Book Blitz & Excerpt: Heart’s Ease + Giveaway

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Heart’s Ease by Mimi B. Rose

Word Count: 70,954
Book Length: SUPER NOVEL
Pages: 286

GENRES:

BILLIONAIRE
CONTEMPORARY
EROTIC ROMANCE
FANTASY
PARANORMAL
WERESHIFTERS

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Book Description

 

Her mysterious past holds the key to protecting his clan.

Between helping teens at an After-School Art Club and trying to publish her granny’s fairy tales, Chantelle’s life still feels somehow unfulfilled.

When his father and older brother died, Charles was forced into the role of Alpha. Three years later, he still hasn’t dealt with the loss. Now a rival pack is stirring up trouble in his grandmother’s hometown, and he must investigate.

But that is only where the mystery begins. There’s something else going on and it starts with the mysterious and beautiful Chantelle. The secrets of her past and her untrained magical abilities hold the key to the rival pack’s attacks. And when they discover that sorcery is behind the violence against women and children in the territory, they have to trust each other and forge a connection.

But is their bond strong enough to protect the pack and fulfil a Fated Mates prophecy, or will they lead the pack, and their love, to ruin?

Reader advisory: This book contains scenes of racism, violence and attempted/threatened sexual assault. There is reference to past memory modification and the off-screen death of a teen.

Excerpt

Chantelle Mizuki didn’t want to die today.

I’m wearing old underwear. With holes. Nobody is going to see them. No nurse, no doctor, no coroner. Nobody.

Chantelle’s footsteps crunched in the autumn leaves of the mountain forest. Night was falling. Wolves were howling.

Real wolves.

Granny Ceci’s voice rang in her ears. “Don’t go in the forest at dusk, mon chou.”

Too late, Granny.

She hadn’t planned to be out this late. It was light when the After-School Art Club finished at the library. She had asked her student Alfonso to stay and talk about his application for art school. By the time they were done, the sun was low in the sky. Only after Alfonso had left did she discover she’d locked her keys in the car.

In the daytime, everyone used the path through the woods to get to the other side of the village in the Laurentian Mountains of Quebec. She loved the soft pine needles underfoot, tall trunks stretching their branches to the sky, soothing fragrances of moss and fern. During the day Chantelle expected to stumble across Snow White singing and dancing among the trees.

Night-time was different. Every noise was menacing, every shadow a predator waiting for her to stray off the path.

Chantelle kept to the darkened trail, wishing those howls and barks were getting fainter. The sounds of the forest were soothing when she was tucked into Granny Ceci’s gingerbread cottage—her cottage now. This evening, those sounds took on ominous undertones.

She remembered Granny Ceci telling her, “Ma cocotte, the Laurentian Mountains are home to many creatures, some fair, some foul. Be prepared for both.” Tonight, it was the foul creatures. Why couldn’t it be chipmunks or raccoons?

Another howl wailed over the tops of the trees. The hairs on the back of her neck stood up. One step in front of the other. You can do this.

Soon she reached the edge of the village. Only a quarter of a mile left. Past Marie’s big house on the hill, through the ravine, then up the path to the top of her street.

No problem. She had survived book signings with dozens of cranky children and their bad-tempered parents. She had run off her cheating no-good boyfriend. A wolf or two? No sweat.

She picked up her pace to a jog. Her legs were aching, her chest heaving. At the very least she’d have a funny story to tell Yvette and Kat. Well, it would be funny if she made it home in one piece.

The recent wolf sightings had everyone in town worried. The wolves were larger than usual, more vicious. They had even killed some dogs. Villagers were warned to stay away from the woods at night. She knew her woodcraft and carried her multi-tool at all times, but that wouldn’t be enough to stop a feral wolf.

Of course, today was the day she’d locked her keys in the car. She’d forgotten to take her ADHD medication. And her publisher called in the afternoon to say they were passing on her “passion project,” as they’d called it. Illustrating Granny Ceci’s stories and having them published were a way to honour her grandmother’s legacy. But her reputation as a children’s story illustrator was not opening doors for the collection of folk tales. Her usual collaborator hadn’t helped at all. He didn’t want his favourite illustrator distracted from his own book projects.

Was the howling closer now? Or was it her imagination? She crouched by a small cluster of sumac bushes. Her heart raced. The wind whistled through the treetops, clattering in the dying leaves.

