Welcome to another Fantasy Friday with author Anne Brooke, who's sharing her new release, The Gifting!  She has a wonderful giveaway to go along with today's post -- be sure to check it out!

The mind-dwellers of Gathandria are under deadly siege. For two year-cycles they have suffered: their people decimated, their beautiful city in ruins. Their once peaceful life has descended into chaos and misery. Legends tell of the Lost One who will return at such a time to save them from their mortal enemy – the mind-executioner. This enemy knows their ways well, for he was once an elder of the city. Time is running out.

Johan and Isabella take up the quest, journeying to the Lammas Lands searching for their distant cousin and lowly scribe, Simon Hartstongue. The elders dare to hope that he is whom they seek. Not everyone shares this hope; there is one amongst them who is bound to the enemy, shielding their secret thoughts from mind links while seeking to betray Simon.

Powerful lessons are learned as they travel through the mystical kingdoms of the Mountains, the Air, the Desert and the Waters. Deadly attacks threaten total annihilation and devastating sorrow strikes. Story-telling weaves a tenuous net of protection around them, but the enemy has absolute power with the stolen mind-cane in his possession. To his surprise Simon hears its song. Desperately he tries to understand and embrace his gifting, as he struggles to comprehend his inheritance.

A strong and pure mind is needed in the battle to defeat the enemy. If you are branded a coward, a murderer and an outcast, how can you be a saviour? Doubt creeps into the Gathandrians' minds. Is Simon truly the One?

Anne is going to tell us about a little of her inspiration for The Gifting.  Welcome, Anne, and thanks for stopping in today!  

With Grateful Thanks to Thomas Covenant

A large part of my late teenage years was spent devouring the wonderful Thomas Covenant novels by Stephen Donaldson. I couldn’t get enough of the unbelieving leper and his fantastical world, and still think he’s one of the most complex literary men I’ve ever read. The world of Thomas became one I thought a lot about both in my teenage years and in young adulthood, though later on the busyness of life got in the way and, in some ways, I moved on to other interests and hobbies.

Thomas never really went away though; he had captivated me far too much for that. So I shouldn’t have been surprised that when I began writing fantasy novel The Gifting, the first in my Gathandrian Trilogy, the character of Simon the Scribe took some of his attributes from the wonderful Thomas. A few readers have already picked this up with Nithu commenting in a 4-star review at Goodreads: “I loved Simon, in particular. He reminded me of Thomas Covenant - almost an anti-hero. A very flawed individual who is his own worst enemy.”

Certainly Simon, as an itinerant scribe who is a murderer and a self-confessed coward, is very much his own worst enemy. Like Thomas, he is taken away from his familiar though terrifying world, and deposited in an unfamiliar and very challenging one, and he must come to terms with the gift he has been given in order to become the man he was meant to be.

His story however is a very different one. The worlds he travels between exist in the same universe, although the city of Gathandria is very different to the rural landscape of Lammas, where Simon lives. And Simon must endure four elemental tests – earth, air, fire, and water – in order to examine the purity of his own heart and to bring about the salvation of the war-torn lands. Not only that, but his two greatest enemies, Gelahn the mind-executioner and his former Lammas Overlord Ralph Tregannon, are in close pursuit and if they find him have sworn to murder him. Here’s a scene, where Simon is in hiding, in terror of potential discovery:


When Simon woke, the darkness this time was complete; velvet and damp against his skin. His dreams had shaken him, but he couldn’t remember them now. There was no fire, no line of light. He struggled against the dark, trying to blink it away, and stretched out his hand. At once he touched warm cloth and leather. The next second, fingers were jammed over his mouth and the word Hush echoed around his thoughts. Closing his eyes, Simon tried to calm his breathing and be still.

For a few moments, all was silence. Then, as if from a great distance, he could hear rustling and the murmur of voices. A river of sound, flowing steadily towards them, intent on its own mysterious purpose. Squeezing his eyes more tightly shut, he let his mind focus on the approaching people, trying to find the reason for their being here. Outside, the night was cold.

It was against the law to travel after sunset in any of the Lammas Lands. Or indeed any other, he imagined, though he could not have confirmed that view; nobody travelled in either the northern mountains or the southern mud plains anymore. Sometimes, people journeyed at night alone, but only if they wanted to disappear, and never in groups. As, in his mind, Simon came towards them, the whispering grew louder, a low murmur contrasted with the occasional screech of a wood-owl disturbed at the hunt. He didn’t dare drift too close, in case Ralph was among them and might sense it. The Lammas Master’s presence, after all, would give the group protection. As Simon once had claimed it.

At last he was near enough to see them, but not so near for some to know it. There were six of them, two carrying small torches, their fire flickering in the intermittent gusts of night breeze. Ralph was not there. Simon recognised the blacksmith, wrapped in a thick woollen cloak, and one or two of the other villagers. As Thomas moved, his cloak swung a little to the side, and something sparkled. For a moment Simon didn’t understand what it was and then he saw the silver decoration on the knife handle. The blacksmith had never been armed before. It was not proving to be a good day.

But there was more to come. A fact he hadn’t anticipated, although if he’d been more awake he might have been prepared.

In the middle of the group stood Gelahn, the mind-executioner.

With a sudden gasp, Simon was flying back to the safety of his body, his mind whipped by the freezing wind, his thoughts stumbling over themselves in their panic to be gone, surely leaving behind a thousand signals telling Gelahn he’d been there. How could he have been so stupid? The mind- executioner had wanted to kill him before. Surely Simon should have known he’d seek him out to finish the task? And, after that, his apprentice also? Simon hoped not with all his soul.

He came to in the cave again. They were not that far away. In the transition between being outside his body and being within it, he couldn’t help the groan that escaped his lips. The fingers still on his mouth pressed harder and he could feel the beat of his companion’s heart. He knew it was the man. Not Isabella.

Before he could say a word, try to explain what he’d seen in the forest, there came from outside the sound of a shout quickly stifled and the thud of feet on rock. They’re climbing up here, Simon thought. They’re climbing. He must prepare to fight, though the gods knew he was never a fighting man. Hush. The word came again, somehow spinning through his head in a way it shouldn’t have been able to. The sense of swift movement behind, something exchanged with—whom? Isabella? He couldn’t tell—and then Simon’s mind was being sealed in by the kind of power he’d never experienced before. Cut off so no outside force could find it. Whoever this stranger was who’d brought him here, his skills were beyond understanding because in spite of the fact that he was now somehow safe in spirit, if not in body, from any detection, he could still hear what was happening at the entrance to the cave. But all impressions slid together, defying logic.

A flood of noise. Words melding into nonsense. Another language. Men’s breathing. The stark smell of sweat. Aching muscles, a muttered curse. White fingers slowly running along the cave’s entrance. A foot poised to take another step forward. Gelahn. Simon knew it. And then, far worse than all these, a deep, deep silence.

A silence in which Simon was totally alone. The hand over his mouth was a thousand miles away, and he was lost in an unknown wilderness. Not even the sound of his own breathing reached him. Was this what death meant?

And then, as if one minuscule piece of his mind had been opened to sunlight, the blankness around him slowly took on a subtle change in colour. Simon drew a shaking breath into his lungs. And then another. And no swift pulse of pain rose up to meet him. Instead, the familiar furnishings of his mind stepped, one by one, back into place. His memories, his beliefs, his knowledge of himself. His thoughts stretched in delight at their rediscovered freedom...

They took him into his immediate surroundings without having to move or even open his eyes. Although it was still night, Simon could see everything as if it was bathed in rich morning sun; Isabella in a brown tunic and skirt, her blonde hair dark with sweat as she hugged herself tight and shivered. The man whose name Simon didn’t yet know leaning back against the cave wall, panting with effort.

At last the man released him.

