Into the Dreaming Imaginative Fiction from Author, Reviewer, and Writing Coach Christine Amsden

Forsaken Excerpt + $50 Gift Card Giveaway

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Sarah will be awarding a $50 Amazon or Barnes and Noble gift card to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Please click the banner to see a list of other stops on the tour.

Her past is back to haunt her—and this time, it’s got a gun.

When Gage Lawton finds his brother shot to death on his back porch, every shred of evidence points to one person: Gage’s ex-lover, Riley Beckett. The only gun in town that fires a bullet of that caliber belongs to her.

Certain the shooting is payback for his part in the loss of her parents, he abandons his promise to stay out of her life and confronts her, his rage backed up with a revolver. Yet when she steps through the door, all thoughts of revenge burn to ashes.

A year after Riley unwillingly walked away from Gage, she enters her home to find him sitting in the dark, gun pointed at her head. One look into those achingly familiar blue eyes reminds her how wrong she was to let him go. But now there’s more standing between them than their heated past.

A twist of fate—and a hail of sniper bullets—puts them in the cross hairs of a killer, leaving Riley with just two slim options: trust her greatest betrayer, or face a murderer alone.

This book has been previously published.

Warning: Prepare to get caught in a crossfire of profanity, danger, and desire. Intense violence may trigger the desire to wear body armor…and take it off. Very, very slowly.

Now enjoy an excerpt:

The evidence had been right in front of him. He didn’t want to believe it, but he couldn’t deny it either. Not until he saw her reaction for himself, and he wasn’t going to do that unarmed. He reached for her, feeling the charge of their connection long before his fingers grazed her skin. A hint of blue peering from beneath her thick lashes caught his attention. She was watching him.

Frozen by her beauty—by all she meant to him and everything he tried to tell himself she didn’t—his thoughts left him. He fell closer, his hand dipping to her jaw line. Tracing the familiar contours of her face with a fingertip came as naturally as breathing.

“Riley…” The tangle of emotions in his chest loosened. The evidence was unmistakable, but she couldn’t have done it. Not the Riley he knew.

Contentment drifted behind those thick lashes. For a single moment the last twelve months of hell wasted away, and she was his again. His name spilled from her lips, soft and sweet, like no time had passed. God help him, he wanted it to be true. He’d give anything to go back to the day he lost her and change it all.

She reached for him, and when she drew him in he didn’t—couldn’t—resist. Her arms circled his neck, her fingers tangling in the hair she always said was too long, and every bit of the fight fled his traitorous heart. He forgot the cold, hard floor. He forgot why he had waited in her living room, untouched whiskey taunting him, tempering his rage.

He forgot murder.

Sarah and her husband of what he calls “many long, long years” live on the mid-Atlantic coast with their six young children, all of whom are perfectly adorable when they’re asleep. She never dreamed of becoming an author, but as a homeschooling mom she often jokes she writes fiction because if she wants anyone to listen to her, she has to make them up. (As it turns out, her characters aren’t much better than the kids.) When not buried under piles of laundry, she may be found adrift in the Atlantic (preferably on a boat) or in search of that ever-elusive perfect writing spot where not even the kids can find her. To learn more about her work in contemporary, historical, and supernatural romance and romantic suspense, please stalk accordingly.

Website: http://www.sarahballance.com/

Blog: http://sarahballance.wordpress.com/

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/sarah.ballance.author.news

Twitter: https://twitter.com/SarahBallance

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/SarahBallance34/

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4103362.Sarah_Ballance

Buy Links:

Samhain Publishing – http://store.samhainpublishing.com/forsaken-p-73612.html

Amazon – http://www.amazon.com/Forsaken-Sarah-Balance-ebook/dp/B00K7YXB4Q

Barnes & Noble – http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/forsaken-sarah-ballance/1119867315?ean=9781619222625

Kobo – http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/forsaken-25

iTunes/iBooks – https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/forsaken/id878566015?mt=11&ign-mpt=uo%3D4

Google Books – http://books.google.com/books?id=F5OSAwAAQBAJ&dq

Amazon UK – http://www.amazon.co.uk/Forsaken-Sarah-Ballance-ebook/dp/B00K7YXB4Q/

Amazon CA – http://www.amazon.ca/Forsaken-Sarah-Ballance-ebook/dp/B00K7YXB4Q/

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Book Review: Sin Brothers Series by Rebecca Zanetti

Forgotten Sins (Sin Brothers, #1)I may as well review the first three books in this series together because that’s how I read them — together! I picked up the first book and couldn’t put it down. The series … not just the one book! When I finished the third book and saw that #4 wasn’t ready yet I practically mourned my need to wait.

