Review and Contest: Splintered Lies by Karen Lopp

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3 ebook copies of Splintered Lies

1 grand prize throw blanket open to US Shipping

ENTER HERE

Splintered Lies

Karen Lopp

Genre:  Romantic Suspense

Publisher:  SilverTree Publishing

Date of Publication:   May 18, 2014

ISBN:  978-0-9903666-0-7

ASIN:  BOOK1FSEW

Number of pages:  223

Word Count:   70k

Cover Artist:  Karen Lopp

Available at Amazon

splinteredlies850x1362Book Description: 

Detective Rissa Marten sacrificed her only chance for a normal life to put a drug lord behind bars. Now, her life in the shadows has to be brought to life to save the man she has secretly loved for years. With a price on her head can she risk letting him know?

Detective Jerah Qassem has built his career as an undercover agent in the dangerous world of drug cartels. But when a ghost from his past is resurrected can he overcome his bitterness in time to save her life?

REVIEW: 

I love Romantic Thrillers, especially if the suspense is intense and the romance sizzles. SPLINTERED LIES delivers all that and more.

There’s a whirlwind of action in this story, and  more twists and turns than an amusement park roller coaster. Some readers may find Rissa Marten’s multiple alias’ a bit confusing in the beginning but the author is merely staging with a little backstory . . . necessary to understand the extreme measures Rissa has taken to keep her identity secret. Things soon smooth out and we know exactly who Rissa is, why she is in hiding and how much she loves Detective Jerah Qassem. In fact, the only person who is still in the dark about how much she cares is Jerah.

After believing for eight years that Rissa was dead, Jerah is more than a little confused, angry and excited when she wanders into the bar where he is having a drink. Within a few pages of their meeting, Rissa and Jerah are whisked off to Mexico on the yacht of a drug lord, shot at by Federalizes, and almost drowned in the ocean. As I said, there’s a lot of action in this book!

There are some violent scenes so if you are sensitive to physical brutality, you might squirm from time to time. I personally don’t like graphic violence but I wasn’t too put off by the detailed beatings. It seemed an appropriate way to show the villain’s  capacity for cruelty.

I would have liked a more realistic approach to Rissa and Jerah’s reunion. I felt Rissa was a bit too “offish” for the well written sexual chemistry playing out between her and Jerah, and he didn’t seem as curious about why she faked her death as most men would have been. These are minor issues and in no way take away from the fast pace and suspenseful plot.

If you enjoy thrillers or suspense with a healthy dose of romantic angst, SPLINTERED LIES is a good choice for your to-be-read list.

 Excerpt:

Jerah Qassem had never been more grateful for his years of undercover training than at this moment. Fingers tight around the tumbler to stop the tremors, he watched the apparition glide up to the bar, and wondered if someone had laced his drink with a hallucinogen. Mary was dead. He had nightmares or wet dreams about her most nights for the last eight years.

It wasn’t only the woman’s face that had his insides swirling like a hurricane. It was the way she moved. Long, smooth strides, shoulders straight and eyes darting around like a caged cat. Mary had always been casting looks over her shoulder as if she expected someone to jump out and chase her. But those legs were just as toned and shapely as Mary’s had been. She had been athletic and grabbed every chance she could to romp around the beach. Even the hair was the exact same color of ripened wheat and bounced just below her shoulders. Just like Mary had worn it.

Chills erupted all over his body and cold fingers caressed the nape of his neck. Unable to blink, Jerah stared at the ghost of Mary. The girl he had sent to her death in a fit of anger. The girl he had fallen in love with, yet had been too proud and ambitious to acknowledge until she was gone. Forever.

Jerah closed his eyes against the jarring memory of two firemen holding him back from the charred remains of the building he had sent Mary into as three body bags were carried out. A shudder rattled down his spine. He had relived that day too often. When he glanced back at the bar, the woman had taken a seat and smiled at the bartender. Jerah knew that smile. The same smile that once had almost melted his resolve to not get involved. He had had a career to build. Mary had stirred up thoughts of forever and love, things he hadn’t been ready for. The temptation had been great. But somehow, he persevered and tossed away the best thing that had ever happened to him.

Air exploded from his chest and Jerah shook his head. He did not believe in ghosts. Prickles sprang up his legs as if his blood had decided to flow again. He tugged his leaden body from the chair and stalked to the bar. “Give me a shot of Wild Turkey.” Needing the fortification, he gulped down the amber liquid. Fire burned down his throat. Nope, he wasn’t dreaming. Hands braced on the edge of the bar, he turned to the woman at his side.

“Jerah?”

A voice from the grave, soft and melodic, brushed across his ears. That face, resurrected from the dead, shimmered under the neon lights, a few years older, but still able to mesmerize him. Fear, anger, and profound sadness glittered in those honey-hued eyes as the color leeched from her face.

Anger and shock swelled like a wave and crashed over Jerah. That’s all she had to say? After leaving him to believe she had been killed?

Blood roared in his ears and he clamped a shaking hand around her arm. “Come with me.” A tiny voice told him this was a bad idea. That too many curious eyes watched this little exchange. But he couldn’t help it. Mary was alive and he damn sure wanted to know how. Carl and the risk of a blown cover be damned. Besides, this wasn’t the usual meeting place, and Carl wasn’t here yet.

“Let go of me, Jerah.” The sharp whisper of dismissal slapped him in the face.

He leaned in close and tightened his grip. “You are coming with me and I don’t give a shit if you cause a scene or not.” The bartender sat another drink on the counter and Jerah gulped it down in one swallow, ignoring the open interest of the bartender. The burn of alcohol on his throat was not enough to ease the utter chaos of his insides. “Come on.”

Mary catapulted out of her stool at his tug and stumbled into him. When she landed against his chest, sizzles and crackles exploded over his flesh like a bolt of lightning. Conscious control flew away as Jerah’s free hand snaked to the nape of her neck and he feathered his fingers through her soft tresses. Something he had dreamed of many nights over the years.

About the Author:

karen loppStories have always been a part of my life, from books to tales passed down from my ancestors that brought history to life. Danger, struggles and the will power to overcome are all found in the rich legacy of my family tree. Inspiration from their lives inspired me to write what I love. Branching out to contemporary suspense has been another dream come true. I hope my stories bring you entertainment and inspiration.

I love history of all times and places. And my second but equal love of suspense fills my books.

http://karenlopp.com

https://twitter.com/karen_lopp

https://www.facebook.com/authorkarenlopp

http://www.pinterest.com/karenlopp

 

Review: Fasten Your Seatbelts – LOVE AND REVENGE by Mary Kate Kopec

Oh my . . . I’ve discovered my own little reader’s Utopia in the Love and . . .  series by Mary Kate Kopec. This series has it all – action, a fast paced plot, snappy dialogue and kick ass characters who grab you by the juggler and don’t let go until the last page. I’ve reviewed Book Three, Love and Revenge but included details and excerpts for the first two books. I’ll post those reviews at a later date.

If you enjoy any of these genres – romantic suspense, thriller, action/drama fiction or espionage – you NEED to read the Love And . . . series. There’s a great contest accompanying Ms. Kopec’s virtual book tour so be sure to scroll down for details on how to enter.
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Love and Revenge

Love And Series

Book Three

Mary Kate Kopec

Genre:  Romantic Action Suspenselove and cover

ISBN: 978-0692212103

ASIN: B00K7J85EM

Book Description:

Maddie Monroe has had better days. And made better choices. When she wakes up kidnapped–used for bait–and in more danger than she could have ever imagined, it’s all she can do to hope that she’ll live to regret telling Seamus no.

Ex-Navy Seal Seamus Kincaid knows that the only easy day was yesterday. And in his line of work, enemies happen. He just never thought anyone would use Maddie to get to him. And now her life is on the line.

Maddie’s dimples bring hard men to their knees, and her smoothies make them beg for more. She’s smart, funny, and just one of the guys. She wields a computer like Seamus wields a knife. And she’s a spunky ray of sunshine in skinny jeans and a bop-tail who gives his serious, get-it-done attitude the adjustment it needs. She’s happiness in his life, until he scares the hell out of her on a mission gone bad, and she can’t deal. Letting her go won’t be easy, but losing her forever is unacceptable

Love and Revenge is a story about facing your fears, fighting for what’s important, and learning that you can’t control life–you can only decide which life you want to live.

Fight for love – die for revenge!

Book Trailer: http://youtu.be/dZ-vxUx3qlU

Available at Amazon

REVIEW:

As I stated earlier, I’ve discovered my own little reader’s Utopia with the Love And series by Mary Kate Kopec. I started with Book Three, Love and Revenge but it doesn’t matter. Each book is a stand alone unit even though they contain recurring characters.

Love and Revenge has the right amount of steam to balance a fast paced plot. The relationship between Maddie and Seamus is filled with angst and passion, and Ms. Kopec demonstrates an uncanny ability to transfer those emotions to the reader. But her talent goes much deeper than penning a great romance. The real jewel in this series is the action packed plots that crash through your insides like a runaway roller coaster.

Maddie is the only woman ex-Navy Seal Seamus will ever love but she rejected his marriage proposal, so he is trying to move on – until old enemies use her as bait. That starts a riveting adventure that wraps you in its tentacles, squeezing all concept of time from your mind as you fly through the pages in search of resolution. Any book that can paint such vivid mental images, force my heart to beat a little faster and drive me to nibble my thumbnails to stubs, is a good book in my opinion.

