Today’s Featured Author – Inge Saunders

Please welcome author Inge Saunders to my blog. Her book, The Wolf’s Choice, came out in March. You can purchase it on Amazon, the Kobo store or Smashwords.

Excerpt

“I’ll pledge my loyalty to you through a blood oath, if you’ll support my choice of mate.”

Drew’s eyebrows went up. Ryker, true to form, didn’t blink an eye.

“Why would you need my support?”

“It’s Rebecca Ferguson.”

Ryker straightened, taking on a solid stance next to Drew. The discussion wasn’t a threat to the alpha in any way.

“Her father won’t allow it.”

“I know.”

“He’s alpha of his household.”

“I know.”

“Are you going to challenge him?”

“If I have to.”

“And you want me to sanction it.”

“Yes.”

Drew sank into his chair. “What does Rebecca have to say? The last time I spoke to her, she didn’t mention you.”

Blaine smiled. He hadn’t earned himself any favors. “She doesn’t know yet.”

“You expect me to support your claim without her being aware of it?”

“You expect me to swear a blood oath to you without assurance whether or not you’ll turn into your father.”

The menacing growl from Ryker vibrated through the room.

“You’re playing a dangerous game, Blaine.”

“All of us have done it for our mates.” He stared from one to the other.

News traveled through the wolf-grapevine. Drew’d had to gain his mate, Betty’s, trust when he returned to Los Lobos after she believed the lies his father told about him. Ryker had overstepped their laws by mating a human, something the old alpha would’ve killed him for. But Drew didn’t seem to have a problem with humans becoming part of the Tao pack.

“Elijah isn’t going to hand over Rebecca to you. He went to extreme measures to keep her safe.” Drew sat forward again. “Even with the new order, he’s still protective of her.”

Blaine didn’t budge. He knew what he wanted. And he rarely lost.

Book Blurb

“I’ll pledge my loyalty to you through a blood oath, if you’ll support my choice of mate.”

Drew sank into his chair. “What does Rebecca have to say? The last time I spoke to her, she didn’t mention you.”

Blaine smiled. He hadn’t earned himself any favors. “She doesn’t know yet.” 

Thirteen years ago Rebecca Ferguson died, at least to everyone in the Black Hills territory. With a human mother and unable to shift into a wolf, Magnum Tao, the deranged alpha of the Tao Pack would’ve had both her and her father killed for deceiving him. Magnum didn’t allow humans to mate with members of his pack.

Now Magnum is the one who’s dead and Rebecca can return.

But coming back from the dead, building a new life after her divorce and opening a library in town isn’t the only obstacles Rebecca faces. Elijah, her father, doesn’t approve of her being in Los Lobos to the point where he forbids her to get involved with the pack, especially the males.

Their relationship has suffered because of her absence and she hopes to bridge the divide; confident that she doesn’t want a romantic entanglement with anyone human or wolf, anyway.

In walks sexy private detective Blaine Walker.

Thirteen years ago Blaine stumbled on his mate at the local Swimming Hole. The next day, she was dead. Once he learns Rebecca is alive and living in Los Lobos, he decides it’s time to give up his career in Brooklyn and return to Black Hills. But he knows it won’t be easy to claim her since Elijah’s unnaturally overprotective. The only way Elijah will back off is to challenge him.

A challenge that will end in one of their deaths.

Rebecca can’t deny the old attraction she felt for Blaine is still there and even stronger now that they are grownup. She’s caught between the man fate has brought back to her and her father, whose affection she craved her whole life.

But there’s a life altering secret governing Elijah’s erratic behavior that can cost Rebecca everything she’s worked hard to build and everything she thought she could never have with a man or wolf.

Will Rebecca and Blaine beat the odds stacked against them?

Or will the choices they make ultimately lead them down a path both of them don’t want?

About the Author

Inge Saunders lives in the biggest small town in South Africa‒ Worcester. She fell in love with books when she started reading romance novels with her grandmother. Intrigued by the worlds books unlocked, it was inevitable she would take pen to paper. She holds an Honors degree in Community Development and Learning Support and loves to sink her teeth into the research part of a story.

When she’s not writing about that ‘inexplicable attraction’ she’s reading almost every sub-genre in romance out there, spending time with friends and family and taking hikes in her hometown’s National Karoo Park.

Inge’s been a member of ROSA (Romance writers’ Organization of South Africa) since 2012 and has two contemporary titles, Falling for Mr. Unexpected (2014) and Dance of Love (2015) published with Decadent Publishing, as well as her first Black Hills Wolves novella, The Wolf’s Choice (2017).

You can find out more about Inge on her blog or follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

You can purchase The Wolf’s Choice on Amazon, the Kobo store or Smashwords.

Today’s Featured Author – Victoria Zak

Today I welcome Victoria Zak to my blog. Her novella, Scorched Hearts, is one of 13 stories in the Stroking the Flames anthology.  

