Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Book Release - A Taste of Winter by Laila Blake

Coming October 28th...

A Taste of Winter
The Lakeside Series, #2

by Laila Blake
Available for Pre-order!
About the Book
Picking up where By the Light of the Moon left off, A Taste of Winter is the second book in a romantic paranormal fantasy trilogy, set in alternate history medieval times. It follows the life of young Moira, a half fae noblewoman who fell in love with her shape-shifter guard and ran away from her ancestral home.

Traveling the country, searching for a safe place to stay, the two of them soon realize that life is not as kind to them as they might have hoped. They feel the sting of prejudice and bigotry in each town they visit, and the reality of poverty and winter begin to erode Moira and Owain’s blossoming love.

In the castle they left behind, darker plans are afoot. The fae spy Brody is slowly taking over, and he has no love for humans. He needs to be stopped before he can seize power and trigger another war between the races. But Moira and Owain are long gone, and Brody always seems two steps ahead.
“A room for the night?” He asked the bar-maid, who eyed them suspiciously. It was hard not to recognize Owain for what he was. With his stature, he towered over most men and there was a certain slant to Blaidyn features, a sharpness in the cheeks; the nose was large and elegant and they simply moved differently than humans. In completely rural areas he sometimes went unrecognized because the uneducated peasants still believed Blaidyn had claws and muzzles like their dogs, but it took only one glance at the woman behind the counter to know that she knew better. Carefully, she set down the mug she had been polishing with an old rag and her eyes fell on Moira. Anger boiled in Owain’s gut when he saw the hint of disgust she couldn’t hide.


About the Author 
Laila Blake is an author, linguist and translator. She writes character-driven love stories, co-hosts the podcast Lilt and blogs about writing, feminism and society. Her work has been featured in numerous anthologies. Keeping a balance between her different interests, Laila's body of work encompasses literary erotica, romance, and various fields in speculative fiction (dystopian/post-apocalypse, fantasy, paranormal romance, and urban fantasy) and she adores finding ways to mix and match. A self-proclaimed nerd, she lives in Cologne/Germany, harbors a deep fondness for obscure folk singers, and plays the guitar. She loves photography, science documentaries and classic literature, as well as Doctor Who, Game of Thrones and The Big Bang Theory.
Connect with the Author


Laila Blake


Thursday, October 23, 2014

Book Review - Nightshade by Cecily Flynn


Nightshade (The Sun Born, #2)
by Cecily Flynn
Published 2014
280 Pages

Nightshade is a gothic romance that spans several hundred years leading up to the events that take place in a small, Canadian town called Cold Water. Two intertwining storylines reveal an unusual link between the present day town of Cold Water, where 16-year-old Ana Lanoway lives with her parents; and 19th century Europe, where a handsome young man named James Sulien once resided.

Ana meets James in Cold Water, and their mutual attraction is immediate. James is polite and charming, but an enigma, with such complexity that Ana has a hard time figuring him out. What happened in his life that brought him to Cold Water, and what exactly are his plans with Ana? James does in fact have a plan, but as Ana soon discovers it is easy to get lulled into his intrigue, and to overlook the obscurities. Nevertheless, a dark side is looming, and with every turn of the page another facet of this hypnotic tale is revealed, adding to the mystery surrounding Cold Water.

It's wintertime, and the woods beyond Ana's home are covered in snow and ice. The last thing she remembers is walking through the woods when she awakens, clearly injured, with no recollection as to how she arrived home. Her parents are rightfully concerned. But through her dreams, memories are resurfacing, and bringing insight into the waking world. Her best friend, Holly, continues to research the history of strange occurrences in Cold Water, and offers her own perspective on Ana's dreams. James does his best to conceal his past. But as Ana stumbles upon something unexpected, she finds herself one step closer to uncovering the truth... for better or worse.

Initially, each storyline is told through several consecutive chapters before shifting gears, creating a smooth, natural transition. But as the pace quickens the storylines alternate more quickly, matching the mood of the story, and building up to the climax. Such great pacing!

The themes and motifs that create the foundation of this story include time-tested moral and ethical dilemmas that surround human interactions. But everything is enhanced by the vivid, richly illustrated setting, and the otherworldly elements deeply embedded in the story. Desire is a driving force, and a shadowy side of human nature thrives in this fascinating tale.

Enchanting and sublime, with fully developed characters, this is a fresh, absorbing, and very well written tale of romance and so much more! I absolutely loved this installment, and can't wait for the next release!


Available on Amazon

Reviewed by Stephanie
5 STARS

Read my review for the first book in the series:
Vespertine (The Sun Born, #1)

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Character Interview - Nicholas from Killer Queen by L.H. Cosway

Character Interview
Nicholas Turner, aka Vivica Blue
from Killer Queen
by L.H. Cosway

Nicholas Turner, aka Vivica Blue, is a cross-dressing, singing sensation by night, and a charming lady killer by day. In his diary, Killer Queen, readers will be able to delve into the mind of this truly unique character. But first, let’s see what he has to say as his best friend, loyal confidant, and manager of The Glamour Patch club, Phil, interviews him for the wonderful Moonrise Book Blog.

