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Archive for 'dragon'



N.J. Walters: Embrace Autumn
Thursday, September 15th, 2022

Autumn has arrived with all her splendor. It’s time to pull out the cozy sweaters and wool socks and put the flannel sheets back on the bed. (Did I mention I really dislike being cold.)

This is my favorite time of year. Don’t get me wrong, I love summer—those long, hot days that seem to last forever. But fall is the time of new beginnings for me. There is nothing quite like inhaling the first lungful of crisp, autumn air to make me feel invigorated and alive.

Maybe it goes back to my childhood where each September heralded the start of a new school year. Remember those days of new school clothes, new teachers, reconnecting with old friends and making new ones? The smell of chalk and new textbooks mingled with the unmistakable scent of new sneakers and blue jeans with the tags barely clipped off. There was always such anticipation in the air. The possibilities were limitless.

Nature senses the impending transformation, too. Trees change color, their green leaves turning to a brilliant array of gold, red, yellow, and burnt orange that sets the countryside ablaze. They are putting on their final show before bidding us adieu until next spring. Birds start to migrate, heading for warmer climes. They drop in on feeders in suburban backyards, filling up for the flight south. The small, furry animals that inhabit the woodland areas are scurrying to stock up food for the impending snowy season. Everyone is busy as they sense the coming change.

If autumn is a time of new beginnings, it is also a time of endings. Summer vacation is over and the long, hot days are replaced with shorter, cooler ones. The sun sets earlier each day, inviting the darkness to take precedence.

The nice thing about this time of year is that there are plenty of holidays that invite us to celebrate all the change that surrounds us. Halloween arrives with its ghosts and goblins, encouraging all of us to embrace the dark of the season instead of fearing it. Thanksgiving offers us a respite from the onset of the cold and dark. It is a time of gathering. A time of giving thanks for family and friends and the fact that there is food on the table and a roof over our heads, something I never take for granted.

So instead of bemoaning the end of the summer this year, embrace the arrival of fall. It has vibrancy and life in the midst of death, new beginnings in the midst of endings and limitless possibilities!

Ancient Desire
Forgotten Brotherhood Book 5

Nothing was supposed to wake half dragon, half human Lucius from his Deep Sleep. Nothing. And yet something, or rather someone has. The unexpectedly attractive human not only touched him. She kissed him. Now Lucius is awake, and more powerful than he has ever been in his 4,000 years of existence. And once he finds out who led her to his cave, he’ll deal with his 300 years of hunger…

College professor Raine Carson spent her life obsessed with myths and legends. And now she’s woken one up. Only, Lucius is nothing like anything she’s ever seen or read about in her history books. Because this man is part sexy badass and part terrifying…monster. Yet she wants him with a hunger like nothing she’s ever felt before.

Lucius used to be part of the Forgotten Brotherhood—a ruthless group of paranormal assassins. Now he’s unsure if his former Brothers are their allies…or enemies. All he knows is that someone is hunting him, and Raine is just as tangled up in this mess as he is. And he’ll protect her—even if it means unleashing his Dragon and all of its power.

Links:
Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0B7G3QHRK/
Entangled Publishing: https://entangledpublishing.com/books/ancient-desire
B&N: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/ancient-desire-n-j-walters/1141872172
Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/ancient-desire
iBooks: https://books.apple.com/us/book/ancient-desire/id6443213388

Check out the rest of the series: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B086BT7QJL/

About the Author

N.J. Walters is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author who has always been a voracious reader, and now she spends her days writing novels of her own. Vampires, werewolves, dragons, assassins, time-travelers, seductive handymen, and next-door neighbors with smoldering good looks—all vie for her attention. It’s a tough life, but someone’s got to live it.

Visit her at:
Website: http://www.njwalters.com
Blog: http://www.njwalters.blogspot.com
Newsletter Sign Up: http://eepurl.com/gdblg5
Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/N.J.WaltersAuthor
Twitter: https://twitter.com/njwaltersauthor
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/NJWalters
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/author/njwalters
BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/n-j-walters

N.J. Walters: The Forgotten Brotherhood is Back! (Excerpt)
Wednesday, August 24th, 2022

I’m absolutely thrilled the Forgotten Brotherhood is back. ANCIENT DESIRE is the latest installment in the paranormal romance series. Those of you who have read my Blood of the Drakon series will be familiar with drakons. If you haven’t, I hope you’ll fall in love with Lucius as much as I have. There’s nothing more possessive and protective than a drakon with his treasure.

Who are the Forgotten Brotherhood? They’re a group of paranormal assassins, the misfits that other paranormal creatures fear. They aren’t the monsters lurking under the bed. They’re the ones that kill them.

They live by a strict code: Kill only those that truly deserve it and let their gods sort them out. Kill them before they kill you. Never, ever betray a fellow assassin.