The books are: Forgotten Sins, Sweet Revenge, and Blind Faith. Together, they introduce us to the Sin Brothers, four (well three, more on that latter) brothers who were created artificially and trained brutally to be part of an enhanced soldier program. Eventually, the brothers escape and begin planning revenge on the people who hurt/used them.

Sweet Revenge (Sin Brothers, #2)Sound familiar? Okay, okay! I didn’t say it was original. Just addictive. This series is like really good chocolate. Nothing fancy, but oh how sweet!

The first book begins with Shane, who can’t remember who he is. (No, don’t put it down yet! It’s okay.) His wife is called in to identify him and take care of him … except, his wife hasn’t seen him in two years and is pretty ticked off at him for running out on her without a word of explanation. She was just about to file divorce papers when he shows up, and it is her greatest desire to have him sign them.

Things don’t go according to plan. Shane doesn’t want a divorce, and there’s someone trying to kill him — or her. They’re not sure. Plus at some point he begins regaining bits of memory. That’s when his brothers swoop in.

These books have a high steam rating … so be prepared! There’s also plenty of action, adventure, and mystery. I found the mystery to be a bit predictable. I guessed at the endings most of the time, especially after the first book. But some books are predictable in an “I really couldn’t care less now that I’ve figured it out” way and other books are predictable in a “I’m still enjoying the ride” way. These books definitely fell in the latter category.

Blind Faith (Sin Brothers, #3)The best thing about these books was the brothers themselves. Each one was super good looking of course, but more than that — smart, strong, capable, and enhanced. They had super hearing, among other things. And underneath the rough exterior was a marshmallow heart. Each book begins with a prologue that shows the brothers as kids, just trying to survive in their harsh environment with nothing but one another for support. As adults they want a family more than anything else, and I wanted to read about them getting it.

Each book focuses on one brothers … Shane, Matthew, and Nate. The last book will focus on the missing brother, the one who disappeared two years ago and who they fear is dead. (That’s not a spoiler, it’s pretty obvious from the first book.) They also have another problem they are struggling to work through. They’re going to die soon if they don’t get these chips implanted near their spines disabled.

I can’t wait to see how this ends!

I highly recommend this series to readers who enjoy steamy romantic suspense with a mild scifi/fantasy twist.

TV Review: “Into the Dark” (Doctor Who Series 8 Episode 2)

The second episode of the new series and we’re once again facing … Daleks. I have to admit, I groaned when I saw the preview. How many times is The Doctor going to destroy the entire Dalek race before they’re actually gone?

But this time The Doctor is faced with a Dalek who seems to have seen the light and become a good Dalek. He doesn’t believe it, but he agrees to help the damaged Dalek. He, Clara, and three others are miniaturized and go inside the Dalek to find the problem.

This was one of those darker, more philosophical episodes, in which The Doctor must take a cold, hard look inside himself. Cappelli pulled off those moments well. The chemistry between The Doctor and companion Clara was much better here. And we now have two people who have died around The Doctor going to “heaven” or “paradise.” Hmmm…

I do hope the next episode is lighter. The first two Cappelli episodes have him coming across as entirely stoic, with none of the underlying humor I’m used to. Or maybe those moments got lost in translation.

Secrets of a Heart Excerpt + $50 Amazon Gift Card

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BLURB:

MEDIA KIT Book coverLondon, 1815. At the age of nineteen, Blaine Whitmore loses everything dear to him in a brutal assault on his family line. Left with nothing, he finds himself aboard a merchant ship sailing far from home. Years pass as a boy becomes a man, and yet no amount of time or distance will help Blaine forget all that he has lost. After ten years sailing the high seas, he is finally ready to restore the Whitmore name.

Felicity Canton is as lovely as she is penniless, and has been left to care for her three sisters while attempting to maintain a crumbling estate. With no hope for escape from her predicament, she is resigned to a peasant’s fate. She never anticipates attracting the attention of her wealthy and mysterious new neighbor, nor does she expect him to be her savior.

