Saturday, July 19, 2014

The Obsidian Collection Blitz, Trailer & Giveaway!

Nine authors. Nine dark-love novellas.
The wicked have never looked so good…


Obsidian Escape by Rebel Adams
Just one look at the battered form of Whitney Geddings awakens a fierce protective instinct in Detective Jackson Ogden…but at what price?

Obsidian Liquor by Scarlett Dawn
Reporter, Elizabeth Forter, never expected one drunken challenge to leave her sexually satisfied and waking beside Daniil – the head of the Russian mafia.

Obsidian Faith by Bev Elle
Shanice Bailey’s epic faith in Trevor Kyle, the man she’s loved since they were both wards at the Baptist Children’s Home, is shaken when his sketchy foster father shows up on their honeymoon.

Obsidian Heart by Nicole Flockton
Will Erika’s holiday fling with Brandt bring him out of the shadows, or is his heart destined for darkness?

Obsidian Sky by Lara Henley
When military man, Brandon Michaels, comes home to a town he no longer recognizes, his salvation may rest in Arabella Knight, a woman who has secrets that no one knows.

Obsidian Ice by Missy Johnson
Medical intern Cam Fletcher knew becoming a surgeon would be hard work, but what he wasn’t counting on was falling for his mentor – cocky surgeon Eric Langdon.

Obsidian Jewel by Angel Lawson
Professional thieves, competitors, and occasional lovers, Maya Clarke and Malcolm Kent, must work together for the job of a lifetime and try not to kill one another while doing it.

Obsidian Desire by t.h. snyder
Can one chivalrous act change Tyler Jones, a coldhearted man, or will desire burn through his soul and change him forever?

Obsidian Beauty by Emily Walker
Out of jail and finally ready to confront the man who left her there to rot, Abigail Rivers is upset to learn Benton Sellers has moved on with no regard for the sacrifices she has made for him.


Amazon UK:
Barnes & Noble:
Amazon Paperback:

Rebel Adams is writer and lover of good prose, better cigars, well-aged whiskey and fine women– and not always in that order.
Website | Facebook | Twitter

Scarlett Dawn is the author of the Forever Evermore new adult fantasy series, which include King Hall and King Cave. She lives in the Midwest, where she loves to ‘people watch’ and daydream. She adores her music loud and her fries covered in melted cheese.
Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Bev Elle is the author of sweet and spicy, contemporary romance. She’s a lover of books–those already written, and those she harbors in her very active imagination. Writing is a passion she’s had for many years, but was unable to act upon. Until now. Bev Elle is the mother of three human children and two canines. She is also the lover of one husband. When Bev isn’t writing in her spare time after work, she is thinking of doing so.
Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Nicole Flockton is an Australian living in Texas. Nicole writes sexy contemporary romances which seduce you one kiss at a time. She enjoys taking two characters and creating unique situations for them. When she’s not busy writing, she’s attempting to keep up with two active children and a busy husband.
Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Lara Henley is originally from Oklahoma, but has lived in several places. She began writing in 2009 when she had a dream about a little girl traveling with her grandmother. That is how Jessie Discovers Christmas was born. She then ventured into YA and adult romance. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Fashion Marketing and a Masters in Administrative Leadership. She loves all things creative and aspires to have a fulltime writing career.
Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Missy Johnson in a small town in Central Victoria, Australia, with her husband and her confused pets (a dog who think she’s a cat, a cat who thinks he’s a dog…you get the picture). When she’s not writing, she can usually be found looking for something to read.
Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Angel Lawson lives with her family in Atlanta and has a lifelong obsession with creating fiction from reality, either with paint or words. On a typical day you can find her writing, reading, plotting her escape from the zombie apocalypse and trying to get the glitter out from under her nails. She is the author of five books, including the Wraith Series, Serial Summer, FanGirl, and Vigilant. She is the co-author of the New Adult Paranormal book, Odin’s Murder with Kira Gold.
Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

t.h. snyder is a 34 y/o single mom of two amazing kids. She lives in Central PA where she works full time for a local business/technical school. Writing wasn’t something she ever thought she’d be doing, but here she is. t. h. snyder started reading like a nut after Twilight and 50 Shades of Grey. Since then she’s read over 300 romance and paranormal books. In June of 2013, she decided to try her go at writing. She had a vision and went with it….hence Touch Me. To date she’s published 6 books and now 2 anthologies…The Touch Series (NA Romance), Pierced Love (YA Romance), Cursed Love, Cursed #1 (Erotic Romance), My Dirty Little Valentine, and the Obsidian Collection.
Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Emily Walker loves creating worlds and stumbling around in them. She is constantly losing her chap-stick, and has an obsession with the color pink. Currently a resident of the mountains and loving the view, she writes mostly paranormal fiction and horror. Her small family consists of her red bearded other half, a rat terrier named Rebel, and a cat named Mr. Creepy.
Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

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Friday, July 18, 2014

Lovely, Dark, and Deep Tour & Excerpt!

