Category Archives: Publishing News

Release Day Blitz: Origin by Ana Jolene

We’d like to extend our thanks to Tasty Book Tours for letting us host Ana Jolene on the site today in celebration of the release of her newest novel, murr! To see all of the blogs involved in this event, please click on the banner above. =^.^=

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Publisher: Self-published

Date Released: March 14, 2017

Series: Glory MC #2

One drunken kiss ignites an inferno of burning desire. Sworn enemies, Lucky Winters and Seven Douglass struggle to forget the kiss that shouldn’t have happened. Then Lucky’s past comes back to bite him and he suddenly disappears for months, leaving Seven wondering where they both stand.

When Lucky returns, he is a changed man and his prolonged absence means he must once again prove himself to the club he’s sworn his life to. Except Lucky can’t seem to shake off the recent events as much as he wants to.

Seven is no stranger to this feeling. Her own mysterious past threatens to disrupt her future and when neither of them are able to stop the ghosts of their pasts from resurfacing, the only person they can turn to is each other. Suddenly, hatred morphs into love. And where there is fire and ice, there’s bound to be some steam . . .

Excerpt:

It must’ve been the shots earlier, but a strange sense came over me. My mouth turned dry. My hands became balmy and my head suddenly wasn’t working right, because any other time, I wouldn’t have ever thought about this.
In this state, with her disheveled hair, her imperfect lips, and her skin flushed with heat, Seven looked sexy. Desirable. Lovable, even. And for the first time ever in my life, I wasn’t sure what to do next.
As if of its own volition, my hand drifted to her thigh, to the exact same place where the dickhead’s hands had been. For some reason, I wanted to erase every trace of his hands on her, replacing it with mine.
I glanced up to gauge Seven’s reaction. Any look of disgust that crossed her face would have me pulling back immediately. But instead, I encountered the opposite. Seven stared back at me as if entranced, her lips parted as she panted shallowly.
I waited for it. For her to say something like, “I’ll give you ’til the count of ten to take your dirty hands off my thigh before I scream.” Or something equally worse. But Seven sat there waiting, anticipation burning in her cerulean eyes. She didn’t actually want me to kiss her, did she?
I winced at the rush of blood that pounded in my temples like a dark beat. Suddenly, I wanted to. In the back of my mind, wicked thoughts swirled as I recalled the image of her wrapping those red lips around that shot glass earlier. It made the red-blooded male in me wonder what other things she could do with that mouth.
For the third time that night, I had to forcefully stop my mind from fantasizing about a certain blonde bombshell.
Yup. There was no doubt about it now. I was drunker than I had let on. I shouldn’t have ever given her a ride home. But it wasn’t the worry of crashing on the side of the road that terrified me. It was this unfamiliar feeling of wanting what you knew you shouldn’t that scared me now.
Yet all that seemed to be forgotten as this indiscernible draw pulled me closer to her. My hand on her thigh grew courageous, exploring more skin. Her eyes drifted shut for a moment, as if she wanted to get lost in this confusing emotion circulating between us as much as I did.
All this time, Seven remained wordless. It wasn’t in her to ask, I realized later. Seven had too much pride for that. But her eyes, the wide oceanic blue, told me all I needed to know.
I was looking into the eyes of a woman who wanted to be kissed.
And fuck me, I wanted to kiss her, too.
I leaned in, running my hand through her already finger-tossed hair. My hand caught in something. Gently, I tugged it free, only realizing later what it was. A hairpin with a golden wing attached to it.
I palmed it and slid it into my back pocket for now, not wanting anything to break this hypnotic moment. My hand immediately returned to her face, running over her cheek, registering the smoothness. All this time, I thought her to be prickly due to her personality. But her skin was baby soft. So different than I made her out to be.
I drew my hand towards the back of her head as the need to kiss her turned ravenous. I should’ve pulled back. Should’ve stopped this madness before it was too late, but fuck it all, her lips could tempt a saint.
The first pass of my lips over hers was electric. As she groaned, I deepened the kiss, luxuriating in her response. I didn’t know what was better —the way she curled her fingers into the back of my neck or how her tongue darted out to lick at the seam of my mouth. How had I never known this fire, this burning desire before?
Seven’s mouth was an aphrodisiac, a forbidden fruit that now that I had a taste of, I wanted more. Women threw themselves at me all the time. But none were as sweet as Seven.
My hands grew rougher as I tugged on her hair, tipping her head back so that I could run my mouth down her throat. I was surprised when she arched her back, further offering her body to me.
Like the greedy bastard I was, I took in my fill. Not just with my eyes, but with my hands too, reaching out to graze over her breasts and thighs. Her skirt slid up higher, bunching at her waist. Within the shaft of moonlight peering into the car, I could see the white scrap of fabric shielding her from my view. Oh my God—
Thought barely registered before Seven pushed me away. “Wait!”
What the hell? I backed off immediately, the bubble of passion popping like a balloon. It was akin to being yanked out of a dream. My mind felt muddled and disoriented like I had an out of body experience and was just coming back into myself.
“Shit.” In a flood, rational thought returned to me. “I shouldn’t have done that.” She was drunk and I had taken advantage of her. I wiped my mouth with the back of my hand as if I could remove every trace of what had just happened. But holy hell, I was harder than a rock!
Seven’s eyes had changed. They were no longer hazy. Gone was the willing, plaint woman of just moments ago; I was with the other Seven again. The one who despised me.
Had it really been different between us for a while there? One minute she was hot as fire in my hands and then, a second later, she was frigid again.
“I’m sorry but I can’t do this,” she whispered.
“Right.” I had no idea what the fuck had come over me, but this was crazy.
“You and I,” she said, indicating us with her hand. “We’re fire and ice. We don’t go well together.”
I swiped a hand over my hair, feeling more than just my dick deflating. “Thanks for reminding me.”
Her eyes turned sharp with my bitter tone. “I didn’t want to do something we’d both regret. That’s all I’m saying.”
“Yeah, I got it, sweetheart. You realized who you were tangling tongues with and it turned you off.”
“Lucky, I didn’t mean that. Don’t put words in my mouth.”
Shrugging, I returned to my full height. Shoving my hands into my front pockets, I stepped back, giving her space to get out of her car. “Go inside,” I said quietly. “Get some sleep.”
“Lucky,” she whispered.
I stared at her.
She stared back.
When Seven finally realized I wouldn’t say more on the topic, she huffed her frustration and slipped out of the car, adjusting her skirt from where my hand had pushed it up high on her hips. It only reminded me of the feeling of her soft skin beneath my palms. I clamped my mouth down tight as she walked past me.
“I’ll see you around then.”
“Yeah,” I replied dumbly as I walked towards the debris-laden road. “I’ll see you around.”
When I heard her go in and put the locks in place, I allowed myself to think about what I let happened.
So much for resistance. I had told myself that I wasn’t like the other fools. But not only had I fallen prey to the siren’s call that beckoned me, I’d fallen way further into the icy depths of hell. Never again, Dylan, I promised myself.
I’d been through hell once already and the whiskey there was shit. I wasn’t willing to go back a second time.
Not for any girl.

