Archive for the ‘steam punk’ Category

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A Confabulated Compendium of Anecdotes
by Melissa H North
Genre: Steampunk Fantasy
 
A Confabulated Compendium of Anecdotes is a Steampunk speculative
collection of tales. The stories, herein, provide a glimpse into the
imagination of a most anomalous Author.

Be swept away, if you dare, by sultry maidens with mechanical gadgets,
hi-tech flying machines and grinding gears. Peculiar alien forms
hell-bent on saving the earth, and a conglomerate of Vamps lead by
Count Valdo.
Howbeit, why wait for me to tell you more, turn the book atop and be
absorbed in the unputdownable.

 

CLOCKWORK BRIDE
Nephele’s first marriage ended in tragedy. And her second marriage seems to be
headed in the same direction. Why do her husband’s die? Is she
cursed? Or is she hiding a secret?

 

CREEP-TACULAR
Valdo, a direct descendant of Dracula must enlist the help of beautiful
Genevieve, a renown Professor. His coven is in peril and without her,
their existence will end.

 

SHADOW WALKERS
Jacques and his hired help, Bertram, find themselves crash landing to Earth,
where they realise the extensive damage humans have inflicted upon
the fragile environment, and who they thought were enemies, could
actually be their friends.

 

MURDER BY COMIC BOOK
Broderick is a private investigator and his assistant Abbey is an Automaton
Humanoid prototype. When a series of murders in the small township of
Whiteridge have Broderick baffled. The only clue, the last words of a
dying man – Comic Book. He must use unconventional methods to solve
the crimes.
 
 
 
Writing has always been a hobby and cathartic experience for me. Turning my
passion into a fulfilling career as an Author has been one of my greatest dreams.
I write because creating something that didn’t exist before is as
close to magic as I’ll ever get. All you need is imagination.
I’ve always been passionate about storytelling and impressed by the
influence it has on people and the decisions they make in life. I
love engaging with the projects I work on, diving headfirst into the
research, investigation, and production of stories I feel are worth
writing about. I am a curious and proactive Author, interested in
preserving the foundations set by classical literature by adapting
them to modern themes and trends.
 
 
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This series sounds fabulous. And I fell in love with the book covers. Check out Ann Gimpel’s Coven Enforcers series!

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Blood and Magic

Coven Enforcers

Book One

Ann Gimpel

 

Dream Shadow Press

63K words

Release Date: 7/18/16

Genre: Historical paranormal romance with a steampunk edge

 

Coven Enforcers = Dark, Dangerous, Magical Men

Coven Witches bow to no one—least of all Enforcers.

Sparks ignite. Tempers run high. Passion explodes. Hot. Sweet. Impossible to ignore….

Book Description:

Magic didn’t just find Luke Caulfield. It chased him down, bludgeoned him, and has been dogging him ever since. Some lessons are harder than others, but Luke embraces danger, upping the ante to give it one better. An enforcer for the Coven, a large, established group of witches, his latest assignment is playing bodyguard to the daughter of Coven leaders.

Abigail Ruskin is chaperoning a spoiled twelve-year-old from New York to her parents’ home in Utah Territory when Luke gets on their stagecoach in Colorado. A powerful witch herself, Abigail senses Luke’s magic, but has no idea what he’s doing on her stagecoach. Stuck between the petulant child and Luke’s raw sexual energy, Abigail can’t wait for the trip to end.

Unpleasant truths surface about the child. While Abigail’s struggling with those, wraiths, wolves, and dark mages launch an attack. Luke’s so attracted to Abigail, she’s almost all he can think about, but he’s leery too. The child is just plain evil.

Is Abigail in league with her? It might explain the odd attack that took out their driver and one of their horses. In over his head, he summons enforcer backup.

Will they help him save the woman he’s falling in love with, or demand her immediate execution?

Amazon    BN    iBooks    Google Play    ARe    Author’s Store

 

Excerpt from Blood and Magic:

…Cursing her long skirts and cumbersome petticoats, Abigail used magic to skip the coach steps. Power blazed from her hands before she could see what she was aiming at. She was afraid if she took even a few seconds to hunt for a target, something would get her. Being dead wasn’t desirable, but it was better than the other things wraiths could do to her. Those turned her blood to ice chips.

With her booted feet planted firmly on the ground, Abigail finally got a good look at the wraiths. She drew magic from deep in the earth and sent it chasing after them when they jumped sideways to evade her magic. Insubstantial as tall, thin puffs of smoke, they had glowing charcoal eyes. Long, blood red claws graced what passed for hands. Binding their victims with fiery strands was a favorite trick—just before they sucked your soul right out of you, leaving a handy vessel for one of their masters to occupy. Wraiths used to feed only on the living, making them into new wraiths. They’d been bad enough then, but now they functioned as hired thugs for practitioners of the Black Arts. It lent them the ability to operate in broad daylight. Abigail wondered which group of sorcerers this crew worked for. The Alchemical Council? Black Magick?