There was a clearing ahead. What a relief! It was the small field behind her neighbour’s house. Marie, a dear friend of Granny Ceci’s, lived on the edge of the village. The little meadow divided the forest from her garden, which was enclosed by a stone wall.

There would be a large blue spruce at the northern edge of the clearing. The conical silhouette of the tree stood tall against the dying light. Three shadows, large and shaggy, skulked at the base.

She spared half a breath for one of Granny’s favourite curse words.

Could she make it to Marie’s house? She should move slowly, deliberately, not run. But rabid or savage wolves would still attack. If they came for her, she would have to run along the perimeter.

She was stuck. Sweat trickled down her back.

I need a plan. If she got out of this, she could move back to Montreal. There was nothing keeping her here. Granny had died last year. Why was she still here? Pull yourself together, girl!

The moon burst out from behind a cloud.

One of the wolves looked up, the cool light illuminating his outline. He cocked his head and looked in her direction. He howled, long and low. The other two wolves nosed him, turning towards her. Could they see her?

She sent a silent prayer up to Ceci. Wherever you are, please help me.

The wolves paced at the edge of the clearing, whining and sniffing the air.

She had to move. Maybe make a commotion once she got closer to the garden wall. Marie might hear.

She breathed in and out. Now. She took a cautious step.

One of the wolves inclined his head. Had he seen her? Another step.

He pointed his muzzle at her, his tail arching over his back. Two steps.

The lead wolf pushed off on his hind legs, padding towards her position. The others followed on his tail.

Ben l’on! Granny would have said. Oh, come on!

She sprinted towards the wooden gate in the middle of the stone wall.

They reached her in the clearing. The largest one growled, ears and tail erect. His eyes looked odd—orange, almost glowing. Impossible. It must be a reflection of the moonlight.

These wolves were big. And their faces looked funny—no, not funny, just strange. Almost human-like.

Heart racing, Chantelle took a step back.

The wolves advanced, circling her. They weren’t acting like regular wolves. What was going on?

The leader surged forward, snarling. She backed up and bumped into another wolf. The wolf behind her made a huffing noise that sounded almost like a laugh. Goosebumps broke out on her arms. Was this the end?

The largest one snapped at her leg. As she stepped back, her knees buckled and she fell to the unforgiving ground beneath her. Tears stung her eyes as she scrabbled in the grass and dirt. He descended on her and sunk his teeth in her calf. She batted at him, a shrill scream erupting from her throat. She had to get away.

The other wolves nipped at her arms as she pulled back, dodging their snouts and paws. She searched for purchase on the ground. They dragged her across the ground, away from the wall.

Fear churned in her stomach. Her heart beat fast as she struck at the wolves. Then something changed, fear turning into anger in her chest. Tingling sensations erupted into a warmth across her chest. Her ears buzzed.

What’s going on?

Some kind of energy bubbled from her middle. Rising up, it surged from her core out towards her arms and legs. It felt strange, yet familiar somehow.

The buzzing increased, changing into a burning sensation. A shooting pain in her leg snapped her attention back to the wolves. Sliding along the ground, she reached for the wolf attached to her leg. She smiled as she caught hold. His fur was matted, his bulk solid beneath her fingers.

The low droning made her ears itch and blocked out the growls of her attackers. Her field of vision telescoped into her hands, legs, and torso in front of her.

Anger surged within her. She pushed out from her diaphragm. Energy tingled and sparked, hot and strong. It poured down her arms and into her hands. When she shoved against her attacker, something blue zapped out of her palms.

The wolf let go when the blast hit him. Falling back a few inches, he shook his head and coat.

Growling, ears back, he pushed forward. The lights in his eyes glowed. The wolves regrouped and closed in.

I’m going to die here. With no one present to hear a snappy parting line.

A spotlight came on, almost blinding her. A rifle shot rang in the air and the creatures froze. Out from the garden gate stepped a small figure.

Marie!

The ancient woman leaned forward, hefting a rifle that was almost as tall as she was. Her red plaid jacket was three sizes too big and hung down to her knees. She peered out from thick glasses beneath a dark green hunter’s cap.

“Allez-y vous, sales chiens!” The old woman’s Québécois accent was thick but her tone was unmistakable.

Chantelle sucked in a big breath. She shuddered and turned to her attackers. The larger brown wolf swung his head towards her.

