Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month for March 2019

Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month
It’s that time of the month again, time for “Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month”.

So what is “Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month”? It’s a round-up of speculative fiction by indie authors newly published this month, though some February books I missed the last time around snuck in as well. The books are arranged in alphabetical order by author. So far, most links only go to Amazon.com, though I may add other retailers for future editions.

Once again, we have new releases covering the whole broad spectrum of speculative fiction. This month, we have epic fantasy, urban fantasy, historical fantasy, sword and sorcery, paranormal romance, paranormal mystery, space opera, military science fiction, hard science fiction, dark science fiction, dystopian fiction, steampunk, cyberpunk, witches, ghosts, werewolves, dragons, galactic empires, space smugglers, asteroid miners, slaves, dying worlds, dead girls, last minute rescues and much more.

Don’t forget that Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month is also crossposted to the Speculative Fiction Showcase, a group blog run by Jessica Rydill and myself, which features new release spotlights, guest posts, interviews and link round-ups regarding all things speculative fiction several times per week.

As always, I know the authors at least vaguely, but I haven’t read all of the books, so Caveat emptor.

And now on to the books without further ado:

Holly Cottage by Shelley AdinaHolly Cottage by Shelley Adina:

Buying a cottage is not as easy as you’d think. Especially if you’re a man with a past … in love with a woman with a future.

Maggie Polgarth astonishes everyone at Carrick House when, in a bid for independence, she buys a plot of land and a cottage near Vauxhall Gardens. From one decision, change ripples outward in the flock. Maggie transfers her scientific studies from Munich to London, leaving Lizzie behind. Two of the street sparrows leave the Malverns’ protection to go with her to her new home. And most significant of all, she meets a man who is not only well educated but also kind and handsome.

But the south bank gangs have not forgotten the Lady of Devices. If they cannot touch her, it’s only a matter of time before they take their revenge on someone closer to hand. Jake Fletcher McTavish will risk his own life before he allows anyone to harm a hair on Maggie’s head. He’s not afraid of the gangs and he’s a dab hand in a fight. But how can he show Maggie that his feelings run deeper than those of a brother? And how can he protect her when she seems to prefer the company of her new suitor—a man who is everything Jake is not?

If you like old-fashioned adventure, brave women, clever children, and strong-willed chickens, you’ll love this short story set in the Magnificent Devices steampunk world. Fangs for the Fantasy says, “The backbone of this great series is and has always been the characters. Their issues, their layers, their complexity, their solid relationships and their loyalties all elevate a good book to a really great one.”

The Forest of the Hanged by Richard Blakemore and Cora BuhlertThe Forest of the Hanged by Richard Blakemore and Cora Buhlert

According to the laws of the Rhadur, whenever one of their own is killed in one of the cities they have conquered, twelve citizens chosen at random must die in turn. Now the Rhadur governor of Greyvault has been murdered and in retaliation, his successor plans to hang twelve innocent maidens.

One of the women to be hanged is Lysha, the childhood sweetheart of Meldom, thief, cutpurse and occasional assassin. When Meldom learns of Lysha’s fate, he immediately sets out to rescue her, accompanied by his friends Thurvok, the sellsword, and the sorceress Sharenna…

This is a short story of 6500 words or 24 print pages in the Thurvok sword and sorcery series, but may be read as a standalone. Includes an introduction and afterword.

Monshine & Murder by Kathleen BrooksMoonshine & Murder by Kathleen Brooks:

Zoey Mathers had everything going for her until one night she lost her biggest client, her job, and her reputation. Leaving her life up to fate, Zoey closed her eyes and pointed. She would serve out her career exile in the small mountain town of Moonshine Hollow where moonshine flowed as freely as a mountain stream.

Giving up the law to become a baker in Moonshine Hollow turned out to be the best thing Zoey had ever done. She was happy and enjoying life in her new small town. But Zoey should have learned the first time . . . one night can change your whole life.

After unknowingly crashing a battle between witches, Zoey accidentally becomes a witch herself. That’s all before Zoey stumbles over a murder victim and the town’s sheriff becomes involved. Now she’s trying to find a murderer, stop two old witches from playing matchmaker, and learning she’s way more than a mere accidental witch.