Good God but there were a lot of them. Why? Surely they weren’t interested in the contents of the coach, which only carried mail and Carolyn’s substantial luggage. Ducking and spinning to escape being entwined in a blazing net, she thought about the girl’s steamer trunks. Abigail only helped pack two of them. The third had been locked and ready to go. Could that possibly be what the wraiths were after?

She shut off her thoughts so she could focus. The ragged sound of her own panting thrummed loud in her ears as she chucked one killing blow after another. Bolts of blue-white light flared from both hands. No point in running anything less than wide open. For each wraith she obliterated, three more showed up to take its place. Her chest ached from breathing sooty air and wraith stench.

Heat seared her back. Damnation! Her skirts were on fire. Abigail funneled magic behind her to quell the flames, but it didn’t work. Smoke stung her nostrils. Fire had already eaten a long gouge in one of her hands. If she dropped to the ground to deal with her burning clothes, the wraiths would pounce. Terror licked at her along with the flames.

In spite of her brave thoughts earlier, she didn’t want to die. Not here. And not like this. She cursed her corset. It was hard to get a decent breath. If she’d known she was going to have to fight—

“Keep after ’em,” Luke growled from behind her. “I have your dress under control.” She felt him drape something heavy around her shoulders—a lap robe he must’ve snatched from inside the coach—and press it close against her with his body. Gratitude wrapped warm tentacles around her. Having him right next to her made her already pounding heart do flip-flops, but she forced herself to focus on something other than all those rock-hard muscles jammed against her back.

“Are they all on this side of the coach?” she wheezed, still struggling to breathe. Between the smoke, her stays, and Luke’s body so near, it was a losing battle.

“Pretty much. Guess they want you more than me. Actually, they’ve been trying to get to the trunks up top.”

A discordant warning note sounded in the back of her mind. What the hell was in the girl’s luggage that would draw wraiths? Her back wasn’t hot anymore, so she assumed the fire was out.

That fire, maybe. The one inside me is just getting going…

She squirmed from more than the smoke and struggled not to turn around and press the front of herself against Luke. They had bigger problems than his undeniable charisma. Luke didn’t seem to be in a hurry to move away, though. He remained front to back with her, and she absorbed power flowing from him. Damn, but he was strong. What she wouldn’t give for that kind of magic.

It would help if I could breathe…

With difficulty, Abigail forced her mind away from Luke’s charms. “The driver?” She hadn’t been round to the front of the wagon to check.

“Dead.”

“Ever driven one of these things?”

“Concentrate on killing, woman. If we can’t get shut of the wraiths, ’twon’t matter a diddly damn.”

 

30989198

Blood and Sorcery

Coven Enforcers

Book Two

Ann Gimpel

 

Dream Shadow Press

64K words

Release Date: 8/1/16

Genre: Historical paranormal romance with a steampunk edge

 

Coven Enforcers = Dark, Dangerous, Magical Men

Coven Witches bow to no one—least of all Enforcers.

Sparks ignite. Tempers run high. Passion explodes. Hot. Sweet. Impossible to ignore….

Book Description:

Joshua committed his life to fighting Black Magick. Not sure who he hates worse, dark sorcerers or the clerics who tortured and mutilated his family, he lives on the road with his horse and his magic, working as a Coven enforcer. Breana Giraud is the only woman he’s ever loved, and until very recently she was married to someone else.

Breana’s husband, Don, sold his soul to the devil, embracing dark practices. Along the way, he corrupted their daughter. While Breana could’ve turned him in to Coven justice without a second thought, she couldn’t bring herself to implicate her child. Still reeling from her daughter’s death at the hands of evil, and grateful her husband met the vicious end he deserved, she feels broken, damaged. The last thing on her mind is falling in love.

Joshua tries to hold back, give Breana room to mourn her losses, but if he has his way, she’ll become his wife. With Don dead, and the path to his heart’s true love finally clear, he’ll do anything he can to make her his. Even if it means fighting his way past the dark mages’ leader, who wants her for his own.

 

Excerpt from Blood and Sorcery:

Salt Lake City, Utah Territory

Breana Giraud bolted upright in her bed, the darkness around her shattering into fire-tinged motes of black. Heart thudding hard against her chest, throat constricted with fear, she reached for power, intent on shrouding herself in a protective spell. Goddamn her husband. He was at it again. It was like him to wait until she was sleeping—and she had to sleep sometime.

Once upon a time, she’d cared about Don—a witch with power to match her own. But he’d been seduced by the dark and become deeply entrenched in Black Magick. Shielding herself against him drained her, but she didn’t have any choice. Sucking air around the narrow place that used to be her throat, she sent magic spiraling outward. She didn’t sense him near, but the enchantment that just dragged her from a sound sleep had Don’s name—and sliminess—stamped all over it.

Her eyes snapped open. Don was dead.

Dead.

What the hell was happening to her?

He couldn’t harm her anymore, so why was his stench all over the room? It wasn’t even the bedroom they’d shared. She’d moved to the far end of the hall to escape the horrible memories that swamped her every time she thought about him.

Guess that didn’t work very well.

