Dirty Deeds: An Urban Fantasy Collection Devon Monk, Diana Pharaoh Francis, Faith Hunter, R.J. Blain
Publication date: January 12th 2021
Genres: Adult, Urban Fantasy
When the going gets tough, the tough get their hands dirty. Join NY Times Bestselling author Faith Hunter, USA Today Bestselling author R.J. Blain, and National Bestselling authors Diana Pharaoh Francis and Devon Monk on a wild romp where the damsels bring the distress and what can go wrong will go wrong.
Venture into a thrilling spinoff tale from the world of Jane Yellowrock; join vacationing gods in what appears to be a quiet, ordinary town; visit a supernatural hotel where the bedbugs could very well eat you; and dive into the zany, deadly world of the Magical Romantic Comedy (with a body count) series.
In this collection of all-new urban fantasy novellas and other stories, no job is too big or too small — if the price is right.
Sometime between books 13 and 14 of the Jane Yellowrock Series…
Liz Everhart finished the email, tucked her cell into a back pocket of her jeans, ignored the weird buzz of blood-curse taint that still pulled at her flesh, and tried to decide who she wanted to call for backup on this gig. Finding a lost dog sounded easy on the surface, but it could involve hiking up and down mountain ridges, maybe camping overnight, and then hauling a seventy-pound, possibly wounded dog back to civilization. That wasn’t something she wanted to do alone. Liz dialed her twin, Cia, and discovered she was spending the weekend with her boyfriend, so help on that quarter was out. Her other sisters were covering the family business, Seven Sassy Sisters’ Herb Shop and Café. That left asking Jane Yellowrock, who she didn’t particularly like, and who was way too busy being some big hoo-ha in the vampire world. Or she could ask the man who had been avoiding her for weeks. Yeah. Him. She thought about being rejected again. Or, not so much rejected, as suddenly, inexplicably ignored.
Staring out over the vineyard, watching her older sister, Molly, work, she remembered the various comments he’d made a month ago, ones that suggested he was now totally disinterested. She didn’t know what had happened, except that he’d been in some pretty dangerous situations protecting Jane Yellowrock. Maybe he really thought the danger to “civilians,” as he called people who were not part of Yellowrock’s vampire-human-witch clan was too great for her to handle.
Come to think of it, his apparent disinterest had come almost immediately after her bout with viral pneumonia. He’d been there for her while she recuperated, then he’d pulled back. Son of a witch! That was it. Because she’d nearly died, he thought she couldn’t keep up with the danger. If she hadn’t caught him looking at her a couple of times, she would have believed he’d changed his mind about them being together and become oblivious to her. He thought she was weak which might be worse. Stupid man.
Down the hill, Molly stretched hard and blew out. She’d been hired to talk to the vines to help them grow. Molly was an earth witch and, when she talked to plants, she actively pushed her earth magic into the soil, into the roots, encouraging them to good health, to seek out proper nutrients. She gave them a boost of life. Liz wasn’t an earth witch like Molly, but even she could tell the land here was well cared for, happy, and productive, in part due to Molly “talking to the vines.” Yellowrock and her consort, George Dumas, should have a good crop come harvest time. Aaaand she was wasting time.
Liz trudged back up the terraced incline to the big inn where Yellowrock Clan wine label originated, and which housed the Yellowrock Clan itself: a mixed para clan that did crazy stuff trying to keep the human versus para war from erupting here like it had in other parts of the world. Politics. Liz hated politics. Wasn’t real fond of vamps. But Yellowrock’s adopted clan-brother, Eli Younger, the man who had been avoiding her, lived here. That ornery man made it worth the trip from Asheville.
by Allison Rose
Light of Faerie (#1)
Out September 20, 2020
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Pages: 252 (Print Length)
In the land of Faerie, lies are easily disguised as truths.
They were raised like sisters, the heir to the Court of the Day and her guardian.
