I cannot believe this day has finally come! When I started writing The Priestess and the Dragon a couple years ago it was just a lark. I’ve loved Japan for as long as I can remember and I just wanted to write an epic fantasy set in pseudo-Japan. Then Suzume took on a life of her own, and things just snowballed from there. The rewrites have be so much fun and I got to add tons of exciting new scenes including scenes from Kaito’s perspective. I added about 30% more content. O.O October can not come soon enough. I’ll be posting teasers to my Facebook page in the mean time. Be sure to check back.
“Love and revenge don’t end with Death”
Exiled for her mother’s sins, Suzume lives in a remote mountain shrine training to become a priestess. She would give anything to return to her old life at the emperor’s palace. When she accidently awakens a sleeping dragon posing as the mountain god, she thinks he is the answer to all her problems. But she gets more than she bargained for when she unleashes the Dragon, Kaito. He has been sealed away for five hundred years and now he is hungry for revenge. The woman who trapped him may be dead, but he will settle for her reincarnation and he chooses Suzume to join him on his quest for vengeance. What he doesn’t realize is Suzume is that priestess reborn. Now she must find a way to seal the dragon once more before he learns the truth.
Pre-order for 99 cents!
I read this book a while back and thought I had already reviewed it. And while going through my reviews trying to decide what to review next I realized my error. Well now I plan to rectify that! Over the next couple of weeks, I am going to be introducing you to the fabulous world of The Succubus in a Red Dress. To start today, we have this fabulous romp. Delilah is pretty average, she’s struggling to make ends meet in NYC working at a coffee counter for pennies when she discovers some previously unknown powers when she accidentally drains a man and almost kills a man.
Cue her new mentor, Chloe who has conveniently swept into plan and decides to take Delilah under her wing. She teaches her everything there is to no about enchanting men and sucking the life out of them. But our herione is not so keen on her new found powers and openly rejects them.
This book was a fun twist on the classic idea of a Succubus, Delilah is not your a-typical sultry seductress. She is clumsy and awkward and painfully relatable. I think we can all relate to that sense of not knowing what to do with your life and who hasn’t struggle a time or two. It was a quick read, it probably took me a day or two. It was an amazing book, and as if it couldn’t get any better it’s currently FREE on Kindle and Kobo. So Pick up your copy you won’t be disappointed.
I love supporting Indie Authors, there’s a real sense of community when we all rally together. I was lucky to have Kara as guest at my Kistune Release Party and I was really excited because just the day before I finished this fabulous book in her Ingenious Mechanical Devices series. This is the second book in the series, and as with her Earl of Brass, Ms. Jorgensen’s talent for diverse characters stole the show from the start!
I really enjoyed her first book, Earl of Brass, but fell in love with her writing in The Winter Garden. Throughout the book, there’s this sense of fear that overlays everything. Emmanuel is a German student studying anatomy at Oxford when he saves a girls life by using a family heirloom. Turns out his family deals in alchemy and using what appears to be a philosophers stone. But when he revives her their lives are linked together. Emmaline’s mysterious recovery piques the interest of of those who would use their apparent link, and the two become entangled together, in unexpected ways.
Ms. Jorgensen captures so many themes, and does it with such expertise that I could gush about how much I love this book for thousands of word. But I am sure they would all start to run together and I won’t subject you to that. I will give you the best impression I can, but honestly you should just buy the book. Her writing is beautiful and poignant. Starting with Emmanuel, he deals with a lot. He’s damaged and afraid and his feelings just jump off the page. I felt like he was a real person as if this was a story told by a friend beside me. Then there’s Adam his love interest, he’s hidden his homosexuality for his entire life and it takes a lot for him to give in to opening up his heart. You feel the danger of discovery for these two. I never thought too much about homosexuality in the Victorian age but now that I have, I want to read more about it. The romance between the two characters felt natural. There was no pomp, which was so great. I’ve read novels with homosexual relationships as a minor subplot and it always feels like the author is waving a diversity flag for the sake of diversity. These characters breathe real life! With Adam and Emmanuel they just are, and there’s something simple and special about that. I have to say it, I love this couple! Intermixed with these characters you fall in love with is this prevail sense of magic, danger and mystery. It had every element of a story that I just love. An absolute must read!