Lovely, Dark, and Deep 
The Collectors, Book 1
Susannah Sandlin

Genre: Romantic Thriller

Heat level: moderate; language; violence

Publisher: Montlake Romance


Number of pages: 320
Word Count: 95,000

Get it at Amazon

Book Description:

From award-winning author Susannah Sandlin comes a heart-pounding romantic thriller that pits a quick-witted scientist and a scarred ex–combat diver against a ruthless billionaire treasure hunter with ties to the White House.

When biologist Gillian Campbell makes an offhand comment about a family curse during a TV interview, she has no idea what her words will set in motion. Within days, Gillian finds herself at the mercy of a member of the C7, a secretive international group of power brokers with a dangerous game: competing to find the world’s most elusive treasures, no matter the cost, in money or in lives.

To save her family, Gillian teams up with Shane Burke, a former elite diver who’s lost his way, navigating the brutal “death coast” of the North Atlantic to find what the collector seeks: the legendary Ruby Cross of the Knights Templars, stolen by Gillian’s ancestor and lost at sea four hundred years ago.


He wasn’t sure what woke him, but the first thing Shane Burke saw when he cracked open his eyelids was the bottle of Jack Daniel’s, tipped over and resting on its side. He could’ve sworn he finished it off last night but there was at least an inch of rich amber liquid still resting inside.
Good. Now he didn’t have to wonder what he’d have for breakfast.
The second thing he saw was a great pair of legs. Well, technically, a great pair of ankles above a pair of leather sandals, and then the legs.
Obviously, he was starting his Saturday morning with hallucinations.
Only one good solution for that. He dangled an arm off the side of his bed and almost had his fingers wrapped around the neck of the bottle when one of the leather sandals kicked his buddy Jack Daniel’s under the bed, clipping his hand in the process.
“Ow.” Hallucinations didn’t take his booze and kick him in the knuckles.
Ignoring the throbbing in his hand and the stabs of hangover agony behind his eyeballs, Shane rolled onto his back and squinted at the rest of his non-hallucination.
Shoulder-length hair that fell in a sheen of dark chestnut brown, fair skin, fierce brown eyes, red lips compressed in a tight line, black skirt and white blouse, big briefcase-style purse. Had he picked her up at Harley’s last night? If so, he had to cut back on the sauce.
“Sorry,” he mumbled. “I forgot your name.” Pity, ’cause she was a hot little number, way classier than the regulars at Harley’s. It’s not like he got laid so often that he could afford to forget it when he did.
“We haven’t met.” She propped her hands on her hips and muttered something that sounded like, “And you’re supposed to help me?”
Help her with what? Wait, maybe she was a charter. Had he chartered The Evangeline out to a tour group or fishing party today? Surely he’d remember if there was money coming in.
Color him officially confused. He struggled to a seated position and gave her another look. “What am I supposed to help you with?”
She crossed her arms and raked a ball-shriveling gaze the length of his body. “I came here to offer you a job, but I don’t think you’re up to it.”
He tugged the sheet up in self-defense. “I’m not at my best. Ever consider making an appointment? Not dropping in at the crack of dawn?” He had no idea what time it was but it couldn’t be that late.
“It’s past noon. And I didn’t figure, given your financial situation, that you’d be so picky about what time of day someone offered you money.” She shook her head. “Never mind. This was a mistake.”
She banged her head on the low doorway out of the master cabin, which served her right, the sanctimonious shrew.

About the Author:

Susannah Sandlin writes paranormal romance and romantic thrillers from Auburn, Alabama, on top of a career in educational publishing that has thus far spanned five states and six universities—including both Alabama and Auburn, which makes her bilingual. She grew up in Winfield, Alabama, but was also a longtime resident of New Orleans, so she has a highly refined sense of the absurd and an ingrained love of SEC football, cheap Mardi Gras trinkets, and fried gator on a stick.

She’s the author of the award-winning Penton Legacy paranormal romance series, a spinoff novel, Storm Force, a standalone novelette, Chenoire, and a new romantic thriller series, The Collectors, beginning this month with Lovely, Dark, and Deep. Writing as Suzanne Johnson, she also is the author of the Sentinels of New Orleans urban fantasy series. Her Penton novel, Omega, is currently nominated for a 2013 Reviewer’s Choice Award in Paranormal Romance from RT Book Reviews magazine.

Almost Bad Boys Blitz, Excerpt & Giveaway!

