Spooktacular Spotlight on #ParanormalRomance: Hidden Gypsy Magic by @TenaStetler

Happy Friday, Dear Readers! Let’s kick off the weekend with a paranormal, mystery romance from Tena Stetler, as well as her thoughts on Halloween. Be sure to enter her gift card giveaway, too. Enjoy!
xo, Celia

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Hidden Gypsy Magic by Tena Stetler book cover image

Title: Hidden Gypsy Magic
Series: A Witch’s Journey
Author: Tena Stetler
Genre: Paranormal Romance/Mystery
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Release date: 9/28/20
ISBN: 978-1-5092-3256-7
ASIN: B08FXBNLW5
# or Pages: 330
Word count: 85k
Cover Artist: Kristian Norris

The consequences of awakening hidden gypsy magic could forever alter life as they know it!

The Salem Wildlife Sanctuary is Gwen Taylor’s life work. Her Irish Gypsy heritage provides a hidden talent she uses to help the creatures under her care. But even her magical skills can’t help new rescues in dire need of veterinary care.

The opportunity of signing on as the vet for Gwen’s sanctuary dropped into Brock Scutter’s lap after he expanded his practice to include wildlife. The personal attraction he and Gwen experience is undeniable the more their professional and personal lives collide.

Touring the only “non-haunted” house in Salem they both feel a spark of magic. A trip to his family’s cabin uncovers a heritage he didn’t know existed. If they want a future together, it means facing the consequences of awakening hidden Gypsy magic and a race against the clock to correct past wrongs.

Amazon US | Amazon CA | Amazon UK | Amazon AU

EXCERPT

“This house may not have a history of magic, but I’d bet it’s magical. You’re going to put an offer in. Right?”

“As I said before, it may be completely out of my price range.”

“I have a feeling the house has been waiting for you.” Gwen flung her hand to her mouth, her face flushed, and her gaze swiveled to him. “I don’t know what made me say that.”

Looking thoughtful, he grinned. “Since the day I stumbled upon Pepper’s secret — then discovered that you and I share the gift or curse of gypsy blood, things have been different—” Pausing, he shoved his hand in his jean’s pocket and jingled the change in his pocket. “I’ve been different. It’s as if knowing magic exists awakened something in me.”

“Join the club. Years ago my best friend Pepper made a believer out of me. In fact, there were times I wished—never mind. Whether it was my outlook or as you said magic awakened. But to be fair, I’ve always had what I called a sixth sense with animals, attuned to their feelings, almost their thoughts, fears, that kind of thing. Pepper called it my talent. But as we became close, I noticed other abilities… you’ll think I’m crazy.”

“Try me.” He moved closer to her and the front door banged open. Quickly he rushed to the top of the stairs.

 

Halloween Article by Tena Stetler

Do you have a fear of Halloween?

Then you suffer from Samhainophobia.

I don’t fit in that category! Do you?

Today Halloween is attracting adults in a masquerade type atmosphere, much like Mardi Gras. Their costumed antics mock, challenge and tease the mysterious, possible malevolent forces of the night. The otherworld becomes our world on this night of enchanted possibilities and transcendence. Are we reaffirming death as a part of life in an exhilarating celebration of magic for an evening? Or like me, just enjoying the air of celebration on a night the veil between the living and dead is purported to be the thinnest. Every year with the help of my hubby, I decorate our house to the hilt on the first day of October and revel in Halloween décor the entire month.

Did you know Jack-O-Lanterns originated in Ireland? People placed lit candles inside hollowed out turnips to keep away spirits and ghosts on the Samhain (pronounced Sah-ween) holiday. Boy, did we do a role reversal on that aspect of Halloween. Instead of chasing the spirits away, we tend to invite them in.

Most present day Halloween traditions are traceable to the ancient Celtic day of the dead. Halloween consists of mysterious customs, but each has a history, or at least a story behind it. Take wearing costumes, and roaming from door to door demanding treats. This behavior can be traced to the Celtic period and the first few centuries of the Christian era, when it was thought that the souls of the dead were out and about, along with fairies, witches, and demons. Offerings of food and drink were left out to placate them. As the centuries wore on, people began dressing like these creatures, performing antics in exchange for food and drink. This is where the practice of trick-or-treating began. To this day, vampires, witches, ghosts, and skeletons are among the favorite costumes.

Our Halloween also retains activities from the original harvest holiday of Samhain, such as bobbing for apples and carving vegetables, (pumpkins) as well as the fruits, nuts, and spices for cider associated with the day. Although at my house, hot chocolate is pretty popular, since Halloween almost guarantees the first snow of the year.

Happy Halloween!

 

About Tena Stetler

Tena Stetler is a best-selling author of award winning paranormal romance with an over-active imagination. She wrote her first vampire romance as a tween, to the chagrin of her mother and the delight of her friends. Colorado is home; shared with her husband, a brilliant Chow Chow, a spoiled parrot and a forty-five-year-old box turtle. When she’s not writing, her time is spent kayaking, camping, hiking, biking or just relaxing in the great Colorado outdoors.

Her books tell tales of magical kick-ass women and mystical alpha males that dare to love them. Travel, adventure and a bit of mystery flourish in her books along with a few companion animals to round out the tales.

Web Site | Blog: Authors’ Secrets | Tena Stetler’s Say What Blog | Facebook | Twitter | GoodReads | Amazon Author Page | Newsletter | Pinterest | Instagram | Triberr | BookBub | Tumblr

Spooktacular Giveaway

Tena Stetler’s giveaway: $15.00 Amazon Gift Card

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Spooktacular Spotlight on #Paranormal #WomensFiction: Midlife in Mosswood by Louisa West

Hello My Dear Readers! The month is half over, can you believe it? The Halloween Spooktacular Tours and Giveaways continue with a look at Louisa West’s new release in paranormal women’s fiction. Be sure to enter her giveaway for an e-book pack, too. Enjoy!
xo, Celia

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Midlife in Mosswood by Louisa West book cover image

Title: Midlife in Mosswood
Author: Louisa West
Genre: Paranormal Women’s Fiction
Publisher: Louisa West
Release date: 9/30/20
ASIN: B087KYLF3N
# or Pages: 170
Word count: 50k
Cover Artist: Louisa West

She thought the thriller part of her life was behind her. But when the man she’s falling for has a sinister secret, she’s no longer sure whether he’s a trick or a treat.

Rosemary Bell is a witch for Halloween… and every other day of the year. And that’s not even the weirdest thing about her life. Her ex-husband is a turtle, her daughter Maggie’s new best friend is an imaginary kangaroo, and the guy sleeping on her couch is a King—as well as her fated lover.

Just as she’s starting to fall for Declan, Rosie gets spooked by a revelation that leaves her wondering whether she is really meant to be his Queen. And as a new houseguest quickly proves, promises don’t always mean forever. When a sexy choir girl arrives in town with her eyes set on Rosie’s King and crown, she will have to decide for herself what her destiny is, and soon.

Struggling between caring for Declan and caring for herself, Rosie has better luck advising her friends what to do about their love lives than tending to her own. But when Maggie goes missing on All Hallow’s Eve, Rosie is forced to admit that jealousy’s a witch – literally!

The Good Witch meets Hocus Pocus in this short novel about stepping into new shoes, choosing who you’re going to be, and never letting fear decide your fate, even on Halloween.

Jealousy’s a Witch is the second book in the heartwarming new Midlife in Mosswood series by Louisa West. Available exclusive to Amazon and in Kindle Unlimited.