And once you finish that, pick up the Oxford Holiday. It’s a delightful glimpse into the lives of Emmanuel and Adam after The Winter Garden. It’s a quick read that will sate your craving for more of this couple, because believe me, you will fall in love with them! Not only was it great to see them being their adorable selves, it sets up future conflicts to come introducing new characters and teasing us with brief glimpses of what we can expect in future books. (Yes I’m onto you Kara!) Pick them both up at the same time, because you’ll want to read the short right after.
The Winter Garden:
An Oxford Holiday:
As I write this, I have just finished the final draft of the Priestess and the Dragon, the first book in the Dragon Saga. When I started out writing this on Wattpad, I never thought it would take on a life of its own. It’s hard to say one book is a favorite over others but I must admit, this is one of my favorites. The story melds so much of what I love, Japanese mythology, action, drama and a dash of humor. I love this book and realizing that very soon I’ll be holding a paperback copy in my hand, I get a little teary eyed. Last Friday Kitsune launched, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg for the world of Akatsuki. So today I am making a formal declaration about the future of this series, and it’s spin off series Tales of Akatsuki (Japanese inspired retelling of Western Fairy Tales).
The Priestess and the Dragon (Dragon Saga Book 1)
- Cover reveal: September 4th 2015
- Official Release: October 17th 2015
- GoodReads Giveaway October 10th – October 16th 2015
The Sea Stone (Dragon Saga Book 2)
- Tentative Release*: January 2016
Okami: A Little Red Riding Hood Retelling (Book 2 Tales of Akatsuki)
- Tentative Release*: December 2015
*As always dates are subject to change. I will make official announcements as dates solidify.
This is the second part of the Kitsune Chapter One. Read part 1 here. There’s just a few days left until the release!
Once again in fox form, she flew through the forest undergrowth. She could smell blood in the air; the boar had not been completely unsuccessful. I thought humans of this region knew to stay away from this forest. I wonder what madness drove them in here. She leapt over a fallen tree. It does not concern me, I suppose. Though I would have liked to learn more about that human. He was interesting. She laughed at her own curiosity. That is the first time I’ve ever thought that of a human.
As she ran, she spread out her senses. She had felt nothing since the boar, and then as she approached her destination, she noticed an overhead shadow, which leapt from branch to branch, keeping pace with her. If it was a Yokai, they had cloaked their spiritual energy, making them invisible to her probes. And if it was a Yokai, it also meant they were more powerful than her. She reached a clearing in the woods; the trees circled a grassy area open on all sides. It was a convenient spot to confront her stalker, one where she could escape from if need be.
She transformed back into a woman and said, “Come out, I know you’re there.”
It dropped out of the tree to her right. She tilted her head to look at him, as if she were merely curious and not on the defensive. His tunic and split pants were black and he wore a white mask over his face. The mask had only two dark holes for the eyes, no space for a mouth or nose.
“Can I safely assume you are here to welcome me?” Rin asked.
The messenger did not appear to be amused. “What business do you have in the guardian’s forest?” was his monotone reply.
“I am the Dragon’s messenger.”
The warrior’s hand hovered over his sword. “And what message might the Dragon have for Akio?”
“Are you Akio?” Rin asked, though she already knew the answer.
She laughed. “Then I am not inclined to answer your questions, now am I?”
“You saved that human, why? You know I must report this to the guardian.”
She shrugged. How could she explain such a whim when she did not even understand it herself?
“Do you plan on taking me as a prisoner to Akio, then?” She held out her hands as if she expected him to bind them together.
“No, but I will escort you to his palace.”
She waved her hand. “Lead the way, then.”
Rin followed after the warrior. He walked with an upright rigid air that one would expect from Akio’s guard. He did not turn to make sure she followed. Not that it was necessary, he could stop her in an instant if she tried to flee. The guardian’s palace was hidden in the middle of the forest, the entrance guarded by a long rope bridge over a canyon. They crossed the bridge, which swung back and forth. Rin glanced over the edge at the chasm below. Low-hanging clouds blocked the bottom from view. The palace building itself was hidden amongst the trees, some twined with the building, as if it had been here since the dawn of time and the trees merely grew through the structure. The verandas and covered walkways were shaded by the canopies of trees to the point where Rin could not see where the building started and the trees ended.
