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Friday, June 22, 2018

UF Author Paula Millhouse: Have you ever secretly craved your very own Fairy Godmother? + giveaway


Have you ever secretly craved your very own Fairy Godmother?

Thanks for having me guest blog today on I Smell Sheep to celebrate the release of my new novel, Hunters’ Watch Brigade: The Game.

From Cinderella to Obi Wan Kenobi, mentors have appeared in fiction throughout the ages. They are a literary device to help the Hero or Heroine find their way through the maze of their story world.

I want to introduce you to two fairy godmother's who appear in my new story, Constance and Tivoli.

Initially, these two showed up for work as very bad girls, but my editor thought it might be fun to twist their personalities and change them into well-meaning, mischievous witches who keep getting in the way and creating chaos.

From conjuring up werewolves to monster crabs, they make Sam and Max and Shade's story journey a living hell. Shade doesn't have the heart to put them in jail with their apprentice Kira. So, the coven sisters are free to roam the story and wreak havoc on the Hunters’ Watch agents.

Three mini-excerpts from the book with Constance and Tivoli.



Sam
As I looked around the theater, I realized the witches were sure hot and bothered. I considered their argument, because I’d seen a lot of freaky things in my time with the HWB.

“Alex Van Dam designed this game to bring him a talisman that no one in the supernatural community has ever been able to find,” my mom added.

But I sensed something more sinister at work.

“You said this concerned the HWB, Mom. How?”

“The witches spelled that application,” Mom said. “It was Kira’s idea. Most of us voted against it, but she convinced Tivoli and Constance to help her.”

The two little old ladies stood by Kira’s side. I didn’t recognize them. They were plump, with gray hair, and both moved with the cadence of someone who needed a cane. Tivoli’s hair was pulled up on her head in a bun, and Constance sported wild, untamable silver-white curls. They both had way too much blue eyeshadow painted on their lids.

I raised my hand and walked closer to Kira. “Hold on just a minute. You spelled the app? With what?”

“Ummm . . . creatures,” Kira said. “To scare the humans away, of course.”

Max strode across the stage to us. Constance and Tivoli both giggled when he approached and eyed him from head to toe. He raised his brows, then turned to Kira. “Creatures? Exactly what sort of creatures are we talking about here?”

From the corner of my eye, I saw a blur of motion from the front row, and suddenly Shade was standing right next to me. I’d never get used to his freakishly fast vampire movements.

Kira shrugged, as if defying the seven-foot-tall vampire.

“Go on. Explain yourself. How did you spell the game?” Shade demanded, his voice deep and just this side of menacing. The sound of it should have had the witches flying off on their broomsticks in fear.

“Just a summoning of things to deter anyone from finding the arrowhead and giving it to the wizard. Since you and your organization haven’t done anything to stop him, we took matters into our own hands.”

I stared at the witch. Whoever had voted Kira into a position of leadership should have had their heads examined and their grimoires confiscated. Good Lord, what a freaking mess.

Shade glared at her. “You will remove the spell. Now.”

“No,” she said. “We can’t.” Her coven mates crossed their arms and shook their gray heads.

“Why the hell not?” Max growled.

“It’s triple-bound. No one can reverse it.” Kira looked from Shade to Max, and then back to me. “Van Dam’s a menace to all of us witches, and to society at large.”

“Once the Winter Solstice breaks, the influx of bad supernaturals he’s invited to Manhattan to help him find the arrowhead may overrun our favorite city,” Constance added, nodding at her sister, who nodded back.

“We decided to invite some players of our own to balance out the game.” Tivoli’s blue eyes sparkled with amusement when she looked up at Shade.

“Helmina?” Shade bellowed, his face turning from its usual light complexion to a deep-colored red. How did vampires do that? “Is this true?”

“Afraid so. I wanted you to hear it from them.”

“Then I have no choice, Kira. You and the spellweavers are officially under arrest,” Shade said.

A breeze fluttered across my skin, and suddenly twenty or so vampires, all wearing black HWB uniforms with red arm patches, moved into place on the stage. Damn they were fast.

“We’ll go peacefully, of course.” Kira held out both arms, and Tivoli and Constance did the same. Shade snapped a pair of cuffs on Kira’s wrists. But he obviously didn’t have it in him to handcuff Tivoli and Constance. The two little old ladies smiled at him, and Constance leaned up and gave him a kiss on the cheek. “Thank you, young man.”

Young man? Heck, maybe they were older than Shade.

© Paula Millhouse


Sam
Shade and I looked across the Hudson River to Battery Park. Three hundred people with cellphones snapping selfies crowded the first ferry coming across the river. On the top deck of the boat, right out in front of everyone else stood our two wayward witches, Constance and Tivoli. Were the two little old ladies spying on us? Watching to see if we’d failed?

“Why did you let them go?”

He stood beside me, and we stared at them. Tivoli was dressed in a blue gabardine pantsuit with a flappy blue hat on her head. It made her look even taller, and I was sure she already stood six feet. Constance had picked out a bubble-gum-pink peasant dress, which did nothing for her rotund figure except enhance it. Shade gestured toward them. “What? They’re not really a bother.”

I flicked a piece of crab shell off his uniform. “They conjured up mutant crabs, Shade.”

“Look, they’re old. I couldn’t bring myself to keep them in jail, okay. You think the crabfest is over?” he asked.

“Hope so. We should stand by and monitor the situation. But the way most spells work is once the magic dissipates, they don’t regenerate. I mean, well, hopefully.”

He gave me a tight-lipped stare.

