Sunday, July 24, 2016

Review @_JKHarper - Thrilled: Reckless Desires by J.K. Harper (Dragon Mates #2)




Thrilled:
Reckless Desires 
Dragon Mates #2
by J.K. Harper

Blurb:  Loss froze his heart. She is either his salvation—or his total destruction.

Gorgeous water dragon shifter Kai Long has suffered agonizing loss. Now, he lives only for momentary, forgettable pleasure with any willing woman, numbing out anything that veers too close to pain. His only other goal is to break the death spell that seals away his treasure. It seems like an impossible task—until he witnesses an alluring, fascinating human woman touch his gold hoard.

Daredevil Gabi Santos' job as an underwater archeologist fulfills her love for all things oceanic. As for men, who needs them for more than a little fun? But meeting sexy Kai could almost change her mind. Almost. Her life would be perfect, except that she's made a terrible choice out of desperation to save her beloved grandmother. A choice that will crush her soul—and possibly end her career.

Kai is wildly attracted to Gabi's fiery passion, her sexy curves, her quick mind. But Gabi has a dangerous secret. The kind that can destroy a dragon and any chance for true love...forever.


About the Author:  J.K. Harper writes about paranormal romance and urban fantasy because despite a lifetime of wishing, all the cool supernatural book characters of her childhood just don't seem to be real. Besides, it's just really fun to make stuff up and play around in her imagination.

Julie is owned by three cats, two horses, and a dog. More horses are always a good thing, so she's working on adding to the herd. She lives in the rugged, gorgeous canyon country of the Southwest, which is a great place to let her imagination run wild.

Connect with J.K.:

My Thoughts - 5 out of 5 Unicorns - I loved it!!

*** Received the ebook for an honest review

This is the second book in the Dragon Mates series and part of the Reckless Desires set which is a multi-author set.  This book is around 190 pages long and is for adults only due to the steamy content.  While this is can be a standalone book, you don’t want to miss out on references to Lacey (her best friend) who also happens to be the star of book 1.

This book is even better than the first book.  I loved how this book grabbed my attention at the first page and didn’t let go.  Gabi is definitely a spitfire.  She has a sassiness that I loved from the start.  Kai is sort of broody at start.  He is of course a hot head because what shifter male isn’t.

J.K.’s books seem to get better each year, and I’ve liked them from the start.  She is definitely author that I always know I will enjoy the adventure she takes us on in her books.

I highly recommend her Dragon Mates series to all shifter lovers especially if you have a thing for sexy dragonmen.  I can’t wait to see who the next book is about!!


Interested in reading???

See my other reviews of J.K. Harper’s work:

Review of Dazzled
Review of Christmas Wolf
Review of Solstice Wolf
Review of Alpha Wolf
Review of Guardian Wolf



Sunday, July 17, 2016

Review @_JKHarper - Dazzled: Reckless Desires by J.K. Harper (Dragon Mates #1)




Dazzled:
Reckless Desires 
Dragon Mates #1
by J.K. Harper

Blurb:  Dark, dangerous dragon shifters who just need true love...

Cynical yet sexy dragon shifter Sebastian Bernal rules a modern empire of riches. Savagely betrayed once by a woman, he disdains love. His singular passion is to find his ancestors’ stolen treasures—gold objects that are filled with the essence of his own power. Without them, he will die.

Smart, practical Lacey Whitman is married to her all-consuming yet beloved job. She has no time for men. Except the one man whose smoky eyes and electrifying presence caress her dreams at night, tempt her senses by day. But Sebastian Bernal and his secrets can only cause inevitable heartbreak.

When Sebastian’s rigid walls begin to break down from Lacey’s undeniable allure, everything threatens to tip out of his control. She is his mate—and she’s about to disrupt not only his bitter oath to recover his family’s legacies by whatever means necessary, but his shattered heart and fading soul. 


About the Author:  J.K. Harper writes about paranormal romance and urban fantasy because despite a lifetime of wishing, all the cool supernatural book characters of her childhood just don't seem to be real. Besides, it's just really fun to make stuff up and play around in her imagination.

