A Guardian's Heart Guardians of Light Book 1 by Renee Wildes
Genre: Fantasy Romance
Strength can be drawn from pain…if the heart can heal faster than it bleeds.
Dara Khan Androcles was trained from childhood to be a healer. But as a demon-possessed invader threatens Safehold, and she defends a wounded warrior on the battlefield, her hidden inner dragon thirsts for blood.
When she lifts the warrior’s blond, blood-encrusted hair away from his ear, she discovers he is more than King Hengist’s outlander ally. He is an immortal. The elven heir to the throne of Cymry.
Loren ta Cedric senses something different about flame-haired, falcon-eyed woman who saves him. A healer, wreathed in raw, dark power, who wields knives with deadly skill. A mortal who prays to the Lady, not the human gods. Now he owes this thoroughly distracting female a Life-Debt. Which, in the heat of their flight to Loren’s homeland to raise an army, somehow becomes Life-Mate.
Dragon-human and elf, peasant and prince, logic says they have no future. Yet the power of their unlikely bond could be the only thing that saves their world from a demon poised to tear it apart.
Warning: This new twist on Cinderella contains a grouchy dragon, a sentient war mare with the dry wit of a certain English Dame, and a fiery heroine who strikes serious sparks with a mercenary elf.
As a child, invaders butchered Maleta’s parents and left her ravaged body for dead. Now, reborn as a finely-honed weapon for the Gray Goddess, Maleta has shed the burden of emotions for one goal—regain her homeland for her brother.
Cianan ta Daneal’s mission to the fractured land of Shamar is twofold: to overthrow a despotic queen, and to save a life. For months, he’s been haunted by recurring visions of a beautiful swordswoman slaughtered by a skeleton army. He never expected to lay eyes on that woman and recognize her as his Lifemate—or that she’d turn and run like hell.
Uniting Shamar’s diverse peoples in revolt is easy compared to the delicate task of wooing a woman who flinches from his touch.
Slowly, Maleta dares to hope that her country, what’s left of her family, and her shattered heart are safe in Cianan’s steady hands. But when the cold blade of fate strikes true, can she trust his love is strong enough to pull her back from the Abyss?
Warning: This new twist on Sleeping Beauty contains an assassin nun who knows no fear. Okay, just one fear, but it’s a biggie. And an Elven paladin with the Devil’s own negotiating skills. To coax her heart out of hiding, he’s gonna need every one of them.
Years ago, the pull of the full moon and a powerful curiosity drew Finora into a human fisherman’s bed—a man who stole her selkie skin and took its location to his grave. For seven years, trapped on land, she has searched fruitlessly. Hope fading with every passing year.
Tasked with finding and returning dragons to his mountain homeland in the east, Trystan follows a slim lead westward across an unfamiliar sea. When pirates attack his ship, leaving him with injuries too severe for his werewolf to heal, he comes face to face with the most unexpected of rescuers—Finora, her two, half-human children, and the biggest damned dog he’s ever seen.
Tristan and Finora’s attraction is instant, undeniable, and hopeless. Finora is pulled to the sea, Tristan is tied to the land. But Finora can help him complete his mission, and share one night of searing, heartbreaking passion. And memories only the deepest of betrayals could shatter…
Warning: Contains Celtic legends, seven-year curses, dragons with bad attitudes, imperiled children, a grumpy sea goddess, and wave upon wave of soul-searing pleasure.
Plagued with nightmares of a goblin child tormented by monsters—and with her usual cures having no effect—dream faerie Pryseis journeys to the Shadowlands to heal the child in person even though doing so risks the wrath of the faerie council. And, if she’s away from home too long, her very existence.
Caught and imprisoned by an ungrateful goblin sorcerer, she’s now trapped underground, chained, her despair growing as her time ticks down yet warmed by the memory of a man she has only touched in dreams.
Benilo ta Myran drained his spirit healing powers during the war, but he has no choice. The beautiful faerie in his dreams is in trouble, and not even his worried king and queen can stop him from trying to save her before the darkness snuffs out her light.
Finally they are together—chained side-by-side in a goblin dungeon. Their only hope for escape is to break the law to merge their powers in a ritual so intensely erotic it binds them for life. However short and nightmarish that life might be…
Beware beautiful faeries and hot elves appearing in your dreams. They may lead you astray…and steal your heart.
On what should have been Verdeen’s proudest day, she is blocked from advanced warrior training because no war mare chooses to bond with her. Burning with humiliation, she accepts a lesser assignment to the Isle of Ice, serving as bodyguard to human riever, Daq Aryk.
Verdeen’s never paid much attention to men, so focused was she on her training. But she quickly realizes hieing off into a distant wilderness with Aryk is a bad idea. He makes her lose all focus and perspective.
