"Highland Duke" Release Day Blitz


THE HIGHLAND DUKE
Author: Amy Jarecki
Series: Lords of the Highlands, #1
On Sale: March 28, 2017
Publisher: Forever
Mass Market: $7.99 USD
eBook: $3.99 USD
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Indie author Amy Jarecki makes her print debut with a brand-new series about rugged Highland lords.

She'll put her life on the line for him . . .

When Akira Ayres finds the brawny Scot with a musket ball in his thigh, the healer has no qualms about doing whatever it takes to save his life. Even if it means fleeing with him across the Highlands to tend to his wounds while English redcoats are closing in. Though Akira is as fierce and brave as any of her clansmen, even she's intimidated by the fearsome, brutally handsome Highlander who refuses to reveal his name.

Yet she can never learn his true identity.

Geordie knows if Akira ever discovers he's the Duke of Gordon, both her life and his will be forfeit in a heartbeat. The only way to keep the lass safe is to ensure she's by his side day and night. But the longer he's with her, the harder it becomes to think of letting her go. Despite all their differences, despite the danger-he will face death itself to make her his . . .


BUY THE BOOK HERE


THE LORDS OF THE HIGHLANDS SERIES



THE HIGHLAND DUKE, #1
THE HIGHLAND COMMANDER, #2



ABOUT THE AUTHOR



Photo Credit: Bruce Heinsius Photography

Amy Jarecki is a descendant of an ancient Lowland clan and adores Scotland. Though she now resides in southwest Utah, she received her MBA from Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh. Winning multiple writing awards, she found her niche in the genre of Scottish historical romance. Amy writes steamy edge-of-your-seat action adventures with rugged men and fascinating women who weave their paths through the brutal eras of centuries past.


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HIGHLAND DUKE excerpt

Curled under Geordie’s arm, Akira finally stopped shivering. All around them rain splashed. Everything was soaked and their little alcove smelled of horse—not a horrid smell, but not one she’d choose for her boudoir, either. If she had a boudoir.
She chose to ignore the voice in the back of her head telling her it wasn’t proper to allow a strange man to put his arm around her shoulders and offer her warmth. But there was something in the way Geordie looked at her that made her feel all warm inside and, moreover, protected. Aye, he’d been in a great deal of pain—was still in great pain—but since he roused from his last bout of unconsciousness, he’d behaved admirably. He’d brought the horse under control, figured out where they were, and formed a plan to take them to someone he could trust to provide her with an escort home.
With darkness, the air grew colder. Clutching her fists under her chin, Akira curled into Geordie’s heat. He smoothed his palm along her outer arm, his touch soothing.
When he turned his lips toward her, his warm breath skimmed across her forehead. “Try to sleep.” The gentle burr of his voice imparted all the more comfort.
But she couldn’t get too comfortable; she must to do her duty. He was still her patient. “I’m the healer. I should be telling you to do the same.”
His hazel gaze drifted to her mouth, and he grinned.
“Very well.” He pulled his arm away, but not before running his fingers across her back. Blessed tingles spread over her skin as if she’d been caressed by feathers. Oh, heaven help her, his touch was unbelievably sublime. If only she could ask him to run his fingers back and forth again—just one more time.
She reached for the hem of his kilt, then quickly snapped her fingers away. What had she been thinking? True, she’d applied the salve before, but that was when he was mostly unconscious and definitely before he’d put his arm around her shoulder and smiled at her like a…like a…brawny Highlander.
“Have you gone shy, lass?” he asked with a hint of humor in his deep brogue.








Disclosure: I received a digital copy of this book in exchange for this post

"Wildly Into the Dark" Review

"Wildly Into the Dark: Typewriter Poems and the Rattlings of a Curious Mind"
by Tyler Knott Gregson
Publisher: Tarcher Perigree
Release Date: March 28, 2017

Source: sent by publisher

My Rating: 5 of 5 Stars

Summary from goodreads.com:

The most intimate and eclectic poetry collection yet from bestselling author and online sensation Tyler Knott Gregson

With loyal fans around the world and across the internet, Tyler Knott Gregson is reinventing poetry for a new generation, using Instagram and Tumblr to reach readers where they are.

