So Shall I Reap

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Title:  So Shall I Reap
Series:  The Unseen Series
Author:  Kathy-Lynn Cross
Published:  June 30th, 2015  
Publisher:  Clean Teen Publishing
Genre:  YA Paranormal
Content Warning:  Violence and adult language

 



~Synopsis~

 

     There is no protection from the Unseen.

     Las Vegas, Nevada can’t contain Alexcia Crystalline Stasis, who is living the ideal teenager’s dream as the school’s elite socialite. That is, until a fatal car accident changes everything. Now Alexcia’s emotions are on the verge of combusting. As if mourning the loss of her boyfriend isn’t enough, she is also dealing with extreme night terrors that leave her wondering if she just might need to be fitted for a straightjacket.

     Tevin isn’t your normal daemon. He’s the leader of his clan, and he also happens to be a very active Grim Reaper. He never wanted to be charged with babysitting the one girl who can sway Creation’s Balance. Tevin has known and kept Alexcia safe most of her life. Now that he has to become even more personally involved in her protection, Tevin finds himself having a hard time separating his sworn duty and pure curiosity. What does make Alexcia tick?

     Will Tevin be able to keep Alexcia safe from the Unseen? And will Alexcia’s emotions eventually help Tevin attempt to understand what being human is all about? Or will the entities and assassins’ of the Unseen get what they want … her dead.


 

Excerpt from So Shall I Reap by Kathy-Lynn Cross:

 

     Flames and darkness served as a reminder of the future we faced. Resting both forearms around my middle and feeling defeated, I shuddered. Filling in my view with his unreadable stare, he then glanced away briefly and whispered, “I wonder if a soulless creature is worthy to be bound by a heart, tied to a soul? Yet, as you stand there looking at me, I continue seeing the eyes of the child I once knew. Do you still want to offer me your soul?”

     Without hesitation, sorrow for him exploded inside my chest. Thin lines of ink trailed down his cheeks, and I reached up to caress this face while pulling him closer for a chance to kiss his lips. Even for a moment, to give him a taste of my soul.

     How did I know him?

     I hadn’t grasped the words he spoke, let alone the feelings I had for him. Without conscious control over my voice, it answered him for me, “I can only choose what is right and pure. This is my only function. My heart is all the power I can give you right now.” I was unsure what I meant, but he smiled at me. The creatures formed a tighter circle around us and their wings appeared to be dripping hot silver acid that melted into what looked like cloaks made of the same black mist rising from the ground. Without notice, I found myself wrapped within two massive wings.

     His wings sizzled as he pulled me into his icy embrace, leaning in to whisper against the inner part of my ear, “They say love knows no bounds. Death only has one boundary, and you cross over it when your heart stops. But written on the Unseen scrolls, it states this one emotion will last even after the breath ceases.”

     With his trail of words still lingering against the inside curvature of my ear, my composure disappeared. The blankets were wrapped tight around me like a cocoon. If I didn’t know better, I would have sworn it had snowed in the room overnight. Shadows were thick and barricaded the bedroom and closet doors. No escape from the nightly terrors. Rubbing the grit from each lash, I unwrapped from the cocoon of covers, followed by flopping one leg at a time to the floor. My mind was clouded in the thick fog making it difficult to push off the bed. I wasn’t sure if I’d ever been so weak and chilled from sweating. An overwhelming need washed over me to open the drapes and cleanse the bedroom from the unknown with the glow from the streetlights. His presence remained in the room with me. Turning slowly from the window, it felt as if I were wearing lead shoes. Pushing their weight toward the mirror, I was horrified at the face gaping back at me. I leaned closer to try and comprehend what the glass was telling me. Two small, dried streams of red gleamed on my cheeks. I was frozen in a nonexistent moment of time. My breath caught as I gasped… and woke up.
 
 
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About the Author:

     Born in Pomona, California, Kathy-Lynn Cross lived there for twelve years until her family moved to Las Vegas, Nevada—where she resides still to this day. Inspired by the backdrop of Sin City, Kathy-Lynn took her English professor’s advice and wrote about the hometown that she knew.

     Kathy-Lynn wasn’t always a writer. In 2008, when her niece was hospitalized, Kathy-Lynn decided to do something special for her so she wrote a short tale for her to read. After devouring it in a single day, her niece and the nurses in the pediatrics wing quickly asked her, “What’s next?”

     That was when a new chapter in her life opened up, and Kathy-Lynn realized that she wanted to become a Storyweaver.

