Sunday, October 2, 2022

New Release Spotlight: The Empress of Time by Kylie Lee Baker

 


Check out the newest Inkyard Press sequel release in Kylie Lee Baker's Keeper of the Night Duology, The Empress of Time (Book 2).


The Empress of Time 

Kylie Lee Baker

On Sale Date: October 4, 2022

9781335915856

Hardcover

Inkyard Press

$18.99 USD

Ages 13 And Up

416 pages

Series: The Keeper of Night duology (#2)

 

ABOUT THE BOOK:

In this riveting sequel to The Keeper of Night, a half Reaper, half Shinigami soul collector must defend her title as Japan’s Death Goddess from those who would see her—and all of Japan—destroyed.

 

Death is her dynasty.

 

Ren Scarborough is no longer the girl who was chased out of England—she is the Goddess of Death ruling Japan’s underworld. But Reapers have recently been spotted in Japan, and it’s only a matter of time before Ivy, now Britain’s Death Goddess, comes to claim her revenge.

 

Ren’s last hope is to appeal to the god of storms and seas, who can turn the tides to send Ivy’s ship away from Japan’s shores. But he’ll only help Ren if she finds a sword lost thousands of years ago—an impossible demand.

 

Together with the moon god Tsukuyomi, Ren ventures across the country in a race against time. As her journey thrusts her in the middle of scheming gods and dangerous Yokai demons, Ren will have to learn who she can truly trust—and the fate of Japan hangs in the balance.


Sneak Peek Excerpt:

Deep down below the land of the living, in a place where light could not reach, I lived in a castle of shadows.

It sat on a high platform of stone, its towers spiraling into Yomi’s endless sky with rooftops sloped like claws and edges that blurred away in the night, as if a black fog had wrapped its arms around the castle and choked its breath away. Most people would never have the displeasure of seeing the mon­strosity of my home in the total darkness of Yomi, but Shini­gami, like me, could sense it clearly.

I knelt in an empty courtyard marked by smooth tiles just beyond the lotus lake, every breath echoing forever into the darkness. At times, the night was so still and vacant that I felt like it was listening to me, waiting for me, and if I only said the right words, the whole world would unfold and light would break in from above.

 

One of my shadow guards hovered beside me, his shape ebbing and flowing, pulsing like a heart as he waited for my instructions. My guards were people of the shadows—inhuman creatures born from the lost dreams of the dead, spirits with no body to call home, formless and ephemeral. My palace was filled with too many of them and an absurd num­ber of handmaids—women bound forever to the palace from deals they’d made with Izanami. Most of them had bargained for more time with the living, either for themselves or their families. I didn’t know if their quiet subservience was out of fear, or if Izanami had bound them with some sort of curse.

“Have Chiyo send someone to clean the courtyard,” I said, glancing at the muddy marks I’d left on the stones. The mess didn’t bother me, but it would surely bother Chiyo, and I wanted the guard to leave me alone.

“Yes, Your Highness,” the guard said, evaporating into the darkness.

Before going inside, I turned to the west wing of the court­yard, where the darkness grew thick like treacle, clinging to my sandals as I walked. After a few steps, I could no longer see my hands in front of me, even with my Shinigami vi­sion. The world was nothing but my own slow heartbeat and the cold sweat on my skin, the weight of a thousand worlds crushing down on my shoulders as the darkness grew heavier and heavier.

I fell to my knees at the border of deep darkness and reached a hand out in front of me. My palm pressed into a cold wall, unyielding but invisible. Beyond it, the darkness was so dense that it seemed like the world had simply ceased to exist.

 

I pressed harder against the wall, feeling my bones creak and joints protest. Even before I’d become a goddess, I’d been strong enough to crush bricks to dust and bend steel like dough. As a goddess, my anger could make mountains tremble and my touch could shatter diamonds. Yet the wall that barred me from the deep darkness would not yield. It had grown weaker over the years—I could hear the tinkle of hairline cracks forming on the other side—but still, it re­mained standing.

At first, I would sit outside for hours pushing against the wall until my fingers broke and my wrists snapped, but now I knew that if I wasn’t strong enough, no amount of time spent pushing would change that. Only more souls in my stom­ach could weaken the barrier. So instead of trying anymore, I fell forward onto my hands and glared across the darkness, whispering a secret prayer and hoping that somewhere in that dark infinity, Neven could hear me.

When humans grew desperate, they offered me anything at all to spare them and their loved ones from suffering. But there were no gods left for me to pray to. I had become my own god, and now I knew the cruel truth: gods were just as helpless as humans when it came to things that mattered.

I rose to my feet and trudged back to the palace doors, where two more shadow guards stood at attention. They bowed as I approached, then raised the great metal bars that sealed the palace and let me inside.

Chiyo stood waiting just beyond the door, her arms crossed. Out of all the handmaids Izanami had left behind, I’d cho­sen her to attend and advise me. Despite the way Death often blurred one’s features, Chiyo’s eyes had a sharpness to them, like she was ready for a sudden attack. She was the only ser­vant who seemed like she’d retained even a piece of her soul after having her heart eaten by Shinigami. The others had va­cant stares and cowered in fear, but Chiyo always had a sour look on her face when I frequently displeased her, which I much preferred. My guess was she’d died somewhere in her thirties, though the sternness in her face made her look older.

 

“That took longer than scheduled,” Chiyo said, frowning at the trail of mud behind me. “The Goddess of Death can’t even kill efficiently?”

“I felt like making you wait,” I said, stepping through the doorway. Chiyo did little to conceal her disapproval for my extra soul collections, but she helped me because I was her goddess and I’d asked her to, and she had to trust that a god­dess knew what was best, even if we both knew that was a lie.

