Spotlight & Excerpt: Daughter of the Sea + Giveaway

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Daughter of the Sea
by Elisabeth J. Hobbes
Folklore, fairy tale, mythology

On a windswept British coastline the tide deposits an unexpected gift…
It was the cry that she first noticed, the plaintive wail that called to her over the crash of winter waves. Wrapped only in a sealskin, the baby girl looks up at Effie and instantly captures her heart. She meant only to temporarily foster the young orphan but when news reaches Effie that her husband has been lost at sea, and months pass without anyone claiming the infant, she embraces her new family – her son Jack and her adopted daughter Morna.
 
Effie has always been an outcast in her village, the only granddaughter of a woman people whisper is a witch, so she’s used to a solitary existence. But when Midsummer arrives so too does a man claiming to be Morna’s father. There’s no denying Lachlan is the girl’s kin and so Effie is surprised when he asks her to continue looking after his daughter, mysteriously refusing to explain why. She agrees, but when he returns six months hence she pushes him for answers. And Lachlan tells a story she never anticipated … one of selkies, legend, and the power of the sea…

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Excerpt:

Effie Cropton finds a baby girl floating on the sea off the Yorkshire coast. No one comes forward to claim the child so Effie decides to foster her. A year to the day, a stranger arrives at her door, claiming to be the baby’s father.

Lachlan was standing in the centre of the room and looking about him with interest. Effie lifted her chin and stared at him. His clothes were good quality, for all that they were plain. Maybe he was used to grander surroundings than a two-room cottage. Effie’s furniture might be old, the crockery mismatched and the rug shabby, but the house was clean and neat. He would find nothing to criticise.
“Do you live here alone?” he asked.
There was curiosity in his voice rather than judgement.
“With my son. And your daughter,” Effie added.
“Where is your son’s father?. Do you have a husband?”
Effie gestured to the black skirt she wore.
“My husband drowned in a shipwreck. Almost a year to the day.”
She blinked as grief welled up, fresh and raw.
Lachlan’s eyes narrowed then filled with sympathy. “In foreign parts? He travelled far?”
An odd question but Effie answered it anyway.
“No, barely out of harbour from Whitby.”
“Ah. My condolences. My wife also…”
Lachlan tailed off and his face creased with visible evidence of deep sorrow.
Effie recalled Walter’s report of a crack in the hull of the Serenity cause by some large object. The vessel carrying the child and her mother must have been in the same vicinity for the basket to float towards Allendale Head. Perhaps both ships had fallen foul of whatever it had been.
“I’m sorry,” she murmured. “I never understood how the babe came to be in the sea. Would you like some tea?”
Lachlan lifted his chin. “Thank you, but no. I am already under enough obligation to you for what you have done for my child.”
“It’s only tea. There is no obligation,” Effie said. “You just looked cold.”
She glanced at the seal fur that was draped over one arm. It matched the one in which she had found the girl wrapped and wondered where they had got them. Perhaps he was a seal hunter.
“Your daughter had a fur like that,” she said.
“Had?”. He leaned forward urgently. “What happened to it?”
“Nothing. I kept it safe,” Effie answered, slightly taken aback at the alarm in his voice.
“Good.”. He pulled a stool back and sat at the table, resting his hands together on the edge.
“Mrs Cropton, we have a predicament. You have nursed my child and looked after her. You took her in and gave her your milk. You have cared for her for a year and she calls you mother.”
He rubbed his eyes with his fingers. They were long and slender and looked as if they had never seen hard labour. He gave Effie a wry smile.
“You have as much claim to her as I do.”
“I’m sorry,” Effie repeated. “I did what I thought was best.”
“And you did it well. You love her, don’t you.”
Effie nodded.
Lachlan exhaled loud and long.
“You had no understanding of the bonds you were weaving or the obligations you have created but I cannot take her from you. If I leave her, will you continue to care for her as you have done?”
Effie hid her elation. “Of course I will.”
“What have you named her?”
“I…”
Effie felt a blush rising to her cheeks. She’d been defensive and accusatory, but now had to admit that a year had passed without her naming Lachlan’s daughter.
“Nothing seemed to suit her,” she admitted.
Lachlan didn’t seem angry at this but his shoulders tensed. “Then you have not had her baptised, I assume?”
“No.”. Effie met his eyes boldly, staring into the inscrutable depths. If he condemned her for this he would not be the first. “I’m not a churchgoer myself and it didn’t seem right without knowing who she belonged to.”
“That is well. My people are also not of that faith. I would not have another barricade set between us.” He gestured to the fur around his shoulders. “Where is her skin? I would like to see it before I leave.”
It was an odd request. Effie narrowed her eyes suspiciously, wondering if he planned to make off with but the fur was small so couldn’t be particularly valuable. The basket was where she had left it a year ago on top of the wardrobe in the bedroom. It had continued to disintegrate and was now little more than a pile of loosely woven stalks and reeds. By the light from the open door she stood on tiptoe and pulled it down, trying to keep silent so as not to wake the children.
She placed the remains of the basket on the kitchen table and unfolded the fur. Dust filled the air. Lachlan ran his hand over the soft pelt and closed his eyes. Effie remembered the softness and how it had felt warm under her palm even when cold and damp. She stroked the edge with her fingertip. In the bedroom, the girl stirred and whimpered softly as if she were dreaming.
Lachlan looked round at the sound. He crept to the cot and held his hand out over the sleeping children then withdrew it slowly. He bowed his head. Effie left the room, not wanting to intrude.
When Lachlan emerged he walked to Effie and tilted her chin back. His hands were so cold the shock of it almost outweighed the surprise of being touched by a stranger. He regarded her seriously and she suddenly felt very young.
“Effie Cropton, will you keep my child safe?”
She nodded. “I will.”
Lachlan took her right hand. He pressed something cool and hard into her palm and curled her fingers round it. Effie opened her hand to discover a large pearl. She blinked in surprise. It must be worth double the sum she received from the Poor Committee each quarter year.
“We have a compact, you and I,” he said. “I will return at Midsummer’s Night on the turn of the tide and I’ll bring you another pearl in payment.”
Lachlan paused at the door and looked back at Effie, dark eyes flashing.
“Her name is Morna.”
Effie clutched the pearl and watched as he slipped away. He headed away from the village, along the beach towards the brig. The moonlight followed him but when the shore curved away the shadows claimed him and he was lost from sight.


