Cannetella #CoverReveal

Cannetella
Elodie Rowan
Publication date: March 2023
Genres: Fantasy, New Adult, Romance


A lush and dark fairytale retelling steeped in Italian folklore, Canetella is sure to please fans of Elise Kova, Sarah J. Maas, and K.F. Breene.

Cannetella is doomed to marry. As the only child of the bankrupted King of High-Hill, her twentieth birthday spells the end of life as she knows it. Cannetella dreams of adventure, not refilling the kingdom’s coffers. Determined to keep her freedom, she hatches a plan: Cannetella announces she will only marry a man with a face of pure gold. Pleased with her impossible standards, she prepares for a life unburdened by a husband.

But on the night of her birthday, a mysterious man appears. On his face is a mask made of the finest gold. The relieved King declares Cannetella will marry the man with enough wealth to save the heirless and penniless Kingdom of High-Hill. Cannetella is forced to wed and whisked away from the only home she has ever known. But the gilded gentleman is none other than her father’s most bitter nemesis, Enzo Fioravante, an infamous and feared Stregone, a dark Sorceror.

Tied to Enzo with no way of returning home, Cannetella learns she is a pawn in a game of revenge between the two families, and that Fioravante will do anything to gain what was stolen from him five years ago. But as Cannetella delves into her captor’s past, she uncovers a devious plot burrowed in both of their kingdoms, one of magic, murder, and lust. And worst of all, she learns Fioravante is not the villain he appears to be.

Together with her greatest enemy, Canetella and Enzo must break a curse that has claimed the lives of six others, or become the next victims. And as the unlikely pair grows closer, a dark and undeniable attraction blooms. But when magic is involved, no one’s heart will remain unscathed.


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In the Shadow of a Hoax

In the Shadow of a Hoax
Maci Aurora
(Fareview Fairytales, #2)
Publication date: January 24th 2023
Genres: Adult, Fantasy, Romance


In the Kingdom of Kaloma, a woman is forced to rely on a man to “keep her” and is forbidden from maintaining anything of her own. It’s the law.

In the remote village of Sevens, at the northernmost point of the kingdom, there lives a family with four daughters and a son, toiling day in and day out together, hopeful a treaty with the boarding kingdom of Jast might change things.

When one daughter—at risk of being imprisoned for fighting back—hides away in the Whitling Woods. She stumbles upon a dying man and despite the risk to herself, chooses to save him. Only who he is has the power to change everything…

Tarley Fareview, idealistic and stubborn, does what she can to support herself in spite of an unjust Kaloma law. When she fights back after being attacked, she flees into the woods disguised as a boy. While in hiding, she discovers a dying man and must decide if she risks her life to save him. Unable to walk away, Tarley chooses to intervene and works to save the stranger, only little does she know that by doing so she’ll also risk the heart she promised herself she’d never give to anyone.

When the Crown Prince of Jast, Lachlan Nikolas—forced by the king to attend treaty negotiations with the kingdom of Kaloma in disguise—is attacked, his horse bolts, and they both careen over a cliff, falling to their deaths in a raging river below. Only, miracle of miracles, Lachlan doesn’t perish, and instead is given a second chance at life, but at a price. When he wakes, he’s not only been stripped of his clothes but also his identity. Saved by a strange woman—in a terrible disguise because she looks nothing like a boy—Lachlan must learn very quickly how to survive in a world where he isn’t a prince anymore and with zero skills other than his entitlement and his charm. Unsure who to trust, Lachlan must reinvent himself, learn how to survive, open his heart to discover the truth about worthiness, and discover what it means to sacrifice one’s self for true love.


Goodreads / Amazon

EXCERPT:

“Are you just going to stand there?” Tarley asked from near the fire. She hadn’t looked at him and continued shoving more wood into the fire as if she were trying to make a giant bonfire which was glowing bright as the sun went down, casting the place in long, blue shadows.

He started toward her, irritated by her tone. “Do you need all that wood?”

Her gaze found him, and her eyebrows arched over her eyes. “You’re welcome to do it.”

“I don’t need to anymore. You’ve done it, excessively just as you do everything.”

“You’re welcome to do more, your highness.”

Lachlan tripped and righted himself. “What’s that supposed to mean?”

She stared at him and looked away. “Nothing.” She stomped toward him and snagged the fish from his hand, then stormed across to the wooden plank to prepare them.

“What are you doing?” Lachlan advanced on her.

“Everything. Excessively,” she said with a caustic bite and slapped the fish on the board and unhooked the first one. “Why didn’t you clean them?”

Lachlan rounded the board and with his body, nudged her out of the way. “I can do it.”

“Obviously you can’t,” she snapped. “It’s supposed to be done away from camp.” She glared at him. “So bears don’t come looking.”

“I didn’t–” Lachlan felt stupid. He knew that. He’d learned it in one of his many survival sessions when he served in the royal army. And yet he’d forgotten, more interested in pushing Tarley’s patience.

“Know?” She looked down at the fish. “I’ll take them–” She bit out, reattached the first fish and grabbed the line.

“I’ll do it.” Lachlan grabbed the line at the same time.

Each of them held the line.

Tarley tugged at it.

Lachlan tugged back. “Let it go.”

“You let it go.”

“I said I’d do it,” Lachlan leaned toward her.

“But you didn’t. And now I have to fix it.” Tarley leaned closer.

“I can clean my own messes,” he said, and his eyes jumped to her lips as his heart thrashed in his chest with a new beat.

Her eyes flitted to his mouth, then she leaned back as if pushed and released her hold on the fish. “Fine,” she said and stormed away.


Author Bio:

Romance author.

Lover of stories.

