My publisher is famous for the free Christmas stories from its authors for a holiday gift to YOU. Be sure to go to http://stores.desertbreezepublishing.com/StoreFront.bok and download yours today. Here are the titles and a little about each book:
Keril, the high lord’s first-in-command, has been waiting months for the perfect time to tell Electra, the princess of Celosia’s personal bodyguard, how much he loves her. But when the castle is attacked with fire weapons, his time runs out. Duty demands he protect the princess, but his heart tugs him in another direction.
Burned is a short companion piece to the novel, The Fire Starter. Discover what happens to Keril and Electra while Celosia blazes with fire weapons and new passions.
Fire exploded in the rock wall to his left. Keril leaned off the turret to gain a better view of the courtyard below. “Pirro, I’ll have your idiotic head for this atrocity.”
Screams carried upward on the stale wind. He needed to act, and fast. The castle of Filippopoulos was crumbling around him. Its people counted on his level-thinking and quick actions. His boss — the High Lord of Celosia Island — depended on Keril to keep the peace and to protect the royal family. Even against these unexpected attacks and illegal fire weapons that never should have found their way onto remote Celosia.
What he wouldn’t give for an old-fashioned bow and a quiver of arrows. Or even a sling. Pirro had loosened enough rock around Keril that he had plenty of ammunition to fire down on the traitor’s head. Yet Keril needed a bit more help than gravity could offer.
In fact, if he used his cloak, he might be able to sling a rock far enough to–
A woman darted from the stable door into the shadows of a nearby shed. No. No. No! The princess was on the loose, and who knew what kind of damage she would cause before this attack was contained. Hadn’t she heard that Pirro was after her? That he didn’t believe she was at Aphrodite Temple getting married to an off-island prince?
For the first time, Keril wished that the princess was getting married, even though she’d made it clear she had no desire to do so. He wished she were with her father, or with the man who would be her husband. Then Keril wouldn’t be responsible for her any longer.
“The princess is trying to escape. She’s headed toward the water tower.”
The call reached his ears, and men materialized from the shadows.
Could this situation get any worse? Keril scrambled for the stairs. As much as he would be expected to protect Filippopoulos, the estate serfs, his lord’s assets, and capture the intruder, foremost he would be expected to protect the princess, with his very life if necessary.
Why hadn’t she stayed hidden in the stables? He flung himself down the stairs and into the night air. Of course she wouldn’t stay hidden. Not Amaryllis. Not when she thought she could have purpose and do something useful. Never mind that she would have been more useful hidden, leaving him free to save the day.
Another shower of rocks rained down on his head, and he dodged back against the turret wall, making his way east toward the water tower. Perhaps Rasmus, his second-in-command, would have the chance to take down Pirro. Keril needed to get to the princess, and now.
He rounded the turret. There, in a shaft of moonlight, stood the princess, for all intents and purposes, posing before she dropped back into the shadows. Burn the night black, had she lost every ounce of sense she possessed? Three men flanked her left. His gaze darted right. Four more. They wore black, fading into the night better than Amaryllis in her green cloak. They were closing in.
New Orleans, Christmas Eve, 1947: Brothers, Dirk and Beaumont McSwain are both about to become fathers. Dirk’s wife has had a number of miscarriages and at thirty-six years old, is afraid this is her last chance for a healthy baby. Bo’s wife is pregnant for the first time. Both are due to give birth soon. The brothers arrange a surprise ride for their women in Papa Noel’s sleigh which is actually a horse drawn carriage with fake reindeer. The evening starts out merry and bright but before the night is over, they will need a Christmas miracle.
She stopped mid-sentence as a pair of horses sporting reindeer antlers pulling a sleigh on wheels with Papa Noel at the reins came into view.
The conveyance turned up the drive and came across the lawn. The horses stopped right in front of the porch. Papa Noel sketched a salute. “I heard there were some very good girls who live here who wanted a ride with old Papa.” Eden clapped her hands and smiled at the old man. “Yes. I think that would be delightful.”
Dirk put his arm around her and led her to the sleigh. He assisted her aboard and pulled a couple of the fur throws over her. He turned to Zoe. “Come on and I’ll help you up.”
Bo followed behind his wife and when both ladies were settled in, the men sat beside them, each couple facing the other.
Papa Noel turned around from his seat. “You all ready to go?”
“Where are we going?” Zoe said.
“Around.” Papa Noel responded and clicked his tongue at the horses. “Let’s go, Blitzen and Comet.”
“How did you decide which reindeer to bring this evening?” Dirk asked over his shoulder.
“The others are over at Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop drinking absinthe. Bunch of sots.”
They all laughed at the thought of the reindeer hanging out in the oldest bar in America.
Adri’s frustration with the static town life of Boon is shared by his closest friends. His stepmother aggravates the situation with her unfair demands on his time, and Adri plans to leave as soon as he comes of age. The arrival of the survivors from dragon attacks interfere with his departure. The outsiders are closely followed by the fire breathing dragons who are intent of burning Boon. All looks grim, but the departure of the dragons opens a new exciting opportunity for Adri and his friends.
