Friday, August 29, 2014

Book Review: Moonflower: A Memoir of Healing by Tara Edin #bookreviews

Title: Moonflower: A Memoir of Healing
Author: Tara Edin
Publisher: Tara Edin
Pages: 156
Genre: Memoir
Format: Kindle

Purchase at AMAZON

Blooming was her Birthright. Darkness the Unexpected Catalyst.

Tara is an incest, rape and sexual abuse survivor, who suffered from PTSD for many years but was misdiagnosed with mental illnesses instead. This took her down a near-fatal path ultimately ending in an accident, which nearly claimed her life at age 29. Most only know the abridged version of the story, yet the real story holds many truths and miracles that must be shared. With a second lease on life, Tara faces the sexual abuse and betrayal from her younger years with support from a compassionate zen therapist. Tara begins to recreate her life with a new spirituality that feeds her soul and encompasses her painful past, giving life to the love that has always been her birthright. With lucid prose and powerful poetry, Tara details her soul’s transformation from darkness to light, offering her readers the gifts of honesty, empathy, and empowerment.

Moonflower is Part Memoir, Part Self-Help & Part Spiritual Odyssey.
Rape, incest and sexual assault are unspoken controversial topics that still fester behind closed doors in the 21st century as survivors are still being told to “Get over it,” or worse, “It didn’t even happen.” It takes years to heal from such life-altering, traumatic experiences, and many survivors are doing this work alone. There is a great need for testimonies from those who have emerged from their ordeals stronger.
This revealing story uncovers the aftermath of abuse that often leads to unstable relationships, repeated abuse, and mental or physical dis-ease. Although Moonflower covers difficult topics such as emotional and sexual abuse, the author sifts through these experiences to offer her readers the gifts and lessons that can be drawn from such setbacks.

There is no cookie-cutter journey to healing, but there is great power in sharing our stories. Moonflower exhibits the power of the self and spirit in the healing process. It stretches beyond what may be considered a “normal” path and braves a non-traditional spiritual road to wellness, inspiring others to broaden their perspectives of the healing experience. Readers will be inspired by Tara’s fiery spirit and deep reflective soul, cheering her on as she finds her way back to herself.

Book Review:
Tara Edin begins Moonflower by explaining what a moonflower is just in case no one has seen one (I haven't):

Moonflowers are night blooming flowers that blossom in a matter of minutes. Their tight unicorn-like pods swirl open to five-pointed stars and then bloom into full five-petal flowers. Moonflowers turn their faces toward the moon and remain open until sunlight. Moonflower vines boast large, heart shaped leaves and gorgeous white blossoms. Their 4 to 6 inch fragrant white flowers grow on vines that can reach up to 20 feet in a season. 

In her introduction, she says, "On my darkest night, my greatest peace would begin to unfold into a journey that would lead me on an unconventional path of healing, a path of self-love."  This alone shows you the strength of one young woman who despite the odds found a solution to all the adversities that overwhelmed her.  It's funny; they say that the strongest are the ones who have gone to the lowest levels.  They find a way out.  Others might not be so lucky but for Tara Edin, she is a survivor.  I'm not even sure I could have come out of it in one piece as she did, but it was her fiery spirit which helped her overcome the odds.

Moonflower: A Memoir of Healing is the gripping tale of a survivor and is definitely worth the read.  Kudos to Tara Edin for sharing her story in the hopes it will help someone else heal.

I give this book 5 book trees for its writing style, message and honesty.


Thursday, August 28, 2014

Book Review: The Gifted: How to Live the Life of Your Dreams by Daphne Michaels #bookreviews

Title: The Gifted: How to Live the Life of Your Dreams
Author: Daphne Michaels
Publisher: Daphne Michaels Books
Pages: 130
Genre: Personal Development/Spirituality
Format: Paperback / Kindle

Purchase at AMAZON

In The Gifted: How to Live the Life of Your Dreams author, speaker and licensed psychotherapist Daphne Michaels celebrates the nine gifts that are our birthright, guiding readers in how to recognize and use them to transform their lives.  In her author’s preface, Michaels reveals how her own journey of life transformation began when she was young and realized that human existence wore two conflicting faces–one of love and joy, and one of fear and despair. She decided then to commit her life to reconciling these two visions because she knew that, irreconcilable though they seemed, together these two faces held the secret to living a life of endless possibility and authentic happiness. Her personal journey and formal education in social science, human services and integral psychology led to the founding of the Daphne Michaels Institute, which has helped hundreds of men and women design the lives of their dreams.