Tyler’s third collection includes more of his popular Typewriter Series poems (featured in his first book, Chasers of the Light) as well as never-before-published scenes that paint the world as only Tyler sees and experiences it. Filled with vivid photographs and even more vivid emotions, Wildly Into the Dark is a must-have for longtime fans as well as newcomers to Tyler's unique brand of passionate, intimate, and playful words and images.
My Review:

This book is just gorgeous, gorgeous to look at, to read, and to feel. Tyler Knott Gregson's poetry is bound to make you feel whether you want to or not. I thought I was just going to look at this book on a lazy afternoon, but I was mistaken. I was taken through the wringer of life and death, with lots of love and romance along the way.

For those of you familiar with Gregson's poetry, he actually types out the poems on a typewriter on scraps of paper, and the book includes photos of these. This gives such personality and dimension to each poem. It also makes for a fabulous book to look at.


Bottom Line:
This book is definitely on my keeper shelf, I know I will keep going back to it and learning something new each time that I read it. This would be an excellent gift book to anyone who loves poetry and romance.



PRE-ORDER DETAILS:
$1 from EVERY pre-ordered book will be going directly to To Write Love On Her Arms, a wonderful charity that presents hope for people struggling with addiction, depression, self-injury and thoughts of suicide while also investing directly into treatment and recovery. Plus, the first 1,500 people who pre-order the book and send in their proof of purchase, will receive a free signed print. See more about the Pre-order campaign here: http://tylerknott.com/wildly

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

"A Lady's Code of Misconduct" Blog Tour and Giveaway

I'm so excited to be part of the blog tour for Meredith Duran's newest book, A Lady's Code of Misconduct! Find out more about the book below, and enter to win an autographed copy of one of her previous books-Fool Me Twice in the Reckless Read Giveaway!


FROM THE usa today bestselling author of FOOL ME TWICe, the 2015 RITA AWARD Winner for Historical Romance
AND LUCK BE A LADY, AN RT BOOK REVIEWS NOMINEE FOR BEST BOOK OF 2015 HISTORICAL NOVEL



A LADY’S CODE OF MISCONDUCT
Fifth in the Rules for the Reckless Series
By Meredith Duran
Pocket Books
Publication Date: February 28, 2017
ISBN: 9781501139024
Price: $7.99 
Goodreads

Praise for A Lady’s Code of Misconduct:
“Political intrigue and conspiracies abound in Duran’s engrossing fifth Rules for the Reckless Victorian romance (after Luck Be a Lady), which boasts plot twists galore…Duran is at the pinnacle of her craft as she weaves together humor, forgiveness, and love in a flawlessly executed plot. Jane, Crispin, and the rest of the characters are all well drawn, and the love scenes strike the perfect balance of steamy and sweet. Each layer in the story is suspenseful and delightful, making this the best installment so far.”
Publishers Weekly STARRED REVIEW

“A sham marriage, political intrigue, and a case of amnesia provide a backdrop for this absorbing Victorian romance. Although Duran (Luck Be a Lady, 2015, etc.) has written a novel as layered as an onion, the characters are well-drawn and the plot flawlessly executed. Add in some very steamy sex, and the fifth installment of Duran's Rules for the Reckless series can't help but delight. This book weaves its spell so thoroughly that the most fortunate reader will be the one who has time to read the entire thing in one sitting. A masterful tale of suspense, forgiveness, and love.”
Kirkus STARRED REVIEW

“Political intrigue drives a captivating historical romance…This Regency romance, part of the Rules for the Reckless series, is a smart love story, peopled with complex and absorbing characters.”
BookPage, TOP PICK IN ROMANCE

