Tuesday, 14 July 2020

Spotlight on Seventh Circle by William Becker + #FreeBook + #Giveaway


Seventh Circle 
by William Becker 
Genre: Romance 


Michael is an awkward university student. He is lonely, socially anxious, and has no experience talking to members of the opposite sex. Michael is introduced to Mia, who is everything he could ever want. She is energetic, exciting, passionate, and much unlike him, massively experienced. Michael's life changes as he falls madly in love with Mia, feeling the passion burn within him; it threatens to swallow him whole, but as time goes on, Michael realizes things are not what they seem to be. 

**Read for FREE! ** 




William Becker is a young horror author with a mind for weirder sides of the universe. With an emphasis on complex and layered storylines that tug harshly on the reader to search for deeper meanings in the vein of Silent Hill and David Lynch, Becker is a force to be reckoned within the horror world. His works are constantly unfathomable, throwing terror into places never before seen, while also providing compelling storylines that transcend the predictable jumpscares of the popular modern horror.

His first novel, WEEPING OF THE CAVERNS, was written when he was 14. After eight months of writing, editing, and revising, the story arrived soon after his 15th birthday. During the writing sessions for his debut novel, he also wrote an ultra-controversial short story known as THE WHITE SHADE that focused on the horrors of a shooting. Living in a modern climate, it was impossible for THE WHITE SHADE to see the light of day. Following a psychedelic stint that consisted of bingeing David Lynch movies, weird art, and considering the depth of the allegory of the cave wall, he returned to writing with a second story, THE BLACK BOX, and soon after, his second novel, GREY SKIES. 



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Monday, 13 July 2020

Spotlight on Null and Void by Susan Copperfield + #Giveaway


Null and Void
Susan Copperfield
(Royal States #2)
Publication date: November 15th 2017
Genres: Adult, Urban Fantasy
Born without magic, Mackenzie Little has few prospects. In a futile attempt to break her out of the null caste, her mother ropes her into participating in a charity auction, where anything can be bought with enough money.
She never expected her ex-boss would buy her company, but for one day, she lives a fairy tale.
Nine months later, despite their precautions, Mackenzie’s little miracle is born.
Armed with Texas pride and New York viciousness, Mackenzie must fight through hell or high water to protect her family of two from a society obsessed with the magic they lack.
EXCERPT:
If I adhered to popular belief, every living thing possessed a spark of magic. The trick was discovering that spark and coaxing it to life.
I wanted to find the bastard responsible for propagating that load of drivel and knee him in the groin so hard his descendants felt it while his ancestors rolled in their graves. Giving nulls like me false hope only made life more difficult. Without magic to ease the way, I needed pointless, wishful thinking like I needed an extra hole in my head.
The extra hole would put me out of my misery, and some days, the thought of escaping the incessant prejudice appealed. I always came back to my senses, and when I did, I became even more bitter about my lot in life.
If I had possessed a spark of magic, I would’ve used it to light a fire under my boss’s ass so he’d get back to work instead of hovering over my shoulder watching me plug numbers into a spreadsheet. What use was magic if I couldn’t do something productive with it? I’d already lost three hours of my day to someone else’s accounting error, and no magic on Earth could tap into a computer and force it to spill its secrets.
Magic could work with technology, but for whatever reason I couldn’t fathom, no one had figured out how to use magic to populate spreadsheets. Sitting straighter, I kept my gaze locked on my monitor to maintain the illusion of productivity. “Can I help you with something, sir?”
“I couldn’t help but notice you’re doing Abigail’s job, Mackenzie Little.”
I twitched at the mention of the woman, who often served as my supervisor when my boss, one Dylan Mason, didn’t feel like dealing with me. I really wanted to know why he always insisted on calling me by my full name. One day, when I tired of having a job, I’d tell him exactly what I thought of him and his obnoxious ways. I’d also give him an earful about the failings of his precious executive secretary.
I kept working and forced a smile. “She asked for help with a report as she has a very busy day today.”
Liar, liar, pants on fire. By help, I meant fix. By asked, I meant demanded. Abigail thanked no one, especially not a worthless null like me, even when I busted my ass making sure she didn’t lose her job. If I had had a single spark of magic, I would’ve started fires to watch them burn.
Most people didn’t want fire as their element; firebugs were as common as dirt, ranked low on the talent totem, and had a reputation of being dangerous without true benefit.
If it meant being something other than a null, I would’ve embraced even the weakest flame.
To cover my growing agitation over my lot in life, I hunted for the nefarious errors in Abigail’s formulas, making my boss cool his heels.
His impatient sigh pleased me.
“I see,” he muttered, hovering over my shoulder and watching me do his secretary’s work.
If I had possessed the power, I would’ve considered damning Dylan to the darkest corner of hell I could find. Ignoring his presence tested my patience, but unlike him, I showed no sign of my annoyance.
Within a few minutes, I found the problem: Abigail liked taking shortcuts and often forgot—or refused—to double-check her work. One corrected formula later, I emailed her the report.
I returned to the daily grind, checking the output of scripts for the marketing department so they could build the reports people like Dylan would use to make deals with other companies—or swindle clients out of their money. My boss continued to hover, leaning forward until I caught glimpses of him out of the corner of my eye.
Were all men such children? Why did such a handsome man have to be so insufferable?
For the sake of my peace of mind, it was a good thing Dylan irritated me so much, else I’d spend every night fantasizing about stripping him out of his shirt.