About the Author:

Ana Jolene is the author of the Glory MC series and the Contemporary Romance series, Moonrise Beach.

Growing up as a rebellious kid didn’t allow for much reading time. It wasn’t until she was in university that she found her passion for books and has since then devoured every book placed before her. Ana holds a B.A. in Psychology and has worked in both IT and Administration. But she’s had the most fun in the bookish world, working as a reviewer, columnist and assistant to multiple sites and authors.

Ana currently lives in Toronto with her family and an extremely lazy Shih Tzu whom she adores. To learn more about Ana and her books, subscribe to the newsletter to be notified of the hottest new releases and giveaways!

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

***Giveaway***

If you could like to enter the giveaway for your chance to win a $25 Amazon Gift Card, please click on the Rafflecopter link below:

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/521ac4c81252

America’s Next Reality Star by Laura Heffernan – Excerpt & Promotional Post

In AMERICA’S NEXT REALITY STAR, Jen is cast on a reality show after she loses her job, her boyfriend, and her home. She hopes to win the cash prize but finds she also wants to win the heart of fellow contestant Justin. Fans of Sophie Kinsella’s Confessions of a Shopaholic won’t want to miss this charming, witty read published by Kensington’s Lyrical Shine.

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Publisher: Lyrical Shine – Kensington

Release Date: March 7, 2017

Series: Reality Star #1

SEEKING THE SMART ONE

Twenty-four-year-old Jen Reid had her life in good shape: an okay job, a tiny-cute Seattle apartment, and a great boyfriend almost ready to get serious. In a flash it all came apart. Single, unemployed, and holding an eviction notice, who has time to remember trying out for a reality show? Then the call comes, and Jen sees her chance to start over—by spending her summer on national TV.

Luckily The Fishbowl is all about puzzles and games, the kind of thing Jen would love even if she wasn’t desperate. The cast checks all the boxes: cheerful, quirky Birdie speaks in hashtags; vicious Ariana knows just how to pout for the cameras; and corn-fed “J-dawg” plays the cartoon villain of the house. Then there’s Justin, the green-eyed law student who always seems a breath away from kissing her. Is their attraction real, or a trick to get him closer to the $250,000 grand prize? Romance or showmance, suddenly Jen has a lot more to lose than a summer . . .