The stranger ran his hands upwards over his face and through his short black hair. His blue eyes flickered upwards, but by then Simon didn’t need to see them to know who he was.

The stranger at his home. The one who’d arrived with Thomas to take him. The one with the knife.

The scribe gasped, and plummeted once again back into his skin. At the sound, the man looked at Simon. His eyes were expressionless and calm. “My name is Johan,” he said. “Johan Montfort. Isabella is my sister.”


At the same time, not all the focus is on Simon. The action also shifts between Johan and Isabella, two of Simon’s Gathandrian companions on his epic journey as in the above extract, and we see key scenes in the city of Gathandria itself, through the viewpoint of Annyeke Hallsfoot, Johan’s closest friend. My aim is to slowly draw these different narrative strands together until the final confrontational scenes at the end of the book. So in many ways, the story belongs to them all, not just to one man. Much like life itself ...

Happy reading!

Giveaway competition details:

The giveaway competition: the prize is ONE Kindle ereader worth £89 if these three questions about The Gifting are answered correctly:

1. In the beginning of Chapter Four, what sound is Simon first aware of when he wakes up?

2. At the start of the Third Gathandrian Interlude, who knocks Annyeke down in his desperation to reach her?

3. What happens to Simon at the end of Chapter Six?

Answers should be sent to albrookeATmeDOTcom (and NOT left on the post), and winners will be notified as soon as possible after the tour ends.

There is also a Runner-Up Prize of THREE eBooks from my backlist (not including The Gifting) to one lucky commenter from the whole blog tour. Good luck!  Follow the tour!  The more you comment, the better your chances of winning!  Complete tour dates can be found here.

More About Anne:
Anne Brooke’s fiction has been shortlisted for the Harry Bowling Novel Award, the Royal Literary Fund Awards and the Asham Award for Women Writers. She has also twice been the winner of the national DSJT Charitable Trust Open Poetry Competition.

She is the author of six published novels, including her fantasy series, The Gathandrian Trilogy, published by Bluewood Publishing and featuring scribe and mind-reader Simon Hartstongue. More information on the trilogy is available at: www.gathandria.com and the first of these novels is The Gifting. In addition, her short stories are regularly published by Riptide Publishing, Amber Allure Press and Untreed Reads.

Anne has a secret passion for theatre and chocolate, preferably at the same time, and is currently working on a fantasy novella, The Taming of the Hawk. More information can be found at www.annebrooke.com and she regularly blogs at: http://annebrooke.blogspot.com.

You can also stay in touch via:

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Hi all!  Tuesday Teaser time again, and I'm sharing the opening chapters of Immortal Surrender.

If you'd like to catch up on the previous teasers:

Immortal Surrender Prologue
Immortal Surrender Chapter One

Diving right in....

Immortal Surrender
The Curse of the Templars, Book II
September 25, 2012

Farran de Clare, loyal member of the cursed Knights Templar, wants nothing to do with predestined mates. Even the Almighty won’t turn him into a fool again—he’d rather sacrifice his soul. Yet in the scientist Noelle Keane, a devout atheist, Farran meets the seraph designed for him.

Ordered by the archangel Gabriel to protect Noelle, the possessor of a sacred relic that could give Azazel incredible power, Farran swears to do his duty—but in name only. Fighting an attraction that grows with each day, he’s determined that he’ll never pledge himself to her.

As they war over her future, their mutual passion ignites a conflict far more damning. But before Noelle will agree to eternity with him, she demands the ultimate sacrifice – his heart.


Chapter 2

Farran curled his fingers around the steering wheel as Noelle’s perfume assaulted his nose. The faint sweet scent of jasmine soaked into the air, making it impossible to pretend she did not sit beside him.

A woman. A cursed woman. He had been sent to guard the Sudarium, not to act as maid to a woman. God’s teeth, did Gabriel seek to punish him? For what, Farran could not fathom. Yet he could think of no other reason the archangel would assign him to such a menial task.

Aware he could not sit in the parking lot forever, he slid his gaze sideways to the wench occupying his passenger’s seat. “Where is your apartment?”

“Go right at the end of the block, left at the next, and left on the third block. It’s the town house without Christmas lights.” She did not look at him, rather kept her gaze fastened out the side window. Still, he could not help but notice the way she slunk down further into her seat.

Good. So she sensed he cared not for this distraction from his purpose. If he had known Gabriel intended to have him serve as chauffer, he would have insisted on staying in the stronghold with the other Templar knights. Whilst their commander, Merrick, healed, there was much Farran needed to do.

Tamping down a rush of annoyance, he shifted the SUV into drive and eased onto the gas. Would that this chore ended quickly, for he could not stomach hours of idleness. Not when so much lay at stake. Not when they had all been warned Azazel would attempt to take the

Sudarium. The master of darkness coveted the cloth’s power. ’Twould give him another victory in his quest to overthrow the Almighty. Whilst Lucan could fend off a great many of Azazel’s demons, if Azazel sent a fallen Templar knight, ’twould take both their swords to protect the holy cloth.

He glanced through the rearview mirror into the backseat, ensuring Lucan had not forgotten his blade. Only one silver scabbard sat in sight, and Farran allowed the tension in his shoulders to dissipate. He would speak with Gabriel on his return and make his displeasure known. Until that time arrived, however, there was naught he could do except cart the woman where she instructed.

They drove in silence, a welcome sound to Farran’s ears. The less she engaged him in conversation, the better. If not for the subtle aroma of her perfume when she shifted, he could dismiss her presence. At least Gabriel had not sent a comely wench to torment him. This one’s brown ponytail did not taunt. Her oversized coat did not cling to shapely curves. And her complete lack of conversation did not plague him with the need to find words he did not wish to speak.

As he wound down the twisting residential street, she pointed at an aged, brown brick building. “It’s there.”

Farran pulled to the curb and shut the engine off. She gathered her purse to her chest with one hand, opened the door with the other. “I need to shower. I’ll be a little while. You want something to eat? Or drink?”

Nay, he wanted neither. But Gabriel had ordered him to not stray from her side. He dared not linger outside. He let out an exasperated sigh and opened his door. “I will have water.”

Noelle rounded the front of the car, leading the way up the building’s front steps. As she bounced up the snow-covered stairs, her ponytail bobbed against the middle of her back, catching the rays of afternoon sunlight. Farran’s gaze fixed on the unexpected, reddish brown sheen. ’Twas not the color of a mouse’s coat after all. A most startling discovery, for naught about the tiny little woman had caught his attention upon first meeting. Naught beyond her wire-rimmed glasses and the passing thought he knew no woman who preferred the bits of glass to contacts.

She punched her pass code into the security system, and the bolt on the doors clicked open. He followed wordlessly down the hall, up another fl ight of stairs. She unlocked her apartment and entered, leaving him to shut the door.

Inside, Farran halted. The apartments he frequented were small, unlike the vast expanse of her front room. Polished planks of wood adorned the floor, and where he had anticipated crisp modern furniture and appliances, he found simplicity. A couch, a coffee table, a plush rug. He glanced around, noting the same lack of frivolity applied to her dining area, the sparse but tasteful hangings on her walls. Even the open kitchen, he noted, held naught that could be considered luxury.

Not what he expected to find in Washington, D.C.

Nor had he expected to find a gray cat lounging in the nearby chair.

He blinked as Noelle scooped up the feline and buried her nose in its fur. “Hey, fella.” The way she nuzzled her cheek against the cat’s head and closed her eyes struck a chord of dissonance deep inside his soul. ’Twas so tender, so natural, he felt at once out of place. Oversized. Too harsh.

When she opened her eyes and her gaze met his, Farran realized he stared. He gave her a curt nod, then distanced himself by sitting on the couch. A colorful magazine atop her coffee table caught his eye, and he picked it up to thumb through it whilst she attended to her affairs.

