THE FRUGAL FIND OF THE DAY: Hostage in Havana (Cuban Trilogy, The), Noel Hynd {$2.99}

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Noel Hynds Frugal Find Under Nine:

Description of Hostage in Havana (Cuban Trilogy, The):

From bestselling ABA author Noel Hynd comes this new series set against the backdrop of Havana, an explosive capital city of faded charm locked in the past and torn by political intrigue. U.S. Treasury Agent Alexandra LaDuca leaves her Manhattan home on an illegal mission to Cuba that could cost her everything. Accompanying her is the attractive but dangerous Paul Guarneri, a Cuban-born exile who lives in the gray areas of the law. Together, they plunge into subterfuge and danger. Without the support of the United States, Alex must navigate Cuban police, saboteurs, pro-Castro security forces, and an assassin who follows her from New York. Bullets fly as allies become traitors and enemies become unexpected friends. Alex, recovering from the tragic loss of her fiance a year before, reexamines faith and new love while taking readers on a fast-paced adventure. Readers of general market thrillers, such as John le Carre, David Baldacci, and Joel Rosenberg, will eagerly anticipate this first installment.

Noel Hynd has sold more than four million copies of his books throughout the world, including The Enemy Within and Flowers From Berlin. His most recent novel, Hostage in Havana, is the first book in the Cuban Trilogy starring Alexandria LaDuca. Hynd lives in Culver City, California.

Accolades:

Classic, inventive, well-written novel by Noel Hynd. This novel uses the same heroine as the Russian Trilogy and a few other characters from the Trilogy as well. As always, his novel is well-plotted and well written. The pages just keep flying by as you are led to the ironic climax. – 5 Stars


Amazon Reader Reviews:

Hostage in Havana (Cuban Trilogy, The) currently has a Amazon reader review rating of 4.3 stars from 22 reviews. Read the reviews here!

Hostage in Havana (Cuban Trilogy, The) is available for purchase at:

Amazon Kindle for $2.99

Also note that ALL of  of Noel Hynd’s individual titles for HarperCollins are on sale for $2.99 this week!

HAVE YOU HEARD? The Hunger Games is now just $1.99 ~ Grab it Quick!

Have you heard?! The Hunger Games has surpassed the Harry Potter Series as the #1 Bestselling series on Amazon! To push it even further, I found that The Hunger Games is now just $1.99 on Kindle!

I have no idea how long this price will last, so if you don’t have it, today is the day to grab The Hunger Games for your Kindle!

PS – I highly recommend it, too! :)

The average Amazon Reader Review is currently 4.5 stars {8,457 reviews}.

THE FRUGAL FIND OF THE DAY: City of Beads (Tubby Dubonnet #2), Tony Dunbar {$2.99 or Borrow FREE w/Prime!}

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Tony Dunbar‘s Frugal Find Under Nine:

Description of City of Beads (Tubby Dubonnet #2):

New Orleans lawyer Tubby Dubonnet is bored. He wants to bill enough hours to pay his alimony and keep his daughter in college, with enough left over for an occasional drink and a good meal, but he longs for something different and exciting.

When he’s offered a job researching the licensing requirements of the city’s new and lucrative gambling casino, he doesn’t care if he’s working for the Mob. Meanwhile, he becomes involved in executing the estate of an old friend who controls some dock leases on the wharf, and he agrees to help his daughter’s environmental group stop illegal dumping into the river.

As one might expect, the three cases curiously begin to converge: the toxic dumping, the dock leases, and the too-good-to-be-true casino job lead Tubby to the conclusion that he’s been set up to be the fall guy in an effort by the casino to expand its operations.

Suddenly Tubby is doing something different and exciting — he’s running for his life…

New Orleans-based attorney and writer Tony Dunbar is the Lillian Smith Book Award-winning author of books about Mississippi, Appalachia, migrant workers, and the Southern labor movement as well as the acclaimed Tubby Dubonnet mystery series.


Accolades:

“A charming guide to a side of New Orleans few see.” –Wes Lukowsky, Booklist

“Dunbar weaves together the many strands of his highly entertaining tale with much skill and wit, as well as some relaxed local color.” –Publishers Weekly

“A real work of mystery art.” —New Orleans Times-Picayune


Amazon Reader Reviews:

City of Beads (Tubby Dubonnet #2) currently has a Amazon reader review rating of 4.5 stars, with 8 reviews! Read the reviews here!

 

City of Beads (Tubby Dubonnet #2) is available for purchase at:

Amazon Kindle for $2.99 or Borrow FREE w/Prime!

 

Excerpt from City of Beads (Tubby Dubonnet #2):

Down by the river, Potter Aucoin was putting up a hell of a fight, but he was losing it quick.

He got in a solid clip on one of his attackers, right above the ear, with a rusty black iron jack handle. The man careened backward across the room and slammed against the wall, tipping over a filing cabinet. The other assailant, the smaller of the two but still linebacker size, leapt up behind Potter and wrapped his arms around him in a bear hug. He was blowing hot gusts of garlic into Potter’s face, yelling for his partner to get off the floor and help him.