Interview
Phil: *Crosses one leg over the other and takes a sip of tea* So Nicholas, do tell me, what personal achievement are you most proud of?

Nicholas: *Laughs* Aside from streaking in front of the Eiffel Tower, you mean? Well, I’m quite proud of the fact that I’m still alive. I’m all about embracing life these days.

Phil: *Smirks* And public nudity too, it seems. What traits do you find important in a friend?

N
icholas: Are we hedging for compliments here, Philip? I think a good friend will be free of judgment. They will be there for the bad times as well as the good. They will provide impartial advice and they will have no qualms telling me when I’m being an arsehole.

P
hil: What brings you the greatest joy in life?

N
icholas: Freda’s breasts.

Phil: *Scowls and purses lips* Can you take this seriously for a second, please?

Nic
holas: *Sighs* Fine. I won’t say the real answer, because that will spoil the book for those who haven’t read it yet. Goodness, Phil, did you think these questions through at all? The thing that brings me the second greatest joy in life is finally having a place where I belong. Now that I have Fred, I have a home.

Phil: Ah, how sweet! And on to my next question, what is your greatest fear?

Nichol
as: Losing my mother’s things. I have often had nightmares about thieves breaking into my home and taking her stuff. Fears are so irrational, because her trinkets have no value to anyone but me. Sentimentality is a strange thing.

P
hil: How would you define a perfect love?

Nichol
as: A perfect love is soul deep. Though it may begin with a simple attraction, at its core it has nothing to do with the physical. It is when two hearts link despite flaws and imperfections. It is perfect because it is imperfect.

Ph
il: And finally, please tell us a secret about you that no one else knows.

Ni
cholas: I once snuck into Elaine Paige’s dressing room on the West End and stole a tube of lipstick.

P
hil: *Bursts into laughter* Do you still have it?

Nich
olas: Of course! Sometimes I put it on and sing “I Dreamed a Dream” in front of the mirror.

Ph
il: And on that suitably odd note, I think I’ll bid you good day.

Ni
cholas: *Chuckles* Thank you for having me, Philip dear.
About the book
Synopsis 
Willkommen, Bienvenue, Welcome…

Come inside The Glamour Patch club to see the star of our show, Miss Vivica Blue.

D
o you want to read my diary you nosy little devils? Have a glass of champagne (you’ll need it) and get comfortable because you’re in for some crazy shenanigans brought to you straight from the horse’s mouth.

I
can be whatever you want me to be: boy, girl, a little bit of both.

I
f you have a problem with a man in a dress then best be off with you. If males in make-up give you the willies, then I’ll say au revoir and don’t let the door hit you on the way out.

So, w
ho are we left with? Ah, a fine collection of curious souls. I want to tell you a tale of love, because those are the most glorious kind. I want to tell you about real love, a love that transcends labels and gender stereotypes.

T
he moment I first laid eyes on my Freda I knew that we were kindred. Well okay, I also knew I wanted to get into her pants, but that’s beside the point. My world was a grey place. I was at my lowest ebb. Then she came along and patches of colour began to spring forth. One day the daffodils were yellow and before I knew it, colour was everywhere, lighting up my life.

L
ove is not about how we appear on the outside, it’s about the soul contained within.

O
ur story was not a conventional one, but it was ours, and that’s what made it shine.

K
iller Queen is a companion novel to L.H. Cosway’s contemporary romance, Painted Faces. It contains scenes that take place before, during and after the original story. It can also be read as a standalone.

Available Now!

About the Author

L.H. Cosway has a BA in English Literature and Greek and Roman Civilisation, and an MA in Postcolonial Literature. She lives in Dublin city. Her inspiration to write comes from music. Her favourite things in life include writing stories, vintage clothing, dark cabaret music, food, musical comedy, and of course, books.


L.H. Cosway

Book Review - Killer Queen by L.H. Cosway


Killer Queen (A Painted Faces Novel) 
by L.H. Cosway
Published 2014
188 Pages

Killer Queen is a companion novel to Painted Faces, but can be read as a standalone. It retraces Nicholas and Freda's steps through Dublin in the form of Nicholas's diary, which gives the story a whole new perspective. And while many of the events from the first book are revisited, there are new, meaningful reveals that offer important insight into our main characters' lives.

Nicholas is thrilled to meet his new neighbor, Freda, and enjoys her company more than anticipated. As she takes on a role working with Nicholas at the Glamour Patch club -- a cabaret club where Nicholas transforms into the singing sensation known as Vivica Blue -- their friendship blossoms. But after a strange and unsettling turn of events in Scotland, their relationship is put to the test. Will Freda prove to be Nicholas's undoing, or will she bring him the joy he always wanted but never thought possible?



Moving beyond the original tale, our lovely main characters delve into exciting new territory. And while there are some painful moments, this is a unique love story full of hope, promise, and intrigue. Such an amazing and original tale, I was hooked from start to finish!

