Thursday, November 16, 2017

A Family for Christmas: a Romance Novel with a Giveaway!

On Tour with Prism Book Tours

Book Tour Grand Finale for
A Family for Christmas
By Tara Taylor Quinn

We hope you enjoyed the tour! If you missed any of the stops
you can see snippets, as well as the link to each full post, below:

Launch - Note from the Author

Welcome to a very very special story in my Where Secrets Are Safe series. If you’ve never been to The Lemonade Stand – please, come in. Visitors to the Stand are transitory so you’ll fit right in with the rest of the current batch of residents, who are also new here. If you’ve been here before, buckle your seat belts because you’re in for a double treat...

Becky on Books - Review

"Oh my goodness, this book…

A Family for Christmas brings together so many threads, both in this series on the whole and this book in particular. There are two main romantic relationships–Cara with Simon and Lila (finally!) with Edward–and two families coming together for Christmas, families that include parents, children, and grandchildren that have been apart for far too long. . .

Once again the romances here are very slow moving, because the characters have so much more to deal with than just finding their ways to romantic HEAs and there aren’t easy fixes for what they have to do–but that just means that when they do get there everything will be that much sweeter."

Harlequin Junkie - Exclusive Interview & Giveaway

Please tell us a little about the characters in your book. As you wrote your protagonist was there anything about them that surprised you?

This story has two heroines and two heroes and that kind of surprised me. I knew the older couple, have known the older heroine for all 16 books in this series, and she surprised me most of all. I’ve always known she had issues, but I didn’t understand them until this book. She showed them to me and made me cry.

The younger heroine – she took me on a journey I did not intend to take, with a topic I had no intention of exploring. But there you go…welcome to my world.


"A healing opportunity! If you read the previous book in this series (For Joy’s Sake), you will quickly pick up on the fact that this is a direct continuation of the on-going plot of that story. . . . None-the-less, I was happy read the completion of this mystery, and I enjoyed Simon & Cara’s relationship a lot!"

Wishful Endings - Review

"A FAMILY FOR CHRISTMAS is a moving story about characters who are trying to rise above their fears and abuse to find love and fulfillment in their lives. Heartbreaking and raw in places, sweet and intimate in others, it is a story that will draw on the reader's heart and drive them to hope for a happily-ever-after ending. Highly recommended to those who like their characters to rise victorious over their struggles—to find that happiness can be for everyone, even those with deep scars."


"I really enjoyed this book. It pulled me in from start to finish. I laughed at times, I found I had tears in my eyes at times. I found myself being pulled into these characters lifes and cheering them on. I will definitely be going back and reading other books from this series."


"A family for Christmas is the thirteenth book in the Where Secrets Are Safe series by Tara Taylor Quinn. . . . Cara and Simon needed more focus on them and not what was happening with Cara's daughter. Overall I enjoyed the read."


"When I read the synopsis of this book, I knew I had to read it. . . . This book provides the true meaning of blood being thicker than water – no matter what, your family will be there for you. An enticing story to be read in front of the fireplace with a cozy blanket."

Harlie's Books - Review

"The reason why this book is pure perfection is the way Ms. Quinn wrapped up all the loose threads that we didn’t know where there. . .

Again, I’m so very sad if this is the last book in the series. I’ve come to love The Lemonade Stand and everything that it stands for. Ms. Quinn has written that rare series that is relevant, relatable, emotional, swoon-worthy, at times raw but in the end of so satisfying."

Don't forget to contribute to a local shelter near you and enter the giveaways
below, if you haven't already. They'll be running until the end of November...


A Family for Christmas
(Where Secrets Are Safe #13)

by Tara Taylor Quinn
Adult Contemporary Romance
Mass Market Paperback & ebook, 384 pages
November 1st 2017 by Harlequin Superromance

A second chance for Joy

While recovering at a remote cabin, Dr. Simon Walsh stumbles across Cara Amos. Injured and left for dead, Cara is harboring dark secrets. Yet Simon can't help falling for his mysterious patient. As her memory returns and her injuries fade under his gentle care, he vows to help her find her missing daughter.

At The Lemonade Stand shelter, managing director Lila McDaniels is helping Cara's estranged father, Edward Mantle, bond with his traumatized granddaughter, Joy. And his feelings extend well beyond gratitude.

Bringing this family together seems impossible… Luckily, Christmas is the season of miracles.


Other Books in the Where Secrets Are Safe Series
(Books released as of August 2017. Each can be read as a standalone.)


