Witch’s Bounty Blog Tour w Giveaway!

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I love this author, so when she has new books coming out, I have to grab her goodies up! 🙂 So, today, instead of her wolves- which I love- I have her witches, which I now also love!!! AND she has a great giveaway, so let me get right to it!! 

Witch’s Bounty (The Witch Chronicles, #1)

Witch’s Bounty

The Witch Chronicles, Book 1

Ann Gimpel

Publisher: Taliesin

Release Date: 3/6/14

Genre: Dark Paranormal Romance

Word count: 63,000 words

A demon-stalking witch teams up with a Sidhe, but their combined power, never mind their love, may be too late to make a difference.

Book Description:

One of only three remaining demon-stalking witches, Colleen is almost the last of her kind. Along with her familiar, a changeling spirit, she was hoping for a few months of quiet, running a small magicians’ supply store in Fairbanks, Alaska. Peace isn’t in the cards, though. Demons are raising hell in Seattle. She’s on her way out the door to help, when a Sidhe shows up and demands she accompany him to northern England to quell a demon uprising there.

Duncan swallowed uneasy feelings when the Sidhe foisted demon containment off onto the witches two hundred years before. He’s annoyed when the Sidhe leader sends him to haul a witch across the Atlantic to bail them out. Until he sees the witch in question. Colleen is unquestionably the most beautiful woman he’s ever laid eyes on. Strong and gutsy, too. When she refuses to come with him, because she’s needed in Seattle, he immediately offers his assistance. Anything to remain in her presence.

Colleen can’t believe how gorgeous the Sidhe is, but she doesn’t have time for such nonsense. She, Jenna, and Roz are the only hedge Earth has against being overrun by Hell’s minions. Even with help from a powerful magic wielder like Duncan, the odds aren’t good and the demons know it. Sensing victory is within their grasp, they close in for the kill.

Book Trailer: http://youtu.be/9Dyrl06IANo 

Excerpt:

…The bells around the shop door clanged a discordant riot of notes. “Crap!” Jenna shot to her feet. “I should have locked the damned door.”

“Back to cat form.” Colleen flicked her fingers at Bubba, who shrank obligingly and slithered out of clothing, which puddled around him. She snatched up his shirt and pants and dropped them back into the canister.

“I say,” a strongly accented male voice called out. “Is anyone here?”

“I’ll take care of the Brit,” Colleen mouthed. “Take Bubba to the basement and practice.”

She got to her feet and stepped past the curtain. “Yes?” She gazed around the dimly lit store for their customer.

A tall, powerfully built man, wearing dark slacks and a dark turtleneck, strode toward her, a woolen greatcoat slung over one arm. His white-blond hair was drawn back into a queue. Arresting facial bones—sculpted cheeks, strong jaw, high forehead—captured her attention and stole her breath. He was quite possibly the most gorgeous man she’d ever laid eyes on. Discerning green eyes zeroed in on her face, caught her gaze, and held it. Magic danced around him in a numinous shroud. Strong magic.

What was he?

And then she knew. Daoine Sidhe. The man had to be Sidhe royalty. No wonder he was so stunning it almost hurt to look at him.

Colleen held her ground. She placed her feet shoulder width apart and crossed her arms over her chest. “What can I help you with?”

“Colleen Kelly?”

Okay, so he knows who I am. Doesn’t mean a thing. He’s Sidhe. Could have plucked my name right out of my head. “That would be me. How can I help you?” she repeated, burying a desire to lick nervously at her lips.

“Time is short. I’ve been hunting you for a while now. Come closer, witch. We need to talk.”

***

Duncan Regis eyed the grim-faced woman standing in front of him. She was quite striking with such stunning bone structure—high cheekbones, square jaw—she could have been a runway model. Her unwavering pale blue eyes held his gaze. Dressed in brown wool slacks, a multicolored sweater, and scuffed leather boots, she had auburn curls that cascaded to waist level. A scattering of freckles coated her upturned nose. Her lips would have been full if they weren’t pursed into a hard line.

He knew he was staring, but couldn’t help himself. Colleen was tall for a woman, close to six feet, with well-defined shoulders, generous breasts, and a slender waist that flared to trim hips. He smelled her apprehension and was pleased she was able to cloak it so well with the defiant angle of her chin and the challenge in her icy stare.

Despite his earlier command, she didn’t move. Annoyance coiled in his gut. He could summon magic and force her, but he wanted—no, make that needed—her cooperation. Compulsion spells had a way of engendering lingering resentments. He smiled, but it felt fake so he gave it up. “I like women with spirit, but I’m used to being obeyed.”

She frowned and tilted her chin another notch. “I’ll just bet you are. I’m not coming one angstrom closer until you tell me why a Sidhe is hunting for me.”

Surprise registered. He tried to mask it, just like he’d attempted to disguise himself in a human glamour. Duncan tamped down a wry grin, wondering if his second ploy had worked any better than his first.

“Not really.” She tapped one booted toe. “I read minds. You’ll have to do a better job warding yours, if you want to keep me out.” Colleen exhaled briskly. “Look. Maybe it would be easier if you just told me why you’re here. I’m sort of busy just now and I don’t have a bunch of time to spar with you.”

“You don’t have any choice.”

“Oh yes I do.” Anger wafted from her in thick clouds. Along with it a spicy, rose scent, tinged with jasmine, tickled his nostrils and did disconcerting things to his nether regions. He resisted an urge to rearrange his suddenly erect cock. Colleen unfolded her arms, extended one, and pointed toward the door. “Out. Now.”

“You’re making a terrible mistake—”

“Maybe so, but this is my turf. If you force me with your magic, you’ll have broken the rules that bind your kind—and the covenant amongst magic-wielders.”

Duncan’s temper kindled, but it didn’t dampen the lust seeping along his nerve endings. Rules be damned. He could flatten this persnickety witch, or better yet, weave a love spell and bind her to him that way. Maybe he should do just that and have done with things. He clasped his hands behind him to quash the temptation to call magic. The movement stretched his trousers across his erection, making it obvious if she chose to look down.

Something dark streaked from the back of the shop and planted itself in front of him, hissing and spitting. Gaia’s tits. A cat. He stared at it. Hmph. Maybe not a cat after all. Duncan reached outward with a tendril of magic. Before it reached the creature, Colleen bent and scooped it into her arms. The not-a-cat wriggled and hissed, but she held fast.

“Leave him alone,” she said through clenched teeth. “He’s mine.”

Duncan narrowed his eyes. “Damn if it isn’t a changeling. How’d he end up with you?”

Her foot tapped the scarred wooden floor again, its beat so regular it could have been a metronome. “I asked you a whole lot of questions.” She took a step backward. “But the only one I want to know the answer to is—”

“What the fuck are you doing?” Jenna wavered into view, having teleported in from somewhere. Her gaze landed on the cat. “Thank Christ! For a minute there I thought the little bastard got away from me.”

“Jenna,” Colleen snapped. “The Sidhe have deigned to call.”

The other woman whipped around and stared at Duncan. He stared back. What was it with these witches? Had they taken some sort of potion to supersize themselves? She made Colleen look positively petite. Jenna sidled closer to Colleen; part of her height came from high heels, but she was still an imposing woman. “What does he want?” she growled.

Duncan cleared his throat. “I’m right here. You can ask me.”

“Fine.” Jenna put her hands on her hips. “What are you doing here?”

“How do you know I want anything?” he countered, trying to buy time to figure out what to do now. He hadn’t counted on two witches, and a changeling.

“Because if you didn’t, Colleen would have shooed you out of here by now. You really do need to leave. We’re busy.”

He snorted. “Yes. Colleen made that abundantly clear.” He looked from one witch to the other. At least his erection was fading a bit. Crowds always had a dampening effect on his libido. Many other Sidhe thrived on group sex, but he’d never appreciated its appeal.

“Either tell us what you want right now,” Colleen moved toward him, cat still in her arms, “or leave. I’m going to count to three—”

“Maeve’s teeth, witch! We’re on the same side.”

“Generally speaking,” Jenna joined Colleen about three feet away from him, “that’s probably true, but the Sidhe have never helped us.”

Colleen quirked a brow. “No, they haven’t.” Her eyes narrowed. “And I have this prescient feeling that Sidhe-boy here is about to ask for a pretty big favor.”

“Sidhe-boy?” The dregs of his lust scattered; he crimped his hands into fists. “Show some respect.”

“You’re not respecting me,” Colleen said. “I’ve asked you to leave—twice. No, make that three times.” The not-a-cat finally twisted free. He skimmed over the distance to Duncan and buried his claws in his leg.

“Why you changeling bastard!” Duncan shook his leg. The thing didn’t even budge. He bent, curled his hands around the furred body, and tugged. The thing bit him. Anger flashed. Magic followed. The changeling howled and fell into a heap on the floor.

“Goddammit!” Colleen shrieked. “He was just trying to protect me. If you’ve killed him…”

“I didn’t. He’s only stunned.” Duncan rubbed his ankle, glanced at the puncture wounds on his hand, and directed healing magic to both places.

Colleen sprang forward and gathered the creature into her arms. Duncan felt her magic quest into its small body. She blew out an audible breath. Cradled against her, shrouded by her long hair, the changeling mewled softly.

Duncan shook his head. He’d hoped to be subtle, accommodating, encouraging, so the witch would at least hear him out with an open mind. The time for that was long past. “All right.” He spread his hands in front of him. The flesh wounds on the one were already nearly closed. “I’m here because we’ve had problems with Irichna demons—”

“Christ on a fucking crutch,” Jenna cut in. “Seems like they’re on everyone’s mind these days. We were just—”

Colleen rounded on her. “Shut up!”

“Oops. Sorry.” Jenna held out her arms for the changeling. “I’ll just take him and—”

“No.” Colleen’s voice was more like a growl. “You’ll stay right here.” She placed the changeling in the other witch’s arms and turned to face Duncan. “I know you’re Sidhe, but who are you?”

“Duncan Regis.” He held out a hand. She ignored it, so he let it drop to his side.

“Regis, Regis,” she mumbled, her eyes narrowed in thought. “Ruling class from somewhere in Scotland.”

He nodded, impressed. “Northern England, at the moment, but the border has moved around a bit over the years. I do lay claim to Scottish roots. I didn’t know witches studied our family lines.”

“Witches don’t, but I did.”

“Any particular reason?” He was almost sorry he’d asked. She had strong feelings about the Sidhe, and he was about to find out why.

The changeling yowled, obviously recovered from his semi-comatose state. Jenna cursed and set him down. “Damn it! He scratched me.”

Duncan thought about saying something cheery, like welcome to the club, but bit back the words.

Colleen rolled her eyes. “He wants to talk. There’ll be no peace until he shifts.” She flicked magic toward the creature winding itself between her booted feet. The air shimmered and a rather large gnome took form.

He rocked toward Duncan with a bow-legged gait that made him look like a drunken sailor; his open mouth displayed squared off teeth. “I’ll tell you why she knows about you.” The changeling drew himself to his full height of about three-and-a-half feet. “She came to the Old Country looking for help during the last demon war. You Sidhe were too high and mighty to get your hands dirty, so she had to settle for me.”

Colleen snickered. “Not exactly the way I might have described it, but close enough. Hey, Bubba! Get some clothes on.”

“Later,” the changeling snapped without looking at her.

“Which of us did you approach?” Duncan made the question casual. Whoever turned Colleen down had broken the covenant binding magic-wielders to come to one another’s aid in times of need. He wondered if she knew.

“Of course I do.” She sneered. “Your thoughts are as transparent as a child’s. Even Bubba here,” she pointed to the changeling, “does a better job masking his feelings when he puts his mind to it.”

“Thanks.” The changeling glowered at her before transferring his attention back to Duncan.

“What kind of name is Bubba?” Duncan linked to the changeling, and was surprised by the complexity of his thoughts. Maybe the witches had been a good influence.

“You didn’t have to just push your way in.” The changeling screwed up his seamed face in disgust, but didn’t draw back. “My true name is Niall Eoghan.”

“Clothes,” Colleen reminded him.

Bubba made a face at her, turned, and walked behind one of the display cases. When he emerged, he wore wide-bottomed green trousers and a black shirt.

“Irish.” Puzzle pieces clicked into place and Duncan transferred his attention back to Colleen. “You never did tell me who you’d asked for help. It appears they not only turned you down, but chased you across the Irish Sea.”

“We left voluntarily,” Jenna said.

Colleen’s lips twisted in distaste. Whatever she remembered apparently didn’t sit well. “We spoke with two Sidhe at Inverlochy Castle outside Inverness. They refused to give us their names, but said they were princes over your people. They heard us out and sent us packing. Gave us twenty-four hours to leave Scottish soil.”

“I was all for staying,” Jenna chimed in. “After all, we had passports.”

“Was it just the two of you?” Duncan asked.

“Roz was with us,” Colleen said.

Understanding washed through him. “Three. You brought three to maximize your power.”

Colleen’s full mouth split into a chilly smile. “We were under attack by the Irichna. Would you have done any less?”

“Probably not. So after we, that is, the Sidhe—”

“We worked fine,” Bubba said flatly. “Unless you’ve decided to renounce your heritage.”

Duncan traded pointed looks with the changeling. “Speaking of magic, you’re stronger than any changeling I’ve ever come across.”

“That’s because you’re used to our feeble Scottish cousins. They were stronger before you stripped their magic and diverted it for your own purposes.”

