Tales of the Black Court
Genre: Fantasy Romance
Publisher: Abracadabra Publishing
Date of Publication: April 2014
Word Count: 90,000 words
Cover Artist: Kari Ayasha Cover to Cover Designs
A rebellious prince, a reluctant witch, and a mysterious prophecy,twisted together in a tale of Beauty and the Beast
Trapped in an underground palace Prince Kian must remain a beast, or give in to the queen’s plan to strip him of his powers. But Kian refuses to submit to his mother's evil plan and is determined to escape both his prison and his curse—even if it means dabbling in witch's magic.
On the run for most of her life, Bryanna MacElvy has never learned to use her healing Gift. When she’s pulled by Kian’s spell into his prison, the prince sees the golden witch as his salvation. Refusing to let her, or to accept she is incapable of curing him, Kian offers her a terrible bargain—heal him, or give up her freedom forever.
Their lives entwined by fate, the prince must learn to love a human and Bryanna must learn to trust herself—or risk losing their freedom, his powers, and their passion, to the evil of the Black Queen.
Dare to enter Jessica Aspen’s world of steamy, fantasy romance in book two of her fairy tale trilogy: Tales of the Black Court
Kian barely got into his chamber and slammed the door shut before succumbing to his desperate need, frantically clawing off the confining cloak, scrunching it into a bundle, and viciously hurling it into a corner. He shook with the effort of controlling himself, his rage, anger, and frustration, spewing out in a bone-shaking roar.
As the dust settled, he paced the room, shoving broken furniture out of his way and listening to the tinkling of the crystal chandelier as it quivered to a stop.
He’d been here too long. So long he’d forgotten how a single breath of rose-scented skin could tempt a man to violence.
From the long blond hair and almond-shaped glass green eyes, all the way down her very long legs in those ridiculously short shorts, she couldn’t have been any more tempting. And he’d been tempted. Tempted to rip off her clothes and see what her full breasts looked like below the low scoop of her tank top. Tempted to lick and taste and devour her skin all the way down to the soft indent of the belly button that had flashed him when he’d scared her. Tempted enough to take her, and ravish her, and jeopardize all chance of her good will.
The wench had no idea how close she’d come to being violated.
If she hadn’t turned out to be a witch, would he have been able to resist the lure of her femininity? He’d been alone with only Beezel and the goblins for too long. He didn’t think any man would resist a fantasy sex slave dropped into his prison. But she wasn’t a slave. She was his only hope, and he would need to woo her into helping him break the curse.
Kian crossed to the full-length mirror he forced himself to look into once a day, lest he forget how much his mother hated him. She had twisted his Gift, and it was twisting his soul. His magic was strong, a legacy of his royal blood, and she’d used it against him the way only his twisted mother could. She’d taken his Gift, a thing of beauty, the ability to take on any shape—a mouse, a troll, a wolf, anything at all—and she’d perverted it before imprisoning him.
He stared and brooded at his reflection in the mirror, at the worst motley of animals he’d ever seen. Himself. And wondered what the terribly young, terribly beautiful, terribly innocent witch would think.
The upright stance of a human, but the humped-up shoulders of a bear. The razor-sharp talons of an eagle, but the heavy, earthbound weight of a boar. Long tusks protruded next to his wolf-like muzzle, and if it weren’t for magic, his too long tongue and sharp fangs would make speech impossible. His mother had stolen all his shapes from him and left him a mess, but at least she’d left him the ability to communicate. Goddess only knew why.
No woman would want to look at a creature like him. No woman would kiss a man with a wolf’s face and tongue, and a boar’s tusks. No woman would be running her hands down his coarse, hairy chest, and when she discovered what lay between his thighs? No.
His fist lashed out and connected with the mirror. Gleaming shards of glass flew, catching in his short, scrubby mane and fur.
The girl would help him. And soon. He didn’t know how long he could restrain himself from burying his face in her hair, and his cock between those long, long legs.
A hesitant knock sounded on the door.
Beezel entered and scrambled into a low bow.
“Enough of that.” Kian began pacing again, too restless to stand still. “Does she like her room? Do you think we should have put her in the one next to the library instead?”
The gnome’s accusing eyes took in the broken glass and the shattered mirror, but like the good servant he pretended to be, he kept his opinion to himself. Kian restrained the overwhelming urge to beat the gnome for the reproach he would never voice.
“I’m sure she’ll be fine, Your Highness. She doesn’t seem to care.”
“Doesn’t care?” Kian crossed to the trembling gnome, who edged closer to the open door. “Explain,” he growled.
