Wednesday, December 06, 2023

The Rogue Mage by Alex Thornbury

The Rogue Mage
The Sundered Web 
Book Two
Alex Thornbury

Genre: Fantasy
Publisher: Shadow Lore Publishing
Date of Publication: 5th December 2023
ISBN: 978-0-6454970-4-5
Number of pages: 550
Word Count: 190,000
Cover Artist: Alejandro Colucci

Tagline: For humankind, she would be the monsters’ monster. She would be their fear in the night. She would be the terror come for them. 

Book Description: 

Elika crosses the Bridge to Magic to find the world ruled by magic, where nothing is as it seems. Mages run the streets, whilst the tsaren, their masters, war with each other. Though it is men who pay the price with their lives.

Faced with the injustice of the mages and the new world order, Elika discovers her own untapped gifts that may yet shift the balance of power back into the hands of men. But her dabbling in the power she does not understand draws the attention of the dreaded demigod Syn’Moreg.

Elika must now outwit the shadow that hunts her, whilst seeking a way to free mankind from their oppressors. Yet dark grows her heart, and to darkness it reaches for that which the shadow denies.

As whispers of a newly found heir to the Sacred Crowns grow to cries of war, Elika comes to realize that she may not be the savior of mankind after all. Mite has proclaimed himself King Northwind, and marches on Terren to claim what is rightfully his. Elika is certain he will fail, unless she can vanquish the one power standing in his way. But to do that, she must convince the court and the archmage that she is the demigoddess Arala returned.


Aeon-Greengrass’ house was easy to find, illuminated as it was with moonlight. The chimney was a weave of branches, and grass grew from the walls. She peered down from the edge of the roof to a small balcony, and silently lowered herself onto it. The tree branches stirred under her feet, then stilled. Instead of a window, an airy opening, with black webbing barred her way inside.

‘Open,’ she commanded in a whisper, pushing her will into the surrounding essence, and felt the answering quiver.

The black strands parted, and she strode inside into a darkened lounge. Had she come here to rob, she would have needed ten sacks for all the loot.

Every surface was crowded with silver ornaments in strange shapes and flowing forms that resembled nothing you’d find in nature. She was drawn to a figurine that resembled a twisting, spiralling shape of a man, as if his body was made from water. Another figurine was of a dog, his earthly form also looped and stretched around itself, a grotesque torment of the natural order.

There were trees and flowers and animals, all twisted and bent. Yet there was an odd beauty in the grotesqueness that tugged at her primal heart. Was this how they saw her world? Strange that these ugly beings searched for beauty and crafted it in their own appalling way.
What do you want from our world? she pondered. Surely your own is of much greater splendour, abound as it is with magic and wonder.

Dangerous musings, she thought, and abruptly turned away before her resolve wavered.

Inside the house, there were no doors, only archways in the walls of branches with strange, whimsical fruit sprouting from their tips. No fruit was the same, and when she touched one, it felt hollow and light as if spun from dust and wishes. Under her foot, there was a carpet of grass. In it grew small flowers, akin to those a child might draw with a stick in the mud, both extravagant and clumsy in their form. The petals were of different sizes and irregular in shape.

Everything here gave an impression of simultaneous worship and corruption of nature, as if the Laifae did not understand how it all fitted together.

At the end of the hall, she came to a doorway. A black web barred her way. Beyond it, she felt his essence, the creature who gave this house its form. She focused on that essence, placed the hand on the webbing and whispered, ‘Do not resist me.’

Warm, slick strands trembled under her fingers and parted before her, allowing her entry into the majren’s bedchamber. A light glowed in a lantern beside his bed, illuminating the youthful face of the sleeping mage. He was a youth … no, the body he had stolen belonged to a youth whose limbs still had not developed the bulk of a full-grown man. It was an absurdly wrong body for the man who held such an important position in the archmage’s dominion. Curled on his side, he looked like a child in peaceful slumber.

The child is dead, she reminded herself, willing the anger to grow.

Still, she could not look at him and do what must be done. She sent a black tendril to extinguish the flame in his lantern, and the room was plunged into darkness.

Aeon-Greengrass startled awake and sat up.

‘Who’s there?’ He moved his face searchingly, back and forth, past where she stood.
She froze, realising that he was blind in the dark of night. His ears were sharp, however, and he must have heard her intake of breath, or perhaps the frantic beating of her heart.

