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Friday, 22 May 2015

The Bleikovat Event - The Cairns of Sainctuarie by Hawk MacKinney


BLURB:

Among the close-kin clans of western rural Malfesian Murians, farming and gelf ranches are long held traditions.  Times are good…full barns, fat gelf calves and large families thrive among the sprawling grain fields and hamlets and the river from which they derive their name—the Feldon.  Word comes with the trade caravans that times are not so good in the regions far to the east of the Feldon River:  tumultuous changes stir among the remote province of Bleikovia.  Old timer Feldovats shrug it off as one more squabble between clans over boundaries or water rights…too distant to affect the Feldovats.

The western clans learn too late, however, it is no local squabble.  Outnumbered and unprepared, Feldovats resist a hoard bent on plunder and conquest.  Days of battle along the Feldon River stain the riverbanks in green Murian blood.  In the finals days of exhausted fighting, Judikar Klarvko Celo, leader of the Clan Klarvkon and the Feldovats, is fatally stabbed with the slow-acting sevon poison.  The Judikar’s consort, Etikaa Klarvkaa, becomes Regentkaa, and with Celovat Field Commander Korvo Celo serving as her advisor, she leads the demoralized Feldovat survivors on a gruesome ill-prepared winter trek through high mountain passes of ice and blizzard snow in an attempt to elude the Green Dragon forces of the Bleikovats.

Etkaa’s only son, Klarvko Celo II, helps spirit Feldovat young across a remote mountain exodus to the west toward Eedov Province. The battered, starving Feldovats reach the Malfesian coast at Eedov City only to be confronted with their implacable enemy determined to destroy the remaining Klarvkon rabble.  Taking passage on crowded lumbering Maalonovion freighters, Feldovats and Malfesian refugees set sail.  On arrival in Maalon City they are welcomed among their Maalon hosts, and settle into a new life.

But famine and a pandemic pestilence stir old hates and nurse former ambitions.  The enraged Overseers of Bleikovia move against the Klarvkons, this time bringing bloodshed to Maalonovia.  The exiles from the Feldon must fight once again, but starvation and plague across the Planete Myr make it a different war from the battles along the Feldon…a na’ä blikovat…the Bleikovvat Phenomenon…an event with unexpected consequences and outcomes none could have foreseen.

Before the vendetta killing is exhausted, the Regentkaa Klarvkaa and her son are swept onto the Maalon throne, setting the Klarvkon Dynasty and the Murians toward an intergalactic golden age, and a star-flung destiny the once-agrarian Feldovats could never have envisaged.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Excerpt 

The catafalque of the old Dowager Queen rested on the high rostrum of the Temple of the Goddess Myraa. There was little ceremony to the cremation of dead. Yet, all that had passed made this requiem for the Dowager Queen Klarvkaa Etkaa Bremanova Celovaa Bremanova a symbol of the changes which had swept so many lives. Long annuals before the ascendancy of The Klarvkon Dynasty, the massive wood and granite Temple to the Goddess Myraa had been destroyed in the firestorm which laid waste Eedov City. After the close of the Malfesian War the temple was rebuilt, but not the city. On the ashes of the old temple, immense columns rose above the sanctuary and vaults. Iridescent alabaster and polished marble greeted pilgrim supplicants who had come to the shoreline plains washed by the Green Sea.

Dowager Etkaa Klarvkaa—wife, myäat, founding matriarch of the Klarvkon Dynasty—gave hope from a time without hope. As was her wish, she would be cremated on the soil of her birth, her ashes to mingle with those of her consort, Klarvko Celo. Their son, His Imperial Majesty Klarvko Celo the Second, decreed it would be done. At the enormous base of the great temple in a spectacular vision never seen before and seldom since came an undulating ocean of banners. Some of them clans which no longer existed, even the once-hated Green Dragon of Bleikovia. Murians had taken her to their hearts and never relinquished her. Even in death, her shadow would reach across the centuries, and measure all who followed.



~~~~~~~~~~~~~

AUTHOR Bio and Links:

With postgraduate degrees and faculty appointments in several medical universities, Hawk MacKinney has taught graduate courses in both the United States and Jerusalem. In addition to professional articles and texts on chordate neuroembryology, Hawk has authored several works of fiction.

