Tag Archives: fantasy romance

Sneak Peek: Source-Breaker

Since the Weird Western StoryBundle and the accompanying blogging blitz ended, I’ve been trying to get caught up on other work. I’m making progress on both the first draft of Defenders of the Wildings, the follow-up to the Daughter of the Wildings series, and on the revisions of my upcoming release, Source-Breaker (formerly known under the working title The Source-Fixer). I don’t have a cover yet for Source-Breaker, though I’ve ordered one from my cover artist and I’m eagerly waiting to see what he comes up with. My next book after Source-Breaker will be Heir of Tanaris, and I do have the preliminary sketch for the cover art for that, and it’s gorgeous! Anyway, to keep you entertained in the meantime, here’s a sneak peek from Chapter 1 of Source-Breaker, where Kaniev, our intrepid but struggling repairman of broken magical Sources, meets Fransisa, the priestess in charge at Source Chaitrasse (remember, this is an early version; there’s still a lot of editing to go on it):

Somewhere deep inside the building, a bell rang. A moment later, a girl in a white robe opened the door and blinked up at him. “Yes?” she asked in a high, sweet, barely audible voice.

Green eyes, creamy fair skin, golden curls; she clearly wasn’t from this part of the Kingdoms. Probably closer to the Kriethi border. She was very young, maybe thirteen years old or so; probably the youngest of several daughters, put into service here because her family couldn’t afford a dowry for her. Poor child. “I would like to see Sera Fransisa, if you please,” Kaniev said kindly.

The girl blinked again. She looked rather thin, her fair skin nearly translucent, as though she had been ill for a long time. “May I ask –”

“Aislinne.” The stern voice of a woman cut off the girl’s words. “Return to your studies. You are to let the stewards open the door and greet visitors.”

The girl’s cheeks reddened. “Yes, Sera Fransisa. I was only –”

“Now. Don’t argue with me. It is unsuitable for you to be speaking with strangers, especially strange men.”

The girl’s flush deepened, and she lowered her gaze. “Yes, Sera Fransisa.” Then she backed away from the partly-opened door, making room for the woman who replaced her there.

The first thing Kaniev noticed was her ample bosom, impressively corseted beneath the elaborately draped and pleated white robes. He wouldn’t call Sera Fransisa fat, but she did have substance to her, something he appreciated in a woman. The woman was under a vow of celibacy, he reminded himself. Whatever his other faults, and they were many, he wasn’t in the habit of seducing women who had made such vows.

Unless they wanted to be seduced.

Sternly, he made himself focus his gaze on her face, which was still considerably below his own eye level. Warm brown eyes set in a smooth, oval, olive-skinned face met his straight on. A few faint lines showed at the corners of her eyes and mouth. Her rich chestnut hair, done up in elaborate buns and curls, had only a few threads of gray in it. She wasn’t young, neither was she far into middle age. Probably about his age, give or take a year or two.

“Yes?” Sera Fransisa said without the slightest sign of interest or any other emotion other than annoyance.

This one clearly had no interest in being seduced. Maybe, with luck, he could still over-awe her with his stunning good looks and masculinity so that she wouldn’t laugh at him too much when he failed to fix her Source that chances were she didn’t even know was broken. “My name is Kaniev. I…”

“If you’re begging, you can go work in the fields, and at supper time we’ll give you a meal and ten pennies.”

As you can tell, this relationship is off to a wonderful start 😛

Watch for the cover reveal and the release of Source-Breaker, a novel of Estelend, coming up later this fall. And to make sure you don’t miss out on release news and special limited-time low introductory pricing, sign up for my email alerts.

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Couple Interview: Silas and Lainie

With three books out in the Daughter of the Wildings series, I figure it’s time for a couple interview with Silas and Lainie. This is about book 3-ish, and virtually spoiler-free (except that they’re together, which I don’t consider a spoiler because the books are partly romance and because if you know any of my work, you know the hero and heroine always end up together):

Silas and Lainie 1 - Mominur Rahman1. How did you meet?

