Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Blog Tour: Chosen Path by J. Whitney Williams with an #interview and #giveaway



Erotic Romance
Date Published: 4/28/2017

Yumiko Itsumoto wants it all. An accomplished artist and feared attorney, she gets what she wants, all else be damned. Now she wants love, even if it means charting a new course for her life, but changing course can be dangerous.  In mere moments, she tumbles from the dizzying pinnacle of success into a bottomless abyss of murder and treachery.  Yumiko will not live happily ever after—not this time—but can she at least find a way to stay alive?

Editor's review 

Author J. Whitney Williams follows CARRIED AWAY—his surprisingly intelligent and deftly written debut—with a story that is even sexier, more thrilling and more enthralling than the first.
Again taking the reader on a trip across the world, meeting strange people in strange places via a prodigious narrator, CHOSEN PATH follows Yumi, a powerful and apparently dispassionate supporting character introduced in book one. But appearances deceive. Here, the reader is immersed in Yumi—into the very depths of her complex mind, her conflicted yet determined soul, her insatiable sex drive.
When Yumi encounters the woman who she presumes to be the fiancée of the love of her life—perhaps her only true love—she has every reason to seize the opportunity that presents itself to erase the woman from both of their lives forever. It’s no wonder Yumi is the prime suspect for the unfortunate woman’s swift and seemingly heartless murder. Unable to recall herself, Yumi assumes the worst, too. It wouldn’t be the first tragic fate to befall someone who stood in her way—or the last—and cameras don’t lie.
In CHOSEN PATH, Williams explores the very essence of what makes us human. The protagonist, a uniquely flawed yet extraordinarily likable woman of many talents and trades, demonstrates the jealousy and manipulation we see in ourselves and despise in others. At the same time, we’re drawn to Yumi. Geisha. Samurai. Assassin. Pseudo-royalty. Nothing happens to her; she creates. If we all shaped our own circumstances, our destinies, as adroitly as she, what paths would we choose and where would they lead us?


Interview

What is the hardest part of writing your books?

Somewhere deep in the forest, I can no longer see the trees.  Writing, reading, rewriting, revising, rereading, all kind of smudge the ink, if you will.  After enough passes, I cannot hear my own words.  I cannot perceive them as a reader because they have become so ingrained.

Pick any word out of the dictionary and repeat it a hundred times. The word loses meaning, and you start to hear the sounds of the syllables themselves. With enough repetition, even the sounds break down, and your thoughts while speaking the word bear no relation to the word itself. Fresh perception becomes impossible.

There is a dead end of self-criticism one must reach before asking readers or editors for advice. Paradoxically, reaching that end makes the advice difficult to take. It’s like building a piece of furniture, sanding and polishing to absolute perfection. Then you find out the chair should have arms. It’s hard to pull myself far enough back into the process of refinement that I can make substantive changes that don’t feel unnaturally grafted on.

What songs are most played on your Ipod?

I don’t have an iPod.  The most played song on my guitar is Loretta by Townes Van Zandt.

Do you have critique partners or beta readers?

Yes, and test readers are precious. As a computer programmer, I love testing things. Software can be tested over and over, completely retested after the most minor change. It’s an artistic domain in which perfection exists. Fiction cannot be retested, and each test run yields different results. Language is an artistic domain in which perfection does not exist. We make guesses. We approximate. We learn.

Writing software, I never leave work until all the tests pass. Writing fiction, good tests never pass.

What book are you reading now?

I’m a binge reader.  I read 1984 in one sitting last week.

How did you start your writing career?

I was using the internet irresponsibly one night, and I thought to myself, “None of this pornography interests me.” As I have no graphical artistic abilities, I started writing. My first book, Carried Away, began as pure pornography, but the mechanical hows-its of copulation do not entertain on their own. I want to know who and why.

