DARK WIZARD – Chapter One

DARK WIZARD comes out in one week!!!!

You guys, I’m so revved about this book!  If you missed it, an early reader said this:

O . M . G …
That was amazing. I just finished Dark Wizard and I feel drunk.
I have to wait a minute before I review it or the whole review is going to be “Omg, best, omg, new, omg, series … “

I’m more than satisfied with that review as is – what do you all think? LOL!

Want to read the first chapter? See it below!

Preorder via the buttons below or via my website store.

Available at these Retailers

    

Gabriel Phel crested the last ridge of the notorious Knifeblade Mountains that guarded Elal lands on nearly three sides, and faced the final barrier. The path through the mountains had been narrow, crooked, with blind endings and unexpected pitfalls.

Not unlike his life, Gabriel thought with grimly sardonic humor.

He halted his gelding, Vale, several lengths short of the border, sensing the repulsion spell that prevented the uninvited from crossing. It was a highly refined enchantment—he’d expect nothing less of the powerful Elal wizards—one that barred only humans, but allowed animals and weather to cross freely. Gabriel dismounted so he and Vale could both rest a moment before the last leg of the journey, while the Elal border guardians confirmed his identity. Lord Elal was famously insular and fanatical about guarding what was his. And, as the most powerful wizard in the Convocation, Lord Elal had a great deal to call his.

Finding a spot with a good perspective of the serene and rolling valley below—level enough to stand on and just shy of the border spell palpable to his wizard senses—Gabriel took a stance and opened the placket of his leather pants to empty his bladder. He would honor his first visit to the hallowed soil of the Convocation’s greatest High House appropriately.

With a grim smile, he aimed his stream across the border, marking his territory as he studied the land of his enemy.

House Elal stood at the center of the valley below, a towering edifice amid winter-quiet fields and clusters of farmhouses. Some of the smaller dwellings—those with families not wealthy enough to afford fire elementals for heating—had chimneys with smoke coiling fragrantly against the late afternoon light spreading to the horizon. An enormous river, so large that it remained unfrozen, ran through the valley, and House Elal sat in a crescent bend of it that also served neatly as a moat. The house—more accurately, a castle—sprawled in all directions, wings, courtyards, and towers added over multiple generations. At least three kinds of stone had gone into its building over the centuries, judging by the different colors easily picked out from this distance, probably more.

Between the moat, the high walls, and the edifice’s sheer complexity—not to mention the guarded narrow passes through the Knifeblade Mountains—House Elal was virtually unassailable. Except via the weapon he currently held in his hand.

Take that, Gabriel thought, shaking his cock dry and tucking it away again. He did so carefully, as that member had important work to do that night. All he needed was some unlucky accident to render him unable to plant the seeds of desperate ambition.

Lowering, when a man’s future depended on that kind of performance. But then, nothing much made rational sense when it came to the Convocation’s bizarre and arcane laws regarding their precious familiars and breeding the next generation of power-mad wizards. Gabriel didn’t like it, but you can’t win the game unless you play the game. If he wanted to restore House Phel and ensure comfort, security, and peace for his own people, like that enjoyed by the people below, then he needed to win.

Once, he would have said that there would never come a day when he’d go crawling to the Convocation for anything. But then, the idealistic certainties of youth had a way of collapsing before the exigencies of the present. To be a wizard powerful enough to challenge the likes of Lord Elal, he needed the magical amplification a familiar would give him. Who better than the most powerful available familiar in the Convocation? It was just a bit of extra satisfaction for him that she was Lord Elal’s daughter.

The ancient volume on enchantments that Gabriel had found in a moldering library at what was left of House Phel had seemed to guarantee the moon-magic fertility spell would work—and that it would be undetectable. It wasn’t cheating, exactly. The extensive Betrothal Trials rules booklet provided by the Convocation only forbade House Refoel interference with fertility, not other enchantments. Gabriel had read the cursed thing enough times to be sure.

