Keeping a Promise: The Tigress, The Punishers: Book One

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My father had a wonderful imagination, one that took me on jungle adventures as a child, climbing mountains, escaping quicksand and crocodile infested ponds, as well as slaying dragons, dinosaurs, vampires, you name it.

Before the fall that eventually led to his untimely death, he and I had discussed my latest book. Since the paranormal/fantasy genre has been taking the reading world by storm, I decided I should try my hand at one of those. Dad’s advice? Do it.

photo of a tiger roaring

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So, we began plotting a book, tossing out ideas, trying to figure out how to connect them and make them work.  Before I begin any book, I brainstorm and research. I wanted  my main character to be a shapeshifter, but I needed her to be a little different from the run-of-the-mill creatures out there. While looking into the mythology of such creatures, I found what I wanted. Rakshasa, are the shapeshifter vampires in some of the Eastern religions. Considered evil creatures, just as werewolves and vampires used to be, I chose this creature to be not evil, but a defender of the righteous and a punisher of those who pursue evil.  Aware of the fascination with Norse mythology and the likes of Thor and Loki, I sought my source of evil there, as well as a hero befitting my heroine. Thus was born The Tigress, The Punishers: Book One.

The Tigress_ebook cover

Melinda De Ross outdid herself on this cover and Dad would’ve loved it.

Here is the book blurb:

Paranormal Detective Ellie Taggart, a rakshasa capable of assuming the shape of a tigress, has always worked alone, searching for those responsible for her mother’s murder. When an investigation results in the death of a close friend and vampire, she’s forced to partner with handsome and mysterious peredhil, Steve Cassidy.
Like her, the half-human, half-elf uses his special talents to fight evil wherever it exists. Rogue vampires, shapeshifters, zombies, practitioners of black magic, poltergeists, ghosts—none of them can beat him. That is until someone or something no longer plays by the rules. There’s a new villain in New Orleans, one who threatens both the humans and non-humans who make the city home.
Is the enemy Draug, the wizard who murdered Ellie’s mother centuries ago? Is it someone from Steve’s shrouded past intent on revenge? Or are they facing a new enemy with an agenda all his or her own? As the tigress and her partner search for answers, trying to prevent the bodies from piling up, they have to manage conflicting emotions and desires that threaten to overwhelm them. Can two such different creatures of the light join forces to defeat the darkness, or will the powers of evil triumph?

The Tigress will be available October 30, 2019. You can pre-order your copy today from all Amazon outlets. https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07Z5F4VNZ.

Here is a taste to whet your appetites!

Prologue

 My name is Ellie Taggart, at least it is now. Over the last thousand or so years, I’ve had many names—too many to count, too many to remember—but this will be the last one I’ll need. Times have changed. Evil doesn’t hide in dark corners. It lives in the light. This world we live in is filled with more monsters than humans realize, more than one being can deal with in a lifetime, even if that lifetime does span centuries.

I’m tired. I would like to fall in love, have children, grow old, and spend the last of my days quietly sipping tea on a porch swing, surrounded by purring cats, not battling the forces of evil. But that’s not going to happen. It can’t. I’m the last of my line—maybe even the last of my kind—and that’s how it has to be.

If you saw me on the street, you might not notice me, but if you did, you would see a thirty-something woman with the golden skin and deep brown hair of her Asian ancestors. If you really looked at me, you might note my pert nose, wide mouth, pouty lips, and unusual almond-shaped eyes. What you wouldn’t see is who I am—what I am.

I was born deep in the jungles of the Indian Subcontinent, at the base of the Himalayan Mountains, during a time when few kept track of dates the way they do today. My father was a Royal Bengal tiger, the largest and most majestic of his kind, while my mother was a rare and unusual rakshasa. Don’t recognize the word? Not too surprising. So many people have forsaken the religion of their ancestors to swear allegiance to greed and corruption, the very thing that gives evil its power.

