Thursday, October 31, 2019

Quick Thought Review: The Blacksmith Queen by G.A. Aiken (@KensingtonBooks)

The Blacksmiths Queen
Author: G.A. Aiken
Release Date: August 27, 2019
Publisher: Kensington
ISBN:  0765328089 
ISBN13: 9780765328083
Genre: Fantasy
Review Copy Source: NetGalley

When a prophesy brings war to the Land of the Black Hills, Keeley Smythe must join forces with a clan of mountain warriors who are really centaurs in a thrilling new fantasy romance series from New York Times bestselling author G.A. Aiken.  
The Old King Is Dead
With the demise of the Old King, there’s a prophesy that a queen will ascend to the throne of the Black Hills. Bad news for the king’s sons, who are prepared to defend their birthright against all comers. But for blacksmith Keeley Smythe, war is great for business. Until it looks like the chosen queen will be Beatrix, her younger sister. Now it’s all Keeley can do to protect her family from the enraged royals.

Luckily, Keeley doesn’t have to fight alone. Because thundering to her aid comes a clan of kilt-wearing mountain warriors called the Amichai. Not the most socially adept group, but soldiers have never bothered Keeley, and rough, gruff Caid, actually seems to respect her. A good thing because the fierce warrior will be by her side for a much longer ride than any prophesy ever envisioned …

Strong characters, action packed storyline, betrayal, fantasy and a little romance make THE BLACKSMITH QUEEN a well rounded story.

I loved Keeley's drive to do what's best for and protect her family. The world was full of interesting characters and creatures. I enjoyed the secondary characters and the way that they fit into the story.

Count me in for book two.

I gave it 4/5 stars

* This book was provided free of charge from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Review: Shattered Bonds by Faith Hunter (@HunterFaith, @AceRocBooks, @LetsTalkLTP)

Shattered Bonds
Release Date: October 29, 2019
Publisher: ACE
Jane Yellowrock Book #13
ISBN:  0399587985
ISBN13: 9780399587986
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Review Copy Source: Netgalley

Jane Yellowrock must dig deep and find strength within herself if she is to survive in the latest novel in this New York Times bestselling series.

Jane Yellowrock is a shapeshifting skinwalker, and vampire killer-for-hire, but her last battle with an ancient arcane enemy has brought her low. She seeks retreat in the Appalachian Mountains to grieve the loss of her friends, and to heal--or to die--from the disease brought on by her magic.

But malevolent elements in the paranormal community still seek to destroy Jane, and the younger Son of Darkness stalks her, even into the safety of the hills. With nowhere to run and her body failing, the rogue-vampire hunter and her inner Beast must discover a way to defeat this new threat, and find a form that gives her a chance to fight another day.

SHATTERED BONDS had a whole different feel than previous books for a nice chunk of the book.

We are used to seeing Jane as the bad-ass hunter that saves the day. Well for a chunk of SHATTERED BONDS, Jane is shattered by the cancer that is taking over her body and killing her. It was a pretty somber experience while reading her struggles. She found a way to bring out her inner bad-ass when she needed it, but you were always brought back to the fact that Jane was dying. Having said that, I did find it a little weird that she could hardly move in her human body, but half beast body was perfectly fine. It was hard to go from dying Jane, to kick butt Jane in half beast form in a blink of the eye. That didn't totally work for me.

I absolutely loved how Jane's pack continued to surround her in her time of need. Even when the enemy was once again knocking down her door. The action and danger was a strong part of the storyline. The pace of the story is different from the beginning of the book to the end, but it all flowed  together nicely.

SHATTERED BONDS ended on a pretty big bang that took care of a pretty big story arc. I'm not sure where Faith will bring the story and characters next, but I look forward to finding out.

I gave it 4/5 stars

* This book was provided free of charge from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, October 28, 2019

Quick Thought Review: A Ghost of a Chance by Debbie Cassidy (@amoscassidy)

A Ghost of Chance
Release Date: October 22, 2019
Publisher: Self-Published
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Review Copy Source: Author

They say the dead don’t speak. That’s a lie. They speak to Kat Justice, but most of the time, she chooses not to hear them.

I’m a Nightwatch agent, a nightblood charged with enforcing the supernatural laws. Humans can’t know the shit that goes bump in the night is real. It’s sweaty, tough work, with crappy pay, but I love it.

