Hi, and welcome to this stop on the Winter Warm-Up Blog Hop, put on by Hops With Heart! I'm Kyra Halland, and I love fantasy and romance - they go together like hot cocoa and whipped cream! We're going to warm things up here with some magical kisses from a few of my books :) So snuggle up, enjoy the sneak peeks, enter the giveaways, and be sure to stop by some of the other participating sites to meet some great authors, discover some amazing romances, and enter more giveaways! Each blog is doing a different giveaway, and there's also a Grand Prize giveaway for a $75 Amazon gift card!
First, from Urdaisunia, Rashali and Prince Eruz are mortal enemies, but it looks like things might be changing:
“So you traded your own hunger for that of the Urdai, and you took all our work, all the fruits of our learning and labors, for yourselves—the dams and canals, the great temples, the palace, even these gardens. You Sazars have no skills or knowledge to make such things, so you had to steal them from us. You didn’t even have writing until you began using ours.”
He flinched slightly, his pride clearly stung by her contemptuous words. “We do have skills and knowledge of our own.”
“Making swords,” she said. “And breeding and training warhorses. Nothing like this.” She indicated the Jewel with a broad gesture of her arm. “You could never make something like this. Even now, you depend on Urdai slaves to maintain the gardens.”
“Not entirely.” Eruz stopped beside one of the low trees with thick hand-shaped leaves—a nariyi, it was called—and plucked a tightly-curled bud from it. “We have skills besides those of warfare.” He looked intently at the nariyi bud, then whispered a few words and blew lightly on the bud. Slowly, the green sepals unwound from around the five thick white petals, which unfolded into a bowl-shaped blossom. The flower’s sweet, rich scent filled the air. “Here,” Eruz said. He took Rashali’s hand and placed the flower in it. “We worship Kuz more than the Urdai do, and he has given us a number of gifts.”
If she hadn’t seen it for herself, she never would have believed it. She looked up at him, her hand still in his, at a loss for words to respond to the wonder he had shown her. “That—that was—”
He bent his head down and covered her mouth with his.
She stiffened in shock, then all her strength seemed to flee and her legs gave way beneath her. He wrapped an arm around her, holding her up against his chest. Deep inside her body, a flame she had thought extinguished months ago came to life. Her lips parted beneath his, seemingly of their own accord, and he deepened the kiss. Time lost its measure, and the kiss went on until a small voice interrupted them.
They broke apart, breathing hard. Mizalilu stood beside Eruz, tugging at the leg of his trousers. The child repeated her demand. “She wants a flower, too,” Eruz said. He picked another bud and made it bloom, then gave her the opened flower and spoke to her. Mizalilu ran back towards the palace, carrying the flower with awed delight.
Next, in Chosen of Azara, Lucie has a difficult decision to make, and Sevry isn't making it any easier:
“Lucie, you have to decide now. What will you do?” His voice was quiet but firm.
“I can’t go with you. Don’t you understand that? I’m to be married in six weeks!”
“If we traveled quickly, you could be back here by then.”
Lucie gave a despairing laugh. She was tired of trying to explain herself to him—and to herself. “And do you think Estefan would still want me then? He’s already jealous, and that was just because I was talking to you. What do you think he would do if I disappeared with you for a month and a half? A broken engagement would be the least of my problems!”
“Has he threatened you?” A dangerous edge entered his voice.
It would be too humiliating to admit that she was afraid of her own fiancé. “No, he’s just very angry. But don’t you see? If I leave with you, I would be cutting myself off from my family and friends, I would have no home to come back to, no one who cared about me. No one would want me. My life would be over.”
She tried to turn away, but Sevry caught her arm and she couldn’t pull free. “Lucie—”
“Don’t you understand what you’re asking of me? What I would have to give up? What I’d lose?”
“I know, Lucie. Believe me, I know what it’s like to lose everything.” She looked up at him, and caught her breath at the genuine sorrow and compassion on his face. “Fate, the gods, history, other people’s decisions can all leave our lives in ruins, and there’s nothing we can do about it,” he said. “I wish your family wouldn’t choose to deal so harshly with you. I wish their love and concern for you was more steadfast. If I could—” He stopped speaking and stepped closer to her. She was powerless to move away. His free hand brushed her cheek, as though he was trying to comfort her, then moved to the back of her head, tangling in her hair. He tilted her face up towards his, and his mouth pressed down on hers.
A sense of unreality mixed with absolute rightness shocked through Lucie. This was what she had longed for; this was how it was supposed to be between her and the man from her visions. Her arms went around him, and he embraced her in return. She leaned into the warmth of his body and pressed herself more eagerly into the kiss. His mouth worked hungrily against hers, his tongue brushing at her lips, tasting her, then exploring more deeply as she parted her lips for him.
