BLOG TOUR – Belega by Dianne Hartsock – Exclusive #Excerpt #Giveaway


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🌟 Please join me in welcoming author Dianne Hartsock to Stories That Make You Smile. Dianne is here today celebrating the recent release of her fabulous new fantasy novel, Belega. She’s brought along a generous giveaway and an excerpt that’s exclusive to this blog’s readers. Pull up a chair and learn all about this first book in Dianne’s The Karthagans series! 🌟

Belega by Dianne Hartsock

The power of the mind is immense. In this world, mankind has learned to gather the energies of creation to use at their whim. But absolute power corrupts absolutely.

Series: The Karthagans (book #1)
Publisher: Solstice Publishing
Cover Artist: K.C. Sprayberry
Release Date: February 10, 2020
Length: Novel / 95,000 words / 339 pages
Heat Rating: Erotic
Pairing / Genre: M/M Erotic Fantasy Adventure w/ Romance subplot, adult, LGBTQ fiction, magic, sorcery, mage, good vs. evil, quest, obsession, power, lust, insanity, betrayal, friendship

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The Karthagans have regained their ancient powers of manipulating nature, but at the price of madness. In their lust for control they’ve destroyed their island and most of their race. They come now to Belega where one of them, Camron, seeks domination over the known world.

The Mage has come from the northern continent of Sennia to bring peace, but finding his strength no match for the coming struggle, he passes his abilities on to Natan, who only desires a simple life. Now only Natan has the ability to stop Camron, but the personal cost is more than he imagines.

It is only with the combined strength of his friends, his Karthagan lover, Kavi, and his deep desire to bring peace to the earth, that he finds the courage to overcome Camron and restore balance to the world. The power of the mind is immense.

In this world, mankind has learned to gather the energies of creation to use at their whim. But absolute power corrupts absolutely.


“I have you.”

Natan rose into a low crouch from the scrub brush, careful not to scrape his cloak against the foliage, and searched his memory for the trick Kavi had taught him. Oh, yes. He took a deep breath and let it out slowly, releasing all worries. His expectations. Letting go. The clip of the horse’s hooves echoed in his mind and he concentrated on that, the smell of the horse, the feel of its hide, the oats on its breath. He became aware of a vague fear in the animal’s mind. 

But then the tenuous connection broke without time to try again as the soldier leading the roan brought him to a stop, his gaze sweeping the path ahead, alert. Gathering his scattered wits as best he could, Natan lunged to his feet and dove for the soldier’s legs. They went down hard, Natan gasping at the whoosh of air against his cheek as the horse reared, hooves barely missing him. Knowing he was no match for the soldier physically, he scrambled to jab a knee into the man’s back, then drew his thin knife and pressed it against the pulse at his throat and felt him stiffen.

“Hold very still,” he warned. The soldier didn’t move as the keen blade inadvertently nicked his skin. Recalling Kavi’s imprisonment, Natan gritted his teeth and swung his arm back, then brought the hilt of the knife down sharply on his vulnerable skull. The man went limp with a grunt. Natan climbed to his feet, cursing under his breath as the horse disappeared up the trail. He rolled the man over so his face wouldn’t be in the dirt, making sure he could breathe without difficulty.

Frowning at the thick trees crowding them, he left his captive a moment to scout the vicinity, at last coming upon a small clearing off the trail. It took some effort to drag the unconscious soldier to the spot, and a relief to roll the heavy body down the last few feet. He retrieved leather strips from his pack and bound the man’s hands and feet to a small sapling, and examined the soldier’s head once again. Although the purplish welt had swollen, the bleeding had stopped. 

Natan watched the soldier a moment, and shook his head in disgust when he didn’t waken. “Hit him too hard,” he muttered, angry with himself. He built a small fire as the air grew chilly, and sat with his back to a tree while he waited for the soldier to regain consciousness. Darkness descended on the forest and he chewed his lips in growing anxiety. Bryon had gone to Nagal to petition the Mage to help them recover Kavi. Had he reached the city yet? If so, Natan would need to be at the Lake of Glass to meet with them in a few short days. A lifetime, while Kavi remained captive.

He sharpened his knife on a whetstone to pass the time while the soldier remained unconscious. The stars came out and an ache crept into his chest as he thought of Kavi and how they used to lie awake and watch for falling stars. Natan would make them tea in a little pot over the fire, and they’d wrap in warm blankets and talk quietly while the sky wheeled overhead. Sometimes they made love, Kavi’s warm sleek body pliant as Natan searched out new ways to draw those sweet breathy moans from his lips.

And then it had all ended. Natan closed his eyes at the jab of pain in his heart. The Nagal soldiers had come to their camp and dragged Kavi away, laughing when Natan struggled, and methodically beat him senseless. That had been two weeks ago, and every attempt he’d made to find his lover had failed. The last time he’d been threatened with imprisonment himself.

He would do Kavi no good behind iron bars, he reminded himself again.

Natan opened his eyes to find the captive staring at him from where he’d slumped against the tree. Natan went over and helped him to a sitting position.

 “What’s your name?” he asked with ice in his voice. The man continued to stare at him, insolent. Natan looked him over carefully. “Let me guess. You’re dressed as a Nagal soldier, though you’re obviously not one. Maybe a deserter? Maybe a Barkuit spy?” He watched the soldier’s face as he named the rival country, then leaned closer to whisper, “What of Kavi?”

