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Embracing the Darkness

Jasce’s sister is missing, and the very people who can help most do not see her return as a priority. The kingdom has seemingly more important things with which to contend, and Jasce is expected to do his part, forcing him to make a choice between family and the Kingdom. Jasce, as it turns out, possesses a power highly desired by those who know him. As infamous as he is, however, he is unable to overturn the command he has been given to stand down and stop his frantic search for his sister, Jaida.

Embracing the Darkness, by Cassie Sanchez, is a rousing fantasy tale centered around siblings Jasce and Jaida, both of whom possess powers that set them apart in more ways than one. Jaida is considered a fugitive, and Jasce’s number one concern, despite the orders he has been assigned by the Queen, is finding his sister and gaining her forgiveness. Jasce’s inner turmoil and fiery temper make him a standout character in Sanchez’s beautifully detailed novel.

The author provides great backstories in the book’s introduction. Readers are given a full breakdown of the trauma and abuse that dominated the siblings’ childhoods. The gripping introduction and the interactions with their loving and fiercely protective mother set the stage for the intensity of emotion later in their lives when Jasce becomes the one with his sights set on mending fences and recovering his sister.

Cassie Sanchez is a master at balancing a complicated and multi-faceted plot with detailed imagery and incredible visuals for readers. Jasce and Jaida’s story is fast-paced, and the variety of settings and relatable dialogue all combine to make Sanchez’s story a must-read in the fantasy series.

When an author manages to make a plot come full-circle, I am always impressed and satisfied as a reader. I absolutely loved the idea that the stories Jasce’s mother told him as a child came to light in adulthood and served him as he fights to obey the Queen and recover his sister. Sanchez pulls this technique together and gives readers a specific type of closure to their reading–a truly masterful technique.

I am giving Embracing the Darkness, by Cassie Sanchez, a solid 5 out of 5 stars. With strong main characters, tastefully done romantic scenes, and an engaging plot, Sanchez’s fantasy delivers it all from cover to cover. I highly recommend Sanchez’s novel to any fantasy fan looking for a fabulous new cast of characters to cherish.

Pages: 151 | ASIN : B0B33RFRP8

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Invisible Thread

Invisible Thread by Heather Koelle is a fantasy novel about how the lives of two families intersect. An unplanned pregnancy leads to marriage between the daughter of a wealthy doctor and a blue-collar worker. Despite disapproval from their families, Suzanna Wilkes and Weston Granger’s love for each other is strong. The years pass, and they welcome children and grandchildren to their families. However, Helen Charlesworth’s childhood is filled with difficulties, and as an adult, her marriage is not happy. So when reconnecting with her college sweetheart, will it bring her happiness or heartache? And how will the invisible thread ultimately connect these two families?

This book had an interesting structure. The first part of the book is about Suzanna and Weston’s life, and the next part of the book is about Helen’s life. Then at the end of the book, the two storylines merge. I liked seeing the contrast between the two women’s lives. Each had trials they had to overcome, and it was interesting to see how they reacted to different situations. In addition, I liked how the book showed multiple generations of the two families. The story followed Suzanna and Weston from their first meeting to marrying and starting a family, then watching their children grow into adults and begin their own lives. For Helen, the author started with her childhood, then marriage and having children, and ended with watching those children grow up, marry, and create their own families.

Invisible Thread is a captivating fantasy romance that will have readers eager to see how these two families are connected.

Pages: 286 | ASIN : B09JWSM3KS

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Bellocaro

Skye Moon has been trapped on a magical island in the Atlantic ocean called Sceadu. She was transported to the island one day against her will with no clue why or how to leave. Those that arrive on the island like this are called spellbound. They are trapped in this magical paranormal academy till the island decides they can leave.

When Skye does not return the popular boy Chad’s affections, she is shunned by most of the academy. This common scenario plays out all the time in schools with teenagers. The popular kid gets all their friends to ignore someone to get what they want. Teens will relate to many of the characters in this imaginative story.

