Friday, July 25, 2014

The Winter King Tour, Excerpt & Giveaway!

The Winter King
C.L. Wilson

Genre: Fantasy Romance

Publisher: Avon Romance

ISBN 13: 9780062018977

Book Description:

Wynter Atrialan, the Winter King, once lived in peace with his southern, Summerlander neighbors, but when Falcon, the prince of Summerlea, stole Wynter’s bride and murdered his young brother, Wynter vows vengeance. Calling upon a dangerous Wintercraig magic called the Ice Heart, he gathers his armies and marches against Summerlea, crushing their armies and spreading icy winter in his wake.

After three long, bitter years of battle, Summerlea is defeated and Wynter comes to the heart of the kingdom to issue his terms for their surrender. The prince of Summerlea stole Wynter’s bride and slew Wynter’s Heir. He wants the loss replaced. The Ice Heart is consuming him. Wynter hopes holding his own child in his arms will rekindle the warmth of love and melt the Ice Heart before he becomes the monster of Wintercraig legend, the Ice King.

The Summer King has three very precious daughters whom he loves dearly. Wynter will take one of them to wife. She will have one year to provide him with an Heir. If she fails, he will turn her out in the ice and snow of the mountains and claim another princess for his wife. And so it will continue until Wynter has his Heir or the Summer King is out of daughters. All the while, Wynter will enjoy the vengeance of knowing the Summer King will suffer each day without his beloved daughter(s), as Wynter suffers each day without his own beloved brother.

The plan is perfect—except for one small detail. The Summer King has a fourth daughter. One of which he is not so fond.

Blamed as a child for the death of her beloved mother, Khamsin Coruscate, the forgotten princess of Summerlea, has spent her life hidden from the world like an embarrassing secret. Dressed in cast-off gowns and left to her own devices, with only the determination of her loyal nursemaid to ensure she receives the education befitting an Heir to the Summer Throne, Khamsin haunts the abandoned towers and gardens of Summerlea’s royal palace, close to her beloved late mother’s treasures, and waits for the day her father will recognize her as a Princess of the Rose. But though she dreams of the valor and sacrifices of ancient Summerlea heroes and pines for paternal love that will never come, Khamsin is no sweet, gentle, helpless princess-in-a-tower. She is a fiercely passionate creature with a volatile, rebellious temper that is often as reckless and destructive as the dangerous forces of her weathergift, the power of storms.

Together will their stormy personalities be able to meld or will their powers destroy not only their love but the whole world?

