GUEST BLOG: How Not to Date a Dragon Lord by Stephanie Burke #DarkFantasy #PNR #LGBTQ @FlashyCat @changelingpress

How Not to Date a Dragon Lord is now available from Changeling Press!

About the Book…

War is coming.

Vissar sends Alita, his Dragon Lord who speaks with his voice, to the village below with orders for the upcoming invasion. Trouble is, Alita would rather burn the village to the ground than speak with any of them.

But orders are orders and Alita, along with her lover, the runaway princess Suli, in tow must venture down to the village. Explosive secrets are bound to be revealed and Alita is forced to deal with her own painful past as a dragon sacrifice.

Meanwhile, the army is advancing, Vissar’s heat is rapidly approaching, his mate Nithe is off finalizing business in the dragon lands, and the idiot Prince Ranid keeps advancing, despite the drama unfolding in his own camp…

Get it here >> https://www.changelingpress.com/how-not-to-date-a-dragon-lord-how-not-to-13-b-3303

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Now let’s hear from the author, Stephanie Burke!

Hello Loves!

How’s it going? I hope you are all doing well. I have been tasked with writing a blog post so fiendishly brilliant that everyone will stop to read and unicorns will invade the earth and everyone would really get down to teaching the world to sing in perfect harmony… and since none of that appears to be happening right now, I’d better just shut up and tell you about my book. 

Book Two of the How Not to Date a Dragon trilogy, How Not to Date a Dragon Lord is a story that is very near and dear to my heart. It features a first for me, a lesbian couple where one main protagonist is asexual Domme to a degree and War Master of the Dragon’s Army while her partner is an ex-Princess with an attitude that I find refreshing. To be fair, I loved writing both Alita, the Dragon Lord and Suli, her Princess who rescued herself. Designing both characters was a new experience for me and I relished the chance to write their snappy dialogue as well as creating hot and steamy scenarios where they could explore their sexuality and help center each other for the task that awaits ahead of them.

You see, at the end of book 1, How Not to Date a Dragon, war is iminiante and it is up to our omega Black Dragon Ulvissar and his alpha Red Dragon partner Nithe, to help come up with a plan to protect their castle built deep inside their mountain, the village that keeps trying to sacrifice the women he has been collecting as his horde, and prepare their own army for the fight that is about to happen on their doorstep. But before any of that can happen, the village below has to be prepared as to the reality of what is about to land on their doorsteps. That means Alita, the first sacrifice to survive and bond with Ulvissar, has to return home to the place that had forced her sacrifice generations ago and had become quite successful as the result of the sacrifices of her and the women who were chained and given over to the dragon… even though a sacrifice of women is the last thing that Ulvissar wants or needs. Yes, Alita has to go back to the place that essentially gave up her and the hundreds of women that followed through the centuries as sacrifices to keep the village safe… and now Alita has to help protect them when they couldn’t even take a moment to remember the women they had essentially thought they murdered and who’s blood and death made up the foundation of their success. 

How on earth can Alita forgive such a betrayal when even the descendants of her own family fail to remember who she was? And she has to help save these people who have seemingly created a religion out of murdering young women who are not all virgins, not all willing scarifies, and have become the fatted calves to keep their successes growing. It’s good that Princess Suli is trained at diplomacy because as far as Alita is concerned, they can all go to H-E-double-Hockey Sticks on an express pass.

I had fun creating this trilogy within the How Not to Date series because of dragons. Seriously, I am obsessed with dragons. Half of my tattoos are dragons and in my mind, they always were a force of comfort and fierce protection. So when I proposed How Not to Date a Dragon, How Not to Date a Dragon Lord, and the final book of the trilogy, How Not to Date a Dragon Master, I knew I had to pull out all of the stops for my beautiful winged terror lizards. I have written about other dragons before in the past, in the Dragon Stone Trilogy for example,  but I never before have I had the chance to create such brilliantly twisted scenarios and tropes in my writing as I have created for this trilogy. 

There is the inclusion of the Alpha, Omega, and Beta world and the dragons’ insane anatomy and physiology that I laughed myself nearly into a headache creating. There are strange and comedic travels of an army being led by an idiot prince to start a war that he knows he can’t win but, you know, he needs the glory of battle to quench the flames of passionate anger that fill him at the escape— uh, death of his bride. And then there is the bloodthirsty horde of battle-trained women who are eager to put all of their training to a real test. Did I mention broody omega dragons in heat because my broody omega dragon is in heat and demands that his alpha gives him everything… or else. Trust me, they are not your average alpha/omega couple and if Nithe, the beautiful Red Dragon fails in his duty— I shudder to think of what Ulvissar the Black Dragon will do to him… and I’m the one who wrote the crazy story. 

As delightful as it was to create the world that Alita, Suli, Vissar, and Nithe inhabit, they are still not my favorite in the How Not to Date series line-up. I came up with an idea to create a series set in different worlds around a major theme, bad first dates, and it exploded into the award-winning monster that it is today. I first shared this idea with author D Renee Bagby/Zenobia Renquest as we were traveling home from a writer’s convention. The first book, How Not to Date an Alien was all about misconceptions and biases we have and are likely to run across when dating outside of your race or in the first book’s case, your species. I think we both laughed so hard at the idea that I knew that I had to create more funny bits of escapism that lined up with some of the worst first dates imaginable. Before we made it home, I think we outlined about seventy How Not to Date books, and even more were requested… ie demanded with threats of bodily harm… from my beautiful readers whom I would not be here today without the help of. Seriously, a bunch of insane readers decided I should write How Not to Date a Skunk and How Not to Date a Human without any input from me. I was delivered an ultimatum… write these books or we will come up with more outrageous books for you to write. I wrote the books much to my reader’s delight, and peace was restored to the land until they demanded How Not to Date a Centaur but I managed to pull that one off too so the flaming pitchforks didn’t come out. 

I have to say, out of all my novellas in the How Not to Date series, my favorite is How Not to Date a Bear. While explaining the plot to D Renee Bagby, she is often instrumental in my foolishness, we laughed ourselves stupid over the plot. What if a bear shifter was accidentally shaved bald by his unknowing mate just before he had to go out and prevent a war between Russian Grizzly bear shifters and their neighbors The Brown bear Shifters who think they are an invading army trying to take over their territory when all they truly want is to live in peace. It may have also something to is with this photo of a bald bear landing in my lap.

See that expression? That is the look that my poor bear wears when he discovered what his mate had done. We laughed ourselves silly over the plot and D Renee liked it so much that she poked and prodded until we came up with How Not to Date a Bear, too… Cougar Boogaloo which was the title in my head but we just stuck with How Not to Date a Bear, Too. 

So there you have it, some of my favorite How Not to Date series books and a glimpse at How Not to Date a Dragon Lord. I hope you all take the time to explore these and other titles I have available and that you find as much delight in reading them as I found in writing them.

Love you, Loves!

Stephanie “Flash” Burke

CHARITY ANTHOLOGY – Firestorm #charity #anthology #PNR #DarkFantasy

Firestorm: A collection of short Paranormal Erotic Adventures from the Changeling Press family of authors. Royalties donated to Changeling’s Save the Quiet Kitty Fund  in memory of Camille Anthony.

