GtPGKogPYT4p61R1biicqBXsUzo" /> Google+ I Smell Sheep: November 2021

Saturday, November 27, 2021

Book Review: Cruel Lord (A Reverse Harem Dark Bully Romance): Blackmoor Heirs Book 1 by Ivy Thorn

September 23, 2021
Genre: Heist crime, vigilante justice, dark romance, bully
Saint might be my last name, but they’re determined to make me into a sinner.

My father is dead. My home is ash. And my mother and I are one step away from death ourselves. Our only protection against the Devil’s Sons MC? The St. Vincent family, who rule Blackmoor.

When I run into Cayde, Dean, and Jaxon for the first time on the steps of my new prep school, I don’t think twice about it. Even with all the rumors surrounding them, I know how to take care of myself.

But when I embarrass Cayde St. Vincent, I wind up with a target on my back. A target that, unbeknownst to me, is going to follow me way past high school.
When I wake up in their house on the university campus on the first day of the semester with no memory of how I got there, all I want to do is leave. But they’ve got me under contract.
A contract that threatens my life, and my mother’s life, if I break it.
Soon enough, I realize they want to break me.

Cayde St. Vincent. Dean Blackmoor. Jaxon King.
The three heirs to the town of Blackmoor.
And now? My worst nightmare.

***Cruel Lord is the first book in the Blackmoor Heirs series. It is a bully series. It contains material that may be sensitive to some readers. There are no heroes in this series, only deliciously devious villains. It will get much darker before the dawn. This book is for those who like their men cruel and damaged, their romance dark and questionable, and their emotions toyed with until the very end.

Cruel Lords by Ivy Thorn was not my cup of tea at all. Was not impressed with the writing, or lack thereof. Anyone who has any history of violence or sexual assault should not proceed with his one. It is not for everyone and should be reviewed by only those who have honest feedback.

I didn't like a lot of the toxic male vibe, nothing about it kept me interested or even caring at all. I tried to fight through and finish the story but almost threw my kindle across the room. Check around and see what you think. I can't give this one a rating, but I certainly can say I did not enjoy this one and have no desire to read anything else from this author.

No Sheep
KD

About the Author:
Ivy Thorn's motto is the more hero's the better. She writes dark, delicious, romance with a kick but heroines and the ruthless anti-heroes who fall for them. Her books will leave you on the edge of a cliff begging for more, but a happily-ever-after is guaranteed every time—they’re just going to have to fight for it.

She resides in Chicago with her two dogs, her laptop, and way too many plants to count. When she’s not writing, you can find her curled up with a cup of coffee (or wine!) and her favorite comfort movie or novel. She also writes mafia romance under M. James.

Friday, November 26, 2021

Comic Review: House of Slaughter by: James Tynion IV & Tate Brombal (Boom! Studios)

House of Slaughter
October 27, 2021
Written by: James Tynion IV & Tate Brombal
Art: Chris Shehan
Colors by: Miquel Muerto
Letters by: AndWorld Design
27 pages
Boom! Studios
Discover the inner workings of the House of Slaughter in this new horror series exploring the secret history of the Order that forged Erica Slaughter into the monster hunter she is today.

You know Aaron Slaughter as Erica’s handler and rival. But before he donned the black mask, Aaron was a teenager training within the House of Slaughter. Surviving within the school is tough enough, but it gets even more complicated when Aaron falls for a mysterious boy destined to be his competition.

I've found another awesome comic series. House of Slaughter from Boom! Studios. Okay, the cover with the sexy monster-killing machine Aaron Slaughter is the reason I checked it out (covers matter!) But as a dark urban fantasy lover, it is my kind of story.

These cover variants are LIT!
Look at him...LOOK at him!
House of Slaughter is a spin-off of the Boom! Studio hit Something is Killing the Children (keep your eyes on Netflix for the TV series). It is a dark urban fantasy about monster hunter Erica Slaughter. House of Slaughter gives us the origin story of Erica's handler Aaron. We get a look into the "order" that trained Erica and other hunters and I get the feeling surviving the program is how you pass.

It is narrated by an older Aaron recounting his time training as a teenager. There is a romance element, Aaron falls for a rival, but this is a horror story, and based on the last page of issue #1, it appears he will end up having to "hunt" the man he loves. Issue #2 came out a few days ago and I am headed to my nearest comic book shop to grab it. And in the meantime, I will be checking out Something is Killing the Children.
The artwork and color palette enhances the creep/horror factor. You feel like you are stepping behind a curtain into another darker world.

5 "monster" Sheep





SharonS

Last Stop: Horror on Route 13 Anthology + giveaway

Last Stop: Horror on Route 13
October 30th, 2021
Genre: Horror/ Anthology
Publisher: Eerie River
A terrifying journey into America’s forgotten regions.

You ever heard of Route Thirteen? No, not that one.
The real one.

It ain’t on no map, and you’ll be hard-pressed to find someone who’s travelled it. I dare say this book’s the only evidence you’ll ever come across mentioning that forgotten road. Or the bar.

Goes by the name of Whiskey Pete’s.

That shiver you just felt? That’s a warning, and so’s this book. Thirteen stories of pure horror, blood-curdling violence and spectacularly bad decisions, inspired by the poor folks who fell foul of old Route Thirteen and Whiskey Pete’s.

Let this book be your warning. If you find yourself on that forsaken road, with the warming lights of Whiskey Pete’s upon your windshield, turn back. Or it’ll be your Last Stop

A shared-world anthology of dread authored by

Holley Cornetto ~ L. T. Emery ~ Peter J. Foote
J.W. Garrett ~ David Green ~ Stephen Herczeg
Abigail Linhardt ~ Beth W. Patterson ~ Lynne Phillips
Austin Shirey ~ Joshua D Taylor ~ V. A. Vazquez ~ Patrick Winters


Giveaway:
$25 Amazon e-Gift Card (Closes December 2nd at Midnight EST
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Book Blitz Organized By:

Thursday, November 25, 2021

PNR Author Jennae Vale: TOP three things about putting together a book + giveaway

TOP three things about putting together a book giveaway

A lot of authoring these days involves off-the-page activities like being present on all sorts of social media platforms and reaching out to readers in creative ways.

I did a few giveaways in the past, in which I picked a hamper put together by someone else, and it worked out well. But I had no idea how much fun it was to do it myself.

In That Magic Mischief, Annabelle Walsh is an over-the-counter witch who's dipping in and out of a variety of approaches to divination and spell-casting in order to figure out the practice best for her. Dumped out of the blue by her long-term boyfriend, she tries to mend her heart with magic.

Little does she know that her Irish heritage connects her to a mischievous, mythological creature called a Pooka, who Annabelle summons into existence. A bargain between them causes all manner of mayhem, and turns her life around...mainly by turning it upside down.

