Urban Fantasy Author
Book Bling Blog
The imperial princess has been offered in marriage to the Prince of Inya as part of an alliance needed to ensure Kjall’s military prowess. And despite having been hurt in the past by men using her to gain power, Celeste finds herself falling for the passionate fire mage.
Prince Rayn has no intention of allying his country with the militaristic Kjallans. But his political enemies at home may be the greater threat. The princess’s beauty and intelligence catch him off guard, throwing an unexpected and dangerous hurdle in the way of his plans.
As a deadly political plot threatens Rayn’s life, the attraction between Celeste and Rayn ignites into a sizzling affair. But to save her people and herself, Celeste will have to discover if Rayn’s intentions are true or risk having her love burn her yet again....
Celeste followed her older brother, Emperor Lucien of Kjall, down the sun-drenched pier at the docks of Riat. Shielding her eyes, she gazed at the Inyan ship Magefire which rode at double anchor in the harbor. It looked like an interloper among the heavy Kjallan warships. Its masts were higher, its lines sleeker, its hull paler in color.
Sailors and dock workers moved aside to clear a path for them. The emperor was an infrequent visitor to the docks. He moved at a brisk walk, limping almost imperceptibly on his wooden leg, his eager eyes fixed on the barrels rowed in earlier this morning.
Beside Celeste gamboled a large black and white dog, who darted longing glances at the ocean waves that lapped at the sides of the pier. And on all sides were the Legaciatti, their bodyguards and security staff.
“You’re going to love this,” said Lucien. “A stone that burns.”
Celeste smiled; she knew his real reason for dragging her out here. Celeste wasn’t naturally sociable except with a few trusted people. She had a tendency to lock herself with her work in her rooms, where the hours slipped by faster than she intended. Her brother interrupted her now and then, when he thought she needed sunshine and conversation.
The dock guards before the barrels stood straight and stiff, awed by the presence of the emperor. Lucien studied the label of the first barrel and signaled the nearest guard to open it. Celeste ran forward to see its contents revealed.
Inside was a bright yellow powder. Celeste scooped up a handful and let it sift through her fingers. "This isn’t stone."
“It’s brimstone.” Lucien dug into the substance and cupped a handful of it, staring reverently as if it were powdered gold. “It's been pulverized into this powder. Do you know where the Inyans gather it? Along the edge of a volcano."
“What poor sod gets stuck with that job?” She had no personal experience with volcanoes, since there were none in Kjall, but everyone knew a volcano had destroyed the nation of Dori.
“A well-paid sod, I hope. But Inya’s volcanoes are more manageable than Dori’s. The Inyans have a system for controlling them. Ask the prince about it when you meet him.”
Celeste was trying not to think about the prince. He’d come in the Magefire to negotiate a trade agreement with Kjall and had brought the barrels of brimstone as a demonstration of good faith. What the prince didn’t know was that Lucien wanted more than a trade agreement. He wanted an alliance, and to secure it, he meant to offer Celeste’s hand in marriage. Celeste had never met the Inyan prince, and in a matter of months, he could be her husband.
Scooping up a double handful of brimstone, she asked, "Does it really burn?"
"Absolutely. Come and see." Carrying his own handful, Lucien gestured her to follow. The black and white dog wagged its tail beseechingly, and he addressed it. “Oh, just get in the water, Patricus. Everyone knows you want to.”
With a joyous bark, the dog leapt off the pier and splashed into the ocean.
As they walked the length of the pier, passing by the staring dock workers, Celeste cradled the powdery treasure in the folds of her syrtos to shelter it from the breeze. At the end of the pier, they descended a wooden staircase to a sandy beach.
Lucien found an open space with nothing flammable around and, with the foot of his wooden leg, dug a crude hollow in the sand. “In there.”
Celeste poured her brimstone into the hollow, and Lucien added his. Though the brimstone had a consistency similar to the sand, it was a brighter yellow.
Lucien took Celeste’s hand and backed away from the hole, drawing her with him.
A bit of movement caught her eye—a dark shape appearing and disappearing among the white froth of the breakers. “Don’t light the brimstone yet. Patricus is coming.”
“I see him,” said Lucien.
Patricus burst from the waves and loped up the beach.
“He’s sopping wet,” said Lucien. “Shake it off, Patricus!”
The dog kept coming. His feet sank into the soft sand, but he pumped his legs and scrambled on, sending the sand flying out behind him.
“Shake it off!” Lucien commanded.
Patricus galloped to Lucien and shook, spraying sand and seawater all over him.
“Pox this animal.” Scowling, Lucien brushed sand off his imperial syrtos and turned to the Legaciatti, who were covering their faces to hide their grins. “Where were you? Some security detail.”
“We don’t interfere with the imperial dog, Emperor,” said one of the Legaciatti.
Lucien muttered to Celeste, “I don’t get half the respect Florian did.”
