Book Blitz & Excerpt: The Dark Lord, by Allie McCormack

the dark lord

 

The Dark Lord
When Darkness Falls, Book 2
by Allie McCormack

Paranormal Romance, Fantasy Romance, Vampire Romance

Release Date: June 17, 2021

Book 2 of a sweeping romantic saga in a medieval Arabian Nights type setting

Held captive in the Catacombs, Alyssa struggles with coming to terms with the loss of the life she had made for herself in the palace. She also has to learn how to deal with her strange magical powers that everyone but her seems to know she has. And she has to find a way to accept her new life with the ancient vampire who insists that she is his… but doesn’t seem to know what to do with her.

Lord Damien never thought to have a human woman in his life, and this one baffles him. He doesn’t understand his own need for her, but knows only that he must have her, at any cost. He had been prepared for anger and recriminations, but Alyssa surprises him with her determination to accept her new life, as well as her unexpected compassion and humor.

*Please Note, this is a trilogy! Books 1 & 2 have cliffhangers and are not meant to be read out of order.

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Excerpt

Chapter 9 – The Craft Hall

Some distance from the city, Damien paused, holding up one hand. “We glamour,” he stated. “Until we reach the Craft Hall.”

Gabrielle and Kayja complied, a faint shimmering disturbing the early morning desert air as all three cast the small spell that would cloak them from untrained eyes. The sun wasn’t yet above the horizon, the days already shortening with the oncoming of fall. Damien focused his attention to the East, storm clouds gathering, building at his command, delaying the effects of the sun on himself and Gabrielle. Kayja, pure demon, was unaffected by the sun’s rising. Damien, with his demon father’s blood, could tolerate the sun until it was fully above the horizon, but Gabrielle would be susceptible to the sun’s influence much more quickly.

They reached the city, moving swiftly past through the lines of those waiting to enter through the huge gates. Passing unseen, the trio headed into the heart of the lower city, Damien leading them unhesitatingly toward the Craft Hall. He knew this city, every block, every stone. He had been here when it was a walled village. Had walked the construction at night as the city was built, the palace towering above all. There was no corner, no shadow, that he did not know.

Most of the shops and stalls were closed tight still, aside from a few stalls dispensing tea and thick bitter coffee, and flat bread with beans and fried balls of ground grain and herbs to early workers. The craftsmen, however, would already be up and working in their high-ceilinged hall deep within the city.

Indeed, the wide double doors of the Craft Hall were open, workers within milling about on various tasks. Standing just within the doors, Damien and his companions shimmered into sight of those nearby. There were startled gasps, then a wave of rippling murmurs, followed by silence, spread through the hall as craftsmen, journeymen and apprentices turned toward the great doors. The tension in the suddenly quiet hall was palpable. There was stirring, shifting of a group at one side of the room, and a man emerged, approaching the trio at the entrance. He was stockily built, with graying hair framing a lined face. Sharp, intelligent eyes held a wary defiance; not outright hostility, but Damien sensed little flashes of anger from the man, who wore a Master’s badge on one shoulder.

He knows your little human,” Kayja spoke on their private pathway. “I see her in his mind, his concern for her well-being.”

Damien gave a tiny, barely discernible inclination of his head, acknowledging her words.

The Craft Master came to a halt some few feet from them, bending at the waist in a slight bow.

My Lord Damien.”

Craft Master Ahmed.”

Damien suppressed his amusement as the man started in surprise. He was Lord over these lands. Of course he knew all those who rose to prominence. Craft Masters, even prominent journeymen who were rising swiftly in the ranks; he made it his business to know everything in this city.

The man made a swift recovery, schooling his face to express polite inquiry. “How may we help you, Lord?”

Again Damien sensed that flash of anger from the man, swiftly suppressed.

We have come for furnishings,” Damien told him, his gaze drifting about the spacious circular hall, sectioned into areas… tables, chairs, beds and divans, lounges, lamps, screens. He brought his eyes back to the Craft Master. “You are acquainted with the young Scribe from the palace?”

A swift startled murmur swept the room, starting with those in earshot who passed word to those nearby. Relief crept into Master Ahmed’s face, and some of the rigidity left his stance.

Alyssa? Indeed, I know her well. All of us do,” and he made a gesture with his right arm, indicating the room at large. “She… she is alive, Lord? She is well?”