She pressed her tongue hard against her teeth and reached for her magic again. Surely she could summon a mage light. Simplest of spells, it required almost nothing in the way of power. Finally, after she was shaking and sweating with effort, a wavery blue light formed, casting the bedroom in eerie shadows. Breana urged her light to burn hotter, brighter. Her teeth were chattering, and she felt as if she’d never be warm again. Icy sweat dripped down her sides.

She tugged the heavy, wool blanket around her shuddering form, but it didn’t help so she dragged air hard into lungs that had nearly forgotten how to cooperate. And then did it again. And again, until she was able to clamp her jaws in a harsh, desperate line.

Her light flickered and brightened, and the ball of fear making it hard to breathe eased the slightest bit. Falling back asleep was laughable, so she dug her way out from under the covers and pulled a robe woven from soft, cream-colored wool over her linen nightdress. Sheepskin slippers came next.

At least the godawful chill that had permeated the air was dissipating, and the reek of evil along with it. Brimstone held a sulfur taint that burned the back of her throat and made her skin prickle with a million points of discomfort.

She blinked back tears as she made her way downstairs, her mage light bouncing over one shoulder. The dark had taken both her husband and her daughter, and robbed her of what had once been a warm and comfortable marriage. She hated Black Magick with a passion. Hated what it had almost done to her as she walked a tightrope between her husband’s demands and her responsibility to the Coven.

“Yeah, and I did a shitty job all the way round,” she muttered as she poured a cup of tepid coffee into a mug. It was bitter as all get out from sitting on the back of the woodstove since early the previous morning, but she gulped it down anyway, wanting the quick stimulation.

Too keyed up to sit, she wandered to a window and looked to the east. Dawn wasn’t far off, but the horizon was still dark. Days were growing longer, but it was still winter, and it might not get light until seven. She’d sent a meticulous letter to Coven headquarters in New York. Within it, she detailed her sins in not turning her husband and daughter over to Coven justice—once she fully understood their allegiance had shifted to dark power.

That letter had certainly arrived by now.

What would they do to her?

A snort of derision curled her mouth into a bitter smile. She knew what she’d do to someone in her position. Banish them from the Coven for starters. After that, it would be anyone’s guess, but the Coven wouldn’t be out of line demanding her life as punishment for shielding her family from what they deserved.

Not much she could do. About any of it. No. She needed to keep going, day by day, and let the wheel spin as it would. She’d find out soon enough. Certainly by this coming summer when most—if not all—of the Coven had relocated to Utah Territory. At least she’d given Luke and Abigail a good start by marrying them. Memories of that day—and their joy—kept her going through the hardest spots.

She plodded back to the stove and poured the last of the coffee into her cup before she opened the woodstove door and sent a jot of magic to stir the embers. Once they crackled merrily, she added chunks of wood and refilled the kettle on the back of the stove with water

from the pump next to the sink. The chores were automatic, and they settled her nerves enough to dissect what had driven her awake.

Coven enforcers, a group of hard-bodied, sharp-eyed men, who kept witches on the straight and narrow, had seen to it that both Don and her daughter, Carolyn, met their end in mage fire, purging their souls of darkness. And they’d killed Alistair MacDuff, head of the Alchemical Council. She and Abigail had seen to the death of Alistair’s henchman before he, too, was dumped in the purification of mage fire.

“Guess we didn’t get them all,” she muttered as she ground coffee beans with a mortar and pestle.

“If them refers to who I think it does,” Joshua drawled from the kitchen doorway, “of course they’re not all dead. That fresh coffee I smell?”

Breana curved her mouth into a soft smile. “You know damn good and well it is. I drank the dregs from yesterday morning. Hang on till the water boils, and I’ll brew a fresh pot.”

“Don’t rush. I got time.” Joshua moved closer to the stove, extending his hands toward its warmth. Tight-fitting, buff-colored leathers, similar to what most Coven enforcers wore, hugged him like a second skin. Flame red hair hung loose to the middle of his back.

Breana turned to face him squarely and crossed her arms beneath her breasts. “Looks as if you got up in a hurry. Your hair’s not braided.”

30989213

Blood and Illusion

Coven Enforcers

Book Three

Ann Gimpel

 

Dream Shadow Press

64K words

Release Date: 8/22/16

Genre: Historical paranormal romance with a steampunk edge

 

Coven Enforcers = Dark, Dangerous, Magical Men

Coven Witches bow to no one—least of all Enforcers.

Sparks ignite. Tempers run high. Passion explodes. Hot. Sweet. Impossible to ignore….

Book Description:

Not all witches join the Coven. Fiercely independent, Isla heads up her own small band in the San Francisco area. She’s never needed help before, but dark sorcerers drive her and her group into hiding, trapping them.

Sam’s worked for the Coven as one of their enforcers forever. He’s been there so long, the Coven is the only mistress he knows. It’s a lonely life on the road thwarting wickedness and Black Magick with his guns, his magic, and his horse, but it’s been enough to satisfy him. Until now.

A group of witches is in deep trouble. They’re not part of the Coven, but Sam is sworn to protect all witches and he rides to their assistance with several of his brothers. Nothing prepares him for the outspoken spitfire who ends up riding double with him. She’s forthright, opinionated, and downright hostile, but he’s drawn to her self-sufficiency—and her undeniable beauty. Soon, Isla is all he can think about.