In The Gifted Michaels shows us that the first three “gifts” we must recognize and embrace within us if we are to re-design our lives are Awareness, Potential and Stillness. These three allow us to identify and use the remaining six with a life-changing power:  Disharmony, Harmony, Ease, Clarity, Freedom and Engagement.  Each of these six relies on the “essential three” for its own power to change our lives, and each has its own gifts–its “children.” By approaching the nine gifts with real-world metaphors, Michaels answers in easily understood ways what for many readers have been lingering questions about personal transformation—such as how it works, what kind of commitment it takes, and why, if we’re committed, real transformation becomes inevitable—and addresses obstacles that readers may have encountered in the past in trying to reach in life a happiness every human deserves.

While the human universe’s face of love is celebrated in The Gifted, so is the face of fear that haunted a young girl decades ago. As Michaels shows us in her book, even Disharmony—the “quagmire” of life born of the human ego’s fear, defenses, delusions and despair—is a gift, too, and one as important as the others if we know how to see it clearly and use it. Once we understand Disharmony, we are ready to understand the real purpose of Harmony in our lives. Disharmony does not need to rule us.  It is ours to use as we design the lives of our dreams.

The final gift in The Gifted, Michaels tells us, is the gift of Engagement. Engagement—with the universe and with ourselves—allows us to use all of the other gifts with more power and joy than we ever imagined possible.

That mountaintop decision never left me. It drove my life’s work and over the years led me to understand that there are gifts – nine of them, in fact – that we are all born with but rarely experience in their full glory and potential. These gifts – which make each and every one of us “The Gifted” of this book’s title – are the keys to living lives of endless possibilities and, in turn, achieving an authentic happiness that cannot be lost. They are, in other words, the keys to achieving the life of our dreams.


I have read lots of self-help books on the subject of finding happiness, getting rich, reaching your goals, etc., but Daphne Michaels' The Gifted: How to Live the Life of Your Dreams is a one of a kind and I'll tell you why I think so.  This book had a real profound effect on me.  As I was reading it, I kept saying, "She's right! Why didn't I think of that?"

In her book, Michaels explains that there are nine gifts we are all born with and they are the keys to living our lives of endless opportunities and achieving happiness.  In a sense, the keys to achieving the life of our dreams.  Each chapter explains each of the nine gifts we have - Awareness, Potential, Stillness, Disharmony, Harmony, Ease, Clarity, Freedom and Engagement.  By going through these chapters, I could fully understand the author's message by comparing it to my own life and at the very end, I got it.

She makes great points.  Here's one under Potential:

"When two people just wait for one another - no matter how much potential there might be in their union - nothing happens."  Isn't that true? 

Here's one under Disharmony:

"We learn that disharmony is a gift - one that can teach us what is real and what is illusion."

Daphne Michaels has great insight helping us achieve self-satisfaction with our own lives and for this give The Gifted: How to Live the Life of Your Dreams five book trees.

My Rating:

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Character Interview: George Spanos from Eliot Baker's 'The Last Ancient'

We’re thrilled to have here today, George Spanos, from Eliot Baker’s supernatural thriller/mystery, The Last Ancient.  He is coming to us all the way from Nantucket and the great state of Massachusetts, by way of the Greek island, Ikaria.  It is a pleasure to have him with us today at The Literary Nook!

Thank you so for this interview, George.  Now that the book has been written, do you feel you were fairly portrayed or would you like to set anything straight with your readers?

I am much more funnier and handsomer than how Simon says, but every American knows: We must do what Simon says. Ha! Is joke! Simon says, ‘Make George handsome!’ But for serious, my little brother Simon is so good journalist I think he can do no wrong.  I call him little brother, but he is not real brother. I am just loving him like brother, ever since being his childhood bodyguard and teaching him to fight and chase girls and respect the gods. 

What do you believe is your strongest trait?

Besides my wine making? It is making pretty girls laugh until they go red in the lips. Ha! Sorry, sorry, I am joking, still. No, in really, my strongest—how you say, ‘trait?’—is my big heart. Old George has so much love in his heart I sometimes weep like old woman for how beautiful, how funny, how sad this whole world is.

Worst trait?

Well, sometimes I am so handsome that I break girls’ hearts. Is sad. I do not like hurting people. Unless they are bad people and I am paid to do be hurting them. Or if they want hurt Simon. Then I like hurting them very much! So I guess my worst trait is that I hurt people for living and for fun.

Do you have a love interest in the book?

Sadly, no, old George did not get loving in this book. Simon, the hero, sure did though—his very nice, beautiful, rich tennis champion fiancĂ©e and that really sexy reporter lady. Way to be going, little brother! Although it’s too bad that … well, better not say more.

At what point of the book did you start getting nervous about the way it was going to turn out?