Although he was pinned, Potter managed to jab the sharp end of the jack handle into a soft part of the man holding him from behind. It dug into flesh, high on the thigh. He did it again, and a painful howl roared out of the mouth by his cheek. Potter’s arms came free, but not soon enough. The beefy one on the floor, his yellow paisley tie tangled up in his blue polyester shirt, had stopped seeing stars and got up. His meaty fist was armored by an old-fashioned ring of aluminum knuckles, and it swung in a wild haymaker that landed hard on Potter’s forehead. Potter’s last picture of humanity was of a stranger’s face, the mouth knotted in rage, before blood covered his eyes. Then the view in Potter’s fading mind changed to a sandy blue seashore, and he collapsed with the taste of fresh mangoes and papayas on his tongue.

“Jesus Christ,” the man with the chain-link knuckles cursed as Potter slumped down into the arms of his gasping partner, just another stranger, who held the weight for a second, then let the limp sweaty body drop to the stained concrete floor.

He stepped back with a curse, and said something like a prayer, before he gave the limp and bleeding form a tentative kick.

“I think he’s dead,” he said.

“Ah, no,” the bigger man complained. “That shouldn’t have killed him. Good God almighty, what a mess.”

 

City of Beads (Tubby Dubonnet #2) is available for purchase at:

Amazon Kindle for $2.99 or Borrow FREE w/Prime!

 

Connect with Tony Dunbar:

Author Website: www.booksbnimble.com

Author Facebook Page: facebook.com/booksbnimble

Twitter: @booksbnimble

KINDLE DAILY DEAL: Oliver Pötzsch’s Best-Selling Hangman’s Daughter” Series are Just $0.99 Each Today Only!

Today only, the Kindle editions of Oliver Pötzsch’s internationally best-selling “Hangman’s Daughter” historical thriller series are just $0.99 each, and the deluxe, hardcover version of “The Hangman’s Daughter” is 60% off.

The Hangman’s Daughter: Germany, 1660: When a dying boy is pulled from the river with a mark crudely tattooed on his shoulder, hangman Jakob Kuisl is called upon to investigate whether witchcraft is at play. So begins The Hangman’s Daughter–the chillingly detailed, fast-paced historical thriller from German television screenwriter, Oliver Pötzsch–a descendent of the Kuisls, a famous Bavarian executioner clan.

The Dark Monk: A Hangman’s Daughter Tale: THE ANTICIPATED FOLLOW-UP TO INTERNATIONAL BEST SELLER THE HANGMAN’S DAUGHTER

1660: Winter has settled thick over a sleepy village in the Bavarian Alps, ensuring every farmer and servant is indoors on the night a parish priest discovers he’s been poisoned. As numbness creeps up his body, he summons the last of his strength to scratch a cryptic sign in the frost.

Following a trail of riddles, hangman Jakob Kuisl; his headstrong daughter, Magdalena; and the town physician’s son team up with the priest’s aristocratic sister to investigate. What they uncover will lead them back to the Crusades, unlocking a troubled history of internal church politics and sending them on a chase for a treasure of the Knights Templar.

But they’re not the only ones after the legendary fortune. A team of dangerous and mysterious monks is always close behind, tracking their every move, speaking Latin in the shadows, giving off a strange, intoxicating scent. And to throw the hangman off their trail, they have ensured he is tasked with capturing a band of thieves roving the countryside attacking solitary travelers and spreading panic.

Delivering on the promise of his international best seller The Hangman’s Daughter, Oliver Pötzsch takes us on a whirlwind tour–once again based on prodigious historical research into his own family tree–through the occult hiding places of Bavaria’s ancient monasteries, bringing to life an unforgettable hangman and his tenacious daughter, painting a robust tableau of 17th-century Bavaria as it navigates the lasting impacts of war, and quickening our pulses with a gripping, mesmerizing mystery.

Click here to read more about and purchase both titles for $1.99* from Amazon

*Price goes back up to $9.99 tomorrow!

The Sweet Life #3: Too Many Doubts, Francine Pascal {$1.99}

For Jessica and Elizabeth, the sweet life begins at 30…

From Francine Pascal, creator of Sweet Valley High and author of the New York Times bestselling Sweet Valley Confidential, comes the third and fourth novella-length installment of the groundbreaking, six-part, e-serial, The Sweet Life, continuing the adventures of beautiful blonde twins Jessica and Elizabeth Wakefield and the gang from Sweet Valley.

Three years after the events of Sweet Valley Confidential, Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield are back in Sweet Valley and inseparable once more. But Jessica, now a mother, finds her marriage to Todd hanging by a thread. Meanwhile, Lila Fowler, reality TV star extraordinaire, embarks on a risky scheme that could win her fame but cost her everything. And the scandal rocking Sweet Valley deepens for Elizabeth and Bruce, who find themselves at odds when loyalty conflicts with the need for the truth. The Sweet Life #3: Too Many Doubts and The Sweet Life #4: Secrets and Seductions are full of secrets, betrayals and classic Sweet Valley cliffhangers.

