If you like FREE books, this is for YOU

Happy Halloween Multi-Author Giveaway!

I promised you FREE books, and this is your chance to WIN them. Actual books that you can hold in your hands. Not one or even two. But EIGHT books, each signed by its author.

Still not sure it’s for you?

Do you like these genres?

  • Contemporary
  • Paranormal
  • Comedy
  • Fairy tale
  • Women’s Fiction
  • Holiday romance

If you said “yes” to even one, check out the Rafflecopter giveaway at the bottom of this post.

Here are the titles of the books you could win:

Go ahead and click on the author names. Check out their Facebook pages and see what other sorts of deals and offers they have going on with this giveaway. Follow them if they write books you’d like to read.

And now, for the GIVEAWAY LINK:
a Rafflecopter giveaway

And here’s the fine print:

  • NO PURCHASE is necessary to enter this giveaway
  • Giveaway is International
  • Prize is as stated: 8 signed books for ONE winner
  • No cash alternative will be offered
  • Giveaway is open from 00:01am October 29th until 11:59pm October 31st 2017
  • How to enter is specified on the Rafflecopter entry form
  • Winner will be chosen randomly using Rafflecopter within ONE week of the end of the giveaway
  • The winner will be contacted via the email address provided on the Rafflecopter entry form (so please make sure the one you provide is current and correct).
  • The winner will be asked to provide a mailing address in order for them to receive their prize
  • No addresses, emails, or other contact information will be shared with third parties, other than those responsible for delivery of your prize(s)–all information will be treated with the strictest confidence
  • Each of the stated prizes are donated by each corresponding, participating author, and each author is responsible for delivery of their donated prize. The giveaway organizer does not take responsibility for any prizes undelivered by anyone other than herself, nor does she take responsible for any prizes lost in transit
  • This giveaway is VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW

If you’d like to hear like giveaways like this BEFORE the general public, click here and get Hero Delivery. Joining gets you a FREE story!

The Books of Summer

With the return of The Game of Thrones to HBO, people are into the groove of summer viewing. I’d rather be reading, and I know plenty of people who would rather READ George R. R. Martin’s next installment for this series.


Still, the anticipation of the show reminded me that summer’s long days encourage reluctant readers to pick up a book and head to the porch (or patio or deck)

What I’m Reading

I’m always reading something. This year, I’ve challenged myself to read 150 books. At the time I wrote this, I had read 102 (actually more since a couple were collections but Goodreads only counts them as one).
Recently, my reading choices have expanded to include more women’s fiction and Christian romance. These are genres I’m trying to break into with my writing, and the best way to understand what works is to read the genre.
As part of the First Street Church Kindle World, I’ve been reading the original series and some of the spin-offs.


I’ve been beta reading for some of my author friends. In this case, one of the books was a new take on vampire origins. (I’m NOT a fan of vampires.) I was intrigued by the twist on this, but still wasn’t convinced that I would invest myself in an entire series about them.
For my online book club, I read The Lemoncholy Life of Annie Aster for July. It sounded intriguing, but I had a hard time engaging with it.
On audiobook, I listened to a YA fantasy series from Tamora Pierce while cleaning, crocheting and coloring. (I love being able to multi-task.)
The second book in the Spellsmith & Carver series releases on July 31 (TODAY), and I’m excited to read it. I read Coiled by this author (H.L. Burke) earlier in the summer and couldn’t put it down. If you’re looking for a fairy tale retelling…pick this up.

What I’m Writing

I’ve written the final installment for my Virtual Match romance series.
The first draft of my debut into both Christian romance and Kindle Worlds has been wrapped. I’ll be rewriting it and getting it out to beta readers. I have until September 7 to get a copy to my editor.
My next writing project will probably be a short story I’m submitting for an anthology my publisher is putting out in 2018.
After that, things are up in the air. Once I know how my manuscripts are received at the Oregon Christian Writers Conference, I’ll know if I’m going to work on another women’s fiction story.
I will finish writing Through the Valley of Shadows, the grief memoir that’s been in and out of my queue for several years. I’ve decided to pursue indie publishing for it if I can’t get an agent to contract it.
Some books fill a hole in the market, and that’s how I see this book. Everyone will grieve (at multiple times in life) and the idea of mourning in a healthy way for as long as it takes isn’t highly promoted in Western society.

What I’m Wishing For

I’m not much for paranormal romances…most of the time. Maybe it’s because I forced myself to read the Twilight series so I could discuss it with my students. So if there are vampires and werewolves? I’ll pass.
So color me shocked when I downloaded the first book in Melissa Haag’s Judgement of the Six young adult paranormal romance series a couple years ago.
To date, Hope(less) the first book, is still my favorite and Clay and Gabby are my favorite couple.
I love the integration of a society existing in our own world. It’s well-crafted and believable. For some time, I wondered if bulky blond men on motorcycles were actually werewolves.
Just as Stephanie Meyer created her own vampire history, Haag has given the wolves an interesting backstory. By starting with a skeptical character in the first book, she had a chance to show us the two sides of werewolves. Later we saw the “dark side” generally meant they were a different species.

What?