DESIGNING AND CONCEPTUALIZING
Annabelle's interests inspired loads of ideas. Her love of all things metaphysical meant there were tons of things to choose from, and I decided to make a little gift bag to accompany the copy of the book. Would incense travel well? Which crystal should I choose? Should I start looking for feathers on the ground to put in there, too?

I decided to go with three small crystals — rose quartz, amethyst, and tiger's eye — and to skip the feathers as it seemed unsanitary. Incense didn't make the cut, but a tealight did. I also put in one of Annabelle's favorite candle spells.

Happily in my other career, I'm a graphic designer: I designed the spell as well as bookplates to sign. I also decided to include a copy of A Wolf in Duke's Clothing, the first in my Shapeshifters of the Beau Monde series, a mashup of Regency Historical plus werewolves.

SHOPPING!
I started at my local crystal shop. Since I was doing ten giveaways, I chose 30 crystals, which is a lot!

I got a discount, as I am known in my local crystal shop.

Next, the art store for the fancy paper to print out the candle spells. I found a gorgeous textured sheet close to the color of parchment and bought way more than I needed, to factor in mistakes. (Mistakes were made.)

Online, I found and ordered a bunch of organza gift bags and a 12-pack of Yankee Candle tealights in Angel's Wings. I'm don't usually go for scents on the powdery, sweet end of the spectrum, but I love these.

ASSEMBLING
When the bookplates arrived from Moo.com (highly recommend), the real fun began.

I am happy with the size of the bookplates I designed — I didn't want them to take up more space than they should, but I didn't make it easy on myself as they are a bit narrow and my signature is very loopy. I did loads of extras as I'm not in the US and am having help getting the prizes to the lucky winners, and I don't have any print versions of That Magic Mischief yet.

I found some shiny stars to put in the bags as well as adorable fabric roses: no real purpose to either, but to add to the festivity of it all. I very nearly reversed my decision on the incense but figured it was too risky: I didn't want my winners to have crumbly bits all over the rest of the goodies in the bag.

Putting it all together was so, so satisfying I was sorry I only had ten to make.

Actually, now that I think of it, there's another “best thing” about putting together a giveaway: giving them 
away to lucky readers who I hope will enjoy the books as well as the added extras.

I cannot wait to do another one!

The Golden Hook (The Green Sky Series Book Two)
by Jennae Vale
October 12, 2021

Genre: Time Travel Romance
ASIN:B09JB82GG7
Number of pages:190
Word Count: 57,000
Cover Artist: Sheri McGathy
Swashbuckling pirates plus time travel equals adventure and romance on the high seas.

What happens when a swashbuckling pirate meets a time traveling twenty-first century woman?

Edward Sutherland has always been a self-assured and confident man of the sea. He’s spent years alongside his friend and captain Jameson Mackall and until now has only ever wanted to find treasure and retire a wealthy man. He wasn’t expecting to travel through time and he certainly wasn’t expecting to meet a woman who would challenge and impress him at every turn.

Susanna Cole has lost her best friend in a boating accident. In a deep state of grief she is about to close her once thriving business when a stranger walks through her door with a letter from her friend. A letter dated 1724. Can she believe this man? Or is he playing some cruel joke?

Two strangers with one goal, to get back to the year 1724. There are plans to be made, treasure to be found and most importantly they must locate the one woman who can possibly help them in their quest. The feelings they are developing for one another will be put to the test when history, as it is written, comes into play and the life of Edward Sutherland is on the line.


Excerpt:
Boxes were piled high around the offices of NYC Party Planning, crowding in on the desk where Susanna Cole sat going through emails and messages from friends and business acquaintances.

This had been one of the hardest times of her life.

Life wasn’t the same without Danielle. She’d lost her best friend and business partner. They worked together and lived together. She was completely alone now and more depressed than she’d ever been in her life.

Her head popped up as there was a knock at the door. “Come in.”

The door opened and the sight in front of her was like a slap in the face. Some idiot had decided it would be a good idea to remind her of her loss by showing up in pirate costume. “Was there a costume party someone forgot to tell me about?” she snapped.

“I’m sorry. Costume party?” the man asked.

“I’m not in the mood right now. What can I do for you?” Maybe if she sounded cranky enough he’d just turn around and leave.

“I need your help,” he said, stepping closer.

“You’ve come to the wrong place. I’m no longer accepting new clients. The business is closing for the foreseeable future.” That should do it. There was nothing more to be said. If he was looking for a party planner he was going to have to go elsewhere.

“But this is the right address. You’re Susanna Cole, am I correct?” He raised his eyebrows and offered a questioning gaze.

His surly English accent was not charming her. The more she looked at him the more irritated she became. Seeing him was like rubbing salt into her wound. “Seriously, what’s with the outfit?” Whoever this guy was, he was definitely in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Reaching into his jacket pocket, the man pulled out an envelope and looked at it. “I was directed here by the people on board the ship. This is NYC Party Planning, Brooklyn, New York, isn’t it?” He straightened his coat and stood at attention.

Susanna noted his height. Easily over six feet tall, very handsome and from the way he stood it seemed he might be in the military. No matter. She’d had enough of being toyed with. “I don’t know what cruel joke you’re playing, but it is not appreciated. My friend recently drowned on a pirate cruise to Bermuda and I’m, I’m…” She wasn’t going to cry. Not in front of this stranger. She took in a deep breath, held her head high and stood up.

“I know the whole of it. Your friend Danielle fell overboard.” His voice was soft and low, filled with understanding.

Was he purposely trying to upset her? How did he know who Danielle was? “I’m going to have to ask you to leave.”

He threw his head back in apparent exasperation before inhaling deeply and looking at her.

“Please don’t. I’m sorry. I understand you’re upset, but do let me finish what I have to say.” He paused, gazing at her with what seemed an impatient glare.

She kept silent.

“Thank you. I’ve a letter here for you from Danielle. It will explain everything.” He held the letter out for her to take.

Susanna’s hands shook as she took it from him. She couldn’t help but feel skeptical. She’d seen Danielle go overboard and disappear beneath the waves. They’d searched for her for days, as had the Coast Guard and they found nothing.

“Did she give this to you before we went on the cruise?” She glanced down at the letter. It was Danielle’s handwriting. There was no mistaking it. Everything down to the little heart she used to dot the letter I.

“No. She gave it to me yesterday morning.” He seemed to be watching and waiting for her reaction.

“This better be good,” she said. At this point, she was ready to throw him out the door and lock it behind him. If that didn’t work, she’d call the police, but her curiosity was piqued. She opened the letter and read.