Almost Bad Boys Omnibus 
 by A.O. Peart
(Almost Bad Boys #1-3)
Publication date: May 24th 2014
Genres: Contemporary, New Adult, Romance

This Omnibus Edition collects the three Almost Bad Boys books into a single package: Almost Matched, Almost Broken Up, and Almost Too Far.
How to describe this hilarious and sexy series in just one sentence?
A martini glass of sizzling romance, a jigger of suspense and crime, perfectly shaken with a twist of wacky humor.
By popular demand from my readers, I wrote an additional scene for Almost Matched: COLIN AND NATALIE’S FIRST NIGHT TOGETHER. The bedroom doors are cracked open for you to sneak in and, I don’t know… hide behind the curtain maybe?
This exclusive scene has never been published before and is only included in this Omnibus.
~ ALMOST MATCHED: Would you take another shot at love? Or just settle on a friend with benefits?
~ ALMOST BROKEN UP: How far would you go to protect the one you love?
~ ALMOST TOO FAR: Where would you draw the line between love and trust?


Amazon US:
Amazon UK:
Barnes and Noble:


Colin wraps his arm around my waist, and we walk to the bar, where three twenty-something, shirtless, attractive bartenders put on a real performance. Seriously, it should be forbidden to be as hot as these guys are. They are causing something close to a mass hysteria among the females clustered around the bar.

While two of the bartenders wait on the customers, the third one impressively juggles four shot glasses up in the air. He finally puts them down, swiftly jumps on the bar, and falls onto his knees in front of a group of tipsy, screaming girls who still look like teenagers.

He sits back on his heels and grins at the girls. His distressed jeans tightly hug his strong legs, and his muscular, naked torso and well-defined arms make me want to join the wild females. I quickly snatch a glance at Colin, but he doesn’t seem to mind me drooling. Or at least he’s smarter than showing any signs of jealousy over this.

One of the women leans forward and tries to kiss the bartender’s washboard stomach, but he stops her, laughing. Another bartender hands him a bottle of Frangelico and a tiny glass. The guy on the counter makes a production of pouring the liquor into the glass, while slowly and seductively swinging his hips to the music. The women are going wild. By now there is a big crowd of them, trying to squeeze in closer. The bartender chooses one girl, leans forward and whispers something to her. She nods, and opens her mouth. He touches the glass to her lips and pours the Frangelico into her mouth.

Her friends cheer and demand the same treatment. They stick money behind the bartender’s jeans waistband, as if he is a stripper. Well, he acts like one. Soon he collects an impressive amount of bills. I see mostly tens and twenties. He jumps off the bar and switches places with one of his co-workers—a gorgeous African American guy with dreadlocks. The women hoot and clap in delight.


A.O. Peart is the author of New Adult and Young Adult fiction novels, including NA contemporary romantic comedy series Almost Bad Boys. She writes in multiple adult, NA, and YA genres: contemporary, paranormal, urban fantasy, and short stories.

Angela was born and raised in Poland. She now lives in the Seattle area with her family and a chronically curious cat.
She describes herself as European born, American by choice.

Find Angela here:!/Angela_Peart

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Connecting Strangers Tour, Excerpt & Giveaway!

Connecting Strangers
Discovering Emily Series
Book 1
Rachel Carrington

Genre: Romantic Suspense

Date of Publication: July 21, 2014

Word Count: ~67,000

Cover Artist: Elaina Lee of For the Muse Designs

Book Description:

Getting close is dangerous…

He’s too close, and I start to fidget, needing to keep my hands busy so they won’t grab hold of his shirt. Because that’s what they want to do. Draw him closer. So I can Inhale his scent. Taste his skin.

I didn’t run because I was in an abusive relationship; I ran because my soul was being crushed. I’d forgotten how to live, how to be happy. Running out of gas in a small town, I catch the eye of the local sheriff when the very last thing I want is to come under the scrutiny of the police. I left my boyfriend with blood on my hands, and I know as soon as the wound heals he’ll come looking for me.

Adam Madison draws me to him so easily I can’t even pretend to fight. And the closer we get, the more combustible we become.  I’ve never experienced such passion or power. My need is as great as his, but I’m sure he’ll walk away from me once he knows my secret. No other man would stay.

I’ve had enough complications in my life. I’m not looking for more, and that’s exactly what Adam is—a sexy, magnetic complication with secrets of his own. And with my ex on the hunt, I can’t risk bringing him down with me. But he won’t leave…even when vengeance could kill us both.