I lit the ceremonial candles in the hallway with a wave of my hand, casting the palace in dim light. Chiyo flinched like I’d set off fireworks, but I ignored her and trailed muddy footprints down the hallway.

One of the many changes I’d made from Izanami’s reign of total darkness was that I required at least dim light in the palace at all times. Even though my Shinigami senses could make out the furniture and wall paintings in the darkness, I’d also started to see faces that shouldn’t have been there. In the formless swirl of darkness, they came together piece by piece, hazy nightmares that dispersed whenever I blinked and then reappeared when I turned around.

Chiyo bowed and opened the door to the bathroom. She tried, as she did every day, to help me undress, but I shooed her away with a wave of my hand while other servants filled a tub with scalding hot water. I cast off my soiled human clothes and dropped them in a wet pile on the floor.

 

“Burn them,” I said to Chiyo, stepping into the tub. My clothes reeked of blood and wouldn’t have been salvageable even if I’d wanted them.

“Most deities don’t waste quite so many kimonos,” she said, gathering the dirty fabric.

“Most deities don’t do anything,” I said, scrubbing the blood from under my fingernails. “They just bask in humans’ prayers and have their underlings do their chores. But I have tasks that only I can do correctly.”

Chiyo made a noncommittal humming sound that she al­ways made when her thoughts weren’t polite enough to say to a goddess, but she didn’t deny my words. The Shinto gods all had great adventures and conquests and tragedies when the world was first beginning, but since the modern era, none of them seemed particularly active.

While I hadn’t expected any of them to welcome me with open arms, none had deigned to even speak to me. Chiyo mentioned their doings in passing—when typhoons tore through Japan, that was likely the doing of Fūjin, the god of wind. And when the population increased, that was the doing of Inari, goddess of fertility. But none of them ever drained the seas or turned the sky purple or performed any sort of godlike miracle, anything that couldn’t be explained by na­ture or luck. I imagined that they merely sat in their palaces and watched the changing winds.

“Has anything of importance happened in my absence?” I asked. Chiyo knew well that important meant any situation I had to deal with immediately or risk total chaos and peril. Anything else, she could handle on her own.

“Yomi is quiet, Your Highness,” she said. “It is Obon, so the dead are on Earth.”

Just like every year, I had forgotten about the Obon fes­tival until it was upon us, marking the waning days of sum­mer, one more year of nothing changing at all. It was now a Buddhist holiday, but I observed it even as a Shinto god­dess, for the two religions had long ago become intertwined in the lives of humans in Japan. Every year, the souls of the dead traveled back to their hometowns on Earth, summoned by fire. After three days of festivals and dancing, fire bid the spirits goodbye, and they returned to Yomi. Usually, that meant that no one bothered me for three days.

“However, there are Shinigami waiting upstairs,” Chiyo said.

“Why?” I frowned, combing my fingers through my wet hair. The water clouded with blood.

“I believe they are hoping for a transfer.”

I sighed, nodding as I scrubbed the blood from my fore­head. It was my fault for daring to hope that Obon would mean a few days of peace and quiet in Yomi. What right did I have to peace?

“I don’t suppose you could tell them to come back tomor­row?”

Chiyo’s thin smile twitched, her eyes glinting like sharp­ened knives as she turned toward the light as if considering my request. Chiyo had to be patient with me, but I knew her patience was not infinite.

“Fine,” I said, sinking deeper into the water, “but I’m not going to meet them sopping wet, so they’ll just have to wait a bit longer.”

“Of course,” Chiyo said, bowing in a way that somehow felt sarcastic, even if I couldn’t prove it. “I will take care of your clothes and have the floors cleaned,” she said, turning to leave.

 

“Chiyo.”

She stopped in the doorway. “Yes, Your Highness?”

I could not look at her face when I asked my next ques­tion because I would know the answer from her eyes alone. Instead, I stared at my reflection in the muddy water, dirty and distorted like me.

“Have the guards found anything in the deep darkness?” I asked.

Every day, right before she answered, there was a moment of breathless silence when I allowed myself to hope. Some­times I would stop time and cling to the moment just a bit longer, allowing myself to think that maybe today was the day.

“No, Your Highness,” Chiyo said. The only time her voice was gentle was when she answered this question. “Perhaps tomorrow.”

“Yes,” I said, shifting in the tub so that my reflection rip­pled and broke, “perhaps.”

She bowed again, then hurried out of the room. I glanced at my ring on the counter, then sank under the water.

I closed my eyes as a wave of fresh souls rushed over me, a warmth spinning through my blood, burning from my heart to my fingertips. I could always feel when my Shinigami brought me fresh souls. A thousand names flashed behind my closed eyes, streaks of bloodred kanji burned into my vision. The ache in my bones abated slightly, heat returning to my core. With every soul, I felt a little less like I’d been dragged through wet earth with a sick stomach full of hearts and more like someone who might be a goddess one day.

 

I stepped out of the tub and into my room, where servants were already waiting with clothing.

When I’d first taken the throne, they’d tried to dress me in twelve layers of fabric, so heavy that I could hardly stand up.

“The royal junihitoe is the proper clothing for a goddess,” Chiyo had said.

But I hadn’t felt like a goddess then, and I still didn’t now. I was just a pathetic girl whose anger had killed her brother and then her betrothed, and my prize was an eternity of lonely darkness. I didn’t deserve the throne, nor did I want it. But this was the only way to stay in Yomi and wait at the edge of the deep darkness, either until my guards brought Neven back or I finally grew strong enough to break through the wall and find him myself. So, for the time being, I would have to play the part.

“I want a simple black kimono,” I’d said to Chiyo. “I don’t want to look pretty. I want to be able to move.”

“Your Highness,” Chiyo had said, the first traces of impa­tience starting to curdle her expression, “for a goddess, black clothing looks rather mournful.”

