SNEAK PEEK SUNDAY
A sneak peek into UnderThese Restless Skies by Lissa Bryan
Spring signifies the hope that blossoms within the heart of humanity after the dark days of winter.
The Spring Equinox is a time for the rebirth, renewal, redemption. In honor of the resurgence of nature after the long, deep sleep of winter, the Author to Author group would like to shine the glorious sunlight (spotlight) on some novels we think you might enjoy.
In Lessons Learned, my main characters are all experiencing their own form of rebirth and awakening. For Sarah, coming home is a fresh start and a chance to deal with the ghosts of her past and the demons of her present. Lucas, too, has the opportunity to rebuild his life and his career by moving to a new town. Out of all the characters, the one who has the greatest chance of awakening his soul is Matt. He has lived a lie his entire life, and when a classmate learns his secret, Matt is forced to be honest with his family and friends for the very first time. Yes, his rebirth comes at a price, but in the end, Matt is stronger and happier because of it.
Voices roar through the high school cafeteria while students navigate their way to the tables. The cliques are easily spotted: the jocks, the geeks, the beauty queens, the slackers . . .
Where will he sit today?
Despite the fact he’s a handsome and impeccably dressed young man, he fades into the background. Knowing it’s pointless, the girls don’t bother to look his way, and the guys deliberately avoid his eyes.
He grips his tray tightly and heads toward the corner table with the rest of the outcasts. They nod hello, but that’s the end of any real attempt at conversation. It’s an unspoken rule of sorts. This is their refuge—a tiny bit of sanctuary in the hell that is public high school—and they’re content to sit in peace.
He takes a seat, and I can see the exhaustion on his face. It’s not a weariness that comes from too many sleepless nights. This is a bone-tired fatigue no seventeen-year-old kid should ever feel.
He’s giving in.
In my peripheral vision, I see a senior stalk into the cafeteria. He’s tall, with deep brown eyes and jet-black hair that won’t stay in place. He’s good looking, popular, and a little conceited, thanks to his father’s wealth and status.
He has a reputation to uphold.
Rumors to squash.
A score to settle.
He pulls the silver gun out of his jacket pocket. Amid the chaos, no one notices.
I try to run, but I’m frozen in place.
I try to scream, but there’s no sound.
The first shot rings out, and suddenly, everyone’s on the cold tile.
Tears, prayers, screams.
Another shot, and for some reason, I’m the only one who can’t move. Who can’t scream. Who can’t do anything but watch as the young man’s body slumps over his tray.
Finally, I find my voice and scream his name.
Mathias is a descendant of a Fallen Angel and beholden to wage an unfathomable war against an ancient evil, spawned by greed and spite. A powerful fighter, he and his brethren of Warriors vow to pay recompense for the sins of their fathers by guarding the most precious, piercing light against the darkness – their females. The Warriors’ pledge is to find and protect the Oracles, their sisters and kin. Long have they fought, shedding sweat and blood, hoping that their struggles are not in vain. Yet in his sacrifice comes redemption. And in his service he will find life’s ultimate reward – a love to surpass all time.
She scrambled across the wall, heading toward her bed, hoping she could find something to defend herself. She pushed herself across the mattress, keeping the thing in view as she reached for the lamp. He laughed, both of them knowing she was pathetic. He raised his blade as his oozing mouth formed a horrifying smile.
“Excuse me,” a male voice said from behind the cloaked figure, making both the creature and Chantal pause. A man stepped into view, grayskinned, dark-haired, dressed in only a black pair of jeans with those distinct eyes Chantal had seen in the alleyway. “I think the lady’s made it clear she wants you to back off. Besides, you’re kind of gross.”
The creature lunged at the gray-skinned man, thrusting his blade toward his bare torso. The man spun, melting into the darkness, becoming part of the shadow again. He reappeared behind the creature, yielding a blade of his own.
They fought ferociously as Chantal sat frozen on her bed. Each had the ability to move like lightning; each could disappear into the darkness.