Maci Aurora has been writing stories since she was a child. When she was eleven, she fell in love with reading Sunfire Historical Romances about girls who made a difference in their lives and still fell in love. In high school, a friend introduced her to Lavyrle Spencer and Judith McNaught, and from there, her writing journey was cemented in telling stories about love. Having already published many novels (all of which are threaded with romance as upper YA and New Adult titles) under the pen name, CL Walters, Maci Aurora wanted to write stories that offered the same attention to story and characters but with additional steam.

Maci writes in Hawaiʻi where she lives with her husband, their children, and their fur-babies.

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A Kingdom of Death and Despair #CoverReveal

A Kingdom of Death and Despair
Whitney Dean
Publication date: June 27th 2023
Genres: Adult, Fantasy, Romance


Once upon a time, there was a half-witch of three
who walked on the land where creatures roamed free.

Once upon a time, there was a prince of one
who danced with the waves under the sun.

Once upon a time, there was a prince of two
who hid amongst the shadows where fear only grew

But when time became impatient, a prophecy was conceived of twins born of darkness
who would live their lives aggrieved
but coupled with their misery was the answer all sought
but the question remained, which one would be left to rot?


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ART COVER:


Author Bio:

Whitney grew up reading books from all genres, but her favorite has always been anything within the fantasy realm. Now, she’s living her dream and creating new worlds for readers to get lost in.

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Owl Totem

Owl Totem

by Sean E. Kelly

Genre: Epic Fantasy

Famine has swept across the island of Dearviél. The threat of war looms on the horizon. The Vacids, the people of the owl-totem, wilt under the dominion of a foreign king. Their greatest hope lies with two sisters.

Leara and Caileigh Mana had trained to be scholars. But the famine has compelled them to take on the task of healing their weary people and averting even greater suffering. Leara’s quest to find a mythical seedling that can sate all hunger will require all her knowledge and skill in the sciences, both the physical and the arcane. But she isn’t alone. She’ll find friends in the most unexpected places-friends she’ll need when she comes face-to-face with the otherworldly Fae, who will do everything in their power to stop her from reaching the seed.

Meanwhile, together with a ragtag group of companions, and hiding a secret power deep within herself, Caileigh must convince the Vacid nobles to put their quarrels and scheming aside and come together for the good of the people before it’s too late. But just as her strength of spirit is tested, so too will be the bonds of family.

In this intimate, emotionally charged adventure, the hand that heals may be stronger than that which wields the sword, virtuous deeds may count for more than titles and accolades, and the greatest power of all, whether in the material world or in realms beyond, may be that of compassion.

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Sean E. Kelly has been writing fiction since 2009, and has no immediate plans to return to the real world.

He published his first novel in 2015 under the pseudonym John Gaiserich, but later unpublished it due to poor quality. His writing exploits were reinvigorated five years later with the publication of Aethyr, which received rave reviews, being dubbed “philosophical cyberpunk” by one reader. This was followed up in 2021 with the technothriller Omega Noir.

Sean’s latest novel, the fantasy epic Owl Totem, is the culmination of thirteen years of world-building and backstory, finally coming to light. The novel draws heavily on the author’s Irish ancestry.

When not indulging his overactive imagination, Sean works as an aviation professional and is an avid photographer. He currently resides in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

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Oracle of Life

Oracle of Life

The Lords’ Gambit Series, Volume 1

by Katherine D. Graham

Genre: Dark Epic Fantasy

Six fallen lords. Three vengeful goddesses. And one mortal, damned to prophesy for them all.

An Exiled Oracle

Nariah, the Heiress of Ellonai, is dead. An exiled, desert-dwelling Doomsayer is all that remains within the shell of the powerful princess she once was.

A Heretic

She isn’t sure which of her visions her people hate more: the one where the three benevolent goddesses they serve have decided to destroy the world, or the vision of six lords falling from the skies to save them.

The World’s Only Hope

Stumbling across the very lords she’s been seeing in her visions for years, only Nariah’s accursed gift of Sight can aid the lords in their rebellion against the goddesses, and determine the fate of her world before it’s turned to ash.

But does she even
want to save those who’ve wronged her?

A whole new take on mythological fantasy awaits in this thrilling dark epic by USA Today Bestselling Author Katherine D. Graham.

**This is not a standalone novel, though each book in
The Lords’ Gambit series follows a different main character. Book two, Monk of Death, is available for pre-order now.**

**On Sale for Only .99 cents! **

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**Coming Soon on Feb 14th!**

Monk of Death

The Lords’ Gambit Series, Volume 2

**PreOrder Now!**

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Katherine D. Graham is a USA Today Bestselling fantasy author from Tennessee (USA). She is also a developmental editor and Reedsy Reviewer.

Katherine’s debut indie Epic Fantasy novel, The Vow That Twisted Fate, is an Amazon bestselling New Adult Fantasy and Occult Fiction novel, a Fantasy finalist in the 2021 Next Generation Indie Book Awards, and a five-star IndieReader-approved novel.

The USA Today Bestselling “Realm of Darkness” box set launched in October 2022, which included Katherine’s full-length Dark Fantasy Romance novel “Splitting Dawn”.

Katherine holds a BA in Foreign Language/Lit: Japanese from the University of Memphis in Tennessee, where she also studied English (and editing). She worked for the Memphis Public Library and Information Center in her college years, and is still a vocal supporter of the Friends of the Memphis Public Library.

In addition to the library system, Katherine actively raises support for the St Jude Children’s Research Hospital, The House of Mews cat sanctuary, the Memphis Zoo, and Swim Across America.

Katherine loves adventures, especially traveling. She also enjoys cooking, reading, and spending time with her family and three cats.

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High Stakes: Syndicate Masters: Eastern Seaboard #1

A lone shot rings out, changing everything…

Killian O’ Neill controls the pulse of the vibrant horse racing world in the Finger Lakes region of New York. He also has ties to a powerful Syndicate in Ireland. Carlyn Murphy is the investigative reporter who took comfort in his arms for one night and then walked away.