Another shot grazed the attacker’s mud-coloured fur. Yelping, he jumped out of the ring of light. He whined, pawing the ground, the other wolves huffing beside him. He glanced over at the old woman.

A new growl, low and menacing, rumbled by the gate. Beside Marie was a large dog, ears back, tail up. They moved forward in unison. The wolves backed away from Chantelle.

The lead wolf slunk towards the trees with his two companions. Looking back, he howled once before the trio disappeared into the night.

Chantelle pushed up from the ground, relief warring with the fear and pain. She tried to stand but her leg throbbed. The bite marks oozed blood. Her feet shuffled forward as she held her elbow against her side. Had they bitten her arm too?

She reached towards Marie by the gate.

Then she was falling.

Strong arms wrapped around her. A low voice murmured and Marie’s voice answered. She was being lifted up, arms carrying her to warmth. The voices faded away.

Her fingers touched a soft blanket. How long had she been out? A fire crackled nearby. Gentle hands prodded at the bite.

She faded out again.

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About the Author

Mimi B. Rose

Mimi B. Rose writes fantastic tales filled with steamy enchantment and tender-hearted fulfilment to thrill strong women. As a teen she read V.C. Andews’s Flowers in the Attic and Anne Rice’s The Vampire Lestat and she was hooked on fantasy romance and paranormal romance. Some of her favourite tv shows are Sleepy Hollow, Grimm, and Once–and the reboot of Beauty and the Beast starring Kirstin Kreuk (does anyone remember that series?).

She loves all kinds of shifters and vampires. Her all-time favourite authors are Faith Hunter, Ilona Andrews, Nalini Singh, and more recently Richelle Mead.

Mimi likes a sassy heroine who is independent but finds a strong hero who can keep up with her and treasure her for their uniqueness–including her flaws!

Check out Mimi’s website.


 

Giveaway

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Book Blitz & Excerpt: The Heather and the Plaid + Giveaway

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The Heather and the Plaid, by Raven McAllan

Book 2 in the Castle on the Loch series

Word Count: 40,287
Book Length: SHORT NOVEL
Pages: 162

Genres:

CONTEMPORARY
PARANORMAL
ROMANCE

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Book Description

History, family, fate. Accept it or deny it at your will. To have a future, they need to make peace with the past.

Condemned to a half-life for helping to protect Bonnie Prince Charlie, the only way Lachlan Stuart can live properly is to find someone who trusts and believes in him in the present day.

That person is Bonnie Drummond, who is not best pleased at having her peaceful life disturbed.

Especially when she discovers just what he wants her to do—and that it appears there are more powerful entities who will stop at nothing to ensure she doesn’t succeed.

Can Lachlan and Bonnie achieve what’s needed and get the happiness they both deserve, or is he condemned to forever be on the outside?

Excerpt

“No, no and even more so no.” Bonnie Drummond folded her arms and glared at the tall, long-haired man in front of her. “Get that into your thick head. Watch my lips. N…O… No.”

His dark, almost black, grey eyes twinkled as he laughed at her, lifted her and swung her around in a circle. Her multi-coloured scarf tangled about her neck and arms, and one tasselled end hit her on her nose. It stung.

“Ooft, no.” She blew a rogue tassel off her cheek. “Yuk, noooo.”

“Bonnie, my love, you’re awfy fond of that wee word and you don’t mean it. Yes, yes and even more so yes. We’ll do it. You’ll love it.”

“Lachlan Stuart, don’t you dare.” Brave words, because she knew he would. “I’ll be sick.”

“Sick? My brave Bonnie? Never and if you are then…”

Then?

Where are we?

She strained to see him, twisted and turned and…

Woke up as she fell out of bed.

“Of all the stupid, idiotic, ridiculous…argh.” Bonnie unwound the sheet—she’d been too hot to use the duvet and had put a sheet over her instead, which somehow was wrapped around her like a shroud—kicked it away and stood up, yawning. “Enough is enough. Give me a break.”

Yet another night of broken sleep. Of dreams and conversation with someone called Lachlan. Lachlan Stuart. “Why Lachlan Stuart? What’s it all about? Whose life was I in?”

The name seemed familiar—probably from being told it in her dreams—but she didn’t know anyone called that in reality. “Crazy statement,” she muttered. “In fact, the whole thing is.”

“Not at all.”