Add it to your Goodreads Shelf

Available for purchase at Avon Romance Amazon  BN  Kobo

Excerpt


Prologue ~ Scarlet on Snow

King’s Keep
Vera Sola, Summerlea
“Do you have to go?”  Seventeen year old Khamsin Coruscate clung to her beloved brother’s hand as if by her grip alone she could anchor him fast and keep him from leaving.
 “You know I do.  Our treaties with the Winter King are very important.”
“But you’ll be home soon?”  Whenever he was gone, the ancient walls of the royal palace of Summerlea that had been her home and her prison since birth seemed somehow more confining, more restrictive.
“Not this time, little sister.”  Falcon shook his head.  A strand of black hair that had pulled free of the queue at the back of his neck brushed against the soft, dark skin of his cheek.  “It will take weeks to negotiate the treaties.”
Khamsin scowled, and the wind began to gust, sending Kham’s habitually untamed hair whipping into her mouth and eyes.  “Why does he have to send you?  Why can’t his ambassador negotiate the treaty?  He’s sending you away because of me, isn’t he?  Because he doesn’t want you spending so much time with me.”  Her hands clenched into fists.  The wind sent her skirts flying and a dark cloud rolled across the sun.
Their father, King Verdan IV of Summerlea, didn’t love her. She knew that.  He kept her isolated in a remote part of the palace, hidden away from his court and his kingdom, on the pretext that her weathergifts were too volatile and dangerous and she couldn’t control them.  That was all true.  Kham’s gifts were dangerous, and she couldn’t control them any better than she could control her own temper.  Until now, however, he’d never stooped to sending his other children away to keep them from visiting her.
“Here now.  Be calm.”  Falcon smoothed her wayward curls back, tucking them behind her ears.  Compassion and pity shone softly in his eyes.  “I wish I didn’t have to leave you.  But Father believes I’ll have the best chance of getting what we want from Wintercraig, and I agree with him.”  Summerlea, once a rich, thriving kingdom renowned for its fertile fields and abundant orchards, had been in a slow decline for years. Although the nobles and king maintained a prosperous façade for political and economic purposes, beneath the gilded domes and bright splendor of Summerlea’s palaces and grand estates, the rough tatters of neglect were beginning to show.  “Besides, you won’t be alone while I’m gone.  You have Tildy and the Seasons.”
“It isn’t the same.  They aren’t you.”  He was the handsome Prince of Summerlea, charming, witty, heroic.  He’d lived a life of adventure, most of which he shared with her, entertaining her with the tales of his exploits…the places he’d seen, the people he’d met.  His hunts, his adventures, his triumphs.  No matter how much her nursemaid, Tildavera Greenleaf, doted on Khamsin, or how often the three other princesses, Autumn, Spring, and Summer, snuck away from their palace duties to spend time with their ostracized youngest sister, Falcon was the one whose visits she couldn’t live without.
“Now there’s a pretty compliment.  Careful, my lady.  You’ll turn my head.”  He smiled, and warmth poured into her.  It was no wonder the ladies of their father’s court swooned at the slightest attention from him.  Falcon had a magical way about him.  He could he literally charm the birds from the trees with his name-gift—controlling any feathered creature on a whim--and the weathergift inherent in his royal Summerlander blood was stronger than it had been in any crown prince in generations.  It was as if the Sun itself had taken up residence in his soul, and its warmth spilled from him each time he smiled.  
Kham took a deep breath.  The sharp edge of her temper abated, and in the skies, the gathering storm began to calm.  Perhaps King Verdan truly had chosen to send his only son as envoy to Wintercraig for political reasons.  Long, long ago, as a small child crying herself to sleep, she’d decided Falcon was the reincarnation of Roland Triumphant, the Hero of Summerlea, the brave King who had defeated an overwhelming invasion force with his wit, his weathergifts, and a legendary sword reputed to be a gift from the Sun God himself.    If anyone could charm the cold, savage folk of the north into concessions most favorable to Summerlea, Falcon could.
“Will you at least write to me?” she asked.
“I’ll send you a bird every week.”   He tapped her nose and gave her a charming, roguish grin. “Cheer up.  Just think of all the swordfights you’ll win when you’re fighting invisible opponents instead of me.”
Kham rolled her eyes.  He’d been teaching her sword-fighting for years, but she had yet to best him in a match.
“You know,” she said as they walked towards the doorway leading back into the palace, “it might actually be a good thing that you’ll be spending months in Wintercraig.”
“Oh?”
“Yes.  You can use that time to find out what happened to Roland’s sword.” 
Falcon tripped on an uneven flagstone and grabbed the trunk of a nearby tree to steady himself.  “I’m sure I’ll be much too busy to chase fairy tales, Storm.”
She frowned in surprise.  “But you’ve always believed the stories were true.” Blazing, the legendary sword of Roland Soldeus, had disappeared shortly after the heroic king’s death.   Legend claimed it was the Winter King, the father of Roland’s betrothed, who had spirited the sword away so Roland’s brother Donal couldn’t claim it.  Every royal Summerlea Heir for the last two millennia had dreamed of finding the legendary blade and bringing it back home where it belonged.  Falcon had spent years chasing lead after lead, determined that he would be the one to find Blazing and restore Summerlea to its former glory.
“What about those letters?” she added.  “The really old ones you found tucked in that monastery?  You said they proved the stories were true.”
“That was six years ago.  I was seventeen.  I wanted the stories to be true.”  He gave her a quick hug and a brotherly kiss on the forehead.  “I’ve got to run. I’m meeting with Father and his advisors to go over our list of demands and concessions one last time before I leave.  I’ll see you in a few months.”
“I’ll miss you every day.”  She trailed after him, feeling bereft and forlorn when Falcon turned the corner and disappeared from view.  But this time, she also felt confused. She’d never known Falcon to give up on something he felt passionately about.  And he’d been passionate about finding Roland’s sword.  He’d been certain he was on the right trail.  He’d shared his discoveries with her because he knew she was just as hungry as he to find the legendary sword.
So why would he deny it now?
* * *
Gildenheim, Wintercraig

