Review of The Royal Treatment (Crown Jewels #1) by Melanie Summers

“Gentle Reminder? I nearly peed my pants.”

 

Genre: Contemporary Romance, British Fiction

Length: 283 Pages

POV: First Person

Description:

Ultra-private, ridiculously handsome Crown Prince Arthur has always gotten by on his charm. But that won’t be enough now that the Royal Family is about to be ousted from power once and for all. When Prince Arthur has to rely on the one woman in the kingdom who hates him most, he must learn that earning the love of a nation means first risking his heart.

Twenty-eight-year-old Tessa Sharpe, a.k.a. The Royal Watchdog, hates everything about Prince Arthur. As far as she’s concerned, he’s an arrogant, lazy leech on the kingdom of Avonia. When he shocks the nation by giving her the keys to the castle, Tessa has no choice but to accept and move in for two months. It’s lust at first sight, but there’s no way she can give in to her feelings—not if she wants to have a career or a shred of pride left when her time at the palace ends…

Can two natural enemies find their forever in each other’s arms, or will they ruin each other to save themselves?

Jennifer’s Review:

*I received this book free from Show Me Edits.*

Tessa’s career took a right hand turn into the blogging world, but she made do with what she had. She used her skills to find out what the people wanted to hear about and then ran with it. So what if it was an anti-royal family blog, it paid the bills.

Arthur was facing a potential royal upset. The Prime Minister wanted the royal family out of power and with blogs like Tessa’s he knew the people would agree. The problem was Arthur knew his people needed him, but his mindset wasn’t exactly in the people’s best interest. Tessa changed that.

“How many stars would you give our Arthur here?”

“I don’t know.” I give her a conspiratorial smile. “I’ve never tested him out.”

She went in to get the dirt on the royal family and discovered she’d been wrong. But with her help he will find out exactly what it is that his people need and how to give it to them.

The Royal Treatment is absolutely hilarious! I laughed out loud so many times throughout this book. Tessa could almost be labeled as accident prone and Arthur has made sarcasm an art form. These two characters play very well together.

“Dexter, quit beaver damming me.”

*Clicking on the book cover above will take you to the Amazon purchase page.

 

 

PROMO: The Lost King (The Warriors of Bhrea #1) by T.M. Kohl

Fantasy – 361 Pages

About the Book:

Lauren Strauss never knew much about her parents.

With her father dead and her mother’s past a fiercely-guarded secret, Lauren is forced to admit that her family tree appears to go nowhere. She also hardly knows anything about the strange dreams and headaches which have plagued her since birth.

But when a violent attack rocks downtown Chicago, Lauren’s life is thrown into chaos. Armed with a mysterious amulet and thrust into a strange new world, Lauren soon realizes that the truth about her family is more than she ever could have imagined.

Lost in a land beyond her wildest dreams and hunted by a bloodthirsty enemy, Lauren must discover the truth about her family… and with it, embrace a destiny she didn’t even know she had.

If you like page-turning fantasy with fantastical worlds, ancient mysteries, and gripping danger, then you won’t want to miss The Lost King!

*As always, by clicking on the above cover it will bring you to the Amazon purchase page.

Review of Flame (Dark Kings #17) by Donna Grant

“I’ll return for you.”

 

Genre: Paranormal Romance, Shifter Romance (Dragons), Suspense

Length: 407 Pages

POV: Third Person

Description:

If she believed in destiny, she would believe they were meant for each other.
But that fire was put out long ago. . .

Living among the Dragon Kings, Cain has spent lifetimes learning to distrust both mortals and Fae. He is a warrior born—and every instinct demands that he fight to keep his own kind safe. But when a fringe member of the Dark Fae contacts the Kings with an urgent warning, Cain is torn for the first time. How can he trust this beautiful creature when resisting his primal attraction to her is battle enough?

Noreen is horrified by what her kind and the malevolent Others are planning for the Dragon Kings. Dark Fae or not, there are lines she will not cross—even if it means risking her life. But she never imagined that she would risk her heart until she meets Cain. She wants him with a soul-deep desire that frightens her…and endangers them both. Is saying goodbye to everything Noreen has ever known worth a love that will span time and realms?

