Thursday, January 31, 2019

#HighlandMiracle #HistoricalRomance

Author: Christine Young

Genre: Romance/Fantasy/Paranormal/Historical
Excerpt Heat Level: 1
Book Heat Level: 2

BLURB: Highland Miracle

EXCERPT: Highland Miracle

"Look, Tia," Reagan said as she pointed toward a nearby hill.  
"What is it?" 
"A handsome stranger," Reagan giggled, instantly transfixed by the man. "Coming to dance around the May Pole?" Reagan looked a little more closely. "Oh, it's the Laird of Sterling Castle. Why is he on foot?"
"You are not thinking what I think," Tia said. "You dinnae know who he is. He looks like the laird but then he doesn't."
"How do I look?" Regan asked, ignoring Tia and smoothing her skirts then hoping she looked beautiful enough to snare this man. She wanted to sweep the laird off his feet. This might be her one and only chance.
She heard the celebration in the background and watched as all eyes rose to meet the Laird's. Her brother William's eyes were startled then guarded and thoughtful. Tia's were intrigued. Some of the others gazes were wary and distrustful. They were a superstitious lot here in the Highlands. But even as she watched the people around her, she could not fully keep her attention from the Laird who had never attended this celebration before. 
She felt a curious draw as she met his piercing gaze. She had only once before seen the man. He was an illusive creature, usually keeping inside the walls of his castle. Rumor had it the castle was haunted and the ghost was a woman who kept him from finding true love or happiness.
"Who do you think he is and where did he come from?" Tia asked peering intently at the man. "I really don't think it's the Laird. No one has spoken to the man in years. He is so withdrawn. A few months ago people were saying he had died."
The man possessed a calm air as if he knew and recognized all the people in front of him. His dark gaze was mysterious, and when he stopped walking, he stood as still as a rock, striking and in clothes she had never seen anyone wear before. She had thought then, though, it would not have mattered what he wore.
Reagan could not draw her eyes from his and felt her flesh grow warm. The way he stared at her was unnerving. Her heart thundered beneath her chest. It seemed as if she knew this man from some long ago time.
But that wasn't possible.
It was May Day. The very air was filled with such excitement, and now this man was here as if sent for her and her alone. In the meadow maids and youths already danced around the Maypole. A man with a bear had the animal dancing circles upon his hind feet, and a marionette show was in progress. A flutist played in honor of King James, a group of Highlanders played the bagpipes. Noise and confusion flourished. The day was bright, clear blue, and so very beautiful. 
She saw a strange gold dusting swirling and dancing in the air around her. Instantly, she felt compelled toward the stranger. For a moment she thought someone spoke to her, encouraging her onward.
Reagan was grateful she'd taken so much time with her clothes. Her hose were white silk, and her little leather slippers were blue decorated with glass stones. Next to her flesh she wore a soft silk shift and over it a binding corset and three different petticoats. The dress was blue brocade, with stomachers in velvet, low-cut bodices, and half sleeves with scores of blue lace. Her facemask was covered with feathers and plumes. Her golden hair was done in ringlets, tied through with blue satin ribbons.  When she'd looked at herself in the mirror, she had been quite pleased with the results. 
So lost in thought, she had lost track of the man. 
Until he stood next to her.

"A...hi," he said. "I'm Sean Michael Sterling." He stared at her with dark dangerous brown eyes as he crossed his arms on his chest.

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

#HighlandMagic #HistoricalRomance

Christine Young
Excerpt Heat Level: 1
Book Heat Level: 3

REVIEW: Highland Magic

4.0 out of 5 stars
February 24, 2013

I have enjoyed this series. Strong alpha highlanders....what more could a girl want. The heroin is strong but sometimes just doesn't think....but that makes for the drama. Off to the third book.

BLURB: Highland Magic

Throughout the Highlands she is known as Keely, the witch woman. She is a great healer-a woman whose dreams come true. Ian MacPherson is a man who puts honor, loyalty and duty above everything. Their lives are entwined when Ian is sent by the Scottish King to bring Keely to trial for witchcraft. He is attacked and left for dead, but Keely rescues him. When he wakes, he discovers he has no memory. As he remembers his lost past, Ian finds that his need to protect the woman who has saved his life eclipses his duty to his king and country. He is a man torn between honor and duty to his country and the woman he loves.

Excerpt: Highland Magic

Scotland, Summer 1513:

For a moment the man's gaze met hers, bored into her heart, questioned. Blood curdling war cries rode the wings of death through the timeless night. Claymores clashed. Dark eyes the color of midnight flashed a challenge. The holy man's opponents hesitated then lunged once more.

Moonbeams reflected light from the gold chain he wore around his neck. Brown robes fell from massive shoulders. Three more enemies appeared from the trees. The priest fell to the ground, wounded by the broadside of his enemy's weapon. Motionless, he lay on her flower-strewn meadow, blood staining the grass and wildflowers, marring the colorful, summer landscape.

Keely Gray woke, heart pounding a rapid staccato. She pressed against her throbbing temples with sweat-slick palms, hoping to ease the horrific pain that always accompanied the dreams. Death--the scent of blood, fear and treachery still hung heavy in the darkened hut. The prickling sensation radiating from her spine to encompass her body was too familiar.