I step out into the frosty morning, shivering a little as I walk to my car which looks abandoned in the back parking lot. The dent on the back passenger door is a stark reminder of Mark’s temper. He hadn’t wanted my parents to give me the car, but they hadn’t asked his permission. In a fit of rage, he’d flung a hammer at it. I’d told my parents someone had pushed their grocery cart against the door, but I don’t think my father ever believed it. 
“You need a coat.” Adam intersects with me from around the corner of the building, and my breath catches.
Does the guy ever go anywhere else? I give him what could barely pass for a smile and keep walking. But my body isn’t interested in ignoring him. My skin begins to tingle, and wispy shocks dance down my spine. It’s a sense of awareness I should ignore. I have to ignore if I’m going to get out of this town without any trouble. 
“You want to tell me why you’re doing your damnedest to hide who you are, Emily?”
I stop long enough to glare at him before continuing my trek. “I don’t want any trouble from you, Sheriff, but I don’t feel like I should have to tell you my whole life story, either.”
“I don’t need the whole story. How about just part of the truth?” His long strides outdistance mine, and he’s at my car before I can get there. “Like why you didn’t tell me your real name. Is Emily Blakely it, or is that another fabrication, too?”
“What difference does it make?”
“Usually when someone hides something as simple as their name, they’re either into trouble or hiding from it. I’m trying to find out which one applies to you.” He shifts his hip against the front door of the Volvo and removes his jacket. “Here.”
I debate taking it, but another shiver works its way down my body so I accept it. The collar smells warm and woodsy, like I imagine a real man would smell. When I look back up at Adam, he’s staring at me, his perfect, hazel eyes fixated on my face.
“Why are you looking at me like that?” I shouldn’t want to know, but my insides are in turmoil watching him watching me. And that look isn’t all about professionalism.
“I’m pretty good at reading people, Emily.” He pushes off the car and takes a step toward me. I had stopped close to him so there’s no more room between our bodies. “And I don’t see you as a criminal.”
“Guess that means you think I’m running from trouble.” Denying it serves no purpose. We both know I’d be lying.
He surprises me by taking hold of the edges of his jacket and pulling me closer. My breasts bump against his chest and instantly respond to the proximity. “Are you?” His voice goes deeper.
My tongue is stuck, and I try to convince myself it’s only because he’s asking questions I don’t want to answer. But my body is telling me something different. It’s noticing the muscles straining against Adam’s tan shirt, the smoothness of his clean-shaven face, and the fullness of his lips.
He stands a good eight inches taller than I do, maybe more. If I lean in, I could nestle my head against the curve of his neck. A curse resounds in my head, a warning telling me I can’t want these things. Juniper Springs is a stop over until I can put some more miles between me and Mark.
But every ounce of femininity within me is drawing me toward Adam. My gaze lifts, connects with his, and I’m losing the battle to fight against this insane attraction I feel.
“Emily?” Hands now skimming my spine, Adam draws me in, wrapping me in the web of his warmth. “Since you obviously don’t want to talk about your name, how about letting me buy you a drink tonight?”
Like a date? Is he talking about a date?  Mark will kill us both. “That’s not a good idea.” His question erases any doubts I have about his loyalties. No way he’s on Ike Metzger’s payroll and asking me out. No one who’s met the sultan of Broomtown is going to go up against him. Not even someone with a badge and a gun.  
Adam isn’t moving, and I’m getting flustered. “You think you might let me go anytime soon?” Though my voice is light, I’m a ball of nerves.

“It’s not in my future plans, no.” His teasing brings a smile to my face, and under any other circumstance, I might like Adam Madison. A little too much.

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For a complete list of participating authors and how to connect with them socially, please visit:

Giveaway contributing authors and their website and FB fan pages

Melanie Shawn

Cathryn Fox

Steena Holmes

Lisa Renee Jones

Elena Aitken
Facebook Fan Page: N/A
Follow Elena Aitken on Twitter: @elenaaitken

Rachel Van Dyken

Mari Carr

Violet Duke

C.J. Carmichael

Lauren Hawkeye
Facebook Fan Page: N/A
Follow Lauren Hawkeye on Twitter: @LaurenHJameson

Kaira Rouda

Carly Phillips

Nina Lane

Shayla Black

Cari Quinn

Malia Mallory

Erika Wilde

Suzanne Rock
Facebook Fan Page: N/A
Follow Suzanne Rock on Twitter: @Suzanne_Rock

About the Author:

I started writing years ago, and my first attempt was a contemporary romance that will never see the light of day. I think I may even have thrown it away by now. It was absolutely horrific as I knew nothing about well…anything to do with writing.
After that, I started writing fantasy romances about wizards and wizards, and once those took off, I segued to paranormal romances (hello, vampires and ghosts) and romantic suspense.

I also write articles for various magazines, including The Writer’s Journal, Writer’s Magazine, Writer’s Weekly, Writing for Dollars, Absolute Write, Freelance, and Funds for Writers.

I’m fortunate to make my home in historical Charleston, South Carolina. Beautiful city. Beautiful people. When I’m not writing, I love to read, watch Bones, Castle, Blue Bloods, and Hawaii Five-O, create videos, keep Target in business, play visitor in my city, and drink lots of coffee.

Sinful Rewards Blitz, Excerpt & Giveaway!