Yumiko is a good example. She began with all the depth of an inflatable doll, the seductive geisha. Her career as a sex toy only lasted about ten minutes. Why was she there? Why was she seducing people? She must have had an ulterior motive, some plan as brilliant as it was nefarious. I gave her one, and she lived for several weeks as the vindictive geisha/attorney/hustler. What would her life be like, as such? What toll would it take on her, to be absolutely relentless? Those questions made Yumiko a dynamic character, and Chosen Path is how I answer them. Eighty-thousand-odd words later, the inflatable geisha had grown a soul.

Through no fault of my own, I was writing not only smut, but novels. The few people to whom I showed excerpts were awestruck. So many told me I should be a professional writer that I eventually set out to prove them wrong. You, of course, dear reader, will be the judge.



My first book, Carried Away, left several loose ends I wanted to tie up.  Yumiko’s story was only one of them, but it exploded into novel of its own.  Fiction is like a system shoved out of equilibrium.  Plot is the resolution of some struggle, the motion of a system returning to a steady state in which everyone is happy and wise.  Some of my characters remain unhappy and unwise.  They’ll have their chance.


About the Author 

A mathematician by training and computer programmer by trade, J. Whitney Williams lives and works under the X in Texas, thinking too much and speaking too little.

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a Rafflecopter giveaway

PROMO Blitz: Pokergeist

Paranormal


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Sometimes life, as well as death, is about second chances. Luckless Telly Martin doesn't have a clue. An awful gambler trying to scrape by as a professional poker player, he becomes the protégé of world famous poker champion Clutch Henderson. The only catch…Clutch is a ghost. Telly and Clutch must navigate the seedy gambling underbelly of Las Vegas learning to trust each other in order to win the elusive International Series of Poker, repair their shattered personal relationships and find redemption in this life and the hereafter.


“Another mainstay in a Michael Phillip Cash book, is the way he intertwines all of his characters in ways that boggle the mind. With surprises, twists and humor, he tells a story that keeps the reader guessing and interested until the very end. For such a short novel, there is a lot of meat in it and the writing is great. This is a fun read that entertains and pulls the reader into an alternative thinking. I would recommend Pokergeist to anyone that enjoys a bit of humor in your ghost story,…” – Open Book Society

“Pokergeist is a ghost story with depth, heart and grit. It follows a man who is basically good, timid and smart but loves poker and believes it’s the path to better things, mixed with a ghost who sees a second chance at that coveted bracelet and pursues it with a single minded purpose, and complicated by the love of a good woman who is wondering if Telly is still the man she fell in love with. Woven throughout this book is the story of real people in all their vices, darkness and passions. What redeems them are the good deeds, the integrity and the true love of Telly and Gretchen. This isn’t a fluffy book; it has teeth and it’s meaty, and it’s well worth spending time with.” – Long and Short Review

“Cash proves to be highly capable of juxtaposing the absurd and the mundane, creating a thoroughly enjoyable ghost story along the lines of The Canterville Ghost (1891) and Topper (1926)…Bet on this funny, well-written tale of second chances.” – Kirkus Review

  “The narrative moves at a good clip throughout, with a mix of snappy dialogue and brief but evocative description, as when early on Clutch notices that, ‘a chunky gold bracelet glittered from the nest of cash, looking like pirate plunder.’…Though the themes seem to shift as the narrative progresses, the novel will appeal to those looking for a thrilling glimpse into the glitzy world of poker, casinos and competition.” –  Stephanie Bucklin, Foreword Reviews 



About the Author

Michael Phillip Cash is an award-winning novelist and screenwriter. His novels are best-sellers on Amazon under their genres – Young Adult, Thriller, Suspense, Ghost, Action Adventure, Fantasy, Paranormal Romance and Horror.
Michael writes full-time and lives on the North Shore of Long Island with his wonderful wife and screaming children. You can follow him @michaelpcash.

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Tuesday, April 25, 2017

PROMO Blitz: Faith by Virginia Austin #excerpt

Drama, Comedy
Date Published: January 2016

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Comedy, jealousy and intrigue take center stage as a small town prepares for an ACLU lawsuit over a sign that reads FAITH, Hometown of Jesus Christ. A lightning-fast read, the turn of the last page will have you wishing your stay in Faith could have lasted just a few more days, or at least that you had picked up a Jesus-in-the-Box or a poster of the town's super-hot mechanic Johnny Cain.