Amazon US | Amazon CA | Amazon UK | Amazon AU

EXCERPT

The sounds of the hot summer afternoon seemed dulled by the arrival of Tammy. She looked sheepishly between Declan and Rosie, her knuckles tight around the laundry bag of clothes she held like Santa Claus’ sack over one pudgy shoulder.

“I hope I’m not imposin’,” she said softly, even though it was clear that she knew she was. “Only that…well!” Unshed tears suddenly welled in her eyes, and she tried a combination of blinking and fanning her wedding-ring devoid hand in front of her face to stop them from falling.

Declan looked from Rosie to Tammy and then back again, as though trying to weigh up how useful he might be in a situation like this versus how much damage he might cause by way of a poorly timed and probably inappropriate joke. “I think I better check on the painting crew,” he murmured, rubbing the back of his neck as he took off for less emotional turf.

Rosie crossed over to the table, set down the potato salad she had been carrying. “Why don’t you have a seat and I’ll pour us some lemonade,” she suggested. Tammy nodded mutely, swiping at the tears now streaking down her face. Two sips of lemonade seemed to give her the confidence she needed to carry through with the story.

“I’m so sorry to barge in on y’all like this,” she sniffled, “but I didn’t know where else to go.”

Rosie thought back to the day Tammy had rolled up to the cottage as part of Prissy’s entourage. She had seemed like the only genuine woman out of the three. Rosie had felt terrible when Tammy had seen her husband Terry making a pass at her the day he’d come out to the cottage to ‘offer his services’ as a handyman. She hadn’t seen her since that day, but it didn’t look like things had improved for her any.

“You don’t need to apologize,” Rosie told her, “so let’s get that out of the way right-quick. We’re havin’ a cook-out, and you’re officially invited.”

Tammy offered a weak smile in return, sipping her lemonade. “Thank you.”

Rosie smiled back. “You’re welcome. Now,” she added, glancing up at the cottage. “I feel duty-bound to tell you that at any minute we’re likely to be infiltrated by a rush of starving teenage boys, an Irishman with a huge appetite, a girl who can put away three hotdogs in one sitting, and a turtle that—”

“—a turtle?”

“Long story,” Rosie grinned.

 

What is Paranormal Women’s Fiction, Anyway?
A conversation with Louisa West.

Buffy. Sookie Stackhouse. Elena Gilbert. Bella Swan. If you know one or all of these characters, then there’s a pretty good chance that you like to read paranormal romance. These women range between being kick-ass, plucky, and just plain special—but there’s another thing they all have in common: really hot supernatural love interests. I’m the first to admit that there’s nothing I love better than a Buffy re-watch, or curling up with a Charlaine Harris novel to whittle my time away in a land where Eric Northman exists. But as I get older (sigh), I find myself wanting more out of my paranormal romance.

I want to relate.

I want to feel as though my real-life struggles of bills, and raising a child, and the body-image issues I have are real for the characters I’m reading as well. I want to be able to laugh because I’m not the only one who has problems with her neighbors, or can never fold a fitted sheet (that’s another kind of witchcraft, friends!), or because sex after twenty can sometimes be a little awkward and hilarious at the same time. Life after 35 just gets even more real. At best, you start thinking about long-term plans for your retirement. At worst, you need to be careful about how many cups of coffee you have before you drive to the grocery store fifteen minutes down the road.

Paranormal Women’s Fiction is a rising genre thanks to the collective efforts of a group of women known colloquially online as ‘The Fab13’. The genre touches on what it’s like for ‘mature’ heroines to get by in a modern world, with all the hurdles that life throws in their paths. These women are dealing with issues like divorce, potential homelessness, toxic relationships, and other really gritty, grown-up stuff. But the sparkling platter that these themes are served on comes in the form of literal magical circumstances, witty one-liners, love interests that are hotter than Hades and women who are empowered to not only move forward but to do so while coming fully into their own power.

Typically, the heroines of these books are over forty. It’s kind of that golden age where you’ve lived enough of life to know what’s what, but also you’ve seen enough to know that you just don’t have the time or energy to put up with any more crap from anyone. It also means that you’re probably not as perky or unwrinkled as you once were (if you are, leave your skin-care and exercise routines in the comments below!). For me, reading these books and getting to know these women who not only face who they are but fly that Older and Fabulous flag proudly has been an absolute joy.

So it made sense that my next series would be written in the same vein.

The main character in my Midlife in Mosswood series is Rosemary Bell, a thirty-nine year old mom who finds the courage to finally leave a toxic relationship. While she’s petrified of starting over again, Rosie and her young daughter Maggie soon settle into the slow rhythm of life in a small town. Rosie is resilient hard-working, and desperate to raise her daughter right. She’s also emotionally damaged, untrusting, and determined to hold everyone except Maggie at arm’s length. Throughout the series Rosie must face not only her past with her ex, but also her family history. She learns how to be a better mom, and how to navigate the challenges of living in a small town when you’re obviously different and more than a little out of your depth. And she also finds a way forward for herself, finding out that she’s actually a witch and that there’s possibly and handsome Irish witch King in her future.

The Paranormal Women’s Fiction genre has set up new expectations for books about older women written by older women. I’m thrilled to be part of it!

 

About Louisa West

Author by day, Netflix connoisseur by night.

Louisa likes Pina Coladas and gettin’ caught in the rain. Determined to empty her brain of stories, she writes across several genres including fantasy, speculative fiction, contemporary and historical fiction, and romance.

She lives in Mandurah, Western Australia, and drinks more coffee than is good for her. When she’s not writing or researching projects, Louisa enjoys spending time with her family, and Harriet The Great (Dane). Hobbies include playing video games, watching copious amounts of tv, and various craft-related initiatives.

She strongly believes that the truth is still out there.

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Louisa West’s giveaway: 1 ‘Midlife in Mosswood eBook pack including a copy of New Witch on the Block (book 1) and Jealousy’s a Witch (book 2)

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Spooktacular Spotlight on #UrbanFantasy: Double Alchemy by @SusanMacNicol7

Hi Everyone! The Halloween Spooktacular Tours and Giveaways continue today with a look at author Susan MacNicol’s MM Urban Fantasy. Be sure to enter her giveaway for a gift card and a book from her backlist. Enjoy!
xo, Celia

Double Alchemy by SusanMacNicol book cover image

Title: Double Alchemy
Author: Susan Mac Nicol
Genre: Paranormal/urban fantasy MM romance
Publisher: Boroughs Publishing Group
Release date: 23/03/2014
ASIN: B00J7FVYRC
ISBN: 978-1-941260-04-3
# or Pages: 335
Word count: 110K
Cover Artist: Boroughs Publishing Group

The World in Shadow

Powerful yet tormented modern warlock Quinn Fairmont must initiate the silver-eyed Cade Mairston into the world of witchfinders, Withinners, and what can happen when two men fall truly, madly, deeply in love.

In modern London there lurks a warlock, Quinn Fairmont. Dangerous, powerful, tortured, sharing his body with the soul of an ancient Welsh sorcerer, Quinn is never alone—and never wholly himself. He fights against all those who would exploit his kind. He takes pleasure where he can find it.