As Blaine searches for truth and doles out vengeance, he becomes increasingly captivated and distracted by Felicity’s beauty and inner strength. Does he dare confide in her the secrets of his heart? Will his future be as bleak as his past, or will he finally have a chance at happiness?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

EXCERPT

The sound of a snapping twig turned her attention, and the object of her thoughts stood a few feet from her, leaning against a huge tree with gnarled roots as if he had all the time in the world.

I thought I managed to escape without anyone seeing me,” she said in lieu of formal greeting.

I saw you leave just as my carriage was pulling into your driveway,” he explained. “Why are you here alone?”

Mr. Fletcher is giving a grand tour of our home to strangers, in hopes that they buy it.” Her tone was acerbic.

His gaze softened, but she thrust out her chin, daring him to offer her sympathy. She changed the subject, unable to dwell on the idea that her childhood home, one that had been in the family for generations, would be sold. “To what do I owe the pleasure of your company?”

So proper?” Gray asked, moving away from the tree and coming toward her.

I feel out of sorts today.”

Gray reached out to touch her cheek. “I came to hand deliver an invitation to the masquerade.”

Oh.” Her brown eyes dropped to his lips. Moving closer, he wrapped his arms around her. “Is this your way of trying to distract me from my woes?” she asked with a smile.

Is it working?”

Too soon to tell,” she replied wickedly.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

AUTHOR Bio and Links:

Samantha Garman currently lives and writes in Brooklyn, NY. She loves Scotch, a great MEDIA KIT Author Photoconversation with anyone willing to speak their mind and flannel pajamas. While yearning for a backyard and a dog, she’s decided to stay busy working on her next book, Dandelion Dreams.

Websites: @samgarman

For Facebook they can follow me personally (Samantha Garman Author) or visit my page here: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Samantha-Garman-Author/223423047668564?ref=hl

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4859885.Samantha_Garman

BUY LINKS:

http://www.amazon.com/Secrets-Heart-Samantha-Garman-ebook/dp/B00EDR2GUS/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1402184544&sr=8-1&keywords=secrets+of+a+heart

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/secrets-of-a-heart-samantha-garman/1116394615?ean=9781493562626

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TV Review: “Deep Breath” (Doctor Who Season 8 Episode 1)

The Doctor is back!!!

We’ve all been waiting for over a year, with only a couple of special to tide us over. And now here we are, Season 8 of the modern Doctor Who series starring the brand-new Doctor, Peter Capaldi.

The jury’s still out on how Capaldi will rate. The first episode with a new Doctor is always a bit awkward as both I and the characters around The Doctor adjust to his new face. But right off the bat, there are a few things I like about Capaldi’s Doctor:

1. He speaks with a Scottish accent.
2. He’s older than any other Doctor in the modern series.
*3. He believes that there is some significance in his choice of face and that he is trying to tell himself something by having made this choice. Hmmmm ….

Well, I have to give Moffat credit. He’s big on ideas. Not so great on follow-through, but he once again has me intrigued.

The one glaring problem with this weekend’s Season 8 debut was companion Clara, who doesn’t seem to serve much of a purpose now that her “Impossible Girl” arc is over and whose personality has fallen victim to the demands of the plot. Her reluctance to accept the new Doctor didn’t ring true to me on many levels. First, she’s a smart girl. Second, she’s a brave girl. Third, she sacrificed herself to save The Doctor by splitting herself into pieces and following him around through time and space. I’m not sure what the current incarnation of Clara knows about the other lives she lived, the other Doctors she saved, but she knows he changes faces so her dismissal of him felt far more thematic than honest. Having Matt Smith call her from the end of his life was a particularly bad touch, one that left me with very little respect for Clara as a character.

Nevertheless, I remain hopeful about the new season ahead!

TV Reivew: Food Fighters

Reason I started watching this show: It comes on NBC right before America’s Got Talent.

Reason I started muting this show and reading a book until America’s Got Talent came on: The premise is intriguing but ultimately flawed.

Here’s how it works: Home chef? Think you can beat one of the best celebrity chefs in the world? Come on the show, bring your five best recipes. You know, the ones that have been in your family for generations, that you’ve made at least a hundred times. The ones that have been tweaked and tested to perfection through decades and thousands of taste testers.

You have fifteen minutes to cook, all the while a professional chef who doesn’t know what he or she will be making when he walks on the stage has the same fifteen minutes to come up with a winning recipe on the fly and try to stop you from winning $100,000.