Aye yai yai, I was nervous whole time, from first page. You see, I am joking much, to be keeping it light, but old George knows things. Scary things, dangerous things, and I don’t want nothing bad happening to my little brother. He is a prince—a king, I think!—but so serious, so skinny, not so strong in chest like big George, which is why I am keeping him alive so long. 

If you could trade places with one of the other characters in the book, which character would you really not want to be and why?

I won’t be nobody who tries to hurt my little brother, because all those back-stabbing alchemists and arms dealers and mercenaries and mutant beasts and demi-gods are stupid malakas. They will have to be going through me to hurt little brother, and I would not want to be making old George angry.

How do you feel about the ending of the book without giving too much away?

It is so sad. And so happy. Like Greek tragedy. The gods, they tell me things. I was knowing little pieces of what would happen. But I am just soldier. I don’t understand everything those wise men and tricky ancients whisper. I just hope Simon is happy, even though he’s... Him and… no! I say no more! You try to trick old George into spoiling ending! You are making old George very grumpy with your tricking. 

What words of wisdom would you give your author if he decided to write another book with you in it?

Give George some loving!

Thank you for this interview.  Will we be seeing more of you in the future?

I am just soldier. Am doing what the gods tell me. And now, they are telling me to be silent. 


Eliot Baker lives in Finland. He teaches communications at a local college and runs an editing and translating business, but would be content singing for his heavy metal band and writing novels full-time. He grew up near Seattle, got his B.A. in World Literature at Pitzer College, and got his M.S. in Science Journalism from Boston University. He was an award-winning journalist at the Nantucket Inquirer and Mirror, and before that he wrote for the Harvard Health Letters. He spent four years pursuing a career in the sciences while at the Harvard Extension School, during which time he spun old people in NASA-designed rocket chairs and kept younger people awake for 86 hours at a time in a sleep deprivation study. He likes good books, all music, and bad movies, and believes music and literature snobs just need a hug.

His latest book is the supernatural thriller/historical mystery, The Last Ancient.


 Around Nantucket Island, brutal crime scenes are peppered with ancient coins, found by the one man who can unlock their meaning. But what do the coins have to do with the crimes? Or the sudden disease epidemic? Even the creature? And who--or what--left them?

The answer leads reporter Simon Stephenson on a journey through ancient mythology, numismatics, and the occult. Not to mention his own past, which turns out to be even darker than he'd realized; his murdered father was a feared arms dealer, after all. Along the way, Simon battles panic attacks and a host of nasty characters -- some natural, others less so -- while his heiress fiancee goes bridezilla, and a gorgeous rival TV reporter conceals her own intentions.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Book Review: Farmhouse Classics: Hearty Soups and Broths by Alison Lingard #bookreviews

Title: Farmhouse Classics: Hearty Soups and Broths
Author: Alison Lingard
Genre: Cooking
Publisher: Harper Publishing House (April 16, 2014)
Pages: 134
Format: eBook

Soups and Broths offer the ultimate in versatility, are packed full of flavour, are perfectly varied in texture and colour and are practical meals for the whole family. This book is packed full of classic, hearty and flavoursome recipes usually handed down from generation to generation. Whether you are looking for that classic mushroom soup or a flavour packed broth to form the base of that perfect pot roast, you are sure to impress with these simple, wholesome recipes. Farmhouse Classics, Hearty Soups and Broths is an indispensable reference for every home cook. Every recipe is written in a clear and concise style that takes you back to the farm having been tried and tested by generations.

Goodness gracious do I love homemade chicken soup.  Canned that you buy in the grocery store just doesn't compare.  I picked this book up at Amazon when they were doing a freebie and I already have at least two soups I'm going to try.  What's really cool about it is that the author grew up on a farm and these were family recipes handed down.  This winter, I'm going to be prepared!

My favorite recipe hands down is Grandma's Chicken Noodle Soup.  O.M.G.  I'm not waiting for winter.  I'm going to the store tomorrow and buy the ingredients and I absolutely cannot wait.  It's a crock pot recipe, too!

Click link above to get your free copy while the promotion lasts.

Click here to pick up your free e-copy at Amazon!
My Rating: 

5 Book Trees

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Interview with Orit Rehany, author of A River of Tears, a River of Hope


Title: A River of Tears, the River of Hope
Genre: School & Teaching/Inspirational
Author: Orit Rehany
Publisher: AuthorHouse
EBook: 151 pages
Release Date: December 17, 2013

