Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Blitz : Happily Ever Alpha: A Paranormal Romance Boxed Set

Happily Ever Alpha Paranormal Romance Boxed Set

Sexy Shifters, Wickedly Cool Witches, Werewolves, Vampires, Gargoyles, Demons, Psychics, & More!
Publication b: January 26th 2016
Genres: Paranormal Romance

When Once Upon A Time Isn’t Enough

Happily Ever Alpha – From Twenty-Two NY Times, USA Today, and Amazon Bestselling Authors

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Ardent By Alexia Purdy

The ArcKnight Chronicles #1
“My Lady, I cannot leave you here alone. It’s not safe.”
I whipped my eyes open and glared at him. “I told you I was banished. You can stop with the formalities and get. I don’t have time to waste on a pathetic royal guard. Especially a MarkTier. I'm okay on my own.”
“If you come with me, I know a safe place where you can get out of the rain and get warm.”
I laughed. It came out more hysterical than I intended, but I was not in a mood to keep it together any longer. The fact that he offered me any shelter at all, most likely his home, was gracious, yet the knowledge that it was most likely on ArcKnight territory made the offer even more bittersweet. I was banished not only from the royal ArcKnight palace but from lingering on any of the pack’s territories, which included a substantial chunk of the city.
I was truly alone now.
“You’d be punished for harboring a non-citizen… a traitor like me. I can’t. You know I can’t.”
He held out his hand. It glistened with water, for he was soaked to the bone, just like me. The cold rain didn’t affect him at all. I was the one shivering and on the verge of hypothermia, and yet he waited patiently.
“It’s beyond the ArcKnight border. I promise.” His eyes gleamed in the momentary moonlight sneaking past the storm clouds above. They were breathtaking and unusual. I’d never seen another shifter with eyes like his.
It may be beyond the ArcKnight stronghold, but they weren’t the only pack ruling the city.
“But the MarkTiers….”
“They have no jurisdiction there either.”
Staring at him in disbelief, I let my eyes linger on his for an eternal moment. His offer brought more questions to my mind than anything else. Even so, there was something there that held me in a trance and beckoned me to follow. Taken in by that hypnotizing cobalt sea, I reached out, accepted his hand and let him lead me through the murky city paths I’d never trodden, deeper into the unknown.
This place was now my new home, and it was nothing but strange and frightening.
But what choice did I have?