Even those who know what a rakshasa is don’t believe we exist anymore, and other than me, they’re correct. We are the shapeshifters found in Hindu, Buddhist, and countless other mythologies. We’re also known as “Maneaters”—not that I’ve ever indulged. Give me chicken or fish any day.

People have always been afraid of what they don’t understand and shapeshifters of any kind certainly fall into that category. In truth, in human form, my mother was petite, delicate, and so very beautiful, with black hair, bronze skin, and almond-shaped amber eyes—my eyes now, orbs I hide behind tinted lenses.

Sadly, like witches with warts and hooked noses, rakshasa were depicted as huge, ugly creatures with fangs and long, sharp, claw-like fingernails. They were considered cruel, growling beasts with insatiable appetites for human flesh. I’ve seen them portrayed with flaming red eyes and hair, drinking blood with their palms or from a human skull, a lot like the less than fair representations of vampires. Most of those I know these days aren’t a bit like that. They sip wine in crystal goblets and get their blood online from specialty stores.

Can I fly? No, but my mother could. She could assume the shape of any creature, even the fearsome yeti, but for lack of a better term, I’m a half-breed, with sorely limited skills. While I have superhuman strength, I can’t vanish, but I’ve learned to be an expert at camouflage. I have some telepathic ability, which makes it easy to make people forget what they saw, or imagine they witnessed something else. Afterall, who really believes in the creatures of the night? It’s the stuff of television programs, movies, and books. But the legends are real—too real.

Am I immortal? No, I’m not a god or a demi-god, but my lifespan is impressive, and like my mother who died at Draug’s hand, killing me takes a lot of work.

I lived deep in the jungle until my father passed on, and then mother moved us up the mountain to a safer place. There she taught be to survive and guided me through my first changes. Unlike the shapeshifters controlled by the moon’s power, I can shift whenever I need to, and while in that form, heal and recover from whatever damages have been inflicted on me.

When I reached my maturity, many years older than I appear, she told me that if anything were to happen to her, I needed to seek the Chou-Lan Monastery in the hidden valley. There the monks would tutor me and teach me how to use my powers.

Life was pleasant, uneventful, until that fateful day when Draug and his revenant found us. Unlearned in the art of battle, unable to defend myself, I did as Mother requested, I shifted into my tigress form, ran, and hid.

The sounds of clashing swords and tearing flesh were horrific. Four against one. In the heat of the battle, no one thinks clearly, but in the end, it was my mother’s headless body that lay upon the field. Draug’s angry cries at the loss of his prize, killed by his own hand, split the silence. That night, I vowed to avenge her, but it was centuries before I understood the real reason for his agonized screams, and that while she’d died, she’d won the battle.

When the monsters had gone, I crept from my hiding place. There was nothing left for me there. Mourning, the pain so deep it made it hard for me to retain any shape, I searched for Mother’s head, but it was gone. Claimed as a trophy? Proof that he’d killed her? To this day, I don’t know. With grief ripping me apart, I built a pyre and cremated what was left of her the way she had my father. The mountains were no longer safe for me.

Leaving our sanctuary, I made my way into the valley and searched until I found the monks she’d spoken of. Shifting into human form, I told my story. Decade after decade, century after century, I lived hidden among the holy men where I studied, practiced the arts I would need to survive, and learned of the responsibilities I carried as one of the punishers, beings with a sacred duty to fight for those unable to defend themselves. When the time came, I said farewell to the last of those who’d become family to me and headed into the world to fulfil my destiny as the protectress of the innocent, the scourge of evil.

Since then, I’ve roamed the earth and watched century after century as the powers of darkness have grown, turning the innocent into monsters almost as evil and corrupt as they are. Not all of the non-humans and undead dwelling amongst humanity are evil, just as not every human is good, but in the last century, those who foster hate and greed, jealousy and envy, and the rest of the deadly sins, have grown more powerful, more daring.

