Saturday, December 28, 2013

Witch Born (Witch Song #2) by Amber Argyle ~Book Review ~ First Chapter ~

Witch Born (Witch Song #2)
by Amber Argyle 


Brusenna thought it was finished. She defeated the Dark Witch, saving the Haven Witches from imprisonment and death. She found love and a place to belong. She was wrong. Haven is not the sanctuary it appears to be. Even love is in danger of slipping away like water through cupped hands. Some things can't be saved. A new threat merges with the old as the Witches' dark history begins to catch up with them. Only Brusenna knows the extent of the danger and how to stop it, though doing so might cost her everything. Including her life. Will Brusenna be required to make the ultimate sacrifice?

This book was a continuation from book one, Witch Song. I loved it, was sad to see the end of Brusenna’s journey, but still really liked it. (The next 2 books are prequels to these first 2 in series)

I was saddened by the lose that Senna had to experience, how many people that she loves does she have to loose? Too many I think. She grew so much in this book. I really liked her, she grew on me in book one, and kept on impressing me in this one.

I really like Joshen in this one too, even more actually. He is quite the guy, very loyal and hot too.

Poor Senna learns of betrayal in this, and its awful, but she learns to deal with what she needs to.

I do not want to give anything major away, but the revelations in this book are huge.
I loved it and look forward to the prequel books, Witch Rising and Witch Fall. To me, its best to read these in the proper order, Witch Song, Witch Born, Witch Rising, then Witch Fall. Since the next 2 are about Lillette, and she is mentioned in Witch Born and makes you want to learn more about her.

I highly recommend this book. If you like fantasy and paranormal with witches, then this is for you.

I give it 5 out of 5 stars.

I was provided a copy of this book from the author for my honest review.

Be sure to check out the other books in this series

See my review for book one, Here (and first chapter)