If You Can’t Stand the Heat — Camille Anthony: In human shape or his natural prairie dog form, Edison was normally the most laid-back of males, except when his mate, Reba, crossed the line…

Catan’s Fire — Jade Buchanan: Asad needs to teach his mate what happens to submissive Felidae who disobey orders…

Brimstone by Mistake — Alice Gaines: Heaven’s made a mistake. What will Lucifer do when the Man Upstairs wants Sally back?

Shifting Priorities — Anne Kane: When the sexy hunk Jexx picks up in the station bar turns out to be more than human, she has more to worry about than her profit margin.

Burning Down the House — Isabella Jordan: Will Katurah use her powers now to end it all — or will she give in to a fiery lover?

Stockings — Jade Buchanan: A gorgeous female cat shifter, an enticing pair of stockings, and a very interested lady wolf produce enough heat to burn down the house…

Britta’s Beast — Kate Hill: When Max and Britta met at a convention for members of magical law enforcement, they seemed like a perfect fit…

Available TODAY at Changeling Press

EXCERPT

All rights reserved.
Copyright ©2022 Changeling Authors

If You Can’t Stand the Heat by Camille Anthony

He stood in the doorway of the Bakery’s kitchen, belt dangling from his hand, watching his mate of forty years bustle about preparing refreshments for the library shindig about later that evening. As always, the sight of her had his heart doing that funny leap in his chest, his cock echoing the movement behind the zipper of his jeans. After all this time, it still only took a look, a whiff of his female’s scent to have him hard as a cactus spike.

Along with his surging lust came a powerful burst of love and he knew if prairie dogs didn’t mate for life, he’d still never let this woman go. He’d die without her. However, that didn’t mean he was blind to her faults.

His Reba was an incorrigible busybody, continually putting her finger in other folk’s pies. He understood her interfering tendencies were part of her caring nature and that would have been fine as long as she contained her meddling within the family.

She didn’t.

He wasn’t mad at her. Edison’s smile was full of masculine anticipation. The punishment of her infraction was going to be intensely pleasurable for both of them.

Check out more multi-author anthologies by the Changeling Press authors!

Invisible Love by AJ Graham #DarkFantasy #PNR @changelingpress

Gregory tried to become immortal, but his spell went wrong and transformed him into a bodiless spirit. For five hundred years, he’s roamed the world trapped between life and death, cut off from all human contact — until he meets Linda, a young psychic who can feel his presence.

Shy, lonely Linda hasn’t felt a man’s touch for a long time. Then one night, a gorgeous man appears to her in a vivid, erotic dream…and the next day, she hears his voice in her mind. At first, Linda thinks she’s going crazy, but she can’t ignore the man’s desperation, his hunger for human contact. When he asks her to open her mind to him, she can’t refuse.

By inhabiting Linda’s body, Gregory discovers, he is able to feel again. After five hundred years without pleasure, he is overwhelmed by the sensations. Linda, meanwhile, discovers that having Gregory’s spirit inside her is surprisingly erotic. Though she can’t see him, she can sense his essence moving through her, even feel his hands on her body. Before long, she finds herself falling in love with this strange, lonely, passionate man. As her feelings grow, Linda vows to help Gregory escape the empty half-life of a wandering soul and become human again…but to save him, she must make a terrible sacrifice.

Available Today at Changeling Press
or Preorder for June 17 at online booksellers

EXCERPT

All rights reserved.
Copyright ©2022 AJGraham

Gregory floated above New York City. He stared through the patchy clouds, at the tiny skyscrapers and high rises below. At night, the city glowed with a thousand points of light, like a mirror image of the starry sky. Cars crawled through the maze of streets like ants through tunnels. How faraway, how unimportant everything seemed from this distance.

Wind howled around him. A few fat snowflakes spiraled down from the sky. Gregory felt no cold. He had felt nothing for hundreds of years. He wondered — for the thousandth, the millionth time — if he would ever escape this empty, gray half-life, or if he was doomed to wander the Earth as a spirit for all eternity, unseen, unheard. Alone.

He drifted down toward the city, like a feather on the wind. His feet touched the ground. He walked down the sidewalk. People hurried past, talking loudly, cell phones glued to their ears.

It was that time of year, between Thanksgiving and Christmas, when the whole of America seemed caught in a frenzy of commerce. People clutched brightly colored shopping bags filled with toys and the latest electronic gadgets. Store windows glowed with warm light. Signs boasted low, low prices to entice consumers. Passersby walked through Gregory’s dim, translucent form as though passing through a cloud of smoke. Their thoughts and memories swirled through his mind, like leaves on the wind. He took no notice. The thoughts of the living were dull and repetitive, centered around the details of their hectic careers and their confused love lives.

He stopped outside an apartment building and looked up.

On the third floor, a window glowed with lamplight. He stared at the window, wondering why it held his attention. He felt a peculiar tug in the core of his being. Something drew him toward that square of warm, yellow light. He floated off the ground, hovered outside the window, and peered in.

A young woman sat upright in bed, legs tucked beneath her, an open book in her lap. Long, wavy hair spilled over her slim, pale shoulders, hair so dark a brown it was almost black. It shone with a soft luster in the lamplight as she twined a lock around two fingers. Her full lips were parted, relaxed, as her eyes moved over the lines on the page. She wore only a sleeveless, white cotton nightshirt and a pair of white panties.

Gregory stared. An ache of longing pierced his soul, so deep and sharp it was almost pain. How long had it been since he had touched a woman? How long since he had tasted soft lips, or felt his cock sink into a warm, welcoming body? The sight of this woman — so delicate, yet so lush, like a tropical flower — made him hunger for things he could never feel again. The hunger roared inside him like a caged tiger.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

AJ Graham has a passion for cold weather, unusual beers, and anything otherworldly.  Dragons, demons, shapeshifters and psychics have always populated their imagination, but sometimes the real world can be just as fascinating and mysterious.  And no matter the genre, AJ has always loved stories about soulmates connecting.  Whether it’s instant, explosive passion or a slow burn, the power of two (or more) minds and bodies coming together to form a greater whole is always a story worth telling.  AJ lives in the Chicago suburbs with their husband.

SPOTLIGHT: Clandestine by J. Hali Steele #DarkFantasy #Gay #PNR @jhalisteele

Joshua’s spending more and more time at club Sub Rosa. It’s time he emerges from the shadows to take a more active role. Pursuit of the aloof nightclub owner obsessed with voyeurism carries him over the edge. The stranger’s scent awakens a desire Joshua has not felt in centuries. He vows to have the man. If it means bleeding dry everyone close to either of them, so be it.

Mason Kildare, owner of Sub Rosa, doesn’t play in his own backyard. Instead he frequents other night spots in search of fulfillment. A reserved disposition coupled with gray hair keeps most of the young men he finds attractive at arm’s length, but not Joshua. Joshua storms Mason’s defenses, breaking them down one by one. By the time he discovers Joshua’s bloody secret, Mason has lost more than his body — he’s given away his soul.

Available Today at Changeling Press

EXCERPT

All rights reserved.
Copyright ©2022 J. Hali Steele

Two groups of patrons had already been discouraged from reaching the corner table, but from previous visits, Joshua knew the spot would soon be occupied. His quarry was later than usual, so he keep his long legs stretched across the aisle. Used to wearing button down shirts, tonight his collar strangled him. He tugged at the neck before undoing another button.

