Three New Releases this week! Part 1 :)

Hey 🙂

It’s been a LONG time since I blogged. And . . . I kind of smushed everything together (as in a bunch of releases all at once).

Raye Wagner and I began writing a series over a year ago, and book 2 just came out TODAY! Woot!

The series is a dark fairytale retelling of a couple different tales, one of the main ones being Vasilisa the Brave and Baba Yaga. Oh, and the whole series is free in Kindle unlimited.

Baba Yaga Teaser

Magic of Fire and Shadows

MoFaS New cover 4Deep in the forest, in the land of Ctyri, the Four Horsemen ride. And they are coming …
Princess Adaline loses her entire family in a despicable act of war, and with magic protecting the borders of Beloch, retribution is impossible. But Adaline is determined to tear down the wall of Fire and avenge those she loved most. Even if it means denying a growing attraction to her protective guard.

All of Beloch is in turmoil with the threat of war at the magical border. After her father’s departure to negotiate peace, Vasilisa becomes a pawn in her stepmother’s scheming climb for the crown. But when Vasi’s hand in marriage becomes part of the selfish strategy, Prince Nikolai should be her salvation. Instead, he seals her doom.

Would you die to save your homeland or let it burn to ash to save the one you love?

If you like dark fantasy, you’ll be immediately consumed by the Curse of the Ctyri series because of the magic, romance, and shocking twists. Readers will love the threads of familiar tales in an epic coming of age story of stunning risk, slow burn romance, and witchy power.

Link: HERE

Here’s a little trailer I made for fun (ignore the “Preorder Now” lol, it’s out!!):

And, Book 2 is out TODAY! For those who have already read book 1, you can preview book 2 here :). Right below, I’ve also included chapter 1 and 2 of Magic of Fire and Shadows (book 1) for those new to the series.

Here’s chapter 1 & 2 of book 1!

Adaline

Chapter One

Princess Adaline raked in a harsh breath as her guard tightened his arm around her neck. She tucked her chin, just in time, and sucked in a lungful of air, clawing at his arm to loosen his grip. If she could just find that pressure point—

“That’s better,” Evzan said in her ear, not sounding the least out of breath. “At least you’re keeping your chin down, but tickling my arm will never break my hold. You have several options: break my pinkie, stomp on my foot, or throw your head back and break my nose.”

Adaline tried to stomp on his foot, but he swung his leg in an arc and then tapped the inside of her foot. “Don’t project your movement so much. You’re shifting your weight, and you took too long to strike. Cock, then strike, all in one move.”

The full moon provided ample lighting in the gardens for their sparring, and Adaline dug her elbow back into Evzan’s abdomen. Hard as a rock. He tightened his hold, and her vision tunneled.

Unlike a real attacker, her guard kept his contact to a minimum, a challenge considering their proximity. His chest pressed against her back with his inhalation, and he whispered, “Most men leave themselves open, not anticipating their prey to fight back. But you can’t rely on that, Princess. Fight smarter.”

“I’m not throwing my head back,” she huffed as she continued to struggle against his greater strength. “It hurts.”

“Are you joking?” he asked as he released her. He spun around to face her and glared. “You can’t afford to hesitate. You’d be captured, and if lucky, you’d be killed. There are worse things than getting hurt.”

Adaline pushed the sweaty blonde wisps of hair away from her flushed face. “I know. And in a real fight, I wouldn’t hesitate.”

Raising his eyebrows, Evzan pursed his lips. He tapped his index finger against his thigh, a frustrated gesture Adaline was far too familiar with, and said, “You will fight how you practice. If you hesitate here now, you’ll hesitate then. Don’t waste our time.”

Adaline stared at him. Pale moonlight traced along the lines of his cheek and jaw, bathing the angles in silver. Though shadows consumed some of his features, Adaline could feel the weight of her guard’s dark blue gaze. Even at rest, the large man reminded her of the pictures of Zelenian tigers. Ferocious. Beautiful. Terrifying.

“I would’ve broken your hold . . . eventually,” Adaline muttered as she rubbed her neck.

The few lamps illuminating her garden flickered, and Adaline darted a glance toward the castle. Their location and timing aided in the secrecy of her training, but Adaline still worried they would be caught.

“You don’t have time for eventually when a stronger opponent has you by the neck. And sometimes the best defense is distance. If you can get away safely, do it.” He waggled his finger at her and added, “If I teach you only one lesson, Princess, let it be that.”

Her mouth went dry with the dark warning. She wasn’t training with him to learn how to run away. “I’m not training to flee but to fight. Preferably, in the army. And if my father allows me to join, we’ll be fighting with swords, not wrestling. When are we going to get back to that?”

Evzan snorted. “Not tonight. You may be a princess, Adaline, but when we’re here, I’m in charge.”

Lovely. Adaline rolled her eyes but held back the retort burning her tongue. “Well, then what do you wish to move to?”

Evzan took a deep breath, and his entire body relaxed with his exhalation. “Bed.”

His meaning was clear, but Adaline’s stomach squirmed and her cheeks heated. She turned away so he wouldn’t see her blush.

“You’re quitting?” She looked up at the moon, hinting that the night was still young. When Evzan said nothing, she finally huffed, “Fine. I’ll expect you tomorrow, then.” She tapped the sword at her side. “And I expect we’ll use our weapons.” In a lower voice, she muttered, “Ridiculous to have to command a soldier to train.”

Evzan leaned over her and chuckled. His scent, sandalwood and woodsmoke, wafted between them. “If you were half as brutal with your body as you are with your words, I wouldn’t have to scold you for inaction.”

Adaline’s heart raced, and she blinked up at her guard, her lips parting. “If our lesson is over,” she said, breathlessly, “then you are dismissed.”

He smirked but said nothing. When Adaline stepped out the doorway of the enclosed gardens and into the darkened grounds surrounding the glass rooms, her guard followed.

