Book Tour & Giveaway: The Queen’s Keeper by J.L. Vampa (Genre: Dark Fairy Tale/ Fantasy) @VampaJl @RRBookTours1 #RRBookTours #Books #FantasyBooks

“Prey, you should have been ready.”

Welcome to the highly anticipated tour for dark fairytale, The Queen’s Keeper by J.L. Vampa!

Read on for details, an exclusive excerpt, and a chance to enter an incredible giveaway!

TQK Omnibus Cover

The Queen’s Keeper

Expected Publication Date: October 12th, 2021

Genre: Dark Fairy Tale/ Fantasy

What if I told you that everything you knew about your life was a lie and that you’re being hunted?
What if I told you that you were prey?
This is the reality for Luvenia Rousseau. Amidst the struggle to survive in a famished, war-torn country and the fight against the phantoms of her past, her family is brutally ripped apart by a tyrant queen’s venomous army. Just when all hope seems lost, she stumbles upon an enchanted realm while the queen hunts for the one who got away.

A page-turning debut novel among the likes of Hunger Games, Snow White, and Throne of Glass, this dark fairy tale adaptation will have you on the edge of your seat.

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Excerpt

The Queen of Aureland strode into her castle’s training hall like an ancient warrior comprised of bone crushing strength and the breathless wonder of snow-capped mountain air. Rarely did she wear riding pants and a tunic—for she believed one’s attire should reflect one’s character and she was a leader of others into excellence and virtue—but today her leading required a different sort of approach and a gown would not do. Granted, her tunic glistened with fine jewels—there was no need to look like a peasant. Her protégé thought she’d seen fierce opponents in her training, but she hadn’t seen Nuria. The queen’s most guarded secret may be of an entirely different nature, but her hundred years of honed battle skills came in at a close second.

“Hello, Luvenia,” she said to get the girl’s attention, her voice silken. “No need to look so shocked, darling. I will be conducting your training this fine morning. Darius needed to sleep. Though achieving his agreement on that fact was a battle in and of itself.” She rolled her eyes and smoothed her bejeweled tunic, then clapped both hands together. “Right, then, let us get to it. You are weakest in hand-to-hand combat, yes?” Veni nodded mutely, feeling as though she were about to discover the queen’s beauty and gentle spirit had merely been the adorned scabbard sheathing a powerful blade. “Very well.” The queen eyed the girl. “I will not hold back. Your training will not be complete until you are capable of disarming and defeating me. That will not happen today. There is no need for unrealistic expectations. Though you, my dear, will beat me one day. Recognize your potential without masking it in obscured reality.”

Veni’s mind spun. She’s going to run me into the ground, physically and mentally. “Use your words, dear. Are you prepared or not?” Veni smirked and sighed a breathy laugh. “Ready as I’ll ever be, I suppose.” Nuria’s beauty turned lethal as she lunged for the wide-eyed girl. Before Veni could even get her hands up to defend herself, the queen nicked her chin with her bare knuckles, enough to stun her. In an instant, she had Veni’s own arm twisted behind her and forced her to her knees. The queen released her captive and Veni stood as her vision swam a bit from the blow to her chin. Nuria wiped the blood from her split knuckle on her pants. “My Hordemen go easy on you and spar with you.” She shook her head. “You have had enough of that. Sparring is unrealistic and you have grown used to how it works.” The queen put a finger to her temple. “Your mind is quick, dear heart, but wits alone will not win a battle. A sparring session, perhaps, but not a battle. Darius has taught you well how to predict your opponent’s next move, this is wise. However, most of the people you come across in a fight will not be calculated. They will be ruthless. There is a fine line between noble ferocity and ruthless ferocity. The truth of it is you will need to dance on the edge of that line in order to get your sister back. We will help you stay on the noble side, but you must embrace the ferocity. You can spar and train all day long, learning all the perfect maneuvers and defenses, but until you can take a true blow and get back up, you are not learning what you will need to succeed in bringing Ester home. Do you understand?

” Veni’s jaw stung, and her heart pounded, but she knew Nuria was right. It was time to cease pretending that she was learning to fight and to truly take hold of it. “Yes,” she told the queen. “Again. Let’s go.” Fast as lightning, Nuria came at her with no mercy over and over. The girl’s blood was splattered on the queen’s sparkling tunic and Nuria’s knuckles continued to bleed. Veni forgot everything she’d learned in routine sparring sessions and had little success discerning Nuria’s next move. That is, for the first half of their session. Once she’d taken several hits and tasted self-preservation as well as a sense of wildness, her training came back to her in a new way. She ended up on her back or rear or face countless times, but it would only take one hit. Luvenia had to hit that beautiful queen one time and she would be satisfied for the day.

“Are you certain you would like to continue? Your eye is beginning to swell.” Nuria watched her protégé struggle to stand, yet again. “I’m sure,” she said through gritted teeth. “Again.” Her eye was indeed swelling shut and her mouth was thick with blood and saliva, but she was going to hit that perfect face. Just once.

Available on Amazon

About the Author

Screenshot_20210810-200359_Instagram

J.L. was born and raised in the great state of Texas. After attending college in Oklahoma, J.L. became a bookkeeper and office manager. She swiftly discovered she was to be a Keeper of Books and a Manager of Fantastical Worlds, instead. Thus began the unfolding of her literary journey,

J.L. now lives with her husband and two children, penning her next masterpiece for you to enjoy, while running her own bookish shop, Wicked Whimsy Boutique.

