Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday - My Clarity by M. Clarke (NA romance)

My Clarity

By: M. Clarke (Mary Ting)

Available May 12, 2014

** This is a New Adult romance novel recommended for ages 18+
due to sexual content and mature subject matter.**

Still reeling from the death of her father, Alexandria hopes to find both independence and reprieve from her grief by heading off to college. However, life throws her a serious curveball when she discovers that her roommate isn’t quite the person she had imagined.

Smoking, tattoos, and street racing for fast cash are Elijah’s only interests. A harsh life has made him apathetic and indifferent, until Alexandria enters his life. When their paths cross, turmoil abounds.

An inevitable encounter, an undeniable attraction, and an unexpected chance at love—will it be enough?


Author Mary Ting/M. Clarke is also a featured author at Chapter by Chapter Book Rave happening September 20th! Check it out! Click photo below.

$100 Giveaway and Book Blast: The Only Boy by Jordan Locke

The only boy

The Only Boy by Jordan Locke

Mary is stuck in Section One, living with three hundred women in a crumbling hospital. She wonders what life was like two centuries ago, before the Cleansing wiped out all the men. But the rules—the Matriarch's senseless rules—prevent her from exploring the vacant city to find out.

Taylor's got a dangerous secret: he's a boy. His compound's been destroyed, and he's been relocated to Section One. Living under the Matriarch means giving up possessions, eating canned food and avoiding all physical contact. Baggy clothes hide his flat chest and skinny legs, but if anyone discovers what lies beneath, he'll be exiled. Maybe even executed.

Mary's never seen a boy—the Matriarch cut the pictures of men from the textbooks—and she doesn't suspect Taylor's secret. If she knew, she might understand the need to stop the girls from teasing him. If she knew, she might realize why she breaks the rules, just to be near him. Then again, she might be frightened to death of him.

Taylor should go. The Matriarch is watching his every move. But running means leaving Mary—and braving the land beyond the compound's boundaries.
Praise for The Only Boy

“It’s not a dystopia that does a good job—it’s a great book that happens to be a dystopia.”

Rachel Miller, Editor
“This book is one of the best of its genre I have read, it kept me gripped to its satisfying end.”

Janet Love, Amazon UK Reviewer
“If you like a different take on the dystopian genre then I would highly recommend this unique and amazing book.”

Tamara Bass, The Avid Book Collector

Jordan LockeAuthor Jordan Locke

Jordan Locke lives in Connecticut with his wife, two lively daughters and a well-behaved whippet. A graphic designer by trade, his creativity spilled over into the literary world. After years of writing, reading and learning the craft, his fifth novel, The Only Boy, brought him offers of representation from two well-known agents. Now, after the dog is fed and the kids are in bed, you will find him tapping away at the keyboard.
only boy tou
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Blast Giveaway

$100 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash

Ends 5/31/14

Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader, Not A Writer and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

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Featured Books and Freebie - Limited time offer

inMotion Capitol Publishing Featured books and freebie

 A.B. Whelan's:     Blog     Amazon Product Page

List Price: $1.99
In the world where freedom is no longer your right; where being in love and starting a family is not a blessing but a curse, a baby is born... read more
Paperback (154 pages - Prequel Novella)
List Price: $8.99
Price: $5.99

Fields of Elysium (a romantic fantasy, book 1) 
by A.B. Whelan
List Price: $2.99
Price: $0.99
A lonely teen discovers a secret wormhole to a distant planet - and a distant boy who steals her heart - in this young-adult sci-fi romance... read more
Paperback (424 pages)
Price: $14.99
Price: $9.99
Fields of Elysium

Valley of Darkness Part 1 (Fields of Elysium, #2)
List Price: $1.99
Price: $0.99
What if we were not alone in the universe? What if your boyfriend were a supernatural alien? What if you had to choose between two worlds?... read more
Paperback (438 pages)

List Price: $14.99
Price: $10.99

List Price: $2.99
Price: $0.99

A lonely teen discovers a secret wormhole to a distant planet - and a distant boy who steals her heart - in this young-adult sci-fi romance... read more

List Price: $1.99
Price: $0.99

What if we were not alone in the universe? What if your boyfriend were a supernatural alien? What if you had to choose between two worlds?... read more
List Price: $1.99
Price: $0.99

There is no better thing on Earth than absorbing someone’s ultimate and deepest love for you entirely... read more

Connect with A.B. Whelan: 

Blog            Pinterest          Goodreads         Twitter          Facebook

Friday, April 25, 2014

Win a Special Edition of Fields and Elysium and more

My dear blog followers, I'm very excited to tell you about this special blog hop that's coming up. For fifteen days with the participation of fifteen wonderful and super awesome bloggers, we will share an entry from Molly's diary each day. I've worked very passionately on these images and I can't wait to share them with you.
So the bad news is that we all have to wait till Tuesday to see the first picture, but the good news is that as of right now you can enter the special giveaway I'm having. 