© Paula Millhouse


Shade
“Fuckin’ werewolves.” They’d nearly torn up Central Park, and it was going be a long night wasted putting everything right.

Back at the rendezvous point, he strode through the HWB agents and walked up to Tivoli and Constance. “Ladies, excuse me. Might I have a word?”

Constance and Tivoli eyed each other and giggled. “Of course, Shade. How can we help you?”

He shot them a grin, holding his palms up for emphasis. “You’ve got to call your wolves back in. If they get out into the city, someone might get hurt.” Maybe Sam had been right. He should have kept these two troublemakers at headquarters. “You wouldn’t want that, right?”

The two matronly witches eyed each other, shook their heads, then looked back at him. “Of course not.”

“But we had to do something. You haven’t found the artifact, and the wizard is getting stronger,” Constance added, lifting her pudgy arms skyward.

“Yeah,” Tivoli agreed, her curly gray hair swinging around her. “We lost a coven member to him last night. That’s what he’ll do to all of us, unless we find that silver piece first.”

Shade crossed his arms. “We’re on it, Tivoli. I have a plan. But now, look, you’re going to have to trust me to handle this from now on.” He felt like he was getting on to his grandmother. He reminded himself to smile. “Please call those creatures back and get rid of them.”

“Fine,” they said in unison.

With help from one of the young male witches, Tivoli climbed on a chair, reached her arms wide, and sent out a pulse of magic that sounded like a high-pitched dog whistle. Shade covered his ears.

“Come,” she commanded.

Shade and the agents stood back and made way for fifteen pairs of glowing eyes. He covered his nose. Each one with a witch on its back, the werewolves approached. They were hideously large killing machines, with teeth as big as spikes on a backhoe.

He caught a whiff of one who came a little too close and gagged. They stank like rotten garbage.

These bastards were so big, he wondered about Tex’s comment about the Chernobyl packs. Their dense matted hair formed shields of armor on their pelts. When they pulled their muzzles back, they exposed razor-sharp incisors. Some of them had strands of saliva dripping off their teeth. He’d seen a lot of crazy shit in his two hundred years with the Brigade, but damn, he’d hate to be on the bad side of one of those bulldozers.

The witches dismounted, petted the huge beasts, and thanked them. They left their mounts to surround Tivoli and Constance. The enclave worked together to cast their spell.

“Thank you for your service, brothers.” In unison, they channeled their energy and opened a gleaming white circular door. The lead werewolf stalked through it.
© Paula Millhouse

I hope you’ve enjoyed these clips with Tivoli and Constance. To read more about their chaos and collusion, and to find out if they redeem themselves, buy your copy of Hunters’ Watch Brigade: The Game today.
Who is your favorite mentor character from fiction?



Hunters’ Watch Brigade: The Game
by Paula Millhouse
June 15, 2018
Genre: Urban Fantasy with strong Paranormal Romance elements
79,000 words
Print Length: 226 pages
Publisher: ImaJinn Books, an Imprint of Belle Books/Bell Bridge Books
ASIN: B07D5MFPC6
ISBN13: 9781611948677

A demigod’s work is never done…

All monster hunter Samantha Silverton wants is a little R&R. She and her sexy partner, cat shifter Max, have a week off in the city that never sleeps, and she intends to enjoy it. But before she can unpack her suitcase, she’s caught up in the middle of a wicked game—a smartphone app driven scavenger hunt that’s bringing all the big, bad Supernaturals to NYC to play. The bad part? The game was the brainchild of Alex Van Dam—Sam’s first love. What’s worse? She has to play alone.

Maximillion Ra hasn’t quite got a handle on his unique shifter magic yet. He’s in love with Sam, but if he’s ever going to be any good to her, he has to face his family’s curse. But how can he leave Sam now, especially with her old flame in the picture?

Alex Van Dam isn’t interested in who wins his game. He just wants to find the final prize—an ancient Greek relic. Once he has it, he’ll use the artifact’s magic to control all the Supernaturals in Manhattan, starting with the Hunters’ Watch Brigade.

Only Sam stands in his way. And without Max by her side, even the monster hunting daughter of Poseidon has to wonder if she stands a chance...



Excerpt:
Chapter 1
Sam
“JUST, GREAT, SHADE.” The New York Museum of Natural History? I stared up into the violet eyes of my vampire handler, tapped the seven-inch raised scar on my left forearm, and drew out my blue-crystal trident, Atlantis. He had to be freaking kidding me. “And you want me to do what?”

Shade Vermillion had said something about a wizard and a giant rat, but after that, I hadn’t really heard anything else because a booming hammered in my ears. I hated rats.

He pointed at the front entrance door off Central Park West and 79th Street. The hours of operation were clearly posted. The museum had closed half an hour ago, so human casualties wouldn’t be an issue.

Shade showed me and my boyfriend Max a tablet with the details of the mission he was offering us. We’d just celebrated Max’s graduation from basic training for the Hunters’ Watch Brigade. We had a full two weeks of R&R planned in the city, and I wanted to show him everything I loved about Manhattan.

Our vacation had officially started an hour ago, but Shade had called us in to help out with one last mission. So much for time off. We should have gone to the British Virgin Islands, instead.

“Someone opened a portal around back of the campus near the planetarium. My team and I will head over there to make sure nothing gets in or out of that thing while you two check out the inside of the museum.”

I stared up at my boss who’d dressed in jeans, boots, and a black sweater. He didn’t need it to keep the crisp late-December weather at bay. I figured he styled himself like that so he fitted in with the rest of the humans. “You’re the best damn monster-hunter in the HWB. You can do this, Samantha.”