“Yes, and?” I said, casting the last of the purple fabric to the ground and standing only in my slip. “My brother is gone, my mother is dead, and I stabbed a ceremonial knife into my fiancé’s heart. I will mourn if I want to.”

To that, Chiyo said nothing, bowing deeply to hide her expression. The next day, she’d brought me a closet full of kimonos as dark as Yomi’s endless sky, and that was what I’d worn ever since.

The servants dressed me, tying my kimono tightly behind me. Even now, it reminded me of the first time someone had helped me into a kimono with hands that glowed like moon­beams and skin that smelled like brine.

 

A servant bowed and offered me my clock, which I clipped to my clothes and tucked into my obi. Finding a new clock of pure silver and gold had been difficult in Yomi, but it turned out that Death Goddesses got almost anything they wanted. I had never found Neven’s clock that I’d dropped on the floor of the throne room all those years ago, despite having my servants turn over every mat and empty every drawer in the entire palace. I suspected Hiro had destroyed it.

Chiyo tried to tie my hair up, but I stepped away from her and brushed it myself. I’d spent too long hiding the color of my hair from Reapers to simply tie it up and hide it again for the sake of proper styling. Nothing about me was traditional or proper, so what difference did a hairstyle make? I slipped my ring necklace over my head and rose to my feet, pushing the doors to my room open before the servants could do it for me. They threw themselves to the ground in apology, but I ignored them, charging down the hallways past the murals of Japan’s history—Izanagi and Izanami stirring the sky with a spear, the birth of their first child, Hiro, and their final chil­dren, the gods of the sun, moon and storms.

At first, I’d thought someone had painted the murals so the history wouldn’t be lost. But the palace had a mind of its own—mere days after my ascension, I’d walked past a new painting. It showed an angry girl cast in shadows, holding a candle in one hand and a clock in the other, standing at an outdoor shrine that dripped with blood, the body of a man at her feet.

I’d ordered the servants to paint over it and watched un­blinking until it was done, but the next day, the picture ap­peared again. It seemed no matter what I did, I couldn’t erase it. I no longer visited that wing of the palace.

 

The guards at the entrance to the throne room bowed and opened the doors as I strode past them.

Inside, two Shinigami knelt on cushions on the floor, one man and one woman. They wore crimson red robes em­broidered with gold dragons that captured the pale candle­light. How unfair it was that they could wear the uniform of Shinigami when I never had the chance, their lives so simple and whole.

I stepped up onto the platform and sat on my throne. The ceremonial candles lit the platform around me like a stage, Izanami’s katana mounted on the wall above me.

This was the room where I’d first met Izanami, back when I’d truly believed that she could help me. Once, the distance between the sliding doors and the great platform of Izanami’s throne had felt like a thousand miles, the pale reed mats an endless desert that pulled nervous sweat from my palms as I crawled across them. Now it was just a room of echoes and darkness, a chair that was expensive and uncomfortable, and a murder weapon mounted above my head because I didn’t know where else to put it. What had made the room magnifi­cent was the fear that Izanami inspired, and now she was gone.

I sat down on the throne and crossed my arms as they bowed to me, then closed my eyes. The names of the Shini­gami appeared in the darkness of my mind.

“Yoshitsune and Kanako of Naoshima,” I said, opening my eyes. “Speak.”

“Your Highness,” the man, Yoshitsune, said, “we’ve come to ask for your permission to transfer to Tottori.”

 

I sighed. What a waste of time. This had hardly been worth getting dressed for.

“No,” I said. “Was that all?”

“But…” Kanako frowned, rising up from her reverent bow, “why not?”

“‘Your Highness,’” I reminded her, scowling. In truth, I hated the title, but letting them speak informally to me was a quick path to being called Ren and then Reaper.

“Why not, Your Highness?” Kanako said, though the title sounded more like an insult than any sign of respect.

“You know why,” I said. “Do not waste my time with this.”

“Her father lives in Tottori, and he’s growing old,” Yoshit­sune said, frowning as if I was singularly responsible for this. How quickly they had gone from pressing their noses to the floor to glaring at me. This was how it always went—they were willing to pretend I was their goddess until I didn’t give them what they wanted.

Most Shinigami didn’t even keep in touch with their par­ents enough to justify such a request. Just like Reapers, Shin­igami families were only useful for alliances and protection. Once children married, there was no practical need for them to see their parents anymore. One of the many reasons my fa­ther had renounced me was probably that he’d never expected me to marry, so he wouldn’t have had a convenient excuse to disappear from my life. I doubted that the Shinigami before me truly wanted to relocate for noble reasons.

“I don’t need more Shinigami in Tottori,” I said. “The pop­ulation there is hardly growing. You may transfer to Tokyo or Osaka, but Tottori is already bursting with Shinigami who are bored to death. My answer is no.”

 

“Izanami allowed us to stay with our families,” Yoshitsune said, glaring at me through the darkness.

Lies, a voice whispered, the words scratching down my ear like my head was full of spiders. I had figured as much, but comparing myself to Izanami rarely ended well. As much as I wanted to grant their wish and shut them up, the only thing worse than angry Shinigami was uncollected souls floating in the ether because there weren’t enough Shinigami to reap them. Then, instead of thinking me heartless, the other Shini­gami would think me incompetent, which was much worse.

They had no innate respect for me, a foreign girl who had abruptly replaced the creator of their world. Reapers had impeccable hearing, so I knew all the things they whispered about me before I summoned them to my meetings—that I had seduced Hiro just to steal his throne, that I had taken Japan as an English colony to enslave, that I had no right to sit on Izanami’s throne and give orders. I couldn’t bring my­self to disagree with the last one.

So, if they wouldn’t respect me, they had to fear me.

