Saturday, July 27, 2013

Guest Post and Review of Hearts in Exile by Mysti Parker

The Appeal of Dragons
By Mysti Parker

“Never break a promise to a dragon; ye won’t live long enough to be braggin’.”
~old Haddo folktale

The above quote is taken from the folklore of the Haddo (halflings) in my fantasy world of Tallenmere, but the implications of it apply to dragons across the literary board. It all began (say scholars) long ago with the dragon at the end of Beowulf’s epic Anglo-Saxon tale. J.R.R. Tolkien, who studied Beowulf himself, went on to create perhaps the most memorable dragon in history—Smaug from “The Hobbit”. Modern fantasy writers have since given voice to dragons of every shape, size, and ability. From Anne McCaffrey’s genetically engineered dragons to R.A. Salvatore’s “Icingdeath”, to the beautiful blue Saphira in “Eragon”, dragons continue to spark some of the most popular stories of all time.

But, why? What’s the appeal of these overgrown lizards? It’s not like they’re the only fantasy creature out there. Long before Beowulf, there existed the monsters of Greek myths: Cyclops, centaur, minotaur, griffin, etc. Yet, dragons became the quintessential icon of fantasy literature.

We could speculate until our eyes cross, but my guess is that dragons had the advantage of being idolized in the earliest English literature at a time when religious beliefs, particularly Christianity, became a driving force in how people lived their lives. The journey to the dragon’s lair paralleled life’s journey. Each obstacle, success, and failure along the way tested the warrior, as life tests us, and strengthened him for the final battle. Dragons represented the ultimate obstacle (death) to overcome. Should the warrior persevere and slay the dragon, he could live the life of a Kentucky Derby winning horse, retiring in peace (in Heaven) with the most desirable woman in the kingdom. Should he die in battle, he’d either go down a martyr (in Heaven) or a failure (in Hell).

As with any iconic fictional creature (think vampires & zombies), writers have taken great liberties in creating their own versions of dragons. The basic dragon chassis lends itself to innumerable variations. Whether large, small, good, bad, or anything in between, I think dragons still represent the ultimate in human capability. They provide a stepping stone into the human psyche, allowing us to learn not only about the characters we come to love, but about ourselves as well.

Q&A: Who are some of your favorite fictional dragons, and why?

Title: Hearts In Exile

Series: Tallenmere (stand-alone)

Author: Mysti Parker

Genre: Paranormal, Fantasy, Romance

Publisher: Melange Books

Formats Available In: All eBook formats and Print

Release Date: June 3, 2013

Blurb: Somewhere, hidden in the waters of the Southern Sea, lies an island unlike any other. Within the amber glow of its pyrogem-laden cliffs, legend says the very heart of the dragon god Drae keeps the island, and its occupants, alive.

Loralee Munroviel, daughter of Leogard's High Priestess Arianne, had no idea what she would face when she arrived by boat ten years ago and was left alone in exile. All she knew about Draekoria's inhabitants was written in one tattered notebook. Now, her life revolves around keeping Drae's descendants happy. Never in her life did she imagine being a Dragon Keeper.

Captain Igrorio Everlyn, known as Sir Robert to his unit of Holy Paladins, has faced his share of hell, battling the evils of Emperor Sarvonn's tyranny and the dark god Tyr's abominations. But none of that compares to the ten years of hell he's been without Loralee, presumed dead.

One freak storm changes everything. Now the two of them must fight to re-establish the delicate balance of the island before the dragons take things into their own hands. Through it all, they discover the secrets that kept them, and their hearts, exiled for a decade.

Excerpt From Chapter Three:

After a shipwreck, Sir Robert wakes up in a strange cottage, only to find Loralee, the love of his life, whom he thought had been dead for a decade…

“I don’t understand. What is this place?”

“It’s an island. Very few know of its existence.”

I shook my head, trying to clear the fog of this confusing dream come to life. “But, why would you be here, and why would you be sorry? Unless…”

The words wouldn’t come. My racing mind pitched in to help. Unless she didn’t want to marry me after all.

Wrenching pain I’d kept tucked inside broke free, and I clambered to my feet. Loralee followed suit, backing herself into the small dining table.

I tried, but could not hide the bitter anger in my words. “How could you do this to me? Do you have any idea what I’ve been through?”

Her eyes widened. She clutched the table with one hand and her robe with the other. “What you’ve been through? I didn’t want this. I was forced here.”

“What do you mean, forced here? Where are your shackles?” My voice roared through the little cottage as I gestured around me with one arm. “Where are the bars? This looks like no prison I’ve ever seen.”

Her voice cracked the air, rivaling with my own. “I was betrayed, forced into exile. Don’t you understand? I never wanted to leave you. I never wanted anything so much as I wanted you.”