Author Bio –

Daughter of the Sea - 3shiresphotoElisabeth’s writing career began when she finished in third place in Harlequin’s So You Think You Can Write contest in 2013. She was offered a two-book contract and consequently had to admit secret writing was why the house was such a tip. She is the author of numerous historical romances with Harlequin Mills & Boon covering the Medieval period to Victorian England, and a Second World War romantic historical with One More Chapter. She lives in Cheshire because the car broke down there in 1999 and she never left.

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Spotlight & Excerpt: Stay + Giveaway

Banner - Fantasy for Christmas

On tour with Prism Book Tours


Stay
(Cursed Gods #1)
By Jennifer Silverwood
New Adult Romantic Fantasy, Mythology
Paperback & ebook, 198 Pages
May 29, 2020 by SilverWoodSketches

Rona believes love is nothing more than a myth, a tale for little girls. Until the immortal ruler of the seas appears from thin air and she is swept into a dark and dangerous affair. What was formerly myth soon becomes part of the everyday. And Rona believes when Seid tells her they will be together forever. But forever is a long time and after she betrays him, what was supposed to be an eternity in paradise becomes an eternity in hell. Now she is cursed, unable to feel emotions except through the couples she is led to test and save.

Two thousand years is an awfully long time to live alone. And the business of love saving isn’t what it used to be. By the twenty-first century, Rona’s ready to give up. Until the night she is seen by a human. Deep in the underbelly of the city that never sleeps, she recognizes him instantly. He may dress differently and have gained a few new scars, but she would recognize the face of her former lover in any lifetime. Trouble is, he seems to have no memory of her and he and his ex-girlfriend are the ones whose true love she’s meant to save. But when he starts to fall for her, she is forced to learn what it means to be human all over again.

***New 2020 Edition has been revised and edited***

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Excerpt

The city was beautiful and wicked, but it was a false beauty compared to the things I had seen. When he cursed me I could feel everything, from contentment to sorrow, but never love. Seid had given me the ability to see it in others and destroy it when it was false or save it if true. Yet the only thing that managed to stir me these days was the memory of my death. Only my memories kept me going. Vengefully I often wished he still knew my every thought and suffered the recall of our every moment together.

