More Dragons By Nicole Conway

Dragons are awesome. Dragons inspire me to create a world (or twelve) where they aren’t evil. And Nicole Conway is the author of a fantastic series featuring Dragons.

The Dragonrider Chronicles.

Now, she’s beginning a new series. Lovers of dragon tales and fantasy quests will surely rejoice over this new addition to their book shelf.

Savage begins the Dragonrider Legacy series, a thrilling companion to the international bestselling Dragonrider Chronicles.

Never send a hero to do a monster’s job.

Forty years have passed since Jaevid Broadfeather brought peace to Maldobar and Luntharda. But that fragile truce will be tested as darkness gathers on the horizon. The vicious armies of the Tibran Empire have crossed the far seas and are threatening to destroy Maldobar completely. Not even the dragonriders can match the Tibran war machines. And after an attempt to awaken Jaevid from his divine sleep fails, the fate of Maldobar is looking grim.

Reigh has never known what it means to be a normal human. Raised amongst the gray elves in the wild jungle of Luntharda, he’s tried everything to fit in. But the dark power within him is bursting at the seams—refusing to be silenced. And while his adoptive father, Kiran, insists this power must be kept secret, Reigh knows he’s running out of time.

As Maldobar burns, the world is desperate for a new hero. Destiny has called, and one boy will rise to answer

Fantasy: An Anniversary

It’s hard to believe that one year ago, I made my splash as a published fantasy author. (And by splash, picture a pebble dropping in Crater Lake.)

Masked Hearts still has one of the most beautiful covers I’ve ever seen. Yes, it’s my favorite among my titles.

If you’ve read the story, I hope you left a review. Reviews put royalties in a writer’s pocket. Even if all you say is: “Elves and humans should always hook up. Read this and you’ll know why.” And give it a few stars.

If you haven’t read the story, here’s the excerpt I shared last year when it first released.

Agent Camden Kerr shoved his fingers through his hair, long layers, mussy. Nothing like he’d worn when soldiering full-time. Staring into the nearly spotless icebox encouraged his stomach to growl. Looked like he needed to grab groceries or head out for dinner.
He shuffled across the kitchen. As his hand covered the coil of keys holding down the newspaper he’d yet to read, a click from the hallway stopped him. He tilted his head toward the sound from the laundry room, and his right hand sneaked along his chest until his fingers rested on the handle of his service sidearm.
Service. As if working as a Recovery Agent for the Magical Artifact Reclamation and Quarantine Society amounted to service. That bunch of stingy, wealthy sponsors had some interesting conspiracy theories about magic. Working for MARQS hardly gave him the same feel-good sense of accomplishment he’d felt while recovering stolen weapons, formulas and documents for the government.
Woodsy air wafted into the room. Hair on the back of his neck prickled. If they were in his office, he knew exactly what they were after. But how did they find him? He’d been careful when he’d lifted the medallion from the evidence room at the police station. Seriously. A drugged-up prostitute shouldn’t have anything so valuable in her possession in the first place. Whoever killed her hadn’t known what it was, or the police wouldn’t have been bagging and tagging it with regulated routine.
Cam eased the gun from its holster. His booted feet slithered over the kitchen tiles as silently as a rattler on rocks. Waiting for his eyes to adjust to the dim light wasn’t an option. He had a better idea. A grim twist of his lips, and he slammed open his office door with his shoulder, smacked the light switch beside it with his left hand.
“Hands up!”
A slender woman with eyes glittering like emeralds twisted toward him, hands flailing toward the ceiling in a hypnotic, graceful arc. Her chin was a sharp point in her heart-shaped face. High cheekbones, slashed with ruddy shades of sunset, offset her peachy complexion. The mass of beige blonde hair topped off a perfect picture.
“Where’s my brother?” Her accented English wasn’t difficult to understand, its cultured tones free from panic.
His fingers tightened on the pistol’s grip, index finger straightening away from the trigger. He raked her lithe figure with a single glance, noting no suspicious bulges to indicate a concealed weapon. The rise and fall of full breasts beneath some sort of leather tunic didn’t escape his attention. Or the slender legs encased in form-fitting leather, down to the moccasin-like booties on her narrow feet.
“You’ve got the wrong house.” Cam kept the gun aimed center mass, even as he felt the tension drain from his shoulders.
“I don’t think so.”
She shifted away from the desk. Cam stiffened again, finger dropping onto the trigger, eyes honing in on his target.
And a fine-looking target, too. Messing up that chest with an armor-piercing round would be a total waste.