Interview

What or who inspired you to start writing?

I started reading J.R. Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood and was hooked. I wanted to write my own stories. I wrote my first book in 2014 which was Highland Burn and it started my Guardians of Scotland series.

How much of yourself, your personality or your experiences, is in your books?

Great question. I think there’s quite a bit of myself in my books. Sometimes intentional, sometimes not. At times ideas surface and I have no idea where it came from, but it was there inside waiting to come out. My characters set the tone for personality. (Yes, I hear voices.) lol There’s a lot of my humor in my books. I’ll be reading through my current WIP and just start busting out laughing.

What is the best and worst advice you ever received? (regarding writing or publishing)

Best advice I have ever received was when a good friend of mine, who happens to be an author, told me to write the damn book. So, I did. Two and half years and ten books later, I’m still writing those damn books. lol

What is the best thing about being a writer?

The best part of being a writer is I get to share my stories with wonderful readers. I truly enjoy it when I hear back from a reader telling me how much they liked my books. It keeps me motivated.

The worst? Hmmm, I must say I loathe edits. Lots of pounding my head against my desk.

What fuels you as an author to continue to write?

By far the readers. I have a lovely reader group and they keep me motivated and the characters in my head need their stories told. I get excited when one throws me a curveball.

How do you conceive your plot ideas?

I’ll come up with one or two plot ideas and then start asking a lot of “what if” questions. Then I just start throwing obstacles at the characters to keep them from achieving their goals. Sounds horrible, but so satisfying when they finally get their HEA at the end.

Do you outline your books or just start writing?

I outline the main plot, then start writing. I have a good idea where I want the story to go before I start writing.

Please tell us about your current release.

My current release is a Paranormal Romance novella for the Stoking the Flames anthology, Scorched Hearts. My story takes place in a mountain town, Ember Brooke, basally it’s Mayberry for dragons. My hero Thane, a dragon shifter and hang gliding instructor, finally gets a mate. However, the she-dragon he’s mated to has no idea what’s it’s like to be a dragon.

Raised by humans, Bex a supernatural scientist, has found a way to suppress her dragon for the fear of the unknown. Overworked, Bex goes on vacation, the road leading her to Ember Brooke and straight into Thane’s arms. With her career and heart on the line, Thane desperately courts Bex hoping to convince her that he’s her mate.

OMGeee, this book was so much fun to write. It’s humorous, sexy, and a wee bit adventurous.

What inspired you to write this book?

These characters were from the first book I started to write and never finished. I had fallen in love with the Bex and Thane and finally had a chance to tell their story. I’m so happy I did.

How did you come up with the title?

Well, since it’s a dragon shifter book, I wanted the title to have a sexy, dragon feel to it, because this couple heats-up the pages.

What kind of research did you do for this book?

The hero is hang glider instructor so I had to research hang gliding.

Which of your characters is your favorite? 

Thane was my favorite. He’s a true hero. He fights for love. His buddies, Stone and Jensen are hilarious. I can’t wait to write their stories.

Can you tell us a little about the black moment in your book?

I can’t without giving too much away, but it’s a tear jerker.

If this book is part of a series, what is the next book? Any details you can share?

This book is a start in a new series, however it run parallel to my Scottish Historical Paranormal Romance series, Guardians of Scotland. These characters are descendants of past Dragonkine.

If you could be one of the characters from any of your books, who would it be and why?

I’d be Abigale Brue from Highland Burn. She’s the Princess of Scotland and married to the notorious, bloodthirsty dragon shifter James the black Douglas. She has the kindest heart and the most impressive inner strength.

If you could jump in to any book, and live in that world, which would it be?

J.R. Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood world. These vampires are just incredible.

Is there a specific place in the house (or out of the house) that you like to write?

I write in my office most of the time.

Do you have a specific snack that you have with you when you write?

Is coffee a snack?

Do you have an all time favorite book?

Besides J.R. Ward, I loved Suzan Tisdale’s Fredericks Queen. Amazing Scottish Historical story.

Tell us a random fact about you that we never would have guessed.

I’m a two-year breast cancer survivor. I was diagnosed in 2104 right after I published my first book. It hasn’t been an easy road to travel, however I’m grateful to have been able to beat it and continue to write.

Book Blurb

Surrender to the Desire…
Embrace your Destiny…
Soar with the Dragons…
Stoke the flames that 13 of your favorite NY Times, USA Today and International Bestselling authors have ignited with their ALL NEW, NEVER BEFORE PUBLISHED fiery tales of the scorching passion that erupts when a dragon is united with their soul-mate.

Soul Fire by Kelly Abell
Sometimes breaking a curse leads to an unforeseen destiny

Desired Revenge by Solease M. Barner
A throne lost.. Centuries of debt.. A new threat arises that not only jeopardizes her lost kingdom but also her heart. Sometimes vengeance isn’t vengeance once the heart is involved. Will Carmen have her Desired Revenge?

