Book Review: The Fairy Godmother by Mercedes Lackey

The Fairy Godmother (Five Hundred Kingdoms, #1)The Fairy Godmother by Mercedes Lackey
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

One of the most interesting retellings of a fairytale I’ve read in a long time. Elena was a great heroine, not content to sit around and let fate have her way, but determined to make her own fate – and she does. Great blend of fantasy and romance with excellent humour thrown in as this ‘Cinderella’ turned Fairy Godmother teaches her ‘Prince’ a lesson by turning him into a donkey. Love this book and the whole Five Hundred Kingdom series. Mercedes Lackey is a very talented writer.

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Innocent Deception Part 2

I’m sorry to those who read the first part of this story and have been waiting for the conclusion. The last week has been busy and stressful, with a job interview and a viral illness that started last Thursday and hasn’t completely gone away yet. I haven’t had a chance to work on my current novel let along my blog. Thanks for being patient. I hope you enjoy the conclusion to ‘Innocent Deception.’

Happy Reading,

Rose Connelly

 

Innocent Deception Part 2

“What has put you into such a foul mood?”  Lee asked as he followed Adrian into the small sitting room and watched him violently tear off his cravat.  “You had poor Lady Milton almost crying when she did but grasp your arm.”

“And,” Adrian snarled.  “While that ‘lady’ was innocently clasping my arm she was whispering an invitation in my ear with her husband not ten steps away.  They’re all faithless jades.”  He sank heavily into a nearby chair, leaned back and closed his eyes.

“So,” Lee surmised as he picked up a heavy china elephant from the mantle and intently examined it.  “You had no luck tracking down your specter?”  His heavy sigh carried across the room and a weighty pause followed as if he were gathering the courage before he spoke.  “I am sorry for your disappointment, Adrian, but I warned you not to rekindle your hope.  No matter how much you may wish it, there is no way Emily could have survived that fire.  It burnt down to the very cellars.  Nothing was left.”

“You’re wrong,” Adrian gritted out, still trying to keep his boiling anger in check.  “She is alive and I found her.”  He opened his eyes and watched his friend as he tried to puzzle it out.

“Where is she then?”  Lee finally asked.  “And if she’s alive, where has she been all this time?”

Adrian stood up abruptly and headed for a heavy, elaborately carved side table that must have come from a previous century.  He spared a brief thought to his host’s appalling taste before lifting the full bottle of whiskey and examining the deep amber color.  “I have no idea how Miss Hale survived or where she has been for the past year, but I’m sure,” he added cynically, “that she found a gullible fool or two to keep her company.  Now,” he turned and raised the bottle.  “Why don’t we drop the subject and have a drink instead.”

Lee shook his head sadly.  “You can go right ahead and drown your sorrows in drink.  I’m going off to find some more pleasing company of the feminine sort.”  The door shut behind him.

Adrian gave a mental shrug and, deciding he didn’t need a glass, upended the bottle and took a healthy draw.  He couldn’t really blame his old friend, he thought philosophically, since he didn’t even want to be in his own company this night.  Besides hunting Emily down and beating her to within an inch of her life, which he couldn’t and wouldn’t do no matter how he was provoked, there was only one thing to do.

Cradling the bottle like a babe he walked back to his chair and stretched out.  With a mocking toast to women everywhere, he tilted the bottle and drank.

When the blast of sunlight hit his eyelids he groaned and rolled over, trying to hide his face in the pillow, only to realize that he had fallen asleep on the floor.  He had a vague memory of calling for another bottle and steadily drinking until he had finally passed out, only to be further tormented by visions of Emily as she once was, honest and refreshing, but blushing sweetly when he but held her hand.  It had been very late when he had finally gained some peace.

Whoever was responsible for waking him, he thought as he gingerly sat up and clasped his head, was going to be very sorry.  He fell back.  That is when he could move without groaning in pain.

“Good morning sunshine,” Lee chirped.  He backed up quickly and chuckled when Adrian reached out a hand to grab him.  “I can see that my evening was much more pleasant than yours.  Of course,” he continued cheerfully as he sprawled in a convenient chair, “I did have to deal with a particularly disagreeable young woman when the sun had barely risen this morning.  Apparently, she thought I was you since I did answer the summons.  I thought I would do you a favor since you were sure to be under the weather today.  If I had but known I would be taken to such task by a mere servant I might not have done you the favor, but,” he continued, holding up his finger to forestall Adrian’s speech, “I did learn some very interesting things.”

