Now in Paperback: Paranormal B&B by M.D. Stewart #LGBTQ #darkfantasy @gooseandmindi

A sexy ghost, a demon, a vampire, a Drag Queen, and a Halfling find their true mates in this small town.

Born for You (Paranormal B&B 1): Matson — Being gay in my little town? It’s not been easy. The ghost of a murdered man tugs at my heartstrings. Is he real, or just a figment of my imagination?

Born an Empty Soul (Paranormal B&B 2): Killian — I’m a singer in a famous indie band, but I’ve been alone for a century, living off others’ pain — until I meet my mates. Now I have to do everything I can to convince them they are mine, or I’ll die.

Born a Changeling (Paranormal B&B 3): Ben — I try not to let my daughter have everything she wants, but I can’t say no to keeping the large cat she finds while we’re on vacation. Then the cat turns into a very sexy man who crashes into my life and steals my heart.

Born A Halfling (Paranormal B&B 4): Jessie — I met Michael in Afghanistan, and helped the injured Marine heal in body and soul. When we meet again at Chasers, a gay bar, where he’s a Drag Queen, I still want him — and the man he’s in love with.

Born a Demon (Paranormal B&B 5): Conner — I never thought I’d want a future with another man, but I want one with Rager, a demon from a different dimension. I can forgive his past transgressions, but is happiness really possible when I learn my entire life has been a lie?

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EXCERPT

Copyright ©2021 M.D. Stewart
Excerpt from Born For You

Josiah

Life gets boring when you’ve been haunting the same area for over a hundred years. Especially since no one came by for me to scare anymore. The one thing I did look forward to were the visits by the man standing at the edge of the trees.

Matson Gannon Ashby.

I’d watched him grow up. When he was a child, he’d stop by and I could hear his heart pounding in fear. But as he aged, he’d started to talk to me. He’d bring silver coins to toss into the woods each time he came. And each time he did it, he said, “For you, Josiah.”

It pissed me off at first, thinking he was being sarcastic, since I was murdered for greed. I had heard his grandfather telling him how I was killed for my hidden stash of money and my mother’s jewels. Matson seemed sincere though, and with each visit, he tossed the coins.

So I started watching him. It’s not like he could see me; I’d just get closer to him and watch his face. In time, I looked forward to his visits, which grew infrequent after he went to college. Seeing him now made my heart pound.

I was surprised by my reaction to him. When he was a child, I’d felt protective of him, almost like a guardian. As he grew up, my feelings changed from wanting to watch over him, to wanting to touch him. My cold, dead heart felt like a flower blooming inside my chest every time he stopped by for a visit. I didn’t understand why I felt these feelings. I’d never had tender feelings for any human being. Why would I? I went from a fifteen-year-old child to an injured war veteran, to a murdered man and finally to a bitter, avenging ghost.

And yes, I had slain my killers. It hadn’t been difficult to find them. My murder felt like a glowing connection from me to the bastards who’d shot me. I began to haunt them, whisper in their ears, run my finger down their bodies, leaving chill bumps. I drove them crazy, made them question their life’s choices. After all, they’d never even found my hidden stash — I was shot and killed for no reason.

Once I realized my body could cross the thinned Death Veil on Halloween and become corporeal, I’d hunted the men down and killed them, one by one. Once I had my revenge, I never used the thinning Veil between the worlds again. I’d never wanted to be human again.

Until now.

In many ways, Matson’s visits gave me the peace that had eluded me my entire life, as both human and specter. I got attached to him and could follow him home and keep him safe from the Other Things that live between his world and mine.

Humans have no inkling about the paranormal side of things. Which, believe me, is a good thing. Ghosts aren’t the only beings that go “bump in the night.” Angels and demons are just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. Most times these magical beings like to stay hidden from humans, but some creatures like to attach to the weaker ones and siphon off their essence. There’s some scary stuff that’s hidden from human beings. Be thankful for that.

But this particular visit of Matson’s felt…different. He drew me, called me to him. I felt his loneliness, and for the first time, I saw him as an adult. When he made the invitation for me to come to him, I couldn’t resist. I bent down and picked up the silver dollar and placed it in my pocket before I slipped into the car beside Matson.

I had visited the big house a few times when Etta Jo got older. When she passed, I helped her cross over, something that never happened with me. Either no one on the Otherside cared enough to guide me, or I didn’t deserve it.

But Etta was a powerful medium. She could communicate with me and frequently did over the years. It established a deeper link between her family and me. That was ironic, because her great-grandfather was one of my killers.

Now, as Matson got out of the car and walked into the house, I could see the sadness cross his features. As he stood in the living room, I reached my hand out and touched his shoulder. To my shock, he placed his hand over mine. Or to be more precise, through it. I don’t know if he knew it was me or if he thought it was Etta Jo, but my touch comforted him. My heart broke for the pain he was suffering.

I had no idea how long we stood there before he whispered he was fine. I got the feeling he needed time alone to process his grief.

I went outside, and lost track of time. When you’re a spirit, time ceases to mean anything. I wondered why I wanted to be so close to Matson. I’ve seen hundreds of people in my specter-life. None drew me as he did, though I was more than one hundred years older. Hell, even if I’d been human, I’d be too old for him. I was fifty-three when I died, and Matson was about thirty.

Wait, what was I thinking? Too old for him?

I’d have to be crazy to feel that way about another man. I’d never been attracted to men before. Had I? I was only fifteen when I joined the Confederate Army. Sixteen when I was shot and seventeen when I came home from war. Then I spent my entire life bitter and alone. I’d never kissed another human being. I never wanted to. But something about Matson called to me. Could I really have sexual desires toward another man? I wasn’t sure, but I knew, if I were human, I’d want to find out with the man in that house.

My body began to tingle, and suddenly I needed to get inside. I needed to be near Matson. And I wasn’t going to let my fears stop me.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

I grew up in southern West Virginia, where I spent hours, drawing, watching television and reading. As a result, I combined my love of science fiction (unashamed Trekkie) and romance (thanks to mom’s Harlequin Romance Novels collection) to create my own Universe. I hope my books can transport you to faraway worlds where there’s always a happily ever after!

Dark Reign/Clutch Wars by Mychael Black #multiplepartners #darkfantasy

Marcus’ werewolf pack faces a deadly vampire hell-bent on revenge. And then there’s the dragons…

Dark Reign: Marcus has spent most of his life saving his fellow weres from his ex-lover, vampire Dalton Gray, but after one of his Enforcers slaughter Gray’s guards they’re headed for war. His allies are few in number until unexpected help arrives — but that brings a whole new set of problems, including an injured child. And inside knowledge of Gray’s operations.

Meting out justice to the vampires who attacked his lover is easy for Daniel. Dealing with the fallout from hidden truths coming to light? That’s the hard part.

Clutch Wars: As the last female dragon shifter, Tia’s the only hope for her species’ survival. That means mating, which wouldn’t be problem—if she wanted to be a queen. She doesn’t.

Meanwhile, the Navarro clan is headed for war with a demon force hellbent on wiping them out. Demons don’t play fair, and they force Mason to make hard choices. When the clan is surprised by an ambush, Korin seeks revenge. But what price is he willing to pay?

