’s being honest with himself!) from that threat no matter what it may cost him. Enrique is a determined little rat with no scruple or morals; he is desperate to once again have power and getting to Alex and the Enclave is the answer to all his problems.
As the days and weeks go by, Alex and Markus come ever closer to one another but each holds just a bit back from the other. It isn’t until their lives are well and truly threatened that each realizes how tenuous even an immortals life can be. Enrique is one scary dude and when he is able to put all his plans into motion, the entire Enclave is threatened and many among the group some out with more than a few scrapes and bruises. The action and the drama of these intense moments reveals not only Markus’s true character but his affection for Alex. For Alex, these moments allow her to truly become a part of the Enclave and fight for those she now calls family. For what may be the first time in her life, Alex belongs somewhere and she intends to keep Markus with her.
The Bottom Line: Markus is the character you really love to hate and the author has done such a fine job over the course of the series of keeping him that gray area. For me, Markus is very much HBO’s Dexter – I know I’m not supposed to love the serial killer, yet I do. In what I am assuming is the final book of the series, Markus finally gets a chance to right all the wrongs he has done in his life. He wants to be good and if it weren’t for Alex and a very patient Kenric, the chance to be good, his moment of redemption may have never come. I love his struggle in this read and how hard the author really made Markus’s road. If it were easy, everyone would be doing it, right? My only complaint about this read is how very much everyone babies Alex. She has endured and survived more than most and is a strong woman yet it takes huge moments and actions for anyone (other than Markus) to recognize Alex’s strength and ability to care for herself. Becoming Markus’s mate is huge for Alex and like him, she needed to struggle to get to her HEA. The push and pull between the two is pretty fantastic and I found myself really becoming quite attached to these two characters. Though I would certainly like to see the Enclave series continue, the ending to this read seems pretty fixed and final. If the series is done, I can honestly say I am pleased with the outcome and don’t feel like it could have ended any better than it did.
Guerino Lombardi’s world just went to shit. Vampire and second in command of the Warriors of the Enclave, he’s put everything on the line to save his best friend from what has to be the worst blow a man can take. Kenric, his friend and master of the Enclave, has a daughter, something believed impossible in the vampire world, and word has it she wants her father and his Enclave dead. Guerin is determined to protect Kenric, keeping the secret from him until he knows for sure if this daughter really exists and if she wants revenge.
Eve Devonshire is a woman hiding in plain sight. Not completely human, but not quite a vampire, she’s accepted by neither race but is more powerful than either one. Her life has consisted of half-truths and disguises, never belonging or living in one place for any length of time. But now some have heard rumors of her existence and want nothing more than to trap her and dissect her like a lab rat.
To stay alive, Eve can’t trust anyone, including the alpha vampire with midnight eyes and a thirst for pain and submission. With her enemies nipping at her heels, Eve has Guerin cornered, and both are determined to get the answers they’re looking for or die trying…if they can fight their desires long enough.
My Rating: 4½/5 stars
**CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR BOOK #2, UNDYING EMBRACE**
Woot! Welcome to round three of the Enclave series and one seriously hot couple! At the end of book two, Undying Embrace, Markus dropped one hell of a bombshell that only Guerino Lombardi was privy too. According to the crazy bastard, Kenric and Marguerite accomplished the impossible, they had a child together. In an effort to understand the madness, Guerino shares the information with Aaran and though both are loathe to keep secrets from Kenric they know they must have proof before blowing up their Master and friend’s world.
With a mind to helping his friend, Guerino takes off for Europe in search of a woman by the name of Eve, a woman who isn’t supposed to exist. Though Guerino knows he is acting on the word of a madman, he finds himself in Nuremberg face to face with the single most stunning woman he has ever encountered. Trouble is, Eve has spent the last 300 years masking her identity and trusts no one, so chaining this new man in a dungeon and beating him in order to get answers really isn’t an issue for her. Trouble is, the man likes the beating and no matter how much pain she offers up, he isn’t talking.
For the better part of 300 years, Eve has been a legend in the vampire world. The offspring of two vampires shouldn’t exist yet she does and her abilities – to day walk, in particular – are coveted and most would do anything to get their hands on her. Of particular note is Seth, a powerful vampire whose lust for Eve’s secret is no secret and once he figures out precisely who she is, he comes in hard and fast which compromises Eve’s dungeon location. Though she isn’t completely sure of Guerino’s interest in her, she knows he isn’t working for Seth and so, she takes him when she flees. As we all know, dangerous situations tend to heighten sexual chemistry and that sure as hell happens with Eve and Guerino. She is wicked powerful and has a penchant for light Domination which makes her the perfect match for Guerino who has an interest in strong women and is willing to submit to them in the bedroom alone.
As I have come to expect, nothing easy for the Enclave and getting Eve to safety is going to be a nightmare of epic proportions. Seth has an even more powerful partner and once Guerino discovers her identity, he knows the showdown is going to get ugly. Facing his past when all he wants to do is protect and possess Eve will test Guerino and push him to the point of breaking. Added to the mix is the totally uncomfortable meeting between Eve and Kenric (aka daddy dearest) and where, exactly Eve fits into Kenric’s and the Enclaves world.