That was all she needed. The mystery voice in her head adding its tenpenn’orth. Shut up, and don’t butt in where you’re not concerned.

“Oh, but I am. Concerned. Really, Bonnie. Use your senses.”

She ignored that. She was using them, wasn’t she? How else would he have invaded her mind?

The laugh that echoed round the room made her scowl. Something screwy was going on and she didn’t like it one bit. Bonnie admitted she hated not being in charge of every part of her life. Why, when she acknowledged she was a ’seer’, someone who could hear voices, sense things, see happenings—in both the past and, she assumed, though it was never verified, the future—did one new voice bug her so much? Why did her life have to change anyway? She was content—sort of—as she was. Content enough not to want anything drastic to occur, at least.

Bonnie accepted her thoughts and dreams as part of her. Until recently those thoughts and dreams had been positive, mild even. Rarely about herself, more often about her close family. Sometimes about people she didn’t know and subsequently met. Those, though, didn’t unsettle her like this one had. Enough to wake her up sweating.

All her life she’d had conversations in her mind. Chatted to herself, so to speak. Argued and got the conclusion she wanted. Usually. The times she hadn’t she tried to rationalize.

Now, though… Now she couldn’t explain what she heard and thought. Nor, she decided, could she share those conversations with her parents. It was fine as a teenager, asking why she had silent conversations, could magic things to move—sometimes—and see and hear what other people thought—on occasion. But not why you were convinced you’d made love with someone who spoke softly to you in a language akin to but not the same as Gaelic, and you understood them. Experienced the sensations of heat and arousal as they caressed you. Sensed them fill you and rejoiced when you moved together as one hot, aroused and powerful entity. Saw stars as you climaxed and heard him shout his completion.

Not the sort of information she chose to share with anyone—especially her parents.

Her dad would have a conniption, her mum ask for more details, and if they passed the information on to her brother, Baird, she daren’t think what might happen. He was a bit ‘act now, think later’ when it applied to his sisters. How Marcail, the eldest, had managed to meet, make love with and marry her husband was one of life’s unsolved—or untold—mysteries.

Bonnie headed for the shower and ruminated over what she needed to achieve that day.

First thing on her mental list was to decide on the colours of the plaid she was making for her nephew’s first birthday. Once she had a rough idea about that, she intended to get stuck in and write a synopsis that made sense for her next paranormal mystery and romance book series. For a week or so it had been simmering in the back of her mind. Now she thought—hoped—she had the plot fixed, and a rough idea of how her characters looked. Tier traits and characteristics.

“Like me.”

Where had that thought popped up from? ‘Like me’ who? She mentally shrugged. In general her heroes came out of her imagination and not from seeing someone in the papers or walking down a street.

No one had been more surprised than Bonnie when a dare by Baird—to enter a competition where you wrote a thousand-word hint-of-intrigue snippet for a magazine competition—had culminated in her being asked to expand the story, and subsequently being offered a three-book contract. She hadn’t mentioned it to anyone, except Baird, and he had been sworn to secrecy. When the first book had come out, under the name of Belle Scott, she’d casually asked her mum—who had been kneading dough—if she’d read it.

Her mum had shaken her head and put her dough to prove. ‘Should I have?’

Bonnie’s heart had sunk. ‘Just wondered.’

‘Ah, okay. The book club are interested. I’ve read an excerpt. It sounds great, and I’ve got it on my ‘buy next time I go online’ list. I reckon it will be right up my street. Hope to get it in the next day or so.’

Bonnie had grinned. ‘No need. Here you are.’ She’d handed a paperback to her bemused parent. ‘I reckon if you think about it, you might realise you know the author.’ Then she’d headed home in a hurry and immersed herself in weaving a cloth she’d decided to use to make Christmas presents. As ever, the simple repetition of working her loom had soothed her and as she’d weaved, she’d plotted, so by the time her mum had appeared at her door several hours later, she had almost forgotten she’d handed the book over.

‘Bonnie, its fabulous,’ her mum had exclaimed as she shared one of her gorgeous and jealously rationed homemade loaves with Bonnie. ‘You did write it, didn’t you? I wasn’t sure at first, but little things gave it away.’ She’d grinned. ‘Now I want it signed.’

‘How did you guess?’ Bonnie had chuckled and resisted the impulse to punch the air.

