Don’t miss this one, folks! There’s also an excerpt and a guest post from the wonderful Mysti Parker! And you can see my review here.
Title: Hearts In Exile
Series: Tallenmere (stand-alone)
Author: Mysti Parker
Genre: Paranormal, Fantasy, Romance
Publisher: Melange Books
Formats Available In: All eBook formats and Print
Release Date: June 3, 2013
Blurb: Somewhere, hidden in the waters of the Southern Sea, lies an island unlike any other. Within the amber glow of its pyrogem-laden cliffs, legend says the very heart of the dragon god Drae keeps the island, and its occupants, alive.
Loralee Munroviel, daughter of Leogard’s High Priestess Arianne, had no idea what she would face when she arrived by boat ten years ago and was left alone in exile. All she knew about Draekoria’s inhabitants was written in one tattered notebook. Now, her life revolves around keeping Drae’s descendants happy. Never in her life did she imagine being a Dragon Keeper.
Captain Igrorio Everlyn, known as Sir Robert to his unit of Holy Paladins, has faced his share of hell, battling the evils of Emperor Sarvonn’s tyranny and the dark god Tyr’s abominations. But none of that compares to the ten years of hell he’s been without Loralee, presumed dead.
One freak storm changes everything. Now the two of them must fight to re-establish the delicate balance of the island before the dragons take things into their own hands. Through it all, they discover the secrets that kept them, and their hearts, exiled for a decade.
Excerpt From Chapter Three:
After a shipwreck, Sir Robert wakes up in a strange cottage, only to find Loralee, the love of his life, whom he thought had been dead for a decade…
“I don’t understand. What is this place?”
“It’s an island. Very few know of its existence.”
I shook my head, trying to clear the fog of this confusing dream come to life. “But, why would you be here, and why would you be sorry? Unless…”
The words wouldn’t come. My racing mind pitched in to help. Unless she didn’t want to marry me after all.
Wrenching pain I’d kept tucked inside broke free, and I clambered to my feet. Loralee followed suit, backing herself into the small dining table.
I tried, but could not hide the bitter anger in my words. “How could you do this to me? Do you have any idea what I’ve been through?”
Her eyes widened. She clutched the table with one hand and her robe with the other. “What you’ve been through? I didn’t want this. I was forced here.”
“What do you mean, forced here? Where are your shackles?” My voice roared through the little cottage as I gestured around me with one arm. “Where are the bars? This looks like no prison I’ve ever seen.”
Her voice cracked the air, rivaling with my own. “I was betrayed, forced into exile. Don’t you understand? I never wanted to leave you. I never wanted anything so much as I wanted you.”
Pacing away, I closed my eyes and breathed deeply. I had to calm myself, to let the weight of this discovery, the improbability of her explanation to sink into my water-logged brain.
I couldn’t bring myself to look at her just yet, so I stared at my bare feet instead. “Why didn’t you tell me, write to me?”
“I tried. I begged the supply ship crew to bring my letters to you. They always took them, but never brought one in return. I suspect they destroyed them, but I had no way of knowing.” She sucked in a shaky breath as though trying to hold back her tears. “I never stopped loving you.”
Turning back to face her, I felt like a mindless beast. Here I was, raging against the love of my life when she’d all but been brought back from the dead.
“Loralee.” I eased toward her. She cringed. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to scare you.”
Without a word, I leaned in and pressed my forehead to hers, allowing myself to breathe in her scent for the first time in a decade. We stood suspended like that for a while, lost in time, and emerging from a purgatory neither of us had imagined ten years ago. I would have been content to stand like that forever, but Loralee burst into tears and wilted to the floor.
I followed her down and opened the quilt to wrap us both inside. I held her tight while she cried.
While I cried.
I finally got enough breath to speak again. “What did you mean by forced here? They told me you were…” I couldn’t say it, not with her warm and so very alive against me.
The weight of it all came crashing down on me. “This is my fault, isn’t it? You’re here because of me.”
She made no attempt to wipe her cheeks, but shook her head and stared at the rafters as though entreating the gods. “No, it’s not your fault. Not at all. There is so much to explain, I don’t know where to start.”
I couldn’t comprehend any of it, so I focused on the here and now. “You found me on the shore?”
“The crew, Francis…did you find anyone else out there?”
“No, I had Xax-, I mean, no, I searched but didn’t find anyone else.”
The familiar weight of grief squeezed my chest, and a few more tears escaped before I could stop them.
She pulled me close and whispered, “I’m so sorry. I know how much you loved him. We all did.”
“We all grieved for you. You’ve been here…all this time?”
“By the gods, Loralee, I’ve missed you so much.” I put my wet cheek against hers and pressed my lips to her soft skin. “Part of me died the day I thought you… please…just tell me how you ended up here.”
Loralee took a few deep breaths and finally pulled away from me. She caressed my cheek and smiled weakly. “I’ll make us a pot of tea. And then, I think we should start at the beginning, back to the Great Plague and when we first met. Do you remember that?”