The town of Faith has found religion, and no one is happier than Father O'Brien, who was down to one parishioner. Now the confessional lines are blocks long, and the oatmeal cookie crosses are selling like hotcakes. At the 4th of July parade the mayor's 12-year-old son survived the mock crucifixion with only a broken arm and mild head trauma. Everyone give it up for Faith, Hometown of Jesus Christ.

Someone's plotting the town's first murder and the mill has just been robbed of an ungodly sum. There's a cross burning on  a motel lawn and everyone is sleeping around. Yes, the town of Faith has got problems, but no one is more confused than Bobby Ray whose ex-girlfriend has just returned. Everyone, let us pray.


Excerpt

Chapter 1

The trucker came down the rural road clocking a little over eighty-five and feeling damn well blessed. For the first thirty years the jobs they had come and the wives they had left. For the first thirty years he would have sworn to you that the devil had been chasing him all around. Those routes he took with a bottle of Jim Beam between his knees and a bag of cocaine under his seat. Those routes had a whore at every rest stop and a Bible in every motel. That though was eighteen month ago. That though was before the preacher’s daughter. Now he had a gig that was as steady as steady could be. Now he was hauling aluminum coffins for the good ol’ Woodlawn casket company.
Some two hours before he had broken through the night. The Sunday sunrise he took with a minister on the radio and a little while after that switched stations to confess all his sins to Johnny Cash. The small towns he passed they came and they went no longer than a three-minute song. Names you can forget but the abandoned American factories they stay with you well after those eighteen wheels have come to a stop.
The approaching hill it seemed a little out of place it looked more like the start of a rollercoaster ride. He downshifted into ninth and brought that rig to the top. From there he could see the aluminum spire of the church reflecting back the rays of God like a morning star. He was on the flat of the land again when he passed by the sign to the next town. It hadn’t been the first time someone had slammed on their brakes for a second reading and sure in the hell wouldn’t be the last.
He hopped out of the cab to walk the eight hundred feet back. His Black Cat hat he removed and ran a hand over his head to tame the few wisps of hair he had left. At that moment he wasn’t sure whether to kneel or whether to laugh. That sign he was staring at had two lines, one word above and a tagline below: “Faith, Hometown of Jesus Christ.” The town he decided to give
the benefit of the doubt and took to a knee. God he gave a few words of reverence and to Man he gave a smile for the audacity. Most runs are only remembered by the miles you leave behind but some runs you never forget.


Author Bio

Virginia Austin was born and raised in Chicago. When not writing, the author is an engineer for the nuclear plants in the Midwest. The author broke onto the scene in 1997 with the book, 'Fated.' After publication of 'American Jesus' by Cross Cultural Publications in 2001, Austin went on to write 'Her Seventh Death,' in which the screenplay was selected as a finalist in a Chicago independent film festival. She has also been published in Darker Times out of the U.K. Virginia Austin's two latest books are 'Faith - Hometown of Jesus Christ' and 'The Assassin and the Disciple.

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PROMO Blitz: Chosen Path by J. Whitney Williams #erotica #excerpt #giveaway


Erotic Romance
Date Published: 4/28/2017

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Yumiko Itsumoto wants it all. An accomplished artist and feared attorney, she gets what she wants, all else be damned. Now she wants love, even if it means charting a new course for her life, but changing course can be dangerous.  In mere moments, she tumbles from the dizzying pinnacle of success into a bottomless abyss of murder and treachery.  Yumiko will not live happily ever after—not this time—but can she at least find a way to stay alive?

