Friday, March 8, 2019

Witchblood by Lissa Kasey - Release Day Blitz with Review and Author's Guest Post

Witchblood by Lissa Kasey


Sebastian Volkov, a fox shifter raised among werewolves, ran from everything he ever loved after a brutal attack that left him fearing his own shadow. That night a single kiss saved his life and left him with fantasies of a man whose face he couldn’t remember. When Sebastian’s car breaks down in a small Washington town, he meets an Alpha werewolf who reminds him vaguely of a stranger’s kiss.

A year ago Liam Ulrich, Alpha of the Northern Cascade’s Pack, shared a magic filled kiss with a virtual stranger, the infamous Witchblood child of the most powerful werewolf in the world. Since that night, Liam has been waiting for Sebastian to find his way home. Liam knows that Sebastian doesn’t trust easily, or at all, so he’s going to have to give his prickly mate time and space.

The past Sebastian tried to escape still stalks him and slowing down gives it time to catch up. 

When the werewolves’ ultimate enemy rises up to cast its shadow over them all, Sebastian realizes he will have to stop running or risk losing everything…. including his hope of a future with Liam.

The wind shifted. The scent of werewolves filled my nose. Dammit. I knew I shouldn’t have taken the free food. The bread had been plain, not easily tracked while stuffed away, but the sugar? A highly trained wolf could probably smell it from miles away.
There were few options. Run, which would attract the wolves and bring chase, forcing their beasts to hunt me even if that wasn’t what they had come for. Hide, which was unlikely even with my strongest wards. Or surrender and possibly die. Not the greatest selection of choices.
I chose the first and ran toward the car, praying I’d get it to start. Determination could often give magic an added edge. Seconds later the sounds of snarls and huffs of a chase filled my ears. I ran until I could hear the claws ripping through the brush, snarls and snorts edging closer behind me. There was more than one. My sensitive nose differentiated at least three different scents, none of them familiar. I didn’t stop to ask their names and looking back was only something people did in the movies right before they died. Instead I envisioned my legs and arms pumping hard enough to make me fly. I couldn’t actually fly, but the visualization spell did increase my speed a little. The balance of weight and resistance was all the spell changed. Maybe it would be enough.
They should have been able to outrun me. I was human, mostly. On two legs I was slower than most weres, but had years practicing just what I was doing now. My adoptive father had always told me not to run as it only made an aggressive werewolf worse. When the other option was death, it wasn’t much of an option. Rational thought told me that if they were sent by my adoptive father they didn’t want me dead, probably just good and scared. If they weren’t sent by him then I was just a trespasser and no one would miss me.
I reached the car in record speed, glad I’d left it unlocked. Not like there was anything in it to steal. I dove in through the passenger door, closing and locking it behind me and struggling out of the pack. The windows were up as I’d been unable to get them to work properly the entire time I’d owned the car. It was a small barrier, but all I really had. I flopped into the driver’s seat and put the key in when metal screeched as one of the wolves landed on the roof hard enough to dent it.
It was a gray beast with endless fangs and claws that scraped at the windows. Werewolves were about twice the size of normal wolves. Bigger often than the human they’d been, and about a hundred times deadlier. Inside the car I’d drawn wards. Just minor protection spells to keep the glass from breaking and lend strength to the frame. It wouldn’t hold for long.
The car didn’t start. Didn’t even sputter like it had any life left in it. I cursed it and kicked the dash. Now was not the time for it to ignore my magic.
One of the wolves jumped on the hood and lunged at the windshield with claws and fangs. Another scraped along the side of the car, producing the horrible high-pitched squeal of tearing iron. My wards would not stop them from tearing the car to pieces around me. The windshield began to splinter. Too much weight threw the whole car out of balance as the roof caved in, the sides were torn away and the windows smashed.
Choices. Life is filled with them. Some of them easy, like what to have for dinner. Others were a matter of life and death. Not really choices at all. I was out of choices. The car was coming apart around me. No one shifted to talk to me, so these wolves hadn’t likely been sent by my adoptive father. Not unless he wanted me dead. And didn’t the idea of that just burn like a knife to my guts? The only choice I had left was to abandon it all, change, and run.
As a human, I was slower than most werewolves even with my supply of spells. As a human, I was also limited in resources. My magic wasn’t strong enough to hurt them so my spells focused on defense more than offense. I suspected that was the only reason I’d been allowed to live among the were for so long. For a time, I avoided changing because it seemed to attract the others. Like they could sense me pulling on whatever invisible magic that tied me to the universe. The only real power I had was my own change. Nothing so spectacular as a wolf. Not vicious or even all that predatory.