Devon by Kathi S. Barton
Kelly was finally taking the vacation she had been promising herself for years… and escaping her crazy family. But as fate would have it somethings are worse than insane relatives.

On Wings of Time by Linda Boulanger
One man with a dragon’s soul. One woman with the key to unlock his powers. With six hundred years separating them, Fate’s carefully woven web is about to be tested with a kiss and the flip of a coin.

Dragonslayer, Dragon Heart by Isobelle Cate

Heart of a Dragon by L.J. Garland
When an unimaginable evil rains down from the sky, fate demands action from the most unlikely place–a terminally ill woman. But even with a fierce warrior at her side, does a single dragon stand a chance at saving the world?

Promised to A Dragon by Darlene Kuncytes
When you’re promised in marriage to a dragon shifter like a piece of chattel… what will it be – fight or flight?

The Dragon’s Sacrifice by Andi Lawrencovna

Sadie’s Shadow by Julia Mills
Long forgotten secrets, ancient curses and a prophecy she’s been running from for over a century. Fate and Destiny battle for Sadie’s soul but only her Shadow knows the truth…

I Dream of Dragons by Tricia Owens
When a genie in a bottle seduces her inner dragon, a sorceress must decide if the attraction is real or if she is being tricked.

Fire and Ice by Kate Richards
The battle for Crossroads rests in the hands of an ice dragon who has yet to shift and isn’t sure she can. Is his fire enough to set her desire ablaze and free the dragon within?

Curse of the Dragon’s Eye by Kali Willows
When reality is just an ancient curse in disguise, an Egyptian Pharaoh fights for her soul & her flight of dragons

Scorched Hearts by Victoria Zak
One lost heart and another ready for love collides with burning desire. One of them is bound to get SCORCHED.

 

About the Author

Victoria Zak is an internationally bestselling indie published author. She writes Scottish Historical Paranormal Romance and Paranormal Romance. She’s well known for her well-executed stories and thrilling paranormal/highland romance series The Guardians of Scotland.

When she’s not writing in her dragon loving world filled with magic and steamy romance, Victoria lives in the sunshine state with her real-life heroes, her husband and two kids.

You can find out more about Victoria on her website or you can follow her on Twitter or Facebook.

You can purchase Stroking the Flames on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Itunes, and the Kobo Store.

 

Today’s Featured Author – Mia McKimmy

Today I welcome author Mia McKimmy to my blog. Her paranormal romance, The Sacrifice, came out in May. You can purchase The Sacrifice on Amazon.

Interview

Tell us a little about yourself.

I’m a registered nurse who was forced into early retirement due back problems. Years of lifting patients and pushing beds up and down halls can wreck a back. I had always been an avid reader of romance novels, and had written a few short stories in college. While watching an Ancient Aliens marathon on the history channel, I began getting ideas for a novel. A week later I had an outline for my first novel. About halfway through, I hit a roadblock and knew I needed help. I joined Romance Writers of America and began taking classes. It was the best move I could have made to advance my knowledge and meet the many kind authors who don’t mind helping an inexperienced writer. I also joined my local chapter, which gave me face to face contact with so many great authors and friendships.

Where were you born and where do you call home?

I was born in Augusta, Georgia but I’ve lived in the Atlanta area most of my life. I’ve never liked living in a big city, and the many suburbs around Atlanta allows you to have a small town feel without being too far from the amenities and culture of the city. It’s kind of the best of both worlds.

How much of yourself, your personality or your experiences, is in your books?

When I was writing, The Sacrifice, I didn’t realize so much of my personal experiences and feelings about life were being poured onto the page. The story deals with sibling rivalry, which most of us with siblings have probably experienced at some time. Retaliation plays a large role in the plot, which I’m not big on, but I’d like to be. That’s one of the great things about writing…you get to do things you’d never do in real life. I’ve never liked crowds, and neither does the heroine. But the major theme of the book is self-sacrifice. There’s nothing I wouldn’t do for those I love, even at great harm to myself. I think most of us would sacrifice ourselves to protect someone we love.

Tell us about your current release.

The Sacrifice is the first novel in the Sons of Sivadia Series. It’s the story of  two hundred survivors who fled their planet after it was invaded by a stronger species. Once on Earth, their first law was never to harm a weaker species, which humans were. Sivadians require blood to survive, and a war divided their race between those who feed from humans and those who drink a synthetic blood substitute. Each side of the war is led by twin sons of the Sivadian king. Cy was named by his father to become his successor, and his brother, Vind led their army. But Vind’s brutality and craving for human blood led to a witch cursing female feeders, making them infertile. Male feeders began abducting Sivadian females who don’t feed on human blood to breed with and replenish their army. Cy developed the League of Protectors in order to protect them and humanity. And he’d never become seriously involved with a female, until he meets one he can’t resist.

How did you come up with the title?