Skye finds solace in her dreams of her dark-eyed boy, the one she calls Bellocaro. But in one such dream, Ballocaro says that he has put her in danger, and the vampire Nymir will track her down and kill her. To add to her precarious situation, the school’s headmistress has asked her to show around the new students, a family known as the Blues. Thatcher, Rane, Wes, and Alton have taken on the role of personal bodyguards to Skye whether she wants them to or not.

Author P.S. Meraux has written a new young adult vampire and werewolf story. This is not a retelling of other vampire stories, rather a fresh new take to draw in the next generation of paranormal readers. Bellocaro is an enchanting blend of a love story, action, and drama. The mystery of learning who the Blues are keeps Skye on her toes; while everyone else is mesmerized by their beauty, Skye picks up on the details that reveal their true paranormal identities.

The author has done a fantastic job building out the world of Sceadu and capturing the teenagers’ personalities that reside there. I could envision the groups all hanging out, and the characters, even non-human, teenagers are the same in this world, with their quirks and attitudes. The mystery of the brown-eyed boy with a mark on his hand will keep coming back to readers. Also, the drama of if the Blues family will capture Nymire will keep readers on edge.

Bellocaro is the first novel in the series and a fantastic start to this unpredictable storyline. With each mystery uncovered, new questions arise. Readers will be drawn into the fantasy world that seems too real at times and stay for the unforgettable paranormal characters whose personalities will keep them turning the pages to see what happens.

Pages: 467 | ASIN : B08L2M3QD2

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Under an Azure Sky

Under an Azure Sky is a fantasy novel written by Wil Chan. It is Book One in the Elysia Dayne series, of which I immediately became a fan. The main protagonist is Elysia, a tortured soul who has lived a highly traumatic life. She harnesses her hatred for dragons to become a dragon slayer, which turns out to be a less-than-ideal career choice for the young woman. However, she develops a specific skill set that allows her to pursue other thrilling adventures. Her heroic nature finds her responsible for rescuing Princess Isabella, who was kidnapped and held hostage by goblins. The two find themselves on a very tense journey back home which eventually develops into a beautiful love story.

Wil Chan is a highly talented author with an exciting writing style. His imagery and ability to create an immersive world will impress readers. He has clearly put a lot of effort into this project. He also composed the music for the book trailers, which shows that he is an all-around talented person.

The storyline has elements of fantasy, sword and sorcery, and adventure wrapped up in a complex journey Elysia must navigate. Her feelings of loss and betrayal run deep, and it is dragons, the creatures she once loved, that have caused this change. Readers see and feel what Elysia endured and will want to root for her as she starts to develop feelings for Isabella.

Chan’s worldbuilding is thorough; he gives readers detailed information allowing them to be fully engaged in the storyline. While the beginning of the book instantly hooks you in with the traumatic events that unfold, the main plot takes a slow burn approach while remaining entertaining all the way through. The LBGTQ+ representation is excellent, especially in tandem with the theme of goblin culture in this creative book.

Under an Azure Sky evokes emotion in the reader, and the quality of the author’s writing is one to praise. Fantasy readers will love the familiar elements; those looking for action and adventure will not be disappointed.

Pages: 448 | ASIN : B09MSMJ3F7

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Damned

Damned (The Circle of the Red Scorpion World Book 1) by [Charlene Johnson]

Damned is a captivating romantic fantasy novel written by Charlene Johnson. Follow along as Desiree Black, a soul-stealing demon, hunts for a pure soul before her time is up in the demon world. As she searches a new realm for a pure soul, she ends up finding something unexpected. Love. Forbidden from love, she is in disbelief that she feels love for an angel named Rayven Stone. Rayven, a warrior angel, can hardly contain his feelings for this beautiful red-headed demon. As they go from the new realm back to the present day, they explore their love, and Rayven knows he would do anything for Desiree.

Author Charlene Johnson did a fantastic job of bringing this spellbinding book to life! The beginning is full of information, which readers will find helpful to understand the setup for the intriguing plot. Readers will be drawn into this world and will be able to visualize everything from the beginning because of the authors comprehensive style of writing.

This riveting novel has romance, fantasy, and a bit of erotica. While some of the terminology used to describe the sex scenes were incredible, the mood of the book overall remains consistently alluring. This is a seductive paranormal story that sets up a captivating entanglement between two supernatural beings that is just as provocative as it is entertaining.