This book can be read on it's own. However, I highly recommend staring with the first book to get Nicholas and Freda's full story.


Available on Amazon

Reviewed by Stephanie 

5 Stars

Read my review for the first book:
Painted Faces  

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Book Review - Darkest Before Dawn by Pippa DaCosta



Darkest Before Dawn (The Veil, #3)
by Pippa DaCosta
Published 2014
254 Pages

As a half-demon in the netherworld, Muse's earliest memories are of a life beyond the veil, where she was little more than a plaything for the cruel and cunning, Da'mean. Living as a human in Boston, she began to realize that her perception of freedom was all an illusion. Now, as an enforcer for the Institute, she is restless. Her demon clambers to be free as much as her human side, and as loyalties are tested, she begins to allow her demon the freedom she so desperately desires... but with a world of consequences. A war is brewing, and soon Muse will find herself right in the middle of it.

Akil, the Prince of Greed, is back in full force. But now that he's shown Muse some of his vulnerabilities, she is left with more questions than answers. We're still not quite sure what he has up his sleeve, but somehow -- despite his demon ways -- he is still hard to resist.


"Summoning a demon is easy. It's what you do with them when you have them that's tricky."

Stefan, the ice-elemental half-demon, continues to make Muse question her loyalties and motives. As if battling her own demon isn't hard enough, she is drawn to Stefan like a moth to a flame. But behind the ice-blue eyes is a complex being, and now Stefan's course is taking a frightening and unexpected turn. Muse will be drawn deeper into the battle, and will have to choose a side. But between the institute, the enforcers, and the princes of hell, the battle lines continue to blur, and choosing a side may be easier said than done.

This third installment offers up the most complex storyline in the series, so far. And what a great story! Muse's fearsome demon brother, Valenti, plays a significant role, and other characters rise to the surface as Muse continues on her path to uncover the truth. We are left with more questions than answers, but the next installment is set to release soon, so we won't have long to wait!


Available on Amazon

Reviewed by Stephanie

5 STARS


Read my reviews for other books in the series:
Wings of Hope (book #0.5)
Beyond the Veil (book #1)
Devil May Care (book #2)

Friday, October 17, 2014

Character Interview - Mary from the Sun Born Series by Cecily Flynn

Character Interview
Mary from the Sun Born Series
by Cecily Flynn

Mary, from Cecily Flynn's thrilling gothic romance series, the Sun Born, was interviewed by the author. Read what Mary has to say about the events from the series, and her thoughts on the handsome and elusive young man who captured her heart. 

Interview
Mary smiled politely, folding her thin fingers together on the tabletop, grey eyes narrowed just a little. “Who are you, again?” she asked me. 
I couldn’t help but be nervous, meeting her for the first time. “I—” I stammered, “—I’m the author.” I quickly looked down at my notes, pretending to search them, though my hands shook too much to even try. 
“Oh, I see,” she replied. 
I glanced up, and could tell by the tiny crease between her brows that she was still confused. I couldn’t blame her. After all, she probably thought she was the author. 
“And you wish me to speak of…?” She let the question hang. 
“Yes,” I said. “If that’s okay?” 
She didn’t say anything for a moment, eyeing me thoughtfully. And then a smile unfolded across her lips, and she laughed, that sparkling sound that lit up whole rooms. “Yes,” she said. “Let’s speak of him.” 
Phew! I relaxed a little after that laugh, looking down at my notes again. 
“Okay, um, so…” I’d never interviewed anyone before, let alone someone of her stature. I didn’t even know where to start. “What would you say is his most notable characteristic?” I read straight from the page. 
“Most notable…” she said, gaze lifting over my shoulder

as she considered. “I suppose I could say his eyes. They are unlike any other. But that’s not very interesting, is it? His eyes.” She frowned as she said it, leaning forward to rest her elbows on the table between us. She still didn’t meet my look. “In truth,” she continued, “He is the handsomest man I’ve ever seen.