And the prize is...

One signed copy of *Special Edition of Fields of Elysium 
One Italian Silver Butterfly Charm

*includes Molly's diary entries and not available for sale. 

Ends 5/18/14

Open only to those who can legally enter and have a US postal address. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy fromI Am A Reader, Not A Writer and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

INTERNATIONAL WINNER will receive a Fields of Elysium eBook, Valley of Darkness Part 1 and Part 2 eBooks and a Safe and Sound eBook. 
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tour schedule: 

April 29th – BookHounds YA
April 30th – Christy’s Cozy Corners
May 1st – readalot
May 3rd – Cuzinlogic
May 4th – From the Bootheel Cotton Patch
May 5th – Curling Up With A Good Book
May 6th – Every Free Chance Book Reviews
May 7th – Doodles, doodles everywhere
May 8th – Addicted Readers
May 9th – Sher A Hart: Written Art
May 10th – Beck Valley Books
May 11th – Cassandra M’s Place
May 12th – CBY Book Club
May 13th – Brooke Blogs

End one more thing.
Don't forget to download Safe and Sound between April 29 and May 2 on Amazon for FREE !!

Monday, April 21, 2014

$50 Giveaway: My Not So Super Sweet Life by Rachel Harris


Cat Crawford just wants to be normal—or at least as normal as a daughter of Hollywood royalty can be. And it looks like fate is granting her wish: she’s got an amazing boyfriend, Lucas; her fabulous cousin, Alessandra, living with her; and her dad planning his second marriage to a great future stepmom. That is, until her prodigal mother reveals on national television that she has something important to tell her daughter…causing a media frenzy.

Lucas Capelli knows his fate is to be with Cat, and he’s worked hard to win her over once and for all. Unfortunately, Lucas has his own issues to deal with, including a scandal that could take him away from the first place he’s truly belonged.

As secrets are revealed, rumors explode, and the world watches, Cat and Lucas discover it’s not fate they have to fight if they want to stay together…this time, it’s their own insecurities.

Well, and the stalkerazzi.

MY NOT SO SUPER SWEET LIFE is a special digital only, fan requested addition to the series!

Get it now for only $0.99 on 

It's also told in DUAL POV. Woohoo!


Read the first chapter...


 Amazon † B&N † iTunes 

To celebrate the release author Rachel Harris is hosting a giveaway!

US - A Signed RARE paperback copy of MY NOT SO SUPER SWEET LIFE & SWAG PACK


a Rafflecopter giveaway


Rachel Harris writes humorous love stories about sassy girls-next-door and the hot guys that make them swoon. Emotion, vibrant settings, and strong families are a staple in each of her Rachel Harrisbooks…and kissing. Lots of kissing.

A Cajun cowgirl now living in Houston, she firmly believes life’s problems can be solved with a hot, sugar-coated beignet or a thick slice of king cake, and that screaming at strangers for cheap, plastic beads is acceptable behavior in certain situations. She homeschools her two beautiful girls and watches way too much Food Network with her amazing husband.

An admitted Diet Mountain Dew addict, she gets through each day by laughing at herself, hugging her kids, and losing herself in story. She writes young adult, new adult, and adult romances, and LOVES talking with readers!

$50 Giveaway: Life in the Palace by Catherine Green Book Blast


Life in the PalaceLife in the Palace by Catherine Green

“We need to talk,” Tal said. Then I knew it was going to go badly. ‘We need to talk’ is the conversational equivalent of walking into your basement without turning on the light, on a dark and stormy night, when a known psychopath is on the loose. You might as well cut to the chase and slit your own throat.

Chloe Diaz assumed three things: that when Tal said that she was one of The People sent from heaven to maintain the cosmic balance, it was code for ‘I’m a pamphlet distributing, incense burning, religious weirdo;’ that the gorgeous Seth Wilks would never be her soul mate and that she’d never have to choose between them. Chloe was wrong.

Now the future of the world is in her hands, but what if price is too great to pay?