Ancient Desire
Forgotten Brotherhood Book 5

Nothing was supposed to wake half dragon, half human Lucius from his Deep Sleep. Nothing. And yet something, or rather someone has. The unexpectedly attractive human not only touched him. She kissed him. Now Lucius is awake, and more powerful than he has ever been in his 4,000 years of existence. And once he finds out who led her to his cave, he’ll deal with his 300 years of hunger…

College professor Raine Carson spent her life obsessed with myths and legends. And now she’s woken one up. Only, Lucius is nothing like anything she’s ever seen or read about in her history books. Because this man is part sexy badass and part terrifying…monster. Yet she wants him with a hunger like nothing she’s ever felt before.

Lucius used to be part of the Forgotten Brotherhood—a ruthless group of paranormal assassins. Now he’s unsure if his former Brothers are their allies…or enemies. All he knows is that someone is hunting him, and Raine is just as tangled up in this mess as he is. And he’ll protect her—even if it means unleashing his Dragon and all of its power.

TEASER:

“Who am I kidding? I’m going to die here with a stupid stone dragon who won’t even talk to me.” The glare she sent him was fierce. “This is all your fault.” She sniffed and pointed her finger at him. At him. He didn’t know whether to smite her or applaud her bravery. “If you hadn’t been here, I would never have come. I can’t figure out Mack’s angle. Why lead me all the way out here and trap me with you? The whole ‘an angel told me to do it’ adds another layer of weird. He could have killed me on the hike in, if all he wanted was my death.”

She wasn’t wrong. The whole thing seemed to be some kind of elaborate setup. He waited impatiently, wanting to know more.

“It has to tie in somehow with the grant I got to write my book from—wait for it—the Angel Foundation. That’s not a coincidence. Talk about too good to be true. I should have suspected something was up. My field of study isn’t exactly one that gets a lot of funding.

“I love teaching, don’t get me wrong, but I wanted time to write a book, maybe even two. And the grant was enough for me to take an entire year off work. Yesterday was my first day of my new adventure, and it probably marks the beginning of the end.”

She lifted her sleeve and rubbed it over her face. “I’m sorry to dump all this on you, but let’s face it. You’re the only one here.”

Giving a sigh, she leaned her head back and stared at the ceiling. “It’s my own fault for believing in myths and legends. Did you know there are urban legends about werewolves and vampires in North Carolina?” She took a tiny sip of water. “But you’re real. You’re a freaking stone dragon.

Her insistence on referring to him as a dragon was beginning to annoy him.

“Are you based off some prehistoric flying dinosaur? Maybe they found some fossilized bones and this was their interpretation of what you might have looked like. Yeah, you’re probably nothing more than a flying dinosaur.”

The rumble came from deep inside him. Cracks appeared in his stone covering and traveled down to the ground beneath him.

“Holy crap.” Raine jumped to her feet, her hand pressed to her chest, her eyes wide.

The thick casing that had protected him for centuries crumbled. His limbs were stiff after so long, but there wasn’t enough room for him to stretch, not unless he wanted to bring the ceiling down around them.

He swiveled his head in her direction. “I’m no dinosaur. I am a drakon.”

Links:
Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0B7G3QHRK/
Entangled Publishing: https://entangledpublishing.com/books/ancient-desire
B&N: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/ancient-desire-n-j-walters/1141872172
Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/ancient-desire
iBooks: https://books.apple.com/us/book/ancient-desire/id6443213388

Check out the rest of the series: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B086BT7QJL/

About the Author

N.J. Walters is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author who has always been a voracious reader, and now she spends her days writing novels of her own. Vampires, werewolves, dragons, assassins, time-travelers, seductive handymen, and next-door neighbors with smoldering good looks—all vie for her attention. It’s a tough life, but someone’s got to live it.

Visit N.J. at:
Website: http://www.njwalters.com
Blog: http://www.njwalters.blogspot.com
Newsletter Sign Up: http://eepurl.com/gdblg5
Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/N.J.WaltersAuthor
Twitter: https://twitter.com/njwaltersauthor
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/NJWalters
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/author/njwalters
BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/n-j-walters

Grace Adams: Scene from Elemental Dragons: Wind’s Fury (Excerpt)
Thursday, December 2nd, 2021

Wow, it’s December already. I have no idea where this year has gone. But I can tell you I’m hard at work on Elemental Dragons. And I’m thrilled to share a sneak peek at a scene from book two, Wind’s Fury.

Haunted by her loss of control and the injuries she and her air dragon caused to another of her kind, Nina Buchanan knows there’s no more running from the rare gender mismatch that made her dragon, the other half of her soul, male to her female. She’ll do anything to make this right. Haunted by the death of his older brother, Reuel Damaris knows these dragons are like a disease. He’ll do anything to cure the human race of the terrible shifter affliction that took his brother and shattered his family. But when the battle lines are drawn, only together can they unravel the lies and calm the fury of a dragon.