Beezel hesitated. “She threw herself on the bed, sobbing, as soon as she entered. She doesn’t want to be here, none of us do.”
Kian stalked up and down the large room, pushing chairs and tables out of his way. “She’s staying.”
“Sire, I doubt your mother will let her.”
“My mother!” Kian crossed the room and picked up the gnome, shaking him hard until his arms and legs flew as if on strings. “You will not tell the queen. You will not tell anyone about this girl. Do you understand?”
“B-b-but, I must.” The gnome’s knees knocked together.
“Beezel,” Kian lowered his voice and drew close to the gnome. “If you do, I will kill you.”
“If I d-d-don’t the q-q-queen will do much worse.”
The reek of the gnome’s fear overwhelmed his sensitive wolf’s nose.
“Beezel, the queen is not here. I am. The strength of the spell confining me here has left her blind to whatever goes on within the confines of my prison. She’ll never know if you don’t tell her.” He lowered his voice and whispered into the gnome’s bumpy, pointed ear, “But I’ll know if you tell the queen and the girl is taken away from me. And I’m sure you will still be here for me to punish.”
He lowered Beezel to the ground and patted his bald head. “Beezel, what do you desire? Jewels? Gold? An underground palace such as this one?” Kian swung his arm wide. The warren was falling apart, but for a cavern gnome such as Beezel, it would be more lavish than any other home he would have in his lifetime. “Once I am released I can give you all of that, and more. But only once the witch has freed me from this curse that binds my form and my powers. If you tell the queen and she takes the witch, I will still be stuck here, but without a chance of freedom, and whatever hold she has over you will remain.” He paused, and sighed. “Trust me, she never lets go. If you do this, I’ll set you free and make sure you’re well rewarded.”
The little gnome avoided his gaze. “Well, Beezel? What’s it to be? Do I reward you, or do I have to kill you now to gain some time?” Kian pushed out a frustrated breath. “Are you in?”
Beezel moved his head in a slow nod.
Kian’s muscles relaxed in a rush of relief. He didn’t know what he would have done if the gnome had refused. He likely would have had to kill him, and who knew what the queen would send next.
“Good,” he said. “Swear to me you’ll not tell anyone about our visitor, anything about the girl, nor my endeavors.”
The gnome’s voice came out almost too low to hear, but Kian caught the words. “I swear.”
For the first time in too long the tell-tale energizing upswing of joy and anticipation tingled along his nerves. Finally, after too many years in this dusty abandoned place, he would have his own shape, his powers, and his freedom.
Did you always wanted to be a writer? If not what did you want to be?
From the time I was small and realized that people wrote books, I wanted to write books. At that time I also wanted to be an artist and a mommy. Well, I’ve never achieved artist, but two out of three ain’t bad!
When did you first consider yourself a “writer”?
I think I really considered myself a writer in 2010 when I went up to a Deep Immersion class at Margie Lawson’s mountain retreat. I was surrounded with people who had won awards and had publishing contracts and they were so supportive and treated me as an equal. That was when I really started to call myself a writer. Of course it’s taken until the last year for me to actually put it down at the doctor’s office in that blank where they ask what it is you do. Some things just take time to sink in.
How long did it take to get your first book published?
My first book is still languishing under the proverbial bed. My second book, The Dark Huntsman, was completed in 2009, but then went through rounds and round of editing before getting published in 2013. But my first book I had published was actually the third I wrote, Little Red Riding Wolf. The spicy novella I wrote just to see if I could write “hot”. It’s finaled in several contests, so I guess that answers that question, and it was published in 2011, one year after I wrote it.
Do you do another job except for writing and can you tell us more about it?
I’m lucky enough to only work a very small part time job and to be able to spend most of my time writing. I work retail, because it gives me the opportunity to be flexible with my schedule and isn’t something I have to take home.
What is the name of your latest book, and if you had to summarize it in less than 20 words what would you say?
My latest book is Prince by Blood and Bone, A Fantasy Romance of the Black Court, and here is my one sentence blurb:
A rebellious prince, a reluctant witch, and a mysterious prophecy,
twisted together in a tale of Beauty and the Beast.
Who is your publisher? Or do you self-publish?
I’m published with two publishers. My Twisted Tales: Come Into the Woods series of spicy, new adult, shifter, twisted fairy tales are published by Passion in Print Press. And my Tales of the Black Court fantasy romances are self-published by my own imprint, Abracadabra Publishing.
How long does it usually take you to write a book, from the original idea to finishing writing it?
