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Nitesh by JennaKay Francis (Fantasy/Romance)

Nitesh by JennaKay Francis (Fantasy/Romance)
 
(8 reviews)  

Although Thalassa, a sea-witch is captured when the warlord Rhaeven sends his troops to her small village, she views it as not much more than what her past life entailed. Married at a young age to a man she did not love, and abused during the relationship, she is secretly glad to see her husband die. Now, pregnant, enslaved, and stricken with a deadly disease, she only waits her own death to release her from her torment.

Terran, the elfin Crown Prince of Diraenia, must choose a mate and produce an heir before his 30th birthday, or forfeit the crown to his youngest brother, Unwin. And time is running out. Terran is 29. His fiancee, Elise, is dead, and he believes Unwin responsible. Yet, there is no proof. To make matters worse, Terran's other brother, Sinclair, has disappeared, and Terran fears the worst.

Bothered by a strange, haunting beat of drums, which no one can hear save himself, Terran's thoughts continually turn to a brief encounter with a young woman from Zal. Three days he spent with her, walking her back to her village, and her pre-ordained life there. Three days he spent falling in love with a woman who could never be his. She returned to her village, her waiting husband, and he returned to the palace, and life of emptiness and despair.

But the drums continue to call, and at last, Terran sets out to revisit the village, to see the woman one more time, to bring a close to his questions...

Print:
ISBN/EAN13: 192074195X / 9781920741952
Page Count: 206
Trim Size: 5" x 8"

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Ebook Price: $3.99
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Nitesh by JennaKay Francis (Fantasy/Romance)
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(8 reviews)  

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5 Most useful customer reviews (see all reviews):
Stacy Cooper for http://scooper.wordpress.com/
Favorite Lines: “She closed her eyes against the assault, falling into the secret place she had so often visited in her marriage to Doloth.” (p. 25)

The short story begins with Thalassa and a line of slaves about to be branded. They are spoils of a war that is destroying the countryside. Thalassa is pregnant and able to work with magic. As each new slave awaits their turn she dampens their pain before allowing them to drift off in a peaceful rest.

Until it is her turn. As she is about to drift off a pain attacks her face. She has been labeled as a witch with a pentagram branded upon her cheek. Unknown to her an elf from her past is searching for her.

He is a member of a royal family, but cannot forget the one night they spent together. During his search he begins collecting an unforgettable entourage that will help him in ways he never expected.

I attacked Nitesh and was pleasantly pleased with the book. It is 121 pages and sells for $4.95.

Ms. Francis does a nice job of flipping back and forth between character perspectives. We begin with Thalassa and later travel with Terran, her love interest. It is a crisp and clean transition that was never confusing. There were also flashbacks that worked well and were strategically placed allowing me to understand the emotional baggage the different characters carried.

I enjoyed the characters, especially the young girl, Vaoni. She is complex and innocent at the same time and a character that I wanted to follow. She is wise beyond her years, yet very childlike.

I didn’t particularly care for the late introduction of a few characters and their love interests. It felt a bit contrived but that isn’t enough for me to be turned off of the story.

This short fantasy story was a pleasant and quick read.
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Kathy at http://novelspot.net/node/1383
Rating: 8
Review:
Thalassa of Zal had been taken captive with others of her people by the brutal Lord Rhaeven of Asuria. Seeing her beauty, he took her to be one of his bed partners. Fortunately for Thalassa it would be awhile before Rhaeven would take her—she was eight months pregnant. The only thing Thalassa was thankful for was that the sickness that plagued her people was progressing. Most likely it would kill her before Rhaeven had a chance to get his dirty hands on her.

