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Blog Tour: ‘The Princess and the Peacock’ by C.S. Johnson

The Princess and The Peacock

Who doesn’t love a great fairy tale retelling? That’s why I’m so pleased to share this lovely novella with you. I have an excerpt for you to read, and a chance to win your very own print copy of the book! Enjoy!

Book Cover

The Princess and the Peacock (Birds of Fae #1)

Publication Date: January 25th, 2019

Genre: Fantasy/ Fairy Tale Retelling

The first time I fell in love with Princess Mele was when I saw her smile, and I fell in love with her the second time the moment I heard her sing.

Two memories burn within Kaipo’s heart — the death of his mother, which left him alone to die, and the arrival of Princess Mele, which gave him a new reason to live. Together with his adopted brother, Kaipo seeks out Jaya, the Fae Queen who lives on the Forbidden Mountain, in order to gain the beauty he requires to win Mele’s heart. But Jaya has other plans for the scarred outcast who climbs up her mountain …

The Princess and the Peacock is the first in Birds of Fae, a fantasy fairy tale novella series from C. S. Johnson.

 

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Excerpt

THE PRINCESS AND THE PEACOCK: Kaipo desperately requests a wish from the Fae Queen, Jaya, after climbing up the Forbidden Mountain on Maluhia.

Desperate, I hold out my hands, palms upward, in a gesture of pleading. “Queen Jaya, I ask that you grant me my wish, as I stated, and as you promised. It is only fair, after all.”

“Dare you bother me in my own musings?” Jaya slams the end of her staff into the ground. The air around her whips out ferociously, as if her emotions stretch out far beyond her heart. “Very well then, Kaipo. I will grant your wish.”

She comes up in front of me, and I nearly stagger back at the overbearing fullness of her being. Her finger reaches out and touches my forehead.

Instantly, I am frozen; the essence of my soul shines as her power leeches into me. Just before my eyes go sightless, the last thing I see is her triumphant smirk.

“Yes,” she whispers, so softly I almost think I am imagining it. “I do believe this is just the magic needed to give you beauty Princess Mele will be unable to resist.”

Her words brush over me, leaving me weak with joy as my world is drowned with light, and I eagerly fall into its brightness.

For a moment, as I bathe in that transcendent sensation, I wonder if I had actually fallen off the mountain earlier, and this is just a final coming home into the arms of death.

“There.” Jaya’s voice echoes from far away, and behind her, I hear Rahj gasp in surprise. I try to smile, but I feel my face resist the movement.

Taking one last deep breath, I open my eyes.

A bouquet of dark, iridescent color swims before me, and it takes only two seconds before I realize every miracle I expected was horrifically wrong. Instead of scarless flesh, my arms have been transformed into wings of shimmering blue, with hints of green and black tipping off their feathers. My own body, once lean and hungry, is bulging out with meaty bird muscle, and my neck is three times as long. My legs are sticks with claws, and I can feel the ground part eagerly as I stumble, stabbing the divine earth as I go.

Jaya’s laughter follows me cruelly as I hurry around in a circle, frantically trying to find a way to see my new self.

“Here,” she says, and out of the middle of her meadow, a pond appears. I race toward it, ardently wishing this is all an awful misunderstanding of magic or even perhaps a friendly joke from Jaya.

But no; it’s not.

I glance into the water’s pond and freeze, taking in the sight before me in shaking horror.

My beady eyes, still their mix of green and brown, stare back full of fear. My shabby hair has been perked up into a colored crest on my small head, sticking straight up in the air, as the rest of my body gleams with an artful array of feathers.

I open my mouth to scream, but only a squawk sounds out. As I step back in fear, my tail feathers fan out, and I am vividly aware of the truth.

I am no longer a man; I am a peacock.

 

About the Author

Author-CS-Johnson

C. S. Johnson is the award-winning, genre-hopping author of several novels, including young adult sci-fi and fantasy adventures such as the Starlight Chronicles, the Once Upon a Princess saga, and the Divine Space Pirates trilogy. With a gift for sarcasm and an apologetic heart, she currently lives in Atlanta with her family. Find out more at http://www.csjohnson.me

CS Johnson | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Pinterest

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The Princess and The Peacock

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March 4th

Reads & Reels (Excerpt) http://www.readsandreels.com

Port Jerricho (Review) http://www.aislynndmerricksson.com

I Smell Sheep (Excerpt) http://www.ismellsheep.com/

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Life at 17 (Review) https://lifeat17.wordpress.com

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Blog Tour: ‘One Flew Through the Dragon Heart’ by C.S. Johnson

OneFlew

I’m pleased to share this new book with you all today! One Flew Through the Dragon Heart is the first book in a new steampunk series by C.S. Johnson. Today I have an exclusive excerpt for you to read, and a chance to win a paperback copy of the book!

FavanFlowBook1Cover03.jpgOne Flew Through the Dragon Heart

Publication Date:December 21st, 2018

Genre: Steampunk/ Fantasy

A Chinese Legend. A British Secret. Star-Crossed Lovers with Incompatible Magic.

Brixton Flew works as a professor of wielder instruction at Rembrandt Academy, hoping to erase the regrets of his youth along with the resulting debt. But when he comes face to face with his biggest regret—the woman who broke his heart, Adelaide Favan—Brixton soon realizes his troubles have only begun.

Unable to control her magic, Adelaide knew leaving Brixton was the only way to protect him when they were younger. Now she discovers he is the key to recovering the Dragon Eyes, a legendary treasure connected to her magic and her family’s disgraced legacy—and she knows the risk is great, to both his life and her heart.