Still, his annoying conscience whispered, it seems unethical. He banished the thought with a sharp shake of his head. Lady Veronica Elal was in the Betrothal Trials for the same reason he was. As a familiar, she needed to be paired with a wizard, just as he needed a familiar if he wanted to be more than a rogue wizard from a fallen house. She was a daughter of a High House, with a Convocation education and admirable magical potential scores. He was her fourth suitor, and he imagined she’d be glad to be done with being locked up.

He knew he’d hate it.

But will she be glad to be saddled with a no-tier house like yours? Apparently he hadn’t banished his irritating conscience firmly enough. Such considerations had no place in his life. House Phel had an opportunity to rise from the ruins, to escape the cycle of poverty that had them forever scraping for the leftovers of the Convocation’s wealthier lands.

Returning to his horse, he checked Vale’s hooves, then the gelding’s tack for fit and chafing. Another hour or so’s ride wouldn’t change much, but no sense losing his bid for a kingdom because his horse went lame short of the finish line. Satisfied all was well, he extracted his flask of water, tugged off his glove, and poured some into his palm for Vale, the chill biting bright on his wet hand.

How long would these border guardians make him wait? Probably just long enough to make his role as supplicant to the mighty House Elal very clear.

Upon the heels of that thought, a cloaked and hooded figure stepped out of a cloud of fog, closely followed by a bare-headed young man in House Elal livery.

“Lord Phel,” the cloaked woman said, tipping back her hood to reveal a stern face made sharper by ruthlessly scraped-back dark hair—and the depthless black eyes of a wizard. She wore a gold pin on one shoulder, the House Elal crest of spirits intertwined in a braided circle. The young man remained a pace behind her, head bowed. “I am Tyrna, wizard to House Elal. Welcome to Elal.”

He offered her a nod of greeting. “Thank you.” I think. Remaining wary, Gabriel kept one hand near the hilt of his sword. Not that mere metal could defend him from a House Elal wizard, but the blade might offer him time to summon a defensive enchantment.

She smiled mirthlessly. “You need not be concerned, Lord Phel. You are expected and may proceed onto our lands. Do not, however, stray from the main road. It will lead you straight to House Phel. You should have no reason to diverge from that path.”

“No reason, indeed,” he agreed curtly. At least there was some comfort in discovering Elal hospitality was as forbidding as he’d been warned.

“Good luck in your efforts tonight,” Tyrna offered with a smirk, looking him up and down and making it clear she thought no amount of luck could help him win the prize. “We’re all so interested in the future of House Fell.”

Amazing how people managed to make the alternate meaning clear, even while smiling politely. It hadn’t taken him long at Convocation to clue into the insult.

Not dignifying her little joke with a reply, Gabriel waited. Perhaps she hoped he wasn’t enough of a wizard that he couldn’t detect the barrier. Another fine joke for her to get him to walk face-first into the invisible wall, thinking she’d already opened a crossing. If that was her game, she’d be disappointed. A moment later, with a hint of an annoyed scowl, the wizard yanked off her glove and held out her hand in an impatient gesture. The young man behind her stepped forward, placing his bare hand in hers.

Gabriel watched with close interest. He’d never seen a wizard work with their familiar before. There wasn’t much to see, however. No burst of transferred magic, at least to his unpracticed eye. The young man never moved while the wizard made a complicated gesture with her free hand, and an opening formed across the road, like a curtain drawing back. Taking Vale’s reins, Gabriel walked the gelding through the opening, then turned back to the wizard with a nod.

“Come, Feny,” the wizard said, turning on her heel—tugging her familiar along by the hand—and stepping into a cloud of fog that vanished again, leaving no sign of them. A nifty parlor trick. A waste of magic, though, just to look impressive.

Though, in Gabriel’s limited experience, the Convocation wizards seemed excessively interested in anything that made them look good.

“Come, Vale,” Gabriel said aloud in snooty tones to mimic the Elal wizard as he mounted again. Swiveling back his ears, Vale snorted in apparent appreciation of the humor. On this side of the border, the road opened up to a welcoming width—in stark contrast to the difficult trail through the Knifeblades, more suited to mountain goats than horses—and Vale kicked into a sprightly pace. Unsurprisingly, the prickle of unseen eyes still followed them.