And then it seemed there was only one breath, one heartbeat, one body between them. Heat bloomed deep inside her belly, and she felt herself melting against him; she was his, she would go anywhere, do anything, give up anything--
No. She pushed him away and slapped his face so hard she felt the sting all the way up her arm. “I can’t!” She turned and ran from him, fighting to hold back her tears until she was safely away.
Finally, from Sarya's Song, when Sarya returns from her self-imposed banishment from the Skola, her and Adan's complicated friendship grows more complicated:
And then the last voice she wanted to hear called out, “Sarya! Sarya dyr-Rusac!”
Panicked, she tried to push her way through the crowd towards the Masters’ offices, but Adan caught her by the arm and spun her around to face him. “Where have you been? You left without a word to me or anyone –”
“I didn’t realize I needed your permission to leave.” She tried pull away from him, but his grip on her arm tightened.
“I didn’t know where you were or what had become of you,” he said. “I didn’t even know if you were alive or dead!”
Around them, people were stopping to stare. Sarya tried to turn away from Adan, but he moved with her, giving her no choice but to keep looking at him. “I just need to speak to the Council of Masters about something,” she said, “and then I’ll be off again.”
“Why not? You said yourself I don’t belong –”
“Damn it, Sarya!” He pulled her against him and pressed his mouth to hers.
Sarya’s legs nearly went out from under her in shock, but he caught her behind her back with his other hand and held her securely. His mouth was warm and hungry against hers; his upper lip and chin were scratchy with late-afternoon whiskers. She told herself she should push him away instead of melting against him while he kissed her as though he were starving and she was his banquet, but she was too busy melting and couldn’t do it. Laughter and whistles came from the crowd around them. “You show her who’s in charge, Muari!” someone called out.
Adan finally let her come up for air. She stood gasping, her knees wobbly and her heart racing, torn between slapping him and dying from embarrassment and – Great Creator God, what a fool she was – wishing the kiss hadn’t ended.
Enter the Winter Warm-Up Love and Magic giveaway to win an ebook 3-pack of Urdaisunia, Chosen of Azara, and Sarya's Song!
***Winner has been notified by email***
And enter the Grand Prize giveaway for a $75 Amazon gift card!
Grand Prize giveaway not run or sponsored by Kyra Halland/Welcome To My Worlds
Welcome to this stop on the Fall Into Romance Blog Hop, put on by Hops With Heart! I'm Kyra Halland, and I love fantasy in my romance and romance in my fantasy. Enjoy some magical falling in love moments from my stories, and be sure to enter the giveaways further down! I'm giving away an ebook Love and Magic 3-pack (containing my novels Urdaisunia, Chosen of Azara, and Sarya's Song) and there's also a grand prize giveaway sponsored by Hops With Heart for a $75 Amazon gift card! Also make sure you check out some of the other great blogs participating in the blog hop - the Linkup list is at the bottom of the post.
And now, on with the romance!
From Chosen of Azara, a wanderer named Sevry, whom Lucie has seen in mysterious visions, takes shelter at Lucie's father's house, and Lucie makes an astonishing discovery:
* * *
Lucie moved into a foreign ballad that her mother, Rinata, had taught her. She had been told many times that she had the sweetest voice in the Lower Districts, and wasn’t shy about singing in front of people. She didn’t understand the words to this song, but she could feel the mixture of sadness and strength in them. The tune was in a minor mode, almost tragic except for a subtle thread of love and tenderness that ran through it. This was one of her best songs, and she wanted the man from her visions to hear her at her best. Not that she really cared what he thought of her, of course; she just wanted to put her best face forward for a guest.
She sang, letting the feel of the music and the lilt of the language guide her singing. After a moment, she realized that another voice had joined hers, a fine baritone though somewhat rough from disuse; it was the stranger singing quietly along with her. He knew all the words, and pronounced them with more ease and certainty than Lucie did.
Lucie’s fingers faltered on the strings. Flustered, her heart bursting with a wild mix of emotions, she managed to make it through the rest of the verses and the last chorus. “I’m sorry,” she stammered when the song was done. “I’m tired. Good night.” She fled the hall, clutching her lute in both hands, the stranger’s voice still echoing in her mind.
From The Lost Book of Anggird, after attempting to magically Heal Perarre's cold, Roric suffers the consequences, and comes to an uncomfortable realization:
* * *
He slid down along the wall to sit on the floor next to the washstand, fists clenched in frustration, tears in his eyes. The pain was bad enough, but he hated the sickness, the shame, the feeling of helplessness that came along with it. He felt like he was trapped in that dark hour twenty years ago, shortly after coming to the University, when he had crouched in a hidden corner with the point of a stolen kitchen knife pressed against his throat, trying to will himself to plunge it in, to put an end to the memories and pain and shame and to make sure that no one would ever discover what he was. The life he had painstakingly built for himself since that day, the respect and reputation he had gained, all seemed to crumble away under the onslaught of misery that Healing brought upon him. Why had he done this to himself, just for the sake of temporarily relieving a simple head cold?