Jennifer’s Review:

*I received this book free from St. Martin’s Publishing Group via NetGalley.*

Cain is a Dragon King who misses the time back when the land flourished with his brethren. He wants the peace and beauty of the Earth back, but knows it will never happen. Not until the Others are destroyed.

Noreen is an Other who finally realized she’d been lied to and betrayed. The Others weren’t what she’d thought them to be. She wanted out and she wanted to let her once enemy, the Dragon Kings, know what she knew in hopes of righting a wrong.

Neither Cain nor Noreen expected to feel the instant attraction or for things to become so intense as fast as they did, but neither could deny the truth. They were fated to be together. It didn’t matter that she was an Other, or that she was a Dark Fae, all that mattered was she wanted to do what was right.

“Because I knew I’d done the one thing the new me had never thought to do.”

“Betray a Dragon King.”

Flame is another Dark Kings novel filled with desire, confusion, betrayal, and intense heat. From beginning to end there’s never a dull moment. It was an intense ‘what’s going to happen next’ kind of story that had me turning page after page from beginning to end.

I love how the underlying plot plays throughout the entire series. It’s getting close to something major happening and I cannot wait to find out what it is. These Dragon Kings are due for one hell of a victory.

*Clicking on the book cover above will take you to the Amazon purchase page.

 

 

PROMO: The Rebound (Second Chance Flower Shop #2) by Noelle Adams

Contemporary Romance – 169 Pages

About the Book:

After the ending of a long-term relationship that brought her nothing but stress and tears, Madeline Jenkins is ready to have some fun. Do something wild. Spontaneous. Maybe a little risky.

In other words, she wants to be nothing like her regular quiet self. Not forever. She likes herself. But she wants to try something new–just for a little while.

What better way to have some fun than to fall into an ill-advised, no-strings-attached fling with a very hot man. True, Ken isn’t an ideal rebound guy. He’s the sheriff, he’s ten years older than her, and she’s known him for years. They have nothing in common except an intense attraction that seems to come out of nowhere.

But that makes it easier. Ken is just her rebound. And no matter how good he makes her feel about herself, it’s not like they’ll ever want each other for real.

Excerpt:

“It’s been a couple of years since you divorced, hasn’t it? Haven’t you dated anyone since?”

“Why do you ask that?” His eyebrows arched.

“Oh.” Her cheeks were warming again. “Sorry. I just hadn’t heard about you dating anyone. I figured I would have…” She was embarrassed and didn’t really know why.

“I haven’t dated anyone,” he admitted. “At first I just felt kind of… tired. Like the whole idea of dating was too exhausting. And then there just wasn’t anyone I was really excited about. The thing about Azalea is that, if you go on one date, you immediately get hit with this pressure to be serious. Because everyone knows about it. And it felt like it might be worse ’cause I’m the sheriff. So even thinking a girl is cute isn’t necessarily enough for me to want to… face all that.”

“That makes perfect sense to me,” she replied with a smile, feeling strangely connected to him through the sheepish vulnerability in his expression. “So you never had your rebound?”

“My rebound?”

“You know. The throwaway relationship to help you get over a relationship and move on.”

He gave a huff of dry amusement. “No. I never had a rebound.”

“Me either.”

He lifted up enough to look down on her. Cupping her cheek, he said with a warm texture to his voice, “I’ll be yours, baby, if you’ll be mine.”

Her heart was hammering like crazy. Her cheeks were blazing. And a throbbing had awakened between her legs even though he’d done nothing but touch her cheek. “Really?”

He leaned down so close to her now she could feel his breath against her skin. “If a rebound is what you want, then a rebound is what I’ll give you.” His eyes were hot, even in the shadowed light of the night.

*As always, by clicking on the above cover it will bring you to the Amazon purchase page. Happy Reading!