Enjoy an Excerpt of Chapter One

1. Shadows

The night was so deep the shadows seemed to bleed darkness. Senna glanced toward the hidden sky, searching for the moon that would not come. Not tonight. Even the strongest starlight was strangled by the dense canopy of trees. The temporary blindness was frightening, but it ensured no one would notice her slipping away.
With each step she took, the roar of the waterfall grew louder. Finally, she reached the staircase carved into the side of the cliff. Mindful of the slippery steps, she climbed upward until her muscles burned and sweat broke across her skin despite the chill.
When she’d crested the top and crossed the bleak expanse, she glanced at the frothing sea far below. Sea spray misted her skin. She faced westward, towards the distant land of Tarten. Closing her eyes, she cast her senses across the vast ocean, searching and feeling the faraway echoes of the Four Sisters—Earth, Water, Plants, and Sunlight. She concentrated until she could hear their pain, an aching melody.
Senna’s tears started again, wetting the salty tracks already on her cheeks. At night, her dreams haunted her. Dreams of a withered land and a dying people. With all the strength she had, she sang.
Let not the curse of Witches
Destroy a land of natural riches.
Plants, preserve life in thy roots,
Seeds sleep in earth, send forth no shoots
Until the Witches shall disperse
This terrible and unjust curse.
She came to the cliffs every night she could manage to slip away. Hoping to right the wrong she’d done, she sang for Tarten—the lands she’d helped destroy months ago.
When her throat was scratchy and she could no longer hit the high notes, she stared at the land she knew was struggling to hold onto any life at all. Because of the Witches’ curse, no rain had fallen in Tarten for over two months—death to any jungle, but this one held on deep in the ground, waiting for the promise of her song to be fulfilled.
She withdrew her senses back to her home, Haven. Above the crash of waves, Senna thought she heard the scuff of a boot against stone. She whipped around and peered in the direction she’d come, her heart pounding in her throat. If the Discipline Heads discovered she was subverting their curse, the punishment would be severe.
“Who’s there?” Her whisper sounded like a shout in the darkness.
No answer. She wished Joshen were here. The Discipline Heads had done their best to keep her apart from her Guardian. She hadn’t seen him in two months. Not since he and Leader Reden had gone on a recruitment assignment.
Hugging herself, Senna trotted back to the staircase and began the long descent into the uninhabited quarter of Haven. At the base, she plunged between trees that towered above her, the tallest over eight stories high, the smallest just over two. Some were so wide it would take twenty witches stretched arm to arm to encircle one. Each tree was hollow and had once been inhabited by a Witch. Now they were empty, proof of the Witches’ lingering decline into ruin.
Here, everything still bore faded signs of the Witches’ final battle with Espen. A door in a tree creaked on its rusted hinges, a hole yawning where the latch should have been. Broken windows gaped like mouths with hungry, serrated teeth. The destruction was at odds with the life bursting all around.
Still, Senna couldn’t shake the feeling she wasn’t alone. There was no indication anyone had marked her sneaking away, no indication she’d been followed. But some instinct inside her seemed to chant a warning—through the gloom, someone was watching.
The feeling grew, and with a start, Senna heard music again. But this wasn’t the distant music from Tarten. This was closer. Here.
She halted and tipped her head toward a sound so soft and natural she realized she must have been hearing it for a while and mistaken it for the sounds of nature.
But there was no mistaking it now. The melody carried a warning.
The wind picked up, snaking along the path and tugging at her cloak. Senna held her hood close. The thick vegetation before her shifted against the breeze. Someone was coming. Trying to calm her ragged breathing, she reminded herself she was safe on Haven. The Witches’ headquarters were an impenetrable fortress—surrounded on all sides by cliffs that were in turn surrounded by the frigid ocean. The only way in or out of the island was for a Witch to sing you through an underwater cave.
So this was simply another Witch out for a stroll in the middle of the night in the abandoned part of Haven. The witch would see Senna and wonder why she was out for a stroll in the middle of the night in the abandoned part of Haven.
The tempo increased, matching the pounding of Senna’s heart. She backed off the path and hid behind a plant with leaves the size of her chest. Her hand strayed to her seed belt, her practiced fingers automatically finding the pouch of Thine seeds. She waited, as motionless as a mouse at the mere whisper of a wing.
A figure emerged onto the path, features hidden by the dark. Coming level with Senna, a muscular hand brushed some of the overgrown vegetation out of the way.
The hand was distinctly male, but there were no men on the island. They weren’t allowed, not without the Discipline Head’s permission. If this man shifted a mere fraction, he would touch her cheek. She gasped softly.
He paused and cocked his head as if listening. Holding her breath, she closed her eyes so they wouldn’t catch a stray bit of light and reveal her. The man hesitated before moving forward, his pace faster this time.
Senna let out her breath in a rush. She bit her lip as the man disappeared back into the shadows that had birthed him. Steeling herself, she stepped onto the path.
A man where no man should be? Perhaps she was mistaken. After all, it was so dark. But there was a way to find out. Obscured by time and neglect, the gravel path held a perfect imprint of a boot. She eased her foot inside. It was easily half a dozen sizes bigger.
She hadn’t been mistaken. But why was a man here? The music changed, luring her forward. Her fingers buried in Thine seeds, Senna slipped after him. She kept him just in sight—the solid darkness of his form, the scrape of his boots. He rounded a bend. She crept forward, but when she glanced down the path, he was gone.
She paused, listening. The hollow tap of a boot on wood. There. He was slipping up the steps to a tree house. Dropping into the shadows of the plants, Senna parted a leafy branch and peered upward.
The man glanced around before tugging the door closed behind him. It shut soundlessly, as if someone had oiled the hinges recently. Senna heard voices that were too muted for her to make out the words. The tempo of the music picked up, pounding out a savage beat.
Something was wrong, and she had to know what. Her breath catching in her throat, she eased silently up the steps. At the top, she couldn’t help but notice the creepers had been carefully pulled away from the doorframe. Whoever this was, they’d met here before.
Senna peeked past the vines that partially covered one of the broken windows. Through the gloom, she could only make out two distinct silhouettes. That meant there wasn’t just one man on the island. There were two. 
“Why?” asked a bass voice.
A tenor answered, “Because I had to know for certain.”
“And now you’re certain?”
“Yes. She’d put the rest of us to shame. Even Krissin.” He paused. “Have you spoken with our contact?”
The bass grunted. “She’ll make sure we’re clear to depart with our captive tomorrow. And she guarantees our forces will breach the island.”
Senna gripped the sill until her fingers ached. Why would anyone attack Haven? And who would help them?
“Good. I’ll be glad to go home and stop pretending.”
The other man chuckled. “Easy for you to say.”
A sigh left the tenor’s lips. Senna saw movement and thought he must have stood. “We’ll meet again tomorrow after sunset.”
A vague shape started toward the door.
The music grew louder, pounding a warning.
Senna gathered herself and rushed down the stairs. She heard the door behind her swing open, followed by a startled cry. “We have to stop her!”
Hauling her skirt above her knees, Senna ran. Her cowl slipped off her head. She glanced back. Her hair swept over her face and partially blocked her view, but she could see two hooded figures chasing her.
The smaller of the two stopped and swung something around above his head. A rhythmic, whooshing sounded around her. Before she could understand what was happening, something solid smacked into the back of her head.
Lights exploded behind her eyes. She pitched forward and hit the gravel hard. And then he was on top of her. Senna didn’t have time to think. Acting on reflex, her mouth opened and a song poured forth.
Plants, stop the man who’d halt my flight.
Bind him, though he flails and fights.
A rustling slither filled the air as the plants responded. The man yanked her into his chest, into his arms. His breath washed over her face—he smelled of something dark and sweet, like licorice. Repeating the same verse, she tried to kick free, but his grip was too tight.
A vine shot past her and snatched his arm away. More plants responded, twisting around him and pinning his other arm. Still singing, Senna kicked her way out from under him. One more song, and he’d be wrapped up completely.
Something snapped behind him. She had forgotten about the tenor! She clambered to her feet, a song on her lips. Before the first syllable fell, he barreled into her. She slammed back into the dirt.
Plants, stop—
He shoved a gag into her mouth. Knowing how vulnerable she was without her song, Senna drove her elbow back, catching his wiry frame in the gut. The attacker grunted in pain. His grip loosened enough for her to spit the gag out. But she didn’t have enough breath to sing. She twisted until she was chest to chest with him. All she saw was a face wrapped in shadows, dark eyes glinting. She punched as Joshen had shown her, putting all her strength into it.
An explosion of pain spider-webbed through her hand. Her attacker tottered. She shoved him. The man tried to hold on, but his movements were slow and clumsy. Senna kicked her way free and started running. She panted out a song.
Plants of the forest, hide my trail,
For an enemy, I must quell.
She was too winded for the song to be very effective, but it was the best she could manage. At the sound of a sawing knife, she knew the smaller attacker was freeing the larger. They’d be after her soon.
Even with her song weaving the plants behind her, Senna didn’t think she could outrun two men. She needed some kind of weapon. Her head whipped from side to side as she searched for something.
All she saw were enormous plants, broken doors, and windows! She darted into the dense foliage. Plants whipped her face, stinging her eyes. She erupted onto another of the hundreds of Witch-sung paths that wound between Haven’s trees. She followed it for half a dozen steps before darting back the way she’d come.
Beneath a tree’s broken window she flattened herself against the ground, her face pressed into the damp soil. Her movements slow and even, her fingers searched for a piece of glass to use as a weapon. All she could find were worthless bits.
She froze as footsteps pounded past her. The men paused uncertainly, but they were good at this game, better than her. Without a word, they split up. Senna could hear them hunting for her.
She tried to slow her breathing. Sweat soaked through the back of her dark green dress. She started searching again. Something sliced her finger—a shard of glass about the size of a knife blade.
Keeping her movements smooth, Senna wrapped the edge of her cloak around her hand and picked it up. She chanced lifting her head. Sweat rolling down her temples, she listened for any sign of the men before she scooted backward. When she bumped into the tree house, she eased to her feet and edged to the other side.
Now she was near where they’d first attacked her, hopefully the last place they would think to look for her. Her heart pounding in her throat, she waited. Nothing. She moved away from the tree, toward home, her senses straining for any sign she’d been spotted.
Some instinct made her turn around. By then it was too late. The gag bit into her mouth and the knot pulled tight. But the attacker had underestimated the rest of Senna. She whirled and struck with the glass shard.
A gasp slipped from his lips. Under his hood, the bass’s eyes went wide with shock. A gush of warm blood soaked Senna’s hand, and she stumbled back in horror.
The attacker fell to his knees, his large hand on his stomach. Senna retreated, fear clawing her insides.
He watched her, the skin around his eyes creased with pain. “You’re not safe, Brusenna. Soon, all the Witches will be dead.”