Hawk began writing mysteries for his school newspaper. His works of fiction, historical love stories, science fiction and mystery-thrillers are not genre-centered, but plot-character driven, and reflect his southwest upbringing in Arkansas, Texas and Oklahoma. Moccasin Trace, a historical novel nominated for the prestigious Michael Shaara Award for Excellence in Civil War Fiction and the Writers Notes Book Award, details the family bloodlines of his serial protagonist in the Craige Ingram Mystery Series. Vault of Secrets, the first book in the Ingram series, was followed by Nymrod Resurrection, Blood and Gold, and The Lady of Corpsewood Manor. All have received national attention.  Walking the Pet is Hawk’s latest release in the Ingram series. The first book in another mystery-thriller series is scheduled for release in 2015. The Bleikovat Event, the first volume in The Cairns of Sainctuarie science fiction series, was released in 2012. Its sequel, The Missing Planets, has just been released.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~


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Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Beyond Reach by Siobahn Davis - Review and Excerpt

Beyond Reach banner

This is my stop during the blog tour for Beyond Reach by Siobhan Davis. This blog tour is organized by Lola's Blog Tours. The blog tour runs from 1 till 21 May, you can view the complete tour schedule on the website of Lola’s Blog Tours.
 
So far this series contains 2 books: True Calling (True Calling #1) and Beyond Reach (True Calling #2).


Beyond Reach (True Calling #2)
By Siobhan Davis
Genre: Science Fiction/Dystopian Romance
Age category: Young Adult
Release Date: April 30, 2015

Blurb:
Back on Earth, Ariana is caught in a dangerous crossfire between clandestine rebel organization Clementia and the power-hungry government. Refusing to divulge the location of the secret information entrusted to her by her late father, she desperately tries to bargain for her Mom, Lily, and Cal’s rescue. She’s fighting a losing battle, and the clock is ticking.

Presented with evidence of her fiancé Cal’s apparent betrayal, she loyally defends him despite her concerns. With her emotions in turmoil, matters become even more complicated as she grows closer to her ex-boyfriend Zane.

Beyond ReachWhen the stakes are raised, a succession of shocking revelations rocks her world, setting her on a path that will not only change her destiny but the fate of humanity.

Confronted by a memory so abhorrent comes a truth she would do anything to forget.

But some things just can’t be undone.
***
Beyond Reach is the gripping second novel in the True Calling trilogy, continuing the story of Ariana Skyee in the weeks after she arrives back on Earth.

The author is doing something cool this time around with the excerpt from Beyond Reach. Every blogger who has signed on for an excerpt stop will showcase a part of the story when it’s their turn. If you haven’t read the previous part yet, head over to https://booksandashes.wordpress.com/ to check it out and then re-join my blog to continue the story.

Excerpt: 

 As we round the next corner, a shot rings out behind me, ricocheting off the wall, narrowly missing me. “Holy crap! They’re behind us,” I shout out. Jax and Agent Leena fall back as I release Ben and position myself at the edge of the wall. “Can you help Zane with Ben, and Jax and I will hold them off,” I tell Agent Leena. Nodding, she wraps her arm around Ben. Zane’s face contorts inward. 
“I can handle myself, go. We’ll be right behind you.” His expression is still pained, but he subtly nods and continues forward.

“This is nice and cozy, doll,” Jax says, bending down beside me, his body flush against mine. He’s positioned himself at the very corner, effectively sheltering me.


I can’t help but roll my eyes. “Focus, please,” I chastise him.


His head whips around, and I gasp. A shot whirrs by us as he pulls back in. “There’s just two of them. We can easily manage this.”


 My mouth is hanging open. “Do you have a death wish or something?”


“No more than you, doll.” He grins as I shake my head. Twisting around, I scout for something to hide behind.


“There,” I whisper, pointing to a grotty-looking dumpster a few yards behind us. We hop up and sprint toward it, taking a corner each. “I’ll aim left; you take the one at the right,” I say. He salutes me with his hand, and my eyes roll heaven-bound of their own accord.


The Rangers are easy targets as they cautiously round the corner. I inhale and then exhale slowly as I fire the round. My aim is bang-on, and the Ranger falls to the ground in a crumpled heap. Jax has adequately dealt with his buddy. It’s never easy to take a life, and I know it won’t sit well with me later, but there’s no time to dwell on it now. We both take off running without delay.