The Sweet Life #3: Too Many Doubts

Jessica finds her marriage to Todd in jeopardy after she makes a terrible mistake. Meanwhile, reality TV star extraordinaire Lila Fowler’s fame-seeking scheme backfires in the worst way. And the scandal threatening to tear Elizabeth and Bruce apart only gets worse when the District Attorney gets involved. The Sweet Life #3: Too Many Doubts races to a shocking ending that will leave readers clamoring for more!

What readers are saying:

Having read Sweet Valley books for what feels like my entire life – from the Kids series, to the the Twins series, through all the high school and university books, I had a lot of anticipation when I first heard about this six part serial! The inconsistencies and outright strange shifts in characters that appeared in Sweet Valley Confidential: Ten Years Later dampened some of my initial excitement, but I have to say this book felt like the authors wrote it almost in direct response to the many negative reviews that Sweet Valley Confidential: Ten Years Later garnered. And one Amazon review for Sweet Valley Confidential: Ten Years Later is titled “Francine Pascal still hates fat people” and for the first time, a character who is a size twelve is introduced as not needing to lose an ounce. The laziness in editing that was so rampant disappeared, and errors were corrected (like Lila’s dad regained his rightful first name on the very first page) throughout. Obviously, there are five more to go, but I hope that this same attention to detail is shown throughout!

Unfortunately, Ken Matthews is a shadow of the character he once was – perhaps pro-football has led to so many concussions that he literally is no longer himself… But there is hope for his redemption at the end of the book… Elizabeth still doesn’t feel quite herself, either – some very shady journalism and outright lies were pretty shocking. And Todd Wilkins is supposed to be retro, so it is odd that Jessica and Elizabeth both are surprised by his old-fashioned ideas about family. There are some purposeful reminders of the original series, which is nice (the lavaliere necklaces!), and the book ends with the traditional lead-ups to the next installment, making it all in all a much more satisfying return to the wonderful world of Sweet Valley.

The average Amazon Reader Review is currently 4 stars {2 reviews}.

THE FRUGAL FIND OF THE DAY: The Royal Dragoneers, M. R. Mathias {$3.33}

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Description of

The Royal Dragoneers:

The Royal Dragoneers was deemed one of the top indie fantasy releases of 2010 by Fantasy Book Critic, and was listed in the first ever Publishers Weekly Indie Select issue in Dec. 2010.  This 115k word dragon-fantasy is the first full length installment of The Dragoneers Saga.  The novella-length primer, The First Dragoneer, also by M. R. Mathias, is available FREE in the Amazon Kindle Store, for a limited time.

M. R. Mathias has several other titles available from Amazon as well.

The Royal Dragoneers

After struggling for more than two centuries to tame the inhospitable islands where they washed up, the descendants of the survivors of a lost passenger ship are now striving to tame a more substantial “Mainland” they have found.

For as long as mankind has been stranded, dragons have been their sworn enemies.

But no longer…

Sixteen year-old Jenka De Swasso wants nothing more than to follow in his father’s footsteps and become a King’s Ranger. But when he one day finds himself surrounded by vicious trolls, a young pure-blood dragon comes to his rescue and they become bond-mates.

Meanwhile, the goblins have a new king, Gravelbone, and have allied themselves with the tainted “mudged” dragons to drive mankind out of its lands. Setting his sights on a vast manmade wall, Gravelbone and his wicked hell-born Nightshade, seek to poison the entire human kingdom and enslave any survivors.

Jenka and his companion, a druida warrior named Zah, soon realize that they and their bonded dragons are mankind’s only hope for survival. Forced to defy their arrogant king’s wishes, the pair set out on a desperate quest to stop Gravelbone’s forces and save mankind from its terrifying fate.

With action so intense you’ll forget to breathe and intrigue around every corner, The Royal Dragoneers is one adventure you cannot miss.

Hold on to your dragon… your journey is about to begin!

 

Accolade:

5 stars - A Great YA Author and Trilogy

“This review applies to the entire trilogy of the Dragoneers, not just the first book. The series is a really good YA trilogy, with real characters who have real foibles, dreams, fears, desires, unkind thoughts and everything else that comprises the range of human emotion. There are no “Mary Sues” in this saga. The female characters are smart, strong and emotional; the male characters are confused, brave, and scared. They are all elated at the bond they share with their dragons and absolutely terrified of the alien menace that reveals itself gradually through all three books. There is no “magic bullet” or “super-mage” that comes along to make an end to the devastating problems faced by all characters (not just the Royal Dragoneers). The solutions come along gradually with trial and error; various other entities decide to help or not as the story unfolds. I would definitely recommend this series (and the short stories that accompany it) for anyone whose teens/young adults are looking for something other than vampires, magical solutions, or werewolves but still want to read good fantasy.”

 

Reviews:

The Royal Dragoneers currently has a customer review rating of 4 stars from 32 reviews. Read the reviews here.


The Royal Dragoneers is available for purchase at:

Amazon Kindle for $3.33!

 

An excerpt from The Royal Dragoneers:

“I’m going to give Jenka’s ears a look-see,” Zah told Linux, then went to her saddle pack to rummage for something.