“Please,” she said, suddenly desperate for a moment to collect her pride. “Leave me. I just need a moment to myself.” When he still hesitated, she added, “I’ll be right behind you, Evzan.”

“I’ll wait by the bench just inside the solarium,” he said, pointing toward the trail leading back through the enclosed gardens to the castle. “If you’re not there in five minutes, I’m coming back for you.”

Adaline resisted the urge to roll her eyes again. Evzan paced away, and when he rounded the bend, the coiled tension that increasingly accompanied her lessons with Evzan finally released. She closed her eyes and slowed her breathing, letting the night air cool her skin. Adaline fought the leather strap holding back her long blonde tresses and wrenched it free, letting her hair fall forward to conceal her face. She tried to put her finger on why she and Evzan were at odds of late, but the truth eluded her.

A scream rent the night, and Adaline jumped. Bracing one hand on the window behind her, she stared out into the darkness.

Across the grounds, illuminated by the pale light of the moon, a young woman ran, her dark cloak streaming behind her as she closed the distance toward Adaline.

“Help me!” the woman shrieked. Closer now, the moonlight illuminated her pale face, twisted in terror.

The distinctive silver markings of the Celestial Sisters crisscrossed the hem of the woman’s deep blue robes. The princess unsheathed her sword as she moved to help the young Sister.

“Adaline,” Evzan bellowed from behind her. “Stay right where you are!”

But it wasn’t her guard’s yell that stopped Adaline in her tracks.

The cloaked woman’s scream cut off, and she froze just past the entrance to the hedge wall around the gardens. Time seemed to slow as Adaline took in the scene.

The young woman’s eyes widened, and she clawed at her neck as if she was attempting to pull a man’s hands or arm off, just as Adaline had done minutes before with her guard. The apprentice witch was young, perhaps only a few years older than Adaline’s seventeen years. The Celestial Sister’s blond hair rose writhing in a sudden wind, and leaves and small twigs swirled.

The woman raised her hand, and a pale light swirled around her fingers for a moment before sputtering out.

Adaline charged forward against the wind, holding her sword aloft. Only . . . there was no opponent to fight.

The young witch’s head lolled, and her eyes rolled back so that only the whites shone in the moonlight.

“Alexandra, Aliz, Dagny, Ebele, Rose, Sable . . .” the woman said, her voice holding no inflection. She recited a list of women’s names, and Adaline slowed her approach. “Jasmine, Clara, Elane . . .”

Adaline’s chest squeezed, tight with fear. The wind swelled, and the debris pelted the princess, and she shouted, “Tell me how to help you.”

The woman continued her monotonous chant. “Tabatha, Wendy, Jezinka, Adaline . . .”

Hearing her name, Adaline lowered her sword and her hand brushed against a coarse cloth. She yelped as a shadowy figure suddenly appeared.

“Vasilisa—” the witch said.

Adaline raised her sword again, and the figure released the young witch and turned toward the princess. Oily dark mist swirled beneath the hood, and as it oozed out toward her, the moonlight reflected off the deep crimson vapor.

“Die,” the cloaked figure whispered in a harsh command, raising his hands to grab her.

The mist billowed out toward the princess, but when it touched her skin, it vanished. Another wave of the red haze rolled toward Adaline, only to dissipate again when she waved her arm through it. Taking courage, Adaline brought her weapon up to strike. “No, you die.”

She swung her blade in an arc and then stumbled as Evzan’s massive body crashed into her. Her blade sliced through the hooded figure, and the robe dropped to the ground.

“Adaline,” Evzan shouted, grabbing her tunic.

Adaline struggled against his hold, trying to keep the dark oily vapor scuttling over the ground in sight. The mist was thicker than what had been in the air, and it crawled over the fallen witch.

Evzan thrust her back, behind him.

“Move,” Adaline snapped at Evzan. “If you will do nothing but get in my way—”

A loud crack, like splintering bone, was followed by the woman’s scream. The wind disappeared, and Adaline pushed past Evzan, seeing only the coarse black cloak as she fell to her knees beside the Celestial Sister. “What can I do?” The princess raised her voice and screamed, “Help.”

But the young witch’s body lay at an unnatural angle. Blood dribbled out from the Sister’s lips, and her eyelids fluttered. “He is hunting all of us,” she muttered, her voice barely a whisper. “And if he kills us, all of Ctyri will fall.”

“Us?” Adaline’s mind grasped to make sense of the young woman’s words. “Us, who?”

“The Horsemen’s curse.” The young witch sucked in a wet breath. Looking beyond Adaline, she spoke into the darkness, “Break the curse, or he will rule forever.”

Adaline turned to find Evzan staring at the Celestial Sister, his eyes narrowed. The princess glanced around the clearing, but she didn’t see the cloaked attacker. When she looked back to the young witch, the girl’s eyes were glassy and her chest was still.

Evzan squatted down beside Adaline, holding out a hand to help her up. “We should go—”

“No. Some—creature or man is on the grounds. He could kill again.” Adaline stood, studying her guard’s face, but clouds scuttled over the moon, obscuring her limited light. “We have to go after him.”

“No,” he said firmly. “We most definitely do not.” He pointed at the coarse cloak, cleanly sliced through by her sword. “You banished him, Princess. You killed him.”

Banished or killed? “What was that?”

Evzan shook his head. “Nothing. A bad dream.”

Adaline’s hands trembled, and she accepted Evzan’s help. “She was running toward me. She was coming to me.”

Evzan peered down at her and said, “She was running for the lights on the grounds.”

“No,” Adaline insisted, her voice trembling with the waning adrenaline. “She said my name.”

“Said your name or listed it off with the others?” he asked, his brow furrowing. “I merely heard a list.”

Footsteps pounded against the ground as guards drew near, likely responding to her scream for help. Too late, Adaline thought, glaring at her guard.

“Halt!” they cried, and the distinctive ring of metal filled the garden.

Adaline spun to face the guards, and Evzan snapped, “Stand down.”

The princess opened her mouth to give the men orders to search the grounds for the mysterious figure, but Evzan spoke.