Things would be perfect if not for my secret.

Pureblood Nightbloods can’t see or hear the dead. The fact that I can exposes my mixed breeding. I’m not meant to exist, and if the council find out about my secret it’s the executioners block for me.

Keeping a lid on my ghost whisperer ability is a must.

So, when my gramps orders me to head to the arse end of nowhere, a nowhere that just happens to be the most haunted place on the bloody map, I’m a little confused.

This transfer doesn’t jive with trying to keep the ghost chat to a minimum.

But with my golem partner and gargoyle companion in tow, I’m sure I can figure out why I’ve been sent to this weird coastal town. I mean, they even have a ghost bar.

You’d think the local souls would be eager to chew my ear off, right? Wrong.

For the first time in forever, the dead aren’t talking.

Now I need to know why...

A kick ass Urban Fantasy Adventure filled with fey, demons, vampires, gargoyles and golems.

I enjoyed the characters, I enjoyed the world and I enjoyed the plot of A GHOST OF A CHANCE.

The characters are my favorite part of this series so far. I want to know more about each and every one of them.

The plot was mysterious and full of suspense. Everything happened at a great pace. There is so much more we need to know about the world and the team, but I am interested in learning all the secrets there are to reveal.

I look forward to GIVE UP THE GHOST.

I gave it 4/5 stars

* This book was provided free of charge from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Week in Review: 10/20-10/26

Books I've Read

Moon Called by Patricia Briggs (Re-read)
Blood Bound by Patricia Briggs (Re-read)
Iron Kissed by Patricia Briggs (Re-read)
Bone Crossed by Patricia Briggs (Re-read)
Silver Borne by Patricia Briggs (Re-read)
River Marked by Patricia Briggs (Re-read)

Reviews Posted

Shadow Weaver by Debbie Cassidy (@amoscassidy)
Conspiracy of Ravens by J.C. McKenzie (@JC_McKenzie)


* New Releases for the week. Was there anything you were looking forward to reading?

* Monday- Promo + Giveaway: The God Queen by M.L. Tishner (@mltishner, @XpressoTours)

* Wednesday- Promo + Giveaway: Pirate’s Curse: Division 1 by Leigh Anderson & Rebecca Hamilton (@LeighA_Romance, @InkMuse, @XpressoTours)


* Did you know you can follow UFI on these other sites?

You can also add me (as in Stacy) to your friends on these sites if you're on them.

 * I love comments so if you see something you like (or not) please comment away and let me know.

Friday, October 25, 2019

Review: Conspiracy of Ravens by J.C. McKenzie (@JC_McKenzie)

Conspiracy of Ravens
Release Date: October 21, 2019
Publisher: Self-Published
ASIN: 9780765328083
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Review Copy Source: Author

Raven Crawford knows better than to venture into the seductive world of the dark fae or agree to any of their salacious promises. She plans to pay off her debts so she can get on with her life and stay far away from the denizens of the Underworld.

Unfortunately, her numbskull twin steals from the most tempting and lethal fae of them all. Now, Raven must help the Lord of Shadows get back what her idiot brother stole. Her only weapons? Just a little ingenuity and a whole lot of snark. It’s suicide for sure, but she’ll do anything to protect her twin.

Raven is my kind of people. Half hot-mess, half bad-ass, all awesome.

Not only did I enjoy Raven, but I enjoyed her family. They have a great relationship and I loved getting to know them.

I loved the chemistry between Raven and Cole. I enjoyed the way they interacted and the way they worked together. There was a lot of fighting feelings on Raven's side. I loved the way Cole handled it and the overall progression.

I can't really get into the plot as it would give away spoilers. I will say that the story was had plenty of humor, action and mystery rolled up in a nice paced story.

I enjoyed the storyline and I enjoyed the characters. I will definitely be reading more.

I gave it 4/5 stars

* This book was provided free of charge from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Review: Shadow Weaver by Debbie Cassidy (@amoscassidy)

Shadow Weaver
Release Date: October 10, 2019
Publisher: Self-Published
Genre: Fantasy RH
Review Copy Source: Author

They say, there’s no rest for the wicked. In that case I must be pure evil.

When Hyde said the cadets would be getting Fast Tracked, he wasn’t joking.

