Cover Reveal The Sting of Victory by S D Simper

The Sting of Victory
Fallen Gods
Book One
S D Simper
Genre: Adult Dark Romantic Fantasy (LGBT)
Publisher: Endless Night Publications
Date of Publication:  September 14th 2018
ISBN: 978-1-7324611-1-6
Number of pages: 400
Word Count:  102K
Cover Artist: Jade Mere
Tagline: The cost of love is always high.
Book Description:
“When faced with monstrosity, become the greater monster. The sting of victory will fade with time.”
When Flowridia, a witch granted power by an unknown demon, deceives an alluring foreign diplomat, she is promoted to a position of power to conceal her falsehood. Thrust into a world of politics and murderous ambition, she has her gentle heart and her Familiar to guide her – as well as a drunk Celestial with a penchant for illusion.
Meanwhile, Lady Ayla Darkleaf, Grand Diplomat of Nox’Kartha, smiles with predatory charm and wields her blades with a dancer’s grace. Flowridia falls into a toxic love affair, one she knows will end in heartbreak. But as Ayla’s legacy as a vampiric creature unfolds, Flowridia begins to see the broken woman behind the monster.
When a foreign emperor dies at the hands of a mysterious interloper, one who seeks to collect the greatest sources of power in the realms, Flowridia’s kingdom is charged to stop him. But Flowridia’s devotion becomes torn between duty to her own and the woman whose claws grip her heart.
In the ensuing clash of Gods, Flowridia must choose her loyalties with care – the fate of kingdoms rest in her hands.
Excerpt
1:
Moonlight brushed
the air in silver wisps, barely perceptible through the thick cover of trees.
But enough shone through to cast a shadow upon the secluded cottage, that of a
wolf coated in mud and grime.
From within,
Flowridia ripped the door open. “Aura!” she cried, weeping as her arms tangled
in the damp fur of her beloved companion – Aura the wolf, her lost friend and
familiar, had come for her at last.
Noxious odors
from the swamp mixed with the earthy, rotting scent of mushrooms and the
horrors that fed them. Aura’s golden eyes shone bright, reflecting the filtered
celestial light and the phosphorescent glow of fungi dotting the walls and
moist garden plots. More garden than room, the fungal forest grew in patches,
some of the mushrooms taller than Flowridia herself.
Aura had grown
during their three years apart, standing nearly at Flowridia’s shoulder in
height. Even matted in swamp filth, her silver fur matched the dim moonlight.
Despite the joy
at their reunion, urgency tugged at Flowridia’s panicked heart. “Aura, we have
to leave. If she hears us-”
Shattered glass
broke the fragile peace. Flowridia, her arms tight around Aura’s neck, saw a
dark silhouette in the doorframe of the bedroom and the remains of a ruined
potion on the floor. “Flower Child, what is this?” The woman spoke gently, the
eye of a storm Flowridia knew capable of tearing them both to oblivion. Odessa
the Swamp Witch stepped into view, beautiful despite her sneer, a distorted,
matured mirror of her cowering daughter. Eerie green shone from within her
eyes, her mouth, even the pores of her skin. “All of my love, and this is how
it’s returned? Slinking off in the middle of the night?”
Growling from
Aura’s throat vibrated against Flowridia’s arms. Mother merely chuckled. “Your
familiar is every bit the hero that you are the coward.” She turned her gaze
onto Aura directly, stepping forward as that same green began to swirl at her
feet, smoke before a raging fire. “Stay with us. She’ll be better with you and
I both to guide her.”
A snarl tore
from Aura’s throat. Flowridia’s grip on her neck tightened.
“No? A pity,”
Mother said, and as she stepped, Flowridia watched her form shift and elongate.
“So much wasted potential.”
Flowridia had
seen hints of Mother’s shadow, one that never quite matched her sultry figure.
Now the woman twisted and grew, her hands gnarling into vicious claws, her skin
shriveling and turning grey. Those eyes, still illuminated by sickly green,
grew large, bird-like. The woman, once beautiful, became hunched.
Flowridia tugged
on Aura’s neck, pulling her to the door, but green fire – the same shade as the
smoke swirling around Mother’s grotesque form – blocked their exit.
Aura tore
herself from Flowridia’s grip, a beastly roar at her throat as she bolted
forward. Leaping, the wolf tackled the monster and ripped at the woman’s face
with her teeth. A swipe of Mother’s mutated hand threw Aura aside. Bleeding,
cackling, Mother pulled herself to her feet in time for Aura to pounce.
This time,
Mother braced herself. Her hands dug into the wolf’s fur and skin, blood
seeping from her nails as Aura struggled in her grasp.
The light
shining from Mother’s eyes changed from green to deep purple, and the smoke
swirled to match. Aura released a pained howl, and Flowridia screamed as the
wolf’s body began to shrivel, withering away as though starved.
On the table, a
knife – encrusted with dried blood – caught her eye. Heart pounding, Flowridia
didn’t think; she grabbed the knife and threw.
Blood sprayed.
The knife embedded into Mother’s throat, soaking Flowridia and the limp wolf in
the monster’s vital fluids.
Mother shrieked,
that same purple glow bursting from the wound, the hilt protruding from beneath
her chin. The smoke, once peaceful, spun into a violent torrent. Aura fell
motionless to the ground as Mother’s cry grew higher, louder. Her clawed hands
shook as she reached toward the knife.
All at once, the
light ceased. Smoke dissipated. Mother fell to the ground, her monstrous form
dissolving into the air. A woman’s corpse, a knife jutting from her throat, lay
in a pool of her own seeping blood.
Silence.
Flowridia’s sob
cut the taut string of peace. She fell to her knees, giving no mind to how her
skirts absorbed Mother’s blood. Silver fur, stained red, met Flowridia’s
fingers as she desperately pulled Aura’s emaciated form to her lap. The wolf’s
coat, once soft, had become coarse, aged by Mother’s dark magic.
No light in
those golden, clouded eyes. Already, Aura had gone cold. With that came an
awareness of the hollow in Flowridia’s soul. Her familiar, the animal companion
granting her mysterious power, lay dead, and with it her connection to the
world of magic. Muted, all she had worked for; the power she had gained gone
away.
Three years
trapped in hell, but never had she felt so lost. She held Aura’s body to her
chest and wept.
*          *          *
“Here lies Aura
– a friend.”
The words shone
pristine, carved in stone, the last gift she could give her dearest companion.
Content to lie down and starve to death, Flowridia might have lain on the grave
forever had red eyes not shone from the woods.