‘Guards! Guards!’ He shouted from inside the dead man’s chest, a sound akin to a strangled roar.

Without further thought, she grasped the threads of his essence and pulled.

‘No! Spare me. I have gold and riches.’

‘Riches you earned by selling the lives of men.’

‘Who are you, mistress?’ he gasped.

In reply, she pulled harder upon the threads. He groaned and writhed and finally fell lifeless back onto his bed.

‘A life for a life.’ She uttered the mantra from long ago, which they had lived by on the streets.

And something inside her grew cold and dark.

A crack under her feet … she plunged through the floor and hit the lower level with a rough thud.

She groaned, rolled, noting that nothing was broken, and looked up. But of course, she thought, with the Laifae gone, so was his magic. The grass floor morphed to rotting wood, decayed and barely holding the house together. The walls of the house were wilting and vanishing, and the stones which had been held firm by black webbing began to crumble and crash around her.
Elika scrambled to her feet, raced to the window and jumped out. Behind her, the house fell to rubble and dust chased her down the street. Shouts and calls came from the folk as they emerged to gape at the rubble she had left behind. When she was out of their sight, she slowed to a walk.

A wind brushed her hood.

She stopped, and her heart raced with recognition and fear.

The wind blew again, stronger this time.

She knew that wind. Knew it as well as her own breath. She had lived beside the dark chasm most of her life, had listened to the shrill screams upon it. But she was far from the chasm, and the wind of the Abyss did not travel far past it. Yet here it was, filled with biting rage, swirling around her. And on it, she felt a dark presence. Something followed her that was not a man.

She spun around and probed the deep, lurking shadows of the night, straining her ears to listen to the silence hidden by the wailing wind. A terrible power drew near. She felt its approach in the depths of her bones. The very essence of the world bent and trembled beneath it. It charged the air with its rage. A pulse of that rage went past, and a tremor shook the ground beneath her feet. She staggered but managed not to fall, turned again, trying to see where the nearing storm was coming from.

It stilled, as if also listening. Then, as if it caught her scent, the terror charged towards her.

She darted for the closest rainwater pipe and, in an instant, scrambled up it to the roof, lay flat on her stomach and peered over the edge. No one was there. No sound, no movement in the faintly lit street. Still, the sense of danger prickling her skin was a physical sensation she could not ignore. Something was there, seeking her, scanning the roofs where she had climbed. Aye, there were eyes searching for her, brushing past her.

Darkness moved, and she saw it, a shadow darker than the night untouched by moonlight. It moved and vanished. And the winds of the Abyss grew still.

She rolled away from the edge and stared up at the moon, waiting until she was certain the shadow had left. Then she rose and ran home.

About the Author: 

Alex Thornbury is an award-winning author. She grew up in Cheshire UK, and developed deep love of history and fantasy thanks to the many castles she visited as a child. Though she grew up to be an Alchemist by trade, she never stopped fantasising about other worlds, dragons and epic battles.

Tuesday, December 05, 2023

Boss Level by Allyson Lindt - Deck the Halls with Books Holiday Extravaganza

New Game

An Aces Played Short Story


I hadn’t watched a Santa this closely since I was five. Of course, at the time I thought the jolly old man at the mall was the Santa, and tonight at least part of me was hoping this Santa had something for me in his magic sack.

Of course, most Santas didn’t look as good as Xander, either. The streaks of silver mixed with brown that peeked out from under his hat were natural, as was the salt and pepper beard. His Santa outfit was multiple layers of deceptive, hiding a large, muscular build under padding, and tattoos under long sleeves.

He stopped next to one of dozens of Rincon signs dotted around the convention center, to pose for yet another picture with a smiling child.

“Admiring our handy work?” Chloe’s question caught me off-guard.

I was never off-guard. Time to stop staring at the pretty man and get back to it. “Something like that.”

Chloe and I hadn’t put this event together ourselves, but we did manage the teams who had. Rinslet’s inaugural gaming convention. She was the company’s VP of all things creative and I was the same for Operations.

She looked past me at Xander, who was posing with another kid. “He is pretty.”

“Deceptively so.” Underneath the smiling exterior was a sadist. One of the things I liked about him was he knew when to whip that out. “What’s up?”

“I need your expertise and presence if you’re up for it. New guy.”

