2017 plans (aka “when is the next book coming out?”)

So, the kids are finally back at school and I’ve dragged myself kicking and screaming out of holiday mode and started contemplating what the rest of the year might look like, bookwise.

I’m hoping to get four books published this year. At first glance, this might seem like slacking off, compared to last year, which saw the publication of five books: Moonborn, The Fairytale Curse, The Cauldron’s Gift, Stolen Magic and Murdered Gods. But The Fairytale Curse and The Cauldron’s Gift had already been drafted before I’d even published my first book, and Stolen Magic was drafted in 2015, so I had a great headstart on last year’s publishing schedule.

Unfortunately for me, my stockpile of novels is now empty. Everything I publish this year will have to be written this year (apart from the first 20,000 words or so of Rivers of Hell). So four books this year is pretty ambitious!

All of that is by way of saying: I have a plan in my head, but I’m realistic enough to know that I have a habit of overestimating how much I can get done in a day, and life with three kids tends to derail my plans with frustrating regularity. So I’m not going to be too specific about release dates. The next book out will be Rivers of Hell, book 3 in the Shadows of the Immortals series. Hopefully that will be out in late March or early April.

After that, I’ll be working on books 4 and 5, which should be out later in the year. That will be the end of the series. If I’m lucky, I might also be able to squeeze in the third and final book of the Magic’s Return series, The Fox’s Debt, before the end of the year.

In short, I have a busy year of writing ahead! Thank you to everyone who has asked when the next book will be out—it’s lovely to know that you’re out there, eagerly awaiting more books about Lexi and Jake and the gang. I’m having a lot of fun writing them. I promise you I’m doing my best to get those books to you ASAP!

I’ll try to keep the Books page of this site updated with news about upcoming books, but the best way to make sure you’re up to date with all the news is to subscribe to my mailing list. I send a newsletter about once a month, and subscribers are the first to hear the latest book news.

Teaser Tuesday: Murdered Gods

Look what’s about to be released—Murdered Gods, Book 2 in my Shadows of the Immortals series!

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Here’s a little snippet to whet your appetite:

It’s not every day you have a beer with the Lord of the Underworld. I’d shared drinks with him before, but that was when I thought he was a vampire named Alberto Alinari. Today he’d revealed, in spectacular fashion, that underneath the undead exterior he was actually Hades, king of the dead.

I was surprisingly unfazed by this discovery. What can I say? It had been a rough couple of days. Stealing magic rings out from under the nose of the most powerful fireshaper in the land, statues coming to life, betrayals and counter-betrayals … yeah, it had been a busy week. And we weren’t done yet.

The beer was cold, and most welcome after the oh-my-God-I’m-about-to-die stress of the fight outside. The wet glass left damp rings on the shining wood of the bar. It wasn’t like Alberto—excuse me, Lord Hades—to forget the coaster, but I guess it had been a stressful morning for him, too, what with saving us from imminent death, just in the nick of time. Alberto always had been one for the big, showy gesture.

“You going to drink that, or just push it around in circles?” the Lord of the Underworld asked in a rather testy tone. He was most particular about the pristine surface of his bar, which he usually kept polished to a shine you could see your face in.

I picked up my glass and chugged the beer, the amber liquid sliding down my parched throat, then slammed the empty glass back down on the bar. “Drink it.”

He raised one perfectly arched eyebrow. I’d always thought he looked like the stereotype of a vampire—dark hair swept back from a pale, high forehead, with a certain air of elegance in his clothes and manner. Now I wondered if he really looked like that at all.

“Another?” he asked.

“Please.” I watched him refill the glass, then rather pointedly wipe the bar clean of wet spots. “Unless you’ve got some ambrosia back there.”

“It’s overrated.” He poured some milk into a saucer and set it beside the beer. Syl leapt up onto the bar and lapped daintily at it. “Fine if you’ve got a thing for liquid honey, otherwise you’d probably find it too sweet.”

“I can’t believe we’re having this conversation.”

*Me either,* Syl said into my mind, her pink tongue carefully cleaning drops of milk from her whiskers. *Ask him what Hell’s like.*

[Update: Read the rest! Available now on Amazon.]

Stolen Magic cover reveal

So remember when I said I was working on Book 3 of the Magic’s Return series, and it would be out before the end of the year?