Love and Revenge is an exceptional story, and part of an exceptional series. I’m finishing up Book One right now and can gleefully report, it’s just as good!

Excerpt, Love AND Revenge:

“Maddie,” he said, and reached out to pull her into his reassuring embrace before she could retreat any further.  “That was a bad day.  One of the worst.  But I made it.  The whole team did.  Everything’s okay.”

No.  It wasn’t.

He held her tightly, but her arms stayed at her sides.  His chest was solid, his arms strong, but they no longer brought her the comfort they once did.

Every time he had to deploy to suppress a hostile environment—even though it was completely unlike her—all she could do was think the worst.  And she didn’t want to do it anymore.

Seamus, refusing to accept her withdrawal, kept her close and lovingly whispered into her ear, “Maddie, you are my world, my joy, my laughter, the sunshine in my days.  I love you.  You are the only woman for me.  My family.  Maddie,” he whispered low, with his heart in his words, “marry me.  Be my wife.”

Maddie stopped breathing.  Her lungs froze.  Her breath got lost somewhere in the silence between the stalled beats of her heart.  Unwanted tears blurred her vision, so she closed her eyes and leaned into his shoulder.

Seamus cradled her as though she was the most precious person in the world to him, but his words coaxed aching misery into the very core of her bones.  Her body.  Her heart.  They had so much in common.  Yet they were so very different.

She was the light to his darkness, the laughter to his calculating necessitated tenacity, the warmth to the loneliness of his life, and she knew it.  And they both valued family and could see their hopes fulfilled in each other.  But she wouldn’t ask, and he wouldn’t offer—and his job was her breaking point.

She’d known it was going to tear her apart, facing him down again.  But no way was she prepared for this.  He was pulling out all the stops, save one.  And she knew that if he gave up his field work for her it would be poison to them both, so she never asked and wouldn’t.

She just needed to let him go, so he could do what he was driven to do, and he needed to let her.

It took everything she had to step back from him, out of his embrace, away from his love.  Tears rolled heavily down her face.  She couldn’t seem to stop them, and rather than brush them away, she ignored them and stood up straighter, gathering her strength and will.

Seamus looked confused, but no less determined.  “Maddie,” he said reaching for her again, but she took another step back and out of his reach.

“No Seamus.  If you really love me, you’ll let me go.”

His eyes briefly clouded, then cleared.  His ironclad willpower maintained his control.

“Maddie, this doesn’t make any sense.”

Matters of the heart rarely did.

“We can do this.”

She shook her head, and his frustration began to break through.  “You’re not thinking this through.”

It was the perfect thing to say to move her from disconsolate agony to biting anger.  He was telling her she wasn’t being rational, and there was a part of her that agreed, but he didn’t get to make that call.

“You’re wrong Seamus,” she said with heat in her voice.  “I have thought it through, and I’ve met somebody.  I’m moving on.  I suggest you do the same.”

Maddie’s stomach clenched, and she’d gone cold with the pain of her own words.  Her heart was breaking, and from the look on his face, so was his.  But he said nothing.  He just stood there searching for a new tactic, a solution, a way to win the fight, and if she didn’t get him out of there, he’d find one.

She couldn’t take much more of this, so she didn’t give him the chance.  She couldn’t cave.

A desperate force of will incited her tone with something so harsh it made her nearly sick.  She didn’t want to hurt him, but before he could find his bearings, Maddie dismissed him with a firmness that shattered like ice across her skin and made it hard for her to breathe.  “Please.  Leave.”

To her relief and misery it worked.  And her stomach sank as she watched the light in his eyes fade, shutting her out.  Where once she was his joy, now she was not, and the determination in the strong lines of his face turned flat.  She could have never imagined how bad this was going to feel.  It stabbed at her heart and ground her stomach into bits.  She wanted to crumple into a ball and cry the horrible river she knew was coming, but she’d made him let her go.

Seamus stood there a moment longer, staring at her with strengthening detachment, and if she wasn’t mistaken, disgust.  He shook his head, then stiffly turned and walked out of her room and away from her.

loveandbulletsLove and Bullets

Love And Series

Book One

Mary Kate Kopec

Genre:  Romantic Action Suspense

ISBN: 978-0615968957

ASIN: B00AP54YTS

Book Description:  

Three years ago Giffin Reese fell for the man of her dreams. But it wasn’t meant to be. She was already married to a good man. A man who believed in her. Needed her. Loved her. Sometimes in life we do what it calls upon us to do.

It wasn’t your everyday protection detail of a Senator plus trophy wife. First, she was no trophy. She came with brains and an attitude. Just what he liked. And two, the case was all kinds of screwed up. A threat with no name on it. Maybe even a leak. And it all turned to hell when the Senator got taken down by a sniper shot.

Devon Monroe still doesn’t know what the hell went wrong that day. But he’s not going to let it happen again. Someone’s serious with an itchy trigger finger, and this time the target is squarely pointed at a certain Senator’s beautiful widow. But not if he can help it. It’ll take everything he has to set things right, clear his conscience, and prove himself to her. Even if it means dying, trying.

Love and Bullets is an action packed steamroller of mystery, suspense, and rekindled desire. Come join Devon and Giffin as they race against the clock, explore their hearts, and dodge bullets in this story of secrets, deception, betrayal, and love

Sparks fly and so do the bullets!

Book Trailer: http://youtu.be/MTrON4X1yl0

Available at Amazon

Excerpt, Love AND Bullets:

“As you can see, Mrs. Reese, we can quite easily get to you.  You cannot be protected, despite what Mr. Monroe seems to think.”

Devon?  They knew him?  How could that be?

“So unless you choose the same fate as your husband, I suggest you reconsider your current ventures.”

She was baffled.  What current ventures?  She helped people.  How could that be a problem?

“What do you mean?” she asked.

He continued, ignoring her interruption.  “Mrs. Reese, you will die if you do not heed my warning.”  As if to emphasize his words, he raised a gun and pointed it in her face.  “This is not a negotiable request.  Do you understand?”

No way did she understand, but she nodded anyway, afraid to ask and not wanting to get shot.  What current ventures?  What could she be doing that would get her killed?  What could she be doing, and had it gotten her husband killed?  She felt sick with fear and confusion.

Without warning he leaned over and opened her door.  Keeping his gun leveled on her, he added flatly, “Now get out.  Your ride is coming.”

Abruptly the car stopped.

You didn’t have to tell her twice.  She didn’t hesitate.  She jumped out.  But before she could get all the way out, the car began accelerating again.  And in her efforts to clear the speeding vehicle, she fell to the ground and rolled, skinning her hands and knees.

Pain shot through her, and tears stung in her eyes.  Giffin attempted to get up, but stumbled back down to one knee.  Her arms and legs shook like leaves.  She was in a full body tremble.  Not for trying, but she couldn’t quite catch her balance, and she realized that her heel had broken.

Giffin reached around, and with a shaking hand, removed her shoes.  Holding them in her hand, she pushed herself up and tried to stand steady on her two feet.  She looked up the road to where her abductors’ car was disappearing into the horizon and a wave of overwhelming relief flowed through her.  They didn’t kill her.  It was over.

But then the other side of brain fought back and asked, What the hell is going on?

She was unsurprised now, when Devon pulled around the bend in a shiny silver Lexus sedan and came to a stop beside her.

“Get in,” came the voice in the car.

She knew that voice, knew it well.  It did something to the pit of her stomach.  She got in, tossed her shoes to the floor, and fastened her seat belt.  Throwing him a sidelong glance, without humor, she asked, “Just in the neighborhood?”

Love and Leavingloveandleaving

Love And Series

Book Two

Mary Kate Kopec

Genre:  Romantic Action Suspense

ISBN: 978-0615988610

ASIN: B00BH51P4W

Book Description:

Emma June Carter’s life is as normal as can be. All except the part where once upon a time she was Miss Michigan and a finalist for the Miss American Sunshine pageant. She’s a baker and a co-owner of Delectable Delights, a sweet treats bakery that she loves. She has good friends. A best friend. And it was all going so well – until her boyfriend dumped her. The boyfriend that had hinted at love and a life together – and then disappeared.

Detective Jack Haley is good at his job, likes life, and knows how to laugh. Poker and his luxury ride with perfect performance and buttery soft leather seats take the edge off of the grit and grime of his work in property crimes.

For them, it was any other day. Until he got the call. And she went out for one last drink to shake off the breakup. A chance meeting in a bar, and neither gets what they came for. They get so much more. Neither know it, but danger is trailing Emma’s footsteps, and her life is about to go from normal to hell in six seconds, flat. It doesn’t take long before their paths cross again, and this time it won’t be so easy leaving.

Love and Leaving is a story about nothing being safe, but in life, having everything to gain . . . at a cost. Jack and Emma will have to decide what is worth it and what isn’t.

He’s coming, and she’s leaving!

Book Trailer: http://youtu.be/QpzL4FJwSWY

Available at Amazon

Excerpt, Love AND Leaving:

Emma June Carter, former Miss Michigan, now successful pastry chef and master of all things sweet, sat twirling her pathetic excuse of a lemon twist stormily about in her second, now half-empty, vodka tonic, swearing off men and their many useless promises.