Witch Song (Witch Song #1) by Amber Argyle ~ Book Review ~ First Chapter ~

Witch Song (Witch Song #1)
by Amber Argyle 


The Witch Hunters have come for Brusenna, for she is the last. All the others have been captured by the Dark Witch. And without their magical songs to control nature, the world is dying.

Though young and untrained, Brusenna must succeed where every other Witch has failed. Find the Dark Witch. Fight her. Defeat her. If Brusenna fails, there will be nothing left to save—for the Witches, for mankind, or for the young Guardian who has committed his life to protecting hers.

Author Links (Be sure to check out her Pinterest, great research photos there, like the extravagant tree-houses the witches live in on Haven.)

This book was really, really good. It has a bit of a different take on witches, they sing songs to do what they need. I really enjoyed the fantasy setting it was in. Senna was a great character, she was so naive in the beginning, but became so strong and determined when she needed to.

I look forward to the next book in this series, I am attached to these characters already, and need to see where it's going to go.

Oh, and I love this cover and the rest in this series. Very well done, and covers say alot to me, if I don't like a cover, i usually just pass right by the book. Covers mean everything. My honest opinion is that authors should really not skimp on covers, hire someone who knows what they are doing, do not try to make one in paint or something, because it shows. Just my 2 cents, covers are what will attract most of us readers to even check the book out.

I highly recommend this book. If you like fantasy and paranormal with witches then this is for you.

I give it 5 out of 5 stars.

I was provided a copy of this book from the author for my honest review.

