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I'm so excited that my lifelong dream of becoming a published author has come true. If you'd like to go straight to excerpts, descriptions, and buy links for my books, click on the covers below on the right.

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Saturday, July 12, 2014

Book Reviews: Red the Were Hunter and Solace Shattered

So the theme of my reviews this evening is fantasy from the urban fantasy writer's perspective.

First, my long overdue review of Rebekah Ganiere's novel Red the Were Hunter.

What if you were the key to an ancient prophecy that would begin to heal your lands, but fulfilling your destiny meant you had to turn your back on everything you'd been taught to believe in?

Redlynn of Volkzene, member of the Sisterhood of Red, is heartbroken to discover another girl kidnapped and her best friend slain by werewolves. Defying the head of her order, she sets out to kill the beast she believes responsible. The King of the Weres-- But there are worse things in Wolvenglen Forest than the wolves.

Adrian, reluctant heir to the throne of Wolvenglen, and his band of wolf brothers are bound to protect the humans; especially the Sisterhood. Finding Redlynn unconscious in his woods, awakens in him a passion he's never before experienced and a protective instinct that has him ready to turn on his own men. Problem is, a female is the last thing Adrian needs complicating his life.

But all is not as it seems in Wolvenglen Forest and to save the missing girls before time runs out, Redlynn and Adrian must move past their inner demons and learn to trust each other. In the search for vengeance however, sometimes you must give up what you desire most.

With her Fairelle series, author Rebekah Ganiere takes fairy tales and gives them an interesting twist. The aspect that drew me into this first book, a clever take on the Little Red Riding Hood tale, was heroine Redlynn, or "Red," herself. She's got an urban fantasy level of snarkiness and strength, but she doesn't hide from her emotions. She has her feelings and then moves on, or at least tries to when she meets Adrian, prince of the Weres, her sworn enemy. Ganiere does a great job with showing how their attraction turns to mutual affection on both physical and emotional levels in a way that keeps the reader guessing whether they'll get their happily-ever-after. The plot twists and turns are also interesting and unexpected. I ended up reading this one twice since I had to delay my review, and I enjoyed it both times, first because of that tension and the second time because of the gorgeous writing and storytelling. I didn't find myself getting frustrated with the characters (e.g., "Oh, just tell her already!") either time. In short, this is a fun book and definitely a series I'll be watching for.

Check out my interview of her two characters at this post from May.
Here's Rebekah's author website.

My rating:  Five glasses of wine - a whole bottle!

Second, my equally overdue review of Anna Steffl's Solace Shattered:

One relic is lost in an act of fidelity when Paulus’s blessed sword falls into undeserving hands. One relic is won by testing the strength, endurance, and mercy of the champion who proves himself worthy of the Blue Eye. But two souls are shattered in the process. Though Arvana serves her penance by choosing a champion, the pure joy of a shacra evades her until a forbidden moment of tenderness. Will the single kiss endanger the fate of the world and destroy her heart’s longing for solace? This fascinating trilogy continues with greater stakes and deeper romance in an unforgettable fantasy world.

Like Redlynn, Arvana, the heroine of Solace Shattered, is trying hard to figure out her emotions as she works for the greater good. As in Seeking Solace, the first book in the Solace trilogy, Arvana, a "Solacian" nun, finds herself the object of male desire and attention, this time from the handsome Captain Degarius of Sarapost. To his credit, he's a lot less pushy than Prince Chane Lerouge of Acadia in the first book, and that, in turn, makes him more attractive to me as a reader. Still, I'm thinking Arvana has got to be the hottest nun ever to be earning all this male attention. Seriously, she'd win the nun beauty pageant, if there was a Solace version, hands-down. Possibly related:  Captain Degarius is a leg man.

Seriously, though, author Anna Steffl does a great job of keeping her large cast of characters distinct from each other, and each is very well drawn. Even her minor villain Miss Gallivere was somewhat sympathetic. I mean, really, the poor girl has one job, to make a good marital match, and she keeps getting thwarted by a freaking nun. I was relieved that the narrative generally stayed in one place, the Acadian capital of Shacra Paulus, this time, although it's apparent that the Orlandians are getting frisky, and the Gherians are as freaky as ever. Sadly there were no dragons this time. This book definitely raises the personal and professional stakes for its heroes - reluctant and otherwise - and I'm excited all three volumes in the series are available for free ebook download right now from the author' website because I'm totally getting the third one once I post this review.

By the way, she has a really useful "who's who" of characters if you lose track between books.

My rating:  Four glasses of wine plus a cheese plate.

Disclosure:  I received review copies of both books for free from the authors.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Beachin' - Inspiration for Some of Long Shadows' Settings

So here we are at the July 4 holiday weekend, and I'm not at the beach. Those of you who are, well, go ahead and enjoy it. Be sure you wear your sunscreen, and look out for sharks. And hurricanes. And sand fleas. And...

Who am I kidding? I'm insanely jealous of you if you are at the beach. Seriously, I've been wanting to go since last year. This desire ended up coming out in my second book Long Shadows, which was in progress at the time. Max, the hero, is from the Caribbean, and of course I had to make him and Lonna end up there. I won't spoil anything plot-wise for you, but here's a description from the book:

I focused my attention externally to try and figure out the myriad twists and turns in what seemed to be an island plantation house with white walls, and dark wood windows, baseboards, and molding. The furniture stood large and heavy, and every surface held a small statue or other tchotchke that looked like it could have some sort of magical significance... (Long Shadows, page 207)

I drew my inspiration for the Wizard Headquarters for that region from the Horned Dorset Primavera hotel in Rincon, Puerto Rico. They seem to have a flash website, so apologies to my readers with devices that won't support it. That's where Hubby and I honeymooned 10(!) years ago. At the time, they prided themselves in being a true getaway, and the rooms didn't have televisions or telephones in them. I've heard that's changed now, unfortunately. I guess they bowed to the pressure of our electronics-addicted society. Oh, wait, my books are all electronic only at this point. Hooray for device addiction!

So, back to the inspiration. Here's a picture of the building where the breakfast room was:

We stayed in one of the villas. At the time I had not yet gotten a digital camera, so my pictures were all with a regular camera with (gasp!) real film. One of my rolls of film got partially exposed between me taking the pictures and developing (thanks, TSA). So no, that's not a pretentious filter on this one:

So what about inside?

He opened a door near the stairs, and we went through another small hallway that led into a bedroom. On one side, a king-sized bed with cotton bedspread and dark wood headboard dominated the room. On the other, French doors opened to the balcony on the beach side... (Long Shadows, page 209)

Here are a couple of pictures from inside the building we stayed in. First kind of a dark picture of the front hall (with a cameo appearance by Hubby as potentially sinister shadowy figure):

And then our room:

As for the balcony, here's the one on the main resort building:

 Finally, our room had a delightful little balcony of its own with a wonderful thing called a plunge pool. I still look at this picture when I need to relax:

And finally, here's a beach picture. Let's all pretend to be there. If you like, you can even download a copy of Long Shadows to your device and go to a Caribbean island with Lonna and Max. Just watch out for wizards who have their own agenda:

That night I dreamed of a tropical beach with a turquoise ocean at my feet and large-leafed flora all around. Huge fuchsia plants dripped the scent of their purple and pink flowers on the breeze. I leaned back in my beach chair, cold drink in hand, and soaked up the sun... (Long Shadows, Page 12)

For a longer excerpt and buy links for Long Shadows, click here.

So, fellow having to stay at home people, what are your favorite beaches or beach books? I'm partial to Destin, FL, and I'll read just about anything, even nonfiction, if there's an ocean in front of me.