“My apologies. Princess Adaline had a fright,” he said, his voice tight with frayed patience. “She was out in the gardens playing soldier, and I was just bringing her in when we saw this Celestial Sister trip. Unfortunately, her injury was fatal. A terrible accident. The princess screamed when the woman fell.”

Adaline stared at her guard, her jaw dropping in shock. Incoherent thoughts flitted through her stunned mind, and she couldn’t seem to locate any words. “No,” she finally choked out. “There was a cl-cloaked man, red smoke, he disappeared.”

Evzan rested his hand on her shoulder. “It was only a terrible nightmare.” He shook his head. “The princess witnessed something traumatizing, men. I fear she will need time to recover.”

Adaline could read the guards’ acceptance in their expressions and nods. They believed Evzan’s lies. Adaline turned to the man who’d been her teacher and trainer all these months, her stomach dropping. Why was he lying? Had he seen what she had? He had to have. But Evzan looked on with only concern shadowing his blue gaze. A small pucker marred his otherwise smooth brow.

“Please see this is cleaned up,” he said. “I’ll return after I get the princess settled with her maid.”

“No,” she pressed. “The sister was listing names. She said that the women were being hunted. We need to get to the bottom of this. The names, uh . . .” She tried to think of a single one, but her mind was getting muggy as her energy drained. Nausea churned in her stomach, but she swallowed it down and said, “Vasilisa was one name, but there were so many others.”

Evzan grimaced. “Princess, you’ve confused reality with imagination and dreams. Come now, you’re tired. I’m sure your maid is worried.”

Adaline wanted to scream at her guard, to call him out on his lies, but he didn’t give her a chance.

“Gentlemen,” he said with a nod, and then he grabbed her elbow and escorted Adaline through the gardens.

“How did you—”

“Not now, Adaline,” he snapped, his gaze darting this way and that.

With no one else to speak with, Adaline’s mind spun. Vasilisa and Adaline were the only two names she retained, but was she the Adaline? And what of this Vasilisa and all of the other women? And why was she talking about the myth of the Four Horsemen’s curse as if it were real?

With only dark questions and no answers at all, the princess allowed her guard to lead her back toward the palace. But tomorrow she’d find answers.

Vasilisa

Chapter Two

Vasilisa folded the letter from Prince Nikolai, the worn creases collapsing on their own accord, and sighed. She pressed a hand to her chest where the ache of his absence had dulled but not completely disappeared. She dropped the last letter onto the scattered stack of envelopes on her bed and frowned at the frayed green ribbon she’d used to bind the notes. How foolish the daydreams of her childhood seemed now; the hollowness in her chest was more likely from missing her father than the heir of Beloch.

“Don’t be an idiot, Vasi,” she whispered to the empty room.

A knock at the door startled her, and Vasi gathered up the time-worn letters. “Brida, if that’s you, you’re welcome to just come in.”

Brida stuck her head through the doorway. The worry lines puckering the young maid’s brow made her appear older than eighteen. “The mistress is home askin’ for you. Said to meet her and Roza in the solar for tea, straightway.”

“Of course,” Vasi said, examining her maid. “You look upset. I hope she wasn’t harsh with you again. Do you want me to talk with her?”

Brida’s gaze went wide, and she shook her head, causing strands of hair to fall from her messy bun. “Oh, no, please. I’m fine. Don’t worry about me, miss.”

“All right, if you’re sure.” Before Brida could leave, Vasi asked, “Are we having raspberry trifle today?” Her stomach rumbled, confirming Vasi’s hunger, and she rushed to explain, “A djinn passed this way, and I followed his trail through the woods for hours.”

“A djinn passing this way? Celestials forbid.” A familiar amusement lifted in Brida’s tired gaze. “Well, Cook made yer favorite. Best hurry now so you don’t miss out.”

Vasilisa scooted to the edge of her bed, her emerald silk skirt rustling over the beige coverlet. “I’ll be right there. Thank you, Brida.”

The maid closed the door, and Vasi glanced at the bed for her gloves and then wondered if she’d left them outside. No matter. She tied the ribbon around the envelopes and muttered, “Really, I should just throw you all away.”

Prince Nikolai had been gone for five years now and, as the heir of Beloch, wouldn’t indulge the attention of a tradesman’s daughter when he returned. She knew better, but even so, she tucked the notes into the drawer as she pulled out a fresh pair of gloves and then headed to tea.

Vasi frowned as she crossed through the dim great room. The fire lay unlit, despite the chill of the gloomy afternoon, as well as the candelabras on the mantle where the portrait of the Phoenix Fire hung. Vasi stopped and blinked at the thick stone ledge, frowning when she saw the heavy silver candlesticks were missing. One of the servants must be polishing them, but they should have left a replacement. The room was far too dark. Practically uninviting and nothing like the memories of her childhood.

Stepping into the bright solar, Vasi froze on the threshold as irritation and hurt thumped in her chest. Vasi’s stepmother, Marika, didn’t look up as she poured tea . . . into two cups. Across the table sat her daughter, Vasi’s stepsister Roza, in the only other seat at the table, taking a dainty bite of raspberry trifle.

“Good afternoon, Stepmama, Roza,” Vasi said, forcing a smile as she crossed the room to join them. She grabbed one of the chairs away from the wall and pulled the wooden seat to the table. “Was Mistress Svad able to get you in for a fitting in time for Lady Granth’s party next week?”

“You’re late.” Marika frowned, the paint around her lips creasing with the expression, but the dark-haired beauty didn’t even look at her stepdaughter while filling the second cup. “All of Rizy knows tea is served at three o’clock sharp.”

Vasi gripped the back of the wooden chair and pushed down her irritation. “Growing up, we always had tea whenever Cook had it ready.”

“Not anymore. I will civilize this household if it kills me. Tardiness is akin to rudeness, and it won’t help your prospects.” Marika set the teapot down and regarded Vasi. “A simple apology will do.”