Aryk faces a difficult task: molding six warring clans into a peaceful whole. He’s got nothing against women warriors, but Verdeen is young and inexperienced, her beauty a potentially fatal distraction. She’s a shield-maiden, not a bedmate. But the way she melts at his every touch erodes all his good intentions…and sense.
One kiss unleashes the kind of feverish desire that should occur only once in a lifetime—with a mate. But as their quest takes ever more dangerous twists and turns, their bond could be the one thing that unites a nation. Or make Aryk’s worst nightmare a blood-soaked reality.
Warning:Contains fire and ice, ever-gratuitous sex and violence, sword play and self-play, spying and lying, noble intentions and betrayal. In other words, a rollicking good roll in the proverbial hay.
Verdeen paced through the lush gardens, letting the honey scent of night-blooming moonflowers soothe her. Their waxy ivory petals glowed in the lights. Thank the Lady Goddess everyone remained inside. The splashing of the wishing fountain attracted her, and she emerged into a small clearing lit by pink mage light. She wasn’t the first to venture there.
She froze at the intimidating figure staring into the shadowy ripples of water. “I’m sorry. I didn’t know anyone was here—”
“Don’t go.” Aryk turned from the fountain and held out a sun-bronzed hand. “Stay.”
She eyed his hand, wary of his touch. “Daq Aryk, what are you doing out here?”
“Just Aryk. I longed for quiet.” He raked his hand through his hair. “I felt on display.”
She could relate to both parts of his statement, and unexpected sympathy welled for the stranger. As if of its own volition, her body glided closer to him. His unique, multi-faceted, hazel eyes captured her gaze. Their intensity made her falter. “Why have you come here to Poshnari-Unai, my city?”
“To set my destiny in motion.” His lips quirked at her puzzlement. “Stovak nos briel.”
She cocked her head. “What do you mean?”
“Destiny awaits. Sounds grand and mysterious, hai?” He sighed and rubbed the back of his neck. “’Tisn’t. I’ve a political problem back home. Cianan believes Loren could help.”
Humans followed the Destiny Hand? “He’s very good at solving most problems.” Everyone’s but mine.
“Your eyes are red. You’ve been weeping. Why?” He frowned, but she read genuine concern in his eyes. “Today you triumphed over everyone. I’ve never seen aught like it. You were amazing.”
“Really?” She cursed the tremor in her voice, the eager approval-seeking obvious even to herself.
His smile softened the harsh planes of his face and deepened the crinkles around his eyes, making him seem younger and less imposing. “Hai. I’ve seen many a warrior in my lifetime. Believe me when I say you’re gifted, Kyra. Smart, strong, and beautiful. Poetry in motion.”
Something melted within her at the compliment. There was the word again, kyra, his husky tone nigh making it an endearment.
“The one thing I wanted most in this world slipped through my fingers this afternoon. A chance to be selected as a ranger trainee, to further my studies. It didn’t happen.” A tear fell. She froze as he brushed it away.
“There are many paths to greatness. A warrior’s greatest strength is the scope of his vision. You showed vision and judgment today, but take care lest your focus cause you to miss your true path. A warrior must above all be adaptable to change. The one thing that never changes is the fact everything changes.”
He held out his hand again, and she took it. Big mistake. His thick, scarred fingers caressed hers. made her tingle in places not even remotely attached to her hand. She entwined her fingers with his to still them and bit her lip at the zing of awareness as his thumb brushed the sensitive skin of her inner wrist.
“Cease,” she whispered.
“Cease what?” His voice dropped to a smooth, dark seduction of lethal proportions. “This?” His fingers teased hers with long, light strokes. “Or this?” He rubbed gentle circles over her pulse, which hammered at his touch.
She should have extricated herself but didn’t move. Couldn’t move. “This isn’t proper.”
Some rebellious part of her didn’t care.
“Do you always do what’s proper, Kyra?”
“What’s kyra mean?”
“’Tis a term for a woman warrior.”
“We also have such a term, ancient and seldom used. Vertenya. Few exist in our world to carry such a title.”
Per Cianan, there were now but two—Queen Dara and herself.
Aryk slid closer, the heat from his body curling around her. “I answered your question. Now you answer mine.”
What was his question? If only she’d focused on his words instead of on the rich smoky warmth of his voice. Like crème rija pudding with honeyed brandy. Sheer decadence to make her melt.
“Do you always do what’s proper?”
Female in the military? It didn’t get any less proper. Just ask her absent parents. Acourse, holding hands with a royal guest in a moonlit garden wasn’t proper, either. Yet here she stood with her hand in his, close enough for his subtle musky scent to push the fragrance of the flowers from her awareness. All she could think of was how she wanted to move closer yet. Dazed, she shook her head.