Publisher’s Note: Dark Reign/Clutch Wars contains the previously published Dark Reign novellas Found, Oathbound, Atonement and Fight or Flight, and the Clutch Wars novellas The Reluctant Queen, Regan’s Folly, Sub Rosa, and Sovereign.

Get the paperback at Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09CGFVPFP

Praise for Found

“I’ll happily recommend this book to friends because Mychael Black’s werewolves are darned hot to read about. Where can I find one of my own?”

— 4 Cherries from Tiger Lily, Whipped Cream Reviews

“The love scenes are incredible. Mychael Black has created a fantastic story.”

— 4.5 Nymphs from Chocolate Minx, Literary Nymphs

Praise for Oathbound

“…a superior example of exceptionally sensual lovemaking. Oathbound is an impressive, as well as, incredibly enjoyable saga.”

— Chocolate Minx, Literary Nymphs Reviews

Praise for Atonement

“Mychael Black has created another superb installment to this series. Atonement is an exceedingly enjoyable illustration of dramatic moments, heartwarming characters as well as a happily-ever-after climax.”

— 5 Nymphs from Chocolate Minx, Literary Nymphs Reviews

“Darkly sensual and mysterious, Atonement is a captivating story of redemption. Fast paced, scorching hot, and suspenseful from start to finish…”

— Lisa, Joyfully Reviewed

Praise for Fight or Flight

“Another interesting addition to a very imaginative m/m erotic series that introduces very sensual characters who have survived personal traumas. This is a very sizzling entry…”

— 4 Stars from ELF, Night Owl Reviews

“Mychael Black has created a wonderful, as well as enjoyable, installment to this series. I found Eric to be an especially impressive character.”

— 4 Nymphs from Chocolate Minx, Literary Nymphs Reviews

Praise for The Reluctant Queen

“This is the first of a new series that may be a quickie, but it is one helluva good ride. The reader can enjoy this book in one sitting. Take a load off and enjoy this new series.”

— 5 Stars from Angibabi4, Night Owl Reviews

“Melting hawt manlove is on the menu for this new series from Mychael Black. For dragonshifter lovers, this is a good new series to start reading. It’s fast, furious, and arousing.”

— BookAddict, Manic Reviews

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Myc has been writing professionally since 2005, solo and with Shayne Carmichael. Genres include pretty much anything (no steampunk yet), though Myc is well known for paranormal stories. When not writing, Myc is usually playing PC games, reading, watching Netflix, and spending way too much time on Facebook. Since the question has come up in the past, pronouns are not an issue. Myc is bio-female, mentally male, and 100% genderfluid, so any pronoun works!

Forever Kisses Vol. 1 by NYT Bestseller Angela Knight #BDSM #darkfantasy @AngelaKnight

Forever Kiss: Valerie is haunted by dreams of a man she knows only as Cowboy, her seductive lover. But Cowboy is real. And he’s a vampire. Cade is the only one who can protect Valerie from Ridgemont, his Sire, and he’s determined to do just that — even if he must kidnap her to keep her safe.

Caught in a web of fear and passion, Valerie and Cade must learn to trust one another, even as Ridgemont stalks their every move. Their only hope of survival is the Forever Kiss.

Beth’s Kiss: Beth’s world comes crashing down when she’s kidnapped by Joaquin, a deadly immortal who means to use her in a plot to kill a pair of handsome vamps. Morgan and Garret are determined to avenge themselves against Joaquin, who murdered the woman they loved.

When they rescue Beth they must complete her transformation, saving her from the vampire virus raging through her system. But if Beth is to have a future with her two vampires, they must settle accounts with the ancient, powerful killer and his army of mercenaries.

Author’s Note: Forever Kiss was first published in 2004 and has been revised extensively, including added scenes and updated tech. I want to include a warning for those who might be triggered by the sexual assaults committed by the villains. I avoided going into detail and/or cut away from those scenes before they got truly horrific, but they’re certainly implied.

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SNEAK PEEK

All rights reserved.
Copyright ©2021 Angela Knight
Excerpt from Forever Kiss

“I need you tonight.” His voice emerged from the darkness, a low male rumble of heat and hunger. “Will you give yourself to me?”

Valerie Chase sat up in her tumbled bed. The cowboy stood just outside the open French doors, watching her from the balcony as moonlight spilled around him. The brim of his white Stetson shadowed his face. It always had. She’d never seen his features clearly, not in all the years she’d dreamed of him.

His white cotton shirt stretched over broad shoulders and tucked into the worn jeans that hugged his long, muscled legs. Moonlight glinted on the star of a Texas Ranger pinned to his leather vest. He wore two gun belts crossed over lean hips, the holstered Colt revolvers forming a seductive frame for the thick, impressive ridge of his erection.

It was the way he’d always looked in her dreams, her cowboy fantasy, her dream lover. Her hero.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Angela Knight’s romance writing career began in 1996, when she realized her dream of romance publication with Red Sage’s Secrets anthology. She is a New York Times best-selling author of more than fifty novels, novellas, and ebooks, including the Mageverse and Time Hunters series. Her career spans twenty plus years, earning her a Romantic Times Bookclub Magazine Career Achievement award in Paranormal Romance, as well as two Reviewers’ Choice awards for best erotic romance and best werewolf romance.

Angela is currently a writer, editor, and cover artist with Changeling Press LLC. She also teaches online writing courses with SavvyAuthors. In addition to her fiction work, Angela’s writing career includes a decade as an award-winning South Carolina newspaper reporter. She lives in South Carolina with her husband, Michael, a thirty-year police veteran and detective with a local police department.

Release Blitz: The Basilisk’s Lover by Alexa Piper #GayRomance #darkfantasy @prowlingpiper @GoIndiMarketing

Title: The Basilisk’s Lover

Series: Fairview Chronicles #8

Author: Alexa Piper

Publisher: Changeling Press LLC

Release Date: August 6, 2021

Heat Level: 4 – Lots of Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 140

Genre: Romance, Thriller/Suspense, Action Adventure, Dark Fantasy, Paranormal, Romantic Comedy, Urban Fantasy, Alternative Universe, Dark Desire, Elves, Dragons & Magical Creatures, Gay, Magic, Murder Mystery, Shapeshifters, Werewolves & Wolf Shifters

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Synopsis

Leon is a basilisk, a snake-demon. He is also a teacher and used to hiding his true nature, that dark secret that has always kept him apart from others. When he meets Cy, what Leon thought would just be a fling quickly turns into more. Cy and Leon may be from different worlds, but with a dangerous creature feeding on the students at Fairview University where Leon teaches, those worlds soon collide.

Cy finds himself pulled into a world of mages and shapeshifters, of seductive snake-demons. To help find what is murdering students at the university, Cy, along with the St. John Investigations team, decides to go undercover. He ends up a university student once more — and Leon is his hot teacher.

Cy will need to come to grips with the supernatural and with his feelings for Leon. If opposites truly attract, the cold-blooded basilisk and the warm-blooded human might just find their way to a happily-ever-after, but not before they figure out what haunts Fairview University — and put a stop to it.

Excerpt

All rights reserved.
Copyright ©2021 Alexa Piper

The train rattled and hummed with that train noise that was so well suited to becoming just background static, a near invisible pressure on every passenger’s eardrums. Yet, it was loud enough to pull Cy from his daze every other five minutes or so which was probably a good thing, considering that Fairview was the next stop. The train was less than a third full, quiet, and Cy was tired.

