At last, he had his revenge.

After a while he ceased to notice who he killed.  He merely struck out with the rage he'd carried for years.  He was vaguely aware some of them weren't even armed.  Through the fog of his battle frenzy, he even heard some of them beg for mercy, but he gave them none. He slashed and stabbed.  The bodies piled up around him, and the ground became slick with the blood of the fallen.  As he pulled his sword free from the body of his latest victim, he heard someone calling his name.  He whirled, thrusting his sword toward the sound.  Too late to stop the momentum, he saw the auburn hair of the one who had spoken.  He watched in horror as his sword plunged through Milady's mouth and emerged from the back of her head.  Her eyes looked into his, startled, and then she collapsed on top of another woman.  As Robrek flung the sword away and dropped beside Milady's twitching body, he realized she'd fallen on top of Cara.  Robrek didn't even remember killing her.  Beside Cara lay Tegan, the young boy from the horse fair.

He grabbed Milady and held her to his chest, "No!" he sobbed.  "I'd never do this to you!  I could never hurt you!  I love you!"
I absolutely loved this story.  I finished in less than one discharge of my iPad (I was up 'till 4:30 in the morning, but I finished it).  I simply couldn't put it down.

The Goddess's Choice is based on a Norwegian legend I've never heard of, but you can clearly see the classic elements of old world legends in the telling.  It is bloody and gruesome at times (think Grimm's Fairy Tales gruesome), there is magic and mystery, and the three magical horses just scream myths and legends to me.

Samantha is a strong heroine in the story, unusual for the old world.  Even in the story, it is clear that many are not happy with having a woman in such a position of power).  I like her a lot and it pains me to see what she has to go through in the story to come out on top, the people she has to lose.

Robrek, the hero of the story, frustrated me for most of the story, even while I was rooting for him to escape the nightmare his reality is and get the girl.  He fights his destiny for much of the story (thus my frustration) and has difficulty letting go of the past so he can have a future.  I hated the people that abused him just as much as he did and it pained me to watch as those that should have nurtured and protected him, should have been his friends, turned on him.

All in all, I really enjoyed this book and if you like romances or books with magic and knights, you'll probably like this story.

About the Author:

I live in Auburn, Alabama, with my husband, son, and four cats. I've been told that having four cats officially makes you a cat lady, so I guess I am one. I teach writing and literature at Auburn University.

My first novel  The Goddess's Choice  was released in April 2012 from Reliquary Press. I am hard at work on the sequel, tentatively titled  The Soul Stone.  My short fiction has been published in Bards & Sages, The World of Myth, and

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The Kronicles of Korthlundia

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"It's his way of showing he doesn't like you."
"That's not normal!  What the--?"
AW snarled loudly, baring his teeth.  He shimmied backward, shaking his bottom even more aggressively.  Bill backed up.
"Stop it, AW!" shouted Emily.  The dog ignored her, still gyrating.
"Hey, that dog is a freak--"
"Listen, Ass-Wipe!" Emily yelled.  The dog jerked his head toward her.
"What did you call me?" Bill shouted.
"Not you!  The dog.  That's his name."
"What the hell is wrong with you, naming a dog Ass-Wipe?"  Bill stared at her with beady pig eyes, sweat dotting his pink brow.
"Don't you think it fits him?" Emily said, smiling sweetly.
Riley J. Ford yet again delivers a crazy ride that will have you laughing to the very end.  The story is all about the main character Emily Keane's journey of self-discovery, which is not altogether straight.

Emily considers herself to be practical, but in reality, she has lived her life scared, in a little bubble that, much to my chagrin, frequently includes bigotry.  At first, I too saw Emily as a practical, intelligent, yet emotionally isolated woman.  Towards the middle of the book, however, I began to realize that all of my assumptions were wrong about her.  She is not practical, but scared.  She is not intelligent, but a fool.  She doesn't learn from her mistakes (as evidenced by her admitting that she'd wrongly judged someone, then proceeding to judge the person yet again in the next scene).  She judges people and believes her own judgement is infallible, even though her own life is falling apart and the people she is judging are actually doing just fine.  This drove me nuts, and, probably because of a lot of the parallels I saw with my own personality, I was irritated that the author couldn't seem to get the personality quite right.  For example, Emily appears to have or be bordering on obsessive-compulsive disorder.  And yet, she frequently doesn't do the proper research that anyone with OCD would have done.  They would be incapable of acting without it.  Like knowing exactly how many people die a year in the Running of the Bulls in Pamplona or knowing the tensile strength of cord used for Parasailing or knowing that no one would freeze to death in tropical waters after a plane crash.

That being said, the book recovered itself and I thoroughly enjoyed the ending.

On a side note, though he didn't have to terribly big a role in the story, I couldn't help but love Emily's dog, AW a.k.a. Ass-Wipe.  I think he might have cracked me up more than any other character in the book.  I wish he'd had a larger role.  But then, I love dogs.  And AW is a real charmer.

It has been brought to my attention that some have taken this review, and my use of the word "bigot," the wrong way.  Much of the story arc is about Emily overcoming her own assumptions and prejudices of the people around her.  Bigot, by definition, does not mean racist.  That was not my intention and I apologize to the author for the misunderstanding.  Bigot, according to Merriam-Webster, means: a person who is obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices; especially : one who regards or treats the members of a group with hatred and intolerance.