Excerpt:

He touched my chin with two fingers, bringing my gaze up to meet his. Damn those green eyes. I searched them for answers, wishing I knew whether he was putting on an act for the audience. Even with the lights off, the cameras stationed in the yard would capture us. The producers filmed everything, day and night. Everyone in America would know if we kissed. For a moment, I struggled to remember why that was bad.
“I guess it’s not your fault, since I got the question right,” I said begrudgingly, shifting slightly backward.
“If that is the best I can get, I’ll take it. But I’m going to work on complete forgiveness. I’ll pay you double interest on our bet—six cents.”
“Well, then,” I laughed. “Maybe I’ll have to reconsider once I get my money. I’d hate to have to send Birdie to break your kneecaps.”
The image of five-foot-tall Birdie coming after Justin with a baseball bat cracked him up. I laughed, too, crossing my legs and settling more comfortably in the lounger. My knee practically touched Justin’s leg. He didn’t move.
We sat quietly for a few minutes. I wondered if he heard my heart pounding. Even not wanting to get caught kissing on national television with a near-stranger, I found something about Justin irresistible. Possibly his smile. Or his dimples. His brains. The ease of talking to him. His personality. The fact that he was practically perfect for me in every way.
That line of thinking wasn’t helping. I needed to change the subject before I started calling him Mary Poppins.
“It’s a beautiful night.” I gestured at the sky.
“Yes, it is,” Justin said, his eyes never leaving my face. Did he lean forward slightly? Only inches separated our lips.
The warmth definitely wasn’t the beer. I licked my lips nervously and leaned in, closing the gap. If he moved the tiniest bit…
“So—”

Copyright © 2017 by Laura Heffernan

About the Author:

Laura Heffernan is living proof that watching too much TV can pay off. When not watching total strangers participate in arranged marriages, drag racing queens, or cooking competitions, Laura enjoys travel, baking, board games, helping with writing contests, and seeking new experiences. She lives in the Northeast with her amazing husband and two furry little beasts.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Amazon

***Giveaway***

Laura is offering one (1) lucky winner a $25 Amazon Gift Card! To enter, simply click on the Rafflecopter link below:

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/b050ef29334/

Thunder Wolf by Heather Long – Excerpt & Promotional Post

Most Lone Wolves have a story.

Publisher: Self-Published

Date Released: March 7, 2017

Series: Wolves of Willow Bend #11

Most Lone Wolves have a story–a pack they left behind, a love they lost, or worse, one they buried. Some leave their packs to roam because they crave freedom, and independence. Some leave because in their hearts, they can’t bear to stay. Some leave because they see no way to go back…

Enforcer John Nelson has pulled double duty for months, keeping an eye on the Lone Wolves who are his charges as well as those that once answered to Margo Montgomery. More of a loner than most, he doesn’t mind going months at a time without seeing another Enforcer as was his typical pattern or at least it was until the formation of the Three Rivers pack disrupted lives everywhere. Now he must divide his time between watching the upstarts and checking on his charges while working with the other Enforcers to anticipate the next move by the Russian Volchitsa. No Enforcer expected to find themselves among the hunted, but when they target the one wolf he can tolerate, John defies orders to go after her.

Hadley Sexton is a bit of a wild card even for an Enforcer, and she loves being unpredictable. More of a mother hen than she likes to admit, she keeps an eye on her Lone Wolves, and treats them more like family than charges…but when three Enforcers are brutally murdered over the course of three weeks, Hadley discovers someone has been shadowing her trail and they aren’t alone. It is a dangerous game with a brutal enemy, one willing to kill the wolves she’s sworn to protect to draw her out.

For Hadley, John will break every rule, but will he be in time?

Excerpt:

First things first, he was going to go very long hot shower to scrub his brain and body free of the lingering hunger he experienced where Hadley was concerned.
Twenty minutes later, with a towel wrapped around his hips, he walked back into his bedroom to find Hadley perched on the foot of his bed with a cup of coffee in hand. She looked deliciously sleep rumpled, right down to the creases in her cheek and the wild disarray of her curls.
He wasn’t sure if it was her or the scent of coffee, which struck him in the solar plexus.
“Coffee.” The syllables came out like a pair of grunts. She pointed toward the dresser and he followed with his gaze to where she indicated. A large mug of coffee awaited him, cream no sugar.
“Thank you.” He claimed the cup and took a long drink. The scalding heat combined with the rich flavor of the Arabica beans and the hint of sweetness in the cream went a long way toward soothing his unsettled beast.
“Yep.” Only the hardness of the word made it discernible in her mumble. The beast might be sitting upright and drinking coffee, but he knew better than to engage. John gathered his clothing in one hand before grabbing the mug with the other, then walked toward the bathroom.
It wasn’t until he stepped inside that he realized he’d gone to change out of sight of the wolf he cared about so much. Embarrassment flooded him. Chagrined, he glanced toward where she sat, but she didn’t so much as glance up from staring into her coffee mug.
Hopefully, she hadn’t noticed. Nudity among wolves couldn’t be an issue. They shed their skin for fur and fur for skin—they were always naked. Being a prude or worrying about body issues wouldn’t let them last long. Hell, he’d seen Hadley nude plenty of times, as she had him. While he treasured those memories of her beauty, he refused to ogle her.
Why was it a big deal today?
Uncertain of whether to be annoyed or worried, John stripped off the towel and ran it over his body quickly to dry off any remaining moisture. Afterward, he dragged on a pair of briefs, followed by jeans then a loose T-shirt. He skipped shoes, as he didn’t expect them to go out anywhere and he preferred the maneuverability bare feet provided.
Sipping his coffee, he returned to the bedroom and Hadley. She hadn’t moved from her previous position, and continued to cradle her coffee mug.
“You want a second cup?”
She grunted.
She never was very good before she had at least one full cup of coffee in the morning.
“Come on down when you’re ready. I’m going to start breakfast.”
He made it all the way down the stairs and halfway to the kitchen when he realized breakfast wasn’t what he’d been seeking when he left the room. He’d been running away.

