Wednesday, February 28, 2018
Tuesday, February 27, 2018
Lauren Ko brings mathematical precision to her baking, using elaborate intertwined patterns to form transfixing patterns to the top of her homemade pies and tarts. The Seattle-based amateur baker has been piecrafting for just a couple of years, she tells Mic, and if you’re wondering, this is her favorite pie crust recipe. Ko combines classic crusts with colorful fillings like blueberries, kumquats, purple sweet potatoes, and pluots to create her visually striking sweets. You can follow her on Instagram.
Monday, February 26, 2018
Please Welcome Laura Bickle as She Tells Us About Her Dark Fantasy, WITCH CREEK, The Wildlands Series, Book Two
The Wildlands Series
by Laura Bickle
Genre: Dark Fantasy
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Date of Publication: Feb. 27, 2018
Number of pages: 384
Word Count: 88,160
In the backcountry of Yellowstone, evil moves below the surface . . .
Following Nine of Stars comes the next chapter in Laura Bickle's critically acclaimed Wildlands series.
As the daughter of an alchemist, Petra Dee has battled supernatural horrors and experienced astonishing wonders. But there’s no magic on earth that can defeat her recent cancer diagnosis, or help find her missing husband, Gabriel. Still, she would bet all her remaining days that the answer to his disappearance lies in the dark subterranean world beneath the Rutherford Ranch on the outskirts of Temperance, Wyoming.
Gabe is being held prisoner by the sheriff and heir to the ranch, Owen Rutherford. Owen is determined to harness the power of the Tree of Life—and he needs Gabe to reveal its magic. Secretly, the sheriff has also made a pact to free a creature of the underground, a flesh-devouring mermaid. Muirenn has vowed to exact vengeance on Gabe, who helped imprison her, but first . . . she's hungry. Once freed, she will swim into Yellowstone—to feed.
With her coyote sidekick Sig, Petra must descend into the underworld to rescue Gabe before it's too late . . . for both of them.
Peering through the cattails, she saw a man with a fishing pole, standing on an outcropping. He seemed alone, caught in a bit of reverie, gazing at his line skipping along the surface of the water.
She dipped below the surface of the water, toward the shiver of the fishing line. With green-spotted fingers, she lifted the struggling fish from the hook. The line jerked away.
The man swore.
Muirenn lifted her head above the water.
“Holy shit.” The man stumbled backward. “I didn’t realize you were swimming there . . . I . . .”
His expression changed from embarrassment to curiosity as he looked at her. The pupils of his eyes dilated. “Who . . . are you?”
Muirenn gripped the fish close to her chest, giving a small smile.
The fisherman crouched on the rock, setting his pole beside him. “Wow. You’re uh . . . green? Is that real?”
Muirenn cocked her head and slipped forward a bit in the water. The edge of her tail skimmed above the surface.
“Is that like . . . one of those tails that the girls have at that park in Florida? For a movie or something?” His suntanned brow wrinkled. “No. That’s real,” he decided. “You, um . . . want the fish? You can have it.”
She was within arm’s length of him. She released the squirming fish into the water.
“You wanted to let it go? Look, I . . .”
The man talked too much. She swam closer, tentatively.
The fisherman looked at her, at her dappled skin and the dark rust hair spreading into the water. She wouldn’t ordinarily have been so bold. The weight off her tail was going to her head. She let him take in the black of her eyes, the gills on her throat. He gazed in wonder, and his fingers twitched to a small square piece of plastic on top of his tackle box.
“Can I take your picture? What . . . are you?”
A smile played across her lips, and she spoke to him in a silvery voice. “I’m the Mermaid.”
“Wow. I . . . wow. I’m, uh, Norm. Do I, like, make a wish or something?”
“You can, if you want. I’ll listen.”
She reached up with delicate fingers to touch him. Her fingers brushed the pockets of his fishing vest, playing with wonder over the bits and baubles there meant to lure the attention of fish. The man forgot about his camera and stared, transfixed.