The excerpt story starts on May 1st and culminates on May 21st. Make sure to follow each blog to continue the story The Excerpt schedule is as follows:
1 May Natural Bri - Pursuits of Life Paranormal Books 3 May Reading Addict 4 May Kimber Leigh Writes 5 May Word to Dreams 6 May Book Lovers Life 7 May Deal Sharing Aunt 8 May 3 Partners in Shopping, Nana, Mommy, & Sissy, Too! 12 May MichaelSciFan 13 May T's Stuff 15 May Books Tea and Cats 16 May SoulCleverBooks 18 May Books and Ashes 20 May Romance that's 'Out Of This World' 21 May Love, Laughter, Friendship

*******
MY REVIEW
*******
Siobahn Davis does it again!

The first book in the series, 'True Calling' (reviewed on this blog on 15th April) really had me hooked and I was keen to find out what happened to Ari and who out of her two possible suitors she would end up with.

'True Calling' ended on a cliff hanger, and as 'Beyond Reach' opens, Arianna is apparently safe, back on earth with the rebel organizaition, Clementia. However her sister, fiance and mother are still on Novo and she is faced with bargaining for their lives, as she witholds vital information entrusted by her father.

There are so many twists and turns in this story, it almost leaves one breathless (in a good way.) It is difficult to know who Ari should trust, people and organizations who appear to be working for the 'greater good' and who you feel she is safe with, have a tendency to show another side and as the tension builds in the book, so does the excitement, and sense of danger.

The first and third parts of the book are told from Ari's point of view, and the middle is from Zane's.  Having had both points of view in the first book, I found it easier to adjust to the change this time and having Zane's point of view as well as Ari's certainly adds another dimension to the story.

As in the first book, one of the main strengths of 'Beyond Reach' is the characterization, and the author's ability to really make the reader feel they are 'living' the events on the page.  As well as Ari, Zane and Cal, there is a great cast of supporting characters. I still feel Ari is a bit naive, although she has certainly matured in this book, but I find it surprising that she has not yet put 'two and two' together about an event that happened while she was participating in 'The Calling', but there again I could be chasing a red herring myself!  The world building is effective and well drawn and had no trouble visualizing the various locations.

I kept fluctuating between Cal and Zane.  As fast as I felt she belonged with the one, I found myself rooting for the other.  Siobahn Davis has a knack of piling up one question after the other, and just as you think one question has been answered, something happens that makes you wonder if that's really the case. It takes a skilful writer to structure a novel with so many uncertainties, while still making the story flow seamlessly and and in a way that is perfectly believable.  Again the book ended on a cliffhanger, but I was more prepared for it this time and I can't wait to read the next book in the series.

I received a copy of 'Beyond Reach' in exchange for an honest and unbiased review


You can find Beyond Reach on Goodreads
You can buy Beyond Reach here: - Amazon
- Amazon UK
- Amazon Canada
- Amazon Australia
- Amazon India
- Barnes & Noble
- Kobo
- iBooks
 
First book in this series:
True CallingTrue Calling (True Calling #1)
By Siobhan Davis
Genre: Dystopian/Science Fiction/Romance
Age category: Young Adult
Release Date: August 1, 2014

Blurb:
Planet Novo, nestled in space twelve hundred miles above the surface of the Earth, is the new home of 17-year-old Cadet Ariana Skyee. Confused by the government-sanctioned memory erase and distressed at her impending forced marriage and motherhood, Ariana’s plans for the future are thrown into complete disarray.

As the traumatic events within her family life enfold, Ariana grows increasingly alarmed at the authorities apparent pre-occupation with her and feels progressively more isolated and alone.

Her growing feelings for fellow Cadet Cal Remus intensify as the recently announced pageant, ‘The Calling’, gets underway. Struggling to comprehend the continuous, inexplicable dreams of the mysterious Zane, discovering the past helps shape her future, with devastating personal consequences.
You can find True Calling on Goodreads

You can buy True Calling here:
- Amazon USA
- Amazon UK
- Amazon Canada
- Amazon Australia
- Amazon India

SiobhanAbout the Author:
Siobhan Davis is the author of YA science fiction romance series True Calling.