One could talk on his beauty for hours, but is it his most notable feature? I don’t think so.” 
“So, maybe, like…” I was grasping, tapping my pen against my notebook. Her eyes fell to the pen. I stopped.  
“His ambiguity,” she said firmly. “One is never quite able to decide whether he is anything, for he seems to encompass all things: good and evil, man and boy, lover, enemy, victim, and betrayer. 
Viewed from each angle, he is a different creature altogether." 
I scribbled as she spoke, blushing a little as her affection for him tinted her tone. Good answer, though. She was totally right, of course. 
“Okay, next one,” I said, feeling bolder. “What is his greatest indulgence?" 
Now her eyes met mine. “Do you expect me to say something salacious? That he is decadent? He is, you know. He likes the finest things, though he cares so little for them.” 
I nodded, considering. “So, his indulgences are sort of meaningless?” 
“He is the sort of man who is always hunting,” she corrected. “However, I’m not sure even he knows what it is he truly seeks. Fine things bring him comfort, but they do not sate his kind of hunger.” 
“Right,” I said, nodding. 
She leaned toward me then, putting her fingers on the edge of my notebook. “Forgive me,” she said, “but if you are the author, shouldn’t you already know these things?” 
“Oh, yes,” I laughed nervously. “I do, it’s just, well…you know him so much better than I do.” 
She smiled. “I suppose you’re right. I have known him a very long time.” 
I leaned toward her then, feeling gossipy. “Don’t you find him a little, you know,” I said, voice low, “a little arrogant? I mean, he wants every scene to be about him, doesn’t he?” 
Her smile curled wryly. I could tell she knew exactly what I meant. 
“In addition to being the handsomest, he is also the most arrogant man I’ve ever met,” she said. “Such a petulant boy, always sulking when he’s not written in.” 
“Ugh, I know!” I rolled my eyes exaggeratedly. “He’s sabotaged so many chapters, derailed the story so many times. And I constantly have to go back and shoo him out of scenes!” 
“And yet, he is impossible to dislike.” She shrugged. 
My pen slipped from my fingers, and skittered across the table. Cheeks pink, I leaned to pick it up. She was right. As bad as he was—as arrogant and petulant and annoyingly handsome—I was still a little bit in love with him. And I think she was too. 
“So…” I cleared my throat, trying to bury my embarrassment. “What is your greatest regret?” 
“Mine?” She rested her fingers on her collar. “Oh, that is easy. Simply that he has been so misunderstood.” 
“But aren’t you…sort of responsible for that?” 
“Because I did not dwell upon his physical beauty?” 
“Uh, that’s putting it mildly,” I noted. “I mean, I was shocked when I met him. Not at all what I was expecting.” 
“I personally chose to concentrate on the beauty of his soul,” she said, a little primly. “The rest is merely metaphor.” 
“Yes, okay, that makes sense. And the metaphor is also sort of a warning, right?” 
She pursed her lips as she thought about this. Then she said, “Despite his many alluring physical gifts, there is, in him, an easy capacity for great evil. So, yes, I suppose it is a warning.” 
“I’m sure it’s very frustrating,” I said. “To be so misunderstood.” 
She shrugged, not committing either way. 
“But, I guess that’s what happens to people with dubious morals.” 
She nodded. “Yes, I think you’re right. If he defies looking at straight on, he must come to expect a few unfair interpretations.” 
I nodded. It really was his own fault, in the end, not hers. His flimsy moral compass made him very hard to pin down. He hadn’t even responded to my request for an interview! When I pointed this out, Mary just laughed at me. 
“Did you really expect him to?” Her eyes were wide with mock surprise. 
“Well,” I said, flushing red again. “I thought he’d like to set the record straight, maybe?” 
Mary shook her head, smiling. “He doesn’t care what you think of him,” she said. “Or what anyone thinks of him, for that matter. Interpret him as you wish.” 
“Didn’t you just say it was your greatest regret…?” 
“Mine,” she clarified. “Not his.” 
I squeaked. “But—he’s so vain!” 
She tipped her head back, laughing delightedly. “Yes, he is. Utterly. But it is precisely his vanity that lifts him above the interpretation of others. No opinion matters more to him than his own!” 
Wow, I thought. She really does know him better than anyone. I was beginning to see why he liked her so much. 
“Okay, last question,” I said, running my pen down the page. “How would you define a perfect love?” 
When I glanced up for her answer, I could see the glint of something pass through her eye. Was it surprise? And then her whole face changed, somehow. Her expression remained light, but seemed suddenly like a loosely affixed fa├žade, ready to fall away. 
“There is no such thing as a perfect love,” she said quietly, eyes lowering. Her thin fingers traced the faux-marble tabletop. “But imperfection is far more beautiful. Doomed lovers are, by their very nature, more precious and rare, wouldn’t you say?” 
I swallowed. I opened my mouth to respond, but could think of nothing to follow her words. Looking down at my notes to avoid what seemed like a very private moment for her, I decided it was probably time to go. 
“Thank you, Mary,” I said. “For meeting me today. It really has been such a pleasure to talk with you, finally.” 
She met my eye again, and smiled, then inclined her head. There was such sadness in the gesture, my chest nearly squeezed shut. I stood and tossed my bag over my shoulder, stuffing all my notes inside. I hesitated, but she seemed lost in her thoughts, and I hated to break their spell. 
As I made for the door of the Olympia, a boy passed me on his way in—or was it a man? From the corner of my eye, it was impossible to tell his age. His shoulder brushed mine as he passed, and an electric charge snagged my breath, goose bumps sparking out across my skin. 
I turned, confused. He strode directly to Mary, touching her shoulder, and leaning down to murmur in her ear. Strange, I thought. He looks so familiar…
About the Books
Vespertine, book #1
Now Available on Amazon

Ana lost her breath. This was happening. This beautiful, strange, silver-eyed boy was actually asking her to believe he was her fate. She gazed at him, his pale skin even paler in the gathering dark, his eyes shining like wolves’ eyes, his rosy lips… Something about him did seem a little familiar. But if she kissed him now, she’d only be giving him an answer she wasn't yet ready to give...
 