About the Author:

National bestselling author, Heather Long, likes long walks in the park, science fiction, superheroes, Marines, and men who aren’t douche bags. Her books are filled with heroes and heroines tangled in romance as hot as Texas summertime. From paranormal historical westerns to contemporary military romance, Heather might switch genres, but one thing is true in all of her stories—her characters drive the books. When she’s not wrangling her menagerie of animals, she devotes her time to family and friends she considers family. She believes if you like your heroes so real you could lick the grit off their chest, and your heroines so likable, you’re sure you’ve been friends with women just like them, you’ll enjoy her worlds as much as she does.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Amazon

***Giveaway***

If you would like to enter for your chance to win a Thunder Wolf throw blanket and signed print copy of Rogue Wolf (US Only), or 1 of 10 print copies of of Rogue Wolf (US Only), please click on the Rafflecopter link below:

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/b050ef29340

Release Day Blitz: The Great Pursuit by Wendy Higgins

the-great-pursuit

We’re excited to be participating in the release day event for Wendy Higgins newest novel and offer our thanks to Rock Star Book Tours for letting us share this post with you today, murr! =^.^=

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Publisher: HarperTeen

Date Released: March 7, 2017

Series: Eurona Duology #2

In The Great Pursuit, the dramatic sequel to the New York Times bestselling The Great Hunt, Wendy Higgins delivers another thrilling fantasy filled with dangerous enemies, political intrigue, searing romance, and a princess who is willing to do everything to protect her kingdom.

One hunt has ended, but the pursuit for love and justice continues.

The kingdom of Lochlanach has traded the great beast that once terrorized the realm of Eurona for something far more dangerous: the ire of powerful Lashed woman Rosaria Rocato. Rosaria demands that Eurona overturn the laws prohibiting magic, or an innocent will be killed each day.

Despite the king’s resistance, Princess Aerity believes they must make peace with the Lashed, and though she’s accepted a betrothal to the man who took down the beast, she cannot help thinking about Paxton, the Lashed man who stole her heart and disappeared.

Aerity soon discovers that Paxton has joined Rosaria’s army in the war against her family. Though her feelings for him are still strong, her duty to her kingdom and her family is stronger—especially when her parents are kidnapped and she has to step up to the throne and once again put aside what’s best for her in order to do what’s best for her people. Paxton and Princess Aerity must fight to see what is more powerful: their love or the impending war between the magical Lashed and the non-magic humans.

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Excerpt:

Chapter 1 – The Great Pursuit by Wendy Higgins

A new beast roamed the kingdom of Lochlanach, killing at will. A second unnatural monster created by the hands of Rozaria Rocato, granddaughter of the most infamous and hated Lashed One of all time. Princess Aerity Lochson’s mind was a blur of piled-up worries as she rushed from High Hall of the castle, away from the frightened commoners and guests who’d come for her betrothal ceremony, and toward the office of her father, King Charles. She turned at the sound of heavy footsteps behind her and found both her childhood friend Lieutenant Harrison Gillfin and her betrothed, Lord Lief Alvi, following. Lord Alvi looked every bit the hero—his broad stature striking, with elk furs about his shoulders and a black kilt to his knees above leather boots. His blue eyes were filled with bright passion and hunger, but those emotions were not for her. They were for the beast. The new hunt.
He had killed the first creature, thereby earning her hand in marriage. The thought twisted Aerity’s stomach with discomfort and turned her mind to the man who’d disappeared weeks before when the beast was killed—the Lashed man who’d taken her heart with him and would likely never return. She clenched her jaw. This was no time to think of Paxton Seabolt or her drowned desires. The kingdom was suffering again—rendering everything she’d sacrificed to have been in vain.
Her eyes shifted from Lord Alvi’s to Harrison’s and found a fierce, protective comfort there. Harrison stood tall, lean, and capable. Never faltering. The thought of her noble friend fighting yet another beast filled her with sharp fear. So many lives had already been lost, including Harrison’s cousin Breckon, who’d been the true love of Aerity’s cousin Wyneth. Half a year was all it had taken to trample the dreams and futures of so many.
Aerity gave the men a nod to follow her. She lifted her long white skirts and moved quickly down the tapestry-lined hallway to her father’s office. Guards and soldiers ran past, shouting orders, fully armed with bows, swords, and lines of throwing daggers strapped across their uniformed tunics.
She opened the door without knocking. No fewer than twenty faces shot toward her. She recognized the burgundy red hair of her mother, along with her aunts and uncles, military elite, and royal advisers. Her father invited them in with a quick flick of his fingers.
When the door closed he asked her, “What is the state of things in High Hall?”
“The people seemed to have calmed for the moment, Father,” Aerity said. “And supper is being served.”
“Your daughter gave a rousing speech,” Lord Alvi pro- claimed in his rumbling voice. “She is to thank for the calm.” Aerity’s face flushed with heat at the unexpected compliment. Then he put a heavy hand on her shoulder and pulled her close. Aerity fought the urge to shrug away. For the sake of the kingdom, she had made a commitment to become his bride, and she would follow through regardless of what her heart wanted, and regardless of the fact that she was certain feelings had grown between Lief and Wyneth.
“Did she?” The king’s eyes softened with pride, and her mother, Queen Leighlane, smiled at Aerity and Lief, no doubt thinking what a lovely couple they were. If she only knew.
Behind them Harrison cleared his throat. “Are we to begin hunting the creature, Your Majesty?”
King Charles nodded, his face lined with anxiety. “Aye. But most of the hunters have dispersed.” Or been killed, Aerity thought with sorrow, remembering the men who’d come from all over Eurona and even a huntress who’d lost her life.
“I can have a message sent to Tiern Seabolt,” Harrison said. “I’m certain he would return with haste.”
Aerity’s abdomen tightened. Tiern was Paxton’s younger brother. He’d nearly been killed by the first beast and had been saved by Paxton’s Lashed magic. It was the very reason Pax had fled the kingdom—using magic was illegal, even to heal. Aerity didn’t want Tiern to hunt again. She didn’t want Paxton’s sacrifice to have been a waste.
“And his older brother?” the king asked.
“Nay.” Harrison paused. “He disappeared after the hunt. We don’t know his whereabouts.”
“Must you call Tiern back?” Aerity asked. When her father’s eyebrows drew together she emended, “He’s . . . so young.”
“He’s the same age as you, Daughter,” the king reminded her. “Seventeen. A man who’s already proven himself in the hunt.” Aerity pressed her lips together and nodded. She could not keep Tiern safe any more than she could force Harrison to stay out of harm’s reach. Their heroic hearts would urge them forward.
“Can we send word to the Zandalee?” Aerity’s uncle Lord Wavecrest asked.
The king shook his head. “I’m afraid not this time. The letter from the Rocato woman stated that her creatures have now been released in all the lands of Eurona. The Zandalee will be needed to fight in their own drylands of Zorfina.”
A fearful silence fell over the room. Each kingdom was on its own with its own beasts to battle now. Lochlanach was a quaint kingdom of fishermen and crop villagers, farmers, that had enjoyed many years of peace. The people had risen together to fight the first beast, but how much more could the king expect from them? It was too much. To imagine this kind of horror inflicted on innocent people all over Eurona sickened Aerity.
“Perhaps another proclamation?” Lord Wavecrest suggested carefully. At this proposal from Aerity’s uncle, the men in the room glanced around at one another, and the hairs rose on the princess’s arms. The queen caught her daughter’s eyes, and they both went still.
The last proclamation had offered Aerity’s hand in marriage to whoever killed the beast. The only thing left to give was the second princess, Aerity’s fifteen-year-old sister, Vixie. Her father stared down at his desk.
“No.” Aerity stepped forward, out of Lord Alvi’s embrace, her body trembling. “You cannot offer Vixie’s hand.”
The king’s hazel eyes, filled with regret, rose to hers. “I have nothing left to give.” With Vixie’s hand would come her dowry of lands. Using Vixie as a prize would surely smother her soul. Aerity wouldn’t stand for it.
“And why should you oppose it?” her uncle Preston asked haughtily. “The first proclamation provided you with a fine match. It can do the same for Vixie.”
Aerity stilled, forcing back the torrent of words that flooded her mind: unfair, poor match, confinement, no joy, no love. She was to endure those things for her kingdom, but the thought of Vixie losing her freedom to choose her future . . . it gutted Aerity. She knew how it appeared to the world—that she’d landed a handsome, noble, brave lord—but the heart didn’t care about appearances. It wanted who it wanted.
“And then what?” Aerity asked. “Who shall we offer for the next beast, and the one after that? Your own Wyneth? Or perhaps six-year-old Merity?”
Lord Wavecrest scowled.
“Enough, Aerity,” Queen Leighlane said quietly. Aerity met her mother’s eyes and felt an understanding there. No one knew better than the two of them how this would crush Vixie’s spirit. These men couldn’t possibly understand.
“Vixie’s nearly sixteen,” Lord Wavecrest pressed. Aerity wanted to claw out his eyes and force him to stop speaking.
“A proclamation offering Vixie’s hand will be my very last resort,” King Charles said, standing taller. “It is my hope that the people will rise of their own free will to protect their families and lands as they did in the last hunt. I will not hinder them with further curfews.”