Sinful Rewards
by Cynthia Sax
(Sinful Rewards #1)
Published by: Avon Impulse
Publication date: July 15th 2014
Genres: Adult, Romance


Belinda “Bee” Carter is a good girl; at least, that’s what she tells herself. And a good girl deserves a nice guy—just like the gorgeous and moody billionaire Nicolas Rainer. He is everything she wants in a man.

Or so she thinks, until she takes a look through her telescope and sees a naked, tattooed man on the balcony across the courtyard. Hawke is mysterious, the bad boy she knows will bring only heartbreak. He has been watching her, and that makes him all the more enticing.

But when a mysterious and anonymous text message dares her to do something bad, she must decide if she is really the good girl she has always claimed to be, or if she’s willing to risk everything for her secret fantasy of being watched.

Is her mystery man the reclusive billionaire with a wild side or the darkly dangerous bad boy?




Voices murmur outside the condo’s door, the sound piercing my delightful daydream. I swing the telescope upward, not wanting to be caught using it. The snippets of conversation drift away.

I don’t relax. If the telescope isn’t in the same spot as it was positioned last night, Cyndi will realize I’ve been using it. She’ll tease me about being a fellow pervert, sharing the story, embellished for more dramatic effect, with her stern serious dad or, worse, with Angel, that snobby friend of hers.

I’ll die. It’ll be worse than being the butt of jokes in high school because that ridicule had been about my clothes and this will center around the part of my soul I’ve always kept hidden. It’ll also be the truth and I won’t be able to deny it. I am a pervert.

I have to return the telescope to where it was positioned. This is the only acceptable solution. I tap the metal tube.

Last night, my man-crazy roommate had been giggling over the new guy in three eleven north. The previous occupant had been a gray-haired, bowtie-wearing tax auditor, his luxurious accommodations supplied by Nicolas. The most exciting thing he ever did was drink his tea on the balcony.

According to Cyndi, the new occupant is a delicious piece of man candy, tattooed, buff, and head-to-toe lickable. He’d been completing arm curls outside and she’d enthusiastically counted his reps, oohing and aahing over his bulging biceps, calling to me to take a look.

I’d resisted that temptation, focusing on making macaroni and cheese for the two of us, the recipe snagged from the diner my mom works in. After we scarfed down dinner with Cyndi licking her plate clean, she left for the club and hasn’t returned.

Three eleven north is the mirror condo to ours. I straighten the telescope. That position looks about right but then, the imitation UGGS I bought in second year college looked about right also. The first time I wore the boots in the rain, the sheepskin fell apart, leaving me barefoot in Economics 201.

Unwilling to risk Cyndi’s friendship on about right, I gaze through the eyepiece. The view consists of rippling golden planes, almost like…

Tanned skin pulled over defined abs.

I blink. It can’t be. I take another look. A perfect pearl of perspiration clings to a puckered scar. The drop elongates more and more, stretching, snapping. It trickles downward, navigating the swells and valleys of a man’s honed torso.

No. I straighten. This is wrong. I shouldn’t watch our sexy neighbor as he stands on his balcony. If anyone catches me…

I glance behind me. There’s no one here to catch me. Cyndi won’t know I looked. The hunk in three eleven north won’t know I looked. I’m not harming anyone.

I bend over and take another peek.

The sunlight casts interesting shadows across his stomach, accentuating the ridges of muscle, the dip of his navel. I dart my tongue over my suddenly dry lips. His skin is marred with silver scars, some round, some slashes, this proof of hard living, of survival.

I shouldn’t lust after him. He’s the wrong kind of man, the leaving kind, too virile and feral to stay in one place for long. I can tell this from his stance, from his brazen exhibitionism. He wants me to look at him, to care for him. I tilt the telescope downward. His hips are slim. More scars are etched along the bones. Fine brown hair trails from his navel to…

My mouth drops open. He’s completely naked.

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Cynthia Sax's stories have been featured in Star Magazine and on Real Time With Bill Maher. She lives in a world where demons aren't all bad, angels aren't all good, and magic happens every single day. Although her heroes may not always say, "I love you," they will do anything for the women they love. They live passionately. They fight fiercely. They love the same women forever.

Cynthia has loved the same wonderful man forever. Her supportive hubby offers himself up to the joys and pains of research. He receives a daily briefing on what every character is doing. You can also learn what Cynthia Sax's characters are doing by visiting her website or emailing her directly at

She loves writing fated to mate romances because this is her personal experience with love. She fell in love with my dear wonderful hubby at first sight and 20 years later, they're still very much in love. This is what she wishes for her characters and for her readers.

Author links:

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Shawndirea Tour, Excerpt & Giveaway!