If that sounds easy, it’s probably because it is. Pro chef or not, coming up with a recipe from scratch in fifteen minutes isn’t going to beat a time-tested recipe prepared by someone who has made that exact recipe a hundred times.

The home chef almost always wins. It really takes all the suspense out of it and it’s no fun to watch.

Stolen Dreams in AUDIO!

Stolen Dreams: A Cassie Scot Novel, Book 4 | [Christine Amsden]

 

I am a BIG audiobook fan, so when I got the chance to turn the Cassie Scot Series into audio productions, I jumped on it. Melissa Reizian Frank is a true professional; talented and easy to work with.

For me, audiobooks are a near necessity. I am legally blind. This doesn’t mean I can’t see (in large print), just that even Ereaders give me headaches and at the end of the day, after I’ve worked hard in my usual 26 to 36-point  font, it’s nice to let someone tell me a story instead. I curl up with my audiobook player, close my eyes, and live the story inside my mind.

There are tons of great reasons to listen to audiobooks though. I’ll also listen while I clean the house. Many like to listen while driving to or from work, or on long trips. It’s a hands-free method of reading that still gives you all the heart of the story.

If you’re an audiobook lover too, check out the Cassie Scot Series. Read them in order! (I’ve only said that a thousand times. Hope people are listening. :) )

 

Here’s the link for the latest:

http://www.audible.com/pd/Sci-Fi-Fantasy/Stolen-Dreams-Audiobook/B00MNJBF32/ref=a_search_c4_1_1_srTtl?qid=1408539028&sr=1-1

Characters Welcome: The Gods of Garran + $25 Amazon Gift Card

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BLURB:

MEDIA KIT Book CoverOnce the Borrai, the Gods of Garran, walked among the people, taming the wind and the fiery mountains. Then invaders came from the sky and killed the gods–destroying all who opposed them. A hundred years have passed since the Invaders came from the sky–an advanced alien race known as the Chanden. Now, having suffered many grievances at the hand of the aliens, the tribesmen rise up to find the god-stones and revive the ancient powers of the Borrai–and reclaim their world.

When the Chanden learn of this, they send a spy to infiltrate the Garrans–a young woman named Asta, who has her own reasons for hating the Garrans. She begins to realize that they are dealing with a real power and not a superstition when they get close to finding the god-stones. Can the Chanden be in the wrong?

CHARACTERS WELCOME: 

MOORHEN

    Moorhen never fit in with his numerous other brothers and sisters in the Sand Plain Clan. He was never much of a hunter; even his little sister, Crysethe was a better hunter than him, though he could be a fair shot with a bow.

   The others in the tribe did think him odd at times. He had too much curiosity, questioning the world. And secretly, he would read books. Chanden books, since the Garran natives had no written language, prior to the invasion by the Chanden. 

    He found simple pleasure in increasing the productiveness of the crops they grew and finding ways to preserve the food to last longer, decreasing hunger among the tribe.

    But the others talked of war and revenge on the Chanden for the wrongs of the past—a lot of talk but no action. Yet.

    Moorhen’s own father, Ashtan, chieftain of the tribe, was too sensible a man to give in to rash action. Though some said in his younger days, that was not true. Long ago, he had killed his share of Chanden.

    But all actions against these technologically advanced invaders had failed, and the Garrans had given in to their rule. What power could they bring against them that could possibly prevail, now that the gods of Garran were dead?

CHARACTERS WELCOME: 

ASTA

    Asta was determined to take hold of her own destiny. She’d grown up in her father’s shadow: Koethe, the Commander of the colony on Garran. Neither her mother nor Asta had wanted to come to this remote planet. Powerful and wealthy, Koethe usually got what he wanted, though that had not been enough to keep her mother from being murdered by Garrans during the rebellion when they had arrived, years ago. And no amount of apology would bring her mother back.

    Powerful as Koethe was, did her father think he could command her? Now that Asta was of age, she had joined the Stealth Unit, working to stop Garran rebellions, without telling her father. He’d be furious. The work was dangerous. And he had already told her he’d support her, but he wanted to arrange an “advantageous” marriage for her to some rich family or diplomat back home.

    All he thought about was being appointed governor of Garran one day.