This scene is when Nina shifts for the first time in front of Reuel. (How do you think you’d react if a dragon appeared right in front of you?) Enjoy!

He clenched his fists. Hell, he clenched his entire body.

A dragon.

That was a fucking dragon. And somehow, that dragon was also Nina.

No. Not possible.

Reuel pressed his fingers against his carotid. Hard. He still had a pulse. So not a heart attack. Unless he was actually lying on the ground, gasping his last, and this was some kind of death-knell hallucination.

The dragon landed in front of him. Right in fucking front of him. Close enough for him to see each individual scale, sharp-edged and sparkling in a thousand different shades of white. Close enough for him to smell the musk of the beast. For him to feel the heat rolling off the massive body. For him to see the endless depths of those faceted eyes.

Close enough for him to reach out and touch.

He clenched his fists again.

Damn it, he wasn’t ready to die. He had things to do. Things to prove to his father. Things to say to his mother. He had to make them see.

Fucking heart attack.

The dragon–he couldn’t call this thing sitting calmly, proudly in front of him Nina, no matter what he thought he’d seen, not even in a hallucination–lowered its massive head and snuffed at him. The heat and force of the beast’s exhale actually pushed him back a step.

He should turn around and walk away. Maybe hallucinate a super model with him on a nice, eighty-foot yacht in the middle of the Mediterranean. No, ditch the super model. How about a fishing pole and a cooler full of beer and nothing but the sound of the water against the hull and the wind in his face. Geez, didn’t he deserve some peace in the last few moments of his life?

And now he’d never get to know Nina better. Would she have liked to go fishing with him?

Or would a woman who could turn into a dragon just grab fish from the waters with her razor-sharp claws and eat them with those massive jaws?

Walk away.

He dipped his shoulder. Shifted his weight. He hadn’t asked for this craziness. Didn’t want it. But in that split second before he could turn, the dragon tilted its massive head and the stunning blue of Nina’s eyes caught him. Wrapped around him and held him motionless. Promised him heat and strength and a power he couldn’t comprehend.

And silently called to him, with more sorrow and pain than he’d ever felt in a lifetime of sorrow and pain.

He knew that pain. Understood to the depths of his bones the primal longing for acceptance he could see in those stunning eyes. In Nina’s eyes.

This wasn’t a hallucination.

Reuel swallowed hard. “Nina?”

He felt a thousand times a fool, whispering to this beast like it could understand him. Like Nina was actually somewhere in there.

But that massive head nodded, the tiniest fraction.

His breath left him in a giant whoosh. It physically hurt to inhale again, to take all the hot scent of dragon into his lungs. “You’re… Fuck, Nina. I can’t…” Shifting, he swiped a sweaty palm across his jaw. But the word dragon wouldn’t come out of the tightness constricting his throat.

The dragon’s head drooped. Had the beast just… sighed?

“I’m sorry,” Reuel said, not sure what he was apologizing for, but positive that was all he could manage.

Again the dragon nodded. And then the light around the beast… shifted. Shimmered. Danced.

He blinked as the brightness grew, but he couldn’t look away. Or maybe he wouldn’t look away.

This was magic.

He knew it suddenly, totally, like he knew his own name. Like he knew he was meant to be a scientist. Not an athlete. No matter what his father thought. Or said. Or did.

Or didn’t do.

This was magic, and that dragon was somehow Nina.

“Fuck me,” he muttered.

The warmth of the dragon’s breath wafted over him. And then the dragon wasn’t there anymore. Nina was.

For a half a heartbeat he thought she was naked.

About the Author

Grace Adams is a 2017 Golden Heart® finalist and award-winning author of paranormal romance who loves nothing more than a happy ending. Whatever the genre, regardless of the medium, as long as justice prevails, the good guys win, and people are falling in love, she’s in.

A lifelong reader of science fiction, fantasy, and of course romance, Grace also enjoys painting and drawing and is an avid skier. One of those rare Geeks who loves both Star Wars AND Star Trek, she’s got a closet full of costumes she created and firmly believes that she who dies with the most fabric (and books) (and shoes) wins.

Grace has a B.S. in Mathematics from Ursinus College and an M.A. in English from Wright State University.  She is a veteran of the USAF as a communications officer and currently works as an IT Controls Analyst. She shares her home with the best super cats ever, Thor and Loki.

N.J. Walters: Summer’s End (FREE Book!)
Wednesday, September 15th, 2021

Maybe it stems from the early childhood years of going back to school each year, but I find September a time of new beginnings, even more than January.

I love summer. Anyone who follows me knows that summers are very, very short where I live, and not all that hot. I always wish it was longer. That being said, I love this time of year—the crisp days, the turning of the leaves, and the return of favorite shows to television. Then there are the holidays—Thanksgiving first (I live in Canada), followed by Halloween, and then Christmas. It’s the beginning of a very busy time of year.