With others seeking the power of the Dragon Eyes, Brixton and Adelaide must outwit their foes and face down their families to save London from an ancient legend that sleeps beneath the magic portal in their city.

But the renewed passion growing between them may prove to be the greater peril …

One Flew Through the Dragon Heart is the first book in a new steampunk series by C.S. Johnson, blending together history, romance, mecha-dragons and magic against the glittering backdrop of 1880’s Victorian London.

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Excerpt

FavanFlowBook1Cover03

“Brixton.”

His sixteen-year-old self was scurrying past the materials room when he heard his name spoken with a soft, foreign lilt. The sound broke through him like a magic spell, disrupting his intellectual musings and forcing him into an uncomfortable position.

He was in a hurry; his professor would be upset if he was late for class. As a star pupil, Brixton knew he had a certain reputation to live up to, and he had learned well not to call any negative attention to himself.

But at the sound of Adelaide Favan calling for him, he felt helpless—helplessly nervous and helplessly intrigued. It was almost as if some part of him had been waiting for her to call, and he had been more than ready to answer.

Out of guilt, if nothing else.

He nearly lost his grip on the stack of books he carried as he stumbled to a stop and glanced back at the doorway to the materials room. He could see a slim shadow at the back, where her dark skirts whipped around as she moved between stations, pulling out supplies and looking for spare coils, cogs, or anything else she decided she needed.

He did not have the faintest notion why she would be calling him. Adelaide never seemed to talk to anyone unless it was out of necessity.

“Are you coming in or not?” Adelaide straightened, looking up at him from behind a thick pair of black-rimmed goggles, the kind that magnified her eyes behind the protective glass.

Brixton felt a quick twinge of regret. She always wore them when she was working on something. He had a sinking feeling he was going to be late for class—but he stepped into the room regardless.

“I’m surprised,” she said as he tentatively approached her.

“Why? You were the one who called me.”

“Is that what I need to do to get your attention?” Adelaide put her hands on her hips as she stepped back from the table, where a box full of wires and screws and other various building materials winked up at him.

Brixton felt his face turn red. “If you’re talking about earlier, I—”

“I don’t want to talk about earlier,” Adelaide said. “You know who my father is. Do you think your friends are the first people to make fun of me because of my family?”

“They’re not my friends. Not exactly.” Brixton sighed. “They’re just people we go to school with. You don’t have to be friends with them. You just have to get along with them until we graduate.”

“Is that your plan?”

He shifted his feet as the clocks chimed loudly, the pleasant ringing turning sour in his ears. He was officially late for class. Brixton glanced back at the door.

Adelaide did not pay attention to the clock. She saw to her work, fiddling with one of the gearshifts. Brixton noticed she was also still wearing her workshop gloves. Along with her goggles, they were a semi-permanent part of her wardrobe. They were thick and black, going up past her elbows. The school issued them as part of the engineering department; Brixton hated wearing them, since the synthetic material of the gloves interfered with his ability to use magic. Adelaide was the only one who consistently wore them.

“It’s mostly my plan,” he said, finally answering her.

“Seems like a silly plan, especially for the next four years.”

“Earlier, when those girls were picking on you, I didn’t say anything—”

“I said I didn’t want to talk about earlier. People have made comments about me all my life. Getting accepted into Rembrandt two years earlier than everyone else is merely another unearned privilege in their eyes.”

Her voice was calm, but Brixton saw that her fingers, even buried in her large gloves, shook ever so slightly.

“I don’t presume—”

“But you do.” Adelaide pushed up her goggles onto her forehead again, brushing back her long black hair.

Brixton hated how he stared at her. Up close, her eyes were cloudy gray, speckled over with a silver lining. He noticed they were slanted, ever so slightly; along with her flattened nose and full lips, there were plenty of hints at her Chinese heritage. He had heard the whispers of her family, especially her father, the famous Captain Favan who led Her Royal Majesty’s Airship Force.

That was one of the main reasons he had tried to befriend her before. Brixton had approached her when she was first introduced to their class, eager to talk about her father’s legacy and how it was his dream to be in the Airship Force one day, too. Adelaide had ignored him then, brushing off his introduction.

Remembering that, he frowned. She has some nerve, admonishing me for poor manners.

He cleared his throat to give himself a moment to recover. “You should know you’re presuming that I’m presuming something. I don’t know you well enough to presume anything.”

For the first time, Adelaide softened her expression. Brixton briefly wondered if he had hurt her feelings, or if it was possible he had successfully pointed out her double standards.

She tugged the goggles down over her eyes a moment later, returning to the project before her. She said nothing as she picked up a suturing iron and began to burn a twisted bunch of wires together.

For a long moment, Brixton watched her. Despite her gloves, her movements were very precise—so precise that they almost seemed awkward.

Just like the rest of her, he thought with a small smile.

Adelaide was fourteen years old, two years younger than everyone else at Rembrandt. She had transferred into the school during the middle of their second semester, and ever since their failed first meeting, Brixton kept his distance from her, even if he continued to watch her out of the corner of his eye. He knew the others in his class teased her for her youth, her connections, and her ancestry.

He could sympathize with her some in that regard, given he received plenty of his own mockery. He was only at Rembrandt because of his scholarship. Most of the students were from the aristocracy, and the idea of rich merchants or lower-class workers—such as his parents—sending their children to Rembrandt was nothing short of scandalous.

He easily dismissed those who badgered him; he was here for an education, and nothing more.

But as Brixton gazed down at Adelaide, he suddenly wondered if she was able to do the same.