~Lily & Ephrem - The ArcKnight Chronicles

Witch Hunter Excerpt

I woke the next morning in a cold sweat, jolted from my bed by a nightmare. I dreamed I'd gone into the forest to perform the rite, only instead of conjuring a man, great buboes grew all over my body, and the skin on my hands grew black and flaked away. It was just a dream. You don't have the pestilence.
I clutched my chest, waiting for my pounding heart to return to normal. My wool blanket was dripping with my sweat. With shaking hands, I lit my candle and checked every inch of my body – running my hands over the flawless skin, searching for the buboes or rash that announced the arrival of death. Nothing.
It was only a dream, I told myself again. But I couldn't stop my hands from shaking. My aunts, as seasoned witches, placed much importance on the contents of dreams. Was my dream a prediction, or a warning? Is it telling me that death waits for me in the grove?
I sat down at the table as Aunt Aubrey cut thick chunks of bread, and gave me a wooden bowl containing a foul-smelling tea. "Drink that," she patted my shoulder. "And do not fear, Ada. I have mixed it perfectly. It is not dangerous."
"How long until it takes affect?" I lifted the bowl to my lips with shaking hands, stealing myself to gulp down to foul liquid.
"A few hours. Are you ready? You will need to hurry to the grove."
The grove was a long distance from the village – nearly a full day's hike, even from someone as young and fit as me. The women in my family had used it for centuries as a safe and secret place to perform rituals. The last time I had visited the grove had been for my ritual of initiation into our family coven – two summers ago. Now I had to return on my own to ask the Goddess for a man.
I nodded, threw my head back, and drowned the bowl in one gulp. My stomach twisted in protest as the foul concoction wound its way through my body, but I managed to keep it down. Aunt Aubrey handed me a walking staff and a pouch with some food, a knife, and the other implements for the ritual. She wrapped her warmest fur cloak around my shoulders, and strapped my bow and a quiver of arrows across my back.
"Where's Aunt Bernadine?" I demanded, my voice hoarse from the burning tea.
"She's by the stream, performing a ritual of her own," Aunt Aubrey hugged my shoulders. "Do not mind her – she cares for you deeply, in her own way. May the Goddess protect you, Ada." She kissed my forehead, and pushed me out the door.
The morning air was crisp, and a light pattern of crunchy snow dotted the forest floor. As I walked I kept my eyes on the ground, searching for the herbs and ingredients I would need to complete the spell. Patchouli, juniper, myrtle, white oak bark … Aunt Aubrey assured me the walk to the grove and the searching out of the herbs were an important part of the ritual – my movements now would help the magic become stronger.
If I wanted a man, I needed all the help I could get.
Minutes turned into hours, and I covered the ground quickly, unhindered by my elderly aunts and their weak bones. I found the patchouli easily – it grew wild in this part of the forest. I knew there were juniper bushes near the edge of the grove. Now all I needed was some white oak bark. I scanned the forest for the right tree, twisting my neck one way, then the other, searching for the familiar thick trunk and rugged branches. I could feel the potion churning in my belly, a strange warm sensation that spread out into my limbs.
Finally, I saw a white oak tree, down at the bottom of the gully. I descended the slope slowly, gathering my skirts in my hands so they would not drag in the mud. As I stepped around a fallen trunk, my foot slipped on a pile of wet leaves and I fell forward, sliding on my hands and knees, drenching my clothing and satchel in mud and snow. I sighed, pulling myself to my feet. "Just look at yourself," I muttered. "You're a mess. No wonder you need magic to find a man."
At least I was only a mile or so from the grove, and could soon wash away the filth under the waterfall.
I reached the base of the oak tree. Taking my knife from my pocket, I began to scrape away a section of bark. As I scraped, I heard a noise behind me. Just a bird. Or a deer. I kept cutting.
No. It wasn't a deer. It was a larger animal, its steps heavy in the crunching snow. There was a road – not often travelled – not far away. It might be a horse and rider perhaps? Or it could be a wolf, stalking the foolish girl who'd entered his territory? Either could be dangerous. I swirled around, scanning the forest for any sign of life. It wouldn't do to be caught out here by myself, clutching a satchel laden with magical implements. I squinted through the trees around the gully, but could see nothing.
A twig snapped. My heart leapt to my chest.
As silently as possible, I pulled the small bow from my back and removed an arrow from my quiver. Although most women in the village were forbidden the use of weapons, my aunts taught me to use a bow to hunt animals in the forest. I was a decent shot. There's many a winter we wouldn't have survived if it hadn't been for the rabbits and birds I brought home for the stew pot.
Again, I searched the undergrowth, listening for the familiar tread of a wolf's paw, or the faint whiff of rotten flesh that often accompanied them.
I waited for several moments, steadying my breathing, my senses poised for an attack. But there was nothing. It is nothing. My stomach twisted again, Aunt Aubrey's potion working its foul magic. My imagination was getting the better of me. I replaced the bow and arrow and moved toward the grove.
I moved silently now, as if I were approaching an animal. If there was something out there, I didn't want it to follow me. I entered the grove through a line of fir saplings, several of their branches bent or broken from last week's storm. The rain had raised the level of the pool inside, which lapped at the edges of the firs, the stones on the bank submerged under clear water. It was not yet cold enough for the water to turn to ice. I remembered the pool being fed by a peaceful, trickling waterfall, but the recent rains had turned it into a torrent, churning the water around it into white froth.
The grove was empty, and even the birds fell silent as I walked to the edge of the lagoon. Nothing would disturb my ritual today.
Humming to myself, I shrugged off the heavy cloak and arranged my implements at the edge of the water. The walk had warmed my body, causing me to sweat through my thick layers. I was looking forward to cooling down in the water. Using the knife on my belt, I traced a faint circle in the dirt, and sat inside, placing the mortar and pestle, the scrap of parchment containing the spell, the leather thong, and my herbs and bark in a semi-circle in front of me. I dumped the herbs into the bowl and worked them into a paste, speaking an incantation aloud, my tongue slipping easily over the ancient words.