Cy had meant to take an earlier train out of Morrowvale, but then he’d been fool enough to answer his work phone and had spent half an hour talking to one of his clients about another stained-glass window and what it was supposed to look like, and could Cy get it done very soon, please. He’d told the client it would get done as soon as he could humanly manage it, and he’d absolutely come out to take a few measurements. Which he had done, and then the client had just talked and talked about what she wanted in her new window, and Cy had nodded and smiled as he downed no less than three espressos from her fancy machine.

And now it was late, the world outside the train car was ink black apart from the occasional glow in the distance that marked out a lone house or a road. The artificial light that lit the inside of the car was grating on the eyes. Cy looked out, though the windows were more like dull mirrors, showing him his reflection, washed-out and pale. He was beginning to feel another wave of tiredness come over him.

“Long day?”

At first, Cy wasn’t sure he’d been spoken to. He turned his face away from the window and immediately found the speaker’s gaze meeting his, bronze eyes inquisitive, face curious, and a smile playing at the corners of the man’s lips. He sat diagonally across from Cy, a book open on his lap. One long finger was teasing the pages.

“Sorry, I didn’t mean to startle you,” the man said. His voice was smooth and reminded Cy of the warm hues of the reds he loved to use, never mind how expensive they were because it took gold to give the glass that special shade of red.

“No, it’s fine,” Cy said. “And it was a long day.”

The man’s smile stretched a bit at that, which drew Cy’s eyes to the lips, rosy pink with coral undertones. The man’s lips looked very soft.

“Hm, those are the worst,” he said. “Are you going back home?”

A part of Cy’s mind tried alerting him to the fact that a complete stranger was striking up a conversation with him on a near-empty night train. Even if that stranger was the kind of pretty that easily drew Cy’s attention, the man could still be a perfect weirdo. Heavens knew Cy had hooked up with some weirdos over the years. Except this guy was reading, and a glance to the book in his lap told Cy the man was reading Homer in the original Greek, which struck Cy as even odder than the pretty stranger’s interest in him.

“No,” Cy said. “I’m visiting my sister.” At least that way, if the stranger was the murderous kind of weirdo, he’d know Cy was expected, even if he wasn’t. This was a surprise visit, and Cy had the generalized, uncertain feeling in the pit of his stomach that he would end up just as surprised as his sister by the end of it. That was a whole different can of wiggly worms that he didn’t want to dwell on just now.

The stranger nodded and closed his book after running one of those long fingers down the center where the signatures were glued to the spine. He didn’t even use a bookmark. “That’s nice. Family is so precious,” the stranger said.

“Clearly you don’t have any siblings,” Cy commented. His voice sounded a bit drier than he liked. He told himself that was because he was tired.

The stranger tilted his head. He had perfect, tawny skin and ink-black hair which he kept long enough for a loose ponytail at the nape of his neck. He had no accent that Cy could detect, spoke instead cleanly and clearly like someone who’d been moved around too much as a child or someone parked in some exclusive boarding school for most of their adolescent life. He didn’t look exactly Asian either. Even the coarse hair had a bit of a wave to it, and the eyes, while almond-shaped, lacked the monolid Cy would have associated with someone of Asian descent. The closer Cy looked, the odder the stranger seemed.

“You’re right, I don’t,” the man said. “But I imagine it would be nice. Do you not like your sister?” One of his eyebrows rose, and he turned his upper body toward Cy to show interest.

Cy rolled his shoulders. “Sure, I do.” Except I don’t trust she always makes the smartest decisions. “But younger sisters are just born knowing how to get on your nerves.” By being plain stupid or pretending to be. “You read Greek?” Cy asked, indicating the Odyssey with his chin.

The man looked at the book and back to Cy. “I do. I also speak it. Miláte epísis Elliniká?”

“Uhm, sorry? I know the letters, but that’s it,” Cy said. “Classics professor mom, you see.”

The stranger smiled. “I apologize for presuming,” he said. “I just asked if you spoke Greek, which you answered all the same.”

Cy cleared his throat. He could feel himself blush at the sight of that smile, sharp and soft as a line drawn onto a sheet of pale glass. And those pretty bronze eyes and that voice like red glass warmed by sunlight didn’t hurt either.

Purchase

Changeling Press LLC | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | iTunes

Meet 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, and subscribe to her newsletter!

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Bookbub

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Release Blitz: Foxfire in the Snow by J.S. Fields #LGBTQ #Fantasy @ninestarpress @GoIndiMarketing @Galactoglucoman

Title: Foxfire in the Snow

Series: The Alchemical Duology, Book One

Author: J.S. Fields

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: 07/19/2021

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: F/NB

Length: 88800

Genre: Fantasy, LGBTQIA+, fantasy, dark fantasy, nonbinary, lesfic, science magic, magic users, witches, sword and sorcery, long-time friendship, family drama

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Description

Woodcutter or witch? Alchemist or scientist? Can Sorin’s duality save their nation?

Born the heir of a master woodcutter in a queendom defined by guilds and matrilineal inheritance, nonbinary Sorin can’t quite seem to find their place. At seventeen, an opportunity to attend an alchemical guild fair and secure an apprenticeship with the queen’s alchemist is just within reach. But on the day of the fair, Sorin’s mother goes missing, along with the Queen and hundreds of guild masters, forcing Sorin into a woodcutting inheritance they never wanted.

With guild legacy at stake, Sorin puts apprentice dreams on hold to embark on a journey with the royal daughter to find their mothers and stop the hemorrhaging of guild masters. Princess Magda, an estranged childhood friend, tests Sorin’s patience—and boundaries. But it’s not just a princess that stands between Sorin and their goals. To save the country of Sorpsi, Sorin must define their place between magic and alchemy or risk losing Sorpsi to rising industrialization and a dark magic that will destroy Sorin’s chance to choose their own future.

Excerpt

Foxfire in the Snow
J.S. Fields © 2021
All Rights Reserved

One: Fire
Steam twirled from the bones in my cauldron. The heavy smell of their marrow sagged in the air. Gods, I hated the smell of the solvent, but it would be worth it once the bone oil evaporated, taking that horrible dead fish smell with it and leaving behind the final, extracted compound. I’d never get the smell out of the woodwork, but at this point, I didn’t care. Mother was weeks late returning home. Again. She could yell at me when I returned. If I returned.

I coughed into the steam as it curled through my lungs. I needed fresh air, and soon, or I’d end up facedown on the hemlock floor I’d hewn and laid myself in my thirteenth year. A knot curled inside me, and I swallowed bile and frustration. Fine. I’d be done with distillation for the day, but I still needed to perform a fungal extraction with the solvent to impress Master Rahad at the fair tomorrow. I’d been aiming to attend the alchemical guild fair since I turned twelve—the year I should have declared a guild and begun my apprenticeship. I’d never made it. Each year, Mother found another marquetry to work, another finish to make, another tool to sharpen. This year, I was seventeen. I’d barely left this forest, this house, in five years. This year, the queen’s master alchemist had a position open and wanted someone with fungal expertise.

Someone like me.

This year, I was going.