For now, I’ll milk the last of the longer days and warmth and start stocking up on hot chocolate and warm socks for the chillier days ahead. The longer evenings mean more time to kick back and read.

If you enjoy paranormal romance and are looking for a new series to try, why not check out my drakon shifters. DRAKON’S PROMISE, the first book is FREE on most e-book retailers.

What is a drakon?

Well about 4000 years ago, dragons came to our world and mated with human woman. When their sons were born, their sires abandoned them, returning to their own world. Feared and shunned, they have existed among us all this time.

They have the cunning, strength, preternatural abilities, and instincts of their dragon sires, along with the intellect and emotions of their human mothers. A deadly combination. And unlike their sires, their base form is that of a human, allowing them to inhabit either human or dragon form indefinitely.

Few know of their existence, but a secret group of men and women are working to capture and cage them. For drakons have not only amassed fortunes, but their blood can offer healing and immortality to humans who drink it.

They mostly live lonely, solitary lives. But every now and then a drakon crosses paths with a very special woman, one who might change his lonely life forever.

Drakon’s Promise
Blood of the Drakon, Book 1

Darius Varkas is a drakon. He’s neither human nor dragon.

He’s both.

He’s also the target of an ancient order who want to capture all drakons for their blood. When fresh, a drakon’s blood can cure any illness and prolong a human’s life, and the Knights will stop at nothing to get it.

When librarian Sarah Anderson stumbles across a rare book belonging to the Knights of the Dragon, she’s quickly thrust into a dangerous world of secrets and shifters and things she never would have believed possible. When the Knights realize Sarah has a secret of her own, she becomes just as much a target as Darius. Her scary dragon shifter just might be her best chance at survival.

Buy Links:
Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01N74PYZR/
Entangled Publishing: https://entangledpublishing.com/books/drakon-s-promise
B &N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/books/1125114236
iBooks: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/drakons-promise/id1176306297
Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/drakon-s-promise

About the Author

N.J. Walters is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author who has always been a voracious reader, and now she spends her days writing novels of her own. Vampires, werewolves, dragons, assassins, time-travelers, seductive handymen, and next-door neighbors with smoldering good looks—all vie for her attention. It’s a tough life, but someone’s got to live it.

Visit me at:
Website: http://www.njwalters.com
Blog: http://www.njwalters.blogspot.com
Newsletter Sign Up: http://eepurl.com/gdblg5
Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/N.J.WaltersAuthor
Twitter: https://twitter.com/njwaltersauthor
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/NJWalters
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/author/njwalters
BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/n-j-walters

Grace Adams: Nearly-Published Author of FIRE’S RISING! (Contest + Excerpt)
Monday, August 23rd, 2021

Oh, boy. This is my first guest blog as a nearly-published romance author, and I’m a little nervous.

Okay. A lot nervous.

I’ve always had stories in my head. There’s always been a kind of narration going in my brain. Sometimes it reads like a script, laying out events that happened the day before. Or a difficult conversation I need to have (or wish I could have) with someone. Other times, it’s a scene from whatever I’m writing, playing out in images and description and dialogue. But that’s all safely in my head, where it always sounds good and no one else can see or hear or judge.

Or experience my stories with me. Yes, my stories are safe in my head. But what good is being a storyteller, if you don’t have the guts to put your stories down on paper and send them out into the world, to share them with others?

It took me a long time to understand this about myself, but that’s my passion: telling stories. I love stories. I love movies and scripted television. As long as we’re talking happy endings and good guys winning, that is. I distinctly recall the cheers that erupted in the theatre when Han and Chewie swooped in to help Luke make his run down that Death Star trench. Xena and Hercules were Must-See Friday-night television for me and my friends. And I’ve been reading since I could hold a book. My first love was science fiction and fantasy. Then I started sneaking peeks at the romances Granny shared with Mom, which Mom tucked away on the shelf in the enclosed back porch that we called our kitchen nook. And then I started reading those romances cover to cover, swept away by the emotional journeys of people as they fell in love. As they chose each other, no matter their faults or fears, and made whatever sacrifices they needed to make to build a life together.

Did you catch that I called them people? Of course, they’re characters, imagined by someone and crafted by someone, their actions and thoughts and emotions carefully chosen word by word, page by page, scene by scene. But man, if the writer has done their job well, those characters can be as real to readers or viewers as living, breathing people.

Especially in romance. Because these characters are fighting for what we all want: love. Families. Healthy relationships. Fulfilling lives. Whether they’re dragon shifters like mine or Wall Street billionaires or Victorian heiresses. We see ourselves in these characters. We connect to them on a deeply personal level.