Because her illness was his fault, that was why, a reproachful voice inside his head pointed out. It was disgraceful the way he had been overworking her. Had she really thought that he would dismiss her if she became ill? If he wasn’t careful, he would drive her away or wear her down completely before he even had a chance to begin the most important research he would ever do.
And, in any case, what right did he have to interfere in his employee’s personal habits? What had he been thinking, to insist that she go swimming in the frigid waters of early spring? He had been born in a place where icy winds blew unhindered for three-fourths of the year. Though he couldn’t bear pain, tolerance of the cold was bred into every particle and sinew of his body. It had been stupid of him to assume that Miss Tabrano would have the same tolerance.
He sat in misery, waiting for the pain to ebb away. As it faded, a memory of smooth, warm skin beneath his fingertips came unbidden into his mind, along with the realization that, regardless of pain, illness, and propriety, he had enjoyed having an excuse to touch her. More shame flooded through him — how could he have taken such advantage of Miss Tabrano in her illness? But he couldn’t bring himself to regret that brief moment of unexpected, unfamiliar pleasure.
And that was more alarming than any amount of pain.
And finally, here's a sneak peek inside Beneath the Canyons, book 1 of my upcoming fantasy-western series Daughter of the Wildings. Lainie Banfrey can't help feeling a little smitten with Silas Vendine, the stranger in town, even though she knows he's probably trouble (please note, this is not the final edited version!):
* * *
Lainie tied Mala to a post outside the mercantile and looked at the list she had written on a scrap of paper. It contained five or six things her father had meant to tell her to get the other day when he sent her to buy nails but had forgotten. Ever since Blake's death, he was distracted and forgetful, lost in anger and memories and grief.
As she read the list, a shadow fell over the paper and she felt a presence beside her. She looked up to see Mr. Vendine standing there. A burst of excitement and shyness leaped up inside of her, and she tried, unsuccessfully, to keep from smiling.
He tipped his brown, flat-brimmed leather hat to her. "Good morning, Miss Banfrey."
She was being silly. She had only just met him; she couldn't be smitten with him already, and if she was, she was a fool. With an effort, she managed to respond with dignity. "Good morning, Mr. Vendine."
"More errands for your father today?"
"Yes, he always thinks of things he meant to tell me to get right when I've just made a trip to town."
"I certainly hope you have a better day for it than you did the other day."
"I hope so, too." Having someone to talk to about it, someone friendly who wasn't all wound up over the situation, made her words come spilling out in relief. "Once they've done some shooting, they usually calm down for a while before they start getting all riled up again."
"They? The miners?"
"All of them." Lainie waved a hand, encompassing the whole town. "The whole damn-fool lot of them." Suddenly she felt self-conscious of her own babbling. "Anyhow, Mr. Vendine, thank you for keeping watch over me the other day. If you'll excuse me --"
He touched her shoulder as she turned to go into the store, stopping her. "If I could speak to you privately for a few moments, Miss Banfrey, I'd appreciate it. Maybe on your way home?"
His voice and his handsome face and dark eyes were very serious. Not a trace of flirtation or even friendliness, though his manner was certainly polite. Although he had been so kind to her, she was suddenly afraid of what this stranger might have to say to her. He had a slightly dangerous air about him, as of a man who keeps his own secrets. Did he know about her power, how she had tried to protect herself with magic the other day? Or was there something else going on with him? The ranch hands had heard rumors he was a bounty hunter; did he think she knew something about a fugitive he was hunting?
"Please," he said. "I mean you no harm. It's important."
"It's a distance back to the ranch," she said. "Four leagues and some."
"My horse could use some exercise. I'll saddle him up and meet you back here by the time you're done with your business."
"My Pa don't want me riding out with men he don't know."
"It won't take long. I just have a question or two I'd like to ask you."
Just a question or two. There couldn't be any harm in that. Finally, she nodded. "All right, then."
"Thank you. I'll be waiting here for you." He tipped his hat again, then walked away towards Mundy's Boarding House. Lainie watched him go for a moment, then went into the store.
Enter to win a Love and Magic eBook 3-pack (Urdaisunia, Chosen of Azara, and Sarya's Song) from Kyra Halland/Welcome to My Worlds! (One winner)
***Winner has been notified by email***
And the grand prize giveaway from Hops With Heart!
Grand Prize Giveaway not run or sponsored by Kyra Halland/Welcome to My Worlds
Be sure to check out the other blogs in the Fall Into Romance Blog Hop, Sept. 19-22!
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