About the Author


The author of more than 70 original novels, in twenty languages, Tara Taylor Quinn is a USA Today bestseller with over six million copies sold. A 2015 RITA finalist Tara appears frequently on bestseller lists, including #1 placement on Amazon lists, and multiple showings on the Publisher’s Weekly Bestseller list. She has appeared on national and local TV across the country, including CBS Sunday Morning.

Tara is a supporter of the National Domestic Violence Hotline. If you or someone you know might be a victim of domestic violence in the United States, please contact 1-800-799-7233.

Domestic Violence Shelter Drive


As Tara supports speaking out against domestic violence and supporting those who have been abused, both through her books and in her community, she would love for you to join her in donating items to a shelter in your area. Find out more here.

Tour Giveaways


1ST RAFFLECOPTER:
1 winner will receive ebooks of Where Secrets are Safe series books 1 - 13 (open internationally)
1 winner (per the four tour segments) will receive a $10 Amazon eGift Card (open internationally)

2ND RAFFLECOPTER:
1 winner will receive 25,000 Harelquin My Rewards Points, equivalent to 5 books (US and CAN only)
1 winner will receive 5,000 Harelquin My Rewards Points, equivalent to 1 book (US and CAN only)

Both Rafflecopter giveaways end November 30th, 2017

Monday, November 13, 2017

Realm Explorers Part XCXVI: Visit Herridon with Blake Bisciotti

Welcome to Realm Explorers!  In this weekly series, we visit a variety of unique worlds created by talented science fiction and fantasy authors.  Enjoy your travels!  And don't forget to read to the bottom of the post to find out more about each author and see how to purchase the featured book. 
Author’s name: Blake Bisciotti

Title of book and/or series: Kingdom Come – (Price of Power, Book 1)

Brief summary of the story: When an unlikely mix of races joins together to create a thriving civilization, the nations of southern Herridon find that the peace they had known for over a hundred years is suddenly in jeopardy. For some, the thralls of war might create opportunity, but for others it could lead to a precipitous fall from power. The winds of change are passing through the lands giving way to heroic acts of valor and honor, but also to plots of deceit and destruction.

The three cities by the South Sea are in the middle of the fray, which leads a bold Captain, Victus Antonel, to take matters into his own hands. He raises an army with the intentions of eradicating the threat posed by the upstart nation. With the help of an unscrupulous ally, the Captain and the cities are immersed into the chaos of war and the enemy may not be quite what, or who, it had seemed to be.

Life for all who reside in southern Herridon will be forever changed; however whether it will be for better or for worse hangs in the balance.

Brief description of the world or location you created for this story: Herridon lies on a large continent surrounded by small islands in some places.  The terrain varies depending on location.  There are mountain ranges, forests, plains, hills, swamps, and small deserts.  There are long plains that stretch across the southern central region of Herridon like a belt on the land.  Kingdom Come takes place below the plains.

If we were to visit Herridon as tourists, what would you recommend that we see or do there? North of the vast plains you would find the expansive Sadic empire which is a civilization of developed cities and societies; however the story of Kingdom Come takes place south of the plains.  Here you would want to visit the three cities by the South Sea.  Each has an illustrious harbor and commercial zone, which include pubs and markets.  North of the cities, you could always visit the home of the industrious dwarves burrowed in the large mountain range called the Singrin Peaks.   If you were really adventurous, you could explore Lirrowick forest, home to the uncanny elves of whom little is known.

What dangers should we avoid in Herridon? The primary danger you would encounter would be wandering tribes of orcs or goblins, although human highwaymen can be equally as dangerous.  There used to be more small tribes wandering the lands in southern Herridon however, as you find out early in Kingdom Come, they seem to have come together to try and foster a more prosperous life while gaining the benefits and strengths of numbers. 

Whatever you do, avoid the mountains in the west by the Salty Sea, its not a safe place, the inhabitants are volatile and dangerous.

Another danger would be getting involved with the Crimson Fox.  The Crimson Fox is a shady underground guild that is present in all three cities by the South Sea.  They deal in many of the sinful pleasures of southern Herridon including prostitution, dangerous substances and…magic.  Getting too involved with this dubious group often ends in peril.

Is there a distinct or unusual type of food or meal that we might be served in Herridon? The cuisine is quite diverse.  The cities by the South Sea are all coastal so there is quite a bit of seafood; however they do well cultivating the land as well.  Hunting is probably best in the planes, but the barbarians that inhabit the area have control there.