My shadows reached out and wrapped around their arms and legs, tearing the couple to opposite sides of the room. They screamed as the shadows pinned them to the walls, long tendrils of darkness crawling around their throats, lifting up their eyelids to examine the soft flesh below, tickling up their noses to peer at their brains.

Tears pooled in Yoshitsune’s eyes as the shadows dived down his throat, but Kanako bit down on the dark coils be­fore they could choke her, spitting inky blackness back at me.

“Which one of you would like to die first?” I said in Death. The language was useful for intimidation, for even if my words were inelegant, Death curled them into a sinister lilt that made the Shinigami break out in goose bumps.

 

“You can’t kill us and you know it!” Kanako said. “The population is growing too quickly and you need all the Shin­igami you can get.”

Unfortunately, she was right. Though the death of any Shinigami would result in the birth of another, I couldn’t ex­actly wait the hundred years it would take for them to grow up and complete their training. More Shinigami were already being born to meet the needs of the growing population, but all of them were still too young to reap.

“There are things worse than Death,” I said. This, I knew all too well.

I snapped both of their legs and dropped them to the floor.

They groaned as they fell limp against the mats, my shad­ows retreating back to me. They would heal in a few hours.

“Chiyo,” I said.

The door slid open instantly, as if she’d been waiting with an ear pressed against it. Her eyes were wide and alarmed, and for a moment I hesitated—she was used to my outbursts when dealing with Shinigami, so surely a few broken shins wouldn’t have unsettled her. Something else must have hap­pened.

But whatever it was, she could find a way to resolve it her­self. I didn’t have the patience for another catastrophe right now.

“Have them taken outside,” I said. “They can crawl home.”

“Yes, Your Highness,” Chiyo said. “If I may—”

I strode past the Shinigami, but one of them grabbed my ankle, stopping me in my tracks. I turned to Kanako, her face twisted in pain but her grip iron strong around my leg.

 

“Have you no respect?” I said, my jaw tense. “I could have killed you. I can spare one Shinigami, I promise you that.”

Kanako shook her head, nails biting into my skin.

“I don’t worship foreign gods,” she said.

I sighed, then yanked my ankle away and stomped firmly on her hand. It crackled with a sound like stale bread.

“Take them out now,” I said to Chiyo, storming past her.

Foreign gods, I thought, stomping toward my study. That was always the problem. Years ago, I’d given up fighting the word foreigner, knowing it was futile. Gods weren’t supposed to care what lower beings thought of them. All my power was supposed to extinguish that sort of weak, mortal doubt. Be­cause if it didn’t, then why had I sacrificed everything for it?

Somehow, despite all my power, I was still trapped. It didn’t matter if foreigner stung less now than it had ten years ago, because the result was the same—no one respected me. No amount of introspection or confidence could change the fact that I had no say in who I was. Even as the most powerful being in all of Yomi, I felt like none of it truly belonged to me—my palace was a dollhouse, my riches trinkets, and all of it was a sham, because someone like me was not allowed to be a goddess.

“Your Highness!” Chiyo called, hurrying behind me.

“I’m going to my study,” I said.

“But Your Highness, there’s someone here in the lobby—”

“I don’t care if Izanami herself has risen from the grave and come over for tea. I am not seeing any other guests today.”

Chiyo clamped her mouth shut, but at the mention of Izanami, her eyes went wide.

“Chiyo,” I said, slowing to a stop. “Is Izanami—”

“No, no, Your Highness,” Chiyo said, shaking her head. “But there is someone I think you’ll want to speak to.”

I sighed, my jaw locked with annoyance. “Who is it?”

Chiyo looked at her feet. “He didn’t exactly say, but his face…”

She trailed off, but it was enough to make me hesitate. Chiyo knew better than to waste my time, so if she was stop­ping me for this visitor, he must have been of some impor­tance.

I turned back down the hallway and headed toward the main entrance, Chiyo following close behind. I entered the main lobby, bristling past the shadow guards into the golden entranceway, its ceiling painted with a thousand flowers and its walls mapped with more of the castle’s murals cast in a backdrop of gold.

A man stood by the door, arms crossed as he examined the painted walls. He wore a kimono in ethereal white that glowed so brightly it seemed to emanate a pale mist of light. He turned around, as beautiful and terrifying as an endless sea, skin of moonbeams and eyes of exquisite coal. Someone I never thought I’d see again.

“Hiro?”

Excerpted from The Empress of Time by Kylie Lee Baker, Copyright © 2022 by Kylie Lee Baker. Published by Inkyard Press.

 BUY LINKS:

Bookshop.org: https://bookshop.org/books/the-empress-of-time/9781335915856

IndieBound: https://www.indiebound.org/book/9781335915856

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-empress-of-time-kylie-lee-baker/1140845005?ean=9781335915856



ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Kylie Lee Baker is the author of The Keeper of Night. She grew up in Boston and has since lived in Atlanta, Salamanca, and Seoul. Her writing is informed by her heritage (Japanese, Chinese, and Irish), as well as her experiences living abroad as both a student and teacher. She has a B.A. in Creative Writing and Spanish from Emory University and is currently pursuing a Master of Library and Information Science degree at Simmons University. In her free time, she watches horror movies, plays the cello, and bakes too many cookies.

 

SOCIAL LINKS:

Author website: https://www.kylieleebaker.com/

Twitter: @KylieYamashiro

Instagram: @kylieleebaker


Saturday, October 1, 2022

Release Blitz: The Proposal Laughbox by Julia Kent

 


OUT NOW—The Proposal Laughbox (Laughbox Boxed Sets, Book 2) by Julia Kent (@jkentauthor)


Release date: September 13, 2022

Genre: Romantic Comedy, Contemporary Romance

Cover Designer:  Angela Jenks

Retailer Description:

 The Proposal Laughbox contains THREE full-length novels and TWO novellas - ONE ALL NEW! - from New York Times bestselling romantic comedy author Julia Kent’s series.

