Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month for February 2020

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 January 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, gaslamp fantasy, YA fantasy, paranormal mysteries, paranormal thrillers, paranormal romance, fantasy romance, science fantasy, fantasy romance, space opera, military science fiction, post-apocalyptic fiction, dystopian fiction, Steampunk, vampires, werewolves, demons, dragons, telepaths, hell escapees, immortals, crime-busting witches, murderous chefs, magical assassins, fairy godmothers, intergalactic prospectors, dying worlds, clockwork magicians, paladins 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:

The Imposter's InheritanceThe Imposter’s Inheritance by C.J. Archer:

A sordid scandal rocks the Glass household and threatens to ruin Matt’s family unless he can suppress it. But after word gets out, and a rare magical coronet is stolen, he and India find themselves scrambling to recover the heirloom and suppress the gossip before reputations are ruined.

To make matters worse, someone is sending threatening letters to the magicians of London, stirring up trouble between the artless and magicians. Tensions are rising, but India and Matt choose not to investigate – until the author of the letters is assaulted.

As if they don’t have enough on their plate, Willie is jailed. The reason for her arrest is…complicated.

Dinner With a Demon by Iokasti ArgiriouDinner With a Demon: It’s Valentine’s Day After All by Iokasti Argiriou

Apparently it’s Valentine’s day. A day dedicated to love? What in Aphrodite’s name is happening?

Anath – or Leda to Persa as she always refuses to call her by her demonic name – approaches Persa after all this time and she chooses this specific day. Is it a coinsidence? And then, out of the blue, the strangest thing happens. She asks Persa out on a date. A real date.

Ok, it was Persa’s suggestion, actually, but she never thought that Leda would go along with it. Now Persa cannot bow out and…she really hopes that this Valentine dude knows what he’s doing. Please, don’t let him be a sham!

Berenice Jacquette by S. Ann AustinBérénice Jacquette, Part 1 by S. Ann Austin:

The Past:
She was taken from a rundown farmhouse and brought to an isolated cabin. The sounds of a little girl crying echoes across the bayou. No one can hear her. No one will rescue her.

The Present:
Twenty-seven-year-old Bérénice Jacquette survived a horrific childhood in the swamplands of Louisiana only to wind up trapped in a bitter, loveless marriage. In spite of a traumatic past still haunting her, she is determined to find her independence. Harboring ambitions to be a successful author, she attempts to pen a work of fiction.

The chef of a popular restaurant in New Orleans, she believes no one suspects her of committing murder through the use of black magic while writing a realistic crime novel.

When a handsome and charismatic homicide detective named Gary Northcutt steps into her life she doesn’t wonder if he knows her secrets. She thinks only about how he can be useful to her.

Half-Born by Ivy BaumHalf-Born by Ivy Baum:

She never wanted magic. But to survive, she’s going to need it.

Kes Adler had the perfect life—until her father disappeared. Now she’s a pariah at school and strange visions make her question her sanity. Life can’t get any worse, right?

Wrong.

The night she accepts a ride home from the mysterious Sol Kyrion, she learns there’s another world out there. A world of magic—and danger.

Marked for Death…

The good news is that Kes isn’t crazy. She’s descended from an ancient, powerful race…and her magic is finally waking up.

But as a half-blood, Kes is marked for death. Her pureblood relatives know she’s out there, and they’ll stop at nothing to hunt her down.

Now she’s on the run with Sol—a half-blood who’s sarcastic, infuriating, and determined to save her life. But the magical world is changing, and pureblood hunters aren’t the only danger out there.

Soon there will be no place on earth that’s safe for half-bloods…

Better off Dead by Odette C. BellBetter off Dead by Odette C. Bell:

Death comes to all – or at least, that’s the promise.

Eve’s got a problem – a big one. She can’t die. She’s cursed to be resurrected, no matter what happens. You’d think that’d be a blessing. You’d be dead wrong. One of the most powerful – and handsome – generals of Hell has promised to kill her once and for all. He’s left her alone for a decade, but now he’s back.

When Eve is dragged into a shady mission, she doesn’t realize he’s at its heart. It’s going to take her a lot longer – and a lot of blood and tears – to realize he’s always been in her heart, anyway.

Ascendant by Richard DenoncourtAscendant by Richard Denoncourt:

What if a mind could be a weapon of mass destruction…and it belonged to a teenager?