And each human girl that is the central character in the book has a special gift. Because truly she is something called a Judgement. Six women are born in a 100-year cycle and if all of them unite, they get to make a judgment.
Haag has kept us in the dark about all this entails. But there is one group of wolves trying to round up the girls and mate them with their kind so they can control the judgment.
The final book, Sur(real), doesn’t release until November, but I’m ready for it now. This year I intend on re-reading the entire series in the weeks leading up to the release.
If you haven’t read this series, check out the first book for free. I promise you’ll get hooked.
What books are you reading, writing or wishing for this summer?

Like reading this? You’re a click away from getting Hero Delivery, a bulletin with deals and new releases from Sharon Hughson.

Maybe you like romance or some of my other books. I’m sure there’s something worth reading on my page.

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

 

Birthday Bash means FREE Books!

This isn’t your average Friday cover reveal. This is a PARTY. And there are books to win. Did someone say free books? I’m in!

Welcome to Month9Books Turns 4 Birthday Bash!
We’re thrilled to share this celebration with you!

Here’s a quick note from Georgia McBride, owner of Month9Books!
“Month9Books is turning four this year, and I could not be
happier. We are living proof that if you have a dream to write, create and
inspire, you should follow that dream and let nothing keep you from realizing
it. Thank you to all the readers, writers, agents, partners and friends who
have made this possible. We write for you.”
–Georgia McBride, Publisher and Owner of Month9Books
Thanks so much for 4 awesome years! We look forward to celebrating #5 with you in 2017! We have something for everyone from every
genre from Sci-Fi to Fantasy to Paranormal and Horror! As a thank you, we’re giving away some well-loved books from 2015 and 2016. All paperback and hardcover winners must reside in the United States. International readers may receive only eBooks if they win.
Here’s a look at all of the books we have published through the years!
Two and Twenty Dark Tales: Dark Retellings of Mother Goose Rhymes
Very Superstitious: Myths, Legends and Tales of Superstition
Praefatio (Praefatio, #1) by Georgia McBride
THE Undertakers: Secret of The Corpse Eater by Ty Drago
Fledgling (Dragonrider Chronicles #1) by Nicole Conway
Avian (Dragonrider Chronicles #2) by Nicole Conway
Fire in the Woods by Jennifer M. Eaton
The Perilous Journey of the Not-So-Innocuous Girl by Leigh Statham
Summer of The Oak Moon by Laura Templeton
The Undertakers: Last Siege of Haven by Ty Drago
The Artisans by Julie Reece
Into The Dark by Caroline Patti
Serpentine by Cindy Pon
Minotaur by Phillip Simpson
Nameless by Jennifer Jenkins
Ashes In The Sky (Fire in the Woods #2) By Jennifer M. Eaton
The Undertakers 5: End of the World by Ty Drago
The Requiem Red by Brynn Chapman
Emerge by Tobie Easton
There Once were Stars by Melanie McFarlane
The Paladins (The Artisans #2) by Julie Reece
Argos by Phillip W. Simpson
Traitor (Dragonrider Chronicles #3) by Nicole Conway
Rise by Jennifer Anne Davis
In The Shadow Of The Dragon King by J. Keller Ford
Hair In All The Wrong Places by Andrew Buckley
Genesis Girl by Jennifer Bardsley
Into The Light (Into The Dark #2) by Caroline Patti
un/Fair by Steven Harper
Operation Tenley by Jennifer Gooch Hummer
The Perilous Journey Of The Much Too Spontaneous Girl (The Perilous Journey of the Not-So-Innocuous Girl #2) by Leigh Statham
Sacrifice (Serpentine #2) by Cindy Pon
Clanless (Nameless #2 ) by Jennifer Jenkins
The Legend of The Pumpkin Thief by Charles Day
Immortal (Dragonrider Chronicles #4)  by Nicole Conway

Giveaway Details

A total of 13 winners will receive….
(1) Hardcover of SERPENTINE by Cindy Pon, US Only.
(1) Paperback of EMERGE by Tobie Easton, US ONLY.
(1) Hardcover of POPPY MAYBERRY: THE MONDAY by Jennie K. Brown, US Only.
(1) Paperback set of THE DRAGONRIDERS CHRONICLES by Nicole Conway, US Only.
(1) Paperback set of HAIR IN ALL THE WRONG PLACES by Andrew Buckley, POLARIS by Beth Bowland, and ARTIFACTS by Pete Catalano, US Only.
(1) Paperback set of THE UNDERTAKERS SECRET OF THE CORPSE EATER & THE UNDERTAKERS LAST SIEGE OF HAVEN, US Only.
(1) Paperback set of TWO AND TWENTY DARK TALES, THE REQUIEM RED by Brynn Chapman, FIRE IN THE WOODS by Jennifer M. Eaton, & RISE by Jennifer Anne Davis, US Only.
(3) Paperbacks of MINOTAUR by Phillip W. Simpson, US Only.
(3) International winners will receive 5 eBooks of their choice from books listed above.

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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.

The Paladins Release Tour: Reviewed Here

I’m thrilled to announce that one of my Pen Sisters is releasing a new book tomorrow, May 3. If you’re a fan of young adult romance, you want to pick up your copy of The Paladins by Julie Reece. Go ahead and click the cover photo. You can pre-order it today. As in now.