A self-diagnosed ‘teenager forever’—at least when it comes to books, music and movies; Siobhan is totally addicted to teen fiction and superhero/blockbuster movies. Siobhan loves baking, crime novels, shoes, bags, make-up, anti-wrinkle cream, anything pink, Kelly Clarkson, Katy Perry, and Robert Pattinson (definitely Team Edward).
Siobhan has forged a successful corporate career, in Human Resources, over the last twenty years.
A member of the IWI writers group, Siobhan resides in the Garden County of Ireland with her husband and two sons.
Contact Siobhan at: www.siobhandavis.com

You can find and contact Siobhan here:
- Website
- Author blog
- Book website
- Facebook
- Twitter
- Google +
- Goodreads

Sample chapters, quotes, reviews and book excerpts are all available to download from the authors website

There is a tour wide giveaway for the blog tour of Beyond Reach. These are the prizes you can win:
- 2 e-copies of Beyond Reach by Siobhan Davis
- 2 10$ amazon gift cards
Remember - the more blogs you visit and enter on, the greater your chances.

For a chance to win, enter the rafflecopter below:
a Rafflecopter giveaway


 
Lola's Blog Tours

Saturday, 16 May 2015

Winner of the Merry May Blog hop


First of all,  thanks to everyone who entered the contest and took part in the Blog Hop.  I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did.  A special thanks to those who followed my Blog, I'll return the favour just as soon as I can.

I decided to award two copies of my book, so there are two winners.

FIRST PRIZE -  A download of my Fantasy Romance 'Dancing With Fate' and  a $5 Amazon voucher goes to TINA BECKER

The Runner up, also winning a download of 'Dancing With Fate'
is MARISSA

Congratulations to the winners - go to Roane Publishing to find out who one their contest.

Commiserations to those who didn 't win this time but it's always worth entering a contest - you never know, you could be a winner next time.

Have a great weekend!

Monday, 11 May 2015

Merry May Blog Hop and Giveaway


Picture


Welcome to my stop on the Roane Publishing Merry May Blog Hop
Roane Publishing will be giving away THREE e-titles as a Grand Prize!
Click the above link to go to their site
I'll also be offering a prize, details in the Rafflecopter form 
after this post.

(Daddy Duck, Mummy Duck, and you can just see Baby Duck at the reservoir- with a swan in the distance)
Between visits from the farrier, necessary shopping trips, gardening to take advantage of the fact that spring really seems to have arrived in the UK at last, oh - er- and yes, celebrating a contract for the third book in the series that started with 'Starquest' and will probably now be known as 'The Destiny Trilogy', it's been a hectic few weeks.


It's May - and when we get a little time to relax, the other half (Dave)and I love to walk with our 'rescue' dog, Choccy, enjoying the spring sunshine in the countryside around where we live. There is a reservoir with an abundance of wild waterfowl, and nearby woods where there is always a sea of bluebells. As a tribute to May and spring in general, I thought I'd share some pictures with you.





There is a variety of different species of trees in these woods, some of them are very old, and some of them just saplings.




The woods are carpeted with last year's fallen leaves, and in  between the trees, grass, ferns and other vegetation push their way through the leaves

Can you see to the right of the picture, rare 'white bluebells'!

Some of the trees  form strange, twisted patterns, twining round themselves.
                                                                            
The bluebells grow in drifts, looking almost like  pools of bright blue water in the distance
 
At the edge of the woods, we could see in the distance the Bridgewater Monument, erected in 1832 to the Duke of Bridgewater, in recognition of his pioneering canal development.

and this is the monument itself, with people walking and picnicking under the trees


Men were hard at work in one corner, carving out what will soon be
a natural childrens' play area.


Each season has its own delights, but I have to say Maytime in the woods can be quite magical! 

I hope you've enjoyed your walk around the bluebell woods with me. Please visit the other blogs on this blog hop by clicking on the banner at the top of this page.

 Have a great spring and summer, and before you leave don't forget  to enter my Rafflecopter contest below, to win a copy of my Greek muse novella 'Dancing With Fate' PLUS a $5 Amazon Gift Card.