And as rebellion darkens the land of the Day—and the faeries of Court fall under a dark magic that disconnects them from the land, dooming them to a slow, agonizing death—they will question all they know to be true.
Sevelle, the Light of the Day, is destined to rule one day. She possesses a rare form of magic, the ability to heal the powerful connection between faeries and the magic in the land, the connection that gives them life—if only she could figure out how to use this magic, or even find it within herself.
Jae lives in the shadows, watching over Sevelle as her guardian and listening to the whispers of Court brought to her by the winds. She longs for a life outside of Court, but knows her duty to Sevelle is more important than her own desires.
But when an unexpected proposition comes from none other than Lex, son of the rebel leader, Sevelle and Jae realize their lives will never be the same—and that evil may be within their own court more so than in the rebels that oppose them.
Walking paths far different than they imagined separates the sisters, but then a secret is revealed that may break them apart forever.
Fly Free is the first installment of the Light of Faerie series. Enter a land of magic in the midst of a power struggle, where all is not as it seems and love may be found in the most unlikely places.
Sevelle faced her mother, willing herself to stand tall. She focused on the black sun symbol on her mother’s temple to avoid looking directly into the wrath of her gaze.
They stood in the private meeting room—containing only one large wooden table, a set of chairs, and stacks of their most important writings—tucked away behind the thrones of the Day Court, but Sevelle felt more exposed than ever.
The Glorious Shayna, leader of the Day Court, looked back at Sevelle with her hands on her hips. Her blue hair was tied up, her wings open to reveal the brown markings in the shape of eyes in the upper section of each dark blue wing.
Sevelle’s father stood off to the side, dark wings to the wall of shelves housing their writings. A worried expression creased his normally smooth features, his light brown hair was half tied haphazardly, and his arms were crossed over the green skin of his bare chest, just above the cloth of beige wrapped over his lower half. He said nothing, for it was Sevelle’s mother who made decisions concerning the faeries, while he ruled in matters of the land and the life force, the ara, within it.
The symbols on the Telk stones her mother wore on cords around her arms, hands, neck, legs, and over the dark cloth criss-crossing her silver skin flashed as her magic flared.
Sevelle braced herself for the feel of her mother’s spirit power, like icy fingers in her mind sensing for the truth, her intentions, any sign of deceit.
A few moments passed before the violation left Sevelle’s mind.
“A true heir would know her own power,” her mother said.
The words hit Sevelle as if she had been struck by a physical blow.
Why those words? Would she strip me of my right to rule? she thought in panic.
Before she could form words, her mother continued. “So you have let us believe all along that the power of the sun would save us should there be a time of need. Yet the truth is that you cannot wield it and do not even feel it within you.”
I never said I could wield it, only kept quiet that I couldn’t. Maybe I should’ve kept quiet a little longer.
Sevelle didn’t dare say the words aloud, though.
“I—I have tried,” she protested, almost wincing at how weak her voice sounded. “I thought I would be able to wield it before it was needed.”
Her mother’s expression remained cold as ice.
“Well, the time is now, Light of the Day,” her mother went on without mercy. “Those of the court are weakening, cut off from the ara that keeps them alive by this rebel magic. More and more every day fall victim to the blight, doomed to die a very slow death. This leaves the court too weak to fight the rebels behind it.”
And I could save my court if only I could wield my power, Sevelle finished silently, guilt flooding her. I could reconnect them to the ara in the land that sustains faerie life.
“And if you cannot find it within yourself to save them—” Her mother leaned forward, bracing one hand on the wooden table beside them. “Is the position of heir too much for you, Sevelle?”
“No,” Sevelle answered in a rush as her heart pounded. “I wish to remain heir.”
“Faeries without power are as useless as humans, Sevelle.”
Sevelle gave a sharp intake of breath. This can’t possibly be so bad she would banish me to the human world—
“Why is it you think you cannot feel your power, Sevelle?” Her father eased off the wall and stepped forward.
