Infected Waters by Alathia Paris Morgan

 

INFECTED WATERS:
A TITANIC DISASTER

by Alathia Paris Morgan
GENRE: Paranormal Historical Horror Fiction
Everyone knows the tale of the Titanic…a doomed voyage…here is what actually happened on April 14, 1912. Murder, chaos, and the undead threaten to sink the ship faster than any iceberg.
As a nurse, Nora Ryan was prepared for the common illnesses, but what she discovers instead is an infection modern medicine has yet to name.
Head steward, Jonathan Davis was not expecting to meet Nora and he certainly wasn’t expecting to fight a deadly infection alongside her. As the first victim of this strange illness dies and passengers are rapidly becoming infected; these two strangers must find a way to stop these undead creatures from taking over the ship.
The trip home from England to America becomes hectic for the Lambert family when they overhear startling rumors from their second class stateroom. People are dying, and the dead are taking anyone they can sink their teeth into with them. Will their family make it to their destination or will they be caught in the rising tide of infection that intends to leave no living being behind?
“What happened?” Jonathan pulled her closer to help keep them both on their feet.
“Our patient died. I need to let the captain know so he can decide what to do about the body.” Nora took a deep breath to steady herself and instead inhaled Jonathan’s cologne.
“I’ll get him for you. Go back and stay with the body until we can get there.” …..
“What do you suggest we do with his body?” Nora asked Captain Smith, hoping he had an idea.
Exchanging glances with Jonathan, he informed them, “I believe we should burn his body. There is no one to identify it, and if we wait until we land, the infection from him might move to some of the passengers. It’s a chance I’m not willing to take. Has anyone else been stricken?”
“Just one crewman, sir. He isn’t doing so well.” Jonathan affirmed.
“It doesn’t seem to be an airborne illness. Only through the exchange of blood or saliva,” Nora added, hoping to be helpful….
“Nurse, I want you to keep me informed about our crewman or any other things that seem suspicious to you. If this is what I’m afraid it is, it will still manage to affect everyone, no matter how cautious we are in preventing it.”
“I understand, and will let you know of the slightest change in our passengers.”
“That is all I ask. Thank you so much for your service.” Tipping his hat, the captain left to return to his duties.
Jonathan passed the captain as he returned with his two roommates, Timothy and Brad.
“Okay, boys. We are going to wrap the body up tightly in the sheet so people don’t know what’s going on.”
“Here’s the stretcher. He’s all ready for you.” Nora stood back as the three men transferred the body over.
“When you get downstairs, make sure you throw him into the fire, along with the wrappings. We don’t want anything to spread.” Jonathan instructed the men.
Hurrying to open the door for them, Nora stood to the side. “Do you need me to come with you for anything?”
“Nah. We got it, pretty nurse.”
“Nothing we can’t handle.” Brad grinned at her, almost dropping his end of the stretcher.
Jonathan led the way through the corridors and over to the crew staircase, staying ahead to redirect anyone in their path.
“Even dead, this guy is super heavy. Wonder what he ate for dinner?” Brad asked.
“A fat man from the feel of it,” Timothy answered, laughing.
“Shh. We are supposed to keep this quiet, gentlemen.”
“Sorry, boss,” they whispered apologetically.
The door to the engine rooms kept the amount of noise contained and partitioned away from the passengers.
Concerned with how heavy it was and where they should set it down, Brad and Timothy never saw the body sit straight up until a hand landed on Timothy’s thigh.
“Bloody hell.” Timothy screamed as the infected man’s mouth latched onto his leg, its teeth tearing out a chunk of flesh.

Alathia is known to those around her for having an a long time love affair/obsession with Dr.Pepper, she has asked to be buried with a can so that it never runs out in the after life. Always bossy, she uses her mothering instincts to help others and share awareness of abuse in child and domestic situations.

A B.S. in History and English gave wings to her vivid imagination in book form. A supportive and loving husband has given her the chance to make her dreams a reality. Their three daughters and three dogs keep her busy while writing is a great way for her to wind down and destress.
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The Hiring Fair by Laura Strickland

 
THE HIRING FAIR
part of The Wild Rose Press’ “Help Wanted Series”by Laura Strickland

Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Historical Romance
Brutally dispossessed during the Highland Clearances, Tam Sutherland comes to the hiring fair at Oban, Scotland hoping to find a job for the season. But his maimed right hand, inflicted by the same cruel factor responsible for his parents’ deaths, means he’s one of few men available when the beautiful woman makes her surprising announcement: she’s looking not for a hand but a husband, not just for the season but forever.
Annie MacCallum is under threat from a brutal factor also, back at her home farm—one who preys on unmarried women. If she’s to protect all those who rely on her, including her beloved animals, she must have a husband, if only in name. Secretly glad when the attractive Tam takes up her proposition, she doesn’t realize she’s dragging him into a situation that will trigger old demons. Nor does she expect to give him her heart.
In a low tone he asked, “This marriage you ha’ in mind, will it be legal wi’ no banns being read?”
“Father Alban is an old friend of my uncle, and I ha’ spoken to him of this. He will accommodate me.”
“Aye, and what will your uncle think o’ this scheme of yours?”
“Very little, I imagine. He is dead.”
Sutherland contemplated that without comment.
St. Lyon’s church loomed ahead, appearing all at once out of the swirling snow. Annie turned to Jockie.
“You lead Old Rake round back and join us inside where you can get warm, eh?”
Jockie nodded and clattered off.
Annie turned to Sutherland and looked into his face, only to be struck again by how handsome he looked. But that had naught to do with anything, and she could not let it sway her good sense, not when she’d come so far.
“Before we go inside, I want to be sure I ha’ your understanding. This is no’ an ordinary marriage but something more in the manner of a hiring, which is why I came to the fair in the first place.”
He inclined his shaggy head toward her slightly. “A hiring wi’out wages. That is against the law, you do ken.”
She swept him with her gaze. “And are you a man to adhere to arbitrary laws? I confess, I did no’ get that impression.”
“And,” he returned, “are you a woman who needs to hire a husband?” He echoed her. “I confess, I did no’ get that impression.” He returned her stare, slow and attentive. “You are certainly bonnie enough to snare a husband the usual way.”
To her surprise, Annie felt a wave of heat course through her. “I do no’ want a usual kind o’ husband. I want one who will tak’ my orders and stay clear o’ my bed. Be sure you are that man before we go inside and speak these vows.”
One of Sutherland’s eyebrows quirked up. “I was right at the outset; you are mad.”
“So we ha’ already determined,” Annie agreed, beginning to grow edgy again. What if he refused at this late moment? Where would she find a substitute, with the market now deserted and the snow falling? Besides, she discovered she did not want a substitute; for reasons she did not quite understand, she wanted this man and no other.
“There is a story behind this,” he said mildly. “I confess, I would like to hear it.”
“Perhaps you shall, but not now—there is no time.” Annie drew a breath and sought to deny the fear rising inside her, the fear that he might walk away from her after all.
But that curious smile crossed his lips again.
“Are you coming wi’ me?” she pressed.
“It seems a damned clever way to secure the services of a farm worker whilst paying no wages,” he said. “But aye, for all that, I will come along wi’ you.”
Born in Buffalo and raised on the Niagara Frontier, Laura Strickland has been an avid reader and writer since childhood. To her the spunky, tenacious, undefeatable ethnic mix that is Buffalo spells the perfect setting for a little Steampunk, so she created her own Victorian world there. She knows the people of Buffalo are stronger, tougher and smarter than those who haven’t survived the muggy summers and blizzard blasts found on the shores of the mighty Niagara. Tough enough to survive a squad of automatons? Well, just maybe.