“Enough.” Colleen snapped her fingers. “Or I’ll change you back into a cat. We don’t need a history lesson just now.” She shook her hair back over her shoulders. The movement strained her sweater tighter across her breasts. Duncan dragged his gaze elsewhere.

“About the Irichna—” he began.

“We can’t help you,” Colleen said flatly.

“Why not? We’d pay you well.”

“It’s not a matter of money, although I’m not sure you could afford us.”

“We have an, um, previous engagement,” Jenna offered.

“Whoever it is, we need you more than they do.” He looked from one witch to the other.

Colleen dropped her gaze and rubbed the bridge of her nose between her thumb and index fingers. When she looked up, the skin around her eyes was pinched with worry. “I’m not sure it’s a matter of who needs whom more.” She speared him with her pale blue gaze. “Do the Sidhe know why the demons are so much more active here of late?”

He debated how much to tell her. Given her ability to burrow inside his head, it was unlikely he’d be able to hide much. If he told her everything, though, it might piss her off. Hell’s bells, it annoyed the crap out of him. “Not exactly.”

Her nostrils flared. “You can do better than that. If you can’t, the door is behind you.” She folded her arms beneath her breasts. “Talk now or leave now. It’s all the same to me.”

About the Author:

Ann

Ann Gimpel is a mountaineer at heart. Recently retired from a long career as a psychologist, she remembers many hours at her desk where her body may have been stuck inside four walls, but her soul was planning yet one more trip to the backcountry. Around the turn of the last century (that would be 2000, not 1900!), she managed to finagle moving to the Eastern Sierra, a mecca for those in love with the mountains. It was during long backcountry treks that Ann’s writing evolved. Unlike some who see the backcountry as an excuse to drag friends and relatives along, Ann prefers solitude. Stories always ran around in her head on those journeys, sometimes as a hedge against abject terror when challenging conditions made her fear for her life, sometimes for company. Eventually, she returned from a trip and sat down at the computer. Three months later, a five hundred page novel emerged. Oh, it wasn’t very good, but it was a beginning. And, she learned a lot between writing that novel and its sequel.

Around that time, a friend of hers suggested she try her hand at short stories. It didn’t take long before that first story found its way into print and they’ve been accepted pretty regularly since then. One of Ann’s passions has always been ecology, so her tales often have a green twist.

In addition to writing, Ann enjoys wilderness photography. She lugs pounds of camera equipment in her backpack to distant locales every year. A standing joke is that over ten percent of her pack weight is camera gear which means someone else has to carry the food! That someone is her husband. They’ve shared a life together for a very long time. Children, grandchildren and three wolf hybrids round out their family.

www.anngimpel.com

http://anngimpel.blogspot.com

http://www.amazon.com/author/anngimpel

http://www.facebook.com/anngimpel.author

@AnnGimpel (for Twitter)

My Review:

Ok, so this is a very interesting story of not only how witches were created but how they work and function, and that there are different types. Back in the day, there were all different kind of supernatural creatures, including witches and Sidhe, among other things, but let’s just say that the Sidhe decided to throw the witches under the bus so they didn’t have to get their hands dirty. And this story shows you just how rough it has gotten. one Sidhe meets some witches and some big changes come about 🙂 

Let’s start with our witches, Colleen specifically. Colleen is a demon stalker witch, and this means she literally catches bad demons and carts them back to hell.  She’s strong willed, she’s determined, brave, and quite bad ass in my opinion. Plus she has the coolest Changeling familiar, named Bubba. That’s just SO COOL!!! She may not have a whole lot of big magic, but her magic is still something to be nervous about AND she has her demon carting powers and fighting skills and that alone scares me. And when she meets Duncan, she’s furious with him and his kind, but he also grows on her as he continues to stand by her side. And with Roz and Jenna being the only other two demon stalking witches left, their kind is very important and she’s very protective of them! 

Duncan is just damn pretty LOL He is. He’s powerful and he’s a Sidhe royal, but he’s willing to give it up to help Colleen and her sisters, but mainly Colleen. I think his character grows the most, because he started out being annoyed having to answer questions, you know normal ones like “who are you” and “why are you here”. He’s never been turned down or questions, or not revered even, so him being at the bottom of the totem pole was a whole new kind of reality for him. Plus, he’s got some serious feelings for Colleen and you know what they say, Love makes you do stupid things 🙂 

Overall, I loved the story, because it’s not just a great plot, or wonderful characters, but the history that these characters were built on was fascinating. There’s a whole fresh look at how supernaturals came to be and what they were made for. And the plot is excellent. The side characters were wonderful. Wait til you meet Bubba, Roz, and Jenna. And there’s something cool about the good guys winning, even if it means they have to keep going into battle, the demons need to not be baddies LOL so 5 WITCHY GOOD PAWS from me 🙂 

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Giveaway!!

There is a huge tour wide giveaway for an amazon gift card, so GO HERE TO ENTER!!! 

I wanna thank the author and Bewitching book tours for giving me good books and excellent things to give away to you guys! I hope you check this one out, or this author and her many many great books! Happy reading and later gators!! 

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Earth’s Requiem Spotlight!

Hello everyone! I know I just had her over, but I HAD to have her over AGAIN! 🙂 Ms. Gimpel is a favorite of mine and she writes some great books! 🙂 So let me show you! 

Earth's Requiem (Earth Reclaimed #1)

Earth’s Requiem

Earth Reclaimed, Book 1

By Ann Gimpel

Publisher: Musa

ISBN:  978-1-61937-652-6

Release Date: 10/4/13

Genre: Urban Fantasy/Romance

101,000 words

Resilient, kickass, and determined, Aislinn’s walled herself off from anything that might make her feel again. Until a wolf picks her for a bond mate and a Celtic god rises out of legend to claim her for his own.

Book Description:

Aislinn Lenear lost her anthropologist father high in the Bolivian Andes. Her mother, crazy with grief that muted her magic, was marched into a radioactive vortex by alien creatures and killed. Three years later, stripped of every illusion that ever comforted her, twenty-two year old Aislinn is one resilient, kickass woman with a take no prisoners attitude. In a world turned upside down, where virtually nothing familiar is left, she’s conscripted to fight the dark gods responsible for her father’s death. Battling the dark on her own terms, Aislinn walls herself off from anything that might make her feel again.

Fionn MacCumhaill, Celtic god of wisdom, protection, and divination has been laying low since the dark gods stormed Earth. He and his fellow Celts decided to wait them out. After all, three years is nothing compared to their long lives. On a clear winter day, Aislinn walks into his life and suddenly all bets are off. Awed by her courage, he stakes his claim to her and to an Earth he’s willing to fight for.

Aislinn’s not so easily convinced. Fionn’s one gorgeous man, but she has a world to save. Emotional entanglements will only get in her way. Letting a wolf into her life was hard. Letting love in may well prove impossible. 

Excerpt:  Chapter One

Aislinn pulled her cap down more firmly on her head. Snow stung where it got into her eyes and froze the exposed parts of her face. Thin, cold air seared her lungs when she made the mistake of breathing too deeply. She’d taken refuge in a spindly stand of leafless aspens, but they didn’t cut the wind at all. “Where’s Travis?” she fumed, scanning the unending white of a high altitude plain that used to be part of Colorado. Or maybe this place had been in eastern Utah. It didn’t really matter much anymore.

Something flickered at the corner of her eye. Almost afraid to look, she swiveled her head to maximize her peripheral vision. Damn! No, double damn. Half-frozen muscles in her face ached, her jaw tightened. Bal’ta—a bunch of them—fanned out a couple of hundred yards behind her, closing the distance eerily fast. One of many atrocities serving the dark gods that had crawled out of the ground that night in Bolivia, they appeared as shadowy spots against the fading day. Places where edges shimmered and merged into a menacing blackness. If she looked too hard at the center of those dark places, they drew her like a lodestone. Aislinn tore her gaze away.

Not that the Bal’ta—bad as they were—were responsible for the wholesale destruction of modern life. No, their masters—the ones who’d brought dark magic to Earth in the first place—held that dubious honor. Aislinn shook her head sharply, trying to decide what to do. She was supposed to meet Travis here. Those were her orders. He had something to give her. Typical of the way the Lemurians ran things, no one knew very much about anything. It was safer that way if you got captured.

She hadn’t meant to cave and work for them, but in the end, she’d had little choice. It was sign on with the Lemurians—Old Ones—to cultivate her magic and fight the dark, or be marched into the same radioactive vortex that had killed her mother.

Her original plan had been to wait for Travis until an hour past full dark, but the Bal’ta changed all that. Waiting even one more minute was a gamble she wasn’t willing to risk. Aislinn took a deep breath. Chanting softly in Gaelic, her mother’s language, she called up the light spell that would wrap her in brilliance and allow her to escape—maybe. It was the best strategy she could deploy on short notice. Light was anathema to Bal’ta and their ilk. So many of the loathsome creatures were hot on her heels, she didn’t have any other choice.

She squared her shoulders. All spells drained her. This was one of the worst—a purely Lemurian working translated into Gaelic because human tongues couldn’t handle the Old Ones’ language. She pulled her attention from her spell for the time it took to glance about. Her heart sped up. Even the few seconds it took to determine flight was essential had attracted at least ten more of the bastards. They surrounded her now. Well, almost.

She shouted the word to kindle her spell. Even in Gaelic, with its preponderance of harsh consonants, the magic felt awkward on her tongue. Heart thudding double time against her ribs, she hoped she’d gotten the inflection right. Moments passed. Nothing happened. Aislinn tried again. Still nothing. Desperate, she readied her magic for a fight she was certain she’d lose and summoned the light spell one last time. Flickers formed. Stuttering into brilliance, they pushed against the Bal’tas’s darkness.

Yesssss. Muting down triumph surging through her—no time for it—she gathered the threads of her working, draped luminescence about herself, and loped toward the west. Bal’ta scattered, closing behind her. She noted with satisfaction that they stayed well away from her light. She’d always assumed it burned them in some way.

Travis was on his own. She couldn’t even warn him that he was walking into a trap. Maybe he already had. Which would explain why he hadn’t shown up. Worry tugged at her. She ignored it. Anything less than absolute concentration, and she’d fall prey to his fate—whatever that had been.

Vile hissing sounded behind her. Long-nailed hands reached for her, followed by shrieks when one of them came into contact with her magic. She sneaked a peek over one shoulder to see how close they truly were. One problem with all that light was that it illuminated the disgusting things. Between five and six feet tall, with barrel chests, their bodies were coated in greasy-looking brown hair. Thicker hair hung from their scalps and grew in clumps from armpits and groins. Ropy muscles bulged under their hairy skin. Orange eyes gleamed, reflecting her light back at her. Their foreheads sloped backward, giving them a dimwitted look, but Aislinn wasn’t fooled. They were skilled warriors, worthy adversaries who’d wiped out more than one of her comrades. They had an insect-like ability to work as a group using telepathic powers. Though she threw her Mage senses wide open, she was damned if she could tap into their wavelength to disrupt it.

Chest aching, breath coming in short, raspy pants, she ran like she’d never run before. If she let go of anything—her light shield or her speed—they’d be on her, and it would be all over. Dead just past her twenty-second birthday. That thought pushed her legs to pump faster. She gulped air, willing everything to hold together long enough.

Minutes ticked by. Maybe as much as half an hour passed. She was tiring. It was hard to run and maintain magic. Could she risk teleportation? Sort of a beam me up, Scotty, trick. Nope, she just wasn’t close enough to her destination yet. Something cold as an ice cave closed around her upper arm. Her flesh stung before feeling left it. Head snapping to that side, she noted her light cloak had failed in that spot. Frantic to loosen the creature’s grip, she pulled a dirk from her belt and stabbed at the thing holding her. Smoke rose when she dug her iron knife into it.

The stench of burning flesh stung her nostrils, and the disgusting ape-man drew back, hurling imprecations at her in its guttural language. Her gaze snaked through the gloom of the fading day as she tried to assess how many of the enemy chased her. She swallowed hard. There had to be a hundred. Why were they targeting her? Had they intercepted Travis and his orders? Damn the Lemurians anyway. She’d never wanted to fight for them.

I’ve got to get out of here. Though it went against the grain—mostly because she was pretty certain it wouldn’t work, and you weren’t supposed to cast magic willy nilly—she pictured her home, mixed magic from earth and fire, and begged the Old Ones to see her delivered safely. Once she set the spell in motion, there’d be no going back. If she didn’t end up where she’d planned, she’d be taken to task, maybe even stripped of her powers, depending on how pissed off the Lemurians were.

Aislinn didn’t have any illusions left. It had been three years since her world crumbled. Two since her mother died. She’d wasted months railing against God, or the fates, or whoever was responsible for robbing her of her boyfriend and her parents and her life, goddammit.

Then the Old Ones—Lemurians, she corrected herself—had slapped reason into her, forcing her to see the magic that kept her alive as a resource, not a curse. In the intervening time, she’d not only come to terms with that magic, but it had become a part of her. The only part she truly trusted. Without the magic that enhanced her senses, she’d be dead within hours.

Please… It was a struggle not to clasp her hands together in an almost forgotten gesture of supplication. Juggling an image of her home while maintaining enough light to hold the Bal’ta at bay, Aislinn waited. Nothing happened. She was supposed to vanish, her molecules transported by proxy to where she wished to go. This was way more than the normal journey—or jump—spell, though. Because she needed to go much farther.