She was such a small thing. She was not only two years his junior, but she was also at least a foot shorter. The Rembrandt Academy uniform nearly swallowed up her body. He could see her vest was pinned in the back, and her long skirt was clearly hemmed. Brixton had a feeling she liked to wear the goggles on her forehead if for no other reason than they lent her another two inches in height.

“Why did you call me?” Brixton asked, daring himself to speak again.

Adelaide bit her lip, and Brixton found himself staring again.

Finally, she sighed. “I need you.”

His breath caught and his body went still. He was only able to move after she added, “I need your help.”

The words came out with a ripe bitterness in each syllable, and Brixton almost laughed at her discomfort. It was clear she never asked for help if she could avoid it.

He cleared this throat again, swallowing the last of his laughter, and nodded. “Tell me what it is.”

“I need help assembling this,” Adelaide said, pointing to the neat array of metal scraps and parts before her.

“What is it?”

“A dragon heart.”

“Beg pardon?” Brixton dropped his books, missing the table and causing them to clatter to the floor. He was certain he had misheard her as he bent to pick them up, but he was even more surprised when she laughed.

Her eyes were pushed back into slits behind her goggles, giving her a wizened, animated look as her smile widened. Brixton stared at her as he picked up his books and stacked them neatly beside hers.

“I’m only kidding,” Adelaide said, before she arched her brow. “Or maybe I’m not. Either way, I need your help with this part.”

She opened the top panel and pointed to a small knot of wires lined with alloy and copper. “This is an energy loop I’ve been working on. It’s a special type of power source. The Board wants to develop more efficient batteries, especially since the Edison Project has shown promise. Now they want to see what the wielders can do to improve it.”

“I talked with Professor Ohm about this,” Brixton said. “He wanted to find a way to generate perpetual energy. He thought electricity could possibly be infused with magic.”

“I know. I overheard your conversation after class a few days ago.”

“You did?” Brixton took the suturing iron out of her hand.

“He was dismissive of the idea as an alternative life source, but he was interested in seeing if you could figure out how to make his own theories work.”

He bit down on his cheek. He knew which conversation Adelaide was referring to, and it was one where Professor Ohm spent several minutes admonishing him for his eclectic reading tastes.

“What?” Adelaide asked.

“It’s rude to eavesdrop.”

She jutted her chin forward. “It’s also rude to ignore people who need help.”

“I don’t know if you’re saying that to make me feel bad about before, or if it’s just to make sure I stay here and help you,” Brixton muttered. “Do you care to tell me which?”

“I have an extra pair of gloves if you need them,” Adelaide offered.

He rolled his eyes as she sidestepped his question. “I don’t use them if I can help it.” He called up the power that resided inside of him. He could feel it flowing from his heart down to his fingertips, filling his palm. “I like working with my hands better. It’s easier to conjure up my talent. That’s my magic, as you might have known already. I can build things. Anything, really.”

“Well, no wonder you’re so good at this.” Adelaide pouted as Brixton undid her work. “You’re using magic.”

“And you don’t? Why are you in school to be an engineering wielder if you’re not using magic?”

“I like working with machinery,” Adelaide said. “I’m here because Rembrandt produces the best engineers in London. The fact that it’s a magical school does nothing for me.”

“Do you even have magic at all? I thought that was a requirement for coming here.”

“It is.” Adelaide went silent, and for the first time, Brixton saw her blush. With the small patch of red on her cheeks, he could just make out a light trail of freckles across her nose.

“Ouch.” He flinched as the suturing iron slipped across his fingers.

“Pay attention to what you’re doing. You don’t have to worry about my talent right now. All you need to know is that it’s not helping me fix this.” She crossed her arms and looked away.

“Right.” Brixton turned back to the item in front of him.

Available on Amazon

About the Author

profile

C. S. Johnson is the award-winning, genre-hopping author of several novels, including young adult sci-fi and fantasy adventures such as the Starlight Chronicles, the Once Upon a Princess saga, and the Divine Space Pirates trilogy. With a gift for sarcasm and an apologetic heart, she currently lives in Atlanta with her family. Find out more at http://www.csjohnson.me

CS Johnson | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Pinterest

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Love Books Group (Interview) https://lovebooksgroup.com/

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The Bookworm Drinketh (Review) http://thebookwormdrinketh.wordpress.com/

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Reading Nook (Excerpt) https://readingnook84.wordpress.com

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Blog Tour: ‘Still Not Satisfied’ by S.A. Brown

Still Not Satified

STILL NOT SATISFIED THUMBNAIL.JPGStill Not Satisfied

Publication Date: December 30th, 2010

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Christian Goodman loves the ladies. When an old girlfriend calls, it’s game on until her game plan forces him to the sidelines. While there, his grandmother and best friend lose faith in him. With no one left, he finds Dr. Devin Rainey in her own struggle. Christian enters her life only to serve as a reminder of what she is missing, thus, creating tension between the two. She fights to remain professional, but personal needs force her to leave Christian, too. Completely alone, he turns to an unlikely ally to assist him in his quest for satisfaction.

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Excerpt

Moonlight dimly illuminated the room as Chris stumbled into his bathroom. He admired his silhouette as he walked past the mirror. Even his muscular frame was sexy in the darkness. Chris’ self-admiration was interrupted when he noticed a small figure reflecting in the corner of the mirror. His mind had always played tricks on him and, lately, the occurrence had been more consistent. As always, when he looked over his shoulder, nothing was there. This time would be no different.

When he returned to his bed, he found himself alone. His lady friend had dressed and left without making a sound although she left a note on his nightstand.