Julie is owned by three cats, two horses, and a dog. More horses are always a good thing, so she's working on adding to the herd. She lives in the rugged, gorgeous canyon country of the Southwest, which is a great place to let her imagination run wild.

Connect with J.K.:

My Thoughts - 5 out of 5 Unicorns - I loved it!!

*** Received the excerpt, and because I loved what I read so far, I bought the book

This is the first book in the Dragon Mates series and part of the Reckless Desires set which is a multi-author set.  It is around 120 or so pages long, and it is for adults only due to the steamy scenes.

I loved this book and couldn’t put it down.  I haven’t found anything written my J.K. Harper that I haven’t enjoyed.  This is one of my favorites.  I love Lacey’s determination and dedication to her work.  Sebastian was burned and now thinks all women are like the one who burned him.  This shifter world is unique, and I can’t wait to see what happens next.

I highly recommend this book to any shifter lover especially if you are partial to fire breathing dragons!  I can’t wait to see what J.K. fires up next!

Interested in reading???

See my other reviews of J.K. Harper’s work:

Review of Christmas Wolf
Review of Solstice Wolf
Review of Alpha Wolf
Review of Guardian Wolf



Saturday, July 16, 2016

Review @Kshaigwood - Accepting the Moon by K.S. Haigwood (Moonrising #1)




Accepting the Moon
Moonrising #1
by K.S. Haigwood

Goodreads blurb:  There is a new Alpha Wolf in town, and she is about to change everything.
Mena had all she wanted in life: a nice house, money, a successful husband who treated her like a queen.
That was, until she found out her marriage was all a lie, and things she never thought could exist, did.
Vampires are real.
Werewolves are real.
And Mena is not human anymore.


About the Author:  Ever find it hard to talk about yourself? Yeah, I have that problem, too. I have been married to my soulmate for 8 years, who wouldn't pick up a book unless promised that it was filled with pictures. I have a beautiful 7 year old daughter, Riley, that talks too much and has a very vivid imagination. I have no clue where she got those traits. My step-son, Hayden, is 16 and very into football and hunting. I am a writer of paranormal suspense romance. If you enjoy a great love story with a massive amount of drama about angels, demons, ghosts, vampires, witches and fairy tale creatures brought to life through a twisted mind, then you might just enjoy reading my work.

Connect with K.S.:

Narrated by Pyper DownGreat narrator!!  Find more of her work here!!!

My Thoughts - 4 out of 5 Unicorns - I really liked it!!!

***I own the ebook and the audiobook

The cover is beautiful with the moon dominating the background.

I have owned this book quite a while.  I picked up the audiobook recently, and I listened while I mowed.

This was a great start to a series and started with a bang.  It is novella length, so it was short.  With the violence, I say this is an adult book.  It gave you a recent history on Mena and how she becomes not human.  There is plenty of action in this short story.  The narrator is great too!

Mena is trying to move on, but there are lots of problems.  Jackson is a bit of a mystery, and you really aren’t sure what to make of him or Phoenix in this story.

I recommend this story to any paranormal fans, but be warned, you will want to jump straight into next book which is definitely longer….I know I did!


Interested in reading???

Friday, July 15, 2016

Review @WolfTales @ACArthur - Claimed by the Mate by Kate Douglas & A.C. Arthur (Vol 2)




Claimed by the Mate
Volume #2
by Kate Douglas
&
A.C. Arthur

Goodreads blurb:  Kate Douglas and A.C. Arthur return with another scorching volume in their Claimed by the Mate series featuring two delicious, unforgettable novels in one!

In Wild Passions by Kate Douglas, six women—friends closer than sisters—head off to an exclusive mountain resort for a week-long bachelorette getaway, where most of the women just want to know if there are any good men left in the world.

There are, and they’re the men of Feral Passions, a unique resort located on a private wolf preserve, owned and run by a pack of sexy werewolves who use it as their own personal hunting ground for mates.