Download a FREE copy now!

Amazon * Barnes & Noble


Chloe on Facebook * Seth on Facebook


This is a brief description of the plot:


After a lifetime in the shadow of her sister, Chloe is severely phobic of the chronically cool. Seth is everything she avoids; a pre-med philosophy major who works in a bar, plays in a band and is so good looking that grown women stare at him in the street. But it’s hard to say no to your soul mate. Thinking she’s maxed out her supply of destiny, Chloe settles down to enjoy the happily-ever-after.


Tal says that she’s one of The People sent from heaven to maintain the cosmic balance. Chloe assumes this is code for ‘I’m a pamphlet distributing, incense burning, religious weirdo.’ Actually Tal’s main extracurricular activity is fighting the forces of Oblivion. The People never need to hide what they are because no one ever believes them. Until Chloe does.


Chloe sets out to help Tal and The People as much as she can as an outsider. Seth says as long as no one wears their underpants on the outside Chloe can do what she likes. What he doesn’t say is that he’s also one of The People, although non-practicing. But as the Final Battle draws nearer, Chloe realizes it’s time for Seth to go collect his regulation sword. The only thing standing in his way is her. Seth says he’ll give up his place in heaven to stay with her. Chloe must choose between Seth’s soul and her own happiness.


Praise for Life in the Palace

An interesting take on the paranormal romance genre. …..While other books in the genre have unrealistic buy in to the acceptance of someone from the outside entering a "new world" Life in the Palace handled it from both the main character looking in and the dwellers of the Palace looking out at this person trying to enter their world. …….I am so happy to hear that there are more books in the series! – Yonit on Goodreads

I loved this world that Catherine Green created. I happily lost myself in the life & deep love between Chloe & Seth …..I loved the attention to detail, the fleshing out of the world around them, the obvious growth of all the characters... Even the heartbreaking choices made at the end.
Book two I cannot wait to read! – Ebon Darkmyth on Smashwords

Loved it, great story line, fun characters and after reading it and thinking deeply about the duality of our lives, it made my prayers come alive! – Rebecca Wittenstein on

This book introduces you to a whole host of characters that you want to meet in real life. ….The action keeps you reading, while the budding love between Seth and Chloe makes you breathless. A great read. – Cypora Cohen on

Tour Schedule

CatherineAuthor Catherine Green

Catherine Green writes fantasy books featuring religious characters in a brazen attempt to make the people in faith communities seem less weird. She lives with her husband, children and three marginally neglected goldfish. When she's not writing, or pretending to be one of her characters on Facebook, she has been known to cook dinner.

Website * Goodreads * Twitter * Facebook


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Blast Giveaway

$50 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash

Ends 5/15/14

Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader, Not A Writer and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, April 14, 2014

The Epherium Chronicles by T.D. Wilson Book Blast and Giveaway

EmbraceThe Epherium Chronicles: Embrace

Book one of The Epherium Chronicles

Hope. Captain James Hood of the Earth Defense Forces remembers what it felt like. Twenty-five years ago, it surged through him as a young boy watching the colony ships launched by mega-corporation Epherium rocket away. He, like so many others, dreamed of following in the colonists' footsteps. He wanted to help settle a new world—to be something greater.

Then came the war...

Hope. During years of vicious conflict with an insectoid alien race, it was nearly lost. Though Earth has slowly rebuilt in the six years since the war, overcrowding and an unstable sun have made life increasingly inhospitable. When mysterious signals from the nearly forgotten colony ships are received, Hood is ordered to embark on a dangerous reconnaissance mission. Could humanity's future sit among the stars?

Hope. Hood needs it now more than ever. As secrets about the original colonists are revealed and the Epherium Corporation's dark agenda is exposed, new adversaries threaten the mission, proving more dangerous to Earth than their already formidable foes…

Amazon * Barnes & Noble * Kobo

iTunes * Google Play * Carina Press


From Laura (5 star reviewer on Amazon) "I was shocked about how fast the author sucked me into a new world, a world that I am impatiently awaiting the next in the series. I read from another reviewer that it would make a great television series and I would have to agree with that reviewer."

From Kathryn Svendsen of Kathryn's Shelf Full of Books Blog (4 star review) : "It was a delight to read. Mr. Wilson did an excellent job of introducing each of the many characters involved in this large crew. There were many people to keep track of, and like a movie we found out a bit about the character of each one as we went along."