It’s hard staying on top of the shadow cadet duties, but I’m not one to shy from a challenge. However, just when I think I’ve got a hold on my abilities and found my niche at the Academy, the principal throws a curveball my way.

Suddenly I’m drowning in painful revelations and more tasks. The one person I want to run to turns his back on me, and comfort comes from an unexpected source.

But the equilibrium is short lived because the silence of the mist is about to be shattered, and when it does, no one is safe.

It’s our job to protect the Academy grounds, but when danger rides the sky, who in the hell is going to save us?

The Vampire Academy meets Game of Thrones in this kick-ass, supernatural academy, Urban Fantasy with a slow burn Why Choose Romance.

Action, suspense, twists, turns and a little bit of romance are all part of the second book in The Nightwatch Academy series by Debbie Cassidy.

I continue to really enjoy the world that the series is set in.  Debbie has done a great job bringing it to life with her words and I look forward to seeing what she incorporates into the story next.

The romance is slow burn, but I am enjoying the development between Indigo and her men. Very interested in seeing who she adds to her harem next as I am not 100% sure who it will be.

I always enjoy the first book in a new series by Debbie Cassidy, but it has been a little bit since I have thought that the second book in the series lived up to the first. SHADOW WEAVER was just as exciting and enjoyable to me as SHADOW CASTER was and that gives me great hopes that the rest of the series will keep me entertained as well.

I gave it 4/5 stars

* This book was provided free of charge from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Promo + Giveaway: Pirate’s Curse: Division 1 by Leigh Anderson & Rebecca Hamilton (@LeighA_Romance, @InkMuse, @XpressoTours)

Pirate's Curse: Division 1
The Berkano Vampire Collection
Once upon a time, a vampire and a witch fell in love, and that love fractured the world. Now divided into sixteen isolated Divisions, the world is an unstable and dangerous place.

In the Division of NOLA, Catheryn Beauregard fears her burgeoning magical powers. Hiding as just another slave in the home of the Hoodoo Queen, Catheryn hopes her simplistic powers will simply go unnoticed. And her plan seems to be working...until the Hoodoo House is attacked by a ruthless band of vampire pirates.

Captain Rainier Dulocke and his crew need humans to feed on. In an act of desperation, they beset the Hoodoo House and take ten slaves to sustain them. Rainier takes a girl named Catheryn for himself, but her blood is giving him terrible side effects. Still, he refuses to give her up. Even when the Hoodoo Queen demands her return.

The NOLA Division is in danger. The waters are rising. Food is running out. And the Hoodoo Queen is about to destroy everything that's left if the pirates don't meet her request. Now Catheryn must choose who will die: the humans who sold her, the witches who bought her, or the vampires who stole her. If she fails to decide, everyone could die.

PIRATE'S CURSE is a standalone contribution to The Berkano Vampire collection. Stories can be read in any order. To learn more, visit

Don’t breathe, Catheryn thought. If you breathe, you’re dead.
From her place in the closet, she could see the flicker of torchlight as the pirates ran back and forth through the house. The vampire pirates. The most dangerous creatures she knew of. They needed human blood to live. Her blood. The blood of her fellow slaves.
But what were they doing here? In the Hoodoo House? She was supposed to be safe here. The Hoodoo Queen was a powerful woman. Surely she could fight them off. All Catheryn had to do was be quiet. Be still. Don’t breathe.
Catheryn clenched and flexed her fingers. There were no weapons in the closet. If someone found her, she would have no way to defend herself. She looked at her hands and willed them to do…something. Anything.
This closet was her safe place. A small nook under the stairs she often visited when she wanted to be alone, to collect her thoughts. To practice her budding magic. She had already been hiding in the closet before the pirates arrived. Though this time, she hadn’t been planning on coming out.
Because this time, she hadn’t hidden away to work on her magic.
She’d hidden because she’d screwed up.


New York Times bestselling author Rebecca Hamilton writes urban fantasy and paranormal romance for Harlequin, Baste Lübbe, and Evershade. A book addict, registered bone marrow donor, and indian food enthusiast, she often takes to fictional worlds to see what perilous situations her characters will find themselves in next.

Represented by Rossano Trentin of TZLA, Rebecca has been published internationally, in three languages: English, German, and Hungarian.