Honor Bound: A Highland Adventure by Laura Strickland

HONOR BOUND: A Highland Adventure
by
Laura Strickland
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Scottish Historical Romance
Following the disastrous defeat of the clans at Culloden, Scottish Chief’s son Diarmad Ramsay makes his dying father a promise. Diarmad will play the part of Bonny Prince Charlie in an effort to help the true Prince escape the Highlands. With only the fiery Mara MacIvor for guide and with danger on his heels, he must risk all for a Cause in which he no longer believes.
Mara MacIvor considers Ramsay a poor substitute for her beloved Prince. Ramsay may be one of the bonniest men she’s ever met and a braw sight with a sword in his hand, but his disillusionment makes a wide gulf between them. Pursued through the Highlands by Sassenachs and ruthless Highland renegades bent on claiming the price on Prince Charlie’s head, their physical attraction soon becomes a conflagration. But will they ever be bound by more than Diarmad’s vow of honor?
His body stiffened as she eased in beside him, but that did not dissuade her. The rain no longer touched her here and, aye, it did feel warmer.
Ramsay drew a breath even as the heat of his body wrapped around her. She could now catch the scent particular to him—spicy, fresh and rampantly male, with the tang of highland air caught in his hair and clothing. Would he push her away?
He sounded amused when he spoke, his voice vibrating deep in her ear. “I suppose this must satisfy some wish you have of lying with your Prince.”
It satisfied a wish, right enough, but had nothing to do with Charles Edward. Mara retorted, “My only intention is to lie out of the wet and grow warm. Will you complain about us sharing against the chill?”
“And about having my arms full of bonny lass? Nay.”
He thought her bonny. Or did he just tease as he had before? Mara ached to know, and desire rose to her head like a draught of her Da’s whiskey.
She slewed round in her allotted space until she faced him, her mouth just below his. “I am no’ thinking of the Prince,” she confessed, “but still how I might thank you properly for your braw gallantry.”
“Oh, aye?” Did he sound as breathless as she? “And what to your mind would make a proper thank-you?”
Without further words, she pressed her mouth to his. 

Born in Buffalo and raised on the Niagara Frontier, Laura Strickland has been an avid reader and writer since childhood. To her the spunky, tenacious, undefeatable ethnic mix that is Buffalo spells the perfect setting for a little Steampunk, so she created her own Victorian world there. She knows the people of Buffalo are stronger, tougher and smarter than those who haven’t survived the muggy summers and blizzard blasts found on the shores of the mighty Niagara. Tough enough to survive a squad of automatons? Well, just maybe.

Promo Tour of Holly Barbo

WELCOME TO THE WORLD OF
HOLLY BARBO

TENDRILS

Where ’What if’ becomes ‘What is’
AUTHOR: Holly Barbo
GENRE: Short story collection covering the following genres: Dystopian, Science Fiction, Sci-fi thriller, Sci-fantasy, Contemporary, Contemporary Thriller, Historical Fiction and Fantasy

Stories come from any number of places. One could start from a memory, a photo in a magazine or from pondering a news item and wondering, “What if?”
This collection arose from that sort of random stimuli. Some are pure imagination of science fiction or fantasy. Others developed from random historical facts or the disturbing news stories of war-torn regions.
This is a collection of stories for those who like to think.
Includes 4 award-winning short stories.
“I enjoyed every story in Tendrils! I am impressed with the versatility and well thought out environment in each setting. Obviously good research was put into writing these stories as well as a wonderful gift of empathy with a delightful touch of practical wisdom. In my opinion the last story would even make a good movie!” (Cynthia)
“An excellent compilation of short stories over different genres. I was highly impressed by the quality of the writing and her use of words, which dragged me in on every page.” (Bookcollecter)
“I thoroughly enjoyed this read. I had a hard time putting the book down. Some stories are short, some long. All are suspenseful & of different genre. I am amazed at her extensive vocabulary and her overall knowledge on so many subjects. Her imagination takes you on a great trip every time with every story. None are ever boring. I highly recommend this latest book of hers. You will not be disappointed. Sit back & take yourself on an adventure. You will learn something too along the way.” (Paul and Patti L. Jordan)
SAMPLE FROM THE SHORT STORY “A CRYSTAL SNOWFLAKE”
Orion gave a quick scan of the room. He needed to make sure he had everything important. His backpack was stuffed and the computer case held so much that there were edges of paper sticking out of it in a haphazard manner. The slender young man slung the strap of the computer bag over his shoulder, grabbed the backpack and headed for the front door. His hand paused as he reached for the knob and he looked out the window.
It was dark and he could see the snow falling through the street lights. There didn’t seem to be anyone about, so he slipped from the house and walked casually to his trusty old Chevy, his breath coming out in rapid visible puffs. The nonchalance was an act. He wanted anyone watching to assume he was going to M.I.T. to get in some late night work. He scanned the shadows, hoping that no one was there. He threw his backpack on the passenger seat then wedged the computer case between it and the seat back. He wanted both within easy reach. Once buckled in, he allowed his nervousness to slip out and thoroughly checked the view from his mirrors.
He eased onto the street and when there was no sign of his tires slipping, increased his speed. Orion reached into the pocket of the backpack for the pre-paid phone that he’d picked up when he determined his cell had been tapped. At the stop sign, he punched in a number. The snow flurries were increasing and he switched on the wipers. Orion waited for his friend to pick up.
He smiled when he heard her voice and responded by saying, “I’m on my way and no one is following me. Just in case, I sent instructions to our safe place. Don’t worry about retrieving the envelope unless I don’t get there by morning. Okay. Gotta go. I’ll be at your door for breakfast with your favorite croissants. Have the coffee brewed.”
Orion laughed at the response. “Okay. I need to concentrate on driving in this stuff. See you soon, Chayse. Bye.”
Beyond the stop sign, the road sloped to a picturesque country bridge, one of many that dotted the New England states. He had to admit it was beautiful in the snowfall but with the driving conditions worsening, he focused on how the car responded to his small adjustments in steering. In the weak light, he didn’t notice the watcher standing in the shelter of some trees on the far side of the road. The muffled figure took a box out of his pocket, pointed it at the car and pushed a button. The loud sibilant schwuff of the slush hitting the car’s undercarriage drowned out the pop.
Without any warning, Orion’s power steering quit. Working to compensate on the slick road, he fought to correct the fish-tailing motion of the car. “Shit!” He tapped the brakes and was horrified as his foot went all the way to the floor.
Fighting the wheel and the momentum of the old Chevy on the slippery surface became his entire focus…and he was losing. He tried gearing down and applying the emergency brake, but the car went into a spin and he caught a glimpse of the bridge railing coming up too fast. “Shit!” The car broke through the wooden barrier and sailed into the darkness over the side.
SUNSTONE
AUTHOR: Holly Barbo
GENRE: Steampunk Thriller

The steam-powered civilization of Myrn is a thriving adolescent culture. But the rapid industrial development has given rise to greed, and the triumvirate of government, banks and industry leaders has lost sight of those it is supposed to serve and protect.
When a mysterious incurable illness sweeps through the impoverished masses, increasing the suffering to breaking point, rebellion seems unavoidable. Society is on the brink of revolution, and the planet is marked for destruction.
M’nacht, his son Kes, and his team of researchers investigate a legend about three sacred fossils that could save the people and rebalance Myrn. However, they are not the only ones looking. Where they see salvation, others see power, wealth and control.
Will the gifts from the goddess Navora be found in time to save their world, or will the sacrifice of innocents be lost under the weight of human depravity and corruption?