Silas: I had just arrived in Bitterbush Springs and found myself in the middle of a shootout. During the shootout I sensed a burst of magic close by. At the time, I was on the hunt for the source of some magical power I’d been sensing, so when the gunfight was over I went looking for the person the magic had come from.

Lainie: When the shooting started, I got scared and hid behind a barrel, and put up a magical shield. My brother Blake got killed in a shootout just a few months before, so it really scares me when the bullets start flying. When the shootout was over, Silas came over to where I was and asked me if I was okay, and escorted me on my errands in town in case there was any more trouble.

2. What was the first thing you noticed about the other person?
S:
The first thing I noticed about Lainie, of course, was her power. Bright and strong and clean, with a feel or flavor to it that was different from the Granadaian power I was familiar with. When I first saw her, hunkered down behind that barrel, I took her for a boy, because of her slim build and the men’s clothes she was wearing. As soon as I got a closer look at her pretty face and her figure, though, it was clear she was all woman.

L: He was tall, and so handsome, and looked just a little bit dangerous, but he was so kind and polite to me.

3. Did you know when you met that you would end up together?
S:
No idea at all. I was just passing through on the hunt for a renegade mage. Since she was an untrained mage, my legal duty was to either send her back to Granadaia for training or Strip her of her power. I knew that neither of those options would endear me to her. And anyhow, marriages between mages have to be approved by the Mage Council, and I knew that a Wildings-born mage from a mostly Plain family would not be considered an appropriate match for me.

L: I had no idea, either. I was smitten with him almost right away, but he was just passing through town on business of his own; there was no reason for him to hang around and no reason why he should be especially interested in me.

4. What do you like best about the other person?
S:
Well, she’s smart, strong, brave, pretty, an amazing cook, an even more amazing lover —

L: (blushing) Silas!

S: But more than any of that, she’s just.. her. She’s Lainie. That’s what I like best about her.

L:
(still blushing) Silas is all those things – except handsome, not pretty, and not that much of a cook except for critter on a stick, as he calls it. But he’s so kind to me, and so patient while he teaches me to use my power, and he sacrificed a lot to keep me safe. And also, I’m not sure how to say this, but he lives, you know what I mean? I mean, he’ll think about things before he acts — usually — and see what the lay of the land is, but when he’s ready he jumps right in and does it. He doesn’t spend his life hemming and hawing off to the side. But yeah, mostly, he’s him. And that’s what I like about him.

5. What is something you enjoy doing together? (Besides the obvious!)
S:
What else is there?

L:
(blushing even harder) Silas, really!

S:
We like doing pretty much everything together. Training in magic, traveling, hunting – we’ve taken a few jobs to track down missing family members and the like, shooting practice, bathing —

L:
Oh gods, I’m so embarrassed.

S:
Sorry, darlin’. *smooch*

L:
But you get the idea. We’re a team. We’re partners. I can’t think of anything we don’t like to do together. Even lately, when money’s been tight and we have to be on the lookout for other mages who might know about us and the laws we’ve broken and such, we’d rather be in it together than out of trouble and not together. You know what I mean?

6. How has the other person changed you?
S:
Before I met Lainie, I was already committed to protecting the Plain settlers of the Wildings. But since I met her, it’s become much more personal. Lainie isn’t Plain, of course, but her Pa is, and the people she grew up among, and she’s definitely of the Wildings, not of Granadaia. On the other hand, since the people in her own hometown tried to hang her for being a mage, I’m a little less patient with the Plain settlers’ hatred of mages. I don’t know if that’s affected my commitment to protecting them, but I see them less as the victims in the struggle between mages and Plains than I used to. Mages have done a lot of wicked things, but Plains aren’t entirely innocent, either.

The other way she’s changed me is that I used to not be afraid of much of anything. But now the thought of her being hurt or killed or captured scares me to death. I wouldn’t want to live in a world without her.

L: Silas showed me that not all mages are inhuman monsters with no heart and no soul, which is what I’d always been taught, and he helped me to accept my own power and be proud of who and what I am. He’s teaching me to use my power to help people, not hurt them. My life has changed a lot, living on the run with him, on the wrong side of the mages’ law, instead of still being at home, working on the ranch and marrying the man my Pa meant for me to marry. But I don’t regret any of it.