Once they crossed the bridge, they climbed up a narrow set of stairs, which ended at a double door. There were two guards; both of them had the head of deer and the body of men. They wore armor, painted red, over black gathered pants and tunic. They stared straight forward, ignoring the warrior who had come to fetch Rin. The warrior moved silent as a ghost into the courtyard beyond. It was slated in marble, twisted with black and gold flecks. The roots of a large tree grew in cracks of the marble, like veins. She followed after the warrior, who gave her no instruction but seemed to expect compliance.
They climbed a smaller set of steps into the main building. Here the floors were covered in tatami, bamboo mats, and at the far end of the room on a raised platform sat the forest guardian, Akio. He was a massive creature who dominated the space. He had the head of a boar and instead of hands he had hooves. He wore several layers of bright silk robes. The sleeves draped over his arms and pooled on the ground near his thick meaty thighs. Yokai attended him, all of them animal hybrids like the guards at the door, a few monkeys, and a few more deer women served him platters of dumplings and fish cooked in a thick dark sauce. The warrior who had come to fetch her knelt down before the boar and laid his head down to the ground.
“My lord, I found this Kitsune wandering the forest,” he said in a formal clipped tone.
The boar ate messily; dark sauce dribbled off his snout and onto his bright yellow kimono. He glanced over at Rin like one does a buzzing fly. He had small beady eyes like the creature who had attacked the young lord. But unlike the dumb animal, there was cunning staring back at her.
“You are a messenger of the Dragon,” he said. His voice rumbled and shook his massive gut.
“Is it that obvious?” Rin replied. She could not help but taunt him. Her position as a messenger gave her immunity.
Akio did not seem amused. “Does your master forget that I have forbidden any of his court in my domain?”
“Ah. As the Dragon has often reminded you, your domain is within his kingdom and therefore you are his subject.”
The boar laughed. “You are brash for someone with such a low status.”
He thinks to humiliate me. Well… “That jibe might sting more if it were not coming from a mouth full of food.”
He jumped to his feet, knocking over platters and spilling a jug of sake in the process. Rin grinned, not backing down an inch.
“How dare you insult me in my own palace!” he roared.
“I would chastise you for being rude as well, but I feel it would be a futile effort.”
“You insolent worm. I should have you locked away to rot.”
“And then you would have a real war on your hands,” Rin replied.
The boar narrowed his eyes. “Who are you really?”
“Just the Dragon’s messenger, nothing more.”
“I find that suspect.” He sat back down on his cushion. And then he leaned forward, his hooves folded in front of him.
“The Dragon asks that you attend a feast,” Rin said.
“Does he now? Is this his way of distracting us from his human lover?”
Human lover? She had expected tricks from Akio, but this was too farfetched even for her to imagine. The servants that sat beside him leaned in and whispered to one another, giving her furtive looks. A doe towards the front gave her a slow smile. Rin smiled back, full of honey laced with poison. They cannot possibly know me. I am just being paranoid.
The boar grinned, revealing crooked yellow teeth. “You know about it, I am sure. They say the Dragon has become ensorcelled by a human woman. There are rumors he has even abandoned his palace in favor of dancing to the human’s whims.”
She tried to picture the Dragon with a human. She had spent so much time avoiding him she could not recall where she had last seen him. He leaves from time to time and he’s been known to take human lovers but never for long and never serious. “That’s the problem with rumors, they are often misleading. Don’t you agree?” she said.
The boar shook his head. He waved his hoof and the servants rose as one and filed out of the room. Rin watched them go with a growing sense of dread. She may have bitten off more than she could chew with Akio.
“I have no time for your games. I know the Dragon wants to lure me out of my palace, but I am no fool. You thought to trick me, but you’re not nearly clever enough to play this game.”
“I never intended to enter a game of wits with you. There’s no competition where you are involved.” She examined her pointed nails.
He grinned at her, revealing yellow teeth. Perhaps he missed the insult. “You would have done better to come groveling if you wanted to play a spy, Rin.”