Chronicles of Aetheaon
Book I
Leonard D. Hilley II

Genre:  Fantasy (Epic, Adventure, Sword/Sorcerer)

Publisher:  DeimosWeb Publishing
Date of Publication: June 27, 2014

ISBN: 9781310304965

Number of pages: 536 printed pages
Word Count:  148,000

Book Description:

Often the smallest unexpected surprises garner the most demanding dilemmas, which proves to be the ordeal that entomologist Ben Whytten faces.  While netting butterflies to add to his vast collection, he mistakenly sweeps what he thinks is the most spectacular butterfly he has ever seen into his net.  Upon examining his catch, Ben is horrified to discover he has captured a faery and shredded her delicate wings into useless ribbons.

Devastated, Ben vows to take Shawndirea back to her realm, Aetheaon; but he discovers that doing so places their lives into immediate danger.  To get to Aetheaon, they must pass through a portal rift deep inside the haunted cavern, Devils Den. 

Once they cross the rift, Ben enters a world where mysteries, magic, betrayal, and power struggles await.  He must adapt quickly or die because Aetheaon is filled with enchanted creatures and numerous races where chaos often dominates order.  And since Shawndirea’s destined for the throne of Elvendale, opposing dark forces plot to prevent her from ever reaching her kingdom again.  The faery's magic isn't enough to fully protect them, so he must trust other adventurers to aid them during their journey.