What types of weaponry or fighting styles are common in Herridon? In the cities by the South Sea you would mostly see swords, knives and bow and arrow; however there certainly are other weapons such as maces, axes, war hammers, spears etc.  Certain religious orders are forbidden to use bladed or sharpened weapons due to ancient edicts.  For the dwarves axes and war hammers reign supreme.  They also use crossbows.  The weapons of orcs and goblins vary as well, however they are often poorly made and crude.

The rare ogres and rarer giants prefer clubs and axes…massive clubs and axes of course.

What types of vehicles, animals, technology, etc. are used to travel in or to Herridon? Typically travel is done on foot or horseback.  Horses can draw carriages as well.

What types of plants, animals, or sentient races might we encounter in Herridon that we don’t see on Earth?  As mentioned, there are various races other than humans such as: dwarves, elves, orcs, goblins, ogres, and giants.  The animals and plants are rather similar to Earth.  There could be, however, more interesting and unique life forms deeper into the mountains or within the expanses of Lirrowick forest.

What role, if any, does magic or the supernatural play in the lives of people in Herridon?  If there is magic, please give some examples of what it involves or how it’s used.  There is indeed magic in Herridon, however far less prevalent and powerful than it was in eras past.  There are two types of magic: divine and arcane.  Divine magic is granted by various gods by way of their followers.  Arcane magic is a mysterious force that has almost gone extinct due to its abuses by men.  There does remain a group, an unscrupulous guild called the Crimson Fox, that can still harness its powers.

Is there any advanced or unusual technology in Herridon?  If you haven’t described it already, please give some examples. No, but the dwarves are known to use their subterranean furnaces to create very sought after goods.  They are also great engineers.

Tell us about any sports, games, or activities that are available for entertainment in Herridon.  There are board games and dice games.  Also, there are team activity games played with balls.

Are the days of the week and months of the year the same in Herridon as on Earth? What holidays or special events are celebrated regularly there? The weeks are about the same (7 days) as well as months.  It is all driven off of seasons.  There are various holidays that come from the various gods.  Zentiog, The Day of Life, is one that is specifically mentioned in Kingdom Come.  It is a holiday of the sun god although it is observed by the followers of many gods in a week long celebration.

Is there a particular religion practiced in Herridon?  Please describe what it involves. As mentioned, there are various religions that follow a diverse group of gods.  This includes, for example, Phelios god of the sun, Tuemis god of hearth and home, Aya goddess of air, Ramdeen dwarven god of the mountains, Zatelboz orcish god of the moon.

What is the political or government structure in Herridon?  Who is in charge there at the moment, and what kind of leader is he/she? The three cities by the South Sea are run by governing councils as has been the way since the cities were founded.  It is rather well known that the councils are corrupt and act in their own interest, much to the dismay of the common people, however they have always been often too afraid or complacent to push for change, but perhaps that will change…

The dwarves are run by their clans, who come together in a council.

Faletonia, the collective civilization of orcs, goblins, ogres, giants and some humans, is run by a council with representatives of each race

Are there any other unique cultural practices that we should be aware of if we visit Herridon? Each of the three cities has slightly different culture, but are typically the same.  The culture of the dwarves is significantly different though.  One can only guess that the elves have a strange culture themselves.  The cultures of the mixed races in Faletonia will have to figure out how they will mix together.

Has anything in your actual life inspired the locations, cultures, etc. in your book? No, just my love of fantasy.

What, if any, “hot-button” or controversial topics do you touch on in your book? Although not directly intentional, there could be some underlying geopolitical tones derived in this series.

Author Autobiography: I grew up in New Jersey and live in Brooklyn with my wife and kids.

Where, and in what formats, can we purchase your book?  My book is available in soft cover and kindle, both on Amazon. https://www.amazon.com/dp/1974587886/

I hope you all enjoyed the trip to Herridon.  Questions about the world or the book?  Ask them in the comments and the author will get back to you!  

Click here to read other posts in the Realm Explorers series.

Please join us again next Monday for a trip to another world in next week's edition of Realm Explorers!
-Annie Douglass Lima

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Christmas at Cade Ranch: a Romance Novel with a Giveaway!