She listened and heard nothing.

A dark void impaled her. The usual night sounds stilled. She heard no hoot of owl, no chirp of crickets, no croak of frogs, nor could she hear the mournful sighing of the wind through the branches of the old oak trees.

Silence emptied her heart as well as her soul, leaving only an ever-present loneliness.

Keely wanted nothing more than to cuddle into her bed and pull the covers over her head. Despite the unspeakable agony deep in the pit of her stomach, she rose from her pallet. Her limbs trembling, she slipped a shapeless tunic over her head and soft-soled shoes onto her feet. As she swept past the front door, she grabbed her woolen cloak.

Light from a full moon illuminated the path. She could see, but she could also be seen, the moonlight both a curse and a blessing. Approaching the meadow she'd watched in her dreams, she slowed her pace and waited. Her fingers wound tightly around the amber pendant she always wore, her only keepsake from her mother.

The sounds and scents hovering on the wind would tell her if danger still lurked. Caution guided her. A vigilance she'd learned long ago held her motionless.

 A familiar dragging sound reassured her she wasn't alone. "Whipple?" she whispered.

A self-appointed guardian angel appeared as if from nowhere then nodded, though there was a wary cast to his faded blue eyes. "Aye, lass, I'm here. I heard ye leave your hut. I would not leave ye alone to face whatever dangerous mission awaited."

Keely waited for Whipple to close the distance between them before she spoke. "I would argue with you about your appearance here at this great hour, but I ken it would do no good. You should not be here. Your heart--"

Whipple spat. "My heart is fine."

She determinedly stepped forward, approaching the meadow of her dream, knowing she wouldn't like what she found.

"Have it your way, then." Given a choice, Keely wouldn't have come to this meadow. But she had to know the truth--had she seen the future or something happening at that very moment?

Whipple didn't reply. On his clubfoot, he followed her, his trailing leg sliding behind him with a soft swish. The hard thud of his crooked oak cane followed at a slightly skewed interval.

Together they crested the hill. Below her, she saw her dream. A priest lay on the ground, his head twisted at an odd angle. For a moment her heart stopped. She bit down on her lower lip while she studied the man.

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

#TellTaleTuesday #LivingTheLegacy

Living the Legacy
Genie Gabriel

Excerpt Heat Level: 1
Book Heat Level: 1

BLURB: Living the Legacy

An early childhood of dodging fists and anger has left sniper Collin O'Shea always vigilant for danger. So he is totally unprepared for how quickly the innocent sweetness of Beth Boulanger claims his heart. Their whirlwind marriage is shaken when the harsh reality of Collin's job collides with Beth's sheltered upbringing. Will they survive the unknown dangers that stalk them and threaten their unborn child?

EXCERPT: Living the Legacy

When the day of their symphony outing arrived, Beth's nerves were stretched as taut as the strings on her cello. She fussed over her hair and wished she had learned more tricks for applying make-up. Unfortunately, it was too late now to learn what most females learned as teenagers. 

At least she still had the subtly flattering formal dress she had worn when performing with the college symphony. It fit as easily as the memories that swept over her when she stepped into the auditorium where the symphony was performing.

She breathed in the smell of wood and resin, barely noticeable to a casual concert-goer. However, the memory of the slightly sticky feel of the resin she sparingly swept down the strings of her cello bow when she played tingled in her fingertips. 

In the years she had been pursuing a business that could support the need for a house and healthy food in her refrigerator, Beth's time with her cello dwindled. Now she only occasionally brushed the dust gently from its strings and sat down with her once-constant companion. 

This night unleashed the emotions making music once roused in her. 

At a time when Beth desperately wanted to impress her handsome escort with her sophistication, she often found tears welling in her eyes as the orchestra played pieces she remembered well. 

Rather than seem embarrassed by her behavior, Collin simply smiled and covered her hand with his. 

After the performance, Collin cupped her elbow and steered her backstage to meet the members of the orchestra. Delighted, Beth was soon caught up in the world she had reveled in during her high school and college years. 

When the principle cellist invited them to celebrate the performance with coffee and dessert at a local restaurant, Beth couldn't think of a more fitting highlight to their evening. With Collin as her escort, the evening had been perfect. 


Collin watched the glow in Beth's eyes as she talked to members of the orchestra. The delicate lavender color of her formal gown and the diamond clips in the upswept curls of her hair enhanced her physical beauty. However, it was the love of music sparkling in her conversation that really captured Collin's attention. 

Why had she neglected music? he wondered. Surely she could carve out time for something she so clearly loved in addition to running a restaurant.

Well, he would make sure their time together included the orchestra she enjoyed so much. And he did intend to spend time with Beth, Collin realized. Though this was their first actual date, it seemed he had known her forever. 

Inwardly, Collin took a step back. Such fanciful thoughts for a man whose life was devoted to a job requiring deadly focus and split second decision-making. 

The vibration of the cell phone in his pocket clearly reminded Collin of that job. Caller ID showed this interruption was a serious one.