Despite the severe pounding in his head, Adrian found himself intrigued.  He stood up very slowly, wincing when both his back and his head complained, and stumbled toward the heavy chair that matched the one Lee was sitting on.  When a knock sounded on the door and a servant came in carrying a tray with two steaming cups of coffee on it, he groaned in pleasure.

It was only several minutes later, when he had finished half the cup, that his brain was capable of forming a coherent sentence.  He looked over at his friend and almost winced again at the bright cheerfulness on his face.  “All right,” he croaked.  “Who was this termagant of a woman and what did she say?”

“Well.”  Lee slowly sat his empty cup on a nearby table and steepled his fingers.  “Her name, she told me, was Rose Timmons and she has been a maid, housekeeper and, from what she told me, keeper for Miss Emily Hale for over a year.  She came to ring a peal over my head because my actions, well rather, your actions, of yesterday caused her mistress to become inconsolable.”

Adrian raised his palm, intent on halting the conversation.  After the events of yesterday and his restless night he had no desire to hear anything concerning the lovely, but deceitful Miss Hale.  In fact, he was eager to leave today and if he never heard anything else about the ‘lady’ it would suit him just fine.

Lee, however, seemed to have a different notion.  “Did you know,” he said, completely ignoring Adrian’s glare.  “Miss Hale is of the belief that her uncle is still alive and that he poses some danger to both of you?”

Adrian grunted.

“Yes,” Lee continued cheerfully.  “The lovely Miss Emily was beaten and locked up for refusing to seduce valuable information out of you and turn it over to her uncle.  I almost forgot, he also wanted to sell her off to one of his old cronies.”

“What kind of information?”  Adrian asked, intrigued despite himself.

“It seems, my friend, that her uncle Albert was working as a spy; delivering what useful information he could obtain to Napoleon’s compatriots.  He apparently made a very tidy profit.”  Lee leaned back in his chair and crossed his ankles.

“That explains some things.”  Adrian didn’t quite understand how someone could turn against their country, but obviously Albert Hale had.  Now that he thought about it he did recall some particularly prying questions that the man had asked him.  At the time he had attributed them to mere curiosity.  His heart was beginning to lighten, buoyed by the promise of hope, but something didn’t make sense.  “Why didn’t she come to me?”  He asked.  “I would have helped her.”

“From what Rose said, Emily’s uncle threatened to kill you if she didn’t comply.  The poor girl obviously believed that he had the power to do so.  I imagine that she didn’t think it would be safe.”

*******

 

“Come on miss,” Rose urged as she gently stroked Emily’s hair.  “Don’t take on so.  It can’t be good for you and it hurts to see you in such a state.”

I’m sorry Rose.  I know I’m a bother.”  Emily lifted her hand and wiped her streaming eyes.  Since the horrible scene yesterday she couldn’t seem to stop crying.  She looked blearily around the small, sparsely furnished room, searching for some distraction, and spotted the basket of clothes sitting by the door.  Making a quick decision, she pushed the wooden chair back and stood up.  “I believe I need some fresh air and exercise,” she said.  “I’ll just go and do the laundry.”  Before Rose could protest, she was out the door.

The day was warm and muggy.  By the time Emily had finished washing the clothes in the stream behind the house, her clothes were sticking to her.  She glanced carefully around the clearing to make sure she was alone and peeled off her dress.  After the stress of the last two days the cool water was like a balm.  She laid back and closed her tired eyes, content to just drift.

A twig snapped nearby followed by the tread of a booted foot.  Her eyes popped open and her feet touched down on the pebbled streambed.  Her hands automatically came up to cover her breasts as she quickly turned, presenting her back.

A horrified gasp came from behind her.  She had forgotten the scars, but there was nothing she could do but brazen it out.  “Please sir,” she asked, “could you hand me my clothing?”  She backed carefully toward the bank and waited.  Instead of the softness of cloth against her outstretched hand, calloused but warm fingers ran slowly over her back, tracing the stark white marks.