“Keep watch till well past midnight, boys, then give Master Kember a shake,” Herald rumbled to Stick and Rikky, who were at the far edge of the illuminated, blue area. Then he made to turn in for the night. “If there comes a problem, don’t wake me,” he added with a nod of grudging respect at Zah’s back. “Wake that girl. Let her do with it.”

Jenka had to bite back a chuckle. He didn’t want anyone to know that he could hear just yet. He needed to think long and hard about everything he was learning about the dragons, the trolls, and the ways of men. It was hard to imagine that, not so long ago, his life’s entire focus had been narrowed down solely to his quest to become a Forester and then a King’s Ranger. Now he wasn’t sure what he wanted, or needed, to do.

Jenka looked up and smiled, as Zah eased up beside him. Her pale face shone blue in the magical fire’s steady light, and the triangle on her forehead glittered faintly with the reflection. When she whispered, “How are you feeling?” he acted like he hadn’t heard her.

Tenderly, she inspected his ears. Her fingers were soft and tickly on his neck, and he had to wiggle his shoulder when the sensation became too intense. He truly liked her touch. When she softly whispered to him, her warm breath found his skin and stirred his feelings on a whole other level.

“Thank you, Jenka De Swasso, for that chivalrous attempt to rescue me today. If you could hear me, I doubt I would be so bold with my heart, but the spark you have tendered in me is potent.” Her lips were so close to his temple that she might as well have been kissing him. “I have a feeling that the emotion might someday grow into an inferno and consume me. I know beyond a doubter’s shadow that I’m not the one for you. That is why I have to ignore my feelings. I must keep them to myself. There is too much at stake.” With that, she kissed his forehead softly, like a loving sister might, then went and curled up in her blankets near where Linux was quietly meditating.

After a short, confusing while, Jenka rose and joined Rikky and Stick, where they were posted at the edge of the weird blue-green fire’s light. “What happened to Solman and Mort?” he asked them quietly. “Where are they?”

“So you can hear again, then?” Rikky grinned with relief. “You’re a dimbuss, Jenk. You almost got charred up. You’re lucky Zah did that … that … that yellow thing.”

Jenka feigned a sharp whack at the younger hunter. Rikky ducked playfully. “I asked where Solman and Mort were, not for your thoughts on my foolishness, boy.” Jenka’s imitation of Master Kember was spot-on, but he was paling as he hunkered down between the other two.

“They rode off into the Strom,” Stick said, with a look at Jenka that, somehow, combined reverence with doubt and concern. “Are you all right? You don’t know how close you came today.” The odd light caused Stick’s eyes to contrast drastically with his dark skin.

“It doesn’t matter,” Jenka sighed. He knew that Solman was an expert woodsman and would be able to take care of himself if he hadn’t drowned. Mortin he wasn’t so sure about. Either way, he was fading quickly. He felt as if he had to rest now, and his body was demanding that he do just that. He lay back and closed his eyes, and immediately fell asleep on the turf. Rikky covered him with a blanket, and Jenka didn’t wake until nearly dawn when Master Kember started booting him in the side.

“If you’re drilling with the others, then get your arse a ‘moving, Jenk,” the old man said with another nudge of his boot-tip. “If not, then get your arse up and start saddling the horses!” Jenka didn’t move. “Rikky done told me you could hear again, so quit testing me.”

 

The Royal Dragoneers is available for purchase at:

Amazon Kindle for $3.33!

 

Connect with M. R. Mathias:

The Dragoneers Homepage

Amazon Author Page

Facebook

Twitter

Chances, Jackie Collins {$7.99 or Borrow FREE w/Prime!}

From “Lucky” to “Lady Boss” to “Vendetta: Lucky’s Revenge” and “Dangerous Kiss”… Jackie Collins’ sizzling Lucky Santangelo saga all began with CHANCES.

The book that made Jackie Collins one of America’s favorite authors sweeps you from the sophisticated playgrounds of Europe to the glittering gambling palaces of Las Vegas.

It plunges you into the reckless, dangerous world of the Santangelo crime family. It introduces you to Gino Santangelo, the street kid who makes it all the way to the top.

And then brings you Lucky—his sensual, stunningly beautiful, and passionate daughter; a woman who dares to win her father’s empire for herself; a woman unafraid of taking… CHANCES.

What readers are saying:

5 Star Review – “Compelling, and out of this world, CHANCES is really a 10 star book. I will definitely be picking up the 2nd book in the Santangelo saga.  Bravo Ms. Collins!!”

The average Amazon reader review is currently 4.5 stars {53 reviews}.

The Sweet Life #2: Lies and Omissions, Francine Pascal {Pre-Order for $1.99 – Release Date: 7/15}

From Francine Pascal, creator of Sweet Valley High and author of the New York Times bestselling Sweet Valley Confidential, comes the second novella-length installment of the groundbreaking, six-part, e-serial, The Sweet Life, continuing the adventures of beautiful blonde twins Jessica and Elizabeth Wakefield and the gang from Sweet Valley.