This book is a sequel to The Artisans. You can read my review of that book here.

When I first learned Ms. Reece was writing a sequel, I thought, “Huh?”

My depth of thought amazes even me sometimes.

The reason I was stymied is because The Artisans is completely self-contained. It doesn’t leave any nagging questions remaining. The problem is resolved and the characters are in their “happy for now” existence.

But that doesn’t mean the characters had nothing left to say. Maybe you wondered what happened with Cole. How did he adjust to life after being trapped in The Void for five years? Did things with Raven and Gideon last?

Well, you can find the answers to these questions and so much more if you read The Paladins.

The Blurb

The Paladins CoverThe Artisan curse is broken. Souls trapped in a mysterious otherworld called The Void are finally released. Now, Raven Weathersby, Gideon Maddox, and Cole Wynter can finally move on with their lives…or so they thought. If the ancient magic is truly dead, then why are mystical fires plaguing Gideon at every turn? What accounts for Raven’s frightening visions of her dead mother? And who is the beautiful, tortured girl haunting Cole’s dreams?

Last year, a group of lonely teens sacrificed secrets, battled the supernatural, and faced their own demons to set one another free. Yet six months later, the heart of evil still beats within The Void. And the trio is forced to face the horrific truth: that their only way out is to go back in.

The Paladins completes this eerie YA Southern Gothic where loyalties are tested, love is challenged, and evil seeks them on the ultimate battlegrounds—in their minds, their souls, and their hearts.

My Review

I was involved from the first page. And I was enthralled with Cole by the third chapter. He’s a much more engaging character than Gideon.

Reece takes us into the story from the perspective of all three of the main characters. Her narration is exceptional. Each chapter sounds like the chosen narrator. Cole’s voice is fun, engaging and sprinkled with British euphemisms. Raven is snarky, although a little more melodramatic than before. Gideon is dark, but wait! That’s what’s going on inside his handsome head?

Elemental magic makes its appearance here, which surprised me since it didn’t have the same “feel” as the Artisan magic they “destroyed” in the first book. While they were slow to realize the source of the magic, they were quick to determine the keeper of The Void and the entrance into it. That seemed a little too convenient to me.

The romantic angle in this story isn’t as compelling as in the first book. Gideon decides to dump Raven and encourage her and Cole to get together. (I know. He doesn’t even LIKE that guy.)

Raven isn’t impressed to be dumped and pawned off on someone else. She thought Gideon was going to let her start making her own decisions. Why is he trying to manipulate things again?

And Cole is starting to have feelings for the ghost girl he’s desperate to rescue.

I didn’t guess the exact twist to that whole thing (kudos to the author), but I knew that our lovely Desiree (witch extraordinaire from the first book) would have to be involved somehow. If she got the connection to the water element, there was no way she could have been drowned as they assumed.

I was a tad disappointed in The Void’s populace. Zombies? I’m not a fan of them at all. Three witches sharing one eye? Been done before. The minotaur in the labyrinth was a nice touch and well-played by the author. (Although I’m not sure how the earth magic would have created a link to animals. That seemed a little too convenient, too.)

Will Cole get a girl in the end? Can Gideon swallow his pride? Will Raven be able to escape her own dark fears?

Read it and you’ll see.

My Recommendation

You should read The Artisans before you read this book (the eBook is only 99 cents) . It will give you the proper context for the characters and especially the villain. You won’t be sorry. It was a ghost story I thoroughly enjoyed.

If you like fantasy, you’ll enjoy this book. Paranormal? You’ll get that here for sure. Maybe you’re more of a mythology buff. Reece has you covered. If you want it, The Paladins has got it.

There is romance, but it’s more like the third story line in this novel. The quest to resolve magical issues is primary and character growth secondary.

Even though I gave it only 4.3 out of five stars, I highly recommend this book.

About the Author

Julie ReeceBorn in Ohio, I lived next to my grandfather’s horse farm until the fourth grade. Summers were about riding, fishing and make-believe, while winter brought sledding and ice-skating on frozen ponds. Most of life was magical, but not all.

I struggled with multiple learning disabilities, did not excel in school. I spent much of my time looking out windows and daydreaming. In the fourth grade (with the help of one very nice teacher) I fought dyslexia for my right to read, like a prince fights a dragon in order to free the princess locked in a tower, and I won.

Afterwards, I read like a fiend. I invented stories where I could be the princess… or a gifted heroine from another world who kicked bad guy butt to win the heart of a charismatic hero. Who wouldn’t want to be a part of that? Later, I moved to Florida where I continued to fantasize about superpowers and monsters, fabricating stories (my mother called it lying) and sharing them with my friends.

Then I thought I’d write one down…

Hooked, I’ve been writing ever since. I write historical, contemporary, urban fantasy, adventure, and young adult romances. I love strong heroines, sweeping tales of mystery and epic adventure… which must include a really hot guy. My writing is proof you can work hard to overcome any obstacle. Don’t give up. I say, if you write, write on!