Heat flared in his changeable eyes. “They said this is a wishing fountain. If you make a wish and toss in a pebble, your wish comes true.”
“’Tis true. A legend as old as this city itself. There are faeries with the power to grant it, if the wish is personal and comes from the heart.”
Aryk uncurled his free hand, revealed a stone. With a flick, he tossed it over her shoulder. Verdeen heard the splash. “Guess what I wished for.”
“Your destiny would be fulfilled?”
“Stovak nos briel. Nay, what I wished for is more personal and out of my hands.”
Their gazes clashed then locked. His eyes narrowed, darkened. “A kiss freely given by you.” What? Her heart skipped a beat. Why waste the power of a wish on such a frivolous thing?
He must have read the disbelief on her face. “’Tis a rare gift. Tonight in this magical place, all things seem possible.”
They did. They truly did. She should be angry or offended at his outrageous request. She should return to the party. Today had been emotional chaos, leaving her raw, vulnerable in its wake. Tonight, heart ruled mind. She nibbled her lower lip, undecided. Why? Mayhap ’twas the moonlight, the seclusion of the garden setting. Mayhap ’twas his words, the understanding on his face. The heat in his eyes, the warmth of his hand.
Or mayhap Cianan was right. Mayhap the woman tired of the warrior having the say.
Award-winning WI author Renee Wildes grew up reading fantasy authors Terry Brooks & Mercedes Lackey. A Joseph Campbell fan, when she discovered romance novels she was fated to write fantasy romance. A mythology & history buff, from ancient Sparta through the Dark Ages, a Navy brat and a cop's kid, she gravitated to protector/guardian heroes & heroines. She's had horses her whole life, becoming the only vet tech in a family of nurses. It all comes together in her Guardians of Light series for Champagne Book Group and her paranormal title "Marek's New World" for Tirgearr Publishing - fantasy, action, romance, heroics and lots of critters!
Can you, for those who don't know you already, tell something about how you became an author?
Mine is the most awkward story imaginable! My first book, originally entitled “Duality,” was literally born from a single image in my head of a red-haired woman standing in a burning tower. When I learned she STARTED the fire, I knew I had to tell her story. (half-dragon fire mage) It did well in 2004 RWA contests, and I pitched it to Angela James (w/Samhain back then) at the 2005 NJ PYHIAB Conference. While pitching I dropped all my cheat-sheet index cards under the table and had to crawl after them to pick them up! (She let me start over, asked some very pointed questions, and requested the full manuscript) And when I was doing my query letter to Samhain my cat Chandra walked across the computer keyboard and SENT half an unsigned query letter with NO attachments! I had to resend with a cringy “please ignore the first version” and thought I was a goner. I got a contract offer from editor Linda Ingmanson. (turns out she breeds Ragdoll cats and we had a good laugh over my unique journey). It was the first of a series of seven titles in my Guardians of Light series.
What is something unique/quirky about you?
I’m a Navy brat, a cop’s kid, and the only vet tech in a family of nurses
Tell us something really interesting that’s happened to you!
I recently became a first-time grandma – my grandson Roman was born 8/20/19
Who are your heroes and why? Steve Irwin—and now his kids Bindi & Robert—because they are driven and passionate about saving wildlife and the environment Josh Gates—because he makes history/archaeology interesting and understandable, he always keeps an open mind and his sense of humor, and especially because of his respect to the native people/cultures he encounters on his journeys (I got to meet him when he came to Milwaukee, WI on speaking tour—he bought GS cookies from a kid in the third row b/c she asked him to in the Q&A session at the end)
What are you passionate about these days?
Recycling, Conservation, Historical Preservation, Adopt-Don’t-Shop, Chow-Chow Advocacy
What do you do to unwind and relax?
Walk the dog, Sit on the porch and watch thunderstorms, Horseback riding, Scrapbook, Read, Watch movies
Describe yourself in 5 words or less!
Emotional, Temperamental, Loyal, Optimistic, Creative
Do you have a favorite movie?
Can’t pick just one! My Top 5 are Last of the Mohicans, Rob Roy, Ladyhawke, Willow, and Princess Bride
Which of your novels can you imagine made into a movie?
A Guardian’s Heart (formerly Duality), Guardians of Light Book 1—lots of drama & action
Elves, dragons, demons, medieval setting, lots of magic & battles
What inspired you to write A Guardian’s Destiny?
In Book 1, A Guardian’s Heart, the heroine Dara was assigned a lady’s maid named Verdeen. More than anything, Verdeen dreamt of entering the Warrior Academy and becoming a Ranger. So I wanted to do a book about her AFTER she graduated.