From the kitchen, he recognized the sound of a can opener. The anxious meows that accompanied the noise told him her pet expected dinner. A plate clattered onto the countertop. Silverware pinged against the dish.

“Here you go, Scat Cat.”

Scat—what manner of person named her pet the very word meant to drive a cat away? For some unexplainable reason, the oddity of her chosen name amused him. Long dead humor stirred, and he felt the corners of his mouth twitch. Listening with more interest, he tracked her movements through the house. Behind him, she shrugged out of her coat. After she entered the kitchen once again, ice cubes plinked against glass. The sound of running water blended with the melodic sound of her voice as she hummed a tune he did not recognize.

Her footsteps approached the couch. Her perfume tickled his nose. She leaned over his knee and set the glass of water on the polished tabletop. “Are you sure I can’t get you anything else?”

Farran’s heart skidded to a stop as her gaze locked with his. Her glasses removed, eyes the color of a doe’s hide and every bit as soft drew him in. They shone with warmth, a natural friendliness that her silence obscured. Where he had thought her plain less than thirty minutes previous, he looked upon features as delicate as porcelain. Creamy skin bore no mark of time, no suggestion of a hardened life—unlike the whores he entertained himself with. Neat white teeth peeked behind full lips as she offered him a hesitant smile. And her nose possessed just enough uplift at the tip to belie a spriteful spirit.

Jesu, Gabriel tortured more severely than the days spent in the strappado at the Inquisition’s mercy.

“Nay,” he grit out through clenched teeth.

Even his traitorous wife did not compare to the picture of loveliness that stood at his side. Especially when he considered the twinkle in Noelle’s eyes. Nay, that foul creature he married centuries ago had never held such sunlight in her stare.

He jerked his gaze away at the tightening of his gut.

“You don’t talk much, do you?” she asked as she vanished behind him.

The same could be said for her. Yet, at her subtle rebuke, the discomfort in his gut intensified. He had no cause for rudeness. ’Twas no more her fault he sat here than Lucan’s. He set the magazine aside and pulled in a deep breath. “I have little to say.”

“I see that.”

As the silence lapsed between them, Farran’s mind wandered to the temple and his fellow knights. Were he with them, he would no doubt be aiding Merrick in teaching Lady Anne the use of a sword. In comparison to spending an afternoon with that particular woman, this one seemed much more benign. The last time he had cause to spar with Anne, he could not walk right for three days, such was the damage her knee did to his groin.

Aye, mayhap he could suffer worse assignments than guarding Noelle. ’Twould be a short reprieve from the duties of his immortal cause. Here he would not confront Azazel’s creatures and would not wonder if the next battle would be his last.

He listened to the sound of running water and laid his head on the back of the couch. Closing his eyes, he sought a moment’s rest. But behind his lowered eyelids, those fawn brown eyes gleamed bright. He snapped upright with a mutter and snatched the magazine back into his lap. Damnation, he did not need this distraction. Nor did he desire it. He belonged with Lucan, protecting the Almighty’s sacred treasure. The sooner he delivered Noelle to the airport, the sooner he could return to usefulness.


Come back next week for more of Chapter 2!

Like what you're reading?  PRE-ORDER NOW!


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Hi all!  Changing it up from Farran and Noelle, to give you a peek at Farran's comrade's reactions to his ... ah... situation!


“She belongs to Farran.”

At Merrick’s proclamation, Caradoc sat upright. Jaw slack, he stared at their commander. “You cannot be serious.”

“Aye, I am. He dropped the phone and has not seen fit to make a return call. His swearing made me suspicious.   ~~~~~

Coming, September 25th
Farran de Clare, loyal member of the cursed Knights Templar, wants nothing to do with predestined mates. Even the Almighty won’t turn him into a fool again—he’d rather sacrifice his soul. Yet in the scientist Noelle Keane, a devout atheist, Farran meets the seraph designed for him.

Ordered by the archangel Gabriel to protect Noelle, the possessor of a sacred relic that could give Azazel incredible power, Farran swears to do his duty—but in name only. Fighting an attraction that grows with each day, he’s determined that he’ll never pledge himself to her.

As they war over her future, their mutual passion ignites a conflict far more damning. But before Noelle will agree to eternity with him, she demands the ultimate sacrifice – his heart.


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Morning, everyone!  I'd like you all to give a warm welcome to Laura Bickle, who's sharing The Hallowed Ones with us today.  I'm again on a cover squee -- look at it!  It just sucks you right in and makes you want to start turning pages.

The Hallowed Ones

If your home was the last safe place on earth, would you let a stranger in?

In this captivating thriller, an Amish settlement is the last safe haven in a world plagued by an unspeakable horror…

Katie is on the verge of her Rumspringa, the time in Amish life when teenagers are free to experience non-Amish culture before officially joining the church. But before Rumspringa arrives, Katie’s safe world starts to crumble. It begins with a fiery helicopter crash in the cornfields, followed by rumors of massive unrest and the disappearance of huge numbers of people all over the world. Something is out there...and it is making a killing.

Unsure why they haven’t yet been attacked, the Amish Elders make a de-cree: No one goes outside their community, and no one is allowed in. But when Katie finds a gravely injured young man lying just outside the boundary of their land, she can’t leave him to die. She refuses to submit to the Elder’s rule and secretly brings the stranger into her community—but what else is she bringing in with him?

  I have read one Amish romance / fiction and it was wonderful.  This one sounds ten times better, to be honest.  I love the fact it is darker than many.  And Laura is going to talk to us about darkness today.  So with much ado, I turn the blog over to her.  
Relative Darkness
By Laura Bickle

Darkness is different for every person, in every place.

I live in a city. Even when the moon is new, it never gets completely dark here. From my window, I can see my neighbors’ porch lights, headlights on the freeway, and the illuminated sign of a hospital. There’s enough light to see by if I forget to take out the trash. The glow from the city blots out all but a handful of stars.

But I have no illusions about my safety. I would probably not walk alone down the street in this grey gloom. If I did, I’d be vigilant. I’d scurry out and back, watching carefully over my shoulder. I wouldn’t linger – I’d be relieved to make it back to the pool of light surrounding my porch.

For the protagonist of THE HALLOWED ONES, darkness is something else altogether. Katie is an Amish girl living in a Plain community. There are no lights in houses, no cars with sweeping headlights. No electricity. Her night, in the rural countryside, is soft and total. She can see the stars and the broad river of the Milky Way above her.

Katie has never feared darkness. She and the night are old friends. In winter, she completes her farm chores long after the sun has set. She has never feared anything the shadows hold – not the deer, the bats, nor the rabbits. Not even coyotes. She knows everyone in her community by name, and has nothing to fear from any of them.

She has never feared the night – not until now.

Katie’s safe world starts to crumble. It begins with a fiery helicopter crash in the cornfields near her house, followed by rumors of violence and the disappearance of large numbers of people in the world outside her community. Something is out there, something that kills under the cover of night. Unsure why they haven’t been attacked, the Amish Elders make a rule: No one goes outside their gates, and no one is allowed in.

When Katie finds a gravely injured young man lying just outside the boundary of their land, she can’t leave him to die. She refuses to submit to the Elders’ decree, secretly bringing the stranger in to her community. But what else is she bringing in with him?

Katie will come to understand the threat of darkness, both from within her community and Outside. She will discover that the night holds many things to fear, both from the unknown and the people she has trusted her whole life.


Frankly, the more I hear, the more I wish I wasn't buried under deadlines and could set everything aside and read it now.  Let's take a peek though, together.  (FYI Laura provided the full Chapter 1, but for spacial reasons, I've cut it at an excellent hook.  The opening is brimming with beautiful descriptions and simply warms your heart.)