In the forest of Hampstead Heath, Quinn’s hometown, Cade Mairston appears to him like a waking dream. Lithe, lean and silver-eyed, he evokes feelings in Quinn unlike any other: lust with true affection, immediate and shocking. Cade is clearly more than he seems. And yet, if a man of the world, Cade is innocent. He knows nothing of warlocks, witchfinders or Withinners. He knows nothing of what he is, what he might be, or what he might feel. For him, the story is just beginning. Magyck, peril and passion await. More awaits in book two…

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EXCERPT

They lay beside each other in Cade’s bed, snuggled under the covers together. It was a large king-size bed, one they’d made the most of it that evening. Quinn turned and regarded Cade with drowsy eyes as his fingers trailed soft patterns across his chest. Cade caught his breath at Quinn’s lazy touch, his body still jazzed up from their love making. Quinn fingered the small metal piercing in Cade’s left nipple with lazy indolence. Cade’s hands caressed Quinn’s stomach, lingering on an ugly, puckered three-inch scar which stretched down to his left hip.

“You seem to be getting used to this whole situation,” Quinn murmured. He caressed the nipple piercing. “And this was a nice surprise. You didn’t have it in the other night. I think I explored you enough to know you don’t have any more anywhere.” He grinned wickedly as Cade’s fingers pinched his hip.

Cade laughed softly. “I took it out for the benefit dinner. It doesn’t fit well under a dress shirt. And as for all this -I don’t believe it all myself. But I don’t seem to have a choice. You’ve made that quite clear. And I have to say it’s not all that much of a hardship. You’re a pretty personable and sexy guy and to be honest, this just feels –so right- somehow.” He licked a wet tongue down Quinn’s shoulder and grinned as Quinn lost his breath.

Cade murmured, “I saw you in the paper with a man called Adam Carnover.”

Quinn started and looked at Cade with hooded eyes.

Cade watched his eyes. “Is he still in your life? The papers seemed to think you were getting married.”

Quinn leaned over and kissed his forehead softly. “I wouldn’t be here with you if I was with another man. Adam isn’t in my life any longer.”

“What happened?”

Quinn frowned, his face dark. “We had a difference of opinion and decided to go our separate ways.”

“Was he like me, or was he normal?” Cade asked curiously, glad that the man was no longer around but still intending to find out more about their past relationship.

Quinn was still. “He was normal, nothing like you,” he said shortly.

Cade could tell he really didn’t want to talk about his ex. Wisely, he let it rest for the moment. “Another thing you haven’t told me. Who was that man I saw in the forest that evening? Was that something to do with you?”

Quinn’s eyes narrowed as if debating what to say next.

“Are you going to tell me?” Cade watched him closely. He reached down and grasped Quinn’s semi erect cock. “Or do I have to suck it out of you like I did earlier?”

Quinn gave a low laugh and sat up, the bed covers draped across his waist as he leaned back against the headboard. “As much as I find that idea very appealing, I think I need to recuperate first. I don’t think I’ve got any moisture left in my body after that very intense blow job. But please feel free to repeat the experience in a little while.”

 

Susan MacNicol photo

About Susan MacNicol

Bringing lovers together, one book at a time

The official stuff

Susan writes steamy, sexy and fun contemporary romance stories, some suspenseful, some gritty and dark and hopefully always entertaining. She’s also Editor in Chief at Divine Magazine, an online LGBTQ e-zine, and a member of The Society of Authors, the Writers Guild of Great Britain, and the Authors Guild in the US.
Susan is also an award-winning script writer, with scripts based on two of her own published works. Sight Unseen has garnered no less than five awards to date and her TV pilot, Reel Life, based on her debut novel, Cassandra by Starlight, was also a winner at the Oaxaca Film Fest.

The ‘unofficial’ stuff…

She loves going to the theatre, live music concerts (especially if it’s her man crush Adam Lambert or the divine Cumberbatch) walks in the countryside, a good G and T, lazing away afternoons reading a good book, and watching re-runs of Silent Witness.

Her chequered past includes stories like being mistaken for a prostitute in the city of Johannesburg, being chased by a rhino on a dusty Kenyan road, getting kicked out of a youth club for being a ‘bad influence’ (she encourages free thinking) and having an aunt who was engaged to Cliff Richard.

I’d love you to stalk me so here you go…

Website | Twitter | Facebook Author Page | Facebook | Facebook Reader Group | Instagram | Bookbub | GoodReads | MeWe | LinkedIn| Newsletter

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Susan MacNicol’s giveaway: $5.00 Amazon Gift Card PLUS an e-copy of any one of her backlist books.

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Spooktacular Spotlight on #historicalfantasy: Fighting For Home by @kim_richards

Hello Dear Readers! It’s back to the Bewitching Spooktacular blog posts this week. Author Kim Richards is here today with her historical fantasy and a giveaway. Enjoy!
xo, Celia

Title: Fighting for Home
Series: Descendants of the Amazoi, book 1
Author: Kim Richards
Genre: fantasy/historical fantasy
Publisher: Kim Gilchrist
Release date: July 2020
Print ISBN: 978-1-952564-00-0
ISBN: 978-1-952564-02-4
# or Pages: 241
Word count: 87K
Cover Artist: Dawné Dominique, DusktilDawn Designs

In 300 B.C.—the Greco-Roman Age—tribes of warrior women thrived near the Black Sea. The area is now modern-day Turkey. The Greeks called them Amazoi (meaning Mankiller).

Inspired by their story, Fighting for Home sings the tale of one tribe as they battle to save their way of life. Healing magic is real! Ilenea and Saphira, the wolf sisters, battle close to home with others of their generation. A healer priestess named Essla travels to a temple of Artemis at Anthela with her male slave, bringing a call to arms for the pending war. She meets and falls in love with a Roman General.

Whatever the outcome, this war changes everyone.

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EXCERPT

Thup. Thup. The second archer cried out as two of Xanthi’s arrows buried themselves into his thigh and hip. He let his own arrow fly. Leaves rustled where his arrows disappeared among the tree branches. He fumbled with an arrow, trying to notch it quickly when he heard the rustle again.

The archer looked up as Xanthi leaped from the bushes with her spear in hand. There was no time for him to raise his bow before the bronze point burrowed its way through his leather cuirass, seeking the tender flesh beneath.

At his wretched cry, the shield man to the left took a wild swing with his sword. He caught Xanthi just below the left collarbone. It sliced through her leather jerkin, taking breast flesh with it.

Crying out from the pain, she fell to her knees as blood poured from the gash. One hand pressed against the wound as her other fumbled for her knife.

Xanthi’s man turned his attention from her. He should’ve advanced. Celete used it to her advantage and swung her axe up the inside of his shield. It’s blade cleaved his stomach wide open. His guts spilled out over her hand—hot and sticky. He toppled sideways, landing in the dirt before Xanthi. With a roar befitting any lioness, she clawed at his face for what he did to her.

 

Catherine Stine photo

About Kim Richards

Kim Richards lives in Northern California with her husband and pets. She loves the genres of horror, science fiction, and fantasy. Her hobbies include reading, writing, sewing, LARPing, and listening to music.

Amazon Author Page | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | GoodReads | Website

Spooktacular Giveaway

Kim Richards giveaway: Amazon Gift Card

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Spotlight on #LGBTQ #Romance: Full Moon in Leo by @brooklynrayauthor

Happy Friday, Dear Readers! Author Brooklyn Ray is here today with their holiday romance, released this month! A little bit of Christmas for us in October. 🙂 The Halloween Spooktacular Tour posts will resume next week with a fresh batch of Halloween fun. Enjoy! xo, Celia

Title: Full Moon in Leo
Author: Brooklyn Ray
Genre: Queer Holiday Romance
Release date: October 1, 2020
ASIN: B08H1P6X2R
ISBN: 9798681122579
# or Pages: 210
Word count: 65K
Cover Artist: BookCoverZone

Small-town magic, two heavy hearts–one unforgettable winter solstice.

