Friday, September 19, 2014

Addicted to Writing Presents Friday's Featured Title: Blood Veins by Brian Young




Brian Young
byoung0201@aol.com

Excerpt Heat Level: 1
Book Heat Level: 1



It's Raining Books Review:

"This author has a way of making his characters come to life so that you can really get to know them and begin to understand their reasons for doing what they are doing. He even made the bad guys real and helped you understand them also. Sometimes I wanted to stop reading because I had things to do, or because I wanted to prolong the story, but I also wanted to know what was really going on and how it would end.

Then, more than halfway through the story, I found out something very significant about this strange world and just what it really was. It made the story even more exciting. This book has the feel of a movie with vivid descriptions, exciting plot and a cast of interesting characters that I truly cared about. I can't wait for the next book in the series!

I give this book a 4 flower rating."


BLURB:

A black wave of terror has passed over the thriving kingdom of Larista. Mysterious invaders have swept over the land, laying waste to everything in their path and leaving ghost towns in their wake. No one knows where they came from and no one knows their purpose.

Tasting nothing but defeat after defeat after, the light of hope is fading in the kingdom; but the guerilla forces resisting the invasion have received new information. The news has provided a small glimmer that could possibly spark into something more. Captain Maximus Rex leads a daring rescue mission deep in the Laristan forests to save the lone surviving member of the royal family.

Once freed, Prince Alexander Novelle, along with his friends and comrades, face a perilous journey deep behind enemy lines. Their destination is Castle Varanasi. The once proud Laristan capital, gateway to heaven and salvation, lines in ruins under Dolus occupation.

Mysterious assassins, underworld savages and renegade Dolus survivors stand between them and the answers they seek. What they find there will shatter their perceptions and lead to unknown perils none of them are ready to face.


EXCERPT:
Maximus and Percival couldn't have looked any different. Maximus had brown eyes and raven black hair. His face was weathered and rugged with a distinguished long nose. A small white scar on his left cheek marked where the tip of a sword had nearly taken his eye. Percival, on the other hand, showed no signs of the burdens the two men had shared. He had a smooth complexion unmarred by the usual signs of a soldier's life. Wide eyes and a small nose framed his face. Some people said he was so handsome he was almost pretty; a sentiment most people didn't say to his face or after they had seen him fight.

They both were wearing green and brown camouflage, full-body armor. It was valuable and rare and could easily deflect a blade; could even deflect a firearm and was extremely lightweight. Most soldiers were wearing plate armor made from steel. This stuff was made of a composite containing ceramic and metal. The results were much stronger and lighter plates. They also had full helmets that completely enclosed the head and face. The visors were brand new with motion detectors, full zoom, night vision and a host of other functions.

Normally Maximus liked to play things by the book, but Percival was a special case and he couldn't help but rise to the bait.

"Maybe," he responded, "but we both know you couldn't hit anything with it. All you're good for is using a beat stick, Lieutenant; besides, I'm a lot more important than you. People care if I get killed; you're replaceable, expendable." It took everything he had to keep a smile off his face.

A look of mock horror passed over the lieutenant's face. "Not funny, Maxi, not funny. They sure wouldn't miss your winning personality though. Are you ready to get out of this rain yet?" Percival didn't even bother to hide his smile.

All humor drained from Maximus as he turned and glared at Percival. "Don't call me that Percy, besides I like the rain. Do you talk to Lord Bran that way, Lieutenant?"

Maximus shifted a little as he spoke, trying to relieve the pressure from the arm he had been laying on. The movement only seemed to make it tingle more.

Percival had been grinning before, but now that smile split his face, turning it from rugged soldier back to the baby-faced, optimistic look he managed to maintain despite years of fighting.

"You know I don't, but I might consider starting if it will keep him from sending us out in this nightmare in the middle of winter. It's cold enough to be snowing, Maxi. My sword is stuck in its sheath. I couldn't get it out if I wanted to." Percival mock-tugged at the sword on his belt. "See, completely stuck. We better trade spots."