Twenty-nine—for real—and three days shy of being thirty, she thought she’d found the one.  But after six months of crazy-for-you, non-stop fun and abandon—and a major hint at permanent things to come—Max Stone, man of her dreams, had abruptly called it quits.

One phone call.  No explanation.  And he was gone.

Now all she wanted to do—when she wasn’t bawling miserably—was rip his lying heart out of his gorgeous, too-fit chest and feed it to him for lunch.  Or at least sit here for the moment, alone, to enjoy a short, self-indulgent and well earned—if you don’t mind—pity party.

And a drink or two.

Emma wasn’t one for anger or wallowing, but this really hurt, and she just needed a moment to cope.  And process.  And get a grip.  And to stop seeing herself stomping her pain out all over Max’s, now annoyingly, beautiful face.

She smiled.  Stomping on his face wasn’t the nicest of thoughts.  True.  But “It’s over.  Take care of yourself.  Bye.” followed by a dial tone just wasn’t the way it was done.  The weasel hadn’t even been respectful enough to do it in person.  And now, all she got was voicemail and a visit to his empty apartment.  So yes, not a nice thought, kicking the crap out of Max, but Max didn’t deserve a nice thought.  And as wishful thinking went, it was a pretty good image, and so even though it really wasn’t like her, it made her smile.

“Your drink’s getting low.  Lemme buy you another.”

Emma dropped her smile and slid her eyes left to the gravelly and deeply masculine voice interrupting her lament to find Mr. Ripped and Ruggedly Handsome in black leather and jeans eyeing her up appreciatively.  Good grief.  Not another one.  She barely suppressed a sigh.

Ruggedly Handsome was just that and then some.  But he and his molten-chocolaty brown eyes, heavy jaw, thick brows, and perfect lips—minus the hairline scar—were all bad-boy to the bone.  And if you weren’t convinced, the spider web and dagger tattoos on his hands and hard-ass biker boots should finish off the story.  He was oozing sex appeal like the Hoover Dam had just let loose.  And barking up the wrong tree.  Emma had had enough of suave and slick.

She shook her head, “No thanks.  I’m good.”

Returning to her drink and her thoughts, it occurred to her that perhaps having a pity party publicly—even if she was situated at the end of the bar, with her face tilted down, hair falling forward, staring morosely into her drink—wasn’t the best signal for personal time.  But still.  Couldn’t Mr. Ripped and Ruggedly Handsome see that she wasn’t up for company, especially male company?

Apparently not.

Mr. Handsome followed with, “I can see that, and it’s just a drink.  Give me a chance.”

Oh God.  He was going with a lame line.  Seriously?

Not really wanting to engage hotty biker dude in a verbal duel over drinks, Emma thought to cut him short, so she could get back to her alone time.  But she wasn’t the mean type, so she returned his appreciative once over and sighed in mock disappointment, “Sorry, but you’re way too cool for me.”

Not-getting-it biker guy edged closer with an undeterred glint in his eye and gave her comment the brush off.  “Don’t say that—”

So much for being nice.

Emma realized her pity party was over.  Ruined by Mr. R. and R. Handsome and his annoying persistence.  And this time, she dropped a very heavy sigh for real.  He made to continue with his pitch, but frustrated by his intrusion, Emma pushed back from the bar, scraping the metal feet of her stool on the stone tile floor beneath, and dropped a ten spot next to her drink as she made to leave.

“Hey,” he said, and inappropriately reached for her arm. “You don’t have to go.”  But Emma firmly deflected his touch with her hand.  “Let me stop you right there.  No means no.  I’m done.  Got it?”

The molten look in his eyes wasn’t chocolaty anymore, and he said, “Got it,” like he meant it.  And then he called her a bitch as he turned to the barkeep and signaled for another round.

Emma stood, shouldering her purse, back to thinking feeding men their hearts for lunch was a good idea and came to the conclusion, Bars are bad.  Next time just buy a bottle and take it home.

But there wasn’t going to be a next time.  She’d sworn off guys, and Mr. Ruggedly Handsome Jerk had just sealed the deal.

Shaking her head, fully irritated and no longer feeling any form of self-pity, Emma angled for the door wanting nothing more than to get the hell out of this bar.  Two strides into her escape, the front door pulled wide and bright-ass sunshine poured in, silhouetting her view of the incoming human.  She blinked to shake off the flashbulb effect and kept marching toward the door.  And subsequently plowed headlong into a six-foot tall wall of solid muscle.

Bouncing back, jolted, and losing her footing, Emma once again noted that Bars are bad, and this time added, Men are worse.  As evidenced by the shadowed cretin blocking her getaway.

“Whoa, hey there,” came the solid hands that kept her from stumbling, and the calm, even-timbred male voice that felt soothing on her angry nerves.  “You okay?”

 CONTEST

5 copies- winner’s choice of ebook or print for any of the 3 books

1 goody bag full of swag.  Open to US shipping.

ENTER HERE

kopecAbout the Author:

Mary Kate Kopec creates steamy character driven stories of hopeful love. She thinks love and life are worth fighting for and that at times both are filled with hard bits and messy emotions. She likes a good mystery, lots of action, and a heavy dollop of humor to lighten the mood. She writes what she loves and wishes you great enjoyment in everything you read.

Website: http://www.marykatekopec.com

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/marykate.kopec

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4353265.Mary_Kate_Kopec

kopecfilmstrip

Foreign Language Translation – Is It Worth It?

Amazon Best Seller

Amazon Best Seller

Two years ago, my thriller – Stone Cold Justice, ranked on the Amazon Best Seller list. I was ecstatic. It has continued to produce respectable sales albeit not the prolific numbers as a new release.

Earlier this year, I was approached by Amazon Crossing about publishing my novel through their foreign language imprint. I decided to accept the contract and here’s why.

First and foremost, I’m an Indie author and proud of it. I like control over content, marketing, royalties, promotions, etc. Amazon KDP has continued to provide a solid platform on which to promote my work, as well as offering great marketing tips to keep my name out there. I know a lot of writers and publishers who consider Amazon the Antichrist.  I don’t feel that way. I can only speak for my own experience but it works for me. I tried other distributors during my first year as an Indie author. Amazon’s royalties made up 98% of my income, month after month. I”m not a m20140818_135347illion dollar author. If I were, I’d look at other venues. Until my sales warrant such an expansion, Amazon has my loyalty and respect.

So when Amazon Crossing presented their proposal for the German language translation rights to Stone Cold Justice, I was skeptical but willing to listen. I had no plans to translate any of my books – which made the decision easy. I didn’t feel like I was relinquishing anything. Sure, they control German distribution rights and a few other details like cover art but in return, I have access to a market I would never have tapped. Book translations are not cheap!

My Amazon Crossing team was incredibly easy to work with and explained every step in detail. I was allowed creative input about the cover which they accepted. Communication during the production phase was professional with regular updates about the progress. It was an exciting and enjoyable experience, right down to the box of print books that arrived this week.

Now comes the interesting part . . . the release and current sales. I prepared for dismal sales. I mean, how many Germans could possibly want to read about a sexy New Mexico cowboy intent on extracting justice for a crime he believes a young woman committed ten years ago, a crime now connecting her to a drug and human trafficking ring? Well, apparently Germans like sexy cowboys. My sales are humming along nicely and building rapidly each day. I’m able to track daily, weekly and monthly sales through Author Central.

Was giving up a little control over my German translation rights worth it? You bet! A hundred fold. I would do it again in a heartbeat.

My only problem now is how to market in a language I don’t speak? Book signings at Oktoberfest, anyone?

AMAZON – Stone Cold Justice, English

AMAZON – Stone Cold Justice, German

 

 

Spotlight on Sexy Shifters: CADE by V.A. Dold

Cade

Le Beau Series, Book 1

V.A. Dold

cover

Genre: Paranormal Romance

Date of Publication:  March 17 2014

ASIN:  B00J1WTSE2

Number of pages:  239

Word Count: about 62,000

Cover Artist:  Bookfabulous

Available at Amazon

Book Description:

Anna James is single again, finally. In her opinion, men are self-centered and will never love her for who she is, a beautiful, plus sized woman. All except the fantasy man that she’s been meeting in her dreams for five years.

She just never expected her fantasy to be a real live alpha shifter…

Cade Le Beau isn’t what he seems. He’s a billionaire wolf. A Shifter. He laments his missed chance six months ago to meet his fantasy woman in the flesh. Just as his second chance presents itself, his fantasy woman, his mate, is threatened by the local mob boss and her ex-husband. Now, he has forty eight hours to deal with this threat once and for all or chance losing her again.

Is it Anna who’s in danger, or the humans who unwittingly threaten her?

The heat is on the moment they lay eyes on each other. Neither, age, children, horrid ex-husbands, nor mob bosses will stop this love affair.

NOTE: Complete novel. No cliffhanger. Dual POV. Rated 18+ for language and strong sexual content. This is an adult paranormal romance with erotic content. The series centers on wolf shifters but also includes vampires, voodoo priestess, a Marine, and magic. These are stand alone books that create a series. They do not need to be read in order.