‘Your choice of words. Often those we use as a family for one, and then Belle for Bonnie and Scott because you’re Scottish?’

Bonnie had nodded. ‘Baird bet me to enter a competition. I couldn’t believe it when I was offered a three-book contract. I’m plotting book three now.’

‘Book three? What about book two?’ Her mum had appeared confused. ‘What’s happened to that?’

‘That’s gone off for editing. This next one is the last in the series. Hot, sexy hero. You’ll love him. He’s everything any woman wants all rolled into one sex-on-legs body.’

“Thank you.”

Bonnie almost jumped. A new voice in her head? I was going to say like my dad.

“That sounds dodgy.”

Not to my mum, and who are you anyway?

“You’ll soon discover that.”

‘Bonnie?’ Her mum had looked at her in concern. ‘Are you okay? You look a bit peely wally.’ A Scottish expression for pale. ‘I was saying how proud of you we are. And to keep it a secret. Amazing. You’ve never been able to do that before. You and secrets were like water in a leaky bucket.’

Damn it, she’d been away with the fairies—her family expression for deep in thought. Or was that thoughts? ’Gee, thanks, Mum. I’ve been called a lot of things but never a leaky bucket before.’

‘Sorry, love, but you just…went. And not as if you were in seer mode, if you get me. Sort of…’ She’d paused, obviously trying to find the right words.

‘Peely wally, I get you. Sorry, thinking about lots of things at once. Probably forget most of them.’ Especially pesky new voices.

“Ouch.”

Her mum had laughed. ‘I’ll buy you some notebooks.’

Bonnie still used notebooks for emergency ideas and when she was out and about. ‘Great stuff, I’m on my last one. The one that says watch it or you’ll die a gruesome death in my next book.’

“No gruesome deaths needed any more. I’ll remind you.”

That had been a while before.

To her annoyance, that sexy voice in her head was now a regular occurrence. When she’d started to think about her series, which she had decided was to be set on an imaginary island in the same loch as she lived on, one name had kept coming to mind.

Lachlan. Lachlan Stuart.

She had no idea why. Her hero she had decided to call Frazer, her heroine Louise.

“Lachlan is better.”

For my heroine? She had to be perverse. I don’t think so.

“Ha, silly, ha. You know what I mean, or if not, you will. Soon. Know what I mean and know me.”

It wasn’t helpful being told that with no explanation as to why. Even so, Bonnie scribbled the name in her notebook, along with bairns, bodies, books and bribery. Where had all that come from? Used to the vagaries of her wandering mind, she mentally shrugged and carried on making an omelette. It would or wouldn’t be clear before long. Meanwhile she’d eat then go out in the boat to decide where to put the island and see if any colours hit her for her plaid.

It might have sounded daft to some people, but it made sense to her. The water, the scenery, helped her so often. She often thought she could have been a water sprite. It had made her laugh when she was told, very firmly, no chance—she liked chocolate too much.

“I need the purple of the heather, the blue of the loch on a misty day, the yellow of the broom and the green of the pines.”

It was time to put Mr New Voice into his place.

Well, it’s not up to you, whoever you are. You’ve never told me that before so tough. In fact, you’ve told me b. all. You just issue orders. Which I tell you, I’m going to ignore. This is my creation for my nephew so butt out and bugger off. She sneezed. Bloody pollen.

“Naughty. Bless you.” Male laughter echoed around her kitchen. “I haven’t said much, have I? You’ll find out soon enough.”

She didn’t bother to reply. The last thing she wanted was to start arguing with a voice in her head, especially when she had no idea what the darned voice was all about.

“Life, love, care, help. Us. The future to save the past.”

Clear as mud, as ever. That’s not me, that was someone else. She’d had to stand back and not help her sister, and even now it stung. Whoever made up the rules should cut a little slack.

“Tut, tut, you know that’s not our way.”

Well, it should be.

Damn it, she’d answered, and now there would be a stupid dialogue ending in a huff in her head.

Bonnie waited for the fallout.

“That was different, and you know it. Stop sulking, it doesn’t suit you. You’ll see soon enough.”

She waited some more.

Silence. No thoughts, no voices, not one thing. Not even a faint laugh or smart retort.

Fair enough. After all, the mood she was now in would probably magnify any little problem and become a migraine-sized headache. Something she could do without.