Damned by Charlene Johnson is a fast-paced paranormal romance novel with an exciting twist on the demon vs. angel dynamic. This stimulating supernatural love story will appeal to readers that enjoy romance, paranormal fiction, fantasy and adventure. This is a great start to what is sure to be an enthralling new series.

Pages: 284 | ASIN: B09FKLH1RK

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Vampires are Forever

Charlene Johnson
Charlene Johnson Author Interview

Awakened follows a warrior who is vampire royalty as he tries to protect a woman from evil as she tries to cope with her new reality and the connection between them. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

The books in the series follow members of the Circle of the Red Scorpion. Based on the storyline in Book 4, Returned, it made sense that Awakened was the next book in the series. I don’t want to give too much away but there has been a vampire power struggle brewing since Shattered. Though there is some resolution in Awakened, a future book in the series will end it – at least for a time. Vampires are forever so there will always be someone else who wants to take the power.

I really enjoyed the connection between Dominic and Chantelle. Was their relationship planned or did it develop organically?

I plan the relationships in the series since many of the stories are related and prior storyline planning for the series is necessary. A subplot may begin in one book but ends in another story. The same with growing attractions between two characters. I compare it to putting together a complex puzzle.

What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?

I wanted Dominic to accept who he was despite his heritage and realize it was the flaws of others that caused the issues in his life, not him. His calling as a warrior was far greater than those issues.

This is the fifth book in your Circle of the Red Scorpion Series. What can readers expect in book six?

In Book 6, Pursued, Elemental demon, Moses Thorne, is investigating a string of grisly murders in New Orleans when he meets a woman he never thought he would see again. Would he be able to trust her?

As Moses tries to solve the murders, a vengeful demon plots to kill him. He can no longer evade the world of demons he fled over a thousand years ago.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Website

Fierce warrior, deadly enforcer, and Pureblood vampire royalty, Dominic Rinaldi dedicated his immortal life in service for justice. Betrayed by the Pureblood female he loved centuries ago, he didn’t believe after all that time he’d find a woman to awaken his heart.

Until Chantelle.

He rescues Chantelle Mallory one night from a vampire he thought died a century ago. He believes she is the one he’s been waiting for. Beautiful, full of life and human, can Chantelle ever accept what he is?

As Dominic and Chantelle surrender to an attraction neither can deny, a vampire hunts for the descendants of a voodoo priestess, Dominique Malveaux, whose extraordinary blood gives a Rogue vampire the abilities of a Pureblood vampire and something more – the ability to walk in the sunlight. He plans to build a hybrid army to destroy the Sacred Order of Simiel, led by Dominic’s father, Vittorio, and become their new leader. Can Dominic, his father, and the Circle of the Red Scorpion find Dominique’s descendants first and protect them?

Faced with an old enemy and the new threat that could destroy the Pureblood vampire world, will Dominic and Chantelle have a chance at happiness?

All That is Romantic

Pamela Horter-Moore Author Interview

Pamela Horter-Moore Author Interview

LoveQuest is a dramatic retelling of an ancient Greek myth about Psyche, a mortal woman, and Eros, the god of love. Why did you want to retell this story and what were some new ideas you wanted to introduce?

I’ve always loved mythology, from the time I was first exposed to it as a child. As a student of literature, I was aware of how the ancient myths continued to influence art and culture to the present day.

There were myths in particular that caught my attention, and, in my early 30s, I was particularly drawn to that of Eros and Psyche. I never imagined a Roman setting, but the romantic, wonderful, and bucolic setting of ancient Greece.

To me, the myth of Eros and Psyche comprises all that is romantic. Each of us yearns for a partner who is the ideal of everything we’ve ever dreamed of, but somehow we don’t believe we are worthy of such love.

We deceive ourselves by letting others define us. We vacillate and let fear conquer us. The world leads us astray and we fail ourselves and those who love us.

To be human is to be like Psyche. I identified with her and all her failings, as well as with her attempts to make reparations and redeem herself.