He excused himself and went to the lobby to take the call. His team leader offered few details but to report ASAP.

Collin returned to the table and apologized to Beth. "Something's come up and I need to go."

He paused and frowned, irritated a call-out was pulling him away from the most pleasant evening he had enjoyed in recent memory. "I'm so sorry."

The sparkle in Beth's eyes turned to worry. "Is everything alright?"

If everything was alright, the SWAT team wouldn't be activated. But Collin couldn't say that. He couldn't destroy Beth's innocent concern. "One of the drawbacks of my job is being on call 24/7."

"Oh." Beth rose to her feet.

The scent of her flowery shampoo filled Collin's senses and sizzled through his body. She stood close enough he would only have to take a step forward to fold her in his arms. To protect her from the angry and distraught and plainly malevolent people he met every day on his job. 

"Do you mind driving my truck back to Halo after I stop at the station? I won't have time to make the trip"

Doubtful hesitation crinkled across Beth's face. "If you don't mind."

"I mind leaving you without a proper escort home."

Collin drove quickly to the station and pulled into a parking spot. Then he cupped Beth's face between his hands and kissed her gently. As the seconds ticked away, his cell phone vibrated again. 

He had to leave. He allowed one more moment of regret, then said goodnight, and strode inside to confront whatever emergency was once again claiming his life.

Irritation swirled through Collin as he entered the station. Beth was the first woman who had captured his attention for a very long time, and he had to cut short their date for a call-out. This had better be good.

A mass of organized chaos greeted Collin.

"About time you showed up, O'Shea." His team leader frowned. "We've got a town blowing up. We're sending all the manpower we can spare."

"What town?" Collin shrugged into his camouflage jacket.


Collin froze as a crystal clear image of Beth lodged in his mind. She was driving straight into a disaster.

Monday, January 28, 2019

#MysteryMonday #SerpentsandDoves

Serpents and Doves
Author: G. Lloyd Helm
ISBN 978-1-62420-275-9
Excerpt Heat Level: 1
Book Heat Level:
Genre: Contemporary Fiction


Review by C. L. Kraemer
Dragons Of The Ice
5 Angels

Serpents and Doves
G. Lloyd Helm

This tale drops the reader into the boiling mess of the 1960's; Vietnam, integration, and the rush to adulthood for many of us. The main character, Stephen Mitchell, is a normal, albeit, religion-based teenager who is jolted from his California upbringing when he heads off to college in Tennessee.

His view of life is vastly opposite of those living in the deep South and he learns, quickly, what he believes can garner him mountains of trouble.

G. Lloyd Helm has put his finger on the feel of the era, bringing the angst of the War and confusion of Civil Rights to the forefront. As a girl who was uprooted from California and thrust into Alabama a month after Dr. Martin Luther King's march, I empathized with this character. I, too, grew up with myriad nationalities. My father was a career Marine and in our household there was only one color—green. I spent my time in the south in a state of confusion and silence. 

I highly recommend this book. It is well thought out with lush characters and visuals of the surroundings. Anyone who might have wondered about the turbulent times of the sixties will get a great insight with this read.


BLURB: Serpents and Doves

The title “Serpents and Doves” comes from the warning Jesus gave to his disciples as he sent them out to preach the gospel, knowing the dangers they were going into. He said “Be wise as serpents and harmless as doves.” Stephen Mitchell learns first-hand what that warning means when he goes to a Tennessee church college in the midst of the turbulent sixties. He learns about friendship, war, protest, the sexual revolution, and civil rights.