“Kes, M’nacht’s been attacked! He is in a bad way. I’m at Paramount Hospital now. He’s in surgery and I don’t have any information. I came back from the market to find the place crawling with security officers and M’nacht bleeding and broken on the floor. The room was a mess, as if someone was determined to find something. The officers wanted me to straighten up after they had gotten their evidence. I couldn’t find anything missing, but I did find M’nacht had programed a message bot and left it docked on the dash-key. Kes—he had set it on a timer to call in the alarm! Damn him! He had known they were coming and sent a delayed call for help! He took that beating when he could have prevented it! This morning before I left, he had mentioned for me to keep in touch with you if he couldn’t. I didn’t think much about it at the time. Anyway, I want you to know I’m here and watching out for him. Knowing that maddening old man, he probably sent you a message too. Whatever it was—heed it!”

Kes ran a shaky hand over his face and let out a shuddering breath. The steam car beeped its proximity to their destination. Kes took over the controls and parked in his space. The messages had rattled him enough that he braked the vehicle with a jolt instead of his normal smooth skill. He would rather be by his adopted father’s side, but the old man’s words kept playing in his mind. He needed to get to M’nacht’s place in the Heights as nonchalantly as possible and let himself in. It sounded like the home could be under surveillance. It didn’t matter who was watching: the law or thugs. He couldn’t be seen and he had to get in and out as fast as possible. This was the last twi-day. Perhaps the gloom would help. Pulling out a bulky sweater and a hat to disguise himself, he slipped the pack on his back and left the garage. His vacation could wait a few minutes.

When Kes got to the house, he furtively stepped off the sidewalk and behind some concealing bushes, then, crouching low, sprinted. He let himself into the empty house and, moving with as much rapid stealth as he could, went to M’nacht’s study. He glanced at the blood stains on the rug, the shards of a broken vase and the pile of books that Quin had organized as he’d tidied up. Wasting no time, Kes strode to the navorite and tapped a rhythm on the base. There was an almost inaudible whirring and a click as the gears engaged and the door opened. Kes listened to the silent house, then stepped inside the closet. He quickly removed the sweater and hat, stuffing them in the pack. The peepholes showed he was still alone in the room, so he turned to the work space. He glanced at the shelves and the armored wall safe but nothing appeared abnormal. On the narrow countertop was a small pile of items: a hand-sized leather-bound journal that looked very old and a small silk bag. On the top of both was a moon-pearl blossom. Kes knew that M’nacht loved those flowers. He picked it up. It had been cut that morning and still held traces of dew. Kes knew that the flower marked the small pile as if it had a sign with his name on it.

He stowed the journal in his pack and the small bag into his vest pocket. His hand paused as he pulled out his little fossil. Somehow everything tied back to the little navorite he’d found in the Cradle. He started to slip it back in his pocket when his attention was suddenly drawn to the peepholes. Two men and a woman were silhouetted in the study’s archway. They were using hand signals to each other and carrying cudgels. His heart began to pound and he moved to check if he had completely secured the door. It was still open a crack. With gentle pressure, he closed it, but there was a whisper of a click. One of the men whirled and leaned into the room. From beneath an overturned chair, the little robo-cleaner hummed into view. The man swore under his breath but stepped into the room anyway. The other two silently followed.

His heart was pounding as he peered through the hidden peepholes, watching the man get closer. Suddenly, Kes felt the air stir. There was a tang to the scent which reminded him of the sea. A heartbeat later, the hidden security closet was empty.

        
        

Holly’s world is shaped by her love of family, the beauty of the natural world and an irrepressible creative drive. She has always been curious and sees life through questions. These four characteristics color her writing voice and her stories frequently evolve from her asking “What if….?” Her tales tend to have non-urban settings with nature contributing to the plot, building discordant themes inside a seemingly peaceful refrain.

My motto: Weaving Alternative Worlds with Threads From Today.

Tendrils by Holly Barbo

TENDRILS
Where ’What if’ becomes ‘What is’
AUTHOR: Holly Barbo
COVER DESIGNER: The Graphics Shed
GENRE: Short story collection covering the following genres: Dystopian, Science Fiction, Sci-fi thriller, Sci-fantasy, Contemporary, Contemporary Thriller, Historical Fiction and Fantasy