Cole Morrison left Jewel’s snow-covered fir trees ten years ago. But after a disastrous family Thanksgiving, Jewel seems like the only place left to go. When a run-in with a gorgeous stranger leaves him with debt to pay, Cole’s escape from his past turns out to be much more than a lonely Christmas vacation.

Jesse Carroway, the local Jewel witch, has been running his family’s successful, small-town Apothecary ever since his grandmother passed away. When Cole stumbles into his shop and accidentally wrecks a good portion of his inventory, Jesse does the only thing he can possibly think of—offers Cole a job and himself some help for the upcoming holiday rush.

Cole’s clumsy with candles and doesn’t trust easily, but soon Jesse gets a peek at the guy behind his bad-boy reputation. As the nights lengthen toward Yule, Jesse wonders if magic is to blame or if Cole might’ve fallen into his life for a reason…

Amazon

EXCERPT

Honeycomb littered the counter.
Jesse sprinkled golden shards into the scrub and closed his eyes, imagining prosperity and hope and truth, the ingredients needed to solidify the spell, cocooning around each piece of salt. The spell shifted. Strengthened. Like a lock, the honeycomb sealed everything in place.
“Will that work?” Cole asked. He crouched next to the reassembled shelf, scratching idly behind Waffles’ ear.
A smile pulled his mouth upright. “Yeah, it’ll work.”
“What happens now?”
“We package everything, tie a pretty bow around the jars, and put them out. Here, I’ll show you how to shelve product. Use the wooden spoons and scoop the salt into the jar. Fill it to…right about”—Jesse tapped the jar an inch below the top—“there.”
Cole followed directions easily. Every movement was slow, deliberate and precise, mirroring Jesse as best he could. Once they’d finished, Jesse showed him how to tie a bow around the lid with thin-cut burlap.
“I’m not great at this,” Cole said through a grimace, fiddling with a sad, droopy bow.
“Don’t think too much.” Jesse batted his hands away and undid the bow, retying it with practiced ease. “If you try to make it perfect it’ll look forced and…” He smoothed out the burlap, tipping his head back and forth as he searched for the right words. “Disingenuous. I mean, that’s pretty solid advice around here. Magic is messy and weird, but it’s honest. It never tries to be something it isn’t. Same with candle making and bath bombs and everything else. Don’t dwell on making your gift wrap look exactly like mine, just do your best to make it pretty.”
“I don’t exactly know how to make things pretty, Jesse.”
Jesse tied a bow, a little crooked, but good enough. He untied it again and handed the burlap to Cole. “Try again.” Cole held the ribbon so tight his hands quivered. Jesse could almost feel it—bones apprehended, too tense and strained to do any good. “Okay, hold on. You’re, like, ridiculously tense.” He heaved a sigh. “Can I try something?”
Cole’s flighty gaze swept to Jesse’s face. “Something?”
Jesse pushed the packaged jars aside and placed the stone bowl on the counter between them. He glanced over one shoulder. Then the other. There. He snatched the water bottle. “Can I see your hands?”
Cole didn’t move at first. His jaw flexed. Caution flared behind his eyes. Jesse waited, nodding from his open palm, dangling over the bowl, to Cole’s, twitching on the counter. His hesitation remained, even as he unbuttoned his cuffs and let Jesse take his hand.
Carefully, Jesse smoothed the leftover salt scrub over Cole’s knuckles, pulled one hand closer and pressed his thumbs to the center of Cole’s palm. Like this, guarded and entirely human, Cole gentled. His shoulders relaxed. Tension drained from his fingertips. Jesse focused on his hands, each one, pushing and kneading while Cole stood entirely too still, attention fixed on him.
The apothecary went quiet. Sometimes pressing trust through skin held more power than smiles or stories. As he worked the salt into Cole’s calloused hands, Jesse realized he probably hadn’t been touched this tenderly in a long, long time.
“Do these mean anything?” Jesse traced the edge of the koi fish tattoo on his left hand. Laced their fingers. Squeezed.
Cole’s throat bobbed when he swallowed. “Apparently they bring good fortune. Figured I could use some of that.”
“And this one?” He took Cole’s other hand, touched the wolf on his forearm, then went back to massaging the base of his fingers.
“I’ve been a lone wolf since I was young.”
“Wolves usually run in packs, right?”
“Usually,” Cole said, voice hushed and low.
Jesse wanted to read his palm. He wanted to map Cole’s past and future, find where his heart line met his destiny, just to test the universe. Is this a coincidence, he wanted to ask. Is there even such thing? He poured water over Cole’s hands and washed the scrub away.
“Better?”
Cole wrung his hands. “Yeah, much better.”
“Try again.”
This time, Cole’s hands moved fluidly, pulling a pretty bow into place. He smiled at the jar. Pride looked good on him. “Did you cast a spell on me?” he asked, grinning.
Jesse’s stomach fluttered. Don’t blush. He aimed his laughter at the ceiling and shook his head. Don’t you dare. “Not yet.” He reached for the keys in the drawer below the cash wrap and twirled them around his finger. “See you tomorrow?”
Cole’s brows twitched and his lips parted, but he cleared his throat and nodded. “Yeah, I’ll see you in the morning.”
Jesse wanted to ask him what he’d planned to say—what he wanted to say. “Goodnight, Cole.”
Cole knelt to pet Waffles before he shrugged on his jacket. He tossed a smile over his shoulder, footsteps crunching through snow on the sidewalk.
Jesse let out a deep breath. He glanced at Waffles, who sat on her haunches, staring back at him.
“Don’t look at me like that,” he whispered, and rolled leftover salt between his fingers.

 

Brooklyn Ray photo

About Brooklyn Ray

Brooklyn Ray (they/them) is a fan of fresh brewed tea, long walks through the woods, and evenings spent reading sexy books. They write Queer Paranormal Romance and Erotica about witches, necromancers, and other magical creatures, and moonlight as a tarot and palm reader in the Pacific Northwest.

Find them on: Instagram & GoodReads

Halloween 2020 Spooktacular Tours: A Warrior’s Kiss & Origins

Hello My Dear Readers!
It’s tour month for my Cupid Dating Agency angels and Tranquilli Bloodline vampires as part of the Bewitching Book Tours Halloween Spooktacular! Visit any of my tour stops this month to enjoy some Halloween-themed posts, and be sure to enter my giveaway for a chance at a $20 Amazon US e-gift card!
xo,
Celia

p.s. Mark your calendars: Come to the live, multi-author Haunted Halloween Spooktacular Facebook Party, sponsored by Bewitching Book Tours, on October 21st, for chitchat and chances at still more giveaways! I’ll be there 10 – 11 AM Pacific / 1 – 2 PM Eastern.

A WARRIOR'S KISS BOOK COVER 3 Halloween posts you may see at tour stops: Carina Tranquilli’s Halloween Cocktail and Snack, and Celia’s Must-See TV Shows or Celia’s Must-See Movies for Halloween.

Tour Book Sales!