When my enemies crossed the line, I found them and dealt with them. I’ve wiped the minds of witches, wizards, and warlock who dared practice the dark art and turned their empty shells over to their authorities while I’ve dealt with the undead myself, battling those who posed a danger to humans, consigning their unholy remains to oblivion. With each battle, I’ve learned and grown stronger, for power comes from knowledge. But I still have much to learn before I can face Draug.

I serve the light, going where darkness dwells, watching it insinuate itself more completely into modern society each year. It needs to be stopped—but I’m just one.

Draug doesn’t know I exist, but I know him. I remember the sight and smell of him, and one day, we’ll meet on the field of battle. It’ll be a fight to the death, one I’ll fight in my true form—my father’s form. But until then, protecting humanity from those who would use and abuse them for evil purposes is my mission. Who am I, you ask? I’m the Tigress.

 

Tuesday Tales: From a Picture

Today is Thanksgiving Day in Canada, and while I have much to be thankful for, my family and I struggle with the passing of my father. Like a long journey, the best way to get on with it is to move ahead, one step at a time. And so my journey without my father begins,  but as a good friend said, he’s a part of us and will be with us forever. As I strive to find my new normal, I turn to my writing for solace.

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Welcome to this week’s Tuesday Tales. It’s picture prompt time, and here’s the picture I chose.

turkey We continue with The Price of Courage. Last week, Guy reluctantly allowed Izzy to travel to Quebec with him. Enjoy.

Was Guy being melodramatic? Probably not. Izzy unbuttoned her dress and removed it, dropping her petticoats to the floor. Standing only in her stockings and chemise, she frowned. Surely she shouldn’t be this big when she had half her pregnancy to go?

Heaving a heavy sigh, but refusing to let herself be daunted, she stared at the clothing. “What goes on first?”

Guy chuckled. “I usually start with my smalls and then my stockings, but what say we just worry about the trousers and the shirt and coat for now?”

Isabelle nodded and stepped into the large pants, holding them up around her waist.

“I’ll get a cord to hold them in place.” He hurried out of the room and came back seconds later, a twisted rope in his hands. He tied the cord around the top of the pants securing them and then lacing the flap closed.

Within minutes, Izzy’s face was barely visible above the outfit she wore—pants, two wool shirts, a wool fur-lined coat, and a ceinture flèchées, holding it all together. Atop her head, Guy added a bonnet made from the skin of a raccoon and lined with wool. He handed her the mittens she’d last seen in her deceased husband Pierre’s trunk. “These should fit easily over your knitted ones and keep your hands both warm and dry.”

“These were in Pierre’s trunk. I’d meant to give them to your mother.”

“And you can when you get back. Now, how do you feel?”

“Like that turkey Jean caught out in the field and brought home to fatten up for the holidays.  By the time he killed the poor bird, his legs could barely support his weight! It’s a wonder I can breathe, but seriously Guy, no one will believe I’m a coureur de bois.”

That’s it. See you next week. Don’t forget to check out all the other posts on  Tuesday Tales

Tuesday Tales: From the Word FUSSY

New TT imageIt’s been a difficult couple of weeks. Losing a parent is hard, but Daddy was very proud of my writing ability and that makes sitting down to the stories easier. Welcome to this week’s Tuesday Tales. This week’s word prompt is FUSSY.

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Izzy held up the soft buckskin trousers Guy had carried up to the room along with wool shirts and undergarments. The pants were far bigger than the stable boy’s clothing she’d worn to escape Caen, but with her belly growing larger each day, by the time the babe came, they would probably be skin tight. While she believed her husband’s plan to keep her safe on the journey to Quebec was rather convoluted, this wasn’t the time to argue about it. She’d won her battle; better not to lose the war over a fashion choice. Still, giving in easily wasn’t in her temperament.

“Are you sure this is absolutely necessary? I could wear a nun’s garb. No one would question a nun traveling to Quebec.” She put the trousers on the bed next to the rest of the clothing.

