Book Highlight: Prince of Secrets and Shadows

Welcome to the blog tour for the highly anticipated follow up novel in The Order of the Crystal Daggers series, Prince of Secrets and Shadows! Please read on for an exclusive excerpt, purchase details, and of course, a fab giveaway to enter!

But wait, there’s more! Today I am also revealing the stunning cover for book #3, Heart of Hope and Fear with a little teaser!

2 Prince of Secrets and Shadows final front cover.jpgPrince of Secrets and Shadows

Publication Date: December 4th, 2018

Genre: YA/ Historical Fiction/ Adventure/ Romance

“How do I know you’re telling me the truth?” The last thing I wanted to do was hurt him, but if I did not find a way to break free of him, I would risk doing even more harm.

Ferdy met my gaze with his. “I promise you this, Ella, that as of now, I will never lie to you again.” He leaned forward and kissed me again, and I stood there, letting him, desperately debating whether I could trust him or not. His promise burned through me, his words scorched into my being. It was so tempting to believe him, more tempting than anything else I had ever faced in all my life.

Freedom was only freedom if I could trust it to be true.

PRAGUE, 1870

After joining the Order of the Crystal Daggers, led by her dauntless grandmother, Lady Penelope, Eleanora Svobodová set out to save her kingdom from oncoming devastation.
And she failed.

Following the attack on Prague Castle, Eleanora is determined to redeem herself. She sets out to win Karl’s trust while distancing herself from Ferdy, whose secrets and lies have done nothing to stop her from falling in love with him. As she struggles to let him go, questions about the mission and her mother’s past cause a rift between Amir and Lady Penelope and add to the growing discord between Eleanora and her brother.
But when a cunning provocateur arrives in Prague, Eleanora discovers there is an even more deadly game afoot, one that reaches into Amir’s past and threatens Lady Penelope’s future. Now, the members of the Order must work together if they are to uncover the true enemy hiding in Bohemia.

Can they work together despite their divisions? Or will their division lead to even more destruction?

With spies, secrets, and suspense, Prince of Secrets and Shadows is the second book in The Order of the Crystal Daggers, a spy adventure series from C. S. Johnson.

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Excerpt

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“I told you the truth about your grandmother’s past, including some of the secrets she carries,” Harshad said. “But you are still not any more inclined to trust her with your secrets, are you?”

I blushed at his perception and shook my head. “No.”

He nodded. “I thought as much. Trust is a process, especially in a fallen world.”

Perhaps for once, I understood why Harshad wanted me to remain silent while he talked. Everything he said was intentional, designed to tantalize the mind. I was suddenly appalled when I realized how much I had likely missed in our sessions before.

I hoped I would be able to make up for it, after our mission was over.

When he did speak again, it seemed as though ages had passed. “You really are so much like Dezda. I wanted to see for myself how different you are, and that required time.” His voice was much more of a whisper, and I knew he was taking a risk, and letting me know one of his secrets. “I know you are different enough that I can freely admit that I came to regret training Dezda. I did not want to make the same mistake with you.”

“This is not a mistake,” I said, but I felt my resolve weaken. I remembered how Ferdy told me that the Order of the Crystal Daggers was full of assassins, and I had nothing to say in return. He was likely right. I did not know if I was comfortable having the talent to kill someone.

Harshad seemed to agree with my unspoken concerns. “Fighting is contrary to your nature.”

“Being stubborn and contrary is not.” A wry grin appeared on my face, and I was suddenly determined to change the subject. “Besides, Lady Penelope says that Society can only exist when people do things that are unacceptable to save it.”

“That does not mean you must be such a person.”

“I do not agree,” I said. “I am free to see the truth of such a calling, even if it is uncomfortable.”

“This is not what you want.”

I did not know how to respond; Harshad was right. I had my doubts about the Order, about working with people who, as Lady POW said, would fail me.

But I was at the castle when Karl and Lord Maximillian’s attack commenced. If I had done nothing at all, if I had backed away from Lady Penelope’s offer, if I had jumped at the chance to travel abroad and find a husband, or if I had taken enough of her money to start up Liberté with Ben, I would not have been able to save Ferdy.