My alternate form was no match for a werewolf.
“My beautiful little fox,” Felix had often said with a smile on his face. “So wily and quick witted.” Only now did I realize how much he’d viewed me as a possession. Just a pretty toy to be set on a shelf.
I wasn’t a toy. I was witchborn. Sometimes the only advantage I had from a change was that it startled others, gave me time to slip away, or even masked my scent. Often surprise and speed were all I really needed.
I wriggled out of my clothes as the windshield began to crumple and the driver’s side door squealed as it was ripped away. Weres took time to change, as long as a half an hour for some of the lesser wolves. The stronger wolves could shift in ten minutes or so. My change was seamless, a gift of magic born, not a curse of blood exchange.
One second I was human, the next I was fox. Small, slippery, and zipping between the legs of the wolf with the door under his fangs. Darting under his belly, I bolted, propelled by magic and fear. I crossed the road running, under, over and through, squeezing myself through openings that the wolves would never fit and zig-zagging to confuse whatever route they thought I’d take. They were behind me. I could hear them, but had to focus on my escape.
Run! My little fox brain didn’t have all the same higher functioning I did as a human, but it was close. Panic, however, was still panic, and my fight or flight mode was stuck in all out flight. Run, run, run, I chanted to myself, not really paying attention to the path.
Even as a fox I was only barely faster than them. I wove through roads, brambles and trees, hoping to slow them down. One of them leapt, close enough to brush my tail, and I ran that much harder. It was a game to them now, I realized. Two off to my sides, herding me in for their alpha to catch. I wondered again if it was the alpha from the bakery. He’d seemed nice. Had pretty eyes and dimples. It was only fitting that he be a monster since I’d wanted him. A reminder of how bad I was at choosing men. A curse of my family maybe. My mother had the same hard luck. Falling in love with a Native American man who died before he could know I’d ever been conceived. She’d always told me that love was something people wrote about in books. Lust was what happened in real life and got people in trouble. Once again I thought she might be right.
I ran out of road. There was a wall of some kind. Like the sort built on the side of roadways, only there was no grade to it, it was just straight up and down as far as I could see. The two werewolves closed in from the sides, and the final one’s claws crunched on gravel behind me. I hadn’t even noticed we’d found a gravel road of some sort. A place for water runoff maybe. The place I was probably going to die.
Bracing myself with my back to the wall, I turned to face them, my fangs and claws no match for three werewolves, but I’d go down fighting. Better a fox than a human to be ripped apart and left for the crows. At least in this form I had fangs and claws too. The burning in my left arm intensified. More wolves? Fuck.
The large gray wolf growled at me, inching closer slowly. He must have been enjoying the scent of my fear. One of the other wolves boxing me in, took a swipe, which I dodged, but it caught the edge of my flank, opening a gash along my right hip. I yelped as pain flared. I expected them all to attack and end my run.
Only something flew overhead, landing with the force of a truck on top of the gray wolf. Another launched itself from the top of the wall into the wolf who’d injured me, tearing out its throat. The gray wolf battled a huge black wolf now. The two of them rolling, snarling, and tearing at each other. The third wolf came for me. I ducked and rolled beneath him, turning until my tiny claws were up to rake open his belly.
Hot blood poured over me, but the were just huffed and did a little skid-turn to raise a paw at me. I felt the hit before I really saw him move. Pain exploded through all of my senses. Stars, and swirls of color overflowed my vision as his claws connected with the side of my head. I was sure he punctured my skull, and I flew into the wall, body blossoming into pain. It was an explosion through my spine up into my brain. The world faded as I lay in a broken heap on the ground beside the wall, watching the black wolf fight the gray, and the second wolf, a pale brown one, launch itself at the wolf that had hit me.
This was it, I thought. So much for ever going home. Or finding a home. So much for the dreams of freedom. My heart pounded. I felt blood seeping from my head. There were tattoos on my left arm and right wrist that were supposed to help speed healing. It wouldn’t be enough. Not if my spine was broken and my skull fractured. My body couldn’t hold enough energy to heal bones and keep me from bleeding out at the same time. At least it would be fast, I had enough time to think as the darkness overrode my vision. I sank into the darkness, to the growls of the werewolves fighting, reminding me of home. 

5 out of 5 stars
Lissa Kasey is back with a brand new book in a brand new urban fantasy/paranormal series... And what a wild, extremely addicting and satisfying ride this book was from start to finish! Witchblood is the first book in the Kitsune Chronicles. If you've never read this author's books before you're in for a treat. If you were already a fan, be prepared for a book that you won't want to put down. I got so sucked into this book while on lunch at work one day, I was late clocking back in.  