Guy shook his head. “Since we don’t know who the enemy is, if you want to come with us, Izzy, this is the price.” His tone was inflexible. “The garments will keep you warm and disguise you. We’ll travel by open sleigh, spend the night with supporters when we can, but we may also have to sleep with some of Luc’s Huron friends. If the weather gets bad, we’ll have to improvise and build a lean-to. If we cross paths with others, four trappers traveling together, even by sleigh, will raise less questions than three men and a French woman, especially if that woman appears to be a pregnant nun. Such a person should never exist, let alone travel with men, and you know it. This is the only way. Take it, or stay here in Ville Marie with Sophie and my mother.”

Izzy crinkled her nose. That was no choice at all. The garments weren’t new, but they were clean, and while she wasn’t thrilled about the many layers Guy insisted on, she could understand the wisdom of his plan. She wasn’t fussy about it, but she would be with Guy and that was what really mattered.

“Fine, but I may need your assistance at times … when I have to relieve myself,” she said, pushing out her lips in a pout.

Guy grinned. “I can assure you that whatever assistance you may need, I’ll gladly provide. Now, let’s try all this on to make sure that it fits. Your life may depend on it.”

That’s it. See you next week. Don’t forget to check out all the other posts on  Tuesday Tales

 

Tuesday Tales: From the Word ORANGE

New TT imageWelcome to this week’s Tuesday Tales, the blogs where I share my work in progress with you. These past few months, we’ve been working on a historical romance suspense called The Price of Courage. Each week, I work with a prompt to create a scene from the on-going story. Writing a story from the seventeenth century makes some words easier to use than others. Today’s word is ORANGE.

Enjoy

“Isabelle, this isn’t simply a case of right or wrong. This is your first winter in the colony. The weather is harsh and unpredictable. Traveling during the day, when the sun shines, can be pleasant, but when the snow falls, it can be a nightmare. I would worry about you catching the grippe or coming down with a fever.”

“If I were going to get sick, I would no matter where I was. And would you be immune to such a complaint? No. I’m not deaf. I’ve heard the stories of coureurs de bois lost in the woods in a blizzard, disoriented by the tempest, their bodies not located until spring.”

“I won’t be alone. Luc is an experienced guide. He’s done this before,” he argued, but he could see himself losing ground.

“But Henri isn’t. How would your mother feel if she lost her husband again? When the weather is bad, les indiens congregate inside their homes. If you and Luc can settle in a longhouse and sup on delicious orange pumpkin soup, what makes you think I can’t?” I would need suitable clothes, but I’m not helpless and refuse to let you treat me that way.” She put her arms around his neck, holding him tightly to her. “You can keep me warm bundled in furs in front of a friendly fire, or we can stop and stay with those seigneurs loyal to us.” She reached out to touch his arm. “Guy. I understand your need to get to Quebec and question the men supporting Des courts, but just as I am your greatest treasure, so are you mine.” She stood on tiptoe and brushed her lips against his. “I refuse to face the future without you with us.”

Powerless against her charms, Guy put his arms around her and pulled her to him, his mouth assuming control of the kiss. His tongue licked her lips and she opened to him, her response as passion-filled as his. Picking her up, he carried her to the bed, his mouth never leaving hers.

Setting her down, he shook his head. “Woman, your logic amazes me. While this is the last thing I want, I can’t find an argument against what you’ve said. But I’m not giving in yet, my little minx. I’ll sleep on this and discuss it with Luc and Henri in the morning. Now, allow me to keep you warm this night.”

That’s it. See you next week. Don’t forget to check out all the other posts on  Tuesday Tales

Cover Reveal: The White Dahlia, The Harvester Files, Book Four

They say when life gives you lemons, you should make lemonade. Right now, the lemons in my life are so sour, there wouldn’t be enough sugar in the world to make that lemonade drinkable.  Amidst the chaos, I search for normalcy and pray that thing will improve.

But enough of that. It’s in the works, and while I don’t have an exact date for release, I do have a nice new cover to share with you. Thank you Melinda De Ross, for coming through as always.