In Her Perfect Mates, Malec Zenta was part of a loving lycan family until his twin brother’s suicide took a piece of his soul. Channing Verdi never knew his parents, but that was fine because at the age of sixteen on the night of the full moon, he realized his purpose. The only pleasure these two betas have managed to find in their life was in the bed with the women they shared. Now, a human woman has entered their lives...a woman who sets their primal instincts on fire, a woman they can't help but stake their claim on...and give her the ultimate pleasure of being with two shifters at once. 


About the Authors:
Kate Douglas:  Some people just seem to know they are meant to write, but it can still take a while to figure out exactly what their career will entail. Kate Douglas started out writing radio copy for a country western radio station in 1972, wrote and illustrated an educational cartoon strip for the American Mosquito Control Association for a number of years, was a newspaper reporter for a small town weekly where she covered everything from high school sports to drug busts, and then, in the mid-1980s, decided to write her first romance.

Many submissions and rejections followed.

In 1998, she published with a small ebook publisher before anyone knew what an ebook was, but it wasn't until 2005, a full twenty years after finishing that first romance, that she signed with a New York publisher.

In January 2006, Kensington Publishing launched their Aphrodisia imprint of erotic romance with Kate's Wolf Tales, a sexy paranormal series about a lost race of shapeshifters. Kate has continued on as the imprint's lead author, with twenty-one novels and novellas in the full Wolf Tales series. She also has a series with Kensington's Zebra imprint, DemonSlayers, and has just completed her latest Aphrodisia series, Dream Catchers, which opened with the NightShift anthology and her novella, Dream Catcher, followed by the novels Dream Bound and Dream Unchained.

Her next series, Spirit Wild, debuts April 30, 2013 with Dark Wolf. This is a spin-off series that takes place in the Chanku world readers first met in Wolf Tales. Characters are the grown children of the first Chanku.

Kate and her husband of over forty years have two adult children and six grandchildren. They live in the small town of Healdsburg, California, in the heart of the beautiful Sonoma County wine country.

Connect with Kate:

A.C. Arthur:  Artist C. Arthur was born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland where she currently resides with her husband and three children. An active imagination and a love for reading encouraged her to begin writing in high school and she hasn’t stopped since.

Working in the legal field for almost thirteen years now she’s seen lots of horrific things and longs for the safe haven reading a romance novel brings. Her debut novel Object of His Desire was written when a picture of an Italian villa sparked the idea of an African-American/Italian hero. Determined to bring a new edge to romance, she continues to develop intriguing plots, sensual love scenes, racy characters and fresh dialogue—thus keeping the readers on their toes!

During the course of her writing career Artist has won the YOUnity Guild’s Best New Drama and Romance Author Award in 2005/06; been nominated 3 years straight for EMMA Awards, with the fourth time being a charm she took home the 2007 EMMA Award for Favorite Romantic Suspense; and has also received her first Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice Award Nomination for Best African American Romance. She is represented by Christine Witthohn at Book Cents Literary Agency, LLC.

Connect with Artist:


My Thoughts - 4 out of 5 unicorns - I really liked it!!

***Received a copy of the ebook from St. Martin’s Press for an honest review

This book contains two novellas, one by each author, and it is the second volume.  They are written for adults only due the content.  While you do not have to read the first volume, I think you will feel more connected to the world and characters if you read Volume 1 first.

Okay the Feral Passions story was my favorite again.  I just really love this world that Kate created, and it is easy to connect with the characters both the women and men.  This group of women were all special in some way, and I found it really cool.  Cheri and her men made an appearance which I love because when you connect with characters, you never want them to go away.  I can’t wait to see what Kate comes up with next at Feral Passions.

In Her Perfect Mates, there was plenty of action and some you didn’t even see coming.  Malec, Channing, and Caroline are perfect for each other with all of their pasts and helping each other through it.  Of course, Blaez and Kira were part of the story because they’re the alpha and alpha’s mate.  I think I enjoyed this story more than Blaez and Kira’s.