She poured more energy into the teleportation spell. The light around her flickered. Bal’ta dashed forward, jaws open, saliva dripping. She smelled the rotten crypt smell of them and cringed. If they got hold of her, they’d feed off her until she was nothing but an empty husk. Or worse, if one took a shine to her, she’d be raped in the bargain and forced to carry a mixed breed child. Of course, they’d kill her as soon as the thing was weaned. Maybe the brat, too, if its magic wasn’t strong enough.

The most powerful of the enemy were actually blends of light and dark magic. When the abominations, six dark masters, had slithered out of holes between the worlds during a globally synchronized surge linked to the Harmonic Convergence, the first thing they’d done had been to capture several human women and perform unspeakable experiments on progeny resulting from purloined eggs and alien sperm.

Aislinn sucked in a shaky breath. She did not want to be captured. Suicide was a far better alternative. She licked at the fake cap in the back of her mouth. It didn’t budge. She shoved a filthy finger behind her front teeth and used an equally disgusting fingernail to pop the cap. She gripped the tiny capsule. Should she swallow it? Could she? Sweat beaded and trickled down her forehead, despite the chill afternoon air.

She’d just dropped the pill onto her tongue, trying to gin up enough saliva to make it go down, when the weightlessness associated with teleportation started in her feet like it always did. Gagging, she spat out the capsule and extended a hand to catch it. She missed. It fell into the dirt. Aislinn knew better than to scrabble for the poison pill. If she survived, she could get another from the Old Ones. They didn’t care how many humans died, despite pretending to befriend those with magic.

Her spell was shaky enough as it was. It needed more energy—lots more. Forgetting about the light spell, Aislinn put everything she had into escape. By the time she knew she was going to make it—apparently the Bal’ta didn’t know they could take advantage of her vulnerability as she shimmered half in and half out of teleport mode—she was almost too tired to care.

She fell through star-spotted darkness for a long time. It could have been several lifetimes. These teleportation jaunts were different than her simple Point A to Point B jumps. When she’d traveled this way before, she’d asked how long it took, but the Old Ones never answered. Everyone she’d ever loved was dead—and the Old Ones lived forever—so she didn’t have a reliable way to measure time. For all she knew, Travis might have lived through years of teleportation jumps. No one ever talked about anything personal. It was like an unwritten law. No going back. No one had a past. At least, not one they were willing to talk about.Voices eddied around her, speaking the Lemurian tongue with its clicks and clacks. She tried to talk with them, but they ignored her. On shorter, simpler journeys, her body stayed with her. She’d never known how her body caught up to her when she teletransported and was nothing but spirit. Astral energy suspended between time and space.

A disquieting thump rattled her bones. Bones. I have bones again… That must mean… Barely conscious of the walls of her home rising around her, Aislinn felt the fibers of her grandmother’s Oriental rug against her face. She smelled cinnamon and lilac. Relief surged through her. Against hope and reason, the Old Ones had seen her home. Maybe they cared more than she thought—at least about her. Aislinn tried to pull herself across the carpet to the corner shrine so she could thank them properly, but her head spun. Darkness took her before she could do anything else.

* * * *

Not quite sure what woke her, Aislinn opened her eyes. Pale light filtered in through rough cutouts high in the walls. Daytime. She’d been lucky to find this abandoned silver mine with shafts that ran up to ground level. It would have drained her to constantly have a mage light burning.

Is it tomorrow? Or one of the days after that? Aislinn’s head pounded. Her mouth tasted like the backside of a sewer. It was the aftereffect of having thoroughly drained her magic, but she was alive, goddammit. Alive. Memory flooded her. She’d been within a hairsbreadth of taking her own life. Her stomach clenched, and she rolled onto her side, racked by dry heaves. Had she swallowed any of the poison by accident?

A bitter laugh made her cracked lips ache. Of course she hadn’t. It didn’t take much cyanide to kill you. Just biting into the capsule without swallowing would have done it. She struggled to a sitting position. Pain lanced through her head, but she forced herself to keep her eyes open.

The world stabilized. She lurched to her feet, filled a chipped mug with water that ran perpetually down one wall of her cave, doubling as faucet and shower, and warmed it with magic. Rummaging through small metal bins, she dropped mint and anise into the water. Then a dollop of honey, obtained at great personal risk from a nearby hive. When she looked at the mug, it was empty. Her eyes widened in a face so tired that any movement was torture, and she wondered if she’d hallucinated making tea. Since she didn’t remember drinking the mixture, she made another cup for good measure.

Liquid on board, she started feeling halfway human. Or whatever she was these days. As she moved around her cozy hobbit hole of a home, her gaze stole over beloved books, a few odds and ends of china, and her grandmother’s rug—all that was left of her old life. By the time she had developed enough magic to transport both herself and things short distances, most of the items from the ruins of her parents’ home had been either pilfered by someone else or destroyed by the elements. She’d come by her few other possessions digging through the rubble of what was left of civilization.

Aislinn sighed heavily. It made her chest hurt, and she wondered if the Bal’ta had injured her before she’d made good on her escape. She shucked her clothes—tight brown leather pants, a plaid flannel shirt, and a torn black leather jacket—and took stock of her body. It looked pretty much the same. The long, white scar from under one breast catty corner to a hipbone was still there. Yeah, right. What could have happened to it? There might be a few new bruises, but all in all, her lean, tautly muscled form had survived intact. Before the world had imploded, she’d hated being a shred over six feet tall. Now she blessed her height. Long legs meant she could run fast.

She wrinkled her nose. A putrid stench had intensified as she removed her ratty leather garments. Realizing it was her, she strode to the waterfall in one corner of her cave and stood under its flow until her teeth chattered. Only then did she pull magic to warm herself. It seemed a waste to squander power on something she thought she should be able to tolerate. Besides, despite sleeping, she still hadn’t managed to totally recharge her reserves. That would only happen if she didn’t use any more magic for a while. Aislinn thumbed a sliver of handmade soap and washed her hair, diverting suds falling down her body to clean the rest of her.

Something threw itself against the wards she kept above ground. She felt it as a vibration deep in her chest. It happened again. She leapt from the shower and flung her long, red hair over her shoulders so she could see. Soapy water streamed down her body, but she didn’t want to sacrifice one iota of magic drying herself until she knew who—or what—was out there. Mage power would alert whatever was outside to her presence, so she snaked the tiniest tendril of Seeker magic out, winding it in a circuitous route so no one would be able to figure out where it came from. Seekers could pinpoint others with magic. That gift was also useful for sorting out truth, but it wasn’t her main talent, so it was weak.

She gasped. Travis? How could it possibly be him? He didn’t know where she lived. Had her Lemurian magelord told him?

Aislinn.” She heard his voice in her mind. “Let us in.”

Us no doubt meant that his bond creature was with him. When Hunter magic was primary, humans had bond animals. His was a civet with the most beautiful rust, golden, and onyx coat she’d ever seen. Should I? Indecision rocked her. The reason her cave meant safety was that no one knew about it. No one who would tell, anyway. She dragged a threadbare wool shift—once it had been green, but there were so many patches, it was mostly black now—over her head and shook water out of her hair.

A high-pitched screech reverberated in her head. It sounded like something had pissed off the civet. Travis shouted her name again. He left the mind speech channel open after that. Locked it open so she couldn’t close it off. Edgy, she wondered if he was setting some sort of trap. Aislinn thought she could trust him, but when it came right down to it, she didn’t trust anyone. Especially not the Old Ones. The only thing that made working with them tolerable was that she understood their motives. Or imagined she did. She still hadn’t forgiven them for killing her mother. Poor, sick, muddled Tara.

Aislinn.” A different voice this time. Metae, her Lemurian magelord. The one who’d made it clear two years before that, magic or no, they’d kill her if she didn’t come to terms with her power and fight for them. “Save your comrade. I do not know if I will arrive in time.”

All righty, then. Aislinn wondered if it would be possible. The civet yowled, hissed, and then yowled again. Travis made heavy, slurping sounds, as if at least one lung had been punctured. Dragging a leather vest over totally inadequate clothing, Aislinn slipped her feet into cracked, plastic Crocs and took off at a dead run down a passageway leading upward. The Crocs gave her feet some protections from rocks, but not from cold. She veered off, trying to pick an exit point that would put her behind the fighting. When she came to one of the many illusory rocks that blocked every tunnel leading to her home, she peeked around it. No point in being a sacrifice if she could help it. Travis wasn’t that close of an acquaintance. No one was.

A hand flew to her mouth to stifle sound. Christ! It couldn’t be. But it was. Though she’d only seen him once, that horrible night in Bolivia when her father had died, the thing standing in broad daylight had to be Perrikus—one of six dark gods holding what was left of Earth captive. Bright auburn hair flowing to his waist fluttered in the morning breeze. Eyes clear as fine emeralds one moment, shifting to another alluring shade the next, were set in a classically handsome face with sharp cheekbones and a chiseled jawline. His broad shoulders and chest tapered to narrow hips under a gossamer robe that left almost nothing to the imagination. The dark gods were sex incarnate, which was interesting, since the Old Ones were anything but. Promises of bottomless passion had been one of the ways the dark ones seduced Druids and witches and all those other New Age practitioners into weakening the gates between the worlds.

Heat flooded Aislinn’s nether regions. She wished she’d paid better attention when humans who’d actually run up against the dark gods had told her about it. Something about requiring human warmth to feed themselves, or remain on Earth, or…shit, her usually sharp mind just wasn’t there. She couldn’t focus on anything except getting laid.

Her groin ached for release. One of her hands sneaked under her clothing before she realized what she was doing. No! The silent shriek told her body to stand down, damn it. Now was not the time…and Perrikus definitely not the partner. Her body wasn’t listening. The next parts to betray her were her nipples, as they pebbled into hard points and pressed against the rough wool fabric of her hastily donned shift.

Wrenching her gaze to Travis—and her mind away from sex—she was unutterably grateful he was still on his feet. Wavering, but standing. The civet, every hair on end, stood next to him, a paw, with claws extended, raised menacingly.

“You know where the woman is,” Perrikus said, voice like liquid silver.

Aislinn heard compulsion behind the words. Hopefully, so did Travis.

“I followed you here,” the dark mage went on. “I heard you call out to her. So, where is she? Tell me, and I’ll let you go.”

The civet growled low. Travis spoke a command to silence it.

“I’m right here.” Aislinn stepped into view, glad her voice hadn’t trembled, because her guts sure were.

“Aislinn,” Travis gasped. He lurched in a rough half circle to face her. “I’m so sorry…”

“Can it,” she snapped.

The civet hissed at her, probably since she’d had the temerity to raise her voice to its bonded one.

“Okay.” She leveled her gaze at Perrikus. “You said he could go. Release him—and his animal, too.”

That lyrical voice laughed. “Oh, did I say that? I’d forgotten.”

“Let him go, and I’ll, ah, give you what you want.” Should buy me a couple minutes here. “Just turn off the damned libido fountain. I can’t think.”

His hypnotic gaze latched onto hers. “Why would I do that, human? You like how it feels. I smell the heat from between your legs.”

“Bastard. I liked it a whole lot better when I thought you were just a comic book character.” Aislinn wondered how much juice she had. This was one of the gods. Even if she was at her best, she didn’t think she’d be able to prevail in anything that looked like direct combat. “What do you want with me?” she asked, still trying to buy time to strategize. It wasn’t easy with what felt like a second heart pounding between her legs. She wanted to lay herself at his feet and just get it over with.

“What do you think?” He smiled. Fine, white teeth gleamed in that perfect jaw. “Children. You have power, human. Real power. And you’ve only now come to our attention.” He walked toward her, nice and slow. Sauntered. His hips swung with his stride. She saw he was ready under those sheer robes. Unfortunately, so was she, but she clamped down on her craving.

Aislinn ignored the moisture gushing down her thighs and reached for her magic. Travis limped over, joining hands with her. The civet wedged itself between them, warm against her lower leg. She felt the boost immediately. Even the sexual hunger receded a tiny bit. Enough to clear her mind. “On my count of three,” she sent. “One, two…”

No. Do just the opposite. He won’t be expecting it. Pull from air and water. I’ll blend fire. Aim for his dick. It’s a pretty big target just now.”

Power erupted from them. Even the civet seemed to be helping. Since she’d never worked with an animal before, she wasn’t certain just how the Hunter magic worked. Aislinn concentrated hard to keep the spell’s aim true. Travis was injured, so she took more of the burden.

Perrikus chanted almost lazily. Maybe he was drunk on his own ability, so egotistical he wouldn’t guard himself. Her spirits soared as soon as she realized Travis’s gambit had worked. Perrikus was using the counter spell for air and water. He hadn’t counted on the tenacity fire would give their working. Moments later, a muffled shriek burst from him, and he grappled for his crotch.

“Bitch.” No honey or compulsion in that epithet. He lunged for her.

Aislinn sidestepped him neatly, letting go of Travis. In a half crouch, she trained all her attention on their adversary. Hands raised, she began a weaving she hoped would unbalance him. Air shimmered at the edges of her vision.

I am here, child. Take your comrade to safety. He carries an important message from me.”

“Me—”

Do not speak my name aloud. Go.”

The shimmery place in the air sidled in front of Perrikus. Fiery edges lapped hungrily at his nearly transparent robes. Not waiting to be told a third time, Aislinn shooed the civet into Travis’s arms, draped an arm around him, and pulled invisibility about the three of them. The last thing she heard as she guided them toward the warren of passageways leading to her home was Metae baiting Perrikus.

“I was old before you were hatched. How dare you spread your filth?”

“Wh-Where are we?” Travis’s voice gurgled. It had taken time to help him cover the half mile back to her cave. The civet made little mewling noises as they walked, sounding worried about its human partner.