Author Bio:
Susan Copperfield is the royal romance, urban fantasy loving alter ego of award-winning & USA Today bestselling novelist RJ Blain.
Under the super not-so-secret identity of Susan, the Royal States of America is explored, where the work of sixteen founding royal families preserved the United States from destruction and civil war when magic swept over the world.
In the Royal States, life, love, and magic always finds a way.

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Sunday, 12 July 2020

Spotlight on By Sea & Sky by Antoine Bandele + #Giveaway


By Sea & Sky 
The Sky Pirate Chronicles Book 1 
by Antoine Bandele 
Genre: Fantasy Adventure, Pirates 


With no magic, no brawn, and no pirate crew, Zala seeks to steal back the one treasure that matters to her most: her husband. 

To succeed she needs a ship—and not just any ship, but the latest, secret invention by the Vaaji Empire. An airship. 

Zala will have to use her wits to overcome scoundrels and nobles alike on her journey through the clouds. 

But if she's smart enough, she may just have what it takes to save her husband—and go down in history as the first sky pirate. 

Delve into a pirate fantasy inspired by the West Indies, The Swahili Coast, and Arabia, where Zala will encounter ruthless raiders, arrogant aristocrats, and imperial secrets. 

By Sea & Sky is Antoine Bandele’s sophomore novel, the first in the Sky Pirate Chronicles trilogy, a pirate fantasy. 



Book Trailer:




CHAPTER 1 
ZALA 

COLD WIND WHIPPED ACROSS THE WHITE-CAPPED WAVES, wailing like a vengeful ghost. The rallying cry of the pirates who swung from precarious ropes below, drowned its howl. Neither could compete with the cannon blasts.
Zala went stiff with panic, her knees locked and elbows held tight. She always froze before the jump. It wasn’t the fear of death that had the soles of her feet planted to the decking of the Titan’s crow’s nest, it was fear that one of those death calls below might be that of her husband. A break in the thick fog below, however, showed him engaged with a merchant, who clearly didn’t know the first thing about swordplay. Zala forced a calming breath. There was nothing to fear. Jelani was doing his job; she needed to do hers. It was her fault they were out here in the first place.
It’s only a merchant ship, she reminded herself.
The ominous fog, stretching wide atop the ocean’s waves, didn’t help her unease as it cloaked the enemy vessel in its thick, creeping cloud. If she jumped now, there’d be no telling where she’d land. Dew streamed across her skin, cold bumps rising from her bare arms and ankles. Maybe there was a little fear of the jump after all. No use standing here pondering the worst, Zala thought as she took another deep breath. Her palms clutched at the coarse rope.
“You’re not gonna stand there all day, are you?” laughed a small, airy voice from within the fog. A figure appeared through the cloud, a lithe slip of a woman with the fluttering wings of a butterfly. Zala smiled at the woman—or rather, the aziza.
“I was waiting for you.” Zala gave her a half smile.
Fon rolled her eyes. “You always say that.”
“That’s because I’m always waiting for you.”
The two women could hardly have appeared more different. Fon barely came up to Zala’s waist, with pointed ears and brown skin that seemed to glow, a tree-bough tattoo set across her forehead. Zala was short for a human woman, with skinny legs and small arms topped with subtle shoulders, all the complexion of an ebony shade. Where Fon’s hair was long on one side and braided on the other, no strand out of place, Zala’s was cut short, left alone to coil and tangle naturally atop her head.
“Jelani go ahead already?” Fon asked as she turned her head to the ocean mist.
Zala frowned. “On Kobi’s orders, yes.”
“Don’t worry.” Fon tapped Zala’s knee with her four fingers. “Jelani’s a big boy—he can take care of himself.”
“So he keeps telling me,” Zala said, unconvinced.
“Come on, pirate, let’s get over there before those dikala find all the good loot.” Fon put on a tough face, squinting one eye and pursing her lips like an angry scoundrel. Zala couldn’t help but smile at the glint of humor in the aziza’s eye. The facade just didn’t fit Fon. Even as she withdrew a long, sharp dagger, which looked more like a sword in her tiny hand, she could never quite shake off that disarming charm. After giving the Titan’s signature salute, Fon lifted from the deck and soared toward the enemy ship. Zala’s brows creased her forehead. Fon was right. The longer she waited, the less loot she’d have for herself. She couldn’t afford second pickings. In an ideal world, the crew would divide the loot equally, but she knew the others were taking more than they should. It was just the way they did things around here. Zala gathered her strength, readjusting the sword at her side and the bow on her back.
“Here we go again,” she mumbled before she gripped the rope and leapt into the air.
Her heart raced as she swung the distance between the two ships, wind rushing past her ears like a kongamato’s wail. But she knew as soon as she jumped that she had timed it wrong. She stuck out her feet to meet the enemy ship’s platform, or a ratline, or even the side of the ship— she couldn’t tell which. She found nothing but fog. Her leap hadn’t been strong enough. She’d been too nervous that she might drop, too nervous about the clashing swords, too nervous that she might fail.
Look where that got you, Zala thought to herself angrily. Berating herself with a string of swears picked up from moons spent at sea, she reoriented her body at the apex of her swing and cast her weight back toward her crow’s nest where she caught her perch clumsily with one arm. She took a moment to settle her shaken nerves and centered her mind back onto the task. She climbed back up onto the nest’s ledge, and, with another deep breath, jumped once more into the unknown.
This time she listened for the sound of steel on steel, the grunts and groans of battle. When they sounded loudest beneath her, she let go of the rope, tensing her calves as she descended onto the ship. Her bare feet met damp wood with a dull thud as she landed. Even on the ship’s deck, the haze of the mist hid all. Zala could barely make out the glint of swords cutting their teeth against one another. The cry of the blades and their wielders raked against her senses.