 

Who doesn’t love a funny, heartwarming proposal? Diamond engagement rings, flowers, candy, romantic dinners — it’s all in here in rom com style.

 

Julia Kent’s madcap style, that is.

 

Future brides swallow engagement rings, paparazzi crash tender moments when billionaires pop the question, mistaken identity causes mayhem, small-town lumberjacks ask their girfriends for their hands in marriage, and rock stars make grand gestures on New Year’s Eve.

 

Laugh, swoon, blush and let your imagination heat up as you read across varying series, different heat levels, but all connected by love.

 

This boxed set includes: 

Shopping for a Billionaire’s Fiancee

Random Acts of New Year

Shopping for a CEO’s Fiancee (A USA Today bestseller)

Random Acts of Yes 

and an ALL NEW novella, Love You Fiancee, featuring Kell and Rachel from Love You Right, as Kell pops the question during the I Will Always Love You festival in his hometown of “Love You,” Maine - where every day is Valentine’s Day.

 

Sink into five fun books that leave you with all the feels, loads of laughs, and strange looks from people around you as you read, giggle, and fall in love.

 

Note: each of these books can be read as a standalone, but they are part of larger series. All of my Laughbox boxed sets are designed to give readers a taste of my books, centered on a specific concept (in this case, proposals and engagements). Full disclosure for readers.

 

 Buy Links: 

 

Amazon US:  https://www.amazon.com/Proposal-Laughbox-Boxed-Sets-Book-ebook/dp/B0B4MSM9XM/

 

Amazon UK:  https://www.amazon.co.uk/Proposal-Laughbox-Boxed-Sets-Book-ebook/dp/B0B4MSM9XM/

 

Amazon AU:  https://www.amazon.com.au/Proposal-Laughbox-Boxed-Sets-Book-ebook/dp/B0B4MSM9XM/

 

Amazon CA:  https://www.amazon.ca/Proposal-Laughbox-Boxed-Sets-Book-ebook/dp/B0B4MSM9XM/

 

Apple Books:  https://books.apple.com/us/book/the-proposal-laughbox/id6443007900

 

Kobo:  https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/the-proposal-laughbox

 

Nook:  https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-proposal-laughbox-julia-kent/1141675800?ean=2940185730058

 

Website:  https://jkentauthor.com/books/book-bundles/

 

BookBub:  https://www.bookbub.com/books/the-proposal-laughbox-laughbox-boxed-sets-book-2-by-julia-kent

 

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/61371661-the-proposal-laughbox

 Teaser Excerpt #1 – from Love You Fiancee

 

His lemur was limp.

And it was all his fault.

His and his alone.

That’s what Kell got for ordering a lemur costume online instead of finding a store and trying one on, or having one made to order. Two-day shipping was the biggest selling point, and though he’d bought the most expensive option, there hadn’t exactly been a plethora of choices.

Of all the bungles: He’d planned his marriage proposal down to the last detail, but forgot about the lemur costume until it was almost too late.

Leo the Limp Lemur would have to do.



 

Author Bio:

 

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Julia Kent writes romantic comedy with an edge. Since 2013, she has sold more than 2 million books, with 4 New York Times bestsellers and more than 21 appearances on the USA Today bestseller list. Her books have been translated into French, German, and Italian, with more titles releasing in the future.

 

From billionaires to BBWs to new adult rock stars, Julia finds a sensual, goofy joy in every contemporary romance she writes. Unlike Shannon from Shopping for a Billionaire, she did not meet her husband after dropping her phone in a men's room toilet (and he isn't a billionaire she met in a romantic comedy).

 

She lives in New England with her husband and three children where she is the only person in the household with the gene required to change empty toilet paper rolls.

 

She loves to hear from her readers by email at julia@jkentauthor.com, on Twitter @jkentauthor, on Facebook at @jkentauthor, and on Instagram @jkentauthor. Visit her at http://jkentauthor.com

 

Social Media Links:

 

Website:  http://jkentauthor.com/

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/jkentauthor/

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/jkentauthor

Newsletter:  http://bit.ly/2PIBi9n

Instagram:  https://www.instagram.com/jkentauthor/

BookBub:  https://www.bookbub.com/authors/julia-kent

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3238619.Julia_Kent

Amazon Author Page:  https://www.amazon.com/Julia-Kent/e/B00A99V268/



 

Release blitz organized by Writer Marketing Services.

Friday, September 30, 2022

Book Review: Soul Taken by Patricia Briggs

 


SOUL TAKEN by Patricia Briggs

A Mercy Thompson Novel Book 13

Paranormal/Urban Fantasy

Buy Links HERE

Mercy Thompson has found herself knee deep in danger as her pack and the Tri-Cities are in the bullseye of an enemy that has a score to settle. What Mercy finds out will change not just her but also everyone around her, especially the ones she loves. 


My Rating for Soul Taken: 5 Stars and a Series Recommended Read


My Review for Soul Taken (Book 13):

For Mercy Thompson, having a vampire stalker is bad, the stalker being Wulfe, a vampire who can wield magic in some form and is one of the scariest people she has had to deal with takes it to another level of fear. But when Wulfe goes missing, people in the Tr-Cities are dying and now the threat to a fragile alliance Mercy and her mate, Adam made with the vampires and the neutrality of the place where they live is at stake. An enemy is determined to destroy the pack and Mercy herself. The question is, can Mercy figure out who took Wulfe, why and save their vampire allies before all she holds dear is gone and Mercy is left bleeding on the ground?