About the Author:

Website-FB-Twitter
Newsletter-Instagram
Bookbub
Jennae Vale is a best-selling author of romance with a touch of magic. As a history buff from an early age, Jennae often found herself daydreaming in history class and wondering what it would be like to live in the places and time periods she was learning about. Writing time travel romance has given her an opportunity to take those daydreams and turn them into stories to share with readers everywhere.
Originally from the Boston area, Jennae now lives in the San Francisco Bay area, where some of her characters also reside. When Jennae isn’t writing, she enjoys spending time with her family and her pets, and daydreaming, of course.

Tweet:
What happens when a swashbuckling pirate meets a time traveling 21st-century woman? https://amzn.to/3APhd4O
#timetravelromance #jennaevale #thegreenskyseries #thegoldenhook

Tour Giveaway
5 ecopies of The Golden Hook

a Rafflecopter giveaway



Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Comic Review: LUNAR ROOM #1 (Vault Comics)

Magic, tech, gangsters…and one very tired werewolf.

Lunar Room #1
November 24, 2021
Writer: Danny Lore
Artist: Gio Sposito
Colorist: DJ Chavis
Letterer: Andworld Design
Designer: Tim Daniel
Genre: fantasy/crime twist, SciFi
Cynthia “Sin” Breaker used to be a lot of things. A werewolf. A mob enforcer for a powerful mage. A name feared on every street of Solar City. But now she’s forcibly retired from all those things, trying to get over her past job and past loves.




*Variant cover by Vault Cover Artist-in-Residence, Corin Howell.

Oh boy! We got a banger here! Lunar Room #1 is what I look for in graphic novels. They fit into my favorite book genre, urban fantasy. You get world-building, kicka$$ characters, a little romance, snarky humor, and lots of action. Lunar Room is going to deliver.

"Sin" was the muscle for a mafia boss (pretty sure he's a mage). But for as-of-yet-unknown reasons, her werewolf has been bound so she is basically human and she is angry and devastated. I already have a girl crush on her. 
We are also introduced to a mage who seems to be a trouble maker for his kind. By the end of issue#1, the two have met and a$$es have been kicked.
I love the artwork. It is a popular style you find on Webtoons. Which helps give it a more urban fantasy fiction genre feel. 

Not sure how many issues Lunar Room will go, but at least 8 according to Vault.
This one's gonna be a lot of fun with layered characters we can watch grow as they decide what is important and how far they will go to get it. Also lots of supernatural... wear earplugs... you won't believe what a banshee can do to you!

5 "Doing what we have to, to survive" Sheep





SharonS

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Fantasy Author M. H. Woodscourt: Five Reasons to Write Fantasy + giveaway

Five Reasons to Write Fantasy

Have you ever yearned to write but didn’t know where to start or what genre to dig your heels into? Well, I may be a tad biased but there’s one genre that’s never steered me wrong, and here are five stellar reasons you should consider diving into the best genre ever, too:

All books are magical, but none are more so than fantasy - for obvious reasons. C’mon, we have dragons, wizards, and elves. Why look any further
?

1. Dragons. No other genre allows you the opportunity to write about dragons. Some authors may fight me on this, but if they happen to have dragons in their murder mysteries, space operas, or romantic comedies, then - spoiler alert - those books are really fantasy. And what book isn’t improved by the addition of dragons?

2. You can let your imagination run wild. No need to restrict yourself to our Earth with its boring planes, trains, cars, and tragic lack of dragons. No need for generic descriptions of hair colors like brunette, raven black, blonde, or ginger. 

3. Fantasy lets you think outside every box. Blue hair! Pink! Green! And even if you stay Earth-bound to write Magical Realism, fantasy lends seasoning to our mundane routines. Usually through dragons.

4. World-building. There’s nothing more enjoyable than constructing your own society with its own rules, peoples, philosophies. You can even bend the laws of physics. YOU ARE QUEEN OF YOUR OWN PLANET. And you can keep a pet dragon. ‘Cause why not?

5. DRAGONS. Oh, sorry. Did I already mention those? Fine. I’ll be serious. Fantasy forces you to stretch yourself, especially when you must dig deep to flesh out diverse characters and settings to showcase a complex and thriving society (or societies) outside the constructs of what you know. That challenges you to see beyond yourself, your feelings, your opinions, and create something nuanced and fully dimensional. Language, politics, religion, history. You’re the boss and you’ve got to get it right. Expanding your worldview is important within all genres, but it’s critical with fantasy.

Plus, dragons.

What are you waiting for?

Record of the Sentinel Seer: Book One
by 
M. H. Woodscourt
October 21, 2021
Genre: Adult/Science-Fantasy
Publisher: True North Press
Abandoned in the wilderness as a child, Lekore lives with ghosts and fallen gods. Everything changes when he summons fire to rescue a traveling princess and her entourage. Wounded, he’s brought to a civilization unlike anything he’s ever known.

Caught in a net of silk and secrets, Lekore finds himself ensnared by court intrigue, midnight assassins, and a deviant faction of the Church of the Sun Gods—all hunting his blood and power.

He just wants to find the man who deserted him, until a storm rises out of the north, furious enough to destroy the city and outlying lands. Now Lekore must find the source of its wrath, deep in the wilds of the deadly Lands Beyond, if only he can flee a city that won’t let him escape.

Book 2 - pre-order

Prince of the Fallen Excerpt:
“Gods protect me!”

As though in answer to Princess Talanee’s prayer, the flame of the holy torch leapt into a brilliant, churning arc. Intense heat and a deafening roar scored the air near her face. Flames encircled her without touching her skin, then stretched fiery fingers toward the Tawloomez warrior, who cried out as he and his fellows stumbled backward. They turned tail and dashed down the steps as the flames gave chase.

Talanee stood stunned, enthralled by the unending flame shooting up and out from the torch she held in trembling hands. She turned her eyes upward and found nothing but the brilliant sun in its sky to signify divine intervention. Could her prayer have worked? A breeze tugged at her hair, and she glanced down at the battlefield. The arc of fire had reached the bottom of the tower, and all the Tawloomez warriors cowered, corralled within it.

Talanee started down the steps, gripping the torch in her hands as it poured forth the terrible wrath of her beloved Sun Gods.

At the bottommost step, she stopped. The Kel soldiers had flinched back, even Lord Lieutenant Rez, though he held his sword before him.

A breeze breathed across Talanee’s neck, but the fire of the torch maintained its vigil over the trapped Tawloomez, unerring despite the rising wind that tossed her hair. She resisted the urge to release the blazing torch with even one hand. Her eyes followed the trail of her hair in the sky—and she spotted him.

