The Shanhasson Books are LIVE!

Finally, the main Shanhasson trilogy and The Horse Master prequel are live at both Smashwords and Amazon. Don’t these covers look fantastic!?

If you love Gregar and company, could you pleeeeeeaaaaasssssssse give them a little love on Amazon? “Like”, tag, and/or rate/review and I’ll be eternally grateful. If you’ve never met Rhaekhar, Gregar, or Mykal, just drop me a note (joelysueburkhart AT gmail DOT com) and I’ll hook you up.

P.S. if you’re on Amazon anyway, Lady Wyre sure could use a little love too.

(each cover will take you directly to the Amazon page)

Gregar For Thanksgiving

Oh, there is soooo very much to be thankful for this year.  I’m thankful for my family and friends, my Evil Day Job (which really isn’t that evil), three releases in 2011, an RT nomination, just to name a few.  But one thing I’m very very grateful for…. is finding Silviya, the artist I commissioned to create new covers for the Shanhasson books.

Because let me tell you, she outdid herself.

You know how hard and long I searched for Gregar.  I never could find the right man, the right look.  Well, Silviya was able to take the stock photo I found that was close, almost him… and breathe life into the wicked assassin I’d hoped to see.

Wait until you see him in all his glory!

But you know me, I have to torture you just a little.  So this week I’m going to release hints of the final cover, one cropped bit each day.  You won’t see the whole cover until Thanksgiving Day.  Until then, feast your eyes on this…and dream of Blood and Shadows, which I hope to re-release in December after I finish NaNoWriMo.

Review: Return to Shanhasson

Mea culpa, Sherri actually won the “first review kae’don” but I totally missed it!  I’ve fallen behind on my blog feeds and google alert failed me.  Read her entire review here:

Where Joely shines is her characters. Not a two-dimensional person among them. These characters are so real. (I think I said it best in my review of Road when I said, “I lived a lifetime between these pages!”) I love with them. I laugh with them. I hurt with them. I cry and scream with them. Even with the hints peppered on Joely’s blog I came apart completely at one point. And yes, I screamed, scaring the dog, LOL. There were more than a few tears, not just sad but happy ones too, during this story.

Aw, poor Roxy!  Thank you so much, Sherri!  You’re absolutely right about Shannari being a little exhausted.  *winks*

P.S. Don’t forget – TODAY is the last day to enter the giveaway!

Review: Return to Shanhasson

Many thanks to Soleil for not just reviewing all the Shanhasson books — but for also helping me beta read an early copy of Return before submission.  Here’s her review with a snippet:

Shannari has come along way since Rhaekhar, Khul of the Nine Camps of the Sha’Kae al’Dan, decimated her army and won her heart. She’s become such an iconic heroine for me. I have watched her love, hate, fight, win ….and lose. I have watched her suffer, truly suffer some horrific events and come out all the stronger for it. Because Shannari dal’Dainnari never ran from anything. Not for long. Her truly epic capacity for love puts all other heroines to shame. None of them can hold a candle to her passion.If there was one thing Joely managed to get through to this cynic, it’s that love can save you, no matter how Shadowed you are.

*wipes away a happy tear*  That’s exactly what I hoped this series would say.  Thank you so much, Soleil!

Return to Shanhasson – Spicy Excerpt

 

Return to Shanhasson, book 3 of The Shanhasson Trilogy, a Blood and Shadows book available at Drollerie Press.  For more of my free reads, check out this page.

“I thought your Green Land baths very strange after our steamtents, but I enjoy a long soak, especially when you’re at my side.”

She stirred and stretched her arms over her head, arching her back in blatant invitation. “Why don’t you lie down on the edge and let me begin my massage?”

Eyes heavy lidded, he ran his gaze down her body, but he complied, his mighty arms levering his big body out of the water. “I thought you wanted to give me such a bath that I would lose control.”

“I am. On your stomach, please.”

Laughing, he stretched out as she wished, carefully shifting his weight so he didn’t lie completely flat on his belly. “I can’t fully comply for obvious reasons.”

“Well, let’s see what I can do about that,” she purred.

Dunking her head beneath the water, she surged up out of the pool and straddled his lower back.

Na’lanna.” His voice was rather strained. “I don’t believe this is a very good starting position. One of us is backwards and it is not you.”

“Patience, my heart. I want to give you a massage first.”

“I don’t want a massage.” Heat rumbled through his voice that had nothing to do with anger. “I want you. Preferably this very moment.”

Selecting the smoky amber vial, she popped off the cork and sniffed it carefully. Exotic scents washed over her: roasted sticks nearly burnt, dark, sultry sandalwood, and beneath, a feral musk that she couldn’t identify.

According to Benton, the desert dwellers of Keldar threw sticks and seeds onto a stone, let the natural heat of the sun roast them, and then they tossed the burnt spices into both their tea and oil. Since their drink of choice was called “Fire Tea,” the oil had captured her imagination, for obvious reasons.

She poured a small amount into her hands and rubbed it into her skin, testing it on herself. The oil heated immediately, releasing a mouth-watering aroma of exotic sandalwood. Whether the oil heated her skin or her skin heated the oil, she didn’t know, but the spreading fire was unmistakable. It didn’t hurt, though, so she smoothed her palms from the small of Rhaekhar’s back up the slabs of muscle to his shoulders. Kneading her way across his shoulders, she said nothing, waiting to see his reaction.

“Great Vulkar, woman, what is that?”

“Fire Oil,” she replied innocently. She didn’t know what the Keldari called it. “Doesn’t it smell delicious?”