Three years after the events of Sweet Valley Confidential, Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield are back in Sweet Valley and inseparable once more. But Jessica, now a mother, finds her marriage to Todd hanging by a thread. Meanwhile, Lila Fowler, reality TV star extraordinaire, embarks on a risky scheme that could win her fame but cost her everything. And the scandal rocking Sweet Valley deepens for Elizabeth and Bruce, who find themselves at odds when loyalty conflicts with the need for the truth. The Sweet Life #2: Lies and Omissions picks up right where the first episode leaves off, and the stakes get even higher!

THE SWEET LIFE (St. Martin’s Press; $1.99 per story episode) is a six episode E-only serial with stories released every two weeks this summer. Starting July 15 with the release of The Sweet Life #1 and The Sweet Life #2: Lies and Omissions, Francine Pascal takes Elizabeth and Jessica through a new chapter in their well-chronicled and beloved lives. This dramatic first installment and cliff-hanger ending will leave readers breathless for the next episode.

What readers are saying:

The first and second episodes of The Sweet Life E-Serial are out on 7/15. Available for pre-order now. But here’s what the media had to say about Sweet Valley Confidential:

“A perfect storm of decades past, and we are LOVING it.” —MTV

“Compelling…frothy fun.”—Wall Street Journal

THE FRUGAL FIND OF THE DAY: INITIATION (Bonfire Academy Book One) (Bonfire Chronicles), Imogen Rose {$3.99}

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Imogen Rose‘s Frugal Find Under Nine:

 

Description of INITIATION (Bonfire Academy Book One) (Bonfire Chronicles):

Welcome to Bonfire Academy!

Set in the foothills of the alpine mountains in St.Moritz, this exclusive private school caters to a special kind of student. Enter at your own risk… but if you are human, you may not want to enter at all.

WARNING: This YA story is set in a school for paranormals who are very different from normal human teens. Thus, the language and some scenes might not be appropriate for younger YA readers. Recommended for those sixteen and above.

INITIATION is the first book in the prequel series (Bonfire Academy) of the Bonfire Chronicles.

 

Accolade:

It is better to fail in originality than to succeed in imitation.” – Herman Melville. That one phrase changed my life, AND my perception of what people expected. So I wrote it down, in a little black book, and put it in my purse. Now, I can’t tell you exactly how many times I have read that 1 phrase since I wrote it down, but every time I read a book, and then bask in the brilliance of it’s originality I think of Herman and his wise advice. THEN…I think of the authors that exude this quality more than most. Imogen Rose is one of these authors. – KindleObsessed

Let me lay it out for you. This is a five star book. Period. Heck, I think nearly all of Imogen Rose’s books are five stars in my eyes so far. It’s kind of crazy. Did the author make a deal with the devil or something to get this level of pure talent or what? Or maybe one of these demons from this book? Hmmm… – Candy Beuchamp (Candy’s Raves)

Initiation is the irresistibly addictive, action-packed first book in the new prequel series to The Bonfire Chronicles. – Fiktshun

Paranormal fans are going to go insane when they read this cool tale, that is almost reminiscent of the Xmen school, but so much more. – Freda’s Voice

 

Amazon Reader Reviews:

INITIATION (Bonfire Academy Book One) (Bonfire Chronicles) currently has a Amazon reader review rating of 4.5 stars, with 36 reviews! Read the reviews here!

 

Excerpt from INITIATION (Bonfire Academy Book One) (Bonfire Chronicles):

Chapter One

Trust No One. The wooden plaque hanging over the bed couldn’t be any more in-your-face. As if I could ever forget one of the three Golden Rules.

After I dumped my suitcase on the crisp burgundy comforter, I picked up the envelope I spotted lying on my pillow and sat down to check out my new room.

The room was much bigger than the one I had last year. It even had a breakfast table with two padded chairs–one of which I was sitting on–and a sofa bed for guests. Cool. That would come in handy for sleepovers. All the East Tower bedrooms, including mine, had been rebuilt after the fire. They had been restored to their previous condition, as if the fire had never happened. Whoever had been in charge of the restorations had even managed to replace the old burgundy towels. However, as I breathed in the air, I noticed that the old familiar smell had been replaced by a new one–the odor of newly painted walls, laced with a hint of orange from the freshly polished wood.

It was hard to believe that the entire wing had gone up in flames just three months ago. The rest of the school hadn’t escaped the fire and smoke damage either, causing Bonfire Academy to close its doors for the first time in its history.

Bonfire Academy, hidden in the outskirts of the luxury ski-resort town of St. Moritz, Switzerland, is an exclusive school for paranormal preparation. The small, but chic town caters to those who enjoy a champagne lifestyle. It’s legendary for being the playground of the rich and famous. So, naturally, the school caters to the offspring of the upper crust of paranormal society. The thorough vetting process and annual tuition costs make sure of that. Students come here from all over the world–and beyond.

After the fire, all of the students had to be sent home, apart from the newbie vampires, who were sequestered in the basement during the restoration. Apparently, that had been a total nightmare. Still, the fact that they were able to reopen in such a short time was amazing. I was glad to be back for my third year.

