#BookBlitz “Awaken the Dragon” by A.C. Arthur

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AWAKEN THE DRAGON

BY A.C. ARTHUR

He’s sworn to protect the very entity she was born to kill…

Next in line for the Drakon throne, Theo Masters is the most powerful half human, half dragon in the world. Royal power is the last thing he wants, however. He lives as a human and runs the Legion Security Company. But his new client—a mysterious, beautiful human from a small African village—and the unknown danger she faces may forever change the quiet life that he’s chosen.

Shola N’Gara exists to kill the dark spirit that is attempting to demolish her people. It’s her purpose and her destiny. The gorgeous protector who taunts her with his sexy voice and body is not—especially after he shifts into a magnificent black dragon with turquoise eyes.

A rise in demon activity and the brutal murders Theo’s agents have been reporting start to add up. Someone is making a play, and it’s big enough to change the course of the world as they know it. Now Shola must choose between her destiny and her heart. And Theo must decide if standing by the woman he’s fallen in love with is worth facing his father in a battle to the death.

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AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE | CARINA PRESS

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EXCERPT

The glass doors to the building ten feet away slid open slowly. That feeling, like a breeze lifting fall leaves off the ground, swirled in the pit of his stomach. Theo Masters eased off his bike and held the helmet between his arm and his hip as he continued to stare at that door. He considered removing his sunglasses since the sun had set hours ago, but decided against it.

Seconds later, three women stepped out. His gaze fell quickly over each one, noting bare feet, long legs and deep green material swaddling their bodies before stopping inches above the knees. Red and gold stripes slashed across their forehead and cheeks coupled with long gold spears held tightly in hand announced their warrior status while his wish for a quick pickup and drop-off dwindled.

The Odò Guard.

Or, the river guards. They were foot soldiers from the River Tribe that lived in a village located along a portion of the Niger River, which flowed through western Nigeria. Theo had visited the area close to one hundred years ago.

Three more women exited the building approximately two feet behind the first trio. And then three more, until nine in total were now in a triple-file line in front of him. At some other time, in some other place, he might have been impressed. As it was now, their grand entrance was making his last minute task take much longer than he’d anticipated.

“You are the guardian we hired?” The middle woman in the first row spoke to him, her voice loud, strong and heavily accented.

“I’m from the Legion Security Company.” Even his voice sounded tired, deep and raspy, as it did when he woke in the mornings.

In unison, each woman holding a spear clanked the metal ends to the ground. The tight formation parted with each of the side lines stepping away so that only the woman standing directly in front of Theo, and another woman a few feet behind her, remained in the middle.

“The ceremony is in two weeks. The accommodations are listed here, as well as the location for the ceremony, where you will deliver her safely. Joku N’Gara and the River Tribe thank you for your services.” Her words sounded rehearsed.

With a crisp movement, she extended an arm in Theo’s direction. A large white envelope was clutched between her fingers until he slipped it away.

The woman stepped to the side, standing in line with the other guards, leaving only one woman in the middle.

But this was no ordinary woman.

Those leaves that had begun stirring in the pit of his stomach now swirled and twisted up into a funnel. His chest tightened, and his gums itched, as the beast within that had long lay dormant began to stir. Theo’s fingers clenched into fists, the envelope crackling beneath his natural strength.

She appeared ethereal, her silhouette wavering slightly as with the rhythm of the wind. Her eyes were like ice, clear white but for the iris that was a singular black dot, and she bore similar markings as the guards on her face, only hers were all white. Atop her head was a gold- and diamond-encrusted crown that sparkled against the night backdrop.

“You will transport me on that?”

Her voice was like the sun rising, glorious and breathtaking. It was also stabilizing. He caught the slow easing movement beneath his skin. With practiced strength, he pulled the beast back. His body once again still, he fixed his gaze on her. Only now that his vision had cleared, the woman standing in front of him looked different than she had just seconds ago.

A rainbow of brown hues, the Odò Guard were different complexions, their hair either cut close to the scalp or twisted intricately. On the surface, the woman before him initially appeared different from the others, but now there was no crown and no markings on her face; her skin was the deepest brown and hair a kinky mass circling her narrow face. All things easily noted by sight, but it was the languid stretch of muscles and tendons in his body that made the real point.

“That is a bike, and yes, it will accommodate two.” The tilt of one perfectly arched brow said she did not like the accommodations. That made two of them, and Magnum was going to feel his wrath first thing tomorrow morning.

“I have seen a bike before. This is bigger, but not as big as a car, which would have been more comfortable for such a trip.”

Not at all what she appeared. The thought played in his mind like a song on repeat, and his gaze eased over her once more. High cheekbones, pert chin, reddish brown eyes and a muted colored dress belted high at her waist—just another client.

Except there’d never been a client who clawed along his flesh with such urgent fervor before.