A rush of impatience swept him. “Of course she is alive,” he retorted. “What did you think I was going to do, eat her?”

Absolute silence. His lips tightened in exasperation. Obviously, they had. Humans! His stern gaze swept them all, meeting their eyes, commanding their attention.

Do you truly believe,” and he raised his voice so that all in the hall could hear him. “That Zahira, your Sultana, would have permitted me to carry off one of her Court… indeed, any citizen of this city… without being assured that no harm would come to her? You do your Sultana a great disservice in this. Zahira would have gone to war, rather. She insisted upon, and received, my promise that no harm of any kind would come to the girl. She was prepared to risk outright war, had I not given her my word on this.”

The silence continued as the last echoes of his voice faded, then shifting and movement as the men and women returned to their various duties. Noises began to fill the hall…. sanding, pounding, hammering. Damien turned back to the Craft Master. The man was smiling, his relief almost palpable.

What is it you would wish to see, Lord?”

Kayja stepped forward at this point. Her tail was twitching, to the apparent bemusement of a nearby apprentice, a boy barely into his teens who’d apparently never seen a demon before, from his fascinated stare. “We need furnishings for Alyssa. A bed to start. A clothing press. Tables, chairs. These will be delivered to the Temple in the desert.”

Ahmed nodded thoughtfully, gesturing them to an area across the hall. “This way my Lord, Ladies,” he added a bit doubtfully, with a glance at Kayja’s red skin, her curved, pointed black horns and shiny black hooves.

This is excellent,” Kayja all but purred on their private pathway. “The human’s mind is already full of what he calls extras to include with the delivery, for Alyssa’s comfort. At no additional charge.”

I can see his thoughts for myself,” Damien reminded her in some exasperation. Kayja huffed, her horned head tossing irritably.

They stopped before a display room, set back off the main hall, filled with bedroom furnishings. There were massive, carved poster beds, and simpler lounges and chaises. Gabrielle stopped before one, a pretty, low bed with soft sheets and a light throw, topped with several pillows. She leaned down to poke experimentally at the mattress, testing its firmness.

What about this?”

No.” His refusal was instantaneous. Ahmed had moved off to point out to Kayja a monstrosity of a bed with heavy wooden posts carved with fantastic animals, sure to appeal to the demon. Maybe he should have brought Aleksei instead. He turned to Gabrielle, leaning close to murmur. “It’s very similar to her bed in her tower room, in the palace. I don’t want it to be a constant reminder to her.”

As he straightened, his eye was caught by a burst of colors across the way. He moved toward the bed that had caught his eye. It was a combination piece, clearly designed for multiple uses as lounge, bed or sofa. A carved wood base rested on wood legs that rose high to support a flat lattice work above, like a canopy. The mattress was low and large, covered in bright turquoise damask. Gracefully carved spindles rose from the base to a smoothly polished banister, framing the bed on three sides, a warm backdrop for an array of colorful cushions, embroidered and sequined, propped against the supporting spindles.

He was aware of his sister and Gabrielle joining him, Ahmed at a respectful distance.

Gabrielle pursed her lips thoughtfully. “It looks more suited to a patio perhaps, or a balcony, than to a cave.”

Kayja glanced her way. “He already has a stone crypt that’s perfectly suited to a cave. That’s why we’re here.”

True.”

It’s suited to Alyssa,” Damien stated, his tone brooking no argument. “That’s what is important.”

Indeed, my Lord, I think she would love this,” Ahmed concurred. “It would certainly brighten a… a cave,” he glanced at Kayja standing beside him. “If that is your purpose, this would do well. And Alyssa loves the jewel tones. Always, the jewel tones are what draws her. There is a chest for clothing that would go well with this. The workmen could put together a grouping to match, it would take perhaps a day or two, no more. Floor cushions, a chaise lounge. A mirror set into a mashrabiyya frame.” He warmed to his theme. “We could create an inlaid table using the same wood, the spindles, and inlay the top with hues to pick up the colors from the cushions.”

Damien nodded decisively. “Bring this bed and the chest, and whatever else you have made now, to the Temple by mid-day. Then the rest as it is completed.”

Ahmed bowed low, far different from the stiff, polite gesture he’d offered when they had first arrived. The man exuded good will.

It shall be done, Lord.” He paused. “If you would send some of your human servants to the city, Lord, the bed will need to be disassembled to transport. We will show them how to put it back together again.”

