Wednesday, February 21, 2024

A Sword of Blood and Roses by Jessica Ash Virtual Book Tour


A Sword of Blood and Roses
Hunted by the Faerie Queen 
Book One
Jessica Ash

Genre: Dark Fantasy Romance
Date of Publication:  June 30, 2022
ISBN: 9798201496227 
ASIN: B0B1XQTX28 
Number of pages: 322
Word Count: 85,000
Cover Artist: Firda Graphic

Tagline: When the Queen of the Fae is after you, sometimes your best bet is falling in love with the enemy.

Book Description:

Enemies to Lovers Dark Fantasy Romance...

He was supposed to kill me...Now I'm his prisoner.

I was supposed to hate him...Now I'm falling in love.

But neither love nor magic can save me. And Now time is running out.

When the Queen of the Fae is after you sometimes your best bet is falling in love with the enemy, even when he's your kidnapper…

Read all five books in Kindle Unlimited. Discover enemies to lovers romance like you've never read before.


Excerpt:

Riding into the dry-as-bones mountains on the back of the puca, Logan’s anger seared bitter in his chest. It rolled off him in waves, pulling thunder down from the sky. He toyed idly with the storm letting his anger draw the danger of the lightning to him as he seethed.
Fifteen years away from his hounds. Fifteen years of Solanum’s running wild, the puca causing havoc wherever he went. Fifteen years of Logan’s life eaten away in the hole of the queen’s dungeons.

And now he was to kill witches for the queen—a fact that rubbed him raw.

Humans were amusing companions, why create trouble? Irritated with the brief flare of morality, he smothered it with brutal force. It didn’t fucking matter what he wanted. It never had.
Lightning cracked. The eerily silent hounds of the Dark Hunt tightened around him, their tense glances and snapping teeth reflections of his flaring emotions.

He had no room for second thoughts tonight. The Black Queen had given him no reason why she needed these witches killed, but if he satisfied her it might give him his freedom. At the very least it would give him some space. Maybe some time to figure out a way to stay out of the dungeons. And time to figure out how to truly extricate himself from her bloody dominion.

Because no matter what she had promised him, he knew, there was no way she would simply let him go. Not after the way he had betrayed her.

Solanum tossed his head and bucked. “Quit squeezing my ribs.” Lurid green faery flames leapt from his hooves, igniting short-lived cold fires in the dry Wyoming brush.

“Cease, horse,” Logan said, squeezing his legs a little more. Punching Solanum’s buttons felt good, really good. Just like his wrath at the queen felt good. Justified.

The puca tossed his long mane into Logan’s eyes. “Lay off, or you’ll be eating dirt,” he snarled, nostrils flaring red in the dimming light.

Solanum’s irritation put a hard smile on Logan’s lips. He tightened his legs and drove the puca harder down the hill through the brewing storm.

A hound pushed in too close. Solanum’s hoof lashed out, connecting with a solid thud. The hound’s yipe sounded inside Logan’s head as he regained his balance, cursing the hound’s behavior and the puca’s intolerance.

He was back. The hounds would get used to him again. And Solanum too.

Thunder crashed in the sky, following him down into the shadowed hills as he approached the witches’ lair. Nostrils burning from the ozone, nerves tingling, he distracted himself with the dark moist wind, manipulating it to blow through the dry autumn brush like a child's tantrum.

He laughed, the spiteful wind stealing away the dark sound as cracks of thunder echoed off the mountains. He let the anger simmer and the lightning moved further away. He wasn’t free yet, and he wasn’t suicidal. What he was, was trapped. And it pissed him off, the frustration riding him like a hag.

What could he do when the queen changed her mind and refused to release him from her service? What if the bitch thought she could use him then put him back into her dungeons Underhill, calling him to her side like a lapdog? He needed a way to show her there would be repercussions. He needed leverage.

In the distance, thunder rumbled. They tipped over the edge of the valley in search of the witch. A wavering glow of candles shone above the last few rocks.

Almost there.

The telltale traces of a spell raised the hair on the back of his neck. He extended his Gift to perceive what he couldn’t yet see. A labyrinth set by a single inexperienced witch. His lips twitched. As protection it might have worked, had the Faery Queen sent her regular henchman. Unluckily for the witch, the queen had unleashed him. The Dark Huntsman.

He would kill the wench, and be done with this thing between himself and the queen of the Tuatha De Danann. And when the queen refused to release him? He’d deal with that when the time came.

The wind carried the hot dry smell of sage mixed with the smell of fear and musky female. He inhaled the raw flavor of the witch, the taste of her fear and anger and power, slid down his throat, easing his rage.
The anxious hounds shifted around him, sensing the proximity of their prey. Solanum rounded the rock.

And there she was.

The sight of her rocked him back like a blow, almost knocking him to the ground. And he realized—despite the stasis, fifteen years had been too long a time to be without a woman.

Glimmers of power limned her naked body and the silver blade of the athame that gleamed between her breasts. Her legs were spread slightly apart, tensed for battle. Long black hair crackled and lifted with static. Her expressive face was poised on the edge of dilemma, her body caught between the need to hold the spell and the need for action.

He paused to let the feel of power and woman roll through him.