Theo shook himself free of thoughts that had gone deeper than they should have and stepped forward. The Odò Guards took a quick, succinct step to close the space between them and her, but not enough to hinder her progression forward. She came toward him slowly.

“There was a change of plans,” he snapped, edginess and annoyance now plaguing him. “I promise to get you to your hotel as quickly as possible.”

Each step she took felt as if she were already beside him, brushing slowly against the scaled skin of his beast. It was eerie, and yet…comforting.

“If you have luggage, I can send someone back for it.”

“My things were sent ahead. They should be already at the hotel.”

Her voice, each word was spoken in a melodic tone, thick with her accent, yet as clear to him as his own dialect.

“You can wear this. Then we should get going,” he said because this wasn’t normal.

Or at least the version of normal Theo knew humans accepted. He was three hundred years old and came from the Far Realm. There was no doubt the people of Burgess, Pennsylvania wouldn’t find that normal at all. Still, there was something odd happening here, and he wasn’t sure he liked whatever it was.

He closed the small space she’d left between them and resisted the urge to touch her cheeks where he knew those tribal stripes had been before. Clenching his fingers on the helmet, he thrust it toward her and turned away. Tucking the envelope inside his jacket, he moved to his bike and tossed a leg over the seat. His palms burned with the urge to touch, caress, explore, so he grabbed the handles. “Get on.” Shifting from just moments ago, his voice was now deep and stern, his mood decidedly darker even though he couldn’t explain why.

She hesitated.

The Odò Guard also hesitated, looking ready to use those spears and whatever other defensive devices he was sure they had against him at any second. He didn’t move. He’d been paid a hefty deposit for this two-week assignment, and when it was over, his company would collect another large payment. It was a simple job—keep an eye on this woman until the day she would be delivered to her wedding. That was it. Even one of his lower level agents could have done this.

But as Theo watched her arms slowly lifting to settle the helmet over the poof of her hair, he knew that wasn’t true. She was not just a bride. No ordinary bride required a personal escort like the Odò Guard. And no normal bride had a soul identity that looked like hers.

She stepped closer to the bike, eyeing it suspiciously for a few seconds before letting her fingers tug the material of her dress up. She lifted her leg to cross over the seat.

Theo started the engine.

“Hold on.”

“Just go.” Her reply was curt and she did not put a hand on him.

With a shrug, he did what he was told, peeling off from the spot at a modest speed before picking up the moment they hit the open road. He had to hurry to get her to the hotel and in the hands of his other agents because the beast inside, the one that had lay dormant for the past two hundred years, had awakened at the sight of her spirit. Theo didn’t know why, nor did he care. All he knew was that this could not happen. Not here and definitely not now.

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ABOUT A.C. ARTHURAC Arthur

AC Arthur was born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland where she currently resides with her husband, three children, grandson and an English bulldog named Vader. 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 over twenty-five years, AC has seen lots of horrific things and longs for the safe haven of a romance novel. To date, she has written in several genres: YA paranormal (w/a Artist Arthur), small town romance as Lacey Baker, and sexy contemporary and paranormal romance. With intriguing plots and sexy love scenes, AC brings a new edge to romance!

CONNECT WITH A.C. ARTHUR

AUTHOR SITE | FACEBOOKTWITTER | INSTAGRAM | PINTEREST | BOOKBUB | GOODREADS | AMAZON AUTHOR PAGE

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#BookBlitz “Gardenia Duty” by Kathleen Varn