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Here is the temporary blurb:

Detective Beth Reynolds was a small part of the original Harvester Taskforce, but once the case was closed, her fear that it wasn’t over wouldn’t leave her. Transferring to New York City,  she tries to forget the horror, until a badly disfigured body shows up in an alley, and plunges her back into the Harvester’s gory world.

Al Foster left St. Louis when his ex-wife vanished and joined the NYPD’s Missing Persons’ Squad, hoping to find her. As he and Beth work together, they discover the body in the alley may not be the only one. There’s a new Harvester in town, and organs aren’t the only thing he’s harvesting.

Many of the Chosen are dead, but three survived. Now, one of them plans to pick up where his father left off.  Can Al, Beth, and the reunited Harvester Taskforce  catch  and stop him before Beth becomes his latest target?

And, Rum Roll!!!!

Temp cover for The White Dahlia

 

Don’t forget to check out the other Harvester Files available on Amazon and Kindle Unlimited.

https://www.amazon.com/Susanne-Matthews/e/B00DJCKRP4/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0

Harvester books

Tuesday Tales: From the word LAUGHTER

New TT imageGood morning. Well, it’s officially autumn, although we’ve had plenty of cooler days already in September. As much as I hate to admit it, the early days of fall have always been my favorites. I love the riot of colors in the trees as they prepare to go out in a blaze of glory once more, preparing for the cold winter to come.

I continue with The Price of Courage. Todau’s word is LAUGHTER

Enjoy!

Guy frowned. Why did she have to be so perceptive? The absence of a blood trail had bothered him, but he’d assumed the new snow had obscured it. If Anselme had been moved by a wagon or sleigh…

“That thought has crossed my mind. If that’s what happened, and I’m inclined to agree it makes more sense than having the man drag himself that far, then the conspiracy is worse than I expected, with God alone knowing how many are involved. Why did no one see anything? There are men constantly coming and going from that tavern.”

“Because whatever they saw was what they thought it was. He could’ve been brought there with a delivery of game. If you don’t know who the enemy is, how can you be sure I would be safe in the settlement?”

He chuckled. She’d made his argument for him.

“Because I do know whom I’m leaving here with you. This house is secure. There are people here to protect you while I’m gone.” He set the glass down, and walked over to her. “I need you to do this for me, Izzy. I can’t do what I must do if I’m worrying about your well-being. Henri and Luc will travel with me. We’ll use snowshoes and skis—much easier to keep to the trees and hide our tracks. They’ll watch my back. There are four men here to guard the inn, men I’m entrusting my greatest treasure to. Maman has promised not to take in strangers while we’re gone., You and our child will be as safe as I can possibly make you.”

Izzy burst out laughing, but her laughter was tinged with bitterness.

“Not take in strangers? How will that help when the enemy could be someone we already know? Don’t you see? You may well be playing right into their hands. The safety of the colony weighs heavily on you as does mine, but think a moment. Those who have the most to gain from causing a new war aren’t sitting in the salons of France. They’re right here in the colony, wearing the tuques and ceintures flèchées of the voyageurs. They won’t be traveling in sleighs but in the woods, just as you propose, able to set a trap for you at will. If I were to go with you, they might be fooled into thinking you aren’t onto them. You know I’m right. Admit it.”

That’s it. See you next week. Don’t forget to check out all the other posts on  Tuesday Tales

Friday’s Featured Author: Effrosyni Moschoudi

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Welcome to Friday’s Featured Author, Effrosyni Moschoudi . Today, she shares with us her Raven Witch of Corfu series.

About the books:

Lizzie arrives on the idyllic Greek island of Corfu with a heavy heart. Her purpose is to claim her brother back from an evil witch who had snatched him before her very eyes during her last holiday on the island. When she sees her brother again, Lizzie is shocked. The witch has tricked her… Falling in love with a handsome local complicates her life even further…

Excerpt:

The Raven Witch of CorfuLizzie stopped short when she arrived at the familiar clearing. Thick clumps of thorny bushes lined the precipice to her left, but she wasn’t in the mood to go there and enjoy the view of the bay. Instead, her eyes were pinned on the cave in the rock face across from her. Its entrance was unobstructed, gaping open like a hungry mouth, expectant, unquenchable.