From the pretty river cutting through it, to its grand old houses, and Delaquire Hall – the elite boys’ private school up on the ridge – Cold Water is pretty much the perfect, sleepy small town. But sixteen year old Holly has known her whole life that something just isn’t right in Cold Water, and when new girl Ana arrives – and quickly wins the heart of a handsome Dela boy – Holly starts to realize that her hometown’s secrets run much deeper, and much, much darker than she could have ever imagined.  
As Ana gets swept away by the perfect romance, and Holly edges closer to the truth, a terrifying portrait begins to unfold. One that ties Cold Water to a summer in Geneva two centuries ago, and puts the girls in the path of a creature whose appetite for love – and vengeance – is legendary. 
Woven from the real lives of the authors who created them, THE SUN BORN is the chilling, heartbreaking, true story behind the monsters we think we know.
Read our review for Vespertine, by clicking here!

Nightshade, book #2
Releasing October 23rd! 
Available for Pre-order on Amazon
“You’re only a dream,” Ana said sadly. His eyes changed from teasing and sweet to serious, dark stones, worry creasing his brow. Their swirling dance slowed to a stop, and he held her for a moment at arm’s length. “Ana,” he said, his voice smooth and resonant, as familiar as the low moan of a cello. The tiny hairs on her arms and neck rose electrically as he spoke: “Nothing is as it seems." 
Lately, Ana Lanoway has been remembering her dreams. A mishap in the woods by the lake house over winter holidays has left her seeing vivid, beautiful visions of an oddly familiar stranger, whose dream-messages both confuse and bewitch.
But when the visions turn darkly sinister, Ana knows only one person will take her fears seriously. And Holly is more than happy to help her best friend decipher them—on one condition: Ana must help Holly gain access to Dela Hall's guarded secret archives, and to Thomas Delaquire's infamous machine.
As both girls plunge deeper into Cold Water’s dark depths, a two hundred year old tragedy unfolds in the shadows of Venice and London, painting a portrait of Ana’s dream-stranger—and her perfect boyfriend—that even mad, bad Lord Byron himself finds too dangerous to know…
About the Author
A vivid imagination as a child meant vivid nightmares; frightening images that stayed in the mind hours, days - sometimes years - after waking. And though the nightmares haven’t gone away, Cecily has learned that the only way to conquer them is by embracing them.
Cecily studied Creative Writing and Film at the University of Victoria, with a focus on contemporary poetry and horror. From true Noir to The Shining, slasher flicks to classic monsters, Cecily loves the things that go bump in the night!
Although she has spent many years writing poetry and short stories, The Sun Born is her first series of novels. Volume one is available through Amazon, Smashwords, B&N and iTunes; volume two will hit the e-shelves Oct 23rd!
Cecily lives and writes in Toronto.
Cecily Flynn

Connect with the Author!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Character Interview - The Twins from The Butterfly Crest by Eva Vanrell

Character Interview
The Twins from The Butterfly Crest
by Eva Vanrell


Hello! I wanted to take a second to introduce myself (Hi, I’m Eva!) and to thank Stephanie (Thank you, luv!) for inviting me and my crazy cast of beasties to give an interview for her blog. I love character interviews because they provide the perfect opportunity for readers to learn about these characters outside of the constraints of their stories. My approach to these interviews is to always let the characters speak for themselves, so you’ll be reading an interview scene that exists somewhere outside the timeline of the novel. The scene takes place in Eira, the royal city of Tartarus, inside Eiry’s apartments.

Introduction

In a few seconds, you’ll be meeting several characters. Do not be deceived. While this might seem like an interview about Eiry Callas (our tragic Hero), it’s not. This is a character interview of Gavin and Galen Callas (The Twins). Who are they? They are post-modern Greek deities, underworld twin-gods who’ve seamlessly incorporated themselves into the human world. What motivates them? Chaos. While they could sit down and answer all your questions patiently, they’d rather not. You can discover so much more about a person in an hour of play than you can in a year of conversation... or so some guy named Plato once said.

Interview 
The knock at the door came just as Elena was sitting down to a hot cup of tea in her favorite reading chair. It was half past ten and she was alone in Eiry's apartments. It was the first quiet moment she'd enjoyed all day, and had just pulled the throw over her legs when the sound broke the silence.

Elen
a held her breath and stayed absolutely still. From the corner of her eye, she watched the door and waited. Hopefully, she'd imagined it. There was a reason she preferred Eiry's study to the front room with its open archways and antique cases full of artifacts and old manuscriptsthe study was small and private.
"We know you're in there," came a familiar velvety voice from behind the door, dashing Elena's hopes of staying under the radar.

Of all the possibilities, the twins knocking at her door meant there was no chance of escape.

Elena was considering her optionsand the rare fact that they hadn't just barged in uninvitedwhen the doorknob rattled violently. It was followed by the sound of a scuffle behind the door, then a flurry of cursing and fervent whispers. Elena would have laughed, if she didn't know better. Galen had obviously lost his temper and Gavin had put him in check.