Thinking of Seid made my cloak slip enough to expose an outline of my features. I never would have noticed my mistake if the boy coming my way hadn’t pointed and began to shout a stream of curses to his friends. Other people were turning and beginning to take notice, the old couple clutching onto each other to ward away the winter chill, the little girl picking their pocket for loose change, Black Market vendors dealing on the side.

Breathing in deeply, an ancient but unnecessary habit now, I drew the fabric tighter and focused on my mission. For several minutes I ran faster than their eyes could follow, beating myself on the inside for my carelessness.

“You must never be seen by anyone,” his words echoed in my memories, settled deep in my bones and made me shiver. I couldn’t think about Seid now, not when I needed to focus.

My new mission was close. When I turned the colors in my eyes just right I could see his aura through the chaos of buildings and people. And the closer I drifted the faster I was, until I was no longer walking but floating, flying through every obstacle in my path.

Looking up at the buildings I noticed the flashing lights had been mercifully left behind. Once his building was in sight my pulse began to sputter, to race and soar. I could feel the budding newness of his affection for her in my chest and savored it. This is the closest I came to feeling human emotions these days.

My vision cleared once I stood outside the window before them. All sound ceased to exist, save their words and breaths. The café was dimly lit, a very old nightclub from the looks of it. Wordless music crooned up from below, horns and the strokes of piano keys. Feet shuffled in rhythm to the soft beat of a drum.

That was when I heard their voices for the first time.

“You look so perfect tonight Lissa…” he practically growled in her ear.

She giggled and answered in a sultry tone, “Good enough to eat?”

Chuckling low he kissed her on the lips, “That’s right, baby.”

I frowned as the brick wall kept blocking my vision and realized too late I wasn’t peering through a window. I would have to go inside to better see. Walking through walls used to scare me senseless until I grew accustomed. Now I brushed the feeling aside as I squeezed past the gritty matter. The front room was built to disguise the underground world beneath it. Worn down like the rest of this city, no one would ever believe the cultural haven it sheltered.

For a brief moment, I recalled brilliant jewels and brassy music, short dresses lined with tassels of an era gone by and women’s laughter over the chink of forbidden liquid.

The present incarnation pulled me back to the present. I had passed through the secret door, walked down a short flight of stairs and now watched from inside the smoky club. Here women still dressed to please and men of a higher class sought their nightly trophies. On stage, the jazz band played and at the center of the dance floor, my newest assignment drank their fill of each other.

When the tempo began to drag into a slower tune, she tilted her head back to expose her neck. Her long brown locks trailed to her red-clad hips. He tightened his hold on her waist as he kissed her neck. And I could feel the thrill in her heart temporarily mask a quiet sorrow.

Yet there was nothing from the man.

I frowned and turned my eyes to the rest of the establishment. Where was the budding newness of his affection I so strongly felt outside?

“Excuse me?” A deep, rough voice came from behind me, over my shoulder and I froze.

He cannot see me.

Convinced that he was speaking to another patron I nearly walked on. Perhaps I was not close enough to them to feel the man’s love for this girl?

“Come back to my place…” I clearly heard the man whisper into the woman’s ear. Her emerald eyes sparkled as she batted her lashes and pulled back her full lips in a saucy grin.

I shook my head. Sex was never the key to a man’s unwavering devotion. Yet she was considering it, hoping it would give him reason enough to keep her around longer, this time. I paused and shut my eyes as a flurry of images and sensations flashed past my closed lids. It took some time, depending on the difficulty of my mission, to grow accustomed to their emotions. I paused and shut my eyes as a flurry of images and sensations flashed past my closed lids. It took some time, depending on the difficulty of my mission, to grow accustomed to their emotions. Rather than simple feeling, human emotions often carried scattered memories and impressions. I pushed the usual discomfort aside.

I took another step and gasped when a hard hand clasped my shoulder and spun me firmly round.

Impossible…

No one touched me, had not in two thousand years.

Yet his hand remained planted on my shoulder in its firm grip and I followed the shape of his muscled arm to the chest attached to it. His black shirt was a tight fit and in the dim blue and red lights seemed to flash several colors. He bent down so his eyes met my line of sight.

My mouth dropped the moment I breathed in his scent.