On the trail of a story that could rock the thoroughbred racing industry and has far larger complications, a lone shot rings out. Instead of it hitting its intended target, Killian takes the bullet for Carlyn.

Saving his mate brings chaos, sizzling heat and enough chemistry to melt both your panties and your kindle.

The Syndicate Masters were assigned as Guardians by the goddess over six centuries ago. Each generation brings new and different challenges. These ruthless and wild dons are the protectors, the Guardians of their territories.

On the Eastern Seaboard the Masters control horse racing, casinos and gambling among other things. Get ready for over the top, possessive mob bosses who will do what is needed to find and protect their fated mates.

The Reviews

	Irene Talbert
5.0 out of 5 stars GREAT START TO A NEW SERIES....
Reviewed in the United States 🇺🇸 on December 4, 2022
Verified Purchase
This is the first book a new series called Syndicate Masters: Eastern Seaboard. It's a fast-paced and sequel to the book called The Pledge, that will keep you engaged from start to finish. There's action, adventure, drama, danger, suspense, twist/turns, enemies, survival, intrigue, humor, mystery/secrets, surprises, family, friends/friendships, anger, fear, pain, conflict, resolution, confusion, confidence, strength, courage, trust, truths, stubbornness, struggles, protection, kidnapping, tension, arrogance, doubts, turmoil (emotional), annoyance, complications, threats, confrontations, possession/possessiveness, compromise, trauma, conspiracies, treachery, corruption, acceptance, frustration, determination, patience, happiness, romance, passion/lust and love.
In this story, the h and H have a history between them and someone wants her dead. The H is the head of the Firean Syndicate in upstate NY, the alpha of his black leopard shifter clan and controls the pulse of the horse racing world. The h is an investigative reporter and trying to learn what is happening to horses competing in the races.
Read to find out what happens. I received a free copy of this book via Booksprout and this review is my own opinion
	AP
5.0 out of 5 stars Delta James Writes A Winner
Reviewed in the United States 🇺🇸 on December 10, 2022
Verified Purchase
Syndicate Masters series is simply fantastic. Ms. James has written a shifter romance that makes the reader fall in love with the characters, drama, and hot steamy sex. I would like the author to write an update novella on the other couples. In addition, James's stories need expanded in certain areas--Let the hero gangsters show some claws so the heroines can be the light to their dark and add some life or death drama at the climax. After the claiming, the story wraps up without a big ending. A big ending is needed in future books. One area James does fabulous is creating characters that leap off the screen and writing stories that are irresistable
	Donna L
5.0 out of 5 stars EXCELLENT START TO THIS SERIES
Reviewed in the United States 🇺🇸 on November 22, 2022
Verified Purchase
This story was refreshingly entertaining and was set between New York
and Ireland. I enjoyed the cat-and-mouse game between Killian and
Carlyn. It was obvious that they were fated mates; the air crackled and
sparked between them. Killian had more patience than most Alphas
allowing Carlyn to follow her career as a reporter seeking answers to
her father's death. Killian did not overwhelm her until he took a bullet
meant for her. He was then possessive, protective, and determined to
make her his. Carolyn initially struggled when confronted with Killian
in all his glory but faced each challenge with playful enthusiasm. Her
initial attempts at shifting were laughable.

The story spanned ten years, with intrigue and danger set amongst a
background of horse racing. I thoroughly enjoyed this story by Ms. James,
and if this is the standard, we can expect, than we are in for a treat.

Annihilation Archetypes

Annihilation Archetypes
M.M. Gargiulo
(Annihilation Archetypes, #1)
Publication date: January 13th 2023
Genres: Adult, Fantasy


Born to siren humans to their watery graves, Nefertiti feels trapped in her life of violence. She leaves her home to venture on shore and falls in love with humans. Her duty brings her back to the sea, and fate tightens its hold on her from an unexpected source.


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EXCERPT:

Chapter 4

The next day Evgenís was eager to talk about my training. I was evasive, trying not to make eye contact with her. I thought the details of my night were too embarrassing to share with my proud sister, and I had no wish to relive them. I did not know if other huntresses took so long to learn how to walk, but Diana made it seem like they did not.

“Okay, you do not want to talk about it,” she sighed after a few minutes of this ensued. “Tell me this, did you learn something?”

I looked up into her beautiful blue eyes and found myself both comforted and sad. I wished I was better at walking, but Evgenís would still love me even if I was a terrible huntress.

“Yes, I absolutely learned lots of things yesterday.” I smiled at her, forcing myself to look excited and happy.

“Interesting,” she murmured under her breath. “I am glad,” she said at full volume.

“Okay, well do you have anything you would like to do today?” she asked me, her voice bright and cheerful.

“I think I am to meet with someone today.” Guilt washed over me again. Evgenís had given up living with me to come and live here, in isolation.

“Oh, no matter, I am sure I can find something to do while you are busy. Perhaps we can pick a night soon and go to our favorite wreck?” Her hopeful tone had me agreeing before I thought it over.

“I’d love to!” The wreck was a smallish fishing boat that had sunk off the coast of a tropical island. Many species of fish lived inside it, and coral grew off the outside of it. I was particularly in love with the spot because of the bright white sand. It seemed to be made of thousands and thousands of tiny corals, smashed and rounded by the tide and the wind. It was one of our favorite places to go. Evgenís always found it difficult to find fish while we were there. I had many happy memories of the two of us laughing and relaxing in the sand.

Evgenís smiled at my enthusiasm and kissed me on the cheek, excited at our prospective time together.

We ate some kelp together that apparently someone had dropped off in excessive amount while we slept. Things almost felt back to normal, despite our vastly different surroundings. I felt as though removing my tail somehow made me less of a mermaid than Evgenís.