“She will die, Warrior, no matter how many you send to protect her,” the creature said, spitting his dark venom onto the floor as he whipped around in attempt to slice at the man’s lower torso.
“Not by your hand, and not while I’m still around,” the gray man said, hacking his blade through the air and just missing the creature’s melonshaped head.
“You protect her in vain,” it said, landing a punch to the man’s flank.
“She’s survived this long,” the gray man said, plunging his blade deep into the creature’s abdomen. It sputtered, spraying black liquid onto the floor. “And she will survive tonight, just like I said she would.” He twisted the blade, causing the creature let out a gurgled cry, and a torrent of fluid poured from the creature’s terrible mouth, leaving a puddle on the floor.
After a pandemic virus wipes out most of humanity, Carly Daniels struggles to hold onto hope for the future. What sort of world can the survivors build? Can the old values of the social contract—compassion, kindness, and altruism— survive the end of all things? Or will only the strongest survive in this brutal new world?
Justin, Carly’s traveling companion, is more cynical about human nature. But on their journey, he learns how precious hope can be, how it can keep a person going when all else seems lost, and how love can be its most powerful source.
If the old world is gone, it is up to the survivors to build a new one. Carly finds strength in her faith that things can be even better than they were before, that compassion and charity are not luxuries; they are what make us human. Life endures, and so does love. The End of All Things is only a beginning.
Carly closed her eyes, and the tears that had gathered fell. She pressed a hand over her still-flat abdomen.
Is the fate of humanity to be a world of empty nurseries? Is this the end for all of us? She suddenly realized she hadn’t seen a baby or child since the Crisis, except for the child in the fishing cabin. All of the travelers they’d encountered had been adults. A wave of despair threatened to engulf her. Carly sobbed, and it sounded horribly loud in the quiet, cheerful little room. Resolutely, she pushed it back. She couldn’t believe it was the end. She refused to believe it.
The vague musings about fate and destiny that had occupied Carly’s thoughts sporadically over the last few months came together, and she saw them as an unbroken chain leading her to what was meant to be. There was a reason for this. If mankind had been meant to go extinct, there wouldn’t be any of them left, and she wouldn’t be carrying a baby. She didn’t know whether to call it God or destiny, but there was some force in the universe that had brought Carly and Justin to this point.
She thought of the pills she had tucked away in her bag, and the pain was like a hot knife blade in her heart. She knew then she couldn’t do it. Despite all the perils they faced and the uncertain future, she wanted this baby. She already loved him or her, this tiny, precious life, this part of herself and Justin. She saw that vision in her mind again, of the dark-eyed little boy, but the thought was no longer painful. It made her happy. She thought once he got over his worry, Justin would be happy, too.
This wasn’t the end. It was the beginning. It wasn’t going to be easy, and the road they traveled was fraught with danger, but she had to have faith. Whatever had brought them to this point would see them through whatever challenges lay ahead in order to fulfill their destiny.
Justin found her in the nursery, and a dart of alarm struck him when he saw the tears on her cheeks. But she smiled at him, and her eyes were bright.
“I think you’re wrong,” she said. “I don’t think humans were supposed to die out during the Infection. And I think those of us who survived have a duty to protect the next generation. We’re starting over, Justin. We’re rebuilding the world. And this time, we’re going to make it even better.”
Justin saw it in his mind, his fate written as clear as day. Carly would have a little girl with her beautiful eyes and caramel hair, and she would only have to smile to wrap her father around her little finger. And Justin would go crazy when she started dating. No man would ever be good enough for her, especially guys like him. Or the child would be a boy, with dark eyes that sparkled with mischief, and he’d give his father heart attacks with the adventures he would get into. But just like the little girl in his vision, all his son would have to do is give that wicked little grin and he would get away with anything.
Doomed, he thought, but it made him smile.
In the second installment of The Redemption Series, everyone’s path leads into one.
Lily Edwards, the last remaining female vampire, faces a daunting task. She has to find Liam Caldwell, the vampire she was forced to create, and change him back to a human. Her task won’t be easy as fellow vampires, Filipp and Debir, have been secretly plotting her demise for decades.