Vasi took a deep breath and, swallowing her pride, curtseyed low. “I apologize for my tardiness.”

Marika harrumphed and then nodded. “I’m glad you could join us.”

The words felt empty to Vasi, but she tucked her auburn hair behind her ears and sat at the table. Plucking a scone from the tiered tray, she set the biscuit on her plate and attempted to think of something cordial to say. “Were you able to find a dress? My mother always said that as the capital, Rizy boasts the best seamstresses in all of Beloch.”

The Viscountess stirred her tea, the skin around her eyes tightening. She smiled at Vasi, but the expression held no warmth. “A beautiful red silk. Thank you for asking.” Marika sipped at the concoction and then accepted the plate from Roza. “Both of you girls are so grown up and pretty.”

Roza beamed at the compliment, her ivory skin flushing with pride. “Thank you, Mama.”

Marika took a bite of her sandwich and merely nodded at her daughter.

“Roza is the prettiest girl I’ve ever seen,” Vasi said truthfully with a smile directed at her stepsister.

Without acknowledging the compliment, Roza looked away.

Vasi couldn’t help the awkwardness churning inside her stomach as if she’d said the wrong thing. The three women ate finger sandwiches and sipped their afternoon tea in silence.

Vasi’s father, Casimir, had warned her, and for the thousandth time in two years, Vasi reminded herself: It will take time for a blended family to adjust. Vasi was trying, just as she’d promised her father, but she couldn’t help the wistful ache when she thought of her mother’s kindness.

“Have you heard from my Papa?” Vasi asked. “Do we know when he’ll be back from Temavy?”

Marika said nothing for a long moment, but her dark eyes flashed, and then she turned her full attention to Vasi. “Darling Vasilisa, I can’t wait for his return, either. Unfortunately, the last I heard, negotiations are dragging on, and it will be several weeks still. We’ll just have to entertain ourselves as best we can until he returns.”

Marika’s words hit Vasi like a physical blow. Several weeks? Scuttling unease crawled down her spine as she thought of weeks more of this. She picked at her food, her appetite having run off with her hope of her father’s prompt return, and she tuned out the chatter between Marika and Roza. The longer Vasi thought about her father, the worse she felt because when Casimir was gone, nothing was right—

“Vasilisa,” Marika said, her voice high-pitched and breathy.

Vasi startled at her name, her attention returning to the room and its occupants.

“I have something I want to tell you, so please stop daydreaming for just a few minutes.” Marika smiled and clapped in apparent excitement, but the remaining tightness of her features belied her emotions as she stared at her daughters.

“Of course, Stepmama.” Vasi clutched her napkin and absently picked at the embroidered hem, her unease shifting to inexplicable dread.

“I’ve considered waiting until Casimir returns, but you’re both of age to marry. The season is coming up, and I think that it is high time we present you at a royal ball.”

Vasi’s jaw dropped, and her mind blanked. “Suitors?”

“A royal ball?” Roza exclaimed, her eyes bright. “Present . . . us?”

Marika nodded, her eyes narrowing when she turned toward Vasi. “What? You don’t want to go to a ball?” The older woman’s painted lips curled into a sneer. “You don’t want suitors? I think you, a tradesman’s daughter, would feel honored to be included with my Roza. You could be married next month if we are lucky—”

“No,” Vasi said, standing up. She dropped her napkin on the cream cushion, sick with disappointment and hurt as her world tilted and rolled at an unfamiliar slant. Vasi turned to leave the room. “I will not get married. Not until my father is back. I refuse.”

“Vasilisa, do not walk out of that door,” Marika snapped.

Vasi froze. Her heart pounded, and she clenched her clammy hands into fists. Her mouth was dry, and her eyes burned with unshed tears. She was not ready for marriage. Not . . . yet.

“You’ll not be allowed to live here forever,” Marika said. “You need a husband to support you and a home of your own. You cannot continue to be a drain on our resources. You need to look at this realistically and practically. A man will support you, provide for you, and adore you. If you choose wisely, you can have anything you want. Your wishes to the djinn are vain imaginations. It’s time for you to grow up.”

“No,” Vasilisa said, hot indignation burning through her as she faced her stepmother. Even if everything Marika said was true, and Vasi didn’t believe it was, she would not marry. Not now. “I would rather die a pauper than get married without Papa.” She took a deep breath and stated the certainty to which she clung. “You can’t force me.”

Vasilisa stormed out of the solar with her stepmother shouting after her. That Marika would want Vasi to marry was understandable, but why now? No way. And the snide comment about djinn . . . Vasi slowed her pace as she approached the great room, the sound of a man’s voice carrying down the hall.

“Put them in the carriage,” he said.

Vasi ran forward, unable to place who was speaking, and skidded to a halt as she took in the scene.

A burly man in an ill-fitting doublet and hose hefted swaths of bright fabrics, trudging his way out the open door to a waiting carriage. Vasi’s surprise twisted into confusion; that strange man was carrying an armful of dresses. Her dresses.

She turned to the only other occupant of the room and stepped back.

Lord Emeroi Baine faced her, his gaze traveling the length of her body before meeting her eyes. Vasi had seen the Tsar’s nephew around the palace, but her father had always refused to make an introduction.

The young duke wet his lips, and hunger heated his umber gaze. “Vasilisa.”

Lord Baine’s face could’ve been chiseled from stone by a master sculptor, perfectly symmetrical with high cheekbones and a square jaw. Though the duke’s looks should have made her heart flutter, Vasi felt nothing but disgust with his obvious interest. His dark eyes burned with desire that made her skin crawl.

“Your Grace,” Vasi said, dropping into a perfunctory curtsey, just what etiquette demanded. She turned to leave, following an instinctive urge to be anywhere but in the Duke’s presence, and then remembered what she’d just seen. Twisting back toward the duke, she asked, “What are you doing with my dresses?”

A slow smile spread like oil over his face. “You mean my dresses. I’ve just purchased them.”