 

Sweet lord above, SOUL TAKEN is one heck of a ride from start to finish. I am going to try to not spill any spoilers in case you haven’t read this one yet but suffice to say, be ready to ignore everything around you as you go on t his merry go round of a story that will leave you breathless. SOUL TAKEN is a story that has been coming since the events of Silence Fallen (Book 10) and the twists and turns in this newest addition in the Mercy Thompson series has me eager to see what is going to happen in the future. In SOUL TAKEN, Mercy is resigned to Wulfe being a nuisance stalker but when he goes missing, an ancient artifact shows up and death follows, well let’s just say that Mercy is about to find herself tested in ways that even she didn’t see coming. What I love about this series is how the author keeps it fresh with each book. We got characters that are as mysterious as the day they showed up in the series and we got long reigning characters popping in with secrets ready to be told, magic abilities that seem to scare the dickens out of people and danger is all around. Mercy is Coyote’s daughter and as always chaos follows but, in this case, it is a on the fence if it’s a good thing or not, especially as Mercy finds herself with abilities not the norm for her pop up. This is a story rich in character development, world building that keeps me glued to the pages and wishing for a map to refer to in the book and a story that continues to weave around this area of the Tri-Cities like a river. For myself, I felt like I was right there alongside Mercy, Adam, and the pack as they took on this foe that threatens not just them but everyone they love and care for. Patricia Briggs delivers in SOUL TAKEN the next part of Mercy’s story and delivers such depth in her storytelling, I never looked at the clock until I could put this down in order to sleep last night.

 

SOUL TAKEN is more than heroes get to fight danger and live another day. It’s also Wulfe’s story as a we get to know more of how he became the scary vampire who can wield magic at times and is powerful in a broken sort of way. The fact that the author kept the pacing a bit slower than I expected from the beginning until halfway through before revealing specific twists, information and more in the last half of the book is like night and day here. I am not sure if that was by design or not but when that happened, it took me a bit to get back into the story as I was jarred out of it all. SOUL TAKEN delivers all the bells and whistles that is a Mercy Thompson novel but also, we get insight on some of the long-term characters we didn’t have before, as well as questions from a few past books get answered even as new questions pop up by the end of SOUL TAKEN. What I do know after finishing SOUL TAKEN was this: Get ready for Mercy to go boom on her enemies because this time, she is playing for keeps.

 

If you haven’t gotten into the Mercy Thompson series before, I highly recommend reading it from the beginning (Moon Called, book 1) and I can attest, if you love quirky characters, worldbuilding that is on par with Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files or Yasmine Galenorn’s Wild Hunt series) then this series will keep you entertained, engrossed and ready for more. Now I am eager to see what Ms. Briggs has in store for Mercy, Adam, and the gang in the future books because SOUL TAKEN just about upped the ante in danger and intrigue.

 

This is an objective review and not an endorsement

 


 


New Release Spotlight: Sapphic Seduction

 


NEW RELEASE: Sapphic Seduction Vol 2 by Lucy Felthouse (@cw1985) #lesbianerotica #erotica #lesfic #eroticromance #shortstories #anthology

 

Blurb:

If you enjoy short, steamy tales of women getting together, then check out this collection from the pen of award-winning author Lucy Felthouse.

From Sapphic fun at the seaside to showing off by the pool, clearing out an old shed to getting the hots for musicians, and even a spot of voyeurism, this book has F/F goodness in spades. There’s something for everyone, and will have you eager to turn just one more page.

Enjoy fifteen titillating tales, over 50,000 words of lesbian lusciousness.

Please note: The stories in this anthology have been previously published.

 

📚Universal link: https://books2read.com/sapphicseductionvol2

Add to Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/62080394-sapphic-seduction-vol-2

Add to BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/books/sapphic-seduction-vol-2-a-lesbian-erotica-collection-by-lucy-felthouse


 

*****

Excerpt:

Hardware

Caroline and Della walked up to the shed door, paused, and exchanged a nervous glance.

Taking a deep breath, Caroline straightened her spine and pushed back her shoulders. “Come on, Dell, we’re almost there. This is the last big job we’ve got to do. Then we can move on to the fun stuff. Like decorating and building furniture.”

“I know,” Della replied, eyeing the wooden storage space with distaste, “but it’s also the most terrifying. We haven’t got a clue what’s in there. Could be dead bodies or rotting body parts for all we know.”

Rolling her eyes, Caroline replied, “It is the most terrifying, but you might be letting your imagination run away with you a bit. I don’t think the old boy was a serial killer, somehow. He was ninety, for Christ’s sake!”

“He wasn’t always ninety. He was our age once.”

“True, but if he’d been hiding bodies or body parts in his shed for decades, someone would have noticed. The smell, for starters. And flies. Rats.”

Grimacing, Della said, “Guess we’ll soon find out.”

Caroline twisted the key in the lock, then opened the shed door with a sense of trepidation. Unlike her girlfriend, she wasn’t expecting anything sinister to be lurking in the gloom. More a whole bunch of stuff they wouldn’t have a clue what to do with. They’d bought the property—their first, after renting for years—from the family of the old boy who had recently passed away. None of the family was local, so they’d offered a hefty discount on the house to compensate Caroline and Della for cleaning it out.

It hadn’t been all bad—they’d made a tidy sum from selling some of the stuff they didn’t want; including antique and handmade furniture, collectibles, and a considerable book and DVD collection. The latter, as well as piles of old photographs, which they’d forwarded on to the family, had given them a real insight into Ted’s life and the type of person he was. Which was why Caroline wasn’t worried about finding anything nefarious in the shed. He had been a nice bloke, by all accounts, fond of his family, his friends, and his work. Carpentry had been his vocation, not just his career—hence the handmade furniture they’d sold on. So, Caroline’s common sense was telling her the scariest thing they were likely to find was spiders.