Adri hurried toward one of the two junior schools in the town. His stepmother had nightmares about her young son being attacked or kidnapped as he walked to and from school.
An attack is a distinct possibility the way he treats the other pupils.
He turned into the school compound in time to see the pupils erupting from the door. Vala’s son approached, and threw his bag on the ground.
“You carry it.” The child turned and walked out of the compound.
Only a few more days, Adri reminded himself as he picked up the bag and followed the boy. Once the celebrations for Landing Day are here I’m gone.
Thoughts of his father came to mind and once again he wondered why his father had married Vala.
It’s bad enough my mother died, but did he have to marry within months, then die himself.
His father’s actions had left him under the guardianship of Vala, but not for much longer. A few more days and Adri would be considered an adult and able to live on his own. He and his friends would leave Boon to have some excitement in their lives, not the dreary day to day life they had grown up with.
Vala called them brothers, but they were not blood relations. Raf was the son of his stepmother’s first husband, and the boy’s mother spoiled him to the point of ruining him.
He entered the house in time to see Vala fling her arms round Raf.
“How’s my little man? Did you have a good day?”
“Oh Mum, stop it. I’m too old to be smothered.”
“I’ll get you something to eat.”
Vala hurried into the kitchen while Raf flung himself into a chair. Adri dropped the boy’s bag next to him. Before his stepmother could return he left the house, but heard his stepbrother call out.
“Mum, Adri’s leaving again.”
With a burst of speed Adri turned into the next street before Vala could make it to the door and scream at him to return. He shrugged his shoulders to release the tension and hurried to the town square.
On the outskirts of the ever present Alliance’s watchful eye, William Reynolds has served as mayor and preacher for the better part of a decade. Life is good, and he sees no reason to change anything. When a family fleeing the Alliance’s oppression comes his way he doesn’t hesitate to hide them. Reaching out to the people in need proves to be more dangerous than he could ever have anticipated, and once events are set in motion, there is no going back.
William lived in a world of uneasy dreams. His people were screaming, dying, being burned alive, and he needed to pull free from whatever held him so he could rescue them, but invisible forces kept him back. The dreams faded into merciful darkness.
When he finally returned to reality, he had problems focusing his eyes. The ceiling looked a lot like a beautiful woman, and she rotated above him. He squeezed his eyes shut again, but had time to see a mass of blonde hair and a cute nose.
The fragments of memories and dreams came together. He was a prisoner of the Alliance, and his people, everyone he knew were dead. It was his fault. He didn’t understand how, he had been so careful, but he still led the enemy right home. He wanted to return to the darkness, hopefully forever, but the woman wouldn’t let him. She held a cool hand against his forehead.
“I think he has a concussion.”
A cynical male voice answered, “It happens.”
William opened his eyes again and struggled to sit up, even though the room revolved around him. Everything bathed in a light so bright it shot bolts of pain through his skull, but when he squinted and shaded his eyes with his hand, he could make out four bare metal walls and a metal ceiling. The cell didn’t even have a visible door. “Where am I? Who are you?”
The man stepped closer and crouched next to him. “You’re a guest here at Casa del Travis. If we’re lucky, he’ll forget about us, or kill us before we reach Central.”
The woman said, “You should probably lie down. You’re still bleeding. I’m Isabela, and he’s Aaren. I think there are more people in other cells. I can hear them through the walls.”
Aaren chuckled. “Of course there’re more prisoners here. This is a prisoner ship, and it’s what they do. So, what’d you do that’s so bad they let you live?”
Eunice is considered an old maid at the age of 26, but more than fate has kept her single. She’s in love with one of her father’s employees, a common laborer. Not only is Freddy beneath her socially, but he’s half-black, something unforgiveable in her father’s eyes. As WWII echoes like thunder in the distance, the pressures pushing them apart seem overwhelming. Is love enough to conquer society and family prejudice?
Outside, Freddy saw the sweep of headlights turning into the drive and he let out a soft moan. “That’ll be your father, dearest,” he said softly. “Go home.”
“Why?” Her voice trembled.
“Because I’m one man, and he’ll have brought twenty.” He heard the steel enter his tone, and she stiffened, her eyes widening. “If you want me beaten to death tonight, you just stay defiant, woman.”
For a moment, she sat motionless, then Eunice pushed herself to her feet, her sodden pink dress hanging heavily off her slender curves. “I’ll go home, Freddy, but you remember this. You think I’m some wilting flower to be coddled and cared for, but I’m not. I’m more than you think, Louis Fredrick Clarke.”
With that, she turned and walked steadily towards the door. When there was a hammering knock, Freddy jumped forward to stop her, but she pulled open the door and stared into the face of one of the town’s young men.
“Arthur, put down that stick, you fool. I came here on my own, and Freddy just threw me out. You have nothing to defend. Now take me home.”
Heather Fisher Black’s third man of the year has just exited right when she needs a date for Christmas dinner. The whole gang from Win’s War will be there and everyone will have a partner, even Win’s grandfather. Maybe the man who’s been underfoot could go by her side.
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