Shade always used my full name. The formality kept us at a professional distance, and I liked it that way. To everyone else, I was Sam. I didn’t need him blowing smoke up my ass. Besides, I loved to hunt monsters. No cause for the urging.

“Sure, she can do this,” Max said. He stood up to his full six-foot-seven height, ran one hand through his dark-brown hair, and stared Shade in the eye.

I glared up at my sexy guardian/boyfriend/cat shifter, whose native form was a thirty-five-pound Maine Coon housecat. While they were both right—I could do this—the real question was, did I want to?

The last rays of sunshine streaked pink and orange across the New York City sky. Sunlight didn’t bother Shade the way it did other vampires. My dad, the Greek god Poseidon, had given him a free pass to Daywalk for a year to follow up on some critical HWB business with some nasty vamps. I wondered how that was going for him, but now was not the time to ask.

“Rat Patrol. My favorite job.” Max smiled and cracked his knuckles with a loud resounding pop. Then he extended his three-inch-long, razor-sharp claws. “You ready, Sam? Piece of cake, right?”

I think I nodded my head.

I stared up at the stone building and swallowed hard. I’d been on field trips to this museum as a child but had never set foot in the place on a mission. I mean, what kind of lunatic hits the most famous institution of learning in New York City?

“You got a tip from Chad?” I asked. “About the rat?”

Chad was one of our junior operatives. He was a seventeen-year-old wizard who also worked for the museum while he finished high school and transitioned to college. He was kinda like me—one of Shade’s kids—but I was nine years older than he was.

Shade tapped his index finger on the tablet’s screen. “Chad recognized a rogue HWB wizard, Dusty McLane, snooping around earlier. He’d asked to review some ancient manuscripts from Greece—he always did have a passion for all things Greek. But he’d hung around, long after he seemed to have been finished. Then, this afternoon, Chad noticed that one of the journals kept in the modern book collection in the research library had gone missing. He called us in on it.”

“And that’s when surveillance captured video footage of this wizard using his magic to revive one of the taxidermist’s mounts of a giant sewer rat?” Max asked, with a little too much glee in his voice.

Shade nodded. “It’s not unusual to catch wizards stealing. They take what they want when it suits them. Talismans. Treasure. Books with secrets.”

I grimaced. “I freaking hate rats. Any self-respecting New Yorker hates rats. They’re filthy, and they grow to the size of raccoons around here.”

Shade grasped my arm and stared at me with searching violet eyes. “I should pull someone else in on this one. Your vacation started an hour ago. I just thought, with your Greek heritage and all, you might have an edge.”

My trident Atlantis, a gift from my dad, generated a soft pulsing buzz in my hands, like a cellphone vibrating a new call. Whenever paranormal shit was about to hit the fan, I got advanced warnings from my weapon. “We’ve got this,” I said and searched Max’s handsome face. “You distract the rat, and I’ll find the wizard.”

Max honed his claws together until they sang a high-keening metal sound, like a warrior sharpening a sword. “Let’s do this.”

Shade motioned for Chad to unlock the doors, and we strode inside. “I think they’re upstairs, Sam.” The young wizard gestured to the marble stairs, an expression of terror etched across his face. “You think you can catch them?”

I grinned at Chad, who wore his straight blond hair short, and a little soul patch of a beard on his chin. “Yeah, I do. But you should go outside and help Shade with that portal. He might need you to use your magic to shut it down. Don’t let the wizard escape.”

Relief washed away his fear, and with a final, “Be careful,” he rushed out the door.

That’s what we do. We’re agents of the Hunters’ Watch Brigade, and when supernatural evil threatens people, we go in and stop it.

I turned and grinned up at Max. “Shall we?”

“Thought you’d never ask,” he replied. We hit the stairs running and raced up to the third floor. Once we got to the Hall of New York Mammals, the stench of sewers assaulted my nose. Glass displays lay in ruins. Taxidermist mounts of the museum’s collection were askew, and the one mount that was missing was the common brown rat. Great.

I headed upstairs for the fourth level. “I’m going up to the library.”

“Not without me, you’re not.” Max came up beside me, racing his way in front.

A chittering noise sounded off at the top of the stairs. As if Manhattan didn’t have enough of these bastards, now we had a mutant magic rat the size of a damn Great Dane running loose in the museum. I skidded to a stop when I saw the filthy creature, with dusty brown clumps of mangy fur hanging from its body. Plumes of dust puffed up into the air around it, and when it sneezed, long threads of gooey slime hung from its jowls. Holy shit. Make that the size of a damn grizzly bear. “Max! Watch out!”

He raced ahead of me, never hesitating. The rat leapt at him, baring wooden-colored teeth and whipping its scaly pink tail around. The tail tripped Max, and he went flying into a spin across the polished marble floors.

I aimed Atlantis, but I couldn’t find a clear shot because Max reared up and faced off with the rat. The vermin leapt at him, but he slashed at its hide, and buried his claws elbow deep in the mutant rodent. Something multicolored spilled out of the rat’s belly and spread out all around them.

To my horror, a pack of at least a hundred smaller rats emerged, scampering throughout the room.

I focused my trident’s tines toward them and blasted a surge of power into the mass of rodents. The smell of singed fur hit my nose, and I gagged.

The grizzly-bear-sized mama rat scurried away toward the stairs, its herd of offspring racing after her. They bounded down the stairwell, Max hot on their trail. “Go find the wizard. I’ve got this,” he yelled.