Yeah, not so much. I’ve decided to leave that series for a little while and start a new urban fantasy series for adults instead. I love my YA series, and I will definitely write more of it, but I had this awesome idea involving shapeshifters, elemental magic and a girl who could control animals. I threw in some Greek gods and set it all in an alternate version of our world, and had so much fun writing it that I couldn’t wait to share it with you!

Once again my cover designer at artbykarri.com has done a magnificent job. Isn’t it beautiful?

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Here’s the blurb:

“Lexi Jardine may be a thief, but she’s not stupid. When a crooked fireshaper wants her to steal a ring from the boss of his order, she knows it’s a one-way ticket to sleeping with the fishes. Her answer is to drop off the face of the earth.

Safely hidden in a quiet seaside town, she just needs to keep her head down and pretend to be a regular human. Since her only magical ability is the power to control animals, that should be easy, right?

Then a new fireshaper shows up in town. He’s hot as hell but oddly hostile. With his suspicious eyes watching her every move, her safe haven starts feeling more like a trap. When her best friend disappears, Lexi knows the time for hiding is over. Though the fireshapers are more powerful, Lexi’s not one to abandon a friend—but it will take everything she’s got to save them both from the flames.”

Available on Amazon now!

The Cauldron’s Gift is out!

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The Cauldron’s Gift is out in ebook. Only 99 cents for a limited time, to celebrate the book’s launch, so grab your copy before the price goes up.

The paperback should be out any day now. That’s my first paperback proof there, looking so pretty! I love the covers for this series. They’re so dreamy, and they look stunning in real life. My cover designer is working on the cover for Book 3 at the moment, and it will be just as gorgeous.

I’m also working on Book 3, though I have a long way to go yet. I’ve only just started the first draft, so there will be more of a gap between the release of Book 2 and Book 3. All I can promise is that it will be out later this year. In the meantime, enjoy The Cauldron’s Gift!

The Cauldron’s Gift cover reveal

The wonderful Karri Klawiter of artbykarri has designed another beautiful cover for me. The Cauldron’s Gift is Book 2 in the Magic’s Return series, and will be out on July the 6th.

The Cauldron's Gift small

Here is the blurb:

When Vi and her twin sister CJ started spitting frogs and diamonds with every word, they discovered their parents worked for a secret organisation dedicated to keeping the magical denizens of the world safely locked away. Vi thought life couldn’t get any weirder, but then Dad became a bear, and her world really fell apart. Because it’s starting to look like that’s one spell the warders can’t undo. They’re all too busy trying to unmask the traitor who is secretly aiding the Sidhe.

Vi managed to keep the Sidhe from breaking out of their magical prison, but she couldn’t stop the Morrigan from stealing back the great cauldron of the Dagda. And of course now CJ says the only way to save Dad is to get that cauldron back from fairyland. Talk about a suicide mission. Vi would have to be crazy to consider it, but as time runs out for Dad and the Morrigan threatens everyone Vi loves, craziness starts to look like the only sane option.

The Fairytale Curse teaser

The Fairytale Curse, first book in my new series, is coming out soon. Here’s a peek at the first chapter to whet your appetites!

CHAPTER ONE

The girl on the TV wore a long white dress, as if she’d been on the way to her wedding when she decided to lie down in a glass coffin instead. Her skin had a healthy glow; her cheeks were a rosy pink and her lips bright red. She certainly didn’t look dead. I almost expected her eyes to flutter open as I watched.

“Janey!” Dad never took his eyes off the TV. “Come and look at this.”

Mum came in with a this better be worth it expression on her face. She didn’t approve of watching TV at breakfast time. Whenever Dad picked up the remote, she’d roll those sharp green eyes of hers and sigh in that I’m so disappointed in you way. Not that Dad took any notice. You’d think she’d have gotten used to it after twenty-one years of marriage, but every morning it was the same old same old. It always ended with her huffing off to another room as soon as her cereal was done, where she made as much noise as possible until the TV was turned off again.

The footage was wobbly, as if it had been taken with a mobile phone, and only lasted a few seconds. The camera panned around a small clearing in what looked like dense forest. And not the kind we have in Australia, either. This was forest straight out of Central Casting, dark and foreboding. Huge pines towered over the scene, leaning in as if whispering secrets to one another. In the centre of the clearing, in the gloom beneath the pines, stood a massive marble platform. How the hell it got there, I couldn’t imagine, since there didn’t seem to be any gaps in the trees big enough to drag a huge lump of stone like that through. On top of it rested the glass coffin.