Psyche held her gifts in low esteem, and that was her first mistake. Beauty is a gift, and those who are blessed with it are meant to shine, just as a writer must write and a dancer must dance.

Being morbidly influenced by her malignant sisters was another of Psyche’s mistakes. It should be easy to tell a friend from an enemy; people should not let their enemies define them or direct their behavior.

Eros has a coming-of-age experience; he takes a path distinct from his mother’s and follows his own destiny. As for Aphrodite, she has to decide whether she should set her child free or protect him from making a grown-up’s mistake.

At one point, Psyche has an opportunity to escape her trials and slink back home. Instead of choosing the mediocrity of a safe and easy path, she decides to follow her heart and endure and suffer for a higher objective. The difficult path is the one that gives us a chance to stretch ourselves, excel ourselves, and be better than we would otherwise be.

On an elevated level, the myth is the story of the redeeming power of love, and of the soul in search of redemption and perfection.

I felt that your characters were well developed and their personalities were distinct. What are some important traits you like your characters to have?

I want people to identify with my characters, or at least see in them what they see in others. A character cannot succeed unless he or she connects with the reader. The reader doesn’t have to like the character; it’s only important that the reader perceives the character as alive and real.

I don’t want my characters to be too good or too bad. There is risk of falling into parody if they are. My villains, if they can be called villains, are not all bad; they just behave badly.

What kind of research did you undertake to ensure you got the mythology right in LoveQuest?

The main source for my story is The Age of Fable (1855) by the American writer Thomas Bulfinch (1796 – 1867). This has been a classic and standard text for the Greek myths ever since.

Bulfinch appeals because he attempts to write the myths with all “the charm of a story book,” while adhering “to the text of the ancient authorities.” He writes “for the reader of English literature” and “to popularize mythology and extend the enjoyment of elegant literature.”

I have allowed Bulfinch to provide the framework of my story, but I have attempted to expand upon it, infuse it with other elements of magic and wonder, and, I hope, provide readers with a greater depth of understanding for the lessons the story imparts.

I have taken some liberty with Bulfinch’s story of Eros and Psyche. Gaia, the Earth Mother, is an immortal apart from the gods of Olympus. The talking animals are a tribute to C. S. Lewis and Disney, and the intervention of the South and North Winds is my own device, providing a natural way to give Eros allies outside his mother’s influence.

The mysterious Dream Lover is a mystical being born of imagination.

What is the next novel that you are working on and when will it be available?

I have been spending much of my time since the publication of LoveQuest in promoting my books (my historical novel Brief Candles was published in 1983) and sharing my short stories on my website. However, I do have many projects planned and already in development.

I am building a narrative around the diary I kept when I was fourteen, filled with the anxieties, vanities, and pain of adolescence.

Another project is a dystopia of a class-based society where the tidal wave for change is already churning under the surface of a closed and exclusive world.

An overreaching work is a history of late 15th century England during the period popularly known as the Wars of the Roses. I have been studying that period on and off for over 50 years, and friends have encouraged me to collect my research in a nonfiction book.

None of these projects is close to completion, and I know by experience that a sudden inspiration could cause me to push something totally unexpected forward.

One way or another, I will never stop writing.

Author Links: GoodReadsTwitterFacebookWebsite

LoveQuest by [Horter-Moore, Pamela Jean]LoveQuest, a romantic fantasy, is a light-hearted retelling of one of the most enduring love stories from ancient Greek mythology: the forbidden passion of Eros, the god of Love, for the mortal woman Psyche.

A god’s love for a mortal woman…

It is ancient Greece, a world of gods, superstition, and magic. The villagers dwelling under the eyes of the jealous and capricious gods on Mount Olympus seek to gain their favor and to uncover the mysteries that only the immortals can know by turning to priests, soothsayers, seers, and fortune-tellers. 

The oracle of the divine Apollo is one of the most famous of these seers. Although physically nothing more than a pool of water in a cavern, its wisdom is so renown across Greece that many journey far and wide to seek its counsel.

Among the pilgrims are the wealthy cloth merchant Pericles, his wife Leena, and their daughters Medea, Tanna, and Psyche. Although Psyche is blessed by Aphrodite, the goddess of Beauty, and is cherished by the people of her village for her loveliness, she cares little for their attention, seeking only the approval of her envious and malicious sisters. 