Silas and Lainie - Mominur Rahman7. What are the biggest differences between you? How important are these differences?

L: Well, he’s from an elite family of Island mages, and I was born to Plain parents who don’t have a lot — I mean, for folks in the Wildings, my Pa does all right with his ranch, but he worked his way up from nothing and compared to a rich mage family in Granadaia, I guess we’re still pretty poor. And Silas is thirteen years older than me and knows way more than me about a lot of things.

S: None of that seems very important, though. The biggest difference that matters is that she always wins at Dragon’s Threes and I never do. She had to ban me from playing for money. Oh, and she can control powers found in the Wildings that I can’t. That doesn’t bother me; I think it’s mighty impressive, and it’s come in handy a time or two.

8. What do the two of you have in common?
S:
Magic. A love for the Wildings, for the beautiful country out here and the freedom. A commitment to protecting Plain folks from mages who want to take away their rights and freedoms. A hope that one day, mages and Plain folk can live peacefully side-by-side in the Wildings. And our love for each other.

L: That pretty much covers it. Well, and we both like horses, and think the same things are funny.

9. What are the greatest challenges you have faced in your relationship?
S:
Well, besides the fact that our marriage is illegal under Granadaian mage law, and I also broke the law by not making her go to school in Granadaia or Stripping her, and she can do a few things with magic that are supposed to be impossible and just in case they aren’t they’re also illegal, and we’ve got renegade mages and Plain folks trying to kill us and mage hunters hunting us, and we’ve spent a good amount of time homeless and broke… nothing, really.

L: I’ve almost lost him a few times, and I’ve almost died a time or two. It’s scary, knowing how much danger we’re in, but it also makes us appreciate each other more. No matter how bad things are, we’re just glad to be together. And there was a time when I was afraid he didn’t really want to be with me, he just got himself stuck with me because my Pa made him marry me. But he’s showed me pretty well that isn’t true and he does want to be with me.

10. What does your family think of your partner, and what do you think of your partner’s family?
S:
My family has not met Lainie, and likely never will, since I’ve pretty much cut myself off from all relations with them. I doubt they would approve of her, a Wildings girl born of Plain parents; her power came from her grandmother, the illegitimate daughter of a married mage and a Plain servant. As for her family, her Pa is a good man. I have a lot of respect for him, and I mean to keep the promise I made him to take good care of his daughter. Her mother and brother are both dead, but I’m sure I would have liked them as well.

L: My Pa didn’t like Silas at first, because he’s a mage. But after he rescued me from Carden and saved my life and put himself on the wrong side of the mages’ law to do what was best for me, I think Pa started to respect him. If they had time to get to know each other better, I think they’d get on pretty well. Silas’s family… I know he don’t think much of them, and from what he’s told me, they sound like the kind of mages I was taught to hate and be afraid of. But if they raised a son like him, I have to think they can’t be all bad.

11. What role does magic play in your relationship?
L:
Magic’s what brought us together. Mages is what we are.

S: I would love her even if she wasn’t a mage —

L: And I would love him if he wasn’t a mage, too.

S:
But working together so closely, and both of us knowing what it’s like to have power and use it, I think that brings us closer together than we would be, otherwise.

12. What are your plans for the future?
S:
Keep our freedom and stay alive.

L: Well, that, and it would be nice if we could find a place to settle down and live in peace, get some land of our own, raise some cattle. And if we could get the fertility block removed from Silas — the Mage Council puts it on all mage children, and it can’t be removed until the Mage Council approves their marriage — if we could find a way to get the block removed and have some kids together, I’d really like that. I’ve always wanted to have children. But even if we can’t, maybe we can find an orphan to adopt — there aren’t many, folks in the Wildings take care of their own, and if a child loses their parents, their other kin or friends and neighbors will step in and care for them. But if we could find one, we could have a family that way.

S: I’d like that, too, but first we have to stay out of the Mage Council’s hands and not get ourselves hanged by any Plain folks.

13. “The whole is greater than the sum of the parts.” How is this true for the two of you?
L:
Working together, we’ve helped some people, and stopped some powerful and dangerous renegade mages. We’ve done some good.