 A River of Tears The River of Hope centers on the saga of the Two Torah Scrolls, and of an fluent and thriving community living peacefully for 2600 years until World War II and the events of Nazism, anti-Semitism and hatred took place in the ancient region known as the Cradle of Civilization, or modern days Iraq. The creation of Iraq by the British installed an unsuccessful attempt at Monarchy. The results were staggering and ultimately ended in the displacement of an entire community to Israel and the first settlement of the community in this newly created State. A River of Tears The River of Hope follows the enchanting and fascinating Murad family. The Murad family brought to Israel a proud heritage to share with the world including the two Torah Scrolls of their beloved father and grandfather, Rabbi Ezra Murad. Rabbi Murad’s two Torah Scrolls traveled with the family to Israel, where he was rightfully recognized as an important and impactful role models. His name shined within the community in Baghdad, and his memory and the valuable Two Torah Scrolls continued to stand out in Israel. While settling in Israel the Murad family showed us the most valuable elements of hope, drive, and determination as they continued to thrive in Israel and Canada. They continued to believe in their abilities to succeed. Indeed, as their lives changed and they relocated, the Murad family always maintained focus and the belief in their ability to survive and flourish. A River of Tears The River of Hope will welcome readers into the history of the Murad family and their amazing journey from a world filled with oppression and tyranny, to one supported by acceptance and support.


How did you come up with the title of your book?

The biggest inspiration I got when considering the title of my book were the fond memories I had from the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers while living in Baghdad as a child. Those memories were of family outings,  picnics,  fishing,  boating or swimming. I was the only girl getting swimming lessons at that time, at the age of 7. The Rivers were a vital element in the life of the population. At the time of the mass immigration in 1951, the two Torah Scrolls were transported to Israel. When thinking about the Scrolls, I wanted their voyage to their new home to be through the river. The departure from Baghdad was with a lot  of tears,  HOPE is always replacing the TEARS. 

What is your writing environment like?

Writing is a highly competitive occupation. Graham Greene, one of the most prolific English language author of the last century, famously said that the secret of writing was sitting down in a chair for hours at a time and putting pen to paper and the bulk of the work lay, in fact, in re-writing.
I could relate to that statement. If I could sit down without interruption would be ideal environment. I am though, able to finish one section at a time, while sitting down. Since a lot of thinking goes in the process of writing, I prefer to take brakes to enable the flow of thinking take hold. 

What are some of the best tools available today for writers?

Richard Back once said, “A professional writer is an amateur who did not quite.”
There are so many benefits from the digital age, some of t he best apps, tools and communities for writers and journalists.

Bambuser –  is providing interactive live video broadcasting service. For  streaming live video from mobile   cell phone or webcom to the internet, allows you to share your work via social media.
iAWriter – “It is tiny but it is huge.” It interacts with icloud and Dropbox to share writer’s documents and make them available on all documents devices. Features including Focus Mode and certified text editing, plus the official sites writer support network, allows uses to focus on individual aspects of text, or editing process.

Wikipanion – is designed for ios, offers direct access to Wikipedia servers, offering outomated search results while you type. Available in 75 languages.

Using Promptes – This app offers prompt generaters jto keep juices flowing and with text. Prompts available in inline or offline mode. An Internet connection is no longer required.


Evernote is a suite of software and services designed for note taking and archiving. A "note" can be a piece of formatted text, a full webpage or webpage excerpt, a photograph, a voice memo, or a handwritten "ink" note. Notes can also have file attachments. Notes can be sorted into folders, then tagged, annotated, edited, given comments, searched and exported as part of a notebook.

Accessible from almost every device, Evernote allows you to capture anything from drawings to web clipping and make it researchable from your laptop, cell phone, or a camera

TWITTER BLOG - Keeping you connected to everything happening in the global town square.

What inspires you to write?

I’m most inspired by things I face and work through in my life experiences. Those lessons learned are perfect for writing.

 When it comes to history, wisdom of our sages and ancestors, sharing life experiences, sharing what is wrong or right, sharing my message to the world to benefit and help others to achieve their life dreams, erase their negativities and learn how to overcome their challenges   is a great idea to translate into a book.

Rabbi Ezra Murad and his two Torah Scrolls always fascinated me I was committed to accelerated his name and who he was to the world. Allow readers to learn about different culture that does not exist today. This served a great inspiration when writing this book.

Did you learn anything while writing this book?

Writing a book is part of self discovery. It takes an enormous persistence and discipline to not fall off the cliff and keep going. Also, You will need  enough readers discovering your book to make it a bestseller.

