Tag Archives: warrior

Blog Tour: Healing Lance by M.D. Grimm

Healing Lance | M.D. Grimm

 Warrior’s Redemption #1

BANNER - Healing Lance

Release Date: July 28th, 2020

Length: 81,810

Cover Artist: Kris Norris

Universal Link:

https://www.mdgrimmwrites.com/a-warrior-s-redemption-trilogy

COVER - Healing Lance

Blurb

A baby’s laughter.

A mind uncaged.

Lance is known as Scourge, the warrior in the black armor, the dog of the warlord Ulfr Blackwolf. He was just a boy when Ulfr found him and molded him into the perfect weapon. He slaughters and pillages on command, merciless and numb, devoid of emotions. Then a baby girl laughs at him during a raid.

And everything changes.

When Gust, a talented healer, is out deer hunting and stumbles across a magnificent horse bearing a mortally wounded rider, he has no idea that his life is about to change forever. Gust applies all his skills to his patient, determined to save the rider’s life, and is rewarded when the man opens his eyes.

As friendship, and more, bloom between warrior and healer, so does the danger over the horizon. Ulfr has not forgotten, and Lance must take his first steps on the long road to redemption.

Trigger Warnings: References to past abuse

MEME1 - Healing Lance

Excerpt

Chapter One

The baby shouldn’t matter. But she did.

He easily held her small body in his broad hands. He knew the baby was a girl because she was naked. She kicked her legs as if she wanted to dance, and her wide amber eyes gazed at him in seeming fascination. He stared down at her, wondering why she didn’t scream. Didn’t babies scream? Adults certainly did when they saw him. He didn’t like the sound. All he wanted to do was silence the noise.

The baby stared at him a moment before her mouth curled up at the corners, and she laughed. He froze at the unusual sound. With eyes alight, she grabbed her feet and continued to laugh. It was… all the things foreign to him. It wasn’t cruel or dark but careless, showing a freedom he’d never known. She wiggled in his hands, her pale, pink body flush with life and potential.

Battle roars and the cries of the dying met his ears again, in stark contrast to the little life he held. He wrenched his gaze away from her and looked around the charred hut and over the collapsed roof. The light from the fires consuming the village illuminated the destruction and the blood splattered on the walls and floor. It was a view he was accustomed to, one he understood. The weight of his sword was one he only noticed when it wasn’t there. He returned his gaze to the baby. This was something he didn’t understand. She was confusing.

She laughed again as goosebumps broke out over her body. She was cold. He scanned the area and spotted a blanket that only had blood on one corner. He wrapped her as best he could, another thing unfamiliar to him, and his black armored gloves made the action awkward. Then he pressed her against his steel chest. He wanted her to survive. He didn’t know why—he just knew he didn’t want her to die.

“Please….”

A young woman lay on the floor at his feet, one he thought was dead. It appeared she had only been knocked out. She lay on her side, one arm stretched out to him, her normally golden skin sickly pale. Her dark brown hair was short, barely reaching past her ears, and one side of her head was caked with blood. The southern part of the kingdom of Grekenus didn’t seem too fond of hair as most of the men in the village were bald and beardless while the women grew hair no longer than their chins.

“Please don’t kill her,” she said, dark eyes wide and dazed. “Don’t kill my daughter. Please, I beg you.”

She spoke in Spart, the native language of the kingdom. He knew it well enough to communicate effectively.

He looked at the baby and then back at the woman. If he wanted the baby to survive, she needed a caretaker. Since the woman was her mother, who better? He strode over to the woman where she struggled to rise and grabbed her arm. She winced at his grip as he tugged her to her feet. He shoved the baby into her arms before dragging her outside.

“What are you—?”

“Silence,” he said curtly. He observed the chaos through the smoke and beyond the fires. The broken dead littered the ground and fire ate everything it touched. A horse galloped toward them, one that belonged to the village since there was neither a saddle nor bridle on the beast. He let go of the woman and pointed to the ground.