“She's not good for you."
Wynter Atrialan, King of Wintercraig, cast a sideways glance at his younger brother.  "Don't say that, Garrick.  I know you've never liked Elka, but in six months time, she will be my bride and your queen."
Garrick shook his long, snow-silver hair.  Eyes as bright and blue as the glacier caves in Wintercraig's ice-bound Skoerr Mountains shone with solemn intensity that made the boy look far older than his sixteen years.  
"You love too deeply, Wyn.  From the moment you decided to take her to wife, you’ve blinded yourself to her true nature."
Wynter sighed.  "I should not have shared my worries with you when I first met her."  Wyn was an intensely private man, but he'd never kept secrets from Garrick.  Not one.  Wyn had raised his brother since their parents' death ten years ago.  And in those years, he'd never tried to sweeten the ugly world of politics, never tried to gloss over his fears or concerns—even when it came to the more personal but still political matter of selecting a queen.  If something happened to him, Garrick would be king, and Wyn didn’t want his brother thrown into such a position without preparation.
Unfortunately, the years of openness and plain, unfettered talk had paid unanticipated returns.  Because of his unflinching honesty with Garrick, no one in Wintercraig--no one in all the world, for that matter--knew him better than his young brother.  Not even Wyn's lifelong friend and second-in-command, Valik.  Such deep familiarity could be as troublesome as it was comforting.
"She is cold," Garrick insisted.  "She does not love you as she should.  She wants to be queen more than she wants to be your wife."
"Elka is a woman of the Craig.  She is as reserved with her feelings as I."
"Is she?  So that is why she laughs and smiles so warmly when the Summerlander is near?"
Wynter frowned a warning at his brother.  "Careful, Garrick.  Elka Villani will be my wife and queen.  Insult to her is insult to me.”
“I offered no insult.  I merely asked a question.  And based on my observations, it’s a perfectly legitimate one.”
“You are misreading what you see.  Elka knows it’s vital the Summer Prince feels welcome here if we are to come to an amicable agreement."  The lush, fertile fields of Summerlea provided much needed sustenance to the folk of Wintercraig during the harsh, cold months of a northern winter.  Their grains, fruits and vegetables, which Wintercraig bought with furs, whale oil and forest products, could mean the difference between life and death for his people during years when their own harvests were poor.  That had, unfortunately, been quite often of late, since the summers had grown shorter and food from Summerlea had been growing steadily more dear after Wynter had taken the throne.  Falcon Coruscate, son of the weathermage king who ruled Summerlea, had come three months ago at Wynter’s invitation to negotiate terms of a new treaty that would ensure longer summers in the north and more affordable trade in foodstuffs for the winters.
“She makes him feel welcome to more than the court,” Garrick corrected.  “She flirts.”
Wyn arched a brow.  “And if she does, where’s the harm in it?  A pretty face and a sweet smile can persuade a man better than cold figures and dry treaties—especially self-indulgent peacocks like the Summer Prince.”  He smiled when Garrick rolled his eyes.  “You don’t remember our mother, but she could charm a Frost Giant into the fire.  Father used to call her his secret weapon.  Elka merely uses her gifts to aid the realm, as any good queen would.”
Garrick gave a snort.   "How fortunate that she takes to the task so well. All right, all right.” He held up his hands in surrender when his brother’s glance sharpened.  He paused a moment, using hammer and chisel to chip unwanted ice from the frozen sculpture he was working on, then added, “But even if you trust her, you’d best keep an eye on the Summerlander.  He’s up to something.”
“Foreign dignitaries are always up to something.  That’s called politics.”
“He’s been asking too many questions about the Book of Riddles."
Wyn’s hand stilled momentarily in its work on his own sculpture.  “Has he?”  He tried to pull of nonchalance, but shouldn’t have bothered.  Garrick knew him too well.
“That’s what he’s really here for.  To get the book and find Roland’s sword.”
Roland’s sword was a fabled Summerlea weapon of inconceivable power.   It had disappeared three thousand years ago, not long after the Summer King who first wielded it sacrificed his life to save his kingdom from invasion.  Many myths and legends swirled around its disappearance.  One of those legends suggested that the Winter King of that time, fearing the sword’s power would be misused by Roland’s successors, had smuggled the sword out of Summerlea and hidden it in a place it would never be found.  The Winter King had also left behind a book of obscure clues and riddles that supposedly led to the sword’s secret hiding place, in case his own descendants one day had need of the legendary weapon’s vast power.
“Well, good luck to him with that,” Wynter said.  “The sword is a myth.  It’s long gone by now, if it ever existed at all.  And he won’t find whatever treasure the Book actually does protect, either, because he will never find the Book.  It’s kept in a place no man can go.”
“But Elka can.”
He scowled.  “Garrick, stop.  She is my betrothed.  She will be my queen.  She would never betray me.”
Garrick heaved a sigh.  “Fine. She is your true and worthy love.  I’ll never suggest otherwise again.”
“Good.”  Wyn pressed his lips together and focused on the small block of ice sitting on the pedestal before him.  Patient as time itself, he carved away the excess ice until he revealed the hidden beauty inside.  Fragile, shimmering, a bouquet of lilies emerged, petals curved with incredible delicacy, each flower distinct and perfect, rising up from slender stems of ice.   “What do you think?” he asked when it was done.
"That's beautiful, Wyn.  One of your best yet."
Wyn smiled.  When it came to ice sculptures, Garrick hoarded his compliments like a miser.  Only perfection earned his highest praise.
"Do you think she will like it, then?  Frost lilies are her favorite."
Garrick stepped abruptly away from his own sculpture--a complex scene depicting a family of deer welcoming their newest, spindly-legged member into the herd--and brushed the dusting of ice crystals from his furs.  "Any woman who truly loves you would love it, Wyn.  It's obvious how much care you put into it."
"Then she will love it.  You'll see."
“I’m sure she will,” Garrick said, but his eyes held no conviction.
“Coruscate!” Wynter’s roar shook the great crystal chandelier that hung in the entry hall of his palace, Gildenheim.  He stormed up the winding stairs to the wing where royal guests were housed and burst into the suite that had been occupied for the last two months by the Prince of Summerlea.  The rooms were empty, and judging by the state of the open drawers and the clothes flung haphazardly about, the inhabitants had vacated the place in a hurry.
“He’s gone, Wyn.”  Valik, Wynter’s oldest friend and second in command stepped into the room.  “Laci checked the temple.  The book’s gone, too.”
Wynter swore under his breath.  Barely two weeks ago, Garrick had warned him to keep an eye on the Summerlea Prince, and Wyn had dismissed his concerns with such blind, confidence! “When did they leave?”
“About an hour after we left for Hileje.  Elka and his guard went with him.  Bron didn’t think anything of it.  The Summerlander kept blathering about not letting some fire ten miles away ruin a good day’s hunt.”
“We’d better start tracking them, then.”
“There’s more, Wyn.”  Valik hesitated, then said, “I think Garrick went after them.  He and his friends rode out not long after the Summerlander.  Bron heard them talking about something the Summerlander took that Garrick meant to get back.”
Wyn’s jaw turned to granite.  With Valik close on his heels, he ran back down to the courtyard.