S: Working together, teaching each other, loving each other, we make each other stronger. Like Lainie said, we’re a team. We’re partners. And together, we can do great things.


Meet My Character: Lainie Banfrey

Welcome to the Speculative Fiction Showcase Meet My Character blog hop! Last week’s stop was at Aurora Springer’s site. Aurora Springer is a scientist morphing into a novelist. Whimsical stories in weird worlds. Science fiction and fantasy, love and war with a spice of humor. Aliens and outer space! Check out her blog to meet her alien character Sa Kamizan Veedak.
Lainie Banfrey

Mominur Rahman illuminatedimages.co.uk

Last time I did a Meet My Character blog hop (that one was with one of my Goodreads groups), we got to know Silas Vendine, hero of Daughter of the Wildings. This time it’s leading lady Lainie Banfrey’s turn.

1) What is the name of your character? Is he or she fictional or a historic person?

Her name is Lainie Banfrey. She’s fictional (but don’t tell her that!).2) When and where is the story set?
The story is set in the Wildings, a fantasy world inspired by the American West of the 1880s. Non-magical people have fled from persecution in the mage-ruled civilized land of Granadaia to settle in the wide-open Wildings.3) What should we know about him or her?
Lainie is the 19-year-old daughter of a moderately prosperous (though far from wealthy) cattle rancher in Bitterbush Springs. It’s just her and her father; her mother died when Lainie was 6 years old, and her older brother was killed in a shootout between feuding miners and ranch men. She’s a hard worker, tending to both ranch chores and housekeeping, and she’s an excellent cook. She’s proud of her full 6-year education at the Bitterbush Springs Town School, and she loves to read all the penny-thriller novels she can get her hands on.

4) What is the main conflict? What messes up his or her life?
Lainie was born in the Wildings to Plain (non-magical) parents, but she inherited magical power from a grandmother who was a mage. Mages are hated and feared by the Plain settlers, so Lainie has to hide her power. She’s torn over her power: she wants to be able to use it to do good, but she’s been taught all her life that wizards are monsters with no heart and no soul.

When a dangerous renegade mage comes to Bitterbush Springs and stirs up a feud, Lainie meets Silas Vendine, a bounty hunter on the renegade’s trail. To her, he seems like the man of her dreams, even though he’s a mage. Lainie’s power is discovered by Silas, who is legally required to either Strip her of her power, which would leave her a helpless, mindless shell, or to take her to Granadaia to be trained in magic, a process that would probably destroy the young woman she is and turn her into the monster she’s afraid of becoming. Lainie refuses to go along with either option, and Silas can’t bring himself to force her.

Lainie teams up with Silas to stop the renegade mage. The renegade discovers her power, and then the whole town finds out about it, with the result that her whole life is uprooted and sent in a direction she never imagined.

5) What is the personal goal of the character?
She wants to learn to use her power while remaining herself and not becoming a monster like she’s always been taught mages are, and to use her power to protect the peace and freedom of the people of the Wildings. At the same time, she wants to convince the settlers that not all mages are evil, and eventually make it so that mages and Plain folk can live together peacefully.

6) What is the title of the book(s), and where can find out more?
The series is Daughter of the Wildings (click to go to the series page for book extras, buy links, and more information).
Book 1: Beneath the Canyons (now available)
Book 2: Bad Hunting (now available)
Book 3: The Rancher’s Daughter (coming soon)
Book 4: To the Gap
Book 5: City of Mages
Book 6: For the Wildings

7) When was the book published?
Beneath the Canyons was published November 2014, and Bad Hunting was published just a few days ago, Feb. 20. Anticipated release for The Rancher’s Daughter is May 2015.

The next stop on the Meet My Character blog hop is yet to be determined; I’ll update when that’s set up.