A figure perched on a ruined wall across from the tower. He was slender, barely a man, with the palest, longest blue hair she’d ever beheld, and eyes of red like all the Kel race, but these eyes blazed as though they held the wreathing fire. A tattered black cloak billowed behind him in the growing windstorm. One arm rose before him, hand splayed.

As she watched, he snapped his fingers into a fist. The fire of the torch died. The wreath of flame wisped into smoke and vanished.

The Tawloomez had seen the young man, too. With a cry, one heathen jabbed his finger toward the stranger. “Akuu! Nu jas Akuu-Ry!”

The Tawloomez stumbled backward, eyes wide, nearly wild, some dropping their weapons. They fled from the young man, racing northwest. One stumbled on grit and struck his knees, then dragged himself upright and sprinted on.

The Kel soldiers, still stunned, didn’t rally to cut off their retreat.

In the ringing silence that followed, Lord Lieutenant Rez dragged long strands of blue hair from his perspiring face as he found his voice. “See to the wounded!”

Talanee released a low breath and let her numb fingers drop the cold torch. Her eyes returned to the young man upon the ruin. His gaze met hers across the wide space. His brow creased, and he threw out his hand as the slap of feet sounded behind her.

She whirled to face a lone, charging Tawloomez, scissor knife in his hand, its several blades glinting under the dazzling sun. Her fingers gripped the torch, prepared to brandish it like her missing sword.

The wind changed direction. The strange young man from the ruin landed on the packed earth beside her, as though he’d taken flight upon the breeze to reach her.

He lifted a narrow, curved sword against the Tawloomez. Metal sang across the air as their weapons struck.

The Tawloomez gritted his teeth and spat out the same foreign phrase, this time like a curse word: “Akuu-Ry!”

The young man took a single step forward, and the Tawloomez’s brown eyes widened, the green paint of his face shimmering as though to reflect his fear.

“Leave, Tauw-Nijar, and I shall not do you harm,” said the young man in lilting tones.

The Tawloomez snarled and threw a long sliver of metal at Talanee. She yelped and tried to dodge as the young man shoved her aside. The tiny, glinting object caught his arm. A hiss was all the noise he made, but he sank to his knees and the sword clattered from his hand.

The Tawloomez sneered and swiped the scissor knife at the boy’s throat, but an arrow pierced his chest before he met his target. He grunted and fell, his swinging arm catching the young man’s shoulder, biting into the flesh in three distinct stripes.

A second arrow sank into the heathen’s chest, and the warrior crashed backward against the white stone stairs. Blood bloomed across his snake-bone necklace and down his front. He offered up a last gurgling breath, then his eyes turned to glass.

Talanee allowed the satisfaction of his passing to shiver across her skin, then she turned to the young man kneeling beside her. He looked up to meet her stare, and for a moment Talanee couldn’t move. His eyes still wielded that strange light like a fire burned within him, yet the clarity there made her feel as though he had stripped her bare to see every thought, every lie, every desire, every fear.

His eyes flicked to the dead Tawloomez. His hand snaked out for his sword near the fallen warrior.

“Don’t touch it. Don’t move.” Rez’s voice rang through the ruins as he raced across the field, red cape flowing behind him, to join Talanee and the strange young man. An archer ran with him, another arrow nocked and aimed at the stranger.

The young man’s fingertips brushed the sword. As Talanee looked on, the weapon vanished. Gone, as though the very air had swallowed it!

The stranger staggered to his feet. His pale hair, long and straight, rippled like water as it settled down his back and against his ankles. He offered a strained smile and raised his arm into the air. The wind howled, drawing his hair into a whirlwind, carrying the scent of wild things. He bounded upward, and the wind lifted him into the sky, above the tower, above the armored soldiers and Sun Priests, above Talanee and the grasslands. He leapt impossibly high and moved away in an arc, as though he could fly.

“Halt!” Rez slowed his pace and came to a stop beside Talanee, eyes lifted heavenward as the archer’s second arrow missed its mark. “By the Sun Gods, what is it we’ve seen?”

Talanee shook her head. “The very will of the Sun Throne, Lord Lieutenant. What else could it be?”

“Was he real?”

Talanee’s eyes lowered as she sought an answer. Blood stained the scissor knife lying beside its dead owner. “I think he was.” She traced a rising sun before her chest. “Sun Gods be praised. I think he was.”

Rez stirred from his watch of the sky. “Should we…try to complete the ceremony again, Your Highness?”

Talanee glanced at the fallen torch. “I don’t think we have to, Lord Lieutenant. The rite was already accepted, or we wouldn’t be alive.” She glanced around for the priests and found several slain, blood staining their white robes, while the rest cowered beneath the carriages. No one protested her assumption.

Next time, the Holy Hakija had better send his Sun Warriors rather than these cowards.

Rez eyed the priests and nodded. “Then we should return to Inpizal, Your Highness. There are wounded to tend, and we must report all that’s happened.”

“Of course.” Talanee stooped to pick up the torch. “The king needs to know. And we should consult the Hakija.” She picked up her hem and glided toward her carriage, where Keerva and her other handmaids huddled inside, waiting. Talanee glanced back toward the tower. Her gaze drifted north, where the young man had vanished in the air.

Would she ever see him again, or had he traveled from the very Sun Throne to aid her and her people?

About the Author:
Website-FB-Twitter
Goodreads-Instagram

Writer of fantasy, magic weaver, dragon rider! Having spent the past 20 years devotedly writing fantasy, it’s safe to say M. H. Woodscourt is now more fae than human.

All of her fantasy worlds connect with each other in a broad Universe, forged with great love and no small measure of blood, sweat, and tears. When she's not writing, she's napping or reading a book with a mug of hot cocoa close at hand while her quirky cat Wynter nibbles her toes.

Learn more at www.mhwoodscourt.com

Virtual Book Tour - November 1 - November 30
November 1 - RABT Book Tours - Kick Off
November 2 - I love books and stuff blog - Excerpt
November 3 - Logikal blog - Excerpt*
November 4 - Girl with pen - Excerpt
November 5 - Book junkiez - Excerpt
November 8 - #BRVL Book Review Virginia Lee Blog - Spotlight
November 9 - Liliyana Shadolwyn - Spotlight
November 10 - My Reading Addiction - Interview
November 11 -The faerie review - Spotlight
November 12 - The Indie Express - Review
November 14 - Nesie's Place - Excerpt
November 15 - Sylv.net - Spotlight
November 16 - Momma says to read or not to read - Spotlight
November 17 - On a Reading Bender - Review
November 18 - Sapphyria's Book Blog - Spotlight
November 19 - Nanas book reviews - Spotlight
November 22 - Book Junkiez - Spotlight
November 23 - Texas Book Nook - Review
November 24 - smell sheep - Guest Post
November 25 - The page ladies - Review
November 26 - Teatime and books - Spotlight
November 27 - The Avid Reader - Interview
November 29 - Jav bond blog tours - Review
November 30 - Valerie Ullmer - Excerpt
November 30 - RABT Reviews - Wrap Up