“They love you. Everyone does.” This was not true, of course. Lucien had numerous enemies. But Celeste felt that if those people truly knew Lucien, they would love him as much as she did.
Lucien grabbed Patricus by the scruff and gestured to the fire mage in his security detail. "Light the brimstone, Jasper.”
The fire mage waved his hand, and the yellow powder ignited.
Celeste gasped. The flame was blue. "Three gods, that can't be right. It's unnatural. Like a Vagabond fire."
"It stinks like the Vagabond's breath.” Lucien waved away the smoke.
Celeste got her first whiff of the fumes and choked. He was right; the burning brimstone smelled like something rotten. She backed away and so did Lucien, dragging Patricus with him.
Lucien beamed like a delighted schoolboy. "Have you ever seen the like?"
Holding her nose, Celeste shook her head.
"Only the gods could devise something so strange and wonderful. No wonder it's needed for making the most important substance in the world."
"Chocolate?" said Celeste.
Lucien gave her a look. "Gunpowder, as you well know. Put the fire out, Jasper." When the fire was out, he released Patricus, who fell into step at his side, wagging his tail. He offered his arm to Celeste, and they headed to the carriage, followed by the Legaciatti.
“Where are the Inyans?” asked Celeste.
“Up at the palace,” said Lucien. “They’ve had a long sail. They need to rest, freshen up. So do we, I think, after that brimstone.”
“I wish you had told the prince in advance that you were going to offer him my hand.”
“And spoil the surprise?” Lucien grinned. “Trust me, it’s better he should see what he’s getting. If you can’t sell this alliance, no one can.”
Celeste shook her head. Lucien thought the world of her, but he was her brother and obviously biased. She was not as pretty as he suggested. “When will you make the proposal?” Her stomach knotted at the thought of seeing her potential marriage partner for the first time at a formal event, with everyone’s eyes on her. She’d heard a few things about the prince: that he was twenty-two years old, a good match to her own age of nineteen, and handsome. Those were points in his favor, but they were surface traits and told her little about whether she would be happy with the man. Or whether he would be happy with her.
“I don’t care for official presentations,” said Lucien. “The last one I attended turned into a fiasco. Instead I’ve arranged a small dinner party. You and me and Prince Rayn, plus a few officials to balance things out and keep the conversation flowing. What do you think?”
She let her breath out. “That sounds less intimidating.”
They had arrived at the imperial family coach, an imposing blue-and-gold conveyance which comfortably seated six and was drawn by a quartet of matched grays.
Lucien took her hand and squeezed it as he lifted her into the carriage. “Courage, sister. It will all work out.”
Amy Raby is literally a product of the U.S. space program, since her parents met working for NASA on the Apollo missions. After earning her Bachelor’s in Computer Science from the University of Washington, Amy settled in the Pacific Northwest with her family, where she’s always looking for life’s next adventure, whether it’s capsizing tiny sailboats in Lake Wash-ington, training hunting dogs, or riding horses. Amy is a 2011 Golden Heart® finalist and a 2012 Daphne du Maurier winner.
First I must say I loved the cover. If I was in a bookstore, I would pick it up and read the back cover.
I have not read any of Amy's other books, so this is a stand alone read for me, without comparison to the first two books in the series.
I liked the fact that the heroine, Celeste, was not a doormat. She was strong and determined not despite the fact that she had been burned by love before, but because she had learned to rule her heart with her head.
The hero, Rayn, handsome and "princely" is also self confident and intelligent. His concern about court politics and espionage are not unfounded. He has true enemies and fears for the future of his country.
Though she is immediately drawn to Rayn, Celeste isn't sure he cares about her for her own sake, or if he wants to use her for her brother, the Emperor's military might, to ensure his personal safety and his country's stability.
If you're a Game of Thrones fan and like court intrigue and affairs of the heart, you will enjoy this story from the Hearts and Thrones series.
Out of five Bookworms,BOOK BLING gives this novel:
I live across the country from my son and his wife. Today I was chatting with him (a rare treat) and he was asking if I knew Game of Thrones was starting its fourth season. Well, I'd have to live in a cave not to know that.
HBO's epic fantasy drama premiers today for its much anticipated fourth season, and with a slogan like "All men must die," it's sure to live up to the no-character-is-safe reputation that has made it so popular.
The series averaged 14.2 million viewers per episode last season— a 20 percent bump from the series' viewership the previous year.
WinterIsComing.net, a Game of Thrones news site, attributes the increase in part to the now-legendary Red Wedding episode, in which three of the show's major players were unexpectedly--and rather shockingly--killed off in a matter of minutes.
With impressive numbers like those, "Game of Thrones" is poised to take the throne as HBO's most watched show of all time. Since I too watch GoT, it obviously has no generation gap issues.