Editor's review 

Author J. Whitney Williams follows CARRIED AWAY—his surprisingly intelligent and deftly written debut—with a story that is even sexier, more thrilling and more enthralling than the first.
Again taking the reader on a trip across the world, meeting strange people in strange places via a prodigious narrator, CHOSEN PATH follows Yumi, a powerful and apparently dispassionate supporting character introduced in book one. But appearances deceive. Here, the reader is immersed in Yumi—into the very depths of her complex mind, her conflicted yet determined soul, her insatiable sex drive.
When Yumi encounters the woman who she presumes to be the fiancée of the love of her life—perhaps her only true love—she has every reason to seize the opportunity that presents itself to erase the woman from both of their lives forever. It’s no wonder Yumi is the prime suspect for the unfortunate woman’s swift and seemingly heartless murder. Unable to recall herself, Yumi assumes the worst, too. It wouldn’t be the first tragic fate to befall someone who stood in her way—or the last—and cameras don’t lie.
In CHOSEN PATH, Williams explores the very essence of what makes us human. The protagonist, a uniquely flawed yet extraordinarily likable woman of many talents and trades, demonstrates the jealousy and manipulation we see in ourselves and despise in others. At the same time, we’re drawn to Yumi. Geisha. Samurai. Assassin. Pseudo-royalty. Nothing happens to her; she creates. If we all shaped our own circumstances, our destinies, as adroitly as she, what paths would we choose and where would they lead us?


EXCERPT

Either I was mistaken to leave him, or I am mistaken to go back. I can no longer consider myself a woman who does not make mistakes. Neither am I self-conscious, nor do I dress for the benefit of others, and yet I feel silly walking up out of the subway wearing a kimono. That contradiction scares me in a way I do not understand. At least I am still a woman who faces her fears.

It must be Sunday. There are too many people on the street for a weekday. And I would be at work. My situational awareness is poor. I must take care not to walk past Kosei’s building. I know this insomnia impairs my judgment, so perhaps I am wrong about doing this. I don’t think I am. I think I love him, and I have learned that love matters. I was wrong—about a lot of things. I know that now. I’m not just desperate.

Which implies that I am, in fact, desperate. I am. I’m desperate to be able to sleep again. I know that, and I still believe I am making the right decision. Being aware of our biases helps us to mitigate their effects. But I remember missing him on quiet nights and in the rare mornings when I woke well rested. I wanted him with me at times when I wanted nothing else.

I’m not just desperate. I do love him, and I was wrong. Willow-sensei was right that I had been unwilling to make a decision between career and family. Lots of women juggle both, even with children, but fundamentally one or the other has to come first. My choice has always been career, without question, any day of the week and twice on Sunday. I think today is Sunday.

Between practicing law and entertaining, career easily devoured almost all of me. I suppose I had two careers. I suppose they did devour all of me.

This is his building. The door code is still the same.

My decision is not which will come first. I have to give up one of those careers. No, like many of my thoughts today, that’s not true. He wouldn’t mind me booking engagements as a geisha. Only the sex concerned him. But if you’re going to play by the rules, why bother? It wouldn’t be the same. My thrill has always been the con—to see how far I can push a man’s judgment beyond what he knows to be unreasonable. Approaching as a geisha is simply one of my opening gambits. Only sex can truly destroy a man.

I am ready to give that up for him, all those years of careful study and practice. I am ready to let go. I am ready to compromise. I am ready to love harder than I work.

I am not ready to knock on his door.


How long have I been standing here? It bothers me that I don’t know. Too often lately I realize where I am and cannot remember how I got there. Those must be the moments in which I sleep.

It was a heavy thud against the inside of his door that woke me. I’m preening like a schoolgirl. Put your hand down, Yumi. The door remains closed. Maybe there was no thud. Maybe I dreamt it.

No, it was real. Lightly pressing my ear to the door, I can hear a woman’s heartbeat. It’s racing, and either she is very tall or her feet aren’t touching the ground. A slight moan escapes her throat, and her body lurches against the door again. I recognize the pattern. It’s him.

It’s the same intermittent cadence, the same thrusts and pauses. He never held me up like that. I should be the one on the other side of that door. A reflexive twitch of lustful anticipation turns to resentment and anger and other feelings for which I cannot remember the names. I need to leave.