Can’t wait to read more? Click here and purchase it from my publisher, or click the “other retailers” tab and find it there.

If you can’t get enough of my lovely elves, you can get to know Alyona’s footloose brother for FREE in this novella.

If this post appealed to you, you might like Hero Delivery. It’s a bulletin with deals and specials from Sharon Hughson. It can be on the way to your inbox in a few clicks.
Check out Reality Meets its Match and my other books. You’re sure to find something worth reading.

Already read one or more? Please leave an honest review on your favorite site. Those reviews are the same as the author discovering a gold nugget in the bottom of her washing machine.

Get Some Elven Magic FREE Today

Do you love elves? Magic? Maybe a little romance?

I know you love FREE stuff.

Today you can download a short story from Roane Publishing that will give you a glimpse at one of the characters from “Duty or Desire.”

To whet your appetite for that, here’s a snipped to introduce you to the hero of ONE SAVORY SUMMER, Holt d’Wyrden.

An Excerpt from “Duty or Desire” part of Masked Hearts:

Masked_heartsA strip of trees and grass added charm to the brick and wood monstrosity. Alyona slithered up an elm on the north side of the walled-in estate, then a maple located east of the ten-foot mortared wall. As she scaled an oak tree on the western edge, the amulet throbbed between her breasts. A slow, hot pulse, reminiscent of an elven heartbeat.

Holt is here.

Late spring foliage offered cover to her dark-clad form. Not that she worried about being discovered. Although three guards paced the grounds in odd rotations, meant to keep intruders off balance, they looked bored. Handguns similar to the one pointed at her chest on her very first day on Earth rode their hips. A club and another black-handled, wide-barreled item fitted in slots at the other hip.

Twilight curtained her position. New guards with large, sleek-bodied dogs relieved those who traced the perimeter. Alyona studied the windows, hoping to catch a glance of her brother. She wasn’t close enough to attempt telepathy, which worked best within fifty paces. A niggle in her mind assured her Holt resided within this compound. As a guest or a prisoner, she didn’t know.

Light flickered in a third story window. A covering whisked back. Doors opened onto a narrow, iron-railed balcony. A woman with auburn hair pushed through them, her twittering laughter preceding her. Behind her glided the lithe form Alyona knew as well as her own.

Holt pinned the woman to the railing, pressing his body against her. His hands rested on her voluptuous hips. He bent his face toward her neck. His black hair flowed across his shoulders, shielding his actions from sight.

The woman flung her head back. Her laughter broke into a sigh of desire.

Of course he’d be with a human woman. Women should be sampled like fruits in an orchard. His words and a sentiment many elves shared. After all, who wanted to spend centuries bound to a single person?

No one from Alyona’s generation chose a mate. Even her parents had waited until they were nearly in their third century of life before entering into a matrimonial covenant, considered essential if reproduction was planned. Many such contracts were for a specified length of time, perhaps until offspring reached maturity at age forty. Her parents, their bonding stretching well beyond 150 years, were unique in the elven society.

Alyona narrowed her eyes. Holt seemed to be a willing occupant of the fortress. Or this earthen prison offered a brand of permissiveness she’d never witnessed. Once the couple disappeared inside, the door pulled shut behind them, Alyona scanned the wall, grounds and house.

****

I hope it makes you want to read more.