If you enjoyed Volume 1, you don’t want to pass up Volume 2.  If you are a shifter fan, you will definitely find something to like in this book.  I can’t wait for the next volume.

See my review of Volume 1!!!

Interested in reading??

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Giveaway @CleanTeenPub - Christmas in July! Win a Kindle Fire!!!

READY TO WIN?

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How is it July already? This year is passing by at super sonic speeds. For some of you it's smoking hot outside, and for our friends on the other side of the planet some of you are donning your July winter wear. No matter where you are, now is the perfect time to celebrate our Christmas in July giveaway! The winner of this giveaway will receive a Kindle Fire if in the US, along with 12 of our most recent digital releases. If you live outside the US, don't fear, we will send you $50 in Paypal cash in lieu of the Kindle Fire, as well as the 12 of our new e-book releases. Be sure to get as many entries into this giveaway as you can because this prize is worth nearly $100! Also, check out the details below to see how you can earn up to $200 in additional Paypal cash during this giveaway!
"Wow, I never win anything!" ~Says nearly everyone who has won a Clean Teen or Crimson Tree Publishing giveaway. So don't pass this giveaway up because you aren't feeling the luck today.
ENTER THE RAFFLECOPTER GIVEAWAY AT THE BOTTOM OF THIS BLOG POST!
WHAT E-BOOKS WILL I WIN AND DID YOU SAY SOMETHING ABOUT $200 CASH?
You could win any of the following ebooks during this giveaway. But don't wait for this giveaway to end to get your copies of these amazing titles! If you win this giveaway and already own any of these books, we will give you an additional $10 per title you own if you can provide proof of purchase! That's the ability to earn up to $120 if you have all 12 books.
But wait, you could earn even more!
If you have purchased at least 10 of the titles below, we will increase your cash to $200 total! This is all on top of the Kindle Fire Prize! Two of these books are pre-orders, so pre-order sales count!
*For more info check out the very bottom of this post.

OUR NEW RELEASES THAT WILL BE INCLUDED:

You can press on any of the covers below to view the title on Amazon in a new tab.
Ebook - Bad Bloods - Rain extracted coverEbook - A Long Way Home 212241777_10205735402487802_5841090998511505689_nEbook- Date an AlienEbook - ChangingEbook - Lightning ForgottenEbook - Neverland Wars 2The Undoer CoverEbookBloodthorn-400x600Ebook - Broken FateEbook - Raging  

ENTER TO WIN HERE:

a Rafflecopter giveaway


More details regarding the cash prize: Any or all cash prizes will be awarded via Paypal and paid in US Dollars. To win the additional cash that is available if you own any of the 12 titles listed in this giveaway, you will need to provide proof that you have purchased each of the titles you are claiming the cash for. This can be through an order history screen shot in Amazon, or physical receipts from other retailers. The purchase has to have been for a physical amount and cannot be proof of having used a coupon code to download the title for free, such as the type of coupon codes we use for reviewer copies. The proof of purchase can be for either the digital or print version. The burden to provide proof of purchase will need to be on the winner. All purchases must have been made on or before July 30, 2016 to be eligible for the additional cash award. You do not have to provide this proof of purchase prior to the end of the giveaway. Only the winner of this giveaway will need to provide this proof and will have 10 days from the date their name is drawn. If a winner is drawn who has not purchased any of the above books, they will still receive the original prize of the Kindle Fire and the 12 digital books (or the alternative International prize.) If you have any further questions regarding this giveaway, please don't hesitate to contact us at: info@cleanteenpublishing.com.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Review @DBReynoldsWrite @Bellebooks - Damian by D.B. Reynolds (Stone Warriors #1)




Damian
Stone Warriors #1
by D.B. Reynolds


Goodreads blurb:  It was a time when gods walked the earth, when armies fought not for bits of land, but for the very existence of humanity. On such a battlefield, five formidable warriors stood against an evil greater than any the earth had ever seen. But evil is not an honorable foe. Betrayed by someone they trusted, the warriors were cursed, one by one, tossed into the maelstrom of time, imprisoned in stone, their freedom resting on nearly impossible conditions. Until . . .