Her mouth dropped open as her stomach sank. How could he possibly guess her motives? She had told no one of her intentions, not even Shin. “You—”
“Yes, I know who you are, and I know you are no mere messenger. You would have been better served to not break my laws as well; I might have let you go otherwise.” He waved his hoof and guards approached from all sides. “Take her prisoner.”
Find out what happens next by reading, Kitsune.
Available Friday August 14th at these retailers:
Kitsune Chapter One: Part 1
The boar was covered in coarse black hair. The giant yellow tusks curved around his snout as he pawed at the ground. The young man stood transfixed in place, staring down the eyes of the beast. Rin watched him, wondering what he would do. From the trembling of his hands, he did not seem to be the type who could defend himself very well. His clothes were tattered and dirt stained but finely made. He must be someone important in the human world. I wonder why he came into this forest.
She did not meddle in human affairs as a matter of principle. They lived such brief uninteresting lives she could not be bothered by them. Then as she stared at the young man, he turned slowly to face her. His dark eyes looked at her and saw her not as a fox, as he should, but as a woman. She could see the spark of recognition, and the confusion, overlaid by his fear. The boar charged and the young man looked for his sword, just out of reach in a bush nearby. Not that it would have mattered either way—no human blade could kill that beast. She should not have cared what happened to him. But as if controlled by some outside force, she pushed the young man out of the way of the churning hooves of the monstrous boar.
The boar roared as he passed, the sheer weight of his body propelling him forward and crashing through the brush. It was a large clumsy beast. It collided with a tree twice as thick as Rin and snapped it in half. It tossed its massive head and focused gleaming yellow eyes on the pair of them. Now I’ve done it. Akio will have my head for interfering. She looked down at the young man as she straddled his waist and he stared up at her in a daze. His eyes glazed over her face and came to rest upon the pair of fox ears on top of her head. No doubt about it now, he knows what I am.
He opened and closed his mouth like a fish out of water. It was rather amusing. She grinned as she jumped off of him.
“We should get out of here; those trees will not hold him back for long.” She jutted a thumb towards the trees that shielded them from the boar’s wrath. The boar tore at bark with his tusks, grunting and snorting as he dug chunks of earth out of the ground. The space in between the branches was too narrow to allow for his massive body to pass. But judging from the growing pile of splinters, they would not remain an obstacle for much longer.
A wild animalistic panic threatened to overcome her. It screamed at her to transform into a fox and hide in the underbrush. She smothered the impulse; for some strange reason she felt she had to help this young man. If Akio wants him this bad, then I cannot let him have this man.
The young lord climbed to his feet, his hands shaking. His open mouth gaped at her ears; then slowly his gaze traveled downward to her foxtail, which she swished back and forth behind her. The boar roared again and the young man tore his gaze away from her and stared terrified back at the beast trying very hard to come and tear them apart.
“Run, my lady, I will defend you,” the human said. He reached for a sword that was not there. So instead he put up his arms to shield her from the boar.
She laughed. She did not mean to, but he had all but wet himself out of fear. How could he hope to protect her when she had to save him first?
“You cannot hope to defeat him,” she replied. “Follow me or die, those are your choices.” She jogged away from the clearing and deeper into the forest, where the undergrowth grew to her thigh and the trees close together. It would be impossible for the boar to follow.
It was foolish to save him, even more foolish to talk to him, but sometimes it was the foolish things that brought the most entertainment.
What I want to know is how he can see me. A human should not be able to see my form without me revealing it to him. Any other Yokai in her position would leave him to the mercy of the boar, but he had piqued her curiosity. He fumbled in the undergrowth as he followed after her, whereas Rin moved about with grace, not so much as bending the grass underfoot. He broke branches and mumbled curses under his breath when his silken robes got caught on a thorny bush and tore a gaping hole. He’ll wake every bloodthirsty Yokai in the forest, stomping around like that. She waited perched on a boulder as he mourned his ruined clothes.
He glanced up to see her watching him, dropped the fabric and continued onward. She flicked her tail and leapt down from the boulder, running ahead, checking to make sure there were no more nasty surprises waiting for them in the shadows. She spread out her senses, searching for other Yokai, and though she sensed others in the forest, none were close by. That’s a relief, at least.