“Emily,” Adrian groaned, as the full extent of her suffering rolled through him.  “What he did to you and how you must despise me.”  Overcome by remorse, he bent down and smoothed his lips over each mark that marred her skins as if, somehow, he could erase the very memory of any pain she had suffered.  “I should have known.  I should have come for you.”

“Adrian,” Emily whispered, hardly able to believe that the sweet caresses and gentle voice were coming from the same man who had spoken to her so coldly.  She knew she should move away, it wasn’t proper for him to see her this way, let alone touch her the way he was, but her body was tingling, her legs shaking and God how she’d missed him.

Still, she dared not give in.  Nothing had changed.  She cleared her throat and straightened her spine, secretly mourning the loss of his soft lips as he moved away.  “What are you doing here My Lord?”

She heard the rustling of cloth and moments later a large, soft, linen shirt was pulled over her head.  She barely had time to appreciate the warm, masculine smell of the garment before she was lifted bodily and deposited on the bank.  Her mind squirreled frantically, searching for either an explanation or an escape route, while her weak body urged her to sink into his warm embrace.  With her last vestiges of strength she pushed out of his arms and walked away.  “What are you doing here?” she repeated.

Adrian remained silent, watching the proud girl he had fallen in love with, aching with tenderness as she struggled to keep her dignity while dressed in only a men’s shirt.  “I like it better when you call me Adrian,” he said hoarsely.  “Turn around and look at me.”

She couldn’t, Emily thought in helpless frustration, because her face would betray her.  Unchecked tears were again flowing down her cheeks.  When gentle hands reached out and turned her she bent her head.

“Emily,” Adrian whispered.  He brushed a flame colored curl from her face and ran his thumb along her cheek, capturing a drop of moisture.  “Don’t cry.  I promise everything will be fine.”

“How can everything be fine?”  She laughed harshly and shoved at him.  “Go away before you get hurt.  I mean,” she corrected quickly.  “I want you to leave.”  Before her heart splintered anymore.  “Wait a minute,” she said, her spine straightening as she replayed his words.  “What do you mean, you should have done something?”

“Your companion came to the house this morning and rang a peal over Lee’s head, thinking he was me.  She told him everything.”

Emily took a deep breath and turned her back to him.  “This changes nothing.”  She picked up her dress, tried to think of a way to put it on without exposing more of herself to him.  “You made your feelings perfectly clear yesterday.”

He cringed, remembering his harsh words.

“And I…” She tried to force the words past the constriction in her throat.  Her uncle was rich and powerful a man she’d heard even the King was wary of.  She would not place Adrian in danger, even for her own happiness.  The reminder made the words easier.  “I…”

      “Your uncle is dead,” Adrian interrupted quietly.  “He has been for this long year.”

“Dead?”  She sank to the ground as her legs collapsed.  Before she had time to blink she was being lifted and cradled in a pair of strong arms.  “But how?  He wasn’t even in the house the day of the fire.”  Though, God forgive her, there were times she wished he had been.

“It happened somewhere on the Continent.”  He laid his head on her hair, breathing in her scent, letting it soothe the tortured pain he’d been living with.  “Though I confess that I was too….preoccupied to pay much attention to the how.”

Emily thought of questioning him more, but then what he was saying finally sank in and she felt a release so profound she felt as if she could have floated away — if Adrian had not been holding her so tightly.  And then she realized that he was crying, his tears further wetting her already damp hair.  Her own feelings faded to the background, eclipsed by a need to comfort him.

When he felt a gentle touch on his cheek, Adrian turned his head and kissed her scarred palm.  Then the reality of the situation hit and he was filled with such profound joy that he laughed, the full-bodied sound startling birds from the trees.

Emily wrapped her arms around his neck and clung as he spun her around.  Her smile echoed his then faded as he stopped and looked down at her, the look in his beautiful blue eyes turning intense.  “What’s the matter Adrian,” she asked quietly.

“Nothing.”  He lowered his head until their lips were almost touching.  “I missed you, so much.”

The kiss that followed was nothing like the one they’d shared the previous day.  It was passionate, intense and full of love.  When Adrian finally pulled away — Emily didn’t have the strength or the will to do so — he put her down, but only long enough for her to grab her clothes.  Then he swung her back into his arms and strode away.  She snuggled her cheek against his chest and sighed in contentment, but her natural curiosity eventually got the best of her.  “Where are we going?” she asked.