Stories come from any number of places. One could start from a memory, a photo in a magazine or from pondering a news item and wondering, “What if?”
This collection arose from that sort of random stimuli. Some are pure imagination of science fiction or fantasy. Others developed from random historical facts or the disturbing news stories of war-torn regions.
This is a collection of stories for those who like to think.
Includes 4 award-winning short stories.
“I enjoyed every story in Tendrils! I am impressed with the versatility and well thought out environment in each setting. Obviously good research was put into writing these stories as well as a wonderful gift of empathy with a delightful touch of practical wisdom. In my opinion the last story would even make a good movie!” (Cynthia)
“An excellent compilation of short stories over different genres. I was highly impressed by the quality of the writing and her use of words, which dragged me in on every page.” (Bookcollecter)
“I thoroughly enjoyed this read. I had a hard time putting the book down. Some stories are short, some long. All are suspenseful & of different genre. I am amazed at her extensive vocabulary and her overall knowledge on so many subjects. Her imagination takes you on a great trip every time with every story. None are ever boring. I highly recommend this latest book of hers. You will not be disappointed. Sit back & take yourself on an adventure. You will learn something too along the way.” (Paul and Patti L. Jordan)
SAMPLES FROM 5 OF THE SHORT STORIES
The Tin of Honey:
Zoe knelt by the tiny trickle of water that seeped out around the rocks. She wet some dirt and caked it on the stings that liberally dotted her face and arms. Zoe breathed a sigh as the mud eased the discomfort. The little girl would be filthy by the end of the day, but she doubted anyone would notice.
There was a scuff of sound and Zoe whirled low into the deepest shadows of the rocks. “It’s just me,” came the whisper. Bright green eyes under a messy thatch of brown peered over the edge of the gully.
The little girl sagged in relief. Sam wouldn’t tell on her.
The boy studied his small friend. “I see you found the bee’s nest. Did you get the honey Robson wanted?”
The little girl nodded. She knew the man’s desire for the sweet. He had impatiently pried open the can and grabbed a honeycomb as soon as she delivered it last time. Zoe pointed to the large tin. She stood and brushed the drying mud off her palms as she moved to the container and lifted it into her arms. Sam shook his head at the picture. The tin seemed almost as big as she was. “You got that okay? Both of us have to get back to the work team. We’re late. I’ll see you there.”
Zoe shook the tangle of tawny-colored hair out of her eyes and nodded toward the top of the gully. Sam picked up his bucket of berries and, with a wave, disappeared over the rise.
The youngster scrambled up the slope. The tin was big and awkward in her arms and she stumbled, jarring the container. She struggled to get her balance. Though she knew Sam would have helped her, she couldn’t allow that. There were consequences if she didn’t pull her weight.
Stopping at the edge of the wheat field, she set the big tin down again and rubbed at the bee sting at the edge of her collar of obedience. Nothing could be done about that particular sting. It was just going to chafe against the hard edges of the band. The collar was impossible to take off. All the kids wore one. Robson had found them in the old prison storage room and used them to ensure the orphans did as they were told. The collar was constructed in a series of overlapping metal flakes. It reminded her of the scales of the snake she had seen near the compound last week.
With a sigh, she squatted down and wrapped her skinny arms around the tin. She got the weight balanced and started through the waving grass. Running was impossible, but she hurried the best she could. Sam was far in the distance and would reach the other orphans probably ten minutes ahead of her.
A Crystal Snowflake:
Orion gave a quick scan of the room. He needed to make sure he had everything important. His backpack was stuffed and the computer case held so much that there were edges of paper sticking out of it in a haphazard manner. The slender young man slung the strap of the computer bag over his shoulder, grabbed the backpack and headed for the front door. His hand paused as he reached for the knob and he looked out the window.
It was dark and he could see the snow falling through the street lights. There didn’t seem to be anyone about, so he slipped from the house and walked casually to his trusty old Chevy, his breath coming out in rapid visible puffs. The nonchalance was an act. He wanted anyone watching to assume he was going to M.I.T. to get in some late night work. He scanned the shadows, hoping that no one was there. He threw his backpack on the passenger seat then wedged the computer case between it and the seat back. He wanted both within easy reach. Once buckled in, he allowed his nervousness to slip out and thoroughly checked the view from his mirrors.
He eased onto the street and when there was no sign of his tires slipping, increased his speed. Orion reached into the pocket of the backpack for the pre-paid phone that he’d picked up when he determined his cell had been tapped. At the stop sign, he punched in a number. The snow flurries were increasing and he switched on the wipers. Orion waited for his friend to pick up.
He smiled when he heard her voice and responded by saying, “I’m on my way and no one is following me. Just in case, I sent instructions to our safe place. Don’t worry about retrieving the envelope unless I don’t get there by morning. Okay. Gotta go. I’ll be at your door for breakfast with your favorite croissants. Have the coffee brewed.”
Orion laughed at the response. “Okay. I need to concentrate on driving in this stuff. See you soon, Chayse. Bye.”
Beyond the stop sign, the road sloped to a picturesque country bridge, one of many that dotted the New England states. He had to admit it was beautiful in the snowfall but with the driving conditions worsening, he focused on how the car responded to his small adjustments in steering. In the weak light, he didn’t notice the watcher standing in the shelter of some trees on the far side of the road. The muffled figure took a box out of his pocket, pointed it at the car and pushed a button. The loud sibilant schwuff of the slush hitting the car’s undercarriage drowned out the pop.
Without any warning, Orion’s power steering quit. Working to compensate on the slick road, he fought to correct the fish-tailing motion of the car. “Shit!” He tapped the brakes and was horrified as his foot went all the way to the floor.
Fighting the wheel and the momentum of the old Chevy on the slippery surface became his entire focus…and he was losing. He tried gearing down and applying the emergency brake, but the car went into a spin and he caught a glimpse of the bridge railing coming up too fast. “Shit!” The car broke through the wooden barrier and sailed into the darkness over the side.
Octopus’s Garden:
“Come on, Allie, wake up! Your fever’s broken and we’ve got to get out of here. They plan to kill you!”
A girl with big dark eyes looked over her shoulder from the look-out position near the hallway. “Shh! Keep it down, Mitch! See if you can get her upright. She’s going to be worthless until she gets some fluid and one of those energy bars inside her.”
He lifted the pale girl to the edge of the bed and propping her up, touched a glass of water to her lips. “Allison, take a sip. Open your eyes and look at me. I need you to pay attention.”
The weak girl made a protesting sound but took a sip of water. Her eyelids fluttered. “Where am I?”
Sensing his building impatience, the girl at the door whispered sharply, “Tell her and get her to eat the bar!”
“All right, all right, Pilar!” Mitch returned his focus to Allie. “Can you hear me? I’ll tell you but not until you take a bite. The food will help you feel more like yourself.”
With her eyes still closed, Allison chewed. “Answers now!”
“We’re in the medical research pod of Oceania Four, the Underwater Habitat west of California. A hundred and twenty of us were recruited to help the scientists find ways for humans to adapt to living and working for long periods of time underwater. Do you remember any of this?”
Half of the bar was gone and Allison was sitting up on her own. “Vaguely. Keep talking.”
“We came here to work in the labs. Our college debt would be forgiven and we were guaranteed research jobs.”
“So…I got sick?” The bar was gone and Allie started on the second. She could focus now and was looking around the dimly lit room as she listened.
“We all did. It turns out we’ve been guinea pigs for their gene manipulation experiments.”
“Oh shit. Give me the bottom line.” Allison slipped off the bed and onto her feet. Shaking a little, she reached for the glass of water and a third of the highly-efficient power bars.
“Forty-nine died screaming in agony. Thirty-four mutated into…things beyond nightmares. Eighteen of us made it through the fever and were lucky enough to wake at night and slip out of the facility between security shifts. We’ve come back for you but we’re nearly out of time. There are eighteen remaining and they’re all in beds in this ward, desperately ill. They’ll not get a chance to win or lose their personal battle in the cellular war. We’ve learned the decision’s been made to do a major cover-up and ‘sanitize’ this facility. They plan to euthanize all their test subjects in the morning. That means us if we’re caught!”
The Ball:
Baakir slept curled against his little brother in the dusty darkness. He woke as his mother touched his shoulder. “We must go. Now!”
The boy didn’t question but rose from the sleep mat and waking his brother, lifted the child to his feet. There were sounds from the end of the village: a cacophony of harsh shouts and screams. He took Azizi’s hand and hurried to the doorway where his mother crouched, peering out. The flickering firelight from burning huts glinted on her face and the wire jewelry around her neck. There were shadowed figures moving around the far huts.
“Stay low and follow me.” She looked at her sons to see if they understood.
Both boys nodded.
Slipping a bundle onto her back, Kofi melted into the blackness. Baakir was close enough to touch her skirt but didn’t loosen his grip on little Azizi’s hand. The three became part of the moonless night as they dashed for the depression of the wadi and the deep grass beyond. Each knew they could be discovered at any second!
They were going to the safety of Kofi’s old village. It was isolated in a remote region of the country and away from most of the fighting. The journey would be dangerous but staying was certain death. Baakir heard the throaty grourff of a hunting lion in the distance to his left and swinging little Azizi onto his back, quickened his pace.
At dawn, they hollowed a place in the tall grass. Azizi slid off his back as Baakir sank to his knees. Within minutes both little boys were curled up and sound asleep, the tears on Azizi’s cheeks drying to leave salt trails, which glistened in the morning light.
The Heart of a Shadow:
Giselle came to awareness with a confusion of pebbles and dust pelting her. A stench of concrete powder, burnt plastic, acetone and something she couldn’t place overwhelmed and made her cough. Elle lay disoriented, wondering where she was…what had happened?
The last thing she remembered was walking through the village. The stalls in the open air market were closing for the day. Elle exchanged cheerful banter with the merchants as they gathered their goods and earnings, preparing to go home and spend an evening with their families. She’d grinned at the antics of the flower seller’s daughter who’d been mischievously peeking through the cheerful yellow blossoms. Charmed, Elle had taken her picture. The child’s bubbling laughter was so contagious that several shoppers had stopped just so they could share in the merriment. Abruptly, there was a flash of bright light and the world exploded.
***
At first Elle could only hear the patter of falling debris. The young woman tried to raise her hand to brush the grit out of her eyes. Her body was sluggish and it was a few moments before she managed to touch her face. Elle’s fingertips brushed against painful areas and her hand came away sticky. She was alarmed to see blood smearing her dusty hands.
With a small groan, she turned her head. Chunks of bricks, concrete and boards littered the street. Shock and denial froze her body and took her breath. The beautiful little girl from the flower stall lay broken and still not eight feet away, tossed against the cobbles like a lost doll. Elle stretched her arm toward the child in desperate supplication, beseeching the little girl to blink or move, but it was too late. The muscles in the young woman’s face and chest contracted painfully in grief as she drew in a shuddering breath and began to cry in wrenching bursts.
The sound of running feet and shouts filled her ears. A young man knelt beside her. Efficient hands ran over her, searching for injuries. He leaned low and placed his cheek against hers, making soothing sounds between his questions as her body wracked with sobs. Finding nothing broken, he lifted her to lean against his chest. Water sloshed and a woman’s soothing hands gently washed the cuts on her face. Gradually, Elle’s breathing settled enough for her to answer.
“I’m Giselle Bouvier. People call me Elle. I’m shooting pictures of life at the edge of the war zone. Thought you were out of shelling range.”
The young man brushed her hair away from a cut on her forehead that a woman was swabbing with antiseptic. “Elle, you are one of the lucky ones. The missiles came without warning from miles away. There are rebels in the hills.”