Some writers will describe their process as listening to their characters as if their characters are telling them what to do. My process is more like a series of discoveries of what someone might be like if this or that happened to them, of choices I consciously make to build them from the inside out. Whatever the process, those characters we love come from the mind and heart of a storyteller. And if they’re in a published book, then that writer had the guts to put their characters and those characters’ journeys into words and send them out to the world. And hopefully into readers’ hearts.

And here I am, finally ready to join the ranks of the published and share my stories. Or nearly ready. I may have made this decision to finally put my work out there, but apparently, I’ve got way more to learn about how to do that than I realized, despite years of working toward this goal.

So yeah, I’m a lot nervous. I wish I at least had the cover ready to share. I’ll be back here next month, a grateful guest blogger of the kind and generous Delilah Devlin, and I’ll have more for you then, including a chance to win a set of dragon magnets. In the meantime, comment for a chance to win a copy of Fire’s Rising as soon as it’s available this fall.

But no more waiting! It’s time. So here, for the first time ever, is an excerpt from my debut paranormal romance Fire’s Rising, when my hero and heroine meet. I hope you’ll like my story. And I especially hope you’ll like my characters and take them into your heart. They’ve certainly spent a lot of time in mine.

Cheers,
Grace Adams
www.bygraceadams.com

Excerpt from Fire’s Rising

To set the scene: Cole is a fire dragon shifter of Clan Drakon, (the other half of his dual soul is the dragon Aithos), and as Fire’s Rising opens, he’s out searching with water dragon shifter Sonnan for the newborn dragon his clan chief and mentor James has been sensing. Her name is Liliana. She’s alone, stuck in a bad situation, and doesn’t yet understand why a fire has always burned at the heart of her. Or why that fire has finally, suddenly, broken free.

Fire. Cole smelled it on the wind, tasted it on his tongue. And this time, that taste held the tang of a dragon’s magic. He beat his wings and turned into the wind, to the source of the scent, hope and dread both burning hot embers in his chest.

I’ve got her! James’ thought cut, edged razor sharp with triumph.

Cole curled his wings to catch an updraft and soared higher. She’s east and north of me. I can smell the fire. Get me a better location, James, he demanded.

Astoria, not far from the East River. Hurry, Cole, James said. Cole couldn’t miss the tension now coiling in his mentor’s voice. I sense her dragon’s magic–and her fire–but I can barely sense her.

His talons fisted, a roar building in his throat. They were too late. She was burning. Had she hurt anyone? Had she hurt herself?

Understood, James. Sonnan, be quick. And be ready. If she can’t hear me, you’ll need to shock her out of this fire the old-fashioned way.

With water, Sonnan agreed, her mental voice as cool and clear as the water she commanded. On my way.

Fire flared high, still miles distant but unmistakable to his vision. The blaze flashed, bright and powerful. The shock wave throbbed against him in a sharp, hot burst moments later.

But he was fire, too. Aithos snarled in recognition and burning need and surged forward, wings straining in a pounding rhythm.

She was one of them. She was a fire dragon of Clan Drakon. Nothing mattered more than finding her, protecting her, and bringing her home. Nothing. Whatever had happened, whatever she’d done, whatever the consequences of her awakening, they’d get her through it. But he had to actually find her first.

Cole slid deep into Aithos’ strength and power, trusting the dragon half of his being to do what he’d been born to do. Fly. Arms and legs tucked tight, his long tail a counterbalance streaming behind him, his massive wings beat strong and true as he read the air currents on pure instinct. They reached the river in minutes.

Flames reached high into the night, driven by hunger and fury, the fire stretching for at least a mile along what appeared to be a business district on the opposite shore. Cole stared in horror. Their drakaina was in the middle of that?

Where the man in him saw an inferno and felt the horror of what would be lost to it, though, the beast saw the currents and patterns of the magic that lay beneath it. What stood at the center of all that burning power was clear to his dragon. And it was another of their kind.

Aithos folded his wings and dove, neck stretched out and chin tucked as he streaked across the river. He plummeted to the rooftops, spreading his wings again at the last possible moment to dump their speed in a breathtaking jolt, the powerful beats scattering the flames as they hovered in mid air.

But only for a moment. Then the heat rose again to scorch his breath, the flames skipping back across the tarmac of the parking lot below him in a searing rush.

Man and dragon both saw her now, still in human form, standing next to the shell of a burning car. The ragged, smoking remains of her clothes hung off her tall, slim form, her legs spread and back arched, her arms stretched wide. Long, dark red curls twisted wildly about a bruised and battered face. But her eyes blazed with power, her lips stretched in feral joy.

We have found her, Aithos broadcast. He angled his wings and dropped into the fire, landing far enough from her that if she shifted, she’d have enough room.

Call to her, Cole said.

Aithos pushed to his hind legs and rose to his full height and roared. It was the command of a fully grown and mature fire dragon, demanding acknowledgment and obedience from a newborn. The deep, throaty blast pushed the flames back for another moment and made her hair dance. But she didn’t acknowledge the call in any way.