Leaving the Craft Hall, they again assumed a glamour. Gabrielle hurried for the distant Catacombs, using the preternatural speed of the vampire to outrun the rays of the sun, rising swiftly now above the mountains to the east. Damien, his demon blood making him less susceptible, took longer in following, strolling leisurely through the streets with Kayja as they made their way to the great gates of the city and then taking flight for the longer distance to the mountains.

Entering the Catacombs, Damien made his way to the Great Hall, ringing the bell that summoned the khadam and the other human servants not immediately in service to the vampire they looked to as Liege.

His indifferent gaze scanned the humans gathered before him. “A number of pieces of furnishings are being delivered to the Temple later this morning. At least two males are needed for the heavier pieces. Also I need one of you to visit the Woodworkers Craft Hall in the city for instruction in assembling the parts.”

Instantly two men stepped forward, and several women. One, a bubbly, rounded redhead, jiggled in place, seemingly excited.

Is it for Alyssa?” she asked, apparently flushed with excitement. “Is it a surprise?”

He turned his full gaze on her, little red lights flickering in his eyes. Fangs extending, he snarled at her. She gulped, visibly paling, and the humans closest to him fell back a step, watching him warily.

Not deigning to answer the woman, he turned on his heel, stalking away to his private chambers, where Alyssa still lay deeply asleep, faint smudges beneath her eyes. The sleep of exhaustion. He stood looking down on her. Yesterday had been difficult for her. He must remember she was mortal, and young. He reached down to stroke her hair, his fingers slipping through the short, silky strands.

A surprise. The idiot woman’s words came back to him. As if. He was no fairytale prince. And yet… an image arose in his mind’s eye. Alyssa’s eyes alight, her gasp of delight, her radiant smile as she saw the furnishings.

He straightened, turning away, dismissing the notion with a flick of his hands. He was vampire. Demon. An ancient. He had no place in his world for such human nonsense. And yet the image could not quite be dispelled, lingering in the back of his mind.


Other Books in the When Darkness Falls Trilogy

When Darkness Falls Book I: The Palace

Released: June 3, 2021

 

When Darkness Falls Book III: The Prophecy

Release Date: July 1, 2021

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About the Author

A former career medical transcriptionist and disabled Veteran, Allie McCormack is now writing from home full-time. Allie has traveled quite a bit and lived many places all over the U.S., and also a year in Cairo, Egypt as an exchange student, and a year in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia under contract to a hospital there, plus a short stint with NATO while she was in the Army. Allie now lives in the beautiful southern California with her family and her two rescue cats.

Allie says: “A writer is who and what I am… a romance writer. I write what I know, and what I know is romance. Dozens of story lines and literally hundreds of characters live and breathe within the not-so-narrow confines of my imagination, and it is my joy and privilege to bring them to life, to share them with others by writing their stories.”

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Book Blitz: The Forget-Me Knot, by Denise Liebig

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The Forget-Me Knot
by Denise Liebig
Paranormal Romantic Suspense, Ghost Romance, Time Travel Romance

Release Date: June 15, 2021

When a beloved heirloom bridges the past with the present, can a young woman bury her dead to build a future with the living?

Portland, Oregon, 2018

Natalie Lane has never been in love. Twelve years after her father’s premature passing, she’s still caring for her heartbroken mother. Determined to avoid a similar future, Natalie focuses on her therapy practice instead of romance. But when a man claiming to be a ghost enters her office, a man only she can see, she realizes that her overworked mind might need a rest.

Fearing a nervous breakdown, Natalie goes on sabbatical to England, leaving everything behind except her cherished Celtic trinity-knot pendant… her forget-me knot. Before she can relax, however, the man appears again, stalking her throughout the British Isles.

And her problems only mount when a visit to a local pub reveals an eerie connection to a former life and love. The more she learns about her past, and her necklace’s link to it, the more Natalie’s much-needed vacation turns into a journey of self discovery that threatens her very soul.

Can the forget-me knot’s secret help Natalie leave her past behind so she can finally find true love?

The Forget-Me Knot is a captivating standalone supernatural novel. If you like paranormal ghost romances with a time travel twist, historical fantasy, and stories drawn from real past-life experiences, you’ll enjoy this enlightening tale.