I grinned. “Of course I am.” One thing I loved about doing client and partner meetings with Chloe was the way people tended to underestimate us. Two petite women in tech who people assumed joined a meeting together because we were meek. New guy meant this one wasn’t familiar with our reputation.

Introducing ourselves would take my mind off the reason I was waiting for Xander.

Except it didn’t. I gave the meeting enough attention to make sure Chloe had my support when she needed it, and to present a united front. My thoughts were on a far more lucrative decision I needed to make.

I’d built a career on taking risks and pushing limits, but I always had enough information to go into the decisions before I took the leap. Except my failed marriage. I followed my gut there and discovered I needed more from a man than a big dick and good orgasms. Those helped, but…

That had nothing to do with this except that it was another terrifying decision, and I didn’t normally do fear. Rinslet had become one of the two biggest gaming companies in the world, climbing from the ashes to soar here.

Some of us who had been here for a long time, since before the fall, wanted to get back into being on the cutting edge. We had a game idea. They had all signed on and were brilliant minds.

The only hold-out was me. The person who would run it all, fund a lot of it, and make sure other groups funded the rest. No one was better suited for this job, but the idea pushed so many limits and if we put it out there before the world was ready, it would crash and burn.

I had until the New Year to make up my mind.

Chloe and I wrapped things up with the vendor, who was far more polite than when the meeting started, and I went in search of Xander.

Apparently Santa was done for the night and nowhere to be found.

I sent him a quick text asking if he was ready to go, and stepped away from the thinning crowds to see if I could spot him.

We’d been friends since high school. We’d been there for each other through heartbreak, divorce, ruin, and amazing salvation. We also very occasionally fucked—friends with benefits sounded so tame—and tonight that seemed like a good Christmas present to both of us when everything was over.

“Sit on Santa’s lap and tell him what you want, little girl?” His low, teasing voice filled my thoughts and his hot breath brushed my cheek when he leaned in from behind me.

My smile popped into place without permission, and I leaned into him enough to feel the muscle under the suit. I wouldn’t be obscene with Santa in front of the children or media. “Is that a candy cane in your pocket, or are you just happy to see me?” I kept my voice low enough only he would hear.

He held a miniature, individually wrapped candy cane in front of my face. “What do you think?”

“I think I like a guy who knows size isn’t the only thing that matters.”

His chuckle was more I can’t want to make you scream later and less ho ho ho. “Are you ready to get out of here?”

“Can we go someplace you’ll leave the suit on?” We had a stop to make first, but there was a whole night after that.

“Depends on if you behave at dinner.”

I was the one who laughed this time. “I didn’t plan on it.” I didn’t submit to anyone in the boardroom or the bedroom, it was another reason I’d clashed with my ex. But with Xander, we’d been exposed to each other in far more intimate ways than sex, and sometimes a little yielding on my part took the edge off the rest of life.

We ditched the coat from his outfit in his car, and he pulled on a sweater instead. Simple, cream colored, and hugging every inch of muscle on his torso, with the red pants still in place? That was as hot as anything.

We crossed the street to the hotel across from the convention center, and headed toward their signature restaurant. I needed a neutral legal opinion on some aspects of this business, and a friend had referred me to the man we were meeting with, as someone who would give me an unbiased legal opinion.

Xander was the only person outside of our group and their significant others who knew the details of this concept. He was already onboard to invest and pushing me to sign on. But only if I was comfortable with it.

The foyer was crowded, but the lone businessman wearing an expensive suit and a stern expression stood out.

“Are you Dominic?” I asked.

He turned his gaze on me and studied me with eyes so dark they were almost black. He wasn’t quite as big and built as Xander, but he still towered over me, and that stern expression was wow. A polite smile slipped onto his face. “I am. Judith?”

“Pleasure to meet you. Thank you for making time for me tonight.” I extended my hand.

His grip was firm and tantalizing. I hoped he had some lucky woman or man waiting at home for him to use that plus his smoldering stare on. “Not a problem.”

I introduced Xander as well, gave the host my name for my reservation, and we were shown to a table.

We were only here for drinks and conversation, but the moment Xander ordered appetizers, I realized how hungry I was. “Make that a double order,” I told the waiter.

Xander shook his head as the man walked away. “You haven’t eaten all day, have you?”

Guilty as charged. I tended to forget food when I had more important things on my mind. “I had a muffin for breakfast and enough coffee since then to kill a mule.”