Sevelle turned to him, but glanced nervously back at her mother as she answered, digging one toe into a divet between the stone slabs that made up the floor. “I was so young when I revived that runa. They are such small creatures. And I didn’t even know how I did it then. One moment its life was leaving its body, and the next I had picked it up and the life rushed back in. I—”
“No one knows your power but you, Sevelle,” her mother interrupted. She folded her wings and turned her gaze to the table, as if looking at Sevelle pained her. “You are the only one to show the power of the sun since Analare.”
Frustration rose within Sevelle. “Analare died before I was born,” she shot back before thinking. “And even she might not have been able to save so many from death. She could not survive the Silver Dusk.”
The Glorious’s head snapped back up as a sinking feeling started in Sevelle’s stomach. The Silver Dusk was not something to speak of lightly. It had destroyed the land to the south, killing the faeries that lived there and most of the courts, including her parents’ parents and the previous rulers of the Night—all because a faerie of the Night and one of the Day sought to create a faerie child that was a combination of both energies. When the opposing forces came together, they resulted in a burst of power that was only stopped by the combined magics of The Glorious, Drake, and Kye and Baron of the Night, all relatively young at the time. They then ascended to rule the courts. Society had been rebuilt since then, but the loss was still felt by those that remembered.
Her mother’s gaze grew dark. “You will not speak of my mother—”
“Shayna, we have no right to compare her to Analare.” Her father and mother exchanged a look Sevelle couldn’t quite decipher. Then her father turned to her with a frown. “Though Sevelle should not have spoken so rashly about her beloved ancestor.”
“The rebels may not be so kind as you, Drake,” Sevelle’s mother reminded him curtly.
The sound of the wooden door creaking open broke into the conversation.
“The dawn awaits,” Jae said as she stepped inside, bowing her head respectfully. Sevelle let out a breath in relief at the sight of her guardian, though fear was still alive within her mind.
Jae’s tightly wrapped clothing marked her as one of the guard, the cloth looping over both shoulders and around her middle, down to wrap around her abdomen and thighs in a fashion that allowed her arms, legs, and wings to be free, so that she was ready to defend Sevelle at any moment. The black symbol of the sun, the mark of the Day, stood out against her silver skin and brown hair, tight in a bun. Jae’s spear slung over her shoulder, and she clutched her shimmery dark brown wings firmly to her back.
Sevelle’s mother looked like she wanted to berate Jae, but only gave a dramatic wave of her hand. “We will speak no more of this in the presence of the dawn.” She snapped her wings shut and swept toward the door.
“I will do better,” Sevelle hurried to say. Her mother gave no indication she heard before exiting the room, spreading her wings, and taking off toward one of the many openings carved into the stone walls of the Throne Room.
Sevelle turned pleading eyes to her father.
“Look inward. Find your purpose,” he told her with a gentle yet stern look.
Too frustrated to reply, Sevelle watched him leave, worrying the fabric of her slitted skirt with her hands.
“Don’t speak,” she said as Jae opened her mouth. Then she softened her tone. “And please make sure no one else learns of this.”
Jae inclined her head. “The dawn waits for no one,” she said in an even voice. “Eyes forward.”
The words did nothing to calm Sevelle, but she nodded in gratitude anyway. She gave her wings a slight shake and headed out the door on foot, taking to the air as she entered the Throne Room. Jae followed directly behind her.
Soaring over the twin thrones adorning the dais—the only furniture in the room—Sevelle landed gracefully just inside the opening to the hall that would lead her above. She hurried forward on foot, joining other courtiers as they made their way to the top deck of the Day Court.
Faeries of all colors adorned in Telk stones on cords and wrapped fabrics sought coveted places near the edge, where they would be the first to see the rays of the sun, the great life-giver, peeking over the horizon. As the crowd grew thicker, Sevelle tried to make her way through without jostling anyone. Several with paler skin and a slight sickeningly sweet odor denoting them as being affected by the blight shrank away from her, causing guilt to jolt through her, though she didn’t cause their hardship.