When we were done eating, I bid Evgenís farewell and started to swim through the caverns and tunnels toward the surface to an area similar to the one where I met Diana. If my new teacher was anything like Diana, she would show up near the surface. I watched the moon move in the sky for hours, feeling my anxiety rise. Maybe I was supposed to go somewhere specific, but Diana forgot to mention it.

I was just starting to swim back and forth when I heard a voice.

“Nefertiti! How are you?” Santiago was swimming by, with two others.

“I am well, thank you.” My eyes drifted to the two others with him. One was a beautiful fair blonde female, the other a dark-complexioned male.

“Oh, this is Kane,” he said, gesturing toward the male merman. “And this is Danica.”

“Pleasure to meet the both of you.” I nodded my head in their direction. Kane bent at the waist in my direction.

“It is a pleasure to meet you, Huntress.” His deep dark eyes met mine.

“Lovely to meet you as well,” Danica said.

“We were going to visit a reef down in the tropics,” Santiago said. “Would you care to join us?”

“Thank you, but I am supposed to be meeting someone,” I said. I took note of Kane’s and Santiago’s eyes that seemed to linger, and Danica’s, which seemed full of contempt.

“Next time, perhaps.” Kane’s eyes were still locked on me.

“I would love to.” I smiled at Kane, and could feel Santiago stir slightly next to him.

“Farewell then, Nefertiti.” Santiago nodded his head, and the three of them turned and began to swim away. I watched them go with a pang of loneliness and wondered if there would ever be a time where I did not feel so isolated from my own kind. My thoughts turned to Evgenís, who probably had an even harder time with it than I did. Guilt flashed through me at the idea of Evgenís leaving everyone she knew to raise me on her own.

I watched the stars turn in the sky and thought about their stark and naked beauty. Not unlike our people, but less dangerous. I imagined the answers to all of my questions were up there, winking at me in some code I could not understand. I wished I could speak their language of light. I wondered if the Gods were there, Evgenís had told me they lived up in the clouds.

When the sky began to lighten, I gave up my quest. Perhaps my next mentor had forgotten about the time. Maybe Diana gave her the wrong name. I started to swim toward the castle, taking one last look back at the sky. Suddenly a massive hammerhead shark emerged from the haze in the distance. I paused on my journey back home to watch the magnificent creature swim. His gait was the most elegant thing I had ever seen. The way he swam back and forth was reminiscent of how the sea seemed to part for the king himself. I loved the movement of his tail fin.

The shark seemed to notice me as soon as I noticed him. He adjusted his path slightly so he was headed straight toward me. I reached my hand forward, not in the slightest bit frightened of him. He was the hunter equivalent to myself. Even his skin was made of the tiniest teeth. I would probably grow to be more dangerous than he was. At the last second he turned his giant head, swimming by me to allow my outreached arm to pet the length of him as he swam by.

I felt my heart stir at the scars that decorated his side. He was a beautiful creature, full of an ancient sadness. I wondered how anyone could ever hurt such a creature. My hand ran the length of him, ten times my own size, and I felt the rough, textured body under my delicate soft hand.

He circled me once, clearly as eager as I was to remain closely connected, even if it was for a short while. When he came by me a second time, I grabbed onto his dorsal fin and let the length of me rest on top of his body. He seemed pleased by the attention and slowed his pace, allowing me to feel the gentle sway of the giant beast as he moved his tail back and forth. My own body swayed with his movements, and I felt as though we were one. I traced the deep gashes of scars on his back with my fingers, wondering what had caused them. I rode atop him for longer than I should have, the sun starting to really shine on the top of the sea.

He circled back after quite some time of me lying on top of him and swam with dignity back to where he had first found me. I turned my head to kiss the top of his back, my hair swirling around my face.

“Goodbye friend, I hope to see you again soon.” I watched him turn and be swallowed up by the dark sea. Maybe I would never get to play with the other merpeople, but at least I would have shark friends. I turned tail, and made my way back to the cave, exhausted from lack of sleep the previous night. Just before I approached the entrance to the first tunnel, I was startled by a stunning woman waiting by the entrance to the hall.

She had waist length red and silver hair (I gathered she was a huntress), a green tail fin, and a fair complexion. Her giant blue eyes were staring, unblinkingly, at me. I assumed she was older due to the streaks of silver in her bright red hair, but it was difficult to tell, there were no lines on her face.

“Nefertiti.” It was not a question, and I tried to figure out if I had met this woman before.

“Yes, that is I.” I smiled at her, hoping she was less crass than Diana. “I apologize, have we met?”

“We have not, although I have heard tell of you.”

“Well it is truly a pleasure to be acquainted with you.” I nodded my head in her direction.

“Yes, it is, but there is no need to be so formal with me.” She tossed back her hair, and it shimmered out behind her with such finesse I felt a ping of envy. I wondered if I would grow up to be so beautiful. “I am Arianna.”

“Arianna.” Her name sounded like a story I had long forgotten.

“Come, let us go for a swim.” She smiled at me, and I noticed her teeth were not sharpened, but similar to Evgenís’s. Maybe she wasn’t a huntress after all. She reached out her tiny soft hand, and I put mine into hers.

“I am here to teach you the ways of those on land,” Arianna stated. “Much has changed since I walked up there, but I have the best understanding of humankind. I am one of those who brought the best of the land back to the sea.”

“May I ask how that is?” I wondered.

“You may ask, but I will not share that part of my story with you just yet. I am not the normal kind of huntress, nor am I the normal kind of mermaid.” She smiled at me again, and I noticed tiny smile wrinkles near her eyes, which along with the silver in her hair made me think again that she was older than she appeared.

“I apologize,” I smiled back at her and was hopeful I had not offended her.

“No need to apologize for curiosity,” She winked her light blue eye at me. “I am going to teach you everything from what they call a street, to anatomy, back to music, and onward to proper dining etiquette. Is there a topic you would care to start with?”

“I actually have a few questions, if you do not mind.” I was curious about so many things.