Thalassa met a young Diraenian page named Eri who had been badly beaten. He needed to escape to get back to his lord, Prince Sinclair, who was also being held captive by Lord Rhaeven. Thalassa managed to get Eri assigned to help her while he healed. Eri immediately started making plans to escape to go back and save his lord. When Rhaeven's jealous brother attacked Thalassa one day, Eri killed him and the two were forced to run or be executed. Thalassa carried a silver whistle with her that her mother said could be used to protect her. She blew the whistle and suddenly there appeared Aki: a white dragon that, according to legend, only answered to the call of the Dragon Priestess. While the dragon destroyed the keep with its fiery breath, Thalassa and Eri escaped.

Crown Prince Tarran was heir to the elfin nation of Diraenia. He had recently lost his betrothed to a hunting accident, and he was heart-broken. But Tarran did not believe it was an accident. He believed his younger brother, Unwin, planned the attack. Unwin knew that if Tarran did not produce an heir in the next year, he would have to give the throne up to his younger brother. But while Tarran was grieving the loss of his betrothed, he started to have memories of a beautiful woman from Zal he had met eight months before. Her name was Thalassa. His heart had been lost to her, and he would have liked to make her his own. But she was betrothed to another and was returning to her village to be married. She and Tarran had spent three days together "being in love" and making love as though they would not be forced to part.

Tarran decided to go look for the woman and found her village in ruins, with only one survivor left: a little girl named Vaoni. Vaoni had known Thalassa and told Tarran that the woman must have been taken away by their attackers, the Asurians. Knowing he could not leave the girl alone, he took Vaoni with him. Tarran would find a good place to leave the girl where she would be safe. Then he would go after Thalassa.

This is a great story of love found, lost, and then rediscovered. The characters are vivid and deep—especially Tarran and Thalassa. Each of them digs deep within to find strength and magic they did not think they possessed. There is royal intrigue, acts of devotion, self-sacrifice, and lots of on-going action. I found myself drawn in from the beginning and being really frustrated when I was interrupted by a couple of phone calls. I did not want to stop reading! This is a must read for anyone who loves Fiction Fantasy and Romance.
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Susan Love Romances (http://www.loveromances.com/)
The author has created a fairly complex world with elves, dragons and magic. This world is also filled with people who are greedy and downright mean. She has also inhabited her world with two very likable lead characters. It is to the author’s credit that all these elements are pulled together into a cohesive and heartwarming story.
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Jamie Crawley Roundtable Reviews (http://www.roundtablereviews.com/)
NITESH is packed with all things fantasy... a sea-witch... an elfin prince... a shape-shifter... spells... the list goes on and on!!

Thanks, Jenna, for this read!! I enjoyed it very much and will revisit them time and again!
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D. Hymon - a reader
WOW! I started reading the excerpts last night, and couldn't stop thinking about the characters. Today, I bought the book, and read the entire book in one setting. I was hooked, drawn into the story, and couldn't stop clicking the pages. I had a lot of work to do today, but everything was put on hold until I finished reading this fantastic adventure of Thalassa and Terran and their love.

Years ago, Jenna's stories grabbed my attention, and that was her rough drafts. _BG_ She has grown in the craft, and it is exciting to see her incredible tales published. I commend her on the dedication to the craft, and admire the talent she holds as a writer. Nitesh was a refreshing tale from what I usually read. I can't wait to read more of her books!

Jenna, thank you for a day full of adventure!
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Sample Chapter

Chapter One

"Bind and brand them."

The words sent a chill racing through Thalassa, and a murmur of despair through the long line of war captives. Thalassa's gaze traveled over those around her. A sorry lot they were, though not all were her countrymen. The dark-haired Diraenians and Asurians stood out amongst her people, the pale-skinned, blond-haired Zals. Most of the captives were under-nourished, many were injured. All showed signs of their long weeks on the road. Resignation lay heavy on their battered and bruised faces, deep within pitiful eyes that held no hope. Their existence had come to a shattering conclusion. To the victor go the spoils, Thalassa thought bitterly. We have all become nothing more. Nothing more than slaves, indentured to those who had maimed and scarred the countryside, claiming it as their own. At twenty years of age, that wasn't much of a future. If she had a future at all. She shuddered and returned her gaze to the heavily muscled man at the front of the line.