Find Rebecca and her books

LEIGH ANDERSON loves all things Gothic and paranormal. Her master's thesis was on vampire imagery in Gothic novels and she met her husband while assuming the role of a vampire online. She currently teaches writing at several universities and has a rather impressive collection of tiny hats. She lives in a small town in the mountains with her husband, human child, and two fur-children. She is currently working on too many writing projects, and yet not enough.

Find Leigh and her books

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Monday, October 21, 2019

Promo + Giveaway: The God Queen by M.L. Tishner (@mltishner, @XpressoTours)

The God Queen
Rebirth #1
The return of the God Queen is not what everyone hoped…
Humans have long since spread their numbers among the stars. Now far, far into the future, war has torn the Tyre Star Cluster into two major political factions. The militant Dominion have gained the upper hand in the last decade with the murder of Niklaryn Ettowa, the progressive Federation's champion. Some considered the war to be almost won.
Yet there are those who claim the war will not be ended by mortals...but by the rebirth of the gods.
Rei lived most of her life bartending on one Earth’s backwater towns. She daydreams of something more, traveling the stars, and destroying the man who murdered her brother Niklaryn. Her dream is within her grasp only if she accepts her fate as the God Queen.
Bronx is disillusioned with being a reincarnated god, let alone a reaper. He pays his penance by isolating himself and taking up the mantle of a combat medic. When the sister of his old mentor Niklaryn storms in to join the cause will he find something worth fighting for?
Together with others, they must help the Federation tip the scales in their favor, but clashing plans for the gods threatens to tear it all apart.
Jupiter Ascending meets X-Men in this epic New Adult space opera bursting with star-crossed romance, elemental magic, and an adventure across the star cluster, perfect for fans of A Spark of White Fire. 