Liam is having second thoughts when he learns Filipp has handpicked an army of humans for him to turn into vampires and Valentina Pavel, the last member of a coven of Romanian witches, brings him a new challenge of her own. Together, they all have Liam doing the unthinkable ̶ ̶ pleading for a way out.
Friends-now-turned-enemies struggle for their eternity, while enemies-turned-friends fight side by side. Will Lily’s past give her the answers she needs to reach the future or will her darkest fears be revisited?
For a new vampire, Liam wasn’t doing the typical things a virile vampire would do. He hadn’t drained the blood from any of the humans he came into contact with. He hadn’t had any strong sexual or violent urges to act upon. He hadn’t mourned for his lost human life. He was, in fact, still in a luxury hotel suite in Bucharest, Romania. He began to wonder if he was vampire enough to take the next stepShortly after his arrival, Debir and Filipp had gotten the call from The Manchester Group to stay put. The entire group was on high alert since Lily’s death, or at least that was what the elder vampires were told.Liam knew different. Lily was his sire and in those moments she made him, an unbreakable bond was formed. He still felt it down to the marrow in his bones. Lily was alive in one form or another.As for the next step, Filipp’s plan was for the three of them to strategically sire new vampires, whose strength would bring The Manchester Group down. Gideon’s plan coincided with their own, though he was occupied now and wouldn’t be of any help to them. Through fate and a hell of a lot of luck, Ian Holt was in the wrong place at the exact right time. Gideon needed a new vessel to cast a spell over Becca and receive her love and devotion. Ian was presented as if on a silver platter; Gideon turned him into his vessel and the benefits to him would be limitless.
Paige Barnes is on the run.
Good thing her mother, true crime author Julia Barnes, just purchased an Airstream trailer for an adventurous move to costal South Carolina to write her next book. Living by the ocean in a shiny, silver camper may not be what Paige had in mind for the summer, but sometimes a fresh start is just what a girl needs.
This should be enough to distract Paige from her problems, but when she meets recent college graduate Justin Hawkins, a summer rebound seems like a great idea. Part beach bum, part business man, Justin is just the kind of fun Paige hopes will help her forget the mistakes she’s made.
It works until her past comes nipping at her heels and her mother’s secrets are revealed to be darker than she ever expected. Bolstered by their new friends and family, they’re both ready to face their fears head on…but at what cost?
He doesn’t fight me and we walk back to the driveway. His hand never leaves mine, and when we reach the car he positions his body so his back is flat against the door, blocking me from leaving yet. “Thanks for the ride home,” he says. His hands reach for my hips but he’s taking too long, so I grab his shirt and move closer. The instant I do a slow, wide smile briefly appears before his expression turns serious and he kisses me.
My hands fly to the back of his head and tug him toward me, and I lift on my toes to reach him better. This kiss is beyond what I’d hoped it would be, and it spreads to the pit of my stomach down to the tips of my fingers. My encouragement makes him greedy and I feel his hips push back into mine and his day’s growth of stubble rubs against my chin. I don’t care. When we part, we’re both breathing a lot heavier than before.“That was,” he starts, but I kiss him again, because I like kissing and well, I like him.This leads to another round of his lips on mine, then he focuses on the sensitive skin behind my ear until his teeth scrape down my throat to my collarbone and I crumble into giggles under his touch. “Ticklish,” I say, and he starts laughing too and it’s enough to break the fire between us for the moment.“Good to know,” he says, raising his eyebrows in fun while staring at my lips.
“Good night, Justin,” I tell him and get in the car before I change my mind and take him up on the offer to see his cottage. Baby steps, I remind myself as I drive away from him the house.
Will Darcy once held the world and his future in the palm of his hand. Engaged to marry the love of his life and on the cusp of a brilliant financial career, he loses everything in a horrifying act of violence that still ripples through his life. After years of giving away only pieces of her heart, Emily Martin is beginning to realize that her life of comfort leaves her with nothing in the end. For while love is fraught with risk, turning away from love may be the biggest risk of all. After a long, dark ten years, two people must make a choice: renewal or continued deterioration.