That’s a good question, one most people laugh at when I answer. I needed to name their planet something no one had ever heard before. I began spelling names backwards. I had long list of words, most of which sounded ridiculous. The one I chose is my real last name, Davis. The backward spelling is sivad. I really didn’t like how it sounded until I added (ia) on the end. The entire time I wrote the book, it was titled The Sons of Sivadia. It wasn’t until later on that The Sacrifice encompassed the theme of my story and I decided to change it. But I was so attached to the first title I couldn’t bear parting with it. Since this is a series, the Sons of Sivadia became the series title. And I was happy I didn’t have to part with it.

If this book is part of a series, what is the next book? Any details you can share?

Absolutely! The next book in the series is titled, Crucify My Heart. The current release date is October 7th, 2016. It’s Kam and Elle’s story from book one, in which they despise each other. She thinks he is an egotistic man-whore, trying to bed every woman he meets, which he kind of is. Kam thinks she’s an over-confident blow-hard who will end up getting herself killed. Elle is the best friend of the heroine in book one, and was traumatized by a feeder attack when she was a teen, resulting in her swearing off any male of her own race. After her brother is abducted by a Sivadian serial killer, Kam comes to help search. Elle begins to realize Kam carries his own set of demons from his past, and there’s more to him than meets the eye. They have quite an adventure on their road to finding love.

For fans of, The Sacrifice, who want to know more about events that led to Sivadians leaving their planet, I published a novella, ebook called, Leaving Sivadia, currently $o.99 on Amazon.

Book Blurb

Sacrifice ebook 800x533Will their love survive the sacrifices that must be made?

Almost three hundred years ago, a race of immortals fled the planet of Sivadia and came to Earth. When a war divided their race, each side was led by twin sons of the Sivadian king.

From the moment Riana Martin meets Cy, the dangerously sexy Sivadian Protector, she knows it will be hard to resist him. From the first touch, Cy sets off a firestorm inside her heart and soul.

Cy knows Riana is his destiny, but since their father named him successor to the throne, his twin has been determined to destroy him.

Can Cy protect Riana from his brother…one of the most evil beings to ever walk this planet?

About the Author 

miaMia McKimmy writes paranormal romance novels reflecting her belief that everyone has one great love, and when you find them, there’s no denying you have met your destiny.

Mia counts herself lucky to be married to her one true love. She is Mom to two grown daughters, and Nana to four grandkids who have her wrapped around their fingers.

She is a former hairdresser, and has a degree as a Registered Nurse from Georgia Highlands College. She is a member of Romance Writers of America, and Georgia Romance Writers.

If you’d like sneak peeks of future books and new release dates, please visit her website.

Feel free to follow Mia on Twitter or Facebook.

You can purchase The Sacrifice on Amazon.

 

Today’s Featured Author – Sydney Scrogham

Today, I welcome back author Sydney Scrogham to my blog. Sydney’s latest book, Ariel: The First Guardian, a paranormal romance, came out last month. (Available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.) Check out this excerpt…

Excerpt – Prologue and First Chapter 

THE BEGINNING OF THE END

I never wake up and think today’s the day I’m going to get dumped.

February wind chills my shoulders, and I tug the pink and blue patterned quilt snug around me and keep walking. The quilt is soft under my fingertips, smoothed from years of rubbing in my mother’s absence. One of the pink polka dot squares is frayed and flapping free.  I could wear a coat, but it’s a jab against my father to sneak out in just a quilt. He thinks he can control me, but he can’t. He especially can’t control who I’m going to meet. Ryan, a.k.a. saintly pastor’s kid, is the first human being to make me feel like I’m made of more than slime.

The trail under my feet is brown and well-worn from countless walks to the river.  Yellowed grass struggles to survive on either side of my path. My knee-length floral print dress ripples around my legs and my exposed skin prickles where the wind bites. I hate flowery anything. Just seeing my reflection in clothes so feminine puts cinderblocks in my lungs. But this was mom’s hand-me-down. I wish she could’ve met Ryan. He’s reserved his whole day for me today. I can’t stop the stupid smile that smooths over my mouth. Maybe I’ll get kissed for the first time—but do I really want that?

Two trees stand guard by a picnic table on the riverbank. The water’s surface is smooth and reflects the gray clouds overhead. Ryan’s perched on the top of the picnic table and he props his feet up on the bench. He has on his black trousers and a pressed white shirt, and I’m warmed by the thought he wore his best for me. But something about his posture plucks a nerve in my abdomen. His shoulders hunch over his knees and his head is down. The black brim of his hat hides his eyes as he faces the river.

I should go back. Now.

No. That’s my inner victim voice speaking. She always thinks I’m in trouble, but I’m teaching her that Ryan won’t hurt me. I hop onto the picnic table behind Ryan, swing my legs over, and hug him from behind. A cool breeze from the river surface steals the warmth of his musk from my nose. Instead, I inhale a moist, earthy smell.