 Excerpt:

Prologue- The Plan

“Emma, we need to take matters into our own hands or they’ll never find their mates.” Isaac Le Beau set his snifter down before he crushed the glass in frustration. “We have seven virile, grown sons, who after two hundred years haven’t found their mates. If we don’t step in and give a hand to the wolf-goddess Luperca, our sons may spend their lives alone, without children to raise and without their other half to love. Dang it, I want some grandchildren, while I’m still young enough to enjoy them.”

He slowly raised his head and gazed at the love of his life, Emma. She was a unique blend of Romanian gypsy heritage and a very powerful voodoo priestess. Even after two centuries her exotic sparkling dark eyes and compact killer soft curves left him breathless. Some would classify her as a big, beautiful woman. He called her ‘sex on a stick‘. He swore she controlled every beat of his heart.

The warmth and agreement in those mesmerizing eyes silently prompted him to continue.

“Would you do your high-priestess voodoo thing and ask the spirits to identify their mates? With some influence we could bring them together, so they can recognize them on their own. I don’t want to force a meeting. Simply provide the opportunity. How about it, will you give it a try?” Isaac asked.

He knew Emma wouldn’t deny him. “Of course, I’ll perform the ritual, but I can’t give you any guarantees. All I can do is try. If we are truly blessed, Luperca will appear to me and give this endeavor her approval. I want our sons happy and I’d love to have a dozen grandchildren running around the house, too.”

Isaac opened his arms wide, inviting Emma to slide onto his lap. He buried his face into her hair breathing in her unique scent. The familiar fragrance calmed him like nothing else. He was confident everything would change for his sons very soon. He could hardly wait for each of them to meet their one true mate. No wolf should go fourteen hundred years alone.

 

Two weeks later, they enjoyed the cool breeze that came off the river, flowing through the open windows. A secret little smile lit up Emma’s entire face and her fingers tapped a tune on her cut crystal wine glass. He knew that expression well.

“Out with it, Emma,” Isaac said with a grin of his own. “What is it you’re dying to tell me?” He waited patiently for her to tell him her grand news.

Emma actually bounced in her seat. “I received answers from the goddess.” She clapped her hands excitedly.  “Cade’s mate is in New Orleans right now. Her name is Anna James. The goddess said she has had many unhappy years, but is now open to finding her one true love. Isn’t that fantastic? Two days from now she is destined to be in Jackson Square and then stop to eat lunch at Crescent City Brewhouse. She’ll be in the bar around eleven-thirty. As for the rest of the boys, the goddess said we must have patience. She’ll grant me visions in my dreams or come to me for each of them when the time is right.”

A surge of excited energy rushed through him as a hundred butterflies took up residence in his stomach. This must be what it felt like to win the lottery he thought. “We’ll have to move fast. We need to think of a way to get Cade there at the right time.”

“Maybe we can come up with a way to use Jackson square? Cade sits there so often it might be an option?” Emma offered.

“Maybe.”

He rubbed his chin, forehead crinkled in deep thought. “First we need to get him out of his home office and into the French Quarter. The bank called yesterday about a restaurant up for sale. I’ll have them schedule a meeting with Cade to review our investments and recommend this new opportunity.”  He tapped his chin as the plan took shape, mumbling as he worked it out. He stood and paced across the room, prowled like the animal he was. He couldn’t think properly sitting down.

As he strode back and forth, he noted she had settled into an easy chair to watch him.

“That’ll get him to the city,” he thought aloud as he continued to tap his finger on his chin. “You’re right about his constant people watching, I’m sure he’ll take a walk and perhaps sit a while. A possibility.” Isaac cupped his jaw in his hand and rubbed the coarse stubble.

A satisfied smile tugged at his lips. “I’ve got it! I’ll ask him to meet me for lunch at Crescent City at eleven-thirty. Richie tends the bar, he’ll know the mating signs. When Cade arrives, goddess willing, he will sense his mate. I’ll have Richie tell him I won’t be able to make it. If I’m not there for lunch he will be free to spend time with her.”

Smile broadening, he folded his arms across his chest and nodded. They had a solid plan. In less than a week he could have his first daughter-in-law. Isaac settled into his leather captain’s chair. “I’ll arrange everything with Richie.” He felt two hundred years younger, like the bold robust young man who had swept his mate off her feet. By the wistful expression Emma wore, he must look it, too.

As he sipped his rich, sweet cognac, he imagined a baby in Emma’s lap, sleeping peacefully while a toddler played with blocks on the floor. His sigh brought her attention to him with a raised brow. She would laugh if she knew what he was dreaming.

A smile continued to pull at his lips. He couldn’t help it. He was very pleased with his little romance ambush, positive it would be successful. Cade was in for a wonderful surprise in two days’ time.

“Now that we have the plan, what do you think she will be like? Did the goddess give you any hints?”

She laughed. “No, you silly man, the goddess doesn’t have time for things like that.”

“You know he has always favored curvy women. I sure hope she isn’t skinny, he might not even look at her if she is.” A little shiver ran through him. “Remember the gal he dated who looked a lot like you? She was a plus sized beauty. Cade never said anything, but Marcus drove him crazy with that ‘Oedipus’ nickname.” He laughed as he recalled the antics of the boys.

“You’re right, he does like a woman with meat on her bones. All the boys do.”

About the Author:

V.1526145_1464698327086416_1194617067_nA.Dold is the bestselling author of the Le Beau Brothers series, New Orleans wolf shifter novels. A graduate of Saint Cloud University, she majored in marketing. Prior to becoming a full time writer, she was a publicist to the authors, owning Innovative Online Book Tours and ARC Author & Reader Con’s (ARC NOLA) (ARC Phoenix). Still is. The companies mesh so well together, much like PB&J.Her idea of absolute heaven is a day in the French Quarter filled with nothing but her computer, her coffee mug and the Brothers, of course.

A Minnesota native with her heart lost to Louisiana, she has a penchant for titillating tales featuring sexy men and strong women. When she’s not writing, she’s probably taking in a movie, reading or traveling.

Her earliest reading memories are from grade school. She had a major fixation with horses, and the Black Stallion was a favorite. Then junior high came along and teenage hormones kicked in. It became all about the Harlequin Romances. She has been hooked on romances ever since

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@VADOLD

Tour Wide Contest & Review: BORROWED PROMISES by Judith Ingram

You’ll love the SWAG for this TOUR WIDE CONTEST so keep reading to the end for details on how to win custom designed Note Cards, Coffee Mugs and MORE!!!Borrowed Promises Banner 851 x 315

Borrowed Promises

Moonseed Trilogy – Book 2

Judith Ingram

Genre: Paranormal Romance

Publisher: Vinspire Publishing, LL

Date of Publication: May 31, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-9890632-4-1

ASIN: B00JD0H2ZE

Number of pages: 249 pages

Word Count: 73,300 (approx.)

Cover Artist: Elaina Lee/For the Muse Designs

BorrowedPromisesCoverREVIEW:

Time travel stories usually involve one character transporting to a different era from whence they came. Borrowed Promises, by the talented Judith Ingram, switches things up a bit by offering a tale of TWO women who change lives with the aid of a magical coin.

Katharine Kamarov finds herself in the body of Victoria Ashton . . . one hundred years in the future. She’s excited to experience contemporary living and finds it suits her narcissistic personality – until she starts caring for Ryan, Vicki’s husband. Ryan is bewildered by the night and day changes in his wife and suspects she may be suffering from a split personality. Secretly, he likes this bolder, more adventurous version.

Meanwhile, Victoria, the more timid of the two, is back in time  trying to patch things up with Katharine’s friends and family. She falls hard for cousin, Michael, but realizes the Moonseed transfer will only last a year.

Both women evolve into better people  but each is bound by the fear of losing the life they’ve come to love.

Borrowed Promises is the second book in a trilogy. I’ll be honest, I wish I’d read Book One before diving into this one. There were some vague areas where I had to use my imagination for gaps that I”m sure were covered in Bridge To The Past, Book One. Still, Ms. Ingram pens a remarkable and beautifully written tale that pulls readers in from the first page. Her writing is lyrical . . . poetic . . . and filled with emotion. The characters are so comfortable and realistic, you’ll swear they are people you know.

I’ve developed a passion for this series and intend to read Book One while anxiously awaiting the last of the trilogy. There’s a teaser for Book Three at the end of Borrrowed Promises that sets the stage for the final round of the story.

Book Description:

On the night of the new spring moon, a near-fatal accident propelled Victoria Reeves-Ashton over a century back in time to awaken in the body of Katherine Kamarov.

Now, after three months of pretending to be Katherine and laboring to repair relationships damaged by Katherine’s brash and selfish personality, quiet and gentle Victoria finds that her heart is putting down roots in Katherine’s world, in her family relationships, and especially in a deepening friendship with Katherine’s winsome cousin Michael.

Hidden letters reveal the story of other moonseed-time travelers like herself-and Victoria realizes that she and Katherine will likely be returned to their own times the following spring. Tension mounts when a rich and handsome suitor applies to marry her, and Victoria must choose whether to accept him for Katherine’s sake or to follow her own heart.