Muirenn reached up for his collar . . .
. . . and dragged him down into the water.
He splashed and flailed. She brought him down—down to the bottom of the creek. It wasn’t so far, but it was far enough for a land dweller. He couldn’t fight her for long. He thrashed until his lungs grew heavy with creek water. He convulsed as the lack of oxygen reached his heart and filtered up to his brain. And then he stopped.
Muirenn grinned, showing row upon row of shark-like teeth. She ripped off his arm and began to chew. It had been so long since she’d had anything but the errant fish that wandered into her realm . . . this was a meal worth waiting for.
The creek ran red.
Red as the idle red-and-white bobber drifting on the surface of the water.
The Shadow Mermaid
By Laura Bickle
There are a lot of things that are special to me about WITCH CREEK. There’s my protagonist, Petra, geologist and daughter of an alchemist, gradually losing her hold on life. She’s shadowed by her coyote sidekick, Sig, who may or may not be The Coyote of legend. And there’s Petra’s husband, Gabe, an undead cowboy who haunts the alchemical Tree of Life. They live in Temperance, Wyoming, a place that modern time has moved on from, but magic never will.
They are all special. But the most exciting part of writing WITCH CREEK was the chance to write about a mermaid.
You see, I’m a little obsessed with mermaids. I have been, ever since I was a little girl and got a Sea Wees doll for my birthday. She had brown hair like mine and green scales. She was clutched in my sticky fingers twenty-four-seven, from bathtime to bedtime. She climbed trees with me and lived under my pillow, the safest place I could think of from the family dachshund, who adored gnawing on her lustrous hair if he could find her.
That memory of the mermaid stuck with me as an adult. I always wanted to write a book about a mermaid. I’ve flirted with several ideas over the past several years, but never struck on the right one. When I began WITCH CREEK, I needed a supernatural adversary to oppose my geologist heroine.
And Muirenn, the shadow mermaid, was hatched.
Muirenn didn’t start out as a mermaid. She began life as a witch, more than a century and a half ago. Like most mermaids, she has a spellbinding voice, and was said to be able to sing a man to his death. She fell in with the alchemist who founded the town of Temperance…and then they fell out, in a spectacular magical battle. Muirenn lost, and she became the subject of her adversary’s alchemical experiments. She was taken apart and sewn back together in the shape of a mermaid, given a mouthful of sharp teeth and a taste for human flesh.
Muirenn was imprisoned in an underground river since the time of her creation. But now, she’s been freed, and no fisherman in the backcountry is safe from her carnivorous wrath.
Muirenn isn’t quite the smiling doll I treasured as a child. She’s a shadow version of her – dark hair, green scales, and a desire for revenge against the man who imprisoned her there…Petra’s husband, Gabe.
Since I’ve got a soft spot for mermaids, I might be rooting for her. More than a little bit.
About the Author:
Laura Bickle grew up in rural Ohio, reading entirely too many comic books out loud to her favorite Wonder Woman doll. After graduating with an MA in Sociology – Criminology from Ohio State University and an MLIS in Library Science from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, she patrolled the stacks at the public library and worked with data systems in criminal justice. She now dreams up stories about the monsters under the stairs, also writing contemporary fantasy novels under the name Alayna Williams.
Her work has been included in the ALA’s Amelia Bloomer Project 2013 reading list and the State Library of Ohio’s Choose to Read Ohio reading list for 2015-2016.
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Sunday, February 25, 2018
Saturday, February 24, 2018
The D'Jacques Dynasty, Book 1
Word Count: 64.5K
As the youngest Battle Prince, Lucien D'Jacques is discouraged because the affinities with weapons that his siblings have shown aren’t showing up in him. Being half-Mutah, that little something extra should be a given, but he’s no better than the average Normal soldier.