“About two hundred feet below whatever’s happening up there.” Aislinn flung a hand upward. “Do you have Healing magic?” She pushed him through the thick tapestry that served as a door to her home and caught the civet’s tail between fabric and rock. It hissed at her and then ran to Travis, light on its feet.

He nodded.

“Use it on yourself. It’s not one of my strengths.” Aislinn knew she sounded surly, but couldn’t help herself. She’d never wanted anyone anywhere near her home. And her body, ignited by Perrikus’s execrable magic, screamed for release. Nothing she could do about that so long as she had company. Not much privacy in the one room she called home.

“Make a power circle around me.”

Grateful for something to do, Aislinn strode around him three times, chanting. She felt Travis pull earth power from her as he patched the hurt places within himself. Satisfied he had what he needed, she retrieved her mug, got one for him, and made tea. In addition to goldenseal, she added marigolds to the decoction. Both were supposed to have healing qualities. By the time she finished brewing the tea, his color had shifted from gray to decidedly pink. His eyes were back to their normal brown. Moss green was his power color. She wondered if it was sheer coincidence that the civet’s eyes were the same odd shade. She understood her Mage and Seeker gifts. The other three human magics—Healer, Hunter, and Seer—remained shrouded in mystery.

Aislinn looked hard at Travis when she handed him the tea. Dirty blond dreadlocks hung halfway down his back. He was well past six feet, but thin to the point of gauntness, his skin stretched over broad shoulders. A leather belt with additional holes punched in it held baggy denim pants up. Battered leather boots, split along one side, and an equally worn leather vest over a threadbare green cotton shirt made him look just about as ragtag as she always did. No one ever had new clothes. She just patched what she had until the fabric fell apart. Then she looted amongst the dead, or possessions they’d left behind, for something else she could use.

“Thanks.” He took the tea and shifted uncomfortably from foot to foot. “You have books.” Surprise burned in his tone. “How did—?”

“You didn’t see them,” she broke in fiercely, thinking that’s what happened when you had people in your house. They saw things they weren’t supposed to—like books banned by a Lemurian edict.

“Okay,” he agreed. “I didn’t see a thing.” He hesitated. “Don’t worry. I wouldn’t want to get you in trouble.”

“Did you fix your body?” Aislinn grimaced. Gee, that didn’t sound very friendly. Pretty obvious I’m trying to change the subject. “Uh, sorry. I’m not used to entertaining.”

He dropped his gaze. “Yeah, I’m better. I’m not used to being anyone’s guest, either.”

“How’d you find me?” she blurted. Not all that polite either, but she really did want to know.

“Metae and Regnol, you know, my Lemurian magelord, told me to give you this yesterday.” Scrabbling inside his vest, he drew out an alabaster plaque. It was about the size of a domino and contained an encrypted message. “I tried to make our rendezvous on time, but everywhere I turned, something went wrong.” He paused long enough to take a breath. “I won’t bore you with the details, but it was past dark when I made it to the coordinates. You weren’t there, but I knew you had been. Traces of your energy remained.” He ground his teeth together. “I also sensed the Bal’ta. Because I feared the worst, I called the Old Ones—”

“What?” she broke in, incredulous. “We’re never supposed to—”

“I know that.” He sounded dismayed. “I was desperate. They’d told me not to bother reporting back in if I didn’t get the message to you. Anyway, they didn’t even lecture me for insubordination. Metae told me where to find you. And a whole bunch of other stuff about how she’d wanted to tell you herself, but couldn’t break away from something or other.”

Aislinn gulped her tea. It was hot and made her mouth hurt, but at least the lust that had been eating at her like acid, ever since Perrikus had turned those gorgeous eyes on her, receded a bit. Maybe it might, just might, leave her be. She’d even been wondering about a quickie with Travis—after he’d healed himself, of course. Heat spread up her neck. She knew she was blushing.

“What?” He stared at her.

The civet had curled itself into a ball at his feet, but it kept its suspicious gaze trained on her.

“Nothing.” She put down her mug and held out a hand for the plaque. “Let’s find out what was so important.”

Nodding silently, he handed it to her before sinking onto one of several big pillows scattered around the Oriental rug. The cat followed him. “Do you mind?” He pointed at a faded Navaho blanket folded in one corner of the room.

“Help yourself.”

“Thanks.” He unfolded it and draped it around his shoulders. “Takes a lot of magic to do Healings. I’m cold.”

With only half her mind on him, Aislinn held the alabaster between her hands. It warmed immediately and began to glow. She opened herself to it, knowing it would reveal its message, but only to her. The plaques were like that. The Old Ones keyed them to a single recipient. Death came swiftly to anyone else who tried to tamper with their magic. Metae’s voice filled her mind.

Child. Your unique combination of Mage and Seeker blood has come to the attention of the other side. They will stop at nothing to capture and use you. The Council has conferred. You will ready yourself for a journey to Taltos so we may better prepare you for what lies ahead. Take nothing. Tell no one. Travel to the gateway. Do not tarry. Once you are there, we will find you. You must arrive within four days.”

“What?” Travis had an odd look on his face, as if he knew he shouldn’t ask, but couldn’t help himself.

She shook her head. Alone. Destined to be alone—always. Sadness filled her. Images of her mother and father tumbled out of the place she kept them locked away. Memories of what it had felt like to be loved brought sudden tears to her eyes.

“Come here.” Travis opened his arms. “You don’t have to tell me a thing.”

The civet growled low. Travis spoke sharply to it, and it stood, arched its back, and walked to a spot a few feet away, where it circled before lying down.

Mortified by how desperately she wanted the comfort of those arms, Aislinn dropped to the floor and crawled to him, taking care to give his bond animal a wide berth. The blanket must have helped, because when she fitted her body to his, it was more than warm. The sexual heat she thought she’d moved beyond flared painfully in her loins. When he cupped her buttocks with his hands and pulled her against him, she wound her arms around him and held on.

“There,” he crooned, moving a hand to smooth her hair out of her face. “There, now. Let’s take comfort where we can, eh? There’s precious little to be had.” He laughed, sounding a bit self-conscious, before adding, “Even I could feel Perrikus’s spell. Got me going, too.”

He closed his lips over hers. She kissed him back, too aroused to be ashamed of her need.

My Review:

I love these kind of books. It falls right into the goodies, AND it’s so well done. Aliens are here, they are going to kill us all, unless you are “special”. I usually don’t do sci-fi, but it’s written like a fantasy as those aliens are here and they are coming for us. Think Sci-Fi meets Horror meets supernatural.  Most of it will be the story of Aislinn and how she is surviving the world as it is then, not now, because it’s basically an apocalyptic event.

Aislinn has a devastating life… She watches her father’s murder by something alien, and watches her mother lose herself because of this, then also be killed AND these beings are here to kill us all. Unless you have magic. Maybe you might live. She also gets caught by these beings. I feel really bad for her. She has essentially three huge tragic events happen to her, and she has to live with those who caused those events and be ruled by them. Until she meets a wolf. She doesn’t want to be controlled by those beings, so she agrees to help the wolf. Actually, he helps her LOL. She’s definitely stronger than me.

Rune is the wolf who is bonding with Aislinn. Fionn is the gorgeous magical man, he’s also a hunter. Together with Aislinn, they go on a shocking adventure to rid the world of these creatures that have devastated everything. Things and people are not what they seem, nothing is predictable, and everything you think you know will blow your mind when you find out the truth.

I can’t wait for the next installment. The plot had me glued to the story, and there are so many moments to surprise you, no matter how many guesses you get wrong. The writing is excellent, it’s emotional, it’s captivating, and I look forward to more hope that these characters can take the Earth back! Also, a little warning, there’s a little cliff hanger, so maybe just be a little prepared. I like cliff hangers, so excellent way to keep me on my toes. 4.5 SHOCKING JAW DROPPING PAWS!

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About the Author

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Short Bio:

Ann Gimpel is a clinical psychologist, with a Jungian bent.  Avocations include mountaineering, skiing, wilderness photography and, of course, writing.  A lifelong aficionado of the unusual, she began writing speculative fiction a few years ago. Since then her short fiction has appeared in a number of webzines and anthologies. Several paranormal romance novellas are available in e-format. Three novels, Psyche’s Prophecy, Psyche’s Search, and Psyche’s Promise are small press publications available in e-format and paperback. Look for three more urban fantasy novels coming this summer and fall: To Love a Highland Dragon, Earth’s Requiem and Earth’s Blood.

A husband, grown children, grandchildren and three wolf hybrids round out her family.

www.anngimpel.com

http://anngimpel.blogspot.com

http://www.amazon.com/author/anngimpel

http://www.facebook.com/anngimpel.author

@AnnGimpel (for Twitter)

 Long Bio: 

Ann Gimpel is a mountaineer at heart. Recently retired from a long career as a psychologist, she remembers many hours at her desk where her body may have been stuck inside four walls, but her soul was planning yet one more trip to the backcountry. Around the turn of the last century (that would be 2000, not 1900!), she managed to finagle moving to the Eastern Sierra, a mecca for those in love with the mountains. It was during long backcountry treks that Ann’s writing evolved. Unlike some who see the backcountry as an excuse to drag friends and relatives along, Ann prefers her solitude. Stories always ran around in her head on those journeys, sometimes as a hedge against abject terror when challenging conditions made her fear for her life, sometimes for company. Eventually, she returned from a trip and sat down at the computer. Three months later, a five hundred page novel emerged. Oh, it wasn’t very good, but it was a beginning. And, she learned a lot between writing that novel and its sequel.

Around that time, a friend of hers suggested she try her hand at short stories. It didn’t take long before that first story found its way into print and they’ve been accepted pretty regularly since then. One of Ann’s passions has always been ecology, so her tales often have a green twist.

In addition to writing, Ann enjoys wilderness photography. She lugs pounds of camera equipment in her backpack to distant locales every year. A standing joke is that over ten percent of her pack weight is camera gear which means someone else has to carry the food! That someone is her husband. They’ve shared a life together for a very long time. Children, grandchildren and three wolf hybrids round out their family.

Happy reading and later gators! I’m off to New Orleans (which is just a short drive for me) to meet up with the wonderful Heather Hildenbrand! 🙂

To Love A Highland Dragon Blog Tour!

Hello everyone! I have dragons for you today!!! 🙂 Let me show you! 

To Love a Highland Dragon (Dragon Lore, #1)

To Love a Highland Dragon

Dragon Lore, Book 1

Ann Gimpel

Publisher: Taliesin

ISBN:  978-1-962916-004-7

Release Date: 9/5/13

Genre: Urban Fantasy/Romance

71,000 words

A modern day psychiatrist and a dragon shifter stranded in time can’t escape their destiny, no matter how unlikely it seems.

Book Description:

In a cave deep beneath Inverness, a dragon shifter stirs and wakens. The cave is the same and his hoard intact, yet Lachlan senses something amiss. Taking his human form, he ventures above ground with ancient memories flooding him. But nothing is the same. His castle has been replaced by ungainly row houses. Men aren’t wearing plaids and women scarcely wear anything at all.

In Inverness for a year on a psychiatry fellowship, Dr. Maggie Hibbins watches an oddly dressed man pick his way out of a heather and gorse thicket. Even though it runs counter to her better judgment, she teases him about his strange attire. He looks so lost—and so unbelievably handsome —she takes him to a pub for a meal, to a barbershop, and then home. Along the way the hard-to-accept truth sinks in: he has to be a refugee from another era.

Never a risk-taker, Maggie’s carefully constructed life is about to change forever. Swept up in an ancient prophecy that links her to Lachlan and his dragon, she must push the edges of the impossible to save both the present and her heart.

Excerpt:

Kheladin listened to the rush of blood as his multi-chambered heart pumped. After eons of nothingness, it was a welcome sound. A cool, sandy floor pressed against his scaled haunches. One whirling eye flickered open, followed by the other.

Where am I? He peered around himself and blew out a sigh, followed by steam, smoke, and fire.

Thanks be to Dewi— Kheladin invoked the blood-red Celtic dragon goddess— I am still in my cave. It smelled right, but I wasna certain.

He rotated his serpent’s head atop his long, sinuous neck. Vertebrae cracked. Kheladin lowered his head and scanned the place he and Lachlan, his human bond mate, had barricaded themselves into. It might have only been days ago, but somehow, it didn’t seem like days, or even months or a few years. His body felt rusty, as if he hadn’t used it in centuries.

How long did I sleep?

He shook his head. Copper scales flew everywhere, clanking against a pile that had formed around him. More than anything, the glittery heap reinforced his belief that he’d been asleep for a very long time. Dragons shed their scales annually. From the looks of the pile circling his body, he’d gone through hundreds of molt cycles. But how? The last thing he remembered was retreating to the cave far beneath Lachlan’s castle and working with the mage to construct strong wards.

Had the black wyvern grown so powerful he’d been able to force his magic into the very heart of Kheladin’s fortress?

If that is true— If we were really his prisoner, why did I finally waken? Is Lachlan still within me?

Stop! I have to take things one at a time.

He returned his gaze to the nooks and crannies of his spacious cave. He’d have to take inventory, but it appeared his treasure hadn’t been disturbed. Kheladin blew a plume of steam upward, followed by an experimental gout of fire. The black wyvern, his sworn enemy since before the Crusades, may have bested him, but he hadn’t gotten his slimy talons on any of Kheladin’s gold or jewels.