Three youthful revelers snatched attention as they noisily closed in on the table. “Excuse us, dude.” Guy didn’t even look twenty-one.

“You’re excused.”

Largest of the gathering took control. “We want that table. Move your legs. We can get by.”

“Please find another table.” Instinct told Joshua this would get messy. “You passed two.” All this effort to crawl in bed with a man for one night. Sensation sliding down his spine belied that thought. One night my ass. Normally dead calm, Joshua’s annoyance toughened his words. “Stand against the wall for all I care.”

When the one closest to the big man stepped near and bumped his legs, Joshua stood. At least two inches taller, he leaned in and quietly warned, “Touch me once more, and I’ll break every finger on both of your hands. Then how will you play with your tiny dick?”

Stepping back, one of the followers informed his friend, “I don’t mind another table.”

“I mind, and since you’re up, we’ll slip by.”

Spying the man he came to see enter and stroll to the end of the long bar, Joshua decided not to waste more time. He grasped the man’s hand and bent it at the wrist, intending to cause a sprain. “Take. Another. Table.”

“Jesus Christ! You son of a bitch!”

“I’m struggling not to break your hand.” Joshua opted for wrapping his fingers around the cretin’s thick neck. Allowing one fingernail to puncture skin, he effortlessly lifted the idiot an inch off the floor — not enough for customers to notice, but sufficient for the bastard to know he was out matched. “I asked nicely, but you had to take the Lord’s name in vain.”

His friends shuffled backward. “They’re deserting you.” Letting the man’s feet touch the floor, Joshua smiled before licking blood from his finger. “Ah, it’s your lover’s birthday. Fucking him later should make keeping your balls attached a prime concern. Turn and move on.”

“Holy shit, you’re nuts!” The man’s eyes popped wide in their sockets.

“I know.”

That rattle him more.

“Hopefully he never discovers you’re screwing his best friend.”

“I… how… Hold on a minute.”

The waiter picked that moment to make rounds. “Can I get you anything else?” The waiter noticed the intruder and shoved a napkin into his hand. “You’re bleeding.”

“I — I’m good.” He rubbed his neck. “Sorry.”

“I’ll have a lager.” Joshua sat back in his chair. “Send a bottle of your best champagne to this young man’s table.” His boyfriend deserved a decent night out. The blood Joshua had accessed allowed him to deliver a mental prod. Go.

“Uh, thanks, man.”

“Enjoy your partner’s birthday.”

“That was severe.” Sten Majković, Joshua’s best friend, the vampire king, and a royal pain in the ass, sat across the table.

Joshua swiveled in his seat to face Sten. “Who invited you?”

He’d die for this man. Damn near had on two or three occasions. But Sten picked the worst of times to surface. More disturbing was the fact Joshua hadn’t sensed his presence. Not a single drop of his blood pulsed in alert. Joshua was one of less than a handful of vampires who had the pleasure of Sten’s lifeforce, so his manifestation without prior warning should have been impossible, and elicited concern. Scrutinizing his guest, Joshua realized Stan was fingering a coin Joshua had bequeathed him. That provided some explanation. The talisman gave his king insight into Joshua’s life that no one else experienced.

The handsome man Joshua had in his crosshairs was wearing an impeccable navy suit. He strode toward the table Joshua had taken such pains to keep available. His heralding scent and the way his lean body moved had undoubtedly helped distract Joshua, enabling Sten to gain residence at his table unnoticed.

His leader’s intense brown eyes wouldn’t miss Joshua’s interest.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

J. Hali Steele wishes she could grow fur, wings, or fangs, so she can stay warm, fly, or just plain bite the crap out of… Well, she can’t do those things but she wishes she could!

Multi-published and Amazon bestselling author of Romance in Paranormal, Fantasy, and Contemporary worlds which include ReligErotica and LGBTQ stories where humans, vampyres, shapeshifters and angels collide-they collide a lot! When J. Hali’s not writing or reading, she can be found snuggled in front of the TV with a cat in her lap, and a cup of coffee.

Growl and roar — it’s okay to let the beast out. — J. Hali Steele

Witch Wolf (Elvenswood Tales) by Alexa Piper #RomCom #DarkFantasy #Gay #LGBTQ @powlingpiper

Will is a witch wolf, a werewolf who can do magic, but his life so far has been anything but magical. He was sold by his own pack and for four years, Will suffered as a slave to his captors — who used him any way they wanted. Now, after a leap of courage has brought him to Colin’s doorstep, Will’s past should be just that, his past.             

Colin can see the new apprentice he’s supposed to teach magic has been hurt. Colin wants to comfort the young werewolf who takes to magic much more easily than he takes to human contact. Their attraction seems mutual, but how can Colin be certain Will even knows what he wants?

As slow affection grows between Colin and Will, Will’s magic does as well, and he allows himself a sliver of happiness. Except the dark past Will thought he escaped from is not quite done with him, and now, it’s not just Will’s life on the line, but also Colin’s, the witch Will’s heart is beating for.

WARNING: Witch Wolf contains references to past sexual assault (with none of it happening on the page), which may be triggering for some readers.

Available TODAY at Changeling Press
or Preorder for June 10th at online booksellers

EXCERPT

All rights reserved.
Copyright ©2022 Alexa Piper

Will

Once upon a time, Will had sent wishes to the full moon with his howls, but what had come true for him were the slick slaps of skin against skin, stinking breath against his face, the taste of his own blood and other, unspeakable things. Will, instead of meeting a prince under the full moon, had been sold to beasts.

Will carefully turned away from the large form next to him in the bed. Everything seemed so loud in the darkness, the other man’s deep breathing, Will’s own, panicked heartbeat which had not slowed while he had waited for the small hours of the morning, refusing sleep. Will moved, inch by inch, away from the other man. Will refused to think what the other man — Ed — would do if he found Will sneaking out. What Ed had done was already more than Will wanted to think about.

Will had considered packing a small bag, but that would have been too dangerous. All he had dared was leave clothes under the bed, in such a way it looked incidental, forgotten laundry.

The floor was cold against Will’s naked feet. Carefully, he stood. He could say he’d just wanted to go to the bathroom if Ed woke now, but Ed was still sleeping, and so Will got his clothes, slowly pulling them up and onto his arms. He could not make too much noise. He had to get this right.

Will didn’t dare put the clothes on in the bedroom — loup-garou hearing was sensitive. He walked through the dark house and to the kitchen, grabbing his shoes on the way. There were shards of a glass on the floor. Ed had thrown it in fury when Will had been too slow in getting Ed his beer. Will walked around the broken thing and quickly cleaned himself with a wipe. He gave one last look to the dirty dishes in the sink, then pulled on his clothes, more concerned with doing it as quietly as he could than about doing it neatly.

Before he turned the knob, he listened to the house, but it was quiet. Ed was still sleeping, and so was his pack of three, all of them loup-garous, all of them vicious. They might still hear the door, but if Will was ever going to run, then this was it.

He opened the door and crossed the threshold. Now, if they found him, they would know without a doubt that he had tried to run, and they would punish him.