He yanked the first person forward, a young boy of no more than eighteen, with the dark hair and eyes of a Diraenian. The lad's face was white, his terror obvious. Thalassa watched as the guard wrapped the boy's arms about a thick post sunk deep into the muddy ground. The burly man seemed to take great pleasure in making the ties as tight as possible, as if he expected the lean youth to suddenly fight back. Thalassa grimaced in anger. For a moment, the lad's gaze met hers, then he closed his eyes and hung his head.

The captive's back was bared, exposing a thin torso. Thalassa could see his ribs with every gasping breath he took. Quickly, she reached out to him with her magic to shield him from pain, as another man approached with a red-hot metal brand. He pressed the brand against the boy's left shoulder, held for a moment, then released. Though the lad stiffened, he did not cry out in pain. Still, as cold water was poured across the brand, he sagged against the wood. The brander frowned in confusion, no doubt used to hearing screams of agony at his touch. He leaned forward to peer into the boy's face, then grunted, shrugged and tramped back to the fire pit to reheat the iron. It was only then that Thalassa eased the youth into unconsciousness, a small sigh of fatigue escaping her.

The guard untied the boy, letting him collapse in the mud. Another guard dragged him away, while the next person was secured in his place. With each one, Thalassa took on their pain, drew it away from them, then allowed them to fall into a deep, healing sleep. She was aware of the thick silence that had descended, of the strained and confused looks on the guards' faces. They were exhibiting their own fear now, no doubt puzzled at this strange turn of events. Thalassa controlled her smile of satisfaction, quietly continuing to move to the back of the line, one by one. She would be the last.

Finally, it was her turn. She faced the post with head high, though her heart hammered. She wasn't sure if she had the strength left to control her own pain. As her arms were secured, she closed her eyes, and reached deep within herself for what small magic she yet held. Cold air rushed over her back as her tunic was pulled away. Footfalls behind her warned her of the brander's approach, and she stiffened, waiting. Though she felt the press of the metal against her skin, she managed to ward off the pain of the burn, then sighed with relief as the pressure eased.

She was about to allow herself to sleep, when sudden, severe pain ripped through her face. For a moment, her mind whirled with confusion, then her eyes snapped open, and a gasp escaped her. The brander stepped back, holding a smaller iron, a leering smile on his face. Thalassa stared at the iron in wide-eyed disbelief--a pentagram. The mark of magic; it was forever seared onto her left cheek, for the world to see. Agony brought tears to her eyes, and, try as she might, she could not summon the magic to ease her pain.

Another man took the brander's place. He was a sturdily-built man, with muscles that rippled beneath his white, linen shirt. He tipped her head back, using one long, elegant finger. His dark eyes held hers as he extended his other hand toward some unseen person. A second later, he gently rubbed a cooling salve into the brand on her cheek.

"You have a strong gift to be able to shield all of these people," he said quietly. "Mind how you use that gift, sea-woman."

Thalassa trembled under his touch, realizing he had been watching her. Still, she would not give in to the command he seemed to demand. "My name is Thalassa," she said, her voice cold and aloof, "not sea-woman."

The man's eyebrows raised in surprise, and a small smile quirked his full lips. "Magic and spirit," he said. "That combination could get you killed."

"What care I? My soul died when my countrymen did," Thalassa told him. "There is only this shell left."

His gaze traveled to her swollen belly. "And the child. Has the child's soul also died?"

Thalassa trembled, momentarily overwhelmed with emotion. The child. This child created from an act of rape, not love, though the father had been her own husband. At first, she had hated the child as much as she had hated her husband, but over the last eight months she had come to accept it. Love was not yet in the offering.

"The child is not mine," she said.

The man again was surprised, and he studied her for a long moment. His gaze traveled down her neck, lingered a moment on the white skin of her breasts, and finally moved to her wrist. He touched lightly at the red streak that lay halfway between wrist and elbow.