“Stay.” Then he strode in front of the horse and held up his hands. The beast reared on her hind legs, neighing in fright. Unlike with humans, he knew how to speak to horses. It wasn’t long before he’d calmed her and had her under control. He petted her neck and muzzle, whispering kind words. The frantic look in her eyes eased, and he led her over to the woman and the baby. She swayed on her feet and had stayed where he told her to, not that he’d doubted she would. The hope for escape let her trust him.

He quickly found a length of rope and looped it around the horse’s nose and neck.

“Get on.”

She didn’t question him this time. She struggled to follow his command, and he realized the horse was just too tall for her to mount without help. He shoved her up, and she sat unsteadily on the horse’s back, her daughter clutched to her chest. She stared at him, and he noted the blood from her head now stained the side of her face and dress. She would see nothing of his face since his black armor covered every piece of flesh, and his eyes were barely visible through the narrow visor slit of the helmet.

“Go.” He slapped the horse’s rear and the mare bolted. The woman leaned over the horse and let the mare lead them away from death.

Another warrior, part of the warband, nocked an arrow and leveled it at her. He strode over and kicked the warrior’s knee, sending the man crashing to the ground with a scream of pain. The arrow flew wide. Another warrior was about to give chase on horseback, and he dashed over to grab the sword from his hand before shoving the warrior off the saddle. A few other attempts were made to stop the fleeing woman, and he stopped them all, causing various injuries and not caring in the least. He had no affinity to any of the warriors in the warband. He had no affinity to anyone… except the tiny girl.

He still couldn’t figure out why. He wondered if he ever would.

He stood there, on the muddy ground soaked with blood, staring after the woman. The smoke burned his throat and stung his eyes. The scent, the noise, the mess of battle he knew like he knew his name. He’d never been curious about anything beyond his current life. Now he did.

He hoped she took good care of her daughter.

“Lance!”

He blinked and turned around. The warlord Ulfr, known throughout the Nifdem Empire as Mad Blackwolf, stalked over to him, expression like a thundercloud, his black, bushy beard and thick head of hair obscuring most of his ruddy face. He wasn’t as tall as Lance, although he was much broader, and there wasn’t a weak bone in his burly body. The quality of his black long-sleeved tunic, trousers, and boots showed a hard but fruitful life, and a few glistening red splatters indicated he didn’t leave all the fun to his warriors.

A few of the warriors that Lance had attacked hobbled after their commander, scowling and muttering curses. All the men sported beards of one length or another. Lance remained clean shaven since the helmet made having a beard quite painful as it tugged on the strands and chafed his skin.

“You will explain to me why you disobeyed a direct order!” Ulfr said when he reached Lance. He spoke in Taris, the official language of the empire. His clenched fists and tight jaw indicated his fury, and the rest of the men and women in their warband cowered at such a sight.

Not Lance. He didn’t feel fear.

Lance took off his helmet, long honey blond hair sticking to his face, pressed there by the constriction of the helmet and sweat glistening on his pale skin. Frosty blue eyes stared at Ulfr, eyes hollow from years of war and brutality. Yet, if Ulfr had looked closer, he would have seen a spark of life newly lit in the void.

Lance tucked the helmet in the crook of his arm and smoothed back his hair, the armor grinding and clanking.

“I didn’t want the baby to die.”

Ulfr blinked. “What?”

Lance frowned. He knew Ulfr had heard him clearly enough. “I did not want the baby to die,” he said, slower this time. “She couldn’t survive on her own, so she had to have her mother with her.”

Men and women gathered around them, filthy warriors stained with the evidence of their raid and slaughter. Everyone wore trousers and tunics, though some of the women chose more form-fitting clothing that extenuated their feminine attributes. The ethnicities in Ulfr’s band were as varied as the colors of their wardrobes. Though none dared wear purple or, worse, silver and purple combined. A person could be killed for being so presumptions. Only imperial royalty wore those colors.