Dark forces are on the move. Protecting the woman he’s falling in love with is at the very top of Sam’s list. If they manage to survive, he’ll tame her. Claim her. Make her his.

 

Excerpt from Blood and Illusion:

…Isla huddled with six other witches in a basement beneath one of the warehouses lining San Francisco’s docks. Her hair hung in filthy strands. Grime caked beneath her nails, and she stank, but at least she was alive. Russian sorcerers—or at least sorcerers who spoke Russian—had killed four of her sisters before she’d dragged the rest of their small band to a defensible position and swathed them in layers and layers of magic.

It had been a short-term solution, but they hadn’t had any choice. Not really. Only problem was they had no easy way out. If they dismantled their spell, the sorcerers would find them in a trice. If they remained where they were, eventually they’d starve to death. She was far weaker than she’d been a week ago when they’d barricaded themselves into the underground room with its dirt floor and dirt walls. Small cutouts high on two walls coincided with ground level, and provided their only source of light.

In desperation, she’d used her power stone to call Hester Thorne, a witch who’d been instrumental drawing their group into a cohesive unit. Hester promised help, but it had yet to materialize. Breath steamed through Isla’s teeth as she bent forward and stirred the shallow pool she’d created from a broken pot made of crockery and water dripping down the walls. It took a while, but the water had finally grown deep enough to become a scrying instrument.

Weariness dogged her, and her vision blurred. She squeezed her eyes shut, willing them to focus next time she dragged her lids open. Thinking it might help, she pushed herself upright and walked around the six- by ten-foot room.

“What are you doing?” Kat eyed her balefully out of bloodshot blue eyes. “I was asleep.” Dirty blonde hair had been braided to keep it out of the way.

“Aye, and ye’ll be asleep permanently if ye’re not careful,” Isla shot back, the brogue from her native Scotland thicker than usual. It was one of the reasons she and Hester had bonded so tightly. Shared roots from Scotland’s Highlands and islands.

“Isla! Come look at your pool!” Rowan cried. Silver hair fell about her, dragging in the dirt, but her brown eyes were lit with hope.

Isla skidded to her knees and stared at the water’s surface. Nine men strutted down the rock-strewn sand fronting the ocean. Tall, rangy, hard-bodied and clad in leathers, it was obvious they were used to ruling the world. At first she thought they were a new passel of sorcerers, but she forced herself to look closer.

Not trusting her first take, she took a ragged breath. Maybe she wished for salvation from the room that was likely to become their crypt so desperately, she was imagining things, “What does it look like to you?” she asked Rowan.

The other woman turned to face her. “Help. That’s what it looks like. Those men are bleeding power, and it’s the good kind.”

The other women skittered across the floor, jostling one another to get close to the pool so they could see.

“Be careful!” Isla cautioned. “Else ye’ll tip the dish, and we might not live long enough for me to refill it.”

Her heart hammered against her ribs as she took in the men. One of them in particular caught her attention and held it. Long, blond hair spilled across his shoulders, and his eyes were a bright, turquoise blue. Strong bones carved his cheekbones into bas-relief, and his jaw was square, determined. Buff colored leathers covered him, and they were skintight, leaving virtually nothing to her imagination. Broad shoulders led to deeply muscled arms and narrow hips with a high, tight ass. Long legs disappeared into boots that laced to his knees.

Her throat grew dry. Many a year had passed since she’d experienced such an immediate reaction to a man, and it confused her.

Must be because I’m half-staved.

Och aye, and ye know better, the other half of her brain inserted dryly. Whoever he was, he was one gorgeous man.

Understanding slammed into her, and she was ashamed she hadn’t put two and two together immediately. “They must be the aid Hester promised.” She glanced at the other women.

Rowan lurched upright. “If that’s true, then we need to go outside and help them.”

Isla licked her chapped lips. “They’re not looking as if they need any help, but at least that way they won’t have to hunt for us, and mayhap we can leave this accursed place.”

“You’re the one with the strongest magic,” Kat pointed out. “And the only one who can project telepathy beyond the enchantment hiding us. See if they answer.”

Isla exhaled sharply. It was a reasonable suggestion, but not without risk. If she was wrong, and those men were actually allied with the dark, she’d have given away their position. Opened them to a certain death. Or worse, imprisonment at the hands of evil.

“I was in your mind,” Rowan said, her voice surprisingly gentle. “We’re as good as dead now. I say we chance it.”

“I was coming around to the same conclusion.” Isla breathed deeply to center herself and drew out her pink moonstone. Before she could think things to death, and her courage failed utterly, she linked to the stone and sent her magic thrumming outward. No need to make things fancy, so she settled on the shortest phrase imaginable.

“Are ye who Hester sent?”

Depending on the answer, she’d ask for proof and take things from there.