He shook out his back feet and shuffled to the pool at one end of the cave where he dipped his snout and drank deeply. The water didn’t taste quite right. It wasn’t poisoned, but it held an undercurrent of metals that had never been there before. Kheladin rolled the liquid around in his mouth. He didn’t recognize much of what he tasted.

The flavors are not familiar because I have been asleep for so long. Aye, that must be it. Part of his mind recoiled; he suspected he was deluding himself.

“We’re awake.” Lachlan’s voice hummed in the dragon’s mind.

“Aye, that we are.”

“How long did we sleep?”

“I doona know.” Water streamed down the dragon’s snout and neck. He knew what would come next; he didn’t have to wait long.

“Let us shift. We think better in my body.” Lachlan urged Kheladin to cede ascendency.

“Ye only think that is true.” Kheladin pushed back. “I was figuring things out afore ye woke.”

“Aye, I’m certain ye were, but…” But what? “Och aye, my brain is thick and fuzzy, as if I havena used it for a verra long time.”

“Mine feels the same.”

The bond allowed only one form at a time. Since they were in Kheladin’s body, he still had the upper hand; the dragon didn’t think Lachlan was strong enough to force a shift without his help. There’d been a time when he could have but not now.

Was it safe to venture above ground? Kheladin recalled the last day he’d seen the sun. After a vicious battle in the great room of Lachlan’s castle, they’d retreated to his cave and taken their dragon form as a final resort. Rhukon, the black wyvern, had pretended he wanted peace. He’d come with an envoy that had turned out to be a retinue of heavily armed men…

Both he and Lachlan had expected Rhukon to follow them underground. Kheladin’s last thought before nothingness descended had been amazement their enemy hadn’t pursued them. Hmph. He did come after us but with magic. Magic strong enough to penetrate our wards.

“Aye, and I was just thinking the same thing,” Lachlan sniped in a vexed tone.

“We trusted him,” Kheladin snarled. “More the fools we were. We should have known.” Despite drinking, his throat was still raw. He sucked more water down and fought rising anger at himself for being gullible. Even if Lachlan hadn’t known better, he should have. His stomach cramped from hunger.

Kheladin debated the wisdom of making his way through the warren of tunnels leading to the surface in dragon form. There had always been far more humans than dragons. Mayhap it would be wiser to accede to Lachlan’s wishes before they crept from their underground lair to rejoin the world of men.

“Grand idea.” Lachlan’s response was instantaneous, as was his first stab at shifting.

It took half a dozen attempts. Kheladin was far weaker than he’d imagined and Lachlan so feeble he was almost an impediment. Finally, once a shower of scales cleared, Lachlan’s emaciated body stood barefoot and naked in the cave.

*

Lacking the sharp night vision he enjoyed as a dragon, because his magic was so diminished, he kindled a mage light and glanced down at himself. Ribs pressed against his flesh, and a full beard extended halfway down his chest. Turning his head to both sides, he saw shoulder blades so sharp he was surprised they didn’t puncture his skin. Tawny hair fell in tangles past his waist. The only thing he couldn’t see was his eyes. Absent a glass, he was certain they were the same crystal-clear emerald color they’d always been.

Lachlan stumbled across the cave to a chest where he kept clothing. Dragons didn’t need such silly accoutrements; humans did. He sucked in a harsh breath. The wooden chest was falling to ruin. He tilted the lid against a wall; it canted to one side. Many of his clothes had moldered into unusable rags, but items toward the bottom had fared better. He found a cream-colored linen shirt with long, flowing sleeves, a black and green plaid embroidered with the insignia of his house—a dragon in flight—and soft, deerskin boots that laced to his knees.

He slid the shirt over his head and wrapped the plaid around himself, taking care to wind the tartan so its telltale insignia was hidden in its folds. Who knew if the black wyvern—or his agents—lurked near the mouth of the cave? Lachlan bent to lace his boots. A crimson cloak with only a few moth holes completed his outfit. He finger-combed his hair and smoothed his unruly beard. “Good God, but I must look a fright,” he muttered. “Mayhap I can sneak into my castle and set things aright afore anyone sees me. Surely whichever of my kinsmen are inhabiting the castle will be glad the master of the house has finally returned.”

Lachlan worked on bolstering a confidence he was far from feeling. He’d nearly made it to the end of the cave, where a rock-strewn path led upward, when he doubled back to get a sword and scabbard—just in case things weren’t as sanguine as he hoped. He located a thigh sheath and a short dagger as well, fumbling to attach them beneath his kilt. Underway once again, he hadn’t made it very far along the upward-sloping tunnel that ended at a well-hidden opening not far from the postern gate of his castle, when he ran into rocks littering the way.

He worked his way around progressively larger boulders until he came to a huge one that totally blocked the tunnel. Lachlan stared at it in disbelief. When had that happened? In all the time he’d been using these passageways, they’d never been blocked by rock fall. If he weren’t so weak, summoning magic to shove the rock over enough to allow him to pass wouldn’t be a problem. As it was, simply walking uphill proved a challenge.

He pinched the bridge of his nose between a grimy thumb and forefinger. His mage light weakened.

If I can’t even keep a light going, how in the goddess’ name will I be able to move that rock?

Lachlan hunkered next to the boulder and let his light die while he ran possibilities through his head. His stomach growled and clenched in hunger. Had he come through however much time had passed to die like a dog of starvation in his own cave?

“No, by God.” He slammed a fist against the boulder. The air sizzled. Magic. The rock was illusion. Not real.

Counter spell. I need the counter spell.

Maybe I don’t. He stood, took a deep breath, and walked into the huge rock. The air did more than sizzle; it flamed. If he’d been human, it would have burned him, but dragons were impervious to fire, as were dragon shifters. Lachlan waltzed through the rock, cursing Rhukon as he went. Five more boulders blocked his tunnel, each more charged with magic than the last.

Finally, sweating and cursing, he rounded the last curve; the air ahead lightened. He wanted to throw himself on the ground and screech his triumph.

Not a good idea.

“Let me out. Ye have no idea what we’ll find.”

Kheladin’s voice in his mind was welcome but the idea wasn’t. “Ye are right. Because we have no idea what is out there, we stay in my skin until we are certain. We can hide in this form far more easily than we can in yours.”

“Since when did we begin hiding?” The dragon sounded outraged.

“Our magic is weak.” Lachlan adopted a placating tone. “’Tis prudent to be cautious until it fully recovers.”

“No dragon would ever say such a thing.” Deep, fiery frustration rolled off Kheladin.

Steam belched from Lachlan’s mouth. “Stop that,” he hissed, but his mind voice was all but obliterated by wry dragon laughter.

“Why? I find it amusing that ye think an eight foot tall dragon with elegant copper scales and handsome, green eyes would be difficult to sequester. A hesitation. “And infuriating that we need to conceal ourselves at all. Need I remind you we’re warriors?”

“Quite taken with yourself, eh?” Lachlan sidestepped the issue of hiding; he didn’t want to discuss it further and risk being goaded into something unwise. Kheladin chuckled and pushed more steam through Lachlan’s mouth, punctuated by a few flames.

Lost in a sudden rush of memories, Lachlan slowed his pace. As a mage, he would have lived hundreds of years, but bonded to a dragon, he’d live forever. In preparation, he’d studied long years with Aether, a wizard and dragon shifter himself. Along the way, Lachlan had forsaken much—a wife and bairns, for starters, for what woman would put up with a husband who was so rarely at home?—to bond with a dragon, forming their partnership. Once Lachlan’s magic was finally strong enough, there’d been the niggling problem of locating that special dragon willing to join its life with his.

Because the bond conferred immortality on both the dragon and their human partner, dragons were notoriously picky. After all, dragon and mage would be welded through eternity. The magic could be undone, but the price was high: mages were stripped of power and their dragon mates lost much of theirs, too, as the bond unraveled. Lachlan had hunted for over a hundred years before finding Kheladin. The pairing had been instantaneous on both sides. He’d just settled in with his dragon, and was about to hunt down a wife to grace his castle, when the black wyvern had attacked.

“What are ye waiting for?” Kheladin sounded testy. “Daydreaming is a worthless pursuit. My grandmother is two thousand years old, and she moves faster than you.”

Lachlan snorted. He didn’t bother to explain there wasn’t much point in jumping through the opening in the gorse and thistle bushes and right into Rhukon’s arms. An unusual whirring filled the air, like the noisiest beehive he’d ever heard. His heart sped up, but the sound receded. “What the hell was that?” he muttered and made his way closer to the world outside his cave.

Finally at the end of the tunnel, Lachlan stepped to the opening, shoved some overgrown bushes out of the way, and peered through. What he saw was so unbelievable, he squeezed his eyes tight shut, opened them, and looked again. Unfortunately, nothing had changed. Worse, an ungainly, shiny cylinder roared past, making the same whirring noise he’d puzzled over moments before. He fell backward into the cave, breath harsh in his throat, and landed on his rump. Not only was the postern gate no longer there, neither was his castle. A long, unattractive row of attached structures stood in its stead.

“Holy godhead. What do I do now?”

“We go out there and find something to eat,” the dragon growled.

Lachlan gritted his teeth together. Kheladin had a good point. It was hard to think on an empty stomach.

“Here I was worried about Rhukon. At least I understood him. I fear whatever lies in wait for us will require all our skill.”

“Ye were never a coward. It is why I allowed the bond. Get moving.”

The dragon’s words settled him. Ashamed of his indecisiveness, Lachlan got to his feet, brushed dirt off his plaid, and worked his way through the bushes hiding the cave’s entrance. As he untangled stickers from the finely spun wool of his cloak and his plaid, he gawked at a very different world from the one he’d left. There wasn’t a field—or an animal—in sight. Roadways paved with something other than dirt and stones were punctuated by structures so numerous, they made him dizzy. The hideous incursion onto his lands stretched in every direction. Lachlan balled his hands into fists. He’d find out what had happened, by God. When he did, he’d make whoever had erected all those abominations take them down.

An occasional person walked by in the distance. They shocked him even more than the buildings and roads. For starters, the males weren’t wearing plaids, so there was no way to tell their clan. Females were immodestly covered. Many sported bare legs and breeks so tight he saw the separation between their ass cheeks. Lachlan’s groin stirred, cock hardening. Were the lassies no longer engaging in modesty or subterfuge and simply asking to be fucked? Or was this some new garb that befit a new era?

He detached the last thorn, finally clear of the thicket of sticker bushes. Where could he find a market with vendors? Did market day even still exist in this strange environment?

“Holy crap! A kilt, and an old-fashioned one at that. Tad bit early in the day for a costume ball, isn’t it?” A rich female voice laced with amusement, sounded behind him.

Lachlan spun, hands raised to call magic. He stopped dead once his gaze settled on a lass nearly as tall as himself, which meant she was close to six feet. She turned so she faced him squarely. Bare legs emerged from torn fabric that stopped just south of her female parts. Full breasts strained against scraps of material attached to strings tied around her neck and back. Her feet were encased in a few straps of leather. Long, blonde hair eddied around her, the color of sheaves of summer wheat.

His cock jumped to attention. His hands itched to make a grab for her breasts or her ass. She had an amazing ass: round and high and tight. What was expected of him? The lass was dressed in such a way as to invite him to simply tear what passed for breeks aside and enter her. Had times changed so drastically that women provoked men into public sex? He glanced about, half expecting to see couples having it off with one another willy-nilly.

“Well,” she urged. “Cat got your tongue?” She placed her hands on her hips. The motion stretched the tiny bits of flowered fabric that barely covered her nipples still further.

Lachlan bowed formally, straightened, and waited for her to hold out a hand for him to kiss. “I am Lachlan Moncrieffe, my lady. It is a pleasure to—”

She erupted into laughter—and didn’t hold out her hand. “I’m Maggie,” she managed between gouts of mirth. “What are you? A throwback to medieval times? You can drop the Sir Galahad routine.”

Lachlan felt his face heat. “I fear I do not understand the cause of your merriment … my lady.”

Maggie rolled her midnight blue eyes. “Oh, brother. Did you escape from a mental hospital? Nah, you’d be in pajamas then, not those fancy duds.” She dropped her hands to her sides and started to walk past him.

“No. Wait. Please, wait.” Lachlan cringed at the whining tone in his voice. The dragon was correct that the Moncrieffe was a proud house. They bowed to no one.

She eyed him askance. “What?”

“I am a stranger in this town.” He winced at the lie. Once upon a time, he’d been master of these lands. Apparently that time had long since passed. “I am footsore and hungry. Where might I find victuals and ale?”

Her eyes widened. Finely arched blonde brows drew together over a straight nose dotted by a few freckles. “Victuals and ale,” she repeated disbelievingly.

“Aye. Food and drink, in the common vernacular.”

“Oh, I understood you well enough,” Maggie murmured. “Your words, anyway. Your accent’s a bit off.” His stomach growled again, embarrassingly loud. “Guess you weren’t kidding about being hungry.” She eyed him appraisingly. “Do you have any money?”

Money. Too late he thought of the piles of gold coins and priceless gems lying on the floor of Kheladin’s cave. In the world he’d left, his word had been as good as his gold. He opened his mouth, but she waved him to silence. “I’ll stand you for a pint and some fish and chips. You can treat me next time.”

He heard her mutter, “Yeah right,” under her breath as she curled a hand around his arm and tugged. “Come on. I have a couple of hours and then I’ve got to go to work. I’m due in at three today.”

Lachlan trotted along next to her. She let go of him like he was a viper when he tried to close a hand over the one she’d laid so casually on his person. He cleared his throat and wondered what he could safely ask that wouldn’t give his secrets away. He could scarcely believe this alien landscape was Scotland, but if he asked what country they were in, or what year it was, she’d think him mad. He wondered if the black wyvern had used some diabolical dark magic to transport his cave to another locale, and then thought better of it. Even Rhukon wasn’t that powerful.