And that’s all before fate turns up one more sexy hunk of a twist…

Seraphina's Lament by Sarah ChornSeraphina’s Lament by Sarah Chorn:

The world is dying.

The Sunset Lands are broken, torn apart by a war of ideology paid for with the lives of the peasants. Drought holds the east as famine ravages the farmlands. In the west, borders slam shut in the face of waves of refugees, dooming all of those trying to flee to slow starvation, or a future in forced labor camps. There is no salvation.

In the city of Lord’s Reach, Seraphina, a slave with unique talents, sets in motion a series of events that will change everything. In a fight for the soul of the nation, everyone is a player. But something ominous is calling people to Lord’s Reach and the very nature of magic itself is changing. Paths will converge, the battle for the Sunset Lands has shifted, and now humanity itself is at stake.

First, you must break before you can become.

Vultures by Mike CovilleVultures by Mike Coville:

When games of politics put the lives of deep space miner crews in danger, a coalition of captains organizes a resistance.

The crew of the DSM Boone are still reeling from being the target of a saboteur and the loss of a friend, but Captain Greg Daniels pushes them back out for lasso another asteroid. Will this break their spirit and cause a mutiny?

Computer specialist Zayna Watson doesn’t know who she can trust. Her world is being thrown into a roller-coaster ride of adventure, betrayal, and self-discovery. Will she stand with the one man that has given her all her opportunities, or is the evidence against him shown to her by an underground resistance movement convince her to bring down her mentor?

As a conspiracy is uncovered and alliances are being formed, who will be at the top when the dust settles?

Hello Protocol for Dead Girls by Zen DiPietroHello Protocol for Dead Girls by Zen DiPietro:

Jennika died under suspicious circumstances and her memories were uploaded for investigation. Somehow, they didn’t upload her memories alone. They uploaded her consciousness, too.

As she struggles within a perplexing computer network environment to find out how she died, she must also come to grips with the nature of her existence. Her body died, but she sure hasn’t. What does it mean to be alive, then?

She wants to talk to her friends and family, but they might not accept her. Before she can even try to reconnect with them, she has to get the people on the outside to recognize that she’s a real person, trapped inside technology.

She needs to establish a hello protocol–a way of establishing communication.

This story is like nothing you’ve read before. It’s Altered Carbon meets Gone Girl inside a digital environment. It will challenge you, then thrill you, then leave you wanting more. You’ll be on the edge of your seat as you explore this fascinating new technological existence with Jennika.

Wicked Delights by lily Harper HartWicked Delight by Lily Harper Hart:

Ivy Morgan and Jack Harker don’t have many complaints.

Things are good, life is quiet, and the only big thing on their to-do lists is picking a date for their wedding, which is exactly what they’re doing when a local celebutante approaches with an offer for Jack to be on a dating show.

He turns her down flat and goes on his way, but the next morning, she’s found dead and the list of suspects is endless thanks to the production landing smackdab in the middle of Shadow Lake.

Ivy doesn’t like having Hollywood on her doorstep. Jack is even worse, especially when he realizes the producers want Ivy to step in and take the dead heiress’s spot in the limelight. The idea of cameras following Ivy when magical things keep happening around her is enough to paralyze the couple … and then force them to run to avoid the harsh glare of the viewing public.

Jack and Ivy have a lot on their plates. They have to solve a murder, figure out what the witch in the woods is trying to tell them when it comes to the nature of the human soul, and pick a wedding date.

It’s all in a day’s work for Shadow Lake’s favorite couple. If they live to survive the dark force descending on their town, that is. They’ll have to work together to overcome imminent evil … but they’re used to that, of course.

The Ghost Who Says I Do by Bobbi HolmesThe Ghost Who Says I Do by Bobbi Holmes:

A Valentine’s Day Wedding at Marlow House?

Love is in the air—along with secrets—some are deadlier than others.

Will secrets from Clint Marlow’s past come back to haunt Walt and Danielle?