Holly’s world is shaped by her love of family, the beauty of the natural world and an irrepressible creative drive. She has always been curious and sees life through questions. These four characteristics color her writing voice and her stories frequently evolve from her asking “What if….?” Her tales tend to have non-urban settings with nature contributing to the plot, building discordant themes inside a seemingly peaceful refrain.

My motto: Weaving Alternative Worlds with Threads From Today.

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Forged by Love by Laura Strickland

 Forged by Love
Series: Lobster Cove
Author: Laura Strickland
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Historical Fiction
Rating: Sensual
Original Release Date: January 8, 2016
Newly returned home to Lobster Cove from the War Between the States, blacksmith Douglas Grier can’t forget the horrors he’s witnessed or the beautiful young woman he helped break free from her shackles one dark night after her master’s plantation burned. He wishes he had at least asked her name, even though she and her family disappeared into the darkness and Douglas has no expectation of seeing her again.
Josie Freeman can’t remember the last time she felt safe. Even though she and her family are freed, they’re being pursued by slave hunters hired by their former owner. When their ship is damaged on the way to Nova Scotia, Josie is thrown into contact with the one man she never expected…the very man she had wanted to see. But will her past catch up with her before Douglas can free her heart?
Hello, folks. Sir, I don’t suppose you remember me.”
Josie stared at the man who spoke, afraid to believe her eyes. Tall and with bare shoulders that gleamed in the sun, he had a crop of wavy black hair and skin almost as dark as her own. Though he spoke to Daniel, his brown eyes sought hers and held them, his wonder evident to see.
Not remember him? From the instant he stepped on the wharf, Josie’s attention had been snagged—and not just because he was a good-looking man. No, for the pull she’d felt from the first they sighted this place heightened almost unbearably, every one of her inner instincts sitting up and howling.
Not remember him? Had there been a moment since that night he hadn’t been, somehow, with her?
Her lips parted, but she didn’t speak. Daniel’s deep voice sounded instead.
“Of course, of course we remember you, sir. How could we forget?”
“Good to see you again.” The man focused on Daniel at last and extended a hand to him without hesitation. “But what sort of happenstance has brought you here where we might cross paths again?”
“A long story, sir, and one with a full measure of sorrow.” Daniel shook the man’s hand with the innate courtesy that always marked him.
The fellow’s gaze stole back to Josie, and she promptly went breathless. “I’m very glad to see you safe. That night—well, I never did get your names.”
“Daniel Freeman, sir. This here is my son Michael, his wife Eunice, and their child Hetty. And my own girl, Josie.”
“Douglas Grier, and I’m glad to meet you properly.”
Michael leaned forward to shake Douglas Grier’s hand. “I’m happy, Mr. Grier, to have a chance to thank you. It was a fine thing you did for us that night.”
Douglas Grier smiled, and his somber face transformed as if lit from within. Josie’s heart fluttered like a wild bird before resuming a double-time beat.
Calm yourself, girl. He’s done no more than look at you.
Grier turned to her. “Josie Freeman,” he repeated as if he memorized it, and took Josie’s hand.
She promptly went dizzy as sudden images pressed upon her, blotting out the present. His hands coming at her, so strong and yet gentle, out of the darkness that night. The way he’d touched her, with such care and respect, and the way he’d looked at her as if he could see right down to the bottom of her soul.
He smiled again and Josie’s poor heart pounded in response. “What a marvel this is. I’ve wondered a hundred times what happened to you after that night.”

 

Born in Buffalo and raised on the Niagara Frontier, Laura Strickland has been an avid reader and writer since childhood. To her the spunky, tenacious, undefeatable ethnic mix that is Buffalo spells the perfect setting for a little Steampunk, so she created her own Victorian world there. She knows the people of Buffalo are stronger, tougher and smarter than those who haven’t survived the muggy summers and blizzard blasts found on the shores of the mighty Niagara. Tough enough to survive a squad of automatons? Well, just maybe.
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Promotional Tour – Introducing Kim Iverson Headlee!