We were a good-size settlement of Plain folk, about seventy families, spread over half a county. We had heard rumors of other Plain communities that were shrinking, owing to the youth and the spell of Rumspringa. And there were tales of other communities that grew so fast, there was no farmland for young families. But not ours. Ours had remained the same size and shape as far back as anyone could remember. There always seemed to be enough land for everyone to have at least forty acres to farm, if they wanted it.

And everyone seemed happy, unaffected by the schisms that seemed so common in other Amish settlements. The Bishop said that was because we stuck to the old ways. Everyone knew what was expected of us. There was no renegotiation of rules every time some new technology flew up a bonnet. The Ordnung was the Ordnung. Period. And we had been rewarded for following the Ordnung: there was always enough work and food and spouses and land for everyone. God provided for his people.

The pumpkin patch that my little sister tended was nearly as ripe as Sunny with distended gourds. There was one particularly large monster of a pumpkin that Sarah had a special fondness for. Twice daily she squatted beside it, whispering to it and petting it. Whatever she was doing seemed to be working — the pumpkin was easily over a hundred pounds, with another month to go before it would be severed from the vine.

Mrs. Parsall leaned against the bumper of her old blue station wagon. She pulled her keys from her pocket, gave me a one-armed hug. “You take care of yourself, kiddo.”

I grinned against her shoulder. But something dark against the blue sky caught my attention. I squinted at it, first thinking it to be a bird. But it wasn’t a bird at all.

I stepped back from Mrs. Parsall, pointing at the sky. “Look!”

A dark dot buzzed overhead, growing larger. It was a helicopter, flying so low that I could hear the whump-whump-whump of its blades. It was painted green with a white cross on the side, seeming to wobble in the blue.

Mrs. Parsall shaded her eyes with her hands, shouting to be heard above the roar. “It’s Life Flight.”

“It’s a what?”

“It’s a medical helicopter. From a hospital.”

“It shouldn’t be doing that, should it?”

“Hell, no. It — ”

The helicopter veered right and left, as if it were a toy buffered by a nonexistent tornado. The breeze today was calm, stirred by the helicopter blades and the roar. I thought I saw people inside, fighting, their silhouettes stark through a flash of window, then lost in the sun. The helicopter made a shrieking sound, the whump-whump-whump plowing through the air as it bumped and bucked. It howled over us, so close that I could have reached out and touched it if I’d been standing on the roof of our house.

Mrs. Parsall grabbed me and flung me to the ground. I shoved my bonnet back from my brow in enough time to see the helicopter spiral out of control, spinning nose over tail into a field. It vanished above tall tassels of corn.

For a couple of heartbeats, I saw nothing, heard nothing.

Then I felt the impact through my hands and the front of my ribs, bit my tongue so hard I could taste blood.

Black smoke rose over the horizon.

“Oh no,” Mrs. Parsall gasped.

I scrambled to my feet, began to run. I heard Mrs. Parsall behind me, the jingle of her purse strap. I dimly registered her voice shouting into her cell phone. I ran toward the fire, across the grass. I swung myself up and over the barbed-wire fence, mindless of the scratching on my hands and in my skirt.

I plunged into the stalks of corn, taller than me, following the smell of smoke and the distant crackle of fire. I was conscious of the brittle yellow stalks tearing at me as I passed and realized that they were too flammable this far into the season. If the fire got loose in the corn, we’d have no way to stop it.

But my immediate concern was the people on the helicopter.

I ripped through the field and shoved aside blackened stalks of corn to view the site of the crash. The heat shimmered in the air, causing my eyes to tear up. I lifted my apron to cover my nose against the smell of oily smoke.

Fire seethed above me in a black and orange plume, curling around the husk of the dead helicopter. The bent and broken tail jutted out from the ground at an odd angle. The cockpit had broken open, flames streaming through the broken glass.

And I swore I saw something moving inside.


About the Author  
Laura Bickle's professional background is in criminal justice and library science. When she's not patrolling the stacks at the public library, she can be found reaming up stories about the monsters under the stairs. She has written several contemporary fantasy nov-els for adults, and THE HALLOWED ONES is her first young adult novel. Laura lives in Ohio with her husband and five mostly-reformed feral cats. For more about Laura, please visit her website at: www.laurabickle.com.

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Hi everyone!  It's Tuesday and we're returning to the world of cursed Templar Knights, with Immortal Surrender.

If you missed the first part, you can check it out here:

Immortal Surrender Prologue

Now, let's dive in again!

Immortal Surrender
The Curse of the Templar, Book II
September 25, 2012

Farran de Clare, loyal member of the cursed Knights Templar, wants nothing to do with predestined mates. Even the Almighty won’t turn him into a fool again—he’d rather sacrifice his soul. Yet in the scientist Noelle Keane, a devout atheist, Farran meets the seraph designed for him.

Ordered by the archangel Gabriel to protect Noelle, the possessor of a sacred relic that could give Azazel incredible power, Farran swears to do his duty—but in name only. Fighting an attraction that grows with each day, he’s determined that he’ll never pledge himself to her.

As they war over her future, their mutual passion ignites a conflict far more damning. But before Noelle will agree to eternity with him, she demands the ultimate sacrifice – his heart.


Chapter 1

“How’s it feel to prove the existence of Christ?”

The wavering masculine voice invaded Noelle Keane’s laboratory as a door clicked shut. She looked over her shoulder to greet aging archaeologist Gabriel San Lucee with a smile. “Morning, Gabriel.” She turned back to the cloth.

Thirty-three inches of fragile cloth swathed the laboratory table. Laid out with less care than anyone had given the delicate weave in centuries, it bore dark stains in the wrinkled center, telltale marks of its original insignificance. But though it had once been little more than a scrap meant for the trash, millions revered it. Now the flimsy piece of material would gain more respect and attract thousands of devotees. All in the name of a mythical being who no one could prove existed.

Noelle ran her gloved hand across the rough surface, smoothing out wrinkles that would never see an iron. In her other hand, she held a typed printout of her carbon-dated findings. The evidence was there, and yet all it proved was that the Sudarium of Oviedo covered a body in the approximate year 33.

Not what body. Not which month. Not even where it had been used. Supposition laid claim to all those things. Scientific fact, however, verified only its age. That and the blood type AB. All the rest of the findings—such as pollen type and traces of myrrh that had been verified in the midnineties—could relate to any number of ancient funerary practices in Palestine.

She folded it into a loose square, small enough to fit into the airtight canister that protected it.

“You didn’t answer my question.” Pulling on gloves, Gabriel joined her at the table and leaned a hip on the edge. He extended a wrinkled hand toward the metal container. “May I hold it?”

She passed him the canister. “I haven’t proved Christ existed. Until they dig up his bones, that won’t happen. And even if they do dig up his bones, barring your God suddenly appearing to tell us otherwise, we can’t prove the bones are Jesus Christ’s.”

He clucked his tongue as he pulled the veil-thin cloth out and draped it between his palms. “You still haven’t come to see the truth?”

“The truth is here.” Noelle wagged her paper beneath his nose. “Black and white.”

A lazy grin crinkled the corners of his gray-blue eyes. He put the Sudarium back into the canister and reverently set it in the middle of the table. “Tell that to all the people lined up outside and the throngs of Christians waiting to follow that little can to the airport.”

“I suppose that’s why you’re here?” She picked up her travel log, signed the necessary forms to verify she’d performed the accelerator mass spectrometry herself, and stuffed them all into her briefcase. She couldn’t remember a time Gabriel hadn’t dropped into her sanitized laboratory unannounced. Since she’d accepted the lead scientist position in D.C. six years ago, he popped in almost monthly.

Truthfully, she already knew what brought him here today. Gabriel had been part of the team of scientists that dated the Shroud of Turin in the eighties. He’d want to see this supposed counterpart.

“Well, yes and no.” He slung a leather satchel that had seen better days over his shoulder and set it on the table.