Her dragon cannot hear me over the power of her fire.

Cole answered by pushing close enough to the front of their bond that magic surged and dragon surrendered his form to that of the man. But not all the way. His skin would be no match for the heat she was generating. He approached her cautiously, in human form but protected by the dragon’s scales.

Volume hadn’t worked. Neither had the simple shock of seeing a dragon land in front of her. If she could actually see anything beyond her flames. He pitched his words so soft and low they were nearly sub-vocal.

“Can you hear me?”

Nothing. No reaction. He tried again, murmuring soothing, wordless sounds of comfort. The only response was an explosion a block or so away as something blew.

Cole, James pathed to him. This is all over the news. I’ve lost count of the number of engines responding, and they’ll be there in less than five minutes. If the news helicopters don’t beat them. You’re out of time.

Clouds already roiled as they massed above him. Sonnan was close.

Hear me, he pathed to the young woman. Please. It’s time for you to come home.

The power blazing in her eyes flickered. But only for a heartbeat. The hope in his chest crisped to ashes as the fires raged on around them.

Hit her, Sonnan, he ordered, and braced himself for the deluge. Hard.

The skies opened.

* * *

Water—cold—water? Crashing water. Beating her throbbing face, smothering her and drenching her lovely flames and smashing her down.

Lili screamed and sucked in water, choked and fell moaning, shivering, to her knees. Reaching for heat, needing the heat back. Where was the heat?

“Can you hear me?”

Not Maks, not Maks or that disgusting–

“Drakaina? Can you hear me?”

The voice was calm, soothing, gently compelling. She raised her head, vaguely surprised to find it still attached, blinked rain and the last of the flickering flames from her eyes.

A man, a naked man, with broad shoulders and slender hips, his skin glistening in moonlight and pouring rain.

Naked?

Twisting eddies of color and light danced across him, crimson and gold. Shimmering down each muscle, hugging his shoulders, sparking at his fingertips. Watching made her dizzy, made her wonder why she’d thought he was standing there naked in the middle of a parking lot.

“We’re here to help,” he said in that beautiful voice. “Are you all right?”

Was she all right?

Lili blinked, her gaze drawn to the flecks of warm light in his eyes, in his unwavering stare. He shouldn’t ask things like that. Not about her. Maks wouldn’t like it.

“Drakaina,” he said, urgently now. “This fire stretches for at least a mile, and Sonnan’s rain can’t reach everywhere. We think people are trapped in some of these buildings. Can you put the fire out?

People? Lili lurched to her feet, spinning, stumbling, peering desperately through the downpour and the darkness, but there were no life-size piles of smoldering ashes. They must have gotten away before–

People. Trapped. Oh, no… No!

Lili closed her eyes and threw her arms wide and reached, reached wide, far, for heat, for flames, for that which burned and scorched and seared.

She called and called. Come back to me, come, COME, until she stretched thin and brittle across the endless cold and silence, until she was nothing but that single, pain-filled word, screamed over and over in blackness.

Nothing. Nothing. She couldn’t do this, she’d never tried to call the heat to her before, it wouldn’t come back. Despair cut like an icy blade. There was nothing, she was nothing, and–

“You’re nothing.”

How many times had Maks told her that? No, no, Maks was gone, he was gone, she must have finally made him afraid of her. She hadn’t meant to, but that wouldn’t matter. Not to him.

“You’re nothing!”

The blow had staggered her, fear rising acrid in her mouth and brittle in her gut that time as it did now. She faltered, shaking, stepping back.

No. He was gone. Maks was gone. Wasn’t he?

He always comes back, the fear whispered. And he’s going to be so mad…

She set her feet, gritted her teeth. Clutching at the burning embers within, she reached.

A whiff of smoke gave her the strength to stretch farther, farther, again, more. An instant of warmth against her wet fingertips, a flicker of heat in the depths of her soul.

More, more, come to me, come TO ME, the call a desperate cry that resonated within her in a low, husky echo.

And the fire roared, snapping back. Scorching her breath. Skittering across her skin and writhing in her belly.

Burning. She was burning.

With lovely, lovely heat…

She staggered, blind and deaf to everything but the conflagration she’d harnessed, that licked and hissed and consumed the last of her strength and slowly, sullenly, flickered lower.

But it didn’t go out. The fire never went out. Not as long as there was breath in her body.

She’d done it. The fire in the buildings and cars, at least, was out, and the one within her was quiet. Lili dropped her aching arms and drew a long, shuddering sigh as some last, tiny, stubborn spark of life still left in her forced her heavy eyes open.

He still stood there in front of her. Had even drawn closer, despite what he’d just seen her do. And this time, he wasn’t alone. A woman now stood next to him, shoulder to shoulder, the light flickering across her skin silver and a blue so dark it was nearly black. They seemed poised, tense. Waiting for her to collapse.