A subway station? That must be my train pulling away. How long have I been standing here? There will be another in 15 minutes. When you miss a train, another comes—not so with people. I feel in my gut the hard truth that there is more between me and Kosei now than a door.

I should have anticipated that he would be seeing someone. He is a handsome man. He is also lighthearted, relaxed, casual. I need that. I need him back. His bed was the only place I ever felt I could rest, the only place I could still get to anyway.

I will be able to take him back from her, whoever she is, but it will require preparation. I must first discover my adversary. Nothing can be left to chance. She could be anyone.

I want him back so badly that I can smell his scent as if he were nearby. I’ve started seeing things lately too, little defects in the corners of my vision. It must be my lack of sleep. My situation is untenable.

“Oh, your kimono is so lovely!” I should thank the woman next to me for her compliment, but I already don’t like her. It’s only because I envy her. She seems so free and natural, so casual and peaceful, with the demeanor of a woman who just left a trusted lover’s bed. There is more than that though, maybe the engagement ring. It’s a beautiful ring.

“Thank you so much,” she says. “My boyfriend—my fiancé—just gave it to me today!” I wonder how much I said out loud. “It’s a dream come true,” she continues. “I’ve never met anyone like him. Is that our train?” Another is coming, but it won’t stop here. The local just left.

“No,” I answer. “The express.” The slightest moan escapes her in her disappointment. It echoes in my mind with the sound of Kosei’s lover, matching perfectly. I must be delusional, thinking this girl could possibly be the one. She is far too young, too frivolous, too modern. Her tank top and cutoffs are generic enough, but she wears glittered nail polish and has a little tattoo of a turtle behind her ear. Kosei wouldn’t be attracted to a girl like that.

She is an idiot. She wears her purse far too casually for how expensive it is. It must have been a gift from another idiot, but she doesn’t hold it as if it came from her idiot boyfriend.

The purse doesn’t bother me. I’ve seen plenty of old money wasted on oblivious girls. I have always taken care not to be one of them, not to be oblivious. The turtle offends me. That particular design is a ka-mon, a family emblem, Yoshimitsu to be precise. I can only infer that she likes turtles, because this girl is no Yoshimitsu. Kids today have no respect.

She jumps a little when her phone chirps and the purse inevitably falls. Once she digs her phone out of it, she doesn’t even stand before checking the message. It must be from her idiot boyfriend. His phone number is the same as Kosei’s.


She screams as she tumbles forward, right in front of the express train. I’ve never seen it happen before, but suicide by train is not uncommon. I wish people wouldn’t do that. It always throws off the scheduled service. It must make quite a mess for the maintenance people, too. Deafening shrieks of emergency brakes crowd out the echoes of her scream. At least there is one less idiot in the world.

It doesn’t make sense, though. She was so happy to be engaged. Why would she kill herself? She didn’t plan to. Even delirious as I am, I would have noticed suicidal intent in her mannerisms.

I feel sorry for her fiancé, for Kosei. He deserves better; I would never hurt him like she has. The thought of it makes me angry at her, but anger never solves anything. I wish I could go to him, to console him, but first I have to get rid of his lover somehow.

Wait. What just happened?


I need to leave.


About the Author 

A mathematician by training and computer programmer by trade, J. Whitney Williams lives and works under the X in Texas, thinking too much and speaking too little.

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Monday, April 24, 2017

PROMO Blitz: The Wishing Stone by @LoranaHoopes #excerpt #giveaway

Children’s Fantasy Chapter Book
 Date Published: March 9, 2017


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Spenser hates to read until he meets a mysterious cowboy who gives him a wishing stone and tells him it can possess magical powers when he reads. Skeptical, but willing to try it out, Spenser holds the stone as he reads his book about dinosaurs and suddenly finds himself transported back in time. After convincing the people he is there to help, he must join Arco, the local cave boy, to try and save their village from a dinosaur intent on destroying it. Will Spenser be able to help save the village? Will he ever find his way back home?