Several men were retying their trousers, having violated their victims before killing them. Lance observed the crowd with a detached eye. He knew what would happen now. He’d known it the moment he made the decision to save the infant.

“You disobeyed me!” Ulfr gripped the collar of Lance’s breastplate and yanked him closer until their faces were inches apart. “You showed mercy when I told you all to slaughter those who don’t give us tribute. These people spat on us as if they were better, and so they deserved their punishment. You’ve followed my orders before, Lance. Why not now?”

“I told you.”

Ulfr shoved him away. Lance stumbled back two steps before standing still, like an oak tree against a high wind.

The complete slaughter of a village or town wasn’t what Ulfr usually did. He wouldn’t raid if they paid him. Normally, if they resisted, Lance would only kill one or two people to make a point, and then the villagers would hand over whatever Ulfr wanted to make him go away. This village had done that in the past, and yet they recently decided to fight back against Ulfr’s protection racket. They paid the ultimate price, an example to all who dared defy Mad Blackwolf.

The village was close to the border between the kingdoms of Grekenus and Cairon, and mostly safe from the ravages of the civil war, since it was deep into the protective territory of one of the kings. And yet sometimes, like that day, warlords got through. Ulfr’s band had had scuffles with army units now and then over the years that gave Lance more of a challenge, but none recently.

“You disobeyed me for a wench and her spawn?”

“I did not want the baby to die,” Lance repeated.

“You will go after her.” Ulfr pointed in the direction the woman had fled in. “You will redeem yourself and escape my wrath but only if you go now.”

“No.”

Every single man and woman there gaped, eyes wide.

Ulfr’s eyes bulged and his face grew red. “You ungrateful maggot! Who raised you? Trained you? Who saved you from becoming crow food or sold into slavery? You owe me your loyalty!”

Lance stared at Ulfr. Yes, all he said was true. But there was no way Lance could ever hold his sword over the neck of that baby and kill her. Her laugh echoed in his mind and seemed to unlock something. Something scarred shut.

No, she would live.

He dropped his helmet to the bloody mud, followed by his sword, which had taken countless lives without mercy or hesitation. He stood before the warriors, those he’d trained and slaughtered alongside. Despite living with them, killing with them, he didn’t know them at all. He never cared to.

“I am done,” he said.

About The Author

grimm logo

M.D. Grimm has wanted to write stories since second grade (kind of young to make life decisions, but whatever) and nothing has changed since then (well, plenty of things actually, but not that!). Thankfully, she has indulgent parents who let her dream, but also made sure she understood she’d need a steady job to pay the bills (they never let her forget it!).

After graduating from the University of Oregon and majoring in English, (let’s be honest: useless degree, what else was she going to do with it?) she started on her writing career and couldn’t be happier.

Working by day and writing by night (or any spare time she can carve out), she enjoys embarking on romantic quests and daring adventures (living vicariously, you could say) and creating characters that always triumph against the villain, (or else what’s the point?) finding their soul mate in the process.

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Release Blitz: Healing Glass by Jackie Keswick

Healing Glass | Jackie Keswick

TAGLINE HEALING GLASS.jpg

Cover Artist: Pavelle Art

Release Date: May 13, 2019

Heat Rating: 3 flames

Buy Links

Payhip Store (this offers a lower price than mainstream retailers)

Universal Link: http://books2read.com/HealingGlass

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Add to Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/45319502-healing-glass

healing_glass_FINAL.jpg

Blurb

A dying city.

An ancient, forgotten accord.

And two gifted men caught in a web of greed and dark magic.

Despite belonging to different guilds, glass master Minel and warrior captain Falcon are friends. Their duties keep them apart, but when Minel falls ill and chooses death rather than the only known cure, nothing can keep Falcon from his side.

As their friendship grows into more, old wrongs and one man’s machinations threaten the floating city and leave both Minel and Falcon fighting for their lives. Can they learn to combine their gifts to save the city and its magic, or will everything they know and love perish before their eyes?