The screams drew Rei’s attention. She stood at the steps of the boarded-up temple when the first one pierced the quiet of their small town. It came from the restaurant on the other side of the square.
She dashed down the stairs and onto the street, jumping inadvertently in front of a hover car whose driver honked and yelled. She didn’t listen as she rushed past the long-dead fountain, now filled with sand and earth. Gravel crunched beneath her feet as she approached the ever-growing crowd. Not a cloud dotted the clear blue sky, the sun beat down on them mercilessly, and the smell of sweat and dirt filled Rei’s nose. She pushed her small frame to the front to get a clear view, heart hammering in her chest. He had been threatening this for months, yet Rei prayed he wouldn’t actually go through with it, but disappointment pooled in her belly as her fear was confirmed.
“Drops of Jupiter,” someone muttered. “Why couldn’t the cleric give him a quick death? That poison takes too long.”
The boy lay writhing on the ground, blood running from his nose and ears, sand caking his dark hair. Rei turned to leave, blood pounding in her ears, but the crowd was now too thick around her and she couldn’t move.
“He prayed to false gods,” her neighbor, an elderly woman, said under her breath. “The cleric said this would be the fate of those who won’t worship the One True God.”
Ever since Earth voted to remain a part of the Dominion, the other gods were outlawed, despite the fact the holy city lay only a few hundred kilometers away from where Rei stood.
She fought to breathe as her heart raced. She never intended to convert, and the threat of not doing so had become too real.
The victim’s scream brought Rei’s eyes back to him. Folks said the poison fried the nerves, giving the victim the sensation of being electrocuted as the poison opened all the blood vessels in the head and caused blood to leak out of the nose and ears.
The cleric overseeing the execution sat in one of the outdoor tables of the restaurant, his dark eyes hard. His full lips turned down in a sneer at the poor soul in agony before him. It was a contrast to the cheerful, blue- and white-checkered umbrellas and table covers.
Rei’s stomach turned in knots. “Drops of Jupiter is a horrible way to die,” she whispered.
Eventually his writhing stopped, and the boy’s eyes stared at the heavens while his mouth opened in a silent scream.
“Let this be a lesson for those who still follow that blasphemous religion,” the cleric said. “The rest of you have until the end of the week to join the correct religion, or else.” He combed his fingers through sleek blonde hair before leaving. The crowd parted as he walked past, until he caught Rei watching him. She averted her gaze, kicking herself for attracting his attention.
She peered at her watch, trying to appear bored as the cleric approached her. The holographic hands reminded her she was running late, but she never ran from a fight. She pulled her dark hair up in a knot as she began to perspire. Her lips pressed together until there was nothing more than a line after the crowd dispersed and left the boy’s body on the ground.
“I hope you’re satisfied,” the cleric said. “His death is on your hands.”
Rei’s nails bit into her palm at the accusation. She wasn’t the one who decided which religion was the correct one and who should die for it. “Mine?” she growled.
“Yes, you and the others who so heinously turn your backs on the One True God.”
“Why are you so threatened by a boy who believes in many gods instead of one?” she asked, finally meeting his gaze.
“I am not threatened. The One True God wills it. The Dominion wills it.”
Rei’s legs grew weak, but she refused to back down as they locked eyes.
“And what of the will of the god queen?” she asked, standing a little straighter.
The cleric cackled. “She doesn’t exist and neither do those other false idols.”
“I believe she does.”
“You believe wrong.”
She rolled her eyes. They had been going back and forth like this for months. At first, Rei wanted to leave him be. She may not have agreed with his religion, but she respected his right to worship as he saw fit. But once he started trying to force his religion by boarding up the temple, bringing in Dominion soldiers to rough up locals who were caught worshiping during holy days, smashing the ceramic statues of the gods around town—including the one her brother bought for her—it became personal.
“I know you’re one of the reasons why many won’t follow the One True God.” His voice was dangerously low. “The people see you not converting, and they think they don’t have to either.”
“They shouldn’t have to.”
He crept closer to her, the smell of his cologne choking Rei. “You will convert. Even if I have to tie you down and perform the rite myself.”
Rei chuckled. “Tie me down? Kinky. Your threats don’t scare me. Try harder.” She spun on her heels and walked away, gritting her teeth. It took all of her willpower to not punch him in the throat.
“Remember you have a week,” he called. “A week until I make you the next example.”
She continued through the alley that opened to the two main roads intersecting at the center of town. She walked along the wall of the basilica of the One True God, where someone had decorated the outside with graffiti. The bright greens and blues contrasted against the pale earth-colored bricks.
Once she was sure the cleric hadn’t followed her, the adrenaline rushed from her legs and she leaned against the wall for support. Her heart pounded in her chest. She shouldn’t have allowed him to get so close.
“I wish someone would tie him down,” she muttered as she cut across the intersection, and one of the hover cars honked as she passed. She needed to get to the bar. It didn’t matter what the cleric threatened; he would never set foot in her place of business. She was safe there.
The cleric came into town shortly after the most recent elections and constantly flexed his powers, knowing he had the full weight of Dominion support behind him. She never bothered learning his name—that would have required humanizing him, and she wanted to do no such thing. Both religions had lived peacefully in the town of Ballarat for years. Rei didn’t understand why that had to change now. That wasn’t true. She knew it was a question of control. It was what the Dominion did best.
Rei wondered if she should go ahead and convert. The action would be hollow since she knew the gods existed. She knew they would return to save the star cluster—one had already been reborn.
She shook her head. If she gave into that monster’s demands, her influence would turn away more people from the gods. The idea fueled her anger and drove her to want to take action. No one should choose a religion based on what she did, anyway. People should believe what they wished.


Mari, a native Hoosier, currently lives in southern Germany where she entertains people with her adventures as an American expat in the Land of Beer and Pretzels on her blog as well as the adventures of her pugs, Abner and Roxy. When she’s not writing, Mari cooks, snowboards, dances to the beat of her own drum, reads late into the night, and binge watches Netflix with her husband. The God Queen is her debut novel.

Find M.L. and her books
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Sunday, October 20, 2019

Week in Review: 10/13-10/19

Books Received for Review

Nothing this week!

Books I've Read

Wicked Wonderland by Eva Chase
Wrathful Wonderland by Eva Chase
Wanton Wonderland by Eva Chase
Conspiracy of Ravens by J.C. McKenzie
A Ghost of a Chance by Debbie Cassidy

Reviews Posted

Shadow Frost by Coco Ma (@CHAOSFORCOCO, @BlackstoneAudio)


* New Releases for the week. Was there anything you were looking forward to reading?

* Monday- Interview + Giveaway: The Long Night: Blood Will Be Served by M.G. Darwish (@infrangilis, @XpressoTours)

* Wednesday- Interview + Giveaway: Immortal Defiance by Laura Maybrooke (@LMaybrooke, @XpressoTours)

* Friday-  Promo + Giveaway: Shattered Bonds by Faith Hunter (@HunterFaith, @AceRocBooks, @LetsTalkLTP)


* Did you know you can follow UFI on these other sites?