He smelled like the skies before it rained and the sea air as it wafts into the harbor…

My vision blackened and suddenly broke through in brilliant flashes of light around his face. I could feel the colors growing, shifting and glowing in my eyes, beneath my skin. I clenched my fists as I fought for control, convinced I had lost it for the first time. Had I wanted him so badly in my memories that they came to life?

Reaching up to clutch my waist he kept me from falling down the short flight of stairs. A frown creased his brow as he said, “Whoa there, take it easy. I didn’t mean to scare you. It’s just my job to check everyone before they come in. You got any I.D?”

I shook my head slowly and watched as those eyes, his eyes, shifted from the dance floor and back to me a few times. Holding up a couple of fingers he nodded to someone over my shoulder and returned his attention to me. Something flickered in those dark blue orbs akin to recognition. Clenching his firm jaw he sighed and then nodded to himself.

“Look miss,” he began, “I’m really sorry but you can’t stay here without any I.D. Any chance you can find your way back up?”

I was trembling. Just hearing his voice again set every forgotten nerve in my body on edge. My flesh was on fire beneath my cloak where his fingers touched. Still, I had forgotten my voice for too long and could not remember how to speak.

My cloak.

How could he see me when I had refastened my cloak once again? It was such a thin, flimsy thing, like a second skin I wore it so often I forgot. But no human had ever seen me beneath it before.

It has to be him.

His frown deepened, voice dropping to a softer unused tone. “You’re shaking all over… You okay?”

No one else has the power to see.

My mouth opened but no sound came out. I was forbidden to speak to the humans. And even though he had Seid’s face, the curse commanded my attention. Oddly enough, I could feel what he felt.

He feels nothing toward me.

He did not recognize me.

His eyes flickered up as two pairs of feet approached us from behind. Immediately his arm curled me closer to his chest and his eyes darkened.

Lissa and her date were speaking in hushed tones, but I heard them clear as the true light.

“—so hard you’ll see stars,” the man was saying.

Lissa giggled and playfully swatted him with her clutch. “Derek!”

They paused on our level at the head of the stair. Another girl brought their jackets to them. As Derek helped Lissa into her fur jacket her gaze locked on to the man holding me.

That was when the truth settled over me with horrifying clarity. The aura I had followed across a country, across a city, was burning brightly between them. Invisible to them, the golden strands were weak now, but the link between them unmistakable. It linked this man, the man who wore his face, to her, Lissa.

The man holding me tensed and clutched me tighter to him again, his words stuck on the roof of his mouth.

Instead the other girl who handed out and hung cloaks offered, “Good job tonight. See you tomorrow Lissa,” as Derek and Lissa walked through the secret door.

And to my horror I watched the threads stretch and fade that linked them to me.

Excerpted from Stay by Jennifer Silverwood. Copyright © Jennifer Silverwood. Published by SilverWoodSketches.

About the Author

Jennifer Silverwood has been involved in the publishing world since 2012 and is passionate about supporting the writing community however she can. After studying traditional art at University, she loves helping Qamber Designs & Media bring authors’ books to life. Jennifer is the author of ten novels and founder of We Write Fantasy, a blog and support group for fellow genre authors. She is the author of the Wylder Tales Series, the Borderlands Saga, and the romance titles Stay and She Walks in Moonlight.

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Tour Schedule
(Posts go live on the day they’re scheduled.)

November 29th: Launch
November 30th: R.J. AndersonSwift
December 1st: Ralene BurkeArmor of Aletheia
December 2nd: Michelle Diener – Breakaway
December 3rd: Sandra Fernandez Rhoads – Mortal Sight
December 4th: J.M. Hackman – Burn
December 5th: Sharon Hinck – Forsaken Island
December 6th: Ronie Kendig – Dawn of Vengeance
December 7th: Carla LaureanoOath of the Brotherhood
December 8th: Belle MaloryDeviant Descendants
December 9th: Sara SchallerThe Genesis of Seven
December 10th: Jennifer SilverwoodStay
December 11th: Anne Wheeler – Treason’s Crown
December 12th: Melissa Wright – Between Ink and Shadows
December 13th: Morgan WylieSilent Orchids
December 14th: Kristen Young – Apprentice
December 15th: Grand Finale

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One winner will receive a $75 (USD) Amazon eGift Card

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Ends December 19, 2020

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