She reached inside to undo the bolts holding the other door closed. After a little wrestling, but not too much, she pulled them free. It seemed old Ted had maintained the shed right up until his declining physical health had made it impossible. It must have driven him crazy to not be able to do all the things he used to. She flung both doors wide to let the light flood in and stood back.

Gazing into the cavernous space, both girls were silent for several long moments. Then Caroline turned to Della with a grin. “Well then, should we get started?”

Wide eyed, Della looked back at her. “Where the hell do we start? What is all this stuff?”

“God knows.” Caroline squinted at the piles of chaos. “Carpentry tools, at a guess. And, er, decorating stuff, and… just stuff. Normal shed stuff, see? Nothing dead or decaying in sight. It’s just a little bit dusty and very untidy. Looks like he was a hoarder. We may as well do what we did with the rest of the house—empty everything out and sort through it as we go. Figure out what we want to keep—if anything—what needs throwing away, and what we might be able to sell.”

“Not sure we’ll get much interest in ‘thingymajigs’ on eBay.” She pointed at a metal contraption with a circular blade. “I mean, what the fuck is that thing?”

Caroline stuck her tongue out at Della and stepped into the shed. “Don’t be so defeatist. Come on! The sooner we start, the sooner we’ll finish.”

Reluctantly, Della joined her girlfriend. “Okay, let’s get going.”

An hour and a half later, they stopped for a tea break. “Fucking hell,” Caroline said, blowing on the surface of her tea, then taking a sip as she surveyed the three piles—keep, sell, dump—they’d created. “There seems to be a ton of stuff out here, and yet looking in there,” she jerked her head towards the shed, “it looks as though we’ve barely scratched the surface.”

“It’s like the fucking TARDIS in there, isn’t it?” Della replied, shoving at a plastic paint tray with the toe of her shoe.

“Hmm…” Caroline regarded the insanity, then gave a wry smile. “But it’ll be worth it in the end, though. The shed itself seems sturdy enough, so we’ll have plenty of storage space for any tools we keep, plus any gardening paraphernalia we buy…” She tailed off, letting her words sink in. Given they’d only ever rented flats, gardening hadn’t been high on the agenda, and Della had often lamented the lack of having a green space of their own.

Narrowing her eyes, Della took a couple of gulps of her drink. “Yeah… I suppose you’re right. We’ll need a lawnmower, and a strimmer, a spade, a hoe—”

“We’ve already got a ‘ho’,” Caroline quipped, wiggling her eyebrows theatrically and pointing at Della.

“Hey,” Della exclaimed, punching Caroline playfully on the arm. “Bitch. That’s not very nice.”

Chuckling, Caroline shrugged. “What can I say? I’m not very nice.”

“True.”

Smirking at each other over the rims of their mugs, the pair finished their drinks in silence.

“Done?” Della asked, holding out her hand. “I’ll stick these in the kitchen.”

Caroline passed her empty mug to Della. “Thanks. Right, I’m going back in…”

Picking her way across the clear part of the floor, Caroline looked around, wondering what she should tackle next. Just then, she spotted a wooden stool with a coil of rope sitting on top of it.

All thoughts of clearing out the shed flew from her mind as a grin crept onto her face. She had a much better idea.

*****

Author Bio:

Lucy Felthouse is the award-winning author of erotic romance novels Stately Pleasures (named in the top 5 of Cliterati.co.uk’s 100 Modern Erotic Classics That You’ve Never Heard Of), Eyes Wide Open (winner of the Love Romances Café’s Best Ménage Book 2015 award), The Persecution of the Wolves, Hiding in Plain Sight, and The Heiress’s Harem and The Dreadnoughts series. Including novels, short stories and novellas, she has over 170 publications to her name. Find out more about her and her writing at http://lucyfelthouse.co.uk/linktree  

 

Release blitz organised by Writer Marketing Services.

 



Thursday, September 29, 2022

Release Blitz/Giveaway: Forever Askole by Gail Kroger



This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Gail Koger will be awarding a $25 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

My name is Ella McAllister, I’m a psychic witch and a healer. My life is kinda nuts. Not only do I have the Coletti hunters chasing me, but now I also have a very determined Askole High Commander after me. Why? I shot his ship down and it crash landed, and it blew up. Yep, itty-bitty pieces everywhere. My bad, but his ship was a dead ringer for a Rodan Marauder, and it was my civic duty to blow the enemy spacecraft out of the sky. Wasn’t it? Any hoo, I healed his owies and boogied.

I thought that was the end of it, but oh no. For some unknown reason, Sariel, the Askole High Commander, decided I would make him the perfect mate. As if. I think the blow to his head made him completely bonkers.

Sariel informed me the mating dance had begun and there was nothing I could do to stop it. The idiot had obviously never dealt with a witch before. I didn’t have the time to play games with him, so I did a little abracadabra alakazam and ran.

Sigh. The persistent Askole found me. Now I have a decision to make. Keep running or surrender to the High Commander. He is a damn good kisser.

Would the mating dance bring two lonely souls together? Who knew?


Read an Excerpt:

The pilot let out a furious roar.

Huh? He had been playing possum. “Relax, you aren’t paralyzed. I just restrained you,” I explained in Galactic Basic.

The pilot growled menacingly.

I patted his chest. “Very intimidating. Add in that horned helmet of yours, and I bet you scare the crap out of most folks. Once I heal you, you can go back to terrorizing the galaxy.” I stared at his armor. “But first I need to figure out how to get your armor off.”

The word belt formed in my mind.

I blinked in surprise. He was cooperating. “Thanks.” Sure enough there was a red crystal in the center of his belt. I pushed it.