"Galen's sorry. Will you let us in?"

Elena jumped in her seat, startled by Gavin's voice. It hadn't come from behind the door, but from next to her on the chair. "Jesus, Gavin, you scared the daylights out of me!" Elena turned and glared at him, swatting at his arm. "You already let yourself in, so what's the point of asking now?"

"You told me to ask, so I did." Gavin smiled triumphantly, leaning over the chair's armrest to place a kiss on Elena's cheek. He was so pleased with himself, he was bouncing where he stood and humming cheerfully to himself. His chin-length curls bounced along with him and his golden-green eyes glowed softly in the darkness, creating an illusion of innocence that was very far from the truth. "So, you forgive him, right? We need your help and we're on a super tight schedule."

Several weeks ago, Elena had a 'talk' with the twins about boundaries and the need for knocking. She should have known then that half of it would be lost in translation. "Knock, wait, then walk in after the okay. The order is important, Gav." Elena shook her head, half amused. He offered his cheek and she returned his kiss, before sitting back in the chair and taking a sip of her tea. "And I'm sorry, but I won't be able to help you. I had a really long day today and have an early morning tomorrow. Plus, Eiry won't be happy if he comes home to find y'all hereyou know he doesn't like you guys coming in and out of his rooms whenever you like."

"An unhappy Snowflake. How very tragic." Galen hissed the words into Elena's ear from behind the chair, his velvet tone sheared at the edges. Elena started, surprised, and he clamped his hand over her mouth before she could yell. When she tried to fight him off, he caught her arm with his other hand and forced her still. "Now now, no need to get all feisty. Eiry's running errands for our mother, so you and I both know he won't be home for a while. What's the harm?"

Elena took a deep breath and tried to stay calm. Being grabbed was bringing back unpleasant memories of the attack in Persephone's courtyard and she was about to lose it with Galen, which was never a good thing. If she had been sensitive about her personal space before, the ordeal months earlier made her even more sensitive now. She had to remind herself that these were the twins, and she'd come to trust their brand of crazy.

"You should probably let go of her face now," Gavin whispered to Galen, his eyes intent on Elena's. She was as stiff as a board and kept looking down at the cup of tea in her hands like she was considering her options. "She looks like she might hit you with that cup. Plus, you're going to leave marks on her face, and then Snowflake is seriously going to be pissed."

"Does it look like I care about Eiry's feelings?" Galen smiled a devilish smile at his brother and then leaned forward, his long black hair spilling over Elena's shoulder as he ran the tip of his nose along the shell of her ear and up to her temple. He took a deep, shuttering breath and then slowly stepped away, releasing his hold.  

The moment he let go, Elena turned in her chair and smacked Galen across the chest, forgetting all about her resolve to stay calm. The tea went flying, and so did Elena's cursing. "How many times do I have to tell you to stop sniffing me! And stop being so handsy! You and the rest of your family"

"Me and the rest of my family, what exactly?" Galen put his hands up and stepped back, a savage smile spreading across his face. It reached his eyes, making them a sharper blue than usual. 
"You're impossible, the lot of you!" Like a world-class idiot, Elena had played right into their hands. It was always like this with the twinsnot a moment of peace. "You owe me a hot cup of tea, Galen, and then the two of you can go back the way you came." Elena grabbed her now empty cup of tea and stood up from her chair. She shook off the throw, set her cup down on the coffee table and then sat back down, trying her best to resume a calm demeanor. "Like I said, I have an early day tomorrow."

"You have an early day every day, and you have another thing coming if you think I'm making you tea." Galen stared at Elena, defiant as he took a seat in the empty reading chair beside hers. He crossed his right knee over his left, careful not to wrinkle his designer suit, and began to braid his hair.

"What he means is," Gavin quickly interjected, dropping to the floor in front of his brother without a care in the world, "we need your help to answer a few questions."

"Questions? About what?" Elena focused on Gavin and tried to ignore Galen's blatant staring.

"About Eiry."

Gavin's voice was sweet as honey, and his golden gaze pleading. Red flags immediately went up in Elena's mind. "Seriously you two, I love you and you know I would do almost anything for you, but no. You can ask Eiry himself."

"I told you, Gav. We should have just tied her up and forced her to talk," Galen said matter-of-fact, as he tied off the end of his braid. "We would have been done and out by now."

"We don't need to use Plan A when we have Plan B," Gavin reminded him, all business. "Bribes always work."

"You two realize violence should be Plan B, right, not A." Elena knew they weren't listening, but someone had to be the voice of conscience in this groupreason was completely out of the question. "Not that I'm saying violence should ever be part of the plan. And I promise you, I'm above bribes."

"No one's above bribes," the two assured Elena simultaneously, their gazes rising to meet hers at exactly the same time.

Elena hated when they did that. It reminded her of the Siamese cats in Lady and the Tramp.

"Ele, please," Gavin cut in before she had a chance to say no again. "The interview is due tomorrow. This is our last chance. We've tried to persuade Eiry to do the interview all week but he refuses, so we've decided to do it for him. We're just lost on a few of the questions. We're prepared to give you something of great value. Plus, Eva won't mind."