Connect with Julie here:    Website | Twitter | Facebook | Pinterest |Tumbr | Instagram | Goodreads

The Giveaway

Contest runs until May 20, 2016. The prize(s) :

  • Five (5) winners will receive a digital copy of The Paladins (The Artisans #2) by Julie Reece (INT)

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Find the Book Everywhere

Add it to Goodreads

Or buy it here:

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Cover Reveal: The Paladins by Julie Reece

I’m thrilled to host this reveal on my blog. I’ve read the first book in this series and found it ensnaring, to say the least. Check out my review. Then read on to learn about the second book and how to win a free copy.

Today Julie Reece and Month9Books are revealing the cover and first chapter for THE PALADINS, book 2 in THE ARTISANS Series which releases May 3, 2016! Check out the gorgeous cover and enter to be one of the first readers to receive an eGalley and a eBook of THE ARTISANS!!

Here’s a message from the author:

Book covers are tricky things. My respect for cover artists has grown exponentially after entering the world of publishing. I learned the challenge of a good cover artist is to hint at the story beneath using a single image. They must create a picture that suggests to perspective readers what lies within those hundreds of pages—using nothing more than specific font and a few square inches of graphic design. It seems impossible, yet most of us agree that art evokes emotion. And when I saw my cover, I was overwhelmed.

 The Paladins is dark. And this cover is dark. The story is a Gothic tale, mysterious and eerie. And while parts of this world are beautiful, beauty is often deceptive. You’re never quite sure if something lurks in the shadows, where the path you tread is leading, or even if what you see is real … until it’s too late. For me, the cover encompasses all those story elements. I hope you like it as much as I do.

On to the reveal! 

 

Title: THE PALADINS (The Artisans #2) 

Author: Julie Reece

Pub. Date: May 3, 2016

Publisher: Month9Books

Format: Paperback & eBook

Find it: Amazon | B&N| TBD | BAM| Kobo | Google Play Books | iBooksGoodreads

The Artisan curse is broken. Souls trapped in a mysterious otherworld called The Void are finally released. Now, Raven Weathersby, Gideon Maddox, and Cole Wynter can finally move on with their lives…or so they thought. If the ancient magic is truly dead, then why are mystical fires plaguing Gideon at every turn? What accounts for Raven’s frightening visions of her dead mother? And who is the beautiful, tortured girl haunting Cole’s dreams?

Last year, a group of lonely teens sacrificed secrets, battled the supernatural, and faced their own demons to set one another free. Yet six months later, the heart of evil still beats within The Void. And the trio is forced to face the horrific truth: that their only way out is to go back in.
The Paladins completes this eerie YA Southern Gothic where loyalties are tested, love is challenged, and evil seeks them on the ultimate battlegrounds—in their minds, their souls, and their hearts.

In case you missed it here’s the redesigned cover for THE ARTISANS!

 

Title: THE ARTISANS

Author: Julie Reece

Pub. Date: May 12, 2015

Publisher: Month9Books

Pages: 300

Find it: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Goodreads

They say death can be beautiful. But after the death of her mother, seventeen-year-old Raven Weathersby gives up her dream of becoming a fashion designer, barely surviving life in the South Carolina lowlands.

To make ends meet, Raven works after school as a seamstress creating stunning works of fashion that often rival the great names of the day.

Instead of making things easier on the high school senior, her stepdad’s drinking leads to a run in with the highly reclusive heir to the Maddox family fortune, Gideon Maddox.

But Raven’s stepdad’s drying out and in no condition to attend the meeting with Maddox. So Raven volunteers to take his place and offers to repay the debt in order to keep the only father she’s ever known out of jail, or worse.

Gideon Maddox agrees, outlining an outrageous demand: Raven must live in his home for a year while she designs for Maddox Industries’ clothing line, signing over her creative rights.

Her handsome young captor is arrogant and infuriating to the nth degree, and Raven can’t imagine working for him, let alone sharing the same space for more than five minutes.

But nothing is ever as it seems. Is Gideon Maddox the monster the world believes him to be? And can he stand to let the young seamstress see him as he really is?
(You can read Sharon’s review of this book here)

Excerpt

 

 

Prologue

The Before

Cole

It’s been four years since I planted the fireworks in Gideon Maddox’s locker that burned a third of his face.

Four years since his father took revenge, trapping me with a spell that kept me prisoner in The Void.

Three months since the magic found me again.

Two months since my parents put me in therapy.

One day since my parents left for Paris on a month long business tour.

This morning, a mysterious girl no one else can see beckoned again from The Void.

Tonight, I’m standing on the balcony of my parent’s palatial home, buying an airline ticket back to the states—back to Maddox mansion—the heart of my nightmares.

People say the more things change the more they stay the same. I hate them for being right. I lived with the monsters in my prison until I thought I might go mad. Repentant of my past, I made peace with my fate, my eternity. Until the day I was freed, because a stranger had the courage to help.

This time someone needs me.

How can I doom a girl to a fate I barely escaped?

There’s only one answer.

I can’t.

Chapter One

Cole

A bottle-green fly hums, rubbing his tiny legs together as though he’s plotting something. The insect seems a dirty ornament on the shiny desk nameplate he sits upon. Gold on gold, the engraved letters read Navin Cahvan M.D. This is the third psychiatrist I’ve met in as many weeks. Part of my mother’s plan to fix me. Jumpy nerves, insomnia, nightmares about demons when I finally do fall sleep—these are her justifications. Everyone tries to shrink me like a cheap T-shirt in the dryer.