     Kathy-Lynn loves the color red and obsessively uses it in everything, including her bottle-blonde hair accented by red highlights. She has a knack for baking and cake decorating—that is, when her fingers are not busy writing mayhem. When recharging, you could find her curled up with a cup of coffee and a good book or spending time with her hubby of nineteen years, two kids, four cats, and the family dog.



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Clean Teen Publishing Links:
Giveaway Details:
There is a tour wide giveaway. Prizes include the following:
  • A bookmark swag pack, winner’s choice of any Clean Teen Publishing eBook, and a $15 Amazon gift card.
Giveaway is International.

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Milayna’s Angel

 

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Title:  Milayna’s Angel

Series:  The Milayna Series, Book 2
Author:  Michelle K. Pickett
Published:  July 7th, 2015
Publisher:  Clean Teen Publishing
Genre:  YAm Paranormal Romance
Content Warning:  Adult language and violence
Recommended Age:  16+

 
 

~Synopsis~ 

 

     Now that the battle with Hell’s angel, Azazel, has ended, you’d think eighteen-year-old Milayna’s life would take a turn for the better. After all, what could be worse than having the angel of Hell trying to steal your soul? Plenty. Abaddon, the demon of destruction, is angry that Azazel failed to convert Milayna before her demi-angel powers matured. Now she’s untouchable… or so she thinks. It seems even in Hell, there are loopholes.
     Not only is her life in danger, but her love life is crumbling, too. Just when Milayna and fellow demi-angel Chay get comfortable on their little cloud of bliss, Xavier comes to town. He’s one angel that’s as hot as the very embers of Hell, and he has his sights set on Milayna.
     Now she has the demon of destruction out to kill her, Xavier out to steal her heart, and she still has to take final exams before she can graduate high school.
     Sometimes life sucks, even if you are half angel.

 
 

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~About the Author~

     Michelle is the bestselling author of the young adult novel “PODs.” She was born and raised in Flint, Michigan, but now lives in a sleepy suburb outside Houston with her extremely supportive husband, three school-aged children, a 125 pound “lap dog,” and a very snooty cat.
     Red Bull or Monster Khaos are her coffee of choice, and she can’t write without peanut butter M&Ms and a hoodie. A hopeful romantic; she loves a swoon-worthy ending that will give her butterflies for days. She writes across genres in the young adult and new adult age groups. She loves to hear from her readers.
     Michelle signed her new young adult contemporary novel— Unspeakable, with Clean Teen Publishing in 2014.

 

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Clean Teen Publishing Links:
Giveaway Details:
There is a tour wide giveaway. Prizes include the following:
  • A bookmark swag pack and winner’s choice of any Clean Teen Publishing eBook.
Giveaway is International.

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Cover reveal for The Elementals: Air

    
     Since discovering she is descended from an ancient Fire elemental, Sera Hadyn has struggled with her talent, unintentionally burning the guy she loves and narrowly escaping death on several occasions.

     Now with her Fire talent bound, her archrival Bree—an Air talent determined to steal Adam from her—has found a way to do just that.

     As if that wasn’t bad enough, someone has been working very hard behind the scenes to eliminate the Fire line once and for all.

     Can Sera cheat Death yet again by keeping those around her alive, or will casualties mount when the elements collide?

~Book two in the elemental dark fantasy series~

Holy and the Fallen Book Blitz

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Title:  Holy and the Fallen
Series:  The Watchers of Men Series #2
Author:  Amanda Strong
Published:  May 12th, 2015
Publisher:  Clean Teen Publishing
Genre:  YA Paranormal Romance
Content Warning:  Minor violence, language, and clean romance

 

~Synopsis~

 

With the Northern City under construction, Micah and Eden’s lives are about to change again, when Micah is given new directions. It’s time for the Watchers, the fallen angels buried in the earth, to make their final choice—serve the captain or choose to remain loyal to Semjaza, the dark leader who led them to their downfall. Micah soon learns, however, that Eden is the one thing Semjaza wants more than anything, and he will go to great lengths to obtain her.

Torn between fulfilling his mission and not wanting to leave the ones he cares about, Micah must learn what it truly means to be the captain’s seer. Eden’s friends will be tested as they try to protect her, while each one of them discover there may be more to their gifts than they’d thought. In the war between angels and demons, gifts will be discovered and truths uncovered. All the while, one moment of weakness can prove to be the undoing of them all.
Holy and the Fallen is the exciting squeal to The Awakener by Amanda Strong.