About the Author:

Riley J. Ford has always been a writer, but she'd read somewhere that you should never write for publication until you've gained a lot of life experience first. She took this advice seriously, especially during her time at UCLA when she attended as many social gatherings as possible while still maintaining an honorable grade point average. She took great pride in her degree until the graduation commencement speaker joked, "I hope all you English majors consider the extremely low-paid but rewarding profession of teaching, as that is all your degree is good for." He was met with an abundance of eye rolling and nervous laughter, most of it from Riley J. Ford who was thinking, "No way in hell."

To her, teaching seemed as boring as listening to Muzak in an orthodontist's office while making bucked-tooth molds. To prove she could do anything with an English degree, she rebelliously went into banking instead. She soon learned the error of her ways, as banking is not the giggle-fest it's portrayed to be, and she ultimately turned to teaching after all. Fortunately, offering instruction to court-ordered convicts during the Los Angeles riots gave Riley J. Ford the excitement and personal adventures she craved. She also learned how important it is to live . . . literally. She was surprised to find she loved teaching, and eventually went on to become an ESL instructor and high school teacher with her very own parking space. A marriage and two kids later, she realized she'd gained more than enough life experience to become an author and dived headfirst into writing INTO YOU, her first work of fiction. She is also the author of the upcoming novel, CARPE DiEMILY, which she guarantees will make you piss your pants laughing, so be sure to wear a diaper. She currently lives in California with her family.
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I always encourage buying from Smashwords, when available, for several reasons:
1: You are doing more to support the author because they get more per book there.
2: It's one stop shopping.  They have every ebook format possible.  
3: You can download the book as many times as you want.
And 4: No DRM's, so no hassle. 
Just ahead she could make out the gangplank to the Eastwind.  Safety was within sight.  Shaking with fright, she thought of dropping her bag - the weight slowed her - but all she owned was within, even the crowns Mr. Wickes had advanced her.  And then there was no time to think, no time to sound an alarm.  Hands lurched out from the fog and caught her cloak on either side.
I have no idea where I found this book or why I chose to download it.  It's not my usual genre, but a period piece and a prelude to a historical romance at that (my least favorite genre).  

That being said, this novella was amazing.  Parnell created Silvia's world with an unencumbered flare for detail.  I easily immersed myself in her world - a world I could practically see, it was so clear.  The characters were engaging and likable.  The scenes were real, smooth, and pulled the reader into the moment, feeling tension and anxiety for Silvia.

I finished this novella and immediately wanted to go out a get the next installment, Dark Splendor.  Totally brilliant and I entirely encourage you to pick it up.  I just wish I could pick up the next book and read it now!

eReader: Kindle for iPad
File type: MOBI

About the Author

I was always tying stories to places and objects so it was no surprise that should happen at a retreat on a coastal Georgia island where the ancient oaks dripped moss like secrets, the sun on the marshes captured all thought and the remnants of the early settlers tended to come alive in my mind. My book Dark Splendor formed in the mysterious atmosphere of summer days in such a place.

Dark Splendor was released in 1986 as the launch title for a line of Sexy Gothics, adding a much more sensual element to the classic Gothic novel. The book earned the Romantic Times Award for Best New Gothic Author and was my first of ten novels published. I have also published short fiction, articles and have over one million copies of my books in print. My works include Gothic, Western, and other historical and contemporary romances. I have received the Maggie, Romantic Times Reviewers Choice Awards and other awards for my novels.

I taught creative writing classes for many years through a local community college, am a member of Novelists, Inc. (NINC) and past president of the Georgia Authors Network. I am fond of cats, travel, overgrown gardens, and old houses with lots of crooks, crannies, and interesting shadows and just generally puttering around and ruminating.

I have been focused on another career for quite some time but am delighted to return to my lasting love of writing and get my books out in digital format.Dark Splendor and Whispers at Midnight, another Sexy Gothic, are now available as ebooks, along with my Western romance Delilah’s Flame. I am now puttering less and am fast at work on new books. I made a recent nostalgic trip to that place on the coast and think the descendants of the characters in Dark Splendor might have a story to tell.

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The novella was free when I downloaded it.
Is it too much to hope that an author would at least pretend at professionalism when responding to an email from a book reviewer choosing not to review his book?

I get that my critique might not make you happy.  And, no, I don't care that you had the book "professionally" edited.  That doesn't change the fact that your book doesn't look professionally edited.  I'm sorry.  If a book is missing end quotes between dialog and action, it is "inadequately edited" (my exact words in the email).  The fact that I chose to waste my time explaining why I didn't decide to review your book and even went so far as to offer suggestions as to how to improve upon the work does not give you the right to call me names.  It just doesn't.

And it is not pedantic to want the author to be consistent with how a character is named or to want it to be clear who is speaking or to want more detailed explanations of concepts that are not everyday.

And when I sent him a message trying to be [mostly] professional and told him to please not respond to the email as I had zero interest in continued correspondence, he had the audacity to respond (thus proving incapable of listening) and insult me AGAIN (thus reinforcing his complete lack of professionalism)!  I didn't respond back and blocked him from my mail client.

I meant to go to bed a while ago, but have been too keyed up by the asshole to sleep.  Kind of sucks considering I have to be somewhere early tomorrow morning and I haven't had a full night's sleep in a week.  Looks like tonight won't be any better...