Spotlight & Excerpt: Between the Dragon King and His Wrath, by Barbara Russell
Between the Dragon King and His Wrath
by Barbara Russell
Romantic Historical Fantasy
Revenge is a curse that can only destroy.
Princess Annika loves dancing, wearing bright gowns, and enjoying life. When she travels to the neighbouring kingdom of Walhack for the spring festival, she expects to make new friends. What she doesn’t expect is to meet Wlad, the former prince of Walhack now a slave in his own kingdom, starved and beaten by the violent usurper. Her attempt to help the fallen prince ends with her being assaulted and her father damaged for life.
Revenge is the only thing that keeps Wlad alive after the invaders occupied his kingdom, killed his parents, and turned him into a slave. Annika is the first ray of sunlight in years of pain and humiliation. Her kindness and compassion awaken the most dangerous feeling of all in his heart—hope.
Desperate to take his kingdom back, he makes a pact with the Sister Witches. He’ll be cursed forever in exchange for the supernatural powers that will allow him to defeat his enemy.
Eight years later
Annika doesn’t dance anymore. Doesn’t wear bright gowns anymore. As she struggles with her trauma, she has to meet King Wlad the Dracul—the Dragon King of Walhack—who slaughtered his way back to the throne. Everyone says he’s cursed, turned into an immortal creature who seeks blood to survive. But she hopes he’s still the kind young man she met years ago.
~ Please note this isn’t a dragon-shifter romance ~
This is a standalone, steamy paranormal/historical romance with a happily ever after. Trigger warning for explicit sex scenes, assault (off page), violence (off page), and trauma. There’s a time jump after the first few chapters. Cinnamon roll hero.
The Kingdom of Walhack, Arges Castle, 1450
ONE STEP TO the left and Annika would plunge to her death into a chasm of sharp rocks and spiky brambles, and wasn’t that exciting?
She balanced her weight on her toes, walking along the three-foot-wide stone parapet. A thrilled yelp escaped her as the hem of her long skirt almost caused her to trip over. Blood pumped in her veins in a combination of fear and anticipation. Her skin tingled with excitement. If she lifted her skirt, she could twirl on one foot and watch the majestic castle spin around her—
“Annika!” Her father’s deep voice thundered from the room, breaking her moment of freedom. He marched towards her, his lips flattening in a grim line under his grey moustache and beard. “Come down immediately.” He didn’t wait for her to leap off the railing but took her wrist and helped her down.
The heavy crimson brocade skirt of her dress fluttered around her legs as she landed on the stone floor with a graceful leap. “I was about to come down, Papa. There was no need to grab me.”
The sun was setting behind the Carpathian Mountains, casting a red-blood shadow over her father’s face and turning the lake into a large ruby. The view was ominous and stunning at the same time.
He led her inside the bedchamber and locked the window, cutting off the pine resin scent rising from the forest.
“This isn’t the place or the moment for one of your antics.” His hands trembled as he pulled the curtains. “Not to mention that you nearly killed me out of sheer panic when I saw you over the railing. Lord almighty.”
It was never the moment to enjoy herself for her papa. At almost nineteen, Annika had been lectured on the appropriate behaviour of a princess more times than on the arts and literature of her kingdom.
A lady should never sweat. A lady doesn’t laugh too loudly. A lady doesn’t behave recklessly. A lady…
…doesn’t have fun.
Love stories have always captured my imagination. What’s better than two people falling in love with each other? I write steamy romance, usually with a paranormal twist in an historical setting. Add a touch of suspense and mystery and a pinch of darkness. I love stories with strong, sexy heroes and mischievous heroines who pull no punches.
I live in the City of Sails, New Zealand, drinking tea (coffee gives me anxiety) and devouring books.
Join my newsletter for exclusive content and the chance to receive an ARC copy of my books. Just copy and paste this link into your browser: Barbara’s Newsletter
If you love steamy paranormal romance set in Victorian London, my Royal Occult Bureau series is for you: The Royal Occult Bureau Series
Are you into shape-shifter romance? Check out my da Vinci’s Beasts series, set in WW2: da Vinci’s Beasts Series
For more Victorian paranormal romance with witches and sexy warriors, see the Knights of the White Blade series: The White Order Series
Love steampunk? Check out my Auckland Steampunk series: Auckland Steampunk Series
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Spotlight & Excerpt: Fight For Freedom, by Marisa Noelle
Fight For Freedom
by Marisa Noelle
Publication Day: 30th March 2023
Genre: Fantasy Romance
MERMAIDS HIDE ON ATLANTIS.
THE MAINLAND IS DESTROYED.
Cordelia, Wade, and friends return to the mainland to find a nuclear junkyard. With the human population drastically reduced, most blame the mermaids and selachii for deserting them and hiding the sanctuary of Atlantis.
When a new prophecy says they must unite with a third, a human, Wade and Cordelia open their land to the survivors. But sharing Atlantis comes with a price. Prejudices are rife and many are out for revenge. And the third in their trio is anything but cooperative.
Distracted by the politics on the island, Cordelia misses the creeping return of Wade’s old flame, Stephanie. Seeking vengeance, Stephanie transforms into a sea witch and evokes the hound of the ocean, a terrible beast from the ancient depths that kills without prejudice.