And he was worth it. Protecting Ferdy was worth it.

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Here is the unbelievably gorgeous cover for book #3 in the series, called Heart of Hope and Fear! I also have a little teaser for you below!

3 Heart of Hope and Fear front cover

“What about the Order?” I hesitated to ask, knowing Amir had painful memories of his own. “I wanted to be free before. Lady Penelope pointed out that this is the opposite of what I wanted. I can’t help but feel she is right.”

“Wanting to be free is not a sin in itself,” Amir told me softly. “Only when that is everything and held to the highest priority is it so. We are loyal to the truth, Eleanora, but the truth is complicated, and freedom can be painful.”

PRAGUE, 1871

In the battle between the past and the present, one girl must stand and fight for the future.

Following Lord Maximillian’s escape and Karl’s disappearance, Eleanora Svobodová and the other members of the Order of the Crystal Daggers have plenty to keep them preoccupied. Just as the Emperor calls for a tripartite council to determine the sovereignty of Bohemia, war breaks out in France, and Lady Penelope prepares the Order to come face to face with their true foe at last.

But then Eleanora discovers the startling truth about her mother’s last mission in Prague.

Can she rescue the prince, save the Emperor, and still protect her friends and family?

Ferdy’s mother narrowed her eyes at me. “I am relieved to hear that you have made such a study of both my sons of late, Lady Eleanora. I confess, I was surprised to hear of your engagement to Karl through the papers.”

“I regret to inform you, Your Highness, that Karl made the arrangements with the papers. I did not agree to an engagement.” I did not need a mirror to know my face had flushed over in red.

“Well, that’s not entirely true,” Ferdy interjected. “Ella has agreed to marry me.”

“What?” Lady Penelope, Empress Maria Anna, and Amir all turned to look at me. The heat in my cheeks exponentially increased.

“I love her, and she loves me,” Ferdy continued, clearly indifferent to how uncomfortable he was making me. It was scandalous that he would love me at all, but the way in which he presented his claim on my heart was more than inappropriate—especially given that we had to find his brother, who was, in the eyes of Society, the one who was rightfully engaged to me. “We would like to speak with the archbishop while we are here.”

“Today?” The empress gaped at him.

“Yes.” Ferdy stepped down from before the throne to stand beside me. He took my hand in his and brought it to his lips.

“Ferdinand … ” Empress Maria Anna looked from Ferdy to me, and then back at her son. She seemed aghast at the idea, and I did not know what to do to calm her fears—if I could do such a thing at all. My own stomach was turning and twisting into knots.

“I have fallen deeply under her spell, Mother, and I would hate to fall even further into scandal and temptation,” Ferdy continued, watching his mother carefully. “It would be such a stain on our family’s virtuous history.”

The former empress blushed as she looked at me, and I was too shocked to assure her Ferdy and I were not engaged in an affair; even if I had, I worried Ferdy would divulge more of our stolen moments together, just vague enough to let everyone assume the worst.

I only felt some measure of relief when Amir gave me a small smile. From where he stood behind Lady Penelope, I could see the somberness as well as the sincerity of his approval.

Suddenly, I did not want to know what Lady Penelope was thinking; I deliberately kept my face turned away from hers.

“It was only a few days ago that my life was endangered as I made my way back to Silesia,” Ferdy said, so smoothly I did not even call him on his lie. “Life is so fragile, Mother, and I have been waiting for Ella for so long.”

He looked back up at his mother, resolved and proud, but still pleading for her approval.

Ferdy had told me once before that I was the one who was more determined between us, but as his fingers curled into mine, in a manner that was both so seductive and yet so innocent, I wondered if he had been lying.

Coming Soon!

Giveaway Time!!!

To win a print copy of Prince of Secrets and Shadows, click on the link below!