“Good thing you’re more stubborn than one,” Xander teased.

Dominic didn’t look so amused. He didn’t look like he was feeling much of anything. Reading him would be interesting, but fortunately this was an advice session, not a negotiation. “What can I do for you this evening?” he asked.

“We’re looking to create an MMORPG—a massively multiplayer online roleplaying game—”

“I know what the acronym means.”

I raised my brows, unimpressed at being cut off. If he didn’t know what it meant, I’d be more concerned, since he was supposed to be well versed in tech. “—that will contain a large amount of adult content.”

“Don’t most of them?” Dominic asked.

“Like graphic depictions of people fucking.” Xander went straight for the punchline. “More than two people at once. Orgies. The like.”

Dominic still didn’t flinch.

I wasn’t willing to give out too much information, since there were some innovative concepts involved in the plan, but we did need to tell him enough to get answers. I filled in a few more highlights, and was wrapping up as our food arrived.

I dove into the cheese dip like a ravenous child, enough to sate the gnawing in my stomach, while the men nibbled.

“So what is it I can do for you?” Dominic repeated.

Make up my mind for me. Tell me this was a stupid idea. Crack just enough for me to get a read on that gorgeously stony exterior. “I want to know what the legal repercussions are. I’ve considered several, but I won’t list them. I want to hear your thoughts. What do you feel I should look out for, what could bite me in the ass if I’m not prepared for it, and will this fuck me over when things go wrong?”

“Business will always fuck you over if things go wrong enough,” Dominic said.

“But how wrong is that, really?” Xander’s smirk was the antithesis to Dominic’s marble expression. “I mean, sometimes getting fucked, even when it’s wrong—”

“Sexual harassment.” Dominic did seem to like to talk over people. “That’s the number one thing that will bite you in the ass.”

Was it wrong that I thought it was hot, the way he and Xander clashed? Oil and water. Fire and ice.

“Sexual harassment is a concern in most companies, especially in tech,” I said. “I don’t disagree with you, but how is this different?” I had my own thoughts on the matter, and I’d looped through them from multiple angles, but I was here to hear Dominic’s.

“You’re starting a company were discussing explicit sexual acts won’t just be a daily occurrence, they’ll be a requirement of the job.”

“So if Man One were to ask Woman One her thoughts on double penetration, and what would make it more pleasurable to both of them…” Xander left the thought hanging.

Did the corner of Dominic’s mouth just twitch? “First of all, double penetration implies at least three people, so grammatically the question is what would make it more pleasurable for all three of them. Second, in almost every office in the world, that conversation would be harassment. And lastly, I’m here to consult, not be tested.”

I could argue that we weren’t poking at his edges, to see what gave, but he was right. And Xander had only just started. It was almost a shame this was a business meeting, because Mr. Dominic the Lawyer was a kind of wound-up I knew all too well, and I also knew good sex released a lot of that tension.

I’d love to see the sparks fly between him and Xander. Even better, I’d love to be the filling on that sandwich.

But there was work to do. “Sexual harassment. Noted. What else do I need to consider?”

We went down a list, and he hit most of the points on my list, as well as others I hadn’t even considered. As we talked, we worked our way through the food, and stuck to coffee rather than liquor. We had finished up and I’d paid the bill, much to both men’s dismay, but were still talking.

“All well and good, but the harassment will be an issue regardless.” Apparently Xander was a dog with a bone about this. “How does she get around that?”

“Like anything sexual, consent and honesty need to be part of the conversation.” Dominic’s glance at me heated my blood. “People need to know the topic will come up, and also understand that it’s up to them to be adults about how they handle it.”

Xander leaned in. “Care to provide an example?”

“Of course.” Dominic met and held my gaze. “If I were to offer to finger you under the table, to see how long it took you until you cracked, and you were to jerk me off in return, while Bad Santa over there watched, and the suggestion made you uncomfortable, that would be harassment.”

Touché. And if he was expecting me to back down, he was about to learn a thing or two. “What if your offer made me wet, instead of uncomfortable. And Bad Santa doesn’t tend to watch. He’s more of a hands-on kind of guy.”

“Watching is exactly what any Santa does, good or bad.” Dominic’s stare was going to burn a hole through my soul.

Xander chuckled. “Sounds both naughty and nice. I’m in.”

I wanted to shoot him a glance, but I couldn’t look away. “Easy for you to say. You get to sit back and watch.”