I removed the thin olive branch from my collection basket that would earn me my apprenticeship, despite my older age and guild lineage. The branch shone mottled blue green, almost a lime color in patches, with a blue as dark as evening sky in others. Along a four-centimeter band sprouted cup-shaped fungal fruiting forms, tiny enough to be overlooked by untrained eyes. With a pair of tweezers, I plucked the blue-green cups from the branch and dropped them into a second pot of the very combustible bone oil distillate. The smell of dead fish rose up and stung my eyes, but I couldn’t look away.

As each cup sank, the color seeped from them into the solvent and expanded outward in concentric rings. The pigment slowly dropped down until the liquid looked like the deep blue of Thuja’s lake. I held my breath as the fruits bubbled back to the surface. The first turned white, the second turned white, and the third and fourth—white as well. I waited, still hardly daring to breathe. One minute, then two. Please…

The solution’s color remained stable.

I dropped my head back and exhaled at the ceiling. The trickiest part was over, and if the solution set well, it would be ready by morning. Success! I carried the extract to the windowsill, opened the pane, and began the evaporation process. Tomorrow…tomorrow would be a wonderful day. A defining day. Tomorrow, I would leave the woodcutting guild and finally, finally, get to be an alchemist! A guilded alchemist! I would not spend the rest of my life bound to this wooden house, with its wooden tools, stuck within this simplistic, wooden trade any longer.

Three loud raps sounded on the front door. Visitors? At this hour? They were in for a rude surprise, the idiots. If they were here for me, it was because the villagers had a clear misunderstanding of what alchemy entailed. I had no potions to offer them. Cauldrons and a stinking house didn’t put me in the witch guild, despite the villagers’ insistence to the contrary, and even if I had been a witch, I still would not have been party to their foolish fascination with magic.

However, if the visitors were here for Mother and her marquetry business, they’d leave disappointed. She had neglected to finish several large commissions before her abrupt departure. Contracts were coming due that I would not fulfill, and her clients didn’t tolerated delays well. Mother took these walkabouts yearly, but she usually returned before the fair. This time, she was overdue.

I pulled at the door handle and lifted, and the thick wood glided open. A breeze came in first and blew mist right in my face. Behind the damp stood two men, squinting at me from the doorstep. They were Queensguard, both of them, dressed in the signature fitted red cloaks, though the waterproofing layers had worn off some hours ago. Both were mud-covered and had sodden pants and boots. They were sloppy, for Queensguard, and they were overdue. Mother had finished the queen’s commissioned piece just before she left, and it had yet to be collected.

The taller guard moved to step into the house, flipping a layer of long, wet hair over his shoulder with a splat. The smell must have hit him right then, as he stepped back into his partner and kept going for three steps. The shorter guard stumbled into Mother’s blackberry bush and had to rip himself free of the thorns. The taller sneezed, then spat, and then sneezed again.

For Queensguard, I was decidedly unimpressed.

“What sort of witchery is that!?” he demanded, coming no closer. “Where’s the woodcutter?”

I frowned and crossed my arms, careful not to crush any of the pouches of fungal pigment that dangled from my leather bandolier.

“No witchery,” I responded coolly. “I made bone oil. I discovered it. It’s a type of alchemy. I’m not guilded yet, but I have a trader’s permit.” Which I did, in the back room, but I’d be hard-pressed to find it under all of Mother’s unsharpened tools.

The tall one glared and rubbed at his nose.

The short guard stepped to the doorframe, bit back a grimace, and tried to restart the conversation. “Apologies for the hour. We’re looking for—”

“She’s not here.” I cut him off, hoping to forestall awkward questions I couldn’t answer. “She left under the last full moon, for professional obligations. It is unknown when she will return. I apologize.”

“Are you her daughter then?” the short one asked.

My stomach twisted. I was no one’s daughter, and that word would stick in my chest for days. It would squirm there, under bindings and layers of clothes, and make me second-guess myself at the fair with every introduction and every awkward stare at my body. In that moment, I hated them, these two men, so sure of their position despite the mud and the hour. Daughter. No. I had never been one and had no intention of starting now.

“Sorin the…”

“The alchemist,” I finished for him.

“I am her heir,” I said through gritted teeth when neither responded. “I have the queen’s last commission. Will you be taking it tonight?”

The men exchanged a glance, but neither answered. The second man sneezed, sending a spray of water across the threshold. I rubbed my palm on my forehead. If they were going to get the house dirty just by being outside, it made no sense for them to stay there. Bones were one thing; mud was just unprofessional. I stepped back and gestured to the small brown oak dining table—the one with the white streak down it where I’d first discovered what the refined, clear parts of bone oil could do to fungal pigments—and grabbed my cloak from the wall.

“Sit,” I said as I fastened the oblong buttons at the neck of the cloak. The men moved in with heavy steps, which grew increasingly hesitant as the fish smell concentrated. They sat and stared at me with disgusted, pained expressions as mud dripped from their boots onto that stupid handmade floor. I’d have to refinish it now.

I didn’t bother speaking again.

Daughter.

Let them sit in the bone oil stink, pooled in their own mud. I turned and left the house, heading to Mother’s woodshop. My feet crunched along the woodchip path, the ground cover damp but still springy. I tried to let the smells of the forest—especially the earthen smell of fungal decay—take my mind away from the word I so hated.

The men had parked their cart, and their ox, near the door to the longhouse Mother used for her shop, but I could still maneuver around it. The sun had already set, but moonlight streaked through the needled canopy of conifers and across my path. Ten short steps brought me to the double doors made from cedar plank. I stripped the padlock from the right door, the one that had been fastened since Mother’s departure, and entered.

I’d not been inside the shop for a month, and the smell of cedar and wood rot reminded me why. Here were my mother’s heart and legacy, as her father’s before her, and her grandmother’s before that. The whole place felt tattered and used and smelled worse than the bone oil.

In the back, near an old leather chair, was where her mother had been born some eighty years ago. To my right, just in front of a treadle lathe, was where my grandfather had died.

Mother had birthed her children here too—myself and the son she gave to another guild for an apprenticeship, and taken none of their children in return.

The whole building was familiar, like an old wool blanket, but scratchy just the same. This was a legacy of guild woodcutting, and the queen’s mandate of matrilineal inheritance, and I didn’t belong here. A woodcutter was not who I was, a daughter was not who I was, and while the former hurt less than the latter, both made me want to pull at my skin and scream.

Mercifully, the commissioned panel was right where I had last seen it. It was complete, save for a finish. An oilcloth lay on the floor near the door, already coated with paraffin. I picked it up and draped it over the panel, taking one last look at the cut veneer so expertly placed and dyed in the shape of a parrot on a branch.

The parrot’s feathers and the leaves of the branch were blue green. That was my contribution. There were no pigments, natural or otherwise, that could make that color save the elf’s cup fungus. The queen’s order had specified a parrot, in real colors.

She’d asked the impossible of my mother: we had delivered. I had delivered. Pigmenting fungi and their use in woodcraft was a trade secret of the woodcutter’s guild, but the ability to take those pigments from the wood and use them for other purposes—the solvent that entailed—that was mine alone.

