Tag Archives: magic users

New Release Blitz: Dragon Dilemma by Mell Eight

Dragon Dilemma | Mell Eight

Supernatural Consultant #3

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Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: July 20th, 2020

Heat Level: 1 – No Sex

Length: 32,200

Buy Links

NineStar Press | Amazon US

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Blurb

Dane hasn’t spoken with his mother in years and he’s never met his father. But somehow his mother finds out about Mercury and the kits anyway, and it’s difficult to throw one’s mother out when she happens to be a powerful, dangerous witch.

She isn’t the only uninvited guest, and the others are even less likely to take no for an answer—and much more likely to leave everyone dead if they don’t get what they want.

Excerpt

Dragon Dilemma
Mell Eight © 2020
All Rights Reserved

Chapter One

Saturday-morning breakfast was always chaotic. With seven kits running around, it was inevitable, and Daisy—the babysitter/housekeeper who helped to look after the kits—had weekends off. Daisy somehow managed to corral all the kits into line for breakfast, lunch, and dinner and got them to their lessons with their tutor on time. Dane, on the other hand, was lucky he still had a standing kitchen.

Lumie and Alloy were chasing each other in circles around the kitchen island, yelling excitedly about something. Their words were too garbled for Dane to catch. Lumie’s red hair kept flashing by, followed by Alloy’s mix of blue-and-red hair. Copper and Zinc were yelling at each other from opposite sides of the island. Their argument stemmed from something that had gotten spilled in the bathroom, which might also explain why Copper smelled particularly flowery this morning. Copper would probably smell like that for days; as a fire dragon, he avoided proper baths as much as possible. Even though he was eight years older than his youngest siblings—much too old to be skipping baths—his hair was the same shade of red as Lumie’s and Alloy’s. Zinc was an air dragon the same age as Copper. Her hair was white and she kept it in one long braid down her back to avoid getting it tangled in her magic.

Chrome and ’Ron were also arguing—this time about frogs. Why? Dane couldn’t even fathom a guess. The answer might scar him for life. Over the last year, ’Ron had cut her brown hair into long spikes and had traded frilly dresses for sparkly pairs of jeans. She was still cleaner and more put together than Chrome, whose brown hair was actually longer than hers and usually contained a few sticks and leaves tangled in his curls, but she was more willing to go frog hunting now. Or frog dissecting. Again, Dane really didn’t want to know.

Luckily, Mercury was at the stove calmly flipping pancakes on the electric griddle. His bronze hair was long on his collar and still sleep mussed. Dane had to hide a grin because he knew exactly what had caused Mercury to look so disheveled this morning, and it wasn’t a kit-friendly topic.

“Kits who aren’t sitting quietly don’t get pancakes.” Mercury didn’t say it loudly, but he didn’t have to. Copper, Zinc, Chrome, and ’Ron immediately shut up and took their seats around the island. Lumie stopped by the spice drawer to pull out the extra-large bottle of cinnamon before he and Alloy also settled quietly into their places.

The threat of being denied pancakes was a serious one. Dane went to the pantry to grab the syrup—another extra-large bottle, because dragons were sugar fiends—and set it in front of his seat as he took his own spot at the island.

“I’m going to have to shovel the driveway this morning,” Dane said into the quiet kitchen. “I’d appreciate everyone’s help.” Copper, Lumie, and Alloy looked immediately interested—they could melt the snow with their fire magic as long as they didn’t leave puddles of water that would eventually turn the driveway into a skating rink. Nickel, the only kit who had been sitting quietly the entire time, nodded to tell Dane he was in too. He liked playing with frozen water just as much as unfrozen. Nickel was the only full water dragon living under Dane’s roof, his blue hair and bright blue eyes a stark contrast to the other kits’. Alloy had been genetically altered in the egg to have both fire and water magic, but he spent most of his time with Copper and Lumie, so fire was his preferred method of choice.

None of the kits made a peep of agreement or disagreement. The pancake rule was still in effect, apparently, but at least Dane wouldn’t be shoveling his driveway on his own.

Mercury brought the plate over and the steaming scent of buttery pancakes enveloped the table. Chrome was actually drooling, Dane thought, but he didn’t look too closely. There was a sudden popping noise and a sealed envelope appeared directly on top of the stack.

Dane knew that spell. Hell, he knew the handwriting on the envelope, just as he also knew that the sender had chosen to have it materialize on the food on purpose. Mercury pulled it from the stack of pancakes and read Dane’s name on the front, then held it out for Dane to take with a quizzical look on his face. Dane’s hand wasn’t shaking when he forced it to reach out and take the envelope from Mercury. It wasn’t, he reassured himself, but he wasn’t breathing either.

