I have some heavy family stuff going on. This blog will be on hiatus until mid-December while I take care of it.
Spoilers! Need to know what’s happened in earlier volumes? Check the archive for previous recaps.
Now that Nakia has been revealed to be conspiring against Kail with the Egyptian Queen Nefertiti, Kail has had enough. Aiding a foreign power against the Hittites is treason and the charge is serious enough that he can force the senate to strip her of all authority. First, he has to gather more evidence. The tablet he got from Zora is unsigned and he only has the soldier’s word that he was sending it to her. Kail’s case has to be air tight as she will talk her way out of the charges if there is any ambiguity as to her guilt. Neither will he risk the legal structure of the empire by ignoring the law and decreeing her a traitor without a fair trial.
Back in Memphis, Ramses’ mother outfits Yuri in an Egyptian wedding gown. This dress is probably the most intricately drawn one she’s worn in the series so far with all the bead work on the waist and collar. The folds of the skirt alone must have taken hours to draw. Nefert has a keen eye for reading people and she is skeptical that Yuri wants to go through with the marriage. Yuri tells her that she desires it, but she doesn’t say out loud that she’s only doing it to meet Nefertiti.
Yuri, of course, has no intention of going through with it and she is a little worried that Ramses will try to force her to be his wife for real. Ramses takes Yuri by boat to Thebes to meet the queen and all the people gather to see what kind of woman he is marrying. She is dressed to impress and walks into the palace the very picture of poise and calm even though she knows she about to face a woman as treacherous as Nakia. Perhaps more so.
Unfortunately, the pharaoh briefly saw Yuri once before with Kail and mentions that she looks familiar to him. Ramses distracts the pharaoh and introduces Yuri as Naptera. Nefertiti questions if Yuri is really a suitable bride to Ramses and he assures the dowager queen that no one suits him better. Nefertiti then accuses him before the court of acting like he plans to overthrow the pharaoh and take the throne by force since he’s declined to marry into the royal family several times. Ramses denies it with a laugh but Nefertiti isn’t fooled.
Later, Ramses explains that Nefertiti has way too much power – more so than their weak pharaoh even though there is little legal basis for her authority. He believes that it is best that he removed her immediately, take over the country and install Yuri as his queen. Then he throws her on the carpet and tries to molest her again. What is this? The tenth time? She complains of stomach pain and Ramses relents to go get a doctor for her. As he leaves, she sticks out her tongue to indicate she was faking it to get him to stop.
I’m actually proud of her. Yuri is politically savvy but this is the first time she’s been able to manipulate a guy outside of pure political context. It only took her twenty volumes to learn so I’ll say it again. She’s smart about a lot of things but when it comes to men, she can be really stupid.
In the days leading up to the wedding, Nefert takes Yuri to see all the temples in Thebes to pray for her marriage’s success. While they walk around the city, she sees all the beggars and refugees in the marketplace, all dirty and half starving. She wonders if it would be good for the country if Ramses was in charge and tried to clean up the corruption and neglect. A hungry urchin gets caught stealing food from one of the temples and the priest orders his hand cut off. Yuri intervenes. First she tries reasoning with them that a punishment is too harsh for a small child, but when they refuse to show mercy, Yuri draws her sword and fights her way to the kid. Four cloaked people keep the other priests from overwhelming her and Yuri returns the boy to his mother.
Her rescuers whip off their disguises. It’s the sisters and Ilbani. They have a warm reunion and Ilbani explains to Nefert that they are traveling musicians sent by Yuri’s family to play at the wedding. The high priest threatens Yuri but she throws some shade on him to tell him he doesn’t scare her. The other people at the bazaar throw rocks at him. The merchants and other common folk praise Yuri for her brave deed as they are tired of living under the tyrannical, self-serving clergy. Yuri’s popularity only enhances their regard for Ramses.
Back at the estate, Ramses threatens to have Ilbani and the sisters arrested as spies but Ilbani talks him out of it by dangling the possibility to prove Nefertiti is a traitor. This will give Ramses a pretext for her removal. Ilbani promises that Kail is willing to offer his assistance to stop Nefertiti because if Nefertiti falls, so shall Nakia. Ramses agrees to cooperate but he warns that this doesn’t mean the Hittites and Egyptians will call off their war.