 I try not to look down,  and not  let any annoying critical voice inside me – just win, keep going!! The hours I spent staring at the walls, searching and researching, the days I spent thinking what is best to write next, how I can improve it, what message I intend to convey. Truthfully, I had the feeling that I am going to produce a very good book. Demanding of myself is just proved to be excellent contribution to the book quality. Besides, throughout the hard work and research I have done, I learned so much about each character in the book. It was important for me to discover my identity and roots, and I found them in the personalities I presented. I found out that my character, good or bad, have genes, and discovered similar genes among my family members. I discovered that digging and unearthing characters can be applied  to myself. Self discovery journey was amazingly interesting and necessary.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Character Interview: Vada Hadley from Kim Boykin's women's fiction 'Palmetto Moon' #CharacterInterview

We’re thrilled to have here today Vada Hadley from Kim Boykin’s women’s fiction title, Palmetto Moon.  She’s coming to us all the way from the great state of South Carolina.  It is a pleasure to have her with us today at The Literary Nook!

Thank you so for this interview, Vada.  Now that the book has been written, do you feel you were fairly portrayed or would you like to set anything straight with your readers?

When Kim started writing me, she was sure I was a fluffy bubble-headed blonde. Maybe it was my penchant for clothes and shoes, although she’s one to talk. I’m proud to say I knocked said author off of her yoga ball chair when I turned out to be a feminist, in 1947 no less. I showed her who was the bubble-headed. I think I should get an extra pair of shoes for that.

What do you believe is your strongest trait?

I’m fiercely loyal. I go a little overboard and misread situations sometimes, but I mean well.

Worst trait?

Sometimes it’s impossible for me to hold my tongue when Miss Mamie, who owns the boarding house where I live, is so horrible. 

Do you have a love interest in the book?

Why, yes. Frank Darling is the dreamiest man. I adore him. My parents try to make me to marry Justin McLeod, who is a cad and never met a mirror he didn’t like. But he’s nothing like Frank, who’s beautiful and kind and would do anything for me. I feel the same way about him. It’s all new and wonderful right now, but I am SO in love.

At what point of the book did you start getting nervous about the way it was going to turn out?

Did I mention I was a runaway bride? Justin McLeod’s runaway bride? The worst moment was when my father found me in the little crossroads community where I was in hiding out. I demanded that my father respect my wishes and told him I was done with being coerced and manipulated; that was when I found out Frank had done some manipulating of his own. 

If you could trade places with one of the other characters in the book, which character would you really not want to be and why?

That’s easy, I’d trade places with my friend, Claire. She lives in Miss Mamie’s Boarding House too. I adore her three boys. I hope to be a mother one day, maybe soon.

How do you feel about the ending of the book without giving too much away?

I adore it! It’s quite progressive and romantic for 1947.

What words of wisdom would you give your author if she decided to write another book with you in it?

There’s so much food in the book, it’s a wonder I can fit in the pages. I’d say a little less of that, but with Frank Darling as a top-notch cook, there might even be more goodies. Love his peach cobbler.

Thank you for this interview.  Will we be seeing more of you in the future?

Most likely not. Kim writes standalone novels. I’m talking to Karen White though and some of her other author friends about writing my sequel. I’m sure there’ll be some takers.

About the Author:

Kim Boykin was raised in her South Carolina home with two girly sisters and great parents. She had a happy, boring childhood, which sucks if you’re a writer because you have to create your own crazy. PLUS after you’re published and you’re being interviewed, it’s very appealing when the author actually lived in Crazy Town or somewhere in the general vicinity.

Almost everything she learned about writing, she learned from her grandpa, an oral storyteller, who was a master teacher of pacing and sensory detail. He held court under an old mimosa tree on the family farm, and people used to come from all around to hear him tell stories about growing up in rural Georgia and share his unique take on the world.

As a stay-at-home mom, Kim started writing, grabbing snip-its of time in the car rider line or on the bleachers at swim practice. After her kids left the nest, she started submitting her work, sold her first novel at 53, and has been writing like crazy ever since.

Thanks to the lessons she learned under that mimosa tree, her books are well reviewed and, according to RT Book Reviews, feel like they’re being told across a kitchen table. She is the author of The Wisdom of Hair from Berkley, Steal Me, Cowboy and Sweet Home Carolina from Tule, and Palmetto Moon, also from Berkley 8/5/14. While her heart is always in the Lowcountry of South Carolina, she lives in Charlotte and has a heart for hairstylist, librarians, and book junkies like herself.
For More Information
About the Book:

June, 1947. Charleston is poised to celebrate the biggest wedding in high-society history, the joining of two of the oldest families in the city. Except the bride is nowhere to be found…Unlike the rest of the debs she grew up with, Vada Hadley doesn’t see marrying Justin McLeod as a blessing—she sees it as a life sentence. So when she finds herself one day away from a wedding she doesn’t want, she’s left with no choice but to run away from the future her parents have so carefully planned for her.

In Round O, South Carolina, Vada finds independence in the unexpected friendships she forms at the boarding house where she stays, and a quiet yet fulfilling courtship with the local diner owner, Frank Darling. For the first time in her life, she finally feels like she’s where she’s meant to be. But when her dear friend Darby hunts her down, needing help, Vada will have to confront the life she gave up—and decide where her heart truly belongs.