“Wh-what?” In a heartbeat, her shock melted into a pulsing rage. She stomped toward him, hands clenched as her heart thundered against her ribs. “You’re buying my clothes? That’s . . .” Hideous. For so many reasons. “You can’t do that.”

He chuckled, pulling a small leather bag from his belt. “You’re wrong, Vasilisa. I can. And I did.” He glanced over the top of her head and down the hallway. “Ah, Marika. Your payment is here.”

Vasi rounded on her stepmother. “You can’t do this. Those are my clothes you’re selling.” She pointed in the direction of the door, raising her voice with every word. “You can’t sell my things!”

Marika closed the distance between her and her stepdaughter in long, purposeful strides. As soon as she stood in front of Vasi, the older woman raised her hand and slapped Vasi across the face. “How dare you humiliate me in front of His Grace.”

The room hushed, and Vasi brought her hand up to cover her cheek, the pain of the strike progressing from sting to hot burn beneath her hand. She stared with her mouth agape at Marika and then Lord Baine, whose eyes sparked with interest at the spectacle.

Marika’s features morphed into rage, and she snapped, “They became my things when I married your father. Everything in this house is mine.”

Vasi glared at her stepmother. “That’s not right.”

Marika shrugged, but the tight smile and vicious light in her eyes spoke volumes as to her true feelings. “That’s the law. I don’t answer to an ungrateful, spoiled brat.”

“When my father returns, I’ll tell him about this invasion of my privacy.” Vasi’s mind reeled. There was no way Casimir would let this stand. Her father would never sell her things or demand she marry.

“Oh, stop this childish blathering. This is my house,” Marika said, grabbing Vasi’s wrist and yanking her hand away from her face, demanding Vasi’s attention. “And you will do what I say.” Marika tightened her grip. “If you don’t want to marry, fine, but you’ll no longer be a burden on my resources. You can contribute to our household”—she swept her other arm out toward the door—“or leave.”

Vasi blinked at her stepmother, unable to process the last half hour in a way that made any sense. Leave? There was nowhere for Vasi to go. Was this Marika trying to call Vasi’s bluff? Did Marika plan on selling all of Vasi’s belongings? Her Papa was only gone for negotiations and would be returning soon, a few weeks or a couple of months at most, certainly not much longer than that. She raised her chin to her stepmother. “I’m not going anywhere. This is my home, and I’ll stay until my papa gets back. Then you’ll see who is a burden.”

Marika’s laughter was shrill and sharp. “Foolish girl. You will be the one to see. I’m the mistress of the house, not you. You want to refuse to marry to defy me? Fine. We’re down a servant in the kitchen. If you want to stay so bad, you can help out there until your father returns, and then he’ll marry you off.”

“Your threats don’t frighten me. Work in the kitchen? Fine. I won’t even complain about it.” She wrenched her arm away from Marika. “But I hate you.”

“Unbelievable.” Marika laughed again and then held her hand out to Lord Baine. “Do you see what I have to put up with, Your Grace? It’s no wonder I need a little assistance.”

The duke dropped the purse of coins, his lecherous gaze flitting over to Vasilisa. “If you decide to run away, you’re always welcome at my estate.”

Vasi would rather live in the woods of the Ctyri and risk a run-in with Baba Yaga or the djinn. “Never.”

He raised his eyebrows. “Never is a long time, Vasilisa.”

Even so, in the five minutes of her acquaintance with the Duke of Strasny, Vasi knew all of Ctyri would fall before she would willingly go to him for aid. “I meant never, Lord Baine.”

Marika gasped, her hand flying up for another slap, but Lord Baine grabbed her wrist.

“I’m not offended . . . yet,” he said, still staring at Vasi. He released Marika’s wrist.

“Get out of here, girl,” Marika snapped, shoving Vasi toward the back of the house. “Go help prepare supper if you want to eat anything tonight.”

Vasi didn’t care that Marika was giving orders; Vasi wanted to leave. She stepped toward her room, slowing when she heard the duke’s next words and then glanced over her shoulder.

“The princes return tomorrow, and Nikolai made an official request she be at the ball.” He nodded toward Vasilisa, grinning when he caught her eye, and then said to Marika, “Here is your stamped invitation.”

Lord Baine handed an envelope to Marika. She snapped the seal and pulled out a thick gilded piece of paper, her lips twitching upward.

“Both of the princes are home?” Roza asked, stepping out of the shadowy hallway, an eager look in her sea-green eyes.

Marika’s expression shifted from anger to gloating, and she waved Roza closer. “My darling daughter,” the woman crowed. “You will be adored. You will be so loved. And you will be happy.”

“I have no objection to marriage, Mother,” Roza said eagerly, her gaze darting over to Vasi.

“Of course you don’t,” Marika replied, her eyes gleaming. “You’re what a daughter should be. And I’m going to marry you to a prince.”

Vasi shook her head, but her thoughts went to Nikolai, and a hopeful smile tugged at her lips.

He’d asked to see her, he’d remembered her, and that almost made the rest of the day bearable.

Vasi took a deep breath. Her father would be home soon, so she just needed to wait. She wouldn’t give in to her stepmother. No matter what.

Grab it here:

Link: HERE

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Why Representation Matters by Tina Glasneck #diversitymatters #representationmatters

So, I wanted to tell you guys about this amazing collection that I’m lucky enough to be a part of, but one of the other authors in the boxed set wrote such a meaniful post about it, I asked her if I could share her words instead.   So, here goes:

 

Original Post here: Link

[This is re-posted here with Tina Glasneck’s permission. Visit her website here: https://www.tinaglasneck.com/]

Why Representation Matters

by: Tina Glasneck

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Have you read, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou? Therein is a little black girl that believes if she had blonde hair and blue eyes, everything would be different and okay.

I didn’t understand race for a long time – I grew up with friends of all colors and nationalities, but it wasn’t until my family relocated to the deep south that I came to understand that being black came with its own stigma.