“A riveting story.”
—Heroes and Heartbreakers

“A masterful author of historical romances…A Lady’s Code of Misconduct takes worn threads of old tropes, like amnesia and the tortured hero, and weaves them into a lush tapestry with sophisticated, beautiful writing. Crispin seems power-mad and Jane seems saintly, but as Duran slowly unravels their characters amidst a plot of intrigue, betrayal, and dark secrets, we discover they’re more alike than they (or we) realize. The hero is swoonworthy, and I couldn’t help but fall in love with Jane as his flaws shine a light on her own. The tale and characters so captivated me, that I literally couldn’t put it down.”
Omnivoracious Amazon Book Review by Sabrina Jeffries

“Thoughtfully written and the story creates not just a simple story of two people but an entire world for them to inhabit. If you like your historicals to have some meat to them, I highly recommend this one.”
—All About Romance

“Extremely relevant to our current political state…I could have easily sat and devoured this in one evening as each of the chapters seemed to end on a cliffhanger that just won't let you put the book down. Quill says: A Lady’s Code of Misconduct is the perfect book to sit in your favorite chair with and let the world pass by for a little while you get lost in the past.”
Feathered Quill

I absolutely love this series… Meredith writes intelligent characters with a fast paced plot.  Her writing is sensual, witty and totally captivating.  This book has everything you would want in a Historical Romance.   It is witty, sensual with a mystery that will keep you guessing to the very end. Crispin and Jane are extraordinary characters in a riveting story that will leave you wanting more.  The journey of Crispin and Jane to their HAE is fabulous.  I will read anything that Meredith writes.” 
—The Reading Wench

“A fun read. I enjoyed Duran’s characters and plot…there’s a villain who made me think of a Regency era James Bond villain.”
—Bookfan

About the book:
USA TODAY  bestselling author Meredith Duran’s A LADY’S CODE OF MISCONDUCT is the fifth sizzling novel in the Rules for the Reckless series—a sexy and evocative Regency romance between a famous heiress and an infamous crime lord.

A DEAL WITH the DEVIL…

Trapped in the countryside, facing an unwanted marriage and the theft of her fortune, Jane Mason is done behaving nicely. To win her freedom, she’ll strike a deal with the most dangerous man she knows—a rising star in politics, whose dark good looks mask an even darker heart.
…NEVER GOES TO PLAN.

The bitter past has taught Crispin Burke to trust no one. He’ll gladly help a lovely young heiress, provided she pays a price. Yet when a single mistake shatters his life, it is Jane who holds the key to his salvation. And in a world that no longer makes sense, Crispin slowly realizes that she may be the only thing worth fighting for...


About the author:
Meredith Duran is the author of ten previous novels, including The Duke of Shadows (winner of the Gather.com First Chapters Romance Writing Competition); Wicked Becomes You (included on the Woman’s World List of Best Beach Reads for Summer 2010), and the USA TODAY bestseller and RITA Award Winner Fool Me Twice. She blames Anne Boleyn for sparking her lifelong obsession with British history, and for convincing her that princely love is no prize if it doesn’t come with a happily-ever-after. She enjoys collecting old etiquette manuals, guidebooks to nineteenth-century London, and travelogues by intrepid Victorian women. Visit her at MeredithDuran.com, on Twitter @meredithduran and Facebook AuthorMeredithDuran.

Reckless Reward:
The twenty starred blogs (*) below will giveaway one set (Reckless Reward!) of three autographed copies in the Rules for the Reckless series: Fool Me Twice, Lady Be Good, and Luck Be A Lady. You can enter on all participating sites, but you can only win once. To celebrate the fifth in the series, there will be five Reckless Reward giveaways per day beginning publication day, Tuesday, February 28th – Friday, March 3rd. U.S. only.

Blog Tour:
Bookaholics Romance Book Club INTERVIEW WITH MEREDITH DURAN and  GIVEAWAY

Sunday, February 26th

Monday, February 27th

Tuesday, February 28th

Wednesday, March 1st

Thursday, March 2nd
Dirty Girl Romance - Spotlight
Bookhounds – Q&A

Friday, March 3rd
Night Owl Reviews – Author Guest Post

Saturday, March 4th

Sunday, March 5th

Monday, March 6th
Reading Frenzy – Spotlight
Bookish - Giveaway

Tuesday, March 7th
Bookworm2bookworm – Spotlight, Excerpt, and Review

Wednesday, March 8th
Fresh Fiction - Spotlight

Thursday, March 9th

Friday, March 10th



RECKLESS READ GIVEAWAY!