With Atlantis threatened, Cordelia’s powers misfiring, and a betrayer among their ranks, mermaids and selachii are once again at risk of extinction. Only if they can remain united with the humans and vanquish the hound and Stephanie will they have a chance to reclaim their island.
Perfect for fans of the Shatter Me series by Tahereh Mafi, Twilight by Stephanie Meyer, The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare, Shadow & Bone by Leigh Bardugo, Crush by Tracy Wolff, Mermaid’s Return by A.L. Knorr.
“Wade Daniel Waters, do you take Cordelia Anne Blue for your lawful wedded wife, to live in the holy state of matrimony? Will you love, honor, comfort, and cherish her from this day forward, forsaking all others, keeping only unto her for as long as you both shall live?” The pastor looked to my almost husband.
“I do,” Wade smiled, then added, “always, forever and united.”
“Can we stick to the script?” Trent said. He stood next to Wade, his chest puffed with best man importance.
“Cordelia Anne Blue, do you take Wade Daniel Waters for your lawful wedded husband, to live in the holy state of matrimony? Will you love, honor, comfort, and cherish him from this day forward, forsaking all others, keeping only unto him for as long as you both shall live?”
“I do,” I replied. “Always, forever and united.”
Trent rolled his eyes, and I stifled a giggle. Wade slipped a ring onto my finger, a plain white gold band that sparkled in the sunlight. I slipped the matching one onto his. The pastor declared we were now husband and wife. Wade was free to kiss me, as many times as he wanted, and for as long as we both desired.
His head dipped, his eyes flashing black. I circled my arms around his neck and forgot about everyone else standing on the beach watching us. It was our moment, our first act as husband and wife, king and queen. We would be officially coronated during the wedding breakfast. But I forgot all that as I softened against him. Ignoring all the staring eyes, I focused instead on his lips and wished we could bypass the coming feast and head straight to our new bedroom. But that would have to wait. There were family and well-wishers to greet.
Maya handed me my bouquet, an exquisite array of Birds of Paradise that complimented the arrangements decorating the aisle. The fragrance carried sweetly in the air. Wade walked me back down the aisle, our bare feet sinking into the soft sand, to a thunderous applause and a few loud wolf whistles. Trent was the main culprit. He and Maya stood together at the altar, maid of honor and best man, watching us go.
I lifted my dress as we walked along the cobblestone path. We followed the winding walkway under the aqueduct, vines softening their angular edges and now heavy with plump, ripe grapes, toward the palace steps and the courtyard where the banquet was waiting for us.
“You’re so beautiful. I haven’t had a chance to tell you. When you came walking down the aisle, I thought I was dreaming.” Wade’s voice was thick with emotion as he cupped my elbow and guided me along the path.
“You too,” I replied. I couldn’t manage more words. I was afraid I would cry from sheer happiness, from the magnitude of the whole thing, and from the blissful relief that finally, everything had gone the right way for us.
“We deserve it.” Wade read my thoughts. “We’ve been through so much. It’s our time now.”
“It is.” I clutched his hand as we mounted the stone steps. Halfway up, we turned and waved to our people, who were approaching the cobblestone path. “Give me a minute,” I said as we arrived at the palace entrance, a vast marble arch boasting exquisite architecture, softened by vibrant flowers hanging from the balconies. “I need to freshen up.”
Wade drew me to his side. “Take a few. Now we’re married, I won’t worry when you’re out of my sight.”
“Worry?” I questioned.
Wade smiled sheepishly and shoved his hands in his pockets. “Ever since we had that argument on the plane and I realized I loved you more than you loved me, I worried I might lose you.”
“Not necessarily to another guy, but maybe to your family or a career or even to the blue chamber and the High Council or…I don’t really know to what. But you’ve got my ring on your finger now. Two of them. It’s the most relaxed I’ve felt in months.” He chuckled and kissed my nose. “So take a moment, take a few. We have the rest of our lives to love each other.”
I rested a hand on his cheek. “Exactly,” I said. “And you shouldn’t have worried. I was naïve back then, on the plane. It may have only been a year ago, but it’s been a long year and we went through a lot together. I grew up. We both did. We were forced to. I don’t regret any of it. It was a stupid argument. If I’d known we would be married a year later…but here we are, where we should be, and I’m smiling at you, always. Don’t ever doubt my love for you, Wade Waters. And please don’t hide your worries from me. And for the record, back then, it was me who loved you more.”
About the Author:
Marisa Noelle is the writer of middle grade & young adult novels in the genres of science-fiction, fantasy & mental health including The Shadow Keepers, The Unadjusteds Trilogy (The Unadjusteds, The Rise of the Altereds, & The Reckoning), and The Mermaid Chronicles – Secrets of the Deep.
She is a mentor for the Write Mentor program that helps aspiring MG & YA authors. With dual citizenship, Marisa has lived on both sides of the Atlantic and uses settings in both the USA and UK as inspiration for her novels.
When she’s not writing or reading or watching movies, she enjoys swimming. In the pool she likes to imagine she could be a mermaid and become part of some of her make-believe words.
Despite being an avid bookworm from the time she could hold a book, being an author came as a bit of a surprise to her as she was a bit of a science geek at school. She lives in Woking, UK with her husband and three children. You can find her website.