Smiling past the sadness, I covered her hand with mine and closed my eyes. “How could I ever forget?”
The Do’s and Don’ts of Writing Reviews
By Mysti Parker
Have you ever read a book and had the desire to write a review, but the mere thought of it made you sweat? I think a lot of folks are nervous about writing book reviews. Even if the reader is a writer by trade, writing a book review has the oh-God-I’ve-got-to-read-this-in-front-of-the-class feeling of a middle school book report.
Well, never fret dear readers. I’m here to offer you a few tips on the process. After having written nearly 100 reviews myself, I can’t call myself an expert, but I’ve got it down to a pretty good science. And I’ll share some examples to help ease your fears.
As in anything we write, let’s start at the beginning:
DO write a brief introduction that includes how you came across the book and your overall impression of it, like: “I found this book on Goodreads, and for the most part, I really enjoyed it.”
DO give a short summary of the book’s opening story, and its protagonists. Here’s an example from my review of “Rescued by a Duke” by Ruth J. Hartman:
Sasha Douglas fell into an abandoned well while trying to avoid going to debtor’s prison as punishment for her dead brother’s debts. Cold, dirty, and injured, she fears no one will hear her screaming for help. But, her prayers are answered as the property owner happens by on his horse, none other than Garrett Rothchild Canterbury, the Duke of Ravensworth.
You can add another paragraph about the other main or strong supporting characters, but keep the summary paragraphs to no more than TWO.
DON’T give away key twists and surprises. These are called “spoilers” for a reason. If anything in the book came as a surprise or should have come as a surprise (you may have seen it coming a mile away), don’t spoil it for potential readers. You could say something like: “There were twists and turns I never saw coming.” Or “The climax didn’t really surprise me.” Just don’t tell exactly WHAT you were or were not surprised about!
DO tell what you liked or loved about the book. Even a book you’d deem terrible likely has some good moments in it. Shoot for a well-rounded review for those who might enjoy the book, even if you didn’t. Here’s an example from my review of “Die Laughing” by Louis K. Lowy:
I have to admit, I wondered whether a story centered around 1950’s TV and aliens would wind up being corny as all get-out. I’m happy to say, I was more than pleasantly surprised.
DO be honest about any criticism you had of the book. Here’s an example from my review of “Survival of the Fairest” by Jody Wallace:
One particular plot aspect was quite predictable from the get-go, but it didn’t disappoint in the end. Long passages of inner reflections and world building information slowed the pace a few times. And the last scene of the resolution seemed too drawn out, and then the end came too abruptly.
DON’T, for the love of all things holy, DON’T bash the author or resort to profanity. Even if you hated a book, keep in mind the author spent countless hours writing it. You can be honest in your assessment of the story, but be respectful toward the author. Pretend he or she is sitting in front of you, and you must divulge what you think about the book. Chances are you’d choose your words carefully in person, so do so in your review as well.
DO tie the review up with a quick summary, including the audience you would recommend for the book. Here’s an example of how I summed up my review of Elizabeth Lang’s “The Empire”:
I’d recommend this book for any adult reader, whether you’re a sci-fi fan or not. I think you just have to try it and see for yourself!
Hopefully, these tips will come in handy after you close the cover on the next book you read, and hopefully, this will encourage you to leave a review of what you’ve just read. Well-written reviews not only let the author know what their audience thinks, but also help readers make good choices when picking their next favorite book.
***Tour-Wide Drawing***: Buy one copy (print or electronic) of Hearts in Exile at Melange Books, Amazon, B&N, Smashwords, or All Romance E-Books, and you’ll be entered into a drawing to win this BIG prize pack:
Dragon Necklace, I ♥ Dragons Tote Bag, This Gal (or Guy) Loves Dragons T-shirt, Hearts in Exile Notebook, and set of three signed playlist postcards.
To enter, just purchase a copy of Hearts in Exile from any of the online retailers above, and email your receipt to ME at this email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Drawing to be held on August 1, and it’s open worldwide!!!
About Mysti Parker:
Mysti Parker (pseudonym) is a full time wife, mother of three, and a writer. Her first novel, A Ranger’s Tale was published in January, 2011 by Melange Books, and the second in the fantasy romance series, Serenya’s Song, was published in April 2012. The highly anticipated third book, Hearts in Exile, has already received some great reviews. The Tallenmere series has been likened to Terry Goodkind’s ‘Sword of Truth’ series, but is probably closer to a spicy cross between Tolkien and Mercedes Lackey.
Mysti’s other writings have appeared in the anthologies Hearts of Tomorrow, Christmas Lites, and Christmas Lites II. Her flash fiction has appeared on the online magazine EveryDayFiction. She has also served as a class mentor in Writers Village University’s six week free course, F2K.
Mysti reviews books for SQ Magazine, an online specfic publication, and is the proud owner of Unwritten, a blog voted #3 for eCollegeFinder’s Top Writing Blogs award. She resides in Buckner, KY with her husband and three children.