About Author Ann Gimpel:

Ann Gimpel

 

Ann Gimpel is a national bestselling author. A lifelong aficionado of the unusual, she began writing speculative fiction a few years ago. Since then her short fiction has appeared in a number of webzines and anthologies. Her longer books run the gamut from urban fantasy to paranormal romance. Once upon a time, she nurtured clients, now she nurtures dark, gritty fantasy stories that push hard against reality. When she’s not writing, she’s in the backcountry getting down and dirty with her camera. She’s published over 30 books to date, with several more planned for 2016 and beyond. A husband, grown children, grandchildren and wolf hybrids round out her family.

Find Ann At:

Website / Twitter / Blog / Amazon / Facebook

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Extracted
Sherry D. Ficklin & Tyler Jolley
Published by: Clean Teen Publishing
Publication date: August 15th 2016
Genres: Steampunk, Young Adult

Two opposing factions of time travelers vie for control of the future in this thrilling steampunk series opener dubbed “Interesting” and “Unexpected” by Kirkus Reviews.

Lex and Ember—two time travelers with no memories of their lives before being recruited into the time war—are torn between the factions. When Lex accepts a mission that lands him deep within the heart of the Telsa Institute, he meets Ember, and the past that was stolen from them comes flooding back. Now armed with the truth of who they were, Lex and Ember must work together to save the future before the battle for time destroys them once again.

Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble

EXCERPT:

My breath comes in short, shallow bursts. I can feel the warmth of Ethan’s body radiating like a tuning fork against my back. In front of me, there is only darkness. I strain, listening, waiting for the next wave of attack. The leather straps holding up my suede harness dig into the skin of my shoulders, but the ache only sharpens my focus. The urge to turn around is strong, though I know better. Months of training have taught me exactly what happens when I turn my back to the darkness. So I listen, honing my senses until I catch the sound of Ethan taking a small step forward, away from me. My eyes are useless, so I close them. Knowing my attackers are well paid for their ability to move in silence, there is little hope that they will give themselves away. We need another strategy. As if reading my mind, Ethan picks up the conversation we were having earlier.

“All I’m saying is, maybe you need the extra practice,” Ethan says, his tone mocking. Even without being able to see him, I can sense him moving, beginning to circle counterclockwise. I know he’s trying to draw them out, to bring the fight to him. It seems like a sound strategy, so I jump on board.

“Oh, yes, because it isn’t like she turned around and kicked the crap out of you, too.” I’m mimicking his movements now. My voice is flat, free from emotion, and my words are empty. I can’t see him moving, but I can feel him, as if we’re connected by a million invisible threads.

“How am I supposed to just punch a girl?” Ethan asks. “And I was tired from taking the guy out like five seconds earlier.”

“She isn’t a girl. She’s more like a pissed-off kangaroo in a top hat. She has a nasty right hook, I’ll give you that.”

I hear the sharp whip of air as a bamboo pole cuts through the darkness, headed toward my face. Even with our phony argument going on, I’m able to hear it coming before it lands. I bring up my hands and block the blow with my forearms. The impact stings, bruising the bones there, but better my arms than my face. With a movement perfected after one too many blows to the head, I grab the pole and pull it aside, dragging my attacker with it. As he closes in, I drop the pole and lock arms with Ethan. I flip over his back and kick out, knocking my attacker to the mat. As he struggles back to his feet, Ethan spins into my place, delivering a secondary kick that sends the man flying into the wall with a dull thud. “Yeah, but she’s scrappy,” he says.

“Scrappy? Is that boy code for you couldn’t stop staring at her rack?”

Behind me, I feel Ethan duck a blow, and then land one of his own before pressing his back against mine. “I… that’s not… I didn’t even… I mean…” he sputters.

I smirk. Busted.

Footsteps approach, but we keep sparring. I bend over, using my attacker’s own momentum against him as I put my shoulder into his gut and stand, propelling him over my head and onto his back on the mat. I don’t need to see my victory to realize what the maneuver has cost me. A muscle in my lower back seizes, and it’s all I can do not to drop to my knees in agony. I clench my fists until I feel my fingernails cut bloody crescents in my palms. There is no way I’m going to be the weak link—no way I’m going to let Ethan fight alone. Back to back, that’s how Rifters are trained to fight. And Ethan always has my back.

“Don’t feel too bad. She was pretty scrappy after all.”

Ethan mumbles, “It’s a girl thing.”

“Hold up, what’s that supposed to mean?” I ask, stiffly regaining my footing as my back screams in protest.

As usual, Ethan turns to check on me. “Nothing personal, Ember.”

Not wanting him to get slammed for it again, I grab him by the shoulder and pull, revolving us to our starting positions just as the first attacker flips back onto his feet and lunges. He would have taken me in the stomach, but I bring up my knee just in time to block his advance before kicking him in the face. There is a loud crunch that sounds like breaking bone. I hear him hit the mat with a groan. The lights flick back on, and Mistress Catherine blows her whistle.

Normally we spar with off-duty guards, since most of them have military training of some kind. They know how to take a hit and how to deliver one without doing too much damage. We might be lowly recruits, but Rifters are rare, and our lives are precious.

But as the man whose nose I have just broken pulls off his black ski mask, my heart falls into my shoes. Flynn is staring up at me, and his face is covered in blood.