I whisper in his ear. “Hey.” The soft sound of my voice is leveled perfectly with the world around me, waiting, like we’re all about to witness some epic show.

Ryan leans away and twists to face me. “There’s something I need to tell you.”

I’ve got a joke ready, but the deep tone in his voice makes me swallow it. His blue eyes are devoid of jest. When he rubs his neck, his gaze hovers at his knees, but all I can focus on is the darkened wood grain of the picnic table.

“I haven’t been completely honest with you about my previous relationship,” Ryan says.

In my mind, I leap up and leave, but in reality I’m frozen to my spot on the picnic table. Not even the quilt can shelter me from this chill.

Ryan keeps going. “God told me I needed to tell you I’m not over Kat.”

My eyes slide shut. Maybe now that I’m in darkness all of this will go away. Poof.  You’re gone. Your ex is gone. It’s just us. But when I open my eyes again, Ryan’s eyes haven’t changed. His words haven’t sunk into me, either. Something’s mixed up. I’m not a pro, but I’m pretty sure you don’t make a candlelight dinner for your girlfriend (like he did for me last night) while you’re still in love with someone else.

I relax my jaw enough to speak. “What are you saying?” A dead leaf, one that clung to the tree beside me for this long through winter, launches free into the air, unable to hold on any longer. The wind carries it to the ground and skips it away.

Ryan’s blue eyes, gray in the wintery light, look out at the river. He whispers, “She’s the one. Hers is the face I want to see every morning when I wake up.”

My lips part in shock. Now my brain catches up. My stomach flops out and smacks the ground under the picnic table. Not literally—yet. I tear my gaze away from him. Here I was, dreaming like an idiot about a first kiss. My face burns with a mix of embarrassment and anger.

Ryan turns toward me. “I’m sorry, Ariel. I should’ve told you sooner.”

I wish I could say I got up and left then. But I didn’t. I waited while my heart ripped to shreds in Ryan’s silence, and the memory of his eyes burned solid into my brain.

In retrospect, I had no idea I’d never see him again in this world. I had no idea I’d have recurring dreams that we were still together. I had no idea this emotional shock would wreck my hope for something better and push me toward murdering my father. As soon as I hit prison, I should’ve told myself to give up. End it.

But I didn’t. I said yes when someone offered me a way out as a service worker in a wildlife protection program. At least, that’s what the genetic engineering company called it. Little did I know that Ryan would volunteer for the same program.

Now, I’m in Agalrae. I could admit to you that I still love Ryan. But does he still love me?

Chapter 1

FIVE YEARS LATER…

I never expected to see Ryan again after a break-up like that. I definitely didn’t expect to be his work partner. But here we are.

Today is the last day of removing signs of human civilization from the Agalraen mainland. I pound off fence boards. One by one, the nails groan free until the sun-stained wood panel jumps into the overgrown grass. These are the only two auxiliary paddocks left. Alicorns used to stand around in confinement while completing their genetic tests. Just the thought makes my upper lip twitch. The sun is hot around me, but the breeze is cool—thank goodness, or I’d wither faster than a snail in salt. I lift my green helmet and wipe my eyebrows.

“Just chuck the thing,” Ryan says. On the other side of the fence, he shakes his curly blond head free from his light blue helmet and it falls to the grass with a muffled plop. When he looks up at me, one damp curl is still plastered between his eyes. I want to move it, but I don’t want to be weird. We’re friends—partners in this Guardian gig—but we were once something else I can’t define because we haven’t mentioned it once.

I saw Ryan a couple years ago when we first came to Agalrae. At first, I still hated him. But he wasn’t the same person who left me five years ago. Now I don’t know what we are. But we settled right into the flow of fate like we’d never been apart. The people in charge of this settlement project decided to partner me with Ryan for work chores—mistake in the beginning a few years ago, but we worked it out. Yes, it was horribly awkward. And now all of the obnoxious researchers from the human world have finally left. Geneticists finally gave up trying to make a real-life replica of a toy line for Hasbro. But I’m not stupid. I know there was something else going on here. The government doesn’t pull people out of prison—me—and put them to work in a foreign land without good reason. Things shut down before I could figure out why, and maybe that’s for the best. I have a different goal now – protecting the Creator’s chosen, the Alicorns of Agalrae.

I duck my head out of my helmet and drop it. It rolls over next to Ryan’s. The organization in charge of us made us each wear cheap body armor. They claimed it was to keep us from getting hurt. Alicorns are vicious creatures, you know. (No, they’re not, but I’d be grumpy, too, if you shoved needles in me all the time.) Like I said, I have my suspicions about why people really barged into this world. They knew something else was out here. Something dark and powerful they wanted for themselves.

“Don’t think this means I love your suggestions,” I say to Ryan.

“Yes ma’am.” He salutes and pops his heels together.

I roll my eyes and jab in the dirt around the fence post with my shovel. “It’s hard to believe this is the last bit of our world left in Agalrae.”