Book Trailer


“I have an idea about that,” Hood said as he opened a channel to Engineering. “Mr. Whitaker. I need that shield of yours.”

Whitaker responded slightly out of breath. “Sorry, Captain. I can’t give it to you. That second rock that smacked us caused one of the reactors to scram, so we shut it down. Until we get that stable and some more juice in the batteries, I can’t power it up.”

Hood muttered under his breath as he pounded his fist on his chair. He took a deep breath, and let it out slowly as he closed the channel. “Alright, our ace is out of commission,” he told Sanchez, “and even with the best of my contingency plans, we are going to have to do this the hard way.”

“You have multiple contingency plans for this?” Sanchez asked as he pointed to the viewport and the many asteroids floating nearby.

Hood looked at Sanchez and raised a single eyebrow.

“Forget I asked,” Sanchez said.


traceyAuthor T.D. Wilson:

T.D. Wilson was born in 1968 in Troy, Ohio and has been an avid fan of science fiction and fantasy from a very young age. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering and has supported the systems and networks in several of the largest Supercomputing data centers in the world. His early thirst for adventure in reading began as he explored many of the great stories of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. As his reading scope expanded, Mr. Wilson was fascinated by strange new worlds from the magical of Middle Earth and Narnia to the far reaches of space in Star Trek and Babylon 5. As a science fiction author, he strives to integrate a realistic flavor to his worlds by providing his readers a feel for the real science in science fiction. A topic he loves to discuss with his friends and readers. Mr. Wilson still lives in Ohio with his wife and their two sons.

Website * Facebook * Twitter

Google+ * YouTube * Goodreads

book blast button




Blast Giveaway

$50 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash

Ends 5/15/14

Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader, Not A Writer and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, April 11, 2014

Coming soon: Molly's Diary Reveal

Win a special edition of Fields of Elysium with bonus materials: Molly's diary entries. It won't be available for sale. :)

Check back later for the list of participating blogs.  

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Safe and Sound (Fields of Elysium Novella) Excerpt - Prologue and Chapter 1


Living with grief is like free diving to the bottom of the ocean. Your body sinks weightlessly into the dark while you don’t even realize how deep you have sunk already. Your ears become deaf. Your eyes can’t see the light. People who try to reach out and hold your hand blur into the surroundings and their signals don’t get to you. You’re never completely alone, yet a frightening loneliness is nibbling at your soul. The deeper you sink, the greater the pressure. The darkness calls, and you answer. The mere thought of giving up to stop the pain becomes tempting. The possibility of an eternal sleep starts forming in your mind. And one tiny mistake, one slip up, will bring you that final relief. From where, there’s no return. No time for regrets. No second chances. Yet, you’re calm because those who don’t fear death embrace it.
I was on the bottom of that ocean once, but then I met her, and everything changed. Now, I want to live. I want to breathe. And it’s all because of her.