The first figure—someone from her crew?—met an even murkier shape of a person she couldn’t define at all. All around her, pirates and merchants alike traded insults between their clashes. When would Kobi learn? Taking on ship after ship like this was taxing the crew to breaking point. They were getting sloppy, and it would only get worse. In that moment, it didn’t matter. All she needed to know right now was friend from foe. The pirate crew wore no uniform clothing, but she could usually make out her fellow crew members by the way they fought. They had that sway about them—the “wine dance,” as Jelani called it.
Zala withdrew her sword, identifying the figure ahead as an enemy, and struck the unsuspecting foe in the back. The figure let out a guttural yell—a man’s yell—as he keeled over. The sound sent a shiver down Zala’s spine. He was not her first, not by a long shot. But she’d never grow used to the sensation of steel cleaving through bone and sinew. Or rather, she hoped she wouldn’t. It made her insides turn.
The man fell at her feet, his simple tunic soaked through with blood. He was just a merchant... not a soldier at all.
Familiar guilt filled Zala’s gut, but she shook herself of its weight. If the man had made the choice to fight pirates, he’d brought his death upon himself. His captain should have surrendered when her’s gave him the chance. It was unfortunate, but it wasn’t her fault. “Good looks, chana,” the pirate Zala had saved said. The woman threw up a hand signal that Zala had come to learn meant “thanks” among pirates. “Didn’t think you’d ever save me,” she finished with a back-handed compliment.
Zala recognized the woman as Nabila, the gull-shifter Captain Kobi used as a scout. Zala tried her best to ignore the wound running down the pirate’s arm. It looked deep. Instead of letting her eyes wander, Zala took her index finger and thumb and shaped them into a circle at her eye. If she recalled correctly, the gesture meant “I’ve got your back.”
When the pirate smiled, Zala knew she’d gotten it right.
She was barely acquainted to Nabila—though she barely knew or even recognized a lot of the crew. Kobi had taken on many new members over the past fortnight. Learning their names and faces rarely mattered when they were all dead by the week’s end, whether by blade or by sea. Zala turned to the merchant’s corpse and passed her hands over his body in a quick search for loot. The merchant wore plain cream-colored robes, a checkered blueand- white kaffiyeh atop his head, and a beard patched with white hair.
Only the Vaaji people sported those distinct headwraps with that leather cord around their heads. Zala should have known. The crew had been raiding the Vaaji for weeks. Ever since the empire had attacked their home isle of Kidogo, the crew had redoubled their efforts against Vaaji shipping while dismissing other more lucrative takes. Zala’s pat-down yielded nothing from the merchant, save for the dagger he’d fought with and two silver coins.
She pocketed the silver as nervous sweat beaded down her forehead and a tiny clink rang out from the too-light purse at her waist. That didn’t matter though. She wasn’t here for coin. She needed a hatchway that led belowdecks. But each time she caught a glimpse of one leading to the ship’s lower levels, a duel would block her way, fighters on both sides rushing to join bout after bout.
Her head swiveled like a hunting owl as she slipped each fight while she let her crew’s wine dance flow around her. Like a vulture she scavenged the dead and dying. None had what she was looking for, and she only found bronze coins at best and soiled pants at worst. A good pirate would have helped her crewmates as she secured the deck before looting. Zala didn’t consider herself a good pirate.
As she snagged a final coin purse from the latest corpse in her wake, the crash of a hatch door opening came at her side. Turning, she had to swallow a snort at the sight before her: A stout cook barreled his way out from belowdecks, stained apron and raised pan somewhat undercutting his otherwise admirable war cry. Waving his pan from left to right, the man charged the first pirate he saw.
He left the hatch behind him wide open.
It was bizarre, but Zala was never one to shunt her nose up at the rare turnings of good fortune. Cooks meant kitchens, and kitchens meant the supplies she needed. She darted down to the lower deck, then closed the hatch after her. Her eyes adjusted from the stark white fog to the dingy shadows of a cramp storeroom. Wrinkling her nose at the stale air, her gaze fell on a set of overturned barrels. Zala sucked her teeth when she saw their contents: rich honey sloughing onto the wooden floor. She quickly gathered as much as she could into a set of phials, but the sticky substance was incredibly difficult to bottle up.