We really should stop this.’

Chris chuckled. “Lauren, that’s what you said the last time and the time before that.” Chris spoke as if talking to her. He crumpled the note and lay back on his poster bed. Deep down, he knew she was right. It was just a matter of time before Ellis found out.

As Chris stared into space, he hoped he would sleep peacefully this night. Just one night without the dream. Please, just one night.

Christian James Goodman was the epitome of a beautiful African-American man. Standing at six feet-two inches and 220 pounds, Chris defined sexy. His chiseled body and broad physique got him a lot of attention from the ladies. His warm smile and mocha color added to his style. His light hazel-green eyes simply perpetuated his swagger while his strong baritone voice made the women yearn with desire. Yes, Chris had several physical attributes that men would pay money for and the confidence to use them.

Chris was a scholar and an athlete. Having won two state championships in high school and a national championship at University of Tennessee, he looked destined for the NBA. Yet, a shattering knee injury in his senior year ended this dreams.

“God had other plans, baby.” His grandmother reminded him whenever he got down about his knee injury. After two years of playing overseas, he came back to his high school alma mater, Bradford High, as an assistant basketball coach. Christian patiently awaited his turn, now it was his first year as the head coach. The job couldn’t have come at a better time in his life.

Chris Goodman had everything he could possibly want. He had his new two-thousand square foot home in Dunwoody, an affluent suburb of Atlanta, his SUV to be practical and his motorcycle to be relaxed. He had more than his fair share of women and settling down was nowhere in his sight, that was until Mama Van brought it into his peripheral.

***

As she peered into the darkness, Angela wondered how she had gotten to this point. “Why me?” She asked aloud. “What did I do to deserve this?”

She had not been at work in a week. She had not eaten in days. She lacked personal hygiene. Despite the numerous phone calls and messages from family and friends, Angela never felt so alone. Her whole world was in her one-bedroom apartment. That was where she wanted to keep it.

She pulled out her journal and wrote to the one person who understood what she was going through.

Dear God,

I have got to get over him but before I do, I will make him feel the same pain I do everyday. My plan is to use his own devices to destroy him. It will be flawless. I know I am supposed to wait on You, but vengeance is all mine, Lord.

Love Angie

Angela slammed her journal shut and slid it off her desk. It landed with a loud thud. Then another thud, Angela collapsed on the floor next to the book and sobbed quietly. Her body quivered with cold. Her muscles rocked with pain. She eventually cried herself to sleep.

***

Christian woke to soaking wet sheets. His plea for a peaceful night fell on deaf ears as the same dream interrupted his night’s rest. He routinely woke with cold sweats, a hot body, and a rigid muscle. Nothing was different this morning.

His cell phone sang Tupac’s “Dear Mama”.

“Yes, ma’am?” Chris answered the phone just as the lyric, ‘Don’t you know we love you, sweet lady’ ended.

“Morning, baby. I just wanted to make sure you was up.” Mama Van’s chirpy voice made him smile.

“Yes, ma’am, I’m woke.” He muttered.

“Well, ‘sho don’t sound like it but you grown now. Mama hopes you have a good day. Love ya.”

She hung up her phone before he could respond.

Mama Van was the one woman he respected unconditionally. It was the least he owed her considering all she had done. Chris loved her with all he was.

“Making love between the sheets.” The ring tone startled him. Since it sang the Isley Brothers, he knew it meant one of the three women he was “admiring” at this time. He told himself she would have to wait—whichever one it was. He did not even check to see which one it was. He simply rubbed his fingers over his well-groomed goatee and delighted in knowing he would have sex sometime tonight.

***

Angela stumbled into her bathroom. She slept most of the day. She walked past a mirror and despised what she saw. Her 5’6” and 150 pound voluptuous frame had lost its attractiveness. ‘Life is over’ is what the mirror taunted. After releasing a hollowing scream, she shattered the image with her fists. Her life was in as many pieces.

After a cleansing cry, Angela decided to pity train had run long enough. She showered for the first time in four days. Her need for revenge drove her to make herself presentable. She found the sexiest dress in her wardrobe and draped it over her body. She wanted something that would definitely get his attention. She washed and curled her daintily-cut crop. Once she examined her work, she felt ready for exact her scandalous scheme. Once upon a time she knew his number by heart. Now she needed to thumbed through her phone to make the call.

Available on Amazon

About the Author

SA Brown

SA Brown is a writer in every sense of the word. She started as a contributing author in one of Zane’s Chocolate Flava series. After that, she was hooked.

Born and raised in Mississippi, SA began writing full time in 2010. She started writing one act plays and producing them in the community theaters. She completed the first draft of Still Not Satisfied in 2012 and actively searched for a publisher. After numerous rejection letters, she decided to focus on the stage. She traveled South Mississippi with her socially motivated one act plays using the Theater for Social Change model.

In 2015, SA moved to Atlanta and felt it was time to bring Still Not Satisfied to life. She found Prodigy Gold Books, a press out of Philadelphia and a dream was born. In addition to her novel, she has launched her own production company, SAB Entertainment. Through this channel, SA is writing and producing short films. In May 2018, she produced her first full stage play, Family Lies and plans to

tour the Southeast with it in 2019. Always writing, SA just completed the screenplay adaptation of Still Not Satisfied which she will pitch to producers. Currently, she is writing a web series, The Inner Circle. SA hopes to start production in summer 2019.

With hopes of educating while entertaining, SA’s biggest desire is that everyone learns a life lesson every time they walk away from any of her stories.