The bunk creaked and groaned as Stephen Mitchell rolled onto his back, but he hardly heard the sound. Years of sleeping on the upper bunk with his younger brother Mike on the lower bunk made him immune to the noises of the California night. Mike's soft breathing, the moans from the bedstead, the musical chirring of the crickets in the ivy and the calm hum of the breeze were all the mixture of silence to him.
Stephen didn't usually have trouble falling asleep, but this was a special night, the night before the day he had been thirsting for and dreading his whole senior year of high school, and especially this past summer. College, but not just a trip over to Valley State or even to UCLA to continue school, to continue life as it had always been with Mother, Father, Grandmother, Brother, and friends. College was far away in Tennessee. Two thousand miles, give or take a few, and that whole journey began tomorrow at seven minutes after ten AM. Stephen pushed a leg out from under the covers. His feet hung over the end of the bed. They had been hanging over that way since he was fourteen. He'd gained a few inches since he first noticed he was too long for the bunk, but they had crept up on him in such a way they made no difference. He had been long and skinny since he could remember. A kid named Dennis Conover had called him 'Stork' on the first day of first grade and the name stuck. It bothered him a lot at first. He hoped to lose it when he transferred from public school to Hardtwick Christian Academy in sixth grade, but he couldn't shed the name even then. His new classmates looked him over like he was some strange animal, and Lance Stanley, the class wise guy, said, "He looks like a potato with pencils stuck in for legs."
"Mr. Potato Head, only walking," Joey Cushing, Stanley's best friend agreed.
"Betcha he stands on one leg when he sleeps like one of those pink birds at the zoo," Stanley said.
Stephen was almost mad enough to fight, but he bit back the urge. Fighting on his first day would get him sent right back to public school and that was something he didn't even want to consider. He hated that place much more passionately than he wanted to mash Lance Stanley's slightly hooked nose all over his smirking face.
"They are called flamingos," Stephen began with a light contempt in his voice.  He'd used this tactic before—a sort of verbal jujitsu. See where the other guy is going and give him a strong pull in that direction. "I'm no flamingo, I'm a stork. Storks build big nests in chimneys. Dutch people think they are good luck." He ran his eyes up and down Stanley's form and, with a good deal more contempt than before said, "You probably think they bring babies," then turned back to the book which was open on his desk.
Stanley didn't quite know how to cope with this kind of verbal jiggery-pokery. He thought maybe he had been insulted, but he wasn't sure and he didn't have time to come up with a riposte because Mrs. Hudson, the steely eyed, steely haired teacher, stepped into the room. 
Stephen was pleased with having shut Stanley's mouth but the outcome of it wasn't much to his liking. He wound up with the nick-name he had hoped to leave behind. Consequences. There were always consequences, he told himself as he lay awake. He closed his eyes, tried to force sleep to come, but he found himself staring at the reddish haze inside his eyelids. That was dull. At least with eyes open there were less dull shadowy lines in the ceiling and walls. 
He reached into his underwear and scratched his groin. The itch went away but Stephen felt a thickening in his loins. Blood was trickling into him, making him harden. He hadn't wanted that to happen, but there was hardly any way he could touch himself anymore without the stirrings. Sometimes when he went to pee the very act of opening his fly and taking himself out to do what must be done caused his penis to harden. 
It embarrassed and shamed him, though he mostly covered it well. There was a knot of guiltiness about it that he hated, but that was with him almost constantly. It intensified when he tried to ignore it and the desire to satisfy that hunger was almost unbearable. It wasn't so much the act of stroking and fondling himself that had guilt with it as it was the pictures, like movies, which unreeled behind his eyes as he did it. Naked girls who wanted him, who touched him, who offered themselves to him. Sometimes they were blank-faced strangers who conformed to the idea of voluptuousness he had formed. "Dirty Magazine" women with large breasts and legs coyly closed. There was never any hint of pubic triangle hair in those pictures. Some artist with an airbrush erased any such hint of humanity from them. Other times his fantasies were more specific. Girls from school whom he slowly undressed before making savage thrusting love to them. In ways these girls were like the others. Somehow he could never picture the reality of what a female human looked like between her legs. A mental airbrush wiped out the detailing.
This time Stephen's mental movie was Sherry Kinert. She was a junior when Stephen was a senior. She was pretty, but not beautiful. Her long brown hair hung fetchingly down before her breast all the time. He had taken her out to a movie a couple of weeks before. 
The date came about rather strangely. During all the summers since Stephen was fourteen he had worked for the school he attended during the winter. Hardtwick Christian Academy was constantly building on land acquired through gifts. It was being built by those most concerned with it, the students and their parents. Stephen started working by donating his labor. After a month of coming in every day five days a week, Harry Elton, the school supervisor, hired him at below minimum wage.
This summer was different from all the previous summers. This summer, for the first time, a girl was hired on. Sherry Kinert. Stephen found himself working with her, painting the inside of new classrooms. They talked as they worked and after hours of painting and talking they began to talk very intimately. Stephen found himself admitting to his desires and fantasies and hearing Sherry's admissions. Her admissions brought the question, "What would you do if a guy tried to put his hand down your pants, Sherry?" The question caused his loins to thicken, but he didn't even try to hide the growing lump in his faded, paint-spattered jeans.
"What do you mean, Steve?" she asked, not put off by the question and apparently not noticing the rising in his groin.
"I mean, would you let him?" Stephen asked. His mouth was dry and there was a burning at the back of his throat.
Sherry stroked paint on the wall for a moment then said, "It would depend on the guy. If I liked him a lot and was pretty sure he wasn't going to hurt me or go telling his friends—maybe." 
She looked over at him and the serious consideration she had given the question showed in her clear golden eyes. She didn't give any other indication, neither a "come along" nor a "hold it buster," just the thoughtful, considering look. 
They stopped painting for a moment and stared at each other, embarrassed to have been so frank. Both blushed under the speckles of light green paint on their faces, then went back to brushing paint on the wall with a little more vigor than a few moments before. They painted quietly for the rest of the afternoon, only speaking in short non-committal sentences.

Reviewed by Joseph Allen

Mr. Helm’s touching coming-of-age tale starts as quietly as a light breeze as he introduces Stephen Mitchell, who has just graduated from high school at a private Christian academy in the San Fernando Valley area of Los Angeles.  We know right away that Steve’s hormones are raging, and that he is very easily distracted from anything by the scent of a girl.  Charmingly told, by the way, enough to make a grown man smile in remembrance.  

Steve is bound for a school in Tennessee that is run by a Protestant group that seems pretty mainstream, but in spite of the southern flavor and the biblical bent of the institution, this is a school and a faculty that are determined on all kinds of equality.  The year is 1967 and Steve’s roommate is a black student whose father is a Protestant minister. 