Damian Stephanos honed his skills in battles fought with magic as much as swords. Caught by a deadly spell that left him trapped for centuries in darkness and obscurity, he is finally freed, only to discover that his enemy still lives. Determined to find him—and to free his brothers in arms—he first must fulfill his blood debt to the woman who released him from his torment. Unfortunately, being so close to this enticing female is another type of torment altogether . . .

Cassandra “Casey” Lewis is a hunter. Possessing the rare ability to sense magic, she spends most of her time shadowing arcane collectors, and more often than not, stealing the dangerous artifacts she pursues. Her job is risky, especially when she’s stealing from one of the most powerful sorcerers alive. But having a gorgeous warrior by her side is a definite bonus. He’s great in a fight . . . and in other places, too.

Following a trail of dead bodies, the two of them must join forces to track down the sorcerer who cursed Damian, and who now plans to turn an ordinary magical device into a deadly weapon. Risking everything, including their hearts, they’re about to discover that trusting each other might be the hardest thing of all.  


About the Author:  D.B. Reynolds is the award-winning author of the popular Vampires in America series, as well as other paranormal fiction. She lives with her husband of many years in a flammable canyon near Los Angeles, and when she's not writing her own books, she can usually be found reading someone else's. 

Connect with D.B.:

My Thoughts - 5 out of 5 Unicorns - I loved it!!

***Received ebook from Belle Books for an honest review

This is the first book in a spin-off from Vampires in America where we first met Nick (the sorcerer).  This is for adults only due to the steamy content.

D.B. Reynolds’ books are books that fully engage me in the story.  I love her writing style.  There is always plenty of action, drama, and sex appeal.  Her writing is always packed with details that make the stories come alive in your mind.  If you haven’t read any of her work, you need to try it.  Start with one of the book 1’s though because you will definitely get hooked, and you don’t want to miss the layers of character backgrounds, relationships, and chemistry.  If you jump around, you are only shorting yourself.

Damian and Casey’s story is beautiful and amazing journey, full of adventure!  I started off thinking Damian was a caveman with his ‘woman’ references, but he changed my mind.  Casey has insecurities I think we all have, and she was easy to relate to though she has warrior skills that will amaze you.  Damian does too :) I can’t wait to read the next book in this series!  Ok, really I can’t wait until any book of D.B.’s is released.

I highly recommend this book as well as any of the books written by this author!  I do not say this about too many authors!  If you love PNRs, you have got to read this!  I hope there is something new soon because I can’t wait!

Interested in reading???

See my other reviews for this series!!!
See my review of Raphael book 1!!!!
See my review of Jabril book 2!!!!
See my review of Rajmund book 3!!!
See my review of Sophia book 4!!!
See my review of Duncan book 5!!!
See my review of Lucas book 6!!!
See my review of Aden book 7!!!
See my review of Vincent book 8!!!
See my review of Deception book 9!!!
See my review of Christian book 10!!!
See my review of Compelled book 10.5!!

See my review of Shifter Planet!!!


Friday, July 1, 2016

Friday Reveal @Month9Books & Giveaway @authorjenkins - Clanless by Jennifer Jenkins (Nameless #2)


Today Jennifer Jenkins and Month9Books are revealing the cover and first chapter for CLANLESS, book 2 in the NAMELESS Series which releases October 4, 2016! Check out the gorgeous cover and enter to be one of the first readers to receive a paperback of NAMELESS or an eGalley of CLANLESS!!

Here’s a message from the author.

Clanless is Gryphon's story in the way Nameless was Zo's. It encompasses the struggle of self discovery and taking the hard road to find happiness. At its heart though, this book is a love story, with two people determined to fight overwhelming odds, even death, to be together. Clanless provides readers a view of the world outside Ram's Gate, exploring both the Raven and Kodiak Clans in more depth. 