 

BLOG TOUR: Review of Cherish (Clark Family #2) by Evelyn Sola

“What would you say if I told you I love you?”

 

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Length: 359 Pages

POV: Alternating First Person

Description:

Alexandra
I thought I finally had my life figured out. Fate? Destiny? I know mine. But one afternoon questioned everything I thought I knew.
Then it happened. Dr. Jason Dupree crashed into my life.
His eyes linger on me longer than they should in polite company. You see, there is nothing polite about him.
He’s arrogant and overconfident. His touch? It’s my undoing.
I let him know in no uncertain terms that he is not the man for me.
He is not my destiny.
And his reaction? Totally unexpected.

Jason
The things in my life that matter to me? It’s a shortlist. My career, a handful of family and friends. To call me unlucky in love would be a gross understatement. Hence my list. It’s how I keep it all figured out.
Then one morning, that safe little list collides with my future.
Her eyes follow me everywhere, and they see through me like a soul x-ray. But it’s her touch that nearly brings me to my knees.
She doesn’t see it, though.
She’s full of denial and sass, and her stares are indignant. She’s a liar too. Telling me she’s interested in another man.
My reaction? Let’s just say she never saw it coming.

Jennifer’s Review:

*I received this book free from Forever Write PR.*

Alex has fear of abandonment issues because of her past. It’s a little on the extreme side at times, but it only adds to the complexity of her character. It also explains her dating predicament in the beginning of the story.

Jason (aka Dr. Dupree) did not want any part of a serious relationship. He’d been there, done that, got the broken heart to prove it. But the first time he sees Alex his reaction is sweet. However, the first time he actually comes face to face with her is downright hysterical.

“Normally he can charm the skin off a snake.”

The relationship between Alex and Jason is quite interesting. For Jason not wanting anything serious, he sure plays a different tune almost immediately when it comes to her. And for Alex being interested in someone else, it doesn’t take much to make her change her mind. They are sweet together.

I love how their family and friends all play large rolls in the storyline. In a series like this I always find it a little more addicting if I’m able to get a feel for all the characters and if the end of this book is the start of the next one I cannot wait to read it. Jason’s sister and his new tenant…the chemistry already sizzles off the pages.

“Groomzilla was like a needy chick.”

Cherish is the second book in the Clark Family series. Jason may not technically be a Clark, but he is best friends to one, and we do get a glimpse at a Clark wedding. It’s filled with humor and love. It also has a few twists that I could see coming, but now it was the turns that caught me completely off guard.

*Clicking on the book cover above will take you to the Amazon purchase page.

Excerpt:

“Please, stop staring at me,” she says, her voice strained. She takes another sip of her drink and puts the cup against her neck.

I should look away. I can see the color creeping from her neck up to her face. I can see her pulse at the base of her neck. I can practically hear her heart beating in her chest.

“Get over yourself. Why don’t you stop looking at me?” I say, finally finding my voice.

“I’m not looking at you.” She angrily shoves two pickle slices into her mouth.

“Then how do you know I’m looking at you?” I challenge.

“Very mature. How old are you? Nine?” She rolls her eyes at me, but she doesn’t look away.

Her nostrils flare at the same time she pushes her food away. I don’t bother looking away. I look into her gray eyes before looking down at her mouth. I moan and lick my bottom lip at the sight of her breasts, pressed together underneath a shirt with sunflowers. I bite my bottom lip as I envision sucking one nipple after another.

“I’m not interested in you that way.” She says the words while looking straight ahead.

“I’m just sitting here waiting on my sister.”

“Arrogant,” she throws back at me.

 

 

Review of Sweet Temptation (Players #3) by Jaine Diamond

“Did you see his butt?”

 

Genre: Contemporary Romance, Rock Star Romance

Length: 557 Pages

POV: Alternating First Person

Description:

Bodyguards don’t fall in love.

This job comes with benefits.
I knew that from the moment I laid eyes on her.
Summer Sorensen, party queen. Super-hot DJ and soon-to-be-rockstar.

She’s sexy, sassy, strong…
But she’s in danger.