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Author-CS-Johnson

C. S. Johnson is the award-winning, genre-hopping author of several novels, including young adult sci-fi and fantasy adventures such as the Starlight Chronicles, the Once Upon a Princess saga, and the Divine Space Pirates trilogy. With a gift for sarcasm and an apologetic heart, she currently lives in Atlanta with her family. Find out more at http://www.csjohnson.me

CS Johnson | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Pinterest

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Blog Tour Schedule

March 18th

Reads & Reels (Excerpt) http://readsandreels.com

The Writer’s Alley (Review) https://www.jacobrundle.com

Llissa’s Bookviews (Review) https://llissasbookviews.wordpress.com/

Scarlett Readz and Runz (Excerpt) https://scarlettreadzandrunz.com/

Yearwood La Novela (Excerpt) https://yearwooddailybookreview.com/

March 19th

Bobo’s Book Bank (Excerpt) http://bobosbookbank.com

Adventures Thru Wonderland (Review) http://adventuresthruwonderland.blogspot.com/

The Hufflepuff Nerdette (Excerpt) https://thehufflepuffnerdette.wordpress.com

The Bibliophagist (Excerpt) http://thebibliophagist.blog/

March 20th

Dash Fan Book Reviews (Excerpt) https://dashfan81.blogspot.com/

Breakeven Books (Excerpt) https://breakevenbooks.com

The Cozy Pages (Review) http://thecozypages.wordpress.com/

Tsarina Press (Excerpt) https://www.tsarinapress.com

Books, Teacups, & Reviews (Excerpt) https://booksteacupnreviews.wordpress.com/

March 21st

J Bronder Reviews (Review) https://jbronderbookreviews.com/

March 22nd

Jessica Rachow (Review) http://jessicarachow.wordpress.com

Sophril Reads (Excerpt) http://sophrilreads.wordpress.com

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Book Review: A Land Apart

Hey bookworms! How are you? Tell me in the comments below! I like to keep up to date with you guys.

We have a new review over here at Breakeven Books. This one is called A Land Apart by Ian Roberts.

A Land Apart book lying on a blanket

Synopsis: This gripping story of adventure and courage is set in a magnificent wilderness with the French, English, Iroquois, and Wendat just starting to do battle for what would become the US and Canada. The novel begins with the English pitted against the French, both aggressively claiming the land and resources of North America for themselves. The Iroquois align with the English, the Wendat with the French. The warring conflict between Iroquois and Wendat goes back generations but exists in an uneasy balance until the English sell guns to the Iroquois. Etienne Brulé, a historical character, has lived with the Wendat for 25 years. He knows even if he can get guns for the Wendat, the price everyone will pay in the end will be way too much.

This book was a historical fiction about Etienne Brulé and his dealings with the Wendat. I am normally not very into historical fiction but the way the author told this story had me encaptured since the very start. When they were in life-threatening situations and doing everything they could to survive, I felt my heart pumping faster as I read with the anticipation to know what happens next.

It was very interesting to learn about the Aboriginal culture in the context of interactions between the Wendat and the French and see how they differed in social dynamics. They lived very different lives yet wanted what each other had. The Aboriginals wanted the guns because they saw it as a source of raw power and the French wanted a strong sense of resolve that the Wendat showed in their character.

I would definitely recommend this book to the historical fiction buffs out there. It is worth the read and it has these beautiful black and white illustrations throughout that were done by the author.

Book Rating: 4.5/5

You can find this book on Amazon and Goodreads.

Disclaimer: This book was sent to us in physical format by the author to read and give an honest review.

Sidenote: If you want to support a fantastic literary company, our friends STORGY have a Kickstarter running currently for their Anthology called Shallow Creek. You get cool prizes if you pledge to the project so you should check it out!


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Book Review: The Occupation of Joe

Book review alert (insert alarm noise and picture a siren flashing)! This one was called The Occupation of Joe by Bill Baynes. It was a short book at only around 115 pages. and I flew through it (read it in one day :)).

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Synopsis: Tokyo, 1945. A Japanese boy too old for his years, a survivor of the American firebombing, dares to cross the wasteland where he saw thousands burn to death, and approach the occupying forces to get food for his family. A young Navy lieutenant, proud of the Allied victory but appalled by the devastation he sees across the city, cares enough to help. As post-war pressures mount between the two cultures, he becomes entangled in the lives of the boy, his infant sister, and his beautiful mother.