Maximus glanced at Percival's sword then at the giant ax strapped to his back. I don't think I've ever seen him draw his sword anyway. It was Maximus' turn to smile this time, although it was more of a predatory grin than anything he would share with a friend. "It's alright, Lieutenant, we all know you'll be hiding once the fighting starts anyway."

Percival shrugged at Maximus then turned his head to stare at the river. Maximus waited for him to make some kind of comeback, and at first thought Percival had conceded the argument. Percival started to whistle and Maximus had to strain his ears to pick up the tune. He instantly recognized it once he heard a couple notes. It was a song about the events that had given Blood River its current name. This one happened to be about a cowardly captain who had abandoned his men on the eve of battle and the lieutenant who had taken over and rallied the men to victory.

Maximus snorted and turned away to hide the smile on his face. He had been upset about the current mission, thinking about scrubbing it before Percival came out here. Somehow, like always, Percival had been able to read his mood and turn it around. They had been friends for a long time and while Percival had never shown any inclination to lead, Maximus suspected he would make a damn good captain. Continuing to look out towards the rushing river, Maximus decided to get to the point. "Do you have a reason for wasting my time, Lieutenant?"

Percival sighed and the smile died from his face. "Targets sighted; they turned the bend about five minutes ago." Percival pointed south down the length of the river. "They should be here in about fifteen. No signs they spotted us."

Finally. Maximus nodded as he listened to Percy, his mind focusing on the reason they were out here in the first place. "Packages?" he asked as he glanced back at Percival.

Percival squinted into the distance, a habit he had when he had a mixed opinion about something. "In tow, Sir, but no conformation either way on the prime target."

Maximus noticed the slight frown on Percival's face and the reservation in his eyes. "He will be there, Percival. Don't worry about it. Formations?"

Percival drew his lips back and sucked on his teeth before answering. "Staggered. Troops, packages, troops, packages… more troops. It's not gonna be easy."

Maximus knew Percival was probing him, trying to test his resolve. They had suffered heavy casualties their last time out and for what? The few people they had saved had fled to their homes. Most likely to be picked up again and sent back to the mines.

"It never is Percy," Maximus looked up into the rain. We're here to rescue these people, but the conquerors have changed tactics on us. Your men are good shots, but nobody is that good. "We'll have to charge in to them. Tell Richardson, Davil, Willks and Klivos to hang back and use their bows. Richardson and Davil will take the front of the column. Willks and Klivos will take the back. Both pair will stay on the hill as snipers and backup. Only clear shots. Everyone else, swords or their beat sticks of choice. I have Alexander's guards." He glanced at Percival to gauge his reaction and got nothing.

"I hate beat sticks," grumbled Percival, completely ignoring the reference to Alexander.

Maximus realized Percival wasn't going to think about their primary package until Alexander was confirmed, but Percival had good reason to be skeptical. They had hit several prisoner convoys based on reliable information and had failed every time. They could only hope this one would be different. The general population and most of the army had already written Alexander off as dead. No one had seen Alexander killed at the battle of Valhalisa, and there was still the occasional report of someone sighting a man matching his profile.

Maximus gave Percy a nod and a grim smile. "It's what you're good at, Percy. We don't have a choice. We can't risk hitting any of the prisoners." As he spoke he watched a look of trepidation grow on Percival's face. "What's wrong?"

"What if he's not down there?" Percival sighed. "I can't handle this. We keep hitting these convoys, and he's not there. We lose good men every time, and the people we free don't even join us. They run off to hide and die. Eventually the conquerors are going to start guarding these convoys better and changing the routes. We are only going to get so many more chances at this."

"Losing your faith?"

A rare spark of anger flashed across Percival's face. "Never."

Percival wasn't the only one capable of manipulation. "We aren't here just for him. We would go through with this even if we knew he wasn't down here. It's our duty to help these people. Some of them have joined us. Emon was worth it. Without his medical skills we would have lost a lot more people to injury and sickness." Maximus thought of the unlikely doctor. One of the biggest, meanest looking guys he had ever met; a giant grizzly next to Alexander's lion frame. The man wouldn't hurt a soul. Emon spent his life trying to help people after his sister died of the sickness when they were kids. Maximus had even heard rumors Emon had spent time with the Sisters of Gnaritas.