I LOVE THIS COVER. I love the way Gryphon is depicted and the symbolism of of the white background in contrast to the black of the Nameless cover. I personally think the series only gets better with every book, and I hope readers agree.On to the reveal! 



Title: CLANLESS (Nameless #2)
Author: Jennifer Jenkins
Pub. Date: October 4, 2016
Publisher: Month9Books
Format: Paperback & eBook
Find it: Amazon | B&N | TBD | Goodreads

Striker Gryphon has lost his position of honor among the Ram, and is now a hunted man. A traitor.

Zo, the object of his affection, was murdered by members of his former clan. To honor her memory, he journeys to the highly secretive Raven “Nest” to warn strangers of their impending demise—though it could cost him more than just his pride.

He doesn’t know that Zo is very much alive and in another part of the region assisting Nameless refugees over a mountain swarming with wild men known as “Clanless.”

As each struggle to make sense of what their lives have become, they fight and claw to reach the Allied Camp, their last hope in bringing peace to the region.

But the road back to one another is treacherous and uncertain. And freedom will come with a price.


Excerpt


Gryphon never thought he’d die at the hands of the Ram. Of course, he never thought he’d become a traitor to his clan, either.

He awaited a likely public execution, sitting in a patch of mud outside the walls of Ram’s Gate, his clan’s stronghold, as rain filtered through the trees overhead. Bristled ropes rubbed raw his bound ankles. Iron manacles secured his wrists behind his back. Gryphon clutched the hidden key to his restraints inside a bloody fist and glared at a man he never thought he’d call an enemy.

Zander, Gryphon’s captain, stood at attention as the rain rolled off his brown hair and banked along the harsh angles of his cheekbones and jaw. He held a seven-foot spear like a walking stick, the blunt end buried in the mud at his feet. His short sword was sheathed at his hip, his round shield slung across his back. The perfect Ram warrior, and one of the best swordsmen Gryphon had ever known.

The fifteen members of his mess sat like stones in a field, unmoving but hard and very present. Most of Gryphon’s former mess, including his best friend, Ajax, kept their backs to him, as if his treason were contagious. Some slept under thick wool blankets that repelled the rain while others stewed with the restlessness that plagued so many warriors.

No one bothered to light a fire. Whether they were too impatient to find something dry enough to burn or felt they deserved the cold, Gryphon didn’t know. Ram were experts at self-discipline—not to be confused with self-control.

Inside Ram’s Gate, Gryphon grew up training every day until his body ached. On days he struggled to do everything his leaders asked of him, he would sentence himself to mountain sprints until he literally passed out from exhaustion. Like every other Ram boy, he willingly walked into scheduled yearly beatings that were meant to train his body to block pain, making him nearly invincible on the battlefield.

A little rain was nothing.

Sitting cross-legged in the mud with his hands chained behind his back, Gryphon let the rain muffle the sound of his struggle to insert the small key into the unseen lock of his manacles. Each metallic scrap wound his nerves that much tighter. His wrists burned from bending at an awkward angle and his shoulders strained as he struggled to keep his face a mask of indifference.

Zander watched him, barely blinking. Gryphon needed to distract him—to break his intent focus.

“Why do you think they haven’t let down the rope ladder?” Gryphon asked, speaking as though his impending execution meant little to him.

Zander’s lip raised in a snarl. “Barnabas has the Raven invasion to prepare for, the gate to repair. He will deal with you in his own time.”

Gryphon adjusted his grip on the key to approach the lock from a different angle.

“It seems Barnabas is content to let you sit out in the cold for the night. Do you think you’ll lose your command over this?” Gryphon raised his chin and smiled.

Zander drew a knife so fast Gryphon fumbled with the key.

“Barnabas ordered you brought back alive, but I don’t think he’d mind if I took out your tongue.”

Gryphon had been trained to use the emotions of his enemies against them. People made mistakes when they weren’t stable. Plus the conversation muffled the sound of the key scraping futilely against the metal lock behind his back.

A few of the heads in the wet camp turned to watch the exchange.