“We, my love, are going to find a priest.  Then, I’m taking you home and not letting you out of my site for at least a year.”

Emily smiled and snuggled closer.  That sounded just perfect to her.

Book Review “Kiss of a Demon King” by Kresley Cole

Kiss of a Demon King (Immortals After Dark, #7)Kiss of a Demon King by Kresley Cole
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The whole Immortals After Dark Series is great. Romance with a mythical and paranormal elements, fated loves, werewolves, vampires, demons, Valkyrie, you name it. Engaging characters with hot sex scenes.

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Review Nora Robert’s “Chasing Fire”

Chasing FireChasing Fire by Nora Roberts
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Just finished reading this book and, while I did enjoy it, I wasn’t that impressed. I’m not going to give you a breakdown as to why as I don’t want to give spoilers. I will say, though, that it felt a little repetitive and I didn’t really get pulled into the characters. In my opinion, Nora Roberts is a good writer, but her books over recent years seem to have just been churned out and don’t hold the same draw for me as did her earlier books. I would check this book out from the library or download on Kindle if it was cheap, but wouldn’t spend much on.

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Innocent Deception by Rose Connelly

I’ve had a few people ask me when I plan on selling another book on Kindle. I do have another novel finished, but it needs some tweaking and I’m not sure when or if it will be self-published as I am continuing to look for an agent for it.

In the meantime I unearthed and polished a short story that I submitted to a Writer’s Digest contest a few years ago. It is set in England in the early 1800s and will be posted in two parts. Enjoy.

 

Innocent Deception

by

Rose Connelly

Tongues of bright orange and yellow flame licked across the ceiling of the bedroom, creating a mesmerizing display that captured her eyes for precious seconds.  She watched in morbid fascination as it snaked down the far wall and blocked her path to the door.  Her trance was only broken as smoke filled the room and she coughed harshly.  The fire was supposed to have distracted her jailors, but not thwarted her escape.  Her only option now was the window and the dubious support of a bed sheet.  She hobbled across the room, praying that her aching back would hold out.

      With a gasp of pain Emily Hale sat up in her tiny bed and clenched her right hand, feeling the slight bumpiness where her palm had scarred and recalling with a shudder the scorching pain as she had gripped the hot window casing.

      It had been over a year since the incident and she hadn’t had the dream in months.  The morning’s news could be the only explanation.  He was here in her little town and.  She ached to see him, if only for one moment, but the danger was too great for both of them. 

      Well, Emily decided as she closed her eyes and willed herself to sleep, she would just have to resist temptation and stay away from him.  She felt a pang at the thought, but resolutely ignored it.

 

*******

 

      “You badgered me into coming to this bloody house party, Lee.”  Adrian St. John, the Earl of Edgewood, finished tying his cravat and turned to face his friend.  “I refuse, however, to give any of my time to those, pampered, selfish girls that mothers continue to throw at me.”

      “You could always toss some of them my way,” the sandy-haired man quipped.  He uncurled his lanky frame from the sofa and picked up his jacket.  “It’s not like you have to marry one of the girls, just talk.  For God’s sake, man, it’s been over a year since Emily died.  I know you loved the girl, but it’s time to move on; you’re only 34.”

      Adrian looked at his clenched fists and considered strangling the dissolute, cynical rake.  Lee Westford, however, had been his friend for many years and he was the only person who had stood by him when his despair was so deep that even his servants avoided him.  He settled for a glare.

      Lee shrugged and opened the door.  With a prayer for patience, Adrian straightened his jacket and followed, but after an hour of listening to an interminable round of gossip, innuendo, and sometimes outright propositions from the so-called ‘ladies’ he had had enough. 

      Before he had joined the war effort and gone off to fight against Napoleon he had been exactly like Lee, always looking for the next flirtation, the next conquest.  Now, he could barely stand the false, glittery world that was society.  Let Lee fend for himself.  He turned away and headed for the dubious sanctuary of the gardens.

      After weaving his way past giggling couples and embracing lovers, he found a shadowed bench at the back of the garden.  With the peaceful solitude surrounding him and the night breeze drifting over him he was finally able to relax. 