Percival shook his head. "It's our duty to kill that murdering, traitorous scum, Novelle, and free everyone. Not just these people here today. We can't do that on our own though. We need him or no one will follow us."

Maximus cocked his head and looked quizzically at Percy. "You know both their names are Novelle, right? Not to mention there's no proof Prodis is responsible for this. I doubt Alexander would appreciate you calling his brother a murdering, traitorous scum."

It was clear Percival was convinced Prodis was responsible and all he gave in response was a short grunt.

"Anyway," Maximus continued, "If Alexander is down there and we don't go in, we will have missed our best and possibly our only chance at freeing him. We go."

Percival's face went blank as he barked out, "Yes Sir."

The captain sighed, his breath showing in the crisp cold air. The rain had started to let up, and it seemed the temperature had dropped another ten degrees as the chill renewed its assault against his rain soaked cold weather gear. "I hate it when you call me Sir. It means you disagree with me, or you're mad at me"

Percy gave his Captain a half grin. "First, if I can't call you Maxi and I can't call you Sir, what am I suppose to call you? Second, I do agree with you. I just know when you need someone else to voice your inner thoughts and help you sort things out. Lastly, I'll make sure everyone is ready." Percival finished with his customary grin.

"I hate you sometimes, Lieutenant."

Percival shrugged and turned to pass the plans along to the rest of the squad.

"Lieutenant."

Percival turned to face Maximus. "Yeah Max?"

Maximus had been staring out at the river but turned back to look at Percival. "Cut true and straight, and for God's sake man, block well."

Percival smiled at Maximus' rare prayer and finished it for him. "You too, Max, and Creator save us all."


It's Raining Books Review:

"This author has a way of making his characters come to life so that you can really get to know them and begin to understand their reasons for doing what they are doing. He even made the bad guys real and helped you understand them also. Sometimes I wanted to stop reading because I had things to do, or because I wanted to prolong the story, but I also wanted to know what was really going on and how it would end.

Then, more than halfway through the story, I found out something very significant about this strange world and just what it really was. It made the story even more exciting. This book has the feel of a movie with vivid descriptions, exciting plot and a cast of interesting characters that I truly cared about. I can't wait for the next book in the series!

I give this book a 4 flower rating."






Thursday, September 18, 2014

Addicted to Writing Presents: A Marriage of Inconvenience by Christine Young



Title: A Marriage of Inconvenience
Author: Christine Young
Email: achristay@aol.com
Genre: Historical Romance
Excerpt Heat Level: 1
Book Heat Level: 4




A REGAL BEAUTY

When the duchess decides to wed her to a wastrel and a fop, Ravyn Grahm takes matters into her own hands and declares her engagement to another man. Instead of fessing up and telling her great aunt what she has done, she goes through with the pretense. Aric Lakeland is the bastard son of an earl and has a dangerous reputation. But Ravyn is willing to do most anything to keep the duchess from discovering the lie.

A DEVIL-MAY-CARE SMUGGLER

He'd bought land in America, looking to put down roots and end his life of adventure, but Aric Lakeland got more than he bargained for when he encountered a beautiful heiress who made a promise she didn't want to keep. But the promise could not be undone and standing between them were more obstacles than either ever dreamed. Aric had made plans to spend the rest of his life in America and that was at odds with Ravyn's plan of living in England and running her father's estate. Now, he'll have to choose between his dreams and the woman he loves more than life.


EXCERPT

Aric Lakeland dodged foot-traffic along the boulevard in a crazy attempt to keep up with the bouncing erratic carriage he followed. The day was intolerably hot and his mood was no better. He resented this mission. He’d left a cool pub and a cold brew to sweat beneath the hot sun.