On Tour with Prism Book Tours

Book Tour Grand Finale for
Christmas at Cade Ranch
By Karen Rock

We hope you enjoyed the tour! If you missed any of the stops
you can see snippets, as well as the link to each full post, below:

Launch - Note from the Author

In Book One, Christmas at Cade Ranch, you're in for a heartwarming holiday romance that will touch your heart and get you in the holiday spirit. It involves James Cade, second oldest brother and Cade Ranch’s manager. James is fiercely protective of his family and takes his responsibility of keeping them safe from outside threats seriously, especially after they lost their troubled youngest brother, Jesse, an opioid addict, to vicious murderers. He’s shocked to discover that Jesse had a child when the boy's beautiful, enigmatic mother arrives on his doorstep. He senses there’s more to Sofia’s story than she’s telling and he’s determined to uncover what she’s hiding in case her secrets threaten the peace of his still grieving family. . .


"The emotion and triumphs are what I love best about this story. With a sweet and gentle romance blossoming in the wings, second chances at life and a family's love give the characters power to change prejudices and allow for stunning growth. Family really is everything and this whole family is fantastic, even with their flaws. I ran the gamut with my feelings and was enveloped in Carbondale, CO from the first page to the last. This is one series that I'm definitely watching out for."


“Are you my grandma?” Javi’s left-sided dimple appeared in a quick smile.

Joy gasped. “Yes.”

“You don’t look so old.”

Despite the tense moment, Sofia held in a short laugh. Joy’s warm eyes met hers. “Well. I appreciate that. And how old are you?”

He held up four fingers, and Sofia shook her head. Red stained Javi’s cheeks as he peeled up one more digit.


James slugged a hot draw of black coffee the next afternoon and set the thermos in his truck’s cup holder. A boot-stomping country rock tune blared from his sound system and Sofia perched beside him, her arms hugging her knees to her chest.

Sofia sang softly, a low sound he found himself straining to hear. They were lyrics to a familiar song that she nearly had right…


Sofia was warm and sweet in James’ arms, her kisses tentative at first and then more aggressive as he prolonged them. He relished the feel of her fingers walking up his chest to curve around his neck, nails gently scraping through the hard facade he showed the rest of the world to the man he was beneath. 

How fragile a person became, he marveled, when you entrusted your heart to another. Yet he wouldn’t have it any other way, even if he could control his feelings for Sofia. She brought him to his knees with one look, yet he’d never felt stronger, more alive than when she smiled at him. It was a strange juxtaposition, this helpless potency she alone drew out of him. 

Slice of Life - Review

"As usual, Karen Rock keeps the reader engaged with her descriptive writing and realistic, no-holds-barred portrayal of circumstantial human behavior. She also offers possible avenues of resolution, making the reading of Christmas at Cade Ranch a meaningful learning experience as well as a gratifying journey."

Jorie Loves A Story - Interview

I love how there are connecting stories for certain settings - Cade Ranch was previously explored in a bit of a prequel within the pages of "A Cowboy to Keep". What initially inspired you to set a series of Romances within the Rocky Mountain range and how did you develop 'Cade Ranch'? 

...After writing A COWBOY TO KEEP, a western romantic suspense featuring Jack Cade, a rancher turned bounty hunter, I wasn’t ready to say goodbye to the rich history and beautiful setting of the dramatic Rocky Mountains. Jack’s quest to avenge his murdered brother, one of his five siblings, gave him a powerful backstory. Since his murdered brother, Jesse, was an opioid addict, I was also drawn to the theme of addiction and loss and how that can affect a family as close as the Cades. They were a broken family after losing a loved one. I wanted to write a series which would allow me to show how love is the path to healing by giving each sibling his or her own happily-ever-after. 


"As usual, Karen Rock keeps the reader engaged with her descriptive writing and realistic, no-holds-barred portrayal of circumstantial human behavior. She also offers possible avenues of resolution, making the reading of Christmas at Cade Ranch a meaningful learning experience as well as a gratifying journey."


"This story wasn’t about the love interest between James and Sofia, it’s about so much more. It’s about love of family, and one’s self. It’s about addiction and the long and difficult road to recovery. It’s about acceptance and finding the strength to forgive. It’s about finding the courage to claim the happiness you deserve, despite all the wrongs in your past. And it’s about second chances, giving them and receiving them. . . . I loved the story. . . CHRISTMAS AT CADE RANCH is a heartfelt holiday read full of family, love and forgiveness and I’d recommend it to any reader in search of the same."


"A heart wrenching story of love, forgiveness and redemption! . . . A very powerful message … and a sweet story of coming out on the other side!"