Still saddled and ready to ride, Wynter’s stallion was waiting in the hands of a stableboy, and beside him, a dozen of Wynter’s elite White Guard held Prince Falcon’s valet at swordpoint.  The valet looked nothing like the sleek, meticulously turned-out peacock Wynter’s courtiers had mocked amongst themselves.  He’d traded his velvet brocade livery for rough-spun woolens, a furred vest, and a heavy cloak.  His knuckles were scraped, and his face sported a bruised jaw and an eye that was swollen shut and rapidly purpling.
“We found him in the village trying to bribe a merchant to smuggle him out in a trade cart, Your Grace.”
“Where is he?”  Wyn grabbed the valet by his vest, yanking him up so fast the man’s feet left the ground.  Wynter was tall, even for a man of the Craig, and holding the Summerlander at eye level left almost two feet between the man’s dangling toes and the icy stone of the courtyard.  “Where is that Coruscate bastard you serve?”
“I don’t know!” Clearly terrified, the man started babbling.   “I swear to you, Your Majesty!  I didn’t even know he was leaving until one of the maids delivered his note.  And that only advised me to leave Wintercraig as quickly and quietly as possible.”
“In other words, the coward abandoned you while saving his own skin.”  Wyn threw the man aside.  “Lock him up.  If we don’t find his master, he can face the mercy of the mountains in his prince’s stead.  The rest of you, mount up.  Time to hunt.”
Minutes later, Wynter, Valik, and two dozen White Guard were galloping down the winding mountain road that led from Gildenheim to the valley below.  Wynter howled a call to the wolves as they went, sending a summons to the packs that were spirit-kin to his family’s clan.  Wolves were faster in the dense woods, and they tracked by scent rather than sight.  The Summerlanders’ smell was alien to this part of the world, so the wolves should have no trouble picking up their trail.
He wasn’t sure if the prince would try heading south, towards Summerlea, or west to the Llaskroner fjord.  The fjord was closer, and the port there was a busy one, full of strangers from distant lands.  For thieves looking to get out of country quickly, that was the better destination. When the wolf call came from the west, Wyn knew he’d guessed right.  He whispered to the winds, calling to the old Winterman in the north to blow his icy horn, then summoning the Vestras, the freezing maritime winds of the western seas to send their bone-chilling fog.
As he and his men rode west, following the call of the wolves, the temperatures began to drop.   If the Summer Prince fought back with his own weathergifts, that would pinpoint his location.  If he didn’t, the rapidly worsening weather would slow his escape.  Either way, Wynter would track him down, and make him pay for what he’d done to the people of Hileje.
The prince had hours on him.   That was the purpose of the fire in Hileje—a distraction to get Wynter and his men out of the palace so Falcon Coruscate could steal what he came for and make his escape.   But the distraction had been much more than a mere fire.  The Summerlanders had raped and murdered dozens of villagers, then locked the rest in the meeting hall and burned them alive.
Eighty-six lives wiped out in one senseless act of violence.  Eighty-six innocent Winterfolk who had depended on their king to protect them.  And he had failed.
The tone of the wolves’ howls suddenly changed, the howls becoming longer, mournful, announcing a loss to the pack.  Wynter sent out his thoughts, connect to the pack mind and seeing through the wolves’ eyes as he searched for the source of that cry.  He caught a glimpse of scarlet splashed across the snow, bodies that were clothed not furred.
“No!”  He knew instantly why the wolves howled and for whom.  “No! Garrick!”  He spurred Hodri faster, galloping at a reckless pace.  The wind whistled past his ears.  Snow flew from Hodri’s hooves.
It didn’t take long to reach the clearing where the wolves had gathered.  The smell of death filled the air—a dark odor Wynter had smelled before. It was a scent few men ever forgot.
He reined Hodri in hard, leaping from saddle to ground before the horse fully stopped.  The first two bodies were boys Wyn recognized. Garrick’s friends.  Sixteen years old, the same age as Garrick.  Arrow-pierced through their hearts.  They’d been dead within minutes of being struck.
A moaning cough brought Wyn scrambling to his feet.  He half-ran, half-stumbled across the snow towards the source of the sound, but when he got there, he felt as if his heart had stopped beating.  He fell to his knees.
The coughing boy was Garrick’s best friend, Junnar.  He’d been gut-shot, and the dark, matter-filled blood oozing from the wound told Wynter the boy was a dead man even though his body still clung weakly to the last threads of his life.
Junnar lay atop the prone, lifeless figure of Wynter’s brother.  An arrow--its shaft painted with the Prince of Summerlea’s personal colors --protruded from Garrick’s throat.
“Garrick?” After moving Junnar to one side and packing his wound with snow to numb the pain, Wyn reached for his brother with trembling hands.  His fingers brushed the boy’s face, and he flinched at the coldness of his brother’s flesh.  Garrick had been dead for hours.  Probably since before Wyn had left Gildenheim in pursuit.  How could Wyn have lost the only family he had left in the world and not known it the instant it happened?
Horses approached from Wynter’s back.  Then Valik was there, laying a sympathetic hand on Wynter’s shoulder.
“I’m sorry, my friend.  I’m so sorry.”
Wyn nodded numbly.  The ache was consuming him.  The pain so deep, so indescribable, it was beyond feeling.  His whole body felt frozen, like the ice statues he and Garrick carved together.
“Help Junnar.”  How he spoke, he didn’t know.  His voice came out a choked, gravelly rasp.  “Make him as comfortable as you can.”
“Of course.”
He waited for Valik to lift Junnar and settle him off a short distance before gathering Garrick’s body into his arms.  He held his brother for a long time, held him until Junnar breathed his last and the White Guard packed the bodies up for transport back to Gildenheim.  Their hunt for Prince Falcon of Summerlea had ended the moment Wynter found his brother’s corpse.  But there was no doubt in any of their minds that this was far from over.
Wynter carried Garrick in front of him on Hodri’s back, cradling his body as he had so many times over the years after their parents had died and it had fallen to him to raise his brother.  He carried him all the way to Gildenheim, releasing him only to the weeping servants who would prepare Garrick and the others for the funeral pyre.
Wynter stood vigil by his brother’s side throughout the night.  He murmured words of sympathy to the parents of the other lost boys, but shed no tears of his own though his eyes burned.  At dusk the following night, he stood, tall and dry-eyed beside the pyres as the flames were lit and remained standing, motionless and without speaking, throughout the night and into the next morning.  He stood until the pyre was naught but flickering coals.  And when it was done and there was nothing left of his brother but ash, Wynter mounted Hodri and took the long, winding road to the Temple of Wyrn, which was carved into the side of the next mountain.
Galacia Frey, the imposing and statuesque High Priestess of Wyrn, was waiting for him inside the temple.  She had come the night before to bless his brother and the others and to light their pyres, before returning to the temple to await his visit.
“You know why I have come.”
Her eyes were steady.  “I know.  But Wyn, my friend, you know I must ask you to reconsider.  You know the price.”
“I know and accept it.”
“There’s no guarantee the goddess will find you worthy,” she warned.  “Many men have tried and died.”
“You think that frightens me?  If I die, I will be with my brother.  If I survive, I will have the power to avenge him.”
She closed her eyes briefly and inclined her head.  “Then take the path to the left of the altar, Wynter Atrialan, King of the Craig.  Leave your armor, clothes and weapons in the trunk by the door.  You must enter the test as you entered the world.  And may the goddess have mercy on your soul.”