SAB Entertainment |Facebook| Twitter | Instagram

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Blog Tour: ‘Gwenna – The Welsh Confectioner’ by Vicky Adin

Tour BannerWelcome to my stop on the blog tour for Gwenna The Welsh Confectioner by Vicky Adin. Today, I have an excerpt for you to read and a chance to win a print copy of the book, so be sure to enter the giveaway at the bottom!

Gwenna the Welsh ConfectionerGwenna_TWC_front

Publication Date: July 24th, 2018

Genre: Historical Fiction

Against overwhelming odds, can she save her legacy?

Amid the bustling vibrancy of Auckland’s Karangahape Road Gwenna Price is troubled. For all her youth, she is now the master confectioner in the family business since her father died. She promised to fulfil her Pa’s dreams and open a shop, but with her domineering and incompetent stepbrother Elias in charge, the operation is on the brink of collapse.

In an era when women were expected to stay at home, Gwenna is a plucky young woman with uncommon ambition. She is determined to save her legacy. Despite the obstacles put in her way, and throughout the twists and turns of love and tragedy, Gwenna is irrepressible. She refuses to relinquish her dreams and lets nothing stand in her way. Blind to anything that distracts her, Gwenna risks losing the one person that matters most.

Inspired by a true story, Gwenna is a fascinating insight into life in Auckland at the turn of the 20th century.

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An absorbing read. This fast-paced novel once again demonstrates the author’s trademark flair for telling great historical stories.”

“Adin is a master of her craft. Gwenna, the confectioner; charming, irrepressible and utterly unforgettable. A must read for those who love historical fiction.”

Awarded a BGS Gold Quality Mark – “This is a wonderfully well written, constructed, and edited book. The story moves along at a good pace and the reader is pulled into the world and time in the first chapter.”

Excerpt

Excerpt Graphic.png

Auckland New Zealand

1900

With a start, she leapt out of bed and, grabbing her dressing gown, hurried towards the hallway. Before she’d taken three paces her head started spinning and nausea rose from her stomach. She slumped to the floor by the door jamb, trying to take deep breaths and gather her senses.

“Johnno,” she called, then again louder, but received no response. She willed herself to be still and quiet her breathing, straining to hear any movement. Anything, but no sounds reached her ears. Her heart was beating so hard she could feel it pounding and echoing in her ears. She pulled herself to her feet and, holding onto the wall, made her way down the dark, wood-panelled hallway leading to the kitchen at the back.

The early morning sun seeped in through the grimy window; an errant thought she’d have to clean it drifted through her mind as her eyes searched for evidence she wasn’t alone. Any sign. Anything to quell the mounting terror, but she found nothing. No signs. No note. No fire in the range. She’d never been this alone before.

Shaking, and with the queasiness mounting, she opened the back door, ran down the steps and across the grass to the outhouse before she realised she was barefoot. The stench emptied her stomach in seconds.

Wiping her mouth on her sleeve, she tiptoed back across the grass, her feet now sensitive to every stone and foreign object in her path, and into the dimness of the house. Her teeth started to chatter, despite the warmth of the morning, as she stood by the door surveying the room. Clamping her jaw tight, she folded her arms across her body trying to calm her nerves while her mind listed what she should do next.

The square wooden table was as she’d left it last night, so the men hadn’t had any breakfast. The hamper she’d packed for them had gone, so they’d not go hungry. Although why she should worry about whether they’d eaten or not when there were more immediate things to worry about, she couldn’t explain.

Light the fire. At least then she could have a cup of tea. That might help calm her. As soon as she moved the dizziness came on her again; she reached for a chair and sat down, scared she would faint. And then what? How long would she lie there before someone found her? The quivering and shaking started again.

Sunlight shining into the room highlighted its dinginess. The sagging scrim-lined walls, yellowed with age and darkened with soot from the fire, closed in on her. Despite her meagre efforts, ingrained dirt still lay on every surface. Doorknobs wouldn’t turn, window catches wouldn’t shut, and the cracked and broken floorboards let the vermin in. She loathed the place, but she felt so weak and shaky at the moment she doubted she had the strength to do anything about it.

How she would tackle the outhouse on her own she had no idea, and the thought of carrying the water from the rainwater tank up the steps at the back seemed impossible. Johnno had done that for her. Tears fell as she contemplated her lot. They would have to get out of here before winter – before the baby was born. She couldn’t, just couldn’t live here any longer. Giving way to her unbearable gloom, she laid her head on her arms and sobbed.

She must have dozed off because when she next stirred pins and needles prickled her arm and her back ached. She stretched, easing her strained muscles, and this time she did light the fire. Johnno had left a pile of kindling, a basket of logs and a scuttle of coal for her.

Sipping on a cup of tea, she weighed up her options, her mind spinning with questions to which she had few answers.

Should she stay here, not knowing how long Johnno would be away? Could she introduce herself to the neighbour so she’d have someone to talk to? But her strength had deserted her in the last few days. She’d never felt so weak. She didn’t know if she could walk the good half-mile to the nearest house.

And where were the shops? Johnno had collected what she’d needed when he’d taken the wagon out last time. Could she walk to the village to get fresh food?

Should she go to Bethan? She was sure her stepmother would be more than pleased to take her in, but Gwenna couldn’t risk upsetting the precarious balance that existed between Bethan and Elias right now.

Should she go to Tillie? Her sister had enough to do, with her expanding girth and seeing to Charlie as well as caring for Tom who had his job. She was sure Tillie would welcome her in, but she couldn’t put her in such a difficult position.

So, she was back to staying here – alone.