Just as they are making plans to isolate Nefertiti, General Djoser, one of Ramses’s rivals in the military, shows up to arrest Yuri. The priest she fought in the marketplace squealed and pharaoh wants her brought in for subversive activities. Ramses refuses and ends up getting arrested instead. The general seems to forget all about Yuri and when she protests, Ramses tells her not to call attention to herself and make them arrest her as well. He thinks that Nefertiti really wanted to jail him all along and that making him defend Yuri would give her the pretext to do it.
As Djoser leads Ramses away, his family starts turning on Yuri for getting their brother arrested. Nefert stands up for her and reassures them that the dowager queen doesn’t have a case she can convict him on. Before Yuri can go running off to the palace to testify to his innocence, Ilbani stops her and tries to get her run out on Ramses and return to Hattusa. Yuri has to think for a moment. One hand she really wants to return to Kail, but on the other, she feels like she owes Ramses. Of course, like a chump, she decides to save the dog rather than herself.
Nefertiti has Ramses tied out in the sun and whipped. She offers him a chance to get out of his situation by pledging loyalty to her, but he refuses. Nefertiti plans to kill him before his trial as she views him as the only thing standing between her and complete control of the country.
Ilbani, ever the clever tactician, tells Yuri that the only way to free Yuri is to stir up a rebellion. The Egyptians are hurting for military leadership and if the city starts rioting, the pharaoh will have no choice but to let Ramses go so her can put it down. There is a town not far from Thebes that has had several food riots and Ilbani tells Yuri to go there and stir up trouble. Yuri gets boat from Nefert and sets out to create a rebellion against the pharaoh. She doesn’t have much time. Ramses is strong but the sun is mercilessly baking him and Nefertiti allows him no water.
As Ilbani promised, the town is a powder keg ready to go off. The locals are forced to slave in the mines even though there is no food. The man who led the last uprising is about to be executed. The mayor thinks it will make everyone too scared to fight, but it’s only making them madder. Yuri quickly finds a bunch of malcontents and organizes them to disrupt the execution. She manages to put together a small army of angry, hungry laborers and quickly overthrows the mayor and his underlings. Then she begins marching toward Thebes, her army growing at each town she passes. Hunger is widespread and people are ready to demand better from their leadership.
Pharaoh blows a gasket when he hears that a mob is coming to his doorstep. He demands Nefertiti release Ramses so he can take care of the problem, but she refuses. She tells him not be such a coward that he’d show fear to a rabble. This makes him quiet angry with her.
Yuri and her rebels face off against General Djoser. Her ranks seem to fall apart quickly, but it was a ruse. Yuri had half her rebels sneak up behind the Egyptian army. Caught between her two units, the rebels make quick work of Djoser’s men. After claiming the victory, Yuri sneaks back to Ramses’ estate. She learns that the plan ultimately failed. Nefertiti still refuses to release Ramses even though the city is at risk of being overrun by the uprising. Yuri resolves that she has no other option but to confront the dowager queen directly.
I have an important announcement for readers that discovered my books through the Kindle Unlimited program. When I debuted last year, I decided to enroll The Tales of Remnas series in Kindle Unlimited, making the novels Amazon exclusive. After experiencing the benefits and limitations of exclusivity first hand, I have decided to begin unenrolling the books. Next year, hopefully by Valentine’s Day, the series will be available at most major ebook retailers and will be more discoverable to readers.
Here are the dates that each book will be leaving:
Flower on the River- November 28th, 2017
Flower Among the Ashes- January 19th, 2018
When the Crow Smiles – January 23, 2018
Flower in the Gale – February 4th, 2018
Keep in mind the books will still be available for purchase on Amazon, they will just not be included with your KU subscription.
This post is not safe for work. Please enjoy responsibly.
It never ceases to astound me what bizarre genres seem to be a thing on Kindle. Last week, I happened across my first furry romance. I wonder if there is a market for kaiju romance?
Well, darn. This is a thing too!
Enjoy this parody of the 1960’s monster show down movie King Kong Vs. Godzilla while I go weep in a corner.