Meanwhile, the Damaged are back and slowly taking over. After receiving word that neighboring compounds are suffering, Lucien is tapped by his parents, Yulen and Atty, the Battle Lord and Lady of Alta Novis, to accompany them on a rescue mission to Green River. Now would be a great time for those specialties to shine.
When fighting an invisible enemy, it’s almost impossible to tell who is friend or foe. But if left unchecked, that enemy could wipe out all Mutah. It’s up to the D’Jacques, with the help of their army and newfound allies, to defeat the Bloods and stop the spread of the maddening disease, before it’s too late.
Warning! Contains sneezing, tainted blood, mutant insects, rabid bats, a diabolical plan, a fake battle lord, a haunted compound, and one man trying to prove himself as he struggles to survive.
Friday, February 23, 2018
Thursday, February 22, 2018
Wednesday, February 21, 2018
Tuesday, February 20, 2018
by Tani Hanes
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Date of Publication: November 17, 2017
Number of pages: 210
Word Count: 87,210
Tagline: Can she fall in love with a haunted man?
Scout Lawson is fleeing an unhappy past, and thinks she's run as far as she can from Yale University when she lands a job restoring a library in Cornwall, England for reclusive rock star George Wilder, who dropped out of sight after the death of his beautiful wife the year before.
As soon as she arrives at his estate, Farraway Mist, however, strange things start to happen. As the couple's feelings for each other grow, the events become more harrowing, until everything they hold dear is in peril.
Farraway Mist by Tani Hanes will be on Sale for .99 throughout the tour!
It was a glorious day for being outdoors. Scout was enchanted with her new clubs, and enchanting as well. She exclaimed over how well balanced they were, and how well they swung, their heft. And how shiny they were, and how pretty the color was. George just smiled, pleased with how well received his gift was.
They played the whole links, while the dogs bounced back and forth, rambling along the different scents. In golf, at least, they were well-matched, and had a good game, with Scout having the weaker but more accurate stroke.
The fog and mist began to come up just as they reached the last few holes. "Maybe we should stop," George suggested, looking around.
"Oh, come on, this is all private, right?" Scout coaxed. "No one else is around, there's no danger of anyone up ahead getting hit by a ball or anything." She looked at him imploringly. "We can be quick, can't we? It's just that I haven't played in so long."
"Okay, but let's be very quick," George stressed, once again enticed by the lovely sight of her hips as they twisted when she swung her club. "You've seen how rapidly the mist can come up."
They played through quickly, trying to see up ahead as the fog rose up the cliffs.
George tried to explain the topography a little to help out, and Scout did okay, calling on her memory from her previous walk along the links. They kept the dogs close to avoid hitting one of them with an errant ball.
The fog finally got thick enough to block out the sun, and Scout pulled on her sweater, which had been tied around her slender waist.
"You cold?" George asked. "We can head back if you like?" He stepped close and rubbed her arm.
Scout shook her head.
"This is the last hole, right?" she asked. "Let's finish." George nodded and stepped up to the tee.
They played through, by which time their hair was wet from the mist and fog. They could hear the waves, too, crashing into the rocks. They quickly shouldered their clubs and began walking toward the house, which was shrouded in fog.
"Scout! Slow down, please. Remember how slippery this bit here can be," George entreated.
Scout nodded and slowed her steps. After a minute or two, she stopped and looked around. "Where's Jess?" she asked.
George, too, looked. "Fuck it all, where's she gone off to now?" he asked, irritated beyond all measure. For no reason he could fathom, he was uneasy. He wanted to get back to the house, he wanted to get Scout back to the house. The longer they stayed outside, the more nervous he felt.
"Keep going, Scout, carefully, though. I'll call Jess and catch up in a mo, okay?" he said.
Scout was going to say she'd just wait with him, but she saw the look on his face and just nodded, not wanting to worry him any more, and turned and kept walking. They had to be pretty close to the house by now, anyway.