"You have the Sickness," he said quietly.

"Aye," Thalassa whispered smugly. "So your brand will do no good. I will be dead before I can serve you and your house."

The man studied her a long moment, his finger continuing to gently stroke her arm. It sent chills racing through her, and she could not suppress her tremble. A small smile touched at his lips, though there was no warmth in it. "Cut her loose," he instructed the guards, "and take her to Ilsa." He looked back at Thalassa. "I will send for you later."

Thalassa watched him stride away, noticing the confident way he walked, head held high, as long, dark tresses drifted in the breeze. There was no doubt who was in control of this camp. The thought sent a rage bubbling through her. He had been the one to order the branding; it was his voice, cool and unemotional, that had promised pain to men, women, and children alike. And a life of servitude.

Her bonds were untied and she was pulled away from the post. Her tunic, torn at the shoulders, fell about her waist, exposing her breasts. Though both guards leered, neither touched her. Obviously, they weren't going to incur the wrath of their lord. She now belonged to him.

***

Elfin Crown Prince Terran drew a long, slow breath and clutched his hands behind his back. He regarded the man before him with heavy determination in his dark eyes. "No, father," he said firmly, "I will not wed simply to produce an heir."

King Liam took a long pull on his wine, before looking up at his eldest son. "Elise has been gone for almost one year now. It is time you stopped mourning her death."

"It has only been eight months, father," Terran replied, his voice tight. "Still, I do not chase after ghosts. However, I see no point in placing another woman in jeopardy simply for the sake of producing an heir to the throne."

"No point?" The king rose, his blue and silver robes swirling about his muscular frame. "Terran, if you do not produce an heir by your thirtieth birthday, the crown will forfeit to your brother. You know that!"

Terran turned away, unwilling to let his father see the anger that filled his soul, a consuming anger that was evident in the tightened jaw line and the scowl. "What good will it do me to wed and produce a child, father? Unwin will only kill the woman, and the child, as well."

"Stop it!" Liam sputtered. "You have no proof that Unwin had anything to do with Elise's death. Why would he do such a thing? He's your brother!"

"You said it yourself, father. Today is my twenty-ninth birthday. If I don't produce an heir by year's end, the crown forfeits to Unwin. I see precious little that I can do to stop it. I would have to meet, marry, and mate in the next two months. I do not believe that is palatable, or even possible." He frowned and strode to the open, mullioned window, his attention diverted. "What is that infernal drumming?"

"Drumming?" Liam joined his son at the window. After a moment, he shook his grayed head. "I hear nothing, but, then, that's to be expected at my age."

Terran listened a moment longer, then looked back at his father with a small, grim smile. "And don't try to ply me with that getting-old routine. You're as fit as they come."

The king smiled. "Will you at least consider meeting with Princess Sylvia?"

"When will she be arriving?" Terran asked, resignation evident in his voice.

Liam looked hurt. "Would I invite her for a visit without your consent?"

"When?" Terran pressed.

"In a fortnight," the king answered with a soft chuckle. He reached out to squeeze Terran's shoulder affectionately. "Her father insisted, and she is a good prospect, Terran. She's quite beautiful from what I've heard."

"Beauty does not equate love, father," Terran replied, then cocked his head again at the sound of the drums beating in the distance. "I'll meet with the princess, then. Just be quite sure to post extra guards around her quarters. We certainly don't need strained relations with Asuria."

The King stiffened at the word. "Our relations with Asuria are always in question, Terran. Perhaps this marriage will put some ease into it."

Terran grimaced at his father's words. "Marriage?" he muttered, then strode toward the door of his father's study. "I'm going riding. I shall return later."

"How much later?"

Terran tossed his father a smile. "In time for the princess, father, don't worry." He slipped out the door and hurried down the hallway, the drums pounding in rhythm with his heart.

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