Be sure to check out the other books in this series

Enjoy an Excerpt of Chapter One


Brusenna’s straw-colored hair felt as hot as a sun-baked rock. She was sticky with sweat that trickled down her spine and made her simple dress cling to her. Her every instinct urged her to run from the glares that stung like angry wasps. She had already put off her trip to the market for too long.
The merchant finished wrapping the spools of thread in crinkling brown paper. “Twelve upice,” Bommer said sourly.
A ridiculous price, no doubt made worse by the drought. Had Brusenna been anyone else, she could have bartered it down to half that. Even though the villagers only suspected, it was enough. Careful not to touch her, the man’s hand swallowed the coins she dropped in it. She wondered what marvelous things he ate to flesh out his skin that way. Things like the honey-sweetened cakes she could still smell in her clothes long after she’d left the marketplace.
As Bommer mumbled and counted his money, Brusenna gathered the packages tightly to her chest and hurried away. She hadn’t gone five steps when a heavy hand clamped down on her shoulder. Fear shot through her veins like a thousand nettles. Here, no one ever touched her.
With a wince, she craned her neck back to see the merchant looming over her. “You tryin’ to cheat me, chanter?”
This close, the smell of his stale body odor hit her hard. She swallowed the urge to gag. Her mind worked furiously. She’d counted twice. “I gave you twelve,” she managed.
He yanked her around, grabbing her other arm and bringing her face next to his. She cringed as his large paunch pressed against her. Somewhere, a baby squalled. “You think I can’t count?”
Brusenna tried to answer, but her mouth locked up. She should have been more careful. She should have stayed until he had finished counting her coins, but she had been too eager to escape. He shook her, his dirty nails digging into her skin. Her packages tumbled from her hands and hit the ground.
Taking shallow breaths and arching away from him, she squirmed, desperate to be free. “Please,” she said, finally finding her voice. “Let me go!”
He laughed, his eyes gleaming with pleasure. “No. I don’t think so. Not this time. You know what the punishment is for stealing?”
The stocks. Brusenna swallowed hard. Trapped for an entire day with the whole village taunting her. They’d throw things. Rotten food. And worse. She looked for help in the crowd that had eagerly gathered around them. Satisfaction shone plain on every face. She was suddenly angry with her mother for letting her face this alone. For refusing to come because someone might recognize her.
“I didn’t steal,” she whispered, already knowing no one would listen.
“You callin’ me a liar?” Tobacco spit splattered her face. He backhanded her. Her vision flashed white, then black with stars, then red. She tasted blood. Her eyes burned with tears. She clamped her teeth shut against the pain, refusing to cry out.
Bommer half-dragged her toward the center of the square, where two thin blocks of wood were connected with a hinge. Three holes, one for her neck and two for her wrists. Remnants of rotten food, manure and rocks littered the base.
The sight of the stocks shocked Brusenna into action. She squirmed and struggled.
His hand on the back of her neck, Bommer shoved her throat into the largest, center hole. She tried to rear back. He pushed harder. The wood cut into her windpipe. She couldn’t breathe.
“You let that child go, or you’ll sorely miss your brain, my friend,” said a feminine voice that was somehow soft and commanding at the same time.
Brusenna felt Bommer freeze, his arm still pinning her neck.
She strained against Bommer to see who had spoken. In front of her, sitting astride a glossy black horse, a woman glared at the merchant down the barrel of an expensive-looking musket. The wind picked up and her gleaming hair shifted like a field of ripe wheat. The woman’s cobalt eyes met Brusenna’s golden ones.
Brusenna gaped. She’d hoped for help, but never imagined it would come from someone both rich and powerful.
“What’d you say to me?” he asked the stranger.
The woman cocked back the hammer. “You heard what I said.” Bommer didn’t respond. Brusenna felt him shift uncertainly. When no one moved to support him, he growled deep in his throat. He pushed once more on Brusenna’s neck, hard. But then she was free. She collapsed, clutching her throat and coughing violently.
When the spots stopped dancing before her eyes, she glanced up. The woman was watching Brusenna, fury burning in her eyes. The stranger let the barrel drop. “Where I come from, merchants ask for the missing coin before they accuse their customers of stealing. Especially a child.”
A child? Brusenna bristled as she rose to her feet. She was nearly fifteen. Then, from the corner of her eye, she saw Sheriff Tomack pushing through the crowd. All thoughts of defiance flew out of her head. She tried to slip through an opening, but the press of bodies tightened into an impregnable wall. Arms roughly shoved her back to Bommer.
She shuddered as his hand clamped down on her shoulder again. “Sheriff, this girl stole from me and this,” he worked his tongue like he had a bad taste in his mouth, “woman is interfering.”
“I already heard it, Bommer.” Sheriff Tomack studied Brusenna with an unreadable expression. “You trying to cause trouble, girl?”
Digging her toenails into the packed dirt, she shook her head adamantly.
He grunted. “Well then, give Bommer his upice or spend your day in the stocks.”
Anger flared in her chest and died like a candle flame in a windstorm. It didn’t matter that she’d already given Bommer twelve upice. It didn’t matter that he was lying. She couldn’t prove it and her word meant nothing to the villagers. Scrabbling in her money bag, she found an upice and held it out for Bommer.
The merchant slowly shook his head. “I don’t want her money. I want her time in the stocks.”
Brusenna’s hand automatically moved to her bruised throat. Tears stung her eyes. She quickly blinked them back.
“Why?” Sheriff Tomack asked.
Bommer snorted. “You know why.”
“You got proof?”
Bommer spit in the dirt. “None of us needs it. We all know what she is.”
No one said it, but the word echoed in Brusenna’s head, Witch.
“Has the girl ever stolen from you before?” Sheriff Tomack asked cautiously.
Bommer took a deep breath. “Her punishment is my choice.”
With a click, the woman on the horse released the hammer on her musket. Dismounting, she strode forward. The crowd parted, half in fear and half in awe. She threw a handful of coins at Bommer’s chest. The gleaming silver bits bounced off and scattered across the ground. Brusenna’s eyes widened in disbelief. The woman hadn’t tossed a few dirty upices; the coins were silvers.
Looking both beautiful and terrible, the woman straightened her shoulders. “Take your money, merchant. If you give this girl more trouble, I’ll see that no one ever buys from you again.”
Bommer spit a stream of tobacco juice dangerously close to the woman’s foot. “Who’re you to make threats?”
She smiled, a mere baring of her teeth. “Would you like to find out?”
Glaring, Bommer rolled his chaw around his mouth. Finally, his glower shifted to Brusenna. “You ain’t worth it, chanter.” He scooped up the coins and stomped back to his booth.
Hate filled Brusenna. She hated that Bommer’s lies allowed him to abuse her without cause—had earned him ten times his due. She hated the crowd for hating her. Still, it could have been much worse. She could be in the stocks. Grim relief washed through her, cooling her anger. It was past time to be heading home. She twisted to disappear in the crowd. But the strange woman gripped the back of her dress with an iron fist. Knowing better than to fight, Brusenna stifled a groan.Not again, she thought.
Sheriff Tomack gave the woman a small nod before moving away.
Brusenna turned a pain-filled glance to the marketplace. Though the crowd had grudgingly moved on, people still shot suspicious, hateful glances her way. Their tolerance of her had taken a dive since the drought had worsened. They blamed her and her mother for their dying crops, simply because they were Witches.
She forced herself to unclench her fists. The breeze felt cool against her sweaty palms. She turned toward the woman, though she dared not look at her face. “Thank you,” she murmured.
The woman cocked her head to the side. “Why do you buy from him?”
Brusenna shrugged. “The others won’t sell to me. And Bommer needs the money.”
“So he resents you for it.” She released her grip on Brusenna’s dress. “What’s your name, child?” Her voice was as sweet and lingering as the smell of the honeycakes.
“I’m not a child. My name is Brusenna.”
The woman sighed in relief. “Ah, Sacra’s daughter. I thought so.”
How could this woman know Brusenna’s name? Her mother’s name? Her ears buzzed. She managed to bob her head once. She began gathering her scattered packages. The paper scraped loudly against the packed dirt.
The woman crouched beside her. Picking up the last package, she brushed it off and handed it to Brusenna. “My name is Coyel. Will you take me to your mother?”
Brusenna’s stomach clenched. There were two iron-clad rules—one: never let them hear your song; two: never lead them home. She swallowed hard. “Thank you, Coyel, for helping me. But I’m not … I mean, I shouldn’t … I mean—”
Coyel cocked an eyebrow and pitched her voice so no one else would hear, “I’m the eldest Keeper of the Four Sisters.”
Brusenna blinked in confusion. Coyel’s statement seemed to hold a deeper meaning, but for all her searching, she couldn’t understand it. “I … I’m an only child. My sister died before I was born.”