Ryan Ashton, the husband Victoria left behind, is baffled by the woman his wife has suddenly become. Unwilling to believe her story about an exchange in time, Ryan struggles to understand the stark transformation of his timid, remote wife into a sexually aggressive and captivating siren. Against his better judgment, he falls hard for this new woman who is a perplexing mixture of cruelty, sensuality, and tenderness, a woman who he suspects has the power to either break his heart or heal the aching loneliness he has lived with all his life.

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Excerpt:

I bit my lip, wanting to avoid any subject that could ruin the easy camaraderie of our afternoons together. Michael had been friendly and funny, teasing me gently, treating me with the easy affection of an older brother. Once or twice I’d caught him watching me with a fierce intentness that made my heart skip. But then he’d grin or offer a quip that made us both laugh, and the uncomfortable moment would pass.

I enjoyed the lightness of our friendship, grateful for the reprieve. In the rose garden at Summerwood and later on the trip to San Francisco, I had felt the slow but persistent budding of a new feeling that both thrilled and frightened me. The lightest touch of Michael’s hand pricked up hairs along my skin like electricity; his boyish grin twisted a slow, sweet pain deep into my body. His clean, male scent in close proximity could stun me with unexpected waves of need, often forcing me to look away so he wouldn’t see the flame in my eyes.

I couldn’t allow Michael to guess where my heart was taking me—because of Raymond.

Although many things were unclear to me, one fact seemed certain—Katherine must marry Raymond Delacroix and have at least one child with him. If I gave in to my new feelings for Michael, and if I were cruel enough to let him see them, then I risked both hurting him and ruining Katherine’s chances with Raymond when she came back to her own time.

And Katherine would come back. I was convinced of it, all my desperate wishes to the contrary. She would marry Raymond, give birth to Elise, and secure a future that would eventually lead to her daughter painting a picture of Katherine and me at the bridge over Two Trees Creek. By the same token, I would return to life as a lingerie model and a cold marriage with Ryan Ashton. Ryan.

“What?” Michael’s voice made me jump and turn my head.

“What?”

“You said ‘Ryan’ again.”

“I did?”

Michael had removed his glasses, and he blinked at me from only a foot away. God, he has beautiful eyes, I thought. Soft gray-green depths that held me breathless, fighting a slow, aching pull to be in his arms.

“He’s…nobody,” I said.

Michael was studying me, his eyes so solemn and searching that I couldn’t look away. He didn’t speak, but in that moment my heart yearned toward him, and he saw it. His expression changed. His gaze moved slowly from my eyes to my mouth.

I turned my face away and shut my eyes over a sudden sting of tears.

“Kat?” he said softly.

His voice held a new, cautious note of intimacy. A moment later his thumb brushed my wet cheek, and the tenderness of his touch wrenched a low cry from me. I pushed his hand away and struggled to sit upright.

“Don’t touch me!” Pain made my voice sharp. “You can’t touch me, Michael!”

But his hand was already under my elbow, helping me to sit. He pushed a handkerchief into my hand.

“Here. Take it.” He sounded bewildered and hurt. “Seems you’d rather do the job yourself.”

He watched me wipe my eyes and blow my nose with his handkerchief. I couldn’t look at him, and after a moment he reached for his glasses and slipped them on.

In a tight voice he asked, “Do you still want to visit Union Square?”

I pressed the soggy handkerchief to my lips and nodded.

Michael pushed himself to his feet and thrust out a hand to help me up. We folded the blanket between us, careful not to touch each other’s fingers, and he picked up the hamper. As we crossed the grass in uneasy silence, a fresh roll of tears made me reach into my handbag for a clean handkerchief. A flash of copper tumbled into the grass.

I stopped quickly, but Michael was quicker. He scooped up the coin, examined it briefly, and gave it back to me.

“You still carrying that thing around?”

I looked up at him, my handkerchief arrested halfway to my face. “My coin? What do you know about my coin?”

He squinted at me and frowned. “You’re kidding, right? I was with you when you paid a nickel for that worthless thing at the county fair. You said it was good luck, and you carried it around in your pocket for years.” He stopped at my look. “What is it?”

“Michael, are you certain this is the same coin?”

I handed it back to him. His gaze lingered on my face, puzzled, before he examined the coin. He weighed it briefly on his palm, flipped it over, and gave it back to me.

“Of course I’m certain.” He pointed his finger at the familiar nick in the rim. “There’s where the wagon wheel ran over it, and you were so furious because you thought the magic was ruined.” He screwed up his eyes against the sun and studied me. “What’s the matter with you, Kat? You’re looking at me like I’ve got two heads.”

I shook my head in dazed wonder, suspended once again in that universe where Katherine’s world and mine overlapped and where it made perfect sense that her lucky coin should have somehow come to me—twice.

JudithIngramAbout the Author:

Judith Ingram weaves together her love of romance and her training as a counselor to create stories and characters for her novels. She also writes Christian nonfiction books and enjoys speaking to groups on a variety of inspirational topics. She lives with her husband in the San Francisco East Bay and makes frequent trips to California’s beautiful Sonoma County, where most of her fiction characters reside. She confesses a love for chocolate, cheesecake, romantic suspense novels, and all things feline.

Website, blog & free weekly devotional: http://JudithIngram.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JudithIngramAuthor

Twitter: https://twitter.com/@judithingram20

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/pub/judith-ingram/a/122/62

CONTESTBorrowed Promises Banner 450 x 169

4 signed paperback copies of Borrowed Promises withbookmarks.

4 ebook copies (.pdf or .epub) of Borrowed Promises.

4 sets of Moonseed notecards; each set of six cards features scenes from the story, sketched by artist Amy Wong.

4 Amazon gift cards at $25 each.

4 coffee mugs featuring the book cover for Borrowed Promises along with tagline, “The past isn’t always behind you…”.

CLICK HERE to Enter

Review: A PORTAL IN TIME by Claire Fullerton

Tour Giveaway 

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2 e-book copies of A Portal in Time open internationally

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A Portal in Time

Claire Fullerton

 Genre: Paranormal/Historical Romance

Publisher: Vinspire Publishing

Date of Publication: November 30, 2013

ISBN:0989063224

ASIN:

Number of pages: 192

Word Count: 50,000

Cover Artist: Elaina Lee/For the Muse Designs

Book Description:portal cover2

When we are inexplicably drawn to love and a particular place, is it coincidence, or have we loved before?

Enigmatic and spirited Anna Lucera is gifted with an uncanny sixth-sense and is intrigued by all things mystical. When her green, cat-eyes and long, black hair capture the attention of a young lawyer named Kevin Townsend, a romance ensues which leads them to the hauntingly beautiful region of California’s Carmel-By-The-Sea where Anna is intuitively drawn to the Madiera Hotel. Everything about the hotel and Carmel-By-The-Sea heightens her senses and speaks to Anna as if she had been there before.

As Anna’s memory unravels the puzzle, she is drawn into a past that’s eerily familiar and a life she just may have lived before.

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REVIEW:

When I began reading A Portal In Time, I expected a simplistic tale about time travel or reincarnation. After completing this well written, soulful novel, I was reminded never to second guess a debut author. Claire Fullerton displays remarkable aptitude as she tells the story of two women whose worlds are bound together through a series of seemingly unexplained circumstances.

The story begins in 1907  with young Valeria Kristiansen hiking to a rocky point in the ocean and declaring it a “portal in time”. We then move to the year 2000 where Anna and Kevin Townsend have arrived in Carmel, California to celebrate their anniversary. Since both events occur in the same geographical location, I suspected the two women were connected. And they are but not quite the way you might imagine.

Anna and Valeria’s lives unfold slowly, allowing the reader to savor the elements binding them together. It’s not a fast paced shot of adrenaline but rather a complex taste that develops full flavor the longer it lingers on your palate. Parts of the story remind me of an old movie from 1991 called “Dead Again”. It was a fascinating rendition of the reincarnation theme. So is A Portal in Time.

The two time periods have distinct personalities, adding to their definition within the story as the reader is seamlessly transported from era to the next. Ms. Fullerton has done an excellent job of researching the early 1900’s, offering realistic descriptions of physical setting and period appropriate dialogue.

A Portal in Time is listed as a Paranormal/Historical Romance. It reads much like a saga, with romance being alluded to but never being the sole vehicle of character growth and development. The shorter length is perfect for a long soak in the tub, a few hours by the fire or a simple escape into good storytelling.

Excerpt:

March 18, 1999, West Hollywood, California

“What’s this all about?” Lucia pulled out a chair across from her sister. They sat outside on the sidewalk in front of The King’s Head Café in West Hollywood amidst the hum of traffic and the flow of patrons looking for available seating on Beverly Boulevard. “You sounded funny on the phone.”

“I sounded funny?”

“You sounded mysterious,” Lucia clarified.

“I didn’t want to get into it on the phone. I thought I’d wait to talk to you in person.”

“All right, I’m listening,” Lucia settled back into her chair and looked at Anna expectantly.

“You’re not going to believe this, but Kevin brought up the subject of marriage the other day.”

“Why wouldn’t I believe that? It’s perfectly understandable to me, isn’t it to you?” Lucia laughed. “What did you say when he brought up the subject?”

“I skirted the issue, of course,” Anna’s tone suggested Lucia should know that.

“Wait a minute, did he just bring up the subject or did he ask you to marry him?”

