Today I am so pleased to welcome Cari Z to Joyfully Jay. Cari has come to talk to us about her latest release, Reckless: Book Three of the Luckless series. Please join me in giving her a big welcome!
Hi darlins! Huge thanks to Jay for having me on the blog today to talk about Reckless! This is the third and final book (as things stand now, lol) for the Luckless series. It’s been a journey getting these done, let me tell you, but I’m excited to have my M/M romance, dystopian, dragon-riding trilogy completed and out there in the world!
I learned more putting this series together than with any other books in my indie publishing career. The first one, Luckless, was originally contracted to a small publisher. When that fell through for *ahem* reasons, I decided to publish it on my own…which meant learning how from scratch, as I was a complete neophyte. It took over a year to get the book edited, buy the cover, format it, and release it into the wild…and it did well! So the novella that was supposed to be a standalone suddenly seemed like a great fit for a sequel. Cool cool cool…
Now I needed to plot and write a sequel, after not thinking about the worldbuilding for this book for over two years. I managed it, eventually, bought covers and got edits, published Dauntless…
And then I needed to do the third, while working on some other HUGE projects, so Reckless got pushed back…and back…and back. I needed a kick in the pants to get to work on it, which finally came in the form of getting an audiobook in the works for Luckless.
Yes! Michael Ferraiuolo, who has done many, many superlative audiobooks for L.A. Witt, myself, and so many other authors, is narrating Luckless! If things go well, I’ll have him voice the next two as well. This is my first independently produced audiobook—another big step for me. I’m so excited for it, though, and so excited to share Reckless with you.
I hope you love it, and happy reading!
Evan pulled back and turned his head to look out into the darkness across the crumbled road. “Listen.”
Lee followed his gaze, and his eyes began to glow with an internal fire. Stepping back, he hoisted his helm onto his head. A second later, an immense, two-handed, silver blade appeared in his hands. Levering it down like it weighed nothing, he drew a flaming circle in the ground around Evan and their gear. “Stay here,” he said as the ancient concrete cracked and bubbled with the force of his power. “I’ll deal with them.”
“Deal with who?” Evan demanded as Lee stepped away.
“The hodag,” he said. A second later, a creature the size of a horse was leaping out from the shadows. It had the horns of a bull on top of its wide, flat head and a grinning mouth full of hideously sharp teeth that reminded Evan of a picture he’d once seen of a shark. Its legs were short but strong, like a crocodile, and its back was covered in long spines, which culminated in a dangerous spiky tail.
As vicious as it looked, Evan wasn’t immediately worried. In his warrior incarnation, Lee had advantages that neither Ladon nor Lee the regular man shared. As Evan watched, the hodag darted forward with a serpentine slither, tail lashing back and forth like a lure before it lunged for Lee’s throat.
Lee swept his sword up in a diagonal slice that was more than deadly; it released a sizzling bolt of incandescent power from the edge of the blade, slicing through the body of the hodag like it was no firmer than dandelion fluff. The monster’s scream was cut short by the severance of its lungs, but its front and hind legs clawed independently at the ground for a few more moments, its jaw gnashing fruitlessly before it finally shuddered and died. It was a fast, flawless kill.
It wasn’t going to be the only one.
Two more of the beasts crawled out of the shadows, casting their dark-red gazes from their fallen companion to Lee and finally to Evan. One of them faced Lee head-on, careful to keep a few meters of distance between them, while the other began to sidle around him like it was trying to flank Lee … or get to Evan.
Evan immediately went for his bow. He nocked an arrow and drew, cursing the vicious way his arm and shoulder ached before firing at the closest hodag.
The arrow stuck in the creature’s shoulder, making it snap and snarl but not seeming to do any real damage. Honestly, Evan wasn’t sure what the best target was on a beast like this—down the mouth? But its teeth were firmly closed, and its stubby neck might be too short to allow him to access a vital organ through it anyway. He grabbed for another arrow as the hodag refocused on him.
Lee was fighting the other one, which leapt with surprising alacrity for a creature so large and heavy. It dodged his energy attacks and danced back and forth just out of range of the end of Lee’s blade. The second hodag had focused all its efforts on Evan now, stalking toward him like the apex predator it was. It got to the edge of the circle, tried to step over it, then leapt back screaming like it had been burned. The circle flared with fresh fire, so it probably had been burned. It backed away a bit further, then ran forward at full speed, leaping into the air five feet from the edge of the circle. Its long claws were on full display, mouth gaping, and Evan fired again, but the arrow just bounced off those hideous teeth, and—
It stopped two feet in front of him like it had run into a wall, and its entire face burst into flames.
Refugees have been streaming into the city of Forge from around the country. Monsters are coming down from the mountains and staking out new hunting grounds. Even as the dragons of Forge grow stronger and more numerous, the challenges they and their riders are facing are only increasing, and there’s only one place to look for answers.
Chicago is the strongest remaining city in the Midwest, home to thousands of people and protected by powerful dragons … or at least, it was. By the time Evan Luck and his dragon, Ladon, arrive there, it’s clear that something’s gone terribly wrong. People are starving, dragons are dying, and nobody knows who’s behind it all.
It’s something they’ve never faced before—something they thought didn’t exist, yet that’s terrifyingly familiar. It’s up to Evan and Ladon to stop it … or lose their city, their son, and their lives.
Cari Z. is a Colorado girl who loves snow and sunshine. She writes award-winning LGBTQ fiction featuring aliens, supervillains, soothsayers, and even normal people sometimes. Cari has published short stories, novellas and novels with numerous print and e-presses, and she also offers up a tremendous amount of free content on her blog and on AO3 as CariZee. Follow her blog, join her Patreon, or sign up for her newsletter to read her serial stories! New chapters post on a weekly/monthly basis.
Welcome, Cari, and thanks for sharing that excerpt. I can now say that I have no desire to encounter a hodag! Best wishes for the success of the Luckless series.