There is still time, she reminded herself, looking forward with determination borne of guilt, fear, and hope.
Jae’s silver arm came into view as she helped part the crowd, and Sevelle moved forward to take her place at her mother’s side. Both her parents faced the horizon, with Morlan, leader of the guard, to their right. Other guards stood on the stone ledge surrounding the deck, spears at the ready, as the courtiers were open and vulnerable to the sky. But they left the space in front of the ruling family clear so they would receive the first rays of the sun.
The lush greenery of Faerie stretched out before them. Despite the mixed emotions coursing through her, Sevelle’s heart swelled with pride as it always did at the sight. Though she frowned as she noticed more shriveled areas among the masses of trees and plants. A reminder that their Nym—the caretakers of ara in the land, air, water, light, and beasts—that were not affected by the blight were stretched thin, unable to prevent the imbalance as they should. Sevelle’s eyes were drawn to a particular rough patch that revealed a normally hidden view of the Great Divide, the river that separated the territories of the two courts of Faerie: the Day and the Night.
The breeze picked up, whipping through Sevelle’s flowing lavender-colored hair. As she brushed it out of her face and attempted to secure it behind her ears, she heard the courtiers murmur in distress.
The Winds will be upon us soon, Sevelle thought in dismay. Why so many problems at once?
Soon they would be forced to take shelter in the lower levels of the court, the sky no longer safe for travel for a few weeks’ time, as a phenomenon they called the Winds whipped through Faerie, originating from the barren lands of the south.
But she inhaled, forcing her negative thoughts away, and looked to the horizon with hope. Sevelle focused as the sun began to reveal itself, bathing the court in an orange glow. The courtiers gasped or sighed in relief, some murmuring wishes and intentions for the day. Sevelle’s skin began to warm even before the full force of the light hit her.
I can feel it. Why can’t I wield it?
As she wrestled with her thoughts and the courtiers quieted down, her mother’s voice rang out, “May the light guide us through the day.”
Sevelle placed her hands on the stone ledge and leaned forward, squinting against the brightness and willing the ara within her to connect with that of the great power source.
“May the light heal us from this blight,” her mother continued.
Give me your secrets.
Sevelle closed her eyes this time and tried to feel the radiance.
“And carry us into tomorrow,” her mother finished.
The warmth remained on Sevelle’s skin, never sinking further into her being. She opened her eyes as the courtiers around her murmured their own thanks to the sun.
Her mother turned suddenly then, giving Sevelle a critical look out of the corner of her eye.
Sevelle plastered a serene look onto her face to hide the coldness she felt inside, the absence of any sort of awakening power.
Jae tied the ends of a cord together, fastening a Telk stone marked with a wavy pattern—the symbol of water—to Sevelle’s upper arm. Midmorning light streamed in through the window, highlighting the fine cloths adorning the smooth wooden bedframe and chests, the stone walls, and the water basin in one corner.
“Many thanks,” Sevelle said dully as she stared down at herself.
At The Glorious’s request, Jae had helped Sevelle adorn herself almost from head to toe in the stones. The cords criss-crossed over her yellow-gold skin and her torso, intricately wrapped in cloth of the same light pink as her wings. They had switched out her flowing skirted garment for a tighter fitting wrap that left her calves bare. A stone with the swirl symbol of spirit was tied to rest on her forehead.
Spirit for clarity, water for refreshment, light for power.
Like the power of others will help her be more in touch with herself, Jae scoffed internally. But the tired lines around Sevelle’s eyes reminded Jae that life had been hard in the days since she had admitted her failure.
Sevelle lifted her head. “Tell me I don’t look desperate.”
“You don’t look desperate,” Jae intoned.
Sevelle gave her a small glare despite being the one to suggest the words and heaved a sigh. Then her gaze drifted toward the window. She winced.
“I’m late,” she said, rushing past Jae.