Lord Wavecrest shook his head and crossed his arms. Aerity breathed a temporary sigh of relief.
“Sire, we should address the other part of the Rocato woman’s letter.” This was from the king’s oldest adviser, Duke Gulfton. This duke had been the closest adviser to Aerity’s grandfather King Leon. His views on the Lashed were legendarily conservative and strict, and he was a proponent of keeping the Lashed lists up to date. All persons with Lashed capabilities and their families were notated in the records and checked regularly for markings.
The stooped man wore a sea-green robe around his shoulders and a perpetual serious frown on his face. He leaned on his cane. “We cannot do as the Rocato woman demands. We cannot burn our records of Lashed Ones in these lands, or give them rein to take over our kingdom.”
A few of the other older men murmured their agreement.
Harrison stepped forward. “What if we made a copy of the list? Then it wouldn’t matter if one was destroyed.”
“I’ve got scribes copying pages as we speak,” the king responded. “But the Rocato woman has called for the records to be burned by sundown. The copy won’t be complete. There are thousands of names.”
Thousands of persons with Lashed blood in Lochlanach. Amazing, Aerity thought. Only a small percentage of those on the list actually had magic, though. Paxton’s family was not on the list. Aerity wondered how many others of magical blood had been able to elude the system.
“How will the madwoman know the difference?” Duke Gulfton asked. “Burn papers to appease her, then kill her and her monsters once and for all. End of story.”
“Here, here!” a few men shouted, as if it were that simple. As if they wouldn’t have done it by now if they could.
The king’s jaw was set. “I have a terrible feeling this woman has eyes and ears everywhere.”
The room quieted and a sense of unease spread as heads turned and everyone eyed the others present. Her father’s council was a small group of family and a mere handful of wise advisers, all landowners, who’d been loyal to the kingdom since her grandfather ruled. She couldn’t imagine this group being compromised.
“With all due respect, gentlemen,” Lord Alvi said to the room, “we will find every beast and even Rocato herself, but we cannot guarantee immediate success. The last hunt took two months.”
“Aye,” Harrison added. “And she’s threatening to kill seven men each week.”
“You’ll have to work faster this time,” Duke Gulfton told them.
The room tensed. During the last hunt they’d had a hundred men. They’d sought the monster nearly ten hours a night and spent the days scouting and preparing. The lands of Lochlanach stretched far and wide. Yet people like Duke Gulfton were expecting a miracle of the sea.
Queen Leighlane cleared her throat. “The fact of the matter is that we’re going to have to at least put on a show of honoring her wishes. We need to buy time as we plan.”
Another elder, Duke Streamson, asked, “What are you proposing, Your Highness? Rocato is demanding that all Lashed be allowed to freely work magic.”
Magic that wasn’t all bad, Aerity thought. Magic that had saved Tiern and could save others. If only she could get them to embrace that.
“I have an idea.” Aerity’s brain whirred as all eyes turned to her. “What if we set up a public area just outside the royal lands and invited Lashed from throughout the kingdom to come, and any Unlashed who wishes to seek their healing can receive it?”
Duke Streamson made a choking sound. “Round up the people of Rocato to turn against us in one place? That’s precisely what she wants!”
Aerity rushed on. “I don’t believe all Lashed are ‘her people.’ The entire area would be heavily guarded so that if any Lashed got out of line, they could be dealt with immediately.” The old dukes scoffed at her.
One of the military advisers stepped forward. “Our numbers are not as large as they once were. Our troop sizes have been modest in the past fifty years. I’ve got to keep men patrolling the seas and borders, and we’ve lost many in the past months. I worry that a large-scale showing of the Lashed will bring crowds.”
The room broke out into fervent debate. Those who were against Aerity’s idea were adamant, passionate in their fears. Those in favor seemed on weak, shaky ground.
“Given permission to put their hands on innocent people, it could be a massacre!”
“What if the Lashed overwhelm our guards?”
“They’ll rise up throughout the lands!”
“. . . commoner revolts . . . war . . .”
Aerity felt a hand on her shoulder and turned to see Harrison, his light brown eyes showing the never-faltering respect he seemed to hold for her. She gave his hand a quick squeeze of gratitude before he released her. Aerity caught Lord Alvi watching the exchange with curiosity, so she turned her gaze forward again—she would let him think what he wanted.
“Enough!” King Charles’s voice silenced the room. “I will think on it. I must put safety first. I’m not ready to overturn our laws—” Aerity opened her mouth to argue that she wasn’t suggesting a complete overturn, but a one-time, enclosed, secure circumstance. Her father held up a hand to stop her. “This blasted parchment from Rozaria Rocato is bound to have our people in terror. If I take the stability of our rules away, it will cause chaos. Tonight on the lawn we will burn whatever pages my scribes have managed to copy, to keep Rozaria satisfied, but the original lists remain with us. I pray to the sea this works.”
He looked at the hunters. “Lord Alvi. Lieutenant Gillfin. Gather as many hunters as you can and begin hunting this new beast immediately.” They nodded and took their leave. Aerity watched them go, swallowing a dry lump in her throat. The king looked to his military advisers. “I want every soldier on duty, and round-the-clock patrolling of royal lands. I want Rozaria Rocato, dead or alive.” He turned to his top castle guard. “Send messengers to the other four lands to let them know of our new foe and to find out their circumstances.”
Without another word, the king swept from the room with Queen Leighlane and a line of advisers close behind.
Aerity felt the brush of velvet on her arm and peered
down at the old man beside her. It was Duke Gulfton, his eyes glistening. “I mean no disrespect, Princess, only a piece of advice. In times of fear and upheaval, absolute routine and stability in the law are called for. Any slight change can set the people off.”
“As I recall,” Aerity said steadily, “Mrs. Rathbrook healed your ailing heart last year.” Mrs. Rathbrook was the royal healer—the only Lashed allowed to work magic.
He grasped the top of his cane with both hands. “Aye.”
“Should we not allow the people of this land to benefit from magic as you have?”
He looked down at his hands, nodding solemnly. “Not all Lashed are as trustworthy as Mrs. Rathbrook. You saw the Rocato woman face-to-face. You know the evil of which she is capable.”
“I suppose everyone is capable of evil, Duke Gulfton. None of us is immune, Lashed or not. But I choose to believe the best in people until they show me otherwise.”
Duke Streamson, waiting in the doorway, cleared his throat. Duke Gulfton peered up at Aerity and patted her hand. “Once they show you otherwise, it is often too late. As a rule it is not safe to take such chances. Seas help Lochlanach in our time of need.”
As Duke Gulfton shuffled away, Aerity whispered in return. “Seas help us, indeed.”