      From the corner of his eye he caught a hauntingly familiar flash of color near the back wall.  Heart thudding, he sank further into the shadows and waited.  Moments later his patience was rewarded.  A pale face, surrounded by deep red curls, slowly peered around a full bush.

      “Emily.”  The anguished sound was barely a whisper, but she must have heard him.  The wraith, for that’s all she could be, sprang from her concealment and sprinted for the low garden wall.

      “Wait!”  Adrian jumped up and chased after her.  He knew he wouldn’t be able to touch her, but he had to see her again if only for a brief moment.  Her hurried flight took her to the wall, but instead of passing through, as he had half expected, she made a running jump, latched on the top of the wall, and vaulted over.  A soft thud sounded, followed by hurried footsteps, and then silence.

      One thing was certain — that had not been a ghost.  Burning curiosity and a slowly building anger filled him.  He spun on his heel and stalked back toward the brightly glowing house.  Something strange was going on and he would bloody well find out what it was.

*******

      The heavy basket pulled at Emily’s shoulder muscles and caused her steps to drag as she made her way along the wooded shortcut that led to St. Mary’s orphanage.  She badly wanted to sink down on the soft leaves, lean back against a tree, and set her burden down for just a few blessed minutes.  The throbbing ache, however, was a fit punishment for the stupidity she had indulged in last night. 

      She had made a solemn promise to herself and to Rose to stay close to home while the party was going on at the big house on the hill.  While her deceitful, self-serving uncle was still alive she had to remain hidden.  If she were found it would put both her and Adrian in mortal danger. 

      She panted lightly as she climbed a small incline and pushed on.

      What had she done though?  Just like a stupid, lovesick schoolgirl she had put on her one remaining good dress, snuck into the gardens and hidden, praying to catch a single glimpse of the man she had once adored with all the fervor in her young heart.

      When he had finally emerged from the house she should have allowed herself one brief glimpse and then snuck away as silently as she had come.  Instead, she had stood frozen, her starving eyes tracing the planes and hollows of his face and her heart aching at the signs of his pain. 

      His warrior’s cheekbones had been just a little sharper and in the faint moonlight she had just made out the lines of strain surrounding his beautiful blue eyes and pulling down his full, sensuous lips. 

      Her heart had almost stopped when he had walked in her direction and she had just managed to dive behind the meager cover provided by a nearby shrub.  She should have taken that as a warning and left immediately but, no, she had to be stupid and take one more look and of course he had seen her.  Her only hope now was that he had assumed she was merely a vision induced, perhaps, by the consumption of too much liquor.

      For the sake of her own sanity, Emily finally decided, she would be wise to do the same thing and put it out of her mind.  With new resolve she tightened her grip, squared her shoulders, rounded the last bend, and stopped dead in her tracks.  As if conjured by her own wild imagination there he stood, feet planted, blocking her path.

      “Emily.”

      His deep voice sent a remembered thrill racing down her spine and it was all she could do to stand when her knees wanted to buckle.  With an effort of will she stayed upright and thought frantically.  If she wanted to keep them both safe she had to rebuff him, lie to him and make him so angry that he would not want to speak of her, let alone see her ever again.

      She swallowed thickly, lowered the basket, and placed her hands on her hips in what she hoped was a provocative pose.  “Adrian.”  She slowly sauntered forward, allowing her hips to sway slightly with each measured step.  “What are you doing all the way out here?  Did you tire of your London amusements?”

      Adrian seemed nonplussed for several moments by her casual tone and brazen manner.  He rallied quickly, however, his spine straightening and his blue eyes hardening to the color of a cold, winter sky.

      His tone was biting and contemptuous when he spoke.  “I could ask you the same thing.  How is it, Miss Hale, that you are standing here in perfect health when you were supposed to have died more than a year past?”

      Emily stopped, just out of range of his powerful arms, and searched his eyes, unconsciously looking for something.  It was there, just hidden under a thin layer of anger — a well of anguish and longing.  She knew that with a word from her, a simple explanation, he might be persuaded to believe her, pull her into his arms, and erase the aching loneliness of the past year. 

