Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Blog Tour & Giveaway: The Dark Huntsman by Jessica Aspen

I received a copy of The Dark Huntsman in exchange for my review.

After 15 years imprisonment, Logan is finally freed by the Black Queen, given his freedom in exchange for wiping out a clan of gypsies. When Logan arrives, he is surprised to find just one green witch left to oppose him, but something in him refuses to kill her, despite how easy it would be. Once home he discovers that her name is Trina, and in exchange for her life she becomes his servant for the time of one year and one day. At first,Trina is determined not to fall for Logan's fae charms, but soon they both find themselves torn apart when they are parted, and determined to protect each other. If the Queen found out that Logan had let Trina survive then there would be a bounty on his head as well as hers...

It seems like quite a while since I have read such a good retelling of a fairy tale! And add to that that I was massively impressed that some parts of Snow White that are normally left out of retellings, such as the hair combs, were a part of this story. Though at times it was slightly hard to tell that it was based on a fairy tale at all, which I think just demonstrates the way that the author owned the story and made it her own (totally a good thing in case that isn't that clear!)

There was a note at the end of the book from Jessica Aspen that pointed out that the real hero of the story of Snow White is the Huntsman not the Prince, and I definitely agree! And now I have finally read a book that makes him the hero! Logan was a slightly odd character in the fact that everyone thought he was bad, but actually when you got down to it, he himself never really had been, so saying that he redeemed himself isn't quite right, maybe proved himself would be better.

Though, Logan did have quite a lot of learning to do, particularly surrounding Trina, who wanted to be helpful and independent, but he wouldn't let her be (old fashioned fae talking there!). I liked her as a heroine for that reason, she was strong, had weaknesses, but they only made her want to be stronger. Ignoring the magic and related stuff, she was a very believable character!

There's more coming in this series, and when I found that out I was quite excited! I can't wait to see what else Aspen has in store, and to find out what the prophecy will cause!


The Dark Huntsman, A Fantasy of the Black Court
Tales of the Black Court,
Book One
Jessica Aspen

Genre: Fantasy Romance

Publisher: Abracadabra Publishing

Date of Publication: October 2013
ISBN: e-copy: 978-0-9899558-0-5
ISBN: Paperback: 978-0615891682  
ASIN: B00FN2P7A8

Number of pages: 326
Word Count: 88,000 words

Cover Artist: Kari Ayasha of

Book Description:

An evil queen, a dangerous man, and a witch, tangled together in a tale of Snow White...

Desperate to save the last of her family from the murderous Faery Queen, Trina Mac Elvy weaves a spell of entrapment. But instead of a common soldier, the queen has released the Dark Huntsman, a full blooded fae with lethal powers.

Caged for treason, Logan Ni Brennan, is ready to do anything to win free of the manipulative queen, even if it includes running a last errand for her…murdering a witch. The sight of Trina, ready to fight despite the odds, gives him another option: use the witch as a chess piece, put the queen’s son on the throne, and bring down the queen forever.

As the queen slides into insanity and her closest advisor makes plans to succeed to the throne, Logan secrets Trina away in the enchanted forest and makes a decisive move in his dangerous game of manipulation. But the gaming tables of fate turn on him, and when Trina’s life is threatened he discovers he risks more than his freedom…he risks his heart.

Dare to enter Jessica Aspen’s world of steamy, fantasy romance in her new twisted fairy tale trilogy: Tales of the Black Court…