There would be plenty of new rules, of course. The twins had made sure of that. But Jacques and Mariel, the infamous twins, weren’t returning to the Academy. They had been legends long before they decided to turn the place into a giant firecracker. So after six years at the school, they had been crowned the first non-graduates ever.

I tore open the wax-sealed envelope embossed with the official BA insignia. Sliding out the parchment-like sheet, I read the handwritten note. It was a short message from the student council president asking me to come to his office. I had heard rumors that it was a guy this year, though the identity was kept a secret until the school year started. Anyhow, a meeting? Ugh. That couldn’t be good. A meeting with the president was so rare that most new students thought he was a myth made up by the school to keep us in line–an imaginary creature painted in colors of fear. I knew better, of course, but the thought still made me uncomfortable. Why would he want to see me?

I was beginning my third year at the Academy, a purely voluntary year reserved for self-development enrichment, where we were allowed to choose our own course of development. Many chose to mentor incoming students; others chose to spend a year further developing their skills. I wanted to concentrate on tennis. Plus, my boyfriend was staying on for another year, and I wanted to stay close to him.

I couldn’t for the life of me understand why the student council president had summoned me. Suddenly feeling a bit anxious, I stood and tried to get a handle on my churning emotions. Jeez, it was just another student, not a monster! And even if he was, he’d be no match for me, of that I was sure. So why did I feel sick? Maybe it was just something I ate on the plane.

I decided to check out the view through the window to calm my nerves. As usual, the snowcapped peaks of the breathtaking alpine mountains transported me to a place of peace and calm. I felt my stomach begin to relax, and I put my nose against the window, letting my breath form cloudy patches on the glass.

I looked down at the note again and decided I better just suck it up and get over there. The message had asked me to come as soon as I could. I twirled around for a quick once over in the mirror. If I was going to see the president, I better look presentable.

I didn’t look bad at all, and certainly not as though I had been traveling. Although, the trip from Paris in my dad’s private jet hadn’t exactly been tough. My straight blond hair, which I had highlighted with red streaks during the break, just needed a quick run-through with my fingers. After straightening my red-and-orange striped tie, I ran out and up the stone steps toward the student president’s room.

By the time I got there, my stomach had turned to mush again and was making the most embarrassing gurgling sounds. What the heck was wrong with me?

I just stood outside the metal door, my knuckles refusing to make contact. The pink-tipped nails of my right hand trembled as I willed my hand to knock. But I just couldn’t make it.

Five minutes later, I had come up with an awesome collection of reasonable excuses to ignore the note altogether–the top one being that I hadn’t seen it in the first place. Relieved and pleased with myself, I spun around to go back to my room.

I needn’t have bothered.

The door flew open, and my jaw dropped in shock. Goosebumps formed over my arms as a chill enveloped me. I looked up and stared into a pair of cold, silver-gray eyes.

I held his gaze, locking into it for an uncomfortably long time. My heartbeat quickened as I fought to maintain control, finally managing to disengage my eyes from his. I couldn’t help but notice the shine from his freakishly white hair, which bristled like spines atop his head. He arched his dark eyebrows and smiled, relaxing his angular features. I melted into his gorgeous eyes, which were framed in dark lashes, and smiled back, letting my defenses drift away.

His jaw jerked, and his smile faded so quickly that I wondered if I had imagined it. I stood paralyzed, mesmerized by the most spellbinding guy I had ever met in my life, my face plastered with the world’s goofiest grin, while he looked at me like I was totally nuts.

“Cordelia. May I call you that?”

I nodded, desperately trying to transform my moronic expression into a more neutral, acknowledging one, but probably failing miserably.

“You seem surprised. Can’t imagine why. I decided to help you with the door, since you’ve been lurking outside my room for over five minutes.” He shrugged. “Come on in. I’m Jagger, by the way.”

I followed him in and sat down when he waved me toward a French Renaissance chair. He walked around the metal desk and sat down in an overstuffed black leather chair. I glanced around the room while he shuffled some papers. The office space was large and airy, a corner room, with two walls replaced by floor-to-ceiling windows offering a breathtaking view of the snow-capped peaks. The windows were ajar, the icy wind stabbing its way into the room. The other two walls were covered in ski and boarding photos and posters. Trophies and medals filled a corner display cabinet. I could peek into the adjoining room–a bedroom–through a crack in the door. Finally recognizing him as the captain of the school ski team, I glanced over at Jagger again.

So, this year’s mystery student council president was the ski team captain! Well, that ought to make him more approachable, though considering his intimidating stare… maybe not. I wondered whom he had replaced.

I shuddered. The cold from the open window was freezing me into an icicle. Jagger looked up, his eyes following mine as I cast a brief glimpse at the open window, but he made no move to get up and close it. I fumed as he sat looking smug in his long black leather trench coat.

“Well, Cordelia, are you glad to be back?”

“Yes. Why did you ask for me?”

“Ah, straight to the point.” His eyes narrowed into slits. “Very plucky. Most would have the sense to be more fearful and not ask questions,” he growled softly.

I held my breath, controlling my instincts. A snarl was always a signal for me to transform. But, I held back, on full alert.

“I was told that about you. And that’s one of the reasons you’re here. You’ve been appointed as a mentor.”