Book Review: The Plains of Kallanash


Author Spotlight: Dawn Marie Hamilton

Dawn Marie Hamilton

Introducing Dawn Marie Hamilton, author of Scottish fantasy-romance:

1. Tell us a little about yourself.
Here is the official bio: Dawn Marie Hamilton dares you to dream. She is a 2013 RWA® Golden Heart® Finalist who pens Scottish-inspired fantasy and paranormal romance. Some of her tales are rife with mischief-making faeries, brownies, and other fae creatures. More tormented souls—shape shifters, vampires, and maybe a zombie or two—stalk across the pages of other stories. She is a member of several chapters of Romance Writers of America. When not writing, she’s cooking, gardening, or paddling the local creeks of Southern Maryland with her husband.

2. When did you start writing, and why?
As with many young girls, I kept a journal as a teenager. In high school, I wrote dark short stories. During my corporate career, I wrote computer software manuals and training material. Not very fanciful. While on a business trip in Brussels, I saw a billboard with a hot Highlander advertising whisky. I decided I wanted to write stories featuring smexy Scots.

3. What do you write, and why? What do you enjoy about what you write?
Scottish fantasy and paranormal romance with time travel elements. I enjoy taking readers to another place. A place of magic. A place of faeries and brownies and other fae creatures. A place of vampires and shifters and other dark creatures. A place where love spans centuries and is ever-lasting.

Highland Gardens Series4. What is your latest book or series? Any forthcoming books?

Just in Time for a Highland Christmas, a holiday novella, recently released as part of my Highland Gardens time travel series fraught with meddling fae. Just Wait For Me (A Highland Gardens Novel – Book 3) is scheduled for release Spring 2015. I’m also working on the second novel in the Crimson Storm vampire-shifter series, <em “mso-bidi-font-style:=”” normal”=””>Raven’s Revenge.5. “Welcome To My Worlds”: Tell us a little about the world of your latest book or series.
In the Highland Gardens series the Queen of the Fae challenges a banished faerie to craft three nearly impossible matches. The characters journey through time either from the lush gardens of the present day Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina and the fictitious Village of Anderson Creek—a place over-run by Scottish ex-pats—to 16th century Scotland and vice versa.6. Introduce us to some of your characters. What do you like about them?
The Highland Gardens cast of characters stroll through multiple books. Robert and Archibald are twins. Smexy Highlanders. Archibald is the hero in Just in Time for a Highland Christmas and is the chief of Clan MacLaclan in 16th century Scotland. He’s gorgeous and proud and everything swoon-worthy. Lies have turned his betrothed (previously his twins betrothed), the raven-haired Isobell against him. She seeks revenge against him and his clan. Her pride matches Archibald’s. Caitrina is an auburn-haired beauty, a halfling faerie disguised as a gardener in the present, but releases her fae power in the past. Often at odds with Caitrina, Munn is the three foot tall bumbling clan brownie who’s trying to bring the couple together. As in all romances, by the end of the story, Archibald and Isobell find an everlasting love.

7. A fun fact you would like your readers to know about you or your book.
Having previously been a Master Gardener, garden themes are included in most of my tales.

8. Where can we find you?

Website | Blog | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | email

Just in Time for a Highland ChristmasJust in Time for a Highland Christmas:

Can a determined brownie craft a perfect match in time for Christmas?When the Chief of Clan MacLachlan travels to the stronghold of his feuding neighbors to fetch his betrothed, she is gone. A year later, she is still missing. Making life more vexing, a band of reivers are stealing clan cattle, leaving behind destruction. Archibald MacLachlan determines to capture them and administer harsh punishment.Though once in love with the man, Isobell Lamont refuses to wed her clan’s enemy. After running away, she joins the band of reivers set on revenge.

Can Archibald forgive the raven-haired beauty? Will a journey through time bring them together for a Highland Christmas?

Here’s a sneak peek inside:

Let us not harbor thoughts of troubling events from our past, even if only for this night.” He clasped her hand and held it over his heart.

She tilted her head to the side and her brow wrinkled, as if trying to understand. Then her lips curved into a smile filled with, could he hope, love. “If that is your wish, then ’tis my desire also.

[Dawn Marie: Of course, you can guess her being amenable will be short-lived.]

Just in Time for a Highland Christmas is available at Amazon.