Among the numerous skills in their magical arsenal, the wizards of House Elal commanded air elementals and other spirits mostly invisible to the human eye. There were tricks to making them visible. Gabriel could condense some fog or mist to reveal their movements. But, as much as he disliked being spied on, he wouldn’t. He’d do nothing to jeopardize this gambit.

Once the well-maintained road—kept dry and clear of snow and ice by more fire elementals bonded during its construction—finished winding down from the foothills, it ran arrow-straight to the gates of House Elal. Now that they were on a level with its base, the castle loomed with majestic splendor, more fortress than home from this angle.

Gabriel began to encounter other travelers, too. Farmers, merchants, and craftspeople—all bundled in wool and furs against the chilly weather—passed by, some with smaller handcarts, others with wagons propelled by air elementals. The people looked well-fed, well-clothed, and reasonably happy, though they gazed at Gabriel with suspicion, eyeing the house crest on his shoulder in puzzlement. A prosperous people, but not so complacent that they didn’t notice an armed stranger in their midst—and a foreign wizard at that.

Gabriel nodded in greeting, otherwise ignoring their scrutiny. He’d like to say he was inured to the stares, but one didn’t come to wizardry as he had—relatively late in life and with cataclysmic suddenness—without being keenly aware of how people reacted to the sight of him now.

Needing to distract himself, he pulled out the miniature of Lady Veronica Elal and studied it, for the one-millionth time, probably, since he’d received it in the Convocation packet announcing her Betrothal Trials. Her image captivated him, though she was no great beauty, despite the painter no doubt flattering her as much as possible. She had the high Elal forehead and strongly arched nose. Her brows, black as a raven’s wing and flattened with a hint of impatience, framed lushly lashed eyes the artist had no doubt intended to look soft and appealing. The green of them had been perhaps difficult to capture, for they looked far too hard—almost unnatural—with nothing inviting about them. Lady Veronica’s lips had been fashioned into a pretty bow shape, shaded a deep red. Not prim, however, her lips were lush—and also seemed to be holding back a slicing remark. Her pointed chin tilted with the arrogance he’d expect of House Elal, but the picture overall evoked something else. She struck him as both sad and angry. Frustrated, perhaps, almost to the point of despair.

That, more than anything else, appealed to him about her. He understood frustrated ambition, and the despair that followed close behind. The other available familiars had been presented as handsome and pretty and sweetly serene—obediently invisible like Tyrna’s familiar, Feny—and without any spark that interested him. Nothing that made him want to spend his life bonded to them.

Maybe he imagined what he wanted to see in Lady Veronica. After all, how much could one read into a portrait intended as an advertisement of goods? The painting served primarily to confirm the familiar being offered. As the Convocation packet made clear by highlighting Lady Veronica’s magical potential scores, her value as a familiar and for the children she could breed were the grand prizes. The miniature had been clearly labeled as assurance that the chosen wizards would indeed be bedding the woman who accompanied the scorecard. Certified and guaranteed by the Convocation.

Yes, all so very cold-blooded, but Gabriel had been assured that the Betrothal Trials were voluntary, so Lady Veronica must be hoping to find a good wizard partner and husband.

The sense that he and Lady Veronica might at least find some common ground had been the final spur that decided him to try for her. Yes, her magical potential scores were desirable, too much so, because that meant he was reaching high. That she was of House Elal, with an expensive Convocation Academy education, also meant she could help him navigate that legal, professional, and social hierarchy.

When he succeeded in impregnating her—which he would, thanks to the spell he’d found—and they married… Well, it wouldn’t be a love match like his own parents had. Perhaps, though, he and Lady Veronica had enough in common that they could find a way to being friends.

Regardless, some wizard would have Lady Veronica for their familiar. And none of them could possibly need her more than Gabriel did. It might as well be him, especially since the future of House Phel depended on it.

Pocketing the miniature, he set his sights on House Elal and firmed his resolve.

He would be the one.

Preorder via the buttons below or via my website store.

Available at these Retailers

    

DARK WIZARD Cover Reveal!

In case you missed it, I’ve revealed the cover for DARK WIZARD!

This is the first book in a brand new series, Bonds of Magic, in a new world with a new magic system, totally unrelated to anything else I’ve written.