“We’re here to help,” he repeated, slowly. “I’m Cole, and this is Sonnan.”

Naked or not, and she still couldn’t be sure, they were magnificent. Both of them. Shining and sleek and so very strong.

Not like her.

They would have stood up to Maks. They would have found a way to leave him.

She stared at them, frowning, sadness rolling over her in a cold wave. Why couldn’t she be that strong?

“What do you want from me?” she rasped, trying to at least sound strong and fierce and not at all like her vision was darkening or her heartbeat was pounding in her ears or her knees were buckling–

He caught her as she sagged, easing down with her in a tangled heap. “Drakaina?”

She tried to answer, to tell him to stop calling her that strange word and leave her alone. She tried to get up and run somewhere, anywhere, now that Maks finally wasn’t looking. But all she managed was a low, low moan.

She should have been afraid. He had his hands on her. But fear wasn’t enough to push her to her feet. Or even to raise her arm to smack his hands away. She had nothing left.

Warm fingers brushed her snarled, sodden hair back from her face.”It’s all right,” that beautiful voice soothed. “We’ll take you someplace safe, where you can rest. You’ll be safe. I promise.”

Safety didn’t exist. Not for her. Because there was no place in the world that Maks wouldn’t come for her.

For the freak who belonged to him.

More hands, straightening her legs with care and easy strength. “I think she did it. I think the fire’s completely out.” The woman. Her voice held all the sweet rain and cool, gentle breezes that Lili had ever longed for in that stinking hot cell of a studio. “Is she all right?”

“We need to get her back to Nina. Now.”

His words came from far away, clipped and angry, but she couldn’t make herself care. What they did with her, they did with her. What could it possibly matter?

Maks would find her. He would never let her go. It was only a matter of time.

He was going to be so mad.

“You’re nothing!”

Nothing.

She knew that. Nothing.

… except the fire that meant everything, that had taken everything from her. The embers lay quietly, banked and glowering in her belly.

Author Bio

Grace Adams is a 2017 Golden Heart® finalist and award-winning author of paranormal romance who loves nothing more than a happy ending. Whatever the genre, regardless of the medium, as long as justice prevails, the good guys win, and people are falling in love, she’s in.

A lifelong reader of science fiction, fantasy, and of course romance, Grace also enjoys painting and drawing and is an avid skier. One of those rare Geeks who loves both Star Wars AND Star Trek, she’s got a closet full of costumes she created and firmly believes that she who dies with the most fabric (and books) (and shoes) wins.

Grace has a B.S. in Mathematics from Ursinus College and an M.A. in English from Wright State University.  She is a veteran of the USAF as a communications officer and currently works as an IT Controls Analyst. She shares her home with the best super cats ever, Thor and Loki.

N.J. Walters: Netflix and Chill — Top 5 Picks! (FREE Book)!
Monday, March 29th, 2021

The explosion of streaming services—Netflix, Disney Plus, HBO Max, Amazon Prime, or any of the many others—has changed how we watch shows, miniseries, and movies. With so many options to choose from, there really is something for everyone.

This past year, many of us have been isolating more due to the pandemic. Until this happened, I never really binged on shows. It’s fun to not have to wait to see an entire season, or an entire series.

My Personal Top 5 Picks

The Mandalorian—The Mandalorian is set after the fall of the Empire and before the emergence of the First Order. We follow the epic adventure of a lone gunfighter—the Mandalorian. When a job goes sideways, he’s left with the care of a baby Yoda. (There are currently two seasons.)

WandaVision—If you’re a fan of the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe) this series is a must-see. It takes place after the movie Endgame and gives us a glimpse into the life of Wanda Maximoff and Vision. If you’ve watched sitcoms from the 50s, 60s, 70s, and 80s, there’s pure magic in the early episodes. If you find it confusing at first, hang in there. It will all make sense in the end. Absolutely brilliant! (There are 9 episodes in total.)

(Both the above series are on Disney Plus. I don’t have this service, but my brother and SIL do. Thanks to several snowstorms and overnight stays, I was able to watch both series.)

The Witcher—This series follows the adventures of solitary monster hunter Geralt of Rivia. In his world, it’s sometimes the people who are more dangerous than the monsters.  Henry Cavill is spellbinding as Geralt. (There’s one season, so far, with more to come.)

Bridgerton—Like so many people, I was curled up this past Christmas Day binging on the series that brought to life The Duke and I, the first book in the historical romance series of the same name, by Julia Quinn. I devoured all 9 episodes in two days. Brilliant ensemble cast! I can’t wait for season two!

The Old Guard—This original Netflix movie, starring Charlize Theron, follows a group of immortal assassins who are trying to protect their identity at the same time as a new member is uncovered. Action-packed and original, I can’t wait for the sequel. I love a movie where a badass woman kicks butt.