HEALING GLASS BLURB-2.jpg

Excerpt

Half a mile above the surface, a deep, rumbling groan rattled through Favin’s bones and turned his guts to water. The elevator jerked and shuddered—long enough for Favin to wonder whether he’d left his errand too late—before it resumed its stately progress up towards the floating city.

The groans and jerks came more often these days, on almost every journey. Despite the trickle of ice-cold fear, Favin welcomed the noise and stuttering ascent. He’d raised the alarm weeks earlier, but no one had believed the word of a servant. No one but Councillor Teak, who now clung to the transparent wall on the far side of the elevator, face grey and eyes wide.

The City Council would believe Teak.

“Is… this… why you wanted me to accompany you?” Teak spoke louder than necessary in the tight confines of the chamber bearing them aloft.

“Yes, Councillor. I reported it several times, but—” Favin stopped, loath to criticise the council. “I felt you had to know what’s happening.”

Teak, resplendent in a well-cut black coat and lace cuffs under his scarlet robe of office, didn’t belong in an elevator filled with rows of stacked crates, bins of cloth, and rolls of parchment, even when Favin hadn’t packed the space as full as he usually did. The councillor didn’t need the experience of a full cargo run, of squeezing into a gap just large enough to get in and out of. Never mind that he wouldn’t have fit. The servants joked that were the councillor hollow, one of them could fit inside his frame with space to spare.

Teak enjoyed his food as much as he enjoyed his status and privileges, but he hadn’t lost all sense of his responsibilities. When Favin had asked for his help, he’d only grumbled a little before agreeing to investigate the matter. Now here he stood, pressed against the transparent wall, gaze riveted to the crate in front of him, not daring to look down.

Favin watched the sea and the sky over Teak’s shoulder, wishing—as always— that he could see the city as they made their way towards it. The freight elevators didn’t allow for such a view, and Favin’s work rarely left him the leisure to sit on the beach.

Four levels of squat glass tiers and elegant spires connected by sweeping stairs and graceful bridges, suspended high above the waves by a raft of near-invisible columns… the floating city had stood waiting at the edge of the ocean when the Craft Guild arrived in need of shelter. Nobody knew its builders. Nobody quite understood how it worked. The city kept its occupants warm and dry, the glass walls closing or receding depending on the weather. Fountains supplied water in every square, and in all the buildings. The middle tier of the city—a wide, level space between the double-story, flat-roofed dwellings of the lower level and the skyward-reaching spires of the top tier—had been given over to growing food. All other goods the inhabitants needed came via the trade guilds and the Merchant Guild. The craft masters could have anything that fit into one of the eight large elevators, whether it came by land or sea, while men like Favin ensured the goods arrived where they were needed.

The groan came again, more of a pained shriek now, like the death cry of a material used too long and too well, as an abrupt slip downward hurled both Teak and Favin to their knees.

Then the sounds stopped.

The downward movement stopped.

And the elevator resumed its unhurried climb.

Sweat pearled on Teak’s brow and upper lip by the time the transparent cabin reached its goal. “Can we… not use this elevator?” He stepped off the floating disk before he turned to ask.

“It will delay deliveries, Councillor.”

“How many journeys do you make in a day?”

“Some days as many as fifty.”

“And the noise and the… jerking… have been getting more frequent?”

“Yes. I’m told the other elevators show the same signs of trouble. And in the upper city, the glass is said to be weeping.”

“Weeping?”

“That’s what I’ve heard, Councillor. I’ve not seen it.”

“No, of course not.” Servants of Favin’s class had no access to the upper levels. “Thank you, Favin, for bringing this to my attention.”

Favin bowed to the councillor before he set about unloading the cargo into the hands of the waiting servants. The council would decide whether to shut down the elevator or keep it running. He’d done as much as he could do, given his station. He’d said his piece and had had a councillor listen.

He continued with his work, until words drifting through a half-open door stopped him on his way to deliver rolls of parchment and ink to the council chamber.