About the Author:

C. L. WILSON grew up camping and waterskiing across America, from Cherry Creek reservoir in Denver, CO, to Lake Gaston on the border of Virginia and North Carolina, to Georgia’s Lake Lanier and Lake Allatoona. When she wasn’t waterskiing and camping on family vacations, you could usually find her with a book in one hand and a sketch pad in the other—either reading, writing stories, or drawing. Sometime around the ninth grade, she decided she was better at drawing her pictures with words than paints and charcoals, and she set aside her sketchpad to focus entirely on writing.

Wilson is active in Tampa Area Romance Authors (TARA), her local chapter of Romance Writers of America. When not engaged in writerly pursuits, she enjoys golfing, swimming, reading, playing video games with her children, and spending time with her friends and family. She is also an avid collector (her husband says pack rat!), and she’s the proud owner of an extensive collection of Dept. 56 Dickens and North Pole villages, unicorns, Lladro figurines, and mint condition comic books.

Wilson currently resides with her husband, their three wonderful children, and their little black cat, Oreo, in a secluded ranch community less than thirty miles away from the crystalline waters and sugar-sand beaches of Anna Maria Island and Siesta Key on Florida’s gulf coast.







Chasing Sunrise Release Day Blitz, Excerpt & Giveaway!



Chasing Sunrise
(The Darkmore Saga, Bk 1)
by Lex Chase

Blurb:
On the Coastal Bend of Texas, a hidden kingdom called Darkmore lies in ruins, and King Sevon Maraté is trapped. Using Sevon as a mouthpiece and a scapegoat, Lord Dominic rules from the shadows. Sevon copes with the unrelenting abuse by dressing in women's finery and casting an image of graceful nobility. Born of royal verkolai blood and as beautiful as he is lethal, he possesses the ability to part the Veil separating his world from hundreds of others. His gift is his chance to escape, but Dominic refuses to relinquish his tool for power. Dominic forges an ambitious plan to invade the prosperous land of Priagust. Only a select few know the mythic kingdom of shifters exists. Sevon is out of options for his people’s survival, and cooperating with Dominic is his only chance.