Medea and Tanna ridicule the oracle’s prophecy that Psyche will make a “marvelous” marriage to someone “not human,” and use it as another means to torment their sister, driving her to tears.

Offended by Psyche’s behavior and not accustomed to being taken for granted, Aphrodite retaliates by asking her son Eros, the god of Love, to punish Psyche with a life of lovelessness. 

Coming to Psyche and her sisters under a cloak of invisibility, Eros is filled with pity for Psyche but determined to carry out his mother’s wishes. Aphrodite’s plan goes amok when Eros wounds himself with his own arrow carrying out the punishment. He falls in love with the woman his mother hates.

Eros must make a decision: Will he do his mother’s bidding and resist the power of love, or will he defy her by setting his own course in pursuit of Psyche’s heart? 

And, if he develops an elaborate plan to win Psyche, whose help can he enlist? Is love with Psyche possible, and how long can he keep up his deception before his mother discovers him?

Compared with Eros, Psyche is a novice at love. Eros can’t approach her as a human suitor would approach a human woman. She too has a decision to make: Should she believe the loving words of a mysterious stranger, or should she believe her sisters?

The consequences for Eros and Psyche are dear. Aphrodite’s temper is not something to toy with. She is angry enough with Psyche, but if Psyche should do wrong to her son Eros, there might be no end to the punishment Psyche faces at the hands of the jealous goddess. 

Psyche must choose between betrayal and fidelity, just as Eros must connive to win her love and the approval of his mother. Both of them must be put to the test in order to find their heart’s desire.

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LoveQuest

LoveQuest by Pamela Jean Horter-Moore is the story of Psyche, a mortal girl blessed by the goddess Aphrodite with great beauty. She is so lovely, that she receives admirers wherever she goes. When Psyche offends Aphrodite, by seeking the approval of her envious sisters and taking her beauty for granted, Aphrodite decides to take revenge. Using her son, Eros, she attempts to punish Psyche to a loveless life. But things backfire because Eros falls in love with Psyche. Both are torn between their families and their love for one another. They must decide what is most important in life.

I am fascinated by Greek mythology with its heroes, monsters and gods, so I knew I was going to love this book before I had even started! This is an epic love story based on an original Greek myth that we know and love, but it is fleshed out with a unique narrative and a fresh take on the characters. Although it is primarily a story of romance, there are obviously fantasy aspects in there–the author excels at writing both genres and combines them expertly. Through a great feat of imagination, Horter-Moore has put a really creative and refreshing twist on what could have been a stale story.

Horter-Moore’s prose is a joy to read, it is straightforward whilst being eloquent and descriptive. It flows beautifully throughout with quite a dream-like tone which captures the milieu perfectly. The narrative is based more on internal thoughts and feelings rather than dialogue, which gives us great insight and understanding of the characters motives and desires. When there is dialogue, it is actually quite modern, for instance, “Why do we have to spend every vacation here?” whined Tanna.“That oracle never has anything interesting to say…”Although this could have felt inauthentic, I actually thought that it was a great way of making the tale more accessible and up to date. The author particularly excels at writing place, and the setting of ancient Greece is magically conjured; it is a world full of gods, superstition, soothsayers, seers and magic. The prose is extremely evocative of scenery and I felt transported to the slopes of Mount Olympus.

The characters really come alive on the page, and they are portrayed with such sensitivity- -the author isn’t afraid of illustrating their flaws and complexities. The relationship between the sisters Medea, Tanna and Psyche are particularly well portrayed, illustrating all of the complicated feelings of jealousy and yearning for approval. The love between Eros, who is the perfect mate, and Psyche, who is deeply imperfect, feels very genuine, and I felt completely invested in their relationship.

Although this is a story of Gods and mortals living in a time unlike our own, the narrative reminds us that ultimately any human heart can suffer and love in universal ways. This is a great read for any lover of myth, fantasy or romance, and I look forward to more from this author!

Pages: 186 | ASIN: B06XTX3TFH

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