The demon began
to hunt her then.
About the Author:

S D Simper has lived in both the hottest place on earth and the coldest, spans the employment spectrum from theater teacher to professional editor, and plays more instruments than can be counted on one hand. She and her wife share a home with their two cats and innumerable bookshelves.

Spirit Warrior by Ella J. Smyth

Spirit Warrior
Spirit Walker
Book Three
Ella J. Smyth
Genre: Urban Fantasy Romance
Publisher: Unapologetic Romances
Date of Publication: 26th August 2018
ISBN: 9781386686910
Number of pages: 299
Word Count: 65600
Cover Artist: CoverMe Designs
Tagline: A mighty spirit walker with a personal grudge, set to destroy them both.
Book Description:
Adi and Honi journey to Southern Oklahoma to meet Honi’s Mekui’te tribe at the reservation where he grew up. Honi’s infectious excitement almost erases Adi’s apprehension at meeting his family, and she’s desperate to make a good impression.
When Adi is met with silent hostility that gets worse rather than better, she realizes there may be more to the initial resistance Honi had warned her to expect.
Honi is confused and hurt by his family’s reaction, and by Adi’s increasingly strange behavior. She’s claiming the spirit animals of his tribe are diseased and sickly, but they look just fine to him. On top of that, when Adi meets Honi’s ex, Nina, her jealousy gets way out of hand, and threatens to drive them apart.
While mysterious forces manipulate and distort their realities, can Honi and Adi join forces to figure out what is happening before it’s too late and they are separated forever?
Books2Read     Amazon