A look of disbelief crossed Coyel’s face and Brusenna knew she had missed the mark entirely. “Take me to your home. I must speak with your mother.”
She bit her bottom lip. Coyel had saved her from the stocks, so if she wanted to speak with her mother … well, Brusenna owed her that much. With a nervous glance at the townspeople, she nodded then scurried through the streets. Almost as soon as the village thinned behind them, they crossed into fields flanked by deep forests that grew over the gentle hills like a furry blanket over sleeping giants. Usually, those forests were deep green, but the drought had caused weaker patches to give up the season, trimming themselves in golds and reds.
Brusenna’s shoulders itched for the cool, comforting shadows of the trees. She felt naked out in the open like this, where hateful villagers could scrutinize her. She felt even more vulnerable with the echoing clop of the horse’s hooves to remind her of the woman and her cobalt eyes.
Nearly a league from the marketplace, Brusenna waited while Coyel tied her horse to a nearby tree. The path wound through thickets as dense and tangled as matted cat fur. She and her mother made it this way to keep strangers out.
Just as she moved to enter the forest, Coyel placed a hand on her shoulder. “This is your home. You should be the one to sing the song.”
Brusenna’s eyes widened in disbelief. Another Witch? It couldn’t be.
Coyel lifted an eyebrow. “Unless you’d prefer me to sing?”
Brusenna didn’t understand. Coyel was beautiful and powerful. Not skittish and weak. How could she be a Witch? “At the marketplace, you knew what I was. How?”
Coyel shot a glare in the direction of the village. “I heard someone saying the Witch was finally going to the stocks.”
Brusenna folded her arms across her stomach. It made sense. Who else but another Witch would have helped her?
Coyel must have sensed her hesitation. “Are you unable?” There was simple curiosity in her gaze. As if she wanted to see if Brusenna could do it.
Of course she could sing the pathway clear. She’d been doing it for years. But Brusenna hesitated. It went against years of training to sing in front of a stranger. She was nervous to perform in front of another Witch who was everything Brusenna wasn’t.
Before she could change her mind, she squared her shoulders and started singing.
Plants of the forest make a path for me,
For through this forest I must flee.
After I pass hide my trail,
For an enemy I must quell.
The underbrush shivered and then untangled like it had been raked through by a wooden comb. As they walked, Brusenna continued her song. As soon as their feet lifted, the plants wove behind them, tangling and knotting themselves into a formidable barrier nearly as tall as a man’s chest.
What was nearly impossible without the song was fairly easy with it. In no time, they left behind the last of the forest. Brusenna stepped aside, giving the woman a full view of her home. Drought left the whole countryside brittle. And yet here, their lush gardens thrived. The house and barn were neat and well tended. The milk cow lazily munched her cud under the shade of a tree. With a fierce kind of pride, she watched for Coyel’s reaction.
Coyel took in the prolific gardens with a sweep of her gaze. But the woman didn’t seem impressed. As if she’d expected no less. And maybe she had.
Brusenna wanted to ask why Coyel had come, but her tongue dried in her mouth. Her mind shouted it instead, What do you want with us?
Bruke, Brusenna’s enormous wolfhound, noticed them from his position in the shade of the house and bounded forward, the scruff on the back of his neck stiff with distrust. They’d purchased him as a guard dog after someone had shot their old plow horse. His wary eyes shifted to Brusenna in question.
Brusenna blinked rapidly. She suddenly wanted to explain why she’d broken the rule before the stranger breezed into their house. She darted past Coyel and up the worn path. “Bruke, heel.”
With a glare at the stranger, Bruke glued himself to Brusenna’s side.
She pushed open the door to the house. “Mother!” she called, pulling some clinging hair off her sweaty forehead.
Sacra’s head popped up from the floor cellar. “What is it, Brusenna?”
“A woman named—”
“Coyel,” the woman finished as she stepped up behind her.
For the longest time, the two women stared at each other. The charge between them made the tiny hairs on Brusenna’s arms stand on end. Coyel stepped into their home. To Brusenna’s knowledge, she was the first outsider to do so.
“It’s been a long time, Sacra,” Coyel said.
Brusenna’s gaze flitted back and forth between her mother and Coyel. That they knew each other went beyond her comprehension. In her fourteen years, Brusenna had never seen her mother converse with anyone other than an occasional trouble-making villager—usually one of the adolescent boys who had taken on the challenge to kill one of their animals as a dare.
Sacra stepped out of the cellar and lowered the door as gently as if it were glass. Slowly, she straightened her slender back. “Brusenna, leave the things on the table and go check the corn.”
Brusenna’s disbelief rose in her throat, nearly choking her. “But, Mother—” At her mother’s glower, she swallowed her words, dropped her purchases on the table and ducked out the door. Bruke followed. Careful to keep her stride even, she waited until she had rounded the corner of the house before peeking back. The way was clear.
“Bruke, stay,” she whispered. With a disappointed whine, the dog sat on his haunches.
Hunched over, Brusenna retraced her steps. The soft grass felt cool under her hands and the sun was hot on her back as she crouched on one side of the doorway. There were no sounds from within. She waited until her knees were practically numb. She’d almost determined to chance a peek through the window when their voices halted her.
“What brings you, Coyel?” her mother asked warily.
“The Keepers need you, Sacra. There are precious few of us left and signs of the Dark Witch increase daily. The Circle of Keepers must be complete if we are to recapture her and stop the drought.”
Brusenna’s eyebrows flew up in wonder. It had never occurred to her that Sacra could have been a different person before she became her mother. Mustering every ounce of bravery, she peeked through the corner of the window.
“Calling Espen the Dark Witch only increases her power over us.” Sacra’s gaze remained fixed on the floor. “Find another Eighth.”
Coyel pressed her lips in a tight line. “The others are gone.”
Her mother’s head came up slowly; she blinked in surprise … and fear. “I have a daughter. You have only yourself.”
Coyel pointed toward Gonstower. “They call us Witches. But long before that, the Creators named us Keepers. It’s what we are. Keepers of the Four Sisters—Earth, Plants, Water and Sunlight. And as a Keeper, you can’t deny that all are floundering. If we don’t act now, it’ll be too late.”
Sacra stood rigid and immovable. “No.”
Coyel’s voice flared, “You know what the Dark Witch will do if she succeeds? Your daughter is Witchborn; even worse, she’s the child of a former Head of Earth.” She shook her head in disbelief. “She doesn’t even know our signs.”
Her mother turned away and stared blankly at the trees behind the house. “The less Brusenna knows, the safer she is.”
“Safer?” Coyel spat. “You haven’t taught her to protect herself. She’s terrified of those villagers.” The last word sounded like her mother’s voice after she’d found rats in their oats. “What chance do you think the girl will stand when Espen finds her?”
Her head in her palms, a moan escaped her mother’s lips. Coyel stepped forward and rested her hand on Sacra’s shoulder. “I’ve heard her. When she’s fully come into her own, I wouldn’t doubt she’ll be at least a Level Four. But right now, she’s … immature. And not just her song. Keeping her isolated will only make it worse. She needs to be around other Keepers her own age. Learn.”
Brusenna’s cheeks flamed with shame, partly because she suspected Coyel was right about her immaturity. Whenever she was around strangers, her tongue dried up in her mouth and her stomach felt full of writhing snakes.
Her mother jerked away as if Coyel’s touch had burned her. “Coyel, no. Espen won’t find her. I’ve been careful. Gonstower is isolated. No one knows I’m here. And we’re not completely without friends.”
Friends? Brusenna mentally flipped through the faces of the villagers who would have gladly seen her in the stocks. What friends?
Coyel’s gentleness vanished, replaced by disbelief and anger. “I found you. And if you think those villagers will protect her identity, you’re deceiving yourself. The ignorant fools would gladly turn her over. Never understanding the very Keepers they hate are all that stand between them and—”
“I said no!” Sacra shouted. Brusenna jumped. She’d never heard her mother shout before. “Get out!”
Coyel backed away, her jaw working as if she might chew through Sacra’s resistance and then her head dropped. “We’re gathering at Haven. I’ll wait in the village for three days.” Her fervent gaze met Sacra’s smoldering one. “Please, Sacra. We can’t do it without you.”
Not daring to linger another moment, Brusenna scampered away from the door and pressed herself flat against the smooth boards on the other side of the house.
“Please, Sacra,” Coyel asked again. And then all Brusenna could hear was the sound of footsteps that grew fainter within moments.
She barely felt Bruke nudge her with his wet nose. Her chest rose and fell as her mind reeled with unfamiliar names. Circle of Keepers, Level Four, the Dark Witch? Surely her mother had no understanding of such things. Surely she’d lived here for generations.
Hadn’t she?