“Nice hit, Ember,” he says as blood drips from his nose and onto his white shirt. Mistress Catherine hands him his horn-rimmed glasses and shoots me an amused smirk. Behind me, Ethan snickers.

Great. And here I was thinking this day couldn’t get any worse.

Reaching down, I offer Flynn a hand up, which he accepts with a smile.

“I’m so sorry,” I mutter, but he waves it off.

“Catherine told me you were really coming along. I wanted to see for myself.”

The others are shuffling out, so I turn to grab a towel and follow them, but Mistress Catherine closes the door behind a worried-looking Ethan, presses her back against it, and narrows her eyes at me. I used to think it was hard to look menacing in a knee-length pencil skirt and beige brocade top, but she radiates power. It might be the stern pucker of her thin lips, or the way her graying hair is knotted tightly at the nape of her neck. She resembles a librarian except for the long, jagged scar that runs from her left temple to the cleft in her chin. Well, that and the spider-shaped, iron shoulder harness permanently affixed to her upper arm.

Not sure what’s going on, I freeze, yellow towel in hand. Before I can say anything, I feel something moving behind me. I manage to move to the side just as a wooden staff comes slamming down against the spot where I’d stood a heartbeat earlier. I turn and see Flynn grinning, blood still dripping off his chin. He spits before whirling the staff like a windmill in front of him. “What I don’t understand,” he says, circling to my left, “is how that Hollow got the best of you. According to Ethan’s report, Kara had no problem with her. And Catherine here tells me that you mat Kara at almost every practice now.”

I have no idea what to say. Does he think I let her beat up on me? Just then, my legs are swept out from under me. I fall to the mat, but, rolling swiftly backward, I bounce up onto my feet. Catherine has a staff, too, and comes toward me from the right. I hold up my hands and back up slowly. In the corner of the room, a vent erupts in a cloud of steam, and Tesla’s image appears but says nothing.

“Look, I didn’t let her get away,” I say. “If that’s what you’re implying. She was strong. And fast.”

Catherine shakes her head. “You are strong. And fast. And clever.”

“I’m sorry!” I blurt out when my back hits the corner and they are still coming at me.

I don’t think Flynn would ever hurt me, not really, but Catherine, well…

Without another word, they both attack. I manage to duck one blow but take another in the ribs before I decide to make a break for it. Jumping as high as possible, I’m able to get a hand on the chain attaching one of the punching bags to the ceiling and hoist myself up. I leap over Flynn and roll as I hit the ground behind him. They’re quick, though, and have me surrounded again in seconds.

It’s easy to forget that they are trained Rifters, too. Catherine doesn’t rift anymore, but Flynn is still active and in really good shape. They aren’t holding anything back either. Flynn lands a blow to my lower back, but when Catherine moves in, I’m able to grab her staff and force it from her bad arm. Suddenly, time is moving in a blur. I’m not thinking about my next move anymore. My body is reacting of its own accord. I’m not sure how it happens, but I blink and Catherine is on her knees. Flynn is standing in front of me, and I have the two staffs crossed at his neck. He’s holding up his hands and saying my name.

I drop the sticks and step back. The muscles in my arms and legs are twitching like I’ve just run ten miles.

“That’s what we mean,” Catherine says, climbing stiffly to her feet. “You could have taken the Hollow girl. So, why did you hesitate?”

I close my eyes, calling the fight to the front of my memory. There was something about the girl. She was beautiful, for sure, but that wasn’t it. There was something else, too. Something I can’t put into words. I look up to find they’re staring at me, waiting for some kind of answer. I can feel Tesla glaring holes into my back, watching me like one of his little science experiments. “I don’t know what you want me to say.”

Flynn sighs and holds his hands out to me. I take them without hesitation. “Ember, I know it’s hard. I know you don’t like hurting people. It’s against your very nature to harm someone or let someone suffer. But you are too important to risk losing. Understand? Sometimes, you have to put someone down, let someone get hurt or even die, to save yourself and your team. You can’t hold anything back.”

I take a deep breath. “And what if someone dies because of me? Because, for some reason, my life is worth more than theirs?”

Flynn lowers his head, looking me in the eye. “That is a burden you will have to learn to carry.”

~~~~~

3 Questions With:

 

Ember

  • What does she love most?

Her family, Ethan, Kara, and Riley, and when she remembers him, Lex. Anyone she considers hers.

  • What is her greatest fear?

Losing her family (again). Fire freaks her out, but losing the little family she’s made in the Institute scares her. The only thing that scares her more is the idea of losing Lex again.

  • What is her Achilles heel?

Sometimes she’s hesitant to stand up for herself. She lets people lead her around. Partly because she doesn’t want to hurt their feelings, partly because she’s afraid they will leave her if she stands her ground.

 

Ethan

  • What does he love most?

He’s in love with Ember. It’s the strongest connection in his life. He has a brotherly bond with Riley, but it’s not as intense.

  • What is his greatest fear?

Not being there for the people who depend on him. Falling short of what he thinks people expect of him.

  • What is his Achilles heel?

His need to push boundaries. To take things just a step too far. Being too impulsive. Not looking before he leaps. It stems from a mixture of overconfidence and a desire to constantly test himself; prove himself.

 

LEX

  1. What does he love most?

He loves his family (EMBER) but lately the Hollows and Steinward. He is loving the idea of revenge and rescue.

  1. What is his greatest fear?

Losing Ember again

  1. What is his Achilles heel?

He is a natural born leader but his cockiness could get in the way.  He can be big headed sometimes.

 

STEIN

  1. What does she love most?

Herself.  She is really into just watching out for herself although she will conform to helping LEX.  She is afraid of falling in love.

  1. What is her greatest fear?

Her past.  She doesn’t know where she is from or how she came to be with the Hollows and this scares her

  1. What is her Achilles heel?

Once she learns about her past, she isn’t sure where she fits in anymore.