King Kong Vs. Godzilla: A Kaiju Romance
When a giant fire-breathing lizard when breaks free from a glacier and starts terrorizing Tokyo, the Japanese government comes up with a bold plan. Sending an expedition team to a remote Pacific island, they encounter King Kong, a giant ape worshipped as a god by the local tribes. Stunning him with octopus vemon, they fly him back to Japan to set the two colossuses on each other.
When the angry – yet lonely – gorilla lays eyes on Godzilla, it’s not the urge to kill that overwhelms his simian heart but love at first sight. It is the first time he’s ever seen a creature as big as he and Godzilla is whole ‘lotta lizard woman. But Godzilla is hard to impress. Kong might be able to bench press the Empire State Building and his masculine hairiness makes even her cold blood run hot, but she isn’t about to lay eggs for just anyone. She must test his strength to see if he is worthy of claiming her scaly hand in monster marriage.
After a whirlwind romance of boulder valley ball, the two monsters get to wrestling in middle of the capital. Only it seems that Godzilla wants to be pinned. Their ominous roars echo over the evacuated city but they don’t sound angry. The Japanese Self Defense Force realizes that their plan has gone horribly awry and they face the prospect of becoming a breeding ground for an ungodly ape-lizard hybrid. As the mobilize to throw everything they have at the two giant monsters will this unlikely love story turn into a tragedy or will Kong be able to protect his new mate and egg litter?
As promised, I have The Forest God’s Bride available for preorder at most major digital book retailers.
Smashwords – Here you will have to put this in your library to order after launch. So Smashwords users can get the special $0.99 pricing, I plan to keep the lower price in effect for a few weeks after release.
Spoilers, Spoilers, Spoilers. Want the summaries of earlier volumes? Check out the archive.
An injured Yuri is now in Ramses hands. As they float down the Nile, Ramses asks her how she likes the river but she is unresponsive. Rusafa tries to get her to eat or drink something but she doesn’t want it. Yuri is still consumed by her grief over her miscarriage and can’t get up the will to care what happens next.
When they reach Memphis, Ramses carries her into his estate. His sisters watch from the shadows and speculate if Yuri is the girl he has been obsessed with. When they are in their assigned quarters, Rusafa starts plotting how to get a letter back to Kail. He hopes that if Kail wrote to Yuri, it might snap her out of her fugue state. As he sneaks through the estate, he gets caught by two of Ramses’s sisters. The elder one, Nefert, pegs him as a soldier right away despite his claims to be a merchant. She even guesses he’s a high ranking archer from his calloused fingers.
Did I mention that Nefert is one of the coolest characters in the whole series?
While Rusafa is away, Ramses decides to play. He pounces on the despondent Yuri. He kisses her and threats to rape her but she just lays there like a doll. Concerned by her passivity, he climbs off of her. He is so gross. There is just no getting around it. Ramses is a terrible person and nothing can redeem that at this point. Who in their right mind would think doing that to someone already in a deep depression was a good idea?
Nefert tells Ramses that Kail is rumored to be in ill health ever since the defeat at Ugarit. He goes back to Yuri’s room and tells her this news and claims the Hittites teeter on the brink of defeat. I think this is Ramses being well meaning as it’s meant to light Yuri’s fire – but it just comes across as cruel and insensitive. And this is supposed to the redemption of his character in this arc. But did I mention how innately awful he is?
But it works. Yuri shows a spark of life at last as her fear for Kail overcomes the black cloud of depression. Yuri has another revelation. For the Egyptians to know this, they must have a spy in the heart of the Hittite court with free access to the palace. It sickens her to think that one of the people she trusts might be a turn coat but she demands Ramses let her go home. The burst of energy makes her collapse and Ramses says she will stay with him because she is still weak. He does compromise with her and agrees to help her find the Egyptian that the spy reports too. This person must reside in the Pharaoh’s court.
This is part of Ramses’s campaign against internal corruption. In the court, the aristocrats and officials jockey for personal power and gain. Ramses believes he must clean things up and instill discipline. The reigning Pharaoh is weak and incompetent and the nobles try to undermine him and grow more influential. Ramses thinks the spy master is using their spy and not sharing the intel with the Pharaoh, thus undermining both the Egyptians and the Hittites. Here we are supposed to think Ramses is all about good government and would make a wise and responsible king – kind of like Kail. Ramses is a groping, sexually harassing pig and the comparison is just made all the more awkward in light of what Kail did back in volume 12. Y’know, that attempted rape nobody wants to talk about any more.