 

~Excerpt from Holy and the Fallen by Amanda Strong~

 

“Gabriel?” Eden called softly. It was late, she knew she should be sleeping, but talking about him today with her parents had left a void in her heart. Her once again, one-sided conversations were not as comforting as they used to be.
“I guess I got a bit spoiled seeing you so much,” she admitted, staring off into the distance. “You probably ran straight to the angel council and told them to fix it so I couldn’t. Was it that bad? Me seeing you?”
She felt nothing and sighed. “I know you said it made things complicated.”  Again nothing.
“Gabriel? Hey, are you there still?” She tried to push the panic down and gripped her blankets tighter.  Nothing.
Now her eyes roamed her room, darting to her floor just to make sure there were no claws coming out from under her bed. She knew she was being ridiculous. He was always there. Maybe she wasn’t focusing on the good feeling. Maybe if she just held still and stopped freaking out, she’d feel the calmness and know he was there.   Maybe…
She felt something else. A cold, draining sensation in her back. It spread down her limbs, leaving her wrist searing in pain. Eden doubled over, gripping her arm to her chest.
“Gabriel!” she gasped. She peeked down just to make sure no blood oozed out. Her flesh remained intact, pink and healthy, but her insides screamed, like her bones were being snapped in two. Pain rocketed her whole frame, shooting from two points of origin—where the demon had nearly bitten her hand off and where Oeillet’s staff had punctured her back.
She curled into a fetal position, hugging her knees, pinching her eyes shut, trying to manage the agony. When her lungs refused to fill with air, she panicked. Oh my gosh! I’m suffocating! She tried to scream for help, but nothing came out but mangled sounds. Hot pain coursed through her chest, wrapping around her heart like fingers made of fire. What’s happening! She saw no demon, no staff protruding from her heart, but it felt like one was there.
Gabriel, where are you?
“Eden!” a voice bellowed at the same time white light shot through her room. Arms wrapped around her and pulled her from her bed. A hand brushed hair from her face, clearing her vision. Bright blue eyes gazed back at her, practically buried under the furrowed brow line.
“Gabriel,” she gasped through gritted teeth.
“Eden, what’s wrong?” While holding her, his eyes scanned her body. “What’s happened to you? Where are you hurt?”
She clutched at her chest and tried to speak, but nothing came out. His eyes widened. With one swift motion, he laid her down and placed both hands on her head. Shutting his eyes, he moved his hands down her frame, lightly touching her shoulders, arms, wrist, back, and torso. He stopped where the staff had punctured her months ago. A stream of fluid words came from his mouth, none of which she understood.

“Curses,” he muttered in English. “I should’ve known.”

 

 

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About the Author:
Born in Dekalb, Illinois, Amanda Strong has called Utah, Arizona, Hawaii, Virginia, and now New Mexico home. She has loved to spin tales since childhood. It was not uncommon to find her hiding in some random corner, scribbling away in her spiral-bound notebook, with her bright pink glasses. You could say some things have not changed.

Amanda signed with Clean Teen Publishing in the fall of 2013. She is the author of two paranormal, YA series: The Watchers of Men and Monsters Among Us.

The first novel in The Watchers of Men series, The Awakener, debuted in October of 2013. It has been an Amazon number one best seller in three Young Adult categories. Book two, The Holy and The Fallen, released May 12th of 2015. She is currently working on book three, The Watcher’s Mark, releasing spring of 2016.

Hidden Monster released November 4th of 2014, and it finished as a Finalist in the 2014 USA Best Book Award: Young Adult Category. It is book one of a brand-new young adult, sci-fi thriller series called Monsters Among Us.

When Amanda isn’t writing, you can find her chasing her three rambunctious children around the house and spending time with her wonderful and supportive husband. On some occasions, you can still find Amanda with her not-so-pink glasses, hiding in a corner reading her favorite young adult fantasy novels or working out only to blow her diet by eating ice cream.

 

 

 

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Clean Teen Publishing Links:

 

Giveaway Details:
There is a tour wide giveaway. Prizes include the following:
  • A bookmark swag pack and winner’s choice of any Clean Teen Publishing eBook.


Giveaway is International.