Origins  by Celia Breslin book cover
A Warrior's Kiss by Celia Breslin October 2020 tour banner Origins by Celia Breslin October 2020 tour banner

A WARRIOR’S KISS

10/1 Serena Synn
10/2 ilovebooksandstuffblog
10/5 Bewitching Book Tours
10/6 Author Secrets
10/7 A Bewitching Guide to Halloween
10/8 Fangtastic Books
10/9 Paranormalists
10/12 Midnight Musings
10/13 Roxanne’s Realm
10/14 The Creatively Green Write at Home Mom
10/15 Other Worlds of Romance
10/16 Momma Says: To Read or Not to Read
10/19 The Book Junkie Reads
10/20 I Smell Sheep
10/21 Supernatural Central
10/22 Lisa’s World of Books
10/23 Jazzy Book Reviews
10/26 Angel’s Guilty Pleasures
10/27 T’s Stuff
10/28 Sapphyria’s Books
10/29 JB’s Bookworms with Brandy Mulder
10/30 Simply Kelina

ORIGINS

10/1 Serena Synn
10/2 Bewitching Guide to All Things Halloween
10/5 The Creatively Green Write at Home Mom
10/6 Other Worlds of Romance
10/7 Momma Says: To Read or Not to Read
10/8 The Book Junkie Reads
10/9 T’s Stuff
10/12 Supernatural Central
10/13 Lisa’s World of Books
10/14 Midnight Musings
10/15 Fangtastic Books
10/16 Paranormalists
10/19 Roxanne’s Realm
10/23 I Smell Sheep
10/26 Jazzy Book Reviews
10/27 Sapphyria’s Books
10/28 JB’s Bookworms with Brandy Mulder
10/29 Simply Kelina
10/30 Bewitching Book Tours

Spooktacular Giveaway

Multi-author prize pack, including a $20 USD AmazonUS e-gift card from me. 🙂

Enter the 2020 Bewitching Spooktacular Rafflecopter giveaway.

List of prizes in the Bewitching Book Tours Halloween Spooktacular 2020

 

Spooktacular Spotlight on Shifter #PNR: Alpha’s Revenge

Hi Everyone! It’s Halloween month and that means it’s time for Bewitching Book Tour’s yearly Halloween Spooktacular, with Halloween-themed book posts and giveaways galore! I’ll be on tour with my new release, A Warrior’s Kiss and also last fall’s vampire release, Origins. Today, here’s a look at author Catherine Stine’s spooktacular story plus Catherine’s Halloween playlist. Giveaways details below, too. Enjoy! xo, Celia

Title: Alpha’s Revenge
Series: Royal Alpha Wolves Club, #3 (Shared World Series)
Author: Catherine Stine
Genre: Werewolf Shifter Romance
Publisher: Konjur Road Press
Release date: September 3, 2020
ASIN: B08CWVBZM7
ISBN: 978-1-7333901-4-9
# or Pages: 165
Word count: 42K
Cover Artist: Crown Atlantic

A heartbroken furious alpha, a forbidden childhood crush revisited.
Will karmic justice destroy them both?

From the languid, sexy heat of New Orleans, all the way to the icy Canadian Wilderness, supernatural creatures live shadow lives amongst mortals. But what if one of the most powerful and regal of beings—wolf shifters—found their packs disappearing through longstanding battles and vicious payback?

The Royal Alpha Wolves Club, a worldwide, ancient organization formed to keep order and secrets safe among werewolf packs is faced with this very dilemma. So, when the club leader gives the dire order for all royals to find a mate and produce an heir within a year it’s in the wolf shifters’ best interest. Wayland, though, is not on board.

Meet Wayland Leblanc—legendary royal alpha, hell-bent on revenge for his murdered mate. When the edict comes down from the leader in his new territory that all royals mate and produce an heir within the year or lose royal status, Wayland hits the road. He’s not ready. Instead, he charges up to Canada in his mini-camper, to wreak revenge on Thorn, the Tundra shifter who killed his mate Sabine and their unborn babe. He conscripts an army of coyote shifters in his revenge plot, and stuffs down his lingering heartache by partying with neighboring witches.

What he doesn’t plan for is falling hard for Stormy, Thorn’s mysterious sister. But pursuing a star-crossed Juliet to his Romeo just might cost Wayland and Stormy their lives.

4 books. 4 authors. 4 alphas. 1 shared world.

Amazon

EXCERPT

“Who are you?” It was dawning on him. Could it be his old Tundra playmate, Stormy? They hadn’t seen each other for years. It was rumored that Thorn had kept her so protected it was like she was locked in his ivory tower prison. Holy damn, if it was Stormy, he should have nothing to do with her. She was Thorn’s little sister. Could he still be confused? He’d just been hit so hard that maybe his brain had gone freaking haywire. “Where’s Ransom?”

“He’s alive but you messed him up good. Why are you coming around, so angry, gunning for a fight? You look so familiar, but… ” She ran a cooling cloth over Wayland’s swollen eye. She smelled of forest phlox and river moss—of the Canadian tundra in summer. He struggled to get up again and realized she’d tied his arms, torso and ankles down with thick vines. He didn’t believe in hurting a woman. But his rage bubbled dangerously close to the surface. If he stayed like this too much longer, and she leaned closer to him as she cleaned his wounds he might not be able to stop from snapping his head up and biting her.

“Why the hell did you tie me up?” he snarled.

“For your own safety and for mine. You seemed unhinged. Who are you anyway? You look so familiar.”

“Wayland. I used to live around here.”

“Wayland!” She stopped cleaning his swollen eye and stared down at him. “Wayland Leblanc.”

“Yeah, a damn Leblanc. The Tundras, led by your vicious brother slaughtered us a year ago in case you need reminding. Bunch of fucking savages,” he growled.

“I know who you are. Your father killed my father.”

“So, you are Stormy, Thorn’s sister,” he muttered. The very man I’m hunting down.

 

Halloweenish playlist by Catherine Stine, Enjoy!

Catherine Stine photo

About Catherine Stine

Catherine Stine is a USA Today bestselling author of historical fantasy, paranormal romance and sci-fi thrillers. Witch of the Wild Beasts won a second prize spot in the ‘19 RWA Sheila Contest. Other novels have earned Indie Notable awards and New York Public Library Best Books for Teens. She lives in Manhattan, grew up in Philadelphia and is known to roam the Catskills. Before writing novels, she was a painter and children’s fabric designer. She’s a visual author when it comes to scenes, and she sees writing as painting with words. She loves edgy thrills, perhaps because her dad read Edgar Allen Poe tales to her as a child. Catherine loves spending time with her beagle Benny, writing about supernatural creatures, gardening on her deck, traveling and meeting readers at book fests.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Bookbub | GoodReads | Amazon Author Page | Newsletter

Spooktacular Giveaway

Catherine Stine’s giveaway: A signed copy of Alpha’s Revenge (USA only)

Enter the Bewitching Spooktacular Rafflecopter giveaway.

For #Halloween: Pumpkins & Party Themes by @RoxanneRhoads

Hi Everyone!
The California wild fires and Covid19 continue to keep us indoors over here in San Francisco, but I’m determined to celebrate Halloween month! So…I have some fun treats for you this month: book spotlights and tours with giveaways! First up, here’s a look at Roxanne Rhoads’s DIY design book for fabulous home Halloween decorations. Enjoy!
xo,
Celia

Pumpkins and Party Themes, 50 DIY Designs to Bring Your Halloween Extravaganza to Life by Roxanne Rhoads book cover
Title: Pumpkins and Party Themes
Paperback: 176 pages
Publisher: Skyhorse
Date of Publication: August 25, 2020
ISBN-10: 1510751165
ISBN-13: 978-1510751163

Bring your Halloween party theme to life with these quick tips and tricks!

Pumpkins and Party Themes features ten unique party themes with five do-it-yourself pumpkin designs for each theme. The pumpkin projects have a variety of decorating ideas that include carving, painting, and mixed media craftiness and easy-to-follow steps on each creation. Author Roxanne Rhoads also includes quick ideas on how to bring the theme to life through décor, costumes, and activities. These fun party themes range from gothic elegance to Edgar Allan Poe, under the sea, let’s get literary, and more!