"Jess! Come on, girl!" George called. Bandit, understanding that Jess' absence was gumming up the works, promptly went to look for her. George knew that he'd find her and bring her back right away, and that she'd probably be contrite and embarrassed.
Jess was nothing if not polite.
He turned to see how far ahead Scout was, and stopped dead in his tracks. Oh god.
There was something on the trail next to her, some amorphous shape, darker than the surrounding fog. It was hovering about eight inches off the ground, hulking over Scout, who didn't seem aware of its presence.
"Scout!" Her name was torn from his mouth, a warning which she would never understand. How could he convey what he needed from this distance with mere words? That she needed to run, defend herself, be careful?
Scout turned toward him, not understanding her danger, but hearing the terror in his voice. As she turned, she slipped, dropping her clubs with a clatter. She grabbed for the railing, which she knew she should've been holding all along.
She lost her footing, reaching desperately for the iron fencing. She saw George drop his own clubs, coming toward her at a dead run, Bandit appearing out of the fog behind him like a wraith. There was no way he'd reach her in time.
The ground beneath her feet began to crumble, and Scout knew that she was going to fall, and probably die. It was at least a couple hundred feet down to the beach below, and it wasn't a soft, sandy beach, but rather a rocky, cove-like one, deep and beautiful for taking photographs. The stairs were cut sharply into the cliffs, and she would probably hit most of them on the way down.
There was a brief moment when she thought she could save herself, when she managed to grab the edge.
But then, inexplicably, she felt something else, and it pushed her, pushed her body and hands, peeling her fingers off and shoving her over the edge.
And suddenly, just as she was sure she was going to fall, George was there, throwing himself into the breech, literally throwing himself behind her somehow, grabbing her around the waist, changing her trajectory, so she fell, not into the chasm underneath, but onto a tiny ledge, a V-shaped opening between two rocks carved into the stairs.
They both landed with a hard thump, hitting the rock wall hard. Scout carried the momentum for both of them, being so much lighter, and kept going, nearly over the edge. George kept his hold around her waist, hauling her back just in time. He pulled her close, his heart beating like a triphammer in his chest.
They looked at each other, knowing how close their escape had been, both breathing like they'd just run a marathon.
"Oh my god, George, thank you," Scout gasped through chattering teeth. They looked around at their tiny, wet surroundings.
About the Author:
Tani Hanes was born in Yokosuka, Japan. She spent the first few years of her life traveling back and forth between Japan and the US, making the permanent move to the Central Valley of California when she was five. She visited family in Japan on a regular basis, and attended college in Tokyo for one year at ICU before getting her degree in Language Studies from UC Santa Cruz. She has two children, and was a substitute teacher for fifteen years. Hanes currently resides in New York City with her husband and cats, Moss and Lily.
Monday, February 19, 2018
Please Welcome Annabelle McInnes as She Tells Us About Her LGBTI Speculative Romances, TRUE REFUGE, FRACTURED REFUGE, and ETERNAL REFUGE
The Refuge Trilogy
by Annabelle McInnes
Genre: LGBTI Speculative Romance
Publisher: Escape Publishing
Imprint of Harlequin Australia
Date of Publication: 21st September 2017
Number of pages: 250
Word Count: 65,000
Cover Artist: Escape Publishing
Book one in an emotional, erotic, dramatic trilogy about a world gone to hell, and the hell we hold inside…
The human race has been all but wiped out, along with our best traits: compassion, empathy, and generosity.
Euan is a survivor. In a dystopian wasteland infused with violence and cruelty, he protects something invaluable. His love for Nick and the solace that comes with the connection keeps him from destruction, and offers him that most elusive and dangerous emotion of all —
But happiness comes at a price and a hunting trip leaves Nick vulnerable to the evil that still infects the world. When Euan returns, he finds Nick broken and bloody, irrevocably damaged in both body and soul.