~~~~~

 

Author Bio:

Sherry D. Ficklin is a full time writer from Colorado where she lives with her husband, four kids, two dogs, and a fluctuating number of chickens and house guests. A former military brat, she loves to travel and meet new people. She can often be found browsing her local bookstore with a large white hot chocolate in one hand and a towering stack of books in the other. That is, unless she’s on deadline at which time she, like the Loch Ness monster, is only seen in blurry photographs.

Author links:
Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter

Tyler H. Jolley is a sci-fi/fantasy author and full-time orthodontist, periodontist (see: Overachiever). He divides his spare time between writing, reading, mountain biking, and camping with his family.

Author links:
Website / Facebook / Twitter

 

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Thanks so much for visiting fuonlyknew and Good Luck!

For a list of my reviews go HERE.

For a list of free eBooks updated daily go HERE

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A Midsummer Night's Mechanical Banner 851 x 315

I’ve enjoyed Kirsten’s Riga Hayworth Series and read the first book in this series. I couldn’t miss this opportunity to share her books with you.

Check out A Midsummer Night’s Mechanical.

Enjoy the excerpt.

And don’t forget to enter the giveaway!

A Midsummer Night’s Mechanical

Sensibility Grey Series of Steampunk Suspense Book 3

Kirsten Weiss

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Genre: Steampunk/suspense

Publisher: Misterio Press

Date of Publication: May 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-944767-00-6 / ASIN: B01DOKO6CA

Number of pages: 224 / Word Count: 69,000

Cover Artist: Kirsten Weiss

Synopsis

A Midsummer Murder

The California Territory, 1849

Blamed for burning down the San Francisco wharf, clockwork inventor, Sensibility Grey has spent the last three months in hiding. Now all she wants is to depart the gold-crazy boomtown for a new life in the East. So when the owner of a traveling theater offers her work embellishing his mechanical stage, she turns him down. Then he turns up dead on her doorstep along with his enigmatic stage.

An explorer of the mysteries of aether, Sensibility has her own secrets to keep, and adversaries who’ll stop at nothing to learn them. Is the mechanical stage a part of a bigger game? Or the key to unlocking her true, magical potential?

A Midsummer Night’s Mechanical is book three in the Sensibility Grey series of steampunk suspense.

Kobo      Amazon

 

CHAPTER ONE

San Francisco, California Territory, June 1849.

Sensibility sat cross-legged upon her bed and tried not to think. She tried not to think of the ache where her stays pinched her back. She tried not to think of tomorrow’s journey across the American wilderness. She tried not to think about the clamor of banging drums and tootling fifes and—

“Oh, good gad!” She clenched her fist, pieces of quartz crystal biting into her flesh. Sensibility sprang from the bed and threw open the boarding house window. Oppressive heat, acrid from the nearby outhouse, rolled into the room. Wrinkling her nose, she leaned out over the fenced back yard and craned her neck. The afternoon sun streamed through the laundry, hanging limp on the line. From her position, she couldn’t see the street procession. But neither could she avoid hearing their blasted parade.

Something scuttled near her elbow, and she jerked away, slamming her head on the window frame. White pain arced through her skull.

A baby raccoon, not much larger than the palm of her hand, cowered on the other end of the narrow sill. It scrabbled, hunching into a tight ball, trapped on the high ledge.

“Ow.” She winced, rubbing her throbbing head and glad her chignon had taken the brunt of the blow. “How on earth did you get up here?”

The raccoon mewled.

“You shall have to make your own way home, for you cannot come inside. Mrs. Watson has a strict rule about animals inside her boarding house.”

Gently, so as not to disturb the creature, she shut the window. The raccoon peered over the ledge then looked at her, his expression plaintive.

Attempting to ignore the animal, she paced the denuded room, her brown skirts swishing.

They had ample space to swish. Nearly all her belongings lay compressed into a single carpetbag, set before the empty wardrobe. The bedroom had an air of abandonment.

Unsettled, Sensibility rattled the quartz crystals in her hand and glanced to the window.

The animal stared inside, forlorn.

She tugged at her collar. It was such a small thing. But rules were rules. “You found your way onto the ledge. You can find your own way down.”

Sensibility turned to the journal open on the desk. Her sketch of an unworldly creature she’d once encountered scowl from the page. Frowning, she slammed the book shut. It had been careless of her to have left it open. Strange, she couldn’t remember examining the journal before she’d gone downstairs to retrieve her luncheon.