Will closed the door as carefully as he could, but the mechanism made a small sound. Behind the house, the alley was dirty. Trash bags rustled in the wind, soda cans rusted and collected dirt. Will had to watch where he stepped so he didn’t make any more noise. His heart was thundering in his chest.

Out on the street, Will quickly broke into a run. He knew he had to put as much distance between himself and them, because they could shift and just hunt him down, and he couldn’t without the moon being full.

Winchester Boulevard, on foot, was quite a walk. It took Will an hour, and he ran most of the time, so when he finally got there, he was sweaty from running and trembling with the cold whenever he slowed down to catch his breath. The house he wanted had a large planter by the front door with a red and white plastic windmill in it. Ella had said the windmill would be there. It was such a silly thing, and there wasn’t even any wind to move its spokes, but Will nearly broke out in sobs with relief.

Will was scared to knock, but at this point, it was this or wait for Ed and his pack to hunt him down. And Will knew they wouldn’t just kill him. If it had been that — if he’d known that would have been the worst he’d have to fear — he might have given up at any point over the past four years, might have just accepted death. Everything else the loup-garous would enjoy doing to him — that was what Will feared.

He was huffing when he stood in front of the door, but he didn’t hesitate to knock.

Will looked over his shoulder as he waited to be let in. This neighborhood was one of the nicer ones for New Elvenswood. The whole city tended to be largely clean and touristy, even if Will had never been allowed to see all that much of the place. The dilapidated house Ed and his pack had rented was the exception more than the rule as far as Will could tell.

Across the street, there was a light on in an upstairs room. Will imagined whoever was up was awake at this hour because of their own choosing. He imagined they were working late or maybe just reading. Just living their life. Will hadn’t lived in such a long time. All he’d been doing since he’d met Ed had been surviving.

The door opened, and Will flinched.

“Yes?” the vampire asked.

Will had known it would be a vampire, but still. This one, his sheer presence absolutely spoke to Will’s wolf nature, and the vampire’s demeanor made Will want to show his belly and submit. He was stunning to behold too, but in a sharp way: almost white-blond hair, icy eyes that had a hard darkness to them, a thin mouth set in a pale face.

With a last shallow breath, Will forced the words he’d prepared in his head out of his mouth. “Ella said you can help people in trouble. I… there’s a pack of loup-garous, and I need to get away from them. I can’t pay you, but I’ll do what you want. I’ll work for you.”

Will’s voice nearly gave out on the last part, because he started shaking violently. It occurred to Will that the vampire looked like a Viking, and his cold eyes were growing only more glacial in their regard. Will doubted the man had laughed for more than a minute in the last hundred years. And he wore nice clothes, really nice clothes. Will knew the vampire was a lawyer, but he felt silly now for asking for help. He expected the vampire to tell him to go and fuck off, just with nicer words.

“Come inside,” the vampire said instead and opened the door wider.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Alexa Piper writes steamy romance that ranges from light to dark, from straight to queer. She’s also a coffee addict. Alexa loves writing stories that make her readers laugh and fall in love with the characters in them. Connect with Alexa on Facebook or Instagram, follow her on Twitter or TikTok, and subscribe to her newsletter!

NEW RELEASE: Angel Falls Vol 2 by Stephanie Burke #DarkFantasy #PNR @FlashyCat @changelingpress

Angel Falls is filled with geeks and weirdoes — the best geeks and weirdoes anyone has ever met.

My Protector: Being sheriff of a small town has lots of perks. Richard knows just about everyone by name, he gets free coffee at the café, and he gets to spend as much time as he wants with Amber Graves, the woman he desires above all others. Unfortunately he finds himself firmly friend-zoned, much to his and his shadow-wolf’s dismay.

When strange phone calls bring up memories of a dark past that rocks Amber’s soul, Richard knows he needs to protect her — even if he’d not so sure he can protect himself.

Rare as a Unicorn: Warrior Jova was once a unicorn, masterful and proud… Now he’s stranded in Angel Falls. People here are strange, and none more strange and desirable than the pair who rescues him one snowy morning.

Baylin and Torin, Angel Falls’ veterinarians, have a lot going for them — talent, exciting careers, the love of each other, and a strong relationship… but they’re not complete. They need a third to commit to being with them. The attraction is immediate, but how can they make this work?

Get it Today at Changeling Press

Get the Paperback at Amazon

EXCERPT

All rights reserved.
Copyright ©2022 Stephanie Burke
Excerpt from My Protector

Richard watched as the angry, determined Amber Graves kind of sank in on herself. He hadn’t meant to blurt out his problems to her, but the tear in his soul was beginning to bleed all kinds of emotional pain and he was getting tired, so damn tired.

“I — I –“

“It’s not your fault.” He sighed, reaching up and gripping her hands in frustration. “None of this is your fault.”

“I never — I… Jesus, Richard. I don’t have issues; I have subscriptions and enough of those to sell at news stands.”

“You don’t have to make things up, Amber.” He snorted. “But I just wanted you to know how I really felt. And by your actions, I think I can guess where you stand.” The smile he offered to her was rueful and filled with the pain that was now slowly beginning to consume him, but it was the best he could do.

He was soul sick and hurting, his wolf had turned against him, and now he was beginning to think maybe it was right. Maybe he should have immediately taken the direct approach with her, told her how he felt from the beginning. He flirted with her because he flirted with everyone he knew. It was just part of his nature to be open and friendly. But maybe he should have told her it wasn’t just social niceties with her, that he was deathly serious when it came to her.

“My ex was an ass.”

Her words stopped him cold. He turned to look at her, to really look at her and froze. Her hands were fisted at her sides, her body trembling.

“Amber –“

“I’m not telling you because I think we need to trade dark pasts. I’m not telling you because I want your pity.” Her dark eyes met his and in them he read courage and determination. “I’m not telling you this because I want to trade who had the shittiest deal. I had enough therapy and I know who I am and what I’m capable of. I’m telling you because you need to know why I am the way I am.”

“You don’t have to tell me anything you don’t want to.” He stepped closer, reaching out to cup her shoulders in his hands. “I understand –“

“He beat me, Richard. My ex, Todd Ritter, he beat me so badly sometimes I wanted to die.”

Richard froze as anger rolled over him in waves. “He beat you –“

“I met Todd when I was just a scared little girl playing at being an adult.” She smiled sadly and took a step back, taking a seat on the rock once more. “He was beautiful and kind and knew just how to look for women with low self esteem. He was really good at that, reading a crowd and reading people. He knew just what to do and what to say.”

Richard stepped closer to the boulder, closer to her.

“He separated me from my family, and I let him. He was white, you see, and they didn’t think much of that to begin with. They thought I was going to college and getting above myself. And he read that about them and used it to drive a wedge between my mom, my sister, and me. When he had me where he wanted me, with my family all but disowning me, he asked me to marry him.” She looked up at him and he saw something of the younger girl she had been. “I lapped it all up, every word he said. So I got married and I got pregnant and then I got the bright idea to help us out by dropping out of school to save money and taking small accounting jobs to bring in extra cash.”

She tilted her head as if lost in memories, before she blinked twice and turned her head to look at him.