I know she doesn’t want to hire me.
She doesn’t want to need me, but she does.
And this job is getting more complicated by the hour.

Damsel in distress? Yeah, right.
Try ball breaker. Seductress.
Temptation.

I never mess around with my clients.
But I’ve never been so tempted before.

They call me alpha… boss… hero… because I’m always in control.
It’s my job to protect her, and I do my job well.

But how the hell do I resist her?

Sweet Temptation is a smoking-hot, suspenseful bodyguard romance, with a badass protective alpha hero and the sassy, irresistible heroine who melts his icy heart. It is the third full-length novel in the Players rockstar romance series, and can be read as a standalone or as part of the series.

Jennifer’s Review:

*I received this book free from the author.*

If you’ve read the Dirty series or the first two books in the Players series then you already know who Summer is. She’s DJ Summer, life of the party, always ready for a good time, but in Sweet Temptation we get to delve deeper into the woman behind the music. She’s a strong woman with a heart. And an eye for her new bodyguard’s butt.

“Did you seriously just pour a drink on a man to get him to stop talking to me?”

Ronan was done taking assignments, he was going to work strictly in the office, but that plan didn’t even last twenty-four hours. He knew from the second he saw her that he wasn’t walking away. Of course, he wouldn’t exactly look deeper as to why.

Two strong personalities clashing together for the sake of a single outcome adds to the tension between Summer and Ronan, but whether she wants to admit it or not, she is in danger, and she does need Ronan. However, once he gets her to finally understand that fact, they’re already on their way to being in over their heads.

“This is Ronan. He’s a superhero. Super Ronan.”

Summer is a fun, energetic, overall happy person and it sucks seeing some of that leaver her, even if only temporary. Ronan, on the other hand, is always stoic. It’s business, business, business with him…until Summer cracks his hard exterior.

Like all of the Jaine Diamond books I’ve read this one is no different when it comes to having the perfect mixture of heart, sass, suspense, and delectable ravishings. With a creepy stalker just out of grasp, blurred professional lines, and the possibility of a little MC drama this book does not disappoint.

*Clicking on the book cover above will take you to the Amazon purchase page.

A little music inspired by the book, Sweet Temptation:

 

 

 

PROMO: Absolute Darkness by Tina O’Hailey

Time Travel Romance, Multiverse – 339 Pages

About the Book:

A thrill ride through time that will make you hold your breath.

Sitting by the campfire, Brandy admitted a secret to her friends. She swore she saw a ghost when exiting a cave earlier that day. Was she seeing things? Did they believe her? The next day, breaking a cardinal rule, she snuck back to the cave alone. No one knew where she was. What if she fell or was trapped? There would be no rescue.

For ten thousand years Alexander had kept the time streams of this universe safe from an eternal destructive force that continually threatened to tamper and destroy all. Locked in an unremitting battle, the two foes become sidetracked by an unexpected visitor. An entangled journey begins with chilling twists and turns until becoming locked into an inescapable death in a submerged cave.

Who will come out of the watery depths alive?

Excerpt:

“Well, here we are.” She held out her hand, paused, took off her glove then held out her pink hand again. “Brandy.”

His hand enveloped hers in its grip. “Alexander.”

She paused, feeling the strength of his hand around hers.

“Alexander,” she repeated then released his hand. Then softly, she asked, “Are you OK? Have you been in here all night?”

He smiled then looked around the room. “I was walking in the woods with my dog.” The lie came easily. “He came upon a raccoon and took chase. I followed him into this cave.”

“Did you have a light?” Brandy asked.

“A flashlight, yes. I lost it in a crawl. It rolled into a crevasse.” He held out his hands, a what could I do gesture.

Brandy took up the story, completing it for him. “You crawled back here and slept for the night with out finding your dog.” She hugged her knees close to her chest. “I probably caught sight of you just as you were going in the cave.” She put a hand on his shoulder, tentative, soft, then removed it. “I’m so sorry. I caught such a quick glimpse of you, then you were gone.”