You can also add me (as in Stacy) to your friends on these sites if you're on them.

 * I love comments so if you see something you like (or not) please comment away and let me know.

Friday, October 18, 2019

Promo + Giveaway: Shattered Bonds by Faith Hunter (@HunterFaith, @AceRocBooks, @LetsTalkLTP)

Shattered Bonds 
Jane Yellowrock #13
Amazon  BN TheBD  Indibound  Audible
Jane Yellowrock must dig deep and find strength within herself if she is to survive in the latest novel in this New York Times bestselling series.

Jane Yellowrock is a shapeshifting skinwalker, and vampire killer-for-hire, but her last battle with an ancient arcane enemy has brought her low. She seeks retreat in the Appalachian Mountains to grieve the loss of her friends, and to heal--or to die--from the disease brought on by her magic.

But malevolent elements in the paranormal community still seek to destroy Jane, and the younger Son of Darkness stalks her, even into the safety of the hills. With nowhere to run and her body failing, the rogue-vampire hunter and her inner Beast must discover a way to defeat this new threat, and find a form that gives her a chance to fight another day.

Of Cats and Cars—a story of Beast, copyright Faith Hunter: Part Three

Author’s Note: This is a short story that fits nowhere. The timeline isn’t perfect but the fans won this story by pushing Beast’s FaceBook page and getting us to three thousand Likes. It was seen online for 30 hours. It will eventually be placed in the timeline, edited, altered, and expanded. Enjoy!
“The Circle III Hunting Ranch outside San Antonio, is family owned by the current generation of Ivers,” Sam said, “but it was started by Charles Ivers. He was a well-educated man, good lookin’, charmin’, traveling from Maine to see the wild west and make his fortune. He stopped in San Antonio where he met the exotic, beautiful, beloved, only child of Hector Casillas, a wealthy Mexican businessman.” Sam idled the Hummer in the middle of the road so they could stare through the iron fence down the long straight drive to the white-painted two-story home illuminated with landscaping lights. There were several outbuildings just beyond the house, and horses in the pastures to either side of the drive. 
The smells of hay, feed, manure, and horse came to Ed’s nose, awakening a forgotten longing in him.
“Charles Ivers fell in love and promptly married Olivia Casillas, who bore him three sons,” Sam said, “giving the older Casillas a happy, joy-filled later life watching his grandsons grow. When Olivia’s father passed and the Ivers inherited her father’s fortune, they purchased this land, and in 1849, before Texas was even a state, the Circle III cattle-brand and ranch was born. The O stands for Olivia, and the ‘I’s’ in the center of the circle stand for the three Ivers’ sons. A love story to last the generations.”
“Mmmm,” Ed said. He thought about a charismatic and beguiling young man who had found a way to acquire a fortune with nothing but charm. Ed had known many such men over the centuries. He had even been such a man. He asked, “Would you inquire of your employer about the possibility of a moonlight ride?”
Eli tilted his head in surprise at Edmund who merely smiled. It had been decades since he rode, but why not? He had forty-eight hours here before he was neck-deep in duels and the arcane rules and politesse of his own kind. Why not enjoy this mess Jane Yellowrock had gotten them into? Money talked and he had paid an unreasonable fortune for five-star service.
“Make that two of us,” Eli said. Then he grinned. “Prissy boy here will need a prissy English saddle, Sam, and a prissy flashy horse. I’d like a good, sturdy, neck-reining cattle pony.”
“You ride?” Edmund asked.
“I ride. I spent six months on horseback in-country once upon a time, tracking down a gang of bad hombres.” Eli chuckled and the sound was cold and harsh. “Uncle Sam’s finest know all sorts of things, Prissy Boy.”
“Are you challenging me for some reason,” Ed asked mildly, “or just for fun?”
Eli grinned, a sudden wild light in his eyes. “We can call it fun. For starters.”
The gate opened with the touch of a button and the Hummer turned down the drive. Alex had rented one of the log cabin cottages to the back of the house, and Sam dropped them off to freshen up while he proceeded on to the main house to inform the boss that the guests would like to begin their stay with a moonlight ride. As the Hummer rolled away into the night, Beast stretched into impossible positions and breathed in the night air with that sucking sound she made. She chuffed, rose onto her hind legs and placed her front paws on Ed’s chest, getting dust all over his lapels. 
He discovered that he didn’t really care. If he was dusty and dirty, who would dare to take offence? Besides, he could afford a dozen new suits if he so wished. He was the Emperor the of the European Mithrans. 
The realization hit him hard. 
He was the Emperor of the Mithrans. 
Leo Pelissier had plotted, contrived, and schemed for this, to get Edmund into this position, as a last-ditch maneuver should the Master of the City of New Orleans die. And then he had. Tears gathered in Ed’s eyes and wild grief filled his chest. His friend was buried. There was a million-to-one chance he could ever come back. And if he did, Leo would not be the vampire he once was. 
As if she felt his pain, Beast patted his cheek with one paw, the way she might a kitten. She chuffed into his face, dropped to all fours, and trotted into the darkness. Ed assumed she was getting the lay of the land. “Don’t kill anything tonight, cat. Our official hunt begins at dusk tomorrow.” In the distance he heard another chuff, but she was gone.