Steve has an epic freshman year. His heart is broken by a Lilith-like character, he is beaten up by a rogue cop and then by the new boyfriend of his would-be love.  He is on academic probation by Christmas, manages to start smoking cigarettes and drinks enough bourbon to experience his first awful hangover. Never gets a haircut, and is aware of his body smells and his crotch constantly.  Boys will be boys.

He’s not like me particularly, but he is the archetype of every kid who goes off to college without a red carpet being rolled out in front of him.  I cannot tell you how many times I had tears in my eyes.  All the issues of the 1960s are built into this remarkable story – Vietnam, Arabs v Israelis, KKK v civil rights marchers, the sexual revolution, closeted gays suffering from sin complexes.  Even Simon and Garfunkel.

And the most remarkable part is that it is not the least pretentious, in spite of telling a story of a very complicated and upsetting time with elegance and elan.  I withheld a half star in my rating because I think a couple of the arms of the plot were resolved more harshly than necessary, and seemed unduly judgmental, which I do not think would reflect Mr. Helm’s personal feelings. 

Sunday, January 27, 2019

#RomanceSunday #Dakota'sBride

Excerpt Heat Level: 1
Book Heat Level:

BLURB: Dakota's Bride

When Emma St. John received her brother's letter imploring her to escape her stepfather's vengeful scheme and to trust Dakota Barringer with her life, she was willing to chance it. But the handsome, brooding riverboat owner Emma found in Natchez a danger of another kind. For Emma soon found herself surrendering to an unrelenting desire.

Raised by the Sioux when his parents were killed, Dakota had been betrayed once before by a white woman. He wasn't about to trust another, especially one claiming that her stepfather, a powerful U.S. senator, had framed her as a murderess. But he couldn't let Emma's intoxicating effect on him. Now Dakota would risk his very life to protect the innocent beauty who had seduced him with her tender love.

Moonless and frigid, the December night sent chills down Emma's spine. Yet she didn't stop at the lighted inn nearby, nor did she break stride when she stumbled over a rut in the muddy road. Instead, she pulled her skirts higher. A carriage raced by, hell-bent in the same direction, spitting mud as it flew past

A frantic look over her shoulder did nothing to relieve the fear. He was closing on her, forcing her from her hiding place. She stopped for a moment while she quickly shook the mud off her cape, then she turned to the little girl.

"You all right, Clare?" Emma asked.

The little girl nodded but didn't say anything, her face screwed tight with concentration, her breaths ragged and hard.

The big Mississippi paddle wheeler, due to leave in ten minutes, let out two loud, booming whistles. To Emma's frayed nerves, the sound was heart-stopping.

The wind from the docks smelled of fish and tar. When it shifted, she could make out the aroma of fresh baked scones coming from the inn. Emma gripped the tiny hand she held in her own a little tighter, and prayed that Clare could keep up the pace.

"It's only a wee bit farther. We can make it," Emma told the little girl, her sister. Half sister, she reminded herself.

Clare's father was not her own. His demonically hand­some face leering at her while he calmly explained what he meant for Emma to do in the bordello was something she'd never forget.

Clare was a tiny and very fragile seven-year old. She had loving green eyes and a long, slender nose coupled with delicate cheekbones. Emma knew that someday Clare would grow into a classic beauty.

One long blond lock of hair slipped loose from Clare's cap. The little girl pushed it away with her free hand, wrinkling her nose disgustedly.

Frost coated the road, and each hurried step caused the almost frozen mud to crunch beneath their feet. A horse and rider passed them, the man tipping his hat as he and his mount thundered by. Church bells rang out, the sound hollow and thin. It was almost six o'clock. She had five minutes to reach the boat.

A gust of wind caught her broadside and whisked the hood of her cape off the top of her head. She grabbed the soft fur and pulled the fabric back where it belonged. Distracted by the wind and her haste to reach the boat, Emma caught the toe of her shoe on a rock and balanced precariously for an instant.

She swore softly under her breath.

Had only one month passed?

No, three weeks ago her mother had died and two weeks ago she had learned the awful truth. Lawrence Stevenshad slowly poisoned her mother. He had given her a small dose of arsenic each day until finally her mother took to her bed. Several days later Emma had held her mother's hand while she breathed her last.

Emma would never have known about the murder if she hadn't overheard Stevens speaking in harsh whispers with a friend of his. There were other things said and promised, things Emma had not wanted to acknowledge.

Disbelief and denial had caused her to waste precious time. Seven days had come and gone since she'd had her last horrible encounter with her stepfather. It was an encounter that had left her with no doubts that everything she'd heard was the god-awful truth. Stevens had meant to sell her to a whorehouse. Still, she'd had a difficult time believing the extent of Lawrence Stevens's depravity. But when he'd installed her in Madame leBon's bordello, she realized too late that her life was in grave jeopardy.

And Clare, sweet, sweet Clare, had understood all she'd told her and perhaps more. With the eyes of a child, Clare had somehow sensed the evil that surrounded her father long before anyone else did.