“Those were some of the happiest memories I’ve ever had, Richard. He treated me like his queen. Then his parents died so we moved out of town to the house they left him. I didn’t even tell my family where I was going or give them my new last name so they could track me down. They didn’t support me so I wanted nothing to do with them. I didn’t know it was because they could see what kind of man Todd really was.”

“He betrayed your trust.”

“He betrayed more than that.” She laughed, her wild tangle of curls bobbing around her face as a sharp wind blew through the trees, carrying the bitter sound away from them. “The first time he hit me he apologized and I forgave him. He had graduated but there weren’t many jobs for an actor in Maryland. His parents had died and left some bills that had to be paid off, so money was tight. He started working at a bar at night and was waiting tables during the day and… and I figured he snapped a little. I forgave him and he promised to never do it again. But he did and this time he told me it was my fault. I didn’t have the house clean. I was six months pregnant and…” She shook her head before lying back on the rock. She looked like a cute kitty basking in the sun.

“He hit me and I believed it was my fault. I wasn’t keeping the house clean and I needed to take more accounting jobs to help. Then he was drunk because his customers kept buying him drinks, and he took them because I was never there to talk to him like I used to do. And then it was because I was too busy for him. And after Lila was born, he stopped making excuses. He just wanted to hit. Everything in his life was out of control, and keeping me in control with his fists and his words made him feel more like a man.”

“Amber, I would never raise a hand to you in anger.”

“I know.” She rubbed her arms. “It was all him and only him. You just don’t have that in you. And by the time I realized I was in some very real trouble, Lila was almost one and he wasn’t even making up excuses. Believe it or not, that’s what got me out. He had me hemmed up in the living room when Lila began to cry. He was going for her and I realized that if I stayed there, he would he hitting her next. So I picked up my prized possession, my die cast metal figurine of the Planet Quest, and I bashed him over the head.”

She said it so matter of factly that Richard just gaped at her.

“Then I tied him up, went to the bank and took all the money out of the account. It was a joint account, and I put most of it in there, so I had a right. Then I went to the police station and reported the assault. I also told them that I tied him up so I could get away with my daughter. I told them that I feared for my life and while they were taking photos of my face and body, I contacted a social worker and got an emergency placement. He was picked up and brought in. I identified him and got a restraining order. I jumped from homeless shelter to homeless shelter until I could swing a legal separation. After a year of hard living with Lila, he didn’t show up for the divorce proceedings so it went through uncontested with special circumstances. I found my way here when Lila was about two and a half and was doing part-time work at Chloe’s Diner. She let me keep Lila in a back station and the other waitress spoiled her rotten. Chloe was a wonderful old lady, was great at manning the cafe, but was horrible at books. So I started helping her out and saved her a lot of money when I found some major mistakes her bookkeeper was making. She admired that and said my talents were wasted on tables and put me in the office. When she found out I was staying in a homeless shelter and why I hadn’t finished my degree, she gave me the apartment over the shop and insisted I finish my degree online. It was all brand new back then, and so exciting…”

She threw her hands over her head and arched her back, stretching a little, and Richard felt his mouth go dry.

“When she was ready for retirement, she let me buy the shop and I changed it into the Planet Quest Cafe.”

“So… so you’re not too fond of men…” Richard knew he couldn’t compete with ghosts from the past.

“Oh, God, man, I love men.” Amber laughed. He looked up to see amusement shining in her eyes. “I’m not a man-hating bitch, Richard. That’s not why I ran.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Stephanie is a USA Today Best Selling, multi published, multi award-winning author, Master Costumer, handicapped, wife and mother of two.

From sex-shifting, shape-shifting dragons to undersea worlds, sexually confused elemental Fey and homo-erotic mysteries, all the way to pastel-challenged urban sprites, Stephanie has done it all, and hopes to do more.

Stephanie is an orator on her favorite subjects of writing and world-building, a sometime teacher when you feed her enough tea and donuts, an anime nut, a costumer, and a frequent guest of various sci-fi and writing cons where she can be found leading panel discussions or researching varied legends and theories to improve her writing skills.

Stephanie is known for her love of the outrageous, strong female characters, believable worlds, male characters filled with depth, and multi-cultural stories that make the reader sit up and take notice.

Boundaries by AJ Graham #BDSM #DarkFantasy #PNR

Sacrifices of the body cannot compare with the ecstasy that comes from sacrifices of the heart.

Bound by Blood: For centuries, sacrificial offerings have kept peace between humans and the immortal Kin who feed on their blood. When his sister is chosen, Daniel offers himself in her place. Daniel has grown up believing the Kin to be heartless monsters. He never imagined the Kin lord’s touch would stir hiss body and heart, would make him crave the very thing he’d always feared: the sweet, sharp burn of fangs in his neck.

Bound by Desire: Keelie al’Trega marries Lord Kalen to secure peace between their two planets. Then she learns the terrible truth — becoming his mate will create an unbreakable psychic bond between them, a bond so intense and powerful that it can drive a person insane. Is Kalen worth the risk?

No Shame: Paul’s never told anyone about his fantasies of being spanked and flogged, until he meets Kade — a sensual, experienced man who offers to fulfill his every hidden desire. But Paul soon realizes that he might be in over his head…

Flesh and Spirit: Rose has always dreamed of serving Kalia, the goddess of healing and pleasure. But in order to become a priestess, she has to complete a ritual in which she casts aside all inhibitions and enters a trance of sexual ecstasy. Gabe and Rafe are more than happy to help her complete her Initiation. But can Rose handle what they have in mind?

Publisher’s Note: Boundaries (Box Set) contains the previously published novellas Bound by Blood, Bound by Desire, No Shame, and Flesh and Spirit.

Available Today at Changeling Press

Get the Paperback at Amazon

Praise for Bound by Blood

“A very enjoyable read.”

4.5 Diamonds — S. K. Fero, Got Erotic Romance! Reviews

“[the author] has created an amazing saga packed with social truths, emotions and spectacular lovemaking.”

5 Nymphs — Chocolate Minx, Literary Nymphs

Praise for Bound by Desire

“If you like classic romance plots and have been missing the virgin/arranged marriage stories in erotic novels, this book is definitely for you.”

— Elizabeth Charles, Just Erotic Romance Reviews

EXCERPT

All rights reserved.
Copyright ©2022 AJ Graham
Excerpt from
 Bound by Blood

Daniel sat upright in the saddle, wrists bound, as his horse plodded forward. The coarse ropes chafed his skin, and fear twisted his guts into knots, but he kept his face calm and expressionless. He would hold onto his dignity, he promised himself, no matter what happened. It was all he had left.

Moonlight silvered the leaves of the forest as the procession rode single file down the narrow path. A guard rode behind him, and another in front to keep him from running away. They needn’t have worried. He did not intend to escape. If he did, his sister would suffer in his place.

He tried not to think of what awaited him at the end of the path. Instead, he thought of Sara safe and alive, baking bread with their mother, riding her favorite mare through the fields, picking wildflowers.

The procession stopped in a large, round clearing. Daniel’s two escorts dismounted. They were both men from the village, men he knew. They wouldn’t look him in the eye. Tom — the village baker — looked around, the whites of his eyes flashing like those of a frightened horse. His tongue darted out to wet his lips. “They’ll be here any minute,” he muttered.