The Bottom Line: Wowsa did I like this book! Eve is some kind of bad ass with her ability to take out vampires with her mind, walk in the sun, and dominate an Alpha male like Guerino Lombardi. Eve has such a hard time trusting others because of her abilities and the lies her mother told her making Guerino, a man who also has a hard time trusting a good match for her. The two, though they go through a ton of crap, are an excellent match for one another both in the bedroom and out of it. The evolution of their relationship is quick and crazy but it fits in perfectly with the pacing and content of the plot. I very much like that there is action mixed in with the drama but there isn’t so much that it drags on. I feel like I’m getting deeper into this series with each read and I still don’t know what’s happened with Alex and Markus . . . on to book four :)
Arran MacLain is a vampire on a suicide mission, driven to kill his former partner who betrayed him and the Enclave they served. But two things stand in his way: Gabrielle, the human female who holds his heart, and the past that won’t let him go. If only death was enough to cleanse his soul. Gabrielle Steven’s sister is missing. Her hunt for clues brings her face to face with the one vampire she can’t forget. Their missions combine and thrust them into the heart of evil. Will their passion be enough to overcome the pain from their past, or will their dark desires destroy them both?
My Rating: 4/5 stars
The Enclave doesn’t take kindly to traitors and Markus is definitely a traitor. After abandoning and betraying the Enclave to be with Marguerite, Markus has spent more than a year in hiding but his former partner, Aaran MacLain is still looking and for the first time in a long time, he has a lead. Aaran is ready to do his duty and once Markus and Marguerite are dead, he can (hopefully) return to the Enclave and his life. The only thing standing in his way is Gabrielle Stevens. Just what in hell is she doing in town?
Gabrielle Stevens has a few loves in her life, Aaran MacLain and her sister, Alex. Aaran has been gone for a year, and now, Alex is missing too. As one of the Enclave’s most trusted human helpers (read: tech goddess!) Gabrielle knows when things are hinky and Alex’s disappearance is definitely hinky. Finding her sister will take all of her skills plus some but she refuses to involve to the Enclave. Thank goodness Aaran MacLain left the Enclave J While trolling Wicked Ways, a dangerous Goth club frequented by vampires, Alex runs into the one man she thought she would never see again, Aaran MacLain and he is so not happy to see her. Just what in hell is Aaran doing in town?
From the moment they reconnect, Aaran and Gabrielle have an intense sexual attraction to one another. Gabrielle is more than ready to give herself to Aaran but he is hesitant – in his head, not in his heart and body. When Gabrielle finally unloads the whole story on Aaran, he agrees to help her on the condition she stay out of harm’s way. Yeah, like that’s going to happen. Gabrielle is more than willing to do anything necessary to get her sister back and once she makes that clear to Aaran, he has no choice but to allow her in and protect her. Let’s hope he can get his body under control because every moment he is in contact with Gabrielle is one moment closer to losing all control and making her his for eternity. Aaran absolutely enjoys the thought of making Gabrielle his but his past is dark and ugly and he is certain once Gabrielle knows the full extent of his dirty deeds, she will want nothing to do with him.
Within just a few nights, Aaran and Gabrielle figure out their missions are overlapping and Gabrielle’s worst nightmare comes true, Markus has her sister and she has been turned. Better than anyone, Aaran knows what Markus and Marguerite are capable of so taking them out has never been more important. With the clues he and Gabrielle have managed to gather, they know where to find the evil duo and are ready to go in guns blazing. Thankfully, Gabrielle has more than one suitor in the Enclave and before she and Aaran can launch their suicide mission, the rest of the crew shows up. Marguerite is bat-shit crazy and Markus is almost completely under her control so when the Enclave shows up it is quite literally a battle to the death. The Enclave intends to take no prisoners but Markus is devious and has a strong sense of self-preservation. To save his own skin, Markus has taken over Gabrielle’s sister’s mind and made her his puppet. In short, if he dies, so does she. Gabrielle isn’t willing to sacrifice her sister and Aaran certainly isn’t willing to sacrifice Gabrielle.
The Bottom Line: There was a spectacularly long time between my reading of this book and the first in the series, Undying Destiny. It was quite easy to fall back into the Enclave series and I immediately knew each of the characters and their drama. Aaran is such a strong character but he lets his past weigh him down and keep him from a truly happy future with both the Enclave and Gabrielle. Gabrielle is one stubborn and highly intelligent woman who, before her time with the Enclave suffered a horrible attack at the hands of a DEAD. She, better than most know what an out of control vampire can do and so, she does her best to save her sister without endangering anyone else. Gabrielle’s stubbornness is matched only by Aaran’s and when the chips are down, the two come together in order to save the other. Though I enjoyed Aaran and Gabrielle’s story, there is a lot of ground covered in this read and I think that kept me from enjoying the overall read as much as I enjoyed Aaran and Gabrielle’s story. With that being said, I’m not going to let one minor issue keep me from the rest of the series. I must know what becomes of Alex and Markus :)