“Because that’s not torture?” he countered.

“Because you won’t take yours later?” Dominic asked. “And if it turns you on, rather than offends you, and nothing professional hinges on the exchange, it’s not harassment.”

I’d call him on the way he’d just oversimplified things, but I was too enthralled by his suggestion. I covered his hand with mine, and moved both to my leg, at the hem of my skirt.

Dominic’s face still didn’t so much as twitch as he shoved my skirt up, and inched his fingers along the inside of my thigh.

This was a horrible place for foreplay, but I didn’t need it anyway. I was already turned on by the clash between Xander and Dominic, and the fact that we were in public and I had an almost-stranger’s hand gliding toward my pussy.

I swallowed a gasp and spread my legs when he brushed the crotch of my panties, but I refused to crack.

This time I was certain I saw a smile tug up one corner of Dominic’s mouth.

Xander wasn’t hiding anything. He looked amused as fuck.

Dominic pushed aside my panties, and teased toward my opening. I was slick with anticipation, and his touch glided easily along my skin. He slipped inside me just enough to penetrate, before withdrawing and gliding up to my clit.

My nipples were hard and tight against my bra, straining the lace. I swore everyone in here knew what we were up to, despite there being a tablecloth keeping anyone from seeing. My pulse hammered in my ears with each touch and stroke from Dominic. He really knew how to use those fingers.

If anyone figured out what we were up to, would it turn them on too? Would someone else go home and get laid tonight, fantasizing about our display? Hell, could I go home and get laid tonight, based on this?

The way Xander watched us said yes.

The longer Dominic stroked my clit, the closer I pushed to orgasm. I tried to focus on not letting any reaction show, but my chest was heaving. I couldn’t look at anything but my clenched fists, or I’d lose my composure.

Climax spilled through me, and I nearly bit a hole through my cheek trying to keep it from showing. Just as the pleasure started to ebb, Dominic slipped his fingers inside me again, drawing out the moment, as I clenched tight around him.

He slipped out of me without comment, and I struggled to catch my breath.

Xander pushed a glass of water toward me. “Impressive. You almost melted the Ice Queen. You’ll have to be positively glacial to win this one.”

“We haven’t established stakes,” Dominic said.

That didn’t sound like a me problem. “It’s a bit late for that, since we’ve already started. Are you backing out?”

He shook his head .”Most definitely not.”

“Do the three of you need anything else?” The waiter chose that moment to interrupt.

Why did this all make me squirm almost as much as when Dominic was touching me?

“We’re fine, thank you.” Xander never missed a beat.

As the waiter walked away, I pushed my skirt up a little higher, enough to grab my panties.

“What are you up to?” Xander eyed me as I shifted in my seat.

I slid the underwear down my legs, cleaned myself up a little—they were ruined anyway—and set them on the bench between Dominic and me.

He raised an eyebrow, and I turned away from the questioning look as if it didn’t mean a thing. I watched Xander instead as I tugged down Dominic’s zipper. He was already hard, which made working him free difficult, but I figured it out.

I wanted to risk a glance at his exposed cock, but that felt too much like revealing how much I was enjoying this. My hand would have to tell me the full story, and it was telling an impressively big tale.

I grabbed my panties again, and glided the smooth, damp silk along his skin when I gripped his shaft.

He clenched his jaw.

The only regret I had so far was with my panties gone, I was going to leave a wet spot on the back of my skirt. But he started this and I was going to finish it. I watched Dominic, looking for a clue as to what he was thinking or feeling. Fuck he was good. Stoic. Gorgeous.

When he tightened under my touch, a quiet fuck slipped out under his breath. His hips came up and his ass rose off the seat. I felt the warm spurt of his climax through the panties I’d wrapped around him, when he came.

Was it wrong to want to gloat as I eased my touch off? I was too turned on, still, to put too much thought into it. I was definitely going to provoke Xander into something when we got out of here, if he wasn’t already.

“Pretty sure the lady wins.” Xander took care of the looking smug on my behalf.

Dominic’s laugh was strained, but it was distinctly a laugh. “I know when I’ve been beat.” He took the panties from me and shoved them in his jacket pocket. “Not complaining about the outcome though. Anything else I can do for you this evening?” Like that, his composure was back.

Damn, he was good. “I think what you’ve offered has been incredibly helpful. Thank you for your time.”