With beautiful full-color images to illustrate the tools needed, steps to follow, and final products, this book makes for the perfect gift for Halloween enthusiasts and party hosts alike!

Amazon | IndieBound | B&N | Kobo | Chapters | Simon & Schuster | Google Books | Target | Books A Million

Dr. Frankenstein’s Laboratory

Roxanne Rhoads

About Roxanne Rhoads

Roxanne Rhoads is an author, book publicist, mixed media crafter, and lover of all things spooky.

Her books include the Amazon Bestseller Haunted Flint and Pumpkins and Party Themes : 50 DIY Designs to Bring Your Halloween Extravaganza to Life.

She is the owner of Bewitching Book Tours, a virtual book tour and social media marketing company. She operates a Halloween blog- A Bewitching Guide to Halloween and sells handcrafted jewelry, art, and home decor through her Etsy store The Bewitching Cauldron.

When not reading or writing, Roxanne loves to craft, plan Halloween adventures, and search for unique vintage finds.

Amazon Author Page | A Bewitching Guide to Halloween | Etsy Store | Author Website | Book Blog | Bewitching Book Tours | Facebook | Facebook Author Page | Facebook Bewitching Guide to Halloween | Facebook Bewitching Cauldron | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest
 

 

Spotlight on #UrbanFantasy: Morrigan’s Blood by @Laura_Bickle

Hi Everyone! Laura Bickle is back on the blog this week, with an urban fantasy story for you. Gorgeous book cover, am I right? Please enjoy the excerpt Laura provided and be sure to enter her book tour giveaway. Details below. Happy reading!
xo, Celia

Title: Morigan’s Blood
Author: Laura Bickle
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Release Date: September 25, 2020
ASIN: B08B9TJ4V9
# of pages: 188
Word count:57K
Cover Artist: Danielle Fine

Garnet has the blood of the legendary Morrigan – and legions of vampires and witches will go to war to possess that power.

Garnet has the blood of the legendary Morrigan – and legions of vampires and witches will go to war to possess that power.

As a trauma surgeon, Garnet Conners has seen more than her fair share of blood. But when one of her patients walks off the operating table and disappears into the night, she finds herself caught in a war between legions of vampires and witches in her city.

Garnet has dreamed of bloody battlefields for years – and a mysterious lover who controls a kingdom. In her waking life, Garnet is shocked to meet that man in a club. Merrel knows her from another life, a life in which she was the legendary Morrigan, goddess of death and war.

Garnet rejects the notion of magical incarnations altogether. But she falls in with Sorin, a handsome warlock who’s determined to protect the former bootlegger city of Riverpointe from a secret society of vampires. Haunted by crows and faced with undeniable proof of magic, Garnet scrambles to protect her career and loved ones from magical violence.

Abducted by vampires who seek to turn her into a vampire against her will, can Garnet seize the power of the legendary Morrigan to forge her own path in her embattled city? Or will she be forced to serve as a fearsome weapon in a deadly nocturnal war?

Amazon

EXCERPT

“What have you got for me tonight, folks?” I asked.

I backed through the doors of the operating theater, butt-first, gloved hands lifted before me to keep them clean. I took small steps, mindful not to lose traction. Those thin booties were slick, and I’d fallen on my ass on more than one occasion when I made sudden moves. Tonight, I was determined to get through surgery in an upright position and not have to scrub in twice.

One of the nurses read from notes on a computer terminal. “This guy was found in the parking lot of a closed bowling alley. Speculation is that he took a trip or two through the pin setting machine and got badly torn up.”

“Well, that’s a first.” I turned toward the operating room table. The light was so bright that hardly any shadows were cast in the room. They focused on the unholy mess on the middle of my table.

This. I’m supposed to fix this.

A man lay, unconscious, on the table. His chest was torn open, flaps of skin oozing onto wads of gauze and a paper sheet. His face was a mass of blood, now being daubed at with sponges. The anesthesiologist had found his mouth to thread a tube down, and someone had managed to get an IV started in one of his scraped-up arms.

My nose wrinkled under my mask. “What do the X-rays show? How deep does the damage go? Did he get a CT?”

A nurse clicked on a flatscreen monitor that displayed a carousel of CT images. I squinted at them, muttering dark oaths.

“Radiologist says it looks like a lacerated pancreas, punctured lung, and two rib fractures,” the nurse said. The image switched to the head, and he said: “Also the bonus of a fractured orbital bone.”

I stared at the CTs. “Let’s start with that lung. We leave the pancreas, and call plastic surgery on that orbital bone. This guy’s going to need all the king’s horses and all the king’s men to put him back together again.”

“Will do.”

I gazed down at the poor suffering bastard. I liked seeing the imaging, but I preferred to get a good visual with my own eyes on my patients. Sometimes X-rays and CTs didn’t tell me everything I needed to know about what to start sewing where. Something about seeing where the blood moved and pooled in an injured person gave me an idea of where to begin. The blood always led me to where I needed to direct my attention. Where it spurted required my immediate expertise. Where it clotted or moved lazily, I could wait a bit. When blood drained out of a limb and had left it white, I needed to add more. I noted with approval that he was already receiving a transfusion. As long as blood was moving, there was a chance for him.

I frowned at his chest and touched the edges of the rends in his flesh with gloved fingers. Those were ragged and would have to be cut clean before I sewed him back up. I could see the edge of one of those protruding ribs, sticking up like a finger. I glanced over his limbs, counting the usual four. Hey, it pays to count. Count twice, cut once. I mentally cataloged bruises and scrapes, nothing that needed my immediate attention, though I flagged the palms of his hands to get a few stitches from the surgical resident. Looked like defensive wounds, like the guy had tried to fight the pin machine, but lost.

My eyes moved up to his face. One blackened eye was swollen shut. My fingers and gaze wandered over his scalp, checking for major wounds, when I spied a laceration at his throat.

I gently probed it with gloved hands. Some kind of puncture…the machine must have caught him near a seeping vein. It had nearly dried up, smelling rusty and not like the bright, coppery blood of his more critical wounds. It could still take a few extra stitches.

I stared down at the unfortunate guy’s oozing chest. Peeling back a flap of skin, I felt around for the collapsed lung. My finger quickly squished around and found the hole, and I extended my free hand for a scalpel. Time to get this party started…

…when the patient sat bolt upright on the table. His good eye was open, rolling.

I yanked my hands back and yelped at the anesthesiologist, “Curt, what the actual hell?”

The OR erupted in a flurry of activity. The anesthesiologist arrived at the patient’s side with a syringe, while nurses tried to push the patient back down.

But he was flailing, windmilling with his arms like a pro wrestler in the ring. The IV ripped out of his arm, and the line slashed back at the anesthesiologist, whipping across his face. The patient reached up and ripped the tube out of his throat. His foot caught an instrument tray, sending scalpels flying. His blood line yanked away, spewing crimson all over the floor.

I held my hands out, using my most calming voice. Not that I had a particularly calming voice; I was a surgeon. We don’t talk to patients. But I tried: “You’re safe. I’m your doctor, Dr. Conners. If you just lie back, we’ll make you comfortable and—”

The guy shrieked and launched himself off the table. The paper sheet tangled around his legs, and he grasped it around his waist as he put his shoulder down and aimed for the door. His shoulder hit me in the arm, and I slipped on my booties, landing on my ass on the tile floor. The patient launched through the swinging doors and disappeared down the hall.

