FIRE OF THE FROST Fantasy Holiday Romance Yumminess

This week at the SFF Seven we’re doing a little winter holiday self-promo! Many of you know we had to push back the release of FIRE OF THE FROST, but it’s coming soooooon! We are on target to release on December 22. So if you are someone who celebrates Christmas, this should hit your eReader just in time to relax and enjoy some holiday downtime. 

And if you don’t celebrate Christmas, there’s lots of midwinter, romantic holiday goodness for you, too! Only Amanda’s story is literally Christmas. Everyone else’s is a fantasy midwinter holiday. Mine includes a magical sleigh race and elemental festive lights. It’s a story that takes place in the Bonds of Magic world, roughly after DARK WIZARD and semi-concurrent with BRIGHT FAMILIAR. It takes place at Convocation Academy and you just miiiiigght see some of the characters in GREY MAGIC.

The delay means you have just that much longer to preorder the anthology for the special preorder price, before it goes up on release day.

Here’s the official (still in progress) blurb:

A midwinter holiday fantasy romance anthology…

From Darynda Jones, a standalone novella set in a world where vampyres are hunted for sport. The only thing standing between them and total annihilation is Winter, a warrior bred to save them from extinction. Forbidden to fall in love, Winter cares only about her oaths… until she meets the devilish prince of the underworld.

Of Fate and Fire by Amanda Bouchet

The Kingmaker Chronicles meets modern-day New York City! Piers, an exiled warrior from Thalyria, finds himself in the Big Apple just before the holidays. The world and everything in it might be utterly foreign to him, but that won’t stop Piers from helping to complete a vital mission for Athena and protect Sophie, a French teacher from Connecticut who’s suddenly knee-deep in inexplicable phenomena, danger, and henchmen after an Olympian treasure that should never have ended up in her hands—or remained on Earth after the Greek gods abandoned it.

The King of Hel by Grace Draven

A novella-length expansion of a stand-alone short story in which a cursed mage-king from a frozen kingdom is obligated to marry a woman of high-ranking nobility but meets his soulmate in a lowly scribe.

Familiar Winter Magic by Jeffe Kennedy

It’s holiday time at Convocation Academy, but best friends Han and Iliana are finding it hard to celebrate. As a familiar, Iliana is facing her assignment to a life of servitude to a wizard, very soon. And Han… despite being tested by the oracle daily, he is still uncategorized. As Iliana and Han face being separated forever, they at last find the courage—or desperation—to break the rules and acknowledge their deeper feelings for each other. But it will take more than true love to save them from the laws of the Convocation…

 And here’s a little snippet from my story, Familiar Winter Magic:

Once the races finished, Iliana let Han talk her into more dancing. With the excellent whiskey warming her blood, not to mention the heady glow of Han’s undivided attention, she could hardly resist. She loved him so much and he was right: this was their last Founding Festival together. Rather than try to hold him at arm’s length, in anticipation of their imminent parting, she decided to enjoy his company while she could.

Han at his most charming was impossible to refuse. Which would be a major problem when he manifested as a wizard, but she wouldn’t think about that tonight. Since it was a holiday, the thought-seekers gave everyone a break—and were celebrating themselves. The festival was a rare excuse for everyone to loosen up.

A little bit tipsy, the lights and dancing making her feel giddy, she danced with Han until she was so warm she had to shed her cloak. Among his many skills, Han was also an excellent dancer—far better than she, but he was so skilled that he made his partner look good—and they found themselves more than once in a circle of cheering spectators as he whirled her through the vigorous dances.

Then the music slowed, and she fanned herself, blowing out a breath, and headed off the dance floor. Han caught her hand. “Hey, where are you going?” Expertly he twirled her under his arm, then snugged her close, a hand on the small of her back as he led her through the dreamy rhythm.

Iliana braced one hand on Han’s chest, his heart thumping rapidly beneath her fingertips, his blue eyes lambent in the starry light. “We never dance the slow dances,” she breathed.

“A grievous lapse of judgment on my part,” he murmured, gaze traveling over her face. “You feel perfect in my arms, lovely Iliana. I want you here forever.”

She tore her gaze from his heartbreakingly beautiful face, focusing on his throat instead. That wasn’t much help, as his skin begged to be kissed and nibbled. “I don’t understand what’s changed between us, why you’re being so…”

“Seductive?” he suggested in a warm purr. “Devastatingly handsome and charming?”

Snorting, she made a face at him. “Aggressive. And annoyingly persistent.”

 

GREY MAGIC Postponed Release

Hi all! If you follow my podcast or blog, you already know this, but I’m having to postpone the release of Bonds of Magic #3, GREY MAGIC. Many apologies, but it has to be done, alas. I’m predicting that the new release date will be February 15, 2022. Possibly sooner, but not later. I’m changing the release date to 2/15/22 everywhere *except* on Amazon, who will only let me push it to 30 days out. If you preordered on Amazon (thank you!!!), you’ll get a notice saying the new release date is January 19. I might be able to push it out again right away, or I might have to wait. We shall see! At any rate, thank you for your patience and understanding.