When Michael Cairne discovers he is telepathic, a single mistake causes a corrupt police force to descend on him. His family murdered in the ensuing battle, he manages to escape by joining a group of rebels who claim to know why his psychic power is so sought after…and so dangerous.

Having reached a safe haven in the post-apocalyptic ruins of what used to be a Colorado mountain town, Michael meets other gifted teens and learns of the top-secret military experiment that created them. But Michael is different—one of a kind. Known as an “Ascendant,” his gift is coveted by a cruel dictator, who intends to win a war by genetically engineering child soldiers that can kill with a single thought.

Surrounded by many who fear and hate him—and hunted by a psychic assassin with a devastating weapon in his arsenal—Michael does what he can to survive and train. But he soon discovers his worst enemy is himself. As his power grows fiercer and more unstable, so does something else: the desire to see the world changed, even if it means tearing it apart at the seams.

Sinister Magic by Lindsay BurokerSinister Magic by Lindsay Buroker:

I’m Val Thorvald, and I’m an assassin.

When magical bad guys hurt people, I take care of them. Permanently.

This doesn’t make me popular with the rest of the magical community—as you can tell from the numerous break-ins and assassination attempts I’ve endured over the years. But thanks to my half-elven blood, a powerful sword named Chopper, and a telepathic tiger with an attitude, I’ve always been able to handle my problems with aplomb. Maybe some cursing and swearing, too, but definitely aplomb.

That changes when my boss is afflicted with a mysterious disease, a government agent starts investigating me, and a godforsaken dragon shows up in the middle of my latest job.

I’ve taken down vampires, zombies, and ogres, but dragons are way, way more powerful. And it doesn’t look like this one is going to like me.

Worse than that, he wants to use his magic to compel me to do his bidding, as if I’m some weak-minded minion.

That’s not going to happen. I’d die before being some dragon’s slave.

But if I can’t figure out a way to avoid him, save my boss, and get rid of the government spook, I’m screwed. Or dead. Or screwed and dead. And that’s never comfortable.

Lucidium Run by M.D. CooperLucidium Run by M.D. Cooper:

Without Lucidium, galactic civilization will fall…

For centuries, the Central Systems have dominated the galaxy, maintaining their rule through control of the essential ore: Lucidium. But after millennia of exploitation, supplies of the mineral are running dangerously low.

Samara, captain of the Heron’s Flight, has joined a group of prospectors who are taking advantage of a government bounty on the discovery of new Ludicium deposits. The reward for success is staggering, but so are the risks.

Cypris is a world on the fringe of Central Systems control, known for its lush natural habitats and simple way of life; a resort world where the people welcome a small trickle of visitors every year.

All that changes when the prospectors arrive and find Lucidium in the Corralas Mountains. The deposits are rich enough to make them wealthy beyond imagining—at the expense of Cyrpis and its people.

Now Samara has a choice. She can risk everything to aid the people of Cypris or to do what she must, honoring her contract and keeping her ship and crew safe. No matter the choice she makes, a world hangs in the balance.

Love Potion Sold Seperately by Nicole DragonBeckLove Potion Sold Seperately by Nicole DragonBeck:

Maggie Baker can’t think of anyone to ask to wear her corsage at this year’s First Days Celebration. After a visit from her fairy godmother, Maggie concocts her own Prince Charming, but when Charle arrives, things get more complicated than she bargained for.

 

 

 

Dying World by Chris FoxDying World by Chris Fox:

Our world is tumbling into the sun

The quakes have leveled cities. Soon the continents themselves will break apart. The ships are gone. There’s no way off. But I’m not giving up. I’m a Relic Hunter…an archeologist with a gun, and I have a plan.

Our people arrived on Kemet thousands of years ago in the wake of a terrible space battle. The Great Ships are still up there, ancient derelict hulks powered by a combination of technology and magic, created by gods we no longer remember or understand.

If I can get one of those ships active, maybe I can save myself. Maybe I can save everyone.

Clockwork Magician by W.R. GingellClockwork Magician by W.R. Gingell:

Peter has lived most of his life in the assurance of two comfortable convictions. One, that he is always the cleverest person in the room; and two, that when it comes to magic, he does not make mistakes.