“In here.” She pointed to a door beneath a flashing sigil. He gawked at it. One minute it was red, the next blue, the next green, illuminating the word Open. What manner of magic was this? “Don’t tell me you have temporal lobe epilepsy.” She stared at him. “It’s only a neon sign. It doesn’t bite. Move on through the door. There’s food on the other side,” she added slyly.

Feeling like a rube, Lachlan searched for a latch, didn’t find one, and pushed his shoulder against the door. It opened, and he held it with a hand so Maggie could enter first. “After you, my lady,” he murmured.

“Stop that.” She spoke into his ear as she went past. “No more my ladies. Got it?”

“I think so.” He followed her into a low ceilinged room lined with wooden planks. It was the first thing that looked familiar. Parts of it, anyway. Men—kilt-less men—sat at the bar, hefting glasses and chatting. The tables were empty.

“What’ll it be, Mags?” a man with a towel tied around his waist called from behind the bar.

“Couple of pints and two of today’s special. Come to think of it,” she eyed Lachlan, “make that three of the special.”

“May I inquire just what the special is?” Lachlan asked, thinking he might want to order something different.

Maggie waved a hand at a black board suspended over the bar. “You can read?”

“Of course.” He resented the inference he might be uneducated but swallowed back harsh words.

“Excellent. Then move.” She shoved her body into his in a distressingly familiar way for such a communal location. Not that he wouldn’t have enjoyed the contact if they were alone and he were free to take advantage of it… “All the way to the back,” she hissed into his ear. “That way if you slip up, no one will hear.”

He bristled. Lachlan Moncrieffe did not sit in the back of any establishment. He was always given a choice table near the center of things. He opened his mouth to protest but thought better of it.

She scooped an armful of flattened scrolls off the bar before following him to the back of the room. Once there, she dumped them onto the table between them. He wanted to ask what they were but decided he should pretend to know. He turned the top sheaf of papers toward him and scanned the close-spaced print. Many of the words were unfamiliar, but what leapt off the page was The Inverness Courier and presumably the current date: June 10, 2012.

It had been 1683 when Rhukon had chivied him into the dragon’s cave. Three-hundred twenty-nine years, give or take a month or two. At least he was still in Inverness—for all the good it did him.

“You look as if you just saw a ghost.” Maggie spoke quietly.

“No. I am quite fine. Thank you for inquiring … my, er…” His voice trailed off.

“Good.” She nodded approvingly. “You’re learning.” The bartender slapped two mugs of ale on the scarred wooden table.

“On your tab, Mags?” he asked.

She nodded. “Except you owe me so much, you’ll never catch up.”

Lachlan took a sip of what turned out to be weak ale. It wasn’t half bad but could have stood an infusion of bitters. He puzzled over what Maggie meant. Why would the barkeep owe her? His nostrils flared. She must work at the establishment—probably as a damsel of ill repute from the looks of her. Mayhap, she hadn’t been paid her share of whatever she earned in quite some time.

Protectiveness flared deep inside him. Maggie should not have to earn her way lying on her back. He’d see to it she had a more seemly position.

Aye, once I find my way around this bizarre new world. Money wouldn’t be a problem, but changing four-hundred-year-old gold coins into today’s tender might be. Surely there were still banks that might accomplish something like that.

One thing at a time, he reminded himself.

“So.” She skewered him with her blue gaze—Norse eyes if he’d ever seen a set—and took a sip from her mug. “What did you see in the newspaper that upset you so much?”

“Nothing.” He tried for an offhand tone.

“Bullshit,” she said succinctly. “I’m a doctor. A psychiatrist. I read people’s faces quite well, and you look as if you’re perilously close to going into shock on me.”

My Review:

I just love dragons. They are my like third favorite supernatural being. I know, third, but it’s important hahahaha 🙂 This is a start to a new series, and it’s historical type, with dragons and magic and fun things. And this dragon, he lived a long time ago, and then wakes up in present day time. I thought it was kind of funny. 🙂 Plus he woke up a dragon not a dude. He’s a little lost *giggle* 

So Lachlan is a dragon mage, who is scottish, and lived in the 1600s. He’s clueless about time because he didn’t actually live through it all, he just somehow wakes up and it’s today. As he goes out in his human form, he realizes just how much has changed and how different things really are. This is how he meets Dr Maggie. She’s the shrink. First she thinks he’s a total nut job, then realizes that some things aren’t what they always seem. They have a sweet relationship in the end. 

There’s a lot of things going on, but mainly we focus on those two, and in Maggie teaching Lachlan about this time, here and now, they are teaching each other about love and relationships, and magic. 🙂 It’s really cool because you have different belief systems between the 1600s and now, and things have evolved, except Lachlan. I mean what a great nap LOL 

I thought this was a fun, sweet, and easy read. The writing is great, which I expected, if you’ve ever read anything by Ms Ann. And her romances are always tastefully done. I look forward to more from her and I can’t wait for things to progress with this series! 4 Magically Dragon Delicious PAWS! 

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About the Author

Short Bio:

Ann Gimpel is a clinical psychologist, with a Jungian bent.  Avocations include mountaineering, skiing, wilderness photography and, of course, writing.  A lifelong aficionado of the unusual, she began writing speculative fiction a few years ago. Since then her short fiction has appeared in a number of webzines and anthologies. Several paranormal romance novellas are available in e-format. Three novels, Psyche’s Prophecy, Psyche’s Search, and Psyche’s Promise are small press publications available in e-format and paperback. Look for three more urban fantasy novels coming this summer and fall: To Tame a Highland Dragon, Earth’s Requiem and Earth’s Blood.

A husband, grown children, grandchildren and three wolf hybrids round out her family.

www.anngimpel.com

http://anngimpel.blogspot.com

http://www.amazon.com/author/anngimpel

http://www.facebook.com/anngimpel.author

@AnnGimpel (for Twitter)

Long Bio:

Ann Gimpel is a mountaineer at heart. Recently retired from a long career as a psychologist, she remembers many hours at her desk where her body may have been stuck inside four walls, but her soul was planning yet one more trip to the backcountry. Around the turn of the last century (that would be 2000, not 1900!), she managed to finagle moving to the Eastern Sierra, a mecca for those in love with the mountains. It was during long backcountry treks that Ann’s writing evolved. Unlike some who see the backcountry as an excuse to drag friends and relatives along, Ann prefers her solitude. Stories always ran around in her head on those journeys, sometimes as a hedge against abject terror when challenging conditions made her fear for her life, sometimes for company. Eventually, she returned from a trip and sat down at the computer. Three months later, a five hundred page novel emerged. Oh, it wasn’t very good, but it was a beginning. And, she learned a lot between writing that novel and its sequel.

Around that time, a friend of hers suggested she try her hand at short stories. It didn’t take long before that first story found its way into print and they’ve been accepted pretty regularly since then. One of Ann’s passions has always been ecology, so her tales often have a green twist.

In addition to writing, Ann enjoys wilderness photography. She lugs pounds of camera equipment in her backpack to distant locales every year. A standing joke is that over ten percent of her pack weight is camera gear which means someone else has to carry the food! That someone is her husband. They’ve shared a life together for a very long time. Children, grandchildren and three wolf hybrids round out their family.

I hope you guys check this one out! Happy reading and later gators! 

Roman’s Gold Blog Tou

Romans Gold Banner 450 x 169

Hello guys! First I wanna say HAPPY BOOK BIRTHDAY!!! Today is the release day for this book! 🙂 YAY! Second, I want to extremely apologize to the author, as I first had my post for the wrong day( I caught it in time to make sure it when up on the right say) and then I realized I was supposed to have read it for today and not next week. BAD DOG MAGHON!!! *sigh* So, I promise to have my review up this week for you guys and for the author. :/ I know, I got crazy again. But anways, back to goodies, let me show you all about them!! 

Roman's Gold

Roman’s Gold

By Ann Gimpel

Publisher: Liquid Silver Books

ISBN: 978-1-62210-005-7

Release Date: 6/10/13

50,000 words

The line between hunter and hunted thins, blurs, and finally disappears.

Genre: Paranormal Romance

Once respected members of society, shifters are running for their lives. In a futuristic world where resources are scarce, Kate uses her human form to work as a sex surrogate. Furious at what looks a lot like genocide for her people, she joins the shifter underground.

Devon’s been a cop for a long time. He has shifter blood, but not enough to change into anything; at least not until the police department insists on a series of infusions to make him better at tracking shifters so they can be imprisoned—or killed.

Devon’s latest assignment is Kate. From the moment he sees her, he can’t get her out of his mind. The line between hunter and hunted thins, blurs, and finally disappears. Kate and Devon defy the odds. Will their passion save them or doom them forever?

Chapter 1

Kate Roman sauntered down Telegraph Avenue, the sounds of the constant Berkeley traffic loud in her ears. The city had banned hovercraft when air quality got so bad people needed masks to venture outside. The air still made the back of her throat burn, but at least her eyes didn’t tear up.

She pushed her dark glasses up her nose and wrapped a colorful scarf more tightly around her hair. Someone was following her. She’d caught a whiff of something … unusual … with her feline senses half a dozen blocks back. Her perceptions weren’t as sharp in her human form, but they gave her a definite edge. Who was back there? Try as she might, she couldn’t identify its scent. She didn’t want to stop and turn around. So long as her pursuer thought himself invisible, he—or she, or it—wouldn’t do anything rash. She hoped.

Her heart beat a little faster. No cause for alarm. Not yet, anyway. She worked as a sex surrogate, and there had been hundreds of clients over the past several years. Her hair was unmistakable with its bright red tone and warm, golden streaks. Clients sometimes trailed after her. Too shy to approach directly, yet drawn to her because of the best—sometimes the only—sex they’d had in their lives, they just liked to be close. Even though they had no idea she was a shifter—that played into the equation too. Humans were attracted to her animal energy.

Shy clients were one thing. The other options were scarier. Humans had made a big push to get rid of shifters. Because killing them outright would have engendered a great hue and cry from personal rights groups, they’d been imprisoned in droves. Conditions were deplorable; many of her kin had died. Others were so ill, they might as well be dead. Apparently the personal rights groups weren’t into visiting prisons to check on things. Disgust twisted Kate’s features into an annoyed scowl.

Appalled by what was looking a lot like the beginnings of genocide, she’d joined the shifter underground, a group masterminding escapes for those like her. Of course, the escapes were only the first step. Once out, shifters almost always needed medical care. They had to be hidden until their magic was strong enough for them to shield themselves. Many opted for dramatic plastic surgery to obliterate any trace of who they’d been when captured.

Kate blew out a tense breath. She had three post-surgical shifters concealed in the basement of her home in the Berkeley Hills. A wolf, a mountain lion—like her—and a bear were sequestered behind a hidden wall panel. She hadn’t expected them to stay quite so long and her pantry was almost bare. She glanced at her wrist computer and clicked a few keys. Ration Coupons flashed on the screen, followed by the numerals one and zero. Shit. If it were only her, ten coupons wouldn’t buy much more than a day’s worth of food. She needed to put in an emergency call to the underground once she got to her office and no one could hear her. They had code words for everything, but still…

Kate tilted her head back. Her nose twitched. Whoever was behind her was closer. Not much, but a little. Should I turn around? She glanced at the cross street. Another half block and she’d be at her office. Someone jostled her shoulder. She pulled back, wary of a trap. Kate strengthened the illusion which softened her lengthened incisors and muted the sharp angle of her cheekbones and jaw.

“Sorry,” a man muttered and pushed past her.

She stared after him and reached out with a dribble of shifter magic. Whew! She exhaled sharply. Just a human. Definitely not who’d been following her. Garden-variety cops had genetically-altered enhanced abilities. They smelled different. Trackers, elite police squads targeting shifters, had their own unique scent. She pressed her tongue against her teeth, thinking. What she smelled behind her was … different. Did that mean it wasn’t a cop—or a Tracker? Not necessarily. He could be using one of their tricks to mask his spoor. Her throat tightened. She tried to swallow, but her mouth was dry.

Enough excitement for one morning. Kate lengthened her stride, loped across the street, taking advantage of an amber light, and took the steps to her office in a renovated Victorian two at a time. She ran her palm over the keypad. The electronics hummed and the door clicked open. She ducked inside, shut the door, and reset the lock.

Annoyance tinged with fear made her stomach roil. Against her better judgment, she turned and peered through a frosted glass side panel next to the thick, carved oak door. Eyes narrowed, she used her feline vision to take a good, hard look at who was walking down the sidewalk. After a couple minutes of nothing, she chided herself for being paranoid.

Kate was about to turn away and get ready for her first client when a man caught her attention. Boy, did he catch her attention. He was tall, maybe six-foot four, with broad shoulders and slender hips. He wore form-fitting jeans, a snug knitted dark blue top, and a brown leather vest. Well-muscled arms and thighs jumped out at her. Kate’s eyes went to his crotch. Wow. If he looked like that soft, he’d have a hell of an erection. Waist-length black hair swirled around him. Dark eyes, set in Native American bone structure, looked right at her building. It was as if he sensed her looking at him.

What was he? Unfortunately, she couldn’t identify much. Wood and glass absorbed most of her magic. Kate moved away from the window. Heat poured through her. Her nipples pebbled into hard points. Whoever was out there was the most sexually-charged man she’d ever come across. Was he the one who’d been following her?