With the ease of practice, Jae turned to follow. She quickly checked that her spear was over her shoulder before entering the hall and shutting Sevelle’s wooden door. She kept one step behind Sevelle as she took off down the hall on foot. A few courtiers flew or strode past, but nothing like the bustle of the court before the blight.
Tapping into the ara at her core, Jae magically reached out to the winds. Restless, it took some coaxing to do her bidding, but they eventually whipped through the hall and back to Jae, bringing her snippets of conversation. The low howl of wind rushing through the many doorways and openings of the court created an irritating undertone, but Jae strained to hear past it.
“You cannot seriously mean that.”
“Why won’t this blasted wind stop?”
“…just let me die.”
Jae nearly rolled her eyes at the melodrama of the last one from the direction of those in the lower level room set aside for those affected so they would be out of the way. They were all harmless words, though. No threat to Sevelle. And no mention of her admitted failure.
At the end of the hall, Jae opened her wings and dropped gracefully through the Throne Room after Sevelle.
Sevelle touched down lightly before the dias and rushed up the steps and past the large smooth thrones carved of dark stone to disappear into the small room beyond. When Jae made to take her position outside the door, The Glorious suddenly appeared in the doorway.
Jae bowed her head. “Glorious.”
The Glorious waved her away with one hand. “You are needed in the garden today,” she said. “Report to Morlan.”
Jae stared at the door for a moment after The Glorious shut it. Then she shook her head and took off toward the opening near the vaulted ceiling that would take her to the garden, the large rectangular section of forest enclosed within the Court of the Day—the source of their food and water, and where they could be closer to the ara within the soil.
Jae coaxed the winds ahead of her, filtering through the ones that came back to find the deep voice of her trainer.
She found his muscular form leaning against the wall underneath the canopy of the upper balcony. His dark blue skin, black wings, and equally dark guardian clothing stood out against the greenery adorning the gray stone wall. His hair was tied up out of his face, and he kept the winds effortlessly streaming steadily around him, much like Jae’s own power. A spear was slung over his shoulder.
Jae pointedly ignored the brightness at his core that reminded her he was a potential partner for her. She focused instead on figuring out why they were here.
The piles of stones at his feet gaver her the answer: one pile adorned with symbols, the other smooth and unmarked.
“Since when do you handle the production of Telk?” Jae asked as she approached.
“Since Canar has fallen to the blight,” he grumbled.
“And what am I to do?”
“Grace the stones with your power, like the rest of them.” He gestured to the garden and the other faeries that must be working within.
Jae stared at him. “You know as well as I do the power of air is not entirely useful.”
“It may protect some from the Winds,” he pointed out.
“Those of the court do not need protection from the Winds. You know this Telk will never actually leave the court and do the commoners who need it any good.”
Morlan’s shoulders tightened almost imperceptibly.
Jae clamped her mouth shut. That was not wise, she berated herself.
He turned his attention to her, narrowing his dark eyes. “What did you say?”
What can I tell him that he will believe?
She looked away, folding her legs as she gracefully lowered herself to the ground near the pile of unmarked stones.
“Only to keep the court honest,” she said, trying to keep her voice light.
He gave her a disbelieving grunt, but then a water-user approached from among the large circular leaves of the ferns surrounding them. With a nervous glance at Morlan, he knelt to carefully place his Telk stones onto the pile.
Perfect timing, Jae thought as Morlan spoke with the courtier.
Picking up an unmarked stone, she smoothed her thumb over the surface, willing the power of the air into it, so that it would do the bidding of whoever held it for a short time. And to be gentle to the commoners that might use it and not know how to wield it.
“You know better than to say such things,” Morlan admonished her when the courtier was out of earshot.
I should’ve known he wouldn’t let it drop. Two years older, and thinks he is so wise.
“You know I am right,” she muttered, still looking down.
“The court provides for the commoners, as it does us all.”
Right. Like being trapped here is a blessing.
Wind swirled into a sudden gust in her lap, forcing her head up. “What?” she bit out.