With the cloth wrapped around the panel, I hauled the piece back to the house and propped it against the door. The Queensguard had tried to close it, but it had snagged halfway when the bottom of the door caught the ground below. The wood had swelled, as in any wet season, a common problem in the temperate rainforests of Thuja as well as the tropical ones of Sorpsi’s capital. Yet, they’d not even reasoned through simply lifting the door up as they pulled it closed. What was wrong with these men? Queensguard should have been much better educated than this. They should have known about the door, and the forest, and how to address me. Trekking from the village of Thuja to Mother’s house, at night, in the forest mist could addle anyone’s mind, but these two… I wiped mist from my nose and frowned. They weren’t quite right, and I didn’t care for that feeling in my own home, with no one else about. Giving them the panel was the quickest way to get them to leave.

I pushed the door back open, lifting as I did so, and propped the panel against it so it couldn’t swing shut again. The cool, damp air would help fumigate the house and would keep the bone oil from combusting as it dried.

“It’s here and ready.” I pulled enough of the cloth off so the two guards could see the detailed work underneath. It was best to get them on their way, whomever they were. Mother could chase the panel down later if needed. I was done with babysitting her business and hiding away in her house—hiding from the Thujan villagers, hiding from the capital city, hiding from my life.

The Queensguard, however, no longer seemed interested in the panel or me. The idiots had reached into the extract and removed my bones. They’d pieced parts of a skeleton back together—a primate, of course. Two small hands, a foot, and half the skull were laid out across the floor as if alive. The smaller guard, hunched over his bone puzzle with his comrade, had shoved his hands into the bone oil and now had the puffed cheeks and grayness of one about to vomit.

“That’s none of your business,” I grumbled. “And I’d appreciate it if you didn’t mess my floor.”

Gods, why did people have to be so nosy?

“Smells of fish, but these are no fish bones,” the shorter guard said. He held up a piece of a hand and bobbed on his haunches as he turned to look at me. “Explain.”

“It’s a monkey,” I said flatly.

“Which you used for your witchcraft?” said the other as he, too, turned around. “Expansive knowledge here, of magic. This dwelling isn’t licensed for that type of activity, and you don’t bear the witch guild mark.” His tone was more curious than accusatory, but I didn’t care.

“I’m currently a trade alchemist,” I repeated again, as if talking to a particularly stupid villager. “Which we are licensed for because, otherwise, we couldn’t protect any of the wood. How do you think wood finishes are made?” When the guards continued with their stares, I looked to the ceiling and grunted. “Just take the panel. Go. Don’t get it too wet, and make sure the court carpenter lets it sit for a few weeks before coating it. If you really want paperwork, I can have a copy of the permit for trade work delivered to the Queensguard hall tomorrow.”

“I don’t think so.” The guards stood and kicked at the bone pile. Neither one had looked at the panel yet. The hair on my arms rose. That was a fourteen-hundred-stone commission, lying against the door, open to the elements! That was more than the entire town of Thuja made in one year.

They hadn’t come from the palace; that was now abundantly clear.

I took a step toward the door, making sure to keep my growing unease from showing on my face. Knife in the boot, I reminded myself, for I’d been out foraging this morning and had not yet removed it. People aren’t so different than monkeys. Of course, I had never killed any of the animals I used for bone oil, but then again, none of them had ever called me a daughter either.

“What guild did you say you belonged to?” the tall one asked as he eyed my throat. I brought my hands up to cover the unadorned skin and flushed with embarrassment. I didn’t need a reminder of my failure to declare to my Mother’s guild, or any other, for that matter.

“I’m unguilded,” I muttered, unable to meet the man’s eyes. Anyone could be a trader, but to join a guild you had to first be an apprentice, and I had no formal education. “Since you’re not Queensguard, why are you here?” And why pretend, especially if you’re not going to steal the panel?

The man snorted. “The grandmaster of witchcraft asked to meet with the master woodcutter. I don’t want to return empty-handed, so our girl alchemist might make a reasonable substitute, guilded or not.”

I dropped my hands to my sides and raked my fingernails over my pants. There shouldn’t have been a grandmaster of witchcraft because the unbound guilds—witches and alchemists—weren’t beholden to any of the three countries and therefore couldn’t set up a guildhall. But that didn’t matter right now because my skin was too tight, all of a sudden. I gripped fistfuls of cloth to steady myself, to keep my hands busy so they wouldn’t find the skin of my arms. I snarled at the men, though tears collected in my eyes. Girl. Daughter. They burned as deeply as the smell of the bone oil. As interesting as the grandmaster of witchcraft might be, I didn’t care anymore about anything these men had to say.

“Get out,” I hissed. I marched to the door; I would throw them out if I had to. But the shorter guard grabbed me by the wrist before I reached the threshold.

“No!” I pulled back, turning to slap him, and just as I spun around, he let go.

Laughter chased after me as I stumbled and caught my ankle on the doorjamb. My equilibrium was off from the bone oil fumes, and I hit the ground, elbow first. Now I too was slicked with mud and wet wood shavings, which kept my feet from finding purchase as I tried to stand and face the demeaning laughter. The tears I was determined not to shed burned my eyes.

Before I could get my feet under me, thick fingers dug into my arms and I was hauled up and dragged forward. Their hands were wide, and their arms much stronger than my own, and when I pulled, their grips tightened. The mist was thick in my mouth as I sucked in gasps of air, trying to kick or somehow injure the men who held me.

“I’m not worth anything. The only thing of value is that panel!” I yelled.

“A master woodcutter would be worth more than a confused imitation,” the taller one said. “We’ll work with what we have.”

“I am not a woodcutter!”

We were at the cart now, and when the shorter man reached past my head to grab a rope that hung over the side, I bit his hand, separating flesh. The not-guard screamed and dropped my right arm. Blood splattered across my front as he flailed. The tall one tried to grab my wrist, but I fell to my knees, grabbed him between the legs, twisted, and pulled.

He collapsed, howling, and I skittered back toward the house.

“Leave!” I screamed at them. These things weren’t supposed to happen at Mother’s house. Wasn’t that why I was always here—to avoid this? What was the point of giving up apprenticeships, friendships, if I was going to be accosted in my own home?

The tall one gasped and grabbed me by the front of my shirt just before I cleared the cart. I wrapped my fingers around his and tried to pull free, but he slapped me across the face and, for a moment, I couldn’t see. I babbled instead.

“I have money,” I said. “In the house. I have wood species from across the world worth double their weight in stones.” I have solvents I could melt you with if you’d just come back inside.

“We will have Amada the master woodcutter,” the short one said with a gap-toothed grin. “She’ll come for you, if nothing else, seeing as how well she’s kept you to herself all these years.” He grabbed my legs and, with the taller one, dumped me into the cart. The taller man secured my ankles to iron weights anchored to the cart bed, punched me in the stomach, and left me to lie, staring dumbly at the canopy overhead as he went to assist his partner. Mother would come for me, certainly, but it was the other part of the man’s words that clouded my thoughts.

The cart began to move, jostling over the uneven forest floor. As I tried to regain my breath, my mind jumped, irrationally, back to the house.

“You forgot the panel!” I wheezed over the noise of the grunting ox and snapping branches. To leave it seemed like a stupid waste, even if they had no interest in it themselves. It’d taken us two years to make that thing, Mother and I. Someone should have it, even if just ignorant kidnappers. It was worth more than my life, certainly. I had no guild mark, no formal apprenticeship, no friends to come looking for me, and an undocumented journey-woodcutter was worth only as much as their master was willing to pay. They were going to be very disgruntled when Mother did not appear. And if they found her…gods, if they found her… What did witches want with a woodcutter?