Pacing away, I closed my eyes and breathed deeply. I had to calm myself, to let the weight of this discovery, the improbability of her explanation to sink into my water-logged brain.

I couldn’t bring myself to look at her just yet, so I stared at my bare feet instead. “Why didn’t you tell me, write to me?”

“I tried. I begged the supply ship crew to bring my letters to you. They always took them, but never brought one in return. I suspect they destroyed them, but I had no way of knowing.” She sucked in a shaky breath as though trying to hold back her tears. “I never stopped loving you.”

Turning back to face her, I felt like a mindless beast. Here I was, raging against the love of my life when she’d all but been brought back from the dead.

“Loralee.” I eased toward her. She cringed. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to scare you.”

Without a word, I leaned in and pressed my forehead to hers, allowing myself to breathe in her scent for the first time in a decade. We stood suspended like that for a while, lost in time, and emerging from a purgatory neither of us had imagined ten years ago. I would have been content to stand like that forever, but Loralee burst into tears and wilted to the floor.

I followed her down and opened the quilt to wrap us both inside. I held her tight while she cried.

While I cried.

I finally got enough breath to speak again. “What did you mean by forced here? They told me you were…” I couldn’t say it, not with her warm and so very alive against me.

“I know.”

The weight of it all came crashing down on me. “This is my fault, isn’t it? You’re here because of me.”

She made no attempt to wipe her cheeks, but shook her head and stared at the rafters as though entreating the gods. “No, it’s not your fault. Not at all. There is so much to explain, I don’t know where to start.”

I couldn’t comprehend any of it, so I focused on the here and now. “You found me on the shore?”

She nodded.

“The crew, Francis…did you find anyone else out there?”

“No, I had Xax-, I mean, no, I searched but didn’t find anyone else.”

The familiar weight of grief squeezed my chest, and a few more tears escaped before I could stop them.

She pulled me close and whispered, “I’m so sorry. I know how much you loved him. We all did.”

“We all grieved for you. You’ve been here…all this time?”


“By the gods, Loralee, I’ve missed you so much.” I put my wet cheek against hers and pressed my lips to her soft skin. “Part of me died the day I thought you… please…just tell me how you ended up here.”

Loralee took a few deep breaths and finally pulled away from me. She caressed my cheek and smiled weakly.  “I’ll make us a pot of tea. And then, I think we should start at the beginning, back to the Great Plague and when we first met. Do you remember that?”

Smiling past the sadness, I covered her hand with mine and closed my eyes. “How could I ever forget?”

Mysti Parker (pseudonym) is a full time wife, mother of three, and a writer. Her first novel, A Ranger's Tale was published in January, 2011 by Melange Books, and the second in the fantasy romance series, Serenya's Song, was published in April 2012. The highly anticipated third book, Hearts in Exile, has already received some great reviews. The Tallenmere series has been likened to Terry Goodkind's 'Sword of Truth' series, but is probably closer to a spicy cross between Tolkien and Mercedes Lackey.

Mysti's other writings have appeared in the anthologies Hearts of Tomorrow, Christmas Lites, and Christmas Lites II. Her flash fiction has appeared on the online magazine EveryDayFiction. She has also served as a class mentor in Writers Village University's six week free course, F2K. 

Mysti reviews books for SQ Magazine, an online specfic publication, and is the proud owner of Unwritten, a blog voted #3 for eCollegeFinder's Top Writing Blogs award. She resides in Buckner, KY with her husband and three children.

Contact the Author:
Twitter @MystiParker

This was a fantastic fantasy read!!  I'm all about books with dragons in them, but this book had a little something for everyone.  Vampires, Necromancers, Elves, and dragons!!  The world-building is prevalent in the beginning, which to me sets the stage.  In this story you learn all about Loralee (who is my favorite character)  and Robert.  You delve back into the past and the author shows you what happened between the two and what has happened since.  Basically, these two characters have been through a lot and are finally reunited.  But no great story is without its challenges, and these two have a lot to over come. This is a story worth checking out and I recommend to all fantasy lovers!!  It was a well-written, beyond enjoyable story!


***Tour-Wide Drawing***
Buy one copy (print or electronic) of Hearts in Exile at Melange Books, Amazon, B&N, Smashwords, or All Romance E-Books, and you'll be entered into a drawing to win this BIG prize pack:

Dragon Necklace, I ♥ Dragons Tote Bag, This Gal (or Guy) Loves Dragons T-shirt, Hearts in Exile Notebook, $10 Amazon Gift Card, and set of three signed playlist postcards.

To enter, just purchase a copy of Hearts in Exile from any of the online retailers above, and email your receipt to ME at this email: Drawing to be held on August 1, and it's open worldwide!!!
You can find Hearts in Exile at these links:

1 comment:

Mysti said...

Thanks so much for hosting me today, and for the great review, Nikki!! ~Mysti

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