When Terpsichore, the Muse of Dance, is assigned to revisit the land of Wales, her task seems simple enough.  She is unaware there is a hidden agenda.  Before she can return to Olympus her path crosses that of the mysterious Myrddin, and her heart is lost.

But Myrddin is promised to another.  His mind is set on the dangerous task that lies before him, and the woman he has sworn to save.  Nevertheless, he cannot deny the growing attraction between him and the beautiful stranger he meets along the way.   
  Terpsichore and Myrddin face a deadly force that threatens to part them forever.  Is she destined to lose the only man she has ever truly loved?  Is there nothing she can do to save him?  Finally, when all seems lost, in desperation she finds herself DANCING WITH FATE.

  a Rafflecopter giveaway





'STARQUEST'    'CHILDREN OF THE MIST'  (A sequel to Starquest) DANCING WITH FATE     'Freeread':'A BARGAIN WITH DEATH


           

Friday, 8 May 2015

Liberty by Kim, Iverson Headlee - Giveaway and Excerpt


liberty

BOOK INFORMATION

TITLE – Liberty, second edition
 AUTHOR – Kim Iverson Headlee  
GENRE – Historical Romance (ancient Rome)  
PUBLICATION DATE – Dec. 2014
 LENGTH (Pages/# Words) – 462 pages/118K words
 PUBLISHER – Pendragon Cove Press
 COVER ARTIST – Natasha Brown  
BOOK INFO - http://kimiversonheadlee.blogspot.com/p/liberty.html

BOOK SYNOPSIS

They hailed her “Liberty,” but she was free only to obey—or die.
Betrayed by her father and sold as payment of a Roman tax debt to fight in Londinium’s arena, gladiatrix-slave Rhyddes feels like a wild beast in a gilded cage. Celtic warrior blood flows in her veins, but Roman masters own her body. She clings to her vow that no man shall claim her soul, though Marcus Calpurnius Aquila, son of the Roman governor, makes her yearn for a love she believes impossible.
Groomed to follow in his father’s footsteps and trapped in a politically advantageous betrothal, Aquila prefers the purity of combat on the amphitheater sands to the sinister intrigues of imperial politics, and the raw power and athletic grace of the flame-haired Libertas to the adoring deference of Rome’s noblewomen.

When a plot to overthrow Caesar ensnares them as pawns in the dark design, Aquila must choose between the Celtic slave who has won his heart and the empire to which they both owe allegiance. Knowing the opposite of obedience is death, the only liberty offered to any slave, Rhyddes must embrace her arena name—and the love of a man willing to sacrifice everything to forge a future with her.

BUY & TBR LINKS

EXCERPT

Liberty - Book CoverFINGERS CRAMPING AND shoulders aching from having wielded the pitchfork all day, Rhyddes ferch Rudd tossed another load of hay onto the wagon. Sweat trickled down her back, making the lash marks sting. Marks inflicted by her father, Rudd, the day before because eighteen summers of anguish had goaded her into speaking her mind.
Physical pain couldn’t compare with the ache wringing her heart.
She slid a glance toward the author of her mood. He stood a few paces away, leaning upon his pitchfork’s handle in the loaded wagon’s shade to escape the July heat as he conversed with her oldest brother, Eoghan. She couldn’t discern their words, but their camaraderie spoke volumes her envy didn’t want to hear.
Her father’s gaze met hers, and he lowered his eyebrows. “Back to work, Rhyddes!” On Rudd’s lips, her name sounded like an insult.
In a sense, it was.
Her name in the Celtic tongue meant “freedom,” but the horse hitched to the hay wagon enjoyed more freedom than she did. Her tribe, the Votadini, had been conquered by the thieving Romans, who demanded provisions for their troops, fodder for their mounts, women for their beds, and coin to fill the purses of every Roman who wasn’t a soldier.
If those conditions weren’t bad enough, for all the kindness her father had demonstrated during her first two decades, Rhyddes may as well have been born a slave.
She scooped up more hay. Resentment-fired anger sent wisps flying everywhere, much of it sailing over the wagon rather than landing upon it.
“Hey, mind what you’re doing!”
Owen, her closest brother in age and in spirit, emerged from the wagon’s far side, hay prickling his hair and tunic like a porcupine. Rhyddes couldn’t suppress her laugh. “’Tis an improvement. Just wait till the village lasses see you.”