Check out the purchase links for MASKED HEARTS. Get your FREE reads here.

scavengerhunt5

Did you collect the Scavenger Hunt clues yet? If not, follow this link to get started. And don’t forget to sign up for my newsletter before Friday, September 23 to be entered for a chance to win TWO eBooks. All the details for the contest are here.

Favorite Fantasy Species: Meet the Authors of Masked Hearts

Masked_heartsToday, I welcome my fellow authors to the blog.

In honor of our latest release, Masked Hearts: A Fantasy Romance Anthology, each of my co-authors will talk about their favorite fantasy creatures. Since we read fantasy (as well as write it), I took our penchant for the genre into consideration when I worded the question.

So, fellow authors, what are the top two fantasy species you love to read (or write) about? Why?

Dana Wright says: “I love shifters and fae. They have a hidden pulse of energy that transcends the mortal world and I can never get enough. Nature and the call of the moon resonate through the mythologies behind them both and I love that. Witches too. They all give us a spark that can be missing from the day to day and I live for that.”

It’s no surprise then when you discover what her story Affinity is all about.

 

A magic mirror and a houseful of ghosts await Kristen when fate leads her to Wanderly House. Secrets and spirits consume her days, but one look in the magic mirror and her heart falls fast. 

Connor is trapped in Faery. With only a view through a bewitched mirror to the real world, his attention is nabbed by a curious cat shifter with a ghostly following.

When the forces of Faery and Wanderly House collide, will Kristen and Connor’s love be enough to save them?

Clair Devon says: “When I was a teenager I was fascinated by Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonriders of Pern so dragons have long been my top fantasy species of choice.  To this day if given the opportunity I would gladly be a dragonrider. After that it is a little clear although I love the idea of were creatures that are not werewolves, were cats in particular. I’m currently revising a fantasy Christmas story involving a were mountain lion and a Polish fairy.”

You won’t find any dragons or dragon riders in Clair’s story Water Woman. I met some new-to-me magical creatures here.

Sparks fly when a Spanish water woman, and an African two-horned horse shifter meet at a masquerade. Kimoni has gone to ask Isidora to use her skills to aid him with his ailing grandfather. When strangers claiming to be Isidora’s relatives try to force her to share her powers, the pair is plunged into danger. Can love between them blossom? Can a water woman and a horse shifter find happiness together?

Nemma Wollenfang answers: “Top species? Dragons! Of course. Those flying, fire-breathing, scaly monsters have it all. As to my second top fantasy species, that’s hard to say, there are so many great ones. But I think it has to be… mermaids. There aren’t enough stories about those – especially when they come with fangs. *Toothy grin* I’d like to read many more romantic stories about both species but I’ve found literature of that type to be a little thin on the ground. Which is a shame. But, you know what they say, write what you’d like to read! So that’s what I’m doing.”

A kindred dragon-lover. There’s no big mystery that the one title with the flying force of fantasy is Nemma’s, Dragon Law.

The kingdom of Baelin is under attack. A terrifying dragon rains fire down on the capital city, burning all in his path. The people’s one hope lies with the Princess Draxa, who – in accordance with an ancient rite – must willingly sacrifice her future to sate the beast’s wrath.

For her kingdom, Draxa will do it. She will leave Andre, the fierce soldier she loves with all of her heart, don her red cloak, and make the treacherous trip into the heart of the mountain, to face the monstrous Lord Siouxlian in his lair. 

Sheryl Winters says: “I’m a dragon lover. Shifters in particular. I wrote Skydreamer with Dragon-shifters in mind. Lately, though, my interest has shifted to Swan shifters. Brooke from Masked Hearts isn’t able to switch to her swan form. I researched Tundra Swans to see what they might normally eat in the wild and the more I read about them, the more I enjoyed writing Brooke and finding unique solutions to her shifting problems.

I’ve read Skydreamer, but I was equally thrilled to read  Feather Fall. Ms. Winters does a fabulous job of bringing her characters to life.

Brooke Adair’s autism has turned the world into a constant puzzle, especially when it comes to men. When she meets fellow swan shifter Blake Landen in a dream, though, Brooke feels a potential connection to someone who could understand her. But trusting in Blake takes a whole lot more courage than Brooke has. Can Brooke overcome her fears and take the leap?