I’ve watched many documentaries, series, and movies. There really is a lot to explore. I’m looking forward to The Falcon and the Winter Soldier on Disney Plus. What have you been watching?

Blood of the Drakon Series

And if you feel like binging on a paranormal romance series, why not check out my Blood of the Drakon series. Drakon’s Promise, the first book in the series, is FREE.

SERIES: https://www.amazon.com/Blood-Drakon-7-Book/dp/B07R2FL7J4/

About the Author

N.J. Walters is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author who has always been a voracious reader, and now she spends her days writing novels of her own. Vampires, werewolves, dragons, assassins, time-travelers, seductive handymen, and next-door neighbors with smoldering good looks—all vie for her attention. It’s a tough life, but someone’s got to live it.

Visit me at:
Website: http://www.njwalters.com
Blog: http://www.njwalters.blogspot.com
Newsletter Sign Up: http://eepurl.com/gdblg5
Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/N.J.WaltersAuthor
Twitter: https://twitter.com/njwaltersauthor
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/NJWalters
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/author/njwalters
BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/n-j-walters

Ava Cuvay: What a Dragon Wants… is Balance (Contest)
Friday, January 29th, 2021

UPDATE: The winners are…Eniko, Misty, Colleen, bn100, Debra, and Fedora!
*~*~*

I’m a Sci-fi Romance Writer. Or, at least, I was.

But then an Earth-bound dragon-shifter story idea knocked at my brain, and I had to write it. Because, you know… dragon-shifters!

The idea was a Viking shifter and a Chinese shifter come together to battle a prophesized World Destroyer. An East-meets-West story with a strong emphasis on the concept of yin and yang (and fortune cookies) and rich with references to the two cultures.

No biggie, right? Except for the small detail that, aside from my avid support of a local Chinese restaurant, I know nothing about that culture. And even less about Vikings. Or Minnesota, where the Viking clan now live. Or LA, where my story takes place…

When I write my alien-planets-filled-with-alien-creatures books, I get to just make stuff up for the most part. But not with What a Dragon Wants. Oh, my… I was going to have to research for my story. Not just a quick Google of a few details, either. This was gonna involve intense research. I had to be thorough. I had to be accurate.

And most importantly, I had to be sensitive.

I wasn’t crafting some culture from the weird synapses in my brain; I was trying to convey cultures that actually exist (or have existed) on this Earth. The suspension of disbelief would be narrower and the readers less forgiving if I got it wrong. And there are soooo many ways to screw up!

Critique Partners were important, and Sensitivity Readers were crucial. I inquired around my small network and found several kind souls willing to help in this endeavor. Heck, one day subbing at the local High School, I walked into the Mandarin teacher’s room during passing period and did the whole “you don’t know me, but I have a huge favor to ask” awkwardness. Probably not my finest five-minutes, but I was desperate to get the Chinese culture right.

I’m so grateful for all the comments and suggestions I received from my Critique Partners and Sensitivity Readers. I always am, as they help make my story the best it can be. And in the particular case of What a Dragon Wants, they certainly caught several places where I had proverbially stepped in it.

Did we catch everything? Probably not.

Will someone with a greater or more astute knowledge of these cultures find fault in my story? Possibly.

Did I attempt to craft an interesting, sexy, multi-cultural paranormal story that is entertaining, sprinkled with humor, and not grossly offensive? Absolutely.

The theme of yin and yang—of balance—runs through my story. The same theme also applies to how well I incorporated the aspects of my various cultures with the made-up story of my dragon-shifters and their world-ending-prophesy. And, while only time (and my readers) will tell if I accomplished this balance, it was a fun challenge and an exciting, somewhat nerve-wracking, endeavor.

G I V E A W A Y!

Comment on this blog, and I’ll pick five random winners to receive either a Kindle ebook or a signed paperback (US only) of my What a Dragon Wants novella. Then you can tell me how well I managed to balance it all. 🙂

Ebook available exclusively on Amazon KU and Kindle: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08TB8C2GZ/
Print available at multiple online retailers.

About Ava Cuvay 

Ava Cuvay writes out of this world romance featuring sassy heroines, gutsy heroes, passion, and adventure… often set in a galaxy far, far away. She resides in central Indiana with her own scruffy-looking nerfherder and kiddos who remind her daily she’s not as cool and hip as she thinks. She believes life is too short to bother with negative people, everything is better with Champagne, and Han Solo shot first. When not writing, Ava is thinking about writing. Or wine. And she’s always thinking about bacon.

Website: https://avacuvay.com/books/
Amazon author page: http://www.amazon.com/Ava-Cuvay/e/B01E5OIZ0I/
Goodreads page: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/15051407.Ava_Cuvay
Facebook: https://facebook.com/AvaCuvayAuthor/
Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/ava-cuvay