His ability to make—or keep!—friends has been less successful, and despite the fact that Peter enters the University of Mechanics as the youngest student in all of his classes, the disquieting conclusion that he might not always be the cleverest person in the room slowly begins to creep over him.

When he tries to impress his classmate, Miss Stoneflange, with his latest time-altering device, things go disastrously wrong.

Now, Peter has a new conviction: namely, that whenever Miss Stoneflange is involved, something will inevitably go wrong. Worse, it doesn’t seem possible for him to stop making mistakes around her.

Peter will need to decide who is the biggest threat to the timely continuation of the Two Monarchies: Miss Stoneflange and her ability to set things wrong, or himself and his own rash determination to be always right…

Birth of the Colossus by Nicole GrotepasBirth of the Colossus by Nicole Grotepas:

In the absence of the Heart, a new power rises.

Holly Drake knew that her victory would be short-lived. Things never felt right after what happened. It was too little. Too much. A contradiction of all the emotions that the revelations shook up in her.
If things can get worse. They will.

She’s learned that much. Without her crew watching her back, she’d be lost. No. That’s not true. She’s strong and tough. As a new power rises and pecks at the fringes of her peace, she’s got nothing to fear.
Whatever comes, she’ll face it. And take it out.

The 6 Moons crew witnesses the birth of a new monster. A new beast. The threat is more than anything they could have imagined. If they don’t take it out, the colossus that forms from the skeletal remains of what once was will be more brutal and dangerous than even they could have known.

Boot Scootin' Boogeyman by Lily Harper HartBoot Scootin’ Boogeyman by Lily Harper Hart:

Hannah Hickok didn’t know she was a witch but now that she’s embracing her destiny, she can’t wait to learn about magic. Given the trouble that seems to find Casper Creek on a regular basis, that’s probably a good thing.

Cooper Wyatt is enjoying watching Hannah open up and learn about herself. He’s there to lend a helping hand but also eager for her to strike out on her own … until the unthinkable happens. On their first official date, Cooper and Hannah bear witness to a horrifying scene. A local woman, who had gone missing days before, jumps off a downtown building and kills herself. The question is: Why?

There’s more than one missing woman, magic sparking at every turn, and a monster on the hunt. It’s up to Hannah, Cooper, and the rest of their friends to discover exactly what’s going on … and figure out how to solve the problem. That’s easier said than done, though.

Casper Creek’s magic runs deep and Hannah is going to have to tap into it if she expects to keep her friends safe.

She’s up to the challenge.

At least she hopes she is.

Things are about to get messy as the Wild West gets wickeder and wickeder.

Toskaheart by Alia HessToskaheart by Alia Hess:

Is happiness worth the risk when your life is the wager?

In the depressing gray landscape of 2170 Moscow, Sasha Roborovskiy is fighting to make something of his life. Alcoholism, government-mandated medication, and a dead-end job create impossible hurdles, pushing Sasha into a daily routine of isolation, fatigue, and confusion. He dreams of a place free from the crushing thumb of Russia—blue skies, open roads, and a clear mind.

When a bizarre website on the darknet offers him a chance at a new life with a research team in America, it seems too good to be true. But no one has set foot in the Americas in over a hundred and fifty years, after a devastating virus wiped out much of the continent. Even if the stories of monsters and roving gangs aren’t real, the risk of contracting the virus is, and the experimental vaccine needed to live there doesn’t always work.

Freedom and a fresh start are just what Sasha needs, because he can’t survive his life of oppression much longer. But taking the trip to uncharted America is permanent—and fatal if the vaccine fails.

Continuum by G.S. JennsenContinuum by G.S. Jennsen:

Humanity has seized its destiny among the stars. But space remains vast and untamed, and nothing has prepared us to face the dangers rising from the deep shadows of the void.
Fourteen years after The Displacement flung humanity into a universe teeming with alien life, a tenuous alliance has taken root among humans, Anadens, and numerous other species. The wounds of war and revolution have begun to heal, peace and prosperity are within reach, and the architects of The Displacement, Alex Solovy and Caleb Marano, are enjoying an idyllic existence on the living planet of Akeso.

But growing troubles fester beneath the surface of this alliance. An upstart species offers allegiance with one hand but readies weapons of mass destruction with the other, while the Anadens, leaderless and adrift for years, increasingly refuse to play by humanity’s rules.