   Well, she wouldn’t let him marry her off. And now that she was of age—he couldn’t force her. Though working in the Stealth Unit, he was technically her boss. 

    But once her field training was complete, surely he wouldn’t humiliate her by demoting her back to a desk job once he found out what she was doing. Would he? Already, she was so upset with him that she had scarcely spoken to him in years.

    Once she’d made enough money, she’d leave this deserted rock and move back to the capital. The Garrans were smelly, ignorant barbarians who had no gratitude for the efforts the Chanden had made help provide an education, doctors and the technology that they had tried to share with this indignant race.

    They preferred to live in the desert in their lava caves, hunt for food, wear rags and live like their ancestors had lived rather than accept the help that the Chanden were trying to offer them. If they chose to be miserable, let them be!

    But the things she saw in the field training disturbed her, the way the Garrans were occasionally treated by the Chanden Enforcers. Was that right?

EXCERPT:

Slowly, Moorhen made his way toward the group. It sounded like ten or more people. He readied his bow.
The band of men stopped moving, perhaps to camp for the night. Moorhen heard raucous laughter. Would expert warriors be foolish enough to get openly drunk in an unprotected place, even if their spirits were high because of a good hunt?
As Moorhen peered out from a new vantage point, he froze. These men were no clansmen. They weren’t even Garran–but Chanden. His heart pumped faster. What were they doing so far from any city? Men like that seldom ventured this far out, except to seek out trouble.

They hadn’t seen him. He’d make his way back to the ravine–then he could leave unseen. The Chanden were not good hunters, but their weapons were deadly.
As Moorhen started back, he heard a cry amidst the laughter, a word or two in Garran. Moorhen turned, recognizing his brother Norbi’s voice. Quickly Moorhen climbed to a vantage point where he could see the men clearly. In their midst Moorhen saw his little brother struggling against them. Two of the Chanden men hit Norbi and kicked him. From the shape his brother was in, the Chanden must have had him for awhile.
Moorhen’s blood grew hot. Without stopping to think, he aimed his bow at the tallest man who was tormenting his brother and shot. The arrow hit and the man fell. Realizing they were not alone, the Chanden looked around.

Moorhen shot again. Another Chanden fell.

AUTHOR BIO:

MEDIA KIT Author Photo

Meredith Skye began writing fiction in elementary school and always wanted to be a novelist. She was fascinated by tales of the fantastic and bizarre.

She loves to travel. She has a fascination with the Middle Ages and loves swords, medieval costumes, castles and ancient lifestyles. She enjoys Celtic art and music.

She’s a vivid dreamer and many of her dreams come back to life in her novels.

Meredith Skye has a B.A. from the University of Utah in Film Studies.

Gods of Garran Amazon ASIN: B00FGLUI00
Book Link: http://amzn.com/B00FGLUI00
Author website: http://www.meredithskye.com
Twitter: http://twitter.com/meredithskye
Goodreads AUTHOR: http://www.goodreads.com/MeredithSkye
Email: meredith.ellen.skye@gmail.com
Facebook author page: http://www.facebook.com/meredith.e.skye

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TV Series Review: Last Comic Standing

After the best comic on America’s Got Talent got sent home early because she performed on the wrong night (Seriously, first two weeks I was only excited by about 3 acts. Then last week I could easily have seen 8 performers moving on!) I decided to check out a show entirely for comedians — Last Comic Standing. I mean, America’s Got Talent is fun because you never know what you’re going to get, but I was clearly in the mood to laugh.

And laugh I did. Last comic standing begins with invitational rounds that fire 100 carefully selected stand-up comedians at you like rounds from a machine gun. The laughter is thick on the ground and they don’t waste nearly as much time as other shows I could name with personal stories and judge’s criticism.

BUT …

The show is flowed. America doesn’t get to vote on the comedians, only the panel of judges do. Maybe I’m getting soiled from watching all these talent shows in which I get to vote on the best, maybe I’m on a power trip. And yet I tired of the jokes very quickly once I realized that the “last comic standing” would ultimately be the one Roseanne, Keenen, and Russell thought was the best — not the one America thought was the best. It makes the show nothing more than an aired live audition for a new comedy show on NBC.

I’m afraid I’m done laughing. I’ll stick with John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight; I just wish it aired more than once a week!