For More Information

First Chapter Reveal: Rowena and the Viking Warlord by Melodie Campbell

Title: Rowena and the Viking Warlord
Author: Melodie Campbell
Publisher: Imajin Books
Pages: 252
Genre: Paranormal Romance Time Travel
Format: Paperback/Kindle

Purchase at AMAZON

He was her enemy and her lover…

As Cedric fights battles down south, Rowena unwittingly rides into an enemy war camp and is taken prisoner by her old friend Lars, who is not what he seems. 

Yet Rowena is not helpless. After all, she is a hereditary half-witch with a whole lot of magic in her.  Too bad she doesn’t know how to use it. Escaping from the camp, she continues to botch up spell after spell. Soon Kendra joins her on the trek back to Huel, along with the latest magical mistake, a flame-burping dragon called Cinders.
When war comes to Land’s End, it brings the one man who threatens to conquer everything in Huel, including Rowena’s heart. Now she has to make the biggest decision of her life. Will she return through the wall to safety in Arizona? Or will she stay in Land’s End for good, and fight to save her people from the Viking Warlord?

First Chapter:

My name is Rowena Revel and I am the last hereditary witch of Land's End.
Unfortunately, I'm not a very good one.
The trouble is, I have a magic bracelet but no idea how to use it. My mother died before she could teach me. And it won't come off. Spells are a matter of trial and error, so the outcomes are rather sketchy.
I honestly didn't mean to conjure up that Roman Legion in mid-battle.
And apparently I screwed things up by moving back time.
Val, my wizard friend, told me there would be a price to pay for messing with dark magic. But I had to stop the pending war. Thane and Cedric were about to kill each other. Things were so desperate I couldn't wait to find out the penalty.
So I went ahead and used dark magic to turn back time. Now I was finding out how steep that price would be.