New Hope

The whip came down for the third time, reopening a semi-healed wound on the old man’s back. He groaned and stooped lower, nails tearing into the white powder. The tall guard’s powerful arm lifted again. His fingers wrapped tightly around the whip’s handle and his bulging muscles screamed the obvious. He’d be able to whip the over-worked man a hundred times before breaking a sweat.
The leather strips lashing against raw skin caused pain, almost unbearable, to the already worn and tired slave. The unjustly punished man’s knees and arms weakened, lowering him closer to the ground. From a glance at a blood drop in front of him, he clenched his teeth and looked up at his oppressors. The muscles tight in his neck, he gathered all his strength and attempted to rise, desperate to show that he was still a man, but in vain. After the twentieth lash, even his will to save his dignity – whatever was left of it – couldn’t give him enough power to stand up.
Many of the frightened slaves averted their eyes, while their hands started to work faster and harder, carving the stones, mixing the whitewash.
“We should do something,” whispered a man who had been working alongside the beaten slave for over a decade. ”The Almighty sees everything.”
“Hush up, Gideon,” said a younger slave with more scars on his back than he cared to count. “You wanna die?”
“The Almighty won’t help cowards like us,” the man continued, only earning more disapproving glances.
“Just do what we do. Block the sounds out of your mind. If you keep talking, you’ll find yourself alongside old Ben,” advised a water carrier planting her hand gently on his shoulder.
He looked up at her, then swept his eyes over the immense group of slaves. If just one of them took a stand to stop the harsh treatment of their friend, he’d be ready to join him. But none did. The man had come to a sad realization: friendship and bravery had long died in the slave camps. He wished these violent people had never found their way here from Earth. He only heard stories about how happy and peaceful life had been on Arkana before the Earthlings showed up and spoiled everything.
The sudden anger quelling in his heart, the man sighed and slammed his chisel into the limestone held between his legs, resuming his work on yet another statue of the emperor.
He wasn’t the only slave who stopped working when the whipping started. Taking advantage of the guards’ inattention, a young man straightened up, tucked his sweat-drenched, thick blond hair behind his ears and signaled to a woman standing by the well along with dozens of others, a full jug of water slung over her shoulder. She nodded at him and quickly dropped the jug into the well and went down on her stomach. A series of muffled sneezes almost gave her away but her fellow water carriers moved into position to conceal her. She blinked and nodded at them appreciatively, yanked a scarf over her nose to block out the fine white powder that hovered in the air and started crawling toward the slave quarters, her heart in her throat.
The handsome blond man, keeping a wary eye on the guards gathering around their groaning victim, slowly backed away toward the small stone houses. At the stockyard fence that enclosed a small herd of sheep and goats, he found the pale woman snuggled down. His heart was pounding restlessly from being so close to her, yet he knew that there was no time for romance. Swiftly he pulled her fragile body into his arms and lifted her up. The blazing sun burned the skin on his back as he carried her away to the closest little white hut. Inside he laid her down on the thickest blanket he could find and knelt beside her.
“You’re going to be safe here. No slave can leave the constructions before sunset, so the guards don’t even bother coming here during the day,” he said, running his hand along her dark curls.
“Have you seen old Ben’s face?” asked the woman with tears in her eyes as she grasped the man’s hand.
“Did you know that he’s only fifty-eight? His body’s just so worn out that he looks much older. This life makes us all age faster.” He smiled kindly, motioning at himself.
“None of us should be treated this savage way.”
“Don’t trouble yourself now, Halysia. You must rest.” He brushed his fingers along her glimmering forehead. He found her so beautiful in spite of her scars and tired eyes. Today she looked especially lovely with the radiant glow she had donned lately. 
