GOLD RUSH (Dragons of Tarakona 5)
by Jody Wallace
Release Date: October 2018
Genre: SF/F Romance
Length: Novel (65K)
Cover: Flirtation Designs
Buy Links: US Amazon, iTunes, Kobo, B&N,
Amazon CA, Amazon UK, Amazon AU, Other Vendors
She didn’t know she was a dragon. He didn’t know he was a hero.
Oksana Popov, geologist, deals in reality, not fantasies. She doesn’t believe in magic. There is always a rational explanation for everything—or so she thought until she finds a portal to another world near the mysterious town of Magic, New Mexico.
Conman and rascal Wade Insbrook is delighted when he discovers a gold dragon—even if she is unaware of who and what she is. He would do anything to keep Oksana close to him, even if it means using all of the tricks in his very tricky book to stop her from leaving.
Wade isn’t the only one who has learned of Oksana’s trip through the magical portal—so has the demon he has been hiding from. A harrowing escape back to Earth finds Wade and Oksana racing to destroy a seemingly indestructible object before the demon uses it to raise hell. Their budding attraction won’t be the only thing that can’t survive the demon apocalypse.
Tropes: This fish (dragon) out of water story also has elements of opposites attract, road trip and on the run, and nerdy fun protagonists!
Note: To my readers, this is probably the first of my books that my KIDS actually want to read. It’s because of Doug. I may be creating a version where the rumpy pumpy scenes are…let’s just say an overview…so if your kids are interested, too, we can probably work something out.
by DB Sieders
Release date October 2018
Genre: SF/F Romance
Length: Novella (35K)
Cover: Flirtation Designs
Buy Links: US Amazon, iTunes, Kobo, B&N,
Amazon UK, Amazon CA, Amazon AU, Other Vendors
She’s got a fever, and he’s the only one who can break it.
Sienna Gold is an energy dragon. Useful gift—as long as the excess power inside her doesn’t cause her to explode! When a demon kidnaps her leader, the burden of rescuing him falls on her shoulders. This rescue will take some teamwork, and she knows exactly who she is going to invite to help her.
Declan Amari is a wizard in disguise. He hates magic, refuses to use it, and absolutely abhors the thought of exploiting dragons for their magic. Unfortunately, one alluring and persistent gold dragon sees past his disguise and drags him, literally, to another world to rescue the leader of her merry band of rogues.
It’s a noble mission, but her needs could bring out the beastly nature he’s spent years suppressing. Can they come to a mutually acceptable arrangement in time to stop the demon hell bent on draining souls of Earthborn humans, or will his beastly nature cause even more devastation?
Tropes: This is a friends to lovers romance with the added spice of opposites attract, a tortured hero, and a rescue mission.
More about Magic, New Mexico: the World of Magic, New Mexico
Read the first chapter of GOLD RUSH for free!
Oksana Popov set the binoculars to her eyes and increased the magnification. The ashy substance coating the ground in the valley below didn’t belong amongst the sand and scrub of the semi-arid landscape.
From the top of a windswept ridge of junipers, she swung the binoculars in a slow arc. Blue, cloudless skies. Scrub and sand. Greyish hills and mountains in the distance.
The area around Magic, New Mexico, wasn’t exactly fertile, but neither was it forbidding, especially not to someone with a PhD in Geology. The grey substance was the first sign of anything strange she’d stumbled across during her entire investigation. Despite the tire tracks that had led her here, no human detritus or evidence of habitation marked the area. The juniper trees bore evidence of fire damage, but there was no trash.
So what was the ash?
Wildfires weren’t common in irregular desert scrub like this. That was more a danger in Lincoln National Forest to the east with the increase in global temperatures and changing rainfall patterns. Place like this, it was more likely to be a deliberate burn.
It was also none of her business. She’d come to town to dig up her parents’ past, and she’d failed. On the way to the airport, disappointed, frustrated, the lure of tire tracks into the desert had been too much to resist.
With a shrug, Oksana clambered down the slope, digging in her heels for traction. Hopefully this trek wouldn’t wind up with her on the private property of a group of very hairy nudists again. When she’d struck out in the library and historical archives, she’d begun visiting residents, asking questions.
Somebody had to have known her parents. Her grandparents. Ulan, son of Boris and Barbara Povov, and Anya, daughter of Gerald and Carolyn Jones. The birth certificates she’d found when cleaning out their shed said Magic General Hospital—which no longer existed—as did hers. They never spoke of their families, they had no photos prior to her toddler years, and they had forbidden her to set foot in Magic, New Mexico. Ever.
Why? Perhaps she’d never know. She was almost out of vacation days, and with the recent diagnosis of her father’s dementia, it seemed all the more urgent to find out everything she could about the mysteries surrounding her parents.
Oksana, used to scrambling up and down hills, reached the bottom of the incline in short order. The sun’s heat burned right through her wide brimmed cap, turning her thick black hair hot as fire. An acrid scent practically curled her nose hairs. She’d bet a panning tray of gold that it emanated from the strange grey ash scattered throughout the small valley.
What in the world was it? She slipped a sample bag out of her cargo pants pocket and rubbed the ash to check its texture. Organic or mineral? The ash had more grit than wood ash. She’d not brought much testing equipment with her, assuming she’d unearth the mystery of her parents’ past through traditional means when the internet hadn’t helped, not out in the middle of a desert.
Ash like this wasn’t something she often found on her expeditions. Or anywhere, really. And it probably had zero to do with her parents’ secrets, but at least this was interesting.