This is a complex question. My process is changing all the time. I now use a method called the Snowflake Method to do a rough outline of my books. This has really fine tuned my process. Now, I spend a week or two working on outlines and blurbs and then I’m ready to sit down to write. Because I have a good idea of where the story is going I can now focus on just writing, and not figuring out what happens next. My early books took a long time, but now I can get a rough draft in a little over two months, depending on the length of the story. Novellas take a few weeks to a month. But then the editing starts and that can take anywhere from a few months to six. It just depends on what is going on in my life and how the book is working. Editing is part of my process that still needs a lot of work, but I’m hopeful that it will get more in line with the rest of the processes, in time.
What can we expect from you in the future? ie More books of the same genre? Books of a different genre?
I’m currently working on two different projects. One is a spicy, new adult, Gothic novella entitled Ghosts of Christmas Past. And the other is the third book in the Tales of the Black Court, Broken Mirror. Since Broken Mirror is a long term project it’s nice to have something totally different from world building fantasy to do. Ghosts of Christmas Past is a contemporary setting, and a novella, so it is much easier to write and to edit. I like alternating my genres so that I can come to each project feeling refreshed and excited to get back into it. Of course, they all fit under the umbrella of paranormal romance.
What genre would you place your books into?
Do I have to pick just one? My Twisted Tales: Come Into the Woods spicy, shape-shifter romances are: new adult fairy tale romance twists. And my Tales of the Black Court series would come under fairy tale, fantasy romance. I usually say I write paranormal romance, and that’s a good thing, because soon I’ll be adding my Gothic ghost story to the mix and it all can fit into that genre.
What made you decide to write that genre of book?
I love all kinds of books. Suspense, fantasy, and of course romance. So I didn’t want to have to choose. I wanted to meld it all together. Writing paranormal romance means that I can have suspenseful, sexy plots that take place in another world and meet all my needs. That’s why I write both shape-shifters and elves. Or why I mix elves and witches with fairy-tales and put it all in a time frame that is current with our own. Or why I can write a contemporary romance where the hero and heroine have to figure out how to clean up a haunted house.
Do you have a certain routine you have for writing? ie You listen to music, sit in a certain chair?
I really don’t need much routine. I like to have everyone out of the house and I have a folding table set u in the family room with my laptop. I set my timer for 45 minutes and type until the buzzer goes off. Then I take a fifteen minute break and stretch, or clean the house. Anything that gets me out of the chair and moving. And then it’s back to the laptop and the story. I try to do this for five or six hours at a stretch, but life doesn’t always let me do that, so the times I can, I am very productive.
Do you choose a title first, or write the book then choose the title?
For most of my books I write the book first, then choose the title. There is usually a working title, so for instance, Prince by Blood and Bone was simply Fairytale Prince. I knew it was going to be a twist of Beauty and the Beast, and I knew it was going to be centered around the missing prince in the first book, The Dark Huntsman.
But for all of my shifter twists the title came first. I think that’s because of the first book, Little Red Riding Wolf. It was originally started with a Red Hot Fairytales contest in mind, so the title came first. After that, I came up with the titles for Snow and the Seventh Wolf, and Goldi and the Bear, so that they would continue the theme. It will be a challenge when I write the next two twists in that series to come up with fairy tale names that have women’s names that are also colors and go with the fairy tales, but I’ll do my best. It may even have something to do with which stories I write next.
Which format of book do you prefer, eBook, hardback, or paperback?
I’m becoming an e-book fan. Mostly because all my books are in one place. Of course this is for fiction. I prefer my non-fiction in good old paperback form so I can highlight the heck out of it.
Do you think books transfer to movies well? Which is you favorite/worst book to movie transfer?
I usually love seeing my favorite books turned into movies. It’s not always perfect, but I still love it. Of course I believe in reading the book first, that way you get the whole experience the way the author intended and don’t miss out on anything. The exception is the Tolkien books. I think you can watch those movies and not miss out on much besides the elf poems. My favorite movie conversion is the Harry Potter series. I think they did an amazing job with giving us the heart of the books.
Your favorite food is? Your favorite singer/group is? Your favorite color is? Your favorite Author is?
I’m answering all of these at once: You mean I have to choose?
Jessica Aspen has always wanted to be spirited away to a world inhabited by elves, were-wolves and sexy men who walk on the dark side of the knife. Luckily, she’s able to explore her fantasy side and delve into new worlds by writing paranormal romance. She loves indulging in dark chocolate, reading eclectic novels, and dreaming of ocean vacations, but instead spends most of her time, writing, walking the dog, and hiking in the Colorado Rockies.
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