The girl inside was laid out like royalty at a state funeral. Her dark hair fanned neatly across the pillow, and her hands were clasped precisely on her chest. Whoever had put her there had obviously taken a great deal of care. They’d even tucked a single red rose into her hands, its colour a perfect match for the lipstick she wore.

“The unidentified girl was found early this morning in the Blue Mountains west of Sydney, not far from the popular tourist destination of the Three Sisters.” The camera zoomed in on the girl’s still face as the reporter spoke. She could have been anything from sixteen to twenty-six. “This footage was taken by the hiker who discovered her. Despite appearances, she isn’t dead. Emergency services took her to hospital where doctors found her to be in a deep coma, though apparently healthy. There is no visible sign of trauma, and police are appealing for anyone who can shed any light on the mystery of the Sleeping Beauty to come forward.”

Dad snorted. “Sleeping Beauty, my foot. Idiot doesn’t know his fairy tales.”

And Dad did? He was more comfortable with gadgets than books; I would never have suspected him of an interest in fairy tales.

The picture changed to the reporter standing in the same clearing. The coffin was gone, but the platform remained, cordoned off with police tape. Good luck shifting that sucker.

“I’m here with a local resident, who’s lived in the area for the past fifty years.”

The camera pulled back to reveal a grizzled old bloke who could have claimed to have lived there for the past hundred years and I’d have believed him. He had the leathery look of someone who’d spent a lot of those years outdoors.

The reporter turned to him with an encouraging smile. He was probably afraid the old guy would drop dead on national TV from the excitement.

“You were telling me before that there’s even more to this mystery than first appears.”

“That’s right.” The old man nodded vigorously. “I was a park ranger before I retired, and I know this area like the back of my hand. I’ve probably walked this trail more times than a young bloke like you’s had hot dinners.”

The reporter chuckled. “And what can you tell the viewers about this spot where we’re standing?”

“It doesn’t exist, son. At least, that’s what I’d say if I wasn’t standing in it, if you see what I mean.”

Hmm. Old guy wasn’t making any sense. Maybe he had dementia, and the reporter was about to make an idiot of himself live on camera. Mum and Dad were staring like three-year-olds hypnotised by a Disney movie. I’d never seen Mum pay that much attention to “that idiot box” before.

The old guy waved a bony hand at the trees looming over the clearing. “These trees here, they look pretty established, don’t they? Forty, fifty years old, maybe. But I’m telling you, they weren’t here last time I came down this track, and that’s only a couple of years ago. Maybe weren’t even here yesterday, you know what I’m saying? The main trail’s only twenty metres that way, and this whole section is nothing but gum trees and other natives. Not a pine tree for miles.”

“But the clearing was here?”

“Nope. Well, I mean—just look at that grass.”

The camera swung to focus on the grass, which didn’t look all that sinister to me. It was just grass.

“What’s wrong with it?”

“It’s thick and green. Looks freshly mowed, doesn’t it? More like a putting green. Grass doesn’t get like that on its own, you know. You’ve got to take care of it. You seen anybody standing round the middle of the national park with a hose and a lawn mower?”

“So how do you explain it?”

The old man shrugged. “It’s got to be a hoax, hasn’t it? Probably one of those reality TV shows.”

The camera zoomed in on the reporter. “And there you have it. A mystery girl in a mystery clearing.”

The reporter signed off, and Mum reached for the remote and started flicking channels. Cooking shows and cartoons flashed past, but there was no other news. She turned it off, and for once Dad didn’t complain.

“What do you make of that?” he asked. “Did that girl look familiar to you? I feel like I’ve seen her before somewhere.”

Mum said nothing. Her forehead was creased into her thinking frown. No point talking to her when she got like that. She probably hadn’t even heard him.

“Do you think that guy was right about it being a hoax?” I asked. “Is this the kind of crap they get up to in Sydney?”

Dad seemed to have forgotten all about his cornflakes. They’d gone all soggy in the bottom of the bowl. “Snow White in the Blue Mountains? Either that or a serial killer, I suppose.”