A phial of honey, a bundle of dawa root, a sliver of aloe, an eye of tokoloshe, and a stone’s worth of mazomba scales, she kept repeating to herself as she gathered up the last of the sweet nectar.
A sudden thump rumbled above Zala’s head. Was it friend or foe who had fallen? She put the thought away as she searched through the rest of the stores. As much as the guilt still lingered at the back of her mind, she had to find the galley if she had any hope of scrounging up the ingredients Jelani desperately needed. Once she found what she was looking for, she would help the rest of them—not before. Besides, how difficult could defeating a group of merchants really be? As she corked the last phial, another loud thud hit the floor behind her. Zala twisted on her heels with her sword outstretched, ready to stab. A soldier’s body lay at her side with a dagger in her back. Zala relaxed her arm when she caught sight of Fon pulling her blade from the soldier’s spine.
“Of course I find you in the kitchens,” the aziza said with a chuckle.
Zala shook the mild shock from her face. “Aren’t you aziza supposed to be light on your feet?” “Half-aziza,” Fon corrected her. Zala never knew how to address Fon, as she was both human and aziza—short for a standard human but tall among the diminutive forest creatures.
“And we’re not supposed to be on our feet at all— well, most of the time. You’re thinking of pakkami.”
“Right, right.” Zala turned to the fallen soldier.
The soldier wore a green turban with red-padded armor and a tunic of white, the colors of the Vaaji Empire—the colors of their military. So, the merchants had guards after all. “Your hands have been busy.” Fon nodded to the sacks tied to Zala’s belt, her already large eyes widening further.
“Your mate already ran out of the stonesbane, then?” Zala gave her a solemn nod, then sighed. “It’s becoming more difficult to find what he needs on these ships.”
“How long has it been since he’s had some of his potion?”
“This morning,” Zala said, still scanning the galley for more ingredients. “His stoneskin won’t grow for a few more days, but I try to stay on top of it.”
Fon pursed her lips. “What are you missing?”
“Just about everything. But it’s usually easier to find aloe.”
“I think I might have seen a barrel of some in the other storerooms.” The aziza hooked a thumb over her shoulder. Zala grinned, and then the pair of pirates wound their way through the narrow corridors, avoiding what soldiers they could; the ones they could not avoid were met with steel. Alone, Zala was no extraordinary swordswoman, but with Fon’s flight distracting the soldiers, it made cutting down their enemies almost too easy, even in these tight spaces.
“Are none of these soldiers decent fighters?” Fon asked as Zala caught another in the back. Zala looked down to her latest fallen foe. The Vaaji seemed young, no full beard, just the shadow of a mustache. With all these guards, the merchants were undoubtedly holding valuable cargo. It was a surprise the Vaaji were pressing so far into the Sapphire Seas at all. It shouldn’t have been so shocking, however. Though the foreign nation had a reputation for being little more than poets and scholars, in recent moons they had seemed to reclaim their former titles as explorers and conquerors.
“Doesn’t matter. I’ll take easy targets any day.” Zala patted the soldier down. “Means easier pickings.”
Light feet led Zala and Fon toward the storeroom. As they continued they came across some of their own, a trio of mousey-looking men looting with eager hands.
Zala gestured their way. “You see, I’m not the only one plundering before the captain orders it.” She couldn’t help pressing her nose into the other crew members’ loot—despite their sour scowls—making sure none of them had taken any of the ingredients she required. Discipline was sorely lacking on the Titan.
Zala glanced through one of the viewports. The clouds were still thick, cloaking the waves on either side of the ship. Well, at least Kobi is getting smarter. Using the fog for the raid is one of the better ideas he’s had this week.
“How large is this ship, anyway?” Zala asked.
“Larger than Captain Kobi let on—wait just a minute, over there.” Fon pointed forward, floating just above a set of crates. “The aloe should be just against that wall.”
Zala started moving toward the crates, heart lifting, but she halted when two of the largest men she had seen that day stepped between her and her prize.