His idea of fun was not traipsing after a notorious gambler and womanizer. Nor did he want to baby sit a spoiled debutante.

Yet, he’d promised. A wave of guilt washed through him.

Sweat beaded on his forehead, dripping down his face. He swiped it with the back of his hand and sidestepped, nearly knocking packages from a lady just exiting a dressmaker’s shop.

“You owe me, my friend. When this is done, I will collect,” he swore beneath his breath and began thinking of all the favors he might ask of his half brother.

The carriage he followed turned a corner and disappeared from sight. He plowed into a lamppost, swore again and raced through the crowds. Richy Richmond did not deserve this absurd protection. Richy could deal with his own affairs. The other part of his half brother’s request bothered Aric. He did not want anything to happen to the lady he followed. His half brother had reason to believe Richy might do something to compromise her. His gut instincts had never been wrong. Ravyn Grahm, cousin to his half brother’s wife, was in serious trouble.

Richy’s carriage came to an abrupt halt. Richy jumped from the vehicle. His cane in hand, he strode toward a dress shop Aric had reason to visit on occasion.

Aric watched, fascinated as the scene unfolded. He started forward but noticed Richy race to protect the women Aric followed. 

“You ruffians!  Get your hands off me!”  The white-haried Duchess shrieked, her age-lined face mottled with rage, pushing at two little guttersnipes who seemed more intent on shoving the elderly woman around than stealing the packages she carried.

Ravyn swiped her parasol across a boy’s head and turned to the other, her eyes blazing, shooting violet blue sparks.

“Stop it!” she cried out, raising her parasol again and again. “Take that!  And that!”

Amused, Aric leaned against a lamppost similar to the one he had run into earlier in his race to keep Richy’s carriage in view.

He crossed his arms over his chest, grinning as he watched Ravyn batter the boys who had had the audacity to try and harm the Duchess.

He chuckled, prepared to step in if needed but it appeared the two women had the situation under control. Ravyn, he mused, the regal, classy lady who seldom had a hair on her gorgeous head out of place was decidedly disheveled. Her cheeks were flushed, her hair flowed beautifully from its perfectly coiffed hairdo. Her jacket sleeve was torn and to his amazement, she grinned as if she were having the time of her life.

“Go on, get,” Richy stepped in, shooing the two boys away. He grabbed hold of one of the boy’s arms and shook him. “Patrol,” he yelled, looking around for help. The boy stomped on Richy’s foot. Surprised, Richy let go. “Bloody hell!  Come back here. Little brat,” he yelled as the boy ran off.

Aric cocked an eyebrow, watching and wondering what would happen next, knowing Richy had a card up his sleeve. He had not forgotten he was supposed to be watching Richy, nor had he forgotten the man had suffered innumerable losses at the gaming tables and the racetrack the last few days and he might do something to Ravyn.

Aric pushed away from the lamppost and strode toward the women and Richy. He watched Richy change demeanor. Suddenly instead of rescuer, he was attacker. Aric’s heart stopped for a moment then raced.

Richy wrenched Ravyn against him, pulling her close, her arm behind her back, his mouth close to her ear as if he whispered something to Ravyn.

“Let go,” Ravyn cried out, twisting and thrashing her arms. It seemed to be the opposite scenario as moments before. The crowds that had previously closed around the women had now dissipated.

“Let go,” Ravyn cried again. 

“You’re mine, Ravyn,” Richy said in a low well-modulated voice. “You should have realized it months ago and I’d have won the wager. But instead, you ignored me. You taunted me and sometimes you pretended to care while other times you turned up your pert little nose when I walked by.”

“What do you think you are doing?  Let go of me!”  Ravyn cried out, hatred now in her stormy violet eyes.

To Aric, she sounded incredulous, perhaps confused. But strangely, not afraid.

“We--“he paused a moment--“are going to Gretna Green. We are getting married and I will inherit your estate. You will be mine.”







Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Addicted to Writing Presents: The Wager by Christine Young




Christine Young
Excerpt Heat Level: 1
Book Heat Level:

Buy at Amazon


BLURB:

Amorica Hepburn was sent to London to find a husband. However, finding a man was the last item on her agenda. With her two cousins, Amorica wagers she can dissuade her suitor before the others. Despite her efforts she discovers a chemistry that cannot be denied. Suddenly she is the arrogant man's wife, pledged to a marriage neither desire. But swept off to his ancestral home above the Dover cliffs and into his strong embrace, Amorica is soon possessed by a raging passion for the husband she had vowed to despise…

Damian Andrews couldn't afford to trust the emerald-eyed spitfire who happened upon his secret. Amorica's hatred of all men of his kind only inflames the war that rages between them. Still, he can not control the intense desire his stubborn bride inspires, or make her surrender to his will until he has conquered the headstrong beauty on the battlefield of love…

EXCERPT

Coast of England 1816

"It's a bloody cursed day." Damian Andrews swept the child into his arms and waded through the pounding surf to the beach. He braced himself against the out-going current then sloshed through the crashing waves. Salt spray clung to the wind, stinging his nostrils.

Damian turned. Beneath his ribs, his heart pounded the cadence hard and fast. He swore again as he watched the captain shout orders to his crew. The French brandy that was supposed to have arrived this night would have to wait.

Standing in the longboat, the captain of the ship that brought the brandy as well as the political refugees from the Germanies held a torch aloft--the only light in the vast darkness. "Hurry, laddie. We have human cargo tonight and the tide is changing."

A little girl whimpered.

Damian pulled her into his arms, bent on protecting her at all cost.

"It's all right. You will all be together soon." The smuggling of French brandy was a cover for the cause that meant so much to him. Religious and political refugees--at times it seemed they came in droves. All were seeking a better life. A life of freedom. "Your mother is coming as well as your baby brother. You will all be safe."

Damian looked to the captain. "The father?" he queried.

"He didn't come with his family. He said he had one more thing to do. You must hurry."

The child leaned into Damian, her little face nuzzling his shoulder, her silent sobs gut-wrenching. He pulled her closer, cursing at the elements as well as mankind and wishing he could find a way to shield the tiny child from all harm. He knew the feat to be impossible. The little girl touched a place in his heart and for a moment filled that broken space with light. Yes, the mother would be with her children, but why had the father stayed where his life was in peril? He had learned long ago one could come to regret rash actions. And he'd also learned one could lose all chance at love in one instant.

Lord, but he'd lost his concentration and in losing that, he could well lose his edge.

No secrets-- no lies. The thought haunted him.

His life was a lie, but he would change nothing until his penance was paid. A constant drizzle soaked him to the skin. The wind sent goose bumps rising on his arms. He reached shore and handed the girl over to Aric Lakeland, a trusted friend and accomplice in this night's work, then turned and walked back to the longboat. Her baby brother as well as her mother waited.

He had never meant to get involved. It was the greatest of ironies that he was here now. He'd been a man who loved his family and his home.

He'd been content but that seemed years ago--a life time.

It felt like centuries.

The captain spoke, his voice hushed. "Hurry, now, Master Damian.

It's the watch. They are due to ride by here any time now. The patrols have doubled these last few weeks. I fear it's not as safe as it used to be." The captain handed over the baby wrapped in blankets. Damian stared at the child. The babe couldn't be a year old. The child didn't make a sound, not even a whimper.

This was injustice, a travesty. He looked at the mother. "Can you make it on your own?" He prayed the fragile lady standing before him had more courage than she appeared to have. She nodded and with the captain's help, she stepped into the ocean, struggling for balance. Yet her shoulders were squared and her spine stiff.

As soon as the captain placed the babe in Damian's arms and the three of them were headed for land, he gave orders. Two sailors rowed out to sea, moving toward the black ship that rose and fell on the distant waves.

On a cliff above, the dark silhouette of a third man, Ryder McClaren, could be seen for a brief moment. He waved his arms then disappeared into the shadows once more.

"Hurry," Damian bade the mother, his hand resting on the small of her back, urging her forward.