Thursday, December 26, 2013

#Giveaway ~ Vampire Seal Series ~ On Edge of Humanity and On the Edge of Eternity ~ Promo Post

On the Edge of Humanity
A Vampire Seal Novel
Book One
S. B. Alexander

Genre: Paranormal, Urban Fantasy

Publisher: S. B. Alexander

Date of Publication:  12/27/2012

ISBN: 9780988776203

Number of pages: 320
Word Count: 120,000

Cover Artist: Streetlight Graphics

Amazon   Apple   Kobo  BN

Book Description:

Sixteen-year-old Jo Mason is lost in a world where traipsing from one foster home to another is normal. She hates her life, she hates school and on most days, she hates living. If it weren’t for her twin brother Sam, she might already be dead.

Her normal world shifts one hundred and eighty degrees when she discovers her own blood tastes like candy and her eyes change colors like a mood ring. On top of that, her eyesight seems to be failing when she spies an otherworldly man, sporting bloodstained canines, who is trying to strangle a cop. The developments are shrouded when Sam goes missing between Anger Management class and History class.

She’s called to the principal’s office to meet Lieutenant Webb London, a Navy SEAL who is part of a secret team of natural-born vampires. His mission is to protect the twins from an evil cartel, but he’s too late. With Jo now under his protection, his team searches for Sam.

However, finding and rescuing Sam from the evil cartel may be the easy part. Jo learns she carries a dormant vampire gene that, if activated, could save him. As her normal world fades even more, pushing her closer to the edge of humanity, Jo must decide if her human life is more important than her twin brother.

With time as her enemy, she struggles to make a life-changing decision for both her and Sam.

On the Edge of Eternity

A Vampire SEAL Novel
Book Two
S. B. Alexander

Genre: Paranormal, Urban Fantasy

Publisher: S. B. Alexander

Date of Publication:  10/7/2013

ISBN: 9780988776227

Number of pages: 460
Word Count: 142,000

Cover Artist: Streetlight Graphics

Amazon     Apple      BN

Book Description:

New vampire Jo Mason had never imagined life with fangs, or drinking blood as her main meal. She has, however, dreamed of her first kiss, her first date and her first high school dance—but for a new vampire, none of those firsts come easy. Humans now tempt her appetite for blood and the Plutariums, a rogue team of vampires, want revenge against her family.

When her human friend Ben Jackson asks her to the May dance, Jo struggles to abide by vampire law. She isn’t sure if she wants to kiss him or taste his blood. She’s even more confused by the mixed messages coming from Vampire SEAL Webb London. The way he looks at her makes her want to jump off the nearest cliff and into his arms at the same time. Her guy problems, however, become the least of her worries when the deadly ones take center stage.

The Plutariums abduct and drug her. She wakes alone with Ben, stranded on an abandoned yacht in the middle of a storm-tossed ocean. Worse, she struggles to keep her bloodlust sated and it will be a battle to see who survives.

About the Author:

For those of you who know me, you know the ‘S’ stands for Susan in S. B. Alexander. I chose to use my initials since there were a few Susan Alexander authors out there.