“Weeping is the only way to describe it, Wark. I’ve never seen anything like it.”

“And you think it’s going to be a problem?” The clipped tones were the regent’s and Favin froze where he stood, listening.

“Of course, it’s a problem,” Teak argued. “Go and see for yourself if you don’t believe me. There’s liquid glass welling up out of the column and trickling down its length. What do you think will happen if the glass wears away doing that? Or if the whole column turns to liquid? Will it continue to support the upper level in that state, or will it run into the sea and disappear?”

“Calm yourself, Teak. I’m sure there’s no need for panic.”

“You would know, of course.” Teak said snidely. “But I say you should listen. There’s more than one of those weeping spots in the upper city. The freight elevators jerk and groan, and servants are buying out their contracts, happier to make a life elsewhere than work here.”

Then it is serious, Favin thought, glued to his spot. More serious than I knew. Positions with one of the three gifted guilds were hotly sought. Only the king’s court paid better wages, and with the high prices in the royal city and port of Allengi, those wages didn’t go nearly as far.

“We must deal with this, Wark. Before it is too late.”

“Repairs to the city’s fabric are the task of the glass master. I will make sure he attends to the problem.”

“Minel is an outstanding craft master.” Teak bristled as if he had heard something in Wark’s comment that Favin had not. Something he disagreed with. “Most sought after, despite his youth. His list of commissions is near endless and he earns—”

“There are no other glass masters in the guild. Minel is our only choice if we want to fix the problem you’ve brought to my attention.” Regent Wark sounded oddly gleeful.

“No. You can’t— What if—?”

“You can’t have it both ways, Teak. You can’t bring me a problem and then object when I solve it. Minel’s work and his designs pay a large part of the city’s debts. I’m not so stupid I’d interfere with that. But if the fabric of the city fails, all the money and favours we’re owed will be no use to us. It’s fortunate that Minel cares about nothing but making glass. He doesn’t have the stomach for confrontation. I think… I think this will work out very well. Minel will accept that we direct his work and we can add another treasure to our collection. I have waited long enough.”

JK-Logo-Large-Dark.pngAbout the Author

Jackie Keswick was born behind the Iron Curtain with itchy feet, a bent for rocks and a recurring dream of stepping off a bus in the middle of nowhere to go home. She’s worked in a hospital and as the only girl with 52 men on an oil rig, spent a winter in Moscow and a summer in Iceland and finally settled in the country of her dreams with her dream team: a husband, a cat, a tandem, a hammer and a laptop.

Jackie loves unexpected reunions and second chances, and men who don’t follow the rules when those rules are stupid. She blogs about English history and food, has a thing for green eyes, and is a great believer in making up soundtracks for everything, including her characters and the cat.

And she still hasn’t found the place where the bus stops.

For questions and comments, not restricted to green eyes, bus stops or recipes for traditional English food, you can find Jackie Keswick in all the usual places.

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Gloriously & vividly crafted magical fantasy from Jackie

45319502.jpgHealing Glass by Jackie Keswick

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Fantasy is my favourite cake.

Well written and detailed world building adds a cherry on top and an imaginative and complex narrative gives me lashings of quality double cream to bind it all together.

I’m using food metaphors here because Jackie herself is always sharing her love of cooking and the flavours of the world with her friends and readers and this book felt like an extension of that creative vision.

The book itself is glorious, the pace pitched just right between the slow exploratory early tastings as we’re introduced to characters and plots in motion and the heady details as the narrative drives towards its final conclusion.

There is an amazingly complex world in play here which we’re allowed to discover as we read, no telling what we should be seeing but plenty of feeling the love between Minel and Falcon.

The secondary characters also come to life in vivid detail, the mystery and magic elements of this world are slowly revealed as the story continues.

I loved everything about this book and I can’t wait now to find out more about Javier and Rein.

#ARC kindly received from the author in return for an honest and unbiased review.

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