“You have an accent. Where are you from?”
The comment and question catches him off guard because he thinks he shed the verbal flag of his Midwestern beginnings a long time ago. He’d always thought his neutral inflection was the norm and that other people had the accents. New Yorkers had a distinct dialect, but as soon as he and Gabe moved here, it was clear that it was they who possessed the strange pronunciation. Gabe stuck with the manner of speech he grew up with, but Will did his best to change his.
He would note the differences in the way he said “ten” and “flower” and “talk” and the way his New York friends said them and he
spent time perfecting the blending of the two. He didn’t want to stand out. He might have been a transplant, but he knew he was a New Yorker at heart.
Clearing his throat, he answers, “Illinois.”
It is Will that chuckles this time. “No.”
“Why’s that funny?”
“Because no one outside of East North Central Midwest seems to know that there are other cities and towns in Illinois besides Chicago.” He adopts the stereotypical Chicago accent and says, “While I like da Bearz, dare’s more dan Chi-town in da landa Lincoln.”
It feels strange but exciting to joke with someone other than Zoe. This thing that is happening between Will and Emily draws him out of himself. It’s terrifying and yet beautiful. He feels stupid at having said what he just said, but he’s moderately happy he’s said it.
Love, danger, and history collide in Riverbend, the first book of The Riverbend Trilogy.
They continued on the downhill path crunching leaves under their feet as they walked. The trail that had been created by Will and her as kids was still just as worn and beaten down as it always had been. It did not appear to have been neglected for years and looked as though it were still used every day. She imagined there had to be kids around here that would make their way through these woods, having the same fun her and Will once had, playing the same games, and discovering the same secrets. To be truthful, Lena and Will had discovered quite a bit about the world just by playing in these woods. Lena had discovered the simple beauty of
life in its simplest form, the calmness and joy that was displayed in nature. Lena began to discover these beauties when she would come here as a small child with Will and both of their fathers. Carl and Joel would point out all the small, seemingly magical, beauties of nature. The way the leaves would rustle in the wind or the way the sunshine would create a spectrum of colors by simply reflecting off of a raindrop. As Lena and Will grew older they started to play in these woods without their parents. It was then that she discovered how it felt for the first time to have a best friend, how it felt to have another boy she could depend on other than her father, and how it felt to have a childhood crush. She glanced over at the strong man that now walked beside her, she realized that he was definitely not a boy anymore.
“Do you hear the water? Not too far now.” Will said.
Not too far, she thought, this walk seemed a lot shorter when they were kids and excited about fishing or just playing by the creek catching some salamanders and crayfish. They approached the edge of the ravine and she looked down at the waterfall below. They were both silent, they somehow each knew what the other was thinking. At the foot of that waterfall, gorgeous and flowing, had been where, when they were about 13, they had both had their first, and only, kiss with one another. They glanced at each other and smiled.
When Talia Lyons was just a child, her parents were murdered before her eyes. Offered a choice between accepting their fate and exacting revenge, Talia trains to become one of the country’s deadliest assassins in order to kill the man responsible for their deaths: Ian Crane. Luckily, Talia was born with a gift- the ability to read and influence the minds of others. At sixteen, Talia is poised to graduate from the McDonough School for the Talented, where she learned to control her abilities. Now there is only one obstacle standing between her and the retribution she craves… Talia, herself.
She must regain the single-minded determination that has brought her this far, or it may cost Talia her life when she finally faces Crane. And even after being molded in to a weapon of war, she’ll still have to find the strength it takes to pull the trigger.
I am still not sure if it was the cold, calculated murder of my father, or the careless disposal of my mother – probably both – but I felt something inside of me snap. One minute, I was hiding in the closet with the silk of my mother’s long dresses pulled tight around my face, like curtains trying to block out the brutal scene in the bedroom. The next, I was sitting in the outer room of our hotel suite, surrounded by broken furniture, shattered glass, and the bodies of the men in black. They were all dead.