Ramses gives Rusafa back his sword and charges him with keeping Yuri from storming off to the palace. He also instructs him to safeguard her with his life.
The servants dress Yuri and one of the girls splashes water on the hem of her gown. They are mortified and beg her forgiveness. When Yuri is nonchalant about the accident, they are shocked that Yuri didn’t order the servant punished with at least several days with no food. Nefert comes into the chamber and inspects her up close, trying to suss out what attracts Ramses.
Ramses comes back from an afternoon out with a lead on a go-between for the spy and court. To catch him as he sails back and forth along the Nile, Ramses and Yuri take the barge out on the river. Nefert and Rusafa accompany them. They stay on the trail of a suspicious barge long enough to get their notice. Thinking quick, Nefert dives into the water and starts playing around with Yuri. The other barge thinks they are just the bored rich out for an ideal afternoon on the water.
The barge sails into the palace of Nefertiti, the dowager queen of Egypt, and this fact makes Ramses think she is the mastermind. Yuri remembers that she is really Prince Mattiwaza’s sister, Tatukia, who was forced to marry the old Pharaoh for political reasons. When they are alone, Yuri begs Rusafa to escape and go back to Hattusa so he can warn Kail about the spy. Rusafa refuses to leave her alone and undefended in a foreign land. Yuri continues to argue that the spy might in time become an assassin. He relents and vows to reach Kail before the spy can act.
That night, Rusafa disguises himself as an Egyptian soldier and gets all the way to the river before he is caught by real soldiers. Ramses anticipated the move and shows up at the right time, claiming Rusafa is his aide to keep him from being arrested. To Rusafa’s surprise, Ramses tells him to go to Kail and let him know Yuri is alive. He doesn’t do it for her sake but because he wants Kail strong and at the peak of health so when they fight again, Ramses’s victory will not be because he had an unfair advantage.
In Hattusa, Rusafa is given a warm welcome and his return even lifts Kail’s spirits. He tells the king everything: that Yuri is alive but lost the baby and remains in Ramses’s custody. Kail is saddened by the loss of the child but relieved that Yuri lives. Determined to free her, Kail orders the troops to assemble and push back against the Egyptians as his groove comes roaring back. Rusafa begs him to dismiss everyone else from the room. When they are alone, he reveals that one their inner circle is most likely a spy to Kail.
Back in Egypt, Yuri is treated like a queen but even during the pampering (which she finds over the top) she plots to meet Neferititi. While Yuri is being massaged, Ramses intrudes and starts groping her naked body. He promises if she’ll kiss him, he’ll arrange for her to meet the dowager queen. She refuses, but he forces it on her anyway. What a pig.
Later, when Nefert barges into her room and gets her out of bed in the morning, Yuri learns how Ramses is accomplishing this. He’s put the word all over town that he’s marrying Yuri and Nefert wants to help plan the wedding. Yuri is very cross and goes to give Ramses an ear full but can’t berate him because his mother there. She is truly happy her son has found someone and Yuri doesn’t have the heart to tell her the truth. Ramses later explains that his family is so high ranking the royal family must attend their wedding. Hence, Yuri can meet the dowager queen.
Ramses makes his next play by scooping Yuri into his arms and telling her the wedding might be a ruse but his desire to wed her isn’t. This seems to make her soften just a bit toward him.
Kail and the Hitties are fighting with renewed vim and vigor. They put the Egyptians on the retreat and push for their homeland. Kail has determined that no one in his inner circle is the spy. He believes if that were the case, Yuri’s identity as his concubine would have been discovered long ago so he tells them about the spy. But he also gives them a warning in case he is wrong. Should Yuri die because the information was passed on, he will find and kill whoever did it. But this is a trap. Kail believes that there is spy among his friends and the threat will spur him to act.
And the spy turns out to be Zora, a character so insignificant I didn’t mention him before. One of Kail’s generals catches him with a tablet with top secret information and drags him off to the king. But Zora claims he is no traitor. He’s been giving status reports to Queen Nakia as he was ordered to before they left the capital. He didn’t see how it could be wrong as Nakia ranks second only to Kail in the empire’s power structure. His testimony establishes collusion between the two queens. Now to find out what they are plotting and why.