Snikt. Schlik. Schlik. Schlik. Schlik. Schlik. Within seconds his armor retracted, revealing something out of a horror movie. Holy shit! I shivered as goosebumps erupted over my body and for a moment, I was tempted to run for my life. The only Askole warriors I had seen were on the news vids and they always wore their armor. Now I knew why. Tentacles squirmed about his snakelike features. His yellow eyes were clouded with pain. Instead of skin, he had black armor-plated scales. Whoa! Big Bad’s torso was sculpted perfection. Thick muscles corded his arms and legs. Who knew black scales could be so appealing and even sexy? My eyes bugged. Oh my God! He had the biggest penis I had ever seen. Their women must have gigantic vaginas.

About the Author:
I was a 9-1-1 dispatcher for the Glendale Police Department and to keep from going totally bonkers – I mean people have no idea what a real emergency is. Take this for example: I answered, “9-1-1 emergency, what’s your emergency?” And this hysterical woman yelled, “My bird is in a tree.” Sometimes I really couldn’t help myself, so I said, “Birds have a tendency to do that, ma’am.” The woman screeched, “No! You don’t understand. My pet parakeet is in the tree. I’ve just got to get him down.” Like I said, not a clue. “I’m sorry ma’am but we don’t get birds out of trees.” The woman then cried, “But… What about my husband? He’s up there, too.” See what I had to deal with? To keep from hitting myself repeatedly in the head with my phone I took up writing.

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Book Spotlight/Giveaway: The Wild Rose and the Sea Raven

 




Check out the newest book by author Jennifer IvyWalker in The Wild Rose and the Sea Raven. Make sure to check out the tour wide giveaway as the author is awarding a $25 Amazon or BN GC to one lucky pereson. The tour is sponsored by Goddess Fish Promotions and you can find all the tour stops HERE.


The Wild Rose and the Sea Raven

by Jennifer Ivy Walker


GENRE: Paranormal fantasy medieval romance

 

BLURB:

 

In this dark fairy tale adaptation of a medieval French legend, Issylte must flee the wicked queen, finding shelter with a fairy witch who teaches her the verdant magic of the forest. Fate leads her to the otherworldly realm of the Lady of the Lake and the Elves of Avalon, where she must choose between her life as a healer or fight to save her ravaged kingdom. Tristan of Lyonesse is a Knight of the Round Table who must overcome the horrors of his past and defend his king or lose everything. When he becomes a warrior of the Tribe of Dana, a gift of Druidic magic might hold the key he seeks. Haunted and hunted. Entwined by fate. Can their passion and power prevail?

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

Excerpt Three:

 

“Every tree, plant, flower and herb has an essence. A spirit. A life force.” She gestured to the verdant forest all around.

 

Issylte raised her eyes to the lush canopy of trees overhead, the blue sky peeking through the fluffy clouds. She inhaled deeply, the green notes of pine mingling with the rich scent of earth and the tangy fragrance of blossoms in the early summer breeze.

 

“The essence of the forest can be beneficial. Benevolent. Essential for healing.” She picked up a sprig of red clover and handed it to Issylte with a knowing smile. “Yet others are harmful and deadly.” Maiwenn gestured to the alluring deep purple flowers before them.

 

Issylte’s breath caught in wonder. She sensed an aura. A tingle in her veins.

 

Maiwenn’s chestnut eyes bore deeply into hers. “Have you ever felt the thrum of the forest in your veins?”

 

Issylte nodded, her eyes wide with discovery and delight. She held Maiwenn’s gaze, nearly breathless with anticipation.

 

“That, Églantine, is power.” Maiwenn’s eyes were deep brown, like the nourishing earth of the Hazelwood Forest.

 

“You, my dear princess, are a forest fairy. Like me.”

 

With a quick intake of breath, Issylte placed her hands over her mouth in wonder.

 

“The Goddess has blessed us both with a divine gift. The ability to sense the essence of a plant. To wield its power. The warm, soothing aura of a beneficial herb. The icy sting of a poison.”

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~


a Rafflecopter giveaway


AUTHOR Bio and Links:

 


Enthralled with legends of medieval knights and ladies, dark fairy tales and fantasies about Druids, wizards and magic, Jennifer Ivy Walker always dreamed of becoming a writer. She fell in love with French in junior high school, continuing her study of the language throughout college, eventually becoming a high school teacher and college professor of French.

 

As a high school teacher, she took her students every year to the annual French competition, where they performed a play she had written, "Yseult la Belle et Tristan la Bête"--an imaginative blend of the medieval French legend of "Tristan et Yseult" and the fairy tale "Beauty and the Beast", enhanced with fantasy elements of a Celtic fairy and a wicked witch.

 

Her debut novel, "The Wild Rose and the Sea Raven"--the first of a trilogy-- is a blend of her love for medieval legends, the romantic French language, and paranormal fantasy. It is a retelling of the medieval French romance of "Tristan et Yseult", interwoven with Arthurian myth, dark fairy tales from the enchanted Forest of Brocéliande, and otherworldy elements such as Avalonian Elves, Druids, forest fairies and magic.

 

Explore her realm of Medieval French Fantasy. She hopes her novels will enchant you.

 

Website:  https://jenniferivywalker.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JenniferIvyWalker

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/bohemienneivy

Instagram:  https://www.instagram.com/jenniferivywalkerauthor/

Amazon link:  https://www.amazon.com/~/e/B0B91R2MJZ

Barnes and Noble:  https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-wild-rose-and-the-sea-raven-jennifer-ivy-walker/1141977954

 


New Release Spotlight: The Empress of Time by Kylie Lee Baker

  Check out the newest Inkyard Press sequel release in Kylie Lee Baker's Keeper of the Night Duology, The Empress of Time (Book 2). The ...