On their foray into Priagust, Dominic's men kidnap and interrogate a shifter named Jack. Even under torture, Jack's loyalty to his kind never wavers. But as Jack’s knowledge about Darkmore’s king and its history unsettles Sevon, a curious bond begins to form. Despite Sevon’s mistrust, Jack is determined to tame Sevon’s wild heart and perhaps earn his freedom. As invasion looms, Sevon wonders if trusting Jack will lead him into another trap or if he should forget about chasing the sunrise and remain Dominic's compliant prisoner.




Available for purchase at 


 



Excerpt


Jack shuddered against the cold bite of his shackles. The iron cuffs held him upright, and his arms were stretched tight over his head. Gravity pulled him sloping forward painfully against his bonds. His umber hair swayed in sweat-slicked strands and clung to his face. The humidity hung like milky fog visible against the gray stones. He could smell the herbal traces of algae glazing the walls. No moans, no cries for release, not even a rattled chain sounded throughout the dungeon. He deduced he was the only prisoner—or the only one currently living.

It had happened so fast. He was at the shoreline of the lake when two figures shot from the water. Shrouded in black, the demonic men yanked him into the lake. Jack had expected his end. But he didn’t expect a dungeon, and not just any, but Darkmore’s dungeon. He knew it as well as any ghost story. He had teased Sevon mercilessly for crossing his fingers and turning in a circle three times as he walked by the entrance.

Jack’s heart softened. Sevon, sweet Sevon. It had been exciting for Jack when he was a cub to have a special friend outside of Priagust. One who was not a shifter at all, but something different. He was Jack’s treasure, and he would guard their memory.

But the men had taken him and tossed him in this dank cell. It had to be a mistake. Darkmore was Priagust’s sworn protector. King Louis would never wrongfully imprison a shifter. Jack spit a speck of grit. Was Louis alive? Did he survive the storm? What of Anna Maria? Surely she’d know.

But Jack wasn’t sure. He had been just a child when he saw Louis die, and all childhood memories were fallible. He could only hope it was a misunderstanding. He squinted with the painful pull in his shoulders, and the realization sank in. This was far more than a mere misunderstanding.

Jack’s pupils flexed into pinpricks when the sound of distant footsteps announced someone’s approach. He jerked his chin toward the sound to get the first look at his host.

An ethereal, earthbound spirit drifted into the dungeon. Pale as Winter Mother’s snow and with a brilliant bloom of golden curls to rival Father Sun’s rays, the woman captivated him. Dressed in layers of the midnight sky and coal, her skirts swirled in a trail of goldfish fins behind her. The unusual ladybird settled at the cell door, tossing a lock of spun gold over her shoulder. She waited.

“What do they call you?” she coldly demanded.

A peculiar tenor tone in her voice made Jack choke on his breath. A man. The strange, colorful bird was a man.

By the way he glared at Jack as if he were of no consequence, Jack decided that whatever the case, he had to be on guard. Jack sniffed and mentally discerned a more masculine scent under the perfumed oils. But there were two masculine scents, this beautiful man’s and someone else’s. He licked the salt on his lip and smirked. He had nothing left to lose.

Jack lifted his head, and he panted against the searing pain in his back. He focused on the curious little meadowlark shrouded in flimsy frippery. He had never seen such an unusual hue of hair before, but he knew one thing for certain.

“You’re not the king,” Jack said.

Something came over the strange man as he quirked his thin brow in irritation. “Yes, I am the king,” he growled in warning. “Your name, creature.”

Jack evaded the question and changed the subject. “The king of Darkmore would never show a shifter such hostility,” he spat. “Go, little meadowlark. Fetch him, now. You are of no concern.”

The supposed king recoiled on his booted heel as if he had been burned.

“Excuse me, you maggot?” he growled and his temper flared.

Jack squinted at him. He looked so much like Anna Maria, as Jack remembered her. Perhaps her son? Perhaps Sevon? Jack swallowed. He had to keep it to himself. He had to find out what he was dealing with first, if he survived that long. He thought of his brother, Kaltag, back in Priagust, probably wondering where he was and if Jack was still staring over the lake, waiting for the day Sevon would appear.

Jack’s heart thumped.

“Louis is gone. I am the king now, and you will answer to me. My sources tell me you’re a spy from the shifter land of Priagust,” he said. The accusation did not bode well for Jack.

Jack took his stand against his captor. He strained against his shackles and grinned through the searing pain in his shoulder blades. “Your sources are clearly mistaken. I was only fishing when your men emerged from the lake and tried to drown me. Which—” He glanced around, and his shackles rattled. “This is some level of hell, correct?” Jack watched him, still puzzling his way through recollections. It wasn’t possible he was Sevon. Why would Sevon become this? He hissed a laugh and kept up a brave face. Jack turned his gaze up. He smirked when the king leaned away from the hammered iron bars of Jack’s cell in disgusted horror. “You are a very fussy bird. You’re no more than a chick, peeping for nourishment.”