JL Vampa |  Instagram | Twitter | Wicked Whimsy Boutique

 

Giveaway: A paperback edition of the prequel to The Queen’s Keeper, Gypsy Secrets, AND a $50 gift card (US) to spend at Wicked Whimsy! (US/ Canada only)

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October 11th

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Book Release Blitz & Giveaway: Silver Lining by Viola Tempest @RRBookTours1 #RRBookTours #SilverLining

Happy publication day to author Viola Tempest! Check out her new novel Silver Lining, and enter the giveaway for a chance to win a paperback copy of this genre-blurring book!

Silver Lining

Silver Lining

Publication Date: September 26th (Today🎉)

Genre: Dystopian/ Dark Romance

Tired of one-night stands and failed relationships, Marissa Sinclair sets out to change her luck by creating Silver Lining, a revolutionary contact lens that matches people with their one true love.

Like Marissa, Bethany Rose, among others, is hopeful the lens will help her find the love of her life. But soon, the perfect solution becomes her worst nightmare…

A major malfunction blurs the line between reality and disaster. Bethany, a once bright, beautiful young woman, loses touch with reality. Her life spirals out of control and leads her down a dark tunnel between madness and the consequences of gambling with her love life.

Witnessing the disturbing transformation, Thea is convinced the technology is to blame. The only problem is, no one believes her. With her desperation growing stronger and her desire to pull her friend out of the abyss, she risks everything to let the world know the truth. But will she succeed in her mission, or will the desperate all fall victim to the Zetas?

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Excerpt

Bethany wasn’t safe though. She thought it would be easy to just forget, to just immerse herself in the fantasy world and ignore the real world, because it’s not like she was happy in it anyway. But the façade kept falling apart.

Haven didn’t have a job, so he was around her all the time. She needed space, needed to breathe, needed somebody she didn’t have to babysit or take care of.

And then when he did get a job, she wanted him back in the apartment, back in her life all the time, because they no longer spent any time together. So, he got a part-time job as a waiter, but part of her knew that wasn’t real. She didn’t know what she wanted anymore.

And then when he was at home all the time again, the cycle started all over. And he never called her out on it, just bent to her will. And the more he did, the more the logical part of her brain piped up, saying that this couldn’t be real. She was living in some sort of love-sick nightmare.

“Honey, please stop pushing me away.” Haven looked up at her from the couch. “Let me say this, no matter how much you try and push me away, I will never leave. You can’t argue your way out of this relationship by nitpicking at me. I love you too much for that.”

“But that isn’t healthy! You need to be your own person, not let me walk all over you!” Bethany finally screamed.

She heard a thump somewhere in the background, but when she tried to focus on it, she couldn’t register where it had come from. Bethany looked around herself, and her eyes fell on the remote. She walked over.

“Please, don’t hurt yourself with that anymore. You know how you feel when you turn it off,” Haven said.

She glared at him and clicked the button. The smell hit her nostrils, and Bethany screamed, trying to get the crawling bugs off her skin. She needed to turn on the lens again; she couldn’t live like this.

“Miss, open the door,” someone banged on the entrance to her apartment.

“Shit.”

A heavy thump sounded, and a man shoulder-pounded against the door so hard that the lock broke. Bethany clicked the remote on instinct.

She managed to register the police uniform right before her world shifted, and Haven returned. Then, she saw nothing but him, sitting in the middle of the couch, smiling as the sunlight streamed through the open windows.

“What’s wrong with me?” Bethany asked.

She could feel a pressure on her arms, but she had no idea why.

“Relax, honey, you’re okay.” Haven got up and hugged her. His fingers carded through her hair.

“I’m still mad at you.”

“I know, but everything will be fine. You’ll see.”

“Miss, miss, can you hear me?”

Available on Amazon

About the Author

Rising author, Viola Tempest, yearns to find truth in the modern world. She loves to write dystopian fantasy and dark romance novels depicting human reality.

Viola Tempest

Giveaway: Paperback Edition of Silver Lining (Giveaway ends on September 29th)

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Book Release: Come Midnight by Kat Martin @katmartinauthor @RRBookTours1 #RRBookTours (June 1st) Genre: Romantic Suspense

Congratulations to author Kat Martin on the release of her latest novella, Come Midnight

510Sfk+fJCLCome Midnight

Publication Date: June 1st, 2021 (Today 🎉)

Genre: Suspense/ Thriller

Length: 84 Pages

A routine flight turns into a suspenseful race through the remote jungles of Honduras

When strangers Breanna Winters and Derek Stiles met on a flight to Colombia, they never imagined they would need to rely on each other for survival. Taken hostage by a group of radical environmental vigilantes, Bree worries her secret identity has been discovered—and her fears are confirmed when she learns a ransom request has been sent to her father. Though she’s the daughter of a prominent tech mogul, Bree’s wealth can’t guarantee her safety, so former Navy fighter pilot Derek pretends to be her fiancé in order to accompany her on a dangerous jungle trek led by the radicals. With chemistry building between the pair, a romance isn’t hard to fake, though they can’t let their attraction distract them. If Bree and Derek ever want to see civilization again, they’ll have to work together and rely on their wits to escape their captors.

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Excerpt

The sound of a baby’s high-pitched, incessant crying put his teeth on edge.  Derek Stiles forced himself to relax as he settled back in his wide business class seat.  The airplane engines hummed outside the window, dulling the noise a little, but the crying only grew louder.