“How can I not? Oh, Abraham, what have we done?” She laid her head down and planted her hands on her belly.
“It was the Almighty’s will. Everything will be all right,” he promised, though deep down he knew that it would take a miracle to get through the next several months.
“Don’t try to blame this on Him, Abraham. This was our fault. We were fools to believe that we had the right to love.”
“What’s done is done. There’s no point in talking of this any longer,” he said, rubbing the three deep grooves built into his brows despite his young age.
The woman sighed deeply and closed her eyes. “I’m so hungry, Abraham. How will I feed the both of us? Tell me.”
“I’ll share my rations with you. We’ll make it work. Here, take this bread. It’s not much but it will help you through till lunch.” He removed a small sack that was tied to his belt and pulled out a crispy-crusted piece of white bread.
Halysia hesitated. “You need your energy to work. I can’t take this from you.”
Abraham leaned forward, cupped the woman’s troubled face into his hands and kissed her forehead. “I don’t want you to worry any longer. I’ll take care of you both. You’re the reason that I want to live. I love you, and I won’t let anything bad happen to you.”
“And you’re mine, Abraham. But I’m so scared. What are we going to do when I start to show?” she asked, patting her belly anxiously.
Abraham climbed back to his feet and glanced at the guard folding up his whip in the far distance. “I have to go but you just rest.  I’ll come back for you before the evening line-up. Please make sure you drink enough water. Anna will bring you some food later.”
“Abraham?” She looked at him, trouble twisting her face.
“Don’t worry, I’ll think of something. You just try to keep the food down and stay out of sight,” he said and, after a worried glance at his love, stepped out of the hut and disappeared behind a fence, his heart heavier than ever. 
Halysia opened her fingers and looked at the slice of bread her best friend Anna baked that morning. Though in the past three weeks most of the food she consumed before noon came back, she decided to take a small bite to ease the increasing pain in her stomach. But when the smell of the stale flour reached her nostrils, she gagged and ran over to a bucket in the corner. Quickly she stuffed her scarf into her mouth to lessen the noises she made. If the guards found her away from work, public humiliation and instant execution would follow. A few years ago death might have seemed the ideal solution to her dreadful life, but since she became close to Abraham, life suddenly had a meaning. And now there was a new life growing inside her. She had to stay strong. She had to stay alive.
When her stomach settled down, she pulled the bitter cloth out of her mouth and leaning her back against the wall, she collapsed to the floor. This wasn’t her home but it didn’t make any difference, considering that these huts all looked alike. The inside walls were bare, blindingly white from the whitewash. There were no beds, only rugs and blankets scattered over the floor where people slept, and a few haystacks for comfort. Light poured inside from a single window and illuminated the fire pit in the middle of the dirt floor. It was cleaned out. People used the ashes to fertilize the plants in the gardens.
As her thoughts wandered through well-kept gardens and green forests, her heart started to ache. She remembered the day when the Slavehunters invaded the village where she lived happily with her family. It had been almost two decades ago, yet she could still clearly remember the fragrances of the flowers and of the forest after the rain. She gazed out the window at the endless white landscape pensively. She couldn’t even remember the last time she’d had the chance to reminisce. The hard work left no time for daydreaming. And at night, she only had nightmares about the screaming people being thrust into cages, the painted faces of the Slavehunters, the fierce flames consuming the village, the dead bodies on the ground. Sleep had brought her comfort only since she fell in love with Abraham. But now, due to one careless night, their four years of happiness had come to an end. Her stomach tightened into a knot. She closed herself up into a ball and, not allowing herself to feel attached to the tiny life that grew inside her, she fell into a restless sleep.