“You will answer my questions, shifter…. Or you will be forced to answer them.”

“What kind of king do you think you are?” Jack asked. “Do you understand the scope of what you are doing by holding me like a criminal?”

“Pardon me for not rolling out the red carpet and most lovely courtesans,” he said sarcastically.

“A little bird that pecks. I like that.” Jack chuckled.

Crossing his willowy arms in irritation, the king nodded to the stocky dungeon guard.

The guard loped forward on his gnarled legs and slipped the heavy key in the iron padlock. With a protesting shrill, the bolt popped from its moorings with a loud echoing clank. The cell door swung open with an antiquated creak, and colorful bird of a man slipped into the cell.

Jack’s heart thumped, and his face heated. It was Sevon. His Sevon. He had never been so sure. In the twenty-two years between then and now, the boy Jack had so longed for no longer existed. Confusion swirled through him, but Jack had to keep it within. More parts of the puzzle would fall into place if he just gave it time.

His heart wouldn’t stop racing; all the while he maintained his arrogant grin.

“I’d curtsey, but as you can see, I’m a little tied up,” Jack apologized.

This new Sevon cocked his hip in irritation and snorted. “For a vicious animal, you don’t look like much.”

The term hit Jack hard, but he wouldn’t cower.

“Funny.” Jack chuckled. “For a king, you present yourself quite a bit like a whore.”

Before he could blink, Sevon was upon him. He yanked Jack by the scruff of his hair, tilting his neck painfully backward on its stalk to meet him eye to eye. Jack’s eyes rolled wildly to focus on the glacier blue of Sevon’s. His scent stabbed into Jack’s nose, jabbing cruelly into his brain. The delicate floral became an unrelenting assault on his mind and body. The damning confirmation sank into Jack’s stomach. It was a matter of survival not to show fascination or fear.

“Listen to me, you worthless shit-eating maggot!” Sevon snarled in his face. “You don’t get to call me a whore! Do you understand? I will leave you here to rot in this dank cell until even the rats find you too foul and putrescent. You will be thankful we don’t outright kill you. You will be appreciative of your accommodations.”

Sevon relaxed his grip and his harsh tone eased. “You will be eager to answer our questions. You will make yourself very helpful. Or I will have you skinned alive and your flesh made into jerky.” Sevon snorted a breath through his nose, and Jack’s hair fluttered. The beautiful blond man smiled like a content feline. “Now, do we have an understanding?”

Channeling the bravest parts of himself, and locking away the heartbreak, Jack laughed with a crooked, toothy grin. If this was the game, then he would play it until he was the last one standing. Finally, he had sorted the second male scent, and his thoughts sparked with devious delight. “Did I ruffle your feathers, meadowlark? Does the man whose scent you’re slathered in get to ruffle more than your feathers?”

Sevon shoved him away with a wail of disgust. Jack’s head bounced against his chest, and his manacles creaked at the added pressure. Sevon’s offended squeal was the only warning as a hard, echoing slap cracked across Jack’s cheek so forcefully that his vision blew out into whiteness for a moment.

With several flustered breaths, Sevon sharply pivoted and then stormed out of the cell. He nodded to the stocky guard. “Have him questioned about the nature of his people and land. I don’t care how you do it, or to what ends. Use any means necessary to milk him dry.”

The guard bobbed his head and bowed.

Turning back, Sevon regarded Jack one final time.

Jack noted the confusion mingled with a semblance of fascination. He forced a smile through his blood-tinged teeth. “See you soon, Your Majesty,” he purred.

Jack clung to a scrap of hope, and listened to the whispers of Sevon’s skirts as he left Jack in the darkness.

The rats chittered.




About the Author
Lex Chase once heard Stephen King say in a commercial, “We’re all going to die, I’m just trying to make it a little more interesting.” She knew then she wanted to make the world a little more interesting too.
Weaving tales of cinematic, sweeping adventure and epic love—and depending on how she feels that day—Lex sprinkles in high-speed chases, shower scenes, and more explosions than a Hollywood blockbuster. She loves tales of men who kiss as much as they kick ass. She believes if you’re going to going to march into the depths of hell, it better be beside the one you love. 

Lex is a pop culture diva and her DVR is constantly backlogged. She wouldn't last five minutes without technology in the event of the apocalypse and has nightmares about refusing to leave her cats behind. She is incredibly sentimental, to the point that she gets choked up at holiday commercials. But like the lovers driven to extreme measures to get home for the holidays, Lex believes everyone deserves a happy ending.
Lex also has a knack for sarcasm, never takes herself seriously, and has been nicknamed “The Next Alan Moore” by her friends for all the pain and suffering she inflicts on her characters. She is a Damned Yankee hailing from the frozen backwoods of Maine now residing in the burbs of Northwest Florida, where it could be 80F and she’d still be a popsicle. 

She is grateful for and humbled by all the readers. She knows very well she wouldn't be here if it wasn't for them and welcomes feedback.


You can find Lex at
               



 Giveaway

Signed Paperback of Chasing Sunrise

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Presented By

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Curse of Prometheus Tour, Excerpt & Giveaway!