She led him through the twisted pathways through the forest known only to forest inhabitants. She felt the boar waiting on the edges of the forest, where the woods were sparse. He roared again but too far away to be any danger now. He’ll be returning to his master, I suspect. She glanced over her shoulder to check on the young man, and found him bent over gasping for breath. I forget how fragile these humans can be. She waited for him to regain his composure. She wanted to question him further, but she had broken enough laws just by saving him. She dared not incriminate herself further, not in Akio’s realm. She looked away from him lest he catch her staring and take it upon himself to ask his own questions. She had seen the sidelong looks he gave her, and she knew he had questions of his own.
When he stood upright once more, she said, “Keep going this way and you’ll be outside the forest.” She pointed to a narrow animal track that twisted around the trees and led out onto a human road. He looked up at her, then past her to the path. When his eyes were off her, she cloaked herself. When he looked up again, he would see the forest behind her.
“Thank—” he started to say. He swiveled his head back and forth. He scratched his head as his eyes skimmed over her, unseeing. She could see the question in his eyes, wondering what she was, just as she was wondering why he could see her. After a few moments, he shrugged and turned to walk away. She watched him amble down the pathway she had indicated. He took a few steps before stopping to check for her over his shoulder. A part of her wanted to chase after him, but she knew no good could come of that. They lived in separate worlds. How he could see her would remain a mystery. After searching for her to no avail, he continued on the path and disappeared around the bend. She waited until he was out of sight before heading back into the forest.
Part 2 coming soon!
I’m excited to announce I am giving away TEN signed copies of Kitsune via a Goodreads giveaway. I love giving away books and Goodreads makes it easy to do. This is one of several giveaways. (more information on that coming soon) But for now, be sure to head over to Goodreads and add your name into the list. When you’re there be sure to friend or become a fan while you’re there.
I try to keep my ear to the ground and if I ever find interesting books coming up, I like to share them with everyone. I discovered this gem recently and I cannot wait to read my copy. I’m helping out the author by sharing an excerpt and the cover as part of her book tour. It looks really interesting, be sure to check it you.
Excerpt: Songbird by Colleen Helme
Her eyelids drooped. Half asleep, she didn’t hear the door to her room open. It shut with a soft click, startling her. She jerked to her feet and found a cloaked man standing inside her room. In the dim light, she recognized the Ambassador from Braemar, and gasped.
“Shh.” He held a gloved finger to his lips and waited like a coiled spring for several seconds.
Teya’s heart beat furiously. “What are you doing here?”
“It’s all right. I’ve come to get you out.”
“Are you crazy? It’s impossible. You’ll only get yourself killed. Believe me, it’s happened before. You should leave now before you get caught.”
His eyes widened in surprise. “You don’t want to be rescued?”
“Of course I do. But…it won’t work.”
He frowned. “I’m sorry you have so little faith in me, but I assure you, I can get you out.”
“Why would you do that?”
“I have my reasons, and I’ll tell you once we’re away.” He stepped further into the room and pushed his dark cloak back, revealing several tools and a long rope.
As he moved to the window, she stepped in front of him. “It won’t work. The king has guards everywhere, and I’m watched all the time. We’ll never get out of the palace, let alone the city. They’ll kill you.”
He considered her for a moment. “I have everything planned to the minute. I can get you out. Do you want to leave?”
His boldness shocked her, but he waited patiently while she gathered her wits. There was kindness in his eyes, and it was hard not to believe him. “Do you mean to keep me enslaved? Or can you take this off?” She lifted the kundar from her skin, hardly believing that she had the gall to challenge him.
Here was someone willing to get her out of this hell, and she was bargaining over the kundar? If she went with him, she would be out of her prison with a better chance of getting it off than she had now. She swallowed, regretting that she’d asked, but wouldn’t take it back now.
He stared at her with surprise. After a pause, he came to a decision. “I can’t guarantee anything. But even with it on, I can promise you more freedom than you have now.”
“So you can own me?” Defiance laced through her tone.
About the Book
Author: Colleen Helme
Genre: Romance Fantasy
As the ambassador from Braemar, Bran is sent on a diplomatic mission to the Old Country to establish trade relations. But the real reason for his mission is to uncover the secrets of a potent elixir that can give magic to anyone who drinks it.