I actually read this book in one sitting. The story was very fluent and would switch between the two main characters, Joe and Isamu.

Isamu is a young boy of 12 and he is trying to help his family survive after the Americans firebombed his village by foraging for food and materials to trade. He uses his skills as an actor to fool Joe into giving him some money in exchange for his expertise with the locals in the area.

Joe is the Communication Officer on his ship and his job is to decode messages in Morse code. He takes a liking to the boy and brings him sandwiches to eat each day when he visits inland.

The characters are well rounded and the author makes it very easy to understand the language barrier between the Joe and the boy. They use a lot of hand signals and motions to try and make sense of each other and the author gives a detailed description of what the hand motions are. This really helps the reader picture how they surpass their differences to work together.

It was easy to read and the author kept me entertained enough to finish it on the same day I started it.

SPOILER (Skip this part if you intend to read it)

I can’t believe he just dies in the end. He tries to protect the boy by roughing up the gang that bullied him and gets stabbed so much that he doesn’t even make it back to the ship and ends up dying in the snow. The people even start ransacking his body before he is even dead. And then it is just over. The ending really took me by surprise.

I would recommend this book to anyone interested in the Wars or historical fiction. The author definitely did their research on the subject before writing a story about it.

Book Rating: 4/5

You can find this book on Amazon and Goodreads! Or if you want to talk to the author, check out his website!

Disclaimer: This book was sent to us in physical format to read and give an honest review.


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Book Review: Constable Outreach 35

Book reviews galore! I have been flying through books lately whether it be paperback, hardcover, or kindle; they are all being read :). This one is called Constable Outreach 35 by Jay Cadmus. You might remember Jay from an Author Interview I did with him a while back. Well here is the review of his book that I promised.

Constable Outreach 35 book by Jay Cadmus lying on a coffee table

Synopsis: Insurgency forces build against the Sandinista Government of Nicaragua. The story opens in Tegucigalpa during Contra War in 1985. A covert airdrop malfunction leaves C-123 Loadmaster in Sandinista territory. Troop supply by air delivery the next phase in this operation. Agency Operations Manager uses all available resources in locating…setting scenes of interaction between unlikely partners. Opposition forces appear as foreign ideologues and members within the U. S. Administration they serve. A little-used document is constructed to reset international and regional diplomacy. The downed American flyer – and other human assets – become pawns in a war of ideology. Some characters find themselves imprisoned within the ideology they serve. Personalities fall and rise. Knights surface in seeking to serve the White House. Others fall as a normal course by their purging. Quote: “In honor or disgrace, the death of my adversary is with me forever.”

Calling all history buffs and army veterans. This book is right up your alley. It isn’t typically the type of book I enjoy but I made my way through it and liked how it turned out. There was a lot of technical army terminology that I didn’t understand at times but I bet an army vet/history buff that enjoys planes would love to read this.

There are multiple characters that develop as the story unfolds. I’m not sure who the main character was because it keeps switching scenes between Lester Russell and Tom McKay (so I guess these two are the main characters).

The one critique I have is that the author tends to write in fragmented sentences. For example, “The plane was ready for take-off. Standard issue bolt wings. Landing strip ready for take-off” (this is just an example that I made up). I feel like some of these sentences could have been put together to form one descriptive sentence but that is just my personal opinion on the matter. I guess it is better than run on sentences :P. Also, there were quite a few spelling mistakes that bugged my inner grammar nazi and I had to move past it.

The book was mainly set in Nicaragua which was so cool because I have been to Nicaragua on a missions trip and it helped me picture the scenes in my head as if I was there. Managua is the capital of Nicaragua and there are multiple scenes in Managua. When I was in Managua, our bus driver ran through all the traffic lights because they said that if they stopped, we would be robbed. Nicaragua was a very hot place with really beautiful landscapes. It is rare that a book is set here so this was definitely a plus for me.

If you get a chance, reach out to the author! He is a very nice welcoming person and I’m sure you would have a great conversation with him.

Book Rating: 3.5/5

You can find this book on Amazon and Goodreads.

Disclaimer: This book was sent to us in physical format to read and give an honest review.


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