So GOD OF FYRE MOUNTAIN comes out from Samhain Publishing on January 22, 2013. It's Book Six in my Guardians of Light fantasy romance series. I'm very excited to have something new to celebrate at the start of the New Year. I first introduced Dax as Pryseis' nephew in Bk 4, DUST OF DREAMS, and I knew then he had to have his own book.
Worst case of mistaken identity ever...
As a teacher, Maili is adept at juggling multiple tasks, but this is ridiculous. Erotic dreams make her sleep anything but restful. Her father wants to marry her off to a neighboring chieftain’s son. Her grandmother’s whispered blasphemy about doubting the gods has the local volcano threatening to split wide open.
As she prays in the temple for mercy on her grandmother, Maili expects the mountain to smoke and rumble. She doesn’t expect Afu himself to pop through a dark fissure and squash her flat.
The last thing Dax remembers is vowing to prevent his queen’s assassination. He wakes up in an island paradise, where the primitive natives worship the statue of a troll named Afu. And they expect him—their fyre god incarnate—to stop their cranky volcano from blowing up.
As an incentive, they’ve given him a maiden sacrifice/bride, a dark-eyed beauty who’s just as determined to seduce him as he is to return home in one piece.
While she’s less than thrilled to be traded like a chicken, one thing is certain. Dax is the man in her dreams…and she’s hell bent on making them come true. Or her people may die.
Contains erotic dreams, volcanic-hot love scenes, one edgy F/F interrogation scene and some self-loving. Also treason, black sorcery and an evil witch doctor who shrinks heads.EXCERPT:
Maili raked her long hair out of her eyes with a shaking hand and stared up at the smoking tower of Mt. Veamalohi. It loomed over the landscape. She shivered. Though her grandmother had brought this on them, Afu willing, mayhap Maili could convince him to spare the rest of the villagers. Even Pilipo. He was a great warrior, and if the Kali invaded again, the Toka would need his leadership. If Maili was the price for Pilipo’s skills, she must yield for the sake of their people. Dream or no dream.
A tiny voice whispered in her ear as she continued to study the smoldering fyre mountain, urging her to go up. She could plead with Afu for mercy, for him to spare them. She shook at the thought. None but Katoa entered the sanctified temple antechamber. It was forbidden to women.
But she had to do something.
She glided through the silent jungle as if in a trance, her steps bringing her ever closer to the incline. Giant ferns shivered in her wake. She stared through the lush mantle at the snowy crown covering the fyre mountain. The temple lay just ahead. The dark, shadowy chamber called to her. Her breath caught in her throat as she pulled back a prickly vine with blood-red flowers the size of her head, wincing as long sticky thorns pierced her skin. The pain was forgotten as she revealed the first of an endless ascension of hand-chiseled stone steps.
A bat-winged stone guardian—cat paws with claws extended, river-dragon head with snake fangs, long, curling tree-man tail—guarded the way. Worn by the elements and ages, it was fearsome and beautiful. It eyed Maili’s approach. Her bloody hand trembled as she caressed its sun-warmed surface. The carved muscles seemed to ripple and shift at her touch. She cursed her overactive imagination as her blood soaked into the pitted surface. Naught more than a statue.
“I swear I come to you in peace.” She removed one of her fragrant plumeria leis and laid it across its lower jaw. “I just wish to speak to him.”
The guardian watched her begin the long climb to Afu’s temple.
Maili climbed ’til her heart pounded and she gasped for air. A stitch in her left side stabbed her with every breath. Her leg muscles burned. Sweat trickled betwixt her bare breasts. How did old Katoa make this arduous climb on a daily basis?
Surely her willingness and determination to complete the ascent proved her worthiness. Surely Afu would hear her plea.
The shadowy opening loomed ahead of her, flanked by two stone columns covered in incomprehensible chiseled symbols. A gust of heated air swept over her. The breath of Afu? Her skin prickled as she entered the forbidden antechamber. Shadows danced on the walls from the flickering reed torches. Her gaze froze on an immense, savage stone image in the far corner. All the blood drained from her face, and the room spun. She tried to control her breathing as she dropped to her knees afore she swooned.
When she still breathed after several too-loud heartbeats, she risked raising her head for a better look. A dozen entwined stone serpents seemed to lunge hissing at her from Afu’s head, and his empty impassive eyes glared down at her from beneath heavy brows. His jutting jaw and open mouth revealed almost porcine lower tusks. The bulging muscles dwarfed even Pilipo’s and seemed so lifelike she wouldn’t have been surprised if Afu stomped toward her.
The fyre god was the most fiercely masculine being she’d ever seen.
She’d been mad to come to Afu’s temple. But Grandmother Lanikula’s transgression needed to be addressed and the demon-god appeased. Cold sweat slid over her skin even though it was hot as a roasting pit, and she shivered.
“Great Afu, god of fyre who creates and destroys, hear this humble maiden’s plea.” She rose, removed her remaining plumeria lei and draped it across his meaty stone fist. “I plead for my grandmother, Lanikula. Show mercy. Limit your show of anger to the destruction of her home. Leave my people be. They are blameless in this.”
She took off her shell-and-amber jewelry to lay at Afu’s feet. It was all she had to give. “She spoke in haste, but I swear she honors you. We apologize for disturbing your rest. Please, go back to sleep and leave us in peace to care for your home.”
A low rumbling came from deep within the mountain. A blast of hot sulfurous air blew out the torches. Maili choked on a whimper as the image of Afu pulsed with a rippling darkness. Every instinct screamed at her to run, but she was frozen in place. With a screech that nigh made her ears bleed, the dark parted, rent like some great billowing curtain. The snakes writhed afore her. There was a clap of thunder as a huge, hard-muscled body was flung from the gap. She screamed as he knocked her flat, crushing her beneath his solid, burning weight.
Afu amongst them! The end of days had come.
Everything went black.