“Well, it seemed to me he was testing the waters, but what he said was, ‘God help me, I’m married to a witch.’ I’m not sure I was supposed to hear it, but that’s exactly what he said,” Anna told her.

“Wait a minute, back up, I’m getting lost. Were you doing something that made him call you a witch or was he just making a general observation because he’s had enough time to realize that you are a little touched in that way?”

“In what way?” Anna sounded defensive.

“Come on, Anna, anyone who knows you knows you’re bent towards the uncanny, and I mean that with nothing but love,” Lucia tried to suppress a smile. “You’re the same way that Mom was—obviously these things run in families.”

Anna felt the immediate tug of her heartstrings at the mention of their mother, who had died of Leukemia two and a half years earlier. Her illness had been a harrowing experience to both her and Lucia, absolutely draining them emotionally for the two years prior to her death. Her slow decline compounded the loss of their father when they were only teenagers and now that both parents were gone, Anna and Lucia only had each other. Anna conjured the memory of their mother’s face, her tall elegance and demure ways and recalled that she, too, had an intuitive ability that everyone who knew her remarked upon.

“I don’t know that I’m anywhere near the way Mom was,” Anna leaned back. “Do you remember how she always knew what we were up to when we were little? There was no point in ever trying to fool her about anything because she always knew the truth.”

“Of course, you’ve always been a terrible liar. Everything you’re thinking is always written on your face. You were the one who always gave us away to Mom, not me,” Lucia reminded.

“That’s not entirely true,” Anna volleyed, “I remember the time you tried to sneak out the upstairs window at night and found Mom sitting on the garden bench under the tree you used because she’d picked up on what you were thinking practically before you even decided to do it. She could just tell by looking at you!”

“You’re right about that,” Lucia nodded. “Mom was something else altogether, wasn’t she? I’m convinced she was clairvoyant. I think she knew how to read us both. I really do miss her every day. I think of her every time I see a sunset, every time I feel the change of seasons in the air, every time I see the full moon. She made such an event out of the little things in life, didn’t she?”

“She definitely did. She placed great importance on ceremonies and symbolism and things like that,” Anna said. “I see so many things the same way she did because she taught us how.”

“I do, too. What she did to the exact spot where Dad got in his car wreck is a perfect example.”

“Well, a lot of people do a similar thing. I see markers on the side of the road all the time. Standing crosses with bouquets of flowers under them at the scene of a fatal accident. It’s a commemoration of a particular place where something significant happened.”

“Yes, but it was so much more to Mom than that,” Lucia reminded Anna. “That’s why she buried the key where Dad got in the accident. Do you recall that night? It was only two days after Dad died, but somehow Mom managed to set aside her grief in order to take care of business. She woke us up after midnight and told us to get in the car because we were going to conduct a ceremony. “

About the Author:

ClaireClaire Fullerton is the author of Paranormal/Historical Romance, “A Portal in Time.”  Her second novel, “Dancing to an Irish Reel,” set in Connemara, Ireland, will be published in March, 2015.  Claire is a contributor to numerous magazines as well as a multiple contributor to the “Chicken Soup for the Soul” book series. She is a multiple award winning essayist, a former major-market radio disc jockey, and an avid ballet dancer.  Claire hails from Memphis, Tennessee, and currently divides her time between Malibu and Carmel, California with her husband and two German shepherds!

http://www.clairefullerton.com

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https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7388895.Claire_Fullerton

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THE WINTER KING by Best Selling Author, C.L. Wilson

An epic romance and an epic contest from NY Times and USA Today best selling author, C.L. Wilson.il_570xN.584501973_oj2l

Win this beautiful Winter White Rose pendant. Entry details following excerpt from THE WINTER KING.

 

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The Winter King

C.L. Wilson

91G-t5phdNL._SL1500_Genre: Fantasy Romance

Publisher: Avon Romance

ISBN 13: 9780062018977

Book Description:

Wynter Atrialan, the Winter King, once lived in peace with his southern, Summerlander neighbors, but when Falcon, the prince of Summerlea, stole Wynter’s bride and murdered his young brother, Wynter vows vengeance. Calling upon a dangerous Wintercraig magic called the Ice Heart, he gathers his armies and marches against Summerlea, crushing their armies and spreading icy winter in his wake.

After three long, bitter years of battle, Summerlea is defeated and Wynter comes to the heart of the kingdom to issue his terms for their surrender. The prince of Summerlea stole Wynter’s bride and slew Wynter’s Heir. He wants the loss replaced. The Ice Heart is consuming him. Wynter hopes holding his own child in his arms will rekindle the warmth of love and melt the Ice Heart before he becomes the monster of Wintercraig legend, the Ice King.

The Summer King has three very precious daughters whom he loves dearly. Wynter will take one of them to wife. She will have one year to provide him with an Heir. If she fails, he will turn her out in the ice and snow of the mountains and claim another princess for his wife. And so it will continue until Wynter has his Heir or the Summer Kingis out of daughters. All the while, Wynter will enjoy the vengeance of knowing the Summer King will suffer each day without his beloved daughter(s), as Wynter suffers each day without his own beloved brother.

The plan is perfect—except for one small detail. The Summer King has a fourth daughter. One of which he is not so fond.

Blamed as a child for the death of her beloved mother, Khamsin Coruscate, the forgotten princess of Summerlea, has spent her life hidden from the world like an embarrassing secret. Dressed in cast-off gowns and left to her own devices, with only the determination of her loyal nursemaid to ensure she receives the education befitting an Heir to the Summer Throne, Khamsin haunts the abandoned towers and gardens of Summerlea’s royal palace, close to her beloved late mother’s treasures, and waits for the day her father will recognize her as a Princess of the Rose. But though she dreams of the valor and sacrifices of ancient Summerlea heroes and pines for paternal love that will never come, Khamsin is no sweet, gentle, helpless princess-in-a-tower. She is a fiercely passionate creature with a volatile, rebellious temper that is often as reckless and destructive as the dangerous forces of her weathergift, the power of storms.

Together will their stormy personalities be able to meld or will their powers destroy not only their love but the whole world?

Add it to your Goodreads Shelf

Available for purchase at Avon Romance Amazon  BN  Kobo

Excerpt:

King’s Keep

Vera Sola, Summerlea

“Do you have to go?”  Seventeen year old Khamsin Coruscate clung to her beloved brother’s hand as if by her grip alone she could anchor him fast and keep him from leaving.

“You know I do.  Our treaties with the Winter King are very important.”

“But you’ll be home soon?”  Whenever he was gone, the ancient walls of the royal palace of Summerlea that had been her home and her prison since birth seemed somehow more confining, more restrictive.

“Not this time, little sister.”  Falcon shook his head.  A strand of black hair that had pulled free of the queue at the back of his neck brushed against the soft, dark skin of his cheek.  “It will take weeks to negotiate the treaties.”

Khamsin scowled, and the wind began to gust, sending Kham’s habitually untamed hair whipping into her mouth and eyes.  “Why does he have to send you?  Why can’t his ambassador negotiate the treaty?  He’s sending you away because of me, isn’t he?  Because he doesn’t want you spending so much time with me.”  Her hands clenched into fists.  The wind sent her skirts flying and a dark cloud rolled across the sun.

Their father, King Verdan IV of Summerlea, didn’t love her. She knew that.  He kept her isolated in a remote part of the palace, hidden away from his court and his kingdom, on the pretext that her weathergifts were too volatile and dangerous and she couldn’t control them.  That was all true.  Kham’s gifts were dangerous, and she couldn’t control them any better than she could control her own temper.  Until now, however, he’d never stooped to sending his other children away to keep them from visiting her.

“Here now.  Be calm.”  Falcon smoothed her wayward curls back, tucking them behind her ears.  Compassion and pity shone softly in his eyes.  “I wish I didn’t have to leave you.  But Father believes I’ll have the best chance of getting what we want from Wintercraig, and I agree with him.”  Summerlea, once a rich, thriving kingdom renowned for its fertile fields and abundant orchards, had been in a slow decline for years. Although the nobles and king maintained a prosperous façade for political and economic purposes, beneath the gilded domes and bright splendor of Summerlea’s palaces and grand estates, the rough tatters of neglect were beginning to show.  “Besides, you won’t be alone while I’m gone.  You have Tildy and the Seasons.”

“It isn’t the same.  They aren’t you.”  He was the handsome Prince of Summerlea, charming, witty, heroic.  He’d lived a life of adventure, most of which he shared with her, entertaining her with the tales of his exploits…the places he’d seen, the people he’d met.  His hunts, his adventures, his triumphs.  No matter how much her nursemaid, Tildavera Greenleaf, doted on Khamsin, or how often the three other princesses, Autumn, Spring, and Summer, snuck away from their palace duties to spend time with their ostracized youngest sister, Falcon was the one whose visits she couldn’t live without.

“Now there’s a pretty compliment.  Careful, my lady.  You’ll turn my head.”  He smiled, and warmth poured into her.  It was no wonder the ladies of their father’s court swooned at the slightest attention from him.  Falcon had a magical way about him.  He could he literally charm the birds from the trees with his name-gift—controlling any feathered creature on a whim–and the weathergift inherent in his royal Summerlander blood was stronger than it had been in any crown prince in generations.  It was as if the Sun itself had taken up residence in his soul, and its warmth spilled from him each time he smiled.