I swore and ripped my booties off my sneakered feet. I clambered to my feet and punched the intercom at the door with my elbow. “Security, code orange at OR 6.” I couldn’t say: I’ve got a runner taking off down the hall. Please send somebody to stop him, because anyone listening to that would freak the hell out, and I would get a talking-to from HR.

I straight-armed the door and took off after the guy. I had no idea how the hell this man was still walking around. Those injuries should have flattened him, and he’d been anesthetized. I had graduated med school with Curt a few years ago, and knew him not to be a careless anesthesiologist who played on his phone in the OR.

The patient skidded down the hallway, landing at a dead end, where a window overlooked the parking lot. The sun had just set, and the sky was the violet color of a fresh bruise. I approached him slowly, like I was herding a feral cat. I tugged my mask down to try and give him a human face to look at.

“Hey, it’s okay. It’s gonna be okay,” I murmured soothingly. I wanted to keep him here until security arrived. If he got even further loose and hurt himself, that would be one obnoxiously long incident report. And an even more involved surgery after that.

“No, no,” he said, shaking his head. “It’s not gonna be okay. The bloodsuckers found me…and the Lusine couldn’t protect me.”

“I don’t know who that is,” I said, thinking that the guy had probably run afoul of some loan sharks. Maybe the mob? “But you’re safe here. We can protect you.”

“No,” he gasped, his face twisted in agony. “No one can protect me. And no one can protect Emily.”

He turned toward the window, backed up a few steps.

“No, wait…” I could see what he was trying to do, and I was helpless to stop it.

He rushed the window, aiming for it with his shoulder. All the latches on the hospital windows on patient floors were welded shut, but this wasn’t an area where conscious patients had access, and the window was not secured against suicide attempts. The glass buckled under his shoulder, the window crumpled away, and he pitched through in a hail of glass into the falling darkness.

I rushed to the window and stared down at the parking lot in horror. Three stories down, the patient sprawled on the parking lot blacktop, flattened like a bug under a shoe.

Curt had come up behind me. “Oh, my god, Garnet…did he…”

“He jumped,” I said, my heart in my mouth. I turned and ran to the stairwell, barking at him. “Get a gurney and the ER team.”

I burst into the stairwell, taking the steps two at a time. As I rounded the third curve, my path was blocked by a tall, dark-haired man in a brown velvet blazer and jeans. He was the type of guy that I might have liked to meet in my off-time—he had a kind of scholarly intensity in his hazel gaze and a bit of roguishness in the stubble that covered his sharp jaw.

“Stand aside,” I blurted. “Emergency!” As if my bloody gloves and surgical gown weren’t warning enough.

But he blocked my path, one hand on either stair rail, his long arms spanning the length of the stairwell. “That man is dangerous,” he growled softly.

“That man is under my care,” I announced, lifting my chin. I walked into the man, figuring that he would give way to my outstretched bloody gloves. Like a normal person would.

. But he didn’t. My sticky gloves nearly mashed into the velvet of his jacket, and he didn’t flinch. This close, he smelled like old books and moss.

“You can’t go down there,” he said. His voice was soft, but insistent.

My eyes narrowed. “You don’t get to tell me where to go,” I chirped petulantly. I ducked under his arm, darting out of his reach, and barreled down the steps the remaining way to ground level.

I rushed out into the parking lot and stopped short.

“What the actual hell—”

The patient peeled himself off the ground and crawled to his feet. He reminded me of a half-dead insect when he did so, shaking and rickety and dripping blood.

That’s impossible, I thought. There was no way that a human being could do that. I took two steps toward him…

…and a dozen people flitted out of the darkness, from the shadows beneath cars and behind shrubs. The overhead parking lot lights, haloed by moths, illuminated their long shadows on the pavement.

I breathed a sigh of relief. The squad was here and would get him stable, get him back to my OR.

But…my brow wrinkled. That wasn’t the squad. Nobody was in uniform. They converged on him as he turned, screaming.

“Stop!” I shouted.

Heads turned toward me. Their faces were moon-pale and glistening in the lamplight.

The man in the velvet jacket grabbed my arm, dragging me back. “You want no part of this.”

“Don’t tell me what I want,” I growled. I stomped on his instep and twisted my arm to break his grip at the weakest part, the thumb. I whirled and ran toward the fracas.

The shadowy people had plucked my patient off the pavement, clotting around him.

I yelled at them, the way I might yell at pigeons in the park who were eating my dropped French fries.

Overhead, the parking lot lights shattered, one by one, in a series of pops. Someone had a gun. I flinched back, shielding my face from flying shards of plastic with my hands, as I was suddenly plunged into darkness. I heard fighting, yelling, as if a gang war had broken out in front of me, roiling in the dark where no one could see.

Or at least, as dark as things could get in Riverpointe. Riverpointe was a decently sized city, and ambient light filtered back quickly from the freeway, headlights on the access road to the hospital, and the hospital’s helipad above.

As my vision adjusted, I realized I was alone. The people who were trying to abduct my patient, my patient…even that fascinating-smelling velvet guy…all were gone.

Ambulance lights flashed at the end of the parking lot, approaching me. Behind me, I heard the hammering of footsteps on the stairwell. Security spilled out behind me, along with a few cops who’d been hanging out in the nurse’s lounge. The EMTs pulled up to the curb, and there were all of a sudden a couple dozen people churning in a uniformed cloud around me.

“Where’d the guy go?” a security guard asked me.

A moth that had once orbited the parking lot lights flitted down and smacked my face. I batted at it, grimacing.

“I don’t know,” I whispered, stunned. “He was just…taken.”

The moth landed on the ground on its back, wiggling.

With bloody fingers, I picked it up and placed it gently in a nearby shrub. Lights, voices, and radios crackled around me. Questions rose and fell, directed at me in a tide of inquiries I couldn’t answer. But I stared at the bloody moth, stained by my touch, as it sought a safe place among the churning shadows and light.

 

About Laura Bickle

Laura Bickle headshot Laura Bickle grew up in rural Ohio, reading entirely too many comic books out loud to her favorite Wonder Woman doll. She now dreams up stories about the monsters under the stairs and sometimes reads them to her cats. Her books have earned starred reviews from Publishers Weekly and Kirkus. Laura’s work has also been included in the ALA’s Amelia Bloomer Project 2013 reading list and the State Library of Ohio’s Choose to Read Ohio reading list for 2015-2016. The latest updates on her work can be found at authorlaurabickle.com.

More information about Laura’s work can be found at:
Website | Twitter | Facebook Author Page | Facebook | Newsletter

Morrigan’s Blood Book Tour Giveaway

– $20 Amazon Gift Card

Enter Laura Bickle’s Rafflecopter giveaway –> .

 

Spotlight on #Fantasy: Below Dark Waters by Katie Zaber

Hi Everyone! The smoky San Francisco skies have cleared this week and my windows are wide open as I breathe some sorely missed fresh air and prep this blog post. I have a fantasy read for you today from author Katie Zaber. Be sure to enter her tour giveaway, too. Details below. Enjoy!
xo, Celia

Below Dark Waters by Katie Zaber Tour Graphic

Below Dark Waters by Katie Zaber book cover

Title: Below Dark Waters
Number: 2
Series: Dalya Series
Author: Katie Zaber
Genre: Fantasy
Release date: 9/17/20
ISBN: 9781005138066
ASIN: B08GTX3MFP
Word count: 85,997
Cover Artist: Agata Bukovero

A wayward princess, a lethal woman, and a madam trained in espionage—all strangers to each other, but their fates are entwined. Each choice they make will impact the world of Dalya greater than any man’s decision.