"Good read. . . . Liked the characters and reading their individual struggles and how they work through them. Would recommend this book."

Bookworm Lisa - Review

"I also found the themes of redemption, second chances, and forgiveness in the book. This book can really be read at anytime, even though it centers on the Christmas Season. The messages that it contains are good for anytime and help me feel a little more thankful in the month of November."

Brooke Blogs - Excerpt

James encircled Sofia’s waist and her head tipped back. He brought his lips close and the warm, sweet curls of his breath brushed against her skin. “You’re beautiful.”

“No.” She pressed her eyes closed.

“Yes,” he insisted...


"If you are looking for a book to put you in the holiday spirit, this book has plenty of that as well. 'Tis the season for a good Christmas romance! I can't wait to get back to Cade Ranch with the next book."

Harlie's Books - Excerpt & Review

“You loved him, Joy.” She blinked her eyes against the stinging rush rising inside them.

“Yes. But he also needed my understanding. My unconditional love. He needed me to love and support him for who he was, not who I wanted him to be. I never accepted that side of him, and he must have felt so lonely.”

"Another Karen Rock book that is a Harlequin Heartwarming and she hits it out the park for me. There is something about an author that can write emotional, at times raw, heartwarming romance like this..."


"I absolutely loved and adored this book, not only because of the love story between hero and heroine, but because of the scars of the past coming to the present every time they encounter each other. Taking into account that the chemistry between them is explosive and both not recognizing the chemistry as love, there’s a sizzle in the air, that has nothing to do with the upcoming Christmas."


"Christmas at Cade Ranch is a sweet Christmas story. Set on a ranch in contemporary times, it tells a cute romance between Sofia and James. I enjoyed it, and it reminded me a little bit of a Hallmark movie. It was sweet, showed the characters facing real struggles, and ended satisfyingly. . . . I enjoyed Christmas at Cade Ranch, and I recommend it to fans of sweet, contemporary romance."

Becky on Books - Interview

Where did the inspiration for this book come from?

After writing A COWBOY TO KEEP, a western romantic suspense featuring Jack Cade, a rancher turned bounty hunter, I wasn’t ready to say goodbye to the rich history and beautiful setting of the dramatic Rocky Mountains. Jack’s quest to avenge his murdered brother, one of his five siblings, gave him a powerful backstory. Since his murdered brother, Jesse, was an opioid addict, I was also drawn to the theme of addiction and loss and how that can affect a family as close as the Cades. They were a broken family after losing a loved one. I wanted to write a series which would allow me to show how love is the path to healing by giving each sibling his or her own happily-ever-after.

Heidi Reads... - Excerpt

Sofia’s glossy black mane swung back from her face as she tilted it to study James. “No. I feel guilty because I’m glad you’re here and not—not—Jesse.” Tears welled in her eyes. “That makes me a monster.”

He cupped her shaking shoulders and their feet stilled. Something exploded in his chest. His heart maybe. She cared about him. She experienced the same powerful emotions that had taken him by storm from the moment he’d laid eyes on her. “Then I’m one, too, because I want you here, would have wanted you even if Jesse had brought you home, and I’m glad I don’t have to compete for you.”


"Christmas at Cade Ranch by Karen Rock is the first book in the Rocky Mountain Cowboys mini series. If you have never read a book by Karen Rock GO NOW and GRAB this one!!! You will not be disappointed. . . . Christmas at Cade Ranch is a heartwrenching story that will take you through many struggles and obstacles. These happen to be true elements of many peoples every day life in this current time. You will not regret this one. Thank you again Karen for such an amazing read!"


"Christmas at Cade Ranch by Karen Rock is a great read when the weather outside is cold and snowy – or even just when you wish it were! (We never get enough wintry-Christmas here in Kentucky for my taste.) Kisses to make you melt, a sweet message of family and faith and restoration, and vivid characters who settle right into your heart… when you want a clean read that isn’t short on romance, it doesn’t get much better than this!"


"Christmas At Cade Ranch is a truly inspiring story about a mother's journey and her wanting a better life for herself and her son, along with finding love along the way. I liked how the story drew on a topic, such as substance misuse which not many books draw upon as it is a sensitive subject. Although it is one of those things that is relevant in the world today and I am was really pleased to read this amazing story that can put it into a truly modern spin on a brilliantly written Christmas story."


"Karen Rock has written an entertaining and powerful story that touches the heart. I haven’t read much from Harlequin’s Heartwarming series before now, but ifChristmas at Cade Ranch is the norm, then I’m a fan."