It's trending on Twitter (no surprise), and here are what some of the Twits are Twittering about:
Us Weekly @usweekly.com
10 mins til we kick off our #GameofThrones live-tweets! Follow along and #watchwithUs (and avoid Twitter right now to AVOID SPOILERS!) #GoT
Talk about cashing in on a winner.
Henry Williams @Williams13H 10m
Never seen the internet so alive. I feel at one with fellow #GameOfThrones fans. We're so alive. Be wary. Lots of us are about to die.
M0€ @Ay0_Moe 16m
Walking dead Zombies got nothing on the white walkers #GameOfThrones
acy @amarettosaurus 9m
still though there is an inappropriate number of actors/actresses I'd bang like a screen door in a hurricane #GameOfThrones
Blake Ofstedal @CoffeeOffy 27m
My dad asked me to describe #GameOfThrones in one word.. I went
Apparently sex and violence is a very popular venue. That certainly hasn't changed, and GoT is cashing in on that common theme with a vengence
See you there! Happy Gaming!
Drunk Mom Describes GoT
HBO Season 4 Trailer
“I’ve never understood a year. A year was always a measurement of something bad for me. A year in my father’s prison sentence, a year since my mom’s death, a year left of school before I could get far, far away from here. Now, as I look down the end of my college career, with only a little more than a semester to go, a year seems like something magical. It has been a year since Lily chose me, since she sat with me on the old swing set and made a decision that I was worthy of her. And every minute of the entire year has been better than the last.”
You already know their stories: Lily, the perfect princess, always living someone else's life. And Jack, the broken boy, who had stopped believing in hope. Somehow, though, they found each other and what was one night blossomed into a love story.
Now, a year later, Jack and Lily are dreaming of the future. Despite all of his promises to himself that he would never be indebted to anyone, Jack makes a new promise - this time to Lily - that he will be there for her forever. But when life unravels for them, he starts to pull away, and Lily worries he's out of reach for good.
When Jack does the unthinkable, Lily is left destroyed. Is it possible to have a happily ever after? Does love ever really save anyone?
He’s smiling. Not that smirk he gets when he’s bitter but also pleased about something. It’s not the smile that says that he knows happiness is temporary. When he lines up his Skee-ball shot, there is a smile on his face that is pure. Genuine. It’s like taking a step back and seeing Jack in a photograph. One from years before his life went crazy. He’s just a dorky kid playing Skee-ball and he’s so happy when he nails the shot. He does an awkward little dance and it’s the kind of thing about Jack that makes me love him. He’s gorgeous and sexy and aggressive yet sweet. He’s kind and considerate of me, both sexually and in general. But I don’t love Jack for that. I love him because there is light in the world in the space he takes up. I know he doesn’t see it, but he’s inside himself. From the outside, all I see is the absolute electricity and fire that fills the air around him.
“That’s how it’s done,” he tells me when he finishes his game, wrapping up his ridiculous stack of tickets. I’m so going to lose, but I don’t care. He’s happy. I just almost wish I was better at this, so we could stay here longer, so that Jack could be this part of himself for as long as he needs.
“I think you’re perfect,” I say.
“Because I’m good at Skee-ball? Shit, that’s all it takes?”
I shake my head. “No, but you tell me all the time. I don’t think I ever say it to you. I don’t like the idea of perfection. It’s too much of a standard to live up to, but I don’t think you even understand. It’s cheesy and probably cliché, but I just can’t imagine how I could breathe without you. How did I exist before this?”
He looks down, uncomfortable because it’s one thing to tell Jack he’s hot or sexy; he can handle that and he gets cocky and ridiculous when I tell him that. But this part of him, this vulnerability, he buries it so deep that drawing attention to it makes him want to disappear. But I don’t want that. I want him to embrace it, because it’s sweet and beautiful.
“Don’t look down,” I say and I lift his face to look at me. His eyes explode with light, the way fireworks do on New Year’s when the sky is like ink and then it’s suddenly on fire. I lean in and kiss him, feeling his hands tighten on my arms and his lips opening against mine. He’s scared. I can feel it in the way he kisses me today; he feels himself falling and he’s trying to hold on and I need to figure out how to be steady enough to hold him. “Trust me,” I plead. “Let me take some of what you’re feeling. I can handle it, Jack.”
He nods. “Another day. Today, I just want to stay here, to be here with you, where it’s safe and comfortable and my entire world is this. Where strawberries and popcorn and Skee-ball and shitty plastic toys are the entirety of what exists.” He pauses. “I promise, Lily. I will. Soon. But let me hide from it. Just for a little longer?”
“Okay, but don’t hide from me, okay?” I ask.
“I’ll try,” he offers and it’s okay that he can’t promise. He’s honest and I would rather he is than say something he knows is a lie. I’m not fragile. I won’t break if he hurts me. I just don’t want him to worry about doing it. I never signed up for it to be easy. I knew from the start that it wouldn’t be. “Now, stop distracting me. Unless you want to concede defeat?”