PROMO TOUR FOR KIM HEADLEE

Kim Iverson Headlee 1500x2237Kim Headlee lives on a farm in southwestern Virginia with her family, cats, goats, Great Pyrenees goat guards, and assorted wildlife. People and creatures come and go, but the cave and the 250-year-old house ruins—the latter having been occupied as recently as the mid-twentieth century—seem to be sticking around for a while yet.
Kim is a Seattle native and a direct descendent of twentieth-century Russian nobility. Her grandmother was a childhood friend of the doomed Grand Duchess Anastasia, and the romantic yet tragic story of how Lydia escaped Communist Russia with the aid of her American husband will most certainly one day fuel one of Kim’s novels. Another novel in the queue will involve her husband’s ancestor, the seventh-century proto-Viking king of the Swedish colony in Russia.
For the time being, however, Kim has plenty of work to do in creating her projected 8-book Arthurian series, The Dragon’s Dove Chronicles, and other novels. She has been a published novelist since 1999, beginning with the original editions of Dawnflight (Sonnet Books, Simon & Schuster, ISBN 0671020412) and Liberty (writing as Kimberly Iverson, HQN Books, Harlequin, ISBN 0373771347).

 
 
KING ARTHUR’S SISTER IN WASHINGTON’S COURT
Scifi/fantasy futuristic time travel with romantic elements

Original release date: November 1, 2014
Morgan le Fay, 6th-century Queen of Gore and the only major character not killed off by Mark Twain in A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, vows revenge upon the Yankee Hank Morgan. She casts a spell to take her to 1879 Connecticut so she may waylay Sir Boss before he can travel back in time to destroy her world. But the spell misses by 300 miles and 200 years, landing her in the Washington, D.C., of 2079, replete with flying limousines, hovering office buildings, virtual-reality television, and sundry other technological marvels.
Whatever is a time-displaced queen of magic and minions to do? Why, rebuild her kingdom, of course—two kingdoms, in fact: as Campaign Boss for the reelection of American President Malory Beckham Hinton, and as owner of the London Knights world-champion baseball franchise.
Written as though by the old master himself, King Arthur’s Sister in Washington’s Court by Mark Twain as channeled by Kim Iverson Headlee offers laughs, love, and a candid look at American society, popular culture, politics, baseball… and the human heart.

ALL CALL ME Queen. For my unparalleled skills in leechcraft, most call me “The Wise.” No man dares call me “le Fay,” lest he die.
I hight Morgan.
That is to say, my name is Morgan, so chosen by my mother, Duchess Igraine, to honor the Great Queen of the Old Religion, Mór Rigan, goddess of war. My mother never knew how prophetic her choice would prove to be.
I am the daughter of Duke Gorlois, the sister of Queen Margawse and Queen Elaine, the wife of King Uriens of Gore, and the mother of Sir Uwaine of the Table Round. Blessed good fortune made me all of these things.
By the capricious hand of ill fortune, King Arthur became my younger half brother, spawned upon my most virtuous and blameless mother by that demon in man’s raiment, Uther Pendragon.
I despised Arthur from the very hour of his birth.
LIBERTY
Historical romance: ancient Rome

Original release date: December 16, 2014
Winner of the BooksGoSocial Best Book Award 2015.
They hailed her “Liberty,” but she was free only to obey—or die.
Betrayed by her father and sold as payment of a Roman tax debt to fight in Londinium’s arena, gladiatrix-slave Rhyddes feels like a wild beast in a gilded cage. Celtic warrior blood flows in her veins, but Roman masters own her body. She clings to her vow that no man shall claim her soul, though Marcus Calpurnius Aquila, son of the Roman governor, makes her yearn for a love she believes impossible.
Groomed to follow in his father’s footsteps and trapped in a politically advantageous betrothal, Aquila prefers the purity of combat on the amphitheater sands to the sinister intrigues of imperial politics, and the raw power and athletic grace of the flame-haired Libertas to the adoring deference of Rome’s noblewomen.
When a plot to overthrow Caesar ensnares them as pawns in the dark design, Aquila must choose between the Celtic slave who has won his heart and the empire to which they both owe allegiance. Knowing the opposite of obedience is death, the only liberty offered to any slave, Rhyddes must embrace her arena name—and the love of a man willing to sacrifice everything to forge a future with her.

Marcus Calpurnius Aquila sprawled on his belly across the cushioned and linen-draped marble massage table, his head, arms, shins, and feet jutting over the table’s padded edges. As the male slave worked eucalyptus-scented unguent into the aching muscles, Marcus could feel the tensions of combat seep away.
Too bad the man couldn’t work out the knots in Marcus’s relationship with his father, Sextus Calpurnius Agricola, governor of Britannia province.
Citing “official business” yet again, Agricola had declined to witness Marcus’s gladiatorial bout in Londinium’s amphitheater this afternoon. His opponent had fought well, causing Marcus in his scanty armor to work up a sweat that, judging by the reverberating high-pitched cheers, had all the women swooning with delight.
Never mind that Marcus, who fought under his cognomen, Aquila, the Eagle, remained a perennial favorite with the crowd. Agricola never missed an opportunity to point out that his arena exhibitions—and the resulting private liaisons with adoring female spectators—flirted with the precipice of social acceptability and could damage Marcus’s political aspirations.
SNOW IN JULY
YA paranormal medieval romance

Original release date: July 1, 2014
Sir Robert Alain de Bellencombre has been granted what every man wants: a rich English estate in exchange for his valiant service at the Battle of Hastings. To claim this reward, the Norman knight must wed the estate’s Saxon heiress. Most men would leap at such an opportunity, but for Alain, who broke his vow to his dying mother by failing to protect his youngest brother in battle, it means facing more easily broken vows. But when rumors of rampant thievery, dangerous beasts, and sorcery plaguing a neighboring estate reach his ears, nothing will make him shirk duty to king and country when people’s lives stand at risk. He assumes the guise of a squire to scout the land, its problems, and its lady.
Lady Kendra of Edgarburh has been granted what no woman wants: a forced marriage to an enemy who may be kith or kin to the man who murdered her beloved brother. Compounding her anguish is her failure to awaken the miraculous healing gift bequeathed by their late mother in time to save his life. Although with his dying breath, he made her promise to seek happiness above all, Kendra vows that she shall find neither comfort nor love in the arms of a Norman…unless it snows in July.
Alain is smitten by Lady Kendra from the first moment of their meeting; Kendra feels the forbidden allure of the handsome and courtly Norman “squire.” But a growing evil overshadows everyone, invoking dark forces and ensnaring Kendra in a plot to overthrow the king Alain is oath-bound to serve. Kendra and Alain face a battle unlike any other as their honor, their love, their lives, and even their very souls lie in the balance.