My top two: 

Dragons are my number one because…dragons. You can do so much with them, including different species, different abilities, making them good or evil, having them as a beast carrying a rider or as an independent and magical species of dominance.

The second is more difficult, but I think I’m going to go with Pegasus. Mostly because I love horses and the idea of a flying horse is awesome beyond measure. I’ll admit, though, I haven’t written a single story featuring one of these magnificent beasts and can only remember one series I read that included them – in a mostly minor way.

And, no, my fantasy romance doesn’t include dragons. Sorry. Someday, a publisher will fall in love with my young adult dragon story. Here’s the blurb for Duty or Desire:

Alyona Wyrden dwells contentedly in her elven realm, but when her brother disappears, she travels to Earth to bring him home. Camden Kerr hunts down magical artifacts, keeping them out of the wrong hands. The amulet that draws Alyona to her brother is just the sort of object Cam’s after. The way his flesh responds to the lithe, blonde necklace-wearer is a different matter altogether. When their paths keep crossing, Cam decides they can work together-until he discovers her elven heritage.

Can their attraction defeat prejudice? Which will rule—duty or desire?

As you can see, there’s magic and fantasy creatures galore in Masked Hearts. The stories are the perfect length for a fiction reading break.

Need to add a little fantasy to your life today? Pick up a copy of Masked Hearts at your favorite online retailer. Here are some of the links:

Amazon | AmazonUK | ARe | B&N |Bookstrand Createspace  | Roane  |  Smashwords

Also, don’t forget to enter to win a $10 Amazon gift card – perfect for all your reading (or other shopping) purchases.

Enter the Giveaway

Check out the rest of the tour, too. Today, you can read an excerpt from Feather Fall at Bookgirl Knitting.Masked_hearts_tour_button And here is the rest of the schedule:

May 27th

On the Broomstick  –  Author Interviews
Written Love Reviews  –  Review

May 30th

Red Penn Reviews  –  Author Interviews & Review

May 31st

A Moment with Mystee  –  Review / Ebook Giveaway
Scribbler’s Sojourn  –  Promotional  /  Exclusive Excerpt #4 from Duty or Desire by Sharon Hughson

June 1st

Liz’s Reading Life  –  Author Interviews
Musings about the Writing Life  –  Author Interviews / Ebook Giveaway

June 2nd

Books, Movies, & Wine  –  Promotional  /  Exclusive Excerpt #5 of Dragon Law by Nemma Wollenfang
Alpha Book Club  –  Review / Ebook Giveaway

June 3rd

Book Reviews Virginia Lee  –  Review / Ebook Giveaway

Third Time Charm…is a Fantasy

You heard it here: the third time’s a charm. I’ve sold my third short story to Roane Publishing, and at last, it’s in the fantasy genre.

And by fantasy, I mean elves. And magic. And enchanted objects. Oh, and there’s romance, too because this anthology is filled with fantasy and romance. Because everyone has a romantic fantasy…or is that the same thing?

On to the awesome cover – and story blurbs for this collection of shorts which will be released on May 23, 2016 (just in time to be my anniversary gift to myself).

Masked_heartsMasked Hearts
A sweet romance anthology
By Various Authors
Publisher:
Roane Publishing
Release Date: May 23, 2016

What secrets do the Masked Hearts hold?

Dragons, elves and shifters abound in these five sweet, romantic fantasy tales. But, no matter the realm of origin or the race of the species, one theme resonates throughout. To find a love that’s lasting, one must be willing to take off the mask and reveal their true heart.