“Never gonna happen,” I say and I settle in to play more Skee-ball. I don’t really care about winning since whatever the prize ends up being is going to be more of him, regardless. But I try my best and actually win two games in a row. Of course, that’s as long as it lasts.
When he beats me, by eight games, he gloats in his victory, but he ends up using his tickets to get me a green plastic piggy bank. The options are pretty bad, but I love that he picked the bank, because it’s hideous and cheap and we spent far more than we could even fit in the bank. I love it because I’ll never use it, but it will always be like this day – something that doesn’t really belong but needs to exist because the world is simply better for it being there.
Sarah Daltry writes about the regular people who populate our lives. She's written works in various genres - romance, erotica, fantasy, horror. Genre isn't as important as telling a story about people and how their lives unfold. Sarah tends to focus on YA/NA characters but she's been known to shake it up. Most of her stories are about relationships - romantic, familial, friendly - because love and empathy are the foundation of life. It doesn't matter if the story is set in contemporary NY, historical Britain, or a fantasy world in the future - human beings are most interesting in the ways they interact with others. This is the principle behind all of Sarah's stories.
Sarah has spent most of her life in school, from her BA and MA in English and writing to teaching both at the high school and college level. She also loves studying art history and really anything because learning is fun.
When Sarah isn't writing, she tends to waste a lot of time checking Facebook for pictures of cats, shooting virtual zombies, and simply staring out the window.
Sarah has also written Bitter Fruits, an urban fantasy romance, and Backward Compatible, a gamer geek romantic comedy.
What Does It Look Like?
I've added this graphic to my blog for several months, and I don't remember noticing until now that the background was a lighthouse. It immediately reminded me of a girlfriend from back home whose goal was to visit every lighthouse in MI. She often spent summers traveling up and down the coastlines of the peninsulas, visiting light-houses and making a pictoral journal of her progress.
Rather than taking pictures of lighthouses, writers must describe it, describe a thing, a person, a setting, an event, a building, an animal, whatever it might be, well enough for a reader to form a picture in their mind of what it looks like.
This is not an easy task, but one that must not be neglected if our readers are to gain a feeling of intimacy and connect emotionally with our work. That picture is worth a thousand words euphanism is not accurate to a writer. We must strive for a succinct description in which each word carries its weight in gold.
Enabling the reader to experience my stories as though a movie were playing in their head has always been a writing goal that seemed more difficult to me than developing the plot.
I spent a couple decades teaching students to write accurate and effective descriptions. Along the way, they taught me a great deal about technique and process.
Metaphor and simile are so often used in description because one of the easiest ways to enable a reader to "see" what you are talking about is to relate what it looks like to something they can already visualize because they are familiar with it.
One of the best examples I can think of is something Stephen King once wrote. This may not be exactly right, but he compared the way something spread out and marred a surface to the way grease darkened random areas of a brown paper bag that had once held a deluxe burger and fries. Who doesn't know what that looks like?
I found that students of all ages better understand description by looking at an object and brainstorming its every feature, with an emphasis on including the five senses. The most underused sense is smell and there are few places completely void of smell. Describing the scent can create an emotional response that helps the reader feel more immediacy with the story.
Scent is a sense so powerful that your brain imprints it whenever you undergo an emotional situation, good or bad. My mother's favorite flower was roses, and there were hundreds of them at her funeral. I couldn't tolerate the scent for nearly 20 years.
The best descriptions I've ever read pay minute attention to detail and incorporate the five senses. One doesn't need to get as flowery as Anne Rice, though she creates mood like no one else, but Dean Koontz can make you feel like you know his characters personally.
I still work at description, at making sure the reader knows what I am talking about and why it is important. Most of my revision focuses on fleshing out the details and making sure my work is provacative and emotionally visual. Yes, pace, plot and characterization are equally important, but for some of us starving artists, making our work read like a movie is the most difficult, time consuming process.
What is the Insecure Writers Support Group?
Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds! We’ve got your back!
Posting: The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. Visit others in the group from the amazing links below and connect with your fellow writers - aim for a dozen new people each time.
Shout out to our awesome hosts for this month: Hart Johnson, Chemist Ken, Candilynn Fite, Terri Rochenski, Clare Dugmore, and Lilica Blake!
I blog there the 18th of each month!
Elizabeth Alsobrooks's books on Goodreads
Illuminati - The Book of Life
ratings: 12 (avg rating 4.33)
Illuminati: The Book of Life
ratings: 5 (avg rating 4.80)
The Keeper's Secret: Tell-Tale Publishing's Annual Horror Anthology
ratings: 2 (avg rating 5.00)
2016 NaNoWriMo Winner!
My Newest Release
An Amazon Bestseller!
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