Ruaud joined him, and they headed for the stables. The outlaws’ horses were gone, even the animals the dead men had ridden, leaving a morass of the imprints of boots and hooves in the dew-dampened dirt. Alain studied the swath of tracks leading toward the crossroads and released a sigh.
“Any idea where they might have gone?” Ruaud asked.
“I cannot be certain. On the road’s hard-packed surface, they can ride anywhere without fear of being followed. But I do have a reasonable guess.” Ruaud cocked his head as if inviting Alain to continue. “West. Back to Glastonbury.”
Staring westward, Ruaud let out a low whistle. “For once, I hope you are wrong. I would not like the implications if you are proven right.”
The implications that someone in Sarum knew who they were and the nature of their mission, perhaps having been warned by a traitor in the regent’s employ… Alain couldn’t agree more.
As he turned, an odd print caught his attention. He stooped to trace it.
“Did you find something?” Ruaud asked.
“The innkeeper must have a dog.” An extremely large dog, he surmised, though he couldn’t recall having seen such an animal on the premises. A howl pierced the gloom from afar. Alain stood and gazed in the direction of the eerie sound. “Or perhaps a wolf passed through.”
“And the mere sight of us convinced it to keep going, eh?” Ruaud’s grin looked wan in the moonlight.
Hellish beasts… Alain shrugged.
They warily resumed their course toward the stables and discovered one of the outlaws inside, lying facedown in a puddle of blood. Alain kicked him in the side. The man didn’t move. With his foot he righted the body.
Ecgfrith. Eyes bulging, his throat bore wide, jagged slashes as if he’d been cut with a dull blade.
Or a predator’s teeth.
Tami 1

Phoenix Rising by Hunter S. Jones

PHOENIX RISING

Author: Hunter S. Jones

GENRE: Literary Fiction/Historical Fiction
EDITOR: BZ Hercules
ORIGINAL RELEASE DATE: May 19, 2015
The last hour of Anne Boleyn’s life…
Court intrigue, revenge and all the secrets of the last hour are revealed as one queen falls and another rises to take her place on destiny’s stage.
A young Anne Boleyn arrives at the court of King Henry VIII. She is to be presented at the Shrovetide pageant, le Château Vert. The young and ambitious Anne has no idea that a chance encounter before the pageant will lead to her capturing the heart of the king. What begins as a distraction becomes his obsession and leads to her destruction.
Love, hate, loyalty and betrayal come together in a single dramatic moment… the execution of a queen. The history of England will be changed for ever.
Chattanooga, Tennessee

May 2015
Long ago, when our English ancestress immigrated to the American colonies in the late 17th century, she brought with her a star chart, the stories it revealed, and a golden ring. My grandmother told me this, and her grandmother had explained it to her. This story has remained in our family for generations. The star chart tells the story of the last hour of Anne Boleyn and the rise of Lady Jane Seymour as predicted by an astrologer to the King of England, Henry VIII. The family legend and the chart reveal what happened in the last hour on that English morning of May 19, 1536.
The star chart is a map of the planetary movement for a particular time. It is divided into twelve segments called houses. Each house represents a different area of life and individuals within a person’s life. Every house literally provides a home for the planets stationed there, giving that planet a place to manifest its energy through various individuals. According to the stars and the twelve houses of the star map, zodiac wheel, or astrology chart, as we call them today, this is how the King, the doomed Queen, and various members of their family and court spent the last hour of one Queen’s life and the beginning of the next Queen’s reign. As the falcon badge of Anne Boleyn began its descent, the phoenix emblem of Jane Seymour began to rise.
The star map remains in my possession, as does the golden ring. So it was explained to me and now I can reveal to you that which has been a mystery. The mystery of how that one moment in time came to be.

Deb Hunter writes fiction as Hunter S. Jones. She is a member of the prestigious Society of Authors founded by Lord Tennyson, Rivendell Writers Colony, Historical Writers’ Association, Historical Fiction Authors, Historical Novel Society and the Atlanta Writer’s Club. She is also a member of Romance Writers of America (RWA) PAN Member; and Georgia Romance Writers. Originally from a Chattanooga, Tennessee, she currently lives in Atlanta, Georgia with her Scottish born husband.Her Tudor History blog, Fear and Loathing in Tudor England, is a reader’s favorite.

Her best seller, PHOENIX RISING, a fictional story of the last hour of Anne Boleyn is available on Amazon.com and at a bookstore near you.


SECRETS from a DANGEROUS TIME is a multi-dimensional series set in post-Civil War Reconstruction in Chattanooga, Tennessee and the north Georgia. This series is an Amazon Exclusive available via MadeGlobal Publishing.

 

        

