Sept. 3-4: Don't miss the big 99 cent Science Fiction and Fantasy Sale! This one includes all the big retailers: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, iTunes, Google Play, and Smashwords. Tons of books are priced at 99 cents - science fiction, fantasy, sci fi/fantasy romance, dystopian, and even some multi-novel box sets! (selection varies by store) Chosen of Azara is part of the sale, available at all the retailers, so if you haven't read it yet, now's your chance to get this multi-generational tale of magic, adventure, and love for only 99 cents.
Also, The Brilliant Career of Sajur Golu and Other Tales of Azara, a companion volume to Chosen of Azara, is only 99 cents right now (regular price will be $2.99). Available at the following stores:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iTunes | Kobo | OmniLit |
DriveThruFiction | Smashwords
Taking a quick break from the Weird Western StoryBundle to announce that The Brilliant Career of Sajur Golu and Other Tales of Azara is now available. This companion volume to Chosen of Azara contains the following stories:
To give you a taste of what's in this collection, I've posted "Coming Home" over in the Read Right Here section.
The regular price on this collection will be $2.99, but now through Sept. 5 you can get it for only 99 cents at the following stores:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iTunes | Kobo | OmniLit |
DriveThruFiction | Smashwords
Also, Chosen of Azara is only 99 cents through Sept. 5!
Amazon (all international sites) | Barnes & Noble
iTunes | Kobo | OmniLit | Smashwords | DriveThruFiction
So I said I've got some cool stuff coming up, and here's the first one: A new cover for Chosen of Azara!
Here's the ebook version:
And the full wraparound:
Like I said, it was a really tough decision to get a new cover for Chosen of Azara. Katt of Design by Katt did a fantastic job with the previous two covers, and she was wonderful to work with. I highly recommend her for beautiful photomanip covers. But with two more books coming out soon in the Estelend world, I wanted to tie all three of them together with similar cover styles that would also go with the cover of The Warrior and the Holy Man, another Estelend book. Matching all those covers would be really hard to do when working with photo-based covers, especially since it's also really hard to find stock photos that work for my particular brand of romantic high fantasy. So I commissioned Mominur Rahman, who did the amazing covers for Daughter of the Wildings and the Warrior and Holy Man cover, to do the covers for the new Estelend books and also the new cover for Chosen. I think he did a wonderful job of capturing Sevry and Lucie, and Juzeva too, up there in the corner, and also in nailing the genre and the type of story. The previous covers will remain on display on the book page for Chosen; in the meantime I'll also start getting the updated files uploaded. It might take a few days for them all to go live and for me to get all the images on the site updated.
Chosen will be going on promo for a few days early in September, and the collection of companion stories, The Brilliant Career of Sajur Golu and Other Tales of Azara, will be out in the next couple of weeks. So watch for those; to make sure you don't miss out on these and other new releases and special offers, sign up for my email alerts.
Anyway, that's cool thing #1. Cool thing #2 is coming up in just a few days, and I am so excited about this! I'm like a little kid on Christmas Eve; I can hardly wait. Stay tuned!
Time for another monthly progress report, one week into August.
July was busy with family reunion/vacation and some other stuff, so I didn't get as much writing done as I hoped I would. I did finally figure out the follow-up Wildings series, which now also has a name, Defenders of the Wildings. I solved the story problems (I think); the events of book 1 make the most sense coming in the middle of book 2, which means I'm splitting book 2 in half and putting book 1 in the middle, with much attendant reworking of the two books. The story seems to be working better now, but what it means for the series is that this series won't be structured in nice, neat novel-length episodes like Daughter of the Wildings. I can't tell yet if it's going to be one large, disjointed book (my least favorite option), two short and somewhat less disjointed books, or a series of shorter serial-style episodes. Right now I've got book 1 (now the second episode) rewritten and I'm constructing episode 1 out of the first part of the old book 2. The whole thing is roughly outlined, and I added a concluding episode which wasn't in the original plan, to tie up the story in a more satisfactory fashion. (I also had to do this with Daughter of the Wildings, which first I thought would be five books, then I realized I needed a sixth book.) I'm also getting ideas for another follow-up set of books, called Children of the Wildings, starring, well, I'll let you guess!