Ryan shrugs and pokes around at the other half of the post. “Who puts a fence by a beach anyways?”

“Cynic.”

“Scoundrel.”

I smirk and wiggle my eyebrows. I shouldn’t like that word so much. Ryan smiles at me and that curl on his face is too tempting, so I look over my shoulder down the fence line. Our other four teammates are a vision of a broken rainbow. Rebecca in royal blue and Seth in white are work partners, and so are Victoria in pink and Tony in yellow. We were all assigned our partners when we got here under the impression we were going to work for a government wildlife preservation. Ha, what a hoax. More like the government wanted to research a new species and failed. I heard rumors that the genetic engineering company calling the shots around here tried to take an Alicorn back through the Agalraen portal in Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. But once the Alicorn got into our human world, it started to… well, change into a normal horse. No more wings, no more horns, no more multi-colored hair.

Crazy, right? Alicorns were here in Agalrae long before we were. Why hasn’t Agalrae ever been on a map? I couldn’t tell you. I’ll let that information settle in your brains before I explain the rest of the weirdness to you. We don’t want you biting off more than you can chew. It’s best to absorb Agalrae in little crack bites. I say “crack bites” because this place is addicting.

Most people—there were about fifty of us running the warehouse facility—went home when the government’s project with Hasbro and geneticists ran out of funding. Or they realized they’d never get what they wanted here. I’m not sure what’s true. But they’re gone and those of us left over, the Creator’s chosen, remain Alicorn Guardians. (I’m sure you’ll find out why we’re called “Guardians” soon, and you won’t even need me to tell you.) There used to be ten of us. The Creator appeared to each one of us personally, gave us his light, and told us to protect his home from things that seek to corrupt it. In this case, humans with intentions different from us. But one by one Guardians left to return to the human world until we got down to six. We’re about to be five.

Ryan strikes the base of the fence post and it vibrates a little at the top. I nudge—okay, more than nudge—shove the post forward until it taps him on the shoulder. He straightens and his mouth twists into a half smile, half frown when he raises an eyebrow. That’s his look that says I dare you to do that again.

So, I do. I tap, tap, tap his shoulder with the leaning fence post and I don’t let my stale expression crack.

“Taking a break, guys,” Ryan says. Since we work for ourselves now, making our own schedule, he can make that call. His shovel hits the dirt. He takes one step toward me and fire blazes in his blue eyes. That’s all the warning I need.

I spin and sprint toward the beach.  “Fish,” I shout. Within seconds, a blue Alicorn with a silvery pink mane and tail darts out of the trees. There’s a jagged white scar on her forehead where her horn used to extend for a fight, but Fish has been in one fight too many and broke off her horn. Her pink and baby blue wing feathers lying against her sides have a metallic sheen in the sun. Galloping toward me, she looks like a normal horse. Minus the color, of course. When I met her, I thought she looked like a rainbow fish. The name stuck.

“I’ve never known you to run from a fight, Ariel,” Ryan yells after me. His words are quick and gaspy, and his feet are pounding the grass just a smidge faster than mine, even though we’re the same height.

Fish shoulders into Ryan’s Alicorn, Valkadash, who is bright yellow and twice the size of Fish. Fish nips Valkadash’s shoulder and Valkadash squeals, “That hurts!”

Yes, the Alicorns talk. Except mine. Fish hasn’t spoken since she lost her horn. So she probably has a fancy name like Valkadash and she’s never told me. Her loss. I probably would’ve nicknamed her either way.

Fish gallops up next to me and I grab her mane and vault off the ground. I tug myself onto her back and balance on my elbows until my legs are fully around her sides. I sit up straight. The ground underneath me flashes from shadow to sun, shadow to sun as Fish carries me through the trees. When I glance over my shoulder, Valkadash swings her head around to help Ryan up, and then the game is on.

“Go, go,” I shout to Fish and I lean down into her mane. The trees break and welcome us to the beach. Fish kicks off at top speed, spraying sand up in my face. A visual image of me falling off skirts through my brain. I shove it away when I remember I left my helmet in the grass. The wind tugs at my golden brown hair and stings my eyes but comforting heat rises up from the sand beneath me. Valkadash’s hooves pound behind us and it seems like we’ve barely started before her yellow nose slides up behind my thigh. When I look back again, I see Ryan crouched on Valkadash’s back. My stomach tightens.

“You wouldn’t,” I say.

But he would. Ryan flings himself at me, but I won’t give him the satisfaction.  I throw myself off of Fish’s back and—oof bad idea—roll a ways through the sand. When the world stills and doesn’t look like a kaleidoscope anymore, I scramble to get my feet under me. Grainy bits of grit cling to my damp neck and I brush them away. I may be more stubborn than ten mules, but Ryan is my match in persistence.

And that, I suppose, the great irony of all, is why we’re still Guardian partners.  But he’s alien to me. We were emotionally intimate, and now we aren’t. We’ve matured, grown apart, and yet a part of us is still stuck together.