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Creatura Book Blitz

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Title:  Creatura
Series:  The Creatura Series #1
Author:  Nely Cab
Published:  May 12th, 2015
Publisher:  Clean Teen Publishing
Genre:  YA Paranormal Romance
Recommended Age:  13+

 

~Synopsis~

 

Isis can control her dreams. Or she could—until recently. The creature in her nightmares has been haunting her for months. As if being dumped wasn’t bad enough, now she dreads going to sleep. She decides to confront the creature and win back some of her peace; only, she finds that he’s not a monster and he’s not a dream. A sacrifice for love, a shocking discovery and a jealous ex-boyfriend blur the lines between reality and dreams, making it hard to tell who the real monsters are. Who would’ve known…that sometimes love is lethal?

 

 

 


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~About the Author~

 

Nely Cab is a Writer of stuff, a Master Coffee Drinker, a Food Maker & Eater, an Imaginary World Conqueror, and an Air Breather. She talks to herself—a lot—in her South Texas home while she plots stories about fantasy worlds and sips coffee from a pitcher. She’s known for cooking far too much food and has a tendency to overdo…well, everything. It is rumored that she is fabulous. Nely Cab is the best-selling author of the Creatura series.

 

~ About the Publisher ~

 

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Clean Teen Publishing Links:

 

Giveaway Details:
There is a tour wide giveaway. Prizes include the following:
  • A bookmark swag pack and winner’s choice of any Clean Teen Publishing eBook.
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Keeper of the Lost Souls

Keeper of the Lost Souls

 

 

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Title: Keeper of the Lost Souls
Series: The Keeper Witches Series # 1
Author: Kristy Centeno
Published: June 7th, 2013
Page Count: 380
Genre: YA Paranormal
Synopsis:
Bryn McCaskey is young, naïve, and can talk to ghosts…
Like her mother and grandmother, Bryn comes from a breed of witches called The Keepers of the Lost Souls. Their main purpose is to guard those spirits who are permanently or temporarily grounded in the world of the living. Handling supernatural creatures is something which comes naturally to Bryn, however, dealing with people is a whole different story.
As her 18th birthday approaches it’s time for her to take on her first assignment. Bryn is forced to confront her inability to communicate with others in an effort to save the one soul that can mean the difference between life and death for mankind.
Johnny Shaw is a lost soul with a personal vendetta against witches…
A vendetta he has carried on even after death. As much as he hate’s them he must join forces with a keeper witch, in order to stop a century old threat. When fate brings them together, not only will they be forced to learn how to work as a team, but they will have to depend on each other to stop an evil witch carrying a six hundred year grudge!

 

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Excerpt:
Before entering the property, I’d made sure I was protected and no amount of demon magic could’ve bypassed that spell. Unless of course, the demon happened to be hundreds of years old. This wasn’t the case, however— of that I was sure. A demon looking to destroy a witch wouldn’t wait so long to finish her off, especially when she was already down. With that in mind, I lifted my bruised body off the ground and stared ahead of me.

“Well, isn’t that something.” Yes, I was pissed. And yes, I wanted whoever or whatever attacked me to know it, too.

“You must think yourself really tough because of that surprise attack. But I’ll tell you one thing, you’re not really original.”

When I received no response, I hurried to add, “Come out and fight me like a man.” I was unsure of what I was dealing with, but aware of the fact that somewhere ahead of me there were a pair of eyes on me. I could feel them practically peeling my skin off. “You want to battle? Then show yourself and let’s get to it! I’m not afraid of you.”

“Go away, witch!”

He knows I’m a witch? How? None of my previous charges could tell and even after I told them who I was and why I was there, they still had a hard time believing me.

“You waste your time by coming here.” That voice was as angry as any I’d ever heard.

“I’m not so sure about that.”

“Get the hell out of here,” the voice demanded.

“And if I don’t?”

“Leave! Or I’ll make you leave!”

Kristy

 

 

About the Author:
As a child, she used to lose herself in an imaginary world by the means of a good book. Now that she’s all grown up, Kristy gets to create her own fictional realms and make them come to life in ways that most readers might not expect.
She’s always had a passion for writing but never had the opportunity do so until now. After trying out numerous options, she realized that writing was what she loved the most so when she found herself with some free time on her hands, she decided to pursue her passion. As it turned out, her very active imagination helped her achieve her goals of creating believable plots with some ordinary, and some not so ordinary characters that helped the stories move along in one way or another.
As she keeps moving along in achieving her dreams of becoming a published author, she divides her time in between her four children and her very understanding husband.

 

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Release Day Blitz: Surrender the Sky-Meradeth Houston

Young Adult Book Madness

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“I wish I didn’t know. I wish my heart hadn’t been seared black in my chest. I wish everything were different.” – Surrender the Sky

Surrenderthesky

Surrender the Sky by Meradeth Houston

Gabby lives by two unbreakable rules: don’t expose her kind, the Sary, and don’t fall in love—too bad some rules are made to be broken.