I hesitated for a second, wondering if I should follow them. Would Max be okay by himself? Yes, he was now a full-fledged HWB agent, but I still felt that he was my responsibility. But so was capturing Dusty McLane.

I turned and raced to the research library. It was quiet and empty. Of course, he wouldn’t be hiding in here.

I reversed my direction and ran back down one flight of stairs, to where we’d seen all the destruction.

I found the wizard in one of the dioramas of Native American Peoples. His fiery-red hair stood out like beacon, and he was covered in freckles. Dressed in jeans and an NYU hoodie, he held the stolen journal, a little red book, in his left hand close to his heart. I aimed Atlantis at his head. “You know I can’t let you take that book out of here, Dusty.”

He stepped behind the display of Indians, counting on my desire to not destroy the museum’s precious artifacts. “What, this? It’s no big deal—just a compilation of notes put together by some old history professor. Nothing important.”

What was he hiding? I moved, trying to find a clear path, an open shot. He countered, and we entered into a dance. “If it’s in the museum, it’s important. Hand it over.”

“That rat’s gonna kill your partner.” He taunted me with the information about the spell he’d used to bring the rat to life. “I gave it venom. He’ll die if he gets bitten. And when those younglings get out of the building, the whole city will be in jeopardy.”

I narrowed my eyes. Was Max at risk? What would happen if the little monsters escaped from the museum? Could he stop them all?

What a creep. This was exactly why I enjoyed monster-hunting so much. Stopping someone like Dusty from hurting people really did it for me. “So, what? If I let you take the little red book, you’ll call it off? Put the rat back up on the wall where it’s supposed to be?”

He smiled, and it made him look like a naughty little boy. “Maybe.”

Why the heck was he hanging around? He’d obviously opened the portal outside so he could escape. Why hadn’t he hightailed it out of there once he got his hands on the book?

The problem with rogue wizards was that you never could trust them. “You’re former HWB, I understand. Come in with me now, and I’ll see if Shade will take it easy on you.”

He snorted. “Not likely. We have plans for this little book.”

“We? Who’s we, Dusty?” He didn’t answer me. Definitely a bad sign. I moved closer when he leaned down, taking his attention off me.

“Take this to Alex,” he said in a voice so low, I almost didn’t hear him. He handed the journal to a knee-high-sized creature with a pointed face who chittered at him, grasped it in its back claws, then flapped wide, leathery, bat-like wings. Rising above us, it had the damn nerve to hiss at me while it took flight.

I jabbed at it with my trident, hoping to skewer it before it got away, but I missed. It squawked, then spat at me, and I had to dodge right to avoid acidy venom. It flew so close to me on its way out of the diorama, I felt the breeze on my face.

“What the hell . . . ?” So much for recovering the little book of secrets. I wheeled around on Dusty, ready for anything. “You’re coming with me,” I said. “We’ll go retrieve the damn thing together.”

“I don’t think so. A friend of mine warned me the HWB might intervene. Taking a couple of you assholes out is my initiation fee into the game. Recovering that journal means bonus points for me.”

Dusty twirled three square rune stones between his fingers while he whispered a few choice words and got them glowing red-hot. The bastard reared his hand back in a pitcher’s stance, ready to hurl his magic rocks my way.

Game? What kind of messed up game was he talking about? I shrugged. “Works either way for me, buddy.”

He threw the rocks at me. I blasted a bolt of pure electrical energy from Atlantis to deflect them. The rune stones disintegrated into sparking flecks of ash. Dusty lunged at me, wielding a curved silver blade. I had no choice, so I skewered him with the business end of my trident.

His last words were a warning. “You’re never gonna win the game.” Then he fell and crumbled into a pile of ash. I reared back. My weapon transmitted a surge of magic through me, cataloging images from Dusty’s mind. I shook my head, stunned for a moment. Whoever had hired Dusty must be a very powerful wizard.

“Son of a bitch!” The diorama burst into flames. I doused the display with water from my trident, snuffing out the fire. There was no sense in causing any more damage in the museum than necessary.

I turned around and ran to the stairs, looking for Dusty’s familiar and his prize.

Maybe Shade and the guys had already caught the little rat-dragon and recovered the book. I had to find Max and help him with those damn rats. Furious that I’d let the wizard’s familiar escape, I raced down the stairs.

If this little leather-bound diary was important enough to summon a mage with dark magic, maybe I’d go after it later, see what all the fuss was about.

Right now I had to help Max round up all those poisonous rats. What a disaster. If even one of them got out, the city would be at significant risk.

Shade was gonna be pissed I’d killed the wizard before he could interrogate him. Yeah, it was sort of a sticking point with us.

There was nothing worse than a furious vampire.

About the Author:
Paula Millhouse was born and raised in Savannah, Georgia, where Spanish moss whispers tales in breezes from the Atlantic Ocean to her soul. As a child, she soaked in the sunshine and heritage of cobblestones, pirate lore, and stories steeped in savory mysteries of the South.

She lives in the mountains now, but honors her Southern heritage as a storyteller by sharing high-heat adventures with her readers. Escape your daily routine with books where justice does exist, true love is worth fighting for, and happily ever afters are expected.



GIVEAWAY

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Excerpt Spotlight: Dragon’s Rogue (Wild Dragons Book One) by Anastasia Wilde + giveaway

Dragon’s Rogue (Wild Dragons Book One)
by Anastasia Wilde
April 29, 2018 
Genre: Paranormal Romance 
ISBN: 978-1717480088
ASIN: B07CND297P
Word Count: 83,000
Cover Artist: Melody Simmons
He’s loved her in his dreams for a hundred years. Now he’s finally found her, and he’ll do anything to make her is own…

The evil Dragon Lord Vyrkos is about to rise from captivity in a devastating volcanic eruption. Only the Greystone brothers can stop him—and only if they find the three women who hold the keys to sealing Vyrkos’ tomb forever.