One lucky In the Hammock reader will win an autographed copy of Meredith's previous book, "Fool Me Twice"! 

Contest Rules: One winner wins an autographed copy of "Fool Me Twice". Must be 18 to enter, US only. Complete Rafflecopter form to enter. Ends March 7 at midnight.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


disclosure: I received a copy of this book in exchange for this post

"How to Tame a Beast in Seven Days" Excerpt

 To celebrate the release of Kerrelyn Sparks' newest novel, "How to Tame a Beast in Seven Days", I am happy to feature an excerpt from the book! Read on for more info about the book and the excerpt!


HOW TO TAME A BEAST IN SEVEN DAYS:
The Embraced Series
By Kerrelyn Sparks
Published by St. Martin’s Paperbacks
**On Sale March 7, 2017**
Mass Market Paperback | $7.99
ISBN: 9781250108210| Ebook ISBN: 9781250108227
Kerrelyn Spark’s previous series, Love at Stake, constantly hit the New York Times bestseller list and created a massive fan following for her witty vampires. With the end of her vampire series, comes the start of an extraordinary new fantasy romance series called The Embraced beginning with HOW TO TAME A BEAST IN SEVEN DAYS (St. Martin’s Paperbacks; March 7, 2017). Set in a medieval mythical world, the series explores a special group of people with powers born when the two moons of the world form an eclipse. In the start of the series we meet Luciana, who can speak to the dead, and the Beast of Benwick who can controlling lightening.

Luciana grew up on the Isle of Moon, hidden away because of her magical powers. But when her father arrives, he offers her a choice: remain on the island or return with him and marry the Beast of Benwick in order to save their legacy - and her father's life.

Lord Leofric, the Beast of Benwick, has not been touched since he was a child. Born with the power to harness lightning, he is a danger to everyone he touches. When he meets his betrothed, he expects a loveless, lonely marriage...until he discovers she's vastly more powerful than he realized. But is she strong enough to withstand his touch?

If they can survive, their love will alter the future of the kingdom. But will their extraordinary powers cost them everything?

Filled with romance, humor, and a beautifully imagined new world, HOW TO TAME A BEAST IN SEVEN DAYS is a fantasy in the vein of Game of Thrones with all the fun of The Princess Bride. Luciana is a vibrant leading lady that will have readers rooting for her spunk and devotion to her family while the Beast is a swoon worthy hero worth taming.

About the Author
KERRELYN SPARKS is the New York Times bestselling author of the Love at Stake series. Visit her online at www.kerrelynsparks.com.



EXCERPT:


Chapter Four



As Leo and his companions rode north, the rain began, and the rolling green landscape gave way to increasingly taller hills. Their horses went at full gallop, eating up the miles before the rain could turn the dirt road into a sea of mud.
By the time they passed the second beacon, the rain was pounding on them. Their uniforms were drenched, their hair plastered to their heads. The hills had become moun- tains, and flocks of sheep huddled in the narrow glens where a few trees could give them shelter.
Thunder clapped overhead, and Leo spotted the first flash of lightning to the west. Good. He was going to need all the power he could get. Normal people didn’t stand a chance against the winged creatures that breathed fire. People like his father.
Leo had heard the story many times over a campfire. His father’s last battle had been against the Norveshki. Cedric had plowed through a dozen of their fierce warriors, but when a dragon had attacked, all his bravery and expertise had been in vain.
Another flash of lightning, this one a little closer. Leo would need to break off from the group soon. As they
neared the village, a mountain loomed to the right, topped with craggy cliffs and a beacon tower. It was Mount Bae- dan, which the village was named after. He spotted a cliff that overlooked the village. That was the perfect place.
“My lord.” Nevis drew his attention to a horseman charg- ing toward them. A scout.
Leo and his companions slowed to a stop. “Report,” he said, loud enough to be heard over the pouring rain.
The scout bowed his head, causing a puddle of rain to slosh off the brim of his cap onto his chest. “Four drag- ons from Norveshka have attacked the village of Mount Baedan.”
“No warriors?” Leo asked.
“None, my lord. Just the dragons. They swooped into the valley and set the village ablaze to force the people from their homes. While the villagers ran to a nearby cave, two of the dragons captured two small children and flew away.”
Leo stiffened, his hands tightening on the reins, as the men around him cursed under their breaths. Ten years ago, the dragons had started snatching sheep. Now they were nabbing small children.
He glanced westward, hoping to see another flash of lightning streak across the sky. He needed the power now. “The rain put out the fires,” the scout continued. “The villagers are starting to leave the cave. A group of men
rode out, hoping to rescue the two children.”
Leo swallowed hard as bile rose up his throat. The res- cue attempt would be in vain. Men on horseback could not cross the mountains as fast as a dragon could fly.
Thunder cracked overhead so loud, the men flinched. “Ride on to the village,” Leo shouted at them. “The last
two dragons could still be close by. I’ll take care of them. You protect the people.” He turned his horse and started up the slope of Mount Baedan.
Higher and higher his horse climbed, but eventually the path became too muddy. Leo dismounted and patted the horse, the quilted material now drenched through.
“Go join the others.” He gave the horse a slap on the rump, and it started down the mountain.
Leo abandoned the muddy path that snaked back and forth up the mountainside. Instead, he scrambled straight up the rocky slope. He was halfway up when a bolt of lightning shot from the sky and struck the ground thirty yards away, blasting a boulder into bits.
Yes! The lightning had found him and was zeroing in. Energy from the blast rolled toward him, seeking him out in waves he couldn’t see, but could feel. His skin tingled. His hair, which had been plastered to his head, now crack- led as it lifted into the air.
Thunder boomed overhead, sending another wave of energy toward him. It slithered under his damp clothes, giving him a slight shock. Then an increase in power. And speed. He charged up the mountainside faster than any human could go.
Anticipation swelled inside him as he reached the first set of cliffs. Another lightning bolt ripped through the sky, this one hitting only fifteen yards away. It blasted through the rocks, causing the cliff to crumble away. As the ledge beneath his feet trembled, he ran and leaped.
He landed on the next cliff six feet away as thunder cracked and the first cliff tumbled down the mountainside. More energy surged into him, and he scrambled higher up the mountain. Faster. In a race against the next strike.
He reached the highest cliff. Nearby on the mountain summit, the beacon tower stood, deserted in the storm, its flame long smothered by the rain. The village lay nestled in the valley far below. He spotted houses built of stone with their thatched roofs burned away. The chapel of En- lightenment partially destroyed. The village lookout tower stood as high as the chapel bell tower and was manned by a lone villager. No doubt, he was keeping an eye out for the last two dragons.
Nevis and his troop arrived, and the villagers poured from their homes to welcome them. Leo winced at the sight of small children running about. Dammit, Nevis, get them back into the cave.
A rumbling noise echoed through the valley, sounding much like thunder, but Leo knew better. It was the beat- ing of dragon wings. The last two dragons had waited for the people to reappear.