Affinity by Dana Wright

Behind the shadows lies the truth…
A magic mirror and a houseful of ghosts await Kristen when fate leads her to Wanderly House. Secrets and spirits consume her days, but one look in the magic mirror and her heart falls fast. A mask, a cloak, and a key leading her to an enchanted evening in the faery garden might be Kristen’s end as all that glitters may well have sharp teeth.
Magic mirror on the wall…
Connor is trapped in Faery. With only a view through a bewitched mirror to the real world, his attention is nabbed by a curious cat shifter with a ghostly following. Can he find a way to break the spell that binds him so he can reach the girl that haunts his dreams?
When the forces of Faery and Wanderly House collide, will Kristen and Connor’s love be enough to save them?

Water Woman by Claire Davon

Sparks fly when a Spanish water woman, and an African two-horned horse shifter meet at a masquerade. Kimoni has gone to ask Isidora to use her skills to aid him with his ailing grandfather. When strangers claiming to be Isidora’s relatives try to force her to share her powers, the pair is plunged into danger. Isidora and Kimoni look for a way to fight the ruthless intruders, while also saving his grandfather.
Using their combined powers, they meet the challenge, all the while conscious of the growing attraction between them. It has been a long time since Isidora has met a man who calls to her as Kimoni does. The strong, handsome horse shifter sings to her senses, and she sees a matching spark in his eyes. Can love between them blossom? Can a water woman and a horse shifter find happiness together?

Dragon Law by Nemma Wollenfang

The kingdom of Baelin is under attack. A terrifying dragon rains fire down on the capital city, burning all in his path. The people’s one hope lies with the Princess Draxa, who – in accordance with an ancient rite – must willingly sacrifice her future to sate the beast’s wrath.
For her kingdom, Draxa will do it. She will leave Andre, the fierce soldier she loves with all of her heart, don her red cloak, and make the treacherous trip into the heart of the mountain, to face the monstrous Lord Siouxlian in his lair.

Feather Fall by Sheryl Winters

Brooke Adair’s autism has turned the world into a constant puzzle, especially when it comes to men. When she meets fellow swan shifter Blake Landen in a dream, Brooke feels a potential connection to someone who could understand her. If she lets him.
But trusting in Blake takes a whole lot more courage than Brooke has. After all, if she doesn’t take this leap, Brooke might miss out on meeting the one man she could actually learn to understand.

Duty or Desire by Sharon Hughson

Alyona Wyrden dwells contentedly in her elven realm, but when her brother disappears, she travels to Earth to bring him home.
Camden Kerr hunts down magical artifacts, keeping them out of the wrong hands. The amulet that draws Alyona to her brother is just the sort of object Cam’s after. The way his flesh responds to the lithe, blonde necklace wearer is a different matter altogether. When their paths keep crossing, Camden decides they can work together-until he discovers her elven heritage.
Can their attraction defeat prejudice? Which will rule—duty or desire?

Dragons, elves, shifters…magic mirrors, cursed amulets, spells. Sounds like these stories will satisfy any lover of fantasy tales.

Support an author – or five. Click on the tour button below.

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Masked Hearts blog tour is now scheduling!
If you’re interested in hosting our authors, please click on the tour button.

The Vanished Knight by M. Gerrick – 3.8 of 5 Stars

In the interest of promoting independently published authors, I often agree to review new releases. In the case of The Vanished Knight by M. Gerrick, I agreed to review the first book in her series The War of Six Crowns in exchange for a free eBook copy.

For those of you new to book publishing in the Amazon paradigm, the goal is to build chatter about your existing titles so that when a new title is released, people are excited to snap it up. I admire the indie authors who willingly put themselves out there with minimal support because they believe in the story they have to tell.

I read this book between July 6th and 9th but waited to post the review on my blog until today. Why? Because today, the second book in the series, The Heir’s Choice, releases on Kindle today. Get your copy by clicking here.

Story Summary

The Vanished Knight CoverCallan, orphaned at the age of eleven, is a foster child with a strange entity living within her. (Don’t get too intrigued by this entity because we learn NOTHING about its origin or real purpose in this book.) She also is plagued by strange dreams of knights and murder.

She lands into a new foster home, where her wealthy “brother” is less than pleased to have a new sister. Apparently, he had a sister who died (but there are mere hints about how and when) and his parents should have sought his permission before trying to replace her with this mousy girl.