Five long days and nights they'd spent on the run. Clare had not complained. No matter how exhausted or hungry she was, the little girl had pressed on, understanding the imminent danger that faced Emma. Clare had somehow known that Emma had to get as far away from Lawrence as possible.

This incredible romance is one I positively fell in love with and is good enough to read again and again.
I can’t remember the last time I was so engrossed in a book: Dakota’s Bridetook over my weekend, and even now, am wishing to go peruse it one more time…

Saturday, January 26, 2019

#Sci/fiFantasySaturday #ShadowDancerBoxedSet

Shadow Dancer Series Boxed Set
Courtney Rene
ISBN: 978-1-62420-281-0

Genre: Young Adult/Fantasy
Excerpt Heat Level: 1
Book Heat Level: 2

Buy at: Amazon

Shadow Dancer

Sunny has a gift that she has no idea how to use, until she meets Leif, a boy from the kingdom of Acadia, on the other side of the shadows.  
Leif teaches Sunny about Shadow Walkers and how to use her new found gifts. As they grow closer and their gifts grow stronger, a threat arrives.  The Shadow Guard has been sent to bring Sunny back to Acadia, to determine if she is a threat to the king as the rightful ruler of Acadia. 
As Leif and Sunny prepare to defend themselves, Sunny finds that Leif has also been sent to bring Sunny back to the kingdom but for very different reasons.  As a battle for possession of Sunny wages, she is struggling to come to turns with her feelings of inadequacy regarding controlling her gifts as well as the hurt regarding the lies and deceit of everyone around her.

Shadow Warrior

Sunny finally makes her first jump to the Kingdom of Acadia that is on the other side of the shadows, for what she hopes is a vacation. Only her vacation turns into quite an unwanted adventure. Aside from new and unexpected issues regarding her relationship with Leif, Sunny meets the rebel group, makes new friends, fights with controlling her powers, and finds herself neck deep within a county that is torn apart by two sides, each fighting for power. Acadia is not quite what she imagined. How is she, one young girl, supposed to unite the Kingdom as well as unseat a King to take her place as ruler of Acadia.

Shadow's End

The adventure and the struggle continues for Sunny, as the fight for control of Acadia is near. Battle lines have been drawn, not just by King Gideon, but also by the rebels that were once Sunny’s allies. Due to unexpected trips to the ice realm and the fire realm, new allies are found to help build the Army of the Sun. There are new worlds explored. New friends and new enemies made. Ready or not, Sunny must prepare for what is coming as well as decide where she belongs within it all. But…what about prom? What about Leif? What about home? How can she, just a seventeen year old girl, rule a whole world? She’s not even sure if she can get through finals.

Shadow Fire

No one really knows who Leif is. They know the man he portrays and the things he has done, both good and bad. He was a boy that came from nothing and grew into a man full of rage that almost killed the one person he set out to save. He roams the realms waiting for death. Waiting for an absolution that doesn’t come. Then a rumor surfaces. A threat has been made against Sunny. Leif sets out to try to right the wrongs of his past. He sets out to do what he was meant to do from the beginning, save the queen. Can he do it alone or will he have to do the one thing that is hardest for him, which is:  Ask for help.

EXCERPTS: Shadow Dancer Boxed Set


"I have been looking for you." 
I opened my eyes, turned my head, and stared up, way up into a pair of big brown eyes fringed in long lashes. Eyes so dark they looked almost black. 
"You're a hard person to find." 
That was the point. I didn't want to be found. I liked my hermit existence. I didn't have to see anyone or talk to anyone if I didn't want. I liked to roam the realms and see what I could find. There were so many things we didn't know about the four realms. It wasn't so much as fun, as it was time consuming. That was what I wanted, though. The sooner time passed, the better off I would be. 
"You look like crap, Leif," she said when I didn't respond. 
Her voice, although lowered in disdain, was soft and feminine. If I weren't waiting for death, maybe I would have cared more. I tried not to notice her creamy, pink tinged skin. I tried not to notice her high cheekbones, and lush lips. I tried not to, but I did anyway. How could I not? She was beautiful. Not that I cared. 
"Man, and you stink. God, when was the last time you shaved…" 
I lifted a hand up to my face and felt the length of coarse hair that covered the bottom part of my face. How long had it been? 
"…or taken a bath for that matter." 
A bit longer than I had realized apparently. "What do you want, Cinder?" 
She was silent for a moment. Was it my voice? It was gravelly with disuse, but the tone was indifferent, not aggressive. 
Finally she said, "I came to bring you this." This, being a sunshine yellow envelope with my name written in bold calligraphy on the front. She held it down to where I lay on the rocky red ground. 
I hesitated a moment before I took the proffered envelope. I didn't open it. I could only stare at the writing. I knew the writing and, therefore, who it was from without even having to open it. What did she want? What did it say? 
"Why are you here? Why are you laying down there on the ground like that?" Cinder asked. 
I used her questions as an excuse to put off the inevitable and said, "I like it down here." I lay sprawled out on the rocky red dirt that made up the Fire Realm. The air was hot, the sun even hotter. If I lay there long enough, maybe I would just evaporate and be gone. No more Leif. No more running. No more hiding. Just gone. Finally. 
"Yeah, but why?" 
I didn't answer, instead my attention returned to the yellow envelope. I lifted the unsealed flap, and slid out the thick ivory card with silver writing. 
…cordially invited….. 
I slipped the card back within the envelope and dropped it down next to where I lay. One grain of the red clay had found its way on top. My eyes fell to that red dot. 
"So, what?" I said still focused on the grain of clay. 
"So, are you going to come?" 
"Why not?" 
I stayed silent. Everyone knew why not. 
"She's not mad at you. In fact, she misses you. She talks about you all the time," Cinder said. 
She did? Did she talk about how I tried to kill her? What about how I used her? 
"She really is hoping you will come. That's why I'm hand delivering your invite. She wanted to make sure you got it. Saw it." 
Did she really want me there? Was it all just a joke to get me back for all I had done?
"Will you at least think about it?"