Book Review: The Chocolatier’s Wife

The Chocolatier's WifeThe Chocolatier’s Wife, by Cindy Lynn Speer

Really lovely fantasy-romance-mystery. When William is seven years old, the magical spell used to choose future spouses reveals that his future bride is Tasmin, a newborn baby girl from the magical and dangerous north. Despite his family’s misgivings, William begins a correspondence with Tasmin, sending her letters and gifts. As they grow, William to become a sea captain of some renown and Tasmin to become an herb mage and teacher, his kindness and honesty win her heart even though they haven’t yet met. So when Tasmin hears that William, now retired from the sea to open a chocolate shop, has been arrested for murder, she refuses to believe it, and sets out to rescue him. Together, William and Tasmin discover a nefarious plot to destroy William’s family and, although romance is considered an irrelevant frivolity when it comes to marriage, fall in love.

Beautifully written, interesting magic, engaging and likeable characters (except for the ones you love to hate! But even they have multiple dimensions, and aren’t just cardboard cutouts). The world is also interesting, a setting reminiscent of late 18th/early 19th century Europe. I always appreciate fantasy that isn’t set in the standard pseudo-medieval setting. The mystery is well-plotted and kept me guessing. My only quibble is that some of the tensions between Tasmin and William, such as Tasmin’s jealousy, seem contrived, as though they were put in just to keep the relationship from seeming too “perfect”. It isn’t necessary; the relationship between William and Tasmin is charming and quirky enough without those elements, and they don’t really fit the characters and story.

The Chocolatier’s Wife is sweet romance, with some sexual references but no on-screen sex.

I thoroughly enjoyed The Chocolatier’s Wife, and highly recommend it for those who like romance in their fantasy, or fantasy in their romance, along with an intriguing mystery.


Author Spotlight: Montgomery Mahaffey


COYER Book Review: All Fall Down

All Fall Down All Fall Down, by Christine Pope

All Fall Down is the tale of Merys, a physician who is captured by slavers and ends up being bought by Lord Shaine, whose desperately ill daughter needs Merys’s help. Though Merys chafes at the loss of her freedom, she soon finds that her heart belongs to the people at Donnishold, and especially Lord Shaine. When the plague hits her new home, she must use all her strength and ingenuity and resources to try to save the people she has come to love.

Romantic fantasy is my favorite thing to read, so that automatically gave this book a boost. I found the style clear and easy to read, and I enjoyed the world and the characters. I did feel that the book was kind of light on both the fantasy and the romance aspects. Other than being set in another world, there really isn’t any fantastical element other than near the end, during the plague, when the goddess appears to Merys in her dreams to reveal the cure for the plague. This appearance seemed poorly timed – there didn’t seem to be any reason why the goddess should appear then and not sooner; if she had shown up sooner, a number of characters I wanted to live wouldn’t have died. Or, for that matter, why she should have shown up at all.

As for the romance, of course it’s clear that Merys and Shaine will end up together, but I had a hard time believing in their attraction to each other. The Merys-Shaine relationship doesn’t really develop, it just happens. We know that Merys falls in love with Shaine because the book is written in first person so we see her thoughts and feelings, but there doesn’t seem to be a process of growing attraction and affection; she just realizes one day that she’s in love with him. As for Lord Shaine, he doesn’t get a lot of attention in the book. We know that he loves his daughter and treats his slaves and servants well, has a tragic past, and seems like an overall good guy in spite of his brooding, but we never really get to know him on a deeper level or get to see his (presumably) growing attraction towards Merys. Part of this could be because of the limitations of writing in first person, but this can be overcome by a more observant first person protagonist and creating scenes with more varied interactions between the characters. Still, I could see that Merys and Shaine would suit each other; it wasn’t hard for me to imagine them together, I just would have liked to see the feelings and the relationship develop instead of just suddenly being there.

Unlike some other reviewers, I didn’t have a problem with the kind of iffy biological and medical science in the book, because Fantasy. This isn’t our world, it doesn’t work the same. Though I would have liked to see the author make freer use of the possibilities inherent in writing in a fantasy world other than the aforementioned divine intervention.

All Fall Down is sweet romance, with a few sexual references but no actual sex.