“Of course, that is natural.” We had stopped our swim and were perched at the edge of a reef I had seen growing nearby. Some fish were swimming delicately by, but there was not another merperson in sight. The sea seemed to be lightening in color, the sun beginning to warm the ocean.

“First, will these lessons always occur during the day? I was not aware that many of our kind enjoyed the sunlight.” I tried not to make my voice sound ungrateful, but I was extremely tired and having a hard time concentrating. The brightness really bothered my large eyes.

“Yes, our lessons will happen while the sun is up. We are going to adjust your sleeping cycle so you are able to sleep less. Sleeping is one of the luxuries young huntresses are typically low on. There is much to learn and not enough time to do so. The next full moon is about twenty-nine suns away, and you need to be better versed in mankind before you dance back on shore.”

I felt my heart sink a tiny bit at the thought of sleeping less. “Interesting,” I said because I was unsure how else to answer. “I did not realize huntresses were not well rested. How exactly are we chosen to be huntresses? I know King Titus looks for a sign, but other than that, I do not know.”

Arianna looked at me with wide eyes. “First of all, my dear, you are young and it is best to learn as much as you can for the next few years. About the huntresses, I thought you would have known this by now. Did Evgenís not tell you?”

I shook my head, hair billowing around me. Her stern look made me feel defensive for a moment and I sputtered out, “I never asked her; honestly I just tried to avoid the topic with her as much as I could.”

Her frown seemed to lessen as she looked carefully at my face before responding, “I was not criticizing. I understand why you might not have wanted to bring up the subject to her and vice versa.” She took a deep breath and her gentle blue eyes seemed to fall out of focus.

“Long ago, huntresses began when mankind were much weaker than they are now. Back then they worshiped gods and deities and built them massive structures to pay homage. There was one amongst us, Chleo was her name, who fell in love with one of the Kings of Land. She would shed her scales and walk on shore every full moon, a trick she discovered after watching crabs shed their shells that time of the moon. She had grown to love him from afar, watching him through the rivers. When she finally climbed on shore, she seduced him. He was a powerful man, almost treated as a god himself, hence part of his appeal.

“He did not know what she was, but thought her to be the most beautiful woman he had ever seen. Her infrequent visits were full of passion and sex. When she left him in the morning he would grow angry. He wanted her to stay with him permanently, but alas, she could not. One morning Chleo was followed by her lover, and he saw her slip into the sea. She grew back her fins and scales, brighter and more beautiful than any of his gems, her dark purple coloring glittered in the sunlight.

“He became obsessed in her absence. He wondered what kind of creature she was. He thought she might be some sort of goddess. He wanted to keep her as his lover, but he also wanted to sell her to other royalty, knowing her scales would be worth much. He thought about what a trophy such a lover would be. When the next full moon arose, Chleo climbed onto the shore and walked into the palace where her king lived. He was mad with lust, and they had wild sex all night. When the sun began to rise, Chleo tried to slip away while he slept, but his doors had been barred. Trapped, she began to suffocate.

“Chleo’s scales started to grow back, and her legs fused together, but the nearest water source was a small pond the king bathed in. She climbed into it, desperate to wet her body. When the king awoke he was pleased that she was still there, and even more pleased that he had captured her. He climbed into the water and had sex with her. She obliged, more because she was afraid what he might do to her should she refuse, and less because she wanted to.

“He used her this way for many days. Chleo, trapped, had no choice. After a few days the king decided to sell her body to another royal who was passing through his kingdom. This was common at the time. She was used for their bodily urges every day during her imprisonment. She felt the moon grow fuller in the sky, and her heart grew full of hatred. She decided when she could walk again she would escape and bring doom to those who had wronged her. She spent every waking second plotting her revenge. When the full moon turned in the sky, her legs came back, and Chleo was alone in the king’s room. He was out on a diplomatic mission, but she knew he would be back soon enough. She seduced the man left to guard her and slit his throat while he was inside her.

“She ran back to the safety of her river and swam back out to sea. Her mental injuries took hold of her heart over the next month, and when she was able to walk on land again she went ashore and killed men. She never reached her king, who was too heavily guarded, but she spent the rest of her time killing those who guarded and protected him. Eventually she was able to kill his future wife when she bathed in the river. Chleo was able to pull the woman to her doom. Chleo’s sister, Cora, joined her in her efforts, furious at her sister’s plight. The two of them were our first formal huntresses, and from them, others joined, some with anger in their hearts, others who felt they had been wronged by those on land.

“Now, that does not entirely answer your question, but I thought it important for you to know,” Arianna said with a deep breath, her voice taking on a somber tone.

“It does answer a part of my question though,” I insisted. “So how did we continue to be what we are today?”

“Less time ago, King Titus was born. A merman with unusual powers granted by the sea. Some say he is Poseidon’s first born son. His influence united our people, and we all agreed to let him rule us. Shortly after being crowned he declared war on mankind. He was angered by their destruction of our world. I think the mistreatment of our race weighed heavily on his mind. He cast a spell, using his strange powers, that bound huntresses to him. When a new one was born, he would feel it, and another impression of a shark would be left on his very flesh.” Her monologue trailed off and I was left with more questions than I started with.

“How does he know?” I whispered, as if he could hear me.

“He can read the hearts of others.”

“How can he read the heart of a person just born? I thought their heart would be pure and empty, having not experienced the world yet.”

“That is a question better posed to him than me. I do not understand the powers he possesses, but I have seen them enough to know they are not to be disregarded.” Arianna looked deep into my eyes, seeing the turmoil that raged inside.

“Is he really Poseidon’s son?” I asked, my mouth slightly open.

“Only Poseidon knows that,” Arianna said, eyes twinkling at my interest.

“Have you ever seen him before?” I wondered out loud.

“I have,” Arianna said calmly.

“You have?” I asked, incredulously. “When? Where? How?”