Bonnie ate her food standing up, left her dirty pots in the sink—one of the pros of living alone—and headed out with her camera. She fancied some heathery tones, blues and dusky greens in the plaid she was creating. Of course, it wouldn’t be a proper tartan, but it would be young Master MacDonald’s very own pattern.

“Thought it was for me? We need one… To be…” The voice faded, and for the first time it annoyed her not to hear any more. Then came a mocking laugh that made her want to kick something. Or someone. Instead she threw stones in the burn that ran by her house then headed down to the loch via a series of tiny waterfalls and tiny but deep pools. They made a satisfying plop noise and the ever-spreading circles of water it displaced soothed her. It was time she pulled up her big-girl panties and remembered the basic tenets her mum had told her.

To wit, she had abilities most people didn’t. Those talents might vary over time, might not always be uppermost in her life, but were there for a reason. She was, for want of a better description, a witch. Her forte was seeing. Both the past and the distant—as in over a year or so—future. Weirdly not the present, or anything that could involve dishonesty. If someone asked her who would win the tennis tournament, she had no idea. Nor who would win the election or the lottery numbers. But she could tell if someone or something would have problems in the years ahead, whether a certain colour would be ‘in’ or not and relationships that would happen, whether the recipients wanted them to or not. She didn’t cast spells, but she could work out what herbs, flora and fauna could help in certain circumstances and also make potpourri, bath oils and salts and herbal teas.

She’d known who her sister’s partner would be before Marcail did, but luckily, not how and when they would get together. Nor any intimate details. That would have been beyond icky. Her brother Baird’s future was more uncertain and worried her to a certain extent. She could sense it wouldn’t be smooth or easy for him to overcome all the obstacles in the way of his fate. But at least she could sense a little of what was in store for him.

It made her present circumstances not exactly a worry, but something that gave her an itch up her spine and a slight unease. The sensation of trying to find a light in a darkened room and not succeeding.

Maybe a day being away from the house and the island would help. Bonnie had changed into her walking gear, made sure she had the basics for a meal, her phone and mobile charger, and strode briskly shoreward.

She was about to cast off her tiny boat with its reliable outboard motor when her phone pinged.

Her dad.

That in itself was unusual. He hated technology with a vengeance. Bonnie held off untying the craft and opened her phone instead.

“Hi, Pa, what’s up?” she said cheerfully and waited for his usual reply.

“The sun and do not call me Pa. Snarky madam. I’ve a request.”

“Oh, yes?” Bonnie said warily. Her dad’s requests usually involved whoever he was speaking to doing something they didn’t want to do. “I’m on a deadline for my next book and need to do a lot of research.” Not strictly true as she’d got the outline completed and finished most of the research she would need in the immediate future. “In fact, I’m researching now and waiting for a call from…” She searched her mind for a plausible phone call. “The library about a book I’m after.” The fact she did most of her research online wasn’t lost on her and she hoped it wouldn’t occur to him to query her response.

Her dad made a noise akin to a boiling kettle. “Fshhht. This won’t take long. I need you to come for dinner tomorrow. Your mum says it’s Crowdie fish pie from Mrs Henderson, and Cranachan by herself.”

Bonnie’s mouth watered. They were both her favourites, and not her dad’s. His wording hit her. No wonder she was suspicious. Need… Not would you like to…but he needed. “What’s the catch?”

“What do you mean?” Her dad’s voice was bland, which was a giveaway that he was up to something. “Whatever fish Mrs H’s husband caught, I guess.”

“Ha ha, Pa. You’re so sharp you’ll cut yourself if you’re not careful. You know fine well what I mean. Why the formal call? It’s usually a ‘do you fancy dinner tonight’ or whatever. Not an official request. I feel like I need a gilt-edged RSVP card to reply.”

Her dad didn’t answer.

“In lieu of one”—Bonnie felt proud of that response—“thank you for asking but I’m so sorry, I must gracefully decline your oh so kind invitation.”

She waited for the explosion and wasn’t disappointed.

“De…you can’t bloody decline.” His voice rose. “You need to come.”

“Do I, Dad? Why?”

“Why?” he blustered. “Your mum will be upset if you don’t.”

“Oh, Pinocchio, how’s your nose?” She mentioned the story about the boy whose nose grew if he told a lie. “That’s the biggest load of tosh I’ve heard from you in a long time, Dad, and you can’t half spout some if you have a mind. Fess up or I’ll ask Mum what’s going on, and she’ll tell me.”