“But she’s not dead.”

“Not a very good serial killer then.”

I refused to laugh. I was still mad at him for dragging us down to Sydney, just when things had been going so well in Townsville. We’d been there nearly two years, the longest time we’d ever stayed in one spot. “Snow White, is it? I didn’t know you were such an expert on fairy tales.”

He grinned. The corners of his eyes crinkled up when he smiled, making him look like a mischievous kid. It was hard not to smile back, but I wasn’t giving in. “Hidden depths, my darling. Hidden depths.”

A thunder of feet on the stairs announced CJ’s arrival. She was always running late in the mornings—probably because she spent so long in the bathroom doing her makeup.

“Have you seen my black hairband?” She shot me an accusing look.

“As if I would dare borrow anything of yours without asking.” My twin wasn’t big on sharing. At least not me sharing her stuff. Her sharing mine was apparently just the natural order of things.

“Good morning, darling daddy, I hope you slept well,” said Dad, watching her bang around the kitchen getting breakfast.

She snorted, but dropped a kiss on the top of his head before flopping into the seat next to his. “Morning.”

She, at least, wasn’t holding the move against him. She’d been hanging out to get to the big city for years.

Breakfast was at the small round table in the meals area off the kitchen. The dining room was still piled with the last boxes from the move. After two weeks, the unpacking was nearly done, but there were always a few odds and ends it was hard to find a home for in a new place. Like photographs, or Christmas decorations. Or our baby clothes that Mum had been carting around for the last seventeen years and ten houses. Every time we moved she and Dad went toe-to-toe about throwing them out. Again.

“Have you seen it since we moved in?” I asked.

“Wore it on Wednesday,” she mumbled around a mouthful of cereal.

“Well, I haven’t got it. Besides, you’re only allowed to wear accessories in school colours.”

She rolled her eyes. “Yeah, right. Like I’m going to wear ribbons in a lovely shade of cat vomit.”

“Caramel, please, Crystal,” said Mum, suddenly tuning back into the conversation. “Not cat vomit.”

“Whatever. I liked our old uniform better. The blue matched my eyes.”

Mine too, but that was about the only thing we had in common—we both had Dad’s blue eyes. Most people couldn’t believe it when we told them we were twins. CJ was about ten centimetres taller and three cup sizes bigger, so everyone assumed she was my big sister. She could easily have passed for twenty, though we’d just turned seventeen.

Me, I’d gotten my height from Dad—which was to say, I had none. CJ not only had Mum’s height, but she’d gotten her beautiful sleek dark hair too, not to mention the skin that tanned golden-brown the minute she even thought about going outside. She looked like a younger, blue-eyed version of Mum, whereas everyone could tell at a glance I was Dad’s daughter—short, with pale freckled skin that never ever tanned, and a mass of orange-coloured steel wool that passed for hair.

The uniform of our new school was a gross mustard brown, but it looked good on CJ. Everything did. Somehow it made her skin glow even more golden, and the blue of her eyes fairly leapt out of her face. In the same dress, I just looked washed out—also pretty common, given that my skin was so pale the veins in my arms stood out like a road map.

“Well, you know what they say,” Dad said. “A change is as good as a holiday.”

I shot him a look sharp enough to cut him to ribbons. Him and his stupid sayings. “Probably the people that say that haven’t moved quite as many times as we have. I don’t need any more holidays like that, thanks very much.”

Mum’s face was an odd mixture of sympathy and guilt. “I know you haven’t been very happy about this move,” she began.

“This move? When have I been happy about any of them? Would it be so much to ask if we could just stay in one place for more than two seconds at a time?”

This was our fourth high school, and I was getting kind of sick of making new friends. It hardly seemed worth the effort any more. I’d just start to get comfortable, then Mum and Dad’s stupid job would uproot us and dump us on the other side of the country. Again. They worked for the military, some top-secret hush-hush thing.

“I promise you this is the last one for a while,” she said.

Like that was supposed to be comforting. “How long is a while exactly? Six months? A year?”

“I’d tell you,” said Dad, “but then I’d have to kill you.”

I rolled my eyes. Like I hadn’t heard that one before.

“That kind of information is classified, Violet,” Mum said. “Curiosity killed the cat, you know.”