“My Lady? I don’t know what to do. I don’t know what else...I think we need to call for help.”

“Where is she? I can’t see her.”

“She’s fine, my Lady. She’s sleeping, right over there. Can you see her?” 

“Bring her to me. I want to hold her.”

“My Lady, you have lost too much blood. We need to get you to a hospital or something. Please.”

“Star, it’s already too late. You know it. We can’t call for help. We have to keep her safe. She’s all that’s left. She is worth that and so much more. God, I am so tired. Please bring her to me.”

“My Lady...“

“Even now Star, after all these years, can’t you just be my friend?”

“I will always be your friend, my Lady, but you will always be my Queen. Even now, even later, that will never change. Here she is. Do you have her?”

“I’ve got her. Please don’t hover over me, Star. I’m alright. Look how beautiful she is. Can you believe Malcolm and I made something so beautiful?”

“Yes, I can. She looks like you. She has your hair, all golden and soft. She has your mouth too. Don’t you think?”

“Yes. Oh God, I want to hold on to her forever. I never want to let her go. Star, you have to promise me that you will keep her safe. Whatever you have to do, you have to keep her safe. Promise me.”

“No, my Lady, we will keep her safe. You and I together.”

“No, Star, this burden will fall to you. You already see the truth of it, right here in front of your eyes. I’m just so tired. Here, you’d better take her. Bye, my baby girl. I love you so. 

Star, promise me. You’ve done all you can here. All that is left is her. Malcolm is gone, and I…”

“Stop it! You can’t just give up! Don’t laugh! Can’t you see that it’s tearing me apart? I can’t do this without you.” 

“Star, I’m not laughing. I promise you. There just isn’t anything I can do to stop it. You can do this. I believe in you. Star?”

“Yes. My Lady?”


“All right. I promise I will do everything I can to keep her safe.”

“Do you think you will ever return?”

“I don’t know. Everything is changed now. Our whole world has changed.”



“Stay safe. You have always been my very best friend. I don’t know what I would have done without you. Thank you, so much, for everything.”

“My Lady...“

“Keep her safe...“

Shadow Dancer is a fun, light read with some action, some romance and some kick-butt abilities. 
LunaMoth for Far from Reality Reviews


“My Lady? I don’t know what to do. I don’t know what else...I think we need to call for help.”

“Where is she? I can’t see her.”

“She’s fine, my Lady. She’s sleeping, right over there. Can you see her?” 

“Bring her to me. I want to hold her.”

“My Lady, you have lost too much blood. We need to get you to a hospital or something. Please.”

“Star, it’s already too late. You know it. We can’t call for help. We have to keep her safe. She’s all that’s left. She is worth that and so much more. God, I am so tired. Please bring her to me.”

“My Lady...“

“Even now Star, after all these years, can’t you just be my friend?”

“I will always be your friend, my Lady, but you will always be my Queen. Even now, even later, that will never change. Here she is. Do you have her?”

“I’ve got her. Please don’t hover over me, Star. I’m alright. Look how beautiful she is. Can you believe Malcolm and I made something so beautiful?”

“Yes, I can. She looks like you. She has your hair, all golden and soft. She has your mouth too. Don’t you think?”

“Yes. Oh God, I want to hold on to her forever. I never want to let her go. Star, you have to promise me that you will keep her safe. Whatever you have to do, you have to keep her safe. Promise me.”

“No, my Lady, we will keep her safe. You and I together.”

“No, Star, this burden will fall to you. You already see the truth of it, right here in front of your eyes. I’m just so tired. Here, you’d better take her. Bye, my baby girl. I love you so. 

Star, promise me. You’ve done all you can here. All that is left is her. Malcolm is gone, and I…”

“Stop it! You can’t just give up! Don’t laugh! Can’t you see that it’s tearing me apart? I can’t do this without you.” 

“Star, I’m not laughing. I promise you. There just isn’t anything I can do to stop it. You can do this. I believe in you. Star?”

“Yes. My Lady?”


“All right. I promise I will do everything I can to keep her safe.”

“Do you think you will ever return?”

“I don’t know. Everything is changed now. Our whole world has changed.”



“Stay safe. You have always been my very best friend. I don’t know what I would have done without you. Thank you, so much, for everything.”