They head off to an elite boarding school that is situated near a supposedly haunted castle. Callan likes to blend in, hide in plain sight, in order to cope with new situations. Unfortunately, several things happen the first day of school to prevent that.

In what should have been a pleasure trip, Callan falls into the hands of kidnappers from an alternate world. She is rescued by a boy from school, who apparently is a knight in the other realm.

Soon she discovers that her family might not be as dead as she always believed. This world is on the edge of war (as the title of the series suggests), and Callan appears to be caught between two powerful races who despise and distrust one another.

My Review

Does my summary end abruptly? So does the book. This is one of the reasons I give this book a 3.8 out of five stars on my rating scale.

The author created a winning character with Callan. The girl is compelling and sympathetic. Although she seems too passive at first, readers quickly realize the reasoning for this. Just enough of her history is given to us to help us understand her while yearning to find out more.

The three male characters aren’t nearly as compelling. Although Darrion comes across like a jerk, his strong personality fits his station and background. Due to the sparks that fly between him and Callan, I imagine there will be a romance between the two of them in later books.

Of course, Gawain already fancies himself in love with Callan. His easy-going personality makes him quite likable, but he’s not as well-rounded as he should be if he’s going to be a major player in the story.

The foster brother, James, is my least favorite character in the story (even above Callan’s kidnapper and the unhelpful museum curator). He has zero redeeming qualities. When bad things happen to him, I feel no sympathy. He’s simply a spoiled rich kid who feel entitled to whatever he wants (and that is not relatable to me or any of the young adults I know).

Apparently, he will play an important role in future stories because the sample chapter of the second book features him. His part in this story was minor, and his journey into the alternate world didn’t feel like natural story progression (another strike against this book and why it didn’t quite earn four stars).

Too much time is spent in our world since the actual “story” takes place in Nordaine. Even the title speaks to events happening in this other reality. Most of the events at the boarding school, which took up chapters, could have fit easily into two or three scenes. I did like the arrival scene, but most of the other byplay didn’t add to the depth of story or characters.

What was the problem in this story? Callan has an entity (still a mystery at the end of the book) that keeps her from developing close relationships, but she wants those. In the end, she discovers she might have family alive and well in the alternate world. I’ve read the book, contemplated what it was “really” about, and I’m still coming up blank (thus the lowered rating).

The beginning was confusing, jumping between three perspectives, dreams and reality, this world and that world. I feel like some young adult readers would have closed the book before things started happening.

All this book offers are more questions. Who are Callan’s parents? Why did someone want to kidnap her? What is the entity? Why does the book promise me a vanished knight when that is an underlying issue but not the heart of Callan’s story?

Because this is Callan’s story. Sure, it might also be a little bit of Darrion’s story, but that felt like an introduction to the magical otherworld more than something important. It hints that James has a story, but most readers will be happy when very little time is spent with the rich brat.

In short, this is one of those first books that irritates me. It doesn’t have it’s own story. It is nothing more than set-up for the rest of the series. It says, “Here are the characters. This is what’s going on that’s about to change everything. And we’ll get to that in the next installment.”

A Recommendation

I clicked over to pre-order the second book as soon as I finished this novel. Do you need more of a recommendation than that?

My biggest recommendation is to WAIT to read this until the second book is available. Lucky for you, that’s today. Your appetite will just be whetted for this universe Gerrick creates and this novel will end.

Overall, I believe this book will entertain lovers of all fantasy genres. I had a hard time putting it down after the first three of four confusing chapters. The medieval setting of the alternate universe will captivate those who love historical fiction from that era.

Love knights? You’ll meet some good and bad ones here. Think elves are out of this world? Right again. But they belong to the alternate reality created by Gerrick in this novel.

The scope isn’t quite epic because the cast isn’t too huge to keep straight. Maybe this is why I enjoyed the book (even though this review may give a conflicted recounting).

Pick up your copy of this book and it’s sequel today.