***Grab The Great Hunt for just $1.99!***

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Publisher: HarperTeen

Date Released: March 8, 2016

Series: Eurona Duology #1

“Aerity…” Her father paused as if the words he was forming pained him. “I must ask you to sacrifice the promise of love for the sake of our kingdom.”

She could only stare back, frozen.

When a strange beast terrorizes the kingdom of Lochlanach, fear stirs revolt. In an act of desperation, a proclamation is sent to all of Eurona—kill the creature and win the ultimate prize: the daughter of King Lochson’s hand in marriage.

Princess Aerity knows her duty to the kingdom but cannot bear the idea of marrying a stranger… until a brooding local hunter, Paxton Seabolt, catches her attention. There’s no denying the unspoken lure between them… or his mysterious resentment.

Paxton is not the marrying type. Nor does he care much for spoiled royals and their arcane laws. He’s determined to keep his focus on the task at hand—ridding the kingdom of the beast—but the princess continues to surprise him, and the perilous secrets he’s buried begin to surface.

Inspired by the Grimm Brothers’ tale “The Singing Bone,” New York Times bestselling author Wendy Higgins delivers a dark fantasy filled with rugged hunters, romantic tension, and a princess willing to risk all to save her kingdom.

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About the Author:

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Wendy Higgins is the USA Today and NYT bestselling author of the Sweet Evil series from HarperTeen, the high fantasy duology The Great Hunt, and her independently published Irish fantasy, See Me. She is a former high school English teacher who now writes full time, and lives on the Eastern Shore of Virginia with her veterinarian husband, daughter, son, and doggie Rue.

Wendy earned a bachelor’s in Creative Writing from George Mason University and a master’s in Curriculum and Instruction from Radford University. She is represented by Jill Corcoran of the Jill Corcoran Literary Agency.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

***Giveaway***

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Two (2) Winners will receive the grand prizes (The Great Hunt Paperback and The Great Pursuit hardback from HarperTeen, and signed swag from Wendy Higgins! Plus an ARC of ROAR by Cora Carmack!), US Only.

Five (5) Winners will receive signed sets of swag – International!

To enter, please click on the Rafflecopter link below:

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Caramel Beach by Audrey O’Connor – Excerpt & Promotional Post

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In Audrey O’Connor’s steamy, stormy follow-up novella to Lessons in Pure Life, Diego and Lia reunite after weeks apart for dance-floor revelations, midnight confessions, and a run-in with the law. Fans of Karina Halle’s Racing the Sun won’t want to miss this exciting new release published by Tryst Books!