I had my breath back, so I sat up and leaned over the side of the cart. Even with the moonlight, it was too dark to see more than outlines, but I could just make out the taller one breaking away and moving back toward Mother’s house.

Panic gave way to puzzlement as he entered. Had they changed their minds about the panel? I squinted into the night. Was he moving the panel then, or going past it? I’d not yet lit any oil lamps for fear of combustion during the extraction, and so the spark from the guard’s flint burned my eyes. Something caught in the guard’s hand—perhaps a ribbon of paper or a sheet of Mother’s veneer. Whatever it was, the man tossed it inside the house.

“No!”

I screamed it, I think. My throat hurt, either way. The guard jogged back to the cart, and I screamed again, nonsensically. The idiot. The absolute uneducated toadstool. If he didn’t quicken his pace, if we didn’t—

Mother’s house exploded.

Purchase at NineStar Press

Meet the Author

J.S. Fields is a scientist who has perhaps spent too much time around organic solvents. They enjoy roller derby, woodturning, making chain mail by hand, and cultivating fungi in the backs of minivans. Nonbinary, and always up for a Twitter chat.

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Release Blitz: The Silver Cage by Ana Raine #gayromance #shifters @changelingpress @AuthorAnaRaine @GoIndiMarketing

Title: The Silver Cage

Series: Restrained #1

Author: Ana Raine

Publisher: Changeling Press LLC

Release Date: July 9, 2021

Heat Level: 4 – Lots of Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 66

Genre: Romance, Fantasy, Thriller/Suspense, Science Fiction, 2nd Chance Romance, Shapeshifters, Werewolves, Action Adventure, Dark Fantasy

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Synopsis

Danny barely remembers who he is, let alone his mate. After being taken from his pack years ago by a group of overzealous hunters, Danny identifies only as “Wolf” — the pet of the pack who helps track down other shifters for the hunters’ sport.

When Danny tracks down a female wolf, he hesitates to help imprison her male companion. At first Danny doesn’t remember this wolf, at least not logically, but his senses are completely overtaken and he’s sure he’s met this Alpha before.

This wolf isn’t just his former Alpha. Jamie is also his mate, and after years of believing Danny dead, Jamie’s not going to let his mate go ever again. Even if it means working together to kill each of the hunters so they can never take their lives again — or come between their mating bond.

Excerpt

All rights reserved.
Copyright ©2021 Ana Raine

I followed him silently, not that there was much of a chance to use words in our wolf form. I was beyond surprised I still drew breath, but I wasn’t going to let him in on that.

He was an Alpha. He was born to be a leader the way all Alphas were. Strong, fierce and with a natural desire to protect. As soon as he’d sniffed me, he’d let out a low growl that had me belly-up on the ground. His nose nudged my neck in acceptance, and then he headed toward the woods with nothing more than his Alpha voice in my head telling me to follow.

I knew he could talk to me with more than just basic commands. At least, he could if he were so inclined. I’d always wondered how powerful the boy who should have been my mate would have been had he been given a chance.

The hunters were behind us, but I knew at least a few would stay with Langdon. Langdon Sr. wouldn’t, though. He would want to come after me and bury a bullet in my brain himself.

Until there was blood, my blood, this wouldn’t be over. I whined and pawed the ground and drank more water than I needed in my effort to get the Alpha to release me. A faint thought popped into my mind that if I crawled back and begged for mercy, Langdon wanted me enough to stop my death. Then we’d go live whatever fairy tale he’d drawn up.

At least it was a life where I knew the outcome. This one with the Alpha just reminded me how out of touch I was with my kind. And with myself. Each step I took without feeling a whip against my flesh was a reminder I no longer remembered what it was to be free.

We ran part of the way, farther and farther from the female wolf who had to have been his mate. The little bit of her blood I tasted on my paw from when I brought her down smelled just like him. Why he was bothering to lead me so far away, I had no idea.

Eventually, the darkness overtook even our wolf eyesight, forcing us to retreat to a mostly empty stable. There was an old horse covered in a wool blanket and chewing some hay lazily.

She either had a death wish or wasn’t fazed by creatures of the night seeking shelter in her barn because she barely batted an eye before going back to her dinner.

An entire side of the barn was empty and had enough closure to keep us warm against the chill. I almost expected him to bark at me to go back outside to keep watch while he slept. Even though Alphas were supposed to act in the best interest of their pack, it didn’t always work out that way. And I wasn’t his pack, not really anyway.

I saw his body twist and contort as the sound of bone snapping and muscle stretching filled the silence of the barn. Fur receded as his skin became visible. With a barking cough that morphed from beast to man in a moment, there was now a man standing in front of me. He had his back to me, obviously not worried I would attack him from behind.

I saw his beautiful pale skin had been marred by a Hunter’s blade. I’d been cut enough myself to know how the scars looked when they faded. It had been years since his flesh had found the end of a blade, but it was there, just visible enough in the moonlight.

He was tall, so much taller than me, and I found myself staring at his legs, the curve of his ass. I longed for him to turn around so I could stare at what I was sure would be the most beautiful wolf I’d ever met since my mate was taken from me.

Hair as red as fire was loose around his shoulders, the same color he’d been as a wolf. I found myself feeling utterly insufficient to even be in his presence. My hair, blond and boring in comparison to his fire.

Just as I was thinking of backing out of the stable to give him space, his command stopped me. “Phase to a human.”

And oh, how I wanted to immediately do what he asked. To phase and to converse with him, but there was more than fear that I’d come across as stupid. There was also the fear I wasn’t enough. And I wanted to be.

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Meet the Author

Ana is still figuring out what she wants to do with her life, although social work seems to be the most likely. Her best friends are a box of chocolate and her kitten who always sit beside her while she writes. When Ana was in high school, she often wrote about the LGBT community, but now her work is less…innocent. Ana enjoys writing anything and everything, including BDSM, dragons, shifters, magic, and more.

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New Release: The Curator’s Vampire by Alexa Piper #vampires #paranormalromance @prowlingpiper

After returning from France, Robyn wants nothing more than to snuggle in the arms of her vampire husband and lover, Maxim. When Maxim, New Amsterdam’s vampire hunter, is called to work, Robyn finds a mummy has been added to the art collection she manages. While Maxim follows his case, Robyn decides to dive headfirst into yet another mummy mystery.

Maxim has been working on a case that might involve a dark conspiracy, but more than anything, the case forces him to confront scars from the past. He can no longer hide how damaged he is from the woman he loves. He may have hidden the truth from her for too long already, and Maxim fears that Robyn will find him unworthy of her love and desire.

In the aftermath of Maxim’s tumultuous case and the emotions it’s forced him to confront, the mummy turns out to be more murderous than anyone expected. It’s not a mummy’s curse that’s been triggered, but the beginnings of a conspiracy Maxim fears he and those he loves may not easily be rid of.

Available from Changeling Press

EXCERPT

All rights reserved.
Copyright ©2021 Alexa Piper

Niccolo and Sibylla sat in the lounge area of the Paris airport. Sibylla kept tugging her hair back behind her ears — when she wasn’t stirring her cappuccino or rearranging the packets of sweetener in their holder on the table.

“Stop fussing,” Niccolo told his sister in flawless French. “It makes you look suspicious.”