ANTOINE BANDELE IS AN AMAZON BESTSELLING AUTHOR IN AFRICAN LITERATURE.

He lives in Los Angeles, CA with his girlfriend, where he produces work on YouTube for his own channel and others, such as JustKiddingFilms, Fanalysis, and more. During the summer he is a camp counselor. Whenever he has the time he’s writing his debut series: Tales from Esowon. 


Follow the tour HERE for special content and a giveaway! 

Win a $10 Amazon gift card
or an ebook copy of By Sea And Sky.
Open internationally until the 19th July.



Saturday, 11 July 2020

Spotlight on Escape To Mountain Shadows by Audrey Flynn + #Giveaway


Escape To Mountain Shadows
Audrey Flynn
(Inkspell Publishing)
Publication date: July 7th 2020
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Chicago schoolteacher Lucy Shepherd has the world at her feet. Due to marry the ambitious politician Jason Palmer, in what promises to be the society wedding of the year, she is mere weeks away from joining the wealthy and powerful Palmer clan. But when she discovers that her fiancée has been sleeping with countless other women, Lucy exposes him online in a fit of anger. The repercussions are far, far worse then she could have imagined, and she is forced to flee for her safety.
On the other side of the world, she finds work at a small farm school on the centuries’ old Mountain Shadows wine estate in South Africa. Lucy and the estate’s owner Josh de Lange are fiercely drawn to one another. But the long shadow of Lucy’s past threatens their love. For there are powerful enemies on the other side of the world, the kind that refuse to let sleeping dogs lie.
Can the love between Josh and Lucy withstand the vengeance of the Palmers? When everything she holds dear is threatened, Lucy has a bitter choice to make…
EXCERPT:
“So, have you heard anything?” Victoria tried to sound casual as she speared some salad onto her fork.
“The less I hear, the better, Mom.”
“I can’t believe she didn’t even give back the ring.” Victoria’s voice was thick with indignation.
“Knowing her, she probably gave it to some bleeding-heart charity.” Jason held up his glass, signaling the waiter that he wanted another Scotch.
“Well, it just goes to show there’s no making up for a lack of breeding. God, what were you thinking, the daughter of a mechanic from Canaryville?” She swirled the wooded chardonnay in her glass. “And to think how kind I was to her, treating her like a daughter, trying to bring her up to our level.”
“Excuse me, Mother, but you were the one who took a big shine to her.”
Victoria Palmer wasn’t a woman given to self-reflection. Either make the right decision or make the decision right was what her father had always said. Well, she had every intention of making this situation right.
“I thought a teacher from a modest background could be good for your career. We could have played up the East Side connection and it would have gone down well with the working-class demographic,” Victoria said bitterly. “Now, thanks to her, we have every feminist, housewife, and PTA mom thinking you’re the devil incarnate. God, as if their husbands are any better!”
“Calm down, Mother,” Jason said.
The couple at the next table were openly staring now, so Victoria shot them a thunderous glare.
“If we are going to rehabilitate your political career then we have a lot of work to do.”
“Sorry, Mother, but I think that ship has sailed. I am now, what did that twerp on the radio say, unelectable.”
Jason’s father had been a successful senator and served three terms. Several years earlier, he had embarked on a run for his party’s nomination in the presidential election. An ill-timed heart attack had destroyed those plans and sank Victoria’s aspirations to First Ladyship. Since then, she had channeled her ambitions into her favorite son. She wasn’t about to relinquish that dream just yet.
“Now you listen to me. I know how this reputation thing works. You’re young and handsome, and people forgive. In a few years’ time, the public will be able to move past this thing. Jackson and Riley are the best PR company I know. They’re brilliant at managing high-profile reputations. They are very discreet, and,” Victoria said softly as she leaned forward, “they’re not squeamish to, how shall I say, twist the rules a bit.”
Jason rattled the ice in his whisky glass. Dressed like he was today in the conservative preppy style that his mother favored, he looked every bit the wholesome, all-American boy. One who could easily be forgiven for an immature lapse of judgment. Victoria knew full well that despite the agony of the last nine months, he was still drawn to the political sphere—he loved the thought of the power and its perks. He was a Palmer after all. It was in his DNA.
“At the moment, no one in Washington will touch me with a barge pole. How do we get around that?”
“Give it time,” Victoria purred. This meeting was going much better than she had anticipated. At least the boy seemed open to her point of view.
“We’ll have to wait for the appropriate moment to reacquaint you with the right people. Until then, through certain channels, we can create our own alternative version of events. It’s so easy these days. Call it fake news, whatever. It will be a tough fight, but as your father always says, when you see a good fight, get in it.”
Jason leaned back in his chair. Two double whiskies had mellowed him somewhat. “So, tell me what’s to stop her from carrying on her vendetta? Anyone with internet access can hit back and let’s face it, she did make quite a name for herself.”
“Aah,” said Victoria. Her eyes narrowed. She was a woman who liked being in charge and she could sense she was back in the driver’s seat. She signaled to the waiter for another glass of Chardonnay. “There are measures,” she said smoothly. “Measures that can be taken.”
Jason nodded in conspiratorial understanding. “I see,” he said. “But she seems to have just disappeared off the face of the earth.”
“Anyone can be found, son. Trust me. These days there truly is nowhere to hide.” A faint smile flickered at her lips.
“And these measures?” Jason cocked an eyebrow. “Do you plan to tell me about that?”
“How long have you got?” Victoria asked. It wasn’t really a question.



Author Bio:
Audrey Flynn is a Johannesburg based romance writer. She uses the magnificent settings of Southern Africa and the blend of cultures as the backdrop for spicy romances. She believes that all romances need a good dollop of suspense, and as for the leading men? Well only drop-dead gorgeous heroes need apply!
Audrey loves being on safari , reading a classic whodunnit and appreciates a well made G&T.