It was my turn to smirk. I got to my feet. “I can’t be appointed anything. Thanks for thinking of me, though. I guess it’s some kind of honor. But, no thanks.” I made my way to the door.

And crashed right into Jagger’s chest. I should have anticipated his move; lightning-fast location transfer was something covered in the first semester. I clumsily stepped back, then met his darkened gaze.

He lowered his head, brushing his nose along my neckline, breathing me in. I stood dead still, letting my fingers fuse. I shivered as his lips found my right ear, his every breath forming icicles against my skin. Then, he touched my fused fingers.

“Easy, demon princess. Relax.”

I boiled over with anger. Who the fuck did he think I was? Some silly human girl who’d melt under his pathetic attempt at intimidation? Not so.

“Step back, and I will.” My words were supposed to come out in a firm demonic growl, but instead, they slithered out in an unfortunate raspy whisper.

He chuckled under his breath and took a half step back. He needed to be taught not to mess with demons. Slapping the smirk off his face would be too much of a cliché. My mischievous demon instincts took over.

As the corners of his lips curled into a leer, I jerked up my arm and swiftly wrapped my fingers around the back of his neck, pulling his face down to mine. His eyes widened in surprise, but he made no move to resist as I stood on tiptoes and roughly parted his lips with mine. I kept my eyes wide open, gazing into his, as I explored his mouth, drinking him in. He yielded under my touch. The kiss became more and more fervent, until a surge of hot and cold, of terror and excitement, zapped through me–and him, by the surprise on his face–leaving us shocked and unable to move. Our eyes remained locked together as we stood suspended in time.

Jagger looked as dazed as I felt. His eyes searched mine, but I had nothing to offer, no explanation. Then, it hit me. Dad had mentioned the extremely rare phenomenon. I raked through my mind, trying to remember what he had said.

Listen for his heartbeat, synch with it.

I closed my eyes, tuning out all other distractions, including Jagger himself. I listened and picked up the drum of his pounding heart. I imagined myself conducting the rhythm, my own beat taking the lead. I forced his tempo in line with mine, which thudded loudly and erratically. I managed to slow it by breathing in and out, controlling myself, concentrating on keeping us steady. His heart started to pace mine, slowing until we both beat to a steady pulse. I put my hand on his chest, slowing us even further, until my heart stopped. So did his.

He put his hand on top of mine, compelling our hearts to beat again. I felt his heart begin to pick up speed, and mine followed. He managed to bring us back to a comfortable rhythm.

The phone buzzed, causing both of us to jerk upright. Our beats disengaged.

Jagger’s face was tight and severe as he squeezed past me to get to his desk. He picked up his cell phone. “Yes?” His voice didn’t betray the confusion on his face. His eyes never left mine, not even for a second, during the entire one-sided conversation. I should have turned and left, but I couldn’t break away from his gaze.

“Cordelia.” His voice was soft and cold, sending a new kind of chill through me. “Frau Schmelder asks that you go to her office. Your ward has arrived.”

I wanted to protest, but if Frau Schmelder wanted to see me, I had no choice but to go. Frau Schmelder, the headmistress of Bonfire Academy, was commonly referred to as Frau Smelt, or The Smelt.

“Let me brief you first. Come and sit down.”

I did, feeling a bit embarrassed. What had just happened?

He smiled, his face softening. “Cordelia, going back to what we were discussing before, I am completely aware of your status and that you can’t be appointed to any task. I know you’re here to concentrate on tennis this year. But that shouldn’t take up all your time, so I am asking you as a favor. I’m in charge of the mentoring program, and I can’t think of anyone else who’d be appropriate. I really need you.”

I barely heard him, imagining the feel of his taut muscles instead. “Um. Jagger, what are you?” His taste and smell were unmistakable, yet unfathomable. I clearly detected faery in him, but also something else. He had to be a hybrid of some sort.

He looked surprised by my question. Asking it had been forward of me. The school rules were clear. We weren’t allowed to pry, and asking him such a thing, directly as I had, was strictly forbidden, but I couldn’t help myself. I had always been nosy.

“Fey.” He sounded resolute and didn’t offer anything further.

“Winter?”

“Yes.”

I could have guessed that just by his appearance, but there was more. However, it wasn’t the time to delve into it. Frau Smelt didn’t like to be kept waiting. Or so I had heard. “Why do you need me?”

His eyes narrowed. “You ask, after what just happened?”

Awkward. I didn’t want to talk about that. “I mean, why do you need me as a mentor?”

I almost snickered when I detected a red hue forming on his snow-white skin. An embarrassed winter fey. Cute.

“Oh. The student in question is Faustine Spencer, the half-breed daughter of the demon king of London.”

“Sheesh.”

“Indeed.” He smiled knowingly. “Have you met her? I hear your fathers are good friends, in a demon sort of way.”

“Nope, never heard of her. Half what?”

“Human.”

“Ugh.”

“Indeed. Though, hopefully she won’t be as much trouble as the last set of his spawn.”