“Yes, I wanted to see the Sudarium. But I needed to talk to you as well.”

“Make it quick. I’ve got a flight to catch. That little baby has to be back in the Cámara Santa tonight. If it’s not, Father Phanuel will have a coronary.” She shrugged out of her lab coat, hung it on the wall, and went to the mirror to tighten her ponytail. “He’s convinced someone’s going to steal it.”

“With good reason, Noelle.” Gabriel pulled out a rolling stool and sat down. “The same reason I wanted to talk to you. People coveted that cloth before it came here. Now, people would kill just to touch it. Let alone possess it.”

She shot him a glance through the mirror and adjusted her glasses. “I think I can handle escorting the thing back to Spain. I got it here, didn’t I? Seth’s going to meet me at the airport and keep me company across the ocean.”

“Ah yes, your faithful shadow, Seth.” Humor lightened Gabriel’s eyes. He pushed a hand through short, thick, white hair, and a frown tugged at bushy eyebrows. “I don’t think you should trust anyone with this, Noelle. It’s too significant.”

Slowly turning, Noelle dropped her gaze to the gnarled cane resting against Gabriel’s left leg. He’d devoted his life to proving the Shroud of Turin was legitimate. Now he was almost eighty, and all he had to show for his research was a shroud that dated from the thirteenth century and a crippled leg. His shooting upon that shroud’s return was the reason for her cadre of governmental guards.

She met his concerned gaze with a warm smile. “I’ll be fine. There’s four cars ahead and behind me. The Church owns the plane. My assistant will be with me—I’ll be just fine.”

His eyes narrowed as he studied her expression. She’d seen that look enough times to know Gabriel was about to dump some revelation on her she wouldn’t like. The hairs on the back of her neck lifted, and unease rolled in her belly.

“I’ve arranged for a personal guard.”

“You what?” She blinked. Her glasses slipped down her nose, and she hastily shoved them back into place.

“I spoke with the director. We both feel it would be a good idea to have someone with you. Driving you. The caravan is nice, yes. But the men inside are strangers easily bought. It’s not like Pope Benedict arranged for the Secret Service to escort you.”

Noelle folded her arms over her chest and scowled. “I thought you retired. Doesn’t that mean you can’t piddle around in my lab and interfere at will?”

A hearty chuckle rumbled in the back of his throat. “Come now, don’t be cross. It’s one day out of your life. Besides, I brought you something to make up for it.” He flopped open his satchel and stuffed a hand inside.

“More like something to bribe me with.” Unable to keep her grin under wraps, Noelle sidled into a chair next to him. Gabriel’s trinkets were always fascinating. But what ever he brought for her always included a personal request. Date some little object he’d picked up from someplace he wouldn’t say, in some corner of the world he’d forgotten. She suspected half of them ended up on eBay.

True to form, he pulled out two felt-wrapped parcels tied with a white string. He selected the smaller and gently tugged at the ties. The ribbon fell away. Gabriel plucked the folded fabric apart. He held his open hand beneath her chin.

Noelle looked down on a gold ring set with a vibrant red stone. She gingerly took it between thumb and forefinger and held it to the light. Intricate etching along the band formed a crude basket weave pattern that lacked even a hint of patina. Yet the artistry was old. Imprecise and rough—a product of an era where everything came from the hands of men. She brought it closer and traced a short nail over the prominent cabochon. Etched into the polished surface, a clubbed chevron had been spared the scars of centuries.

Though beautiful, she’d seen many of similar type. “Roman.”

Gabriel nodded. “I know that much. But I want to know if it’s empire or republic.” He nudged her elbow. “Try it on.”

Smirking, Noelle gave in to the tradition. If she had a jewelry box for all the ancient decorations Gabriel had made her try on over the years, she’d never want for accessories again. She slid the ring onto her finger and cocked her hand, allowing him to inspect the trinket.

“Lovely. Can’t you see who might have worn it? She would have dark hair like yours. Elegant hands.” He caught her fingertips and turned her wrist under the light. “It would glint at banquets, a symbol of her husband’s wealth. Perhaps she was an empress. That’s gold, you know.”

She retracted her hand and slipped the ring off. “I figured as much. There’s no tarnish on it at all. This doesn’t look polished—but we won’t know until I get it tested. We might find chemical residue.”

He winked in the affectionate way that always reminded her of her long-gone father. “You’ll tell me if you do.” Freckled hands pressed the protective cloth into hers.

She wrapped it up, twisted on her stool, and stuffed it into the bag that would hold her precious cargo. When she swiveled around to face him again, Gabriel had the next package unwrapped. Sitting on the tabletop, a heavily patinaed arm torc waited. The patches of green and red iron oxide shimmered in iridescent color, marking it as bronze.

Noelle picked it up to examine it more closely. Triple wound, it coiled in a near- perfect circle. On each end, a tiny serpent’s head came to rest in the center. Each bore fragments of some jewel, or perhaps glass, which served as onyx eyes. Cross- hatching behind the miniature heads created masterful scale work.

“This is gorgeous,” she murmured. She turned the torc beneath the light, and her eyebrows furrowed. Out of place with the other artwork, a Templar cross had been etched into each serpent’s head. “That’s odd.”

“I thought so too. Can you see if there’s any difference in the age between the crosses and the rest of it?”

She brought the torc closer and squinted at the miniscule carvings. “I’ll do my best. When do you need these back?” Before he could instruct her, she eased the torc up over her elbow, fitting it snugly onto her arm. She pushed her shirtsleeve to her shoulder, then twisted to admire the piece. For the first time since Gabriel had started bringing her objects on the side, she could see what he did—a visual of the long-ago person who might have cherished the forgotten object.

“It’s really pretty, Gabriel.”

His heavy hand clapped her shoulder. “I’m glad you like it. That one’s yours.”

“Mine?” Noelle’s eyes widened. “I can’t accept this. It’s got to be worth a fortune.”

Features that still held a hint of color from all his years in the field lifted with a smirk. “Where’d my skeptic go? You don’t know how old that is.”

A flush crept into her cheeks. “I know it’s authentic. You’ve never brought me a fake. No matter how old this is, it’s still got to have significant value.” She pushed at the trinket to slip it off her arm. “I can’t accept it.”

Gabriel grabbed his satchel, snapped it shut, and stood. “You can. Consider it your reward for successfully dating the Sudarium.” He slung his bag over his shoulder, then braced himself on his cane. “Come on. I’ll introduce you to the men I hired.”

Noelle pushed at the torc again, but it refused to budge. Under her breath, she muttered an oath. She should have known better than to shove it onto her arm thoughtlessly. The last time she’d tried on something that was a little too tight, she and Gabriel nearly had to cut it off. If not for his brilliant idea to soak her hand in ice water until her fingers almost froze, she’d have destroyed a ring worth thousands.

“Try soap later,” he commented.

Noelle watched Gabriel limp toward the door. A frown pulled at her forehead as his long- ago accident sifted into her mind. He hadn’t expected someone would try to shoot him, especially not after disproving the theory on the shroud. Maybe his guard wouldn’t be such a bad idea after all. She glanced at the canister. “I need a few minutes, Gabriel. I don’t have this packed right.”

Knowing glinted in his eyes. “I’ll hobble over to the candy machine. Want anything?”

Noelle shook her head.

When the door to her laboratory thumped shut, Noelle picked up the canister and shoved it inside her oversized purse. She lugged the larger satchel Father Phanuel had packed it in to her locker, and stuffed in the change of clothes she kept on hand in case of a chemical spill. Satisfied it didn’t look too bulky, she snapped the tiny padlock on the fastener shut and pocketed the key. Stopping at her cluttered desk, she scribbled a note to Seth instructing him to pick up the relic at the boarding gate. While she’d like to convince herself Gabriel was being overprotective, she knew in her heart he was a practical man. He wouldn’t caution her unless he felt she had reason to worry. Better to take precautions, even if they were unnecessary.