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Friday, 10 July 2020

Spotlight on Entangled Secrets by Pat Esden + #Giveaway


Entangled Secrets
Pat Esden
(Northern Circle Coven #3)
Published by: Lyrical Press
Publication date: July 7th 2020
Genres: Adult, Paranormal
A searing battle of hearts, minds, and magic . . .
The Northern Circle coven’s future is in question once again. But this time, hearts and souls are on the line, making the stakes higher, the magic more crucial, and the battle more fateful than ever before . . .
Pregnant and alone at twenty-one, Chandler Parrish sought refuge within the Northern Circle coven’s secluded complex. Never revealing the identity of her child’s father, Chandler has raised her now eight-year-old son, Peregrine, in peace, and used her talent as an artist and welder to become a renowned metal sculptor. But her world is shaken to the core when Peregrine shows signs of natural faerie sight—a rare and dangerous gift to see through faerie glamour and disguises that could only have come from his father’s genes. Worse yet, the boy has seen a monstrous faerie creature trailing Lionel Parker, a magic-obsessed journalist determined to expose the witching world.
But the very man who threatens the witches’ anonymity may also be key to healing Chandler’s long broken heart. As dangerous desires and shocking secrets entangle, new faerie threats and demonic foes close in on the coven and High Council. Loyalties will be tested. Fierce magics will be called upon. And Chandler will have to face her past to save all she holds dear: her coven, her child—and perhaps even her own soul.
EXCERPT:
Burlington’s flying monkeys. The originals were crafted out of steel decades ago.
I created mine out of car parts and garden tools as a gift to my son on his third birthday.