Blaze McKenna is a witch hiding out from her former coven. After stealing their most powerful artifact to keep them from destroying themselves, she’s been preparing for the day when the coven leader will hunt her down and try to take it back.

A battle that only one of them will walk away from.

So when smoking hot dragon shifter Zane Greystone offers to help her fight the coven in return for her handing over one of the Seals to Vyrkos’ tomb, it sounds like the perfect plan—except for two problems.

She doesn’t know where the Seal is.

And the dragon doesn’t just want her help—he wants her heart, body and soul.

Dragon’s Rogue is the first book in Anastasia Wilde’s epic new trilogy, Wild Dragons. Each book features one couple, hot steamy dragon love, HEA, no cliffhangers!

Rated steamy – contains explicit sex but not erotica



Excerpt
The butler gestured to the terrace doors on the other side of the room. He stepped discreetly back into the hallway, closing the door behind him.

Zane took a deep breath, and then walked between the fluttering sheer curtains out onto the terrace. He caught a glimpse of an expanse of starry sky before he turned to meet the woman whose house he'd broken into the night before. The woman from his dream visions.

“Hello,” he said, extending his hand. “Thank you for meeting me. I—”

That was as far as he got. Two silken ropes twined around his wrists and yanked, as if held by invisible hands. Before he could react, he was suspended a few inches off the ground, his arms spread over his head in a Y-shape.

She’d outsmarted him. He was trapped.

Before he could say a word, Blaze made a swift movement with her hands. His shirt ripped open down the front and spread wide, exposing his heart.

Oh, hell, Zane thought. This can’t be good. She must have recognized him from last night.

And she was clearly holding a grudge.

Blaze walked right up to him, ignoring his struggles, and ran her hands over his chest. The heat from her fingers seemed to strike all the way down into his bones.

His exclamation turned into a murmured exhale. “What the hell are you doing to me?”

“Where’s your tattoo?” she demanded.

“My what?”

He had no idea what she was talking about. ‘Thorne?’ he called mentally to his brother. ‘Little help here? I’m on the terrace outside the study.’ He projected a picture of its location. ‘Come from outside. Cloak yourself. We’re having an issue with the lovely Ms. McKenna.’

His brother replied, ‘Saw you leave. Already on my way.’

“Your coven tattoo. Where is it?” Blaze jerked her hand back, walked around behind him, and magically ripped the back of his shirt and jacket as well. He shivered at the sudden touch of the night air on his bare skin.

Or maybe it was her making him shiver.

He felt her fingers on his left shoulder blade, and sucked in his breath involuntarily. Just that small contact sent electricity shooting through his body.

She thought he was a sorcerer. An evil one, if the way he was hanging from his wrists like laundry on a clothesline was anything to go by.

“I’m not in a coven,” he told her.

She came around to face him again. “You must be. You’re too powerful to be solo, and I felt power in the others, too. Stop lying.”

There was a sudden gust of wind, and Zane felt Thorne’s dragon presence just above the terrace. Then his brother shifted mid-air, uncloaked and landed on the terrace behind Blaze, in human form.

‘Watch out, bro.’ he cautioned silently. ‘She has a spell—’

Too late.

The minute Thorne’s feet hit the balcony, more silken ropes sprang to life and he was strung up the same way Zane was. Blaze whipped around and tore Thorne’s shirt open with her magic.

Damn. Beautiful witch: 2, Dragons: 0

Not the heroic first impression he’d intended to make.

Blaze backed up, looking from one to the other. “All right,” she said. “No tattoos, no coven. So spill it. Who are you people, why were you after my artifact, and how much pain do I have to put you through to get it back?”

About the Author: FB-Twitter
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Anastasia Wilde lives in the deep forests of the Pacific Northwest, where sexy shifters may or may not be found hiding among the tall, ancient trees. She loves to write paranormal romances about wild, passionate shifter men and the strong women who are destined to win their hearts. Broken, complicated, devoted, protective—love heals their wounds and smooths their rough edges (but not too much!). When not writing, Anastasia enjoys traveling, nomming on any food involving bacon or melty cheese (ideally both), adding to her magical crystal collection, or relaxing with a glass of wine, watching the sun set behind the mountains.


Tour Giveaway 

1 Kindle Fire 7 (US only) 
1 $15 Amazon gift card 

1 set of ebook copies of my Silverlake Shifter series: Fugitive Mate, White Wolf Mate, and Tiger Mate 

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Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Author Beth Woodward: My Night in Greensboro’s Most Haunted Hotel + giveaway

Felt Up by a Dead Prostitute: My Night in Greensboro’s Most Haunted Hotel 

One of the more common questions I get as a writer of fantasy and paranormal is, “Do you actually believe in this stuff?” I consider myself a hopeful skeptic. I don’t really believe, but I’m willing to be convinced. After all, nothing really strange had ever happened to me…

That is until I got felt up by a dead prostitute two nights before my wedding.
 

My husband and I got married outside of Greensboro, North Carolina, several hundred miles from our Washington, DC, home. When we were visiting our wedding venue months earlier, we’d gone on a ghost tour of Greensboro, and we learned about the Biltmore Hotel—the most haunted hotel in Greensboro.