“Mum doesn’t know,” he said triumphantly. “So, you can’t.”

“Know what?”

Silence.

“Your poor dad doesn’t deserve your grief, you know. Remember Paden.”

That’s what I’m trying not to do. Butt out, this is my problem, not yours.

“You reckon?”

The laughter in her mind was mocking.

Sod off. She scowled at a nearby frog, which jumped into a nearby puddle with a reproachful croak. “Sorry,” she muttered to the frog, which of course ignored her.

Three ducks took up the complaint.

She turned the switch on the boat to start the engine, was about to apologise when she remembered what was going on. “Dad, I have to go, speak later.”

“Wait,” her dad said in a harassed voice. “You need to know what time to get here.”

“As I’ve declined, I don’t, you know.” Bonnie smirked as she ended the call and thought what state her dad would be in. It served him right. He was a champion at not explaining things and expecting people to fall in with his often unwanted wishes. Well, no more. She intended to make a stand and be firm.

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About the Authors

Raven McAllan

After 30 plus years in Scotland, Raven now lives near the east Yorkshire coast, with her long-suffering husband, who is used to rescuing the dinner, when she gets immersed in her writing, keeping her coffee pot warm and making sure the wine is chilled.

With a new home to decorate and a garden to plan, she’s never short of things to do, but writing is always at the top of her list.

Her other hobbies include walking along the coast and spotting the wildlife, reading, researching, cros stitch and trying not to drop stitches as she endeavours to knit.

Being left-handed, and knitting right-handed, that’s not always easy.

She loves hearing from her readers, either via her website, by email or social media.


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Book Blitz & Excerpt: Ryld’s Shadows + Giveaway

Rylds Shadows Banner

Ryld’s Shadows

by Angel Martinez & Bellora Quinn

Book 4 in the AURA series

Word Count: 74,271
Book Length: SUPER NOVEL
Pages: 277

GENRES:

CONTEMPORARY
EROTIC ROMANCE
FANTASY
GAY
GLBTQI
PARANORMAL

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Book Description


Ryld must learn to control his dangerous shadows before they kill someone he cares about or someone unscrupulous learns how to control him.

AURA’s offices have been quiet since the mage tower incident—as quiet as they can be for an agency dedicated to policing holes in reality—and the department heads have been free to turn their attention back to mundane matters. The return to quiet bureaucracy gives AURA’s Director of Research, Kai Hiltas, the time to turn his energy to a new issue—a young drow with unusual and dangerous powers named Ryld.

Though his shadows always lurk at the edges of his vision, Ryld does his best to live peacefully and not let them hurt anyone. He has his work, his apartment and a succession of minders assigned by AURA who are, ostensibly, there to keep him safe in his new world and to prevent him from causing any scenes with his shadows. Most of the time, the arrangement works. But one disastrous incident causes Ryld’s minder to leave him unattended and lost—the precise thing he was hired to prevent.

To replace the faithless minder, Kai suggests Hank, a half-goblin accountant recently in the middle of a string of terrible luck, while Kai works out how best to get Ryld the magical training he so desperately needs. For his part, Hank truly likes Ryld and insists he would be happier working as Ryld’s companion rather than as a controlling minder.

As Hank and Ryld slowly come to terms with sharing space—and eventually more—Kai’s search for a teacher for Ryld takes them out west on the invitation of the Elvenhome’s aelfe queen and right into the lap of inter-elven feuds, ancient prejudice, conspiracies and trafficking rings. What should have been a pleasant visit soon turns into more than even forever-scheming Kai can handle.

Reader advisory: This book contains references to past trauma and PTSD, kidnapping and kidnapping of a child.


Excerpt

“I thought you guys were supposed to be more…buff.”

“Buff?”

“Stacked.”

Ryld looked at the man blankly.

“Bigger. Muscular.”

“Oh. Yes. Most of the aelfe are, as you say, buff. My kind, the drow, are as tall, but usually lighter in frame.”

The man took a sip of his beer. “So what happened to you? Did you miss the call when they were handin’ out the tickets for the tall and ripped lottery?”

Ryld processed that for a moment. None of that made much sense. Nothing had happened to him, he’d missed no calls as far as he knew, and he wasn’t sure what gambling had to do with anything. He wasn’t sure how, but his best guess, given the previous question, was the man was asking why he looked different from other elves he must have met.