Truly, if I could have made them fly, I would have.
 —WPZI interview with artist Chandler Parrish
Chandler set the hand grinder aside and flipped up the visor of her welding helmet. She studied the fist-size heart on the workbench in front of her and smiled, pleased with the results. If she could just find the perfect strands of wire to use for the arteries and veins, the heart would be ready to install.
She glanced across the workshop to where her latest flying monkey sculpture crouched on a rusty oil drum. It was crafted from scrap metal like its predecessors. But this one was going to be an updated model with a trapdoor in its chest and a heart—a cross between the Tin Man and the flying monkeys of Oz fame.
“Mama?” Her son’s voice came from behind her.
“Yeah?” She turned to see what he wanted.
Peregrine stood in the workshop’s open doorway, silhouetted against the autumn-orange leaves of a maple that sheltered the entry. Dirt smeared his jeans. His wild blond hair was tangled. Her chest swelled with joy. If she could ask the Gods and Goddesses for anything, it would be for his life to remain as carefree as that of the eight-year-old he was right now.
“Devlin sent me to get you. Some guy’s waiting in the main house.”
“Who is it?” Chandler asked.
He shrugged. “I don’t know. The guy saw a shapeshifter turn into a loup-garou. Wish I’d seen it.”
Chandler pulled off her welding helmet and thumped it down on the workbench. Damn it. Their mystery visitor had to be the journalist. His spotting a shapeshifter transforming in public—illegally, of course—wasn’t that recent of news, but his dogged interest in the event, and his intrusion into the Northern Circle coven’s ongoing issues in general, was proving to be a major pain. Actually, she was shocked he’d showed up here at the coven’s complex. A couple of days ago, two coven members had paid him a not-so-friendly visit at the fleabag motel where he’d been staying to discover if he truly was a threat to the witching world’s anonymity, or if he’d only come across as crazy to the average person.
“Devlin thinks the guy’s lying,” Peregrine added.
“Even if Devlin did believe him, he couldn’t tell the journalist what he saw was real, right?”
“I don’t think Devlin likes him.”
“That’s because the journalist is a troublemaker.” She walked over to Peregrine and smoothed her hand down his cheek. At twenty-five, Devlin was younger than she by almost four years, but that made him no less wise. He was Ivy League smart, a powerful witch with polished good looks and a kind heart that made him perfect for the Circle’s high priest position. She gentled her voice. “Do you know where Brooklyn is?”
Peregrine nodded. “She and Midas are making dinner.”
“I need you to go help them until the visitor leaves. Okay?”
Peregrine stuck out his bottom lip in a pout. “Can’t I just listen? I wanna hear about the loup-garou. Please?”
“Not this time.” She crouched, looked him in the eyes, and turned on her mama-dragon voice. “You need to stay away from this man. He’s dangerous. Understand?”
“He didn’t look dangerous to me. He just talked kinda funny.”
“No arguing. I want you to hang out with Brooklyn and Midas. I’ll tell you all about it later.”
Peregrine glanced over his shoulder toward the yard, then his gaze whipped back to her. “What do redcaps really look like?”
Chandler shook her head. Peregrine’s ability to shift seamlessly from one topic to another never ceased to amaze her. “Where in the Goddesses’ name did that question come from?”
He tucked his hands into his pockets and shrugged. “Just wonderin’.” He stole another glance behind him. His voice trembled a little. “Do they really dip their hats in blood?”
Chandler straightened to her full height. Hands on her hips, she followed his gaze. There was nothing unfamiliar or strange in their yard or in the parking lot beyond it, except for an old, lime-green Volkswagen Beetle in front of the main house, undoubtedly the journalist’s ride.
A spark of fear flickered to life inside her, a fear she’d prayed she’d never have to face. “Did you see something strange?”
“There was this creepy person-thing next to that guy’s car.”
In two swift motions, she pulled him all the way inside and slammed the door shut. Heat and the thrum of protective magic blazed up the dragon and monkey tattoos on her arms and across her shoulders. She studied the yard again through the door’s window, hoping to spot a fox or a mangy racoon. Something. Anything.
Peregrine wriggled in beside her, his breath fogging the windowpane. “It kinda looked like the drawings of redcaps I’ve seen in books.”
She scrubbed her fingers over the soft bristle of her close-cropped hair. Shit. Shit. Shit. Not this. Anything but this. Peregrine was the age when most witches’ abilities manifested. And—though she rarely thought of him—Peregrine’s biological father possessed the gift of faery sight, an ability to see through the glamour faeries used to make themselves invisible; fae such as redcaps. The gift was rare nowadays because the gene pool of witches with the ability had shrunk to a handful, after eons of them being murdered or blinded by the fae, who preferred to remain concealed. It was an extraordinarily dangerous gift for the few adults who possessed it. But for an eight-year-old boy? For her boy?
She wrapped an arm around Peregrine’s shoulder, snugging him closer. “Are you a hundred percent sure you saw something?”
“Yeah. Uh—maybe.”
Maybe? Her tension eased a fraction. In truth, it could have been nothing more than wishful thinking on Peregrine’s part, combined with an imagination as active as hers. Even if he had seen a faery, it could have been a benign and unglamoured one that Brooklyn had invited into the complex to help with her herbs and concoctions.
A movement caught Chandler’s eye. Something coyote-size and hunched low to the ground was creeping out from behind the Volkswagen. It slunk along, dragging something—
Chandler shrieked. A body! A child.
She pushed Peregrine behind her, then eased the door open just far enough to get a better view. She had to have been mistaken. It couldn’t be carrying a child.
The creature swiveled to look at her. It dropped the body. Tufts of straw trailed from where the child was missing an arm.
Chandler let out a relieved breath. She recognized the child and the creature now. “There’s nothing to worry about,” she said. “It’s just Henry with Brooklyn’s scarecrow.” Well, there wasn’t anything to worry about as long as Brooklyn didn’t see Henry, Devlin’s golden retriever, making off with her straw man. If she did, there’d be hell to pay.
Peregrine wiggled past her to look. “I wasn’t afraid of nothin’. And that isn’t what I saw. What I saw was bigger. A lot bigger.” He fanned his arms, indicating something twice as tall and large as the scrap-metal rhinoceros that she’d sold to a client last month, impossibly larger than a redcap.
She gave him a side-eye look. Now he was fibbing, except…
A chill traveled up her arms, prickling against the magic in her tattoos. But what if—other than the size—it wasn’t a fib? What if he did have the sight like his father?



Author Bio:
Pat Esden would love to say she spent her childhood in intellectual pursuits. The truth is she was fonder of exploring abandoned houses and old cemeteries. When not out on her own adventures, she can be found in her northern Vermont home writing stories about brave, smart women and the men who capture their hearts.
She is the author of the contemporary fantasy Dark Heart series from Kensington Books, and the Northern Circle Coven series. Her short fiction has appeared in a number of publications, including Orson Scott Card's Intergalactic Medicine Show, the Mythopoeic Society's Mythic Circle, George Scither's Cat Tales Anthology, and the Fragments of Darkness anthology.

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