My voice carried great power in the silence of the grove – I could feel the magic tingling in the air. The Goddess is listening.
I set down the pestle, satisfied I had created a fine paste. I stood and lifted my sheath over my head. Naked now, I dipped my fingers into the paste and drew the sigils across my body, my skin tingling under my touch as I traced the lines across my bare breasts and belly.
The magic is working. The Goddess will bring me a man, so that my aunts and I can continue to use our magic.
I twirled around three times, laughing at my giddiness. Now it was time to wash. Speaking a final prayer, I stepped across the circle, moving slowly into the pool. I shivered as the water lapped against my toes, inched up my calves, and splashed against the downy triangle between my legs. When I was waist-deep I dived, enjoying the shock as my body penetrated the coolness. Laughing, I emerged again, lying back and floating on the skin of the water, the sigils smudged across my pale skin.
Divine Goddess, I prayed, closing my eyes and imagining my prayer being carried away on the breeze. Bring me a man to cool my fires as this water cools me, and to restore to my family the powers you have bestowed upon us.
I lifted my head out of the water, and felt a scream catch in my throat. On the edge of the lagoon stood a man, clothed in only a tunic and black trousers. A heavy sword hung from a scabbard around his waist. He was watching me.
The Goddess works fast.
I shut my eyes and opened them again. He was still there. A man – a real man – stood before me in the sacred grove.
My spell brought him here. I can perform magic after all!
And what magic it was. I licked my lips as I regarded my gift from the Goddess. He was more handsome then I ever could have wished. Tall, with long hair as black as night, held back from his face with plaits and leather thongs. Beneath his thin tunic, his shoulders bulged – a man didn't get muscles like that working in the village. He was a warrior. The skin on his arms was rough, criss-crossed with the white scars of battle. He had shaved recently, and a thin line of stubble darkened his square, proud jaw. A smattering of black hair ran across his chest, leading in a dark line from his belly button down, down below his leather sword belt. He wore dark trousers and thick leather boots, and leather braces encircled his forearms.
Our eyes met, and he did not look away. His sharp features betrayed nothing, just high cheekbones framing a smouldering gaze. This was the man the Goddess has chosen for me? I could hardly believe my good fortune.
"Why have you come here?" I managed to choke out.
He did not answer.
Mesmerised, I rolled on to my stomach and drifted across the water toward him. A water-skin, half filled, bobbed in the pool in front of him. The sun caught the glint of metal on the rocks beside him – he had laid aside a dagger. His sheathed sword swung menacingly at his side. He was a warrior. I would have a warrior. Wait until Rebekah hears about this-
"Have you come for me?"
Again, the man said nothing. I stopped a few feet from him, unsettled by his silence and that stony, unfaltering gaze. I drew up in the shallow water, my full height only reaching his broad shoulders, revealing the full length of my nakedness. That disarmed him at last, and he glanced away, stepping back across the rocks.
"Have you come for me?" I asked again, suddenly feeling very exposed and nervous.
The man took another step back, glancing at me and looking away again. "You must … clothe yourself, woman."
"Why?" I felt confused. Being naked was an important part of the ritual. "Do I not please you?"
"You …" he turned toward me again, and this time his gaze fell on the two sigils above my breasts. They hadn't completely washed away in the water. He seemed to trace the design in the air with his pupils. "You are … I know what you are. You are a vision come to tempt me from the path of righteousness."
"I am no vision. I am yours." What is happening? Why does he not want me? I tried to fight the tears that clutched at the corners of my eyes. Why can I not even convince this man, whom the Goddess has given me, to lay with me?
The man nodded, still not meeting my gaze. When he spoke again, his voice was tinged with sadness. "Yes, you are mine. But I am a servant of Death. Knowing me could be your doom."
I took a step back, more unsure than ever. At the mention of death, I remembered my dream from the night before. Was it predicting this man? Is this how it is supposed to go? Goddess, help me understand what to do next.
"I don't understand." My heel caught the edge of a rock, and I staggered forward to regain my balance. Warm, rough hands grabbed me by the shoulders, pulling me upright. I stood, panting, gazing up at him. His eyes bore into mine, deep pools of brown with a flicker of orange flame around the iris. The eyes of a fire god.
The warrior broke his gaze and scanned the horizon, his eyes darting from tree to tree before focusing intently on the rock ledge above the waterfall.
"It is safe here," I said. "The nearest village is a day’s hike from the grove. This is why I have come–"
He held his finger to his lips. "You're not safe here," he whispered. "Not while you're with me."
I did not know what to say, or if I should say anything at all. He could break me in two with his bare hands. His gaze was so hard, so cruel. Were the men the Goddess sent always this fearsome? Is it some kind of test? His grip against my shoulder tightened, his fingers digging into my skin. I whimpered.
"You are beautiful," he whispered. He said it with venom, as though it were an accusation. He released my shoulder and raised his hand toward me. I sucked in a breath, half expecting him to slap me, but instead he stroked the edge of my breast, just above my nipple.
My reaction to that simple touch surprised me. Far from frightening me, when he touched my skin it sent a shiver through me, as if every hair on my body stood on end. My stomach contracted at his touch, and my nipple swelled before him. He stroked it again, and my stomach clenched further, my skin like fire beneath his finger. I let out a low moan.
The warrior leaned forward, so close that I could feel the warmth of his body across my cool skin, even though we did not touch. His smell invaded my nostrils – a hearty scent of horse and smoke and sweat and something much darker and forbidden.
He leaner closer, closer … and brushed his lips lightly against mine. The touch sent a jolt through my whole body, and I felt light, as though I might float away. He brushed my lips once more, and before I could cry out, he pressed himself against me, the warmth of his chest burning against mine, and devoured my mouth in his.