Giveaway
2 paperbacks w/ signed bookplates (International)

Monday, November 22, 2021

Interview: YA Fantasy Author Michele Barrow-Belisle + giveaway

So Fire & Ice was optioned for a Movie! Exciting! What can you tell us about that?
Well, as you can imagine we’re all super excited about it! And I’ve had a lot of conversations with the producer, who fortunately wants to keep me on board in adapting the book to a screenplay. That doesn’t always happen, so I’m very grateful. I think it’s a dream most writers have, but it was equally important to me that my stories remain as true to the book series as possible. Hopefully, we’ll be able to release more info soon! It’s so hard keeping things secret, lol. The most recent updates to the project are that it’s now being considered for a TV series instead of a feature film….so stay tuned!

Can you tell us a little about yourself, your education, family life and such?
Well, let’s see, I live with my husband and son in Southern Ontario, Canada. I studied psychology and early childhood education in university and college and then went on to major in business management. I spend my days writing and creating, the two pastimes I’m most passionate about. It’s so important to fill your life with the people and things that bring you joy.

How did you come up with the title?
I always had the title in my mind because of the characters the fire and the ice represent in the story. I love the polar opposites and the way that in and of themselves neither one is necessarily dangerous, but taken to extremes, they can be deadly. It’s simple and straightforward and unfortunately quite common, but it really does represent the story well. Plus the publisher let me keep it so it must have been a fairly good choice.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
I’d love for readers to recognize there is power within them that may be lying dormant. To know that more of their lives and their choices and their destiny are under their control than they realize. The main character discovers this by uncovering hidden magical abilities, but I believe we all have inner magic to a certain extent. And that it’s our choices, more so than a preconceived destiny, that shapes our future.

If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
I think anything I would have changed, I did change during the million and one rounds of edits. Kidding! Actually, relaunching the series has given me the opportunity dive back in and make all of the changes that I felt needed to be made. While I did add lots of new content, I had to limit myself, because adding in all the scenes cut from the original manuscript would have made for a ridiculously long book, filled with details only interesting to me and my super-fans, lol.

Do you have a favorite character from the book?
I really love Adrius. He’s the ideal hero in my opinion. Yes he makes mistakes and wrong choices, but behind them all is this unrelenting need for love, and his love for Lorelei. There is a soulful depth to his character that I hope to bring to life in a novella, sharing his perspective and his experiences before and after meeting Lorelei. He never really gets to fully give his side of the story and there is so much more to him than we get to see. He’s the ultimate good guy… plus, he’s really hot! However, my readers have a different favourite, one I did not see coming when I originally plotted the book….Zanthiel has quickly and vocally become the fan fave. And I kind of really love his character too!

Playlists for books is becoming very popular….do you have a playlist with your books? And what is your favorite type of music? 
Here’s the playlist for Fire & Ice series (I’m working on the youtube playlist)
My Immortal - Evanesence
Forever and A Day - Jewel
Snowblind
Bittersweet
Again - Flylead
Loreena McKennitt- The Mystic's Dream
Ce he mise le ulaingt (The Two Trees) - Loreena McKennitt
Whispers in the Dark - Skillet
Before We Come Undone - Kris Allen
The Secret Forest - John Kelly
Sweet Dreams - Jewel
The Magic of The Wizard's Dream - Rhapsody
Bring It Back - Kris Allen
Never Ending Road - Loreena McKennitt
A Dangerous Mind
Angel Stading By - Jewel
Tears -
Breakaway - Kelly Clarkson
Fire & Ice - Pat Benatar


I create playlists for every story I write and I find music a very powerful catalyst in transporting me into the heart of a story or scene. Personally, I love eighties music, dance music, soundtracks and classic rock, but my playlists consist of a huge range of music, depending on my mood.

What’s the most difficult part in writing? 
Definitely for me it’s plotting out a story. I’m notorious for diving in without having any real idea where the story is going to lead, aside from knowing I want the characters to have a happily ever after. This method works for the most part, but it has gotten me into a jam on occasion, writing myself into a corner and have to restrict things in order to get out. Now I try to plot at least a basic framework before beginning. I also have a hard time writing concisely. I want to include every minute detail, but no one wants to read every last detail running around in my head. So I do a lot of cutting.

Is there an aspect of writing that comes easy for you, and what do you find the most difficult (ie: plot, character, dialog, etc)?
I often hear full conversations in my head, so writing dialog is relatively easy for me. It’s funny how you can say that in the company of writers and not freak them out. But fleshing out those character’s strengths, weaknesses and motivation is sometimes a little more challenging.

What is the most valuable advice you've been given about writing and what would you like to pass on to other writers?
My advice to new writers is the same advice I live by: Start. And then don’t stop. It sounds simple and yet it’s profound. So many people talk about wanting to write a book, but unless you actually start you can never finish. As the queen of procrastination, I was guilty of this myself for a long time. Eventually you have to just do it. Don’t worry about whether it’s any good, just start. Keep going until you get to where you want to go. Then celebrate, decide where you’d like to go next, and keep going. Write what you love, relax and remember to enjoy the journey. And to quote something NY Times bestselling author Lori Wilde once told me: “You can do this.”

Fire and Ice (Faerie Song Saga Book 1)
by Michele Barrow-Belisle
October 26, 2021
Genre: YA Fantasy Romance
From USA Today Best Seller Michele Barrow-Belisle comes a mesmerizing tale of forbidden romance as deadly as fire and ice.

Lorelei knows nothing of Faeries or their dangerous bargains. But when she’s gifted two talents--music and healing--by the dark Faerie Zanthiel, she’s irrevocably convinced the Fey are real. Preferring invisibility over attention and fame, she shies away from her other-worldly abilities.

Until Adrius storms into her life.

The stranger with a dangerous mystique, and eyes that seem to see into her soul, turns up everywhere and knows more about her than any newcomer should. Including the condition of her mother, who is suffering from a mysterious illness neither modern medicine nor Lorelei’s gifts can cure.

Accepting his help to save her leads Lorelei into a thrilling world of Witches, Elves and Fey where nothing is as it appears. Even Adrius, whose feelings for her balance precariously between desire and danger, seems to be hiding behind half-truths. Yet, despite her better judgment, Lorelei can’t stay away.

And that proves to be her fatal mistake.

Ancient prophecy speaks of one who will prevent war between witches and faeries. Now, trapped in the Faery realm, Lorelei must find a way to fulfill the fated prophecy, or forfeit her mother’s life.