 

 

The Well of Time by Robert I. KatzThe Well of Time by Robert I. Katz:

Michael Glover, a military genius of the First Empire awakened from cold sleep after two thousand years, has spearheaded the Second Empire’s efforts against the Imperium.

But once the Imperium is defeated, it becomes apparent that the war is not over.

Second Empire ships are still being hijacked and Second Empire citizens sold into slavery. Spies and saboteurs continue to bore from within.

The Empire has enemies and those enemies are more powerful than the Second Empire can imagine.

Michael Glover and his crew are determined to discover the source of the conspiracy but before they can do so, a fleet of advanced ships, as large and as dangerous as the ships of the Second Empire, pose a new challenge to the Imperial worlds.

As the Empire teeters on the brink, Michael Glover must search for the final clue at the hidden Well of Time.

Lunar Escape by C.P. MacDonaldLunar Escape by C.P. MacDonald:

A mysterious secret society. A corrupt Governor. Can a simple smuggler stop the destruction of the moon?

Captain Calin Aku smuggles contraband and people from the cesspool of Earth to the Moon cities aboard his ship the Sea Rover. He leads and protects his small crew, pulling off heists and diving into adventures.

With a new client, the crew of the Sea Rover find themselves in a battle against a corrupt Governor and allied with a secret society hidden from humanity for a thousand years. Calin has no choice but to take action and to be more than a rogue outlaw. Can he defeat an all-powerful government to save his crew and the citizens of the Moon?

SYNTH #1, edited by C.M. MullerSYNTH #1: An Anthology of Dark SF, edited by C.M. Muller:

SYNTH is a new anthology series of dark SF published quarterly, with each issue containing eight thought-provoking visions of the future . . . tales of utopia and dystopia, of inner and outer space; tales that are bleak, tales that are bold . . .

ISSUE #1 features the dark visions of Dan Stintzi, Steve Toase, Virginie Sélavy, Charles Wilkinson, Farah Rose Smith, Jeffrey Thomas, Christopher K. Miller, and Joanna Koch. It is edited by CM Muller, creator of the award-winning Nightscript anthology series.

If you are a fan of Black Mirror, Philip K. Dick, J.G. Ballard, Alphaville, and the like, then SYNTH may well be your next literary fix.

Cloaked by Vanessa NelsonCloaked by Vanessa Nelson:

The world itself in peril.

Arrow’s sleep is being disturbed by nightmares that she cannot remember when awake. Her days are spent trying to build her new, simple, life in the human world and helping the shape-changers track down the last conspirators that tried to destroy the Erith.

But the Erith want her help one last time. The Erith heartland needs a new monarch, and the Erith require Arrow’s presence for the selection.

Nothing is that simple, though, and Arrow finds herself dealing with betrayal that could tear the heartland apart. She will need all her skills, and the help of the few people she trusts, to prevent the destruction of the heartland, and the world.

Draft of Dragons by T.S. PaulDraft of Dragons by T.S. Paul:

Suspended for political reasons Agatha and her team have returned to her home to rest and recuperate. But still another war looms on the horizon. The Draconic Empire is making it’s move towards earth. They’ve worked behind the scenes to disrupt any and all that stand before them. But Agatha is still alive and she and the Blackmore Coven are prepared. Whatever comes through the Garden Gate will trigger a war. Is America and Earth ready for it?

 

 

Malarat by Jessica RydillMalarat by Jessica Rydill:

The Duc de Malarat wants to conquer the Kingdom of Lefranu. In his army ride the ruthless and fanatical Domini Canes, warrior monks of the Inquisition who have forged a secret weapon to cripple the power of the shamans.

But when Malarat’s eldest son challenges a stranger to a duel, he sets in motion a terrifying train of events. For the stranger is Malchik Vasilyevich, now a man; and his sister Annat stands with her allies and the Railway People as a fully-trained shaman, prepared to defend the city of Yonar from Malarat’s army.

But Malchik and Annat will face foes much worse than the Duc de Malarat, even as the struggle that began in Lefranu spreads to the spirit world and beyond.

Wolf at the Door by Hollis ShilohWolf at the Door by Hollis Shiloh:

Devin has a lot to prove.