Derek silently cursed.  His trip to Colombia had already gotten off to a rocky start when a meeting in the Houston office of Garrett Resources, where he worked as VP of Mergers and Acquisitions, ran overtime and he’d missed his non-stop flight.  Now he’d be landing in El Salvador, laying over a couple of hours before changing planes and continuing on to Bogota, not getting to his hotel until well after dark.

He pulled out his laptop and set it on the fold-down table in front of him.  He usually worked on a flight.  He always had plenty to do, but he’d been staying up late every night so he also needed some sleep.  It was important to be at the top of his game first thing in the morning.

The baby’s cries grew louder and his nerves revved up.  He hadn’t really noticed the woman sitting in the seat beside him until she stood up and turned toward mother and child in the row behind him. 

She jangled her car keys over the back of the seat and smiled.  “Look, baby.  Look at these.  I bet you’d like to play with these, wouldn’t you?”  The baby’s crying slowed, turned to whimpers, then sniffles, then stopped altogether.  Glancing over his shoulder, Derek watched a little girl bundled in pink, maybe a year old, reach up for the car keys.

“I never thought of that,” the mother said, sounding desperate and making him feel guilty.  He didn’t have kids but he could imagine how tough it would be to take a child on an international flight.

The mom, a black-haired woman in her mid-twenties, took out her own set of keys and held them up, but the baby ignored them, fascinated by the glittering heart on the end of the other keychain dangling in front of her.

“I hate to ask you this,” the mother said, “but is it all right if Sophie plays with your keys for a while?”

“Absolutely,” his seatmate said.  She was pretty, he realized, with long blond hair and big blue eyes.  A little above average height, slender but curvy in all the right places.  “Once we’re in the air,” she continued, “if you want me to hold her, give you a little break, I’d be happy to.”

The mother’s smile held relief mixed with gratitude.  “I might just take you up on that.  My name is Carmen, by the way.”

“Breanna.”  Her smile went even brighter and Derek felt an unexpected kick.  He was usually able to leave his libido behind when he was away on business. 

“You have a darling baby,” Breanna said.

Carmen smiled.  “Thank you.”

The flight attendant urged Breanna to sit back down so the flight could get underway, and the engines roared, preparing for take-off.

“So I guess you’re a mom,” Derek heard himself saying, though he made it a habit not to talk on a flight.  He always had too much to do.

Breanna shifted toward him.  “I’d love to have children someday, but I’m not a mother yet.  I work with kids so I know a few tricks.”

“What kind of work do you do?”

“I’m with a non-profit called Shelter the Children.  Abrego Los Ninos in Spanish.  We support an orphanage in a little village outside San Salvador.  That’s where I’m headed.”  

He smiled and held out a hand.  “Derek Stiles.  I know your name is Breanna.”

“Yes.  Everyone just calls me Bree.”

They were an hour out of San Salvador International Airport when Derek noticed a commotion at the rear of the cabin. 

Then the curtain behind the business class section jerked open and a lean, black-haired man stood in the aisle.  Derek’s blood ran cold when he noticed the assault rifle strapped across the intruder’s chest. 

Available on Amazon

About the Author

Kat Martin head shot (high res)

New York Times Bestselling author Kat Martin, a graduate of the University of California at Santa Barbara, currently resides in Missoula, Montana with Western-author husband, L. J. Martin.  More than seventeen million copies of Kat’s books are in print, and she has been published in twenty foreign countries.  Fifteen of her recent novels have taken top-ten spots on the New York Times Bestseller List, and her novel, BEYOND REASON, was recently optioned for a feature film.

Kat Martin | FacebookTwitter | BookBub

International Giveaway: $20 Amazon E-Gift Card & Digital Edition of The Ultimate Betrayal (Closes June 4th)

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Book Release & #Giveaway: The Tribesmen of Juno (The Survivors #3) by Robert I. Katz (May 25th) Genre: Sci-Fi/ Fantasy @robertikatz @RRBookTours1 #RRBookTours #BookBirthday

Today, we are celebrating the release of The Tribesmen of Juno by Robert I. Katz! It is the latest installment of his sci-fi series The Survivors. Read on for more details, a peek at the first chapter AND a chance to win some great prizes!

Tribesmen of Juno v.2.1The Tribesmen of Juno: The Survivors #3

Publication Date: May 25th, 2021

Genre: Sci-Fi/ Fantasy

Publisher: Rukia Publishing US

From USA Today bestselling author, Robert I. Katz, comes The Tribesmen of Juno, Book Three of The Survivors.

Thirty years ago, Terence Allen left his father’s home in the city of the Viceroy, and under the assumed name of Blake Pierce, gained both fame and fortune, first as a wandering ronin, then as a mercenary commander. Now, Blake Pierce is the Duke of Taverno, and he controls half the nation of Venecia.

Blake Pierce is a power in the world, but the cities that owe Taverno loyalty are being bribed to switch allegiance to his principal opponent, Benedetto Corsi, the Duke of Siena.

In far away Fomaut, the Primate has been assassinated. Wolford is beset by unknown forces.

All over the continent, unrest is stirring.

Men are digging into the ruins of the dead cities, seeking riches and the weapons of the nearly forgotten Empire. The industrial revolution encouraged by Blake is slowly grinding to a halt.