Purchase it at Amazon   

Excerpt:
Riding into the dry-as-bones mountains on the back of the puca, Logan’s anger seared bitter in his chest. It rolled off him in waves, pulling thunder down from the sky. He toyed idly with the storm letting his anger draw the danger of the lightening to him as he seethed. Fifteen years away from his hounds. Fifteen years of Solanum’s running wild, the puca causing havoc wherever he went. Fifteen years of Logan’s life eaten away in the hole of the queen’s dungeons.
And now he was to kill witches for the queen. A fact that rubbed him raw.
Humans were amusing companions, why create trouble? Irritated with the brief flare of morality, he smothered it with brutal force. It didn’t fucking matter what he wanted. It never had.
Lightening cracked. The eerie silent hounds of the Dark Hunt tightened around him, their tense glances and snapping teeth reflections of his flaring emotions.
He had no room for second thoughts tonight. The Black Queen had given him no reason why she needed these witches killed, but if he satisfied her it might give him his freedom. At the very least it would give him some space. Maybe some time to figure out a way to stay out of the dungeons. And time to figure out how to truly extricate himself from her bloody dominion.
Because no matter what she had promised him, he knew, there was no way she would simply let him go. Not after the way he had betrayed her.
Solanum tossed his head and bucked. “Quit squeezing my ribs.” Lurid green faery flames leapt from his hooves, igniting short-lived cold fires in the dry Wyoming brush.
“Cease, horse,” Logan said, squeezing his legs a little more. Punching Solanum’s buttons felt good, really good. Just like his wrath at the queen felt good. Justified.
The puca tossed his long mane into Logan’s eyes. “Lay off, or you’ll be eating dirt,” the puca snarled, his nostrils flaring in the dimming light.
Solanum’s irritation put a hard smile on Logan’s lips. He tightened his legs and drove the puca harder down the hill through the brewing storm.
A hound pushed in close. Solanum’s hoof lashed out, connecting with a solid thud. The hound’s yipe sounded inside Logan’s head as he regained his balance, cursing the hound’s behavior and the puca’s intolerance.
He was back. The hounds would get used to him again. And Solanum too.
Thunder crashed in the sky, following him down into the shadowed hills as he approached the witches’ lair. Nostrils burning from the ozone, nerves tingling, he distracted himself with the dark moist wind, manipulating it to blow through the dry autumn brush like a child's tantrum.
He laughed, the spiteful wind stealing away the dark sound as cracks of thunder echoed off the mountains. He let the anger simmer and the lightening moved further away. He wasn’t free yet, and he wasn’t suicidal. What he was, was trapped. And it pissed him off, the frustration riding him like a hag.
What could he do when the queen changed her mind and refused to release him from her service? What if the bitch thought she could use him then put him back into her dungeons Underhill, calling him to her side like a lapdog? He needed a way to show her there would be repercussions. He needed leverage.
In the distance, thunder rumbled and they tipped over the edge of the valley in search of the witch. A wavering glow of candles shone above the last few rocks.
Almost there.
The telltale traces of a spell raised the hair on the back of his neck. He extended his Gift to perceive what he couldn’t yet see. A labyrinth set by a single inexperienced witch. His lips twitched. As protection it might have worked, had the Faery Queen sent her regular henchman. Unluckily for the witch, the queen had unleashed him. The Dark Huntsman.
He would kill the wench, and be done with this thing between himself and the queen of the Tuatha De Dannan. And when the queen refused to release him? He’d deal with that when the time came.
The wind carried the hot dry smell of sage mixed with the smell of fear and musky female. He inhaled the raw flavor of the witch, the taste of her fear and anger and power slid down his throat, easing his rage.
The anxious hounds shifted around him, sensing the proximity of their prey. Solanum rounded the rock.
And there she was.
The sight of her rocked him back like a blow, almost knocking him to the ground. And he realized that despite the stasis, fifteen years had been too long a time to be without a woman.
Glimmers of power limned her naked body and the silver blade of the athame that gleamed between her breasts. Her legs were spread slightly apart, tensed for battle. Long black hair crackled and lifted with static. Her expressive face was poised on the edge of dilemma, her body caught between the need to hold the spell and the need for action.
He paused to let the feel of power and woman roll through him.
Beautiful.
Unexpected.
Green, almond shaped eyes widened. Her stance firmed, her shoulders pulled back, and her full breasts rose, nipples tightened with cold or fear. Something wild and raw he hadn’t felt in a hundred years stabbed low in his gut.
His agenda changed.
The queen wanted to kill the witch. Why? His plan of placating the queen suddenly seemed weak. She’d never let him go without leverage, and here was leverage standing naked and lovely before him. He had a new plan.
Screw the queen.


About the Author:

Jessica Aspen has always wanted to be spirited away to a world inhabited by elves, were-wolves and sexy men who walk on the dark side of the knife. Luckily, she’s able to explore her fantasy side and delve into new worlds by writing paranormal romance. She loves indulging in dark chocolate, reading eclectic novels, and dreaming of ocean vacations, but instead spends most of her time, writing, walking the dog, and hiking in the Colorado Rockies.

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