 Excerpt

Spenser looked to the left and right, clutching the straps of his backpack tighter. He had read about cowboys but never seen one in real life. There weren’t many in western Washington. His mother, who was from Texas, spoke of them occasionally, but even she said there weren’t as many as there used to be.
“Why you looking so glum little pardner?” the man drawled. His accent was heavy, and his words were slow.
Spenser wasn’t supposed to talk to strangers, but his curiosity got the best of him. “I have to read a book and do a report on it by Friday, and I don’t like reading.”
“Well, that is a mighty big problem,” the man agreed, tipping his hat. “Maybe you just ain’t found the right book yet.”
“What do you mean?” Spenser asked, narrowing his eyes at the man.
“Books can be full of amazing stories. Once you find one you like, I’ll bet you’ll be hooked for life pardner. Here, I got something that might help.” He reached into the pocket of his black duster and pulled something out. It was small enough to fit in his hand.
Unable to help himself, Spenser took another step closer. His blue eyes widened as he waited for the man to open his hand.
The man’s fingers uncurled one at a time to showcase . . ..
“A rock?” Spenser’s nose wrinkled in disgust. He had been hoping for something cooler than a rock.
“Not just any rock, son. This is a wishing stone. You jest hold it while you read and see what happens, but I must warn you to be careful of your thoughts. For sometimes, when you hold this stone, magical things happen.”
Spenser looked again at the stone. Though nearly completely white, it still looked just like an ordinary rock to him. He took the rock, expecting nothing, but a cool sensation tickled up his arms. He glanced up quickly at the man, who merely smiled and nodded, as if they now shared a secret.


About the Author


Lorana Hoopes is an English teacher in the Pacific Northwest where she lives with her husband and three children. When not writing, she enjoys kickboxing, singing, and acting. The Wishing Stone series was born when her oldest son began reading The Magic Tree House books. While she loved that he was reading, she wished the book didn’t use all simple sentences. She decided to write a series just a step up from Magic Tree House and The Wishing Stone was born. Dangerous Dinosaur is the first book in what she hopes will be a long series.


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Saturday, April 22, 2017

Release Blitz: On the Edge of Death by @CiaraBallintyne read an #excerpt

Epic Fantasy
Date Published: 22 April 2017
Publisher: Evolved publishing

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All the Left Hand of Death wants is something to call her own, but is the price too high?

Ellaeva, the fated avatar of the death goddess, is desperate to track down her missing family but the trail is decades old. Instead, she discovers her battered and bloodied sister priestesses driven across the Jerreki border on pain of death. Ellaeva must turn aside from her personal quest to investigate the murders, only to find her parents have been taken into the heart of the conflict.

Lyram Aharris, favoured son of the royal line of Ahlleyn, is the only living person she trusts to help her infiltrate the enemy stronghold and uproot the horror they find there, but their chequered past threatens the mission. Accompanying him is his crown prince, the one man Lyram wants dead above all others.

Now Ellaeva must face down the darkness in her soul before a dark god is brought into the world.

At the boundary of life and death, all oaths will be tested. 