Either the hunger or the troubling happenings of the past few weeks caused her dream to come fast. Halysia smiled in her sleep as the face of her sweet, plump nurse appeared in her dream. She was only seven years old when the Slavehunters dropped her off at the nursery where cold and strange women raised her along with many other children. Nurse Maria was the only one who treated them with kindness, and Halysia grew increasingly fond of her over the next three years.
At the age of ten she and twenty other girls were sent to the brothel institute, and Maria asked to be moved with her. From the first day, her nurse, now governess, Maria brushed her hair, bathed her in milk and honey, and rubbed silky lotion into her skin. Every minute they had spent alone, she would tell her stories about wild horses that galloped through rolling hills; about flying birds that glided over woods and rivers; about princes who journeyed to save princesses locked in towers, and Halysia drank in her words. Some days she wished to be a princess who was saved by her prince charming. Other days she wanted to be free like a bird, wild like a mustang. Even after the lights went out, she would stay awake and think up her own adventures. Maria loved to hear about them but always cautioned in a soft whisper, “Let’s make these stories our secret. Do not tell them to anybody else but me, little one.”
For years Halysia enjoyed the secrecy and the fantasy world she and her Maria created. Not until much later did she understand that governesses were only allowed to teach girls how to be delightful to men and mind their manners.
Every year Halysia watched girls being promoted to Chosen Ones and being taken away. She was left behind with her friends and her dreams, feeling great envy for those who could leave the walls of the institute and see the world outside.
A painful ripple washed over the sleeping young woman, and she tossed onto to her side restlessly. The scenery had changed in her dream, and she pictured her teen self neatly lined up for an inspection with other girls over fourteen years of age, all prepared to look their best. The girls had to impress the madam of the brothel who had come to pay her annual visit to the institute.
The madam was the most elegant woman Halysia had ever seen. Her dark hair, pulled back into a tight bun, always had a gold or silver wire braided into it. Her eyes were a very warm green with butterscotch dots, and around them the skin was painted with radiant colors, while her eyelashes were thick and long. Yet, her heart-shaped lips that always shone like rose petals after the rain impressed the young girl the most.
The moment the madam stopped in front of her, Halysia’s heart started to pound. When the serious-eyed woman leaned in closer to her, lifted a handful of her hair, and sniffed it, Halysia could smell her perfume. Though it still wasn’t clear to her what exactly a girl had to do in a brothel, she wanted to be like the madam, beautiful and self-assured, not that wild-spirited girl Maria always called her. When the madam straightened back up and nodded at the three governesses that formed a line by the door, Halysia felt relieved that she had been chosen. She had never been happier. Only the most beautiful girls were privileged to live in a brothel, and now she was finally one of them. But when her eyes met Maria’s and she spotted the deep sadness in them, a new and strange feeling gripped her spine. Why wasn’t Nurse Maria happy for her triumph?
After the madam finished studying the very last girl in the room, Halysia watched her guards lead away the two most beautiful girls that were selected for serving the empress. The girls hurried to keep up with the guards, honor and pride built into their every step. The Chosen Ones followed their exit, giggling as they brainstormed among themselves over these mysterious new jobs. Only the five girls who had to leave the institute and move in with the farmers weren’t smiling. Without any belongings, they were loaded onto a cart and taken away down the long road. Halysia watched them through the window, her eyes not letting go of the cart until it disappeared over the horizon.
Forcing herself to erase the images of those humiliated girls who were not considered pretty enough for the brothel, and slowly allowing herself to enjoy her own victory, she began folding her dresses.
“Why aren’t you happy, Halysia?” Zoe, a sweet brunette, dropped her packed suitcase onto Halysia’s bed. “Aren’t you excited to see where the Chosen Ones will live from now on?”
Halysia wrapped her friend in her arms. “Of course I am. I’m just sad about those girls….”
She was cut short in mid-sentence when Maria burst through the door with a panicked expression, startling everybody. Without a word, she seized Halysia’s arm and dragged her out of the room and down the hallway. In the kitchen she grabbed a butcher knife from the table and shoved the frightened girl into the broom closet.
“What’re you doing? Are you mad?” Halysia asked, rubbing the spot where she hit her head.
“Just get in there; we don’t have much time,” Maria urged, closing the door behind them.
Halysia glanced at the sharp knife in her trusted governess’s grasp and her worry deepened. “What do you want with that knife?” she asked, her back pressed against the wall of the closet.
Maria hid her hand with the knife behind her back, and planted the other on her face.
“You’re so beautiful and unique, Halysia. Men would love you the most. You were always my favorite child, too. Oh, Halysia, please don’t ever forget that I loved you.”
“Why are you talking like this? What’s going on?” the young girl asked, her voice shaking.
The nurse sighed and looked away for a moment, taking her hand back and massaging her temple with it. When her gaze returned to Halysia, a cold shiver chilled the confused girl to the bone.
“I thought we would have more time together, that I could find a way to give you a better life … but I’ve failed. And now I’m out of time. But I won’t let you be taken to the brothel.” The governess towered over her favorite child, madness darkening her eyes.
“Why are you saying such things? I was chosen. Aren’t you proud?” Halysia asked, tears glistening in her eyes.
“Oh, my sweet child! I’ve never told you what a girl has to do and endure in a brothel. But trust me when I say that you don’t want to go there. And I have no other choice but to do this. Please forgive me.” She raised the knife and slashed Halysia’s face twice.
The stricken girl fell to her knees, her face cupped in the safety of her hands; but it was too late. Blood was gushing out of her wounds, staining her beautiful dress and the wooden floor of the closet.
But the nurse didn’t stop there; she grasped a big chunk of her hair and cut it off, then reached for another, until nothing was left of Halysia’s curls but a short, uneven mess.
Halysia tried to push her away but the closet was too confining. She screamed and screamed until someone ripped the door open. At last two governesses appeared, dragged the mad woman away from her, and twisted the knife out of her hand. The burning pain in her eyes and on her face prevented her from seeing much, yet she got a glimpse of her once favorite nurse as the others disarmed her without resistance. Her face seemed to turn pale and her eyes hopeless. 
The third governess leaned over Halysia and lifted her chin.
“Now this one is good no longer. Send a messenger to the madam that we’ll only be delivering eleven girls tomorrow.”
“No, please don’t send me to farming,” Halysia cried, feeling a deep hatred toward Maria building up in her chest. “Why did you do this to me? Why?” she screamed.
“Because I love you more than I love my own life,” Maria replied in a feeble voice. “I hope you’ll forgive me one day.”