“That trash?” the man asked in surprise, and yelped when Natan lunged at him, knife slipping into his hand.  “Say that again and I’ll slit your throat. Now, what

is your name?”             

“Captain Syros Reed.”

 Natan sat back on his heels, fury hot in his chest.


 “I could tell you where they mean to bury him,” Syros drawled, holding Natan’s gaze, and smiled slightly at his sharply indrawn breath. “He was alive the last time I saw him, but I heard they mean to bury him soon. If you hurry, he may still be breathing. I don’t know.”

“And you didn’t help him?” With a sudden enraged cry Natan drove his knife into the sapling inches from Syros’s face. “He’d better be alive, for your sake.”

He left his water skin for Syros, should the man succeed in freeing himself, then gave the soldier no more thought as he snatched up his pack and settled into the long run ahead, determined to be at the Lake of Glass on time.

☆ Exclusive Excerpt ☆

 They spent the morning in silence as Natan trudged doggedly up the dusty road. Niko followed, humming snatches of songs as he tossed pebbles into the tall grass. He just as often pulled something out of his pack to eat, which Natan found extremely irritating. His own provisions were limited, and he had no idea when they might reach another village. 

 At noon the grasslands gave way to a large oak grove. Natan halted, sitting cross-legged to rest on the thick moss beside a clear spring. The weather proved warmer on Sennia than in his own country, and he removed his cloak and sweater, folding them into his pack. After a short debate with himself, he took out a packet of dried fruit and nuts. He felt Niko’s eyes on him and impatiently rolled to his stomach to eat his meager lunch and watch the sunlight play on the water.

 Niko shrugged and sat with his back to a wide tree and played with the dagger he kept in a sheath up his sleeve. Seeming bored, he returned the blade to its hiding place and held out his hand. Natan watched as sweat burst out on his face. His breathing grew labored. Suddenly a tiny glow appeared in his palm and sprang into a flame. It disappeared instantly but Niko leaned back against the oak, looking satisfied.

 “How did you do that?” Natan asked, impressed. He’d seen the Karthagans do the same and wondered if everyone on Sennia had the gift. Flattered, Niko moved beside him.

 “It’s very difficult,” Niko warned. “Open your hand.” He continued when Natan complied, “Now, command the flame to appear, and it will.”              

Natan frowned at his palm. “Command?”    

“Yes,” Niko said impatiently. 

Natan concentrated and a flame burst to life in his hand, bright but without heat. He watched it a moment then asked it to leave. It made him uneasy to demand anything of nature. Flashing Niko an apologetic glance, he surprised a look of intense jealousy on his face. Natan scrambled to his feet and slung his pack on his shoulder, taking to the road again without a word. Niko trailed behind.

 They hadn’t gone far when Natan stopped and held his hands away from his body. 

 “Why, Niko?” he asked softly as hooded men stepped out of the trees, several with notched arrows.

 “Because, my dear friend,” Niko stepped behind him and pulled a leather strap from a pocket. “The people in your country may honor an enchanter, but here in Sennia we know how to deal with the like.” He pulled Natan’s hands together at his back and tied them tightly. “Why do you think my precious cousin fled all those years ago?” He gave a viscous tug on the leather so that it bit into Natan’s wrists.

 “You don’t have to do this,” Natan urged. 

A man strode out of the group and struck him across the mouth. “None of that. You’ll be putting a spell on us, next. That, we can’t allow.” 

Natan held himself still at a strange gleam in the man’s dark eyes. He could feel the malice in him, the delight he took in another’s pain. 

The man stared him in the face as he played with another strip of leather. “Smart boy.” 

He lunged suddenly and jabbed Natan in the stomach. As he doubled over in agony, the man thrust the leather between his teeth, quickly tying it behind his head. Natan grew dizzy as he fought for air. The leather chewed into the corners of his mouth and forced his tongue back. He gagged several times before he could work his tongue around the leather and open his airway.  “Bring him, Danul,” The man turned on his heels and strode into the forest. Rough hands took hold of Natan but he ignored the laughter as he stumbled. Niko’s shocked breath at the needless brutality gave him hope.

Meet the Author

Dianne grew up in one of the older homes in the middle of Los Angeles, a place of hardwood floors and secret closets and back staircases. A house where ghosts lurk in the basement and the faces in the paintings watch you walk up the front stairs. Rooms where you keep the closet doors closed tight at night. It’s where her love of the mysterious and wonderful came from. Dianne is the author of paranormal/suspense, fantasy adventure, m/m romance, the occasional thriller, and anything else that comes to mind.

She now lives in the beautiful Willamette Valley of Oregon with her incredibly patient husband, who puts up with the endless hours she spends hunched over the keyboard letting her characters play. Dianne says Oregon’s raindrops are the perfect setting in which to write. There’s something about being cooped up in the house with a fire crackling on the hearth and a cup of hot coffee in her hands, which kindles her imagination.

Currently, Dianne works as a floral designer in a locally-owned gift shop. Which is the perfect job for her. When not writing, she can express herself through the rich colors and textures of flowers and foliage.

Website | Facebook Profile | Facebook Page | Twitter (@diannehartsock) | Instagram (@diannehartsock) | Goodreads | QueeRomance Ink | Amazon

Also by Dianne Hartsock


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