Saturday, 30 March 2013

Reaper's Novice Cover Reveal!


Title: Reaper's Novice (Soul Collector #1)
Author: Cecilia Roberts         
Genre: Urban Fantasy, Young Adult
Blitz Host: Lady Amber's Tours

17- year- old Ana Maria Tei’s life has always been perfect: loving parents, good grades, and a future so bright it outshone the sun. But now words like “separation” and “divorce” are sending her world plummeting to hell. Determined to keep her family intact, Ana plans a family-bonding trip from Vienna to Tuscany. Except fate has other plans. Ana’s parents and siblings are killed in a car accident on their way to pick Ana up from school.

Enter Grim, aka Ernest. He promises to relinquish the four souls if Ana agrees to trade her soul for theirs and serve a lifetime as his novice. In order for Ana to graduate from her Reaper’s Novice station to a Soul Collector graduate, Grim puts her to test. To her horror, she finds out becoming a Reaper’s Novice didn’t happen by chance. It was preordained, and she is forced to make a choice: save her family’s souls or come to terms with who she really is and complete the task set for her.

Zig and I settle ourselves opposite Grim. Doors burst open as servers roll out carts full of food. A man—I think—scuttles past me, hind legs trying to catch up with the front as he places plates, which look like they are made of gold, in front of the guests. A ghost sails above, humming and dropping what looks like rolls on plates with impressive accuracy. Across the table, a man with hypnotic dark eyes and mussed up hair winks at me. How does he look behind that Charm? Does he have big teeth? Bulging eyes? For a moment, Rikar’s image flashes through my mind. I shudder.
I nudge Zig with my elbow. “Who are all these—” Not certain what to call them, I gesture with a sweep of my hand. “Are they from the Afterworld?” Before I wrench my eyes from the veiled faces to Zig, I catch the man from across the table staring at me with glowing eyes. He smiles—or what I think is a smile. For a second, his Charm slips and I catch a glimpse of an old tree trunk with vines and grass, which look like tentacles covering his face. The Charm falls back into place like a curtain, barring my eyes from that hideous face.
“The Forest Lord,” Zig says.
I turn to Zig. “The what?”
“Leshy, the protector of forests.” He leans closer to me. “Rumour has it he loves to haul pretty women to his lair.” He wiggles his eyebrows.
I clutch the table. “Really?”
Zig nods, his face serious. “And I hear he is really good to the women. In fact,” he says as he starts to rise to his feet, “I was thinking of getting some tips from him.”
Zig’s mouth widens into a grin. He slumps back on his seat laughing. “Gods, you should have seen your face. Priceless.”
I exhale, trying to slow my racing heart. “Gosh, Zig, you’re a horrible person.”
“No, I’m not.” He wipes tears from his eyes. “Besides, you love my wicked humour, lovely.”
Unable to resist, I chuckle. I am sort of getting used to his humour.
His laughter fades. “You have to be careful, though. Most of the creatures here might be friendly inside the castle, but outside the gates, you are fair game. Grim enjoys playing host and invites anyone who can listen, and they flock in droves. Who can refuse a good, free dinner, right? One other thing, lovely.” His gaze is so intense fear buries itself in every crevice of my body. “Never ever get anywhere close to the partition we saw outside. It separates the two Realms. Shadow and Light.”
I swallow, unable to breathe.
“I’ve seen that wall suck people in, and believe me…” He blows out a breath. “…it’s not fun.”
Oh, I’m not in a hurry to go exploring anytime soon.
Something nudges my right arm. I turn and a well-toned hand places soup in front of me. As he withdraws his hand, it brushes along my exposed skin and I shiver. I look up and wish I hadn’t.
Black eyes, framed by equally dark lashes on a golden-skin face. And his lips. Sweet baby Jesus! Full lips curl into a smile, promising unimaginable things I’ve only read in those hot romances I usually “borrow” from Mom.
“Cut it out, Levi,” Zig growls. Levi’s eyes lazily drift over to Zig, then back at me. He bows and leaves without a word.
I breathe out, brushing a hand over my face. Are there more Levis hanging around? Because this place could easily resemble Sodom and Gomorrah. “Who is he?” My voice sounds breathless, and my body’s still trying to bottle some wild emotions raging through me.
“The resident chef and a Selkie to boot. Their powers of seduction are legendary.” He places a hand on mine. “Are you all right?”
“As long as he doesn’t come near me again,” I mutter. “A Selkie?”
Before Zig can answer, the cacophony in the hall shrinks. Then snatches of conversation fade to coughs and throat clearing. I look around. Every head is turned to Grim, who leans forwards, his elbows on the table, with fingers steepled. His eyes sweep the hall. Silence shrouds the dining hall.
“Thank you for attending my Novice’s Unveiling. I hope you will extend your respect to her, as you do me. And Zig.” Everyone seems to be holding their breath. Was it like this with Zig as well, when he was introduced to this world?
Not sure what I’m supposed to do exactly, I wave and nod, trying to maintain eye contact with the sea of eyes.
Grim tilts his body to face a woman on his right. I’ve been so distracted I didn’t notice the women bracketing him. “Ana, meet Verdandi, Skuld, and Wyrd.” From the way Grim emphasizes their names, and of course the fact that they’re sitting on his immediate right and left, they are worth taking note of.
Zig shifts in his chair, leans towards me, and whispers, “Fates. Very unpredictable and not to be trifled with. Nod. More details later. Chin up.”
I nod, my mind reeling. Fates? The ones Grim mentioned during my family’s accident? Zaynab also mentioned them.
I wipe my hands on my dress and lick my dry lips. “It is a pleasure to meet you…” I freeze, unable to remember their names. They watch me with sky-blue eyes. Their blond hair cascades behind their backs. One has what seems to be a perpetual smile on her lips, another a pout, and the other a sneer.
Talk about different expressions sitting at the same table. It’s scary. Zig squeezes my hand in encouragement. I lift my chin, returning their scrutiny.
Right after the Fates is a man Grim introduces as Sinteler, and before my mind can process the intensity of the eyes studying me and where I heard his name before today, I’m introduced to the next guest. My heart leaps, excited and anxious, as he announces the Soul Collectors—Erik, Andrei, Sam, and another handful of names my mind fails to remember. Before I can catch which part of the world they are stationed, Grim has already moved to the next bunch of guests.
I’m overwhelmed. I wish he would slow down.
I give up any hope of catching names and follow him with my eyes, not wanting to appear rude. Does he mean to introduce every single one of his guests? Seriously? I glance at the rows of tables and back at him, smiling as he does the introductions.
I glimpse a flash of teeth. Shark Teeth, and beside him Rikar. Why am I not surprised?
I pick up the glass of some fruity smelling liquid, bring it to my parched lips, then halt. My eyes widen at the next guest.
Isn’t that Accordion Guy? He waves gaily as if I’m a long lost friend.
Two seats down, my breath stops altogether. The glass slips from my fingers.

Cecilia Robert lives in Vienna with her two children, has an incurable obsession with books, anything romantic, TV and medieval architecture. When not working in her full time job, catching up with her two children, writing or reading, she can be found, knitting or crocheting, taking photos of old buildings.

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