“My Lady...“

“Keep her safe...“

Shadow Dancer is a fun, light read with some action, some romance and some kick-butt abilities. 
LunaMoth for Far from Reality Reviews

Leif turned his attention briefly to Lucas, who had stayed silent up to that point. “I see you have moved on. Rather quick don’t you think?” he said.

I refused to answer his taunt. Instead, I said to Lucas, “You about ready?”

A red flush of color appeared across Leif’s normally pale cheeks. I didn’t care. I was not going to be baited or made to feel bad for being out with Lucas. Was it a date? It hadn’t been specifically declared that, but it was something more than just an outing too. Maybe I was moving on, but that was my business. Not Leif’s. 

“Yep. I’m ready,” Lucas said, then shoved the last bite of burger into his mouth and stood to clear the table. 

I did the same, and gathered up my trash and belongings. 

Leif suddenly and inexplicably became enraged. Either he was more upset about Lucas than I had realized or he really was going a bit on the loopy side. He grabbed my arm painfully and said, “We aren’t through here.”

“Stop it! You’re hurting me,” I said through gritted teeth. I didn’t want to cause a scene in the middle of the mall. People were already staring.

That was all the action Lucas needed to get involved. He slammed one big hand down on Leif’s shoulder and said as calm as could be, “I think you should release her.”

Leif did let go, which should have made me wary as he wasn’t the give up easy type, but I was too busy rubbing circulation back into my arm to think about it. 

Leif spun around to face Lucas. “You can mind your own business. This is between her and me.”

“You made it my business when you laid a hand on her,” Lucas said, not backing down an inch. 

Side by side the two were colored very alike, but that was where the similarities ended. Leif had ice blue eyes and Lucas had warm blue, inviting eyes. Leif was tall, thin, but wiry strong. Lucas was tall and bulky with evident muscles and strength. 

“You don’t know what you are dealing with here,” Leif said and took a step closer to Lucas. It was like he was daring him to engage. 

Lucas though, appeared calm and easy, no hint of aggression. “Yes. Actually I do.”

I began to realize that Leif didn’t recognize Lucas. He really didn’t know who he was. Leif didn’t have any special gifts other than begin a shadow walker tracker. Why then was he being so aggressive?

A wave of confusion crossed over Leif’s features for a moment. He stepped back and regarded Lucas. “You a walker?”

“Among other things. What’s it to you?”

Leif again grabbed my arm, not quite as hard that time, but hard enough to make me wince, and pulled me forward to stand almost next to him. “Then you know what she is,” he said.

I was getting a bit annoyed at being talked about like I wasn’t standing there. I was also getting angry at being manhandled by Leif. Incidentally, the anger is what caused me to pull in a bit of the energy from around us. I only grabbed a small ball of it, but it was enough to concern me. Whether in small or large amounts, energy was just as hard to control. 

“Yes, I do,” Lucas said.

Leif leaned toward Lucas until he was just a few inches away from his face, glared hard with half squinted eyes, and said, “They you also know she’s mine. I found her. You don’t get to have her.”

That was it. I didn’t care about the pain it was going to cause me. I purposefully and intentionally, pushed out a zap of energy at Leif, where he held my arm. Not enough to really hurt him, but it was enough to have him jerk his hand off me in surprise and a bit of pain. Rage clouded his eyes for a moment as he directed his gaze on me. 

I rounded on him with the full force of my own rage and completely ignored his. “You!” I said and poked a finger into his chest. “Don’t get to own me! No one gets to own me.” 

He took a step back. I stepped forward and poked him again. “I get to decide who I want to be with and who gets to be with me.” Again he took a step back, and me a step forward, and I poked him hard in the chest, hard enough to make my finger twinge in pain at the abuse, but I ignored it. “I get to decide. Do you hear me, Leif?”

“Sunny,” Lucas said from behind me. “You have an audience.”

Without taking my eyes from Leif, I swung an arm behind me with my hand up at him, hoping that I conveyed with that one action, to shut up. 

I did lower my voice at least. “You had your chance with me, but you chose to lie, to cheat, to keep me in the dark and at your mercy. You don’t get to decide anything about me anymore.”

I turned away from him and stepped back to my table, where I again began to gather up the debris from lunch. “Go home, Leif. There’s nothing here for you anymore.”

“Yes, there is,” he said softly from directly behind me. I hadn’t heard him come up next to me. Then even softer he said, “This isn’t over between us, Sunny. I’m not giving up.”

I glanced over my shoulder at him. The man before me was the Leif I knew. The Leif I had fallen in love with. The ice was missing from his face and his eyes and my heart felt the pain of losing him all over again. Why did it still hurt to see him, to be next to him? “Leif,” I whispered. “Go home. Please.”

Without regard to the people around us, he phased into the shadows and was gone.


“Yeah, Lucas,” I said as I stared at the place that Leif had vanished. I was suddenly so tired. 

“You okay?”

“Yeah. I’ll live.” 

“Um…do you know that you have a slight glow of white around you?”

No. I didn’t know that. I closed my eyes and sighed. “Great.”