~*~

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Publisher: Tryst Books

Date Released: February 27, 2017

Series: Lessons in Pure Life #2

In Audrey O’Connor’s steamy, stormy follow-up novella to Lessons in Pure Life, sun-soaked days melt into restless nights for Diego and Lia, kept apart for weeks by long hours and miles of coastline. When an A-list wedding reunites them in Caramel Beach, the tension is higher than ever.

Over the course of an electric twenty-four hours filled with sugar, sex, and magic, the couple faces their share of personal demons, angels, and unlikely prophets. While Diego confronts his problems with the help of a surf champ and a bottle of whiskey, Lia stumbles into a bathroom-stall seduction and possibilities she never knew existed. Amid the chaos, Lia and Diego try to reconnect. What comes after is a life-altering odyssey into uncharted territory.

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***Available for $0.99!***

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Excerpt:

We meander back to the hostel in the wet sand, the surf to our left. The moon is full and bright, bouncing off the gentle waves that roll into the bay.

My first few months in Costa Rica were rich with the exhilaration of my new environment. I landed in the lap of a whole new life, just like that. After working all month in Pacifica without him, being with Diego again sends those early memories bobbing up to the surface. He’s got this sharp energy beneath the layers and layers that make up a man. Intimidation is what he inspires, followed closely by strange physical sensations that spell your undoing. He triggers an energy in me that could tear the hood off a car. And I’m sure as hell not on flakka.

He slides his arm around my waist like he can hear me. We walk a few steps before he stops and turns to face me.

“I wouldn’t hate it if you’d let me hold you.”

The waves crash endlessly behind us, a soaking wet heartbeat. I’m still strung up in his words when he closes the empty space between us.

“You’re on fire,” he tells me, hands making a ring behind my back so we’re suspended in some kind of stained glass embrace.

“Hey, thanks.”

“You sure know how to put yourself together, gringa.”

Blush.

“I’m not the only one.”

He sighs and I wait patiently. Indecision slows his expression, crystalizing in his delay.

Whatever it is goes away.

“Did you enjoy your time, you know, without me distracting you?” he asks.

“It was busy, but we got a lot done at the new school. I can’t complain.”

“I wish you would.” He pulls me in closer.

That one gets me. His slow kiss disappears everything around me before I’m even sure it’s happening. Lips softer than I remember, the light scrape of his chin on mine. A rugged feeling so welcome it can stay for dessert.

“You’re trouble,” he breathes.

“The best kind of it,” I reply.

“There’s nothing I can do about it, is there?”

“I doubt it.”

Bowing his head, he lowers his eyelids.

“I forgot what this is like,” he laughs tiredly, rubbing his cheek with his hand. “You still take me by surprise.” He tilts his head, considering me tenderly but wincing, like it hurts to admit it.

Watch and see my defenses lower to unprecedented depths.

I press against him, not sure whether I’m teasing him or me. His palm is warm on the back of my leg.

“How’d you get your skin so soft, anyway?” he whispers, stroking my thigh gently until it evolves into a grasp, the tips of his fingers pushing into my flesh.

“Magic.”

“It’s working.”

I laugh, breathless. “So what do you wanna do?”

“Right now?”

I nod.

He pulls me in by the bottom with both hands. “Get to know you all over again.”

Copyright © 2017 by Audrey O’Connor

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***For a limited time you can purchase Lessons in Pure Life for $1.49! Don’t miss out on this spectacular deal!***

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Publisher: Tryst Books

Date Released: January 15, 2017

Series: Lessons in Pure Life #1

Freshly minted grad Emilia Noble arrives in Costa Rica to teach English in the tropical community of Pacifica. Its carefree, pura vida lifestyle is a welcome contrast to her dark and wintry origins. Tossing caution aside like an old winter coat, she plunges headfirst into an exotic cocktail of sensory pleasure.

Diego is a local whose surfer body and cool detachment make Lia buzz with a long-lost thrill. Fascinated by her new environment, she can’t help but wonder about the moody inner workings of the boy with triceps like Wolverine and a grimace to match.

Diego seems to have no problem ignoring Lia, though. Caught up in his family’s conflicted attitude toward foreigners, he notices her only when it’s convenient. But as Lia thrives in her new surroundings, Diego might just find reason enough to defy his embattled, insular father. When north and south are mixed together, the results are intoxicating.

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***Now on Sale for $1.49 for a LIMITED TIME!***

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About the Author:

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Audrey O’Connor is inspired by art, science, compassion, and rare moments of transcendence. She writes in Chelsea, Quebec, and enjoys river swims, woodsy gatherings, live music in Wakefield, and a deep, dark cabernet sauvignon.

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***Giveaway***

Tryst Books is offering one (1) lucky winner a Kindle Fire! To enter, please click on the Rafflecopter link below:

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