Available at Amazon 

Chapter One

The early autumn sun blazed over the freshly cut hayfield in Cider Knoll, Kentucky.  Ben Whytten rested his butterfly net against the rusted barbed wire fence and then wiped sweat from his brow with the back of his hand.  Sweat soaked his shirt and blue jeans.  Although fall had officially begun, the outside temperature didn’t indicate it. Sporting near ninety degrees, summer refused to let go of the climate and turned what should have been a pleasant Saturday afternoon into an intimidating taunt, daring anyone with partial sanity to remain outdoors in the sweltering heat.
After he unscrewed the canteen cap, he tilted it back and took a long drink of cold water.  Beads of water dripped down his short brown beard.  He sighed and twisted the cap tightly.  His piercing brown eyes studied the sky.  Not a cloud in sight.  No breeze to help combat the hellish sticky heat.
Ben combed his sweat-matted brown hair from his eyes with his fingers.  He picked up the butterfly net and looked across the straw-colored field at the small grove of pastel leafed maples that lined a winding stream.  The shade was inviting, and he guessed a good ten degrees cooler than the open field.  He took a deep breath and trudged across brittle grass stems that crunched beneath his hiking boots.
Collecting butterflies during autumn was better than spring or summer because the diversity of species increased.  The fall forms of butterflies were generally brighter, larger, and fed in greater clusters on the ironweed, milkweed, and clover.  Brilliantly colored swallowtails puddled along the creek beds.  Plump moth larvae were also easier to find as they searched for places to spin cocoons or burrow beneath the soil to pupate before the colder temperatures set in.
“If colder weather ever settles in,” Ben thought, “Hell will have truly frozen over.”
Long narrow grasshoppers jumped and took to flight as Ben crossed the field.  Their wings buzzed as the alarmed insects glided and drifted downward, landed, and propelled themselves into the air again.
Reaching the shade beneath the maple branches, Ben leaned against a thick tree trunk and closed his eyes.  The shallow stream trickled softly.  Cicadas hummed.  In the distance a woodpecker rapped the bark of a massive dead pine.  Weather had stripped away sections of the rough pine bark, revealing the smooth yellow wood underneath.  The soothing sounds of nature relaxed him, and he was thankful to be outside, alone.
Dr. Isaac Deiko had planned to collect insects with Ben this particular Saturday, but at the last minute, he called and said that he couldn’t go.  Deiko had to help set up tables for a gun show in a neighboring town.
The news didn’t disappoint Ben.  He’d rather collect butterflies and other insects alone.  The outdoors was a place where he gathered his thoughts and meditated about life.  The forests, bluffs, and meadows were the best places where he felt at peace.  Leaving the fast-paced, bustling technological-craving addicts for a calmer, slow-paced life without all their distractions was worth more than millions of dollars to Ben.  He’d give up all the instant gadgets for the tranquility that his grandfather and great-grandfather experienced while working on their farms.
Ben kept a serious outlook on life while Dr. Deiko spent more time playing practical jokes on their colleagues and students, which often irritated and infuriated Ben.  He knew if Deiko came on this field trip, the collecting possibilities would be little or none simply because Deiko was clumsy-footed and boisterous.
Ben had never extended an invitation for Deiko to join him in the first place.  In fact, Deiko had invited himself when he found out about Ben’s collecting plans for the weekend.  Although Deiko was a biologist like Ben, Deiko was more concerned with uncovering a discovery to make him famous, whereas Ben loved science and didn’t care if anyone other than his students knew he existed.  Of course when final exams rolled around, most of his students would rather he didn’t exist.  Other than giving his students field trips from Hell, his tests were considered harsher than rigorous ten mile hikes through steep mountainous terrain.
Ben looked back across the field and chuckled.  He had traipsed hundreds of acres through forests, caves, and fields when he was still in middle school.  He had done so voluntarily, without a word of complaint, and yet, today’s college students voiced disdain over the least thing.  The challenge wasn’t getting them to learn; it was getting them to do anything that didn’t require the pacifying need for their technology.
His inner frustration brought more heat to his face.  He was seconds from rehashing how he wished computers and cellphones weren’t so controlling until the soft bubbling creek caught his attention.  The gentle soft sound of water allowed his mind to leave the tensions of the classroom and return to the natural calm surrounding him.  He expelled a long sigh and refocused himself.
Tall narrow blades of grass covered the sandy banks of the shallow stream.  Small drab satyr butterflies fluttered lazily from grass blade to grass blade.  Ben shook his head.  After two hours of walking the fields and woods, he had hoped to capture a few new specimens to add to his collection.  But with each species he encountered, he already had at least a half-dozen of those pinned inside glass-top boxes at home.  In many ways, he believed he’d have done himself a greater service by staying home.
But regardless of what he deemed bad luck, his life was about to change.
He removed his backpack and set it down.  Slowly he lowered himself and sat back against the tree trunk to rest.  He set down the canteen and placed the net handle across his lap and watched the gentle stream flow.  A few minnows darted back and forth beneath the water as water striders skimmed like polished skaters across the water’s surface.
Ben was drenched in sweat and drained from the heat.  A cool breeze stirred along the stream, which seemed an invitation to relax a while longer.  His eyes ached to close for a nap.  He fought the urge to doze even though the place was so comforting and peaceful.  But, if nothing interesting presented itself soon, he was going home.  He dreaded walking across the dry pasture to his SUV.
Ben took his hunting knife from the sheath attached to his belt and then picked up a dried oak branch.  He whittled and shaved away bark.
Perhaps it was the extreme heat that kept the most brilliant butterflies in hiding, but he still didn’t see any within the grove or along the sandy banks.  Later in the evening he might have better luck, but he refused to stick around that long.  He slid the knife back into its sheath and rubbed his tired eyes.
Sunlight filtered through the leafy canopy.  Several birds flew low across the stream and through the trees.  Seconds later two yellow butterflies glided to the edge of the far bank and landed.  A larger butterfly caught his attention.  At first glance he thought it was a giant swallowtail, but instead, it turned out to be an oversized tiger swallowtail.
Ben’s fingers tightened around the net handle.  He pushed himself to his feet.  He stepped lightly and headed toward the stream to get a better look at the butterflies.  Near the bank, a blur of metallic bluish-green streaked past him.
“Damn!” he said, watching the zipping wings catch the breeze and glide.