“You two kill me.” Xander rolled his eyes. “There’s enough repression between the two of you to imprison a small planet.”

“You ought to try it sometime. Showing some composure.” Yup, Dominic was back.

Xander shook his head. “No thanks. Wouldn’t want to deprive either of you. Pretty sure you’ve made it a finite resource. Can we walk you out?”

“Since we’re going the same way, that makes sense,” Dominic said.

When I stood, he was ready with my coat, which was long enough to cover any wet spot on my skirt.

Xander led us through a back hallway toward a tucked away exit. The hallway wasn’t labeled staff only, but most of what was down here looked like it was for employees.

As we reached an open door with light spilling onto the carpet. Xander grabbed my wrist and yanked me inside, and Dominic followed, closing the door behind us.

That the clash between them had become this kind of synchronicity was scary-hot.

Amid linen and other room supplies, Xander pressed his body to mine, pinning me to the wall. “You didn’t think that display out there would go unanswered.”

“I hoped it wouldn’t.”

He bit my neck where it met my shoulder, and my desire spiked. He moved his mouth to my ear. “I’m glad you gave him your panties.”

“Why?” I asked.

“Because I want my cum running down your leg while you walk to your car. While you drive home.”

Dominic’s groan matched my whimper. I couldn’t hide the reaction, but I could gloss over it. “You’re such an asshole.”

“Yup.” Xander was rough when he shoved my skirt up around my hips.

I returned the favor by freeing his cock.

He was strong enough, and enough bigger than me, that he made it look effortless when he grabbed my hips and lifted me. I wrapped my legs around his waist, sighing in delight as he slid inside me.

Dominic teased my breast through my shirt. “I don’t know how he kept his hands to himself.”

“All about proving a point.” Xander’s voice trailed off as he pumped in me, starting slow and building to a fast, hard pounding.

I gripped tight, enjoying the desperation in this moment. That spot he hit inside me at just the right angle. And when Dominic worked his hand between us, and sought out my clit again. I was both too tender and not sensitive enough for this kind of touch, and I dug my nails into Xander’s back.

He grunted in response, and fucked me harder.

Dominic’s skilled touch worked me past the physical wall of resistance, and pleasure built inside me again. Orgasm felt out of reach, until it crashed around me.

Xander’s familiar grunts blended with voices in the hallway, and my anticipation soared as he spilled inside me. The talking outside moved away again, but my heart still hammered against my ribs from the entire thing.

Xander was gentle as he lowered me to my feet, but the three of us stayed tangled in a knot as we caught our breath.

I wasn’t new to taking risks, but since my divorce, they’d all been calculated. I had mountains of data before walking into any situation. I didn’t have that for the decision I was about to make, and that was why it terrified me.

Tonight was reckless and out of control, though. If Dominic hadn’t been up for the challenge, if the media had gotten hold of the news, if most people outside the company found out… I could’ve been ruined. And I didn’t regret a minute of what we’d done.

If I didn’t step up and take this opportunity, I was going to regret letting it pass me by.

“What are you thinking, Judy?” Xander murmured against my skin.

No one called me that. Ever. But with him, tonight, it was right. “I’m thinking I need Dominic’s business card, and to secure his legal services. Let’s play this hand and see what happens.”


To find out what becomes of the company in question, and to find out where Judith, Xander, and Dominic are now, check out my Three Player Tag-Team series.

Boss Level
Three Player Tag-Team 
Book Six
Allyson Lindt

Genre:  Erotic Romance
Publisher: Acelette Press
Date of Publication:  12/24/2022
ISBN: 9781955518291
Number of pages:  350
Word Count: 76,000

Cover Artist: Romance Premades

Tagline: Her Fake Fiancé is Her Childhood Sweetheart’s Husband



It’s lonely at the top.

I knew it would be when I clawed my way up here, trading away favors and any personal life to get to where I am today, the head of the hottest new video game company in the industry.

When an old friend calls in one of those favors, I’m happy to help Xander out. His partner, Dominic, needs to impress some conservative clients, and showing up to get-to-know-you dinners with a heavily tattooed man on his arm isn’t the way to do it.

And there are far worse things in the world than pretending to be Dom’s fiancée.

When the fake kisses with Dominic start to feel real, I realize there’s something missing in my life. Worse, I’m starting to realize I never should’ve let Xander get away.