Letting out a huge sigh of relief, she looked all around her. No one was about, just she, alone in the serenity. All she could hear was the buzzing of bees, the tweeting of birds and the long-drawn cries of a raven that swooped and circled overhead.

Slowly, she walked up to the cave and stood at the entrance, gazing at the dark abyss inside. Because of the strong sunshine, she couldn’t make out anything. She inched inside a couple of steps, just enough so she could inspect the space a little better.

After a few moments, she still couldn’t see much. She had started to contemplate venturing a few more steps inside, to make sure the spring was still there, when something peculiar happened.

A conspiracy of ravens arrived from seemingly nowhere, circling low over her head and cawing at an ear-piercing volume. Instinctively, Lizzie crouched over and placed her arms over her face, howling with distress. Somehow, they had flown into the cave, straight at her. How is that even possible? Why are they doing that?

Seeing that they wouldn’t go away, she began to panic and brought an elbow over her eyes, raising the other to wave it in mid-air while making shooing sounds. ‘Get away! Go!’ she commanded a few times, her voice sounding frail and desperate in her own ears.

In those moments, she could hear an eerie rush of wind as the wings of the ravens flapped over her head. Every now and then, she would feel the softness of feathers brush against her waving hand, her arms and shoulders.

Seeing that the ravens didn’t seem to be deterred, she dashed out of the cave and headed for the olive grove, all the while keeping her head low and protecting her face with her arms. As she made her way, her heart thumping in her chest, she felt thankful that the ravens, somehow, weren’t hurting her with their beaks and claws.

The very thought of the possibility made the blood chill in her veins, but at the same time, she wondered… Do ravens attack humans? They don’t, do they?

Stumbling blindly ahead, she made it back to the grove and hurried under the dense canopy. A moment later, she brought her arms down, eyes widening, when she realized the ravens hadn’t followed her there. Instead, they had flown high and away in seconds, it seemed. And now, they had disappeared from sight altogether, the last echoes of their shrill cries fading in the distance.

Lizzie stood straight again and threw her gaze at the cave across the clearing. Right then, the ravens returned to stand before the cave, a glistening mass of blackness before the entrance, laid out like a carpet that rustled and breathed. Other ravens stood in small groups on the rock face over the gaping hole, turning their heads this way and that, their eyes on her as if willing her to take a step closer.

raven RF 2ON SALE!
Discounted from $2.99 to $0.99. Offer valid in the US/UK September 20-22.

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B07PYPCQ42
https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07PYPCQ42

About the Author:

frosso pic1 300DPIEffrosyni Moschoudi was born and raised in Athens, Greece. As a child, she loved to sit alone in her garden scribbling rhymes about flowers, butterflies and ants. Today, she writes books for the romantic at heart. She lives in a quaint seaside town near Athens with her husband Andy. Her mind forever drifts to her beloved island of Corfu.

Her debut novel, The Necklace of Goddess Athena, has won a silver medal in the 2017 book awards of Readers’ Favorite. The Ebb, her romance set in Corfu that’s inspired from her summers there in the 1980s, is an ABNA Q-Finalist.

Effrosyni is a member of the writer’s groups eNovel Authors at Work and ASMSG.  Her novels are Amazon bestsellers, having hit #1 several times, and are available in kindle and paperback format.

Go here to grab FREE books by this author: http://effrosyniwrites.com/free-stuff/
Effrosyni’s website and blog: http://effrosyniwrites.com
Visit her Amazon page: http://www.amazon.com/author/effrosyni

Connect with the author:
https://www.facebook.com/authoreffrosyni
http://www.twitter.com/frostiemoss
https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7362780.Effrosyni_Moschoudi
http://www.pinterest.com/efrosinimoschou/
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