This post is actually safe for work!
Why am doing a clean-ish TGIF NSFW? Because there are about five or six erotic retellings of the Phantom of the Opera. People really like the idea of Erik as a bondage master and Christine as his willing submissive. Seeing as there are actual NSFW book versions, there is no sport in treading that well worn ground.
But there is also a tradition of transferring the story across genre. Phantom has been everything: romance , musical, slasher, horror, mystery. If it were a trashy romantic suspense thriller it might sound something like this:
Phantom of the Opera (Shadows of Paris series Case File 1)
Raoul, the Viscount de Chagny, never thought he’d lay eyes again on the love of his childhood, Christine. But after he sees her headlining as the diva of the Paris Opera, the jolt feelings is any but innocent and boyish. He knows he must have her and what reason would she have to reject him? He’s got the looks that make women’s hearts go pitty-pat, the connections to make her budding career take off and a bank account to make her never worry about making ends meet again. Christine’s reaction is one of fear, not welcome – she claims that she can’t to speak any man as handsome and virile as Raoul or the Angel of Music will steal away her singing voice. The Angel is watching – always watching her.
Not one to be daunted, Raoul begins an investigation into rumors of the ghost that haunts the opera house and controls the artistic fate of all the actors within. He is certain the Angel and Ghost are one in the same and they are but flesh and blood, not something supernatural. As he digs into the recent suspicious death of a stage hand, Raoul starts to get closer both to the truth and to Christine. But knowledge – carnal and otherwise – has a price and he soon finds himself followed through the streets of Paris by a man in a white mask.
After surviving an attempt on his life, Raoul discovers that Christine has gone missing – disappeared from her locked dressing room without a trace and leaving the police baffled. Only he knows the truth. His lover has been taken by a deranged killer that escaped from a carnival freak show decades before. To save Christine, Raoul must go into the catacombs beneath the opera and the city itself to confront the masked killer before he can perform a gruesome vocal cord removal surgery on Christine. The Phantom truly believes he is an Angel carrying out the divine will even though beneath the mask lies the face of a devil.
Do you like free stuff? Do you like early Christmas presents?
Come join a collection of fantasy and scifi romance authors December 3rd through the 9th for a week of fun and sweepstakes giveaways at the Kissing Under the Mistletoe Romantic Wintertime Giveaway Facebook Event. We’ve got amazing line up that includes Marina Simcoe, Amy Cissell, Tiffany Roberts, RJ Blain, Vicki Stiefel and many more.
I will be hosting on the 4th alongside Monica Enderle Pierce and Miranda Honfluer. We’ve already got some sweepstakes running. Take a moment to answer a reader survey and get a chance to win an Amazon gift card.
My designer just got the back cover for the print edition finalized. Hope you like blue butterflies!
Spoilers, Spoilers! There are spoilers ahead. Want earlier summaries? Visit the archive and catch up.
In the last volume Yuri found out she was pregnant and had to give up her military duties. Kail sent her away on a ship thinking he was getting her out of harm’s way, but Urhi gloated that they were playing right into his hands. As the volume begins, news makes it back to the capital that Yuri has a bun in her oven and it sets the kingdom into a tizzy of joy. Everyone except Nakia is glad that they may finally have an heir to the throne. She goes berserk and breaks all the stuff in her room. Only a letter from Urhi telling her that he’s got the Yuri situation covered calms her down.
Sure enough, Urhi has an assassin on board. He blackmailed one of the sailors to arrange for a little ‘accident at sea’ to befall Ishtar’s ship. The sailor cuts the lines of the sails in the middle of the night but gets caught in the act by the captain. They struggle on deck and knock over a lantern, setting the ship ablaze. As the ship sinks, Yuri falls into the water. She tries to swim up the surface but she experiences a lancing pain in her stomach.
The rest of the ships in the fleet try to rescue Yuri and the other survivors, but while they recover most of the crew, she gets swept away by the current. Rusafa desperately keeps up the search and eventually finds her clinging to a floating bit of cargo. She begs him to help her as she thinks she’s losing the baby. But before Rusafa can call to the over ships, the current drags them further out to sea.