Kham took a deep breath.  The sharp edge of her temper abated, and in the skies, the gathering storm began to calm.  Perhaps King Verdan truly had chosen to send his only son as envoy to Wintercraig for political reasons.  Long, long ago, as a small child crying herself to sleep, she’d decided Falcon was the reincarnation of Roland Triumphant, the Hero of Summerlea, the brave King who had defeated an overwhelming invasion force with his wit, his weathergifts, and a legendary sword reputed to be a gift from the Sun God himself.    If anyone could charm the cold, savage folk of the north into concessions most favorable to Summerlea, Falcon could.

“Will you at least write to me?” she asked.

“I’ll send you a bird every week.”   He tapped her nose and gave her a charming, roguish grin. “Cheer up.  Just think of all the swordfights you’ll win when you’re fighting invisible opponents instead of me.”

Kham rolled her eyes.  He’d been teaching her sword-fighting for years, but she had yet to best him in a match.

“You know,” she said as they walked towards the doorway leading back into the palace, “it might actually be a good thing that you’ll be spending months in Wintercraig.”

“Oh?”

“Yes.  You can use that time to find out what happened to Roland’s sword.”

Falcon tripped on an uneven flagstone and grabbed the trunk of a nearby tree to steady himself.  “I’m sure I’ll be much too busy to chase fairy tales, Storm.”

She frowned in surprise.  “But you’ve always believed the stories were true.” Blazing, the legendary sword of Roland Soldeus, had disappeared shortly after the heroic king’s death.   Legend claimed it was the Winter King, the father of Roland’s betrothed, who had spirited the sword away so Roland’s brother Donal couldn’t claim it.  Every royal Summerlea Heir for the last two millennia had dreamed of finding the legendary blade and bringing it back home where it belonged.  Falcon had spent years chasing lead after lead, determined that he would be the one to find Blazing and restore Summerlea to its former glory.

“What about those letters?” she added.  “The really old ones you found tucked in that monastery?  You said they proved the stories were true.”

“That was six years ago.  I was seventeen.  I wanted the stories to be true.”  He gave her a quick hug and a brotherly kiss on the forehead.  “I’ve got to run. I’m meeting with Father and his advisors to go over our list of demands and concessions one last time before I leave.  I’ll see you in a few months.”

“I’ll miss you every day.”  She trailed after him, feeling bereft and forlorn when Falcon turned the corner and disappeared from view.  But this time, she also felt confused. She’d never known Falcon to give up on something he felt passionately about.  And he’d been passionate about finding Roland’s sword.  He’d been certain he was on the right trail.  He’d shared his discoveries with her because he knew she was just as hungry as he to find the legendary sword.

So why would he deny it now?

* * *

Gildenheim, Wintercraig

“She’s not good for you.”

Wynter Atrialan, King of Wintercraig, cast a sideways glance at his younger brother.  “Don’t say that, Garrick.  I know you’ve never liked Elka, but in six months time, she will be my bride and your queen.”

Garrick shook his long, snow-silver hair.  Eyes as bright and blue as the glacier caves in Wintercraig’s ice-bound Skoerr Mountains shone with solemn intensity that made the boy look far older than his sixteen years.

“You love too deeply, Wyn.  From the moment you decided to take her to wife, you’ve blinded yourself to her true nature.”

Wynter sighed.  “I should not have shared my worries with you when I first met her.”  Wyn was an intensely private man, but he’d never kept secrets from Garrick.  Not one.  Wyn had raised his brother since their parents’ death ten years ago.  And in those years, he’d never tried to sweeten the ugly world of politics, never tried to gloss over his fears or concerns—even when it came to the more personal but still political matter of selecting a queen.  If something happened to him, Garrick would be king, and Wyn didn’t want his brother thrown into such a position without preparation.

Unfortunately, the years of openness and plain, unfettered talk had paid unanticipated returns.  Because of his unflinching honesty with Garrick, no one in Wintercraig–no one in all the world, for that matter–knew him better than his young brother.  Not even Wyn’s lifelong friend and second-in-command, Valik.  Such deep familiarity could be as troublesome as it was comforting.

“She is cold,” Garrick insisted.  “She does not love you as she should.  She wants to be queen more than she wants to be your wife.”

“Elka is a woman of the Craig.  She is as reserved with her feelings as I.”

“Is she?  So that is why she laughs and smiles so warmly when the Summerlander is near?”

Wynter frowned a warning at his brother.  “Careful, Garrick.  Elka Villani will be my wife and queen.  Insult to her is insult to me.”

“I offered no insult.  I merely asked a question.  And based on my observations, it’s a perfectly legitimate one.”

“You are misreading what you see.  Elka knows it’s vital the Summer Prince feels welcome here if we are to come to an amicable agreement.”  The lush, fertile fields of Summerlea provided much needed sustenance to the folk of Wintercraig during the harsh, cold months of a northern winter.  Their grains, fruits and vegetables, which Wintercraig bought with furs, whale oil and forest products, could mean the difference between life and death for his people during years when their own harvests were poor.  That had, unfortunately, been quite often of late, since the summers had grown shorter and food from Summerlea had been growing steadily more dear after Wynter had taken the throne.  Falcon Coruscate, son of the weathermage king who ruled Summerlea, had come three months ago at Wynter’s invitation to negotiate terms of a new treaty that would ensure longer summers in the north and more affordable trade in foodstuffs for the winters.

“She makes him feel welcome to more than the court,” Garrick corrected.  “She flirts.”

Wyn arched a brow.  “And if she does, where’s the harm in it?  A pretty face and a sweet smile can persuade a man better than cold figures and dry treaties—especially self-indulgent peacocks like the Summer Prince.”  He smiled when Garrick rolled his eyes.  “You don’t remember our mother, but she could charm a Frost Giant into the fire.  Father used to call her his secret weapon.  Elka merely uses her gifts to aid the realm, as any good queen would.”

Garrick gave a snort.   “How fortunate that she takes to the task so well. All right, all right.” He held up his hands in surrender when his brother’s glance sharpened.  He paused a moment, using hammer and chisel to chip unwanted ice from the frozen sculpture he was working on, then added, “But even if you trust her, you’d best keep an eye on the Summerlander.  He’s up to something.”

“Foreign dignitaries are always up to something.  That’s called politics.”

“He’s been asking too many questions about the Book of Riddles.”

Wyn’s hand stilled momentarily in its work on his own sculpture.  “Has he?”  He tried to pull of nonchalance, but shouldn’t have bothered.  Garrick knew him too well.

“That’s what he’s really here for.  To get the book and find Roland’s sword.”

Roland’s sword was a fabled Summerlea weapon of inconceivable power.   It had disappeared three thousand years ago, not long after the Summer King who first wielded it sacrificed his life to save his kingdom from invasion.  Many myths and legends swirled around its disappearance.  One of those legends suggested that the Winter King of that time, fearing the sword’s power would be misused by Roland’s successors, had smuggled the sword out of Summerlea and hidden it in a place it would never be found.  The Winter King had also left behind a book of obscure clues and riddles that supposedly led to the sword’s secret hiding place, in case his own descendants one day had need of the legendary weapon’s vast power.

“Well, good luck to him with that,” Wynter said.  “The sword is a myth.  It’s long gone by now, if it ever existed at all.  And he won’t find whatever treasure the Book actually does protect, either, because he will never find the Book.  It’s kept in a place no man can go.”

“But Elka can.”

He scowled.  “Garrick, stop.  She is my betrothed.  She will be my queen.  She would never betray me.”

Garrick heaved a sigh.  “Fine. She is your true and worthy love.  I’ll never suggest otherwise again.”

“Good.”  Wyn pressed his lips together and focused on the small block of ice sitting on the pedestal before him.  Patient as time itself, he carved away the excess ice until he revealed the hidden beauty inside.  Fragile, shimmering, a bouquet of lilies emerged, petals curved with incredible delicacy, each flower distinct and perfect, rising up from slender stems of ice.   “What do you think?” he asked when it was done.

“That’s beautiful, Wyn.  One of your best yet.”

Wyn smiled.  When it came to ice sculptures, Garrick hoarded his compliments like a miser.  Only perfection earned his highest praise.

“Do you think she will like it, then?  Frost lilies are her favorite.”

Garrick stepped abruptly away from his own sculpture–a complex scene depicting a family of deer welcoming their newest, spindly-legged member into the herd–and brushed the dusting of ice crystals from his furs.  “Any woman who truly loves you would love it, Wyn.  It’s obvious how much care you put into it.”

“Then she will love it.  You’ll see.”

“I’m sure she will,” Garrick said, but his eyes held no conviction.

“Coruscate!” Wynter’s roar shook the great crystal chandelier that hung in the entry hall of his palace, Gildenheim.  He stormed up the winding stairs to the wing where royal guests were housed and burst into the suite that had been occupied for the last two months by the Prince of Summerlea.  The rooms were empty, and judging by the state of the open drawers and the clothes flung haphazardly about, the inhabitants had vacated the place in a hurry.

“He’s gone, Wyn.”  Valik, Wynter’s oldest friend and second in command stepped into the room.  “Laci checked the temple.  The book’s gone, too.”