“I’m starving!” Chrome moaned. Mercury smiled at him and grabbed a fork to begin filling everyone’s plates. The syrup disappeared with alarming quickness while Dane was staring at the cramped cursive. That handwriting was so familiar and so damned frightening.

“Who is the letter from, Dane?” Mercury asked.

Dane looked up just in time to see Lumie liberally coat his syrup-drenched pancakes in cinnamon. Copper and Alloy each had their turn with the cinnamon before Dane remembered that Mercury had asked him a question.

“It’s from my mother,” Dane said as unemotionally as he could. If he didn’t suppress what he was feeling, he might start screaming or crying.

Mercury put his fork down on his plate, which was just as drenched in syrup as his kits’, and stared at Dane with his bronze eyes. “The one who’s a god?” he asked. Dane was the child of a god, something he had told Mercury before they became mates, but Dane had never gone into specifics. Mercury had seemed to sense that it was a difficult topic for Dane and had never asked for more detail.

“No,” Dane replied. “My mother is one of the few witches in the world strong enough to summon a god, though.” At Mercury’s blank look, Dane sighed. “The Isle Crone?”

Mercury’s jaw dropped. “Your mother is the Isle Crone?” he gasped.

“Who’s that?” Zinc asked curiously.

“We have a grandma?” ’Ron added. She bounced in her seat with excitement. Mercury’s lips tightened and Dane had to hide a wince. It wasn’t Mercury’s fault that dragons in the wild had to abandon their kits so they didn’t inadvertently end up killing them over a territory dispute. Mercury didn’t have the first idea of where to find his parents or any of his siblings. Dane had a mother who was the Isle Crone and a father he had never met and probably never would.

“She’s not the cookie-baking type,” Dane tried to explain to ’Ron. She was more of the biblical-smiting type. She was the territory leader of the British Isles, and she ran her territory with an iron fist. No one dared to challenge her because she was that powerful and that ruthless. For all that, she wasn’t evil. Mostly she was controlling, and no one was allowed to live their lives outside of how she dictated. It made her one of the more well-known territory leaders in the world.

Dane had left her house as soon as he was old enough to get away. Actually, escaped her house was probably a more accurate description. He had traveled all the way across the ocean to flee from her, but that hadn’t been nearly far enough, thanks to the more modern and less taxing innovations to basic transportation magic. Luckily, she wasn’t more powerful than Dane, so she couldn’t force him to return with her magic, but she had made her displeasure known many times since then.

His favorite instance was when she had instructed the largest witch coven in England to curse him. He had managed to counter it before he found out what exactly it was supposed to do to him, but the end result, according to his mother, was supposed to have been him crawling back to her for help and falling under her thumb again. She had sent a letter much like the one he was holding to tell him how disappointed she was that he had managed to avoid that fate.

That, along with a number of other difficulties she had caused throughout the years, was why he hadn’t spoken to her in at least a decade and had hoped to go a few decades more before having to even think about her again.

“What’d she write?” Chrome asked through a mouthful of food.

“Don’t talk with your mouth full,” Mercury immediately scolded. Chrome frowned but obediently shut his mouth.

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About the Author

When Mell Eight was in high school, she discovered dragons. Beautiful, wondrous creatures that took her on epic adventures both to faraway lands and on journeys of the heart. Mell wanted to create dragons of her own, so she put pen to paper.

Mell Eight is now known for her own soaring dragons, as well as for other wonderful characters dancing across the pages of her books. While she mostly writes paranormal or fantasy stories, she has been seen exploring the real world once or twice.

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New Release Blitz: The Loyal Whispers by Kathryn Sommerlot

The Loyal Whispers | Kathryn Sommerlot

The Life Siphon #3

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Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: May 25, 2020

Heat Level: 1 – No Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 78,900

Buy Links:

NineStar Press | Amazon

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Blurb

Ravee: a pious Rad-em merchant’s daughter sailing with her family’s goods

Mairi: the Runonian king’s advisor seeing the outside world for the first time

Alesh: an alchemist’s apprentice in Joesar with a past rapidly catching up to her

Three women find themselves caught in the threads of change as the world threatens to fall apart around them. From across the Oldal Sea, the southern kingdom of Dusset has declared war, and if anyone is going to survive it, the alliance between Runon, Chayd, Rad-em, and Joesar must be solidified.

But there are forces at work that could undermine all the progress King Yudai and Tatsu have made. Peace treaty negotiations between the four realms could crumble at any time beneath the building tension.

As the women’s paths converge, they must navigate the true meaning of loyalty to themselves, their countries, and their families, while at the center of it all, a shattered king, hellbent on revenge, threatens the world balance.