“I was rushing,” said the man who had no need to rush.

“I thought…” she paused, seemed to consider something, then continued. “I thought I was just seeing things, really.”

“I ran in so quickly, I must have barely missed you. Fortunate that you saw me at all.” Alexander peered at her closely. “Are you sure that you are well?”

“Yes.” Brandy dropped her gaze to avoid his intense eyes. “We need to get you out of here.” Brandy drug her pack to rest between her ankles and began returning the contents of her pack with care and dedication to the precise placement of the items. They disappeared one by one.

Alexander watched her movements without commenting.

“Here, use this.” She handed Alexander a light. He held it in front of him and eyed it suspiciously. “It goes on your head. I mean, it should go on a helmet, but your head will do.” She took it from him, pulled the elastic bands out then motioned for him to lean closer. Alexander lowered his head so she could place the light on his skull, the elastic band whisking across his hair. She leaned in close, her breath warm on his ear as she adjusted the straps. The goal of affixing the light met, Brandy paused and became conscious of how close she was to Alexander. She smiled a quick nervous smile and exhaled, “There.” Then sat back from him.

Brandy looked up at the hole in the ceiling above them. “Guess we can’t get you out that way.”

Alexander did not follow her gaze. He watched her face instead. The sun felt heavier now as it crept higher in the sky. Exhaustion pulled at the backs of his eyeballs. He rubbed a cold hand across his eyes; he exhaled slightly, a human gesture. “I visited this cave when I was younger.”

“Oh yeah?” Brandy slung the backpack across her shoulders but made no attempt to start moving.

“We used candles then.” His gaze drifted towards the dark beyond them. “There is a very lovely area just back this way.” He pointed with his headlamp. “I can take you there.” He watched for her reaction. “Seems a shame to waste the trip. We are already back this far.”

Brandy considered.

 

*As always, by clicking on the above (or below) cover it will bring you to the Amazon purchase page.

 

PROMO: Se7en Deadly SEALs: Season 1 (Se7en Deadly SEALs #1-7) by Alana Albertson

Military Romance – 400 Pages

About the Book:

Together in one edition for the first time.

I DON’T RECOGNIZE THE DAMAGED woman in the mirror staring back at me—platinum-blond hair, blood-red lips and nails, curves laced up in the finest lingerie. I have transformed into a bombshell to exonerate my brother, United States Navy SEAL Joaquín Cruz. He’s been languishing in a jail cell for the past six months, accused of a murder he didn’t commit, his honorable career as a SEAL ruined, his spirit crushed.

I’ve gone undercover as a stripper to entertain the men of SEAL Team Seven—I’ve given up my acting career, my dreams, my home—everything to free Joaquín and discover the truth.

But I didn’t count on having to conceal my identity from my ex-boyfriend, Navy SEAL Grant Carrion. The man I lost my virginity to was caught up in an endless web of sins and temptations, unable to escape from his demons.

As I strip down to my lingerie and dance for Grant, I know that every humiliating moment will be worth my sacrifice—if only I can give my brother back his life. And just maybe, find a way back to Grant’s heart.

Se7en Deadly SEALs is a heart pounding thriller with dirty SEALs, steamy sex, and shocking twists.

Excerpt:

“What is it you do for living?” 

“I sell pharmaceuticals.” His nose didn’t even twitch; he’d become an expert at hiding his lies. Though this fib didn’t bother me. SEALs never told civilians what they did for a living. Joaquín told everyone he met that he drove an ice cream truck. That guy you met in a bar boasting about being a SEAL? He was a liar. 

“Let’s get out of here. I want to take you somewhere.” He signaled to the waitress and paid the bill in cash. 

We slid onto the back of his bike, and I placed my arms around him. I wanted to vanish into this moment, go back to the way we were when we had first fallen in love. Before he deployed that first time. Before I’d done something stupid. Before I didn’t have the guts to confide in him. 