I’ll never forget the day – I was riding with my grandmother as we headed to Pulaski, Tennessee, and as we rounded the courthouse, I watched men in sheets chant epithets and spew hate. I asked my grandmother about it, and she told me to ignore those fools. But what is known cannot be unknown or forgotten.

Only after this fierce and blatant experience was I forced to face that European beauty standards would dictate my own beauty. My lips and nose were considered too wide; my derriere to round; my laughter too robust; my hair too curly and kinky. I was supposed to cower in the background, and be okay with it, but I wasn’t. Instead, I sought to create my own path, and strengthened by the tenets of my faith, and family, and embraced by a high school where we were all eclectic, different and thriving on this difference, I pursued excellence. I tried out for plays; studied hard, acted, travelled, and never let anyone put me in a corner because of what they expected me to be like.

Luckily in the 80s, I grew up with television characters that reflected my world, such as The Cosby Show and A Different World, followed in the 90s by Family Matters. I saw families that reflected my own – these stories didn’t revolve around drugs, prostitution or any negative stereotype, but about families and the problems that they had to overcome.

Every kid is teased. Every kid has to make their way into adulthood, and having representation that goes beyond that of horrible tropes, as depicted in movies and by the media, the social prejudices can then be eradicated. If books and media didn’t provide a different take, I could have grown up thinking that the best I could become would have been a maid, a hooker, a strung out side chick, or even a drug dealer. The positive role models made it possible for me to reach higher, and to strive to become more. That’s why representation is important.

Diversity in pop culture and media are important. The media and entertainment industry play an important role in race relations, as many people only know of certain ethnicities based on the image as produced through Hollywood’s lenses. Stereotypes that are visually reinforced, and without basis. We’ve not yet moved to a society where all are embraced, but maybe this can be the beginning of it. Maybe through diverse fiction, and the telling of tales that move the masses, others can embrace stories that star cast members of differing ethnicities, genders and sexual orientations.

Just as a FYI, diverse fiction doesn’t mean that everything is about race relations or some huge historical struggle. A romance doesn’t have to be about race any more than a children’s cartoon. Were the Huxtables any less relatable because they were a black family?
Instead, this and representations of diverse mediums reflect the diverse community we are, as well as helps to build bridges – removing the sense of otherness, and instead recognizing that the stories we tell are those of the heart – the same boy meets girl love stories, travel adventures, war stories, heck, even horror. By building those bridges we help to eradicate the growing chasm of hate which we find ourselves wallowing in. So, instead of just deferring to a homogeneous or default representation in fiction, I’m happy to be part of a forthcoming boxed set that reflects the world in which I live.

 

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My America is composed of several races, ethnicities, sexual orientations, and genders. And there is room in fiction for all of us.

Let’s embrace diverse fiction because we are living in a grand diverse world!

#diversitymatters #representationmatters

Today, help support diversity and representation, and grab your copy of this great set of full length stories!

[Added]

Links:

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/sigils-and-spells-lori-titus/1127094993

https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/sigils-and-spells/id1282222574

https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/sigils-and-spells

 

A dangerously beautiful vision of unique worlds that’s sure to leave its mark.

Cross through the looking glass into Urban Fantasy, Paranormal Romance, and Dystopian realms where you’ll meet valiant heroes, kick-ass heroines, and dangerous creatures waiting to unveil the hidden corners of the universe.

SIGILS & SPELLS includes more than twenty exclusive novels that roam the sands of Egypt, slip into the shadows of 1940s Los Angeles, voyage to the mystical land of Mabi, and dare to traverse the stars.

From the deserts of Africa to the streets of San Antonio, mythological adventurers strike out to discover brand new worlds and unravel the mysteries of Earth in a limited edition boxed set offering the diversity and originality you haven’t been able to find before now.

Dare to enter forbidden realms of unexpected beauty and peril? Secure your copy of SIGILS & SPELLS today – before it disappears forever!

***

Including stories from…
Lori Titus
Kris Austen Radcliffe
USA Today bestselling authors Heather Marie Adkins and Alex Owens
Paul C Middleton and Lee Hayton
Rita Stradling
Eva Pohler
USA Today bestselling author SJ Davis
M.R. Graham
Award-Winning author Carmen Fox
Tina Glasneck
Sedona Venez
J.N. Colon
Cheri Winters
USA Today bestselling author Katalina Leon
RJ Blain
USA Today bestselling author Cate Farren
Amy Evans
Catherine Banks
Award-Winning author V.A. Dold
Dylan Keefer
Award-Winning author Ali Cross
Michel Prince
Danny Bell
Tiana Laveen

Eeek! I’m going to go live #releasedayparty

Hey guys 😀

The Colorless Release Day is just around the corner, and I wanted to tell you guys about the book-birthday party I’m throwing on Facebook. There’s going to be games, prizes, amazing author drop ins, and a kindle fire giveaway. Also, I’m going to go live (for the first time EVER) at the beginning of the giveaway.

Have any questions you want me to answer while I’m live? Write them in the comments!

The party starts at 10 am EDT and goes all day until 11pm EDT. It’s all online and you can drop in whenever you want!! I’ll be featuring Colorless from noon to 2 pm, EDT.

You can join the party by clicking here:

Colorless Ad

 

Have you preordered your copy of Colorless yet 😉 😉 ? You can grab one by clicking here:

Colorless Banner

 

 

Meet the Fantasy & Sci-fi Authors co-hosting the Colorless Release Day Party!

11-12 pm (EDT) Sheri-Lynn Marean

I never thought I’d be an author… A1Du9z2cHdL._UX250_
I’m also a professional animal artist who spent most of my life riding/working with horses. Now I’m married with kids. And pets–a golden retriever who steals socks, a cat who brings live mice inside & two kittens who believe our house their jungle gym…
I’ve always been an avid reader and released my first book in March of 2016

Grab her book for FREE!!

