Thursday, October 30, 2014

Rogue Phoenix Press Presents: Rebel Heart by Christine Young



Rebel Heart
Christine Young
achristay@aol.com

Excerpt Heat Level: 1
Book Heat Level:

Buy at: www.roguephoenixpress.com


"God Almighty!" Cameron Savage rocked on the balls of his feet before he moved swiftly and silently behind the furtive shadow ahead. Until this moment, Cameron thought the area was secured and safe. If something wasn't done soon to stop this boy, all hell would break lose.

The most powerful of the overlords were due into this area by noon. He, Cameron Savage, confidant of the most influential of all the overlords and also double agent, spy--thieftaker, was blessed with the burden of securing the perimeter.

His job was two-fold; the overlords must feel safe, and the wheels must be set in motion for their eventual capture and prosecution.

This City Dweller complicated his mission, had the nerve to steal away in the early hours of dawn to some secret rendezvous. It seemed he cared not for the laws and the tenuous peace. And why should the boy? The corruption that existed in this world went unprosecuted, terrifying all law-abiding citizens.

Cameron vowed long ago to put an end to the trafficking, to stop the thieves who stole the deadly viruses from the disease control centers, holding them ransom until the City Dwellers were all but bankrupt. He'd vowed to stop the corrupt and dangerous thieftakers from forming unholy alliances with the thieves, and in the process reaping fortunes from both sides.

For a moment he looked at the emblem sewn on his jacket and gritted his teeth. Once, the golden red symbol of the dragon, of the thieftakers, stood for something noble. A man wearing the emblem could be proud of what he did.

But no longer.

Over the last five years, progress had been made. The tension had eased somewhat, but the threat of contamination always lingered. One mistake, one infestation and all would be for naught. All the hard work and research over the long years would be wasted by a few heartless people. Corrupt thieftakers. The crime syndicates.

Any mistake could prove fatal.

While Cameron watched, the small figure stopped beside an old rotten log and knelt before whipping the knapsack from his back and rummaging through the inside. Seconds later a spade and a small knife were secured from the pack, and the figure began to shuffle through the dust, the dirt, and the growths found within. The boy sat back on his haunches and deposited debris in tiny plastic sacks.

A shiver snaked along Cameron's spine. The figure did appear elusive but hardly dangerous. He wore loose fitting camouflage pants and a matching shirt. His cloak was hooded and dark. When he looked up, he seemed to stare directly at Cameron. With lithe movements, he deftly packaged and labeled each article and moved farther into the dense undergrowth.

The darkened forest and the grey mist closed in around the City Dweller as he passed a huge redwood tree and disappeared. Cameron stepped forward, intent on tracking this person, but a flash of light where the boy had been digging made him stop. Cameron searched the ground for the object that pulled his attention away from his quarry. Then he saw the piece of jewelry, a ring, with the DeMontville crest.

Perhaps this wasn't a waste of time.

Cameron's hand closed around the ring and he held the jewelry a scant moment before he slipped it on his little finger.

He looked again for the wayward youth.

"Halt!" The person he trailed stepped from behind a shield of trees.

A slow smile of amusement curled Cameron's lip. "Halt?" Cameron leaned casually against the tree the juvenile had emerged from. His hands crossed negligently over his chest. "Why?" Cameron asked.

"You have no right to be here."

Cameron cast the boy a contemptuous glare. "And I suppose you do." Cameron straightened and stepped boldly toward the small tense figure.

"Yes...I..." The young man sounded unsure of himself.

"Tell me what you are up to and I might allow you to slip back over the wall. Perhaps the good people within will forgive you the indiscretion."

"It's nothing," the youth said shakily as he backed away.

"Leave the pack and go," Cameron said in what he hoped was his most menacing tone. This young man needed a good scare.

"No.”

"What?" There was too much at stake here. Cameron decided the boy's curt refusal was foolhardy, and perhaps a good scare was not quite intimidating enough to convince him. Perhaps he needed to be taught a more severe lesson. Cameron started toward him bent on that very thing.

The boy stood his ground, chin tilted upward in a strangely feminine gesture that almost stopped Cameron.

"No?" Cameron's eyebrow rose in mockery. "Don't try to defy me. It will do you no good."

The little hellion whipped out a gun and pointed it at him. "I kill thieftakers!"

"Hell!" Cameron swore again.

Despite the shaking fingers, Cameron had no doubt this boy would use the weapon. He could disarm the boy.

Easily disarm him. Swiftly he brought his hand up, landing hard beneath the boy's wrist.

The gun, that had moments before been pointed against Cameron, went flying into some green oblivion of forest and moss.

Retribution could be quite satisfying.

Satisfying indeed. Yet he was about to be deprived of it. That very minute the juvenile turned and ran, disappearing into the mist and the trees.

Seconds later Cameron picked up the sound of his quarry's rapid flight through the overgrown and nearly forgotten trail.

He moved swiftly through the forest and its pathways, as if he had intimate knowledge of every tree and bush within.

And he did.

But the boy proved elusive.

Cameron came to a complete stop, warily searching the surrounding area, listening intently for any sound, or a subtle mistake. Only silence prevailed in the forest.

Suddenly a camouflaged waif darted between two trees. Cameron followed. As he managed to close the distance between the two of them, his adversary reached for a handful of dirt and grass. The debris hit him squarely in the face.

"Damnation! Fight like a man or I'll treat you as I would a small child. You deserve a thrashing, by God." The dirt did not slow Cameron. He started after the brat once more.

The boy slipped several times and was now scrambling on all fours as if he searched for something else to throw.

"Just try it." There was nothing more in the little clearing for the urchin to grab hold.