I've also been working on edits of Tales of Azara, now titled The Brilliant Career of Sajur Golu and Other Tales of Azara. See my hopefully-not-too-lame cover I made for it above. If you've read Chosen of Azara, you may remember Sajur Golu as the evil, corrupt priest. This collection of short stories contains the story of his rise to the position of High Priest of Source Dar and of the Madrinan Empire, along with other background stories, character vignettes, and alternate points of view of scenes in the book. I'm looking at releasing it sometime before the end of August, in conjunction with the debut of a new cover for Chosen of Azara. Getting a new cover for Chosen of Azara was a very difficult decision; I love the current cover but it just isn't quite right for the genre and while it represents the characters of Sevry and Lucie very well, it doesn't really convey a sense of the story. None of this is the fault of the artist; I love Design by Katt's work and highly recommend her for beautiful photomanipulation covers. Rather, it's the difficulty in finding base photos to work with that are right for the book. Also, with two more novels in the Estelend world scheduled to come out later this year and early next year, I wanted to re-brand the Chosen cover to fit with the others and with The Warrior and the Holy Man, which is also set in Estelend. So I commissioned Mominur Rahman, the artist who did the amazing Daughter of the Wildings covers and also the new covers for Urdaisunia and Warrior and the Holy Man, to do these next three covers. I got the final art for Chosen today, and it's gorgeous. Watch for the cover reveal, coming soon!
So I've hinted at some exciting things coming up, and new cover art is one of them. The others I still can't talk about, but they're really cool. Stay tuned for news!
And finally, since it's Music Monday, here's a video for you. This is "My Therapy" from the album Haven by Kamelot, which is the theme song for my character Davreos from Heir of Tanaris, one of my upcoming Estelend books.
So the cold I thought was getting better when I wrote the post on Saturday got worse again yesterday, now today maybe it's a little better again... *sigh* But at least I'm able to sit up and write instead of being sick in bed, so here's a look ahead at my plans and goals for 2016:
For the Wildings, the conclusion of the Daughter of the Wildings series, is first up. It's still going through major revisions, with some editing stages still ahead, but is progressing steadily. I still don't want to give a release date, but will likely be in a couple of months. Now that things are settling down after the holidays and I'm not quite as sick as I was, I should start to be able to spend a little more time on it.
After that, I'll be returning to my Estelend word, the world of Chosen of Azara, The Warrior and the Holy Man, and "A Cure For Nel". This world is built around the idea of physical features in the landscape (caves, springs, trees, water spouts, etc) that are Sources of magical power, and certain people are born with the ability to take in and use that power. The Source-Fixer (crappy working title) and Heir of Tanaris are both complete in first draft and will be my next two published novels, coming out this year (I hope; they both need a lot of work).
Along with getting these three novels ready for publication, I've committed to writing 1000 words of new prose every day, whether short stories, novels, or writing exercises that might turn into a story. Blog and forum posts do NOT count! My writing goal for the year is 250,000 words (allowing for Sundays off and other days when new writing just isn't going to happen, like Christmas and travel days). I almost made it 300,000 words, but while I'm still developing the habit, I don't want to overshoot myself. I may raise my goal to 300k later this year. It takes me about 30-45 minutes to write 1000 words, so it takes some portion of my 3-4 good working hours a day but not too much.
So, with writing 1000 words a day, that's a lot of new stuff. A lot of it is going to be short stories. My plans for those vary - put them in collections for sale, post some of them here, use some of them for freebies for my email subscribers. This is an exciting new direction for me, having more work to release and to be able to give away. And it should help fill in the intervals between novel releases.
In the background, I'm also planning a follow-up series for Daughter of the Wildings. If you've read City of Mages, you might have noticed a whole new source of conflict mentioned in the book, which isn't related to the main conflict of the Daughter of the Wildings series but which I want to explore more fully in another series. Of course, Silas and Lainie will still be the main characters :-) I've got the basic plot idea for the first book and I'm working on the overall story arc for the whole series, but can't give any kind of timetable yet for when to expect it. Hopefully, if the prep work comes together, I can start putting my 1000 words a day towards that project later this year. As with DoW, my plan is to write the whole thing all the way through, so the whole thing is finished and readers won't be left dangling for years wondering when (or if) the next book will ever be written. Should worse come to worst, if nothing else, I (or my heirs) can post any of it that remains unpublished online.
I've also got ideas for a couple of Silas and Lainie short stories :-D and there are a lot of possibilities left open in the books to fill in with more stories.