Did I mention it’s new? 😀

You can preorder it at the links below, or on my website, as usual. This one is running a little long, so I’m going to have to raise the price after release, for both print and ebook, so grab the deal now!!

Available at these Retailers

    

Lord Gabriel Phel wants one thing: to rebuild the shattered fortunes of his people and restore his ruined House to its former station in the Convocation’s highest tiers of elegant society. Fortunately, through a wild chance of birth, he was born with powerful wizard magic, the first in his family in generations. If he can obtain a familiar to amplify his magic, a highborn daughter he can marry, to be mother to his children, he’ll be that much closer to saving his family. With her by his side, he can ascend to such a position of power in  the Convocation that he can destroy it forever.

Lady Veronica Elal, captive in her tower, has only one way out. To her bitter disappointment, she will never be a wizard. Instead, through a twist of fate and despite her expensive Convocation Academy education, Nic is doomed to be a familiar like her mother. Forced to participate the Betrothal Trials, she receives a wizard suitor for one night each month. Whichever man impregnates her will bond her forever. With no choice but to serve the one who wins her, Nic has one hope for control over her life: a wizard she can manipulate.

Gabriel Phel seems like the perfect choice for Nic’s gambit—he’s desperate and untutored in wizardry—but within moments of meeting him, she feels the bonds of magic tying them together. Afraid of losing her will to the compelling wizard who touches her heart like no other, Nic does the unthinkable: she runs. Pregnant and alone, Nic eludes monstrous hunters, searching for a safe haven. But when Gabriel catches up to her, their adventure has only begun.

Last Day for Reduced Preorder Price!

Only one more day to preorder UNDER A WINTER SKY at the lower preorder price of $5.99! The price goes up for release day tomorrow. Well, really it goes up tonight, since I’ll change the price on the retail sites before I go to bed. We’re hearing terrific things about the collection so far! My favorite is the person who instantly clicked, saying “You have no idea how much I need this in my life right now.”

I think we all could use some magic in our lives right now.

Available at these Retailers

     

International Links

   

THE PROMISED QUEEN Available for Preorder!

THE PROMISED QUEEN has a cover and is available for preorder! It comes out May 25, 2021. Maybe by then we can do some in-person events? I swear, I want to get an RV and just travel everywhere.

Claim the hand that wears the ring, and the empire falls.

Conrí, former Crown Prince of Oriel, claimed the hand that wears the Abiding Ring, but the prophecy remains unfulfilled. Queen Euthalia of Calanthe returned to her island kingdom, but broken in mind and body. With the blood of war unleashing ancient terrors, Calanthe isn’t the haven it once was. Lia must use her magical bond with Calanthe to save their people while Con fights to hold off the vengeful Emperor Anure and his wizards. Con and Lia will have to trust in each other—and in love—to fend off ultimate disaster.

In The Promised Queen, the thrilling finale to the Forgotten Empires trilogy, the fate of the world hangs in the balance as Con, Lia, and their allies sacrifice everything in a final bid to destroy the corrupt empire.

Meanwhile, I’ve got 63,000+ words on my DARK WIZARD project. I’m really loving writing this book and I figure it will be done in a couple of weeks, God willing and the creeks don’t rise, as my great-grandmother was fond of saying. I’m also working up an exciting new project that will take my author coaching to a new level – stay tuned!

THE LOST PRINCESS RETURNS!

Did you see the cover for THE LOST PRINCESS RETURNS yet? I’m so in love with it for so many reasons, but mainly because it so perfectly captures Jenna/Ivariel in my mind. Especially everything she’s feeling about returning to Dasnaria after all this time.

I’m glad everyone nagged me to write this story! The novella turned out to be a short novel, and releases June 29. You can preorder at the links below at a special sale price or here. Yes, there will be a print version; it should be available for preorder later this week.

  Or Buy the ebook Direct from Jeffe

More than two decades have gone by since Imperial Princess Jenna, broken in heart and body, fled her brutal marriage—and the land of her birth. She’s since become Ivariel: warrior, priestess of Danu, trainer of elephants, wife and mother. Wiser, stronger, happier, Ivariel has been content to live in her new country, to rest her battered self, and to recover from the trauma of what happened to her when she was barely more than a girl.