EXCERPT

Lyram leaned on the window casement, scouring the bustling courtyard of the royal palace of Ahlleyn below. Servants in the black and purple livery of the clan Gaylbrath strode confidently about their tasks, and his gaze skipped over them, looking for someone obviously out of place—looking for the crow amongst the sparrows. From this high, picking individual faces out of the crowd was impossible, but that didn’t stop him searching. He didn’t need a face to find the person he sought.
Despite his failure to note anyone out of place, he knew there was at least one person in the palace who shouldn’t be there. He could feel it in his bones.
“Lyram, you’re not listening to me.”
Sighing, he turned, leaning back against the wall with his arms folded over his plaid. He regarded the duchess. “No, Narrawen, I’m not. I do apologise. What were you saying?”
The Duchess of Kinrothen narrowed pale-blue eyes at him. She stood in the centre of his sitting room, an inner sanctum furnished by his late wife, and a place of solitude and reflection where he’d usually not permit the duchess. But, short of his bedchamber, this was the only room in his suite with a window. He needed to see the courtyard, and she’d insisted on speaking with him.
“Never mind. You clearly have something else on your mind.” Then her voice grew teasing. “Perhaps something I could help with?“
Lyram swallowed a long-suffering sigh. Narrawen, standing with her head cocked and one hand on a hip, was a fine figure of a woman, but she was also a schemer. Her kirtle, though made of expensive linen, was woven in the red, yellow and green tartan of her clan; she took every opportunity to wear it, as though reminding everyone she was their clan leader. Though women were accepted as equals in Ahlleyn, a woman heading a large warrior clan could experience certain… troublesome elements, and she carried a bow slung over her shoulder. A woman who would lead warriors must be a warrior, and she had the temperament to match the flaming red hair tumbling down her shoulders in unruly curls. Everything she did was calculated and planned, and there was no way he’d be sharing what was on his mind.
“It’s nothing to trouble yourself over,” he said.
“Oh, it would be no trouble to take a burden from your shoulders.” She stepped forward, closing the distance between them to place a hand on his arm.
The heady aroma of eastern tuberose assaulted his nostrils, rich and sensual. She was tall, the top of her head on a level with his nose, and her breath tickled his clean-shaven chin. Her gaze held the resolute intensity of a woman accustomed to getting her way, sooner or later. She was beautiful, and in a way that went beyond her face and figure: she was fierce, determined, and intelligent.
But when he looked at her, he saw only Ellaeva.
Her brow pinched, as if reading something in his face, and he smoothed his expression.
“You’ve been too long a widower,” she said.
He started. “Eighteen months! That’s hardly too long.”
She met his gaze with an intense expression, ignoring his protest. “And I’ve never married. We both need heirs.”
He shook his head and tried to draw away, but she had him pinned between her wide skirts and the window. “You would merge two of the kingdom’s most powerful and influential duchies into one? The aristocracy will never stand for it. You already know my answer, Narrawen. I’m not interested in marrying—you or anyone else. It’s not personal, you understand?”
She snorted in a most unladylike fashion and tossed her hair, like a wild horse tossing its mane. “You pay too little attention, Lyram. You’d be surprised what the aristocracy will allow now, after the fall of Traeburhn. Everyone’s been made nervous by his treason, especially the stripping of lands and titles. Besides, we need not merge the duchies. We could agree on a division of heirs.”
“The risk of civil war—”
She leaned closer, until only inches separated their faces. The heady smell of her perfume was almost intoxicating.
“There are any number of men in this kingdom, and without, who would marry me,” she said. “Most for the wrong reasons. Few of them have my respect and admiration, but you do. What I need is a husband. What I want is you.”
The door burst open, thumping against the wall.
Narrawen jumped back, her bow clattering against the side table. A faint blush stained her cheeks.
Lyram’s pulse quickened. This was it, the moment he’d been waiting for.
Everard stood framed by the sitting room’s doorway, his posture perfectly erect as he folded his hands neatly in front of his sporran. As always, he was clad in scrupulous court attire, his rank pinned to the shoulder of his white shirt and his kilt falling in perfect pleats. His thinning grey hair had been meticulously combed, and his wire-framed glasses perched precariously on his nose. He kept his face blank, but a small twitch beside his eye betrayed his displeasure at the duchess’s presence. “Sir.”
Though Everard’s tone was even, Lyram read the tension and urgency in him. “I know, Everard. I’ll come.”
“A prior engagement, Lyram?” Narrawen said. “Whatever it is, reschedule it. We’re not done.”
Lyram opened his mouth to countermand the order—though she outranked him, how dare she presume to order his aide-de-camp?
But Everard’s gaze flickered to her with that same inscrutability, and in his perfectly deadpan aide’s voice he said, “Is Your Grace still chasing a husband? Perchance I can suggest a better hunting ground.”
Narrawen grew rigid, and Lyram suppressed a grin.
“The duchess and I can finish our conversation later,” Lyram said. “I’ll come, Everard.”
“No, sir—” Everard blinked, jerking aside as though pinched, and Ellaeva stepped into the room.
The shock of seeing her thrilled through him, like the mixed pleasure of an unexpectedly warm spring day, tainted by fording a stream running with snowmelt. Though he’d felt her jump suddenly from the far east to well within Ahlleyn borders several days ago, though he’d felt her drawing nearer by the day, he hadn’t realised she was here, outside the room. And no amount of time could have prepared him for this moment.
Their gazes locked. Her black eyes were flat and cold. In his head, the sense of her abruptly clenched into the hard glass ball that said she was trying to control or hide her feelings. That connection was the unintended legacy of his resurrection at her hand, but she’d grown better at controlling it. Then her gaze flickered to Narrawen, standing so close alongside him, and the glass ball shattered into a thousand shards with an impact so visceral he gasped and sat down. The chill in the air deepened.
She switched her stare back to Lyram. Finally, she spoke, in a voice cold as iron. “I have come to see Alagondar.”