His scrutiny made her want to squirm. “You are agitated today.”
Jae sighed. “I would rather be training.”
“In that, we agree.”
His winds released her chin, and she put her head down once more. Jae leaned forward and tossed her finished Telk stone, now marked with three circles within each other, onto the other pile.
The uncomfortable silence between them continued as she selected another smooth stone and sat back. It was odd seeing him in this capacity—so mundane. She didn’t know what to say to him when they weren’t focused on combat.
She had added her fifth stone to the pile when she felt Sevelle’s presence. She always registered to Jae’s senses as the equivalent of a warm breeze, just barely disturbing the air around her but enough that Jae sensed the change. Sevelle’s normal warmth was replaced with a chill Jae felt before her charge’s form appeared, gliding into the trees from the balcony.
Jae rushed to stand, relieved to soon be rid of her awkward task. She glanced at Morlan.
The intensity on his face led her to believe he wanted to say something, but then he nodded. An odd feeling passed through Jae, and she quickly turned away.
Spreading her wings, Jae went after Sevelle.
Prize: Fly Free by Allison Rose – One (1) of three (3) paperbacks – US Only
Starts: January 10th, 2021 at 12:00am EST
Ends: January 17th, 2021 at 11:59pm EST
Driven by a lifelong passion for words and reading fantasy novels, award-winning author Allison Rose writes YA fantasy stories featuring faeries, magic, and strong heroines. She has a BA in psychology and is fascinated by how other people think, but her love for reading and writing is greater. When Allison isn’t writing, she is editing and proofreading the works of others. Allison lives with her husband, collie mix, bunny, and chinchilla in the place of wild weather also known as Buffalo, New York.
Guess the release date of Shirley’s new rom com, Eat Your Heart Out, about two foodie friends.
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When a tyrant in stilettos replaces her beloved boss, and her ex snags her coveted job, teacher Dana Narvana discovers there are worse things than getting dumped on Facebook. Time for the BFF advice squad, starting with Dana’s staunchest ally, Alex—hunky colleague, quipster, and cooking pal extraordinaire. But when the after-hours smooching goes nowhere, she wonders why this grown man won’t make up his mind.
Alex Bethany’s new lifestyle gives him the confidence to try online dating. What he craves is a family of his own until a life-altering surprise rocks his world. Knowing he’s sending Dana mixed messages, Alex panics when he thinks he’s blown his chance with his special person. From appetizers to the main course will these two cooking buddies make it to dessert?
“So this is what it’s like being on a date with you,” she said. “Oh.” Hesitating, as if she’d caught herself. “This isn’t a date, is it? Oh, I’m not belittling your gesture, bringing me to this fine establishment. But it isn’t a date because you’re still seeing that woman, the one you asked me about. You remember, don’t you? During our planning session.”
A ping of discomfort as he recalled asking Dana how to recognize the signs that a woman was interested. What could be more awkward? This. This was definitely up there on the list of more awkward moments.
“Honestly, I didn’t think too much—I mean we’re friends and colleagues.” He picked up his wine glass. At this rate, he’d have to order a second bottle simply to block his mind from where it persisted in going, Dana-wise. That little flash of skin, her show of bravery on the supervisor-from-hell front, even her feistiness toward him. Well, she had a point about the date.
“You’ve always been straight with me,” she said. “Do it again, be straight.”
Alex leaned in, took the piece of bread from her hand and placed it on the plate, then pushed the plate out of the way. “Come closer,” he said. “I want to whisper sweet somethings in your ear.”
About The Author
Shirley Goldberg is a writer, novelist, and former ESL and French teacher who’s lived in Paris, Crete, and Casablanca. She writes about men and women of a certain age starting over. Her website http://midagedating.com offers a humorous look at living single and dating in mid life, and her friends like to guess which stories are true. Eat Your Heart Out is the second book in the series Starting Over. Middle Ageish, the first, is available now. Her characters believe you should never leave home without your sense of humor and Shirley agrees.