One could only hope. The last set had been the infamous twins, Mariel and Jacques. They had been sent back to Paris, under my father’s dominion. They were hybrids as well–half demon, half werewolf. King Sebastian seemed to favor mating with non-demons. What kind of self-respecting demon mated with dogs? I was glad my father had more self-control.

“The main issue is her safety. Her human blood is going to be a prime commodity around here, especially among the vampires.”

“No kidding. Though not as enticing as fey blood.” I wondered how he kept them at bay.

“Perhaps, but she is, in addition, young, just twelve, and completely green.”

“Um, a human twelve-year-old? How human is she?”

“I don’t know. Does it matter?”

“It’s not that.” I sighed. “Well, you know all the stupid rules humans bind themselves with. We don’t do that here. I mean, why would we? Her world is so much more restricted by moral dilemmas and concerns. How is she going to cope with our lack of inhibitions? If she was older, I don’t think she’d have a problem. Hell, even human teens get busy, but mostly in private. However, she will be exposed to stuff here that a normal twelve-year-old wouldn’t be back home; that’s all I’m really trying to say.”

“She’s here to learn about her demon nature, and about paranormals in general. That’s why we think you will be a particularly suitable mentor. You’ve lived in human society, even attended a human school. She wouldn’t have been sent here if she wasn’t ready.”

“Why exactly is she here?”

“She’s transforming, more dramatically than one would expect from a half-human. Her father wants her trained. She’s his heir.”

“Heir? As in the next Queen of London? A half human? That’s insane!”

Jagger shrugged. “I don’t know much about all that, but I’ve been told that she doesn’t know that she’ll be taking over his reign, and we’re to keep it that way. Anyhow, you’ll report to me daily. I need you to keep her safe. There’s more, and I’ll brief you further, later. Right now, please get her settled in. I’ve arranged for her to have the room next to yours. She won’t have a roommate, even though she’s new. We couldn’t find anyone suitable. Ready to meet her?”

“I guess.”

“She’s waiting for you in Frau Schmelder’s office. I won’t come with you, but could you report in later tonight?”

“Sure.”

He walked me to the door and stepped aside so I could pass. I inadvertently rubbed against him on my way out. I felt every beat of his heart as we made contact, and I struggled to keep my own at even a remotely normal level.

I stopped and cocked my head. “Jagger, how much does she know?”

“She doesn’t know anything, yet. She’s a nice kid, apparently.”

“What about her schedule?”

“I’ll give that to you this evening. It’ll be finalized this afternoon.”

“Okay, I guess I’ll see you later.”

“And about that other matter.” He scrutinized me with unabashed hunger.

“What about it?”

“Get rid of Quinn. You belong to me now.”

 

INITIATION (Bonfire Academy Book One) (Bonfire Chronicles) is available for purchase at:

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The Sword and the Dragon 2012 Revised, M. R. Mathias {$3.88 or Borrow FREE w/Prime!}

Deemed One of the Top 10 indie Fantasy releases of 2010 by Fantasy Book Critic, and listed in the first ever Publishers Weekly Indie Select issue, the original 235k word epic title was written in longhand in a Texas prison cell by M. R. Mathias.

“The Sword and the Dragon”

When the Royal Wizard of Westland poisons the king so that his puppet prince can take the throne and start a continental war, a young squire is forced to run for his life carrying the powerful sword that his dying monarch burdened him with from the death bed.

Two brothers find a magic ring and start on paths to becoming the most powerful sort of enemies, while an evil young sorceress unwillingly falls in love with one of them when he agrees to help her steal a dragon’s egg for her father. Her father just happens to be the Royal Wizard, and despite his daughter’s feelings, he would love nothing more than to sacrifice the boy!

All of these characters, along with the Wolf King of Wildermont, the Lion Lord of Westland, and a magical hawk named Talon, are on a collision course toward Willa the Witch Queen’s palace in the distant kingdom of Highwander. There the very bedrock is formed of the powerful magical substance called Wardstone.

Who are the heroes? And will they get there before the Royal Wizard and his evil hordes do?

Whatever happens, the journey will be spectacular, and the confrontation will be cataclysmic.

What readers are saying:

Overall The Sword and the Dragon (A+) is an impressive debut – a traditional fantasy that manages to be fresh. It succeeds in offering a complete reading experience. See the full review here: fantasybookcritic.blogspot.com –Fantasy Book Critic

“You’ve (Mathias) already achieved much, much more than so many people who like to think of themselves as writers.” — @Gollancz The Deputy Publishing Director of SF, Fantasy & Horror list of the Orion Publishing Group.

Fans of Tolkien and CS Lewis will find much to enjoy to enjoy in M.R. Mathias’ debut fantasy novel. This is a big book, with a steady flow throughout. Read this book. Take up your sword and get ready for a hugely enjoyable adventure. –Book Smart UK

This is an epic fantasy, and I do mean epic. This book is LONG. I’m talking 200,000 plus words, here. Probably three times as long as Harry Potter. A fat fantasy, the kind you would expect from a Jordan or Tad Williams. One should not be put off by the price, because you do get your money’s worth. — Bestselling Author, B. V. Larson

The average Amazon reader review is currently 5 stars {9 reviews}.

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