Princess Megan, who never had a reason to assume she was anything but human, has been on the run, protected by her friends. With each step toward the city of Delmont, she hopes they will have time to regroup before setting sail to the Ka’Pamau Islands, their final destination. Instead, her bad luck shadows her and chaos continues to ensue everywhere she goes—including a new part of the world that most air breathers have yet to explore. Confronted with another royal family and a smitten prince whose advances turn cold, she faces another life-altering decision with ramifications she can’t possibly begin to guess at.

Back on land, Lilly reveals more of her secrets, her story, and her goals. Monumental changes and challenges are headed her way as she embraces her new role in life.

On the sea, Aunt Carmia is stirring up trouble while continuing her hunt for the treasure she most desires. She experiences upheavals, but she is always prepared for the unknown.

As their stories unfold, they remain unaware how fate connects them in the world of Dalya.

Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Smashwords

EXCERPT

– Megan –

There’s no point in me lying in bed all night. It’s not like I’m trapped in a Dalya dome. At least there’s a bar for me to sit at while I can’t sleep. Moving as quietly as possible, I change and sneak out of the room. Kilyn is fast asleep and Mana is either asleep or is pretending to be. The hallway is still. There are no voices coming from the other rooms, so I’m going to assume everyone else is asleep.
Downstairs, Meeka sits at a table, chatting with another white-haired man. Two other tables are occupied, but there are at least ten empty tables to choose from. By the fireplace, a low fire crackles and I decide that a seat by the fire is not what I want. It looks inviting but reminds me of too many dark things. I shudder and take a seat on a stool at the driftwood bar. There’s one other man at the far end of the bar, cloaked in shadow, not bothering to look up from his drink as I sit down.
Heda comes from the back of the kitchen with a mug in her hands. She takes a sip before setting it down on the counter. “Can’t sleep, dear?”
“No. Can’t remember when I did,” I say. “Got anything to help with that?”
She gives me a sly smile. “I think I can help.”
Heda slides bottles out from under the counter and starts pouring them into a glass. Most of them are clear, except two. She adds a drop of amber and green liquid. I can’t say if it’s alcohol or not. Last, she takes out a glass jar and takes out a pinch of ground orange powder.
I’m not sure if I should drink this otherworldly concoction.
“Here you go. You’ll sleep till sunrise and feel refreshed, guaranteed.”
I stare down at the eight-ounce glass of mystery. “What’s in it?”
“A bit of everything, plus a little something extra. I make it for Meeka when he can’t sleep.”
“Are you normally this busy at night?” I ask.
“Sometimes. Sometimes busier. The regulars are here, plus an unfamiliar face or two.” She scans the room, glancing over at the two I suspect are new.
The one man her eyes stop on has long, scraggly black hair past his chin and an unkempt beard. He is wearing a hat that reminds me of a witch; it even has a pointy top and wide brim. With his back to us, he faces the fireplace with his shoulders hunched. The other man is the one at the other end of the bar. Neither looks talkative. Good. I’m not in the mood for a conversation either.
The door swings open. A scowling human woman stands in the threshold wearing a brown buttoned-down blouse and pants tucked into calf-high boots. At her hip is a dagger, on her back is a quiver secured tightly to a harness, in her hand an unstrung shortbow. Strands of messy brown hair unravel from a semicontained braid that I’d guess hasn’t been paid attention to in at least a week. Her clothes also reveal that she hasn’t changed them, and the smell confirms she hasn’t bathed. She searches the bar and lands on me.
She dashes across the tavern and my heart pounds. This is it. My father sent her to kill me. I made it easier for her by coming down here all by myself. I have no clue if Mana can sense what’s happening or if I’m too far away from him. I’m not sure if he cares right now.
However, she steps past me and gawks at Heda, who is already mixing another drink. In the few seconds that passed, I didn’t realize that I had held my breath. I let out a lengthy sigh of relief and inhale fresh air that tastes slightly sweeter than before. Relief will do that, especially when moments ago, death seemed so imminent. To help calm myself, I decide to take a sip of the strange drink Heda made me. Surprisingly, it has a peach sangria flavor, like a fruity, potent wine, with maybe a shot or two of something stronger. I could get used to having a drink of this at night, if it helps me get some sleep.
Heda leans across the bar, passing the traveler a drink. “Rough journey?” she asks. “Where are you going?”
“Nowhere fast,” the woman replies. Her scowl melts away as she cracks open a smile and laughs full-heartedly, throwing her head back.

– Carmia –

I watch groups of gulls fly back out to sea among the masts, warbling above the crew. They float adrift on the breeze. Their wings don’t pound against the unforeseen air but glide on invisible currents, as my ship does on the waves. Smart birds know when to flap, when to spend their resources, and how to manipulate the world to make their journey easier. They can glide for hours without movement. I crave their knowledge.
To know when to use my strength and when to be weak. When to be bold or meek. When to strike or anticipate.
The birds know. We are so stupid. Driven by destructive emotional impulses and not natural instinct. Once you calm the voices, quiet the bitter arguments feuding from within, becoming deaf to all the voices internal and external, all that’s left is a sensation. A feeling. A truth buried deep inside. A spoken language no one can utter aloud. A forgotten language. One so primal, it is impossible to speak or interpret in any other capacity besides a sense. Born with us, but slowly forgotten when we learn to utter our first words. Almost as if when we learn the spoken tongue, we forfeit our instinctual one.
What makes us so different from the birds? How did our minds become cluttered with pointless information that nags us to change our minds or relinquish a thought?
Gods, I want to be a bird. Free my mind and body of stupidity. Let me base my life on instinct, not sentiment.

– Lilly –

I walk these city tunnels every day. It keeps me sane, besides healthy. Sometimes, I even run. I haven’t left Uamh, or Capo’s Secret, in decades. The last time I was above ground, not including my job, was well over thirty years ago. I long for the opportunity to run through the fields of flowers that flourish outside the town’s walls. But the woman who I portray to the citizens of Capo doesn’t do such things. Lilly would never frolic through the meadow and pick wildflowers to weave into her hair. She wouldn’t dance in the river, splashing the cool water over her naked body, and then let the sun’s heat dry the water off her skin. No, she wouldn’t behave in such childish ways.
Nirva would. She would run free in the woods barefoot. Feel Dalya breathe life back into her soul. Nirva would climb the tallest tree and gaze upon the town below, pretending she was a bird, soaring high above the forest. She’d hunt alongside the nunda and sleep in their den, her body and soul free to swim with the fish and river bears in the morning, and flutter on the breeze with the glow bugs at night.
Not now. No, she is locked up for safekeeping. There will be a time and place to bring Nirva back to the light of day. Until then, she must continue to be patient. Our job isn’t done. It’s only begun.

 

About Katie Zaber

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Katie Zaber knows the best way to decide who is cooking dinner is with a Nerf gun fight in the living room. Her boyfriend is an exceptional cook. When she isn’t baking, going to wine tastings, or reading, she’s busy planning her next trip to Six Flags Great Adventure or Long Beach Island, New Jersey. As a child, her mother would read stories about Atlantis and other fictional places that she dreamed of exploring, fueling her love of history, adventure, and fantasy. After spending her days working in a coffee shop, she moved up the ladder getting an office job where she unfortunately was involved in a filing accident. Unable to move, bored out of her mind, and desperate for entertainment, she turned to her imagination and began writing. These days, she finds herself captivated by her many projects and enjoys quiet nights at home.

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