For three thousand years, the Viceroy has ruled over all the nations, rarely exerting his authority but tolerating no opposition to his reign. Only the Viceroy retains any remnant of the Ancient’s lost technology. Many men have tried to challenge the Viceroy. All have been crushed.

But the seven nations are stronger and richer than they were, and the Viceroy has expended much of his hoarded arsenal. Has the time come to finally throw off the Viceroy’s rule? Or will Taverno turn into just another dead, radioactive city?

Blake would prefer not to find out, but unseen forces are moving against him, and in the end, he may have no choice but to fight back or lose everything he has gained, including his life.

Chapter One

And so it came to pass in the thirtieth year of the reign of the Viceroy Gaius Tiberius VII that a rebellion arose from a minor princeling in the city of Poitiers. This princeling was tall and handsome, a writer of poetry and a singer of songs, unrivalled with a blade, strong with phrygium, quick with praise for the accomplishments of others. His people loved him and he had been told since he was a small child that he was destined for great things.

His rebellion was small, at first. He questioned the primacy of Inquisitoria over the spiritual needs of his people, arguing that a relationship with the creator could be forged by every individual through devout prayer and without the intercession of God’s anointed.

The Inquisitoria declared this to be heresy, but heresy, though frowned upon, is not forbidden. Only words that encourage active disobedience to Imperial edicts are forbidden. All other enquiry is allowed. The Prince’s thoughts, at first spoken, then written, and then disseminated throughout all the nations, were much discussed.

The Viceroy took no position on this issue.

But then, the Prince decreed that the mandate of heaven had fallen from the Viceroy, since the Empire from which the Viceroy’s authority derived had turned its face from this world. This was rebellion. This was not allowed. The Viceroy, ever merciful, gave the Prince a chance to repent. He refused.

The Viceroy then led an army to the gates of Poitiers and called upon the Prince to emerge, to recant his words and pay homage to his rightful overlord. Again, the Prince refused. The Viceroy, much saddened, returned with his army to the City of Varanisi.

The Prince, joyful in his defiance, decreed a celebration, and declared that the Viceroy’s rule was at an end.

One day later, an Earthquake shattered the city of Poitiers. A day after that, a ball of fire descended from the heavens upon whatever remained. The Prince and those few of his people who had not already abandoned him vanished in the conflagration.

The city of Poitiers no longer exists. Where it once stood, a blue, placid lake now fills a gigantic crater. Fish swim in the lake, but those who eat these fish grow ill. Their hair falls out. Their blood grows thin and pale and then oozes from their mouth and their eyes, and then they die, screaming in agony.

Three hundred years passed before the Viceroy’s rule was again challenged.

From: The Reign of the Viceroys of Gault, Third Edition, New Imperial Library, 4753

“Your Grace?”

Blake Pierce looked up. Colin McGregor insisted on following the rules of protocol and decorum, in public at least, and he did so with an unruffled air of gravity and calm. Colin had been with him for many years, first hired as the purser for Pierce’s Marauders, Blake’s former mercenary company, now serving as seneschal and principal advisor to the Duke of Taverno, Blake’s current and most illustrious title.

“Sit down, Colin.” Blake tapped a piece of parchment sitting on the table in front of him. “What do you make of this?”

Gingerly, Colin picked up the parchment, quickly scanned it, frowned, and then read it again. “Unfortunate,” Colin said.

Yes, the sudden death of Blake’s principal factor in the city of Mitre was “unfortunate.” Natural causes, supposedly. An elderly fellow, he went to sleep one night and didn’t wake up. Elderly, and fat, but he had been vigorous and had displayed no prior symptoms before suddenly dropping dead.

Unfortunate.

Mitre was a small city but strategically placed, at the confluence of two rivers providing excellent access to the sea and both isolated and partially defended by a range of encircling mountains. Three large passes cut through the mountains, all surrounded by steep cliffs. Easy enough to rain arrows, boulders or boiling oil down onto an invader. It would take a large and determined force to break through. Unfortunately for Mitre, a small but rich city with a tiny military of its own, at least three such armies were currently considering an invasion.

In years past, Mitre’s small military, combined with the difficulty of reaching the city, had been sufficient to keep them independent, but that was in the days when the King of Venecia aided in keeping the peace. The King was long dead and times had changed.

At least four different poisons could have killed silently in the night. Probably more. Blake was not an expert on poisons but as a sometime agent of the Viceroy, he knew the basics.

“Suggestions?” Blake asked.

Colin puffed up his cheeks and tapped a finger on the arm of his chair while his eyes wandered to the harbor outside the Castle windows. “This changes nothing. We’re offering Mitre protection and an alliance. Prudence would dictate their acceptance.”

“And yet it appears that a message has been delivered, one that the Elders of Mitre cannot fail to understand. They deal with us at their peril.”

Colin shrugged. “If they refuse to deal with us, they will suffer the fate of a thousand other conquered cities. That message, too, will be clearly understood.”

Blake sighed. “We shall see. It is up to them to decide.”

“And,” Colin added, “it is entirely possible that he did die from natural causes.”

Blake reluctantly grinned. “Make certain that an autopsy is performed, and that the results are made public. I expect that his heart has been weak for several years. His courage in performing his duties, suffering as he must have been, is an inspiration to us all.”

“Indeed,” Colin said.

“And give him a nice funeral.”

“Of course.”

Abel Barker knew a thousand ways to kill, but only a few of these left no distinguishing marks upon the body. Of these, poison was the least obvious but was often the most difficult to administer. Poison, to be effective, must be delivered to the body of one’s victim, which means that the assassin must have access to that victim, or must suborn someone in the victim’s circle.