Ryan crashes into me from behind, but he doesn’t tackle me to the sand like I’m expecting. He hoists me into the air, flops me over his shoulder, and I scream. For a second, my vision darkens around the corners with a flashback from my less than ideal childhood. I mean, everyone thinks their childhood sucked, but mine really did. I force my lungs to take in air.  This is just Ryan. He won’t hurt me. My vision widens again with that reminder. There are puffy white clouds in the blue sky above me.

And Ryan’s marching away from the trees toward the lake. My vision bobs with the rhythm of his steps.

“Put me down,” I squeal. I beat my hands against his back plate. He doesn’t even grunt underneath my hollow-sounding thumps. When I try and twist around, he tightens both arms around my waist.

“Nope,” he says. “I’ve waited too long to do this.” His feet slosh into the water.

“Ryan!” For one horrible moment, I’m airborne and weightless, and then water shocks and swallows my whole body. I have a breath halfway through my nose and water burns my throat and lungs. Hacking, I come up with a wet wall of hair in my face.

Then, once the sound of my coughing quiets and I’m gasping, I hear Ryan laughing. Like pee-your-pants, thigh-slapping laughing. I shove my hair away from my face and glare at him.

“You should’ve seen your face,” Ryan says between breaths.

I wade closer and shove his cackling head under the water.  He grabs my ribs just where my breastplate ends. He knows I’m ticklish there. A strangled squealing noise wheezes out of me as I twist back away from him. Mistake. Because he shoves me under. I splash, he splashes back, and at some point I start laughing, too.

When Victoria, Tony, Rebecca, and Seth come onto the beach with their Alicorns, I stop. I shove Ryan’s shoulder one more time and walk out of the water. I can’t explain what just happened when they appeared, but Ryan feels it, too. Even when my back is turned, he doesn’t drag me under again.

Everyone looks at us to be leaders. Me especially.

Because Ryan is leaving.

Book Blurb

ariel2Abuse survivor Ariel Harte doesn’t need anyone. Ever. But her companion animal is infected with a dark, magical force. Only an ancient purification ritual, the mind link, performed with another human can cure this infection.

Ariel must ask her ex-boyfriend, Ryan Tracey, for help.

But she’s racing time. She’s infected, too. All the walls will have to come down so Ariel can heal or she will lose herself to the darkness forever.

Ariel:  The First Guardian is a story of true love that wins over time, the power of second chances, and redemption from abuse. This is a prequel to Chase in the Guardians of Agalrae series but can be enjoyed as a standalone novel.

About the Author

author photoSYDNEY SCROGHAM loves creating happy endings. She started writing when she was 12. Her first book, Chase, was published by Koehler Books in August 2015. When she’s not writing, she’s at the barn with Snowdy or catching up on reruns of the best TV show ever – Castle. She lives in Harrisonburg, Virginia with an adorable dachshund named Zoe.

To learn more about Sydney, check out her website.

You can purchase Ariel: The First Guardian on Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

Today’s Featured Author: Tara Fox Hall

Paranormal author Tara Fox Hall is on a blog tour this month. Today she stops by Into Another World to answer a few questions and share an excerpt from her latest book, Taken for His Own.

Interview

What sparked your passion for books and the art of a good story?

I’ve always enjoyed reading…a very passionate teacher taught me to read my first words in kindergarten, and I began devouring short books by first grade…and novels for YA by third grade.

What challenges have you faced in your writing career?

Getting published. I spent 4 years getting rejection after rejection from every agent under the sun and also some publishers. But the near misses were the worst, to think that I finally had an agent or a publisher and then to have it fall through at the last moment. Those were the crushing blows. The newest thing I worry about are bad reviews.

What has been your best moment as a writer?

Getting that first acceptance…though every 5 star review is another perfect moment for me. I love getting validation for the world I created.

What does your workspace look like?

A jumbled bed with stickies, sheets of notes, crumpled papers that have been imputed into the computer, the phone so I don’t have to get up, a data stick for backup and now a little pad of paper that says “Tara is WORKING” so my husband knows when I’m going to be irritable if he interrupts!

Tell me about your latest?

My latest book is Taken for His Own, the fourth instalment in my Promise Me Series. It takes up where the third book left off. Sar had done her best to rebuild her life when her fiancé Theo went missing. She’s partnered with her former vampire lover Danial to raise Theo’s daughter Elle (Elle’s natural mother is dead from childbirth complications). She’s also had a child of her own with Danial, Theoron, and is trying to come to terms with her inevitable turning from human to vampire. When she finds out Theo’s alive, she can’t stop herself from journeying west to find him, and confront him about where he’s been for the last year and a half. This is where Taken for His Own begins. After a passionate reunion and a hasty marriage, the two lovebirds are headed back east. But picking up the pieces is far from easy. While Danial is accepting of Theo’s return, Elle prefers her vampire adoptive father over Theo. More than one enemy is waiting in the wings, making repeat attempts on Sar’s life. Add into the mix Devlin, Sar’s old enemy who’s now turned good guy, and a new paramour for Danial and you’ve got a powder keg primed to explode.