“One thing at a time,” she laughed. “Has your sister not taught you much about the gods?”

“I know that Poseidon is our most active God,” I said. “I know that others exist and they live in the clouds.”

“Yes and no, child,” Arianna began. “Poseidon might seem more relevant than the rest, but that is because we live in his domain. Zeus rules the sky, the king of them all. Aphrodite brought forth love and beauty, she is the goddess of both. Apollo brings us prophecy, music, and knowledge. Ares is the God of War.”

I listened to Arianna, imagining the clouds filled with giant beautiful merpeople who were also gods. I wondered if they had tails or feet.

“Artemis visits the seas sometimes, as he rules all animals. Athena is the Goddess of Wisdom. Hermes is the messenger of the gods. Dionysus brings pleasures to life. Hephaestus brings fire to the land. Hades rules the dead.”

“Do they have tails or feet?” I mused.

“They have what pleases them most,” Arianna said. “They are very able to shed their scales or feet as they desire.”

“And they live in the clouds?” I asked, eagerly.

“That is what a lot of our kind believes,” Arianna said slowly. “I think they wander around the planet, going where they want. Maybe they do retire to the sky, but I have never seen where their home would be.”

“And you have really seen Poseidon?” I was amazed.

“Yes, he used to frequent here more often than he does now. It has been at least half a century since he has been to this grotto.”

“What does he look like?” I asked.

“Exactly how you would expect him to look,” Arianna smiled.

“Big, strong, and handsome,” I said.

“Yes, those words could all be applied to him.”

I was silent for a few minutes, my head filled with ideas of what the gods looked like.

“I would very much like to meet Poseidon,” I said.

“Not any of the others?” Arianna asked, the corner of her mouth turning up into a smile.

“I would be happy to meet any of them,” I said honestly. “I would especially like to meet the god of my home though.”

“Do you have more questions?” Arianna asked.

“Many, many more. I am unsure where to start with them all,” I said, overwhelmed with everything I had just heard.

“I understand. I have trained many huntresses, and they all start off in a similar way. Lost and slightly confused. You will find your place in the world, in both worlds. And you will see that you will become what you were always meant for. Everyone will be proud of the huntress you grow into.” Arianna smiled kindly at me.

“Thank you.” I was at a loss for words. My throat felt tight and I wished I could clear it without drawing attention to it.

“Thank you for all that you will do for us. It is a hard task you have been given, and one not many can handle. Your bravery will always set you apart from the others.”

I did not feel brave, but I acknowledged her compliment with a nod of my head. It felt like everyone expected me to be this fierce warrior, but I had grown up with Evgenís, playing with fish and giggling at the world. For a brief moment I wished she had not taken me away from everyone, perhaps I would not be as soft. Maybe I would grow to be fierce, but I felt small and feeble listening to stories of the gods.

“What could Chleo have seen in that human king?” I mused, not really expecting an answer.

“I would imagine there were quite a few things that drew her to him.” Arianna surprised me with her thoughtful answer. “He was literally treated like a god of sorts. They believed their kings to be deities, and they often proclaimed themselves reincarnations of the gods they worshiped. At that time, the masses of people did everything their king asked for. He would have seemed very powerful. Incredibly resourceful. I am sure he was sexually desirable as well. Sometimes, there is a chemistry that goes beyond reason. Chleo was drawn to him; it is a shame he did not see the value of continuing the way she wanted.”

“Now, we are going to start with the very basics of human anatomy . . .”

I spent the next five hours learning about human bodies. I was most interested in their lower halves, seeing how they differed from my own. Their tops seemed to be relatively similar to ours, but they lacked gills and a way of absorbing oxygen from the water. Their hearts were smaller than ours and beat faster. They did not seem to be as lean as we were. Arianna told me the majority of humankind were larger than they should be. Our muscles were typically easily visible, we did not have hair on our bodies either, which was different.

“I noticed the split in my legs was different,” I ventured when we started to talk about the lower half of humans.

“Yes, so humans have an external clitoris which gives pleasure, as well as the internal pleasure giver. When you transform you take on these aspects as well. Also, it will be perfectly normal if you see hair begin to appear just above your vagina. Humans sometimes remove this, but it is not necessary. Diana will show you how to better navigate your sex organs.” She glanced at me. “I am too old to give you a proper, enthusiastic, and energetic introduction. Eventually, you are expected to be able to seduce human men.” Arianna did not seem abashed to discuss such intimacies.

“When?” My voice cracked.

“Oh, Nefertiti,” Arianna smiled at me kindly, “you have many years of learning to do before that happens. Do not worry about this; it is not something to lose sleep over.”

I wondered if she was joking, seeing as she told me I was to begin sleeping less.

“That seems to be enough for today.” Arianna leaned down and kissed me gently on my lips. “You are tired and have enough to think about.”

“Thank you for your instruction.” I bowed my head and turned around, mentally and physically exhausted. My tail was still aching from having the scales ripped off and regrown. I never stayed up this far into the day and was feeling somewhat delusional.

I half swam and half let the current pull me toward the entrance to the large hall where I first saw Arianna. I found my way to my small sanctuary, and to my relief, saw Evgenís asleep. I lay next to her, and let the events of the day wash over me.



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Everything You Dream Is Real

Everything You Dream Is Real

by Lisa de Nikolits

Genre: Speculative Fantasy Fiction, Romance

From the award-winning “Queen of Canadian Speculative Fiction” comes a futuristic, multigenerational love story and a gripping edge-of-your-seat thriller. Filled with a cast of loveable, unforgettable, and entirely unique characters, the novel is a fabulous, adventure-filled sequel to highly-acclaimed The Rage Room – or read it as a standalone. Mad Max: Fury Road meets a futuristic True Romance in a highly original and imaginative novel.

Eleven years after a world war destroyed the consumer-driven, plastic-based existence of 2055, a new order of players jostles for power. Streaky electricity, ravaging drought, a scarcity of food, and deadly Monarch butterflies make for an increasingly desperate situation.