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Women’s Fiction, Military
Published: June 2019
Publisher: Gatekeeper Press
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In 1957 jobs are scarce in rural Ashland, Alabama. Bobby Higgins is facing life decisions; his family’s farm struggles and threat of the draft hangs over 18-year-old males as the Cold War rumbles in the distance. Bobby heads off to boot camp, vowing to provide for his family from his pay. Between shore and sea duty, Bobby leaves broken hearts in every port.
When his own heart is stolen by Rose, he’s shocked to learn that she comes with four daughters, a package deal he’s unsure he wants. But when Rose disappears, Bobby finds her and persuades her to marry him. Somehow they navigate their way through the trials of marriage and parenting as he fulfills his patriotic career and his promise to raise four willful daughters.
In the spring of 2004, his daughters are brought together by grief. They forge new bonds, sharing their joys, losses, regrets, and ultimately family secrets that will seal all their fates…if they can summon the courage to report for duty.
 Excerpt
October, 1980
She stared at the venetian blinds, blurred by tears,
gripping the hospital bed rails. They should have
been tears of joy. Her family should have been standing
in the sparsely furnished room. Should have, would
have, could have.
Suck it up, cupcake, she thought. She knew this day
would come. She had to think about what was best for…
for him. And once she had finally decided, even the excitement
of her budding career had been overshadowed. She
scanned the room through the blur, now void of the nurse
who had taken pity on her solitude. The never-ending
loop of self-recrimination flooded her brain yet again.
Funny, she thought she’d be over it by now, that somehow
the loop would be flushed—like afterbirth.
How could she have been so careless? Why hadn’t she
focused on school instead of letting herself be attracted to
Larry’s blue eyes? With that twinkle and his boyish grin,
he had relentlessly worked his way into her heart on a
girls’ night out. Eventually, walks on the beach, romantic
dinners and line dancing at The Lazy B. If she had known
his orders were only five months away, would she have
continued the romance? She didn’t let just anyone in. She
was the Master of Unavailable and The Life of the Party.
But Larry had pulled her off center and made her laugh.
She thought he’d bore her. She thought she’d grow tired
of him. But no. Damn you, Larry. The aching memories
made this day that much more difficult.
There was a knock on the thick blonde door. “Dinner
time,” the nurse said. She stared at the tray as the nurse
gently placed it on the table. She peeked under the lid and
was hit with the aroma of chicken and broccoli. Typical
hospital menu; something from all the food groups.
“Does the chef suggest a wine pairing?” she smiled
weakly. Her nurse smiled back and checked the IV bag.
There was iced tea and a little carton of milk on the fiberglass
tray, the same type served up in school when her
biggest decisions were made on a playground, or when
sneaking a cigarette on the senior lawn behind the huge
live oak.
“When can I shower?” she asked, poking at the
mashed potatoes.
“After this bag runs out I’ll take out the IV.”
Her nurse’s deep blue scrubs were adorned by a shiny
chrome stethoscope. “Can I do anything else?” Her eyes
betrayed the facade of pity for her situation. This may
have been her first rodeo, but the nurse had seen too many
of her situations. “No, I’m good. Well, not good. I mean,
you’ve been wonderful,” she fumbled.
The nurse walked back to the door, patting her feet
with a soft hand on the way. She felt the tears welling
again. How she needed her sisters. But, no one could
know. She needed to get back on track at work and put
this behind her. How the hell do you put something like this
behind you, she thought to herself. She suspected it would
always haunt her. “Please, God, give me the peace I need. I
hope you know I’m not heartless. This is for his future. I’m
still a kid.”
There was another knock on the door. As the couple
entered the room, he was carrying a fast-food bag, Taco
Bell. She carried flowers. It had to be as awkward for them
as it was for her. “You’re a lifesaver! I hope there are tacos
in that bag,” she said, with as much bravado as she could
muster. But she knew there was a deeper meaning to the
first part of her comment.
“Did y’all finally decide on his name?” she asked.
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About the Author

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Kathleen Varn’s love affair with words manifested when she turned four and taught herself to read. As she grew older, books and reading were an escape from responsibility. Eventually, Kathleen dove into journaling, which helped her find solace in the grief of a toxic relationship. Kathleen is now very happily married to her soulmate. She resides in Charleston, South Carolina, where she worked for an adoption attorney for twenty-three years. Her first novel, Ameera Unveiled, released in 2013. Gardenia Duty is her second novel.       
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#PublicationDayPush “Christmas at Ladywell” by Nicola Slade

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A time for spilling secrets…

Having refurbished her inherited house and upcycled her whole life in the process, Freya – now happily married to Patrick, and with a small child – has to transform her tiny stone barn into a romantic hideaway for a mystery guest who is also looking for change. With Christmas only a week away, things don’t go according to plan…

In the past old uncertainties are resolved when an elderly woman seeks the truth of a legend on Christmas Eve and confesses to a deception; a Tudor wife listens to a story that must never be repeated and is given a precious relic that must never be displayed; and in the early nineteenth century an old woman tells a younger one the story of the hares at Ladywell.

Past and present are only a whisper apart when Freya learns of an astonishing discovery that will make Ladywell famous, but meanwhile her house is full of unexpected visitors, she has a turkey to cook – and a very special secret of her own that must be told.

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Author Bio Nicola Slade

Nicola Slade is an award-winning, bestselling author of historical and contemporary mysteries and romantic fiction, all set in and around Winchester and Romsey in Hampshire – which is where she lives. The House at Ladywell – a contemporary romantic novel with historical echoes – won the Chatelaine Grand Prize for Romantic Fiction at the CIBA awards in April 2019.

She is the author of the mid-Victorian Charlotte Richmond mysteries and the contemporary Harriet Quigley mysteries and The Convalescent Corpse, published November 2018, is the first in a new series, The Fyttleton Mysteries, set in 1918.

Social Media Links  

Website: www.nicolaslade.com

Blog: www.nicolaslade.wordpress.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/nicolasladeuk/

Twitter: @nicolasladeuk

Pinterest: www.pinterest.co.uk/nicola8703

 

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