Can you tell us a little bit about the characters in A Guardian’s Destiny? Verdeen (Heroine)—an elven vertenya (female warrior) whose dreams of becoming a Ranger are dashed when no war-mare chooses to partner with her after graduation. All she wants is to change the world like her idol, Queen Dara, did. Aryk (Hero)—human daq (ruling chieftain) on Isadorikja, the Isle of Ice, who dreams of uniting his six fractious clans into a peaceful united whole. When he brings his proposal to the outside world, he’s brought before Loren, High King of the Cymry, the Eastdawn Elves (Dara’s husband), who assigns Verdeen to him as a bodyguard/counselor (and spy).
How did you come up with the concept and characters for A Guardian’s Destiny?
Aryk’s people are known as rievers to the outside world (think Viking raiders), so I did a lot of research into the Spartans, the Vikings, and Iceland for cultures and setting. I wondered what would make a warrior want to hang up his sword, and came up with the idea of a vision he has about his son’s death by sword. The only way he can prevent it is to ensure Joro never picks one up, which means the children need other career options. And so a desire for peace and trade with other nations was born.
Tell us about your main characters—what makes them tick? Verdeen is young and idealistic, but very single-minded about her life’s path, so when things don’t go as planned, she has no Plan B. She’s sacrificed everything to become a warrior, including her family (her parents disowned her when she quit the palace for the Academy). She had NO prior romantic experience with men, so her attraction to Aryk throws her for a loop. Aryk faces open skepticism from every front to his plans for peace. Even his best friend Valkyn thinks he’s mad. When the elven king forces him to take on an unblooded cadet, he’s resentful and worried she’ll get herself killed. Romance was not on his original agenda, but he starts to wonder if a political alliance to Cymry, though marriage, might be possible—if they survive the coming unification battles.
Who designed your book covers? Carly Marino
If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?
I based Verdeen on Miranda Otto’s portrayal of Eowyn in the LOTR films, and Aryk is based on Michael Fassbender’s portrayal of Stelios in 300.
How did you come up with name of this book?
It was originally entitled Riever’s Heart when it was published by Samhain. When Champagne Book Group picked up the whole series, we decided to retitle the books. Since the series is Guardians of Light, we put ‘Guardian’ is each of the titles. Since Aryk’s catch-phrase is “Stovak nos briel” (“Destiny Awaits”) I decided this one should be A Guardian’s Destiny. It’s especially appropriate b/c Verdeen is of two minds about what the elves call The Destiny Hand.
What are your top 10 favorite books/authors? *Top 10 Authors:
*Top 10 Books:
The Ladies of Mandrigyn by Barbara Hambly
Warprize by Elizabeth Vaughan
Once A Hero by Elizabeth Moon
Born of Ice by Sherrilyn Kenyon
Don’t Look Down by Jennifer Cruise and Bob Mayer
Never Too Much by Lori Foster
Lover Eternal by J.R. Ward
Coyote Dreams by C.E. Murphy
The Prize by Julie Garwood
ANYTHING & EVERYTHING by James Rollins
How long have you been writing?
My Grandma Jeanne first called me a writer when I was six and penciling pony stories in notebooks. I was the only kid in my class that had a MAXIMUM word count!
Do the characters all come to you at the same time or do some of them come to you as you write?
I usually have my main characters figured out before I start writing but I meet the secondary characters along the way.
What kind of research do you do before you begin writing a book?
I get the setting and culture set up. Terrain, climate, flora and fauna, food, clothing, weapons. I listen to music. For A Guardian’s Destiny I researched Iceland specifically, Viking & Spartan culture, arctic and Antarctic wildlife, mountain climbing, and listened to Nordic music. I especially like Garmarna, Hedningarna, and Varttina.
Do you read yourself and if so what is your favorite genre?
I read all the time and am eclectic in my favorite genres, everything from fantasy to paranormal romance to action-adventure
Do you prefer to write in silence or with noise? Why?
I like writing to music I’ve selected for that particular book, to get me into the setting/culture. I listen to Medieval Baebes and Enya for my Elven scenes, I listen to Axel Rudi Pell for battle scenes, and Nordic music for scenes set in Isadorikja.
Do you write one book at a time or do you have several going at a time? One at a time
Advice you would give new authors?
Join writer’s groups, get a critique partner, enter contests, have a strong social media presence
Describe your writing style.
I am a very informal writer, conversational with lots of dialogue and detailed world-building. I’ve been compared to Mercedes Lackey, and am a huge fan of Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey.
What makes a good story?
Real-people characters readers can relate to, with issues that make readers care, put in a solid world doing things that make the story move along while making the characters become more than they ever believed possible—and a HEA at the end!
What is your writing process?
I’m a total plotter, so if one scene is giving me trouble I can write a different one—I piece it together like a patchwork quilt
What is your writing Kryptonite? I have the bad habit of editing as I write
How long on average does it take you to write a book?
Follow the tour HERE for exclusive excerpts, guest posts and a giveaway!