Grant headed down to the pier, in front of the USS Midway, a retired Naval carrier turned maritime museum. The millions of lights from the ship illuminated the ocean, as the view of Coronado’s Hotel Del beckoned in the distance. Grant might be lying to his date about his job, but he was also sharing his love of the Navy. Maybe he didn’t see Ksenya as just a conquest. 

We stood under the world-famous Unconditional Surrender statue, which portrayed a sailor kissing a nurse at the end of World War II. 

Grant took me into his arms, and I was sure he was going to kiss me under the moonlight. “You’re so incredibly hot. Let’s go to a hotel.” 

“Nyet.” 

“Come on, babe. We’ll have a great time. If you feel uncomfortable, I’ll take you home. I just want to spend some time with you.” 

My first instinct was to slap him. But my panties became damp as I imagined what this new Grant would do to me. Which way should I go—sweet, shy, good girl forced into stripping? Or nasty, freaky, bad girl who owned her sexuality? 

I had vowed when this deception started—hell, when this date started—to never sleep with him again, fearful that he would discover my identity. Now I decided I wasn’t going to make any rules. I’d fooled him so far—maybe I could fool him in bed as well. I’d spent every night for the past two and a half years imagining making love to him. As Mia, I’d been the girl next door, a young inexperienced virgin, petrified to ask him to act out my deepest fantasies. But I had always harbored a secret desire to play the temptress.

If Grant wanted to party, I’d be ecstatic to rock his world. This time, I wouldn’t hold back. I couldn’t. Ksenya would have to be a wildcat in bed for me to pull off this deception. 

Sleeping with Grant might be the only way to truly have him let down his guard and open up to me. But this time, sex would be on my terms, on my timeline—and for once in my life, I’d be in control.

**As always, by clicking on the above book cover it will bring you to the Amazon purchase page.

 

Review of The Bliss Drip (Rozalyn Hunt Series #1) by Liddie Cain

“So, the demon mark?”

 

Genre: Paranormal Romance (Angel & Demons)

Length: 145 Pages

POV: First Person

Description:

I never expected my ex to walk back into my life. Especially as a vampire. Macory “Mac” Jacobs walks back into our southern small town and my life will never be the same. He pulls me into his world of supernatural creatures that I thought were only fiction. He asks me to help him run a blood donation program to serve the local vampire protection and protect the neighbors we grew up around. But he has no idea how much risk this request will put me in and I need him close to keep me safe. Will my heart want him even closer?

Or will the confident and oh-so-tempting boss of his, an archdemon named Felix, sweep me off of my feet? He is just as drawn to me as I am to him. Clues will begin to emerge that there are reasons from our past for such an attraction. I had always known there was something different about me and these revelations will surprise everyone I love.

Jennifer’s Review:

*I received this book free from the author.*

Roz seems perfectly fine with the vampire community moving into her town. Didn’t hurt that the magistrate is her ex, who she never got over, but him now being a vampire did explain a few reasons why he left.

Mac never wanted to leave Roz, but he didn’t have a choice. Now he’s back and realizes that although she wants everything strictly business between them that it may be easier said than done.

“Dove, you look good like that, wrapped up in the blankets on my bed.”

Felix is an archdemon who knows how to walk in a room like he owns it, and that power radiates with Roz from the first time they meet. I had a difficult time getting a feel for him, other than I liked him. But he’s still a mystery.

Roz, Mac, and Felix make one hell of a power couple, no pun intended. It’s a threesome based on love, pleasure, and protection. But it’s not until someone intervenes that secrets are brought into the light and everything changes. Some for the better, some for the…to be determined. That will have to wait until book two to find out. Which means, yes, there is a little bit of a cliffhanger.

“Rozalyn,” he growled out as he rubbed his face against my thigh. “I am powerful. Underlings fear my anger.” He switched to the other thigh, trailing his tongue down it and making me shiver. “I am the archdemon of the entire southern dominion.” He hovered his face over my center. “And you have me on my knees for you.”