But the three of us together will bring everything we’ve worked for toppling down around us. There’s no way love is worth that kind of sacrifice.

About the Author:

Award winning and USA Today Bestselling Author Allyson Lindt is a full-time geek and a fuller-time author. She likes her stories with sweet geekiness and heavy spice, and loves a sexy happily-ever-after. Because cubicle dwellers need love too.

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Release Day Blitz The Rogue Mage by Alex Thornbury

The Rogue Mage
The Sundered Web 
Book Two
Alex Thornbury

Genre: Fantasy
Publisher: Shadow Lore Publishing
Date of Publication: 5th December 2023
ISBN: 978-0-6454970-4-5
Number of pages: 550
Word Count: 190,000
Cover Artist: Alejandro Colucci

Tagline: For humankind, she would be the monsters’ monster. She would be their fear in the night. She would be the terror come for them. 

Book Description: 

Elika crosses the Bridge to Magic to find the world ruled by magic, where nothing is as it seems. Mages run the streets, whilst the tsaren, their masters, war with each other. Though it is men who pay the price with their lives.

Faced with the injustice of the mages and the new world order, Elika discovers her own untapped gifts that may yet shift the balance of power back into the hands of men. But her dabbling in the power she does not understand draws the attention of the dreaded demigod Syn’Moreg.

Elika must now outwit the shadow that hunts her, whilst seeking a way to free mankind from their oppressors. Yet dark grows her heart, and to darkness it reaches for that which the shadow denies.

As whispers of a newly found heir to the Sacred Crowns grow to cries of war, Elika comes to realize that she may not be the savior of mankind after all. Mite has proclaimed himself King Northwind, and marches on Terren to claim what is rightfully his. Elika is certain he will fail, unless she can vanquish the one power standing in his way. But to do that, she must convince the court and the archmage that she is the demigoddess Arala returned.

About the Author: 

Alex Thornbury is an award-winning author. She grew up in Cheshire UK, and developed deep love of history and fantasy thanks to the many castles she visited as a child. Though she grew up to be an Alchemist by trade, she never stopped fantasising about other worlds, dragons and epic battles.

Monday, December 04, 2023

Desert Enchantments by Laura Engelhardt #Fantasy

Desert Enchantments
Arabian Spells 
Fifth Mage War Prequel
Laura Engelhardt

Genre: Fantasy
Publisher: Wandering Wave Press
Date of Publication: November 16, 2023
ISBN: 978-1-957778-06-8
Number of pages: 130 pages
Word Count:  32,000 words
Cover Artist: Rena Violet

Tagline: Prophecies, Faeries, Djinni, and Werewolves! A New Fantasy World Awaits…

Book Description:

This exciting prequel is perfect for both new readers and current fans of Engelhardt’s award-winning Fifth Mage War series. At only 130 pages, the book provides an introduction into a magical modern world filled with faeries, prophecies, werewolves and djinni. Desert Enchantment focuses on a new character, and features themes of survivor’s guilt/hope and obsessive love/self-control.

A Class Five mage, Khalid developed the only long-distance magical weapon in existence: the dreaded djinni, who spin across the deserts, destroying everything in their path. Now, he faces the kind of challenge only an Oracle could have predicted.

In Recasting Fate, we join Khalid as he attempts to rout the European invaders from the Sahara Desert. Except a faerie breezes in with an offer he can't refuse.

In Djinn Swarm, Khalid battles for self-control when he discovers that the only thing more powerful than a djinn is love.

These two novelettes are a perfect gateway into the Fifth Mage War series, introducing new characters and new cultures as the world moves inextricably toward a cataclysmic war. 


The first djinn emerged in the night sky: a whirlwind topped with a simulacrum of Khalid himself. Knife-sharp grains of sand spun upward, pulled by the centrifugal force of the air that formed the construct’s lower half. Khalid swallowed down bile as he looked at his creation. The djinn’s outstretched arms were frozen in a gesture of welcome, but its unblinking eyes were indifferent to the suffering it was about to cause.

If only he could create a living construct, he wouldn’t be forced to watch oversized statues of himself wreaking destruction. Before Sabha, he used to revel in the fact that his enemy would know he had been the mage who had killed them. Now, the sight of his giant face in the sky made him sick.