Poison itself might leave no trace, but the method of delivery all too often left a trail.

Almost always better to mix violence with misdirection. Strangle a man, for instance, and then throw him off a tall building, or have him stumble at the edge of a cliff or leave him in the desert for the sand lizards to devour. Anything to destroy the evidence.

And if you don’t mind leaving questions behind, the body can simply disappear.

Poison, though, did have its uses. Sometimes, nothing else would do.

Abel Barker, for most of his life, had served the Viceroy. He had been recruited as a boy, having been discovered in his parent’s small village by a Finder team searching for children with the ability to weave soul-stuff. He had been brought to the Viceroy’s city, Varanisi, educated in the Viceroy’s scholium and been sworn to the Viceroy’s service. In this, he had not been given a choice. Abel Barker would, if necessary, die for the Viceroy. All of his classmates would.

In theory, change could be good, for the individual and for the society in which the individual lived, but more often than not, change brought instability, and the Viceroy prized stability. The Viceroy suffered no challenge to his own rule. After more than two thousand years, the Viceroy had managed to arrange things pretty much the way he wanted them.

Blake Pierce, or Terence Sergei Allen as he had once been known, had started a revolution. The Viceroy had reluctantly allowed that revolution to proceed. Blake Pierce had not been the first to mix the uses of phrygium with the ancient remnants of technology but in theory the innovations he had introduced would advance the Viceroy’s own goals upon this world.

Now, ten years later, the wasteland was filled with searchers, looking for they knew not what, hoping to strike it rich and ignoring the first lesson they had been taught as children, which was to avoid the dead cities.

Abel Barker crept among the trees. It was a dark, quiet night, warm with a light breeze. Somewhere, not far away, an owl hooted.

Seven men slept in the clearing. An eighth stood watch, sitting on a fallen log facing the woods. The sentry yawned, straightened his back and re-filled a ceramic mug with coffee from a pot simmering over a small fire.

Abel Barker’s night vision goggles gave him a clear view of the clearing. His hazmat suit protected him from residual radiation.

The ruins began less than a hundred meters from the clearing. A small city had once stood here. The city had not been physically destroyed. Neutron bombs, followed by radioactive dust, had killed off the population. Centuries later, most of the buildings had crumbled into rubble, but the rubble, and the dirt beneath the rubble, was still filled with both treasures and lingering poisons.

These men were digging for treasure. Unknown to themselves, they were finding poison. Idiots.

In the past ten years, hundreds of small teams, almost all of them poorly equipped and ignorant of the real risks, had decided to try their luck. The majority returned with little of value or did not return at all.

These men had already ingested sufficient ambient radiation to kill them, but it would kill them slowly, over months, perhaps even years. Slowly was not good enough for the Viceroy’s purpose.

Whistling under his breath, Abel Barker opened a small box, pressed a button and quickly retreated. Silently, odorless and invisible, a volatilized gas sprayed upward and then, blown by the breeze, drifted toward the campsite. The gas inhibited the action of acetylcholinesterase on neuromuscular junctions, preventing the breakdown of acetylcholine, the body’s principal neurotransmitter. The gas was readily absorbed, either through the lungs or the skin. The first symptoms of exposure included a runny nose, nausea, then, a few minutes later, difficulty breathing. Convulsions and death by asphyxiation would soon follow.

Not a pleasant way to die, but necessary. If any of their comrades came looking for them, the decomposing bodies of these men would serve to reinforce the lessons that they had been taught as children and foolishly chosen to ignore.

An hour later, it was done. Three of the seven had awakened after exposure. They had stumbled out of their tents, vomiting, hoarsely gasping for breath that would not come. They had tried to run but had fallen, twitched a few times, groaned, cried out, struggled and then died.

Abel Barker, a compassionate man (when allowed to be), regretted the actions that circumstances had forced him to take, but knew that good men are often compelled to unpleasant and otherwise regrettable deeds, for the greater good of us all.

Sad, Able Barker thought, but necessary.

An adversary is someone who wants the same things that you want. Nothing personal. It’s competition. You win some and you lose some. An enemy, on the other hand, wants you dead…because he hates you.

Benedetto Corsi was an adversary, not an enemy. Blake was happy about that. Corsi and Blake Pierce had struggled against one another for many years, and to some extent, each had enjoyed the rivalry. Blake had, at least, and he was fairly certain that Corsi had as well.

The same could not be said for Johannes Stryker, and even more so for Saverio Narcena.

Stryker was Corsi’s spymaster, a man whose emotions ran cold, at best, but Stryker, from what little Blake knew of him, took pride in his own intellect, in his objective evaluation of the world around him. Blake, by besting Corsi all those years ago with tactics that neither Corsi nor Stryker had foreseen, and thereby establishing himself as Corsi’s principal rival, had offended Stryker.

Narcena had other reasons to hate Blake. His reasons, in Blake’s estimation, were childish. Years ago, Blake had defeated him in battle, making him look foolish. Corsi had relieved him of command and placed him under Stryker’s tutelage—to learn wisdom. Narcena, in Blake’s estimation, should be thanking Blake for having shown him the error of his ways and setting him upon a path more in keeping with his talents. Narcena, or so Blake’s spies told him, saw things differently.