And I'm still mulling over the sequel to Urdaisunia. The DoW follow-up gets priority, but it's there in the background, humming along in the back of my mind.
And one of these days I'll also get to revising my Very First Novel Ever and its sequel.
So I've got no shortage of stuff to work on; the main issue is prioritizing and managing my limited energy as best I can.
On the reading front, I've set my Goodreads reading challenge to 30 books for this year. (I realized that some of my 62 books last year are my own books that I added, but since I read each of them 5-6-7 times before publishing them, I suppose that counts :-P) One of my specific goals is to finish reading (or make significant progress on) the Malazan Book of the Fallen series, by Steven Erikson. I love these books; Wheel of Time and Song of Ice and Fire just didn't do it for me but Malazan is amazing. And - bonus - the series is complete at 10 books. I've just started reading book 6, The Bonehunters; since these are massive books and very deep and heavy, it's probably optimistic to expect to read 5 of them in a year. But I'm going to try. I'm also planning to get started on the Stormlight Archives series by Brandon Sanderson (another of my favorite authors). And Larry Correia is a new favorite, whose books I'll be reading more of this year. But mostly, as the last few years, most of my reading will be indie authors. I'll keep doing reading roundup posts to share my recommendations.
As for my health, I've taken the concept of "one little word" (where you pick a single word to use as your theme for the year) and selected "nourish" as my word. This year I'll be taking baby steps to nourish myself, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Most likely, I'm never going to recover from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, but I can do things to help my body make the most of the health and energy it does have and increase them a little. And since a major factor in crashes and relapses is stress, finding ways to relieve/reduce stress and keep myself in better balance will reduce my crashes and increase my good, usable time and energy. Any success I have in this will hopefully manifest itself in greater writing productivity.
That's my plans and goals for the new year; wishing you health, happiness, and progress on your own goals and dreams in 2016!
And now, back to work.
It's time again for the Friday 5! This week, five-sentence (more or less) snippets from the fifth chapter of five of my books.
In Urdaisunia, Rashali has been elected to take her village's thanks to a Sazar nobleman who did them a favor:
Rashali looked across the road at Moon Bend, which she had never left in all her life. She had never traveled to Tigun’s native village on the Tabra to meet his parents, or even to the next village downriver. Zir, the great city, was very far away, four days’ walk or more.
And may she be damned to Araskagan’s darkest pits if she ever chased after a Sazar in order to grovel to him.
“You have to go, Rashali,” a woman said. “He’ll be angry if he thinks we’re ungrateful.”
From Chosen of Azara, Juzeva, traveling through the desert in search of a mysterious Source, has an unwelcome encounter:
Hours later, when the sun was sinking low in the sky, she rounded a bend in a narrow gap between two hills and found her path blocked by a red-gold cat the size of a horse. She froze as the animal looked at her through gold eyes and growled softly in its throat.
She fought back a panicked urge to flee. If she tried to run away, the beast would easily chase her down, and she couldn’t climb up the steep, rocky hillsides to escape from it. But if she held still, maybe it would lose interest in her.
The huge cat growled again, then let out a loud roar.
In The Lost Book of Anggird, Professor Rossony is anxiously waiting for a decision vital to his research:
“Sir Baril!” Professor Rossony called out as he caught up with the Lord Regent just outside the doors of the Lectorium.
The white-haired, aristocratic-looking Regent stepped aside so that they wouldn’t block the doorway. “Your application is still under consideration, Rossony,” he said with an air of impatience, as though they had had this conversation too many times already. “You do understand that this is a decision which cannot be reached in haste.”
“Of course, Sir Baril. But —”
“Be assured, Professor Rossony, we will inform you of our decision the moment we make it. Good day.”
In Sarya's Song, Sarya is undergoing a Penance lashing from a Master who has taken a dislike to her:
Sarya counted the strokes, wincing with each sharp smack of the leather thongs on her back. This whipping was harder than the other one had been, just within the bounds of what was permitted. After the fifth lash, she started to stand up, then a sixth stroke came down hard across her back. Pain ripped from her shoulder to her waist, and a warm wetness began spreading from where the lash had struck her.
She stumbled to her feet and spun to face Master Uldo. “Damn you, that was six! And you drew blood!”