Oksana scuffed a boot through the grey dust, knocking aside an inch or two before she hit gravel and sand. Something huge had burned here, or had been deposited, though she was inclined to favor burning. That would explain the scorched juniper. The pattern of the ash was fairly even, dispersed by wind and weather. World’s biggest bonfire? Hopefully nothing toxic, since she was wading in it.
Well, she’d waded in worse. Oksana snorted, raised her bandana to cover her nose and mouth, and decided on her next course of action. The pileup seemed thickest near the center, where the ash glinted and glimmered in the sunlight, covering hummocks, cactuses, or boulders—hard to tell.
Curiouser and curiouser. While curiosity might kill cats, it was just part of the job for a geologist. A flash of reddish orange on the ground snagged her attention, and she crunched over to check it out. Another scuff of the boot, and she discovered what it was. A partially blackened No Trespassing sign.
But since she was already here, she might as well look around. It would be easy enough to claim she hadn’t seen the sign, and all the trespassing she’d done on this trip had been politely handled. The locals were a friendly bunch. Sometimes she did have to nudge property lines a bit, checking rock strata. Her dark hair, round face, and heavy build meant people tended to view her as unthreatening and less than clever…if they even noticed her.
She used that to her advantage as needed. There was nothing like being underestimated because of her appearance and then kicking ass, verbally or otherwise.
The grey grit rose past her ankles. It wasn’t as powdery as she would have expected. It was heavy, oily even. She reached the humps where the ash seemed to sparkle and realized it wasn’t the ash doing the sparkling.
It was the air.
In a barely detectible circle, the air behind the humps blipped with flashes of light, as if reflecting off dust particles. Oksana remained out of reach, studying it. Mirage? She got out her cellphone and snapped a few shots—the only thing the device was good for since service had been sketchy the whole time she’d been here. She couldn’t even access the USGS database.
Should she kick the hummocks? Brush the ash from them to see what it was? If it was a cactus, she’d be sorry. Under the coating of grey, the lumps were horizontal. Like a bench, but bigger.
She should have brought a snake stick. Stupid—going into an area like this without a snake stick. And bottled water. And her SAT phone instead of her cell. But she hadn’t intended this to be a long hike. She’d just wanted to see what was on the other side of the ridge where all the tire tracks led.
Well, Oksana hadn’t become lead researcher in the hydrogeology lab by being too timid to kick a lump on the ground and see what cracked. She gave the hump a big sideswipe, using her foot as a broom. Above the hump, the blips of light popped rapidly, as if the dust was exploding.
The ash didn’t billow, but it plopped off of the obstruction. The thing beneath the ash was…
Well, it was a bone.
A very big bone, just sitting in the middle of the desert. With sparkles above it. She wasn’t a paleontologist, but she ran into enough fossilized remains of extinct animals and existing species to recognize them when she saw them.
She wouldn’t get credit for the discovery of dinosaur fossils while trespassing on someone else’s land, but it was fascinating nonetheless. Oksana carefully scraped the rest of the ash off the impressive reddish bone, noting that it didn’t have the consistency that fossils tended to do. The shade of the bone resembled the surrounding soil.
The number one field test to differentiate between bone and stone was the tongue test. If your tongue stuck, it was bone. If not, it was stone. But she wasn’t about to taste it with all this unidentified ash around. She bent over and gave it a sharp rap with her knuckles.
The bone thunked, slightly hollow. This was no fossil.
What living animal possessed a bone this big? Not a moose, not a bear, not an elephant. A whale, but this had to be a femur, and that pretty much excluded any whale carcasses that were, for whatever reason, decaying in the desert. She prodded it with her foot, and it didn’t so much as budge.
So what kind of creature was this? A hoax? Why was its grave covered in oily ash?
Oksana slipped out of her sunscreen overshirt and used it to bat away the ash up and down the giant bone. She rounded the end and started up the other side, swerving to avoid the part of the air that was so sparkly.
She didn’t swerve enough.
With a shriek, she found herself sucked up by a whirlwind of energy and blackness.
The air tore at her skin, her clothing, ripping away her hat. Had she passed out? What the hell? She hadn’t been tramping around in the desert that long.
She was disabused of any notions of unconsciousness when the whirlwind coughed her out in a damp, cold cavern lit by green phosphorescent growths. Behind her, still spitting particles of ash, was a swirling, sparking window beneath carved stone arches through which she could see the desert she’d been standing in about a minute ago.
With deep breaths, Oksana steadied her heartrate. She was intact, minus her hat. Her fingers worked. Toes wiggled in her snake-proof boots. The air was chilly but breathable. She could hear animal squeaks. She wasn’t currently being battered by blackness. Her skin wasn’t disintegrating, her head wasn’t exploding, and no soldiers were converging on the scene to arrest her for trespassing.
She touched the swirling portal with one finger. It didn’t hurt, but she could feel that sucking sensation; when she pushed further, her hand appeared on the other side. The stone arch that outlined the portal was obviously human-made.
She could go back.
Or she could see what was deeper in this glowing cavern. Was this part of the Carlsbad network? Was there a route to the surface besides the portal?
Oksana believed that science, in time, would explain most of the mysteries of life, and her brain kicked into overdrive to explain what had just happened to her. Giant bones, grey ash, sparkles in the air…and a transporter.
She had probably just discovered the reason her parents had warned her never to come to Magic. It wasn’t their pasts. It was because it hid a relocation portal that employed hereforeto unknown technology. If her scientist parents hadn’t wanted her to know about it, it was probably bad for the entire planet.
Was Oksana a scientist? Or was she a cat?
(c) 2018 Jody Wallace