Yeah, I did know, because she’d been telling me that since I was knee-high to a grasshopper. It was one of her favourite ways of shutting down a discussion.

“Doesn’t your bus come soon?” Dad asked, one eye on the clock.

In Townsville we’d lived close enough to walk to school, but not any more. Everything in Sydney was bigger, further away, and more crowded. Welcome to the big city.

“Yeah.” Guess that was the end of that conversation. It made me crazy how they’d never give you a straight answer if it involved their stupid work. I stomped into the kitchen to pack my bag.

“We might be late home tonight,” Mum said, changing the subject with her usual skill. “There’s lasagne in the freezer if you get hungry.”

“Don’t worry about us.” CJ crammed in the last of her breakfast and grabbed her school bag. “We’ll be fine. Come on, Vile. You don’t want to be late in your second week, do you? Might make a bad impression.”

“I’m only ever late if I wait for you, Cryssie.”

“Bye, Violet. Have a good day.” Mum was the only person who called me Violet. She called CJ Crystal too—she said she couldn’t see the sense in giving someone a perfectly good name and then never using it.

I shoved my lunch in my bag without replying. The chances of having a good day were pretty damn low, all things considered, though I doubt she really cared.

I looked back as we reached the door. Mum had turned the TV back on to the news channel. Well, that was a first. Was the girl in the glass coffin really that interesting? It was probably just some stupid advertising stunt.

 

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Twiceborn Endgame is out!

Half human, half dragon, all vengeance: Kate is back for the final struggle that will tear the dragons’ world apart.

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No one said being half dragon would be easy, but Kate O’Connor’s life has gone completely off the rails. She thought she’d won the succession war between the daughters of the dragon queen, until a shocking betrayal changed everything.

Now seven new sisters have joined the fray, a sinister government taskforce is gunning for her, and the Japanese queen has hit town, bent on snatching the throne for herself. Worst of all, her beloved son has been abducted.

The shifter world has never seen a proving like this one, but then, there’s never been a dragon quite like Kate before. She’ll need her human ingenuity as well as her dragon magic to save her son and everyone she holds dear. The final moves in the deadly endgame take her from goblin caves to Japanese palaces as she races against the clock to snatch victory from the dragon jaws of defeat.

And that’s a wrap! Twiceborn Endgame is the final book in the urban fantasy trilogy The Proving. I’m so pleased to be finished. That’s something I can cross off the bucket list now—I’ve written a trilogy!

Twiceborn Endgame is available on Amazon now. Give yourself an early Christmas present and find out how the story ends!

The Twiceborn Queen cover reveal!

Finally! After months of work—more months than I’d hoped, due to the whooping cough making everything take sooo much looooonger—The Twiceborn Queen is almost ready for release.

Kate’s adventures continue and, while her situation may have become happier, life certainly hasn’t gotten any easier for my poor heroine. Writers are such sadists! We love throwing roadblocks in our characters’ way and seeing how they cope. The Twiceborn Queen picks up the story only a few days after the events of Twiceborn:

“Kate O’Connor’s had a rough week. Thrown into the middle of a war of succession between the daughters of the dragon queen, her introduction to the hidden world of the shifters almost proved fatal. Now, because of Kate and her new powers, that hidden realm has been revealed to the world, which hasn’t exactly won Kate any popularity contests.

Still, it’s not all bad news. After all, it’s not every day you regain a loved one you thought lost forever. Throw in a hot new boyfriend, and suddenly Kate’s got a lot to live for—which is bad timing, because now the queen’s set a bounty on her head and every shifter in Sydney is trying to collect it.

Kate may have defeated a dragon already, but there are plenty more where that one came from. As her enemies close in and the body count mounts, Kate begins a desperate search for allies. The deadly game of the proving continues. If Kate is to save the people she loves, failure is not an option. The rules are simple: win or die.”

And now, at last, I can show you the gorgeous cover:

Twiceborn Queen

The book will be out next month. If you’d like to know when it’s released, and have the opportunity to buy it for only 99 cents, join my mailing list here.

Can’t wait to share this book with you!

A boy, a sphinx, and an unanswerable riddle

I have a new story out! It’s only a short story (quite tiny at 4,000 words), but it makes me feel all accomplished and author-y to have two books to my name—even if they are only ebooks at present. (Don’t ask my why the paperback of Twiceborn isn’t out yet. Sigh.)