If I could use only one word to describe Land's End, it would be 'luscious.' The colors are deeper and richer than home, the scents more intoxicating. And emotions are heightened…
I stood on a hill overlooking the dark green grass below. The sun was a brilliant ball of orange in the sky. The river below sparkled deep blue and teemed with life.
It was gorgeous, absolutely gorgeous. But it was different from home. And I was different from home while in Land's End.
How can I explain the change to my desires, in this, my ancient homeland? My inhibitions were like a filter on a camera, suddenly removed. Life was more sensual, intense, and dangerous because of that.
At times, it scared the bejesus out of me.
I turned away from it all to travel back through the portal to Arizona.
But only for a little while.
I smiled at this adventure, so excited was I to escape from the constant guard.
My lover Thane, the king of Land's End, was engaged with his troops to the north. Kendra had promised to cover for me back at Sargon, Thane's castle. No one would know I had slipped away for just a few hours.
I had a chance to go home through the wall to Arizona. Thane wouldn't approve of this trip, of course. He refused to consider anything that might jeopardize my safety or that of my unborn baby. This had the effect of ruining paradise for me. Yes, I loved the man, but I felt trapped.
This feeling had been coming on for days. It haunted me now. Was I the kind of woman who could spend her entire life within the walls of a medieval castle?
It had only been a month, and already I was desperate to get free. A trip back home might be just what I needed. It had been weeks since I had seen my Dad, and I just needed to hear his voice on the phone.
Val said he would help me by opening the portal. I would have exactly one hour…
Earlier this morning, Kendra had helped me to dress for the occasion.
"Wear the white linen. It won't look so out of place in Scottsdale. Luckily it's summer so dresses are everywhere," she said.
"Thanks for shortening it." I gave her a big hug.
"Enjoy yourself," she said. Her big brown eyes twinkled. "Next time it's my turn. Oh, and don't forget to buy chocolate."
I had traveled by horseback to the clearing in the forest. Now the split oak was directly in front of me. I put my hand through the air to the side of it to test for the opening. My hand disappeared from view.
The portal was open between our worlds.
With a deep breath, I walked forward.
The forest disappeared. All around me, the air shook and shimmered. One foot, then the other hit hard floor, and I wavered slightly.
The classroom was empty, as I knew it would be at this time on a weekend.
Pure yellow sunlight streamed in through the windows. The sizzling hot Arizona sun…I was home at last.
I walked to the window and just gazed out over the college grounds for a moment. The Palo Verde trees were a soft powdery green. Agave and teddy-bear cacti rose from the pebbled gardens between the parking lanes. Pure bliss.
First I would phone Dad. Then I would get a large coffee across the street at Starbucks. I would bring one back for Kendra, of course. She wouldn't be expecting that. It would be cold by the time I got it back to her, but we could heat it up in the castle kitchen. I smiled thinking of her reaction.
There was a whoosh behind me, and then some vulgar cursing.
I spun around.
A man stood on this side of the wall. He was tall, with wide shoulders and massively muscled arms. Red-gold hair streamed down his back. He wore a dark green tunic with leather belt and dagger, but no armor.
He was absolutely magnificent, and I knew him well.
"What the hell?"
He laughed, a throaty, good-natured bellow. "By the gods, what a ride!"
I stared, mouth gaping. Cedric on this side of the wall? In Arizona?
"How did you get here?" I blurted.
"The same way you did. I followed you through the portal."
His head whipped from side to side. One hand was on his dagger hilt. I could see he was assessing the place for danger. Instinct, of course.
Crap. Crapity crap. Cedric was here in Arizona. And Thane was way the hell up north in some blasted field, a whole wide world away.
Thank God there was no one around. How the heck would I ever explain a medieval warrior-knight in my classroom in Scottsdale, Arizona?
Think, Rowena. Think!
"What is this room?"
My mind was whirling, but I tried to keep cool. I leaned back against the window sill for support. "This is my classroom. I told you I was a teacher."
He nodded and moved forward. One hand went to touch the back of the chair nearest him, which was plastic. For a moment it had his attention. He gazed down at it, his hands exploring.
I didn't wait for the inevitable question. Instead I asked another. "I meant, how did you know I was coming here?"
"Oh that," he said. His green eyes sought mine. "The second you left Thane's castle, I detected you. I've been waiting for weeks to catch you alone. That man is like a leech by your side. I don't know how you stand it."
"You're no better than Thane," I retorted. "You would keep me trapped like a prisoner just as he."
Cedric stared at me then. I could almost see the workings of him mind click over.
"Not so. At least, not now that I've had time to think things through. I merely seek to convince you that your place is with me."
He strode around the desks to face me. "It's time to come home, Rowena. Not here. Home with me to Castle Huel, where you belong."
No, I have to get you back to where you belong, I wanted to scream. I plunked down in the nearest chair.
Cedric wouldn't know what trouble he was in if he ever left this room. I knew him. He would blunder forth like a raider on a rampage, challenging every man who stood in his way. One crosswise look from a stranger, and he would use that dagger without a second thought.
I could just imagine the tactical squad taking him down in a hail of bullets.
Crap. He was far too dangerous. I had to get him back to Land's End.
"That gown is indecent," he said, staring at my legs.
Okay, that was the wrong thing to say.
"It's perfectly appropriate for this world," I snapped back.
Cedric snorted. "All the more reason to get you back to Land's End. How will the men keep their hands off you here?"
"This is a test." A male voice came over the PA system.
A siren blasted through the air, so loud it hurt. I clapped my hands over my ears.
Cedric moved like a man possessed. Every muscle ripped to action. He bounded in front of me and pulled a dagger.
"Show yourself, Demon!"
I choked.
"It's okay," I yelled. "That's the fire alarm."
He turned to face me, eyes wild.
"What do you mean?"
I could hardly hear the words over the siren. I signalled for him to wait. It was too loud to talk over.
Cedric lunged to the door, opened it and charged out into the hall. The siren was even louder with the door open. He vaulted back in, then slammed the door and shot to the window. Shock crossed his face as he glimpsed the cars in the parking lot.