Wynter swore under his breath.  Barely two weeks ago, Garrick had warned him to keep an eye on the Summerlea Prince, and Wyn had dismissed his concerns with such blind, confidence! “When did they leave?”

“About an hour after we left for Hileje.  Elka and his guard went with him.  Bron didn’t think anything of it.  The Summerlander kept blathering about not letting some fire ten miles away ruin a good day’s hunt.”

“We’d better start tracking them, then.”

“There’s more, Wyn.”  Valik hesitated, then said, “I think Garrick went after them.  He and his friends rode out not long after the Summerlander.  Bron heard them talking about something the Summerlander took that Garrick meant to get back.”

Wyn’s jaw turned to granite.  With Valik close on his heels, he ran back down to the courtyard.

Still saddled and ready to ride, Wynter’s stallion was waiting in the hands of a stableboy, and beside him, a dozen of Wynter’s elite White Guard held Prince Falcon’s valet at swordpoint.  The valet looked nothing like the sleek, meticulously turned-out peacock Wynter’s courtiers had mocked amongst themselves.  He’d traded his velvet brocade livery for rough-spun woolens, a furred vest, and a heavy cloak.  His knuckles were scraped, and his face sported a bruised jaw and an eye that was swollen shut and rapidly purpling.

“We found him in the village trying to bribe a merchant to smuggle him out in a trade cart, Your Grace.”

“Where is he?”  Wyn grabbed the valet by his vest, yanking him up so fast the man’s feet left the ground.  Wynter was tall, even for a man of the Craig, and holding the Summerlander at eye level left almost two feet between the man’s dangling toes and the icy stone of the courtyard.  “Where is that Coruscate bastard you serve?”

“I don’t know!” Clearly terrified, the man started babbling.   “I swear to you, Your Majesty!  I didn’t even know he was leaving until one of the maids delivered his note.  And that only advised me to leave Wintercraig as quickly and quietly as possible.”

“In other words, the coward abandoned you while saving his own skin.”  Wyn threw the man aside.  “Lock him up.  If we don’t find his master, he can face the mercy of the mountains in his prince’s stead.  The rest of you, mount up.  Time to hunt.”

Minutes later, Wynter, Valik, and two dozen White Guard were galloping down the winding mountain road that led from Gildenheim to the valley below.  Wynter howled a call to the wolves as they went, sending a summons to the packs that were spirit-kin to his family’s clan.  Wolves were faster in the dense woods, and they tracked by scent rather than sight.  The Summerlanders’ smell was alien to this part of the world, so the wolves should have no trouble picking up their trail.

He wasn’t sure if the prince would try heading south, towards Summerlea, or west to the Llaskroner fjord.  The fjord was closer, and the port there was a busy one, full of strangers from distant lands.  For thieves looking to get out of country quickly, that was the better destination. When the wolf call came from the west, Wyn knew he’d guessed right.  He whispered to the winds, calling to the old Winterman in the north to blow his icy horn, then summoning the Vestras, the freezing maritime winds of the western seas to send their bone-chilling fog.

As he and his men rode west, following the call of the wolves, the temperatures began to drop.   If the Summer Prince fought back with his own weathergifts, that would pinpoint his location.  If he didn’t, the rapidly worsening weather would slow his escape.  Either way, Wynter would track him down, and make him pay for what he’d done to the people of Hileje.

The prince had hours on him.   That was the purpose of the fire in Hileje—a distraction to get Wynter and his men out of the palace so Falcon Coruscate could steal what he came for and make his escape.   But the distraction had been much more than a mere fire.  The Summerlanders had raped and murdered dozens of villagers, then locked the rest in the meeting hall and burned them alive.

Eighty-six lives wiped out in one senseless act of violence.  Eighty-six innocent Winterfolk who had depended on their king to protect them.  And he had failed.

The tone of the wolves’ howls suddenly changed, the howls becoming longer, mournful, announcing a loss to the pack.  Wynter sent out his thoughts, connect to the pack mind and seeing through the wolves’ eyes as he searched for the source of that cry.  He caught a glimpse of scarlet splashed across the snow, bodies that were clothed not furred.

“No!”  He knew instantly why the wolves howled and for whom.  “No! Garrick!”  He spurred Hodri faster, galloping at a reckless pace.  The wind whistled past his ears.  Snow flew from Hodri’s hooves.

It didn’t take long to reach the clearing where the wolves had gathered.  The smell of death filled the air—a dark odor Wynter had smelled before. It was a scent few men ever forgot.

He reined Hodri in hard, leaping from saddle to ground before the horse fully stopped.  The first two bodies were boys Wyn recognized. Garrick’s friends.  Sixteen years old, the same age as Garrick.  Arrow-pierced through their hearts.  They’d been dead within minutes of being struck.

A moaning cough brought Wyn scrambling to his feet.  He half-ran, half-stumbled across the snow towards the source of the sound, but when he got there, he felt as if his heart had stopped beating.  He fell to his knees.

The coughing boy was Garrick’s best friend, Junnar.  He’d been gut-shot, and the dark, matter-filled blood oozing from the wound told Wynter the boy was a dead man even though his body still clung weakly to the last threads of his life.

Junnar lay atop the prone, lifeless figure of Wynter’s brother.  An arrow–its shaft painted with the Prince of Summerlea’s personal colors –protruded from Garrick’s throat.

“Garrick?” After moving Junnar to one side and packing his wound with snow to numb the pain, Wyn reached for his brother with trembling hands.  His fingers brushed the boy’s face, and he flinched at the coldness of his brother’s flesh.  Garrick had been dead for hours.  Probably since before Wyn had left Gildenheim in pursuit.  How could Wyn have lost the only family he had left in the world and not known it the instant it happened?

Horses approached from Wynter’s back.  Then Valik was there, laying a sympathetic hand on Wynter’s shoulder.

“I’m sorry, my friend.  I’m so sorry.”

Wyn nodded numbly.  The ache was consuming him.  The pain so deep, so indescribable, it was beyond feeling.  His whole body felt frozen, like the ice statues he and Garrick carved together.

“Help Junnar.”  How he spoke, he didn’t know.  His voice came out a choked, gravelly rasp.  “Make him as comfortable as you can.”

“Of course.”

He waited for Valik to lift Junnar and settle him off a short distance before gathering Garrick’s body into his arms.  He held his brother for a long time, held him until Junnar breathed his last and the White Guard packed the bodies up for transport back to Gildenheim.  Their hunt for Prince Falcon of Summerlea had ended the moment Wynter found his brother’s corpse.  But there was no doubt in any of their minds that this was far from over.

Wynter carried Garrick in front of him on Hodri’s back, cradling his body as he had so many times over the years after their parents had died and it had fallen to him to raise his brother.  He carried him all the way to Gildenheim, releasing him only to the weeping servants who would prepare Garrick and the others for the funeral pyre.

Wynter stood vigil by his brother’s side throughout the night.  He murmured words of sympathy to the parents of the other lost boys, but shed no tears of his own though his eyes burned.  At dusk the following night, he stood, tall and dry-eyed beside the pyres as the flames were lit and remained standing, motionless and without speaking, throughout the night and into the next morning.  He stood until the pyre was naught but flickering coals.  And when it was done and there was nothing left of his brother but ash, Wynter mounted Hodri and took the long, winding road to the Temple of Wyrn, which was carved into the side of the next mountain.

Galacia Frey, the imposing and statuesque High Priestess of Wyrn, was waiting for him inside the temple.  She had come the night before to bless his brother and the others and to light their pyres, before returning to the temple to await his visit.

“You know why I have come.”

Her eyes were steady.  “I know.  But Wyn, my friend, you know I must ask you to reconsider.  You know the price.”

“I know and accept it.”

“There’s no guarantee the goddess will find you worthy,” she warned.  “Many men have tried and died.”

“You think that frightens me?  If I die, I will be with my brother.  If I survive, I will have the power to avenge him.”

She closed her eyes briefly and inclined her head.  “Then take the path to the left of the altar, Wynter Atrialan, King of the Craig.  Leave your armor, clothes and weapons in the trunk by the door.  You must enter the test as you entered the world.  And may the goddess have mercy on your soul.”

 

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About the Author:

C. L. WILSON grew up camping and waterskiing across America, from Cherry Creek reservoir in Denver, CO, to Lake Gaston on the border of Virginia and North Carolina, to Georgia’s Lake Lanier and Lake Allatoona. When she wasn’t waterskiing and camping on family vacations, you could usually find her with a book in one hand and a sketch pad in the other—either reading, writing stories, or drawing. Sometime around the ninth grade, she decided she was better at drawing her pictures with words than paints and charcoals, and she set aside her sketchpad to focus entirely on writing.

Wilson is active in Tampa Area Romance Authors (TARA), her local chapter of Romance Writers of America. When not engaged in writerly pursuits, she enjoys golfing, swimming, reading, playing video games with her children, and spending time with her friends and family. She is also an avid collector (her husband says pack rat!), and she’s the proud owner of an extensive collection of Dept. 56 Dickens and North Pole villages, unicorns, Lladro figurines, and mint condition comic books.

Wilson currently resides with her husband, their three wonderful children, and their little black cat, Oreo, in a secluded ranch community less than thirty miles away from the crystalline waters and sugar-sand beaches of Anna Maria Island and Siesta Key on Florida’s gulf coast.

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