So, new story: it’s called “The Family Business”. Here is the cover. Cute, no?

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The blurb is:

“Renardo and his brothers are up to their eyeballs in debt, with one last chance to save their merchant business (and their gonads) from the moneylender. The great city of Tebos is holding its Festival of Song in three days’ time, and they have a wagonload of songbirds to sell.

There’s just one large, man-eating problem: the bored sphinx who guards the city’s gates, and her deadly riddle game. Renardo doesn’t even want to be a merchant, but somehow it falls to him to outwit the sphinx. No pressure. All he has to do is come up with an unanswerable riddle.”

It’s on sale at Amazon for only 99 cents. Grab a copy and fill in a happy fifteen or twenty minutes on your next commute, or while you’re waiting at soccer practice/the doctor’s surgery/whatever.

And speaking of 99 cents: Twiceborn is also on sale at that bargain basement price for the next few days, so if you’ve been meaning to grab a copy of that but haven’t quite gotten around to it, now would be a good time! It was featured on Valentines Day on the Kindle Books and Tips blog. Not exactly your typical Valentines Day fare, unless your idea of romance includes homicidal dragons, but oh well. Not being much of a romantic myself, the significance of the date had slipped my mind when I made the booking!

So, you may be wondering why “The Family Business” has suddenly appeared. Weren’t you supposed to be working furiously on The Twiceborn Queen, Marina? You never mentioned anything about some random short story being published in that big long list of things you were going to achieve that you blogged about recently.

Well yes, that’s true. Life, as they say, is full of surprises, and one that landed in my lap mid-January was a sinus infection that is still ongoing. Surprise! At its worst I was getting maybe three hours’ sleep a night, and let’s just say that the revision schedule fell a little behind.

I decided to call it early on and shift my deadline with the editor from 1 March to 1 April, which meant that it would be four months between releases instead of the three I’d planned. So I decided to put out a short story instead, one that had already been published a couple of years ago in a magazine, so it didn’t need any work from my end apart from organising a cover and the formatting.

I’m still on the first revision of The Twiceborn Queen, a little over halfway. That’s not where I’d like to be, obviously, but all the new scenes I had to add were in the first half, so hopefully progress will be quicker from here.

The Carnivore even took the ducklings out on Valentines Day so I could work without interruptions. To a writer, that’s the best Valentines Day present ever!

When they came home, Drama Duck presented me with a single rose, nicely gift-wrapped.

“It’s from Dad,” she said.

They were both grinning like idiots, and she couldn’t hold it in any longer.

“We totally didn’t find that on the train where some guy had left it behind,” she added.

The Carnivore gave me a fond smile. “You’re worth it, honey.”

Hope you enjoyed Valentines Day, if you celebrate it. Did you get anything nice from your significant other (scavenged or otherwise)?

Twiceborn cover reveal

I’m very excited to be able to show you the cover for Twiceborn at last. It was done by Yoly at Cormar Covers several months ago, but I didn’t want to reveal it till I was almost ready to publish.

Guess what? I’m nearly there! Twiceborn is buffed and polished as shiny as I could make it, and it’s now off at the formatters getting a fresh lick of paint. It’s almost a Real Book!

Are you ready?

Here it is in all its glory:

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Isn’t it gorgeous? I feel like a proud parent showing off baby photos, only this baby doesn’t have forcep marks on its face, or a weird pointy head. Or jaundice. Or any of the other not-so-photogenic features my real babies had. And unlike Baby Duck, the insides of this baby are all present and correct too.

Let me remind you what the story’s about:

 “Still grieving her beloved son, Kate O’Connor’s just going through the motions. She doesn’t care that strangers often shadow her on the unorthodox courier jobs she does for a friend. She doesn’t even care what’s in the packages till the day she returns from a special rush job with no memory of the event. But it must have been pretty wild, because now there’s a werewolf in her kitchen trying to kill her – and he’s just the first in line.

Dragged into a supernatural war of succession between the daughters of the dragon queen, Kate discovers a Sydney she never knew existed, peopled by all kinds of strange half-human creatures. To have any hope of surviving she must uncover the explosive secret hidden in her memory – but first she has to live through the night.”

Can’t wait to share it with you!