Anna Hess Interview

Jaguar at the PortalAimee: Thanks for dropping by, Ixchel and Finn. I thought it might be fun to test your knowledge of each other in the Newlywed Game!

Ixchel: But we're...

Finn: Sounds like fun!

Ixchel: ...Not married. Okay, whatever.

Aimee: Thanks for being such good sports. You'll notice you each have a notepad in front of you. I'm going to start with an easy question about Finn. He'll write down his answer and then Ixchel has to guess what he wrote. Finn, if you could be any animal, what would you be?

[They pause while Finn scribbles on the notepad.]

Ixchel: [rolling her eyes] This is an easy one. A jaguar of course.

Aimee: Finn? [She accepts the pad of paper out of his hand and takes a look.] Oops! Not quite right. Looks like Finn would be...a dolphin!

Ixchel: But that makes no sense! You are a were-jaguar.

Finn: She said, if I could be any animal, which would I be. And I'd be a dolphin.

Ixchel: [sighing] Okay. Let's get this over with. I've got puppies in the waiting room that need their shots. What's next?

Aimee: Now we get to test Finn's knowledge. So I'll ask Ixchel --- what do you consider your greatest weakness?

[Finn scrunches his eyebrows together, obviously thinking hard as Ixchel scribbles for a long time on her pad of paper.]

Aimee: Okay, Finn, you're up. What's Ixchel's greatest failing?

Finn: So, first of all, this is one of those trick questions that men have a right not to answer.

Ixchel: Oh, come on. I'm not going to get mad at you.

Finn: [gazing into her eyes] But, see, it's not really a trick question. Because Aimee didn't ask what I think is your greatest failing --- which, by the way, is nothing. She asked what you think is your greatest failing. And you'd say...trust.

Aimee: Well, it seemed like Ixchel was writing a novel over there. So let's see if Finn was right.

[Ixchel grins as she flips the paper over. The edges are covered with doodles, but in the center she's boldly scrawled "TRUST."]

Aimee: Finn's on a roll! Okay, let's see if Ixchel can catch up as we ask Finn....what would prompt you to tell a lie?

[Now it's Finn's turn to look uncomfortable, but he quickly scribbles his answer.]

Aimee: Ixchel?

Ixchel: [reaching over and taking Finn's hand] You know, we can leave if you want to.

Finn: [taking a deep breath] No, I'm good. It's your chance to shine.