Now Euan’s only goal is to find a place for Nick to heal, a safe place, a refuge where they can rest, recover and repair their love. When they risk a raid on an abandoned house, they discover the unthinkable, the rarest treasure of all. A woman.
Chapter One True Refuge
Euan waited, his body held rigid in a state of hiatus. His muscles burned, quivering involuntarily from remaining immobile for so long. The warm breeze rustled the tussocks that surrounded him, and the seedpods tickled his ears as he crouched among the native grasses. The morning sky above him was a vibrant blue, marred only by sparse clouds that meandered across the unlimited expanse with little concern for the struggle for survival that went on down below. Only his chest moved as he took each slow inhalation of breath, his eyes remaining focused on the net that stretched out in front of him.
There was a movement to his right. A ripple in the stillness. The dry grass stirred and the brittle stalks crackled in the silence. There was a patter, a lull, a dislodged stone on the dry earth, and then all was quiet once again.
He dragged in a breath and forced his broad shoulders to relax. Each fist was clasped around a rusted tin can, their contents long gone, but the casing still served his purpose. His large hands held the round metal objects easily, the alloy cool as it pressed against his calloused skin.
His nose itched but he ignored it. He narrowed his eyes as the sound to his right reoccurred. This time, the rustling was prolonged, the animal gaining confidence in its terrain. Just a few more minutes and then he could pounce.
He cursed when there was a shout and a clattering of plastic. The creature to his right bolted in the opposite direction to the snare, disappearing into its underground shelter. Euan’s hunting partner Lenny had reacted early, scaring the animals off before he was ready to act.
Sabotaging his attempts to gather enough food for them to return to camp.
He had no choice but to jump up from his prone position and beat the tin cans together. The combined noise created by the empty plastic bottles and Euan’s cans frightened the game they were trying to catch. A number of long-eared hares bounded before him, headed towards the net they’d pulled against the boughs of two oak trees and the pit they’d dug immediately before the mesh to ensure their bait would be caught.
The two men moved forward as one. Lenny was exuberant, his movements excessive and unnecessary. Euan was resigned and his unease grew with every step, until two rabbits were caught, clouds of dust rising like smoke in their wake.
Euan quickly discarded his tins and knelt at the edge of the pit. It was an easy thing to capture the frightened animals by the elongated ears and snap their delicate necks. Two substantial hares were nothing to scorn, and these were especially fat from the lack of human and domesticated animal encroachment. But it could have been more. It should have been more.
Euan rose but said nothing as he watched Lenny approach the pit. He couldn’t help curling his lip at stink of old sweat that clung to filthy, threadbare clothing as he reluctantly handed his prize over to the outstretched hand.
A shudder of uneasiness was beginning to crawl up his spine. That was the third time his effort to capture their prey had been foiled. That didn’t take even into account that the day before Lenny had dragged his heels the entire journey, keeping their pace deliberately leisurely, despite Euan’s attempt to get this provisions trip over and done with as quickly as possible.
This last attempt to undermine his hunting efforts was shining as brightly as a neon sign in an apocalyptic-induced darkness.
Lenny had thwarted him on purpose.
Euan watched with growing trepidation as Lenny tied the rabbits to his backpack with indifference. They were meant to be hunting to feed six people, themselves included. Neither of them had eaten since yesterday. His reluctance made no sense.
“I thought we were waiting for my signal,’ Euan stated, watching with a keen eye for any indication of ulterior motives.
Lenny blinked. ‘You didn’t make it?’
After a weighted pause, Euan murmured ‘No.’
The lean man shrugged, his gaze averted, before he re-shouldered his backpack, the dead rabbits swinging from their colourful twine.
Euan pulled himself up to his full height. It had been three years since the collapse of mankind. Three years of fighting for survival, living off the land, trying to escape the mayhem of what was left of civilisation. Since then, Euan had lived his life attuned to his senses, the prickle on his nape and the lead ball that rolled around in the pit of his stomach.
