Thank you for having me as your guest! I’m thrilled to talk about my new fantasy romance The Captive Shifter, which was my first venture into a somewhat different genre, and share my beautiful cover from Fiona Jayde, the blurb and an excerpt with your readers!
I love to read fantasy – all that magic swirling in the air and nifty events happening that could never occur here but get taken for granted in a fantasy world like Andre Norton’s Witch World or Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. When I was growing up, I wanted magic powers so badly, but I’ve decided as a grownup the next best thing is writing them into a novel.
And I’ve always had a serious fascination with shifters, especially leopards, so of course my hero in this book is of the feline variety. As an author I liked the idea of a past event placing a shifter into a position where his magic wasn’t his own, and then figuring out how my very determined witch could free him.
Concealing her own considerable magical powers, Caitlyn enters the service of the northern Witch Queen masquerading as a simple healer. Under order from her goddess, she’s searching for a magical gem stolen long ago from her own people, believed to be hidden in the massive castle. The task is daunting but Caitlyn is sure she can locate the gem and escape, bringing the prize back to the temple where it belongs. Until she meets the captive shifter and her loyalties become dangerously divided.
In payment for her past services to his people, Kyler the leopard shifter has entered into a life of servitude far from his forest home, allowing the Witch Queen to tap his magic to power her ever darker spells. Factions at Court are threatening to turn the Queen to the Shadow. Her increasing demands for magic will cut short his nearly immortal lifespan. Kyler’s resigned to his fate until the day he crosses paths with the new arrival, whose secrets and magic entice and attract both man and leopard. Has he met his mate at last?
The Queen will never willingly release him from captivity. Caitlyn’s goddess refuses to grant her any delay in accomplishing her own task. Can they locate the magical gem, fight the Shadow and win free of the Witch Queen to earn the right to be together?
Excerpt The Captive Shifter
Caitlyn has just arrived in the Witch Queen’s court:
Caitlyn eyed the guards ranged behind and beside the throne. Most were watching the guests milling about in the crowded room, probably bored with this endless ceremony. One man was staring directly at her, however, and she hastily lowered her eyes. The shapeshifter again. Was she to run into him at every turn? Furious with herself, she realized she was blushing over the obvious appreciation of her form he’d displayed.
She risked a furtive glance at the dais. He continued to study her. Worry threaded itself through her nerves. What if he could sense the many secrets she was hiding? What if he could read her thoughts? Who really knew what powers his kind commanded? Would he say something to the queen? She touched the amulet around her neck and prayed to her goddess for calm. The next few minutes were critical. She had to make a good impression on the Queen. No matter how handsome or unusual the guard was, she couldn’t allow him to distract her. Too much was at stake for her people in the South.
Then the page beckoned her forward as the duke’s sister exited the dais on the other side.
Consulting the tablet he cradled in the crook of his arm, the page squinted and pronounced her name a bit awkwardly. “Caity Lyn of Ordlathus.”
She proceeded up the stairs as gracefully as she could, terrified of slipping on the slick stone, hoping she wasn’t leaving muddy footprints, and then curtseyed. “It’s Caitlyn, your majesty.”
“From Ordlathus? How unusual,” the Witch Queen said, her voice low and melodic. She leaned forward on her throne, looking Caitlyn over from the top of her neatly braided hair to the tip of her scuffed, stained shoes. “We’ve not had an applicant from there in a long time, have we, Ylain?”
“Perhaps never, in fact,” agreed her sister, sitting to the right. She seemed amused by the idea, round, pleasant face dimpling with mirth. “I can’t recall another.”
“Ordlathus doesn’t breed magic,” said the other sister, Bradana, flatly, drumming her fingers on the padded arm of her throne.
“Forgive me, your majesty, but the Searchers did clear me to make the journey,” Caitlyn reminded them. “I passed the basic test.”
“Much remains to be done before you earn a place at this Court, access to this training, bumpkin.” Frowning, Bradana shook a finger at her. Her obvious distaste for Caitlyn’s appearance made her angular face even more harsh and forbidding. “Don’t get above yourself so soon.”
“I’m sorry, your highness.” Caitlyn apologized immediately, dropping another curtsey for good measure. “I’m so happy to be here, it’s all so grand and glorious for a country girl.” She kept her eyes on the eagle mosaic inlay in front of the thrones. The words felt false and wooden on her tongue, probably because they were. She hoped these women are so used to flattery and sycophancy they wouldn’t notice anything amiss about her tone.
“You’re somewhat older than our usual candidate, by at least ten years, I’d judge.” Bradana assessed Caitlyn more closely. Caitlyn made herself stand straight, shoulders back. The Queen’s sister saw entirely too much. Surely it would be unheard of to reject a properly Searched candidate before the testing? She strengthened her mental shields, reinforced her glamourie, and checked her protective spells closely, even as she fended off a push at the edges of her mind, a probe clearly launched by Bradana.
“Don’t scare the poor girl,” Ylain admonished, laying a hand on her sister’s arm. The mental probe snapped off as suddenly as it had begun and Caitlyn pressed her lips together to smother a telltale sigh of relief. Ylain smiled warmly in her direction, apparently unconscious of the byplay on the magical plane. “I’m sure there’s an interesting story here, some compelling reason the Searchers selected her, despite the uh age disparity with our usual requirements. We’re glad to have you here, Caitlyn.”
“Welcome to the Court and to the testing,” the Witch Queen said, apparently satisfied for now or else bored with the topic. “I’ll be interested to see how you progress.” She fished a badge out of the large crystal bowl on the table next to her, handing the brooch to the herald. Stepping forward, he pinned the medallion to the shoulder seam of Caitlyn’s plain green dress.
“You can go,” he whispered. “Curtsey again and exit to the right.”
Heaving a sigh of relief as she backed away, Caitlyn did as she as told. On the way to the stairs at the edge of the dais, she had to pass directly in front of the shapeshifter guard. She dared to glance one more time at him, to find him gazing at her with an odd expression on his handsome face.
Does he pity me for my success in persuading them to let me stay?
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About the Author
Best Selling Science Fiction, Fantasy & Paranormal Romance author and “SciFi Encounters” columnist for the USA Today Happy Ever After blog, Veronica Scott grew up in a house with a library as its heart. Dad loved science fiction, Mom loved ancient history and Veronica thought there needed to be more romance in everything. When she ran out of books to read, she started writing her own stories.
Seven time winner of the SFR Galaxy Award, as well as a National Excellence in Romance Fiction Award, Veronica is also the proud recipient of a NASA Exceptional Service Medal relating to her former day job, not her romances! She recently was honored to read the part of Star Trek Crew Member in the audiobook production of Harlan Ellison’s “The City On the Edge of Forever.”
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