Two more djinni coalesced, dragging roiling storms of colored lightning behind them like fringed capes. Malik shut the spellbook, words of congratulations on his lips. But his face fell, his compliments silenced before they could be uttered. Khalid’s heart rate sped up as he followed his vizier’s gaze.

The three djinni should have been flying north over the dunes to the enemy encampment, spinning tornados of wind and lightning beneath them. Instead, the constructs hung suspended in midair, their lower whirlwinds frozen into a stillness as eerie as their unmoving humanoid tops.

A rush of air rippled Khalid’s headscarf and robe, but the desert was suddenly silent. He could no longer hear the rasp of wind over sand.

Eurus, Khalid realized, his grim fear sinking into actual dread.

The glimmering white-gold outline of a woman’s face emerged in front of the djinni.

Khalid swallowed as she pressed her lips against one statue-like face before dissipating back into air.

Khalid waved Malik back to the assembled guard. “Go,” he said. “Back to camp.”

But Malik pressed shoulder-to-shoulder with him. “No one can contend against the air itself, Amir. It won’t matter if we stay or go.”

That’s an unfortunate truth, Khalid thought. For all they knew, Eurus existed within the very air they drew into their lungs. She was everywhere but only rarely took physical form.

Humans, even other faeries, were typically beneath her notice.

“Your djinni still don’t live.”

The East Wind’s soft voice was impossible to locate, though they all spun around to look for her. Eurus was air, an elemental faerie born billions of years ago when the Earth’s atmosphere formed.

“Why are you here?” Khalid called, his voice overly loud in the stillness.
Eurus, as the East Wind liked to be called, manifested into a shadowed figure floating cross-legged as if atop a flying carpet. But of course, Eurus didn’t need any support to defeat gravity.

Khalid’s face covering blew off, and he caught the red headcloth before responding.

“You told me war didn’t interest you anymore.”

“Your djinni interest me.” The elemental faerie’s voice hovered in the air around him, pressing against him like the atmospheric warning of an approaching sandstorm.

“I’m no via-enchanter to cast spells on living things, Lady Eurus,” Khalid reminded her.

The fae demanded honesty, and he’d told her this many times already. “I don’t know how to make a djinn draw breath.”

“You were working hard to modify your spells,” Eurus said. “At least until your sisters convinced you to claim the Sahara for your al-Saaqib tribe.”

“I have a duty to protect the desert’s people. I can’t play with spell designs while we remain under threat,” Khalid said — then cursed himself when he realized he’d given her an opening.

She pounced. “I am more dangerous than five thousand battlemages. Bargain with me. I can steal your enemies’ breath. Blow their ships back from your shores. I can keep your lands safe from the predators while you perfect your djinn spells.”

“I’m no via-enchanter, Lady Eurus,” Khalid repeated. “I spent decades and only managed to integrate biomarkers into the design.”

His gaze flickered up. Six vacant eyes that matched his own stared down at him in impotent stillness. Eurus’s magick held his unreleased djinni captive. He needed her to let them fly. Let Khalid kill his enemy.

“You see how well I can keep you safe,” Eurus said, glancing upward as well. “Even from your own spells.”

Khalid hated how tempting her offer was now. Everyone else had perished at Sabha. It had been a Pyrrhic victory, but a victory nonetheless. If she didn’t release his djinni, this battle would end in an actual defeat.

There was nothing worse than defeat.

“Do not surrender, Al-Amir,” Malik whispered. “With or without the djinni, we will prevail!”

“Surrender? Who said anything about surrender? I’ll be your hired hand, Amir Khalid ibn Hawwa al-Saaqib!” Eurus’s voice hung slyly in the air as she fluttered down into a full bow, her thin frame splayed across the sand before him.

Khalid stared down at the elemental faerie. No sane person made a bargain with a faerie, but then, no sane faerie stalked a human.

About the Author: 

An avid sf/fantasy reader, Laura Engelhardt writes the kind of book she likes to read: fantasy with intricate worlds and complex characters facing moral dilemmas. She started writing plays in college, then moved to Germany, where she continued to write while teaching ESL to executives. After moving back to the U.S., she supported her playwriting by teaching ballroom dance and working retail. Deciding that living in her parents’ attic wasn’t for her, Laura went to law school and then spent the next seventeen years as a lawyer and compliance officer in New York City. In 2017, she quit Wall Street and began helping people resolve disputes as a mediator and arbitrator. She now lives in New Jersey with her family.


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