Book Review + Characters Welcome: Guarding Poppy + $100 AGC Giveaway

VBT Guarding Poppy Banner copy

Thanks for having me here today at Into the Dreaming to talk about my newest release, Guarding Poppy, featuring one of my favorite characters, Alec Lambert.

Characters are the most important element to any good story and, as a writer, I feel I’ve grown up right alongside Alec. We initially meet him in the first book of my first series The Charmed. He is young, impetuous, charmingly witty and most of all confident, a confidence that borders on arrogance. He has been raised since boyhood knowing he would someday ascend to Elder, the highest ranking position within a secret organization called The Brethren. That confidence/arrogance (a trait I firmly believe someone has to have to be a good leader) will serve him well in the future. Yet, in many ways, the reader can see Alec is not ready for the responsibility. The difficult experiences and ultimately the final battle scene that occurs in The Charmed Trilogy change Alec. He grows up fast, but not all of the changes are good.

He witnesses the death of his best friend at the hands of his now vampiric uncle, and his anger and grief have hardened him as a leader. He is completely driven towards his goal of protecting humans and would do anything to protect the people with whom he’s charged . . . but he is also grieving. He just refuses to acknowledge it.

That is where Guarding Poppy starts.

Guarding Poppy is the second book in my Men of Brahm Hill series and my very favorite reason to write connected series is so I can have the opportunity to build a strong, fleshed-out backstory for a character before they are front and center in their own story. My hope is when the reader starts Guarding Poppy they see Alec’s flaws but they are also routing for him to find balance and happiness.

Enter Poppy Honeywell . . .

Poppy, an incredibly clumsy woman, enters Alec’s life and he finds his whole Brethren world turned upside down. This man of confidence, who is used to having everything under control, suddenly begins to see he doesn’t have everything under control and that scares him more than any supernatural being. That loss of control and the unraveling that follows makes Alec the best kind of character for me. He is layered, he is complicated and he won’t always do what the reader wants him to do. And isn’t that great? Who wants to read about a Hero who does everything you expect him to? Characters are only characters if they are flawed and frustrating and real . . . just like we are. That’s how we relate to them as a reader. And when you see them make the turn in the right direction you just want to cheer because you are invested in that character.

And that’s the way it should be.

BLURB:

VBT Guarding Poppy Book Cover Banner copyONE NIGHT . . . ONE VIOLENT, SUPERNATURAL BATTLE . . .

AND FIVE STORIES OF THE MEN WHOSE LIVES WILL BE CHANGED BY IT.

Alec Lambert was born to lead. He’s a ruling Elder of The Brethren, possessing steely confidence, natural smarts, and decisive problem solving abilities . . . and he’s not too bad on the eyes, either. Everything in his life has gone exactly according to plan—until the night of Brahm Hill. Alec loses his best friend at the hands of the uncle he trusted like a father, along with his previously unshakable faith to lead those with whom he’s charged. Despite this, he continues to press ahead, and for his next assignment he’s asked to protect a very beautiful but very clumsy Dhampir who’s being hunted by a powerful warlock. Suddenly, he finds his whole Brethren world is turned upside down . . . and he finds himself harboring a desire for her he can’t explain.

Poppy Honeywell knows she’s far from perfect. Bad things tend to happen when she’s around. She’s more than a little clumsy, with a phobia or two mixed in. Not to mention that her name is certainly unusual. But she doesn’t have time to worry about all that because she’s on the run and not about to back down from the arrogant Elder who’s just been assigned as her protector, claiming he has all the answers to her problems. The real problem, though, is . . . she’s irresistibly drawn to this man who faces constant danger and takes charge so naturally. But Poppy also sees that taking charge of others helps Alec mask his own very deep pain.

WILL ALEC FIND HIS WAY OUT OF THE DARKNESS AND SURRENDER TO HIS FEELINGS FOR POPPY BEFORE THE WARLOCK CHASING HER CATCHES UP TO THEM BOTH?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

My Review

Poppy is on the run for her life, being hunted by a warlock who killed her mother before her eyes. Now Alec is charged with keeping her safe, and he is determined to do it with or without Poppy’s cooperation!

There was a lot to like about this book. Alec was a strong, likable character who made for a terrific romantic hero. In fact, I think he made the book. He was dealing with a terrible loss — the loss of a friend he himself sent into battle. I was immediately drawn to him both as a man and as a human being.