Leo ripped off his gloves and threw them down, along with his bow and quiver. Then he drew his sword and pointed it to the sky. “Now!”
Lightning broke through the dark clouds, racing toward him. He widened his stance and braced for impact. It struck his sword, fracturing so that a dozen smaller streaks shot off in a circle around him.
The major portion of the lightning sizzled down his sword, eager to reach his flesh. It hit his bare hand and jolted him so hard he fell to his knees and dropped the sword. The dozen fractured shards rebounded, drawn to him like a magnet. They pounded into him, jerking him back and forth. Thunder cracked over him so loud his ears rang.
Power surged through him, so fierce and scorching he thought his skin would melt, his guts would boil, and his head burst like a kernel of corn dropped into a fire. Pain and power, power and pain, he could no longer tell the dif- ference. He only knew he wanted it, wanted to drink it in, soak it up, and claim it all.
The fiery torture eased to a warm, buzzing sensation, and he found himself on all fours, gasping for air. How many times had he endured this? And it still hurt like hell. He rested back on his knees and splayed his hands in front of him. Sparks skittered around his fingers like a host of fireflies.
Good, but not enough. The Beast wanted more.
He grabbed his sword and hefted himself to his feet. “More, dammit!” He lifted his sword in the air.
Lightning struck again, driving him to his knees and knocking the sword from his grip. He cried out as both pain and power ripped through him. Nevis was right. Someday he would explode.
Thunder cracked around him as if he’d become the cen- ter of the storm. His ears grew numb, only hearing the buzz of energy pulsing around him. This time, when he examined his hands, streaks shot out a few yards. Not enough to kill a dragon.
He fumbled for his sword once again. Nevis’s question reverberated in his head, bouncing off the inside of his skull. Do you enjoy courting death? Over the years, he’d found he could take in more power each time, but what was the limit? How would he know when it was too much?
He stumbled to his feet and slowly lifted the sword. When he had the weapon only waist-high, the lightning streaked toward him. Like a desperate lover, it pounced, not even waiting till he was fully cocked. It struck hard, flinging him through the air into the wall behind him. His head cracked against stone, and he crumpled into a heap.
Rain splattered on his face, keeping him conscious. The pain was merely the price he paid for the ability to protect his people. The pain would be fleeting.
The power he could keep for months.
He rose to his feet. If he were normal, he’d have suf- fered a concussion and some broken bones. Hell, if he were normal, he’d be dead. But instead, he swelled with strength and power. Tiny streaks of lightning swirled around him so fast, he appeared to glow.
He strode to the edge of the cliff to see what was happening. The dragons were flying low, probably to avoid the lightning. They swooped down at the screaming villagers, herding them away from the cave. Making them easy to prey upon.
With the superfast speed he now possessed, Leo pulled a length of coiled rope from his sword belt and tied one end loosely to a tree deeply rooted in the rock wall of the cliff. The other end, he tied to one of his metal arrows. He grabbed his metal bow, nocked the arrow, and imbued them with some of his energy. Now, when he shot the arrow, it would fly faster and farther.
He aimed for the lookout tower and let the arrow fly. It whistled through the air and struck the top wooden beam of the tower, embedded deep. Continuing at his fast speed, Leo tightened the rope, tossed his bow and quiver over his shoulder, sheathed his sword, then looped the sword belt over the rope. He ran to the cliff’s edge and pushed off.
Hanging on to the belt, he careened down the length of the rope. Just before crashing into the tower, he swung his legs up and over the top beam and landed on the top plat- form. The lone villager gaped at him.
“Go!” he shouted. With lightning sizzling around him like a golden nimbus, he didn’t need to speak twice.
The villager scrambled down the ladder, yelling that the Beast had arrived.
After dropping his sword belt on the platform, Leo quickly readied another arrow and pivoted, searching for the dragons. Even though it was possible for him to sim- ply shoot a lightning bolt from his hand, he’d learned from experience that raw power didn’t always go exactly where he wanted it to go. Since there was a chance of hitting in- nocent bystanders or setting their homes on fire, he pre- ferred to use a metal arrow imbued with his power so he could control the force and trajectory.
There, through a steady sheet of rain, a pair of red,glowing eyes was glaring at him. The dragon was perched on the bell tower of the chapel. It sat up, expanding its chest, a sure sign it was about to breathe fire.
Leo released enough energy to make sparks pop and crackle around the metal arrow. When he shot it, the ar- row would fly with enough speed and power that it would actually pierce the dragon’s scaly skin and release an elec- tric shock wave through the creature’s body.