Is there a message in your book that you want readers to grasp?

That it’s never too late to take control of your destiny…and that you are the only one that really ever can. You may not be able to control what happens to you, but you can always control how you react to events. And that it’s important to always try to do the right thing…but that isn’t always possible.

Excerpt

“What about what you did to me?” I whispered, gazing at him and biting my lip.

“That wasn’t a whim,” Devlin said, dropping his eyes. “That was my bad judgment. Sadly, it wasn’t the worst mistake I’ve made in my life.”

“What was?”

Devlin didn’t answer. I reached out and took his cool hand in mine.

“When you lead others you must do whatever you have to in order to save your people,” he said with a sigh. “Compromising values should matter less than saving lives.”

“I agree with you,” I said. “If you rule others, you have a responsibility to them above the responsibility to yourself. But even then, I think your family should come first.”

“They should,” Devlin said in a cracked voice. He swallowed hard. “But the past can’t be undone.”

I squeezed his hand. “What happened to Danial wasn’t your fault.”

“Yes, it was,” he said softly.

“How is it your fault?” I said curiously, easing closer to him.

“Because I should have known what the thing was when it attacked. I didn’t know anything back then, except strategy and tactics. I was too concerned about rising through the ranks as fast as possible, so I could leave my family behind and become someone important.”

“What did you want to be?”

“A commander of men, either soldiers or police.”

I was surprised that Devlin would want to uphold the law or spend his life guarding others. Yet it made sense. When he’d taken me from my house years ago, he’d insisted on taking me to Danial, because I wore the choker. He was here putting himself in danger now to keep me safe.

“I knew something had attacked a few people on that road in that last month,” he continued. “I knew that there was a chance we might be attacked transporting the prisoner. But the road was the quickest way to our destination. I’d been assured that if I made the journey in good time, I’d get the promotion I wanted, and Danial would get my old position.”

“You aren’t at fault for what you did. It wasn’t for an evil reason.”

“Yes, I am,” he said despondently. “It was my greed and pride that doomed us.”

Carefully, I reached for Devlin and put my arms around him. He tensed at my touch, then relaxed.

“You did the best you could. You aren’t damned.”

“Yes, I am. You have no idea what I’ve done.”

I shifted uneasily.

“And I wouldn’t want you to,” Devlin added, his arms snaking around me loosely. “My ends have always justified the means, no matter what they were. I’ve done great evil in the hope of averting worse evil. Sometimes it worked and sometimes not. Still, it’s likely that given the chance to do my life over, I’d do the same things, make the same choices. I’d find myself here, at this same point in time, a fallen king.”

“In case you’re wondering,” I said deliberately. “I’m waiting for you to add into your speech somewhere that you regret everything you did to me while you were king…um, ruler.”

“I regret hurting you,” Devlin said quickly. “Yet I don’t regret coming for you that night or taking you to Danial.” He looked up at me. “You might not have gone back to Danial after Theo went missing, if I hadn’t. Theoron might not be here. I can’t regret any action of mine that led to him being born.”

I didn’t reply, considering his words.

Devlin laid his head against my chest, and his arms tightened on me slightly. We lay there like that for a few moments, not speaking, then I slipped into sleep.

I woke sometime later when Devlin stirred. According to the bedside clock, it was almost dusk.

“I have only one regret,” Devlin said finally, propping himself up on his elbow, his expression intent.

“What’s that?” I said, covering my yawn with my hand.

“That it wasn’t me you found in your quarry that night,” Devlin said, kissing the back of my hand with cool lips. His golden eyes locked on mine, transfixing me, as he drew my hand away from my face.

He was going to kiss me. My lips parted as my breath caught in my throat.

Book Description

taken for his ownAfter learning Theo is alive, Sar immediately embarks on a mission to find him. Reunited, the lovers return to New York; Danial, Terian and Theo uneasily combining forces to protect Sar from Al’s assassins still seeking her. But when Sar is taken prisoner in an all-out attack, only one man can save her: her old adversary, Devlin.

About the Author

tara hallTara Fox Hall is an OSHA-certified safety and health inspector at a metal fabrication shop in upstate New York. She received her bachelor’s degree in mathematics with a double minor in chemistry and biology from Binghamton University. Her writing credits include nonfiction short stories, flash, short and novella-length horror stories, and contemporary and historical paranormal romance. Tara divides her free time unequally between writing novels and short stories, chainsawing firewood, caring for stray animals, sewing cat and dog beds for donation to animal shelters, and target practice.

You can find out more about Tara on her website or her blog. You can also follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

You can purchase Tara’s books on Amazon, Smashwords, Barnes and Noble or All Romance E-books