“Village lasses, hah!” Sporting a wicked grin, Owen snatched up a golden fistful, flung it at her, and dived for her legs.
They landed in the fragrant hay and began vying for the upper hand, cackling like a pair of witless hens. When Owen thought he’d prevailed, Rhyddes twisted and rolled from underneath him. Her fresh welts stung, but she refused to let that deter her. He lost his balance and fell backward. She pounced, planting a knee on his chest and pinning his wrists to the ground over his head.
Victory’s sweetness lasted but a moment. Fingers dug into her shoulders, and she felt herself hauled to her feet and spun around. Owen’s face contorted to chagrin as he scrambled  up.
“Didn’t get enough of the lash yestermorn, eh, girl?” Rudd, his broad hands clamped around her upper arms, gave her a teeth-rattling shake.
When she didn’t respond, he released her and rounded on Owen. “As for you—”
“Da, please, no!” Rhyddes stopped herself. Well she knew the futility of pleading with Rudd.  Still, for Owen’s sake, she had to try. Her father’s scowl dared her to continue. She swallowed the lump that had formed in her throat. “’Twas not Owen’s fault. I—” Sweat freshened the sting on her back, and she winced. “The fault is naught but mine.”
“Aye, that I can well believe.” Rudd grasped each sibling by an arm and strode across the hayfield toward the family’s lodge. “Owen can watch you take his lashes as well as yours. We’ll see if that won’t mend his ways.” The thin linen of her ankle-length tunic failed to shield her from his fingers, which had to be leaving bruises. Rhyddes gritted her teeth. Rudd seemed disappointed. “I doubt anything in this world or the next will make you mend yours.”
“You don’t want me to change. You’d lose your excuse to beat me.” Sheer impertinence, she knew, but she no longer cared.
“I need no excuses, girl.”
The back of his hand collided with her cheek. Pain splintered into a thousand needles across her face. She reeled and dropped to her hands and knees, her hair obscuring her vision in a copper cascade. Hay pricked her palms. Owen would have helped her rise, but their father restrained him. Owen blistered the ground with his glare, not daring to direct it at Rudd for fear of earning the same punishment.
Not that Rhyddes could blame him.
Rudd yanked her up, cocked a fist… and froze. “Raiders!”
Rhyddes whirled about. Picts were charging from the north to converge upon their settlement, the battle cries growing louder under the merciless afternoon sun. One of the storage buildings had already been set ablaze, its roof thatch marring the sky with thick black smoke.
Rudd shed his shock and sprinted for the living compound, calling his children by name to help him defend their home: Eoghan, Ian, Bloeddwyn, Arden, Dinas, Gwydion, Owen.

Every child except Rhyddes.
She ran to the wagon, unhitched the horse, found her pitchfork, scrambled onto the animal’s back, and kicked him into a jolting canter. The stench of smoke strengthened with each stride. Her mount pinned back his ears and wrestled her for control of the bit, but she bent the frightened horse to her will. She understood how he felt.
As they loped past the cow byre, a Pict leaped at them, knocking Rhyddes from the horse’s back. The ground jarred the pitchfork from her grasp. The horse galloped toward the pastures as Rhyddes fumbled for her dagger. Although her brothers had taught her how to wield it in a fight, until now she’d used it only to ease dying animals from this world.
But the accursed blade wouldn’t come free of the hilt.
Sword aloft, the Pict closed on her.
Time distorted, assaulting Rhyddes with her attacker’s every detail: lime-spiked hair, weird blue symbols smothering the face and arms, long sharp sword, ebony leather boots and leggings, breastplate tooled to fit female curves . . .
Female?
The warrior-woman’s sword began its descent.
From the corner of her eye Rhyddes saw her pitchfork. Grunting, she rolled toward it, praying to avoid her attacker’s blow.
Her left arm stung where the sword grazed it, but she snagged her pitchfork and scrambled to her feet. Unexpected eagerness flooded her veins.
As the Pict freed her weapon from where it had embedded in the ground, Rhyddes aimed the pitchfork and lunged. The tines hooked the warrior-woman’s sword, and Rhyddes twisted with all her strength. The Pict yelped as the sword ripped from her hand to go flying over the sty’s fence. Squealing in alarm, the sow lumbered for cover, trying to wedge her bulk under the trough.