Time is running out, and the invisible tether binding her to Adrius and Zanthiel draws her deeper into their world. When crossing over might mean never coming back, can Lorelei find a way to save her mother? Or will one pivotal mistake put the fate of their world, and her soul in jeopardy?

**Only .99 cents!!**

Book Trailer:


EXCERPT:
Chapter One
“You look exhausted, Mrs. Johnston.”

I stared into her sunken eyes, rimmed with dark circles. My joints ached for a split second and then subsided. I saw the redness and swelling… the stiffness… They flashed like snapshots in my mind. Instantly I knew her fingers ached when she played the piano, and I knew her stomach ulcer kept her up at night. One touch could take it all away. But Gran had enforced the keep-your-hands-to-yourself rule at an early age.

“Oh, Lorelei, you know… story of my life, hon.” She glanced up at the oversized, walnut-framed blackboard with the specials scrawled in chalk, and handed me her menu. “Bring me the usual, will you? And a slice of that famous lemon pie?”

“You got it.”

The café was swamped tonight, the sudden cold snap meant lots of aches and flu bugs. People flocked to the Lemon Balm Café and Tea House for the ambiance as much as they did for the herbal tea.

I poured steaming water into the clear glass teapot. This wasn’t your typical English breakfast blend. Well, it was… but with a few extras added in. Then again, this wasn’t your typical tea house, and I wasn’t your typical teen. Not even close.

The freak label got smacked on my forehead long before I understood what it meant to be a clairsentient empathic healer. Basically, I can see when people are in pain, and well… heal them. Being gifted might sound great; but it’s meant a lifetime of trying to hide what I can do, and why, just to blend. In a town the size of Drearyton Cove, population sixty-three hundred, blending, was nearly impossible. After the quote-unquote incident, it was safer to leave the healing to Gran’s secret blend of teas. “Witnessing a child who could heal with the touch of a hand would be too much for people around here," she’d said. And so I listened — mostly — keeping my hands to myself, and staying far away from sports, parties, and people, which were no more than accidents waiting to happen. Not only for the obvious reasons: accidents meant injuries, injuries meant blood. Nothing made me hit the floor faster than that bitter, metallic stench of blood.

“Where’s the hawthorn and chamomile blend, Neil? Never mind, found it.”

“Mrs. J’s arthritis flaring up again?” he asked, leaning across the chrome counter.

“She didn’t mention it, but I can tell.”

Neil’s face folded into a grin, and we exchanged a secretive look. At sixty-something, Neil was our town’s resident hippy. He was as laid back as they come and wore his long grey hair pulled back into a perfect ponytail. Gran opened Lemon Balm twenty years ago, and Neil’s been here since day one, running things after Gran died and mom refused to help out. Pretty much since then, the whole town switched from coffee to tea. He’s one of the privileged few who knew why.

“Here you go. Enjoy.” I set the tea and pie in front of her, feeling somehow better about myself knowing in an hour or so she’d be back to normal and pain-free. It was Gran’s little secret. My little secrets were far more bizarre.

“So Monday’s the big solo?” Mrs. Johnston poured the amber liquid into her mug.

I forced a stiff smile, fiddling with the pencil tucked behind my ear.

“Yep.”

“And on your birthday no less. Well, good luck, honey.” Her blue-veined hand patted mine. “Julliard will be lucky to have you. Although why you'd settle for composing with an amazing voice like yours…” She shook her head. “But you’ll do well. I’m sure if it.”

Funny… I wasn’t. It really wasn’t up to me. How I performed was up to the Faerie who gave me my singing voice; the one who had appeared in my room one night and promised to keep my dad alive if I sang for him and only him. People insisted it was dream, but the ice shard he used to pierce my throat was agonizingly real. Turned out to be a bogus deal, since my dad has been dead for over a decade. Yet somehow that Faerie still controls my ability to sing. It’s made every performance, and my hopes of getting into Julliard, infinitely more complicated. If my Faerie muse was in a good mood, and if Jupiter aligned with Mars, I had a shot. If not… well…

The door swung open, sending in a gust of cold damp air. Brianne and her steroid-pumped entourage strode in, filling the far corner booth. Jocks and cheerleaders. In my section… Great… I sighed.

“Enjoy your pie, Mrs. Johnston.”

Grabbing some menus, I approached their table and smiled. It was for Gran’s sake. She always insisted once someone walked through the door, they were customers who deserved courtesy and respect. It was hard to see the morons, already busy chugging sugar packets and playing table hockey with the salt shaker, as worthy of my respect. I’m not one for stereotypes, but they worked so hard at living up to them, it seemed a shame not to label.

“Welcome to Lemon Balm. Our dessert specials are rhubarb tart, chai green tea ice cream, and lemon pie.” I placed the stack of menus in the middle of center ice.

“What can I get for you?” I said and folded my arms, trying not to notice the picture of Brianne’s sore ankle that flashed in my mind.

Brianne looked up at me from bored, overly-mascaraed eyes. “Lorelei? Seriously, you’re working? Tonight of all nights?”

I didn’t reply to what seemed a pretty rhetorical question… Duh.

“Don’t you know what night it is?”

I nodded, confused at where she was going.

“It’s Saturday night,” she said, as if I was the brain dead one.

Then she put her hand on my arm.

Oh man, I expected bad, but this was going to be worse. Is she attempting to embarrass me about my lack of dates? It’s an easy number to keep track of. Counting tonight, it made zero. I wasn’t exactly what you’d call social. Most of the time, I didn’t really consider that a bad thing. I had little in common with the people here. And not only because I was different, though it didn’t help. I didn’t see the world like most people did. And I was fine with that. It was just that, sometimes, I wished someone other than an invisible Faerie and my dead grandmother knew how different I was.

“The weekend before the competition… Shouldn’t you, oh, I don’t know, be face first in a toilet barfing your brains out by now? Or did you actually get a clue and drop out?”

Snickers erupted from the rest of Brianne’s groupies and a surge of heat rose in my face.

She leaned toward me, her head cocked to one side. “I mean, between you and me, you have zero chance of winning. But hey, if you puke on Professor Higgins’s toupee again, it might make you more memorable.”

Amazingly enough, as much as I hated performing in public, I’d take it right now over listening to another word from her. Brianne was not only head cheerleader, but also lead vocalist in music class. I had the superior singing voice, but she was given all the leads, because her voice was at least consistent. It helped she could make it through a performance without puking on the judges. Apparently they frown on that kind of thing. She was also blonde, pretty — in a miniature Shih Tzu sort of way — wildly popular, and dating my temporarily insane best friend Davin Blake. He wants us to get along. I don’t see it happening, but for his sake and Gran’s I ignored her comment.