That lead ball was now dissolving, morphing into mercury that was poisoning his insides. Something was wrong, and he knew that the man in front of him, fiddling with the frayed shoulder strap of his backpack with suddenly shaking fingers, was the cause.
Question: What is it about this book/series that makes it special?
To every author, their books are special. They commit months, sometimes years, towards crafting those words and massaging those sentences until they are just right, or right enough to send to an editor. It took me two years to write the Refuge Trilogy. That’s two hundred thousand published words (many more that were cut and unpublished) and over eight hundred pages that I painstakingly poured my heart and soul into.
These books don’t transcend romance, they are romance. I wanted to make a story that was purely about love, about what people will do to keep those they love safe in a world that threatens not just their lives, but also their very humanity.
My initial pretense was simple; what does a good man do when all that’s left is decayed, destroyed or dead? I wanted to explore the reality of what happened when men, good men, were left alone in a world full of depravity and destruction after a plague had wiped out most of the human race, and almost all of the women. I wanted to test what do those good men do when there are no women left to love them, when there is no compassion from a feminine hand, and no empathy that comes so naturally to the female of our species. But I also wanted those men to find love, above all else. I wanted them to be happy and I wanted them to be free.
But that makes for a boring book, and so my world that drew inspiration from the the Walking Dead (without the zombies), and the movies The Road and Mad Max Fury Road was designed. I created characters that made those notions of safety and sanctuary almost impossible to achieve for my protagonists. I built a world that hurt them and made them bleed. Then, I gave them a shard of light in the darkness and allowed them to find refuge.
My writing journey had been a short one compared to many. My stories are special because I want to give my readers more. More passion, more pain, more love.
But why is this series special to the reader? You’ll have to ask them to find out J
The Refuge Trilogy
Genre: LGBTI Speculative Romance
Publisher: Escape Publishing,
Date of Publication: 12 November 2017
Number of pages: 250
Word Count: 65,000
Cover Artist: Escape Publishing
They thought they’d found a refuge, but the battle for survival has only just begun...
Surrounded by the destruction of the human race, Euan, Nick, and Kira find solace in one another, making their underground bunker a haven and a home. Sheltered under layers of steel and cement, they should be safe, but danger isn’t always kept outside — sometimes the enemy is within.
When their electronic warning system detects intruders, Euan and Nick must investigate. Outside, they discover the true terror that is approaching, and Euan must make a terrible decision: stay or go. To stay is to watch the only people he loves perish under the weight of pure evil. To leave is to face his certain death to protect them and potentially save humankind.
Despite all his preparation, skills, and strength, Euan knows that each decision carries the risk that he could destroy them all.
The second book in the Refuge Trilogy.
Chapter One Fractured Refuge
The room was filled with the pungent scent of fried eggs and coffee. The air was warm. The climate-control system working at full capacity to eradicate the chill from an encroaching winter. Dishes were stacked high, men’s socks were squashed in odd corners and a pair of faded pink slippers lay discarded by an open doorway.
Euan lifted a ceramic mug that was glazed with dandelions in colours of gold, green and blue. He took a sip of the scorching beverage and ran his tongue over the burn to his upper lip. The sting was good; the bitter taste of the brew was better.
His gaze wandered. Steel beige walls were covered in artworks. Landscapes painted with muted oils, portraits formulated in lead. Images that captured the essence of life, the allure of the sky, the wonders of the spirit, the magic of dreams. Most made by his reluctant hand.
A single photograph was centred between the amateur drawings. Its position of significance was no accident. Two children grinned at the camera. Their arms were wrapped around each other’s shoulder. Smiles as bright as the sunshine filtered through their blond hair and glinted off their identical blue eyes. Two beautiful children, unaware of what their future would hold.
Two beautiful children who were full of hope, full of dreams, full of love and life.
Two beautiful children. One brother, one sister.
As adults, the two children would witness the end of the civilised world.