Every fibre in her body screamed, ‘No!’

But stay she did.

Her father’s words kept echoing in her head. “Gwenna, bach. We can do anything we put our mind to.”

It was the argument he’d used when they’d moved to the Valleys to live with the Hughes family in the first place. He used the same argument after Owen was killed and he married Bethan and rose to be head of the household. He’d said the same thing over and over to push his argument about coming to New Zealand. Pa had had such hope.

At first, thoughts of her father deflated Gwenna’s spirits further. If he hadn’t died, life would be so different, but then her mood lightened. Pa said she could do anything. She just had to get on with it.

From somewhere in the centre of her being, she would find the strength. She had to. She placed her hands over her stomach. “I don’t know who you will be yet, but you are Pa’s grandchild and that means something. You are the future. For your sake, I will fulfill Pa’s dreams. I will.”

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About the Author

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Multi-award winning historical fiction author, Vicky Adin is a genealogist in love with history and words.

After decades of research Vicky has combined her skills to weave family stories and history together in a way that brings the past to life.

Fascinated by the 19th Century women who undertook hazardous journeys to find a better life, Vicky draws her characters from real life stories: characters such as Brigid, the Irish lacemaker and Gwenna, the Welsh confectioner, or Megan who discovers much about herself when she traces her family tree in The Cornish Knot.

Vicky Adin holds a MA(Hons) in English and Education. She is an avid reader of historical novels, family sagas and contemporary women’s stories and enjoys travelling. Her writing has been compared to that Catherine Cookson.

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For your chance to win a print copy of Gwenna the Welsh Confectioner, click on the link below! (Open Internationally)

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Jessica Rachow (Review) https://jessicarachow.wordpress.com/

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Blog Tour: ‘Sentinels’ by L.C. Conn

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I’m happy to be able to share this 5 star rated book today! It’s called Sentinels and it’s book #1 in The One True Child series by L.C. Conn.

Today I have a chapter from the book for your reading pleasure, and a giveaway for you to enter so please read on!

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Publication Date: February 14th, 2018

Genre: YA Fantasy

Publisher: Between the Lines

The world is new, created from a great explosion caused by Chaos in a childish rage. Order is born from the intense light of the explosion, sent as a balance to the Dark One. As the world is created around It, Order realises that It cannot stand alone and creates the Sentinels. Extreme beings with amazing powers, they shape and mould the world, creating creatures and plants to inhabit it. A world of light and love.

Chaos cannot understand why these beings will not bend to his will and worship him. He tries to destroy their work and riles against them. In answer, Order forms a plan. A being; born of two of the Sentinels, with abilities stronger than their own. A child in human form, who must be raised by The People in order to understand their race. The One True Child.

Carling is that child. Raised in the sacred valley in secret, along with her four brothers. Raised by Tarl’a, the Keeper of the Stones and her husband, Mailcon. Her life is quiet and uneventful, until she turns thirteen. It is then she learns of her true identity and purpose on earth. Now she must come to terms with this great change and prospect of finally being able to leave the valley to be taught her skills by the Sentinels. She must do this before Chaos can find her and attack before she is ready.

This is a story of learning and growing, of making mistakes and building on them. It is good vs evil, light vs dark and love vs hate. Carling’s very life depends on the love of her family and her soul-mate. It is also a story about how the world will only survive if we can control hatred and learn to love.

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Excerpt

Chapter One

The rage knew no bounds as he held the world in his fist. He had created it to be his and his alone—for the people he had brought to life to serve only him and his ways. They did not appreciate what he had done for them—they had wanted more, demanded more. Now his rage would be the last thing they knew as he squeezed the world and brought it all to an end, creating a vast explosion that lit up the darkness surrounding him. A pinpoint of light grew and spread, for a moment blinding him, and he roared at his displeasure of it.

The light encompassed all, sending out waves, pulsating deep into the reaches of the universe. Fragments of the old world riding the shock waves were flung into the depths. Fiery-hot chunks burning brightly spun out of control, attracting rock and minerals to circle them. As the spread of the explosion began to slow, the fragments began to cool. In the centre of the explosion, the bright light continued to shine; from its core, a Being became conscious and rose from the wreckage, glowing brightly with swirls of white light under Its skin.

The Being looked around and found a universe in chaos; order and stability were lost to the winds. It stood and looked out at the remains of a great world, gathering its memories to Itself. One large piece of rock It stood on, circling the star that warmed the ground at Its feet, and the Being began to weep for those who had been destroyed. All the history and the suffering they had endured under their cruel master brought forth great sobs from the Being. The tears It shed dripped down from Its eyes and onto the ground. So many tears for the loss of so many that a river began to run.

The river flowed away from the grief-stricken Being and filled all the low spaces on the rock, collecting into great lakes and seas. The sadness the Being had felt now turned to rage, and It struck the ground with Its fist. The land split, and the great molten core that had not yet cooled swelled up and burst out of the gap It had made. The hot magma created new land and boiled away some of the water, creating a great steam cloud that hung in the sky.

The distant star warmed the ground and condensed the water until the clouds were so sodden that they dropped from the sky. As the rain fell, the sunshine created a perfect form. An arc of light split into seven perfect shades of colour that stood out from the barren and dark landscape. The Being stood on an upthrust of rock and wondered at the amazing vision; It did not see the dark one approaching.

“You are not welcome here; this is my world, my universe. Who are you?” the dark one demanded of the Being. It turned to face the form that approached and recognised him as the being responsible for the turmoil that now reigned over the universe.