“So do you need more time to decide?”

“We know what we want.” Jake, the one who looked most likely to wind up behind bars, draped his sausage arm around Brianne’s shoulder. “Bring us eight slices of Chocolate Cherry Decadence, four coffees, and some cobblers.” He winked at me and I had to tighten my grip on the pencil I held to keep from whipping it at his forehead like a dart.

“No pie for me,” Brianne added. “Some of us actually care what we look like. And Davin loves my flat stomach.”

I rolled my eyes but unconsciously sucked in my stomach.

She smiled. “It’s sad really. You’re like, always here. Don’t you miss having fun? You know… parties, dates, guys… any of it sound familiar? Or don’t you like having a life?”

“I’m good, thanks,” I said flatly, fingers clenched around my pencil so tightly my nails dug into my palms.

“Can’t miss what you’ve never had,” jeered Josh, the spiky haired guy still wearing his football uniform.

My brows tightened. “So where is Davin tonight?” I pointedly glared at the quarterback whose fingers were teasing Brianne’s hair.

Brianne’s gray eyes flashed. “He’s got a basketball game tonight, didn’t he tell you?” She smirked. “We’re hooking up later.”

“Hope he’s not too tired.”

“He’s never too tired,” she said tossing her hair, and the redhead across from her giggled.

I didn’t want to heal her sore ankle; I wanted to break the other one. It was common knowledge Brianne was an easy score, but the thought of her with my best friend was one mental picture I didn’t need.

“Anything else?” I bristled.

“If I see something else I want, I’ll let you know,” Jake, her arm candy, replied, raking his beefy eyes over me.

“Perfect.” Deep breaths. Remember, courtesy and respect. I gave a smile I hoped looked as fake as it was. Spinning on my heels, I stormed into the kitchen.

“Hey, Neil, I need some cobblers heated.” I could feel my blood pressure rising. Maybe Brianne needed to be too tired tonight.

I reached for the chamomile sleep blend we saved for the worst insomniacs. One cup and she’d be passed out in an hour.

“Now that’s an interesting choice… Sleepy-Thyme Blend?” Neil quipped. “Care to explain why the sixteen-year-old cheerleader needs a sleep-inducer on a Saturday night?”

“She wants to get to bed early,” I muttered under my breath.

Neil frowned. “Lorelei?”

I pulled my hand away from the canister and stared at the ground. What am I thinking? This isn’t me. I never abused the medicinal herbs or my gifts. It was part of what made me special. I wasn’t about to let them take that away from me.

“I wasn’t really going to,” I mumbled, my face growing hot. This was childish. I would go back out there and show her I was the bigger person. Maybe, if I helped her with the strained ankle she was dealing with, we could finally strike a truce. Perhaps become friends. Davin would love that. “Where’s the Vervain?” It was useful in healing all sorts of things.

“We’re all out.” Neil looked at me with his usual grandfatherly concern, wiping his hands on the pristine apron he wore mostly for show. “What’s going on with you tonight? You don’t usually let those kids get to you.”

“I know.” I sighed. “Must be nerves, I guess.” Why did I agree to perform in the competition in the first place? I hated performing live as much as I hated competing, even if it did bring me closer to getting into Julliard and away from here. Plus, a taste of actually beating Brianne would be delicious, but no one knew as well as I did how much of a long shot that was. I had no idea how I’d got myself into this, and it was too late to get out of it. The programs were printed and if I made it on stage without slipping in a puddle of my own puke, hitting my head, and knocking myself unconscious, I’d be singing. Maybe. Always maybe.

Neil placed a tray in front of me laden with sticky cherry cobbler, smothered with chocolate ganache and whipped cream. Just looking at it gave me indigestion. I wasn’t much for desserts, except for lemon pie. After pouring four herb-free coffees, I returned to the back booth.

The door swung open as I arrived at their table. I felt the warm, thyme-scented breeze on my skin. I froze. That aroma… again. Vivid memories of my childhood flooded in. Slowly I looked up. A boy walked in, and for a split second, a silent pause descended on the café, like a scene right out of a movie. This was no ordinary guy. He was beautiful… strikingly beautiful. It might have been his shoulder-length coffee hair, or his perfectly sculpted features, or the casual way his jeans and white shirt hung on his taught lean frame. Whatever it was, it gave him a haunting, unearthly quality. I realized I was staring when his eyes met mine.

He smiled.

I’m not sure why, but the entire tray slipped out of my hands and clamored to the floor, covering Brianne with dessert and hot coffee on the way down.

She screamed and then swore, jumping out of the booth. I covered my face with my hands, wishing there was a giant rock I could crawl under.

“Oh no, I’m so sorry…” I tried to wipe the glob of whipped cream sliding down her forehead. She smacked my hand away.

“Liar! You little witch, you did this on purpose.”

“It was an accident. I was… distracted.” I looked up to see the entire café staring at us, including the gorgeous stranger who looked slightly amused.

“I know you’re jealous of me. Do you think this little stunt is going to ruin my night? Even covered in whipped cream I’ll never be as pathetic as you are. Davin will always want me as his girlfriend and you for a friend, and you can’t stand it!”

“Really Brianne, I didn’t mean to…”

“I’ve been nice to you for his sake…”

Wow. If that was nice…

“But we’re done. You picked the wrong person to make your enemy, Lorelei.”

Her face was as red as the cherry sauce working its way down her white tank top.

“Think you can make a fool of me? Well, just wait! Monday night, it’s your turn!” she hollered.

She stormed out the door, brushing past the hot mystery guy, who was about to be seated in Megan’s section.

I slunk onto a stool at the counter, dropping my head on my arms. This was not what I had planned. Pissing off Brianne was one thing, but right before the competition was something I didn’t need. No way was I going to let her humiliate me in front of an audience. I was perfectly capable of doing that by myself. There was no other choice. I’d have to back out of the festival, and just hope my classically trained, world-renowned concert pianist-mother would someday forgive me.

“Hey. You okay?”

The beautiful boy from the front table appeared beside me. I lifted my head and pushed the hair away from my face, wishing I’d bothered to pull it into a ponytail before coming into work. Perhaps I wouldn’t be sitting here now with chocolate sauce and whipped cream coating the tips of it in front of the most gorgeous guy I’d ever laid eyes on.

“I’m great.”

“I think you might have dropped this.” He held out his hand.

I stared up at him for a moment confused, before glancing at his opened hand. Nestled in his palm was a tiny gold lemon, from the charm bracelet Gran had given me on my sixth birthday. How had I lost it? My eyes flickered back to his. “Where did you find this?”

“Next to the pile of whipped cream.” He inclined his head in the direction of the corner booth, his eyes never leaving mine. “I thought it might be yours.”