As tensions simmer, Nika Kirumase, leader of the Asterions—a splinter group of former Anadens thought aeons dead—arrives bearing a warning of a terrifying enemy advancing across the void. Known as the Rasu, the powerful race of shapeshifting metal has already killed tens of thousands of Asterions in its quest to control all of known space.

Nika’s people have struck a blow against the Rasu, and now they race against time to prepare for the coming reprisal. An alliance with humanity stands to give them a fighting chance against their enemy. But for humanity, such an alliance may cost them everything, pushing the fragile peace they fought so hard to achieve to the breaking point and beyond.
*
In Amaranthe, where exotic alien life, AIs, wormholes, indestructible starships and the promise of immortality rule the day, no feat seems out of reach for humanity. But when the worlds of Aurora Rhapsody and Asterion Noir collide and the Rasu horde descends upon them both, more will be asked of heroes past and future. More will be given and more taken, and when the dust settles the very fabric of Amaranthe will be changed forever.

Paladin's Grace by T. KingfisherPaladin’s Grace by T. Kingfisher:

Stephen’s god died on the longest day of the year…

Three years later, Stephen is a broken paladin, living only for the chance to be useful before he dies. But all that changes when he encounters a fugitive named Grace in an alley and witnesses an assassination attempt gone wrong. Now the pair must navigate a web of treachery, beset on all sides by spies and poisoners, while a cryptic killer stalks one step behind…

From the Hugo and Nebula Award winning author of Swordheart and The Twisted Ones comes a saga of murder, magic, and love on the far side of despair.

Freaky Fangs by Amanda M. LeeFreaky Fangs by Amanda M. Lee:

Mystic Caravan Circus is in flux. Things are shifting in the organization, new faces are joining the fray, and manager Poet Parker isn’t certain how to deal with it. Unfortunately for her, she doesn’t have time to figure it out.

Kentucky is on the horizon, and a roadside accident that claims a family has caught Poet’s attention. She’s haunted by what she sees … and dreams that show her nothing but snapping teeth and flowing blood.

They’ve been to the area before – Mammoth Caves is a big draw – but something appears to be amiss. It isn’t long until Poet realizes exactly what that something is … vampires. They’re nesting and taking over the entire town.

Vampires are nothing new when fighting monsters with a paranormal circus. These vampires, however, are different. They’re stronger … and faster … and deadlier. In fact, they’re something older and more ruthless, and Poet has no idea how to take on this new enemy.

When the vampires come for one of Mystic Caravan’s own, the time for debate is over. They live as a family. They’ll die as one, too, if need be.

Poet has fought wars before but this one is going to get bloody. It’s going to take everyone working together to overcome this enemy. Even then nothing is guaranteed.

To Hell and Back by Raquel LyonTo Hell and Back by Raquel Lyon:

My name is Conner Lovell: werewolf and Hell escapee.

I wish I could say that meant I had my life back, but it would be a lie. Word got out about my return and the supernatural hierarchy weren’t best pleased.

Now I’m stuck killing demons to pay off a debt I didn’t even know I owed, alongside the one person I’d hoped to forget.

Oh, and to top it all off, turns out I’ve got a serial killer on my tail.

Yeah, my life’s a whole lot like Hell.

Skyborn: Ignite by Hannah ParkerSkyborn: Ignite by Hannah Parker:

Ever since her village burned, Alina has been afraid of fire. But when she discovers a mysterious gem inside dying embers, she becomes enthralled by the strange object. Where did it come from? Who left it there? And why, just for a moment, did she forget her fear?

When an army of marauders attacks her new home, intent on finding the stone and destroying all who stand in their way, Alina soon finds herself thrown into a world of danger and uncertainty.

Determined to keep the stone from the army, and with nobody but her friends at her side, she must travel to the Ethereal Realm to uncover the origins of the gem – and with it, the truth about herself.

Forced to face her fears, and the only one who can hope to stop the army’s rampage, will Alina be able to harness the power of the stone? Or will her new life burn just like her village?

A Wing and a Prayer by Christine PopeA Wing and a Prayer by Christine Pope:

His life has gone to hell. Now his heart is about to go to the dogs.

Beelzebub has the perfect job: manager-in-chief of Hell…until the number of condemned souls nosedives, and God slaps an “Out of Business” sign on the Fiery Gates. Now Beelzebub is just a laid-off demon banished to live out a mortal life in his idea of perdition: Los Angeles. Complete with nosy neighbors and a yappy, pint-sized dog that won’t stay off his lawn.