      It would be so easy to release her burdens, tell him everything and let him take care of it, but it would be wrong.  She knew how powerful her uncle was and how viciously he would go after anyone who got in his way.  She would not willing put Adrian in danger again. 

      She walked forward and placed a dainty hand on his chest.  He flinched slightly, but didn’t move.  “Did you miss me Adrian?” she purred.  She stood on tiptoe and held her lips a breath away from his.  “I’ll admit that it was fun while it lasted.  I do like the attention of a nice handsome, strong man.”  She leaned in, almost touching him.  “How about a taste?  Just for old time’s sake?”

      His arms came up and yanked her against his body, sealing their lips together in a harsh kiss.  When she didn’t respond, he used his thumb to urge her mouth to open and his tongue plunged inside. 

      Despite her shock at the aggressiveness of the sensual assault, Emily felt her lips beginning to tingle and her limbs went weak.  Unconsciously, she raised her arms and wound them around his neck.  With a muttered curse he broke free and shoved her away. 

      She watched warily, wondering if she had gone too far, as he stalked a few feet away and leaned against a tree.  Had her gaze not been so sharp she would never have caught the brief grimace of pain that flashed across his face before it turned into a mask of cold indifference.

      “I see that you haven’t lacked for company,” he said.  “You seem to have gained a lot of experience since we last met.”  In a habitual gesture that caused her heart to ache, he lifted his hand and raked it through his shaggy black hair.  “Was it all some kind of a sick game to you?” 

      She opened her mouth to utter the damning lie, but found it wouldn’t come.  Let him take her silence as he would.

      “What purpose was there,” he asked, apparently taking her silence as an admission, “in playing out that deceit, in pretending to bear me some affection?”  His voice had thickened slightly, allowing some sign of pain to show through.  “Was it for the gifts?  The chance to live the kind of life you were unaccustomed to?”  He swiveled around to face her, sending a pile of autumn leaves skittering across the dirt path.

      Emily watched their dance intently, preferring it to the angry torment she saw in his eyes.  The memory of the brief happiness that had been theirs was now a bitter taste in her mouth. 

      He stepped forward and grasped her chin, tilting her head up.  “I would have married you,” he said as he intently searched her eyes.  “I would have given you everything.”

      She pulled free and turned around, giving him her back.  “Marry you,” she laughed harshly.  “Why would any sane woman want to bind herself to one man?”

      “Goodbye Miss Hale,” he said with cold finality.

      When his footsteps had receded and there was no one to hear but the forest creatures, she sank down, wrapped her arms around her knees, and cried like her heart was breaking.

 

Thanks for reading. Come back next week for the conclusion of Innocent Deception. In the meantime check out my contemporary romance “Running from Fate” on Amazon.

Happy Reading

Rose Connelly

 

One Day Free Ebook Promotion

From 12am on Sunday October 7th, 2012, to 11:59pm (Pacific Standard Time) download “Running from Fate” on your Kindle for free!

Marketing your Kindle ebook

I’ve been looking at all these websites about how to market your Kindle ebook. I’ve seen tags mentioned, guest blogging, having a Facebook fanpage, using twitter, etc…Of course, I did find websites that wanted to sell me a book about marketing ebooks, which in my mind is a great gambit for them, but defeats the purpose for me; I’m trying to make money, not spend it.
Anyway, I got to thinking, I don’t have many people who follow my blog, barely over 100 who are connected to me on Twitter, and only one or two non-family friends on my specific author-related Facebook page. Now, I’m not saying that, provided you put enough energy into it, those things couldn’t work, but they haven’t done much for me so far.
For the first month that my book “Running from Fate” was on Amazon I barely had 50 sales and most of those were probably from friends and family. I was wary of making my ebook exclusive to Amazon for 90 days, but I signed up for KDP Select. It allows me 5 days to use for promotion, where people can download my book for free. In two days I had almost 15,000 downloads and, after the free download ended I’ve sold close to 300 books.
Sales do drop off though and I’m wondering how other people have successfully marketed their ebooks. Perhaps it’s just me, but I’m a big reader and I don’t search blogs and forums before I buy a book. Maybe I’m just not that into technology or I’m showing my age.
Anyway, if anyone has any ideas to share I’d love to hear them.

Happy reading

Rose Connelly

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