Rickey is just here for the free food.

Devin’s here to get a wolf shifter as a partner. The short, loud redhead intends to be the best cop in his class and doesn’t care if he gets on everyone’s nerves in the process. He loves fancy sports cars and has a competitive nature.

Rickey likes the van life and living by his own terms. But times have been tight for the wolf shifter lately, and signing up for this course seems like an easy way to keep the wolf from the door. All the free food he can eat, if he sits through some classes. What could go wrong?

The two guys have chemistry, despite being so different. They could be friends at least, maybe partners. But there’s an underlying sexual chemistry that’s getting harder and harder to ignore…

Trapped on Vkani by Aurora SpringerTrapped on Vkani by Aurora Springer:

Marooned on a desolate planet, joining forces with the enemy is their only hope.

Maya Pandita spent years preparing for an expedition to the Deadlands. But her dreams of unearthing ancient artifacts are shattered when her shuttle is buried by a violent sandstorm, and her team is abducted by the scaled inhabitants of the planet. Maya and her companions must try to outwit their blue captor and call for help before they die in the toxic atmosphere.

Sa Vittaran has a problem in his claws. Along with treasures from the ruins, he has retrieved three smooth-skinned foreigners. He cannot leave them to die in the desert. Yet the puny creatures have little value as workers, except perhaps for the impudent woman who claims to be their leader. Her knowledge of the ancient script will be an asset if she can survive the long trek to his house.

An attack by marauders forces Maya and the Blue leader into a wary alliance. They must work together to thwart the bandits and reunite their company. Can Maya convince Sa Vittaran to help her team? If she fails, they are doomed to a short unpleasant life on the desolate, war-torn planet.

Shield of Terra by Glynn StewartShield of Terra by Glynn Stewart:

The mother, ruler of an entire world
Sent to the heart of an old enemy to build a new peace
The daughter, officer of a deadly warship
Sent to the darkness to find the new enemy hunting them all

A dozen inhabited worlds of the Kanzi Theocracy and the A!Tol Imperium are ash. Millions of sentients of a dozen species are dead, including humans from the brand-new colonies built under the Imperium’s watch. Despite the losses, the strange Taljzi fanatics have been defeated—but everything suggests that more will be coming.

The Empress of the A!Tol has resolved that the cold war between A!Tol and Kanzi must end. She sends Duchess Annette Bond to the heart of the Kanzi Theocracy to negotiate a new alliance.

Elsewhere, Bond’s stepdaughter Morgan Casimir and the battleship Bellerophon are sent into the darkness beyond known space to see what they can learn about the Taljzi.

As they uncover old secrets of new enemies and new secrets of old enemies the fate of humanity and five dozen other races hangs on the actions of mother and daughter alike!

Smuggler by J.A. SutherlandSmuggler by J.A. Sutherland:

There are ‘nice’ jobs that come my way, and there are profitable jobs that come my way. Now, these things do, on occasion, come along inside each other’s orbits – but it’s more of a cometary sort of thing, if you take my meaning.

Avrel Dansby is troubled.

He knew, going in, that the life of a smuggler would be filled with disreputable sorts – still, he’d like to imagine there are some jobs out there he can stomach without the desire nuke his client from orbit.

Rules of Redemption by T.A. WhiteRules of Redemption by T.A. White:

The war everyone thought was over is just beginning.

Kira Forrest is a survivor. She’s risen above the pain of her beginnings to become a war hero only to leave it all behind in the pursuit of a simple life. Now a salvager, she makes a living sifting through the wreckage of dead alien ships from a war that nearly brought humanity to its knees.

After her ship takes damage, she’s forced to re-route to a space station where her past and present collide with dangerous consequences.

Kira’s existence holds the key to a faltering peace treaty with the Tuann—a technologically advanced alien race who dislikes and distrusts all humans. Winning her freedom should be easy, but a powerful and relentless Tuann warrior stands in her way. Deceiving him seems impossible, especially when he strays dangerously close to secrets she struggles to hide.

Can Kira reconcile the pain of her past with the possibilities of her future? The fate of two races depends on her success.

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