“I am from the light. The source of which is due to you, and in this place you shall never have authority. Never again will you oppress a people and use them for your own ends,” the Being said back, Its hands clasped in front of It and a sadness still in Its eye.

“From my destruction came your creation. You are my being and you shall bow down to me and my wishes.” The darkness grew before the light, looming large over It.

“I am the light, the light that will dominate you and put you where you should be. You have no sway over me. The light shall overpower you and keep you at bay; the children I will bring forth onto this land will know light and know its kindness. They shall feed from the crops and animals that the light shall encourage to grow and they will worship you never. They will not know you.”

“You are nothing and puny. I am the great destroyer, the one who rules over life and death. I am the chaos of the universe, and all who reside here shall be my slaves. I destroyed my last creation because they did not worship me in the proper way. If you go against me, I shall destroy you also.”

The Being looked past the evil at the large rainbow and saw it in its magnificence. From the single source of light, the great star that was shining down on the earth, light split as it hit the crystalline drops of rain and splayed out in dazzling colours all arrayed in order. If this monstrosity that stood before the rainbow was Chaos, then this Being who marvelled at the spectacle should be Order.

Slowly Order reached down and drew from the centre of the world the energy that spiralled there. It pulled it in from the area around it and filled Itself up until Order thought It would burst. Order sent out Its will and split Itself into seven, each figure to be a Sentinel to guard the world that Order wanted to protect. A different nimbus of colour swirled under each of their skins: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet. The seven Sentinels stood together and faced Chaos.

Chaos stood his ground and stared at the beings before him, his anger rising inside at the defiance of the light and what It had done. “You shall not overcome me. I will rule you, no matter how many there are of you—or you shall all die!” he screamed at them.

“We are together; we are order. You will not reign over this world, over these lands. We have come to protect them, and it shall be beautiful and peaceful. Chaos has no place in this world. We banish you and beg you, do not come back to this place,” the seven said together.

“You banish me? You cannot banish me from what is mine! I will crush you and break you. You will bend your knee to me.”

The group lifted up, their own rainbow dancing high into the sky and each split apart to form their own group of seven in order to protect the world from Chaos. They spread across the face of the world, each taking up an area to defend and protect.

Chaos raged against the defiance of him. He fought against their barriers and defences, and the land buckled under the strain of his wrath. A large stone he threw at the world, seeking to destroy it; but it only skimmed the surface and began to circle the world, and there it stayed.

In the land to the north, they formed the great stone circle where Order had first declared Itself a conduit for the power of the beings. Each group sent out over the world to protect a piece of it, their own special areas. Sacred sites were formed in each area to stay connected to the stones and to the original group.

The rage of Chaos slowed, the wounds on the surface of the world still raw and weeping molten rock. Chaos departed to think on how to deal with the problem of the light and Its children. His attack had been useless, and he raged around the universe destroying stars and planets in his path. Meanwhile, the little world flourished and changed in his absence.

Seeing the bare rock, the Beings brought forth the soil to cover it, grinding the surface of the rock to dust and releasing the minerals necessary to start life. The grass to hold it together, plants to decorate and bring shelter and sustenance. At first the groups worked together, then they became interested only in their own pieces to protect. They moulded the landscapes to their liking, emptying great seas and moving land, easing the damage the dark one had inflicted. They created animals, who began to roam the world seeking out new, brighter, and fresher pastures to graze on‒some with the urge for flesh.

Chaos was still out there watching their progress and seething, feeling his own power fade with the lack of worshipers. A large rock swept past him, grazing his shoulder and leaving a trail of vapour and ice in its wake. He took the great rock up in his mighty fist and sent it flying to the world the Beings were creating. It hurtled at great speed and when it hit, it was with great devastation.

It fell to the earth with a mighty explosion, sending debris and ash high into the air. The flames from the explosion spread out with concussive force and almost consumed the tiny planet, destroying all their work in a flash. The cloud from the debris blocked out the sun and to help heal the damaged world once more, the Sentinels called forth ice and snow to cover the land. So thick it lay on the ground that the seas dropped and the stones were buried deeply under the snow.

Chaos watched with great delight at the destruction he had almost caused; he sent more and more in the path of the planet, leaving great craters over the surface, most hitting the circling stone as it protected the world. It was a cold and grey piece, but viewed from the planet, it was beautiful and reflected light in the dark hours. With each attack, the Beings used their abilities to fix and mend the damage, creating great crevasses that filled with water and were inhabited by creatures that would never be seen.

The group that guarded the sacred stones met, and together they began to banish the ice and snow that lay over their lands, the effects of the great impacts from Chaos. Great valleys were left from the carving of the ice, and it pleased them to fill some up with the water left by the enormous melting glaciers. The Beings walked the earth and were unhappy to find that not all the creatures they had carefully created survived the great freeze. Some had adapted, and they looked to that as a sign.

A group to the south had created a creature who seemed to be very hardy and adaptable. These they had made to be in some ways in their own likeness. The creatures learned quickly and soon grew to dominate their environment. They moved about the earth, searching further and further afield, meeting with others and merging together, always adapting to the changing conditions.

At one of the meetings of all groups, they came together so Order could see their work. The Great Light saw and was pleased. It also saw into the future and the necessity to come. As It split again, Its wishes were made known to those who came, and they went out into the world and greeted the nomadic peoples in their areas.

The ice and snow still covered most of the sacred lands, reaching down to the lowlands. Very carefully, the Sentinels cleared the stones and the valley below, where they had met after Order left them. The great pillars of stone stood between them, reaching up into the sky. The greatest of the Sentinels and the closest to the one. They pushed their robes from their faces, feeling the warmth of the closest star as the ash and dust were starting to leave the atmosphere, and sat to discuss the plans of the One. The lights of their colours played in their skin, swirling, sparkling and dancing in the rays of the sun.