And don't forget to enter the giveaway below, if you haven't already...

Christmas at Cade Ranch
(Rocky Mountain Cowboys #1)
by Karen Rock
Contemporary Romance
Paperback & ebook, 384 pages
November 7th 2017 by Harlequin

The Christmas they never had.

James Cade has one priority: keep the family ranch running smoothly in the wake of his younger brother's death. With Jesse's ex, Sofia Gallardo, and her young son, Javi, stranded at Cade Ranch over Christmas, this task just got a lot harder. The longer Sofia and Javi stay, the harder it is to imagine the ranch without them. James couldn't save his brother from his inner demons, but he can give his nephew a secure future. Maybe more—if he can figure out how to trust Sofia, and stop feeling like he's betraying Jesse. Because trying to stop thinking about beautiful, determined Sofia is impossible.


About the Author

In a quest to provide her ELA students with quality reading material, educator Karen Rock read everything out there and couldn't wait to add her voice to the genre. In addition to her work as a Young Adult romance novelist, she's now an author for Harlequin's Heartwarming line and thrilled to pen stories that moms can share with their teenage daughters. She's loved Harlequin books since she spent summers going through her grandmother's Presents books that she passed along in paper grocery bags each year. As half of the writing duo J.K. Rock, Karen also pens young adult romance. When she's not busy writing, Karen enjoys scouring estate sales for vintage books, cooking her grandmother's family recipes, reinventing her gardens to suit her moods and occasionally rescuing local wildlife from neighborhood cats. She lives in the Adirondack Mountain region with her husband, her very appreciated beta-reader daughter, and two Cavalier King cocker spaniels, who have yet to understand the concept of "fetch" though they know a lot about love. For more information about Karen's upcoming books, check out her website.

WebsiteGoodreadsFacebookTwitterTumblrPinterest

Other Heartwarming Books by the Author


Tour Giveaway


- 1 winner will receive a $50 Amazon gift card along with print copies of HIS KIND OF COWGIRL, UNDER AN ADIRONDACK SKY AND A COWBOY TO KEEP by Karen Rock, TO THE ENDS OF THE EARTH by Elizabeth Lowell, THOSE TEXAS NIGHTS by Delores Fossen and FAMILY TREE by Susan Wiggs.- US Only.
- Ends November 15th

Friday, November 10, 2017

Christmas Secrets: a Romance Novel with a Giveaway!

On Tour with Prism Book Tours

Book Release Celebration for
Christmas Secrets
By Donna Hatch

Donna Hatch is bringing readers some sweet romance this holiday season...

Christmas Secrets
by Donna Hatch
Historical Romance
Paperback & ebook, 260 Pages
November 9th 2017 by Mirror Lake Press LLC

A stolen Christmas kiss leaves them bewildered and breathless. A charming rogue-turned-vicar, Will wants to prove that he left his rakish days behind him, but an accidental kiss changes all his plans. His secret could bring them together...or divide them forever.

Holly has two Christmas wishes this year; finally earn her mother's approval by gaining the notice of a handsome earl, and learn the identity of the stranger who gave her a heart-shattering kiss...even if that stranger is the resident Christmas ghost.


Exclusive Excerpt

This scene takes place when everyone on Christmas Day takes a turn kissing their spouse or sweetheart underneath the mistletoe ball. Now the group turn to Will and Holly, who have only known each other a few days, and start goading them into sharing a mistletoe kiss... 
“Come now, don’t be shy,” her sister called. “It’s tradition.”
The others called out encouragements.
Apology edged into Will’s uncertain expression. “Do you mind?”
Holly’s palms grew sweaty inside her gloves, and her smile probably came out wobbly. “Who are we to go against tradition?” Did she sound desperate in her desire to kiss him?
Will held out a hand. She placed hers in it and walked at his side to the kissing ball. They stood, hand in hand, facing each other. His neck cloth shifted as he swallowed. He leaned in. Her heart stumbled and her knees shook. She closed her eyes. Aching, she lifted her face. His cinnamon-spiced breath warmed her mouth.
He kissed her cheek.
Stunned, she opened her eyes. The watching guests groaned and some chuckled.
“No, no, that won’t do at all,” Joseph’s voice rang out. “Give her a proper kiss.”
Will froze. That intensity she occasionally saw in him returned. “Holly.” He swallowed again but instead of nervousness, a hunger that sent a flurry of shivers through her overtook his expression. “May I?”
She nodded. It didn’t matter if he saw how much she wanted this, wanted him. Let him know. Let the whole world know.
 He touched her chin, lifted it, and leaned in. Again, she closed her eyes. This time his lips touched hers, pliant and unbelievably gentle. Heat exploded at the contact and shot through her all the way down to her tingling toes. Different from her mystery kiss, this one sang of affection and respect and a deep longing to be accepted. Sweeter, more chaste, more filled with caring, Will’s kiss brought her a level of joy she’d never known. All the world faded away leaving Will and the power of his affection, his touch, his kiss. Every moment of her life seemed to have been designed to bring her to this single, perfect moment of bliss and wholeness.
“Ahem.” Father cleared his throat conspicuously.
Will pulled away all too quickly. A tiny sound of distress caught in Holly’s throat. It was over too soon. But oh, what a glorious kiss!