Blake stood on the highest balcony of Castle Taverno, looking up at the stars from which his ancestors had come, thousands of years ago, and brooded. Mitre was not the first small setback he had suffered. A message had indeed been delivered to the city fathers of Mitre. A similar message had been delivered to Blake. Those messages had been coming more often, their unmistakable sub-text growing louder and louder.

Stop.

Blake sighed. For many years, Blake had served as an agent of that stability the Viceroy so prized. He knew how things worked. He had never grown so complacent, however, as to think that he himself, and the others like him, represented the limits of the Viceroy’s reach.

Blake well remembered the meeting he had with the Viceroy, when blood feud had first been declared against him by Thierry Jorge Garcia. The Viceroy had gently and sadly explained to him that in the world outside Varanisi, his commands meant little. The Kings and Queens and leaders of the various nations paid lip service to the Viceroy’s primacy but had no hesitation in ignoring him when they felt like doing so.

The Viceroy had seemed so regretful at his inability to help, so sincere. Blake, being young and naïve, had believed him.

Each year, the Viceroy sent the finders abroad, looking for children with the talent to weave phrygium, soul-stuff as it was often called. The parents of such children were handsomely rewarded, the children taken to be educated and raised in the Viceroy’s palace, and once in the Viceroy’s palace, a worm was planted in their brains, a worm which grew and bored deep, doing no harm, but enforcing the Viceroy’s will. A neural web it used to be called, in the far-off and long vanished Empire of Mankind, a tool to control the victim’s behavior.

Tindall and Eliza, whose services the Viceroy had loaned him, were once such children. They had helped Blake achieve hegemony over half of Venecia but Blake had never taken their services or their loyalty for granted. Tindall and Eliza were loyal to the Viceroy. They had to be. They had been given no choice.

There were rumors of agents deeply planted in the bureaucracy of all seven nations, of secret assassination squads. Blake did not know for certain, but he suspected those rumors to be true.

Ambition had come slowly to Blake Pierce, once a satisfied, indolent young man named Terence Sergei Allen, but it had come. Seven men and women before him had discovered that phrygium could be used to power the technology of the ancients, something that the Viceroy in theory approved of and encouraged, but then, succumbing to pride and ambition, all seven had then set themselves against the Viceroy. That, at least, was the story. All seven were now dead and long since forgotten.

When you play a game that you cannot win, Blake thought, stop playing…or change the rules. Thousands of years ago, the commander of what was then the greatest military force ever assembled had said, “If you have a problem that you cannot solve, then make it a bigger problem.”

Blake had done his best to make the problem bigger. It remained to be seen what the Viceroy would do about it.

Available on Here (All Countries) and on Amazon

Towering Flame Final v.3The Towering Flame (The Survivors #1)

From USA Today bestselling author, Robert I. Katz, comes The Towering Flame, the first book in a brand new series, The Survivors.

Once, long ago, the Empire of Mankind spread among the stars, but the Empire fell into civil war and anarchy, leaving every human inhabited world across the galaxy to go its own way.

Today, after two thousand years of isolation, the Viceroy rules over seven nations on one long-abandoned planet. He alone possesses any vestige of the technology left behind by the vanished Empire and he uses it to rule with an iron fist in a velvet glove.

But below the surface, ambitious men are struggling for power and rebellion is simmering.

Terence Allen is the third son of a wealthy father. Terence is satisfied with his life. He has few responsibilities, fewer challenges and little desire to change.

Terence Allen is an unlikely catalyst for rebellion, but Terence’s destiny changes the moment he sees Thierry Jorge Garcia striding toward him one night at the Summer Fair in Varanisi, the Viceroy’s city. Thierry, the heir to a long-standing military tradition, will let nothing keep him from pursuing Irina Archer, the woman he had known and loved as a young man in far-off Cathay, the woman who is now Terence Allen’s fiancée.

The feud that results will have repercussions far beyond the borders of the city, as the seven nations seethe with conspiracies, rumors and strife. A war that has been brewing for over a century is coming, a war that will upend the foundations of both men’s world.

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Antiquarians GuildThe Antiquarians Guild (The Survivors #2)

Twenty years ago, Terence Allen left his father’s home in the city of the Viceroy, and under the assumed name of Blake Pierce, has gained both fame and fortune, first as a wandering ronin, then as a mercenary commander.

Since the king’s death, ten long years before, the nation of Venecia has fallen into chaos, as the smaller city-states strive to maintain independence and the stronger states try to conquer all the rest.

Blake Pierce’s company, Pierce’s Marauders, has entered into a contract to provide security for the city-state of Taverno, which is beset by numerous enemies, the most serious of which is Benedetto Corsi, the Duke of Siena.

But Blake is facing other challenges, some that he knows about, others that he merely suspects.

In far away Fomaut, the Primate and the leader of his armies, Alejandro Garcia, are digging in the ruins of dead cities, seeking the lost technology of the Ancients and preparing for war against their neighbors, while Davida Montoya, the woman Blake loves above all others, is still living in her father’s castle, refusing to join him until his wars are over…which, the way his career is going, may be never.

For Corsi, and his shadowy spymaster, Johannes Stryker, the Kingship of Venecia represents the culmination of their ambitions. For Blake Pierce, rule of Venecia is only one step toward his own secret goal: to free the world of Gault from the heavy-handed tyranny of the Viceroy, who has ruled the world for over 2000 years.