“Aye,” replied Ben, the other escort. He glanced over his shoulder at Daniel, looked down, shook his head, and dropped his voice to a whisper. “I tell you, Tom, I hate this arrangement. It ain’t right, offering our young men and women to these blood-suckers. Sometimes I think it was better in the old days, when we hunted –“

“Shhh! You want them to hear you?”

“They can’t hear us,” he said, irritation creeping into his voice. “They aren’t here yet.”

“You don’t know that,” Tom shot back. “One of ’em could be standing right next to you, and you wouldn’t know it unless he spoke.” He glared at Ben. “None of us like this arrangement, but it’s the only way. In the old days, people died. The offerings keep things peaceful. Keeps the blood-suckers from our village. As for the offerings… well, it’s the price we pay. It’s not like they kill them.”

“No.” Ben lowered his voice even more, but Daniel could still make out the words. “But what they do to them is probably worse.”

“Hush!”

Daniel’s hands clenched, nails pressing into his palms. “It’s all right,” he said. Despite his efforts to keep his voice steady, it trembled. “I’m not afraid.” It was a lie, and they all knew it. Ben and Tom exchanged guilty glances.

They waited. Daniel’s ears caught the thump of approaching hoof beats. He tensed.

At the edge of the clearing, a black horse emerged from the shadows. It was huge, muscular; its coat sleek and glossy. The rider wore dark, close-fitting trousers, which showed off his long, lean legs, and his black cloak billowed in the wind. Beneath it was a tight shirt of black leather, molded to the contours of his body. He was slender but hard, all sculpted muscle, his abdomen flat and trim. His skin was white, as if it had never seen sunlight… and he was stunningly, unnervingly beautiful, as beautiful as a woman, though it was impossible to mistake him for one. A breeze ruffled his short hair, which gleamed a pale silver, like moonlight on water. And his eyes…

Daniel’s heartbeat quickened as he stared into those ruby eyes. He had never seen one of the Kin face to face. That pale face was as cold and expressionless as a statue’s. There was no trace of feeling in those blood-red eyes. They flicked over the two cowering escorts, then focused on Daniel.

“Is this the offering?” The Kin lord’s voice was deep and full. It seemed to reverberate in the pit of Daniel’s stomach, in the marrow of his bones.

Tom took a deep breath and straightened. “Yes, my lord.”

“I was told that the offering this year would be a young woman.”

Tom glanced at Daniel and cleared his throat. “Aye, that was the intent. But this young man — Daniel — volunteered to take the place of his sister.”

Silver brows lifted. He looked at Daniel. “Is this true?”

Daniel swallowed. “Yes.” His voice sounded very small.

“How old are you, Daniel?”

“Twenty.”

For a long moment, the Kin lord stared at him. That ruby gaze held him immobile. He couldn’t breathe, couldn’t think. He felt as though those eyes could see straight into his head, as if they were examining every particle of his soul, weighing and measuring unseen qualities. At last, the man nodded. “Very well. Unbind his hands and let him dismount.”

With shaking hands, Tom unbound Daniel’s wrists. Daniel dismounted. His heart knocked like a fist against his chest as he walked toward the huge, black horse and the silver-haired man. He looked over his shoulder, but Tom and Ben would not meet his gaze.

“You two may go,” the silver-haired man said. “Take his horse with you. He won’t need it.”

Still avoiding Daniel’s gaze, they turned their horses and walked them out of the clearing. Daniel’s mare followed. He took a deep breath and approached the Kin lord.

Ruby eyes stared down at him. The man stretched out a hand. Daniel took it — the skin was smooth as marble — and the Kin lord pulled him onto the horse. Daniel gasped. There was no saddle. He gripped the horse with his thighs.

“Hold on to me,” said the Kin lord.

Daniel hesitated, then placed his hands gingerly on the man’s shoulders.

“Not like that.” There was a touch of gentle amusement in his voice. “Put your arms around my waist.”

Daniel bit his lower lip. Slowly, he wrapped his arms around that dagger-slim waist. His chest pressed against the man’s hard back. The Kin lord gave his mount a light tap with his heels. The horse snorted, tossed its head, and began to walk.

“My name is Vale, but you may address me as Master.”

“Yes, Master,” Daniel said quietly.

Vale looked over his shoulder. His crimson eyes reflected Daniel’s face. There were no discernable pupils, just two solid, ruby disks that seemed to burn with their own inner light. “You volunteered to take your sister’s place, didn’t you?”

“Yes.”

“Why?”

Daniel hesitated. “She’s younger than me by four years. She’s in love with a man whom she’s planning to marry one day. And my parents adore her. The whole village adores her. So do I. She’s always treated me with more kindness than anyone else. When she was chosen as the offering, everyone was devastated. I could not bear to think of her being taken away from all those who love her.” He remembered the moment of sinking dread as a village elder had read Sara’s name from the scrap of paper he’d drawn, blindfolded, from a wooden box.

“And you? Will they not be devastated by your loss, as well?”

Self-conscious, Daniel dropped his gaze. “I…”

“Look at me.”

Daniel looked up and met those cool, expressionless eyes. “No, Master, they won’t miss me much.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

AJ Graham has a passion for cold weather, unusual beers, and anything otherworldly.  Dragons, demons, shapeshifters and psychics have always populated their imagination, but sometimes the real world can be just as fascinating and mysterious.  And no matter the genre, AJ has always loved stories about soulmates connecting.  Whether it’s instant, explosive passion or a slow burn, the power of two (or more) minds and bodies coming together to form a greater whole is always a story worth telling.  AJ lives in the Chicago suburbs with their husband.

Harri Unbound by Rebecca York #paranormalromance #romanticsuspense #darkfantasy

When the ruthless magician Madrin dies, opportunists seek revenge for his cruelty. They kidnap his daughters, meaning to sell them into sexual slavery at a brutal club for sadistic, wealthy men. Lady Harri Madrin manages to escape before the doors close behind them and vows to rescue her sister, Morgan.

Gareth Lamb, the handsome son of a local merchant, finds Harri and hides her from her furious pursuers. When she begs him to help rescue her sister, he agrees. They decide to pretend she is his concubine so they can gain entry to the club to search for Morgan.

The master-slave charade forces them into sizzling erotic encounters. Soon, they fall in love, but Gareth knows he could never aspire to marriage with the high-born Lady Harri.

Though Harri’s magical abilities give them an edge, they’re badly outnumbered by the slavers. Even if they manage to rescue Morgan, will Gareth’s disapproving father disown him if they declare their love and attempt to marry?

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EXCERPT

All rights reserved.
Copyright ©2022 Rebecca York

Harri Madrin woke in her narrow bed in the dark hours of the night. For a moment she thought she might be dreaming — until she realized there was some sort of disturbance in the convent, something she had never heard in this place of tranquility.

With moonlight streaming through the narrow window, she slipped across the stone floor of the small chamber to where her sister still slumbered. “Morgan, wake up. Something bad is happening.”

Her younger sister’s eyes blinked open as the sound of rough male voices came closer. Men in the convent? Never, unless there was some task that the vestals could not accomplish on their own. And never at night.