But magic has returned to the world—abruptly and with frightening force—and Ivariel takes that profound change as a sign that it’s time to keep a promise she made to the sisters she left behind. Ivariel must leave the safety she’s found and return to face the horrors she fled.

As Ivariel emerges from hiding, she discovers that her vicious brother is now Emperor of Dasnaria, and her much-hated mother, the Dowager Empress Hulda, is aiding him in his reign of terror. Worse, it seems that Hulda’s resurrection of the tainted god Deyrr came about as a direct result of Jenna’s flight long ago.

It’s up to Ivariel—and the girl she stopped being long ago—to defeat the people who cruelly betrayed her, and to finally liberate her sisters. Determined to cleanse her homeland of the evil that nearly destroyed her, Ivariel at last returns to face the past.

But this time, she’ll do it on her own terms.

Confronting Failure – and Learning from It!

Did you see the cover for THE LOST PRINCESS RETURNS yet? I’m so in love with it for so many reasons, but mainly because it so perfectly captures Jenna/Ivariel in my mind. Especially everything she’s feeling about returning to Dasnaria after all this time.

I’m glad everyone nagged me to write this story! The novella turned out to be a short novel, and releases June 29. You can preorder at the links below at a special sale price or here. Yes, there will be a print version; it should be available for preorder later this week.

Our actual topic at the SFF Seven this week is confronting failure. Not just the occasional downturns of fortune which is the lot of every writer, but also being able to take an honest look at what is just not working. Come on over for my take!

************************************

  Or Buy the ebook Direct from Jeffe

More than two decades have gone by since Imperial Princess Jenna, broken in heart and body, fled her brutal marriage—and the land of her birth. She’s since become Ivariel: warrior, priestess of Danu, trainer of elephants, wife and mother. Wiser, stronger, happier, Ivariel has been content to live in her new country, to rest her battered self, and to recover from the trauma of what happened to her when she was barely more than a girl.

But magic has returned to the world—abruptly and with frightening force—and Ivariel takes that profound change as a sign that it’s time to keep a promise she made to the sisters she left behind. Ivariel must leave the safety she’s found and return to face the horrors she fled.

As Ivariel emerges from hiding, she discovers that her vicious brother is now Emperor of Dasnaria, and her much-hated mother, the Dowager Empress Hulda, is aiding him in his reign of terror. Worse, it seems that Hulda’s resurrection of the tainted god Deyrr came about as a direct result of Jenna’s flight long ago.

It’s up to Ivariel—and the girl she stopped being long ago—to defeat the people who cruelly betrayed her, and to finally liberate her sisters. Determined to cleanse her homeland of the evil that nearly destroyed her, Ivariel at last returns to face the past.

But this time, she’ll do it on her own terms.

Coming Soon! THE LOST PRINCESS RETURNS

Yes, there’s an elephant on the cover! Tune into Frolic on Friday to see the full cover of THE LOST PRINCESS RETURNS. It gives me chills, I love it so much.

Meanwhile, the book – it’s become a short novel – is available for preorder. It releases June 29, 2020, and the preorder price is $3.99 (on my website and Amazon). Release day the price goes up to $4.99. Yes, there will be a print version! It’s just not available for preorder.

This book follows THE FATE OF THE TALA, but also winds up the story told in the CHRONICLES OF DASNARIA.

More than two decades have gone by since Imperial Princess Jenna, broken in heart and body, fled her brutal marriage—and the land of her birth. She’s since become Ivariel: warrior, priestess of Danu, trainer of elephants, wife and mother. Wiser, stronger, happier, Ivariel has been content to live in her new country, to rest her battered self, and to recover from the trauma of what happened to her when she was barely more than a girl.

But magic has returned to the world—abruptly and with frightening force—and Ivariel takes that profound change as a sign that it’s time to keep a promise she made to the sisters she left behind. Ivariel must leave the safety she’s found and return to face the horrors she fled.