Sibylla jerked her hand back from the sweetener packets and stopped her hands from going to her hair again by folding them in front of her as if in prayer. She took a deep breath, but Niccolo could tell it wasn’t doing much to calm her. He understood that all too well.

“Do you see her yet?” Sibylla asked. She wanted to look over her shoulder. Niccolo could tell.

Niccolo let his gaze drift to the terminal beyond, the stores advertising high-end brands or selling overpriced gifts to travelers who forgot to pick something up for a loved one in Paris. Tourists and business travelers alike brought color and voices from halfway around the world to the scene, but Niccolo couldn’t see the woman they were here for. “Not yet,” Niccolo told his sister.

Sibylla nodded. “I’m scared, Nico.” She’d been skeptical about coming here, and she still was.

“I know. I am too, but we have to do this.” He said the words to her, but also to himself. Certainty was always fleeting and had been so all their lives.

Sibylla nodded. Her knuckles turned white as she forced her hands to remain still.

Niccolo looked over Sibylla’s shoulder again. His eyes fell on the woman from his visions. She was running and awkwardly dragging a bag behind her, which she then dropped in order to hug a dark-haired, olive-skinned man who hugged her back eagerly. They almost seemed like family, and if it weren’t for their obviously different features, Niccolo would have thought this man her brother. And he wasn’t alone. Niccolo knew who his companion was.

“Don’t turn. That’s her, and her husband’s assistant,” he told Sibylla.

Sibylla bit her lip. “The vampire hunter’s assistant?”

Niccolo nodded. It hadn’t been easy to find out things about Maxim Vallois and his new wife, Robyn Somerton, but thanks to his visions, Niccolo had known what to look for, and the Internet had delivered at least some insights.

“Merde,” Sibylla said. “Do we still talk to her before the flight?”

The woman had now moved on to hug the taller of the two men, the one with the sandy-blond hair Niccolo had recognized as Vallois’s assistant. The man with the darker hair whom Somerton had greeted like a brother had picked up her bag, and his wide smile distracted from the wet sheen of presumably happy tears in his eyes. They didn’t seem like they were going on a different flight or going their separate ways, flying off to different countries.

Niccolo shook his head. “I think it’s better if we wait. In my vision, it was just us and her, so we’ll have to find another time. We should head to the gate, but don’t stare.”

Sibylla snorted. “That’s just his assistant, but I really don’t want his attention. And I may be nervous, but I’m not stupid.”

Niccolo shrugged. “I never said that. But that other guy seems very protective. Almost like close family.”

“Eyes down. Got it,” Sibylla said, her tone bitter enough to hide the desperation.

Before she got up, Niccolo reached out to take his sister’s hand in his. “New Amsterdam will be good for us. You have to trust me, Siby.”

She looked at him with her dark brown eyes that mirrored his own. “I trust you, Nico. That doesn’t mean I can’t be scared at the same time.”

Nico knew how that felt. Every other vision he had these days scared him. Following them got increasingly harder as a result.

“Right,” he said. “We can do this.”

“We can do this,” she agreed. Then, she tugged her hair back behind her ear and flinched when she noticed. “I hope they have plenty of booze on that plane. It’s a twelve-goddamn-hour flight.”

And they’d have to ignore the hunter’s bride for every minute of those twelve hours. Niccolo sighed. “Maybe we should get a drink before we head to the gate and board.”

“A drink would be so much better than coffee right about now,” Sibylla agreed. She pushed her cappuccino away. The frothy top had already considerably deflated, leaving just a half-full cup of brownish liquid with the odd bubble showing.

They went to buy overpriced liquor to calm their over-stressed nerves. It only helped so much, but it was better than trying not to stare at Robyn Somerton while they waited to board.

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, and subscribe to her newsletter!

Find the author online: Website | Facebook | Instagram | BookBub

New Release: Devotion by Carys Seraphine #darkfantasy #vampires @changelingpress

For the past few decades, vampiress Erin Morana has mourned the death of her sire, Jon. She’s done her best to move forward, and now she’s renovating the mansion once used by a psychopathic vampire. Between her magic lessons with the mage Lazarus and the anticipation of the birth of her best friend’s baby, Erin has her hands full.

An attack on a dark street, however, changes everything. Now she’s caught in the middle of a fight she has little hope of winning, but she isn’t alone.

She’s never been alone.

Get it Now at Changeling Press

Preorder for July 2nd at Online Booksellers

EXCERPT

All rights reserved.
Copyright ©2021 Carys Seraphine

“Wow!”

Erin Morana grinned and let her best friend, Dana Reid, into the newly renovated mansion. “Like it?”

Dana wandered from room to room on the ground floor, stopped before Erin, and gave her a tight hug. “Oh, my God. It’s gorgeous. I can’t feel even the slightest hint of Harlan Yates here.”

“You can thank Lazarus and Jessie for that,” Erin said. The mage and his lover had been instrumental in fixing the atmosphere of Yates’ house of horrors.

Dana bumped Erin’s shoulder. “From what I’ve heard, you’re no slouch in the magic department.”

Erin shrugged. “I’m still learning. It’ll take years before I even come close to Jessie or Lazarus, but I love it.”

Dana nodded. She walked up the stairs, exploring more of the house. After their little group of vampires, demons, and mages had destroyed the last of Yates’ followers, Erin set about changing the house into an actual home for donors and vampires alike. She hated the word “coven” and chose to just call the place a safehouse instead. It was the kind of refuge she’d hoped Yates offered, only to find things under his rule vastly different and far from safe.

“Have you claimed a room yet?” Dana called from the railing above.

“Not yet.” Erin headed upstairs and met her friend. “I’ve been sleeping in the library downstairs. Feels too… weird when I’m here alone.”

Dana nodded. “I get that. If Saul hadn’t left his loft to me, I’d join you. Maybe I still will, though. I don’t know.”

“You think Haez will care?”

Dana snorted. “As long as we have our privacy, I don’t think he gives a damn. Of course, we’d need a second room for the baby when he gets here.” Dana rested a hand on her belly. The child was the result of Dana’s previous boyfriend, not the demon she now dated. But after one of Yates’ offspring bit Dana, there was no telling how the child would turn out. Up to that point, Dana had solely been a psivamp, but now she and her baby were hybrids, though, thankfully, he would only need energy. As far as she knew, anyway.

“I’m sure we can arrange that,” Erin said.

The front door downstairs opened, and they both looked down.

“You should keep your door locked, my dear,” Lazarus said by way of greeting. Many thought the mage to be a bit snobbish and coarse, but Erin liked him. He glanced up and waved. “Good evening, ladies.”

Erin smiled and hurried down the stairs. If anyone else had seen the hug they shared, they wouldn’t believe it. Lazarus felt like a father, not the magical mentor he’d become to her. “I’m sorry. Dana just got here, so I didn’t even think about it.”

Lazarus tsked but smiled. “Noted, but please, lock the door at all times.”

“I will,” Erin said. “I promise.”

“Very good.” Lazarus nodded at Dana as she came down the steps. “I believe Haez is returning this evening.”

Dana’s eyes lit up, and she smiled. “I know.” She practically bounced. “I need to go back to the loft before our gig. Then it’s showtime!”

Erin laughed as her friend left. Then she made a point of locking the front door. She turned to find Lazarus watching her. “What?”

“Are you certain you’re okay here alone?”