The tawny-skinned man across the desk folds his knotted fingers over his belly and stares. Dark eyes track my movements beneath two bushy white eyebrows. “Mr. Wynter?”

Right. He asked a question. The fly hums again, wings fluttering against his hairy back. My head pounds, my clothes scratch, eyes burn, and my ears are raw with the smallest sounds echoing deep inside.

When Dr. Cahvan shifts, the leather seat groans in protest. “I can help you. But you must tell me the truth.”

All I hear is Jack Nicholson screaming the line from A Few Good Men: “You can’t handle the truth!”

“Trust me, Cole. Tell me your secret thoughts.”

Trust you? Sure. I tell you what happened and you lock me away forever on meds that keep me drooling, while I play dominoes with people who see giant, pink rabbits. No thanks.

He leans forward. His fingers thread together as his hands rest on the desktop. He taps his thumbs together. “I assure you this is a safe place. I call it … the circle of trust.”

Give me a break. You want me to tell you how I was a mean, dangerous kid. Confess that because I tormented a crippled boy, his father used a magic camera to trap me in an alternate universe as punishment. Explain how I lived a half-life in the Maddox mansion for four years until Raven Weathersby rescued me. About how much I miss her and think about going back someday … Maybe I am insane.

“Let’s discuss something else.”

I find his suggestion amusing since I’ve barely said ten words in the past hour, and our time is almost up.

The good doctor shifts again. “Instead of talking about the past, why not speak of the present. How are you adjusting to life at home? I understand your parents had a welcome home party when you first arrived. How did that go?”

How do you think? “Swell.” I would have preferred stuffing my hand in a high-speed blender. A hundred people that I hadn’t seen since I was fifteen—and couldn’t care less to see again—showed up to shake my hand and recite all they’d ever read about amnesia, the lie Gideon made up to cover my absence. “I really just need some space.”

“And you got your wish, did you not? I understand your parents left town yesterday. How does being alone again so soon make you feel?”

Incredibly pissed. “They’ve always been busy people. I’m used to them traveling.” But I wasn’t. I thought with all the time apart, my parents might want to stick around a while. Be a family. Nope. Since appearances mean everything, they threw a party right away to show their friends and colleagues how fine I was. The powerful and highly regarded Mr. and Mrs. Wynter pulled out all the stops to prove their love for their long lost son: fine wine, catered dinner, china, crystal, even a string quartet. Yet, my father couldn’t keep the disappointment from his face any more than my mother could drown her misery in vodka.

Perhaps to appease their consciences, my folks hooked me up with doctors and provided for my physical needs before bailing. But a new car and an obscenely padded bank account wasn’t what I needed. So easily brushed aside again, I couldn’t help but wonder if parts of them were relieved when I’d disappeared four years ago.

Dr. Cahvan’s eyes narrow. “So, you remember your life up until your trip to the States?”

“Yes.” I’m lying about my amnesia. I know it. He knows it. So do my parents, but it’s too late to come up with a better story … like being the victim of a cult brainwashing or joining a psychedelic commune. I drank a different brand of Kool-Aid in Sales Hollow, South Carolina, and I can never tell a soul.

The fly zings to the window. I flinch as the buzzing is magnified ten times in my head. It takes all my will not to jump up and smash the bug against the glass. The doctor watches me with sharp eyes trained to interpret body language. I hold his gaze, though my skin breaks out in a sweat. A sudden wind rattles the panes, and I startle.

Cahvan’s mouth crimps at the corners. “Rather breezy today,” he says, glancing out the window at the quiet, blue sky.

Who cares about the weather? I have to give the old guy something before I start whining about magic spells, heightened senses, or worse: how my daddy never loved me.

I blow out a breath. “Look, some things seem familiar, others are confusing. I don’t need a doctor. I need time.” I only meant to throw him a bone so he’d have something to report when my parents call, but my body heats as I talk. Anger, resentment, and fear all claw their way up my throat and charge out of my mouth before I can stop them. “Time I can’t get back where I finish school, date hot girls, and grow up like normal kids do. I’m trying. Doing the best I can, but what I don’t need is to sit in rooms with smug strangers who are paid to dissect my brain over things I can’t explain, and neither of us will ever understand!” I drag my fingers through my shaggy hair. “That time is gone. I’m pissed off, and I guess I’ll be pissed off until I’m not anymore.”

Dr. Cahvan rubs his jaw. “That’s very interesting, Cole.”

My laugh is harsh. Not that any of this is funny. “Is it?”

“Yes. Thank you for your honesty today.” His bushy eyebrows push together. “Thank you for entering the circle of trust and allowing me to help you. Please see my secretary on your way out and make another appointment for next week.”

Seriously? I stand and head for the door. Oh, I’ll see your secretary, all right. I’ll nod as I walk right past her. He didn’t help me. No one can. There are a lot of things I need. But touchy-feely therapy with Doctor Eyebrows isn’t one of them.

***

After the awkward “circle of trust” episode, I can’t decide what to do with myself. I don’t want to be around people, but I don’t want to go home to an empty house either, so I wind up in the rambling cemetery a couple miles from our house.