Still, the idea he’d hired private security niggled at her pride. She did a reasonable job living on her own in D.C., even with her apartment being in a shadier side of town. She hadn’t been mugged, hadn’t been threatened, and hadn’t once felt as if she needed a protector. Accepting Gabriel’s suggestion that now might be a wise time to become dependent on someone else just didn’t sit well.

A knock signaled Gabriel’s return. She tossed the bag and her purse over her shoulder, grabbed her coat, and pulled on her winter hat. Winding her heavy scarf around her neck, she headed for the door.

In the hall, she handed Gabriel the canister’s satchel. “Take this to the airport for me, would you? Gate 23—I’ll meet you there with Seth.”

Gabriel reached down, and in a gesture that could only be marked as fatherly, he clasped her hand in an affectionate squeeze. “I’ll have Lucan do the honors.”

“Who’s he?”

“One of the men I hired.”

Even better. Gabriel might observe the weight difference. Someone unfamiliar with transporting artifacts probably wouldn’t catch on. When she arrived at the airport, she’d reclaim the bag, and no one would ever be the wiser.

Gabriel urged her toward the back stairs. “We’ll go this way. There’s a slew of reporters on the front steps.”

Noelle rolled her eyes. The things people would do over a myth. She’d never understand religion or the power it held over mankind. It was so much easier to comprehend the properties of science, the genetic links between the different species, as opposed to trying to sell the creative fiction of a greater power. Science could be proved. Theology only existed as long as people believed.

She followed Gabriel up the musty metal stairs reserved for employees onto the rooftop parking lot. The sun glared off high banks of snow, a false illusion of warmth against the frigid blast that whipped through her hair.

As they stepped around the first row of multicolored vehicles, the front doors on a silver SUV opened. Two men climbed out. Two giant men who looked like they could turn that SUV on its side with little effort.

Noelle bristled. Gabriel hadn’t hired security, he’d hired damn bodyguards. “I won’t forget this, Gabriel,” she mumbled under her breath.

His chuckle only annoyed her further. Gritting her teeth, she sank into her coat and accepted she didn’t have a choice. Maybe she could have gotten out of this back in her laboratory. But not now. Not after she’d agreed. And certainly not when she couldn’t pry his bribe off her arm.

As they approached the waiting vehicle, Gabriel gave her a sideways glance. “I’ll send Lucan ahead with the Sudarium. I would trust him with my life, so you don’t need to worry about its safety. Farran will escort you to your apartment, then take you to the airport when it’s time to leave.” He came to an abrupt stop and pulled on her elbow to turn her around. Bracing his hands on her shoulders, he dropped his head to meet her gaze. All traces of good humor drained from his expression. His eyes glinted with warning.

“When you get to Spain, Gareth will meet you at the baggage claim. He’ll have a red armband over his jacket. Allow no one but him to escort you to your hotel.”

A chill worked its way down Noelle’s spine, and she shivered. In all the time she’d known Gabriel, she’d never seen such deadly seriousness.

She opened her mouth to ask for an explanation, but Gabriel silenced her question with a gesture at the waiting men. “Dr. Keane, please meet Lucan.”

To her utter surprise, the dark-haired man took her hand and kissed the back of it. “A pleasure.” Silver eyes shone with sincerity, a striking contrast to the tousled locks that brushed against his shoulders.

Before she could recover from the surprising greeting, Gabriel cut in. “Lucan, you will take the second car with me, and we will go to the airport ahead of Dr. Keane.”

With a respectful, subordinate nod, Lucan accepted the directive.

Curiosity pulled Noelle’s gaze to the larger giant at the same time Gabriel addressed him. “Farran, this is Dr. Keane. You will escort Noelle to her apartment so she can gather what she needs. Do not leave her side.”

Noelle’s gaze traveled over the imposing figure leaning against the driver’s door. Blond hair tumbled in the crisp winter breeze. A slight wave to his long lengths gave them a softer appearance. He dwarfed her easily, his broad shoulders a good five inches taller than the top of her head. Dressed in faded blue jeans that hugged thick thighs, and a well-worn leather jacket that accented a trim waist, he cut a breathtaking picture. As her gaze drifted up, taking in his well-defined chin, high cheekbones, and nose that sat slightly off center, they skidded to a stop and locked with an intoxicating pair of ale-brown eyes.

Her heart kicked into her ribs. Wow. Maybe Gabriel’s bodyguard wouldn’t be half bad. She could spend a few hours with this guy and live off the resulting high for months to come.

With a tentative smile, she extended her hand.

Farran glanced at it. Then, on an indistinguishable mutter, he scowled. Not even bothering to accept her handshake, he pushed off the door, yanked it open, and climbed behind the steering wheel.

To her shame, Noelle wilted inside. Although his gruff rebuke stung, his reaction didn’t surprise her. Men like Farran had never found her remotely attractive. Then again, glasses, ponytails, and lab coats didn’t appeal to many men, period. If Farran hadn’t brushed her off now, he would have when she tried to talk to him and all that came out was drivel about elements, reactive compounds, and carbon footprints.

Anger rose on the heels of her hurt, and she shot Gabriel a look meant to kill. Except Gabriel had already crossed the parking lot, leaving her the only option of getting in Farran’s vehicle. She grumbled to herself, crossed to the passenger’s side, and opened the door. So much for that euphoric high. In this man’s company, time would crawl at a turtle’s pace and with each agonizing tick, remind her of all her shortcomings.


Come back next week for Chapter Two!



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Hi all!  Here's another Sunday Six from Immortal Surrender!


For a long silent moment, Farran stared up at the sky. Unbelievable. She weighed no more than two sacks of grain, yet she toppled him as easily as if she wielded a club. His mouth quirked at the irony. And then he chuckled. For the second time in one day, a short burst of air constricted his lungs in a way they had not stretched in more years than he could count.


Coming, September 25th!
Farran de Clare, loyal member of the cursed Knights Templar, wants nothing to do with predestined mates. Even the Almighty won’t turn him into a fool again—he’d rather sacrifice his soul. Yet in the scientist Noelle Keane, a devout atheist, Farran meets the seraph designed for him.

Ordered by the archangel Gabriel to protect Noelle, the possessor of a sacred relic that could give Azazel incredible power, Farran swears to do his duty—but in name only. Fighting an attraction that grows with each day, he’s determined that he’ll never pledge himself to her.

As they war over her future, their mutual passion ignites a conflict far more damning. But before Noelle will agree to eternity with him, she demands the ultimate sacrifice – his heart.


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Welcome everyone to another Fantasy Friday!  Irina Lopatina is here today to discuss her release, White Raven: The Sword of Northern Ancestors.  It looks like a fascinating read, quite frankly!

White Raven: The Sword of Northern Ancestors

In the kingdom of Areya, humans, animals, and the magical creatures that inhabit the Eternal Forest have long coexisted peacefully, but now something is horribly wrong. A terrifying stream of monstrous creatures has begun to emerge from the secret depths of the earth, terrorizing all of Areya's native inhabitants. From the tiny, wise drevalyankas to the bellicose cave-dwelling gnomes to the devious kikimoras who gather roots and herbs in the marsh, everyone is in danger. With the aid of Urart, the magical sword that has been passed down from the time of the ancient northern ancestors, Grand Duke Vlady can offer temporary protection to his people. But Prince Vraigo, Vlady's nephew, who is endowed with magical power himself, understands that the source of the evil monsters must be found if there's any hope of survival. Along with a motley crew of his forest-dwelling friends, Vraigo sets off on a perilous quest in search of the koschei, the powerful, corrupt Archmagus whose mission is the destruction not just of Areya, but of the entire world. As if this weren't bad enough, Urart disappears from the duke's stronghold. Without it, Areya is doomed, and only Vraigo, the White Raven, can possibly get the sword back. This journey requires Vraigo to use all of his keen wits and magical abilities, as well as to ally himself to dangerous creatures like yagas and werewolves, natural enemies of man, and precipitates the young prince into the most bewildering, complex challenge he has faced yet: life in the twenty-first century.