The one thing I like about reading a book other than the story is reading about the author. Who is he or she? And, how did they become a writer?

For me, it’s always been a passion to write a book. I love to transport myself into other worlds—ones where vampires and the fantastical exist. Where life is the playground for the impossible.

I created fantasy worlds at a young age as a way to deal with life. Yep, I had imaginary friends and talked to myself a lot. I was always creating, thinking, drawing and writing. I believe words are the key to opening the door to extraordinary places with amazing characters that tell a great story.

My life has had a colorful journey. After high school I decided to forgo college. I enrolled in a business program and graduated in ten months with a certificate that allowed me access to Cooperate America. But, somehow the idea to enter into an unknown world at nineteen-years-old was daunting. Instead, I decided if the world was my playground why not join the military, and so I joined the Navy. The four years in the military was a great foreground to learn about life and the world around me. But, as the cliché says, Life goes on.

I traded the military for college. I became a High School Math Teacher and loved it before deciding to revisit the one thing I was frightened of—Cooperate America. I’ve held many roles in the cooperate arena from sales representative to sales manager, but I never lost my passion to write.

When I’m not working my full time job, and plotting my next novel, I love to play golf with my husband, and spend time with my two dogs.

Author Links

a Rafflecopter giveaway

On The Edge of Humanity (Book 1) Excerpt
A fire raced through my limbs as I sat in the principal’s office trying to process this new information. Webb had said the word vampire and not just vampire, but ‘natural-born vampire.’ What the hell did that mean?
I desperately wanted to run—to find somewhere to hide. I squeezed my eyes shut—tears threatening to spill. I needed Sam. Where was he?
A hand fell on my left arm, followed by a velvety voice that whispered something I couldn’t quite make out in my ear. His hot breath accelerated my pulse, causing the blood to surge through me—awakening my limbs. I twitched.
“Jo?” Webb whispered.
I looked up and met his gaze. He lifted his hand off my arm, and leaned back against the desk. He tilted his strong jaw and peered at me through mile-long lashes. I shifted my gaze. Tripp stood to Webb’s right with his hands cupped just below his belt.
My mouth was dry. I swallowed, taking in a gulp of air. “What do you mean by natural-born…?” The word was caught in the back of my throat.
Until a week ago, I had never picked up a book about vampires or anything related to one. They just plain freaked me out. Now the images of the books in the funeral home were swimming before me. I even had two of the books in my backpack, which was sitting around here somewhere. Between the books, the fanged man outside the hospital room and hearing Webb speak about vampires as if it were the most natural thing in the world, I pinched myself, making sure I wasn’t dreaming.
“Vampire,” Webb intoned. “Jo, you’re not a vampire yet. Right now, you only carry the gene. Those of us who are born with the vampire gene are normal mortals up to the time we choose not to be. However, at the age of sixteen or thereabouts, your body will start to go through what we call vampire puberty in preparation for the change.” He dipped his head, gesturing at Tripp.
What the heck was vampire puberty? I wanted to scream and laugh all at the same time.
“For example, Jo,” Tripp started to say.
He speaks. His voice was deep but with a gentle tone.
“For me, my gums started hurting when I was fifteen. I reached puberty early. Then, at seventeen, I discovered I liked the taste of blood,” Tripp explained as he nodded at Webb.
Like Webb, Tripp didn’t look a day over twenty-one. His sandy blond hair was cut short with the sides shaven just above the ears.
 “One of the first things that usually happens is your eyes change colors. You’ll notice this when your emotional state alters in some way. But all this depends on your genetic make-up.” Webb flicked his head at Tripp. “He craved blood to the point it became a drug for him.”
Blood, a drug? My brain couldn’t wrap itself around that idea. Were there drug dealers who sold blood? Plus, he just described me. My eyes were changing colors, I craved blood and my gums had started aching a few minutes ago. I didn’t know if I should be relieved that I wasn’t crazy or panicked by the idea that I had a thirst for blood—or even worse, that I might be a vampire.
“You said I wasn’t a vampire yet. Will I be?” I held my breath, not sure I wanted to know the answer. My inner voice kept telling me to get out of here, as far away as possible.

On The Edge of Eternity (Book 2) 