While I won't delve too deep into the plot because I don't want to spoil it for anyone. So, Witchblood features a kitsune raised as part of a werewolf pack.  Now of course Kitsunes are not normal shifters, so Sebastian hasn't had the easiest time of it. Too many in the Volkov pack fear him and/or hate him but also want to  use him for his omega calming powers. All of this shapes Sebastian into who he is, and leaves him with scars and issues to overcome. 

The story is told completely in Sebastian's voice, which worked rather well for this story and these characters. The pace of the story was tight and kept me engaged from start to finish. This could easily be a one sitting read for so many readers but I caution reading it too fast as you might miss some of the subtle things that happen in the book. There are many elements to the story from Sebastian being in a werewolf pack,  working in the bakery, and even digging and planting his herbs for his alchemy projects. 

I'm completely hooked on this series and honestly can't wait to see what the author has in store for her characters next. I highly recommend picking up this book and indulging in a fantastic urban fantasy read. 

Blog Post #1: Angst and Interesting Reading

Reading angst-filled stories can be heartbreaking because we, as humans, connect to pain in a very emotional way. Often on social media, you’ll see someone who posts about how a book made them cry, or even something as small as a meme. Some wonder why anyone reads the stuff if it effects them emotionally that way. Masochism? Probably not. More likely we identify with a character, their story, or even a situation, and it gives us just a tiny bit of hope for ourselves. Books are an escape from our real world problems. As a voracious reader I grew up spending my days lost in made up worlds, learning about people who had never really existed and wishing I were there. Not much has changed now that I’m an adult and a writer as well as a reader.

I wrote my first novel in the sixth grade. It was called Ship Wrecked and featured a group of teenagers who had been ship wrecked on an island which was full of booby traps. At the time I’d been reading a lot of Christopher Pike books, so the story had a pretty grim outcome. In fact everything I wrote for the first twenty years of my life erred on the side of total destruction to my characters. Lots of rejection later, I learned that destroying a character might be fun, but it was the rebuilding that made for enjoyable reading. How often have you read a series in which the author killed off a favorite character and you angrily said you’d never read them again, only to buy the next book anyway?

Growing up in a less than ideal family I had a lot of hardship that I poured into my writing to ease some of the daily sadness. I read a lot of romance, but didn’t starting writing it until I was in my late twenties. Romance was candy. It was easy for my brain to attach happiness to it because it didn’t mirror anything I’d ever experienced in real life. Until that point I’d been writing urban fantasy, and thought, well let’s see if I can add a bit of this candy to all my angst. Which was how Inheritance was born. If you haven’t read it, the Dominion series was my first urban fantasy romance series. It was also my first published books. I learned a lot from the dynamic of damaged characters. All the expectations of life and fear of failure I dropped into Seiran and let him run with it. Poor guy. He’s come out okay. And to those who’ve asked, yes there will eventually be a book five.

My latest urban fantasy romance, Witchblood, has some similarities. Sebastian has been running from his past and himself for a long time. He’s got so much self-doubt that he expects everyone to stab him in the back, even people he’s never met before. His personal growth is not so much about trusting again, that will take time. Often a lifetime. It’s more about having hope to try. None of his problems are solved overnight. When Liam tells him they are fated mates, Sebastian is wary and ready to run again.

I recently did a poll in my author group. What would people do if they found out they had a fated mate? The major of them answered: Research the hell out of them. Our suspicious world demands knowledge. But if they didn’t have hope that it was real, would they look at all? I think that’s why angst is such a beloved genre in the romance niche. Everyone loves the brain candy every once in a while with the simple boy meets boy and they fall madly in love, happily ever after. But we know that’s not how life works most of the time. And hope for a character who’s a little damaged like us to find love, is a pretty big motivator.

One of my favorite lines from the book is one of those that just free-flowed from my life. Sebastian had just found out that Liam has a grown daughter. So Sebastian assumes that Liam is the typical alpha, married with kids. His thoughts are: I sighed, fantasy bubble bursting into shards of emotional glass. Reality is that Sebastian has made a wrong assumption and caused himself pain. Sebastian is an untrusting bastard who runs into a wall that is his fated mate. How he reacts is based on his upbringing and personal choice. He could run again. Or he could take a chance. We as readers enjoy the angst taking that chance brings the story. Even if it cuts us along the way.


Lissa Kasey is more than just romance. She specializes in in-depth characters, detailed world building, and twisting plots to keep you clinging to the page. All stories have a side of romance, emotionally messed up protagonists and feature LGBTQA spectrum characters facing real world problems no matter how fictional the story.

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