There are, according to our ghost tour, two well-known resident ghosts at the Biltmore Hotel. One is an accountant named Phillip who was strangled to death with piano wire before being thrown out a window, and has an affinity for inappropriate behavior with the female guests. (Even murder and death wasn’t enough to kill Phillip’s libido.) The other is a prostitute named Lydia who was thrown down the stairs by a drunken customer.

Upon hearing this, my future husband immediately turned to me and said, “We have to stay there next time we’re here.”

Yeah. Because staying in a poltergeisted hotel is exactly what you want to do two days before your wedding.

But stay there we did. I put my foot down at Pervy Phillip. So we ended up in room 223—Lydia’s room.

When we checked in, the clerk looked at us through her owlish glasses. “Oh, you’re staying in Lydia’s room. Well, there’s a few things you need to know first.”

Among these tidbits:
· Always speak nicely to and about Lydia. Apparently, being nice to Lydia is the difference between whether your experience is more Casper or Poltergeist.

· She really likes pink things, and she’s been known to move or steal pink items belonging to guests. But never fear, she said—the hotel has painted the entire room pink, which seems to have assuaged her pink-o-philia. (The only pink item I had on me were my glasses. Since I am effectively blind without glasses or contact lenses, I really hoped Lydia would choose not to steal them.)

· The door to room 223 is the only door in the hotel that won’t stay open. But if we ask nicely, Lydia will keep the door open for you. (The door, in fact, would not stay open. Sadly, we did not test whether asking Lydia for assistance would change that. I think we both would have felt a little ridiculous if we’d tried. Unless it had worked…)

· Housekeeping staff often finds long, red hair in the sink and tub—even when no one has been staying in the room. (Since I was, in fact, a long-haired redhead, I assured her that if hair was found the next morning, it was much more likely to belong to me than any noncorporeal entity. She looked skeptical.)

· Oh, and don’t worry too much if you hear loud thumping noises coming from outside the room. Poor Lydia met her demise on the staircase right outside the room, so sometimes you’ll hear the echoes of it at night. (Grrrreeeeat.)

With all that in mind, my soon-to-be husband and I went to our room. The scariest part of the journey, much to my fiancé’s disappointment, was the elevator ride to the second floor. The Biltmore Hotel added one of the very first unmanned electric elevators in Greensboro in 1920. I’m fairly certain that it was the very same elevator we rode to the 2nd floor that night in 2016. It was old, it was rickety, and it was terrifying. It was one of those old cage elevators, which I had never seen in real life before, but it looked something like this:


But thankfully, my fiancé and I made to our (very pink, possibly haunted) room unscathed. It had been a long day, so we quickly retreated to bed—without saying goodnight to Lydia.

I had drifted into that liminal state between sleep and wakefulness when I felt something on my shoulder.

Tap, tap, tap…

Being the intrepid ghost hunter that I was, my mind immediately drifted to the obvious solution: that my fiancé had grown amorous and wanted a little pre-wedding quickie. But one glance over my shoulder verified that my fiancé was fast asleep. So I chalked it up to an overactive imagination, and closed my eyes again.

Tap, tap, tap…

This time, I couldn’t open my eyes. No matter how much I tried, I couldn’t pull myself back to full wakefulness, and my mind remained foggy and sleep-drunk. And then it—whatever it was—became more insistent.

Shake, shake, shake…

If I just moved, just turned on the light, I knew the phantasm would go away. But in that not-quite-dreaming place, my limbs felt like they were covered in quicksand.

Shake shakeshake shakeshakeshake…

And then somewhere, somehow, my brain kicked in. Be nice to Lydia, and she’ll be nice to you, the clerk had said. So I took a breath and said, “Lydia, would you please stop? I have to go to my wedding rehearsal tomorrow, and I need to sleep.”

And it stopped.

And then I took another breath. “Also, please don’t steal my glasses.”

The next morning we checked out of the hotel, and the day clerk asked if we had “experienced” anything in Lydia’s room the night before. My fiancé piped up immediately, “No, nothing at all. It’s too bad.” But the clerk slid his eyes to me, as if knowing my answer might be different. “I might have been dreaming, but…” and I told him everything. I don’t know what I experienced that night, but one thing was clear: every employee at the Biltmore Hotel believes the place is haunted.

Fast forward. My fiancé and I had the wedding of our dreams, with no poltergeists to be found, and our honeymoon hotel rooms seemed thankfully un-haunted.

My glasses remained, thankfully, unmolested.



Embracing the Demon (Dale Highland Book 2)
by Beth Woodward
June 19, 2018
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Publisher: California Coldblood Books
ISBN: 978-1945572845
ASIN: B07D788DVM
Number of pages: 360
Word Count: 80,000
Cover Artist: Leonard Philbrick
Dale Highland never wanted to be a demon…but now she may be the only one who can save them all…

Dale Highland never wanted to be a demon, never wanted to go back to the supernatural world, but now she has no choice.

A militant anti-supernatural group called the Zeta Coalition is trying to kill Dale, and a mysterious illness ravages angels and demons throughout the world. As the death toll rises, and the Zetas get closer and closer to Dale, she starts to realize the two things are connected.

To save them all, Dale will have to team up with John Goodwin, the man she once loved. The man who destroyed her.

But by the time Dale and John figure out the Zetas’ real intentions, it may be too late…



Excerpt:
He wore a gray suit with a dark shirt and a blue tie that fit him so perfectly I knew it must have been custom made for him. His dark blond hair had been combed and gelled into submission. Normally, it stood up in random spikes around his head—not as a stylistic choice, but because he had the tendency to run his fingers through it nervously until it went in about 14 different directions.