When Gabby’s most difficult charge accidentally shoots her in front of a class full of students, the event exposes her carefully hidden identity. She shifts from looking like a normal teen to her secret Sary form, revealing her wings and the existence of her kind—immortals who try to keep people from committing suicide. Her incident attracts the attention of the next leader of the Sary, Jassen, who offers her an impossible bargain: she can keep her wings if she makes amends with those who know the truth. Things get more complicated when a rebel…

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Remember Me.

Remember Me.

Shari Cooper hadn’t planned on dying, but four floors is a long way to fall. Her friends say she fell but Shari knew she had been murdered. Making a vow to herself to find her killer, Shari spies on her friends, and even enters their dreams. She also comes face-to-face with a nightmare from beyond the grave. The Shadow – a thing more horrible than death itself – is the key to Shari’s death, and the only thing that can stop her murderer from murdering again.

If you like ghosts, mysteries, and paranormal, you will most likely love this book!

 

4 Flames

Thirst series

Thirst series

Alisa has been in control of her urges for the five thousand years she has been a vampire. She feeds but does not kill, and she lives her life on the fringe to maintain her secret. But when her creator returns to hunt her, she must break her own rules in order to survive.

Her quest leads her to Ray. He is the only person who can help her; he also has every reason to fear her. Alisa must get closer to him to ensure her immortality. But as she begins to fall in love with Ray, suddenly there is more at stake than her own life….

The synopsis doesn’t do the series justice. Alisa is a kick ass Vampire with heart, even after five thousand years of being on Earth.

 

4 Flames

Darkest Powers trilogy

Darkest Powers trilogy

My name is Chloe Saunders and my life will never be the same again.

All I wanted was to make friends, meet boys, and keep on being ordinary. I don’t even know what that means anymore. It all started on the day that I saw my first ghost – and the ghost saw me.

Now there are ghosts everywhere and they won’t leave me alone. To top it all off, I somehow got myself locked up in Lyle House, a “special home” for troubled teens. Yet the home isn’t what it seems. Don’t tell anyone, but I think there might be more to my housemates than meets the eye. The question is, whose side are they on? it’s up to me to figure out the dangerous secrets behind Lyle House…before its skeletons come back to haunt me.

I really liked the pacing of this book, it held my interest until the end and kept me guessing. The vulnerability of the characters made them all the more real.

 

3 Flames

House Of Night series

House Of Night series

The House of Night is a thrilling, New York Times bestselling book series that follows 16-year-old Zoey Redbird as she is “Marked” by a vampyre tracker and begins to undergo the “Change” into an actual vampyre. She has to leave her family in Broken Arrow, OK, and move into the House of Night, a boarding school for other fledgling vampyres like her. It’s tough to begin a new life, away from her parents and friends, and on top of that, Zoey finds she is no average fledgling. She has been Marked as special by the vampyre Goddess, Nyx. Although Zoey has awesome new powers, it’s hard to fit in when everyone knows you’re “special.” As Zoey tries to make new friends and maybe find a hot boyfriend (or two), she comes up against all kinds of evil, from the perfect-looking, super-popular girl with not-so-faultless plans, to the mysterious deaths happening at the House of Night and all over Tulsa. Things at the House of Night are not always what they seem. Can Zoey find the courage deep within herself to find the truth and embrace her destiny?

I really liked the mixture of Vampire/goddess/Native American/Angel. It made for an intriguing blend and story. Not your typical vampire novels. Definitely for mature YA.

 

3 Flames

Blue Bloods

Blue Bloods

When the Mayflower set sail in 1620, it carried on board the men and women who would shape America: Miles Standish; John Alden; Constance Hopkins. But some among the Pilgrims were not pure of heart; they were not escaping religious persecution. Indeed, they were not even human. They were vampires.The vampires assimilated quickly into the New World. Rising to levels of enormous power, wealth, and influence, they were the celebrated blue bloods of American society.

The Blue Bloods vowed that their immortal status would remain a closely guarded secret. And they kept that secret for centuries. But now, in New York City, the secret is seeping out. Schuyler Van Alen is a sophomore at a prestigious private school. She prefers baggy, vintage clothes instead of the Prada and pearls worn by her classmates, and she lives with her reclusive grandmother in a dilapidated mansion. Schuyler is a loner…and happy that way. Suddenly, when she turns fifteen, there is a visible mosaic of blue veins on her arm. She starts to crave raw food and she is having flashbacks to ancient times. Then a popular girl from her school is found dead… drained of all her blood. Schuyler doesn’t know what to think, but she wants to find out the secrets the Blue Bloods are keeping. But is she herself in danger?