Curse of Prometheus:
A Tale of Medea
Morgan St. Knight

Genre: Paranormal/urban fantasy

AISN: B00HRG6FEA
ISBN-13: 978-0991396092

Number of pages: 276
Word count: 107,000

The ancient world's most notorious sorceress has just become the modern world's only hope for survival.

Book Description:

How do you fight a god of light who has been seduced by darkness? That’s the challenge Medea Keres must meet. Posing as a wealthy young heiress in modern day Atlanta, no one knows she is the original Medea, the sorceress from ancient Greek legends.

As priestess of the witch goddess Hecate, Medea is charged with hunting demons that would otherwise overrun the world. Now she must face a far greater adversary. One of the twelve shining Olympian gods has turned rogue, violating the edict against human sacrifice. As the body count quickly rises, Medea knows her enemy is getting stronger.

With the help of the underworld nymph Orphne and the hero-god Heracles, she must find a way to unmask the evil so that the other Olympians will take action.

But as she probes deeper into a blood-soaked labyrinth of suspense and intrigue, Medea finds a net of deceit and treachery that will require all of her cunning to escape.

Available at Amazon

Excerpt
   
I’d gone about ten yards when the first scream stopped me in mid-stride. It was definitely not an errant animal call. The second scream was more high-pitched. A scream of pain.
A man’s scream.
I tore off the high heels, clutching them in the same hand as my phone while awkwardly trying to keep my wrap from flying off with the other. My purse banged against my hip repeatedly as I raced up the path.
Annoying as it was, I remembered the dagger in there and was slightly reassured.
The chilly pavement froze my feet. I shoved the discomfort to the back of my mind. I could hear more noise. Animal snarls rose and fell ominously. Big cats. What made it more ominous was that I could tell the sounds were not anger.
Those cats were terrified.
If there were any lights around the enclosure they were off now, but the ambient glow from elsewhere in the zoo let me see dimly inside as I ran up to the fence.
As my eyes adjusted I could easily make out the leopards. They were crouched in a corner of the display. It was a decent-sized enclosure, with several large rocks and trees. There was a safety moat between the fence I was leaning over and the area where the leopards prowled.
“Paul!” I screamed. Was he around here somewhere? And who the hell was with him? A woman, if I could believe his last exclamation, but what woman?
Could it be Lyn?
I stepped on something hard and winced. I looked down and saw a faint glow.
A cell phone. I picked it up. The display showed my name and number. It was Paul’s.
Other footsteps were clattering along the path. I saw a large flashlight bobbing wildly. I quickly jammed the cell phone into my purse. I didn’t want anyone knowing I’d been talking with him until I found out what was going on.
“Who’s up here?” A rough voice demanded.
“Hurry! There’s something wrong here!” I screamed. A second later two men, both in security uniforms, were at my side.
“What is it, ma’am?” the older of the two men asked. He seemed to be pretty winded from his sprint so I turned to the younger man.
“Something’s wrong. I was on the phone with a friend of mine who came past here and saw the leopards. They’re not supposed to be out in cold weather.”
“Someone heard screaming up here,” the younger man said severely.
“I heard it too,” I confirmed. “I ran up here but I didn’t see anyone on the way up. I’m sure it was a man screaming. I think it might have been my friend. Please help me find him!”
I’d already decided that acting the part of the defenseless, needy woman would probably get me more points with these two. Never mind that I’d been about to conjure half a dozen fireballs to light the area for my own search. Let the guards search it for me.
The older man turned his flashlight into the leopard enclosure, and a second later the other one did too. They made quick, methodical sweeps of the display.
A lot of good that will do, I thought crossly as I slipped my shoes back on. We already know the damn leopards are in there when they’re not supposed to be.
It turned out they had the right idea. The cats were still crouched in the corner, hissing and growling. But they were not alone.
A body was lying on the other side of the display. I’d mistaken it for a shadow cast by one of the larger rocks. The body was face down, but it was definitely a man. A large man with reddish-blond hair. I didn’t even bother getting my hopes up.
The dark pool that was rapidly spreading out from under him was the last answer I would get from Paul Kirkpatrick.

 Kindle Giveaway

To win, you just have to follow Morgan on Twitter @MorganStKnight and send a tweet that says "Entering giveaway for CoP". Only one tweet is necessary, but you must send that one tweet to know you're interested in entering the giveaway.

Additionally, Morgan will be giving away 2 copies of "Curse of Prometheus" each week of the tour. Everyone who enters for the Kindle giveaway on a given week is automatically entered for that week's book giveaway.

And yes, if you win a copy of the book, you are still in the running for the Kindle giveaway.




About the Author:

Morgan St. Knight live in Atlanta, and is a lifelong student of mythology, the occult, and comparative religion. With more than 25 years of experience as a journalist, Morgan enjoys the occasional foray into fantasyland to escape the grim realities of life. He is currently working on the sequel to "Curse of Prometheus" and is developing a second paranormal series which also takes place in the South.




Twitter: @morganstknight