Their abilities were sharper and more intense, than those sent out into the world. As they leant up against the stones, they connected with the others, and the collected knowledge was then passed into the stones along with the enormous energy from the earth itself.

Sitting forward, Blue addressed his brothers and sisters. “Order has given Its wishes plainly; we must do as It commands. Our purpose to mate and pass the abilities on to the people to come is important for the survival of the world.”

“It must be so. We must go out and find those who wish to live in our lands peacefully,” Red said.

“It does not matter if they wish to be peaceful. These people will fight for survival and to protect their own. I have already seen it,” Green added.

“Do we all agree that the abilities will be passed to these people and down the line?” Indigo inquired.

“It is the will of Order that it is so; we must obey,” Violet commanded.

“My brothers and sisters, our lands are the most sacred and must be protected well. The need to have one of these people we create to guard the way to these stones is also important to protect the sacred stones and the access to our knowledge. This line should be constant and unbreakable,” Blue spoke.

“I should like to offer one of my line to the task. It shall be bred in them to be so linked to this place. The valley below shall be their home,” Red said.

“It is barren and bare; there are no resources there to sustain them,” Orange protested.

Yellow stood and went to the edge. In her hand she created a great staff, and she plunged it into the ground. A mighty crack split the rock and water poured forth, tumbling down the hill and spreading fast into the valley. When she returned, the staff was gone.

“There; water is a must for the survival of these people. As for food, we shall place plants and game generously so they can be sustained,” Yellow told them.

“I have seen these people; some strip the area bare and move on, leaving nothing of sustainable value behind,” Green told them.

“Then I shall teach them to harvest wisely and only take what they need. If you could keep your own lines from the area, it will sustain them,” Red asked.

“They will need to breed with others; I do not think it wise that they breed with themselves,” Violet spoke up.

“Others will come to seek wisdom from the light here at the stones. They will have contact with the outside world,” Orange said.

“Are we in accord, then?” Green asked.

“We are,” they each intoned.

“We will then part and find those that we need.” Indigo called the meeting to an end.

The Sentinels wandered the sacred lands; from themselves, they created the blood lines they needed. Red’s line he secured as soon as possible to the valley below the stones. In the river at the end of the valley, fish, large and fat, sustained them as well as the berries and other fruits of the forest that hid the valley from view. The line of protectors he bore was strong in both ability and physical strength, dark of hair and with bright blue eyes. The task to protect the stones Red left to the female line. The other people he fathered were spread wide, all distributed to guard the ways to the stones. They took to themselves the sigil of a boar—tenacious and hardy, protective of its young.

Orange went to the west and had the most land to care for—mostly rugged and hard to work, mountainous with great deep lochs and islands that stood alone out in the sea. The children he created were a strong, warrior-like people who took to the water and mountains alike. An eagle became their sigil, as it flew so high and could see so far. The water people became raiders, and those in the mountains were wild but loyal.

Yellow had lands just to the south of Red—arable and beautiful, with rolling hills and valleys. Her people grew crops, fished, and hunted. They lived in large family groups and were creative. They tended to roam the area, never settling down in one place for long. A bear they took for their own sigil. Ferocious in a fight, but tender-hearted.

Green headed south and had the smallest of the lands. His people became diplomats and traders. They were wise but also fiercely protective of the border. They were sometimes slippery to deal with but were never deceitful. A serpent became their sacred symbol.

Blue went north and east. His coast line was rugged and bore the brunt of the heavy weather that blew in from the great sea. Great forests covered the inland parts, and the game that lived there was plentiful. The people he brought there and fathered were hardy, determined, and proud of their lands. A great horned stag they took for their symbol.

Indigo’s people were cunning and wily. Their lands were to the south and had the largest border, which they protected jealously. Their skills sent themselves out to learn as much as possible from others; they were loyal to those who helped them and their family. The wolf was a perfect fit as their sacred animal.

Violet’s lands were to the east, and the only Sentinel she had no boundary with was Orange. Her people were gentle and peaceful. They were well protected and placed in the land. With highlands and coastal plains, they were leaders and planners. Their personalities could be big and brash, but their hearts generous and loving. Bullish sometimes by nature, the great horned bovine became their symbol.

Wandering the lands, the Sentinels grew their bloodlines, gently protecting the families that would play an important part in the future Order had seen. Red and Orange tampered quite a bit with their descendants, creating many warriors utilising the strength and mind-touch abilities. Indigo and Violet tended more towards intelligence in their people, creating those who were strong in the mental abilities. Green produced those who became adept at healing and the use of plants, also Whisperers. Yellow and Blue distributed their abilities to their people equally. While the other Sentinels sired many sons and daughters, this final pair was very careful on how many descendants they produced.

Purchase Sentinels Here!

About the Author

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L.C. Conn grew up on the outskirts of Upper Hutt, New Zealand. Her backyard encompassed the surrounding farmland, river, hills and mountains which she wandered with her brothers and fed her imagination. After discovering a love for writing in English class at the age of eight, she continued to write in secret. It was not until much later in life that L.C. turned what she thought was a hobby and something fun to do, into her first completed novel. Now married, L.C. moved from New Zealand to Perth, Western Australia, and became a stay at home mum. While caring for her family and after battling breast cancer, a story was born from the kernel of a dream. The first book of The One True Child Series was begun, and just kept blooming into seven completed stories.

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