The images in the dream were so intense that Halysia woke with a start. Though it was the middle of summer, an unwelcome chill gave her goose bumps. She dragged herself to the faucet and drank deeply. A few minutes later her heartbeat slowed down and she huddled up on the blanket again, touching her face. The scars didn’t hurt anymore but her heart did. She never had the chance to tell Maria that she forgave her.
The day after the incident Maria was publicly executed.
It took two years for the baffled girl to find out what the brothel really was. One of the farmer women enlightened her during harvest. She, herself, used to be a Chosen One and worked for seven years to pleasure men until one of her clients, who found great enjoyment torturing women, cut off one of her breasts. The madam labeled her useless and sent her to the farmlands….
Listening to the details of the terror the girls had to bear for years, Halysia felt sick to her stomach. But what hurt the most was that Maria had sacrificed her life in hopes that she might have a better one, and she never had the chance to thank her for that. For many years, guilt gnawed at Halysia’s insides until Abraham’s love made it all go away. Now only the dreams were left to haunt her.


As Halysia lay shaking, skin damp and shimmering, a shadow crossed the floor of the hut. A pale, unhealthy-looking young woman ducked inside. “Sisi, are you awake?”
Halysia rolled over to her knees, feeling ashamed for resting while everyone else was breaking their back at the construction sites.
“I’m glad you came, Anna. I’m so sorry that we have to trouble you with this.”
The woman sat back on her heels by her friend, gathered her dull locks to one side and unfolded the cloth that covered the food in the basket. “No trouble at all. I brought you some bread, cheese, and I saved you a whole bunch of grapes.”
“Where did you get them? They look absolutely delicious.”
“I signed up for some extra laundry duty over at the farmers’ camp. But don’t worry about it.” She smiled and pulled Halysia into her arms for a hug.
When they parted, Halysia dabbed at her tear-filled eyes.
“So what’re you gonna do?” Anna asked, placing her hands like angel wings over her friend’s belly.
“The toothless seer, you know, on the other side of the wheat lands, told me that she could cook me up some sort of potion that would take care of the baby,” she said, but immediately guilt choked her up.
Anna’s brows wrinkled. “Abraham promised to figure something out. She had no right to offer you her help until all the other options were exhausted,” she grumbled, laying out the food for Halysia.
“But you know exactly how hopeless the prospects are for an Arkanian child in Terraka City,” Halysia continued. “My little baby won’t live like this.”
“You don’t know what your child will turn out to be. He might have artistic talents and will work on frescos and statues, or he might become part of the Emperor’s entertainers and will spend his days singing and dancing. This baby doesn’t necessarily have to be a girl, and especially not a future Chosen One,” Anna argued. But then her eyes shrank and she sighed. “Though when I look at you both I find it impossible for you two not to have a beautiful child.”
“And have my kid sit at the feet of the emperor like a dog and shake her naked body on demand or be locked away in a dungeon and carve stone until his hands start bleeding? You have to understand, my dear friend, that I don’t want to bring a child into this wretched world to be a trained animal, used by our invaders,” Halysia explained, but when she realized that there wasn’t much they could do to change the course that lay ahead for her unborn child, hot tears began rolling down her cheeks.
Anna gathered Halysia’s head onto her chest and tenderly ran her hand over her hair. “Your baby doesn’t just mean pain and suffering. It also means hope. He makes me believe that our people have a future. That one day we’ll have our lands back, and our lives will be peaceful and joyful once again.”
Halysia raised her eyes to meet Anna’s, wiped the tears from her cheeks and asked, “How can you be so optimistic?”
“Just think about it. Nobody here has given birth to a child for over two years. What happened to you can’t be a coincidence. I believe the person who’s growing inside you is our redeemer. I’ll do anything to help you keep him safe. Just promise me that you’ll take care of yourself.”
Halysia gazed at her friend ponderingly, like a painter stares at a raging ocean, feelings and thoughts swirling inside her like a hurricane. Abraham has been telling her the same thing but she refused to believe in it. Now Anna, convinced and enthusiastic, parrots his words. Maybe she has been selfish all along. Maybe she should trust the Almighty and follow her destiny. Maybe, just maybe, she should give more credit to the words of people who love her. As she stared at the hopeful face of Anna, so honest and kind, a long-forgotten feeling started to bud inside her chest: hope. “You might be right, my dear Anna, but I don’t want you to get your hopes up too high, all right? This is a mad world we are living in, but I promise I won’t let you down. I’ll do my best to take care of this child, and I’ll learn to love him.”
“Now that’s the spirit. Here, eat your food.” Anna craned her neck to look up at the sun. “I’d love to share this meal with you, but I have to go back before Commander Wiseman notices my absence.” She pointed a finger at Halysia. “I’ll keep an eye on you, Sisi. No potions from the seer, promise?”
She leaned in for one last hug, folding her arms over the barrier of the miracle child and closed her eyes, letting love and friendship warm her veins before she would go back to the hellhole. “We just need to keep you safe. And we will. All of us.”
“Anna, do you think there is a chance for someone like us to escape this place?”
“A month ago I would have said no, but now, somehow, I believe that anything is possible.”
 Halysia grabbed her friend’s thin arm. “Please, Anna, promise me you’ll help us escape.”
“I promise,” she said, a hand on her heart. Then she kissed Halysia and rose.
From the door, Anna looked back at the glowing young woman. Halysia’s face was somewhat more peaceful now. Anna smiled at her, a strange buzzing feeling expanding her heart. She couldn’t wait to tell the others about the new hope.

Release date: April 29, 2014

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