“It is,” I muttered, completely distracted by his amazing eyes — olive and hazel with golden flecks — very unusual and incredibly sexy.

I stood up, still mesmerized. “Thanks.”

“Not a problem. So, you’re a singer.”

Slowly, I sat back down, gazing at him with a puzzled expression.

“How did you know that?”

He had to be new here. There were only two high schools in town, and no way someone as good looking as he was could have gone unnoticed. Wonder what his name is.

“Lucky guess.” The mystery guy held out his hand. “I’m Adrius,” he said, answering my unasked question.

I placed my hand in his. It was warm but electric, like a low voltage current.

“Hi,” I said, pulling my hand away. “I’m actually more of a composer. The singing is temporary. Like this job. I mean, it’s my grandmother’s café… or it was…” What is wrong with me? A time machine would be so good right about now.

“I know,” he said, a flicker of amusement crossing his face.

Something prickled inside me, a thrill of fear or excitement. I hadn’t decided which.

In his other hand, he held a brochure for the festival. I bit my lip. “Are you going?” I asked, pointing to the leaflet. I couldn’t figure out what answer would be better. He did have a great voice, velvety and foreign yet with no trace of an accent. Maybe he was performing too.

He smiled, and all the strength drained out of my muscles. No wonder I dropped the tray.

“Possibly… Are you?”

I squinted. “Actually, I don’t think so…”

“That’s too bad. I bet you have a beautiful voice.”

“Really… Based on what?”

He shrugged. “Beautiful girl, beautiful voice… It’s a sure bet.”

I gave an ironic laugh. “Well, your odds are 50/50.” Me … Beautiful… He can’t be serious.

He leaned toward me and a strand of dark hair fell across his forehead. “But I’m right, aren’t I? You do have a beautiful voice, at least fifty per cent of the time.”

The air caught in my throat. “You could say that, I guess.” My mouth felt all dried out.

He smiled victoriously. “I knew it.”

“You know, it’s really rude to gloat.” I swallowed, but it didn’t help. My tongue still felt like sandpaper. More than anything, I wanted to stay here all evening pinned under his gaze.

Neil came to the counter and stopped in front of us. I looked up at him expectantly, but he didn’t say a word, he just stared hard at Adrius.

“Something I can help you with?” he finally grunted.

“No. I’m pretty much finished,” Adrius replied mildly.

“Good. I'm sure you've got somewhere else you need to be. There's the door.” He had a trace of an Irish brogue I’d never noticed before, underlining his harsh tone.

Adrius nodded, taking his cue.

I gave Neil a puzzled frown. It was weird to see him speak to anyone like that. He effortlessly kept his cool with even the most obnoxious customers.

Adrius looked back at me. “Good luck at the competition.”

With a weak smile and a strange knot of regret, I watched him saunter out the door and then turned to Neil.

“Do you know him?”

“I know his type,” he grumbled.

“His type?” I repeated with an arched brow. I was about to ask what he meant when something started buzzing.

“Believe me, Lorelei,” he muttered, reaching under the counter for my phone, “Your life can only get worse with boys like that around.”

Um, let’s recap… I dump a tray of food on the most vengeful girl in school, I have to somehow get out of performing on stage and making a complete fool of myself in public, and the only gorgeous guy to talk to me ever gets chased away. Could things get any worse?

Neil handed me my cell. “It’s your mother.”

I gave an exasperated sigh. Apparently, they could.

“Hi, Mom.”

“Sweetheart, I have great news! My agent was at a party with someone who knows someone who works with Jonathon Triad, the talent scout for Juilliard. Anyway, I’ve convinced him he must come and see you perform at the competition Monday night.”

“You what?”

“If you do well, they might offer you a full music scholarship to Juilliard! Can you believe it?”

“But, Mom — I don’t know if that’s such a good idea. I might not…”

“Shhh, just relax,” she interrupted. “It will all be fine if you don’t freak out.”

Way too late for that. The contents of my stomach were projectile ready at a moment’s notice.

“Juilliard has an amazing vocal program. You’ve wanted to go there since you were little.”

“You mean you’ve wanted me to go there since I was little.”

“That’s what I said. I’ve booked an extra session with your therapist in the morning so you’ll be in top shape. Can’t risk having you fall flat on your face and embarrassing me again.”

That was so like her, to take even my humiliations and make them her own.

“Of course not. Who wants a repeat of that?” I muttered, chewing my thumbnail.

“Exactly. Especially since I won’t be there to run damage control. I leave for Ireland at noon.”

“Oh, right, your tour. How long will you be gone this time?”

“Just a few months. You’ll be staying with Great Aunt Camilla again.”

I made a face, the way little kids do when you feed them something they don’t like. “She hates me.”

“She doesn’t hate you. She’s just… hard to warm up to.”

“Well, I hate her.”

“Lorelei Kaylen, I don’t have time for your tantrums. I’ve always done everything I can to support your singing. Is it too much to ask that my only daughter unselfishly supports me for a change?”

I sighed. You could almost hear the soap opera score in the background.

“Now don’t waste too much time at that café. You need to practice again tonight. I pulled a lot of strings, and I want things to be perfect. See you soon.” There was an audible click and then silence.

Unbelievable. I clicked off my phone and poured myself a cup of lemon balm tea. Not that I was crazy about it, but it settles the stomach and mine was now heaving uncontrollably. As a composer, I could stick to singing in private. And up until now, the competition had just been another thing to add to my college application… an extracurricular that showed I took an interest in all aspects of music. Now it could potentially become a huge strike against me being accepted.

I glanced around. The beautiful new boy was gone, and so was the familiar scent of thyme. For the first time since I could remember, the café felt strangely cold. The ocher stuccoed walls with their warm sunny disposition were in direct contrast with mine.

Neil reached over and patted me on the shoulder. “Cheer up,” he said sounding more like himself. “Look at it this way. What else could possibly go wrong?”

What else could possibly go wrong? What else couldn’t? In the course of a few hours my life had suddenly gone from bad to epic.

About the Author
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Author, artist, teacher, lover of chocolate…Michele Barrow-Belisle has always lived with one foot in the real world and one foot in the imaginary. So, it follows that she would grow up to write about characters from those enchanting worlds she knows and loves so well.

As a fan of romanticizing the mundane, Michele’s young adult novels are populated with scintillating Witches, Elves and Fey, and her illustrated children’s books reflect her otherworldly imaginings. Her bestselling debut series Fire and Ice (Faerie Song Saga) is currently in development for a major motion picture.

Michele is a USA Today bestselling author, residing in southern Canada with her husband and son who indulge her ever-growing obsession with reading, writing and most importantly… chocolate.

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