About the Author


Donna Hatch is the author of the best-selling “Rogue Hearts Series,” and a winner of writing awards such as The Golden Quill and the International Digital Award. A hopeless romantic and adventurer at heart, she discovered her writing passion at the tender age of 8 and has been listening to those voices ever since. She has become a sought-after workshop presenter, and also juggles freelance editing, multiple volunteer positions, and most of all, her six children (seven, counting her husband). A native of Arizona who recently transplanted to the Pacific Northwest, she and her husband of over twenty five years are living proof that there really is a happily ever after.


Tour Giveaway

 

- 1 winner will receive a Mistletoe "Kissing Ball" Ornament, an ebook
of A Christmas Reunion or Mistletoe Magic (winner's choice) and some of Donna's favorite Christmas recipes
- Open to US/CAN only
- Ends November 13th

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Sunday, November 5, 2017

Realm Explorers Part XCXV: Visit Tarnestra with Annie Douglass Lima

Welcome to Realm Explorers!  In this weekly series, we visit a variety of unique worlds created by talented science fiction and fantasy authors.  Enjoy your travels!  And don't forget to read to the bottom of the post to find out more about each author and see how to purchase the featured book. 


Author’s name: Annie Douglass Lima

Title of book and/or series: The Student and the Slave (Book 3 in the Krillonian Chronicles)
Also:
Book 1: The Collar and the Cavvarach
Book 2: The Gladiator and the Guard

Brief summary of the story:

Is this what freedom is supposed to be like? Desperate to provide for himself and his sister Ellie, Bensin searches fruitlessly for work like all the other former slaves in Tarnestra. He needs the money for an even more important purpose, though: to rescue Coach Steene, who sacrificed himself for Bensin’s freedom. When members of two rival street gangs express interest in Bensin’s martial arts skills, he realizes he may have a chance to save his father figure after all … at a cost.

Meanwhile, Steene struggles with his new life of slavery in far-away Neliria. Raymond, his young owner, seizes any opportunity to make his life miserable. But while Steene longs to escape and rejoin Bensin and Ellie, he starts to realize that Raymond needs him too. His choices will affect not only his own future, but that of everyone he cares about. Can he make the right ones … and live with the consequences?

Brief description of the world or location you created for this story:

The story takes place in the Krillonian Empire, which is in a world whose culture and technology are almost exactly like our own in most ways. The main difference is that slavery is legal there. (To learn more about the Krillonian Empire, click here.) In today's post, however, we will focus on life in the province of Tarnestra (also called Tarnestran Province). Tarnestra is unique in that it recently became the first province in the empire to outlaw slavery. As you can imagine, this history-making event sparked hope in the hearts of slaves throughout the empire, and for many, dreams of escape suddenly became a real possibility. As a result, in addition to freeing all its local slaves, Tarnestra has recently seen an influx of escaped slaves from Imperia and other provinces. These changes have had unfortunate effects on the economy, since many businesses cannot afford to hire as many employees and have had to shut down or cut way back. (The accepted salary for enslaved workers – paid to their owners, of course – is two-thirds what free workers earn.) Tarnestra is now dealing with huge numbers of unemployed and homeless people.


If we were to visit Tarnestra as tourists, what would you recommend that we see or do there?

Snow sports are popular. Tarnestra's Rurionis Range has several mountains high enough to have snow at the top all year round, and it's a common destination for anyone who likes skiing, snowboarding, or sledding. 

What dangers should we avoid in Tarnestra?