With a savage scream, the warrior-woman whipped out a dagger and charged. Rhyddes reversed the pitchfork and jammed its butt into the Pict’s gut, under the breastplate’s bottom edge, robbing her of breath. She reversed it again and caught the raider under the chin with the pitchfork’s tines. As the woman staggered backward, flailing her arms and flashing the red punctures that marred her white neck, Rhyddes struck hard and knocked her down.
The warrior-woman looked heavier by at least two stone, but Rhyddes pinned her chest with her knee. She dropped the pitchfork and grasped her dagger, yanking it free. Grabbing a fistful of limed hair, she wrestled the woman’s head to one side to expose her neck.
The Pict bucked and twisted, trying to break Rhyddes’s grip. ’Twas not much different than wrestling a fever-mad calf.
Rhyddes’s deft slice ended the threat.
Blood spurted from the woman’s neck in sickening pulses.
Rhyddes stood, panting, her stomach churning with the magnitude of what she’d done. ’Twas no suffering animal she’d killed—and it could have been her lying there, pumping her lifeblood into the mud.
Bile seared her throat, making her gag. Pain lanced her stomach. Bent double, she retched out the remains of her morning meal, spattering the corpse.
After spitting out the last bitter mouthful and wiping her lips with the back of her hand, she drew a deep breath and straightened. As she turned a slow circle, her senses taking in the sights and sounds and stench of the devastation surrounding her, she wished she had not prevailed.
The news grew worse as she sprinted toward the lodge.
Of her seven brothers, the Picts had left Ian and Gwydion dead, her father and Owen wounded, the lodge and three outbuildings torched. She ran a fingertip over the crusted blood of her scratch, and she couldn’t suppress a surge of guilt.
Mayhap, she thought through the blinding tears as she ran to help what was left of her family, ’twould have been better had she died in the Pict’s stead.
The surviving raiders were galloping toward the tree line with half the cattle. The remaining stock lay stiffening in the fields, already attracting carrion birds.
 Three days later, the disaster attracted scavengers of an altogether different sort.

BUY & TBR LINKS


CHARACTER BIO

I am Rhyddes ferch Rudd, which in your tongue means Freedom daughter of Red. The blood of ancient Celtic warriors flows in my veins, though I am a farmer's daughter by the circumstance of my birth. My life spans much of the reign of the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius, one of a very few men ever to claim that title who did not abuse his power for personal gain—but I care not who rules and who dies in this gods-cursed empire.
More than anything—even more than my freedom—I yearn to be my lover Aquila’s equal. As a foreign slave in an empire where citizenship stands paramount, where an arena fighter such as I can only be considered the equal of other gladiators, actors, undertakers, and whores, this goal seems impossibly remote. Although Aquila is the son of a powerful Roman, he has declared that he would renounce his aristocratic status, wealth, and power for me, but I cannot in good conscience allow him to destroy himself on my account.
And yet the gods have granted the impossible to other mortals. I pray that I am worthy to receive such a boon from them, for surely divine assistance is the only way for Aquila and I to bridge the vast social chasm that separates us from enjoying a future together.

AUTHOR BIO

Mornings Journey - Author PhotoKim Headlee lives on a farm in southwestern Virginia with her family, cats, goats, and assorted wildlife. People & creatures come and go, but the cave and the 250-year-old house ruins—the latter having been occupied as recently as the mid-20th century—seem to be sticking around for a while yet.
Kim is a Seattle native (when she used to live in the Metro DC area, she loved telling people she was from "the other Washington") and a direct descendent of twentieth-century Russian nobility. Her grandmother was a childhood friend of the doomed Grand Duchess Anastasia, and the romantic yet tragic story of how Lydia escaped Communist Russia with the aid of her American husband will most certainly one day fuel one of Kim's novels. Another novel in the queue will involve her husband's ancestor, the seventh-century proto-Viking king of the Swedish colony in Russia.

For the time being, however, Kim has plenty of work to do in creating her projected 8-book Arthurian series, The Dragon's Dove Chronicles, and other novels under her new imprint, Pendragon Cove Press.


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GIVEAWAY PRIZES

– 5 e-copies of Liberty – 10 note cards – 1 autographed print copy of Liberty


a Rafflecopter giveaway

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