I like it here and come pretty often just to think. Crumbling grave markers bear witness to France’s rich history, even with the chiseled dates worn and fading with time. Moss, ivy, and ancient trees lend beauty and peace to a place that soothes my soul. I’m not trying to be morbid. I never kept company with the dead. We were the undead, in a non-sparkly kind of way.

I’m not stupid enough to think I’ll discover the meaning of life. I’m just trying to find meaning in mine.

After surviving a half-death, I’ve been given a second chance. Trouble is, I don’t know what to do with it.

The sun is too hot on my back. No sooner does the thought cross my mind, when a friendly breeze tousles my hair like an old friend. I pull my cell from my pocket and stare at Raven’s number. She said to call her anytime, and I do. Gideon said to call her if I wanted my arse kicked. Typical. He’s still that insecure kid deep down. Still trying to prove himself, as he tries to control everyone and everything within his reach, just like his old man taught him.

Should have known something was wrong when I first got the invitation to visit Gideon in America all those years ago. My parents were so happy Maddox Senior wasn’t pressing charges; they actually thought the gesture was an attempt at friendship. Of course, Mum and Dad sent me packing complete with an olive branch in my mouth. That gesture of goodwill got my picture taken and a trip to The Void with a bunch of vengeful old guys from the early nineteen hundreds and a hot blond with twisted taste in men. We spent our days trying to escape that hell. The labyrinth’s ghouls, the surreal existence of consciousness without a physical body, and the constant pain of regret all earmarked a life that wasn’t.

Until her.

My fingers comb the grass at my sides. I close my eyes and feel the day’s warmth on my face, the wind threading through my thin tee. I may look like a freak, but I can’t stop touching everything around me. While I was gone, I missed the sensation of air in my lungs, the taste of coffee, the sweet sensation of a kiss …

My thumb starts dialing Rae’s number.

Cole …

Shite. Here we go again.

Come to me, Cole …

I wonder if I sounded this creepy to Raven when I begged for her help.

Veins at my temples pulse. Leaves shake and laugh in the breeze, the echo reverberating in my head. “Who are you? What do you want with me?” I want to stand, but my limbs weigh a hundred pounds each. My lungs deflate under the crushing pressure, and I struggle to breathe.

The scenery of oaks and elms surrounding the cemetery blur into a muddy gray-green wall, and I know what’s happening. Gravestones push up from the ground like gnashing teeth and recede again until the ground transforms into a smooth, stone floor. The world of pedestrians, car horns, and singing birds around the graveyard fade to a quiet worse than death. My body rejects the idea of gravity. The weightlessness of being sucked back into The Void again invades my person like a virus, spreading into my muscles and bones, my very essence.

I will the door of my mind closed to shut out the transformation. I place a mental shield before the magic so it won’t consume me, but magic has a will of its own. It snakes under the imaginary door I’ve erected in my head, enveloping me. I thrash, but it’s useless. My soundless screaming and mind-withering despair only seems to feed The Void’s strength.

When I open my eyes, the cemetery is gone. I shift on a cold, damp floor, taking in my new surroundings. I’ve seen this place before, several times. The space is a circular stone room with two tall, skinny windows allowing diffused light inside. A bed sits across from me. Downy quilts worn and faded with use cover the straw mattress. On the wall, a huge, gilt-framed mirror reflects the room where a pretty blond sits in a hardback chair. Watching me.

I’m familiar with strange, but not with sad, soul-eating eyes like hers.

When she rises, I feel like I should thank her, because light from the window shows her curves through an ultra-thin nightdress. The sight chokes my airflow for a whole different reason.

ThinkofRaventhinkofRaventhinkofRaven.

I’m so not thinking of Raven. For all my faults, I’m not the cheating type, but I am a guy, and this girl is seriously fit! I want to touch her in the worst way, but I swallow instead. Attempting to be a gentleman, I lift my gaze and focus on the far wall, yet somehow—because I’m still a guy—I end up watching the way her hair hangs in white blond waves to her thighs. Her rosebud mouth opens slightly. Pleading eyes, more silver than blue, threaten to pull me under and drown me. None of this helps curb my impulse to reach for her.

Then I think about how she brought me here against my will, and that helps tamp down the hormones.

Cole.

What do you want?

Can’t you guess?

I can. I pleaded with Raven for the same help not too long ago. Inside The Void, I thought I’d met everyone. The ones that Maddox had imprisoned, and the indigenous inhabitants of the labyrinth. I hadn’t known there were any others.

The drip-drop of a leaky faucet is the only sound as I gather my thoughts. “Who are you? Where are you? I don’t understand what’s happening. Where is this place? Did Gideon put you here?” I rattle off my questions not pausing for a response.

She doesn’t answer. Maybe she can’t.

Wind picks up, whooshing through the hollow room, though the windows are shut. The sound grows, as though someone dropped a microphone in a washing machine. I grit my teeth against the noise. My mind squeezes in the pressurized vacuum.

Cole … She extends a thin, white hand.

I remember Raven. How she fell to her knees on the floor of the mill house when we first met. Pain rips into my psyche, claws at my sanity. The same way I’m sure it did hers.

“I’m sorry. Forgive me, Raven. I didn’t know.”