“Forget how it smells.” He sucked in his breath and shifted beneath her, his back humping like a horse getting ready to buck her off. “No wonder it’s called Fire Oil; my flesh is on fire.”

“You don’t like it?”

He shuddered, his big hands fisted in the soft mat. “If I were inside you, I’d like it much better.”

Stretching out on top of him, she rubbed her breasts against his back, spreading the oil into her skin. Deliberately, she moaned, tormenting him with her own sounds of desire. It did feel like fire spread across her skin. The scent burrowed deeper in her body, twisting and stirring her hunger. She gripped his shoulder in her jaws and slowly sank her teeth into the heavy muscle until he growled and moved beneath her, his hands sliding back to tug at her ankles and calves.

Her lips and tongue heated with the oil, buzzing and tingling as she rubbed her mouth across the broad expanse of his back. “You smell good enough to eat.”

Wriggling lower on his thighs, she licked a path down his spine, smoothing her palms up and down his flanks. She bit him again, hard enough he groaned so loudly the Blood must surely hear it. “Remember our challenge. You’re not going to lose control, are you?”

“That depends.” Panting, he raised his head enough to glare at her over his shoulder. Sweat dripped into his eyes, and his hair was dark and heavy with steam. “Are you finally going to mark my arse?”

She’d marked Gregar’s ass years ago on the night of their claiming, and Rhaekhar had long regretted that he’d lost that competition, even though he wore many other marks on his throat and chest. “That was my general intention.”

He buried his face in his forearm and cursed, muttering beneath his breath so she couldn’t make out his words. She took that as permission. But first…

She poured more oil into her hands and kneaded it into both cheeks and down his hamstrings. Lady above, she’d never seen a finer warrior. Hot velvet skin stretched tight over sculpted granite, he was a complex mixture of explosive power and incredible gentleness. Although there was nothing gentle about his hoarse growl when she reached under his raised hip to wrap her oiled hand around him.

“I’m going…” He arched his back, lifting his rump so he could thrust in her hand. “To pour…that cursed oil…all over you…while I hold you down…and let your Blood…lick it off.”

Lady, he might as well have doused her head to toe in the sizzling oil. Immediately, her mind pictured it: Rhaekhar lying at her head, pinning her arms against him, while auburn and golden brown heads moved eagerly down her body.

Using his own challenge words, she retorted, “You’re welcome to try.”

She struck, biting deep, gripping his cheek in a punishing bite until blood filled her mouth. Rich with strength, spiced with love, his blood stoked a fire in her that had nothing to do with Keldari oil.

Whatever he meant to say was lost on a roar.

He rolled over so hard she tumbled off to the side and nearly spilled the oil. “Come here.”

“The challenge.” She couldn’t seem to catch her breath. “Do I win?”

He slammed his arms down to the mat, fists at his side. Eyes blazing, he ground out, “Continue.”

“Are you sure?”

He shot her a dark look. “Be wary with that oil, na’lanna. When I come inside you, it’ll spread like wildfire on your tender flesh, too.”

Holding his gaze, she tipped the vial over his chest. “I’m counting on it.”

Return to Shanhasson is Live!

Blessed Lady above, thank you for your bountiful blessings of love.

The final book in the Shanhasson trilogy, Return to Shanhasson, is now available at Drollerie Press here.  In the next few days it should also pop up on Amazon, B&N, etc.  I’ll add buy links as they’re available.

Reviewers:  please contact me (joelysueburkhart AT gmail DOT com) for a review copy!

What George RR Martin Taught Me

For my early formative years of writing (early 2000s), there were only a handful of authors I read heavily:  Robert Jordan, Laurell K. Hamilton, Amanda Quick, Julie Garwood, Johanna Lindsay, and George RR Martin.  Since the Shanhasson trilogy was my first project, you’ll probably see a lot of those influences.

I tried to take everything I loved from epic fantasy… the lushness of romance…and the sultry romps of LKH (before the arduer took over)…and create a world that contained it all.  Political intrigue, worldbuilding, large character casts, sweeping story arcs, epic journeys mixed with emotional relationships and complex erotic situations.  If LKH taught me that one heroine could have many lovers, then George RR Martin taught me…

To kill characters.

I’m so in love with Game of Thrones on HBO and I’m absolutely thrilled that it’s generating such excitement for people who might not have read the series, but seriously, I’m worried about people’s reactions as those beloved characters start dropping like flies. 

Okay, I don’t quite kill as many characters as Martin, but major characters DO die in the Shanhasson series.  If you already read Road, you know that.  But killing characters is a huge no-no in Romancelandia, and since I write a lot of romance and romance-like work, I want to be clear up front.

Return to Shanhasson is NOT a romance.

However, if your heart isn’t singing with joy at the end…and yes, a few tears might spill from your eyes (I cry every time I read it)…then I’ve failed utterly and completely.

To be completely fair, characters might be DEAD but they’re not GONE.  e.g. there are still scenes with the characters who were killed and they’re still important to the story.  They’re simply bound to appear only in Dreams.  So here’s a little twist for you:  if I bring back the beloved characters, then it’s only fair that I bring back the hated ones too, right?  *wicked grin*

Anyway, if you take a look at the Return to Shanhasson page, you’ll seen the following warning:

THIS TRILOGY IS NOT ROMANCE. Bad things happen. Significant characters die. Love is the greatest gift of all, and sometimes requires the greatest sacrifice. However, love shines in the darkest night. The road is long and hard, but when Shannari reaches her destination, she’ll reunite with all her loved ones she’s lost over the years and find more love and happiness than she’s ever known.

Thank you, Mr. Martin.