Jillian Torres is finally free of one hellish relationship and has no interest in going down that road again. So what if her best friend reports that their new neighbor is super-smoking-hot? Jillian’s hands are too full running a Chihuahua rescue to notice or care…until Rufus, one of her escape-artist rescue dogs, makes a beeline for the man’s yard.

Three things hit her immediately when she meets Benjamin Blake. He’s definitely super-hot. His grumpy attitude doesn’t quite hide the sadness in his smoky hazel eyes. And Rufus adores him. Thus begins Jillian’s subversive quest to win Ben’s heart — for Rufus. But along the way, Ben and Jillian find everything they never thought they wanted.

Judgment of Honor by Joyce Reynolds-WardJudgment of Honor by Joyce Reynolds-Ward:

THE STAGE IS SET…LET THE GAMES BEGIN!

After defeating Waykemin’s Witches Council, Katerin Leader and Rekaré Kinslayer face new challenges. Waykemin’s overseas ally, Chatain, Emperor of Daran, has abducted Katerin’s daughter Witmara. A new threat arises from the East which requires Katerin’s attention, so it falls to Rekaré to aid Witmara—which supports Rekaré’s vow for vengeance upon Chatain.

Meanwhile, Chatain’s estranged half-sister Betsona aids Witmara’s escape, and encourages her to overthrow Chatain. When Rekaré arrives in Daran, Betsona helps her. But does Betsona intend to use Rekaré and Witmara to become Empress?

At the same time, the rift between the Seven Crowned Gods splinters beyond recovery. How do the actions of Rekaré, Katerin, and Witmara play into the war between the Gods?

Battles at the Nerean Gate and the Spring Festival in Daran decide the fates of Gods and humans…and things will never be the same.

Auxiliary's Revenge by Jeff TanyardAuxiliary’s Revenge by Jeff Tanyard:

Jerry Harper is back home, recovering from his injuries. It won’t be for long. He’s a strategic asset now, and the government is eager to send him back into action. They want to protect him better on his next war patrol, so he’s assigned to a new station: the Agrarian Commonwealth’s new battleship. He and the fleet soon jump out and begin their mission.

While in space, horrifying news arrives. The Reliants have invented a doomsday weapon, a virus that targets the Agrarian genetic code. They begin deploying it, and Agrarians are killed by the billions. Jerry is tasked with using his electrokinesis to find the virus’s production facility so that a coordinated attack can be made. It might be the only chance the Commonwealth gets before the galaxy’s Agrarians are exterminated.

Jerry’s health is in rapid decline due to his electrokinesis. He can’t afford to push himself. But a Rifleman does his duty, even if it kills him.

The Quantum Well by James David VictorThe Quantum Well by James David Victor:

When your enemy has a bigger gun than you do, your only choice is to find new allies. Even if that means going somewhere you didn’t even know existed.

The Eternal Empress has unleashed the full might of her planet-destroying weapon. When Anders, Dalia, and their friends flee the destruction, they find themselves in the furthest reaches of the galaxy, in place known only in legend. Can they escape and find a place thought lost in history? If not, humanity may be doomed.

The Quantum Well is the sixth book in the Memories of Earth space opera series. If you enjoy stories in fantastic worlds of aliens, space travel, and genetic engineering, the Memories of Earth series will be right up your alley.

Age of Deception by T.A. WhiteAge of Deception by T.A. White:

War hero and daughter to two Houses, Kira is just beginning to learn how deep the rabbit hole goes.

Agreeing to accompany her father’s people back to their homeworld, Kira Forrest prepares for the fight of her life. She’s agreed to undertake the Trial of the Broken, a rite of passage every member of her father’s House must pass. It offers a path to independence and freedom that is too tempting to deny.

Not everyone welcomes this lost daughter of Roake. There are those who fear what her presence might bring to light. Betrayal stalks the halls of Kira’s birthplace—its roots embedded deep in the events that claimed her parent’s lives and set her on her current path.

Walking the wire’s edge between truth and deception will test the person Kira has become as she separates ally from betrayer. An old enemy has put into motion a plan that could topple the balance of power in the universe. Letting them succeed spells doom—but the price might be more than Kira is willing to pay.

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