… My name is Rosamond …

Stone walls smear and fade, the beautiful girl along with them. I can’t breathe. Then, the faint outline of tree tops bleed back into view.

… Rosamond Bryer …

My panting rivals an overheated Saint Bernard. Grass pokes my palms. Rough bark scrapes my spine through my T-shirt. Any trace of the castle turret is erased as the same decrepit cemetery I know solidifies, and the garden is as it was before.

Almost …

I’m leaning against an old tree, yet my cell and sunglasses still lie next to the rose bushes where I was sitting, almost twenty feet away. I have no memory of moving. How did I get way over here?

Both hands plow through my hair with my exhale. What the bloody hell just happened? Am I imagining this? A nightmare left over from the reality of my imprisonment. Or is the girl real? Trapped like I was and waiting for someone with the courage to free her.

Is that someone me? I’ve been a lot of things, but brave isn’t one of them. To help her means going back to the mansion.

No. I definitely do not need this shite. I’m starting over, leaving that life behind. Yet, the haunted expression on the girl’s face tugs at me. Something about her seems familiar. I’m gutted over how she reached for me. Raven doubted, too, but not for long. If the blond is real, then she’s really in trouble. And if she’s really in trouble, what, if anything, are you prepared to do about it, Cole Wynter?

 

 As a child, Julie’s summers were about horseback riding and fishing, while winter brought sledding and ice-skating on frozen ponds. Most of life was magical, but not all. She struggled with multiple learning disabilities, and spent much of her time gazing out windows and daydreaming. In the fourth grade (with the help of one very nice teacher) she fought dyslexia for her right to read and won.

Afterward, she invented stories where powerful heroines kicked bad-guy butt to win the hearts charismatic heroes. And then she wrote one down…

Writing ever since, Julie weaves southern gothic, contemporary, fantasy, and young adult romances. She enjoys sweeping tales of mystery and epic adventure… which must include a really hot guy. Her writing is proof a dream and some hard work can overcome any obstacle.
Where you can find Julie: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

 

Giveaway Details:

1 winner will receive an eBook of THE ARTISANS and an eGalley of THE PALADINS. International.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Win! Win a copy of my next story!

Yes, this anthology contains another short romance by yours truly. I hope you’ll take a minute to enter into the giveaway. Maybe even consider signing up to support my release during the blog tour.
The entry form is at the bottom of the post. Details about the stories can be found by clicking here.
Roane Publishing is giving away THREE ecopy ARCs of 
Hearts of Valor!

Hearts of Valor
Genre: Romance Anthology (Sweet)
Release Date: January 13, 2016

Description: It takes a heart of valor to survive love’s battlefield.

Five veteran themed romantic tales brimming with love and sacrifice are sure to show us all what it truly means to have a Heart of Valor.


Stories:

Hero of Her Heart – S.L. Hughson
Feathers – T.E.Hodden
A Manly Man – Jean Young
Goin’ Home – Philip Lisagor
The Promise – London Saint James

~~~oOo~~~
Roane Publishing is giving away THREE ARC copies to three lucky winners!
You don’t even have to be a blogger.
If you are willing to leave an honest review before January 27th, you are eligible to enter.
How? Simply fill out the form!

You have until Midnight of November 28th when three winners will be chosen by random drawing.




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.

Meet the Author: Krista Ames

Author_interview

Today, I have a special treat for my readers. We’re going to talk to a real live author. She is working on a new romance series and the first book, a novella, released this week.

Along with chatting up Krista Ames, you can read all about her book (I’ve read it, and it’s definitely worth checking out) AND enter an awesome giveaway (Link at bottom of the post).

Welcome, Krista. Thanks for taking time out to chat with my blog followers.

First of all, authors aren’t all about writing. We like to get out of the house sometimes. Let’s go to the movies, Krista. What sort of film do you want to see?

I love the movies, let’s go !!!!!  My all-time favorite type of movie is actually the mushy romantic movies (a romance writer’s dream) with a full-fledged happy ending!  However…in the last five or so years, since I met and married my hubby, he’s opened my eyes (kicking and screaming, of course) to horror (*shivers*).  Not gory horror but the mysterious,  scary horror (*shivers even more*).  I’ve also gotten hooked by my children on some of the Dystopian movies and just about anything paranormal.

What film comes to mind when someone says “the best movie ever”?

As far as “the best movie ever”?  I could group a bunch in that category but my all-time favorite movie is Price & Prejudice, the one with Kiera Knightly!

Let’s talk men, for a moment. My perfect hero is a combination between the generosity of my husband and the hot-factor of Gerard Butler. Describe your perfect hero. Does he resemble anyone in your world?

Photo credit to mygezza.com

There is definitely something to be said for Gerard Butler for sure, and I’ve for sure got my hotness favorites like Channing Tatum and Kenny Chesney but I think my perfect hero is my hubby (me too!).  He came into my life when I was grieving over a failed marriage and raising three kids on my own.  He is everything that I always wanted in a husband.  He holds my hand when we go for a drive or a walk, he hugs & kisses me for no reason and tells me he loves me all the time.  It’s really nice to hear it first.  There’s always a kiss good morning, a kiss when he walks in the door from work and even if we do argue over something before bed, we still kiss goodnight.  He loves me and makes sure I know it 🙂

Readers always want to know about an author’s quirks. Let’s talk about where we work. I love writing in a well-lit area that is extremely quiet – could be my office or my patio. What is your best “creative” space like?

I am a stay at home mom with four kids and FOUR crazy schedules so, the place I actually like to write is the dining room table.  It is right in the midst of the living room and kitchen.  I can see all from that spot.  Big table so I can spread out and a lot of light to see.  Plus I can watch those horror movies with my hubby and still be in my work area.  The laundry room is right around the corner for when the dryer dings or a hop-skip to the kitchen sink for dishes.  My kids always know right where to find me.

WOW! I admire full-time moms who can turn on their creative genius in a house full of controlled chaos. I could never figure out how to do that, which is why my full-time writing career is happening now that my nest is empty.

I’m still waiting for my first fan letter from someone I don’t know personally. What is the most meaningful thing a stranger has ever said about any of your stories? OR what would be the most meaningful thing a stranger could say to you about your writing?

To be honest, I’m still waiting on mine as well   I did one time have a couple different review blogs tell me how great my writing was, and it made my heart melt !

Now for a few quick answers, just for fun:

  • Army or Navy? Do I have to choose?  Ok, Navy
  • Cowboy or Fireman? Tough choice….  Cowboy
  • Chocolate or Strawberry? Strawberry
  • Mints or Gum? Mints
  • Morning or Evening? Evening
  • Cats or Dogs? (I know you have both, so yes, this is a trick question) lol, Dogs
  • Bike or Walk? Walk
  • Unicorn or Pegasus? Pegasus
  • Greek or Roman? Greek

So much for us being twins! We agree on cowboys, mints and Pegasus in this list. Oh well. It was a blast getting to know another author. Thanks for stopping by and chatting with us.

Sharon, thanks so much for having me on your blog.  I had a great time answering your questions!

All you ever wanted to know about the Author:

Photo from KristaAmes.com
Photo from KristaAmes.com

Born and raised in Northern Indiana, Krista now resides in Northern Lower Michigan.  She is married to a very supportive man who allows her to follow her true passion of writing and never complains when she is pirated away on her computer for hours.  He is excellent at bouncing ideas around with and even helps the occasional writers block.  He’s also a terrific “in house” editor.  Krista is also a mother of 4 ornery children who keep her plenty busy.  With an addition of 2 beautiful chocolate lab sisters and a playful kitty, there is never a dull or spare moment in her household.

Krista has always loved to read and would often sit up for hours into the night not able to put down a book until she was finished.  She still reads when she can but her main focus is creating her own stories to share with the world.

She loves to communicate with her readers so please feel free to drop her a line anytime.

 Connect with Ms. Ames on these platforms:

Email: krista@kristaames.com

Website: http://www.kristaames.com

Blog: http://www.apassionforromance.blogspot.com

 

MorgansMountain_Cvr_FinalTitle:  Morgan’s Mountain, A Montana Series Novella
Author:  Krista Ames
Publisher:  Roane Publishing

Blurb:

On the proverbial run from another failed relationship, Morgan finds herself in the one place she always found solace. With every intention of being alone, she’s surprised when she comes across the one person she never expected.

Luke would go to the ends of the earth to figure out why Morgan ran away five years ago and make things right with her. However, a dangerous trek up the mountains to her family’s cabin might not have been the smartest choice. To say she was happy to see him would be a huge lie.  Having to rescue him, mortifying for Luke.

Toss a kidnapper into the mix and their feelings for each other are brought into perspective, revealing parts of themselves they never thought would come to light.

Buy it now at your favorite retailer:

Roane Publishing
Amazon
Amazon (UK)
Barnes and Noble
Smashwords
Bookstrand
All Romance eBooks

Find Morgan’s Mountain on Goodreads!

Don’t miss the rest of the tour!  http://www.roanepublishing.com/morgans-mountain1.html

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Merry May with Sharon Hughson

Time for a Merry-go-round of fun and prizes.

Yes, there are free books. Romance is in the air.

There’s also a bit of historical fiction up for grabs here on my site.

I recently released Reflections from a Pondering Heart. Check out this blurb:

In the beginning, I herded goats on father’s farm when Jehovah’s messenger visited me. He claimed “Blessed art thou among women.”

Blessed? The speculation about my untimely pregnancy turned to shunning and isolation. Caesar’s decree forced a grueling trip to Bethlehem during my final weeks of pregnancy.  And then, under cover of darkness, I fled Herod’s murderous wrath. Is it any wonder I questioned the angel’s claim?

Yahweh blessed me with a quiver full of children. But love brings sorrow. Torn between two sons, my heart bled. Like old Simeon said, a sword pierced my soul – again and again. And the killing blow was yet to come…

If you would be interested in winning an eBook of this title, please leave a comment below. Tell me your favorite thing about the month of May and make sure your linking profile has an email address where I can contact you.

*Congratulations to Lissa (first to comment below) whose number was selected by random.org to receive the eBook.

Now check out the rest of the blogs and have a hopping-good time!

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Goodreads Book Giveaway

Reflections from a Pondering Heart by S.L. Hughson

Reflections from a Pondering Heart

by S.L. Hughson

Giveaway ends May 15, 2015.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.