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Excerpt

 

2006

The freshly mowed lawn’s distinctly green scent mingled with the earthy aroma from the rectangular hole cut deep in its surface. The morbid perfume made my empty stomach queasy. I looked away to stare instead at my patent leather shoes, riddled with grass clippings and morning dew. Like a threadbare scarf, the pastor’s monotone voice hung uselessly in the crisp April air. He mentioned my name, Natalie, then June, my mother, and paused. In the silence, I shifted focus. My gaze drifted from my shoes and slowly scaled the silver stretcher just feet away, holding the dark, wooden casket.

I struggled to breathe. It was as if the shiny box lay on my chest, allowing only shallow breaths to escape.

Just days before, Dad left for Lane & Frost Architects, carrying his briefcase in one hand and his favorite plastic travel mug in the other. He raised the cup, revealing pictures of me, minus a few front baby teeth, smiling from beneath the clear acrylic cover. He gave the mug a brief shake, like a wave. I rolled my eyes at the former Father’s Day gift, then offered a new smile, now covered in braces.

Goodbye, John! I love you,” Mom said.

Dad puckered his lips and blew her an air kiss before walking out the front door. As he descended the steps, I watched him crane his neck and take a sip of coffee, avoiding a drip, then two, bound for his brand-new button up. Despite the cup’s many leaks and overall lack of insulation, he filled it to the brim daily, regardless.

Offering Mom and me another smile, Dad backed his Super Beetle out of the driveway, covering his front teeth with his tongue to mimic the mug’s picture. Then he waved goodbye. Minutes later, in an intersection less than a mile from our home, Dad’s car was no match for a speeding utility truck whose driver ran a red light. When Mom received the call, she rushed to the scene, but it was too late. We later learned Dad’s last words were: “Tell my wife and daughter I love them.”

The first responder, a police officer and bowling buddy who was with him until the end, now stood next to me, sniffing periodically. I saw his reflection in the casket as he wiped his nose with the back of his gloved hand. Although it was thoughtful of the officer to attend, I wished my dad and his reflection were standing beside me instead.

Heavenly Father…” The pastor’s voice caught my attention once more and drew my focus back to the crowd. From the reaction I saw in those surrounding us, I imagined his eulogy was moving, with powerful words that evoked tears in most of the attendants. But I didn’t hear those words, or maybe I couldn’t. Instead, I again gazed at the casket and the somewhat distorted images on its polished surface.

Mom stood on the other side of me, wrapped within Grandpa Lane’s sturdy arms. My other grandparents had already passed, but Poppy, as I called him, was always there for us, standing in for those who could not. With his daughter-in-law propped against his black dress jacket, Poppy rested his chin on her head and held on tight. A gentle, rocking sob grew from the depths of her broken heart and clung to the casket as the squeaky pulley lowered Dad into the earth minutes later. The police officer reached over and pulled me close. Although I didn’t know him well, I held on to the man and openly wept, staining his dress blues with my heartbreak.

Above my sobs, I heard Mom next to me and could only imagine what she was going through. I had lost my father, but in my mind, I believed her grief was much worse. She’d lost her soulmate.

I dried my tears, and with the pastor’s prompting, I left the officer’s side and stepped toward the hole. I wasn’t ready for goodbye, not yet. So I looked down and tossed a single red rose into the lonely depths and whispered, “I’m going to miss you, Daddy.”

I continued to stare at the casket while others moved forward and offered their roses and whispers until the wooden lid was scarcely visible. You’re loved, Daddy, I thought. Wherever you are, I hope you know just how much.

The crowd dispersed, and the bereaved walked to their cars. Some headed to our reception afterward; others went back to their lives and their families. Many hugged me when they passed. Despite their embraces, I felt empty, alone.

Thanks for coming,” I said again and again. Hearing myself repeat those words brought the extent of my loss into focus. Barely sixteen, I felt as if I’d aged many years in only a few days, and life as I knew it would never be the same. That knowledge was reinforced when I heard Mom still crying behind me. I turned to see her head buried in a handkerchief as Poppy propped her up.

While Mom searched for a dry spot on the square of fabric, I studied Poppy’s furrowed brow and his tight lips that served as dams for the tears he struggled to suppress, meant for his only son. His anguish grew in the ever-deepening creases of his down-turned face, and he seemed to age right before me. My grandfather was a rock, but I’d just learned that even strong men didn’t live forever.