Black FaRoFriday Fantasy Romance Readathon!

Love romantic fantasy and fantasy romance? Because it’s U.S. Thanksgiving – and Black Friday, the apparently now global celebration of our worldwide religion: consumerism – the FaRo gals are sponsoring a readathon!! Details here, with reading lists and templates for participating. As a bonus (and sacrifice to the deities of consumerism) all of these books are on deep sale!

My DARK WIZARD is on sale for only 0.99c!

This is a great time to grab this first in the Bonds of Magic series as a standalone novella in the world, Familiar Winter Magic, will be out December 22 in the FIRE OF THE FROST anthology, and book 3, in the series, GREY MAGIC, now has a cover and will be out in January!

A Glimpse of Dark Wizard

This week at the SFF Seven, we’re sharing our scariest book or scene. No, mine isn’t from DARK WIZARD, although I love how creeptastic that image is. The thing is, I can’t yet share what I think is the scariest thing I’ve ever written.

See, I never think of myself as writing all that scary. James is the horror writerKAK delves into the twisted psyche. Usually I see my books as being occasionally dark, but not all that creepy. Readers may disagree. But in general I’m kind of a fragile flower. I don’t like being scared. I don’t watch or read horror. I’m the one who leaves the room during the scary scenes in a movie, or – far worse! – the gory ones. You guys know me – I’ll write all the sex scenes and I advocate for closed-door violence.

Why can’t that be a thing?

But this New Thing I’ve written, the Sekrit Project, is pretty scary. It’s tense and twisted and… I already told you I can’t share it yet!

Yeah, I hate violence, but I love a tease.

So, though it’s not all that scary, and because I couldn’t resist using this creepy image with DARK WIZARD, I’ll share an unsettling scene from that book. Enjoy!

***

Having to deal with the inn, the askance stares at his appearance, the averted gazes when they took in his wizard-black eyes, the shocked ones at his white hair—all of it broke him out of his circular thoughts. He tipped the stable girl well to walk Vale cool, rub the gelding down thoroughly, and give him an extra portion of feed. And he tipped the boy in the pub well to bring himself an extra portion of feed, also. Gabriel sat alone in a shadowy corner, using a simple moon spell to reflect curiosity away from himself.

He was more tired than he’d realized, feeling sleepier by the moment as warm food settled into his stomach. He wasn’t used to winter’s bite. And he’d pushed hard to reach House Elal, thinking he’d have days of rest after the wedding. Sopping up the last of the rich mushroom gravy with the excellent fresh bread, Gabriel settled back to savor the rest of his wine—an excellent, robust Elal red, though not as good as Veronica’s special reserve—and watch the room.

Thus, he was in the perfect position to see the hunters arrive.

He knew them for inhuman even before they fully entered the busy tavern. The air seemed to bend before their passage, adjusting to the presence of that which should not exist in this world. There were six of them, slinking into the room like an amalgam of a jackal and a weasel in vaguely human shape, arching like hounds to sniff the surfaces they passed. Nobody else seemed aware of them, so Gabriel made sure to look past the hunters also, focusing on the minstrel blithely singing a song nearby, exhorting the crowd for coins.

He needn’t have bothered, for one of the hunters lifted its snout in the air as if scenting something interesting and fastened one eye on Gabriel. It slunk in his direction, pausing to steal a handful of coin from the oblivious minstrel’s tip basket. It tossed one on the table before Gabriel, an insolent sneer on its distorted face.

“Wissard,” it hissed, revealing inhumanly sharp teeth—several rows of them.

“Hunter,” Gabriel returned. He readied himself, though his water and moon magic seemed unequal to dealing with a creature like this. The books in the House Phel library, at least the legible ones, were short on spells for martial application. Under the table, he loosened his sword in its scabbard, a far more reliable defense.

“You know what I am. Good. I ssseek a familiar, on behalf of the Convocation. Have you ssscented one?” It pushed the coin toward him with a sharp, curving claw.

“This place reeks of sweat and ale,” Gabriel replied. “I’m sure any good familiar would turn tail and hide in their room.”

The hunter sniffed the air all the while Gabriel spoke, barely listening. “You have no familiar.”

“Unfortunately, no. I am but a minor wizard.” Gabriel drew more moon reflections around himself, just in case any of his power leaked through. On the advantage side of being a moon-based water wizard, it was a quiet magic, and often overlooked.

The hunter fixed one ochre eye on him—the length of its snout making looking forward with both eyes at once impossible—and made an unpleasant choking sound. Laughter? “Why are you here, wissard?”

Gabriel gestured at his cleaned plate. “Best mushroom gravy in all of Elal.”

The hunter eyed him for another excruciatingly long few moments. Without another word, it slunk out again, its cohorts streaming to join it, pouring out the door again like smoke. Gabriel blew out a breath, quaffed his wine, and went to his room for the night—dropping the coin, plus a few more, back in the minstrel’s basket.