From Beneath the Canyons, Silas and Lainie are investigating the strange ore that Carden's miners are digging up:
Mr. Vendine took a bandana out of one of his duster pockets, folded it and covered her hand with it, then dropped a few of the black lumps into her palm.
Icy pain shot up through her arm, seizing her heart and her lungs in freezing agony. Dark terror wrapped around her mind, cutting off sight, hearing, and even thought. Cold ran through her veins, spreading through her arms, her back and legs, her belly and loins. It was like the night terrors, only a hundred times – a thousand times – worse.
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!
Welcome to this weekend's Sneak Peek! Today we're going back to Chosen of Azara, as Princess Juzeva meets her new husband, the man she's being married to for political purposes, for the first time (Ilvana is her mother, the queen):
“And here is Idan, Crown Prince of the Madrinan Empire,” Ilvana said. She gestured towards the young man standing between the Emperor and his advisor. “Your future husband.” Prince Idan was tall and well-built, with red hair, a strong-boned, handsome face, and clear green eyes. His clothes and armor were less elaborate and more practical-looking than his father’s. Though he was young and handsome, his expression was grim.
This was the man she was to spend the rest of her life with, the man who would be the father of the children she had never planned to have. Fighting back a sudden urge to flee from the room, Juzeva curtsied to him.
The Prince stepped forward and bowed to her, then spoke in formal, carefully-pronounced Savarunan. “My lady Juzeva, I know this duty is difficult for you, as it is for me. We are both forced to give up our own desires for the sake of peace between our lands. But I promise you that from now on I will look forward, not back, in the hope that we can be, if not happy, at least content with our destiny.”
Juzeva hadn’t expected such a courtly speech. The Prince had clearly spent a great deal of time practicing it, and Juzeva found herself moved by the effort. If nothing else, she would be married to a gentleman. She bowed her head to him, grateful for his courtesy and thoughtfulness. “I thank you, Prince Idan. I too will do my best to make our union a successful one.”
She watched the Prince take his place beside his father again. Her gaze slid past Sajur Golu’s face just as the priest was hiding a look of deep contempt. Another prickle of revulsion or fear, or both, crept up her spine.
“Let us be done with this, then,” Queen Ilvana said. She and Ezdar moved to a table which stood beneath the great middle window, where a scribe waited with the marriage and peace treaties. The scribe began reading the documents out loud. Juzeva didn’t bother to pay close attention; it made no difference whether or not she knew what they said. The terms had all been worked out already. She had had no say in them, and her opinion and consent had not been asked. The essence of the agreements was that, in exchange for a marriage-link to the Savaru royal family, which would bring with it a significant voice on the Queen’s Council and a healthy portion of the profits from Savaru’s rich fishing, farming, handcraft, and mining enterprises, the Madrinan Empire promised to not run its armies over the land. A bloodless defeat for Savaru, a quick and cheap victory for the Empire.
Time for another weekend sneak peek. Here, in Chosen of Azara, Lucie finally meets the man of her dreams, and finds out he isn't exactly what she expected:
“Azara gave me her life, so that I would not die before my vow was fulfilled. I figure I’m close to four hundred years old.” He smiled again, a faint shadow of a grin that was quickly gone. “I’ve lost track of a few years here and there.”
Everything he was saying was pure nonsense. It had to be. Her fantasies of what it would be like to meet him crumbled away, leaving a hollow disappointment behind. Either he was playing a stupid, cruel joke on her—and there was nothing in his manner to suggest this, only absolute sincerity—or he was only a madman, a wandering beggar lost in dreams and tales of long ago and, for some reason, obsessed with her pendant.
If he was indeed mad, she realized, he might be dangerous if she refused to give him what he wanted. With a pang at giving up the gift her mother had given her, she unclasped the slender chain with the crystal vial from around her neck and held it out for him. “Here. If all you want is my pendant, you can have it. You don’t have to make up these stories to get me to give it to you. Just take it and leave.”
He took her hand in his, laid the crystal pendant on her palm, and gently closed her fingers around it. He held her closed hand for a moment—why did she have to like the feel of him holding her hand so much?—then released it. “That won’t work,” he said. “The power in that token can only be used by a daughter of Juzeva’s blood. I need you to come back to Savaru with me and use that power to restore Savaru to life.”
The outrageous request left her stunned—she wasn’t sure she could have possibly heard him correctly. “Excuse me?” she finally managed to say. “You want me to go away with you?”
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