Cameron, more frustrated than he could ever recall, moved with lightning speed and agility. Like a thunderbolt, he crossed the few remaining feet between them and tackled the boy.

Fragile hips suddenly lay between his thighs, and something within him quickened as he held the soft form. Sheer amazement at the sudden insight held him still for a second.

Even as she struggled again, with what should have been the last of her strength in a final bid for freedom, beating upon his chest with her small fists, Cameron tried to decide what should be done with her. He caught her wrists and held them still.

"Who are you?" he challenged.

Nothing had changed, except...




Annie for Euro Reviews writes:

Rebel Heart is a well-written futuristic novel of a time that very possibly could come to pass, when viral plagues have laid the planet waste, and life is lived either in the sterile confines of domed habitats, or as pariahs in the outside wilderness. The world-building is excellent, vivid, and true-to-life. The characters will quickly catch and hold the reader's sympathies. The plot is quick, and takes time to examine many valid social, economic, class, and political issues as well. Christine Young delivers a winner which will capture the interest of futuristic/science fiction fans as well as the general reader.


Jasmina Vallombrosa for TCM Reviews writes:

Filled with drama and suspense, this book will draw you into the mysteries of science fiction. I was pleasantly surprised by Ms. Young’s storytelling talents as she wove not only a wonderful futuristic adventure, but also that of a passionate love story. I loved the main characters as they came to life on the pages. The plot was quite suspenseful and deliciously entertaining. As a result, I had no choice but to keep flipping the pages as I raced to the end. Bravo Ms.Young for such an extraordinary book from cover to cover!




Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Addicted to Writing Presents: My Angel by Christine Young



My Angel
Christine Young
ISBN: 978-1-936403-02-8
Excerpt Heat Level: 1
Book Heat Level:

A BEAUTY IN BUCKSKINS

When her father decided to send her to a finishing school back East, Angela Chamberlain refused to be confined to stuffy drawing rooms. Instead, the daring spitfire who could shoot like a man and ride like the wind longed for a life of adventure and romance—and she knew exactly who could give it to her. Devil Blackmoor was a hired gun with a dangerous reputation. But Angela was willing to go to the ends of the earth to capture the handsome devil's heart.

A DEVIL IN DISGUISE

He'd come to America looking for excitement, but Devil Blackmoor got more than he bargained for when he encountered a beautiful rebel who answered his kisses with a wild innocence that touched his very soul. Yet standing between them were more obstacles than either ever dreamed. For Devil had strapped on a gun for the wrong man. And that made Angela his enemy. Now he'll have to choose between his duty and the woman he loves more than life.


EXCERPT

Denver, 1893

A polished azure sky looked down on a day that vacillated between winter and spring--a day unable to make up its mind. Cool breezes lifted Angela Chamberlain's brand-new canary yellow skirt off the moisture-laden sidewalk. A blazing hot sun dried the puddles in the street left over from last night's deluge.

Unlike the day, Angela had no trouble making up her mind. Angela knew what she wanted out of life. She touched one finger to the sapphire earrings adorning her newly pierced ears.

She wanted adventure.

She had a terrible craving to see the world--to climb to the top of the Eiffel Tower, to walk the Great Wall of China. She yearned to fly in a hot-air balloon high above the earth, or ride in a gondola in Venice. She wanted to fall in love with a man who was as brave and smart as her father and as dangerous as Devil Blackmoor.

Angela's wish list had no end.

Instead of adventure and romance, in three short weeks she'd be enrolled in Miss Somebody's finishing school for young ladies, where knowing which fork to use was more important than riding with the wind on her favorite horse, Kangee. A place where changing one's clothes three times or more each day was common practice.

Two days ago she'd told her father she didn't want to go.

And two days ago her father had told her she would learn to appreciate the schooling and that she was a very lucky young woman. He'd also promised her a trip to the continent for a graduation present.

A graduation present! She wanted to yell at him, but wisely kept her mouth shut. She wanted to travel now. Today. But more than anything, she didn't want to be confined to the stuffy drawing rooms in the East. Just like her father, she needed freedom. But her father meant to take the choice from her.

To gossip and chatter with rich society women was not her destiny. To know which wine was served with fish would not make her happy. This was his dream for her. Sam Chamberlain needed to look to his own heart and remember the choices he had made twenty-five years ago.

Her destiny was out there somewhere, waiting for her to snap it up and hold the moment close to her heart. She knew what she wanted, and to prove her point, she'd bought a camera and had the machine sent over to the hotel. She meant to photograph all her adventures, every nook and cranny, every monument, every intriguing person.

Across the street and down two blocks, Devil Blackmoor had just taken the saddle off his horse. He brushed the stallion's back, all the while petting the animal's sleek coat and crooning into the horse's ear. Mesmerized, she watched his hands and the gentle way he stroked the horse.

She wished she had her camera.

Devil Blackmoor commanded her attention. He symbolized everything a father cautioned his daughter to be wary of. Despite the warning, Devil's strong jaw, his powerful shoulders and the confident way he held himself beckoned to every feminine nerve in Angela's body.

Angela clutched her hands to her chest, willing her gaze to shift to something or someone who wouldn't shatter her senses and set her blood boiling. Helpless to control her wayward heart, she kept looking back at Devil. She noticed everything about him, the way he moved, the way his denim jeans clung to his legs and the way they molded to his backside. Devil laughed at something the bouncer from the saloon said, and when he smiled, one edge of his mouth tilted crookedly. Ange­la's heart swooned and fluttered, and she thought she might never breathe again.


Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Addicted to Writing Presents Tell Tale Tuesday: Blood Veins by Brian Young



Blood Veins
Brian Young
byoung0201@aol.com

Excerpt Heat Level: 1
Book Heat Level: 1


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."