Until that moment, I hadn’t been convinced he’d survived the fall off the roof of Amara’s estate. Every night in my dreams, I stared at his broken body, tears running down my face. I wasn’t sure why I cried: because I had killed him, or because he had destroyed me.

But here was John, very much alive, looking like the fantasy of some billionaire boss about to have hot monkey sex with his secretary on the desk. He didn’t look like the John I remembered, who’d spent most of our time together wearing blood-covered t-shirts. Which one was the real John, I wondered, the suave businessman or the urban warrior? And then I noticed the pin on his lapel: a flaming angel that matched the ones on the others’ pendants. John had declared his allegiance, and it wasn’t to me.

“My apologies for the mess,” he said. “Ephraim, Leah, please clean that up. Make sure you dispose of the body well. I don’t want him coming back to haunt us one of these days.” A man and a woman jumped out of their seats and scooped up the body, leaving just a puddle of blood behind. Guess they’d be getting that later.

John turned to the rest of the group. “Let’s not forget why we’re here. This illness is already devastating our community, and it’s getting worse. The Zeta Coalition created it with the intent of wiping out supernaturals—angels and demons. And if we can’t cooperate, they will succeed.”

“She’s the daughter of our worst enemy!” someone shouted.

“Amara is dead. And Dale is not Amara.” He paused. “Covington is right. We need more information if we’re going to survive this, and Dale is our best hope of gaining access to their records containment facility.”

“What about taking an army and storming the compound, like we talked about a few weeks ago?” someone asked.

To my surprise, it was Tina who answered. “The compound is too heavily fortified, and its underground architecture would make it difficult to strong-arm. We’ve run the scenario many times, accounting for the different variables. The most likely outcome is that we’d end up trapped down there while the Zetas pick us off.”

“There must be another way,” a woman said.

“Maybe, but this is the best way,” John replied. “We all know Dale can do things that no one else can. Her return may have been a coincidence, but we should use that to our advantage.”

“I haven’t agreed to anything yet,” I managed to get out through gritted teeth.


About the Author:
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Beth Woodward has always had a love for the dark, the mysterious, and all things macabre. She blames her mother for this one: while other kids were watching cartoons, Beth and her mother were watching Unsolved Mysteries together every week. She was doomed from the beginning. At 12, she discovered the wonders of science fiction and fantasy when she read A Wrinkle in Time, which remains the most influential book of her life. Growing up, she was Meg Murray with a dash of Oscar the Grouch. She’s been writing fiction since she was six years old; as a cantankerous kid whose family moved often, the fictional characters she created became her friends. As an adult, she’s slightly more well adjusted, but she still withdraws into her head more often than is probably healthy.

When she’s not writing, Beth volunteers at her local animal shelter, attends as many sci-fi/fantasy conventions as she can, and travels as much as time and money will allow. She lives in the Washington, DC, area with her husband and their three cats.


Tour Giveaway 
3 copies of The Demon Within (the first book in the Dale Highland series), available for US shipping only. 

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Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Book Review: Portraits of the Forsaken (The Gateway Trackers Book 4) By: E.E. Holmes

Portraits of the Forsaken (The Gateway Trackers Book 4)
by E.E. Holmes
May 22, 2018
309 pages
Publisher: Lily Faire Publishing
Pages: 309
Deep in the heart of old London town, spirits are drawn to the tempting lure of a lie...

As Jess Ballard is struggling to adjust to her new life in London without Finn Carey to watch over her, she has thrown herself into her role as a Tracker, using her gift to communicate with and help as many spirits as she can. But just as she begins to settle into a new city, the city reveals a mystery too intriguing—and dangerous—to ignore.

Something sinister is drawing restless spirits to a tiny old museum, luring them with a promise of salvation it cannot deliver upon. Meanwhile, Durupinen are being brutally attacked, and their gifts are being twisted with a Casting too terrible to comprehend. Can Jess discover the connection between the two mysteries before she—or someone she loves—becomes the next victim?

Portraits of the Forsaken is the much anticipated fourth installment in E.E. Holmes' paranormal series The Gateway Trackers.

Jess is now living in London and without Finn. She’s trying to not spend every waking moment thinking about him, but that’s easier said than done. Hannah is busy with her seat on the council, Milo has his hands full with the release of his new clothing line and Tia has moved to London and his attending medical school while trying to mend her broken heart as well.

Always an exciting storyline with a side of snark, Holmes fourth book in the Trackers series is fantastic. New threats emerge, while the foundation of the final installment in the series is laid. There were a few plots along the way that I would have liked to hear a little more about or have tied up, but I do believe that a few of them will make it to the next book.

About the Author:
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E.E. Holmes grew up near Boston, Massachusetts, where she spent the majority of her childhood reading books. She read them almost constantly, and as a result, perfected the art of walking and reading at the same time, a skill she can still perform to this day with remarkably few instances of falling on her face. She also wrote many books and poems in blank books and on the backs of legal pads her father brought home from the office. They remain some of her finest work.

E.E. Holmes lives in central Massachusetts with her husband, two children, and small, but surprisingly loud dog. When not writing, she enjoys watching unhealthy amounts of British television, procrastinating, and rediscovering her favorite books from her childhood all over again with her kids. Her next project is Spirit Ascendancy: Book 3 of the Gateway Trilogy, due for release in November of 2015.