Zander leaned back, battling with his composure. “I might lose my command, but I’ll return to my bunk with our brothers of the mess and rest well after seeing your body hang from a noose.” He shook his head. “I knew you had a strange fascination with that slave—that Wolf. I just didn’t realize your treason extended to all the Nameless inside the Gate.”

Just yesterday, Gryphon had inadvertently helped hundreds of Nameless slaves flee the massive walls of Ram’s Gate. To slow the Ram pursuit, he disabled the only exit—a gate so large it required forty Nameless to open it. Even though only a fraction of the Nameless slaves escaped, it would be days before the chain connecting the gate to the counterweight could be repaired.

The key finally slipped into the lock. Gryphon let his head fall back, just a fraction, and closed his eyes in relief. Zander’s hate-filled gaze greeted him as he opened his eyes, but that didn’t stop him from turning the key. The lock clicked open, the sound lost in the rain.

With one hand free, Gryphon still kept both hands behind his back, though he relaxed his shoulders some to alleviate the ache from being bound. The metal key in Gryphon’s hand was warm. The grooves pressed uncomfortably into his palm, but Gryphon didn’t loosen his hold, refusing to let go of the hope Ajax had given him.

Not only was the key his only chance of escaping the certain death that awaited him inside the giant walls of his clan, but it also represented a dim hope that Zo was still alive. That Ajax—Gryphon’s best friend—hadn’t followed through with Zander’s order to find and kill her and the others after Gryphon’s capture.

The vivid scenes of the morning replayed in Gryphon’s mind again and again. Everyone asleep under the tree, except Zo and Gryphon. Ram circling the perimeter of the giant fir like bloodhounds sniffing out prey. Zo taking his hand, pretending to be brave even though her eyes—they were always so easy to read—proved it a lie. Her warm lips. The feel of her body pressed against his . . .

A shudder that had nothing to do with the cold ran up Gryphon’s back. He’d been captured not far from the tree, trying to lead the Ram away from the people he cared for most.

If only he could ask Ajax if they were alive, though the chances were as likely as staying dry in this storm. Ajax had a family to protect, and the penalty for deceiving his captain was as deadly as deceiving Chief Barnabas himself. Dangerous.

Lightning struck not far away, brightening half of Zander’s face in the fast-approaching darkness.

“Come back to me,” Zo had said, just before she’d leaned into him, touching her soft lips to his.

Gryphon slid the key into the second lock.

He chewed on the inside of his lip until he tasted blood. He fought the urge to spit in Zander’s face, to unlock the chains binding his wrist and strangle him with his bare hands. He was sure he could finish the job before he took a spear to the gut. It felt like the only way to quench the hungry blackness that consumed his insides.

Gryphon hung his head, remembering the promise he made to Zo before they separated. Whether Zo was alive or not, he needed to survive to warn the Raven Clan of an impending attack. Countless lives would be spared if the Raven had time to flee the Nest before the Ram arrived. Getting himself killed wouldn’t serve them, even if it meant an escape from the overwhelming ache in his chest.

Thunder rolled again. Zander stared. Gryphon prayed for a miracle . . . and hoped he deserved one.

He turned the key.

The lock clicked open.

But his manacles clattered to the ground before he could catch them.

***

“We’re not waking him.” Zo’s head throbbed as she held Joshua’s wrist to check his pulse for the tenth time in as many minutes.

The boy lay unconscious, but his heart beat a steady rhythm. Zo needed to feel that pulse; it was her tether to sanity. The sound of Ram fists connecting with Gryphon’s body . . . the muffled grunts betraying his pain . . . they still echoed in her mind when she didn’t check her thoughts. From her hiding place, she hadn’t seen Gryphon’s capture, but she had heard. She’d wanted to run out and fight alongside him. Even though she had Joshua and Tess to think of, her inaction tasted like betrayal.

Rain fell all around them, but they’d managed to stay mostly dry beneath the skirt of a giant fir tree.