“I am.” Erin looked around at the place, unable to hide the pride she felt at the work she’d accomplished. “It feels more like a home now, and I’m hoping to find some new people to move in soon. I sleep in the library, but once I get a few tenants in, I’ll claim a room upstairs.”

“Very well,” Lazarus said. “For now, let us return to the kitchen. It’s the best place for practice, more open.”

“What are we going to work on today?” Erin asked as they entered the newly renovated kitchen and dining room.

Lazarus moved the dining table with no effort at all. For such a petite man, the mage possessed an inordinate amount of strength. He set the six chairs aside and nodded. “Much better. Your barriers are strong, but I feel they could be improved. Defense is paramount. Always remember that, my dear.”

For a moment, Erin lost herself in a memory. Jon had told her that very same thing, so long ago. If she’d learned then…

“Erin?”

She shook her head and found Lazarus studying her, concern in his eyes. “Sorry.”

“Are you all right?”

She’d never gone into detail with anyone about Jon, not even Dana. She needed Lazarus’ lessons, but her heart and mind were elsewhere. “I…”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Carys Seraphine is an alter ego of gay romance author Mychael Black. She lives on the Eastern Shore of the US with her family and their dog.

Carys at Changeling: changelingpress.com/carys-seraphine-a-224

Release Blitz: Unus (Gargoyles’ Song) by Stephanie Burke #LGBTQ #paranormalromance @FlashyCat @GoIndiMarketing

Title: Unus

Series: Gargoyles’ Song 2

Author: Stephanie Burke

Publisher: Changeling Press LLC

Release Date: June 18, 2021

Heat Level: 4 – Lots of Sex

Pairing: Male/Female

Length: 202

Genre: Romance, Fantasy, Pansexual, Multisexual, Dark Fantasy, Action Adventure, Paranormal Romance, Alien Encounters, Elves Dragons & Magical Creatures

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Synopsis

Emerging from the cocoon, the last thing Cyprus expects is to be female. But there she is, the only female born of the Clan Equlestraa Untitalis, the most important family in their clan. She still remains a warrior, through and through, and no pair of breasts is going to stop her from her training! Until she meets him.

Alknowan, the Prince of the Dragonish Prime, thinks he’s saving a damsel in distress. But instead, he takes one look at Cyprus and loses his heart. He vows to do anything to keep her, including battling her to the death for the honor of keeping her.

But there are more issues. She is of the Equlestraa, the horse type gargoyle warriors, while Alknowan’s secondary form is Dragon. Then there’s the matter of her wanting to kill him. But if he can survive her family, the politics trying to keep them apart, and Cyprus herself, then he would give up everything to become Unus, the First of her Coven.

Excerpt

Unus (Gargoyles’ Song 2)
Stephanie Burke
All rights reserved.
Copyright ©2021 Stephanie Burke

Out!

Have to get out!

It was too tight! It was too dark!

Can’t… breathe!

With heart racing and fear mounting, the panicked being struggled against the thick bindings that encased and restricted shem’s movement.

No one ever said that the conversion, the physical change would be so… so… there were no words! Cyprusurakaliesupreidesa raked long nails against the membranes, shem’s limbs moving slowly through the pale pink fluid that filled the sack.

Cyprus could hear the boom of the voices above, echoing down through the fluid. That is Cypusupriaratizaor Raitza, this Coven’s Master. Cyprus’s fevered mind latched on to that thought and held fast, using it as a talisman and a calming tool.

Coven Master was there. Coven Master was there!

Why is the Coven Master not offering aid?

It was enough to make Cyprus want to scream, to lament shem’s physical imprisonment, to demand release.

So that was what Cyprus did, buried the fingers of both hands in shem’s long flowing hair, the hair that entrapped almost as well as the casing surrounding Cyprus, opened shem’s mouth and… choked.

Out! Out! Out! OUT!

The thoughts of escape swirled through an even more terrified mind as anxiety grew. Fear and frustration ruled, tearing through shem’s mind and flowing through shem’s consciousness until Cyprus thought for sure shem would be swallowed up by a sea of black and red fury. Madness! Cyprus recognized its teasing call, the fall into the mental state where nothing existed but pure emotion. Right then, that emotion was rage. That rage, that taste of madness, scared Cyprus almost as much as being locked in this cocoon. It was the fear of that yawning, tantalizing unknown that lent Cyprus the strength to shove at the liquid thing holding shem prisoner.

Cyprus clawed and scratched at the membranes, kicking and twisting, fighting until the nails of one hand pushed their way through the thick, rubbery walls.

Yes, there was a way out. Cyprus dug at the tear, using both hands now, pulling and jerking until a sudden waft of cool air caressed shem’s fingers.

“Not long now.”

Coven Master was still there. Cyprus could hear her speaking.

She must be speaking with my Damshire. The thought comforted Cyprus, calmed the chaotic thoughts streaking through shem’s frantic mind. That both Coven Master and Damshire were waiting for the completed emergence enhanced a sense of calm, but also reignited the desire to be done with the whole process.

Yes, that’s right. The emergence. How long had it been?

Cyprus couldn’t remember.

Cyprus’s last memory was of bathing with shem’s six siblings, laughing and joking with the youngers about the change, exchanging knowing glances with the elders, knowing that shem’s Sibs understood the excitement and the mounting fear.

And then as shem made a comfortable nest of bankets that night with the siblings, the light of the setting suns caressed Cyprus’s face as shem stared up at the darkening sky through the large windows that surrounded the crèche room.

The large yellow moon glowed in the rich purpling of the growing night sky. It seemed so close that Cyprus reached out a hand to caress it, knowing that change was going to happen and somehow feeling in harmony with the ever-changing face of the first moon.

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Meet 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.

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BOOK REVIEW: Mine in Hell (The Rejected Mate #2) by G. Bailey and Scarlett Snow #reverseharem @gbaileyauthor

Now the world knows who I am.

I’m the first female alpha in history and every pack leader out there wants to claim me as their mate.
Including the Stormfire alpha who sent my life into a spiral after rejecting me.
While he and the others fight for the right to possess me, a new Demon Trial is created in honor of the Crescent Mother, and this time I’m the prize.
Or so they all believe.
I’ll stop at nothing to reclaim my freedom even if it means entering the trials myself, where the only way out is death and ruin. But I don’t plan on dying.
I plan on winning.

I’m going to make each of the alphas pay for what they did to me.

18+ Dark reverse harem romance full with a sassy and sarcastic heroine who finds her match.

Get it at Amazon

MY REVIEW – 5 stars!

I recently discovered Ms. Bailey’s books, and I think I’m hooked. Reverse harem is quickly becoming my new favorite genre, and while I typically dislike cliffhangers, I don’t mind it so much with fantasy books.

Lilith is still fighting for her life, for revenge, and for love. The three men she’s fallen for only make her stronger and more determined as one enemy after another tries to tear them apart and destroy the world’s first alpha female. There’s nothing she won’t do to take down the monsters and free those under their influence. Lilith is furious and she’s ready to protect the innocent.

Full of unexpected twists, and more than a little heat, Mine in Hell is a page-turning read I couldn’t put down. Love. Danger. Friendship… and so much more. I hope you’re ready for one hell of a ride (pun intended).

*Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book via Booksprout and am voluntarily leaving a review.