“Simple genetics. I was bred for certain characteristics. My coloring. My…ability with magic.” Ryld took a sip of his own beer. “Those genetic traits also carry markers for a smaller height and build.” And madness. But Ryld had already learned humans had a deep fear of madness, so he kept that to himself.

“Yeah, no shit. You can’t be mor’n five and a half feet and a buck fifty, if that.”

Ryld blinked again. Five and a half feet was an Imperial measurement, presumably of his height, which, while accurate, was terribly inefficient. Since they were discussing his size, the other observation should have been about his weight, but instead he spoke of money.

“I have more than a dollar and fifty cents with me. The drinks here are known to be expensive. I made sure I brought enough.”

His drinking companion laughed. “Never mind. You’re a funny one.”

That was odd. Usually, he didn’t understand human humor and they could be more uncomfortable with his presence than amused by it.

“It’s time to go, Ryld.”

Ryld looked up from the human he’d been studying into the face of someone who had exactly the elven characteristic the human had commented Ryld lacked. Tall and broad shouldered, with dark, ash-blond hair, and a countenance that made sure all but the most inebriated of bar patrons stayed well out of his way. Ryld sighed and set his drink down half finished.

He stood without argument and bid the human good night, as was their custom, and followed his minder outside. As he crossed the threshold, a small flicker of dark caught his eye, but he ignored it and kept moving.

“The establishment isn’t closed for the evening yet,” he pointed out as they walked down the row of vehicles in the parking lot.

Cress gave his own sigh. “No, but it will be very soon. We’ve been over this, Ryld. You don’t have to stay until everyone else has gone, and they kick us out.”

“But…there were still a few humans I hadn’t spoken to.”

“Nor do you need to speak to everyone in the place in one night.”

“Oh. Did I transgress? Make a mistake?”

“I know what transgress means, and no, you didn’t. They don’t have a rule dictating how many people you should or should not speak to.”

Ryld stopped. “How do they know then? How many is appropriate? Without a rule, how do they know?”

Cress stopped too and turned to look at him. Ryld managed to meet his eyes for a moment, then shifted his gaze to a spot over Cress’ shoulder. Better to look at a point over the other person’s shoulder than drop his eyes, he’d learned. A downward-cast gaze was viewed as subservient, rather than simply respectful.

“When there isn’t a rule, they decide for themselves how many people they speak with, and who.”

Ryld caught another flicker out of the corner of his eye and swallowed. “If there were a rule, it would be so much easier to know.”

“I know, but that’s how it is. Sometimes there are rules, and sometimes there aren’t.”

Cress spoke in a low, soothing tone. The one he used when he was being extra patient. When he wanted to avoid a scene. Ryld didn’t want there to be a scene either. His head would ache for days after, and sometimes he couldn’t even get out of bed if it had been particularly bad. It wasn’t as if they hadn’t had this conversation about rules before. There was no reason to get upset.

“Okay.”

“Okay? Are you ready to go now?” Cress asked.

“Yes.”

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About the Author

Angel Martinez

The unlikely black sheep of an ivory tower intellectual family, Angel Martinez has managed to make her way through life reasonably unscathed. Despite a wildly misspent youth, she snagged a degree in English Lit, married once and did it right the first time, (same husband for almost twenty-four years) gave birth to one amazing son, (now in college) and realized at some point that she could get paid for writing.

Published since 2006, Angel’s cynical heart cloaks a desperate romantic. You’ll find drama and humor given equal weight in her writing and don’t expect sad endings. Life is sad enough.

She currently lives in Delaware in a drinking town with a college problem and writes Science Fiction and Fantasy centered around gay heroes.

You can take a look at Angel’s Website and follow her on Facebook and Twitter.


Bellora Quinn

Originally hailing from Detroit Michigan, Bellora now resides on the sunny Gulf Coast of Florida where a herd of Dachshunds keeps her entertained. She got her start in writing at the dawn of the internet when she discovered PbEMs (Play by email) and found a passion for collaborative writing and steamy hot erotica. Soap Opera like blogs soon followed and eventually full novels.

The majority of her stories are in the M/M genre with urban fantasy or paranormal settings and many with a strong BDSM flavour.

You can take a look a Bellora’s blog and find her on Facebook and Twitter.


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