Excerpt

The Loyal Whispers
Kathryn Sommerlot © 2020
All Rights Reserved

One: Ravee
Choked with debris, the waves lapped at the fire-blackened hull boards left behind, and worse yet, bodies bobbed in the spaces between splintered wood. They quivered up, bobbing with each crest, clothing billowing around motionless limbs, and Ravee had to turn away with one hand pressed to her mouth to keep her meager breakfast down. The air smelled of burning softwood and singed flesh interwoven into an overpowering and inescapable tang which did nothing to help her constantly queasy belly.

“Gods above,” Captain Wret hissed under his breath. When Ravee peeked over her shoulder, she couldn’t miss how his knuckles had blanched white, his fingers clamped around the deck rail. “What happened here?”

The answer seemed very obvious: the worst. The lingering fear of anyone who took to the seas was a shipwreck, whether it be by pirate attack or by the unforgiving elements, and the evidence of just such a tragedy lay strewn around their vessel in the whitecaps. But no storms had darkened the sky in the past week, only a clear blue horizon with favorable winds. Pirates tended to strip the ships of both treasure and hostages before destroying them. Broken shards of porcelain dishes floated among the wood, and anyone searching for profit wouldn’t leave something of value like that behind. The knowledge should have helped to ease Ravee’s nerves, for they were far less safe with their trade cargo if pirates roamed the Oldal Sea. Still, the uneasiness was slow to dissipate.

As her stomach settled and stopped roiling at the grisly aftermath, Ravee turned back to peer over the ship’s side. If it hadn’t been pirates and couldn’t have been the weather, few other possibilities made sense. Ships didn’t simply spontaneously break apart, and the sea serpents had already entered their dormant months. A horrible stillness settled over the remains, as though not even the sun’s bright rays could touch the bloody mess.

“Look!” one of the deckhands yelled. “Rad-em colors!”

The man’s outburst prompted a scrambling of boots across slick boards as the sailors searched for something to reach the silk with. Eventually, the cloth floated near enough for a man to fish it out with one of the long deck mops, and while Ravee’s heart skipped at the sight of her countrymen’s flag, the shock paled in comparison to what came up after it. More silks, strung together on the single rope line, tangled together in a mess of clumped, torn fabric. Ravee had never heard of the countries sailing under a united banner, not even in the oldest orated history lessons. She whispered a prayer under her breath as the crewman struggled with the cord, grateful her hands weren’t visibly shaking.

Captain Wret pushed the sailor aside to grab at the bulk, and his hands were steadier than the deckhand’s had been. He pulled the Rad-em colors free, and then the rest one at a time, peeling the sopping layers apart until four flags lay spread across the deck. Four silk banners, fraying and burned on the right side as though they’d caught fire as the ship went down and only the briny seawater had stopped them from being completely devoured.

Four silk banners representing the kingdoms of the southern coastline.

Ravee’s stomach twisted again with a painful throb.

“Rad-em,” Wret said, pointing, “Chayd, Runon, and Joesar.”

“Impossible,” one of the men argued. “They’d never sail together like this, and under united colors?”

All the flags had been displayed on a single vessel, and to have such a bold showing could mean only one thing.

“They were on official business,” Ravee whispered, speaking before she could stop herself. Wret’s head snapped in her direction, his eyes sharp, but he didn’t stop her from continuing, which was something. “In an official capacity.”

“Yes,” Wret said. “They were traveling as ambassadors. Peaceful ones, likely, given the treaty negotiations.”

“Who would attack a ship containing peaceful representatives from all four of the coastal kingdoms?” the sailor nearest to Ravee asked.

Wret’s gaze shifted to the broken, charred pieces of the ship still floating out on the sea. “The easiest way to answer that is to figure out where they were going.”

Then his expression morphed, cycling through surprise and shock before hardening in resolve. He crossed to the rail with long steps and hesitated only for a moment, scanning the water before shouting, “Get a lifeboat dropped! Someone’s alive down there.”

In the resulting chaos, Ravee was pushed back, shoulders bumping into her arms with such force her skin would bruise. She couldn’t see around the sailors to confirm for herself, and she knew better than to try to fight it; Captain Wret was displeased enough already to have her aboard his ship accompanying her family’s goods and hadn’t bothered to keep his feelings quiet. Making her presence known could result in banishment to the belowdecks sleeping quarters afforded to her.

A lifeboat splashed down into the sea and a few of the sailors started up nervous muttering, but it wasn’t until several moved to the rigging that Ravee felt confident enough to slip through the small crowd to the railing again.

The sailors in the lifeboat were pulling a body out of the water, and despite Wret’s earlier outcry, the man looked very dead to Ravee. He didn’t so much as twitch as the sailors rowed toward the ship’s side and prepared the dinghy to be lifted back up. When one of the crew hauled the man over the rail and deposited him onto the deck, his head lolled lifelessly to one side. Bits of his shirt had been eaten away by the flames and a nasty-looking cut sliced across his forehead, the red of the still flowing blood mingling with the sea water clinging to his skin. The sailors spent a long moment staring at him in silence.