Beautiful.

Unexpected.

Green, almond-shaped eyes widened. Her stance firmed, her shoulders pulled back, and her full breasts rose, nipples tightened with cold or fear. Something wild and raw he hadn’t felt in a hundred years stabbed low in his gut.

His agenda changed.

The queen wanted to kill the witch. Why? His plan of placating the queen suddenly seemed weak. She’d never let him go without leverage, and here was leverage standing naked and lovely before him. He had a new plan.

Screw the queen.

 

***

Thunder boomed.

Trina glanced up the valley. The dying light made it impossible for her to see much more than the silhouette of a horse and rider barreling through the boulders and uneven terrain, tearing down the rocky hillside at an impossible speed. But no barrel racer would endanger their mount careening down the mountain in a thunderstorm. Or ride a horse the color of the absence of light with freakish red eyes. Only something truly inhuman would light up her inner sight with that particular eerie blue glow.

The acid in her stomach rose into her throat.

An elven lord.

Oh fuck! I’m screwed.

She swallowed the fear down. Her trap, her best effort, all her hard work. Dumb. Stupid.

Pathetic. None of it would hold an elven lord—a full adult fae whose power would make her trap look like an art project. She wished she could hide the evidence, like a small child wiping up the crumbs of stolen cookies.

Horse and rider skidded and slowed in a shower of ricocheting rocks. The enormous red  hounds flowed out, surrounding the labyrinth as the cloaked rider and his dark mount advanced.

She held still, athame at the ready in sweaty hands, prepared to bolt if she had the chance. Her eyes flicked from the approaching rider, distracted by the lesser threat of the huge, sharp-toothed,  yellow-eyed hounds encircling the labyrinth like silent sharks waiting for the command to take their prey.

Her.

“Damn shame to kill you, witch.” His voice was smooth, well-aged whiskey with a hint of brogue.

 “Then don’t.”

“What will you give me instead? A life requires a powerful exchange. And I was sent for your death.”

Trina tried to keep her face even and not reveal her panic. She had nothing he could want.

Anything of true power that a fae like this one might consider valuable, was safely out of reach and driving down the road in the van. Gone. Along with any reinforcements.

“How about honesty?” She offered in desperation.

“Funny girl.” The dark presence leaned forward, his impatient mount’s feet shifting on the gravel.

The nervous sweat on her back grew cold.

“Although I would enjoy taking the time,” his voice carried easily over the wind and thunder, “we shouldn't stand here bargaining. The queen awaits my report.”

The lord’s level tone distracted her and she was unprepared when the horse moved. The pair crashed effortlessly into the labyrinth, cutting a destroying swath across the short, brushy sage and heading for her at the center. Spectacular violent explosions burst into cascades of colored lights, as if her carefully constructed wards were merely firecrackers, instead of huge magical grenades.

The overwhelming smell of crushed sage rose, and she swore the evil-eyed horse laughed. She reached inside for what was left of her power, losing her grip on it when he leaned over and grabbed her arm. With no apparent effort, he hoisted her up.
She scrabbled for a handhold in an effort to not fly over the horse into the waiting sea of teeth and dogs. She tangled one hand in the long black mane and held tight to her slippery knife with the other.

Strong arms wrapped in leather tightened around her, forcing her upright, her toes dangling sidesaddle. Everything happening too fast. She barely had a grip in the long black mane when the creature flexed under her and they flew over the candles.

The flames blew out.

They landed on the other side of the labyrinth in a hard jolt. She slipped.

If I fall, I could run.

Before the thought had been and gone, her grip on the mane loosened. She slid to the side. Hot breath and the scrape of teeth on her ankle warned her, just in time. She yanked her foot out of range of the snapping jaws, and lost her balance. Making an instinctive grab for the mane with her right hand—she dropped the knife.

Her kidnapper growled and tightened his grip on her stomach.

She gasped for her voice. “Put me down!”

“I’m afraid it’s too late for that. I either kill you or take you with me.” The sparkling black blade of his laughter cut deep into her soul.

Accelerating faster and faster, they wove in and out of the treacherous rocks in a mad, blurring rush up the side of the valley. If she fell off now and hit a rock, she’d be roadkill. She anchored both hands firmly in the mane and leaned back into the solid chest of her attacker.

They raced on, licks of green fire lighting up the hill behind them. A deep maw of black within purple mist formed ahead, transforming the familiar landscape into a horror. The knowledge of where they headed slammed inside her brain.

Trina’s heart sped into a sharp staccato.

Words of denial formed in her constricted throat, gone long before she had a chance to know what they were.

Don’t make me go.

They rocketed to the top of the valley, the piranha hounds schooling tightly around them as they raced to the looming mouth of the portal. Steely muscles bunched and flexed under her.

Launching into the air, they flew into the mix of fog and darkness encased in the sound of her scream.


About the Author:

Jessica Ash loves dragons, magic, and romance, and is lucky enough to write about all three while consuming boatloads of chocolate. Her favorite fantasy is taking a luxury cruise up the Rhine where she could stare at the castles along the water and dream of faery. She writes dark fae fantasy romance where evil queens are on the hunt and strong heroes and heroines fall in love.



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