From reading other reviews, I understand All Fall Down is not the author’s strongest work. It’s an enjoyable read, but I feel it could be much stronger if the author had dug deeper into the characters’ emotions and relationships and the freedom of writing in a fantasy world. Still, it’s an enjoyable, quick read, and I will definitely try more of Ms. Pope’s work.

See my main Clean Out Your eReader post for reading list and review links.


Book Review: Wonderfully Wicked

PictureIn May, I spotlighted C.J. Burright and her new release, Wonderfully Wicked. And now here’s the review!

Breathtakingly romantic and exciting contemporary fantasy, Wonderfully Wicked follows Kalila, who has been haunted by realistic nightmares all her life, as she falls into danger – and love – with a mysterious man who appeared as her killer in her dreams. Lydon is not what she expected – he might not even be human, and he has other ideas about what to do with her than kill her. With Lydon, Kalila discovers the truth behind her nightmares and the strange destiny ahead of her.

The writing is vivid, the characters sharp and well-drawn. Sometimes I wished Kalila had a little bit less of a chip on her shoulder, but given her background (a childhood and adolescence spent bouncing from one dysfunctional foster home to another), I can see why she’d be wary even when the evidence says she doesn’t have to be. Lydon is dreamy (no pun intended) and tormented, and even when his actions appeared to be those of the evil man Kalila feared he was, I just knew that deep down inside, in spite of himself, he was honorable.

Wonderfully Wicked is a lot of fun, and I look forward to more of Kalila and Lydon’s adventures.


Father’s Day Special: Prince Eruz

Last year for Father’s Day, I wrote a tribute to my amazing dad. This year, since the role of fathers is so essential and yet so often undervalued and overlooked, I want to emphasize the importance of fathers in my own writing with this sneak peek look at one of my characters who is a father, Prince Eruz from Urdaisunia:

Picture A FEW DAYS after that, Eruz sent for Rashali to meet him in the gardens again. This time, the prince brought his young daughter, Mizalilu, with him; he explained that the child’s mother was awaiting the birth of a new baby and had little attention to spare for her. Rashali watched the little girl run along the garden paths, and pictured her own daughter in Mizalilu’s place. Fresh grief squeezed her heart. “My Lalana was the same age,” she said without thinking.

The prince was silent for a moment, also watching Mizalilu. “How do you survive such a loss?”

She shrugged, wishing she hadn’t said anything. “Along the rivers, so many children die, it’s only to be expected. Still, you hope that you’ll be the lucky one, that your child will be spared… And when she dies anyway, you either die too, or you live on. I chose to live on.” To destroy the Sazars who caused her death, she added in her mind, but didn’t say out loud.

Mizalilu had brought a sack of raisins with her. She ran ahead, tossing raisins on the ground while Luzak the peacock trotted after her, gobbling the treats. Eruz and Rashali followed, keeping the little girl in sight. “I told my father that moving the Urdai away from the stretch of the Uz the Kai-Kalle want might be more complicated than we thought,” Eruz said. “I didn’t tell him that the Urdai would fight, only that there would be considerable difficulties involved in relocating such a large number of people.”

“Did he decide against it?”

“He only said that we may have no choice, but he’ll wait to take action until the Kai-Kalle’s and the Sanghs’ intentions become clearer. I did tell him that I hoped to persuade you to convince the villagers to cooperate.”

“I suppose you can tell him that.” Not that she would ever agree to do such a thing, but letting him tell the king that she might seemed like a harmless concession.

Mizalilu had run ahead and now came back to them. The bag of raisins had been discarded somewhere along the way, and the child’s small fists were now filled with flowers and pebbles. Rashali watched the little girl’s shining dark eyes and smooth, flushed amber cheeks as she showed her father her treasures. The prince’s worries and burdens seemed to fall away as he squatted in front of his daughter, admiring the things she had found and replying to her babble. This was yet another odd thing—that a Sazar nobleman who needed a son as an heir would love a daughter so openly and completely.

They walked on in silence, along one of the ponds that dotted the Jewel. Mizalilu ran around to the other side of the pond, and stood there throwing her pebbles into the water and laughing at the splashes they made.