The siren switched off.
I sighed with relief. "Phew. Glad that's over. They're testing the fire alarm to make sure it works. It's awfully loud, so they do it when school is out."
"But that is foolish. Surely they know when there is a fire?"
I giggled now. "The alarm is connected to the fire station, where the firemen are."
He gasped. "You have men of fire here? This is surely hell."
My mouth flew open.
"No it's not. It's Arizona." Although in the summer it could be as hot as hell, but no need to further confuse him with that little tidbit.
He returned his dagger to the scabbard. "This world is madness. We leave now."
"I'm not leaving," I announced. "Don't even think you can boss me around in my own country. This is the United States of America and I'm an American citizen. We have rights." Oh yup, I was telling him.
He crossed his big arms and frowned. "Don't think you have erased my memory, Rowena. I know that you have moved time. And I know why you did it." His voice softened for the last bit.
I sat paralysed. But that wasn't possible! Val said he and I would be the only ones who would remember the weeks that were lost when we turned back time.
"How do you know?" My voice was breathy.
He smiled then. "The book remembered you."
"I was in the cellar room. The book of spells was on the altar. It started to glow and I went over to examine it. The tome reeked with your scent. Did you know you have a scent that I can smell across a crowded room? It's tantalizing."
Not good. My cousin Jon had said the same thing to me, months ago. It had nearly been the cause of something tragic.
"So I knew you had held the book and even used it. But there was no time you could have done that. I acquired it after you left Huel."
He started to pace. "I reasoned then that most likely I was missing a block of time. Things had happened that I could not remember. You had been there and read the book, even performed spells from it. I did my best to conjure the past, to see what I had forgotten."
He shook his head. "It's vague. Like dreams. I think I must have died."
The relief I felt was palpable. Cedric didn't remember everything!
"You did die," I said.
"And that's why you moved back time. To save me."
I gawked at him.
"It's a haze. I don't remember everything. But this part is seared upon my brain, Rowena—you looking down at me, frantic with despair, and you cried 'why didn't you teach me the magic to save you?'"
I couldn't look at him. What was I to say? It was true. I did turn back time. I did it to protect Thane and Gareth too, of course, but even before that I had tried to save Cedric.
It occurred to me I could use this to my advantage.
"So you owe me, Cedric. I saved your life. Go away and leave me alone."
"I can't. Not until we talk." He moved closer.
The words were so simple. I met his eyes, compelled, as I always was when he stood close to me.
"This has to stop! Cedric, have a heart. I can't go on like this."
Cedric snorted.
"Have you given one thought as to how I have been affected?"
That confused me. No, I hadn't. It was uncharacteristic and supremely selfish of me, I now realized. I had never considered how this strange bond between us would affect anyone other than me.
Cedric stopped pacing and appealed to me with his arms. He was so close I could see the gold hair that covered his arms and legs. I flushed.
"Before you came to Land's End, I was content to lead my men, increase my mastery of magic, and maintain my fighting prowess. Now, I am only content when I am one with you."
The shock ripped through me.
"Harsh words, and even those are not entirely true. I am never content, not even then. Elated…euphoric perhaps, but not content. This thirst for you will never be sated. Rowena, know it now. You are my heaven and every minute I am away from you is hell."
I swallowed hard. "Then lift the spell."
"It is not mine to lift. I can no more mess with our destiny than my Lord Lucifer can turn night into everlasting day."
"I don't understand. I thought you invoked the draw between us."
"I merely make use of it to keep you near, so I am not in constant agony."
Wow. This was a confession I had not expected. Cedric was baring his soul to me. I sprung up from the chair and turned away.
"When you feel the draw, you are experiencing what I feel," he said. "That is all. My mind reaching out to yours."
This was far, far worse than I imagined.
"Are we never to be free of it?" My voice was strident.
"It is only unbearable when we fight it. Why won't you see that your place is with me, as the old gods have ordained?"
Holy freaking old gods.
"Now you carry my child. The circle is complete. There is no way for me to break free of it, Rowena. Not unless I am dead, and that can't happen now."
What did he mean that couldn't happen? Was he not human anymore?
But I was. He conveniently forgot to mention what would happen if I were dead. We would be free of it then. But that wasn't something I wanted to consider.
"I know they call me the Dark Lord. But I am not evil, despite what the others say. I would not keep you chained to me. In fact, I have a proposition for you. We need to talk."
The draw swept over me then, seeping in, enveloping my mind. I moaned with desire.
"Stop doing that, Cedric. I can't think."
"I'm not doing anything. Magic doesn't work here. You said so yourself."
Then what was this? I swayed, unsteady on my feet.
He crossed the distance between us in an instant and grabbed my arms. "What are you feeling now? Tell me."
"Get away from me!" I moaned. "All I want is…this is unbearable. We can't. This is a school."
"Ha!" He drew me to his chest. "Magic does work here. At least, the magic between us does."
The pain receded as I inhaled his scent. Already I was drunk from it and would have fallen if he hadn't been holding me.
"We'll go now." His one arm caught me under my knees. He swung me up into his arms.
"No!" I cried. "Not yet. I haven't phoned Dad—"
But he was already at the wall, and with one stride was through it.
Never had I entered Land's End this quickly. The air was ripped from my chest. I tried to cry out but nothing came from my throat.
Cedric landed firmly on his feet in Land's End. No unsteadiness, like Gareth and Thane had experienced on their first time through.
That figured.
He strode forward, away from the split oak, and into the small clearing where I had nearly been killed by brigands. Cedric had rescued me that day. Out of the mist he had appeared on his giant palomino, as if by magic, with several ghostly knights on horseback.
It had been magic. The brigands hadn't stood a chance.
Cedric held me firmly in his arms. The scent of him was driving me senseless with desire.
"Put me down now," I pleaded.
"Not yet," he said. "Not until we're safely away."
I felt a shiver at his words. He chanted something low and rhythmic. A swirl of dark mist started at his feet and wound like a cyclone around our bodies. I screamed as it whipped us up into the sky.