"Eva? What does Eva have to do with anything? I already did an interview of Eiry for Eva."

"She wanted another one," Galen answered with a shrug.

"Something of great value," added Gavin, doing his best to dangle his carrot.

"Since when do you two do what Eva asks?"

"Since she made us an offer we can't refuse." Gavin grinned, bouncing in his seat. "Something of greeeeat value."

"Yes, yes. We're all being offered things of great value. Go ahead and say it, Gavin. Say what you're offering for my cooperation, because you won't stop unless I ask, right?"

Gavin stared up at her with a wounded expression, his bottom lip jutting out as if he was about to cry, but he couldn't keep it for long. He tried his best to hide a grin, as he reached into the back pocket of his jeans and took out what looked like some kind of card or paper. "Voila! A thing of great value."

"A piece of paper..." Elena remarked, unimpressed.

"Everyone has a price, Elena, even good little girls like you." Galen flipped over the card in his brother's hand and smiled. "A baby picture of Eiry. Trust me when I tell you that it is authentic, and only one exists in the world. It just so happens that the one time he fell in battle, cameras had already been invented."

Elena was speechless. Two seconds ago, she would have bet her life that she couldn't be bought. Now, she couldn't imagine a scenario where she turned down that picture. What were a few questions weighed against that? Plus, she'd really be helping Eiry. If she let the twins do this alone, gods only knew what they would say. "You willing to swear by the Styx that the picture is authentic?"

"Cross my heart and hope to die." Galen grinned, then leaned forward and offered her his hand. "But don't take my word for it. You're the best lie detector out there. See for yourself."

Elena watched him, wary. Hed caught her off guard with his gesture. Hed sworn by the Styx, which was not taken lightly in his family, and also offered his hand, which no one was really chancing these days. "I'll accept the picture and help you answer the questions. Verification will not be necessary."

There was a quiet exchange of furtive glances between the twins, before Gavin handed Elena her picture and produced his list of questions.

"Okay, question number one."

Gavin cleared his throat, his gaze darting back and forth across the page in his hand. It was obviously an email from Eva. Elena couldnt begin to imagine what the woman had to offer the twins to ensure their cooperation.

"What is your most notable characteristic? Eiry's, I mean..." Gavin looked up at Elena with a beaming smile. "I say his skills with his scythe."

"I'm better with a blade than he is, so the scythe is out," Galen scoffed. "I say all that pallor and stoicism. It's smexy."

Elena shook her head, wondering if this was precisely what Eva had in mind when she asked the twins for help. "His perseverance." The answer was simple for Elena. Eiry had persevered against all odds, even in the face of so much loss. "Next question, Gavin."

Gavin blinked, confused. Perseverance did not compute. In the end, he shrugged, wrote it down and then continued down his list. "Question number two. What personal achievement is Eiry most proud of? Normally I would go with something battle related, but I really think he'd say his chess skills. The man can beat the two of us at chess even though we're unstoppable at fidchell. It defies all logic."

Elena nodded, pretty sure that wasn't the right answer, and turned to Galen. "What say you?"

"Probably when he won the gold metal in solo synchronized swimming at the last Games. I didn't think he had any real talent until then."

Elena stared at Galen, stupefied. "We're going to go with saving me when I was a baby. Next question." Photo or no photo, Eiry should thank his lucky little stars that she was helping.

"You'll like this one, Ele." Gavin's index finger stopped halfway down the paper. "What is Eiry's most meaningful possession?" He let the question linger and then looked up from his paper to stare at her, pointedly.

"Ummm, No." Elena shook her head and turned to Galen with a sigh. "Spit it out."

"A stuffed elephant Lucian gave him, after he fell in battle."

Galen's response was deadpan, leaving Elena to wonderbut she knew that way lay madness. Even if such an elephant existed, which it most certainly did not, Elena doubted Eiry would want the whole world to know about it. That meant that Elena needed to come up with a better answer than Gavin's. She tried to think back on the past few months, but no one possession stood out. In the front room there were piles of artifacts and curios Eiry loved, but Elena couldn't say any of them were his most meaningful possession.

The twins were staring at her impatiently and she was about to give up, when it hit her. "The coins," Elena whispered, more to herself than the twins. "The ones he chooses for an heir when they die."

The moment Elena said it, there was a heavy silence. When she looked over at the twins, neither one of them would look at her. Galen was playing with his braid again and Gavin was preoccupying himself with his piece of paper.

Elena cleared her throat and pressed on. "Next question, boys."

Gavin reacted slower than usual. He seemed to read the question to himself several times, before finally looking up to meet Elena's eyes. "What brings Eiry the greatest joy in life?"

Elena, Galen answered with unusual haste, turning to face her in his chair. He watched her quietly, then smileda smug, arrogant smile. Hes a miserable shit, but even I can see you make him happy."