There was a world full of magical creatures, secret organizations, evil arch nemesises (nemesi? :) ) and complicated relationships between more than just the main two characters. I am always drawn into stories with complex relationships. World building in urban fantasy these days offers a lot of sameness; IMHO overcoming it requires well-developed characters.

The writing style was easy and smooth, largely getting out of the way of the story. It did hit a couple of my pet peeves — the dreaded !? and the use of “questioned” in place of “asked” — but that could just be me. I did notice some typos and a few awkward phrases.

I did have some reservations as I read, largely involving the title character Poppy. She spent her whole life thinking she was cursed but cursed in what way? It was all very vague, even knowing it was going to turn out all to be in her own head. Part of the problem may have been that her unwillingness to interact with people was inconsistent. And her protestations that she needed to be alone were weak. All in all, I vastly preferred Alec’s viewpoint.

The pacing had some ups and downs, with a solid start and some great, immediate scenes that kept me turning pages. In between these scenes I did feel some drag, but overall this was an enjoyable read.

If you like magic, romance, vampires (and other magical creatures), you may like this book!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

EXCERPT

Sovereign Elder Joseph Davin stepped forward to embrace Poppy. “You’re not safe here, little flower.” Now Alec really felt like he was intruding on a private conversation. “I must protect you the best way I know how. I promised your mother.” He then motioned back to Alec. “I trust Alec. He’s a former Guardian—and a very good one. You yourself said that you can feel Irina getting closer. Let Alec take you someplace where he can protect you and you can know what it feels like to be safe. In the meantime, I will find a way to deal with Irina.”

Poppy dropped her head quietly, and for a moment it seemed she wasn’t going to answer him. “I feel safer here with you than I will with a stranger.”

He’s right,” Alec finally said as he came slowly to his feet, realizing he needed to do something to gain this woman’s trust—though he could hardly blame her for being guarded after spending a lifetime on the run. “I may be a stranger to you, but I can protect you. And more importantly, I can give you all the tools at my disposal so you can protect yourself. If you have a sense for recognizing the warlock who’s threatening you, your Dhampir instincts are telling you that you’re in danger. You need to start trusting those instincts.”

Those huge gold eyes of hers locked on him fully with a look of utter determination as she walked right up to him—thankfully, straight this time. He had to admit, he flinched just a bit with the possibility she might trip again. “I don’t want any part of witchcraft, Dhampirs or vampires. That’s not who I am.”

Yes, it is,” he challenged her without hesitation. “That’s exactly who you are.”

Her eyes narrowed as if she were preparing to blast him with a thousand different reasons why that was not true, but instead she replied, “I will agree to go with you on two conditions.” Alec simply crossed his arms in front of his chest. What was it about women and their conditions? Why couldn’t they just agree? “One, you’ll agree to never disagree with me again.” Alec’s brows arched high at that rather impossible request. “And two, I will only go with you if it doesn’t require us crossing an ocean in an air-”

Poppy’s words were cut off by her small squeal when Alec caught sight of Joseph sticking a needle into her arm. Her eyes widened in shock and she tried to turn to Joseph, but her limbs gave out from under her almost immediately. Alec reached out and caught Poppy when she would have otherwise collapsed to the floor. “What in the world did you do that for?”

No worries,” Joseph assured him. “It’s just a little something to help her relax for the trip.”

Alec blinked at him. “Relax? She doesn’t like flying?”

Joseph shook his head. “Terrified of it, actually. Unfortunately, Poppy lacks an appreciation for the severity of her current situation. We need to get her out of London tonight—hence, something to relax her. But once she’s someplace safe she’ll be no trouble at all.”

Alec’s gaze narrowed shrewdly. By what he had already witnessed in the few scant minutes he had been in this woman’s presence, she was the very definition of the term high maintenance.

So he doubted that very much.

AUTHOR Bio and Links:

MEDIA KIT Author PhotoChristine is a graduate of Washington State University where she received a BA in Interior Design. And true to form of using mostly her ‘right brain’, she splits her time between her commercial design career and her imaginary world of writing. She lives in the scenic Pacific Northwest where she enjoys hiking, camping and photographing many of the wonderful places that served as inspiration for her writing. Her biggest reward in life is any given day when one of her books connects with a reader because she herself is such a lover of reading. Some of her favorite authors include Lisa Kleypas, Julia Quinn, and Kimberly Derting.

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