Promotional Tour – Laura Strickland

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author
Born and raised in Western New York, Laura Strickland has pursued lifelong interests in lore, legend, magic and music, all reflected in her writing. Though her imagination frequently takes her to far off places, she is usually happiest at home not far from Lake Ontario with her husband and her “fur” child, a rescue dog. Author of Scottish romance Devil Black as well as The Guardians of Sherwood Trilogy, she is pleased to say that His Wicked Highland Ways is her eighth title for The Wild Rose Press.
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Publication Date: April 24, 2015
Widowed following a marriage of convenience, Jeannie MacWherter has fled lowland Dumfries, Scotland, for the highland cottage bequeathed to her late husband by his brother-in-arms, laird of the glen. Though she’s never met the laird, local rumor labels him both murderer and seducer—a wicked, dangerous man who Jeannie learns is determined to chase her from his land.
Finnan MacAllister has come home to Glen Mhor in order to right past wrongs. He doesn’t care that Rowan Cottage is the beautiful Widow MacWherter’s only refuge. He’s convinced she’s a wanton who deliberately broke the heart of his best friend, Geordie, and he’s vowed to get even with her: seduction is his weapon of choice. But will his own heart betray him?
Excerpt 
The man arose from the pool stark naked and dripping wet, like a god newly formed. Jeannie took another half step backward and blinked, not entirely believing the sight that met her eyes: some six foot of male, all rippling muscles, scars, and tattoos, with a curtain of sopping red-brown hair that slapped his shoulder blades, and a handsome, dangerous face. His eyes were tawny brown, almost the same color as his hair, and spiked by wet, black lashes. But after one glance, Jeannie could not make herself look there.
Instead her gaze dropped—and dropped. Sweet, merciful heaven! Was that how men came equipped? She might be a widow in name, but she had never seen her husband, Geordie, naked. Theirs had not been that kind of relationship, or that kind of marriage.
But she had an eyeful now, right enough, and for the life of her could not keep from staring. What a ridiculous, daunting, and marvelous appendage! How did men ever manage to walk around like that?
But this man did not attempt to walk. He merely stood in the shallow pool with the water lapping around his…Jeannie’s strained mind supplied the word “weapon”…and gazed at her as if he found her as hard to fathom as she found him.
Ah, and she never should have walked so far down the glen. But dearly as she loved Aggie, Jeannie sometimes needed to escape her chatter, and the beautiful day had lured her on.
Into danger, clearly. Who was he? Obviously someone of ill repute, a traveler, a dangerous outlaw, a madman. What if he decided to use that terrible weapon on her, and she on her own?
Instead he spoke the way a man might to a frightened horse. “There, now, no need to be afraid. I’ll not harm you.”
Jeannie took another judicious step backward. If she ran, would he be able to catch her? No doubt, given those long, muscular legs.
She shook her head, and her hair tumbled about her shoulders. Never well-disciplined, the yellow curls invariably escaped their pins, and she’d lost most of those on her walk down the glen.
He spoke again, in a voice smooth as warmed honey, lilting, and very Highland. “Where are you from, lass? You’ll be a maid at Avrie House, no doubt.” Deliberately he snagged his plaid, which lay on the bank, and wrapped it around his waist.
“Why were you lying in the water?” Jeannie forced her voice past suddenly stiff lips. “I thought you dead, drowned.”
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Publication Date: March 31, 2015
Disgraced in her father’s eyes, Isobel Maitland travels to Scotland, determined to purchase her sister’s happiness at the cost of her own. But when her coach is held up and she is abducted by a dangerous highwayman, she faces an unexpected choice: suffer the loveless union to which she has resigned herself, or marry this ruthless, Scottish outlaw who can ignite her desire with a single touch. They call him “Diabhal Dubh” – Devil Black – and he spends his days terrorizing the countryside, trying to outdistance the memories that torture him. The King has decreed he must settle and take a wife. And when he steals the alluring woman betrothed to his enemy, Dougal MacRae sees a way to both answer the King’s demand and obtain the revenge he has sought so long …
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Publication Date: February 27, 2015
Clara Allen needs a husband in order to keep a roof over the heads of her assorted dependents, a roof her nasty grandfather will re-appropriate unless she is married by her 21st birthday, only a few days away. Strong-minded, unwilling to take orders from any man, she decides to solve her problem by raising a murdered prisoner from the dead and marrying him. She expects an empty-headed puppet; she certainly never dreams he’ll be so devastatingly handsome. Liam McMahon doesn’t recall much about his life before his hanging in the prison yard, other than being Irish. He does remember the kiss Clara bestowed as she brought him back to life. Every time he looks at her, his desire gets out of hand. But his former life is chasing him down like a steam engine, and when a couple of mad geniuses decide he’d make a fine experiment, he wonders if he’ll live long enough to claim Clara’s heart or if he’ll die all over again.
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Publication Date: July 23, 2013
Raised in the kitchens of Nottingham Castle, Wren has no idea she is the daughter of the legendary Robin Hood until she is summoned to Sherwood Forest. Since Robin’s death many years before, the resistance against Norman tyranny has been upheld by a magical triad, but now one of the guardians has died. With two young men, Sparrow and Martin, Wren must form a new triad with a bond strong enough to defend Sherwood’s magic. To one of them, she will also give her heart. From the moment Wren bursts into his life, Sparrow loves her. But he knows she may choose his lifelong rival, Martin, as her mate. Martin wants Wren also, but Sparrow fears Martin is driven not by love but ambition. When Martin is captured and held at Nottingham Castle, will the conflict between love and duty destroy the triad?
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Publication Date: December 26, 2013
When Gareth de Vavasour, nephew of the Sheriff of Nottingham, is captured by the outlaws of Sherwood Forest and held for ransom, he knows he will be fortunate to escape with his life. Amid the magic and danger that surround him, he soon realizes his true peril lies in the beautiful dark eyes of Linnet, the Saxon healer sent to tend his wounds. Granddaughter of Robin Hood, Linnet has always known she is destined to become a guardian of Sherwood Forest, along with her sister and a close childhood companion. She believes her life well settled until the arrival of Gareth. Then all her loyalties are tested even as her heart is forced to choose between love and the ties of duty, while Sherwood declares its own champion.
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Publication Date: December 26, 2013
Curlew Champion, master archer, has always known his destiny. With his cousin, Heron Scarlet, he will become a guardian of Sherwood Forest and further his people’s fight against Norman Tyranny. But the third member of the triad is still to be revealed, the woman who will complete the magical circle and, perhaps, answer the longing in Curlew’s heart. Anwyn Montfort has fled disgrace in Shrewsbury and come to Nottingham at her father’s bidding. He wishes her to make a good marriage and settle down. But the wildness that possesses her refuses to quiet. She knows she’s been searching for something all her life, but not until she glimpses Curlew does her spirit begin to hope it has found its home. Only the magic of Sherwood can bring them together, and only their union can complete the spell woven so long ago …

Season of the Raven – by Denise Domning

I  recently had the pleasure of being asked to read and review Denise Domning’s new book ‘Season of the Raven’, the first book in her Season of the Crown Mystery Series.

My first introduction to Denise’s writing was through her series ‘The Graistan Chronicles’, a medieval romance series which I thoroughly enjoyed .
 
Season of the Raven is set in the same time period, beginning at Michaelmas in the Year 1194.   Whilst this first book solves one murder, Denise has used the book to set-up a continuing backstory which I imagine will continue through the series.  To say more at this stage, would reveal too much for the new reader, suffice to say there is much to look forward to in this new series.
 
Season of the Raven introduces us to Sir Faucon de Ramis, a former Crusader who travels to the tiny village of Blacklea.  He is to meet his Uncle, Bishop William of Hereford and is surprised to discover another relative, Lord Rannulf Graiston is also in attendance.  Both Bishop William and Lord Graistan are characters from ‘The Graistan Chronicles’ and Denise has neatly tied this new series to the old with the appearance of much-loved characters from the past.
 
Sir Faucon discovers he has been named as the Keeper of the Pleas for the area surround Blacklea, which will provide him with an income, whilst allowing him to build a life of his own.  It also lumbers him with an overbearing and bossy monk, Brother Edmund as his clerk.
 
From here the story moves quickly, as Sir Faucon finds himself called to the village of Priors Holston, where the local miller has been found dead.  Initially it would appear the death of the alcoholic man was accidental, but as we soon find, there is much more to this death than meets the eye.  As the story progresses, Sir Faucon finds himself wading into unknown waters, coming to terms with his new job, whilst trying to deal with his annoying, interfering and officious clerk.  
 
Denise has written a wonderful story, She has a mastery of medieval times and brings the history to vivid life.  Her creative prose is wonderful and brings the medieval period to the readers lap.
 
The characters are well-rounded, and as the relationship between Sir Faucon and Brother Edmund continues, we get a better understanding of each man and their reasons for what they do whilst investigating the residents of Priors Holston.  I particularly enjoyed the evolution and it will be interesting to see how it pans out in future books.
 
I would highly recommend this book to lovers of books set in the medieval period, but equally, it is a great mystery for those who enjoy a solid murder with all the follow-up detective work required.  This book was particularly entertaining in this regard, introducing us to a second monk, Brother Colin who is the Priory Herbalist and integral to discovering that the death was murder and not accidental.  In a modern world where technology is so important in homicide cases, to read about using very basic methods of deduction was both interesting and well-written.  I very much hope Brother Colin will make appearances in future books.
 
‘Season of the Raven’ is currently available to purchase from Amazon – click on the book cover above to go and purchase it.
 
About the Author:
 
 
Denise Domning is the award-winning, best-selling author of eleven historical novels and the co-author with Monica Sarli of one gritty, hard-bitten memoir of addiction and recovery. Of the two genres she frankly prefers the rats, grime and fleas of the Twelfth Century over the ghettos and drug use of modern Kansas City. For Denise, writing means using words as her time machine and painting an accurate portrait of a past. Open any of her novels, whether Twelfth, Thirteenth, Sixteenth or Nineteenth Century, and step into a bygone era. As one reviewer put it “…you live the life and the language, smell the odors of unwashed humanity, and hear the sucking sounds as your flimsy shoes slog through mud and muck.” Now doesn’t that sound romantic?
Denise and her husband Ed live on a farm in Cornville (yes, Cornville), Arizona, where they plant veggies, milk cows and have an Easter egg hunt every day.
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