“This is insane,” said Eva. She had the long nose of her Ram ancestors, set off by a thin mouth. “Do you have any idea what will happen to us if the Ram come back here?” Eva lay flat on her stomach—all leather and long legs—as she scanned the ground outside their fir tree haven.

Even with a full moon, it was impossible to see far beyond the confines of their shelter. “They have Gryphon. They’ll know you and Joshua are close.” Eva ran her hand over her cropped hair, oblivious to the action. “If I were tracking us, I would have found us hours ago.”

Eva was a Ram, just like the soldiers she feared. She’d fled the Gate with Zo for the sake of her unborn child. A baby who would have been killed at birth because it belonged, not to her betrothed, but to a man in the Ram’s slave class known as the Nameless.

Zo gazed up at the tree trunk, hoping to inhale a bit of patience along with the strong scent of pine. “We wait until Joshua’s ready, Eva. Not a moment sooner.”

“But the Nameless will be miles away by now.”

Zo conceded the point. At that moment, hundreds of escaped slaves traveled to get as far from Ram’s Gate as possible to protect their newfound freedom. They didn’t know how to find the Allied Camp. Zo had told Stone, Eva’s lover and the leader of the Nameless rebellion, it was south of Ram’s Gate, but that was the extent of their knowledge, and it wouldn’t be enough to find the slot canyon that led to the Allies.

The Nameless needed her. So did her little sister Tess, Joshua, and even Eva. None of them would survive without Zo’s ability to lead them to the Allies. But it didn’t change the fact that all Zo wanted to do at the moment was sprint up the mountain to Ram’s Gate—the place from which they’d just escaped—and demand the release of the young man she’d come to care for. The man who’d saved her life and the life of her sister, even though doing so had caused him to lose everything.

Gryphon.

Zo’s little sister, Tess, sat like a watchdog beside Joshua’s head, playing with the boy’s red hair. In the low light, she looked even smaller than her eight years.

“Zo’s smart. She knows what to do,” said Tess. She was blond with dirt smeared across her nose and cheeks. She glared at Eva with her giant blue-green eyes, almost daring her to contradict her big sister.

Zo hugged her knees to her chest, fighting a sudden surge of nausea, hoping Tess was right to trust her so completely.

“Someone’s coming,” Eva hissed. She pushed up onto her knees, wielding two deadly looking knives. At the same time, Zo yanked Tess to the ground and threw herself over her and Joshua’s body. It was a futile effort to save them, but fear took over all rational thought.

Soft footfalls crept outside their shelter, each step marking the final moments of their lives. Zo glanced around for some kind of weapon or stick to help defend the two people—two children—for whom she was responsible. All she found in the darkness was a bed of dry pine needles and her medical satchel—nothing to defend them against fighters from the deadliest clan in the region.

The footsteps came closer, muted by the soggy earth. Eva moved from her knees to the balls of her feet, a compressed spring ready to fly into an attack. She adjusted her grip on her knives.

Hope fled. Zo couldn’t catch her breath. Tess. Joshua. Eva. The Nameless. Dying today under this tree meant the deaths of so many others as well. Gryphon’s sacrifice had been in vain.

Large boots stopped mere feet from Zo’s hiding place. Boots she’d recognize anywhere.

“Don’t,” she cried, trying to stop Eva before she attacked.

But her warning was too late.

Eva sprang, blades in hand, aimed at the intruder’s chest.




With her degree in History and Secondary Education, Jennifer had every intention of teaching teens to love George Washington and appreciate the finer points of ancient battle stratagem. (Seriously, she’s obsessed with ancient warfare.) However, life had different plans in store when the writing began. As a proud member of Writers Cubed, and a co-founder of the Teen Author Boot Camp, she feels blessed to be able to fulfill both her ambition to work with teens as well as write Young Adult fiction.

Jennifer has three children who are experts at naming her characters, one loving, supportive husband, a dog with little-man syndrome, and three chickens (of whom she is secretly afraid).

Visit her online at jajenkins.com




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1 winner will receive a paperback of NAMELESS, US Only.
3 winners will receive an eGalley of CLANLESS, International.