Ixchel: Okay, in that case, Finn would say --- fear.

Teaser imageAimee: Looks like you know him pretty well after all. Now, for our final question. Ixchel...do you believe in love at first sight?

[Finn perks back up as they wait for Ixchel to decide. She taps the pen against her lips, scrunches up her nose, then shrugs and writes.]

Aimee: [accepting the paper, then smiling knowingly] So, what do you think, Finn?

Finn: [sounding positive of the outcome] She doesn't, but I do.

[Ixchel's stiff spine melts a bit as she takes the paper back from the interviewer and flips the pad over. It reads "I didn't used to...but I've changed my mind."]

Aimee: Well, it looks like it's a tie, folks!

Finn: You could say that. Or you could say we both won.

[Finn pulls Ixchel in for a kiss on the lips.]

Aimee: Ooookay. Let's keep this PG, kids. We'll try out another round after this commercial break.

Deep-voiced announcer: Want to learn more about Finn and Ixchel's adventures facing down Mexican gods and falling in love? Check out Aimee Easterling's Jaguar at the Portal, available for a limited time in the 21-novel bundle Happily Ever Alpha. When once upon a time isn't enough....

The Witch Who Cried Wolf’s Soundtrack

By Sarah Mäkelä

Hey everyone!

Music plays a big role in helping to spark my creativity while I write. That was definitely true for The Witch Who Cried Wolf. Here’s a sampling of the music I listened to while writing the first installment in the Cry Wolf series:

Between Two Points (feat. Swan) by The Glitch Mob
Crave You (Adventure Club Remix) by Flight Facilities
Let Me Go by Kaskade
Run for Cover by Kito & Reija Lee
Walls by Crywolf
Oh Miah by Blackmill
Magnet (Infuze Remix) Killgore & Polina
Crystalised by The xx
Strange Behavior (feat. Tasha Baxter) by Feed Me
Too Late by Klaypex

Thanks for having me here today!

Excerpt of Beast by Kim Faulks

My arms and legs still felt heavy, but fear made me move. I slid from the bed, keeping one eye on my captor. My feet hit the wooden floor. The room was small and dirty. Thin strips of peeling paint hung from the ceiling overhead. I stumbled to the window.
The derelict room was made colder by the crowding trees and bleak winter sky. White wisps of fog lingered, forcing me to squint to see towering trunks which hemmed me in. Behind me, Mark kept talking in soothing tones that reminded me of my therapist. I gripped the chipped window frame and pushed my body against the glass, straining to see as far left as I could. A waving green ocean of pine needles was all I could see. I wrenched my head to the right. There had to be a way out somehow.
Mark's droning voice dragged me into the room. I couldn't take anymore. I couldn't stand the noise. "Shut up. Why can't you just shut up?"
I wasn't that girl who cried, or played dumb, leaving others to pave their way in this world. I was the loner, the soldier. I was the survivor. But as the green sea wavered outside the window, I realized I was none of those things now.
I was a captive.
I squeezed my eyes closed and tried to think. Midnight Mountain Range was the last thing I remember. I could be further east, or south. Think, dammit.
How long had I been out?
My breath fogged the dirty window as hopelessness circled like a predator. "If you let me go, I won't say anything. I won't go to the police. I won't say a word to anyone, I swear."
The beating of my heart was too fast. Still I waited for an answer. Please. Please let me go. I left the wintery view and turned back to my cage, to the dust covered floor and the stained, striped mattress.
"Please, Belle. The story is important."
I swiped my eyes with my thumb, feeling the slick tears glide away. I couldn't breathe in this damn dress. I couldn't think. I yanked the material and reached for the collar.
"You look so beautiful standing there, you know? Your scowl matches your dress. The moon and the night, that's what you remind me of. Haunting, filled with mystery. He's going to fall in love with you, I just know he will."
Mark never answered. Mark. If that even was his name. His full red lips were those of an angel, or a seductive devil. He reached to pat the filthy mattress. "Belle. The story."
I glanced toward the door, eying the pitted knob.
"Don't bother. It's locked. There's no way out of here. Even if you did get out, we're surrounded by the forest. Please, don't run, Belle. Don't make me set the dogs free."

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