The blonde man carried a large gun slung over one shoulder, and several smaller ones were tucked at his waist. An entire team of men clamored through the doorway after him. He held up one of his hands, indicating for the men to stay back. He approached me slowly, hesitantly. He was greater than an arms distance away when he tentatively extended one of his large, gloved hands toward me; I had seen people do the same thing with wounded animals.
“Natalia?” he asked in a soft voice. I couldn’t find the energy to even nod my head, I just stared blankly. “Natalia,” he repeated. “My name is Danbury McDonough. Do you remember me? I’m friends with your daddy.”
Keisha Beale, a post-college, African American woman hopes to see her dream of owning a recording studio and music store become a reality. Venture Capitalist, Tristan White, a Caucasian, One-percenter, holds the keys to realization of that dream, but it comes with a price. Tristan is prepared to front the funding for Keisha’s business with a bonus if she will agree to be his friend-with-kinky-benefits. Keisha’s acceptance of Tristan’s terms pushes the boundaries of everything she thought she always wanted in life when it comes to love and relationships. After a rocky start, she is reborn as a submissive and embraces his lifestyle with aplomb. Tristan has been adamant that he doesn’t want any emotional attachment. Keisha is all set to try and change his mind, to awaken the dormant desire of commitment in him, until demons from her past make her continued arrangement with him impossible.
Tristan hauls me into my own bedroom, shuts the door, and pins me against it then kisses me in all my morning-breathed glory. I try to avoid opening my mouth but resistance is futile, so I relax and let him kiss me until I taste only what he tastes like. I think it’s Scotch, but I can’t be sure.
When he decides to come up for air, he releases me abruptly, and I’m a limp noodle against the door.
“How can you say no to this kind of passion? What are you afraid of? Do you need to do a trial run?”
“I just don’t like the idea of being involved with you when we’re doing business together. I’m going to apologize to Princess Danai and see if she’ll take on our project.”
“I wouldn’t approach her right now if I were you,” he says. “I had to talk her out of pressing charges and filing a lawsuit against you.”
I cringe. What did I expect? Her eye is probably still some variation of black and purple right now.
“Oh,” is all I can muster.
“If you’re going to open in a little over three weeks, I’m the only shot you have,” he says.
“What happens if this,” I say and gesture between us, “doesn’t work out? I need assurances that Kente doesn’t become one of your acquisitions.”
“Have you read the contract?”
“I’ve included a provision for that. I think the language says that if personal relationships are severed, White Enterprises will ensure your company is backed by another entity before we part ways, amicably.”
“You would do that?”“Right now, I’d do anything it takes to make you mine.”My Triple-G and my Fairy Hoochie Mama both faint in a synchronized swoon.
Damn, this white boy is off the chain.
CLICK THE BANNER TO ENTER THE RAFFLECOPTER GIVEAWAY:
Name: Caleb Foster
Eye Color: Blue (kinda)
Why he’s the most kissable character:Well,
Eye Color:Dark Brown
Profession:Angel of death
Hair Color:Dark Brown
Profession:Runs the family’s remodeling and construction business.
Why he is the most kissable:Will is
Hair Color:Light Brown
Why he is the most kissable:Fox is a
Book Title: Legacy of a Dreamer
Eye Color: Blue
Hair: Dark Blonde
Profession: Warrior of the Contrite Lineage
Special Abilities/Talents: Protector
& Guardian of the Oracles, assigned to keep Chantal safe. He has inhuman
strength and power, and has the ability to move through the Shade where evil
lurks to harm mankind. He has an incredible heart and falls for Chantal
quickly. It doesn’t hurt that he has an insane body, too.
Why he’s the most kissable: He’s handsome, fearless, and always puts his woman first. Always 😉
Eye Color: Turquoise
Hair Color: Brown
a special forces operative for the government
Abilities/Talents: Able to mimic the talents of others
Why he is the Most Kissable Character: It may be cliché, but having him throw his life on the line for the girl
he loves just makes us want to bite that sexy bottom lip