Standing there at that moment, watching my loved ones crumble, I vowed to be stronger, especially for Mom. I faced forward and tried to clear my thoughts, then dried my tears, promising to fight them in the future.

Later that night, I lay atop my covers, staring at the shadow-filled ceiling as the moonlight streamed into my room. When Mom’s sobbing finally subsided, the old house grew silent briefly before offering a series of creaks. The noise soon built into a familiar dance, coinciding with the rustling trees outside my bedroom window. It sounded like my parents’ recent tango lessons in our front room. Their missteps and the laughter they evoked, which had mingled with the floorboards audibly resisting their movement, was still fresh in my memory.

The tears I had promised to fight loomed beneath burning eyes. “I can do this,” I said in a shaky voice that almost mimicked the creaking house. “But I wouldn’t mind a little help.”

I sat up and stared at my closet door for several seconds before leaving my bed to cross the room and open it. I stepped inside and grasped for the ceiling light’s pull chain that dangled in the darkness. Once I made contact, I wound my fingers around the chain and yanked the light to life. From a top shelf, behind old toys and spare blankets, I withdrew a shoebox. I opened the lid to reveal the treasures hidden inside: several ticket stubs from high school football games, a twig, and a stick of gum. All were items my latest crush, Bobby Flynn, had once touched, discarded, or stepped on in the twig’s case. Bobby was tall and ripped, hot by everyone’s standards. The quarterback even smiled at me once. I couldn’t fit that leg-melting grin into the box, but the memory saw me through more than a few failed math tests and a nasty stomach virus.

I slowly closed the lid and caressed the cardboard surface, hoping the simple gesture would evoke an image, a feeling, anything that might help me forget my life for a while. Such an action, something I’d never revealed to anyone, had offered comfort on many prior occasions, and I’d hoped it would again. This time, however, I didn’t feel a thing. I closed my eyes and tried once more. Sadly, Bobby’s once cherished image vanished into an enormous, rectangular hole in the ground.

I opened my eyes, clearing the scene from my mind. “Not even my secret Crush Box can make this hurt disappear,” I mumbled. I ran my hand across the lid a few more times but still felt nothing. Disappointed, I tucked the box under my arm and tiptoed down the hall, through the back door, and into the night.

Across the patio stood Dad’s pride and joy, the barbecue, the same one he had grilled hotdogs on the weekend before. I opened the lid, allowing the moonlight to bring everything into focus. Bits of charred and half-cooked sausage stood at attention as I removed the grates and leaned them against the grill. Above the briquettes that remained, some still intact and only slightly ashen, I placed the shoebox, then doused it with lighter fluid. I removed the red lighter that dangled from a hook attached to the grill and clicked the trigger. The long flame glowed in the darkness, and I stared at it for several seconds before touching it to the box. As the fire leaped into the night, I wondered if I’d ever meet someone I’d love as much

as Mom loved Dad. After seeing how her heart had shattered in the wake of his loss, I also wondered if I’d ever bother looking.


About the Author

Denise Liebig is an award-winning author whose modern characters experience the past through time travel, reincarnation, the paranormal, and other twists of time. A fan of everything vintage, her desire to be a fly-on-the-wall during the early 1900s inspired her to research that era, which soon launched her writing career. When she’s not imagining stories about the past and writing about them, Denise lives in the present with her husband and three kids.

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Cover Reveal: Dream Crossed, by Britt DeLaney

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Dream Crossed
by Britt DeLaney
Publication date: August 24th 2021
Genres: Adult, Paranormal, Romance, Time-Travel

Brad Reynolds and Gemma Marchwood come from two different worlds. Brad has made a fortune as a young entrepreneur in present-day New York City, socializing with the rich and powerful and crawling into bed feeling empty every night. For Gemma it’s 1906, and she spends her days tending to her beloved family estate, confined by the strictures of society in Edwardian England and facing the prospect of a loveless marriage. One magical amulet bridges time and space, allowing them to meet in their dreams. What starts as a little bit of heaven soon becomes a whole lot of heartache as they fight to hold on to each other despite impossible odds.

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Author Bio:

Britt DeLaney lives and writes in Philadelphia. In addition to her romance novels, she also writes YA fantasy as L.E. DeLano. In her spare time, she watches too much Netflix and eats too many Pop-Tarts. She is currently writing her ass off.

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