As Ivariel emerges from hiding, she discovers that her vicious brother is now Emperor of Dasnaria, and her much-hated mother, the Dowager Empress Hulda, is aiding him in his reign of terror. Worse, it seems that Hulda’s resurrection of the tainted god Deyrr came about as a direct result of Jenna’s flight long ago.

It’s up to Ivariel—and the girl she stopped being long ago—to defeat the people who cruelly betrayed her, and to finally liberate her sisters. Determined to cleanse her homeland of the evil that nearly destroyed her, Ivariel at last returns to face the past.

But this time, she’ll do it on her own terms.

Updates on THE FATE OF THE TALA and Other Celebrations

Farolitos up on the roof, with a nearly full moon rising – a lovely sky for finishing that job yesterday evening!

I’ve finished the outside holiday decorations and I’m hoping we’ll get the Christmas tree later this afternoon, to decorate tonight and tomorrow. Then decorating will be complete! We’ve also made some inroads on shopping, I got to have a fancy cocktail out at the bar at Inn at Loretto, plus I have several parties coming up, so the season is proceeding apace.

Otherwise I’m head-down on THE FATE OF THE TALA. The insightful and generous Marcella Burnard sent me feedback that helped with perspective on the story, so now I’ve gone back to the beginning to revise, tweak and tighten. Then I’ll finish out the ending. So I’m still on track for a January 15 release date! For those who’ve asked, I am doing preorders on my website store only. That’s mostly because I am not locked into uploading the finished book days ahead of the release date. My plan is to make the book live in my website store first – which means people who preorder there gets the book before anyone else! – then I’ll start uploading to retailers. I totally understand if you’d rather buy through your favorite retailer! It’s just less pressure on me (and I make more money on each copy) to do it this way. It’s been really wonderful to get that preorder income already (with retailer preorders, I don’t get the sales until release day, and the money comes in two months after that) because it helps offset my expenses in publishing the book.

I greatly appreciate all of you who are willing to buy through the website store and I totally sympathize with those of you who prefer not to go with the bother of sideloading, etc.

Hope you all are enjoying the holiday season in whatever way gives you the maximum Delight & Gladness!

THE ORCHID THRONE is available for preorder!

It makes my publisher super happy if you preorder *puppy eyes*

         

 

Welcome to the world of Forgotten Empires from award winning author Jeffe Kennedy that begins with The Orchid Throne.

A PRISONER OF FATE

As Queen of the island kingdom of Calanthe, Euthalia will do anything to keep her people free—and her secrets safe—from the mad tyrant who rules the mainland. Guided by a magic ring of her father’s, Lia plays the political game with the cronies the emperor sends to her island. In her heart, she knows that it’s up to her to save herself from her fate as the emperor’s bride. But in her dreams, she sees a man, one with the power to build a better world—a man whose spirit is as strong, and whose passion is as fierce as her own…

A PRINCE AMONG MEN

Conrí, former Crown Prince of Oriel, has built an army to overthrow the emperor. But he needs the fabled Abiding Ring to succeed. The ring that Euthalia holds so dear to her heart. When the two banished rulers meet face to face, neither can deny the flames of rebellion that flicker in their eyes—nor the fires of desire that draw them together. But in this broken world of shattered kingdoms, can they ever really trust each other? Can their fiery alliance defeat the shadows of evil that threaten to engulf their hearts and souls?

Reviews

The Orchid Throne captures from the first page and doesn’t let go as Jeffe Kennedy weaves a timeless tale of love and survival amidst a lush backdrop teeming greed and deceit. You will fall for Lia and Con and root for them with every breath you take. This is a book that will linger in your thoughts for a very long time.”- Darynda Jones, New York Times bestselling author

“A fantasy romance by a writer at the top of her game.There are two strands to this story and each is beautifully distinctive. The chapters portraying Lia, the virgin queen who protects her people from the ruthless emperor through statecraft and artifice, are lush and hypnotic. Those that follow the damaged Conri and his army of rebel slaves are raw and propulsive. Kennedy plays with these differences building tension so that when the two come together it is like a match to tinder. The world building is immersive and there are secondary characters to root for (especially fond of Ambrose, Conri’s wizard). I only wish I didn’t have to wait so long for the 2nd book.” – Maria Vale, author of The Last Wolf