He aimed for the dragon’s chest, but just as he let the arrow fly, the dragon pushed off, flying straight at him. Fire erupted from the dragon’s mouth, forcing him to drop flat onto the platform. Flames shot over him, missing him by a few inches. Meanwhile, the arrow hit the dragon’s hip.
Sparks spread from the arrow, jerking the dragon around in midair. It shrieked, then shot up into the sky and turned north toward Norveshka. Leo notched an arrow to shoot again, but screams below made him look down.
The second dragon had grabbed a child. “Nevis!” Leo shouted. “Catch it!”
Nevis spurred his horse and galloped after the dragon. It was gaining altitude, now higher than the rooftops of the houses.
Leo sent a surge of energy into his bow and arrow and aimed, trying to keep a safe distance from the child. The arrow zipped through the air. Direct hit to the dragon’s tail. Sparks exploded around the wound, racing up the dragon’s body, and it jolted, bellowing in pain and dropping the child. A dress flapped in the wind. It was a little girl.
Nevis charged onward as she tumbled from the sky. Villagers screamed, then let loose a round of cheers as Nevis managed to catch her.
The dragon flew away, filling the sky with an angry roar.
Leo lowered his bow and arrow and watched through the rain as the villagers crowded around Nevis. The little girl was safely deposited in the arms of her crying mother. Nevis glanced back at Leo and gave him a thumbs- up before being dragged off his horse by a swarm of happy villagers.
With a cheer, the villagers led Nevis and his men into the cave. Boys led the horses, including Leo’s horse, to the stables. Women dashed into their homes to gather cups and jugs of beer and wine. A few men rushed into a nearby pen to slaughter a lamb. Leo wasn’t sure if the village was cel- ebrating the rescue of one child or drowning their sor- rows for the two who were lost, but clearly they intended to partake of food and drink. And even more clearly, it was a celebration he could not attend.
He glanced at his hands. Sparks still shimmered around his fingers. One false move, and lightning would streak from his fingertips, possibly killing someone. He’d been in such a hurry he’d left his gloves on the cliff. With a sigh, he picked up his sword belt, then buckled it on.
The rain was still pelting him, so he climbed down the ladder to a second platform just below. Drops of rain leaked between the wooden planks overhead, and the wind blew more rain at him, but it was an improvement. He sat in the driest corner and rested his back against a wooden pillar. For a short while, because he had released so much energy, he would feel all right. But soon the pain would start again.
He spotted two men rolling a cask toward the cave. The villagers must have run out of beer. Sounds of laughter emanated from the cave. Soon he could smell the scent of a lamb roasting over a fire. His stomach grumbled. A quick search of his pockets came up empty.
With a sigh, he leaned his head against the pillar. Alone again. It was always this way. He was too damned dan- gerous to be near anyone. Even Nevis had learned to stay away from him when he had this much power.
He closed his eyes as a memory flitted across his mind. The first time lightning had found him, he’d been only five years old. One strike had sent him flying, and he’d crum- pled onto the ground, twitching uncontrollably. His nanny had run to him. Calling out to him, she’d touched his face. Then a surge of energy had shot through her, and she’d col- lapsed beside him dead.
His first victim. Someone he’d dearly loved.
“I didn’t mean to . . .” Leo whispered, the sound whisked away with the wind. “Forgive me.”
Since then, everyone had known to keep their distance. And if a stranger didn’t know, he soon learned when he heard the new name Leo had been given.
Never touch the Beast.
Never let the Beast touch you.
The rain continued to fall. The energy inside him spread throughout his body, expanding, rebelling against the nar- row confines of his human shell, demanding to be released and used. Not now. He had to keep as much power as pos- sible so it would be available whenever he needed it.
The sun lowered in the sky, and the wind became more chilled against his wet clothes. He welcomed the cold. It made it easier to deal with the energy boiling inside him, threatening to escape like steam from a kettle.
The strains of a pipe and fiddle came from the cave. The people were dancing, their music accentuating the thud- ding rhythm in his head. The energy kept expanding, push- ing against the inner walls of his skull, pushing so hard he expected to hear the sound of bone cracking. He squeezed his eyes shut, gritting his teeth against the pain.
Sometimes he thought this was the worst part about his gift. The headaches would torture him until either he re- leased some power or it managed to escape on its own.
“My lord?” a female voice spoke below.
He opened his eyes. On the ground by the ladder, a....



disclosure: I received an e-copy of the book in exchange for this post