The mahogany chair groaned under Euan’s weight. The hardwood supported his spine as he leant back against the dark timber and stretched his long legs under the coordinating dining table. His bare foot knocked his companion’s. They shared a small smile as their skin touched and a spark of fire raced through their nerve endings. Nick bumped his eyebrows suggestively. Euan’s lips kicked up higher in response.
The food that he had just consumed nourished his body as effectively as the steel hull of the underground bunker protected those he cherished. Surrounded by strength, wrapped in love, the smile remained on his lips. It was kin to the grin that was emulated by those two children. He relished a moment of untainted satisfaction. A glorious bliss that bloomed in his sternum and radiated out through his muscles and into his limbs, his fingers, his toes.
It was beautiful. This was beautiful.
He sighed, content.
Kira’s voice broke the comfortable silence. ‘Is that coffee finished?’
His hand remained aloft. He held his breath in his lungs. His gaze moved from Nick to focus on the petite blonde woman who sat rigidly on the edge of her seat to his left. The hum of the ventilation system became the only sound in the underground room.
Across from him, Nick reached out and grasped the handle of his mug. His features were tight with trepidation. The muscles around his green eyes were firm as he lifted a twin to Euan’s mug from where it rested innocuously in the middle of the mahogany table. His shoulders were tense as he tilted his head to look inside.
His chin lifted and met Kira’s gaze. ‘Yes?’
The amiable atmosphere in the room plummeted. Euan let his breath ease out of his chest. He took a cautious sip.
Kira pursed her lips. A furrow deepened between her blonde brows. Her knee began to bounce with the rhythm of exaggerated irritation. The collar of the pale yellow t-shirt she wore was frayed, stretched, warped. Much like the building tension in the room. Euan bit back a sigh.
Her question was directed at Nick. ‘And you’re just going to leave it there?’
Nick’s nervous swallow was audible. His gaze flickered between a growing adversary and an inanimate object. He touched his tongue to his upper lip, raked his fingers through his hair and stared at the lesser of the two threats. His frustration increased, his irritability brewing beneath the surface. Nick’s predisposition was to please, to entertain, to love. But every man had his kryptonite. Being trapped underground, waiting for death’s scythe to slice his soul from his body would cause even the greatest man to falter. Nick was no deity in that sense.
Neither was Euan. They were simply two men, two men desperate to please a woman deteriorating before their eyes.
The Refuge Trilogy
Genre: LGBTI Speculative Romance
Publisher: Escape Publishing,
Date of Publication: 12 January 2018
Number of pages: 250
Word Count: 65,000
Cover Artist: Escape Publishing
They fight for their survival, they fight for their love, and they fight for the human race.
Euan left his home whole, only to return broken, battered, and partially blind. He has endured the torments inflicted upon him by monster and man, but they are nothing compared to the consequences of betraying Nick and Kira. Incapacitated, he has no choice but to concede leadership to the man he considered his enemy, and is powerless as the distance between him and those he loves deepens and grows.
But his recovery time is short lived. The commander of destruction still lurks in the shadows, determined to dominate and control what is left of the human race. The final battle is upon them. They need a champion, a hero for humanity. There is nowhere left to run, and there is only one person who can provide the ultimate catalyst for change: A little, blonde sun-sprite, with crystal blue eyes.
The third book in the Refuge Trilogy.
Excerpt Eternal Refuge:
Humanity needed a hero. But they would find no saviour in Euan.
The steel was cold beneath his fingers. He squeezed the rung of the ladder and the chill bit into his palms. He tilted his neck to look up. The open portal above him was the gateway to paradise, to fresh air and open space. Kira’s head peeked over the lip of the gaping exit and the impossible living fairy consumed his diminished vision. Her blue eyes glinted with adoration and pride, and her lips quirked when he glared at her for too long.
‘Do you need help?’ she asked.
He huffed and shook his head. It was bitterness that clipped his words. ‘Been in bed for long enough, sweetheart. Done waiting, done healing. If I can piss on my own, I don’t need help to climb a ladder.’