Because of the high homeless population and the fact that so many people are unemployed, there's been an increase in crime recently. In addition, you'll want to watch out for the street gangs, especially if you go out alone at night. Rumor has it that at least one of the gangs has even been involved in kidnapping people to sell them as slaves in other provinces where slavery is still legal.

Is there a distinct or unusual type of food or meal that we might be served in Tarnestra?

Since it's by the ocean, seafood is popular. A dish containing cheese dumplings with mushroom gravy is considered a delicacy. Most foods in Tarnestra are very similar to what you might eat on Earth. 

What types of weaponry or fighting styles are common in Tarnestra?

Tarnestra is not known for its martial arts. Street gangs battle with knives, clubs, and the occasional gun (though firearms are not as easy to obtain there as in some other parts of the Krillonian Empire). One gang, the Corner Creepers, have designed a weapon known as a bladeclub, which involves a short bat spring-loaded with a knife blade. Meanwhile, Bensin misses the cavvarach he had to leave behind: a sword-like weapon with a hook about halfway down the blade.


What types of vehicles, animals, technology, etc. are used to travel in or to Tarnestra?

Cars and trucks are the norm in the city. Many people who live on the coast own boats of various kind. People travel to Tarnestra from other parts of the empire by airplane or boat.

Are the days of the week and months of the year the same in Tarnestra as on Earth? What holidays or special events are celebrated regularly there?

As in the rest of the Krillonian Empire, the calendar is the same as Earth's. Some holidays are different or are given more importance, however. New Year is the most important day of the year, and is celebrated similarly to Christmas on Earth, with decorations, gift giving, music, and feasts with family and friends.

What is the political or government structure in Tarnestra?  Who is in charge there at the moment, and what kind of leader is he/she?

An emperor, who is never named, governs the whole Krillonian Empire from the capital city, Krillonia, on the continent known as Imperia.  Tarnestra is one of eight separate provinces on nearby continents.  Like the others, Tarnestra is allowed to elect its own legislature and decide on many of its own laws, but the emperor reserves the right to veto any of them and make changes as he sees fit.  

Are there any other unique cultural practices that we should be aware of if we visit Tarnestra?

Some Tarnestrans consider it stylish to wear silver in their hair. (Most Tarnestrans have blond or brown hair.) It's not uncommon to see men, especially, in dreadlocks entwined with silver wires, or braids with silver beads on the end. If you choose to follow this particular custom, though, beware: a dangerous gang known as the Silverheads is famous for doing this, and it's possible you'll be mistaken for a gang member, especially if you have a burly build and go out at night with a weapon. If you happen to meet any of the Corner Creepers, their rivals, watch out!

Has anything in your actual life inspired the locations, cultures, etc. in your book?

I borrowed a few details from places I've been. For example, the Corner Creepers' bladeclubs are made from rounders bats, which are about half the length of baseball bats. Rounders is a sport similar to baseball that is played in Kenya, where I grew up. And the character Boris has a bad habit of chewing betel nut, a mild narcotic that is common in Taiwan, where I live now. (It's legal in Taiwan, but not in Tarnestra!)

What, if any, “hot-button” or controversial topics do you touch on in your book?

Is it better to live as a slave or to be homeless, unemployed, and starving? Is it okay to participate in activities you know are illegal or unethical in order to bring about good for someone else? What do you do when you are forced to make the choice between being there for two separate sets of people who both need you in their lives? Can someone be justified in making a promise they know they will break to a person who trusts them if that's the only way to help someone else? Is it a good thing to have ended slavery when the results are mass unemployment, a huge rise in homelessness, and the economy taking a "deep sea dive"? These are all issues characters have to wrestle with in The Student and the Slave

Where, and in what formats, can we purchase your books? 

The Student and the Slave is available on Amazon here in both Kindle and paperback formats. Its regular price will be $2.99, but I've discounted it to 99 cents for the month of November!

Here are the links to my other books:

The Collar and the Cavvarach

The Gladiator and the Guard

Annals of Alasia fantasy series

Hide it In Your Heart (Bible verse coloring/activity book)

Student poetry anthologies

Where can readers connect with you online?

Email: AnnieDouglassLima@gmail.com








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I hope you all enjoyed the trip to Tarnestra.  Questions about the world or the book?  Ask them in the comments and the author will get back to you!  

Click here to read other posts in the Realm Explorers series.

Please join us again next Monday for a trip to another world in next week's edition of Realm Explorers!
-Annie Douglass Lima