Genre: Historical Fantasy
Publisher: Sleeping Dragon Press
Date of Publication: August 31, 2016
Number of pages: 278 (est)
Word Count: 84,059
Cover Artist: Dawne Dominique
Historical fantasy set against the backdrop of WW1.
For seventeen years, the convent walls kept Meara Cleary from the secret of her own parentage.The sisters regard her with a cross of disdain and fear. Only among the trees by the gurgling creek does she find acceptance. A bearded stranger claims she’s his niece and promises to take her home. Before he can, a cataclysmic event thrusts her into a war-torn world.
Meara vows to journey to Ireland to find her uncle, unaware of how perilous a journey it will be. Her Druidic father guides her through dreams, explaining her magical heritage. Her dead parent can’t help her with the intricacies of village life, especially when she catches the eye of the very engaged Braeden Douglas.
A whirlwind composed of equal parts menace, romance, and revelation sweep Meara across the continent while gathering allies and enemies with equal speed. Her intent to return to her family turns into a fight to survive her own destiny.
Book Trailer https://youtu.be/KUPO_HQ9McY
A snap of a tree branch signaled Meara wasn’t alone. Her breath caught in her lungs and swelled her belly as she waited. A tiny thrill danced up her skin, leaving the hairs on her arms upright. Mother Superior strictly forbade the sisters from entering the woods. She called it going into the world, and they’d renounced the world when they entered the convent walls. The rule was for the sisters, not her, an orphaned child who by chance had been born within these same walls.
A speckled fawn stepped into the sun-dappled clearing, allowing Meara’s breath to escape in a whoosh. A deer, a baby, which meant the mother wouldn’t be far behind. The doe stepped out from the brush, giving the girl leaning against the tree a speculative glance before foraging the mosses and delicate wildflowers. If she stayed still, the skittish forest inhabitants would ignore or possibly accept her. It meant a great deal that they accepted her in an offhand way.
Birdsong accompanied the play and the chuckle of the nearby creek. The area around the convent walls drew her. Here, she felt at home. It certainly felt more right than walking in straight lines with the sisters chanting somber words to an unseen male deity who demanded constant homage in the form of prayers six times a day. Her hand covered her mouth, hoping she hadn’t said such a thing aloud. Even thinking it was a sin, but speaking it would result in excommunication and horrible punishment.
Sister Thomas reminded her, anytime she’d made the mistake of complaining about the endless monotony of convent life, that her mother died a painful death in childbirth due to her sins. A few sisters whispered bastard, changeling, dark whelp within her hearing. Perhaps, they needed to point out she was different, as if she couldn’t have figured that out herself.
Outside the walls, she’d slip off her shoes feeling the cool spongy moss under her feet. It tickled, but more importantly, it lived and touched her. The lack of physical touch within the cloistered walls intensified her yearning for something to touch her, even if the touch was passive as she trod upon it.
The tiniest shift of light motes moved through the air, forming and reforming, flying or tumbling through the air. The grass beside her pushed down similar to something landing beside her. Although her eyes did not convey such information, she knew, the same as she knew her mother did not die from any great sin. Dozens of Hogstead village women died in childbirth as Sister Gabriella explained when she found Meara crying in the garden shed.
A warmness crept over a body, a comforting peace that somehow came from the unseen presence beside her. To speak of it would destroy it. Even Sister Gabriella, who was bolder than the other sisters—since she took an angel’s name as opposed to a saint’s—wouldn’t understand.
The lengthening shadows indicated the vanishing afternoon. Soon the bells would toll for the three o’clock service, and her absence would be obvious. She stood, brushing the leaves off her plain brown tunic before giving a head bob to the area where she’d been sitting.
“Good day to you.”
Even though no human words rode the air, she felt a response, one of respect and care. Her measured footsteps allowed her to move past the wildlife without sending it fleeing. Once she cleared the woods, she grabbed the hem of her tunic and ran.