The Bliss Drip is an interesting mixture of angels, demons, vampires, and other supernatural creatures. The descriptions are detailed enough to pull you in, but not too much to be over baring. I think there could have been more interactions between Roz and other characters that didn’t involve sex. Like with Jason and Barden…I just felt like their relationships were missing something.

There was a little name confusion for me when the past came into play, but I’m glad they stuck with the names I was familiar with. The ending, however, left me wanting more. I felt like I needed to know where Roz, Mac, Felix, and everyone else would end up. Definitely looking forward to the second book in the series.

*Clicking on the book cover above will take you to the Amazon purchase page.

 

PROMO: When Darkness Begins by Tina O’Hailey

Time Travel Romance, Multiverse – 230 Pages

About the Book:

If you could change time to save your first love–even if it meant turning your back on the universe–would you?

It is time for the Vechey youth to earn their place as time-guardians. The near-immortal Vechey protect the universe from the devastating Manipulators–devourers of souls, mindless seekers of chaos. First, the youth must survive a mysterious and deadly ritual created by the all-powerful clan leader Eterili. Having regenerated thousands of times with the birth of each universe, Eterili is taking this one as hers and bending all in it to her grand designs.

Catha’s time-slipping skills are underdeveloped. She is time-blind–unable to see through time, unable to protect herself from the ritual. The Vechey shun her for being different. Her parents ignore her as if she were already dead.

Aithagg loves Catha unconditionally and will do anything to save her. He tries desperately to unlock the ritual’s mysteries and find a way to help Catha survive with him. Or will saving Catha enable the Manipulators to destroy the universe?

Excerpt:

The teeth.

Drip. Blood drops.

Click. Click. Gnarled fangs clacking together.

Drip. Blood dripping from ancient fangs.

Thud. Her stick resolutely plunging into the earth.

Silence.

 

Even the small children had stopped running about and ran to hide behind their mothers. One small baby began to wail inconsolably.

“We prepare,” she announced. Then she motioned with her stick for the next ritual bound to take their place with her at the fire ring.

Aithagg turned towards his parents, his eyes wide with the unspoken words he had not had time to deliver.

His mother smiled and gestured with her chin for him to join the circle. “I know,” she whispered. Her smile was warm and loving, tinged with melancholy.

Aithagg smiled warmly to his mother, then beamed a broad grin and briefly met his father’s eyes.

His father was smiling from ear to ear. “Go,” he mouthed and urged Aithagg towards the fire with a gentle flip of his hand. Aithagg and Catha approached the fire hand in hand and took their place.

All stilled.

Eterili seemed to be without her normal showmanship this evening. Her voice was tired and gruff. “We begin.”

The youngsters turned with their backs to the fire and faced the tribe. Eterili continued to circle them, walking, clicking, dripping putrid blood.

“What do you pledge to me, to the moon, to the sky, to your

tribe?” she growled.

Catha squeezed Aithagg’s hand, and they shared a brief smile before reciting, “I will go forth and find my time, my place, my home. Turning away from my family and my friends, I will dedicate my eternity to keeping the universe whole. Should another adjust my time, my place, my home I will defend it until my last thought, through all eternity.”

Eterili stopped in front of Aithagg. She held out her bony finger as if to touch his chest as she had before in the white light of the ritual site. Her eyelids crinkled with a small smile that did  not touch her lips. Turning she shouted with a little more gusto, “What do you protect?”

“Time.” Aithagg’s voice was quiet as he wondered what that encounter had meant.

“Why?” Eterili stood in front of Catha and patted her shoulder, leaving bloody smear marks on Catha’s furs.

Catha looked straight ahead, afraid to move and answered with the others. “Lest the sky pull my bones apart as the tribe is lost across all of time.”

Eterili moved on around the ritual circle but paid no further tokens of affection or attention to the youths there. She turned her back to them. “Will you survive the ritual?”

In unison, they hesitated then answered, “If I heed my teachings, we will survive the ritual.”

“It is the way.” Eterili quietly and with no further show walked away from the fire and disappeared into the darkness.

 

*As always, by clicking on the above (or below) cover it will bring you to the Amazon purchase page.