Worlds collide when both Mother and Sharps’s children are kidnapped by the unstable plastic surgeon Alpha Plus and taken to The Fountain of Youth compound. There’s flowing water and beautiful people and beautiful clothes and an incongruous convent where children wear smart uniforms and are tutored by nuns. Lovely, until they discover that a subterranean sex trade funds the compound and the man who leads it is mad. Can Mother, Sharps, and the others take down Alpha Plus and his army? Or will they too become pawns in his bid for world domination?

Hilarious and at the same time poignant, Everything You Dream Is Real is a fabulous, adventure-filled sequel to highly acclaimed The Rage Room that will delight fans both new and old.

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Lisa de Nikolits is the internationally award-winning author of ten novels (all Inanna Publications). No Fury Like That was published in Italian in 2019 by Edizione Le Assassine as Una furia dell’altro mondo. Her short fiction and poetry have also been published in various anthologies and journals internationally. She is a member of the Mesdames of Mayhem, the Crime Writers of Canada, Sisters in Crime, The Australian Crime Writers, The Short Fiction Mystery Association and the International Thriller Writers. Originally from South Africa, Lisa de Nikolits came to Canada in 2000. She lives and writes in Toronto.

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A Crown Forged by Victory’s Consequence

A Crown Forged By Victory’s Consequence
Aaryanna Abbott & Marlayna James
(The Blackened Tablet Series, #1)
Publication date: January 3rd 2023
Genres: Adult, Fantasy


Three hundred years ago, the sacred tablet granted by their god, Jezabet, turned black, and eight kingdoms broke free, plummeting into the bottomless sea. There was no warning, and no one knows why.

Now, a strange illness plagues Aldersward. Crowned Prince Aedyn’s sisters, Achelle and Annora, his father, and countrymen are desperate and grief-stricken. All hope is lost…

Until someone dreams, and Aedyn leaves behind his mistress and his betrothed to cure their nation. He enlists his friends; a brazen playboy, a gentle strongman, and an ancient mentor. Together, they set out on a perilous journey—few believe they will survive.

This isn’t a fairy tale—s3x becomes currency, murder is ordinary, and love doesn’t conquer all.

Everyone loves a hero—good triumphs evil. But few dare to question how victory ripples into consequences. Explore this exciting concept in the Blackened Tablet Series.


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EXCERPT:

Day 132
Division Compound
Crow’s Pass City, Baitsloam

The Alders, strung together, were marched through the torch-lit streets as deafening crowds lined any stairwell, rooftop, or balcony. They shouted, spit, and threw food. Auren could see Bennet’s lifeless body carried by two men. He focused on containing his anger and scrutinised their surroundings. If any hope for escape presented itself, the information would be invaluable.

“Not as brave here, are ye?” A lanky Bait man stepped forward and spit in Auren’s face.

The Alders filled with rage and pulled at the thick restraints wound from their hands to their elbows, wanting to defend their leader, but Auren shook his head, stopping their struggle.

Pointing, children merrily chanted, “We’re going to hang the olive monsters!”

“This was too easy, ye cowards.”

Someone tossed a pail of urine and excrement over them.

“We’re going to kill yer families.” Another vehemently called.

“I’ll enjoy watching ye swing.”

Cackling laughs followed every phrase.

They left the commoners behind as wood rubbing against stone rang out. A massive gate lifted above their heads, and the military men stomped through with their prisoners in tow.

When the gate fell behind them, many Baits dispersed, leaving about fifty to escort the captives. Auren counted the paces as they came to a stone structure. He noted the other buildings and landmarks, then what the building looked like as they pushed him inside.

They planted the Alders, faces first, against a hard stone wall and a wooden door swung outwards, then they tossed Bennet onto the floor.

“Inside.” The first man was hauled forward by his tunic, and the others had no choice but to follow.

The door slammed shut on the windowless dark and musty room. The sound vibrating through to their souls. It felt very final as the lock loudly snapped into place.

In the blackness, Auren’s men fought against the coarse restraints.

What looked like a candle flickered to life between them as Adrian pointed his finger and held it to the slick-coated binds holding them together. As his flame dried the piss, excrement, and other juices, the stench was putrid. Finally, the rope caught fire and burned.

He rushed to Auren, but his solidly tied binds had no give, and as the other men offered their hands with the same outcome, they sat on the cold, damp floor. The ropes were too tight to burn without injury.

Auren waited motionless for the last one to be checked and an internal battle waged between his vanity, self-pity, and honour.

I can’t do this. Wasn’t the wolf attack enough? He stretched out his shaking hands in front of him.

Adrian’s shoulders slumped in defeat as he turned to face their leader.

Women will never let you touch them again. What would Anya think if she knew you stood by and did nothing?

Understanding their leader’s request, Adrian shook his head and escaped backward until his frame was trapped against the cold stone wall.

I can’t lose a limb. Can’t it be someone else’s turn to do the right thing? Do this. Auren strode towards him, throwing his bound hands on the man’s shoulder.

Animated with fear, Adrian shook his head.

Can your body take any more pain? Everyone will pity you, just as when you were a child. You could be their only hope. The leader pinned the man’s eyes with his own.

The pain from it—you’ll never want to touch another woman. Sweat built from fear on Auren’s skin, but he nodded, persuading the gifted man.

Your men are counting on you. I’ll be worthless to our kingdom—to Aedyn.

Adrian lowered his hands, holding them farther from his own body.

Isn’t your day to day hard enough already? You’ll die from this. You’ll be a helpless invalid. Auren dragged his hands down, then jumped up and down a few times, forcing adrenalin to rush through his body.

You coward! You’re weak. It’s no wonder your parents gave you away. He took a deep breath.

You’re nothing but a quitter. You could be Aedyn’s only hope. He lifted his wrists into the flame.