Irina is going to tell us about the Yaga today -- and so I will dutifully hand her the floor!  
The Yaga As A Discrepant Symbol of Russian FolkloreGuest Post by Irina Lopatina, author of White Raven

There are a lot of magical creatures that coexist with humans more or less peacefully in White Raven. In my opinion, a yaga is one of the most interesting. And this is not only because she is a powerful evil witch who is able to confront even the highest pure magus (what she may lack in force, she can make up in cunning). Neither do I find her most interesting because of her close connection to the Eternal Forest and her retinue of pikshas, bloodthirsty natural magi. The peculiarities of the yaga who our heroes in the book must confront are derived from her prototype – a forest witch who is very popular in Russian fairy tales.

How does a yaga differ from witches who are occupied with witchcraft in the epos of many nations? At first glance, she takes a great interest in doing various dirty tricks exactly the same way. She even doesn’t hesitate to roast in the oven and eat a traveler who lost his way. As a rule, there are skulls of such poor fellows hanging on the branches near her hut, which is propped up on skinny poles that look like chicken legs. Also, she usually runs errands for the most terrible magus, koschei. Together with him, she schemes against the heroes of fairy tales.

But here, oddly enough, the differences begin. Despite her evil nature and perpetual fear of the koschei, the yaga manages to behave quite unpredictably and chooses to help the fighters of evil instead of plotting against them. She can tell about the koschei’s secrets to a prince who gets lost and can show him the path from the forest thicket. Or she might just feed him and let him to stay overnight, as if she were a normally hospitable hostess. So, in White Raven the yaga is simply unpredictable. She appears in the pages not too often, but she is one of the important characters. The yaga is one of the threads leading Prince Vraigo to the most evil koschei’s secrets. At the same time, she is a highly amusing character who has her own unique charm.

~~~~~   Thank you, Irina, for stopping in today!  The Yaga sounds fascinating and rather entertaining.  And your folklore is certainly very interesting.   I wish you the best of luck with White Raven!  


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Good morning everyone,

Please give a warm welcome to author Cera duBois!  She's here today to show off her new book, A Hunter's Angel.  She's a fellow Wild Rose Press author, so I hope you'll make her feel at home.

A Hunter's Angel

The serial killer stalking Clayton, Pennsylvania, isn’t all that has Chief of Police Grace Wallace worried. For a year, she’s tried to forget Special Agent Ian McHenry and now he’s the expert the FBI sent to catch the killer. She can’t stay away from him, but something primal is telling her to run to save much more than just her heart.

Despite the strict code of ethics Ian vowed to follow as a vampire hunter, he craves Grace’s blood above all others. If he chooses to stay, Ian risks losing his chance at divine forgiveness.

But if he leaves Grace unprotected from the evil he’s hunted for over a century, he loses more than just his soul…

Cera is going to share a bit of insight to her inspiration -- I find it pretty fascinating!  

From A Single Line

“You’d be surprised, Bella, at how often my kind are the source behind the horrors in your human news.” Edward from Eclipse by Stephenie Meyer, page 25.

This line changed my life.

Well, my life as a wannabe writer at any rate.

I never had much interest in vampires. Sure, I enjoyed the corny remake of Dark Shadows in the early 90s (I’m too young to remember the real series) and I liked the movie version of Ann Rice’s Interview With the Vampire, but until I read the Twilight series during the summer of 2008, I’d never read a vampire novel.

When I read that scene where Bella was reading about the increase of murders in Seattle in the newspaper, I couldn’t stop thinking about it. The concept of a vampire masquerading around a small town under the guise of a serial killer wouldn’t let me alone. Then I came up with Ian and I was hooked. His being a vampire who hunted vampires and whose cover in the human world was that of an FBI agent fascinated me. Of course, I had to have a great kick-ass heroine for this Irish vampire and who better than the new chief of police of the town where the murders were happening.

I started writing A Hunter’s Angel in September 2008 and was amazed when it became all I could think about. I’d go to work and couldn’t wait to get home to start writing. Nothing had ever enflamed me like this. I was obsessed in a way that I’ve never been before. By the end of January 2009, I typed “the end.”

I’ve always wanted to be a writer and in 2005, I began writing Star Wars fanfiction with the grand plan to use it as “practice.” It worked, but for whatever reason, I could never find an idea compelling enough to pull me away from my fun hobby. I’d start original stories, but I’d never finish them, until that line in Eclipse set my muse on fire.

Since then, I’ve given up my fanfiction hobby. Not long into the writing of A Hunter’s Angel, I came up with the second book. A Hunter’s Blade will be releasing later this year or early next. I’ve also written two contemporary Westerns (both will be released early next year by Lyrical Press). A third contemporary Western is in the revision process, and I’m currently working on A Hunter’s Wings (book 3 of The Hunter’s Daggers Series).

I look back and wonder how long I would have floundered, writing for fun but without a real purpose, if I hadn’t read that single line in Eclipse.


To find out more about A Hunter’s Angel check out my website (http://ceradubois.wordpress.com/a-hunters-angel-the-book-tour/) for a schedule of my blog stops during the book tour. I will be presenting a series of short stories called The Vampire Encounters. Follow me as I interview Ian McHenry, Master Vampire Lucas Pomeroy, Vivian van Dyke Pomeroy, and have a scary run-in with Shane Chamberlain. Hope to see you along the way.

About the Author:

Cera duBois has a strong belief in never giving up on your dreams… Although Cera was unable to read due to dyslexia and a learning disability until she was in the fourth grade, she always had a story to tell. She wrote her first novel in eleventh grade when she had to keep a journal for her academic English class.

Since her life was far from exciting growing up as a farm girl in West Central Pennsylvania, she decided to rely on her imagination to give her something to write about. Over the course of the school year, she wrote a tangled romance set in the Deep South during the Civil War.

Becoming an author was her ultimate dream. Despite holding a BS in secondary social studies education from Penn State University, she currently works full-time as a medical secretary.

A mother of a teenage son and pre-teen daughter, she lives near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, with her husband of nearly 20 years. If she isn’t sitting in a quiet corner with her laptop, warm days will find her in the English garden surrounding her house. Cera loves to read and is interested in history, romance, science fiction and the paranormal.

She also writes contemporary Westerns under her real name of Sara Walter Ellwood.

Visit her at:  Website  |  Facebook  |  Blog


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Morning everyone!

I didn't promote this release because I have so much other stuff going on, and I'm really trying to focus this month on Bound by Decency and Immortal Surrender.

But, that said, just a quick note to let you know that I released a contemporary romantic suspense yesterday. 

The Heart's Stronghold

What she’s hiding is unforgivable…

With six million stolen dollars tucked away in a Swiss account and a new identity, Natalie St. James arrives in County Kerry, Ireland toting a horde of secrets. She’s starting over, nurturing dreams of freedom from an unspeakable past. She never imagines that one night in her ancestral homeland will expose her to danger all over again. Nor does she foresee running into someone from her past--the one man her heart still yearns for. Martin is determined to unravel why she seems so familiar. But his learning the truth would not only endanger Natalie, it would cost Martin his life.

There’s something haunting about the secretive redhead that Martin St. James can’t place. He knows they’re connected, and he’s drawn to her in ways he can’t explain. Despite Natalie’s evasion, his determination for answers leads them down a fiery path of desire reminiscent of a long-ago, forbidden love. But when a stranger arrives in Kerry, Martin begins to suspect Natalie’s in trouble. Her fear tugs at his heart, even more than the splendor of her kiss. Battling for her trust and consumed with the need to protect her, he never expects her secrets will reveal betrayal, or that when they do, he’ll be fighting for his heart, but his life as well.