Excerpt:
The wind picked
up, carrying with it the smell of late fall, of damp vegetation and sour
apples. It played with Adi’s hair, although she barely noticed the cold breeze.
Too many eyes were staring at her. Adi’s skin itched with the attention. She
wasn’t usually this shy, but the weight of all the glares made her afraid to
lift her head.
“Come on, Adi,
they won’t bite. Let me introduce you. They’re my family—they’ll love you.”
As much as I do.
Adi understood Honi’s unspoken words.
How many people
were there? Forty? Fifty? Had the entire Mekui’te tribe come out to greet them?
Adi shivered. The smell of early snow made her nose twitch. It brought bad
memories of a woman with white eyes, forcing her to make a choice between
Honi’s life and a lifelong thrall.
She shuddered
when an ice-cold gust blew across the open space where Honi had parked their
rental. He had called ahead, laughing and joking with his old friend and
mentor, John. The shaman of the Mekui’te tribe had expected them hours earlier,
but they’d gotten held up at the airport. Their luggage had gone missing for a
few hours, plus the rental car hadn’t been ready yet.
When they’d finally
driven the five hours from the airport to the reservation, they had to take
turns because both of them had been exhausted after the long trip from Germany
back to the U.S. The closer they’d gotten to their destination, the more Honi’d
woken up. His excitement to see his family again after more than a year had
been so infectious that Adi’d swallowed down her apprehension.
Until now. She
kept a smile on her face, trying to appear relaxed and at ease. Inside, she was
anything but. There was something disconcerting standing in front of such a
large group of people, most of who looked at her with suspicion.
Was it because
she was a stranger? Had John told the community she was a spirit walker? She
couldn’t imagine he had. So why the hostility that wafted from the silent group
like an invisible cloud?
Honi was talking
to a tall man with a black Stetson pulled deep into his craggy face. His eyes
were warm as he hugged Honi to him. Adi remembered meeting him in the hospital
when she’d sat next to Honi’s bed, waiting for him to wake up from a coma. His
name was Jim Fisher, and he was Honi’s father.
She watched him
for a moment as the two men chatted excitedly. He looked just like Honi would
when he got older. Still tall and lean, only the lines around his eyes betrayed
his age. Her boyfriend turned towards her and waved her over. She kept her eyes
on Jim Fisher’s face as she approached, smiling politely.
His expression
changed from one second to the next. Gone was the warmth, the humor. Instead,
he crossed his arms and spread his legs, anchoring himself. Adi had already
stuck out her hand, ready to shake his. Confused, she pulled it back. She
looked at Honi, who seemed equally baffled.
After an awkward
silence, Adi spoke, still keeping a timid smile on her face. “Mr. Fisher? Do
you remember me? We met at—”
“I know who you
are.” The words were harsh, underlined by his angry expression.
“You are the
woman responsible for Honi giving up his entire future. For you, he dropped
university, and followed you to Germany. And now you have the nerve to come
here, with him, asking for my blessing? You, an outsider to this community?”
He stared at
her, his dark eyes blazing with fury. Adi swallowed hard. She hadn’t been sure
how she would be greeted. She’d been nervous about meeting Honi’s family, but
had not expected this level of hostility towards her.
Her eyeballs
grew hot, and tears welled up. Driving all the way to the reservation had taken
forever. During the entire journey, Honi had told her stories about his family.
About his relationship with John and many of the elders. He’d made her laugh so
many times with funny stories about how lovable and unique the tribe’s people
were. Adi had expected that they might be slow to accept her. But she’d been
unprepared to be shut out like this from the very first moment she met Honi’s
family.
Adi’s hands
balled into fists. She fought back tears of exhaustion and humiliation. Then
she blinked her eyes open again, fiercely determined to not show any weakness.
A familiar emotion welled up. How dared they treat her like this? They didn’t
even know her. They had no idea what Honi and Adi had been through. It was a
miracle that they made it out the other side alive and well. Adi had sacrificed
the rest of her life in servitude to the faerie queen, with the understanding
that Honi could never find out.
“Honi,” she
whispered. When he didn’t turn around and continued staring at his father, she
repeated louder, “Honi!”
He whirled
around. His obvious confusion and sadness calmed her down a little bit and
softened her next words.
“I’m really
tired. Can we please postpone all this until tomorrow? I don’t want to stand
here in the freezing wind and argue with these people.”
She waved her
hand dismissively at Honi’s tribe—not the nicest choice of words, but she was
pissed at her treatment. Honi’s eyebrows drew together as the only outward sign
of irritation with the way she’d just shrugged off his entire family. He took
her arm and without saying another word to his father, he led her back to the
car.
The plan had
been to stay with his parents, but instead, Honi drove to the only motel within
ten miles of the reservation. After he’d checked them in, he silently carried
their suitcases into the double room. Adi was glad he’d done so without asking,
because the tiredness was now so enveloping that she could barely keep her head
up.
It wasn’t a
five-star luxury hotel, but the linens were reasonably clean, and the room
smelled only a little. Adi sat down at the edge of the bed, too numb and
exhausted even to cry. Honi sat next to her and put his arm around her
shoulders. He looked as upset as she felt.
“I’m so
sorry. I don’t know why he acted the way he did.” He pulled her in tighter, and
Adi put her head on his shoulder. “Let’s get a good night’s sleep, and tomorrow
we’ll go back and start over.”