This is an intriguing series. I love how De La Cruz morphs angels and vampires. It’s like a supernatural version of Gossip Girl.

 

4 Flames

Moonflower

Moonflower

Title: Moonflower
Author: Angela J. Townsend
Published: March 31st, 2014 by Clean Teen Publishing
Page Count: 238
Genre: YA Paranormal Romance Horror
Content Warning: Graphic violence
Recommended Age: 17+

Synopsis

Natasha remembers little from her Russian childhood, other than the lingering nightmares of her mother’s tragic death. So when someone close to her hands her a one-way ticket to Russia, along with the deed to her family farm, and then is brutally murdered, she has little confidence about what awaits her in that distant land.
With doubt and uncertainty, Natasha has no choice but to leave her life in America for an unknown future. Once overseas, the terrifying facts as to why she was really summoned home come to light.
Fact one: Monsters do exist.
Fact two: The only thing keeping those monsters out of the world is an ancient mural hidden below her family’s farm.
Fact three: The mural that keeps the evil out of the world is falling apart.
The final fact: It’s up to Natasha to restore it and save the world from a horror unlike anything seen before.
Luckily, Natasha isn’t alone in her mission. Three Russian Knights are tasked with protecting her from the demons as she restores the mural. And leading the Knights is the handsome and strong Anatoly, who seems to be everything Natasha could hope for in a man. Unfortunately, there is one huge problem. Her Knights are forbidden from having relationships with the artists they protect, and Anatoly is a hardcore rule follower. But rules cannot stop the way she feels.
When a horrifying demon breaches the barrier and pulls Anatoly inside the mural, Natasha can’t help but charge, once again, into the unknown—this time to save the man she secretly loves. Now on the demons’ turf, she risks her own life to free the very one who is supposed to be protecting her. Little does she realize that if she should fail, it could mean the destruction of the very last barrier shielding mankind. Will Anatoly refuse Natasha’s help? Or will he finally realize, when love is at stake, the rules will be broken.

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Angela Townsend
About the Author:
Angela Townsend was born in the beautiful Rocky Mountains of Missoula, Montana. As a child, Angela grew up listening to stories told by her grandparents, ancient tales and legends of faraway places. Influenced by her Irish and Scottish heritage, Angela became an avid research historian, specializing in Celtic mythology. Her gift for storytelling finally led her to a full time career in historical research and writing. A writer in local community circulations, Angela is also a published genealogical and historical resource writer who has taught numerous research seminars. Currently, Angela divides her time between writing, playing Celtic music on her fiddle, and Irish dancing.
Angela’s first novel, Amarok, was published through Spencer Hill Press in 2012. She later went on to sign with Clean Teen Publishing in 2013 and currently has two novels published through them: Angus MacBain and the Island of Sleeping Kings and River of Bones. Her third novel, Moonflower is scheduled for release in March 2014. Angela resides on a ranch, in rural Northwestern Montana, with her two children Levi and Grant.

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Excerpt from Moonflower by Angela J. Townsend:

Seattle, Washington

The shadows came for me at night, in my sleep, evoking demons as they crept over me, pressing down, tangling around my arms, my legs, my neck. I struggled to open my eyes. To move. To breathe. Panic swelled. Twisting and thrashing, I battled to break free. The shadows turned to vapor, and it was my mother who held me now, clutching me to her bloody body as we huddled together. Her ragged, uneven breath feathered across the back of my neck.
She whispered one last Russian lullaby.
My father appeared in the doorway, his heavy boots dripping snow on the oak floor. His eyes were cold, vacant, a rifle tight in his hands. He advanced, yelling Siberian curses that fell from his lips like hissing snakes. He snarled and aimed the weapon at my mother’s chest. Her eyes stretched wide in horror, her lips twisted in a final scream as she pushed me to safety.
A bullet exploded through her torso, shattering my existence in a mixture of steel, blood and bone, colliding at the speed of light. My father lowered the gun, grabbed my mother’s wrist and checked for a pulse. A satisfied smile crept across his lips as he dropped her lifeless arm.
A whimper escaped my throat. He spotted me cowering in the corner, his eyes blazing with scalding fury. He raised the weapon, aimed it at my forehead, and the shadows came for me again…