About the Author

Robert I Katz

I grew up on Long Island, in a pleasant, suburban town about 30 miles from New York City. I loved to read from a very early age and graduated from Columbia in 1974 with a degree in English. Not encouraged by the job prospects for English majors at the time, I went on to medical school at Northwestern, where in addition to my medical degree, I acquired a life-long love of deep dish pizza. I did a residency in Anesthesiology at Columbia Presbyterian and spent most of my career at Stony Brook, where I ultimately attained the academic rank of Professor and Vice-Chairman for Administration, Department of Anesthesiology.

When I was a child, I generally read five or more books per week, and even then, I had a dim sense that I could do at least as well as many of the stories that I was reading. Finally, around 1985, with a job and a family and my first personal computer, I began writing. I quickly discovered that it was not as easy as I had imagined, and like most beginning writers, it took me many years to produce a publishable work of fiction. My first novel, Edward Maret: A Novel of the Future, came out in 2001. It won the ASA Literary Prize for 2001 and received excellent reviews from Science Fiction Chronicle, InfinityPlus, Scavenger’s Newsletter and many others.

My agent at the time urged me to write mysteries, as mysteries are supposed to have a larger readership and be easier to publish than science fiction. Since I have read almost as many mysteries as science fiction and fantasy, and since I enjoy them just as much, I had no objection to this plan. The Kurtz and Barent mystery series, Surgical Risk, The Anatomy Lesson and Seizure followed between 2002 and 2009. Reviewers have compared them favorably to Patricia Cornwell and Robin Cook and they’ve received positive reviews from The Midwest Book Review, Mystery Review Magazine, Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, Lady M’s Mystery International, Mystery Scene Magazine, Library Journal and many others.

In 2014, I published a science fiction short story, “To the Ends of the Earth in the Deep Blue Sea” on Kindle for Amazon. Since then, I have made all of my previously published novels available for purchase on Kindle and now, in June, 2017 I am about to embark on a new venture. I will be publishing new novels on Kindle, the first of which is entitled The Cannibal’s Feast. It’s a science fiction story of corporate warfare in space. The next, coming out in early 2018, will be another science fiction novel tentatively entitled The City of Dust, a tale set on an abandoned world after the collapse of the First Interstellar Empire of Mankind.

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Book Release & Tour: Technopaladin: Clarity’s Edge by Elizabeth Corrigan @ERCorrigan @RRBookTours1 #RRBookTours #Books #Giveaway #Amazon #Scifi

Welcome to the tour for this exciting new YA Sci-Fi/ Fantasy, Technopaladin: Clarity’s Edge by Elizabeth Corrigan! Read on for an exclusive excerpt and a chance to win a $25 US Amazon E-Gift Card!

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Technopaladin: Clarity’s Edge

Publication Date: May 17th, 2021

Genre: YA Sci-Fi/ Fantasy

Clarity’s paladin order forbids her from entering the Azure District, the one location in her high tech city that refuses paladin rule and technology. When she receives an illicit invitation to violate the prohibition, spurred on by rumors of suffering in the district, she passes through the crumbling brick entryway into no-man’s land. Within, she finds the residents lack not only the ocular implants and three dimensional computers she takes for granted, but also medicine to fight a disease infecting the children.

Clarity knows her order isn’t perfect—after all, they stole her from her parents when she was a small child to raise her with their values—but she cannot believe they know what’s going on in the Azure District. When she confronts the head of the order, he refuses to aid people who have rejected his help in the past, even the children. Unwilling to take no for an answer, Clarity enlists the help of the leader’s son Cass and takes matters into her own hands.

Desperate both to cure the children and keep her place in the order that is her only home, Clarity engages in increasingly questionable behavior—deleting official records, lying to her friends, and manipulating people who can help her. As the nefarious nature of her actions tarnishes the purity of her cause, she must determine what it truly means to be a paladin, in both name and action.

Excerpt

“Come on, Clarity!” Hope grabbed Clarity’s hand and dragged her down Londigium’s main thoroughfare. The bright glare of the morning sun glinted off the silver skyscrapers and made some of the light-up signs in the storefronts difficult to read. Nonetheless, Clarity could make out the image of a dress on the digital placard of Hope’s destination.

            Clarity dodged to avoid running into some people going in the opposite direction from her. She tried to wrench her hand free of Hope’s grasp to give herself better maneuverability, figuring she could follow her friend’s gleaming, red-gold hair through the crowd, but Hope held tight. “Remind me again why we’re doing this? I don’t care about going to the gala, and I don’t see why I can’t just wear my official paladin armor.”

            “I swear, for someone so invested in her career, you can be dense about the things you need to do to advance it.” Clarity’s other friend Zeal tossed her black braids over her shoulder as she gave Clarity a scathing glance. “You have two weeks left until the gala, and Hope has convinced Steady Threads to make an exception to their usual deadlines and take an order for your dress. Try to be a little grateful.”

            “I’m a warrior.” Clarity cringed at the petulant tone in her voice but continued her line of argument anyway. “My job at the moment is just conducting training for the non-warrior paladins, but if and when I get promoted, I’m going to be a Citadel guard or a peacekeeper in the city. None of this has anything to do with looking pretty at a gala.”

            “Do I have to remind you why you put that ‘if’ in there?” Zeal asked. “You beat out the Grand Conductor’s son during graduation trials for a position at the Citadel.” Zeal was right. Steadfastness Hughes ran the Order of the Amethyst Star, and he hated Clarity. “You need to go to the gala and do some networking among the other warriors to make yourself popular in other circles. Or at least look appropriate so as not give him an excuse to send you off to the boondocks and install his son in your place.”