She snorted. Part of her hoped he’d been tracking her—she itched to jump his bones. In spite of being turned-on, she felt edgy. He could be a member of the elite Tracker hit squads targeting shifters. Her underground organization had received intel the enemy was using more sophisticated strategies to trap them. If they start using sex, we’re done for. Her lips curled into a wry grin. Shifters loved sex. It was a weakness from their animal sides.

“No, it’s a strength,” the mountain cat which lived inside her commented snidely.

“Hold on, sweetie. You’ll get your fix soon enough.”

“I don’t want human sex,” her cat complained. “Find a shifter for us.”

“Enough of this. I have to get ready for my first client.”

Her cat grumbled. Kate smiled indulgently. She’d dreamed her bond animal like all shifters did when they hit puberty. The animal had picked her, but she’d sealed the deal by accepting it. The cat was a part of her, but its own entity as well. That included having opinions which sometimes diverged from hers.

She consulted her wrist computer. Not much time to spare. Kate walked through her spacious office. Furnished with late nineteenth century antiques to match the building’s architecture, it was a homey place with overstuffed floral couches and chairs and golden oak tables. A small computer desk allowed clients to enter their own personal data—or as much of it as they were comfortable divulging. Unlike the world’s oldest profession, men actually needed a doctor’s referral to see her. Kate liked it that way. She’d never had problems with any of her clients. The doctors screened them for diseases before sending them, which was another plus, though not exactly necessary. Virtually all the men who came through her door were virgins.

A lush bedroom with a four-poster bed and an inventive assortment of toys was behind the front office. Off to one side was a marble inlaid bathroom with a sunken tub with Jacuzzi jets. Mirrors lined the walls; the gleaming gold fixtures and green-veined marble glowed invitingly. Water was good for loosening up nervous clients. Her first task was getting them used to being naked.

She ducked into her private quarters—a small room off the bedroom—dropped her bag in a corner, and stripped off her street clothes and shoes. Pants were a no-no in her business. She needed skirts in case a client got hard and she needed to move fast. Most of the men who visited her had erectile issues. Either they came too fast, or they couldn’t get erections at all.

She pulled a teal jersey top out of a drawer and tugged it over her head. The soft folds of the fabric molded to her body. No bra. Looking at the curves of her breasts was good for clients. She traced the outline of a nipple through the silky fabric. It stiffened instantly. A vision of the man in the street slammed against her. Her nether regions flooded. Kate grinned. She felt sorry for her first client. She’d probably attack him before he even got his clothes off.

She stepped into a black skirt with an elastic waist and grabbed a hairbrush. Red-gold curls cascaded nearly to her waist. A smattering of shiny lip gloss and she walked into the bathroom to check her appearance. Perfect. She looked about twenty-five. Good for when she needed to play the innocent in seduction charades. She blew a kiss at the glass. Not bad for a three-hundred-year-old shifter. Three hundred six, her inner voice corrected. Kate laughed. She wasn’t exactly immortal, but she’d live for hundreds more years before her face betrayed any sign of age.

The front bell chimed. Hector was right on time. Bare feet pattering over the thick, Oriental carpet in her front office, Kate strode to the door and peered through the safety viewer. She rolled her eyes. He’d brought her flowers. She waved her palm over the electronically controlled lock; the latch clicked.

“Hi, gorgeous.” Hector stepped inside and waited for her to lock up before handing her a bouquet of expensive-looking hothouse blossoms. She laid them on a side table. They’d keep for an hour out of water.

“Hi there yourself, handsome.” Kate smiled at him. She liked Hector. At forty-five, he’d decided it was time to find a wife. Problem was, he’d spent his entire life locked away behind a computer screen and had no idea how to even say good morning to a woman, let alone ask for a date. All his sexual experiences had been with his hand until he’d tried to hire a hooker and failed miserably. He’d come while she was unzipping his pants and hadn’t been able to get hard again.

He shook light brown hair back from a high brow. His hazel eyes shone with pleasure. He wasn’t bad looking, but he needed to get outside. His skin was pasty white and his body soft. She’d suggested he join a gym and walk at least half an hour out-of-doors every day. She wondered if he’d taken her up on either suggestion.

His hand snaked out and curved around one of her breasts. She glanced between his legs, pleased to see the swell of an erection. Good. He wouldn’t make her work very hard today. Kate cocked her head to one side and pressed her breast into his hand. “Business first. That will be five hundred credits.”

His eyes widened. “You’re giving me a break today.”

“Not really.” Her hand cupped his hard-on. “Looks like you won’t need much from me.”

Color stained his fair cheeks. “Funny thing. It got hard when I was on the bus. Just thinking about you…” His voice trailed off.

“That’s the way it’s supposed to work. Pay up, so we can get those clothes off you.”

He went to the computer, bent over, brought up his account, and transferred money into hers. The printer whirred. She grabbed the piece of paper, tore off one end, signed it, and handed it to him.

He came around behind her. His hands closed over her breasts and he nibbled her neck. She leaned against him for a moment, then led him to the bedroom and closed the door. One of the best things about being a surrogate was she trained her clients to do exactly what she liked, while cautioning them that part of lovemaking was communication. What she liked might not work for a different woman.

She turned toward him. His shirt and sports coat lay on a chair and he’d stepped out of leather loafers. His fingers were busy with the fastenings of his slacks.

“Pretty good progress,” she said, flashing him a warm smile. “First time you came here, it took me most of the session to get your shirt off.”

He shrugged. His pants pooled around his ankles. He stepped out of them and shoved his boxers down his hips. Kate felt her eyes widen. He was more than ready. Not just hard, but a drop of semen glistened in the center of his glans. “Do you want to undress me?” she asked.

He closed the distance between them, put his arms around her and kissed her. She kissed him back, aware of her own arousal. Hector didn’t have much to do with that. But he’d give her something to think about other than the wonderfully seductive stranger she’d seen through her window. She pressed her breasts against him and thrust her hips against his hard-on.

Hector broke their kiss. He slid his fingers under her top and tugged it gently over her head. His gaze locked on her breasts before he took them in his hands. He twirled her nipples just the way she’d shown him. He’d been surprised when she told him women could come just from that.

She curved a hand around his erection. It bucked in her hand. He hadn’t had problems with premature ejaculation the last few visits, but he seemed more excited today. “Do you need to be inside me?”

His breath came fast. “Could I? All I’ve thought about is—” His cock jumped in her hand again. Fluid leaked from it. She rubbed it around the velvety top with a gentle fingertip.

Kate backed toward the bed. “How do you want me?”

His gaze sought hers. “Could you be on top? I’ve done like you said, you know, playing with myself and fantasizing.”

“Sure.” She waited for him to lie down. Kate got a condom out of the night table drawer, opened the wrapper, and rolled it onto him. She straddled him and lowered herself onto his shaft. He groaned. She took care to keep her hips still. “Tell me when it’s okay to move. Open your eyes. Look at me. Think about breathing. You can control this.”

The line of his jaw clenched, and then softened. He cupped her pussy in an outstretched hand. Tentative at first, he rubbed her clit when she pushed into his hand. Her muscles closed around his cock. He rubbed harder. She laid a hand over his to show him the rhythm she needed.

“Is it okay if I make you come this way?”

“More than okay.” With her fingers atop his to guide him, he rubbed harder and faster over her sensitive tissue. She knew she was moving around his erection, but hoped he had enough to think about besides coming that he’d be able to control himself. “I’m going to take my hand away. Now you do the same thing.”

“Like this.”

“Um-hum.” She felt a familiar tightness, tried to hold back so she could savor things, but it was too late. She came, shoving her pussy against his hand. A vision of the gorgeous man she’d seen in the street danced behind her closed lids. Deep in her mind, the cat purred, “Yesssss. Find that one for us.” Kate shushed it.

Hector had learned well. He kept moving his fingers until her hips quieted. “Wow. That was amazing,” he crowed. “I got to watch you come. Your nipples got hard and you’re all rosy.”

“And you didn’t come yourself. Even better.” She laughed. “Is it okay if I move now?”

“Will I be able to make you come again?” She heard a hint of masculine pride in the question.

“No question.”

He held out his arms. “I want to feel your breasts against me.”

She lowered her torso until it touched his. “Very good. Asking for what you want is important. Women aren’t mind readers. Put your hands on my hips. Move me the way you want to be fucked.”

“What about you?”

“I had a turn. Besides, you can always touch me or lick me.”

“You haven’t taught me about licking.” His voice had a catch in it.

“Well, if we don’t get there today, there’s always next time.”

His hands gripped her hips. She let him control the movement, pleased it took him several minutes to come. Once his cock was through spasming inside her, she moved off his body and went to get a warm, wet cloth from the bathroom. By the time she returned, he had the condom off. She held out her hand. “I’ll take it. Here.” She handed him the cloth, dropped the condom into a waste can, and slid into a robe.

A disappointed look washed across his face. “Is our time up?”

“I’m afraid so.”

“How many more visits do I have?”

“Not sure. Just a minute, I’ll look.” Kate padded into the outer office and clicked a few keys on the desktop computer. She was also buying a little time. Clients frequently got too attached, which was why she never told them up front how many visits had been authorized. Sometimes, even if they had several more sessions, she’d hedge, call their MD, and cut them off.

The truth was, Hector didn’t really need her anymore. Seven visits had cured both his impotence and his problems with premature ejaculation.

“Good thing you asked.” She breezed back into the bedroom, smiling brightly. “We’ve run through your sessions.” He looked so crestfallen, she went to the bed, sat on the edge, and took his hands in hers. “Hector. You got what you needed here. You can make love with anyone now. You don’t need me anymore.”

“But I thought—I mean, I hoped…” Color crept up his chest to his neck and face.

“Aw, honey. Everyone falls in love with me. It’s natural. I’m the first woman you had sex with.” She patted his hand. “I guarantee you I won’t be the last. Try asking that cute brunette you told me about out for coffee.”

“Can I come back if I get into problems?”

“Sure. I’ll square it with your doctor.”

“Really?” He smiled. Hector was decidedly handsome when he did that.

“Really.” She touched a finger to his chin. “You’re quite the hunk when you smile. Try to remember to do it more often.”

He dressed quickly and she ushered him out the door. “Thanks for the flowers. And best of luck, not that you’ll need any. You’ll make some woman very happy.”

She closed the door, locked it, and looked at the time. She needed to call the underground about groceries, change the bed, and take a shower. It would be tight, but she was pretty sure she could work everything in before Todd showed up in half an hour.

Kate glanced at the calendar in her wrist computer. Good. Only the two clients today. Worries about her three houseguests ate at her. It was better when she was home. The shifters in her basement were vulnerable by themselves

My Review:

My review will be up as soon as possible. I promise! 🙂 

About the Author

www.anngimpel.com

http://anngimpel.blogspot.com

http://www.amazon.com/author/anngimpel

http://www.facebook.com/anngimpel.author

@AnnGimpel (for Twitter)

 Long Bio: 

Ann Gimpel is a mountaineer at heart. Recently retired from a long career as a psychologist, she remembers many hours at her desk where her body may have been stuck inside four walls, but her soul was planning yet one more trip to the backcountry. Around the turn of the last century (that would be 2000, not 1900!), she managed to finagle moving to the Eastern Sierra, a mecca for those in love with the mountains. It was during long backcountry treks that Ann’s writing evolved. Unlike some who see the backcountry as an excuse to drag friends and relatives along, Ann prefers her solitude. Stories always ran around in her head on those journeys, sometimes as a hedge against abject terror when challenging conditions made her fear for her life, sometimes for company. Eventually, she returned from a trip and sat down at the computer. Three months later, a five hundred page novel emerged. Oh, it wasn’t very good, but it was a beginning. And, she learned a lot between writing that novel and its sequel.

Around that time, a friend of hers suggested she try her hand at short stories. It didn’t take long before that first story found its way into print and they’ve been accepted pretty regularly since then. One of Ann’s passions has always been ecology, so her tales often have a green twist.

In addition to writing, Ann enjoys wilderness photography. She lugs pounds of camera equipment in her backpack to distant locales every year. A standing joke is that over ten percent of her pack weight is camera gear which means someone else has to carry the food! That someone is her husband. They’ve shared a life together for a very long time. Children, grandchildren and three wolf hybrids round out their family.

Again, I apologize for writing the wrong date on my calendar as it made me scramble a little and miss my review date, but I WILL have it soon. Also, one more time- HAPPY BOOK BIRTHDAY!! I have loved several books by this author, so I look forward to reading this one. I also hope you guys have a great day! I am starting a new job-so wish me luck! Happy reading and later gators!! 

Out of the Shadows Blog Tour

Out of the Shadow Button 300 x 225

 

Ooooh, I got a really good werewolf short story for you today!!! You know I just LOVE the werewolves 😉 It’s a good one too 🙂 Lemme show ya! 

Out of the Shadows

Out of the Shadows

Ann Gimpel

Publisher: Liquid Silver Books

ISBN: 978-1-93176-147-5

Release Date March 4 

Book Description:

Relegated to a shadowy existence of half-truths, Gwendolyn lives in fear her wolf side will be discovered. She leaves the Old Country with Hunters nipping at her heels, but things in the Americas aren’t any better. Eighteenth-century society is just not kindly disposed to either shifters or witches.

Mikhail, the love of her life—except the relationship always felt pretty one-sided—has been missing for a hundred years. When he shows up after escaping imprisonment from an Abbey in Austria, Gwendolyn is ecstatic to see him. But she’s afraid nothing’s really changed. Victimized by superstition and running for her life, she’s sure she’ll never be able to emerge from the shadows.