Sister Matilda rushed into the room. “Hurry, you must hide! They are after you.” She had always been kind to them, and now her wrinkled face was full of fear.

“Who? Why?”

“For revenge. Your father is dead.”

Harri felt nothing for her sire besides a flood of relief. In all her eighteen years, she had feared her father, the magician, Madrin. Now he would no longer rail at her for being born the wrong sex — and for not inheriting any of his powers. Or so he thought. He was incorrect about the latter, but she had kept that knowledge from him, unwilling to give him the satisfaction of her talent. It was the same for her sister, Morgan.

“You must hide before they find you.” Sister Matilda urged.

“But where?”

“Come with me,” she pleaded.

“We must dress,” Morgan protested.

“No time.” The elderly vestal ushered them out of their room. The stone floor was cold on their bare feet as they followed the sister to a small chapel. She led them up the aisle to the front of the room, then removed two candlesticks and opened the top of the altar where they saw a deep cavity under the horizontal surface.

“In with you.”

The girls climbed into the box, curling on their sides and scrunching down to fit into the space.

“I will come back for you when it’s safe,” Sister Matilda promised before lowering the lid. The sound of metal hitting wood told Harri she had replaced the candlesticks.

Harri moved in the cramped space, trying to get comfortable. She froze when a rough male voice demanded, “What have you done with them?”

“Nothing.”

“You’re lying, you old bitch.”

“You dare such sacrilege?”

“You are no better than Madrin, sheltering his demon’s spawn.”

The words were followed by the sound of a hand slapping against flesh. Sister Matilda cried out in pain.

“Where are they?”

There was no answer, but Harri heard something hitting the floor. She crammed her fist against her mouth as she struggled not to scream.

Outside in the chapel, a whirlwind of destruction erupted — heavy pews being tossed about, glass breaking. And then silence.

Harri trembled in their hiding place, and she could feel her sister’s similar vibrations.

Footsteps approached the altar, and she struggled to keep her teeth from chattering. A sweeping noise sent the candlesticks clattering to the stones. The top creaked up, and Harri cringed away.

“And what have we here?”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

New York Times and USA Today Best-Selling Author Rebecca York began her career as a journalist writing articles for newspapers and magazines, but after several years decided to try writing fiction. She’s a highly successful author of over 50 romantic suspense and paranormal novels and is the head of the Columbia Writers Workshop. Her many awards include two Rita finalist books. She has two Career Achievement awards from Romantic Times: for Series Romantic Suspense and for Series Romantic Mystery. Her Peregrine Connection series won a Lifetime Achievement Award for Romantic Suspense Series. She collects rocks, and enjoys cooking, walking, reading, gardening, travel, and Mozart operas.

RELEASE BLITZ: Possibilities by Kira Stone #LGBTQ #BDSM #DarkFantasy

Title: Possibilities

Author: Kira Stone

Publisher: Changeling Press LLC

Release Date: May 13, 2022

Heat Level: 5 – Erotica

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 19 pages

Genre: Erotica, BDSM, Dark Fantasy, Paranormal, SciFi, Dark Desire, Age Gap, Gay

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Synopsis

Choices…

Neal dives into a secluded pool hoping to find release for his aching body and his troubled mind. Instead, he finds Saul. The scribe is everything Neal could dream of — and yet he knows he dares not pursue his desires, for Saul is a Scribe.

Saul wants Neal, but not in servitude. Even a slave can make choices, and Neal chooses to make love to the man who opens his mind — and his heart.

Excerpt

All rights reserved.
Copyright ©2010 Kira Stone

Moonlight strokes the rocks and vegetation bracketing the waterfall with its ghostly fingers. Crystal clear water tumbles from one shallow pool to another, tugged down by gravity’s inexorable grip. Flowers bend in the gentle breeze, and nocturnal creatures add to nature’s nightly chorus as they go about their lives. It is perfect. It is peaceful.

It is a place where possibilities are born… although it would take me some time to realize it.

Although I’ve travelled past this location many times before, this particular spot is unfamiliar to me. It is, however, a welcome sight. I am weary and need a place to rest for the night. The pool looks so inviting. Perhaps a swim before bedding down would help erase the strains of the day.

Rushing water stifles my tired groan as I remove my silks. Little more than scraps of black fabric to cover the most male part of me, held together by a single braided strand of rope. Even so, I treat them with care for they are all I have to shield me against the elements so I set them on a rock beside the water.

The journey to this place, this moment in time, has not been an easy one. My body bears the scars of battles fought, some still fresh. See there, across my wrist, the lines of red? A demon who nearly bereft me of my life left those marks with his razor sharp claws. I can’t decide whether to praise the gods or curse them for sending the district’s healer along to save me when they did.

My spirit is equally marred. Hope has crawled into some dark corner of my soul. I dine on regrets and guilt, a meal that doesn’t sustain a man of thirty-eight for very long. And yet, here I am, still living and breathing. I don’t know why.

I ponder this as I move toward the edge of the lowest pool. The water is warmer than I expect given the lack of the sun’s warming rays, and I find myself drawn into its embrace. At its deepest, it rises no higher than my waist. I swim the breadth of it several times before finding a rock near the middle to sprawl on.

My limbs dangle loosely, toying with the surface, and I stare up at the heavens with the three moons of Trinity hanging low in the sky, searching for answers.

This is how he must have first seen me, looking like some debauched sprite fallen to ground.

I take no notice of the stranger in my midst at first. Slowly, he colors my world. Sound grows clearer, flowers perfume the night air, and everything around me begins to hum with a vibrancy as though it’s newly awakened to life.

I sit up and spy a ripple of midnight blue, just a shade paler than the sky, along the edge of the pool. He stops moving, and his cloak settles around him. Just as my surroundings burst into full life, so does he. Dark blue cloth wraps his rugged frame from neck to knee. His mahogany hair curls back from his face. Black boots and gloves cover his feet and hands. Though a handsome man by any rational person’s account, I remain unfazed.

Until I reach his eyes.

How is it possible to see one’s soul through their eyes? It’s a myth I never believed until I met this stranger. Although I’ve always been partial to blue, it’s not the rich color that holds me captive.

It has little to do with the expression on his face, which seems faintly amused at coming upon me bathing in the moonlight as he had. Nor is it the air of danger and sexual prowess that he exudes. No, it is the reflection of a lifetime of experiences, good and bad, hovering in those blue, blue eyes that I cannot look away from.

Oddly, I’m slightly ashamed of my nakedness for the first time in my humble life. He is the only Master in sight; I am merely a servant boy. I have nothing that he does not give me, including my life. Appearing naked before him should be as natural as breathing and yet I long for some form of cover, as if his eyes might delve into me too deeply otherwise.

Slowly I recall my duty and slip from the stone, back into the water. I swim across to him, kneeling in the shallows when I reach the water’s edge. Still I cannot look away from his face and those startling eyes. “Master, may this boy be of service to you?”

He breathes deep, his broad chest expanding, before answering in a commanding yet gentle tenor. “Tell me your name, boy.”

“This one is called Neal, Master.”

“And you may call me Saul.”

I admit I’m not often at a loss for words, but that request stopped all thought from forming in my brain. A Master wants me, a slave, to refer to him by name? Unheard of! “Master, are you sure?”