In the stillness, the air above the ship’s deck shimmered as shivers ran the length of Ravee’s spine in a familiar tremble. Bithlad, God of healing, appeared behind her with all four of his hands ghosting over her biceps as he whispered, He’s alive. Help him.

Ravee darted in between the sailors, nostrils burning with the lingering smell of the less fortunate passengers and her feet propelled by the murmured command. She pressed her head to the injured man’s chest, shoulders sagging at the muffled breath sounds. He was alive, but only barely so.

“How did you know?” she asked Captain Wret, who had advanced to hover uncomfortably over her shoulder.

“He was clinging to one of the bigger pieces of the ship’s hull, and his position was too unnatural to have been the result of post-death rigor.”

Ravee studied the man’s body. “I doubt he would’ve lasted much longer out there in this state.”

“He may not be the only one. The lifeboat’s already prepared—we should search the area for more survivors,” Wret said, and he walked away to bark the orders at his crew.

Ravee stayed where she was kneeling with one hand on the man’s shoulder, wishing she could will him to wake up. His eyes stayed closed, though it was comforting to see his chest rise and fall, even if the breaths were shallow. The lack of movement gave her a better opportunity to check him for injuries. Though bleeding steadily, the cut on his head wasn’t deep, but as she peeled back the soaking layer of clothing from his torso, she exposed a fresh wave of crimson. Along his side darted a dark gash, and it seemed his shirt had been the only thing holding what remained of the skin together. Ravee clasped her hand against the wound in shock.

“Please!” she called, and one of the crewmen thrust a rudimentary first aid kit into her open hand.

At least she had a needle and thread, even without time to sterilize the metal. Ravee sent up a quick prayer to Urutte, God of fate. Her family sold leather goods, and while she’d never had to sew flesh before, her needlework skill ranked high. Her hands trembled so badly she pricked her own finger trying to stitch the wound, and all she could think of was how thankful she was the man remained unconscious. It would’ve been agony if he’d been awake to feel the needle threading through his already flayed skin.

She wanted to vomit, and somehow managed to keep all the bile in until she’d finished. Running to the railing took two heart-pounding moments, and she only barely made it in time to avoid her breakfast splashing across the deck. Her cheeks warmed, but there wasn’t time to be embarrassed; the lifeboat was hauling another body from the sea, and Ravee wiped her forehead with her shirt sleeve before moving to the newest one. Bithlad’s presence behind her faded, but she murmured a prayer the God might watch over the rest of the poor souls fished out from the brine.

By the time the entire area had been scoured, the sailors had found two more survivors, and Captain Wret called the search off as the sun set bright behind the wreckage. Fewer pieces of the unfortunate ship remained than had floated earlier along the whitecaps, and even many of the dead had been pulled beneath by the undertow. Wret’s men found four survivors total, including the first man: two more men and one woman. The crew carried the limp bodies to the bulkhead closest to the rudder and did what they could with the extra bedding supplies. But it wasn’t much, and as Ravee stood looking over the remnants of the ship’s unfortunate passengers, she could hardly breathe.

The man whose side she’d stitched closed seemed to have stabilized, and the woman had surface burns seemingly unrelated to her head trauma, but the last one, an older male whose arm had been severed at the wrist, was unlikely to make it through the night even with the tourniquet and linen wrapping they’d employed. Knowing the background of their survivors was impossible. They could have been crew on the ship, servants accompanying the envoys, or the dignitaries themselves, but until one of them woke with a clear enough head, Wret’s Sheersilk was sailing blind.

An entire ship destroyed, with nothing stolen and the passengers left to bloat.

“Where was their course?” Ravee asked as Captain Wret’s heavy footsteps sounded down the wooden stairs behind her.

“This far south? Dusset, probably, the same as us.”

Ravee swallowed hard. “You said earlier we’d know who did this by studying their heading. What does this mean?”

Wret’s face, almost unrecognizable without its usual sneer, was grim. “It’s possible someone has declared war on us all.”

The man missing his hand let out a low moan, and Ravee wrapped her arms around her chest to try to fight the sudden chill sweeping through the bulkhead.

About the Author

Kathryn Sommerlot is a coffee addict and craft beer enthusiast with a detailed zombie apocalypse plan. Originally from the cornfields of the American Midwest, she got her master’s degree and moved across the ocean to become a high school teacher in Japan.

When she isn’t wrangling teenage brains into critical thinking, she spends her time writing, crocheting, and hiking with her husband.

She enjoys LGBTQ fiction, but she is particularly interested in genre fiction that just happens to have LGBTQ protagonists.

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