While this is happening, Kail gets wind that Urhi was behind the row at Yuri’s reception and fears that she may not be safe. However, the Egyptians are attacking again, getting dangerously close to Hittite territory, and he has no choice but to go into battle against Ramses once more. In the middle of the battle, he gets word that Yuri’s ship sank and she was lost at sea. Grief rocks him to the core and he is unable to issue any commands as the Hittite ranks start to break up in front of the advancing Egyptians. He recovers enough to order them to shore up their defenses, but the hesitation costs him the battle.
Kail has to order the troops to retreat in utter defeat to try to set up a new defensive line before the enemy reaches Ugarit. Prince Mali stays behind to try to slow the Egyptians down. He challenges Ramses to a duel and it doesn’t go well. He ends up getting stabbed in the gut. He gets sent back to Kail, barely clinging to life, and Mali promises him that Yuri will find her way back to Kail as he will prevent her from entering the underworld. His younger brother’s death is another crushing emotional blow and he is unable to continue the battle.
As Yuri and Rusafa float on the waves, Rusafa starts to worry that Yuri’s life may also be in danger. Just as things start to look grim, a ship passes by. He flags it down and they are taken on board. Unfortunately, it is an Egyptian ship. To protect their identities, Rusafa claims that he is a merchant from Ugarit and Yuri is his sister. He begs they take them back to Ugarit to find her doctor, but the Egyptians refuse. They are heading to Byblos on important business. Rusafa is leery of letting them take them into the heart of enemy territory but Byblos is closer than Ugarit so he can’t protest.
Yuri’s pain just gets worse as does her fear for her child. The ship is able to see Byblos in the distance when she starts bleeding. They get her to a doctor but the prognosis is grim. The doctor says he can’t do much, but recommends trying to find an Egyptian field medic by asking the military commander for help. It’s Ramses. After sending Kail away with his tail between his legs, Ramses came to town. Rusafa is in a bad situation. He thinks that Ramses would save Yuri, but it would also mean delivering her into his hands all by wrapped up like a birthday present. Yuri cries out in pain and Rusafa makes his decision. He goes to the Egyptian camp and begs to see Ramses.
The soldiers refuse to let him see the General and Rusafa has to endure heckling and hand over every valuable he has in bribes including his iron sword and Yuri’s distinctive necklace. They make him beg on his hands and knees. But after all that abuse, they refuse to take his message to Ramses. The Egyptians inspect their loot as they try to gauge how much they can get by selling the sword and jewelry. Once they see that the sword is made of iron, they realize Rusafa is a Hittite and take the valuables to Ramses. They come clean about the message they were supposed to deliver about Yuri’s miscarriage. Ramses storms off to find Yuri after threatening to kill them if she dies because they delayed aid.
Ramses bursts into Yuri’s sickroom with a gaggle of Egypt’s best doctors. Rusafa and Ramses wait outside the cottage and Ramses gives Rusafa a chance to beat the stuffing out of one of the soldiers that tormented him back at camp. But when the doctors emerge from the sickroom, the news is bad. Yuri lost the baby.
Yuri, who has been delirious for most of the volume, has a hallucination of blond baby boy crawling away from her. She tries to chase after him, but the baby is picked up by the ghosts of Zannanza and Ursula. Yuri wants to follow them into the land of the dead, but the ghost of Prince Mali appears and tells her to turn back to the land of the living. She regains consciousness. Her sadness over the lost child is dwarfed by her guilt. She fears that Kail may be unable to forgive her for losing it.
Ramses tells Rusafa that he will take Yuri with him back to his home in Egypt. As soon she is well enough to travel, they put her on a ship. Rusafa is allowed to accompany her so he can tend to her and promises that he will find a way to send her back to Kail. Yuri is so despondent that she doesn’t care what happens to her. She feels like she can’t return to Hattusa because then she’d have to face Kail.
This really is one of the stupidest of her stupid moments. Everything in this series (aside from that quickly forgotten garbage back in volume 12) has established that Kail loves Yuri totally and completely. There is no way that he’d blame her for any of this. The man is so messed up by her disappearance he can hardly function and considering how unflappable he’s been, that’s saying something. I think the reason Yuri is worried she might lose his love over the miscarriage to give Ramses an opening to be a potential rival for Kail. Ramses is a total pig so this idea is not very smart. But as the volume ends just as they make port, that is a complaint for the next volume.