Beast loped into night. Smelled familiar deer and strange deer and … strange cows. And … bison. Beast crouched and belly crawled to small hillock. Night vision was green and silver and sharp and … bison were everywhere. Beast tightened. Pulled claws under self. Watched bison. Beast lay on warm stone and stared down into low land full of bison.
Many, many-more-than-five bison. Smell of bison filled nose. 


Ed stepped into the cabin, his hand-made, bespoke, calf leather dress shoes tapping on the dark stained wood floors. The log house was two stories, with the main living area open to the high rafters and dormers to let in light by day. As advertised, there the cabin had fifteen hundred square feet of living space, all the outer walls logs, all the inner walls rustic-looking wood. There was a stone, wood-burning fireplace with a bison head centered over it, and a wood-burning stove in the corner. The space was filled with old furniture. Not antiques, nothing from a civilized time, but just old furniture, all with a wild west flair, not a single piece more than a hundred, hundred-fifty years old. He was older than that. 
Old rifles hung on the walls, too high to remove without a ladder and wire cutters. There were America Tribal blankets on the upstairs railing, an old saddle draped out over the balcony, and of course, the ubiquitous antler chandelier. There were sepia tinted photographs of gunslingers and western cities. The dishes in the glass-fronted cabinet once used in a pharmacy were heavy stoneware; the glasses were cobalt blue from a department store, the mugs hand-turned. Inexpensive, but clean. The bedroom on the lower level had steel shutters on the widows with heavy draperies for a vampire’s daytime sleeping schedule, and a thumb-turning deadbolt on the inside of the bedroom for personal security. 
He walked into the vampire room to find Alex already there, his tablets spread over the bed. 
“Dibs,” the kid said. 
Ed merely looked at him. Drawing upon the smallest hint of his power, silent, deadly. Cold as an artic wind. He let his eyes bleed scarlet and his pupils widen. He kept his fangs in place. They were weren’t needed. All that was required at the moment was the reminder that he was in charge. That he was the predator. Alex had been obnoxious and bossy and acting out, as Jane might have said. So, he stared, holding Alex’s gaze, leaking power. Reminding the youngster that there was a pecking order. Or a feeding order. And Ed had brought no blood-servants to feed upon.
Alex broke into a sweat and stepped back. He gathered up his tablets. “It was a joke, Dude,” he muttered, practically jogging from the room.
“Was it?” Edmund asked, his voice carrying, yet soft as a whispered snarl. He dumped his gear on the bed and unpacked. Staring at the denim jeans in his suitcase. The button shirt. It was plaid. He hadn’t worn plaid since England. He hated plaid.
When in Rome, eat pasta. When on a southwest hunting ranch…


Faith Hunter is the New York Times and USAToday bestselling author of the Jane Yellowrock series, the Soulwood series, and the Rogue Mage series, as well as the author of 16 thrillers under pen the names Gary Hunter and Gwen Hunter. She has 40+ books in print.

Faith collects orchids and animal skulls, loves thunder storms, and writes. She likes to cook soup, bake homemade bread, garden, and run Class III whitewater rivers. She edits the occasional anthology and drinks a lot of tea. Some days she’s a lady. Some days she ain't.
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