The sweet smell of burning flesh carried through the small room. The men focused on the sacrifice their leader made as they listened to the sizzling meat and his muffled cries of pain.

From somewhere in the darkness, someone hurled himself onto the pair—contact and flame broken.

Auren struggled where he fell, his restraints making it impossible to sit. Adrian rolled on his side and relit his finger.

Bennet towered over them, shaking his head as he pulled at his own ropes. Blood seeped from the friction on his wrists, making the restraints slippery. He sat between them, lifted his heel to his wrists, and used his boot to force the rope over one of his thumbs, freeing his hand. He pulled his gag free, then removed Auren’s as he surveyed the blistered and broken flesh of his hands.

The old man’s voice seethed with anger. “Jordan and Jezabet, what were ye thinking?”

“Getting us out of here. Are you okay?”

Bennet nodded. “Better than ye, I don’t know if I can get ye untied without causing ye pain.”

“Untie another first. Return to me when the rest are free.”


Author Bio:

Aaryanna Abbott: This is another of my pen names. For every pen name, I use a different part of who I am. I imagine this is how she looks.

What’s this part of me like?

I was a daddy’s girl. The very epitome of spoilt.

I love to be wild and crazy—experience everything the world has to offer. I’m adventurous and my carefree disposition is contagious.

I’m loyal to a fault and don’t care what expectations or labels society has bestowed upon me. I believe one’s truth is more valuable than anyone’s perception.

This part of me writes for escapism—to be free of my mundane day to day and live in a magical world almost as real to me as earth. Except in my imaginary world, I control all things and it pleases me to no end.

Do you know how happy you would be living there?

Marlayna lives in Canada where she writes romance, erotica, women’s fiction, and fantasy. She loves video games, TV, reading, and writing.

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Guardian’s Legacy

Guardian’s Legacy

The Last Princess of Latara Book 3

by Darren Simon

Genre: YA Epic Fantasy Adventure

Fourteen-year-old Charlee Smelton is a Guardian, a path forced upon her by fate. She’s come to accept

this fact after fighting to save Earth, the world she thought was her home, and the magical world of

Janasara, the true home of her bloodline.

But the fight is not over.

Once more, Charlee must stand against not only her great aunt, the sorceress Theodora, but also an

ancient evil—the Brotherhood—seeking to be reborn and to conquer worlds. If she is to save the

universe, she’ll have to put her faith in the last person across the dimensional divide she would have

turned to for help—a person who knows the truth about the cursed medallion that calls to Charlee.

A war is coming, and her very soul is on the line

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Guardian’s Return

The Last Princess of Latara Book 2

A month has passed since fourteen-year-old Charlee Smelton discovered her magical abilities and faced her great aunt, Theodora, in a life or death struggle to protect Earth. A month has passed since she tricked Theodora back across the dimensional gateway that brought Theodora to Earth. Since then, Charlee—now fully aware that she is part of a noble bloodline from another world…another dimension…has grown stronger in her magic, aided by her protector, a shapeshifter sent to Earth to protect her.

But the terrible dreams won’t stop.

Theodora lives, and if Charlee’s dreams of death and fields of spilled blood are true, her great aunt has avenged herself on that world across the dimensional divide.

Charlee knows what she must do. The fight is not over. She must travel across the gateway to the home of her ancestors and face Theodora one more time. But doing so may cost Charlee more than her life. The same medallion her great aunt desires so much—a medallion Charlee possesses—could make her just as evil as her great aunt.

Can Charlee stave off the twisted tendrils of the medallion long enough to defeat Theodora—for good—or will evil consume her? Can she even survive so far from home? Her only hope may rest in the Lord of the Dragons, but that beast turned his back on her grandfather long ago…

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Guardian’s Nightmare

The Last Princess of Latara Book 1

Charlee Smelton is an average thirteen-year-old girl struggling to adapt after her family moves to San Francisco. She thinks her biggest obstacle is facing the bullies who brand her a nerd and a dweeb. She’s wrong. Her life is about to change—for the worse.

First, she receives a gift of the ugliest, most old fashioned bike she has ever seen. Try as she might to ditch it in the city, she just can’t seem to escape that very mysterious two-wheeler. Then come the visions of a world across a dimensional divide, a princess in fear for her life and a dark knight pursuing her. Are they just dreams or something more?

For Charlee, everything she ever thought she knew about herself soon crumbles as she starts down a path to discover her true self, and she will need that hunk-of-junk bike more than she could ever imagine. Without it, she might not be able to find the hero in herself—the hero she must become to save her friends, family, her city—the world—from an evil only she can defeat. An evil she allows into this world.

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Like many writers, my journey to become an author began with a love of reading, and I have my grandmother to thank for that. When I was eight or nine, she gave me a paper bag filled with comic books from the 1960s and ’70s. Comics became a big part of my life. I would save my weekly allowance to buy the most recent editions of Batman and Superman. Then, growing up in the ’80s, I began to read Choose Your Own Adventure books from the world of Dungeons & Dragons. And that led me to the works of J.R.R. Tolkien. But my path to become a writer was firmly set after I saw the movie Ghostbusters in 1984, just prior to my freshman year of high school. I was in awe the way the writers came up with words that made people laugh so hard, and I knew right then I wanted to write. I immediately went home and wrote my version of Ghostbusters II. More importantly, I took journalism in high school, and continued to study journalism in college. After a wonderful career as a newspaper journalist, and a secondary career as a college English professor, it was time to rekindle my love for fiction. I knew I wanted to write fantasy, like Tolkien, and I wanted to write for middle grade and young adult readers to inspire them the way I was inspired by the books I read. I hope young readers–and even older ones–enjoy my work. Thank you for checking out my author page, and keep reading, no matter what you love to read. To learn more about me and my writing, visit my website at http://www.darren-simon.com.

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