Excerpt Spotlight: Dethroned (An Inimical Prequel Novella) by Genevieve Iseult Eldredge


Dethroned (An Inimical Prequel Novella)
by Genevieve Iseult Eldredge
June 19, 2018
Published by: Monster House Books
Publication date: 
Genres: Urban Fantasy, Young Adult
For eighteen-year-old Rouen Rivoche, being a fairy princess isn’t about fancy parties and happily ever afters.

Rouen’s people are the dark Fae whose powers of lightning, thundersnow, and all things Winter make them cold, severe, and 100% intolerant of rebellion.

Too bad being a rebel is in Rouen’s blood.

Against tradition, she’s teamed up with Syl Skye, the sleeper-princess of the fair Fae—a mortal enemy who Rouen should want to kill but only wants to kiss. Plus, to be with Syl, Rouen’s masquerading as a glam goth-rock star and human high school student. Honestly, Rouen doesn’t think things could get any more complicated.

Then, she discovers she must become Queen of the Winter Court or all her people will die. No pressure.

Now, dark forces are amassing in the Winter Court, turning Rouen’s people against her and blocking her path to the throne. Even Syl with all her powers of white flame and Summer can’t stop this new kind of evil.

Because betrayal cuts close when it’s someone you love… and now it looks like Rouen’s going to be dethroned before she ever becomes queen.



EXCERPT:
Chapter One
Rouen
There’s nowhere I belong
No home, no hearth
No sing, no song
A princess with no kingdom to rule
– “Nowhere I Belong” – Euphoria

It’s December 24, Christmas Eve in the mortal realm, and you know what that means.

Only fifty-four days to go. Fifty-four days until the Lunar New Year.

Until I take my rightful place as Queen of the dark Fae.

No more being Rouen, princess-assassin and rebel. Once Father steps down—and he said he would—I’ll take his place.

Half of me, my dark self, says he’s lying through his fangs again. But the other half of me remembers the father-before, the man he was before our realm was crippled by our mortal enemies, the fair Fae. That man taught me to fight, to tap into the Winter in my royal blood and hear the wintry nightsong running through our Dark Faerie realm like a secret language.

The Adamant King. He was a good father and a great king—powerful but even-tempered, severe but just.

That’s the man I could trust. That man would keep his word to make me queen.

Even though there’s never been a dark Fae queen. Ever.

I’ll be the first. I can’t wait to rule, to do whatever I want, to be with whoever I want.

In fifty-four days.

But who’s counting?

“Not you,” Syl murmurs sleepily as we lie on the beat-up couch in the dressing room of our local club/hangout, the Nanci Raygun. It’s a snug room wallpapered with faded band flyers and covered in peeling spray paint art. The best thing is the comfy couch that’s ideal for snuggling with your girlfriend.

“Nope. Not me.” I kiss the top of Syl’s red curls. She knows me too well.

Just like I’m the princess of the dark Fae, Syl’s the princess of the fair Fae.

We’re complete opposites. I’m everything Winter—storms and squalls and brutal cold, unyielding ice and thundersnow. My Syl is the epitome of Summer and sun and brightness, with the power to purify dark magic with her white flame.

We met when I tried to kill her.

Technically, we’re mortal enemies. Winter. Summer. You get the picture.

Long story short, I tried to assassinate her. Not my finest moment, but I was controlled by Circuit Fae black-magic—a Moribund infection that stole my will and forced me to hunt her down when she was a mere mortal. Sleeper-princess that she is, though, she Awakened to the fair Fae power inside her.

Hoo-boy, did she give me a hard time. I loved it. Still do.

Syl snuggles in closer. Her nearness sends a spike of warmth shooting through me. She leans her head on my shoulder. “Is it time for your gig yet?”

Ancestors, I hope not. I’d rather lie on this couch with her forever. Lazily, I look past the Euphoria fliers plastered all over the dressing room and check the faded Blue Bee Cider clock on the wall. Almost 11 p.m. “Ten minutes.”

Ten minutes till I step onstage and take on the Euphoria half of my mortal guise. The other half is a seventeen-year-old high school junior, but this is more my style—local legend and goth rockstar violinist. Thanks to my powerful Glamoury, only Syl, her mom, and a few kids at Richmond Elite High have put the Rouen-Euphoria connection together. Otherwise, the human paparazzi would have a heyday with us.

As it is, they mostly leave us alone. Good thing, too, since tonight, I want some peace.

Tonight’s special.

In a little bit, Syl will be headed off on her own. Her task is less glamorous, but far more important. She has to leave to grab our Christmas Eve dinner.

I’ve never had a proper Christmas Eve dinner. It’s a mortal thing and very different from my people’s Dark Yule celebrations (which involve a lot of mayhem and destruction), and I’m looking forward to it.

Syl turns her face into my shoulder and says something like, mumble, mumble, don’t wanna, mumble, mumble, cold outside, mumble.

So. Adorable. I kiss the top of her head, inhaling the heady scent of sunshine and vanilla. My sweet fair Fae princess.

I’d do anything to protect her.


About the Author:
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Raised by witches and dragons in the northern wilds, GIE writes angsty urban fantasy YA romance--where girls who are mortal enemies kick butt, take names, and fall in love against all odds.

She enjoys long hikes in the woods (where better to find the fair folk?), believing in fairies (in fact, she's clapping right now), dancing with dark elves (always wear your best shoes), being a self-rescuing princess (hello, black belt!), and writing diverse books about teenage girls finding love, romance, and their own inner power.

She might be planning high tea at the Fae Court right now.

GIE is multi-published, and in her role as an editor has helped hundreds of authors make their dream of being published a reality.