The digital version is currently available for $2.99. 

Amazon Kindle | Kobo | Nook

Print is available for $10.99 - Currently only at Amazon


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Hi all!  In keeping with the Tuesday Teaser, upcoming release previews, we have Immortal Surrender coming up around the corner!  Let's delve into Farran's world a little bit....

Immortal SurrenderThe Curse of the Templars, Book II
September 25, 2012

Farran de Clare, loyal member of the cursed Knights Templar, wants nothing to do with predestined mates. Even the Almighty won’t turn him into a fool again—he’d rather sacrifice his soul. Yet in the scientist Noelle Keane, a devout atheist, Farran meets the seraph designed for him.

Ordered by the archangel Gabriel to protect Noelle, the possessor of a sacred relic that could give Azazel incredible power, Farran swears to do his duty—but in name only. Fighting an attraction that grows with each day, he’s determined that he’ll never pledge himself to her.

As they war over her future, their mutual passion ignites a conflict far more damning. But before Noelle will agree to eternity with him, she demands the ultimate sacrifice – his heart.



Whence comes the teacher, she who is blind will follow.

The one who digs in dust precedes the finding of the jewel.

And she who understands the sword precludes the greatest loyalty.

When darkness rapes the land, the seraphs shall purify the Templar and lead the sacred swords to victory.

—ancient prophecy of the Knights Templar

You must save your seraph. Azazel knows of her existence. I cannot come.

Gabriel’s adamant warning pounded through Iain’s head as he jogged down the darkened alley the archangel bade him to follow. At the end of the street, Bianca Moreau’s weatherworn apartment building sat in the shadow of a hulking modern high- rise. Forgotten and neglected. Like the woman within.

Iain knew she had suffered much in her young life, but he knew not what he would find. Whether she would be lovely or plain, refined or crude. However, his heart took wings at the prospect of binding himself to the seraph who would heal the darkness in his soul. He would take her from this cold, unfeeling city of Paris and care for her. Devote himself to her. And like the American Templar commander, Merrick, Iain would know coveted peace.

A greater gift, the Almighty could not grant.

He set his hand on the doorknob and a slight smile tugged at his mouth. Convincing her to accept her role might prove a more difficult chore than battling Azazel’s minions, but ’twould be worth the effort.

Hurry. We haven’t much time.

Gabriel’s words rose to his memory, and Iain dismissed the quandary of how to explain all to his immortal mate. He turned the knob, finding it unlocked as Gabriel foretold.

As he eased open the door and stepped into a musty hall, a rat scurried across his boot. He kicked the vermin aside, briefly reminded of a different season, a different century, when he had walked the streets of France and witnessed the horrific destruction of the plague. How he despised the city. A seraph should not be bound to these degrading conditions.

He took the dingy staircase to the fourth floor, aware of the strange quiet that clung to the hall. No muted televisions echoed beyond closed doors. The insects stayed within the walls. Even the air stilled. He breathed deeply, searching for the putrid scent of rot that would identify one of Azazel’s foul creations.

Only dust, the aroma of human bodies, and stale sex filtered to his nose. Dimly, a soft feminine moan rose to his ears. A sound of pleasure, he realized with a wry smile.


He strode down the short hall to number eight and reached for the lion-head knocker. As his fingers grazed the tarnished brass, the door moved beneath his light touch. It swung open a good six inches. Unlocked. Her door should not be unlocked. Not here. Not in this indecent building.

The hair at the nape of his neck lifted. He dropped his hand to the hilt of his sword. His fingers closed around air, and he silently cursed. He had left the weapon in the SUV, afraid ’twould frighten her and make his task more difficult. Saints’ blood, he had been foolish!

He set his hand on the painted wood and pushed the door open. Darkness flooded her front room. Her kitchenette. The hall. The oppressive silence clung more thickly here, and Iain’s pulse tripped.

Faint light at the end of a short hall caught his eye. He breathed easier as a rustling drifted to his awareness. The sound of a mattress creaking. Covers unfolding as she put herself to bed.

Yet the nagging suspicion something was amiss prevented him from calling out and making his presence known. Quietly, he approached the light.

“Please . . .” she begged softly. “Please.”

His throat tightening, Iain stepped into the doorway.

The sight before him stilled his heart. Nude, two figures lay atop her bed, oblivious to his presence. Her long blond hair spilled across the pillow. Her lips sought the masculine mouth that hovered over hers. She arched her back, a mewl bubbling in her throat, as the man eased his hand between her parted legs.

’Twas not, however, the sight of her sexual pleasure that constricted his chest. ’Twas the man. For as Iain’s centuries of living amongst angels could reveal. From powerful shoulder blades two cloaked wings spanned toward the ceiling. And there could only be one angel who would indulge in carnal delight.


“You will serve me,” he cooed against her engorged nipple. “Please me. Do my bidding.”

She answered with a moan.

Rage, unlike any Iain had ever experienced, surged through his body. It overpowered the fear that came with Azazel’s unholy presence and possessed him like a mad man. He threw himself at Azazel, knowing ’twas futile, hoping he could pull her from her trance enough to bid her to run.


With a malicious snarl, Azazel reared off her body. In one effortless swing of his arm, he flung Iain across the room, sending him crashing into the wall. Something inside his chest cracked. Pain erupted, white hot and engulfing.

With the distraction, Azazel’s magic collapsed. But in the half second where he clung to his human form before his fathomless black wings could emerge, Bianca regained her senses. She lifted her legs and kicked Azazel in the chest. It sent him staggering.

“You have doomed her,” Azazel hissed.

Iain struggled to rise. Agony dropped him to his knees, scarcely able to breathe. Helpless to aid his seraph, the only woman in this world who could save his soul and aid the Templar purpose, he watched as Bianca scrambled across her bed in a vain race for the door.

Azazel snatched at her shoulder. Claws dug into flawless flesh, whipping her around to face him. Before she could do so much as whimper, he thrust his hand into her chest. She screamed. Her body convulsed in his deadly embrace. Azazel released the hand that supported her back, and she fell to the floor. Her heart remained in his vile hand. Blood poured down the length of his arm.

A smirk drifted to Azazel’s lips as he carelessly tossed her heart atop her broken body. “A pity. She was most entertaining. I could have enjoyed her company a good while before that became necessary.”

Unable to form words through his blinding pain, Iain spit at Azazel’s feet, daring the lord of darkness to take him next. To put an end not only to his physical suffering, but also to the eternal damnation of his soul.

Yet Azazel would not grant him such respite. He chuckled at Iain. “You will serve me soon enough. I await the power of your sword.”

A fetid breeze stirred, and Azazel vanished.

Iain’s gaze fell to Bianca’s bloodied form. He closed his eyes to the hot rush of tears. Fighting against the searing heat that taunted him with the bliss of unconsciousness, he dragged himself across the carpeted floor to her lifeless side. With a shaking hand, he pushed her thick hair away from her face. Long lashes graced high cheekbones.

She had been beautiful.

His heart broke as he touched her still-warm cheek. He had failed his seraph. Failed his brethren. There would be no salvation for his tainted soul. Not now. Not ever. He would suffer until the darkness overcame him. When it did, he would know escape. But he would raise his sword against his brethren and join Azazel’s ranks to conquer the Almighty.




Come back next week, folks for Chapter 1!


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"Victorians used the term 'limbs' as a euphenism for legs, which were thought to be so sexually exciting to a man, even a glimpse of a table leg could incite him to sexual frenzy. Table skirts were invented to prevent any unnatural unions between men and furniture."
(History Channel International)



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