The crystals pressed into her palm. She was so close to a breakthrough in aether technology, but the clues remained buried. Buried in the remains of her father’s last journal. Hidden in a journal from a traveling occultist. Scattered throughout her own notes and theories. One day soon, she would fit those pieces together. It was madness to hope she could solve that problem today.

Sensibility opened her hand and gazed at the quartz crystals. She’d mastered the use of aether to power small devices. But aether had other applications, such as distance control and distance vision. These applications eluded her. “There has to be a way…”

She glanced at the window.

The animal raised itself on its hind legs and pressed its tiny black paws to the glass.

Sensibility groaned. “I know I’ll regret this.” Pocketing the crystals, she opened the window.

The raccoon cowered.

“You,” she said, “being a wild animal, will attempt to bite me if I rescue you. But I will have none of it. I shall pick you up, I shall take you outside, and you shall neither bite nor scratch. Do you understand?”

In a swift motion, she grasped it by the scruff of the neck and lifted it inside. It writhed, and her grasp on it loosened.

She gasped. “Don’t….”

The raccoon dropped to her desk and shook its head. Whiskers twitching, it scuttled to her abandoned luncheon tray and made free with a bit of toast.

About the Author

Kirsten Weiss

Kirsten Weiss worked overseas for nearly fourteen years, in the fringes of the former USSR and in South-east Asia.  Her experiences abroad sparked an interest in the effects of mysticism and mythology, and how both are woven into our daily lives.

Now based in San Mateo, CA, she writes steampunk suspense and paranormal mysteries, blending her experiences and imagination to create a vivid world of magic and mayhem. Kirsten has never met a dessert she didn’t like, and her guilty pleasures are watching Ghost Whisperer re-runs and drinking red wine.

Sign up for her newsletter to get a free copy of the full length urban fantasy novel, The Alchemical Detective, and updates on her latest work at: http://kirstenweiss.com

Blog / Twitter / Facebook / Goodreads

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Thanks so much for visiting fuonlyknew and Good Luck!

For a list of my reviews go HERE

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Welcome to The Friday 56 hosted by Freda’s Voice.

 

This is a really fun meme!

The only rules are to grab a book (any book), turn to page 56 or 56% in your eReader and find a sentence or a few (no spoilers) that grabs you and post it.

Then go over to Freda’s Voice and leave your link so we can visit your 56!

My 56 for this week is from

 Mechanica

by Betsy Cornwell

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My 56 

I thought I out to say something, but in that room, at that moment, I was suddenly afraid to speak my mind. I wonder sometimes if I should have guessed, even then, what was to come.

I won the hardcover copy of this book in a giveaway . I just opened it to take a peek and now I’m over halfway through and loving it!

Read on if you want to know more.

Synopsis

Nicolette’s awful stepsisters call her “Mechanica” to demean her, but the nickname fits: she learned to be an inventor at her mother’s knee. Her mom is gone now, though, and the Steps have turned her into a servant in her own home.

But on her sixteenth birthday, Nicolette discovers a secret workshop in the cellar and begins to dare to imagine a new life for herself. Could the mysterious books and tools hidden there—and the mechanical menagerie, led by a tiny metal horse named Jules—be the key to escaping her dreary existence? With a technological exposition and royal ball on the horizon, the timing might just be perfect for Nicolette to earn her freedom at last.

Gorgeous prose and themes of social justice and family shine in this richly imagined Cinderella retelling about an indomitable inventor who finds her prince . . . but realizes she doesn’t want a fairy tale happy ending after all.

~~~~~

Thanks so much for visiting fuonlyknew!

Leave your link and I’ll drop by your 56.

Welcome to The Friday 56 hosted by Freda’s Voice.

 

This is a really fun meme!

The only rules are to grab a book (any book), turn to page 56 or 56% in your eReader and find a sentence or a few (no spoilers) that grabs you and post it.

Then go over to Freda’s Voice and leave your link so we can visit your 56!

My 56 for this week is from

Chasing The Green Fairy

The Airship Racing Chronicles #2

by Melanie Karsak

20512114

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My 56 

Was this really the man who had scandalized all of Britain with his wild ways? His reputation suggested that he might look to me for an in-kind thanks for his services, but his eyes told me a different story.

~~~

Synopsis

A sabotaged airship.

A recovering opium addict.

A messenger with life-shattering news.

With the 1824 British airship qualifying race only weeks away, Lily Stargazer is at the top of her game. She’s racing like a pro, truly in love, and living clean. But on one ill-omened day, everything changes.

Pulled head-long into the ancient secrets of the realm, Lily soon finds herself embroiled in Celtic mysteries and fairy lore. And she’s not quite sure how she got there, or even if she wants to be involved. But Lily soon finds herself chasing the spirit of the realm while putting her own ghosts to rest. And only accepting the truth–about her heart and her country–can save her.

*Due to steamy scenes and depictions of drug use, this novel is intended for mature readers.

~~~

Thanks so much for visiting fuonlyknew!

Leave your link and I’ll drop by your 56.