Webb’s footsteps pulled me out of my stupor. I opened my eyes to see him striding down the hall. His long, crescent-moon lashes framed his cobalt eyes that glistened every time he stepped under a hall light. He placed his hand in his pants pocket and withdrew a set of keys. Fingering through the clump of metal, he readied one in his left hand. He stopped, inserted the key into the deadbolt and twisted. Before he could open the door, I pushed him out of the way and bee-lined it for the bathroom. I wanted to barricade myself in and never come out.
I slammed the door behind me and locked it. I grabbed a small cup off the sink, filled it with cold water and downed it. I took several more drinks, then dropped the lid on the toilet and sat down. My tear ducts opened and the waterfall began. I couldn’t stop crying.
“Jo.” Webb knocked on the door. “Are you alright?”
“Go away.” I grabbed several tissues and blew my nose.
“Can I come in?” he asked.
“I said, go away.” I shuddered several breaths in-between sobs.
Why the hell did he want to come in? Did he want to talk? Ha! Now that would be funny if the irritating vampire wanted to talk. What was he going to do? Give me advice on boys?
“Please, I want to make sure you’re alright.” His voice had a soft timbre to it.
Why was everyone concerned about me? It wasn’t as if I were the queen of the compound. I was far from it.
“Jo?” He pounded on the door.
“You’re not going to leave me alone, are you?”
“Not until I make sure you’re—”
I flipped the lock. The door swung open with an ominous creak.
“See, I’m fine. Now go away.” I blew my nose again.
He stepped into the small space, and I scooted backwards, even though I wanted to lean into him, to nestle in his embrace and have him tell me everything would be okay. He took another step forward. The bewitching intensity of his soul-stealing blue eyes kept me from moving. I couldn’t look away. Was he trying to compel me? He raised his hand and wiped away my tears with the pads of his thumbs.
Suddenly, my mouth became dry. He was touching me, was close to me. I had no way to get around him. I closed my eyes. My face was hot. My nose was running like a waterfall, and I couldn’t stop crying. I was a complete mess.
“There’s no need to cry. You’re father is doing what’s best. Look at me,” he whispered.
I couldn’t pry my eyelids open. If I did I would crumble even more. I was in the middle of an emotional breakdown. I wasn’t about to bare my soul to a vampire who made my insides twist with excitement, let alone talk to him about Ben. I was so thankful he couldn’t read minds.
“Hey there.” He lightly rubbed my scarred cheek with the back of his fingers. “Open. Let me see those stunning eyes.”
My stomach did somersaults. More tears spilled. I couldn’t wrap my mind around his words, his voice, his touch, and his scent. Confusion snaked through me. First Ben and his sweet scent, and now Webb. While his scent didn’t make my throat burn, it sure did a number on the butterflies who were having a field day inside me. What the heck was happening to me?
I opened my eyes slowly, blinking away tears, and met his gaze. He searched my face like he was cataloguing every pore, every hair, and every facial detail. His gaze finally landed on my lips and my pulse jumped.
Damn the vampire.
His presence radiated strength and power.
My hands started shaking. He had to hear my heart racing and sense my anxiety. Or was it excitement?
What did he want from me? He had my mind in a jumbled mess, not to mention my arms all goosebumped.
He moved even closer, which I didn’t think was possible.
I couldn’t breathe. Oh my God!
He dragged the backs of his fingers over my scar, once again. “You know the man who did this to you will pay.” His voice was soft, breathy.
I really didn’t want to hear about my scar. It was the last thing on my mind and a horrific reminder of a night I never wanted to remember ever again.
“Breathe.” He leaned in and his hand disappeared behind me.
I stilled, my heart beating uncontrollably. What is he doing?
He grabbed the band out my hair and my freaky mane tumbled down, falling around my shoulders. He grabbed a few strands and placed them behind my ears. Darkness threatened the edges of my vision as his fingers tangled through my hair.
He lowered his head and whispered, “Life will get better. I promise.”
Shock hit me at his words, his promise. How could he be sure? Did he know something I didn’t? Could he read the future? Was that one of his special powers? I wanted to scream. I was standing in a small bathroom with a imposing creature who unnerved me, confused me, and made my pulse race with delight all at the same time. Was Sam right? Was there fire between us?
I shivered, and Webb wrapped his arms around me and pulled me to him. His heartbeat pounded in my ear as my body melted into his. This can’t be happening.
Silence gave way to footsteps. I tried to pull away, but his arms were strong, keeping me nestled against him. It was as if he didn’t want to let go.
The door to the apartment clicked and again I tried to pull away. Webb wasn’t moving. I stood in his embrace, listening to his racing heart. Was he nervous?
“Jo?” Sam called out. “Jo?” His voice grew louder.
“Webb.” I slid my hands between us, resting them on his muscled abs, trying to push him away. “You okay?” I raised my head and met his gaze.
His eyes vacillated between blue then black. It was if he were trying to get control of himself, his feelings.
“There you— What the heck is going on in here?” Sam asked.
I peered around Webb to see that Sam had a look of horror etched on his face. Webb kicked shut the door and locked it.
I leaned against the sink. “What’re you doing? He’s going to have a fit. Open the door!” I pleaded.
“Webb? Get away from my sister,” Sam growled, banging against the door.
“We’ll be out in a minute. I’m just talking with Jo,” Webb replied.
“Like hell you are. You lay a finger on her and I’ll kill you,” Sam said.
Webb leaned against the door. We both stared at each other. Was he waiting for Sam to leave? Or did he want something from me?
“Sis, are you alright?” Sam asked.
“I’m fine. I’ll be out in a minute.”
I wasn’t fine. My insides were in a complicated knot. I didn’t know what was going on between Webb and me. Or what he wanted from me. Did he feel sorry for attacking Ben?
“If he touches—”
“Sam, chill. Webb and I are just talking,” I replied. Okay, we weren’t actually talking, but if I knew my brother…
A thump sounded, as if Sam had plopped his butt down outside the door.
“You better open the door,” I said to Webb in a low voice. “My brother isn’t going to let up until you get out of this bathroom.”
“I know,” he said as if he didn’t care.
On the outside, Webb had always been the hardcore soldier. I had only seen him pissed once when Ben lashed out at him. Something in his behavior today had me a little baffled. The steel shield that he erected around himself seemed to be thinning. Was he trying to open up to me? Did he care? I immediately erased that thought. Why would he? He was way out of my league—I was just a measly teenager who didn’t know the first thing about the male species.
He pushed off from the door and within two steps he was standing close to me again. My damn heart was getting one hell of a workout. Between Ben and Webb, I was going to pass out from emotional exhaustion.
I looked up into what seemed like a dark blue ocean of water. “What do you want from me?” My voice quivered.
He raised his hand to my face. “I want to make sure you’re okay. You’ve been through a lot and…I’m sorry. I know you like Ben. I didn’t mean to…I really was trying to protect him. I could feel your bloodlust.”
“Is…that…all?” I didn’t believe him. Something else was going on. Webb had never acted like he cared, let alone spoken to me in a soft, husky tone.
He lightly rubbed his thumb over my bottom lip. “No,” he breathed before his gaze dropped to my lips once again.
My pulse pounded louder than twelve drummers drumming. Oh my! Was he going to kiss me? Please don’t. I had never been kissed by a boy… and while I was excited about him being this close to me and touching me, I was confused. No, scratch that, I was dumbfounded.

This book tour is brought to you by Bewitching Book Tours