He laughs and the sound is more cleansing to me than the crystal clear water. “When we are alone, yes. I want to hear my name from your lips.”

He is Master. I am slave. I shouldn’t question his requests. And yet… “But Master, I am only a boy. I have no right to speak your name.”

“You have whatever rights I give you, and I grant you permission to use my name.” He cocks his head to the side in consideration, then adds, “For tonight.”

His expression hasn’t changed, but there’s something in his manner that convinces me he is serious. I didn’t wish to cross him, for even one of the scribe caste could be dangerous if provoked. “Yes, Mas — Yes, Saul. May this boy be of service to you?”

“Perhaps it is I who am here to serve you,” he suggests with a smile.

A great and mighty Master would lower himself to serve a humble boy? It had never been done before in my knowledge and I can only think of one reason for him to suggest it. “Is this a test for me, to see if I will behave properly?”

“No, Neal. It is merely a suggestion.”

It’s the first of many possibilities he shows me this night. Even now my body trembles with the memories of that first spectacular glimpse of what could be.

“How would you… Boy can… This is not…” No thought would complete itself in my brain before a new one birthed.

Saul laughs again as he presses his finger to my lips. “Easy, Neal. Do not hurt yourself.”

I search the depth of his eyes for some explanation for what is happening. All I find are more questions. “Saul…”

With a smile on his face, he commands, “Come with me.”

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Changeling Press LLC | Amazon

Meet the Author

Kira Stone lives in a warm cave tucked away in the remote Scottish Highlands, where a small band of ever-changing heroes serves as company. As they relax in front of a roaring fire, demons dance in leather pants and angels stroke tunes from the harp strings, while the Fae stop in to share tales from other worlds. Bound by pen and imagination, these are the folk who wait to greet you from the pages of Kira’s stories. Find out more on their website.

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NEW RELEASE: Blue Rose by Lena Austin #DarkFantasy #PNR @Lena_Austin

Princess Zara knows one of royal blood is sometimes forced into political alliances, but what’s wrong with wanting a real Prince Charming? Few princes would want a wife who could best them with any weapon, still, there are more rivals for her hand — and her father’s kingdom — than she expects, but only two catch her eye. Prince Bram seems perfect, but he’s more interested in Prince Kennit than Zara. And the nearsighted Kennit isn’t perfect enough — her father will never approve the marriage.

Prince Kennit knows there’s only one woman for him, but few princesses would find a shape shifting dragon to their liking. When Zara is poisoned, Kennit’s the first to volunteer for the expedition to save the princess, though the quest will lead them deep within the ninth circle of Hell. Zara refuses to be left behind, and Bram’s along for the ride.

Things have changed a little — okay, a lot — since the days of Dante’s Inferno. This time the tourists are Zara, the poisoned princess, and her two suitors. Together they must find a single blue rose in the deepest part of Hell before the next full moon, or Zara will run out of time — and choices.

Available Today at Changeling Press

Preorder for May 13th at your favorite retailer

EXCERPT

All rights reserved.
Copyright ©2022 Lena Austin

Zara shrieked in rage and aimed the next statue from the mantel at her father’s head. The heft of the clay dog might open up his thick skull. “I am not a fucking piece of merchandise!”

“Hang it all, Zara! I don’t like this any more than you do, but I would appreciate the courtesy of being treated like the king now and then!” King Ragnar dodged another object and winced as it shattered behind him. “Damn it! That was your mother’s favorite.”

“She’s been dead for twenty-five years. I don’t think she’ll miss it.” Zara cast about for something else to use as a weapon, but the more useful items were behind her father’s desk, putting her in reach of his burly arms. “Did you already send a herald to announce, ‘One kingdom for sale! Marry the princess and rule Powell Mountains’?”

Ragnar snorted, but kept a wary eye on her. “Thank goodness I had the sense to rule all persons must be disarmed in my presence, or you’d be hacking at me with your sword.” He drew himself up. “As a matter of fact, I did indeed issue invitations to the local princes. They should arrive in time for tonight’s feast.”

Zara swallowed another shriek and ground her teeth instead. “You mean to sell me and the kingdom into marriage quickly, don’t you?”

Ragnar’s fingers opened and closed convulsively, and Zara guessed he’d love to have them around her throat. “At least I’m giving you a choice of princes, you ungrateful wretch. I could have simply chosen one and delivered you to him trussed up like a goose.”

“I’d much rather you changed the law that demands this kingdom be ruled by a wedded pair. Just because you got lucky and found Mother while you were children doesn’t make the law right.” Zara tossed her thick black braid over her shoulder and slammed out of the door, not waiting for a dismissal. The cold fury on her face magically cleared a path through the corridors before her.

She’d known something was wrong when the guardsmen who usually gave her a sword workout were conspicuously absent from the fields. Not even the sergeant looked her in the eye when he informed her they were all out on field maneuvers for the week. She sailed through the doors leading to the back of the castle and noted the guardsmen had miraculously reappeared from their maneuvers.

Now she knew the why of the lie, and her anger soared even higher to realize her father had ordered all her “masculine” activities curtailed. Few princes would find a wife charming when she could best them with any weapon. Fewer still would find her preference for masculine clothes alluring.

Zara turned from the now forbidden joys of beer by the smith’s fire, a joint of beef in the barracks, and the clash of metals on the practice field. She knew better than to approach her old friends and cause them to lie to her further. Her eyes stung, not with pain, but more anger than she’d felt in many a year. Her shoulders slumped as she headed for the cliffs to walk as she often did when troubled. The men would read her posture and know that while she didn’t like it, she’d accepted it wasn’t their fault.

The wind and sky played a tempestuous love affair, whipping her comfortable, woven shirt until it plastered against her body, revealing too many feminine curves even in leather pants and vest. She hated her soft skin, though she’d honed fine muscles beneath the easily bruised flesh, of which there always seemed to be too much. “Can I help it if I’m as tall as a man, and nearly as broad? Certainly not. I refuse to be one of the court wenches who daintily picks at her food and then throws up what little she does eat for fear of not appearing feminine and delicate. Pahh!”

She stepped around a particularly large boulder and beheld a sight so strange it stopped her angry ruminations.

A lanky man stood at the very edge of the cliff, his black cloak seeming to hang in the air as if riding the winds, and his shoulder-length black hair escaped its silver thong to join the cloak in flight. Nothing could be seen of the man’s face, for his back was to Zara, but the whole figure was one of tranquility.

That peace alone intrigued her, for so few could bear the fearful heights, and fewer still dared walk the edge on a day when the winds could yank a full-grown man over the precipice. Either this one was very brave or very crazed.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Someone cursed Lena Austin with “may you have a life so full you’ll have many tales to tell your grandchildren.” Lena’s a “fallen” society wench with a checkered past. She’s been a licensed minister, hairdresser, Realtor, radio DJ, exotic dancer, telephone service tech, live-steel medievalist swordswoman, BDSM Mistress, and investment property manager. Not necessarily in that order. She never finished that degree in marine archaeology, but did learn to scuba — she’s got a lifetime of “Research material!”

Hey, why waste these stories on kids who won’t listen anyway? Writing them down is a nice way to spend her retirement. What? You expected an ex-BDSM Mistress to take up crocheting or something?