Elena quickly looked away, then down at her hands on her lap. She could feel the heat rise to her cheeks and hated how embarrassed she felt. Galen's sudden candor, self-serving as it was, certainly didn't help. "That one's not going in there. Keep that one out of the interview. Okay, Gavin?"

Gavin nodded quietly and then continued with his next question, neither agreeing or disagreeing with Galen's statement. "What is Eiry's greatest fear?"

Elena spoke up before any of them could answer. "Failing to protect the Heir. Next question."

"What is Eiry's biggest regret?"

"Gavin, are you serious? Is this really what Eva sent?" Elena was suddenly furious.

Gavin nodded and pressed his lips into a thin line. He looked uncomfortable, something Elena had never seen.

"I'm not making these up," Gavin replied, proffering the page in his hand. "You can see for yourself."

Elena shook her head and gently waved away Gavin's hand. She was frustrated by the question and had taken it out on Gavin, when he was obviously just the messenger. "I'm sorry, Gav. I didn't mean to get upset with you. It's a touchy subject and Eva knows that. Anyone who's read the book knows Eiry's biggest regretnot being able to save 38 heirs. That number includes me. Make sure she prints that. Next question."

"How would Eiry define a perfect love?" Gavin asked, his voice high-pitched by the time he got to the last word.

Galen snorted out loud and barely tried to hide it.

"We're done," Elena snapped. "You can tell Eva that she can work with the answers she has. She's an author. I'm sure she can be creative and make do."

Gavin pushed himself up on his knees and crawled toward Elena. Once he was kneeling in front of her, he pressed his palms together as if he were praying. "Just one more, Ele. I'll skip that last one, okay? I promise. We just have to get six answers or we won't meet our end of the bargain." 

"You shouldn't beg, Gavin. It's unseemly," Galen chided his brother.

"You always make me beg. What's the difference?" Gavin glared at Galen, made a vulgar gesture with his hand, and then turned to face Elena with a smile. "Tell us a secret about Eiry that no one else knows."

"He watches Project Runway when he thinks no one's looking."
About the Book

Between the shadows of the human world, a war as old as time is being fought. Ageless pantheons scheme to obtain or keep control, provoked by the weight of human belief which has altered the realm of the divine.

An ancient prophecy speaks of a human woman who will alter the course of this divine war, a descendant of a Great House mired in misfortune and blood, whose history was shaped by the cruelty of the gods.

On a day as unremarkable as any other, Elena Vicens, a young woman living a seemingly ordinary life, receives a letter about a deposit box belonging to her mother, nineteen years after her mother's death. When this letter sends her on a journey halfway across the world from New Orleans to Japan, Elena unknowingly comes into possession of a cursed inheritance. She is suddenly thrust into a world of myths and legends, where the intangible and the strange are the fabric of everyday life, and deathless gods vie for victory at any cost.

As allies converge to help Elena fulfill the prophecy, one of whom is struggling with his own inheritance, Elena must choose for herself the measure of her own destiny.


Read our review for The Butterfly Crest by clicking here!

The Butterfly Crest


The Protogenoi Series Book 1
by Eva Vanrell

Available Now! 
Amazon


Book Review - Painted Faces by L.H. Cosway


Painted Faces
by L.H. Cosway
Published 2012

358 Pages

Painted Faces is a unique love story with fascinating characters and a truly original plot. I was thoroughly immersed in the vivid world the author created, and could have continued reading about for days! It was so good.

Freda “Fred" is a quirky and creative young woman living in Dublin. She is outspoken, and a bit insecure, but isn’t one to constantly put herself down. She enjoys working at a local bakery making cupcakes. And unlike her best friend and roommate, Nora (who is quite the perfectionist), Fred doesn't obsess over things like hair, makeup, or clothing. Instead, she expresses herself through her own uniquely feminine style.

With her boots squeaking in the rain, and mascara running down her cheeks, we learn that Fred owns neither an umbrella nor a car. She silently curses a couple of local kids who are snickering at her as she struggles to find her keys, and it's clear that our leading lady is both humorous and a bit crass. When she finally makes it to her door, she is surprised to see a new neighbor has moved in... an incredibly handsome, and smartly dressed new neighbor with the most striking eyes. They have an immediate connection, but there is also a mystery behind his gaze. He is a puzzle to Fred, but one she intends to solve.

His name is Nicholas, and before long Fred finds herself at a local club where he's scheduled to perform. Not sure what to expect, she is shocked to see his transformation into the singing sensation, Vivica Blue. Sporting stilettos and hot pants, with his shiny black hair slicked back from his face, Nicholas is lovelier than ever. Now Fred believes she is starting to solve the puzzle. But there is so much more to Nicholas than meets the eye. Fred becomes immersed in the glamour and passion, and intimately involved in a new and wondrous world.

This is a heartwarming love story like no other, and one that I could read over and over again! The characters have depth, and the fresh plot is filled with passion and clever quips. An exciting and meaningful tale, I was captivated by the lives of these characters, and the world that Fred finds herself thrust into. A must read!


Available on Amazon

Reviewed by Stephanie 

5 STARS

Read another perspective on Painted Faces by clicking here!