Excerpt:

The full moon rode low in the sky, clinging to the horizon far longer than it should have. A blood-red cast made it eerie and threatening somehow. Gwendolyn threw back her head and howled along with all the other wolves in her shifter pack, but something about the moon was so ominous that hackles rose along her back.

High, wailing shrieks, shrill as banshee cries, split the night. Her nostrils flared, scenting the air. Humans. Humans had found them. Not humans, Hunters. Humans wouldn’t interfere with a wolf pack as large as hers. They’d be torn to bits reloading their muskets, and they knew it. Before she was even done thinking, Gwendolyn put her head down and ran, keeping to the shadows of a thick Austrian forest.

Shots rang out, lending her speed she hadn’t realized she was capable of. Howls, growls, and snarls faded as she put distance between herself and the ambush. Her breath left white plumes in the cold night air. She kept running. It was what they were supposed to do. She’Lara, the One Wolf and their leader, had said it often enough. “Do not let yourselves be captured. Hunters will bind you with iron and interrogate you. When they are done, they will kill you. Better to die free.”

She didn’t know how long she ran. Her wolf side wasn’t any good at judging things like that. She stumbled and knew how tired she was. Her flanks heaved as she willed herself to keep going. The scent and sound of rushing water filled her senses. She realized it had been there for a while, but she’d been so focused on possible pursuers she hadn’t been paying attention. Without warning, the earth before her fell away. She stuck out both forelegs to break her fall, skidding on her haunches. It didn’t help. She tumbled down a steep embankment right into the muddy Danube.

Her thick wolf’s coat shielded her from the water’s chill as she let the river carry her downstream. If anyone was looking for escapees from her pack, a few more miles between her and the Hunters wouldn’t hurt.

Gwendolyn clawed at the bank and pulled herself out of the water. The sky was lightening in the east. Shifting in broad daylight was risky. It upped the odds of discovery. Given the surprise attack, staying in wolf form didn’t feel any too safe, either. She shook herself from head to tail tip and then did it again. Clothes would be a problem. She’d left hers near where her shifter pack had gathered—miles from her present location.

She looked at the sky again and made her decision. She did not want to ride out the coming daylight hours as a wolf. Smoke stung her sensitive nostrils. That meant people lived nearby. Melting into the deeper darkness between two gnarled oaks, she gave her body the command to shift. The first thing she noticed was how cold she was. And a sharp thorn under one of her feet. Human bodies were fragile. Because her wolf self had been wet, her human form was too, which meant her long, copper-colored hair clung to her head and shivering body.

Good. Maybe I can tell whoever I find that I fell into the river and nearly drowned.

Yes, but that won’t explain why I’m naked.

Sitting still would be a death sentence. She’d freeze. It was late autumn. Even if the sun did come out around mid-morning, it wouldn’t carry much warmth. Gwendolyn took off at a trot, cursing as rocks and brambles cut into her feet. Nostrils twitching, she scented the air for the smoke she’d smelled as a wolf, but couldn’t find it. She shut her eyes. What direction had it come from? Where there was smoke, there were bound to be people.

“Lady!” A man dressed in tanned deer hide breeches and jacket stepped noiselessly out of a thicket. His dark eyes were wide and shocked. Blond hair hung down his shoulders and an unkempt blond beard obscured the bottom half of his face. “What has happened to you?”

She shielded her body as best she could with her hands. “I fell in the river a long ways upstream. I-I must have hit my head and passed out. When I finally pulled myself from the Danube, it was just back there.” She jerked her head over one shoulder, not wanting to move her hands.

“Where are your clothes?”

She felt color rise from chest to face. “If you must know, my husband took them. He was angry because I did not make supper last night.”

The man’s blond brows drew together. “And did he perchance help you into the river?”

Gwen hung her head and nodded. This was going even better than she’d hoped.

“Here.” He tugged his leather top over his head. “Put this on. It should cover your, ah, woman’s parts.”

“Thank you.” She pulled it on. It smelled of sweat and poor tanning, but at least it was warm.

“I have a place not far from here. My wife will find clothes for you.”

“Thank you again.”

* * * *

Gwendolyn dug in the dirt next to her front door and came up with a key. She shoved it in the lock and let herself inside. Her feet were cut and bruised, but the rest of her seemed none the worse for wear. It had taken her the better part of two days to walk home. She would have made better time if she’d shifted, but didn’t know if she could risk it.

Herbert, the man who’d rescued her, and his wife, Isolde, had been more than kind. She’d stayed with them for a few days, working off the debt she would incur once she left with an item or two from Isolde’s meager wardrobe. Like many country dwellers, Isolde had only a single pair of shoes. She’d offered them, but Gwendolyn had refused. It was bad enough she’d taken one of the woman’s two dresses.

She lit a fire in the stove and then went outside to pump water from the well. She needed to bathe; she could smell herself. As she worked, she realized how lucky she’d been. She hadn’t been raped or set upon by highwaymen. And she was still alive. She wondered how many of her shifter pack had survived.

Nostalgia washed over her. She thought back to when she’d been truly young. Shifters were free to be themselves then. No one persecuted them. They could take their animal form without fear. She’d been born in 1263. It was now the year of our Lord, 1621. “Not my Lord,” she muttered, annoyed with herself for using the phrase even in her thoughts. Gwendolyn wasn’t young anymore, but she expected to live another several hundred years. Shifters had long lives—unless they spent too much time in their animal form.

My Review:

YAY!!! Ok, so when you read this short story, I hope you cheer as much as I did. And you know, it’s not terribly short, it’s just not a huge novel either. However, I will say this, it’s felt like reading a true novel. There’s plenty in it to keep you busy and a ton of things happening 🙂 But I won’t have a huge review, because then I would just spoil things for you! 

Gwendolyn is very cool with being a female werewolf. However, she is very not cool with all the crazy hunters killing her kind. And when some serious trouble hits home, not only is she terrified but she’s in trouble. She is separated from her pack and a lot of them are missing or killed and she must move, run, go, just to stay alive! And worse, the love of her life has been missing for a while now. 

This is quite the interesting twist on fairy tales and werewolves, and even shifters in general. First, they don’t have alphas, they have “the one” which has a special name, but due to spoilerish things, I will say ‘the one” LOL and then, they are also not crazy strong or really fast in their human forms, though they do get some sight and smell amplifications. And there’s rules about mating that I wasn’t used to… WAY TO BE DIFFERENT!!! 🙂 You guys know I love differentness! 

I will say there’s definitely some suspense, and some romance, and some paranormal, but mostly it’s written beautifully. I am also not usually a historical type fan. But, I loved this story! It’s got the perfect story outline, and it was a quick read. With a very happy ending, at least for me 🙂 You should all read it! LOL 5 WOLFISH PAWS!!! hehehehehe wolfish, get it!? 😉 

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Author Interview:

I just want to thank you again so much for taking the time to answer questions for my blog! 

Thank you for hosting me. I really appreciate it and I’m honored to be on your blog.

WELCOME!!! First, tell me a little about your book :)….

It’s a historical paranormal romance set in 1700’s Salem. Here’s the blurb.

Relegated to a shadowy existence of half-truths, Gwendolyn lives in fear her wolf side will be discovered. She leaves the Old Country with Hunters nipping at her heels, but things in the Americas aren’t any better. Eighteenth-century society is just not kindly disposed to either shifters or witches. Mikhail, the love of her life—except the relationship always felt pretty one-sided—has been missing for a hundred years. When he shows up after escaping imprisonment from an Abbey in Austria, Gwendolyn is ecstatic to see him. But she’s afraid nothing’s really changed. Victimized by superstition and running for her life, she’s sure she’ll never be able to emerge from the shadows. 

Do you recall how your interest in writing originated or did you always just know?

I’ve written one thing or another all my life, starting with poetry when I was in high school and writing for the school paper. Writing fiction began years later and has turned into a “retirement” career for me. I’ve always loved stories, though, so it’s felt like a good “fit” for me—at least so far.

What inspired you to write your first book and what was it?

My first book, Echo of Hope, was set in a dystopian near future. Like many of my stories, it had environmental underpinnings. It never went anywhere for lots of very good reasons. I recently rewrote it, chopped the word count by about fifty percent, and sold it to Desert Breeze Publishing. It will be out as a “new adult” fantasy novel, Fortune’s Scion, this coming July.

Stories run around in my head while I backpack and climb. They’re the inspiration for what I write. Sometimes they have to do with the mountains, sometimes not.

Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

Most of the experiences in my books come from my own life or from the lives of those near and dear to me. While the Internet has made it very easy to research things, I prefer to write about what I can picture in my mind. Because I was a practicing psychologist for many years, I’ve heard quite a variety of stories. That background has helped me develop realistic characters with motivations that hold true.

How do you choose when/which characters die in your books?

Ah, excellent question. Since I’m a total failure at plotting out my books, I often don’t discover a character is on his/her way out until it happens. When I started writing, it was tough for me to even injure my characters. That I managed to kill some blew me away. I won’t tell who or which book(s), though, as it would be quite the plot spoiler.

Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?

There are some “new to me” authors I’ve fallen in love with. Kate MacAlister, Nalini Singh, and Karen Marie Moning come to mind.

Who do you look up to as a writer?

Gulp. Almost all of them! It’s a tough business. The reading public has fickle tastes. I’m always humbly grateful whenever I sell a book. Whoever bought it could have spent their money on many other books, yet they picked mine.

If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your book?

Well, of course, I’d like to know what happens next. Out of the Shadows ends at a certain point. Some plot threads are resolved, but others are still up in the air. That’s one of the challenges with writing novellas. They’re short, so I don’t get quite the opportunities for plot development and progression I’d get in a full length work.

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?

Characters have always come easy to me. It’s plot and pacing I struggle with. I have a list of “no-no” words and I always go through my manuscripts culling them out. That’s not my favorite part of writing, but it’s really important.

What book are you reading now? Or what genre?

I’m reading Slave to Sensation by Nalini Singh. It’s a paranormal romance featuring a wonderfully hot alpha leopard shifter. Before that, I read You Slay Me by Kate MacAlister. That’s another paranormal romance with a dragon shifter.

Who designed the cover? And do you help with them?

Liquid Silver Books has a number of cover artists. Lynn Perkins did this one. I’m quite fond of it. Lynn paints her covers, rather than using stock art. It gives her the ability to create moods really well.

Did you learn anything from writing your books and what was it?

Oh my, if I listed everything I’ve learned from writing, you’d never want to post this interview. The short list is I’ve learned grace, humility and persistence. The publishing world is brutal. It helps to have a strong ego and a good sense of self before tossing your literary children out into the world. The next most important lesson has been teamwork. “Pay it forward” is ever so important. I’ll do whatever I can to help other writers. They may not repay me in a quid pro quo, but I believe in karma. Someone will!

If you could be one of your characters, who would you chose?

I’d be Lara McInnis in my Transformation Series. She’s a psychologist just like me, but she’s also psychic. It shouldn’t come as a surprise I built a character that had something I’ve always wanted!

Are there any books you think some of us should read, just because?

We all have such different tastes, I wouldn’t even know where to begin. My husband reads military history and science fiction. I enjoy scifi myself and just about all fantasy genres, though I know they’re not everyone’s cup of tea. I also love romance. When I grew up, they gave us lots of books in literature classes that were “good for us.” I liked some better than others. What we like to read is a reflection of our personalities and life experiences. One size does not fit all which is probably a good thing given the enormous numbers and kinds of books that are available.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

I’d like to thank them for stopping by your blog to read this interview. I’d welcome an opportunity to get to know them better. My website, www.anngimpel.com/  has a contact tab. Another way to reach me is through my blog. http://anngimpel.blogspot.com

About the Author

Ann Gimpel

www.anngimpel.com

http://anngimpel.blogspot.com

http://www.amazon.com/author/anngimpel

http://www.facebook.com/anngimpel.author

@AnnGimpel (for Twitter)

 Long Bio: 

Ann Gimpel is a mountaineer at heart. Recently retired from a long career as a psychologist, she remembers many hours at her desk where her body may have been stuck inside four walls, but her soul was planning yet one more trip to the backcountry. Around the turn of the last century (that would be 2000, not 1900!), she managed to finagle moving to the Eastern Sierra, a mecca for those in love with the mountains. It was during long backcountry treks that Ann’s writing evolved. Unlike some who see the backcountry as an excuse to drag friends and relatives along, Ann prefers her solitude. Stories always ran around in her head on those journeys, sometimes as a hedge against abject terror when challenging conditions made her fear for her life, sometimes for company. Eventually, she returned from a trip and sat down at the computer. Three months later, a five hundred page novel emerged. Oh, it wasn’t very good, but it was a beginning. And, she learned a lot between writing that novel and its sequel.

Around that time, a friend of hers suggested she try her hand at short stories. It didn’t take long before that first story found its way into print and they’ve been accepted pretty regularly since then. One of Ann’s passions has always been ecology, so her tales often have a green twist.

In addition to writing, Ann enjoys wilderness photography. She lugs pounds of camera equipment in her backpack to distant locales every year. A standing joke is that over ten percent of her pack weight is camera gear which means someone else has to carry the food! That someone is her husband. They’ve shared a life together for a very long time. Children, grandchildren and three wolf hybrids round out their family.

I sure hope you guys check this author out, she has written lots, as I know I will be reading more from her now! 🙂 And I also hope you enjoyed today 🙂 Happy Reading everyone and Later gators!