Sunday, March 18, 2012

Sunday Share: The Prince of Val-Feyridge, by Helen C. Johannes

I'm happy to welcome award-winning author Helen C. Johannes with her book, The Prince of Val-Feyridge. I was smart enough to take this one with me on my trip to Italy last October and Helen's wonderful imagery was brought fully to life as I toured mountains and castles. It was pretty cool.

Enjoy the excerpt she's sharing today and any comments could net you winner's choice of an ebook or print copy of your own!

The Prince of Val-FeyRidge, by Helen C. Johannes
2011 EPIC Winner in Fantasy Romance

Heat level: Spicy

Published by The Wild Rose Press

A warrior with a destiny, a woman with a gift. Can loving the enemy restore a broken kingdom? Or will forbidden love destroy it—and them—first? 

Prince Arn has a destiny—an ancient throne—but he’s not waiting for fate to deliver when he can act now, before his enemies organize against him. The healer Aerid longs for her barely remembered homeland. Marked out by her gift and her foreign looks, she insists she is no witch. The swordsman Naed hopes to honorably defend his uncle’s holding, but he harbors a secret fascination for the exotic healer. Prince Arn’s campaign against Aerid’s homeland throws them into a triangle of forbidden love, betrayal, and heartbreak. Only when they realize love is blood-kin to friendship, and neither is possible without risk, can they forge a new alliance and restore a kingdom.

Excerpt from CHAPTER TEN

Shivers racked Aerid, coming so hard and fast she had bitten her lip bloody, but she refused to make a sound while the Prince rode with her clamped to his body. Her life depended on saying nothing until this man—the Demon Himself for all the cruel efficiency with which he had dispatched their attackers—gave her leave to speak.
Trees whipped by; a bit of moonlight beamed down on a narrow track, and always the horse’s mane lashed her face. She had given up breathing, gulping air whenever the horse’s stride loosened the Prince’s grip a fraction.
The horse slowed, and the Prince straightened in the saddle, allowing a sliver of night air to slide between their bodies. She shuddered at the shock of it, realizing the skin under her tunic was damp with the sweat soaking through his. She had ceased to feel his heartbeat as separate from hers. Both thundered in her ears, and the sweet scent of fresh blood—on his hands, his clothes, his weapons—mingled with horse lather, man-sweat, and her own fear.
He guided the stallion off the track and into a stream. Krenin followed, as did a riderless horse that had raced with them out of the village. Aerid guessed it was one of those that had charged her in the square. Instead of crossing, the Prince headed the stallion downstream, letting it pick its way through fetlock-deep water. Krenin made no comment. Aerid stole a glance in his direction, but the Prince’s Second seemed still in control of his horse although he slumped over the animal’s neck. Around them, water rushed and hissed over stones, the sound echoing the blood-rush in her veins.
The Prince’s arm tightened, drawing her hard against the planes of his chest. Aerid sucked in breath, digging her fingers once more into his tunic sleeve. Every movement reminded her, perched sideways as she was on the saddle pommel, all that kept her out of the water and away from trampling hooves was the strength of his arm—and that arm was trembling. Not with the fear still rattling through her, for he was Tolemak and a warrior. Nor with weakness, though the wound she had stitched a scant seven-night before could yet give him cause. No, in that moment when he had recognized her—in that awful moment after the shock—she had seen all too clearly the fury vibrating through him now. And the knowledge that it had not abated even a whit made her flinch when he bent and his voice lashed at her ear.
“Tell me, witch, and tell me true—does Krenin know who you are?”
The question itself startled Aerid, not its harshness, for she had expected that. Twisting her head, she caught a glimpse of eyes like coals in a face dark and set.
“I mean,” he said, each word measured and knifesharp, “either who you are or who you pretend to be.”
She flushed, knowing full well what he meant. “I—I think not, m’lord. ‘Twas dark and—”
“Then you’ll do nothing to enlighten him. Hear?”
She heard him clearly despite the water-song and hoof splashes she was sure prevented their voices from carrying to Krenin. She understood, too, what underlay his warning. He wanted no one to know that he, the exalted and invincible Prince of Val-Feyridge, had been tricked—trapped—into sparing the life of an Adanak—and a woman!—only to cover the fact he and all his army had been duped into believing—for weeks!—that she was a boy, and a D’nalian. Oh, he had chosen well the moment for his question, Aerid thought, a rush of indignation beating back her shivers.
“Aye, m’lord, ‘tis safe with me, your secret.”
His arm clenched so, she feared he would crush her. “I should have let them kill you!”
He had to feel how her heart fluttered like a trapped bird under his arm, but the breathlessness made her almost giddy, not frightened. Her words had power, and her tongue spat out more of them. “Why did you not? If I be to you what you believe of me, why did you not leave me to them? ‘Twas surely—”
“You helped Krenin. Why?”
Why indeed? Krenin was Tolemak, her enemy. But he had been alone, and injured, and there were so many of them, and they were thieves, not good men, and she could not stand by and watch while… Tears scorched her throat. The Prince would not understand any of that—not
he, the warrior who swung his arm and lopped off heads and limbs without thought of who the bearers might be or where they might be from or who they might have waiting for them—
“‘Twas—’twas not by choice!” Turning away, she pressed knuckles to her mouth to stop its trembling.
He made no response, only straightened away from her and turned the horse toward a grassy bank. When the animal had climbed out of the water, he opened his arm. Unprepared, Aerid slid straight down and fell into marshy grass. She gaped as he dismounted and, looking impossibly tall and featureless in the faint moonlight, stood over her. “Understand then—’tis not by my choice that you’re here, now.” Dropping the stallion’s reins, he walked toward Krenin’s horse, pushing aside the stray that had followed them.
Author's Personal Note:
I hope you enjoy this short sample from The Prince of Val-Feyridge. These characters have been with me since high school when I wrote about half of their story. It lay unfinished, on hand-written sheets of notebook paper in a binder, for many years before I took it out, dusted it off, and found I still cared about these characters. If you have unfinished stories lurking in binders and drawers, take heart and don’t throw them away. You never know when they might call you back and become your break-through book. 
She was also kind enough to answer a few questions for us today:

1. How did you get started in writing, and how long have you been writing for? (delete the second part if you prefer not to answer.)
I’ve been a writer since I could use a pencil.  My earliest publication was a haiku in grade school, but I remember writing sequels to the books I was reading while I was supposed to be paying attention in class.  I credit fairy tales for my early experience with story structure, archetypes, and great imaginary settings/characters/plots.
2. What genre do you enjoy reading? Do you stick with what you write, or “‘play the field”?
I read a mix of fiction from middle grade to YA fantasy to mystery/suspense (romantic and not) to romantic comedy/adventure to historical to some paranormal. (My Goodreads page is all over the place.)  I tend to prefer women authors (especially WisRWA), but I mainly love a good story well told.  When I’m writing fantasy, though, I try not to read it and stick instead to romance, etc.
3. What do you find most challenging in the writing process?
Getting the words on the page.  Sometimes they seem to just stick.  Once upon a time, the words flowed, but that was when I wasn’t so aware of “good writing” and effective story structure.  In those early days, I needed a lot of revising time.  Now, I think that is reduced.
4. What do you enjoy most?
Having my characters come alive on the page and reveal to me secrets I didn’t know they had.  That’s when the story opens up for me; it’s a mind-blowing moment.  I have great admiration and respect for the mystery that is the human subconscious.
5. What’s your favorite drink of choice while writing?
Hot tea, strong, steeped five minutes.  Black or green but definitely with caffeine.
6. What do you have in store for readers next?
I’ve finished Bloodstone, the WIP that won the PRISM contest, and I’m beginning a sequel to The Prince of Val-Feyridge.  Readers told me I had to write one, and I agree.

Author Helen C. Johannes lives in the Midwest with her husband and grown children. Growing up, she read fairy tales, Tolkien, The Scarlet Pimpernel, Agatha Christie, Shakespeare, and Ayn Rand, an unusual mix that undoubtedly explains why the themes, characters, and locales in her writing play out in tales of love and adventure. A member of Romance Writers of America, she credits the friends she has made and the critiques she’s received from her chapter members for encouraging her to achieve her dream of publication. When not working on her next writing project, she teaches English, reads all kinds of fiction, enjoys walks, and travels as often as possible.

You can find Helen on the web at:


I must say having read and loved The Prince of Val-Feyridge, I completely agree you must write the sequel!

Thanks so much for sharing with us today, Helen.  Readers, don't forget to comment up through Wednesday for a chance to win this fabulous book! 

Have a wonderful week! As always, happy reading.

Stacey Joy Netzel


  1. Thanks, Stacey, for hosting me and my book today. I'm so glad to be here to share with you and your readers.

  2. You're welcome Helen. I love sharing great books with others, so I'm happy to have you here. :)

  3. Helen,
    Thank you for visiting and sharing the news about sequel. I can't wait to read it. This was a great story with very vivid characters that came to life for me on every page. I enjoyed the read and would recommend it to everyone.

  4. The sequel to Prince is great news for me. I loved this book and the characters. I'm so looking forward to continuing their story.

  5. Helen,

    I read Prince when it first came out and loved it as you know. I'm so glad to hear that you've decided to write a sequel and I will stand it line to buy it.

    I often thought of Tolkien while reading Prince, but not because it was the same, but because it evoked so much awe and emotion while I read it.

    Can't wait to read Bloodstone. :-)

  6. Eve, Steve, and Casey--Thanks for all the kind words about PRINCE. It was the book of my heart, so I definitely want to continue these characters' journeys.

  7. Helen,
    I read the book and loved it! The passion really came through. I can't wait for a sequal!

  8. Sorry I missed this yesterday. I'm in love with Helen Johannes's writing. I've just started reading "The Prince." Reading Helen's work is like taking a creative writing class.

    So glad you're doing a sequal, Helen!
    Mal Olson

  9. Hi Helen, this sounds like a great book. I love how you said your writing used to go faster until you learned about good writing and effective story telling. Ditto for me. Good luck, and I'm going to take a look for your book.

  10. Ilona and Mal, thanks so much for the praise and encouragement.

    Barbara, I'm glad to know I'm not alone with the "sticky words." Despite that, don't you love it when you craft something that just sings?

  11. I can not tell you again how much I love this book. I eagerly await the sequel so that I may become lost in someone else's world even if you for a few short hours.

  12. Woot, sequel! Loved the Prince. I hope Bloodstone is on the shelves soon :) Great interview!

  13. Danielle and Mary, thanks for the words of praise for PRINCE. Keep your fingers crossed for BLOODSTONE to find a home.

  14. Helen, a sequel, yeah and about time! Hope you have as much fun writing it as we will reading it.

  15. Hi Mary! Yes, I've got my work cut out for me, but you'll all keep me focused. Thanks for stopping by.

  16. BLOODSTONE will have a home for one copy on my bookself next to Prince

  17. Danielle, you are my number one cheerleader! Thanks so much!

  18. I can't wait to read the sequel! I loved the first one and am looking forward to seeing what the characters will do next.

  19. Thanks to everyone who visited and commented. Your kind words have given me a fantastic boost.

    The winner in a random drawing is Casey Clifford! Please contact Stacey to tell her whether you want a print or ebook version of PRINCE and where I should send it.

    Thanks, Stacey, for hosting me. I had a great time.