About the Author

Ciara Ballintyne grew up on a steady diet of adult epic fantasy from the age of nine, leaving her with a rather confused outlook on life – she believes the good guys should always win, but knows they often don’t. She is an oxymoron; an idealistic cynic. Her debut work is Confronting the Demon, and In the Company of the Dead is her first book to be published with Evolved Publishing. She holds degrees in law and accounting, and is a practising financial services lawyer. In her spare time, she speculates about taking over the world.

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Friday, April 21, 2017

PROMO Blitz: Soul of Toledo by Edward D. Webster


Historical Fiction 
Date Published:  January 2016

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Thirty years before the Spanish Inquisition, the seeds of hatred have sprouted in Castile. Suspicions fester. Rage churns beneath the surface. Viçente Pérez—a man who wields enviable power but harbors a shameful past—is the only one who can keep the tension from exploding out of control.

As the Christian son of secret Jews, Viçente is in a hopeless position—charged with keeping the peace, but always suspected by the city’s Old Christians, unwilling but duty-bound to help the increasingly persecuted Jews, and to aid his king whose rule is threatened.

When Viçente crosses the ruthless, power-hungry lawyer Marcos García de Mora, he makes a formidable enemy. García’s plan: to rally the common men, attack Jews, and purify Toledo by purging suspected heretics—the Christian descendants of Jews, converts like Viçente.

As war breaks out between the king and his cousins, and García and his madmen rise to power in Toledo, Viçente falls in love with the mysterious Francesca and finds himself faced with impossible choices: love or duty, respect or intolerance, reverence or disdain for his ancestry.

From the courts of kings in Naples and Castile to the chambers of Pope Nicholas and the torture cellars of Toledo, this gripping novel brings to life an era of little-known history in fifteenth-century Spain, a time when a rogue inquisition threatened to destroy the very soul of Toledo.



About the Author


Edward D. Webster has had an eclectic mixture of careers, ranging from teaching Navajo students to managing transit operations. And he’s the author of a diverse collection of books. Webster admits to a fascination with unique, quirky and bizarre human behavior, and he doesn’t exempt himself from the mix. His acclaimed memoir, A Year of Sundays (Taking the Plunge and our Cat to Explore Europe) shares the eccentric tale of his yearlong adventure in Europe with his spirited blind wife and headstrong, deaf sixteen-year-old cat. His historical novel, Soul of Toledo recounts a diabolical moment in history, when madmen took over the City of Toledo and tortured suspected Jews, 30 years before the Spanish Inquisition. And his 2014 novel, The Gentle Bomber’s Melody, explores what might happen if a nutty woman, bearing a stolen baby, landed on the doorstep of a fugitive bomber hiding from the FBI. The result: irresistible insanity. From the happily unusual of A Year of Sundays to the cruelly perverse in Soul of Toledo, Edward D. Webster shines a light on offbeat aspects of human nature. Webster lives in Southern California with his divine wife and two amazing cats.

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