            “I know, I know. You’re right.” Clarity stumbled as Hope came to a sudden stop in front of the tailor’s shop. “I just feel more comfortable in my armor. The paladins already spent a lot of money getting us high-tech, retractable armor. I don’t see why they’re bothering to pay for dresses and tuxedos as well.”

            “Because it would be ridiculous to try dancing at a ball with your armor clanking everywhere, and the purple microfiber bodysuits underneath are not nearly as flattering as you all think they are,” Hope said, her voice containing an uncharacteristic tartness. “Besides, don’t you want to look amazing enough that Valor regrets breaking up with you just because you beat him in that silly contest?”

            “Don’t say that so loud.” Clarity glanced up and down the street, but no one she knew was nearby. “You guys are the only ones who know we broke up. Besides, I don’t think—”

            Before Clarity could finish her sentence, a man ran into her, practically shoving her into the store’s forcefield window. She and her friends turned in sync to watch a man in a fine suit run past them, knocking the crowd aside to get through. Behind him came a pair of men in armor as shiny as Clarity’s own, sufficiently far behind that the recovering throng on the street would be an impediment. By the time the paladin peacekeeper she recognized as Diligence noticed her and called, “Stop that man!” Clarity was already racing after him as best she could.

            The pursuant looked behind him and noticed a much closer paladin. With a curse, he tried to pick up speed, and when that failed, he turned a corner into what looked like a small alley. He must not know the city very well, Clarity thought. There’s an open air market on the other side of that building. He’s going to be easy to spot there.

Indeed, as she chased him between the skyscrapers, she could easily see his head bobbing amid the stalls. Realizing his mistake, he pushed over a table full of crates of apples, sending the green fruit rolling across the ground. Clarity didn’t miss a beat, leaping into the air above the overturned boxes and landing on her quarry in a tackle.

            The crowd had erupted into shocked gasps at the chase, but as Clarity pulled the man to his feet and twisted his arms behind his back, the crowd burst into applause. She heard the word “Azurite” murmured a few times, so she glanced down at his chest and saw that he in fact wore the telltale diamond-shaped, blue patch that marked him as a resident of the city’s Azure District. Everyone knew the Azurites hated paladins and the order they represented so much that they refused paladin technology rather than follow paladin laws. Clarity had heard rumors that people in the walled-off part of the city lived in abject poverty, but the man standing in front of her looked well-fed and clothed.

            Diligence and his partner jogged up behind Clarity. “Thanks for the assist,” Diligence said as he handcuffed the criminal. “We caught him trying to buy a slew of weapons on the black market. The dealer was smart enough to try to make a deal, but this idiot ran.”

            Wow. Clarity had known she was chasing down a criminal, but she’d had no idea he was such a dangerous one.

            “If you want paladin tech, all you have to do is submit to the laws of the city,” Diligence said to his prisoner. Then he turned to the farmer whose apple crates remained upside down on the ground. “If you file a report with the Citadel, the order will reimburse you for your damaged merchandise. We apologize for interfering with your business.”

Available

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About the Author

Author Pic

Elizabeth Corrigan has degrees in English and psychology and has spent several years working as a data analyst in various branches of the healthcare industry. When she’s not hard at work on her next novel, Elizabeth enjoys playing tabletop role-playing games and cooperative card games. She refuses to watch most internet videos and is pathologically afraid of bees. She lives in Maryland with two cats and a very active iphone.

Elizabeth Corrigan | Twitter | Facebook

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Happy Publication Day! Takakush by Raine Reiter: Book Blitz & #Giveaway! @rainereiter @RRBookTours1 #RRBookTours #Takakush

Today we’re celebrating the release of this beautiful new dark Fantasy, Takakush by Raine Reiter!

You can also win a signed copy of this stunner below!

Takakush-Kindle

Takakush: Genus Magic #1

Publication Date: January 25th, 2021 (Today 🎉)

Genre: Mature YA/ NA/ Urban (Dark) Fantasy

When Professor Elena Lukas returns to her cozy Pacific Northwest hometown with a broken heart, she’s plunged back into the fate she tried to escape. Like her mother and grandmother before her, Elena must now dedicate her life to a powerful ancient Lithuanian goddess. Although she is prepared to live as a priestess hiding in a contemporary tourist town, she arrives to find that a series of so-called animal attacks have terrorized her forest.

With the help of a handsome detective from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, Elena uses her expertise in invasive and endangered species to identify that these are no normal animal attacks. The woods are stalked by a dark, mystical creature bent on ravaging the area in an attempt to quell its insatiable hunger. When her little sister goes missing, Elena realizes that the beast can only be vanquished if she is brave enough to face it in-person, embrace her identity as a high priestess, and expose her powers to the man she is growing feelings for.

Raine Reiter weaves together an empowered, female-centered narrative with rich descriptions of nature and an ever-present sense of mystery. Her vivid, flowing prose takes readers of dark fantasy into a world that looks and feels real, while still evoking the enticing paranormal creativity shared by authors such as Richelle Mead and Kat Richardson.

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About the Author

Raine cavorts in the wilds of Washington’s Olympic Peninsula with her dog, Luke, and writes Northwest Gothic. Her first novel Takakush will be published on Amazon in January 2021. This is the first book in the Genus Magica Series.

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