With incredible speed, it darted up, down, left to right, and along the stream’s edge.  Perhaps the sweltering heat or near dehydration was playing tricks on him, but he was almost certain glittery dust trailed behind it.
Ben hurried after the butterfly, a prize unlike any other in his collection.
Few butterflies in this part of Kentucky had such metallic colorings.  One he thought of immediately was the White M Hairstreak, but this one was too large and flew much swifter.  Another butterfly with similar colors was the long-tailed skipper, but the sheen sparkling off the butterfly following the stream was too bright.  Its flight was also more erratic.  The skipper stayed near gardens, and he doubted any strayed this far into the woods since the larvae food plant was the leaf of various beanstalks.
Ben realized he had just discovered something new.  Excitement shot through him.
He hurried along the stream and jumped over a fallen tree.  His sudden pursuit had not gone unnoticed.  The iridescent creature darted downward and swept through the tiny branches of a shrub.  But Ben moved faster.
As the beautifully winged specimen shot through the other side of the bush, Ben arced the net sharply and captured his prize.  The end of the net pulled and stretched while his captive struggled to fight free.
Quickly, Ben clamped his fingers near the end of the net, but by the time he did, the struggling ceased.
He opened the net and looked inside.  His eyes widened.
“What the hell?” he asked.
At the bottom of the net lay a gorgeous creature, but not what he had expected to capture.  Her wings were tattered, frayed.  Unconscious, he hoped, but he feared she might be dying or already dead.  Broken scales and wing fragments covered her nearly nude body.
His excitement of the chase suddenly turned to regret and dread.
A faery?
Ben dropped to his knees and gently set down the net. 
“God,” he whispered.  “I hope I didn’t kill you.”
He carefully placed his left hand beside her unmoving form.  He nudged her into the palm of his hand with the tip of his finger.  She breathed, but her eyes remained closed.  Her radiant face was more beautiful than any woman he had ever met.
A door slammed and echoed near the pasture gate where he had parked his SUV.
Ben looked over his shoulder but couldn’t see who had driven up.
“Ben!” Deiko shouted.  “Where are you?”
“Dammit,” Ben grumbled under his breath, looking back over his shoulder.  “What the hell are you doing here?”
He hurried to the tree where his pack lay.  He curled his left hand gently around the faery’s limp body while reaching into the pack.
Ben took a wide-mouthed dark plastic bottle, set it between his knees and unscrewed the hole-punched lid.  Glancing back over his shoulder he saw Deiko’s lanky figure jogging toward the grove.  Deiko smiled and waved when their eyes met.  His jog turned into a sprint as he headed toward Ben.
Ben placed the faery into the jar, turned the lid, and wrapped the jar inside a white cloth before setting it back into his pack.  No sooner had he placed it there and zipped the pack shut, Deiko’s thundering footsteps stopped beside him.
“Catch something nice?” Deiko asked.
“No,” Ben replied, looking up but not making eye contact with Deiko.  “Not much activity out here today.  I blame the heat.”
Deiko smiled broadly.  “You caught something.  Something special.”
Ben shook his head, picked up his pack, and stood.  “Look around, Isaac.  What do you see?”
Deiko glanced around but then his eyes focused on Ben’s backpack again.  “I agree.  Not much flying around.  But you got something.”
“What makes you think that?”
“Your eyes.  It’s the same with poker players who have a great hand and haven’t conditioned themselves to suppress their excitement or like kids that find money on the ground after someone drops it.  Hell, I noticed people at the gun show who bought guns from people far cheaper than the owners knew the guns were worth.”
Ben’s eyes narrowed, and he chose to change the subject.  He said, “How was the gun show?  I thought you’d be there all day.”
Deiko shrugged.  “That had been the plan.  Not much going on there, either.  Got a couple good deals though.  Like this Ruger.”
He pulled a handgun from the back of his belt.
“Nice,” Ben replied.  Carefully he slipped his pack over his shoulder and headed toward the hay field.
“Well?” Deiko said.  He tucked the gun behind his belt and stepped in front of Ben.  “Aren’t you going to show me?”
Sweat dripped from his Deiko’s black hair and beaded on his brow.  Ben studied the determination set in his colleague’s dark eyes and his firm muscular jaw.  Within seconds, Deiko’s boyish face had hardened into that of a fierce murderous villain.  Physically, he had no weight to put behind his facial threat.  He was tall and quite bony with slender arms.  And although Deiko was probably fifteen years younger, Ben had no doubt if he was forced to fight that Deiko would be the one sitting on the ground looking up and rubbing his jaw.  But, then, there was the gun issue.  Isaac was armed and all Ben had was his knife.  Even those odds didn’t stand in Isaac’s favor.
“Show you what?” Ben asked.
“Your prize.  It must be something nice since you still refuse to show me.”
“How many times have I told you that I haven’t found anything?”
“You and I should play poker sometime,” Deiko said.  “I’d make a fortune.”
“Being as I don’t play cards, you’re probably correct with that assumption.”
“Oh, come on, Ben,” Deiko said.  Hostility loomed in his voice and darkness narrowed his eyes.  “Why are you afraid to show me what you found?”
Ben studied him for a moment.  Never had he seen Isaac behave like a demented spoiled brat.  He had his moments, but Dr. Deiko generally didn’t keep a quiet and intimidating tone.  But out here, away from others, Ben suddenly saw the violence that hid deep within the botanist, and it was creeping to the surface.  Knowing that Deiko lusted for fame, for a discovery beyond what man had seen or could fathom, Ben knew he could never show the faery to Deiko.  The second he did, something horrible would happen.  To Ben and the lovely faery.
Deiko had not only shown the gun as his grand prize from the gun show, he had established his subtle threat by revealing he had brought it into the field.  Hunting season was still a few weeks away, and no one needed a gun to collect butterflies.  He had shown the gun for a reason—either as a bullying tactic or simply to exhibit dominance.
“I think the heat is getting to you, Isaac,” Ben said, shaking his head and stepping around his colleague.
“Put down the pack,” Isaac said.
Ben froze when Isaac inserted the magazine into the gun and snapped the gun’s chamber back and forth.
“Put down your pack.  I want to see what you’re hiding inside.”
Ben turned.  He looked in Isaac’s eyes, then to the gun.
Isaac shook his head.  “Uh-uh.  Just set it down.”
Ben frowned and slowly lowered his pack to the ground.  He held his hands before him in surrender.  “You’re making a big mistake.”
“So you did find something.”
“And if I did?  You going to kill me for it?” Ben asked.
Isaac chuckled.  “Depends on how good a find it is.”

About the Author: 

Leonard D. Hilley II currently lives in the mountains of Kentucky with his wife, Christal.  He is a biologist that has also earned his MFA in creative writing.  Having a passion for books at an early age, he knew he wanted to author his own creative works.  He wrote his first novel at the age of eleven and has never lost his love for books.

Twitter: @Deimosweb Publishing