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2-3 pm (EDT) Sarah K.L Wilson

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Visit her website

 

3-4 pm (EDT) K.M. Robinson

91DErhq4E+L._UX250_K.M. Robinson is a storyteller who creates new worlds both in her writing and in her fine arts conceptual photography. She is a marketing, branding and social media strategy educator who is recognized at first sight by her very long hair. She is a creative who focuses on photography, videography, couture dress making, and writing to express the stories she needs to tell. She almost always has a camera within reach.

Visit her website

 

5-6pm (EDT) J & L Wells51Hu5ZSPCEL._UX250_

Judy and Laura Wells are a mother and daughter writing duo from the heart of England. Between the two of them they own three beautiful but mad Japanese Shiba Inus and two not so active tortoises.

They’ve dabbled with a few different genres in the past, but contemporary romance has been their first love since they began writing. Perfect Imperfections is Book One in their Moments series.

Check out their Amazon

 

6 – 7 pm (EDT) Catherine Banks

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Catherine Banks is the author of the Artemis Lupine Series, Pirate Princess, Daughter of Lions, and many more. She began writing fiction stories when she was only four years old and finished her first full length novel at the age of fifteen. She is married to her soulmate and best friend, Avery, who she has two amazing children with. After her full time job she reads books, plays video games, and watches a lot of anime shows and movies with her family to relax.

GRAB HER BOOK ON A PREORDER $0.99

7 – 8 pm (EDT) J. M. Page

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J.M. Page writes timeless fairytales with a sci-fi twist. You can expect sweeping adventures in far-off galaxies, love in unexpected places, and of course a Happily Ever After every time!

Visit Her Website

 

8–9 pm (EDT) Lichelle Slater

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Lichelle lives in the beautiful Salt Lake Valley, Utah and has loved books since she was born. Her mom read to her until she could read, always took her to the library to get more books, and she often got in trouble for staying up all night reading. Her dad read The Hobbit to her and her siblings, giving a different voice for each character.

Lichelle fell in love with the magic of words and has always wanted to share that magic with others. This past year she finally decided to make her dreams come true and has books now available in all sorts of genres. One thing is for certain: she leaves you feeling a touch of magic, and there’s always a dragon.

Visit her amazon page

 

9–10 pm (EDT) LM Preston

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L.M. Preston was born and raised in Washington, DC. An avid reader, she loved to create poetry and short-stories as a young girl. She started writing science fiction under the encouragement of her husband who was a Sci-Fi buff and her four kids. Her obsessive desire to write and create stories of young people who overcome unbelievable odds introduced series such as The Pack, Bandits, Purgatory Reign and her LUV novellas. She loves to write while on the porch watching her kids play or when she is traveling, which is another passion that encouraged her writing.

Visit her website

 

Grab her book Bandits for $0.99 by clicking here:

Bandits-under 10MB

 

 

 

Hazel, a #free exclusive prequel

Hey there 🙂

So, it’s been a while since I posted to my blog–sorry, guys. Honestly, I’ve been focusing a lot more on my weekly newsletter lately. But, I’m here now 🙂 and I wanted to tell you guys about Hazel! Hazel is a FREE prequel to Colorless (coming 8/82017), that I’m giving away now EXCLUSIVELY to my newsletter subscribers (as in, there’s no other place to get it–it’s not for sale anywhere). If you’re interested, here’s a little more about it:

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Fifteen-year-old Hazel Hampton expects many things from her coming out ball. Laughter. Joy. A full ballroom. An overflowing dance card. And most precious of all, the chance to steal a dance with the forbidden boy whom she loves. What she doesn’t expect is to be arrested on the charges of sorcery and murder.

 

Get it HERE

 

 

 

 

And, just in case you missed it, here’s a little something about Colorless, which is on sale now for $0.99 and releases on August 8th.

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In Domengrad, there are rules all must live by: Fear the Gods. Worship the Magicians. Forsake the Iconoclasts.

To Annabelle Klein, the rules laid down by the Magicians are the mere ramblings of stuffy old men. As far as she’s concerned, the historic Iconoclasts, heretics who nearly destroyed the Magicians so long ago, are nothing but myth. She has much more important matters to worry about.

Heiress to a manor mortgaged down to its candlesticks and betrothed to her loathsome cousin, sixteen-year-old Annabelle doubts the gods could forsake her more.

Then Annabelle is informed of her parents’ sudden and simultaneous deaths, and all of the pigment drips out of her skin and hair, leaving her colorless. Within moments, Annabelle is invisible and forgotten by all who know her.

Living like a wraith in her own home, Annabelle discovers that to regain her color she must solve the mystery behind her parents’ murders and her strange transformation.

Meanwhile, hundreds of the Magicians’ monks, with their all-black eyes and conjoined minds, have usurped control of Annabelle’s family manor. An Iconoclast is rumored to be about—a person who they claim goes unseen, unheard, and lost to memory, yet is the greatest threat to all of Domengrad. For the first time in a hundred years, the monks plan to unleash the dire wolves of old.

Their only target: Annabelle.

AMAZON

Giveaways, Sales and FREE Books



Rita Stradling Books Updates!

Hey! Happy Friday, yet again!

I just wanted to share five amazing books for $0.99, two really cool giveaways and a couple of brand new Instafreebie group giveaways (one of which is on my website :).

Here’s a special Kindle Fire Giveaway to celebrate the upcoming release of Colorless (there’s only four days left to enter!): Link!

Want to join the RS Books Street team? You’re always welcome!

Click here:

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Check it out: Here!

Here are some new releases, $0.99 cent sales, and FREE books that I thought you might love ❤

Now for $0.99

Granted

by Michelle Merrill

Now Only $0.99

The existence of genies may be the best-kept secret in the history of the world.

After being trapped in the Sahara Desert for her whole life, sixteen-year-old genie Brielle finally gets her first assignment in Tri-Cities, Washington. She eagerly heads out into the human world to grant her first wish so that she can gain her magic. Unfortunately, her assigned human, Addie, stopped believing in wishes years ago and would much rather that everyone just leave her alone.