While there he encounters the Songbird, a beautiful, exotic woman, and the king’s most prized possession. Her song is full of magic, and he determines that her people must be connected to the deadly elixir. In exchange for her help, he is willing to risk his life to set her free. What he doesn’t expect, is to fall under her spell…
As the author of the Shelby Nichols Adventure Series, Colleen is often asked if Shelby Nichols is her alter-ego. “Definitely,” she says. “Shelby is the epitome of everything I wish I dared to be.” Known for her laugh since she was a kid, Colleen has always tried to find the humor in every situation and continues to enjoy writing about Shelby’s adventures. “I love getting Shelby into trouble… I just don’t always know how to get her out of it!” Colleen lives in the Rocky Mountains with her family. Besides writing, she loves a good book, biking, hiking, and playing board and card games with family and friends. She loves to connect with readers and admits that fans of the series keep her writing.
Author Amazon Page: http://www.amazon.com/Colleen-Helme/e/B004JP9RWO/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1
Steam punk is one of those genres, I thoroughly enjoy but so rarely indulge in. I had the pleasure of reading The Earl of Brass recently and absolutely fell in love with the genre all over again. I’m going to try and keep this review concise, because I want to gush about everything all at once. Let me start by saying, I adored the main characters Hadley and Eilian. Two very different characters, who broke the mold on gender sterotypes in a classically rigid time period. Hadley is everything I look for in a female lead, strong indipendent and out to change the world. Hadley is a mechanical genuis who learned about autotomics from her older, when her older brother dies from a disease, she is determined to keep her business afloat, even if it means impersonating a man. The secret feminist in me, gets a little giddy when women in the Victorian era are going against the patriarchy. And Hadley definitely fights the good fight.
While Eilian, is not classically masculine, he is the right mix of intelligent, insightful and with perhaps a dash of awkward, but that might be my imagination since that’s my weakness. He has a serious case of wander lust, and rejects the antiquated notions of earldom, which he is destined to inherit. After a derigible accident (which is tragic but also awesome, come on a derigible crash!) he loses his arms from the burns. In comes Hadley. She and her brother make prostethesis and after a humiliating dinner party, Eilian agrees to be the guinea pig for a new experimental prostetic arm, which will move and function like a real arm, but made of metal (this is freaking amazing, I cannot tell you how much I fangirled over this one concept).
I have to talk about the arm, because I can tell Jorgenson spent a lot of time researhcing biology and mechanics. But if any of you are a fan of the Manga/Anime Full Metal Alchemist, you’ll remember Edward Elrich had a metal arm, and Eilian’s puts it to shame. It was a forgone conclusion from there that I was going to love this book after that.
I wont spoil what happens from there, but lets say there’s a bit of gender bending, some interesting philosophical questions posed, bad guys with guns and the pressures of gentry. This is an absolute must read! But if you still need convincing here’s some of the book details:
When Eilian Sorrell, a promising archaeologist and the eldest son of the Earl of Dorset, loses his arm in a dirigible crash, he fears he will face a bleak future among London’s aristocracy. On a quest for normalcy, Lord Sorrell commissions a prosthetic arm but finds the craftsman is not what he seems.
After the death of her brother, Hadley Fenice takes over his prosthesis business but knows it will be an uphill battle as women are discouraged from doing man’s work. In return for building Lord Sorrell an automaton arm, he offers her a chance at freedom by following him to the Negev Desert under the guise of a man.
But what lies beneath the desert is more precious than potshards or bones. As they venture deeper, they discover a society where the path of life is not governed by gain but by passion. When imperialistic invaders come in search of a new colony to pillage, Eilian and Hadley are forced to defend their fleeting glimpse of paradise.
More about Kara Jorgensen:
Kara Jorgensen is an author and professional student from New Jersey who will probably die slumped over a Victorian novel. An anachronistic oddball from birth, she has always had an obsession with the Victorian era, especially the 1890s. Midway through a dissection in a college anatomy class, Kara realized her true passion was writing and decided to marry her love of literature and science through science fiction or, more specifically, steampunk. When she is not writing, she is watching period dramas, going to museums, or babying her beloved dogs.