About the Author:
Unapologetic Romances Because Love Needs No Excuses
Growing up in Germany, Ella always had a passion for myths and fairytales. No surprise then that she married an Irishman and lived 6 years in Ireland, the country of Leipreachán, Sidhe, Púca and other fascinating creatures. There’s nothing like walking at night through a deserted laneway, fog swirling around your feet, knowing that maybe, just maybe, on the other side of the hedge, there might be some old lady in a black cloak waiting for you…
If you got the shivers right now, you know why Ella feels compelled to write stories around the supernatural and paranormal. There’s nothing like a delicious shudder making you enjoy life just a little more… Plus she’s a romantic.
So look forward to modern romantic stories set against the background of ancient myths and legends. Ella hopes you enjoy reading them as much as she enjoys writing them!

Update: Reading Progress for the Year

I know things around here have been pretty quiet with the exception of promo posts for the last year or so.  I am sorry for that.  My life has been pretty crazy.  Between work, my oldest graduating high school and health, it has been just too much.  I am starting a new job in a week and I am feeling like I can recommit to my blog and regular posts.  Look forward to more actual reviews, updates and new posts.  This is the start of those posts.

2017 was a rough reading year for me however 2018 has been outstanding.  I set my reading goal for 100 books since I did not make that in 2017.  Surprise it is the first week of September and I have finished 91 books already.  Below are the books I have read to date:

A Little Night MagicThe Red DiaryWild CardThe Hate U GiveDirty BillionaireBy Your SideNot Until YouUnder Her SkinDirty PleasuresDirty TogetherNow That You Mention It
Forever My GirlHow to Date Your DragonEasy LoveEasy with YouEasy CharmEasy Melody100 Days of CakeEasy KissesAmerican Nerd: The Story of My PeopleBefore We Were YoursThe Flip Side
Easy For KeepsTell Me Three ThingsEasy MagicEasy FortuneCindy EllaCream Puff MurderBlood Rose RebellionEasy NightsUnder the Mistletoe with MeFight with MePlay with Me
Rock with MeShot on GoldSafe with MeTied with MeForever with MeGetting SchooledLooking for a Hero: Marriage Wanted\My HeroBig RockLove & GelatoScourgedThe Fates Divide
Dark in DeathWildest DreamsA Court of Thorns and RosesThe Sweetest ThingA Court of Mist and FuryA Court of Wings and RuinMeant to BeMake Me CraveLove YouShelter in PlaceNot Quite Crazy
Summer by the SeaStarry EyesInfinity + OneThe High Tide ClubFantasticalRadio SilenceLove, AlabamaThe Best ManMidnight SoulCatch of the DayRemember When
The Curvy Side of Life10 Years LaterWhen We Found HomeModern Girl's Guide to Vacation FlingsModern Girl's Guide to One-Night StandsUndeniably YouBelovedBeholdenLike It Never HappenedConsolation180 Seconds
ConvictionDefenselessA Darker Shade of MagicGeek GirlA Gathering of ShadowsSuite ScarlettA Conjuring of LightThe Thrill of It
While many of these have been audiobooks, I am very happy with my reading so far this year.
Now what have you been reading?  What would you like to see from my blog in the coming year?