Complicating everything is Rock, Brielle’s childhood friend turned enemy. Brielle doesn’t need him ruining her first trip out into the human world. Too bad she can’t keep her mind—or her eyes—off him and his annoyingly cute dimples.

To make matters worse, genies in the Tri-Cities area are suspiciously dying. One broken lamp could be an accident, but after three deaths occur, Brielle suspects someone has uncovered the genies’ secret and is slowly killing them off one by one.

With the Genie Council ignoring the threat, Brielle desperately needs to gain her magic so she can stop the murderer before she—or Rock—is the next genie to die.

NOTE: Granted is an urban fantasy adventure & romance for young adults with genies, murder and mystery! It deals with teenage rites of passage and being a teen.

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Now Only $0.99!

Born of Aether

By A.L. Knorr

Now only $0.99!

They say if you tell a lie long enough, you’ll eventually believe it, but Akiko will never forget who she really is.

Akiko Susumu is not what she seems. Her life as a normal teen living in a coastal Canadian town is a complete sham. The old man she lives with is not her grandfather, he’s her captor. And Akiko isn’t a teen. In fact, she isn’t even human.

But Akiko isn’t allowed to share the reality of her true nature with a single soul. Not even her three best friends know of the power she could wield, given the chance.

So, when she’s sent back to her homeland to steal an ancient samurai sword, she jumps at the chance to secure her freedom. Only to get caught in a deadly game of cat and mouse with the most dangerous crime syndicate in Japan.

Can Akiko escape with her life and her soul, or is true freedom as elusive as the Aether she was born from?

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Now for $0.99

Captive

By Anna Santos

$0.99

Who would you rather have—a vampire or an angel—for a soul-mate?

Innocent Aria never imagined that her dream trip to Paris would change her life forever. She is soon thrown into a world where vampires, angels, gargoyles and werewolves exist.

After being rejected and almost dying, Aria finds herself stuck in a dangerous love triangle where her freedom and happiness are at stake.

Who will Aria choose to love forever? The gorgeous but ruthless vampire who sentenced her to Hell or the breathtaking and possessive angel Prince who offers her redemption and a brand new pair of wings.

Find out in Captive.

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Now Only $0.99!!

The Soul Guide

By Kelly Stock

Now Only $0.99!

The Soul Guide is a riveting Urban / Paranormal Fantasy that will keep you turning pages until its very end.

Sybil has been chosen as the next Soul Guide. Her job is to ensure light and life remain on Earth. But with such responsibility comes much danger and she is being hunted. With the help of Bertram, the old Caretaker, and Alec, her Guardian she must reach the Veil to complete the passing over ceremony before the Master and the Mephisto get to her first.

On her journey from the streets of London, to the gothic Clayhill Manor and beyond through doors only the Caretaker can see, Sybil will find herself embroiled in a hidden world where the fate of the human race is quite literally in her hands. Will she be able to fulfil her destiny? Can she trust the young man whose been sent to protect her or the Caretaker who seems lost to his own grief? Read book one of the Soul Guide series to find out.

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Now Only $0.99!

The Dark Ones

by Gaja J. Kos

Now Only $0.99!

In a world ruled by lethal Slavic immortals, Rose and her pack of Black werewolves are drawn into the beginning of a war as they try to uncover the being behind the mass murder of White werewolves.

Because the nature of the killings obstructs the normal passage of souls, Veles, the sultry lord of the underworld, offers Rose his assistance; the were is left facing not only the new knowledge of the pack’s hidden lineage but also her growing fondness for the arrogant god…

To win the war, the pack must ascend to The Dark Ones. But to do so, they must be willing to risk being on the receiving end of the immortal community’s wrath.

I thought this giveaway looked pretty neat, click on the image to enter!

And . . . dum, dum, dum FREE Books!





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Book Rebel & Ensnared (finished version) is on #NetGalley! #giveaway

Hey guys,

Just a quick note. So, for those of you who love free books (like me!), I want to tell you about an awesome discovery and a really cool giveaway. There’s a new free and bargain book site that’s launching on June 5th, that’s comparable to Bookbub on how amazing their deals are (and they’re VERY selective, too!). AND… if you sign up before the launch date, you’re entered into this amazing giveaway (click on the image to learn more):

 

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Are you a NetGalley reviewer? The finished copy of Ensnared is on NetGalley for professional reviewers for one month only. Unfortunately, if you’ve already picked it up, I’m pretty sure you’re stuck with the ARC. But, if you haven’t grabbed it yet, you can request it here: LINK

Happy Book Birthday! Ensnared is out now! #scifi #beautyandthebeast

Ensnared Book Birthday

A Near Future Retelling of Beauty and the Beast

Alainn’s father is not a bad man. He’s a genius and an inventor. When he’s hired to create the robot Rose, Alainn knows taking the money is a mistake.

Rose acts like a human. She looks exactly like Alainn. But, something in her comes out wrong.

To save her father from a five year prison sentence, Alainn takes Rose’s place. She says goodbye to the sun and goes to live in a tower no human is allowed to enter. She becomes the prisoner of a man no human is allowed to see.

Believing that a life of servitude lies ahead, Alainn finds a very different fate awaits her in the company of the strange, scarred recluse.

Get it here: AMAZON

Free on Kindle Unlimited

[You might be like, “Wait , what?! That’s not the Ensnared cover!”
I know, I’m sorry for the confusion. Last minute, the publisher, Kindle Press, and I decided to switch the cover. If you want to talk about it, feel free to email or msg me. But, yay, Ensnared is up and running! ]

Join the Release day party going on right now!

(Tuesday 12 pm – 9 pm ET)

Link: HERE

realse day party BANNER

Can’t Make it Today? I’ll be doing a takeover on the Shattered Worlds Boxset Wednesday!

Join the fun, here: Link

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Also, wanted to share: here’s some paranormal and dystopian books all for $0.99 (psst… one of my books might be in there 😉 )

Link: HERE

SALE