He held in the smirk when she sighed in mock exasperation.
One foot. Two. He pulled himself onto the base of the ladder and hissed through his teeth at the pain. Each foot was bound beneath his socks, so there was little risk of further injury, but the skin remained tender, fragile. The discomfort sliced up from the healing skin, through his calves and into the base of his spine.
He paused, breathed. ‘You say a word, and I will tan that pretty ass.’
‘You’ll have to catch it first,’ she said with a smile in her voice.
He answered her taunt with a low chuckle. ‘You’d like it if I gave it a try.’
Kira’s tone was serious when she replied, ‘I would.’
Four steps and his hands followed. The ache in his shoulder increased as it took on more of his weight. He blinked, and only one eye responded. The bandages were tight around his head and his hearing was muffled. His feet stung as if the stones still tore at his skin, as if the flames still licked at his bones. Rodger and his parasites had taken so much from him. Stripped him of not just the flesh from his body, but also his agility, his dexterity.
‘About to leave this fucking bunker and I can’t hear, can’t see, can’t fucking run—’
‘You’re almost there,’ she interjected to distract him.
It worked, as it always did. She was a witch that wove a spell of enchantment, a netting that drew him to her call. It had been her words that had brought him from the temptation of death to the disaster that was his corporal self. But if she was in the realm of the living, Euan would be too.
He moved to place his palm against another cold rung. Kira’s assessment from above was like a balm to his flaming skin. She filtered the shroud of despondency that clouded his thoughts. Under her gaze he would fucking succeed.
But his depth perception was shot and he missed his target. For a moment he wavered, his balance precarious. Mortifying images of his broken body sprawled out on the carpet below while Kira looked on propelled him to alter the direction of his fingers. At the last moment, he caught the support bar.
‘You’re doing great,’ she said before the barbs of his self-flagellating thoughts could catch into his confidence and take hold.
But it was too late. His self-hatred had embedded its talons deep. His pride had done this. His pride and his ego. If only he had waited, if only he hadn’t been so selfish. If he had listened to his heart and not his head, he wouldn’t have risked their lives. They wouldn’t have lost Ben …
Kira’s hand was in his vision. In front of his single working eye was the hand of a woman that was his heart, his humanity. Her long fingers were relaxed, pointed his way. The offering so sincere and innocent that the grunt that caught in his throat had nothing to do with the ram-rods of pain that shot through his nervous system. She had worked so hard to get him here, to keep him breathing, see him healed, on his feet, and strong enough to climb this fucking ladder without aid.
His gut was a pit of aggressive vipers. His breath erratic. His heart nothing but thunder and lightning. That damn throb in his shoulder.
‘You can do it,’ she whispered.
He took a deep breath and held it. Calmed himself. He nuzzled her palm instead of taking the offered assistance. When he brushed his lips against her skin, she let out a sigh.
‘I’m good, sweetheart,’ he told her, because he was. He may be less of the man he was when he had left them in his search for retribution, but he could, would, scale the ladder to the surface.
About the Author:
From the age of sixteen, Annabelle lived in a youth refuge while she remained committed to her education. She spent two years within a section of humanity that society overlooks.
Her experiences are the foundations that drive her stories and her characters. They fight for their freedoms, have courage in the face of adversity and will ultimately, always aspire for greatness.
Annabelle is privileged to spend her time writing with a backdrop of Canberra’s iconic landmarks and admiring its distinct and captivating change of seasons. Outside of her love for reading, she spends every free moment with her husband, son and her poodle named Serendipity. She drinks her whisky neat and is known to scour the local markets in an attempt to find the best blue cheese available.
Follow Annabelle on Instagram @annabellemcinnes, Facebook @authorannabellemcinnes and twitter @akmcinnes. Sign up to her newsletter at www.annabellemcinnes.com and be a part of the journey.