Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Exclusive Cover Reveal: The Solstice Prince by SJ Himes ~ Guest Post #Giveaway

The Solstice Prince
Realms of Love Book #1
Genre: Gay Epic Fantasy Romance
51k words
Short Novel/Long Novella
SJ Himes
Cover Illustration and Design by Sarah Jo Chreene
Release Date: November 24th, 2017


Rescued from slavers, healer novice Jaime Buchanan finds himself alone and free in Pyrderi, a kingdom of magic, mythical creatures, and a culture as open and kind as his homeland was cruel and close-minded.

Despite his rescue, Jaime is not left without scars, both mental and physical. Traumatized by his experience and hiding his gift, Jaime struggles to earn his place in the kitchens of Angharad Palace, the heart of Taliesin City. His former life as a student of the healing arts leaves him at a disadvantage in the kitchens, and his damaged state is becoming more apparent by the day.

 One day, when necessity and fate intervene, Jaime meets someone unexpected—Prince Maxim, youngest son of the Pyrderian king, a sword master and a devastatingly kind man. Unaccustomed to powerful people with compassion and heart, Jaime flees. A cascade of events reveals Jaime’s hidden talents of healing, and he finds himself not in chains, but at the beginning of a new life.

This swift change of fortune opens Jaime up to new possibilities, including a smitten prince who cautiously courts Jaime, easing him away from his fears and reminding him that compassion and love can make him strong. The winter solstice is quickly approaching, and Prince Maxim shows Jaime the enjoyment and excitement to be found in a land that embraces the ice and cold, and the mysteries of all things magical. He learns to see the man under the royal mantle, and Maxim is more than even Jaime suspected.

The winter solstice is nigh when tragedy strikes, and Jaime learns that his past of grief and sorrow can be a pillar of strength for his solstice prince. If there is one thing that Jaime believes above all else, it is in the healing power of love.

Guest Post

The Solstice Prince
Realms of Love Book #1
“Writing Fantasy”

Fantasy for some people is either catnip or a hard no. Most people fall in the middle, but I am solidly in the camp of devotee. I adore fantasy genres: sword & sorcery, quest, modern urban fantasy, all of it. The last few years, I have read every single gay fantasy romance book I could get my hands on.
One of the truest things I learned since I started writing professionally is this: Write what you want to read.

Never fails.

I have been hesitant, to leave behind the comforting familiarity of urban fantasy and paranormal and immerse myself fully in epic fantasy—what many call sword & sorcery fantasy, but with the romance angle. This is because I felt like I was losing 50% of things I already knew how to write—modern day conveniences. Smartphones. The internet. Modern medicine. Sure, all of those can be replaced by magic, but here’s where the hard part comes in—I must create those replacements, whole cloth, and give them logic, function, form, history. To me, writing my favorite genre to read was also the hardest, in terms of work effort and time spent. I story that began as a quick 15k holiday short story morphed by necessity into this 50k word long novella.

I had to do research, and watch movies, and yes, Game of Thrones. It came in handy—not for ideas, but the basics of functions—how people dressed in this era I was creating, how they spoke, how the society viewed things, superstitions, etc. Most of this I knew or intimated and could figure it out.
Most of it was nerves, too. Writing in the genre I love above all others? Intimidating. How would I judge myself? How would others?

What saved me was the second-best thing I’ve learned since starting out: Love what you write. If I wrote a book and didn’t love it, that would most definitely come across in the quality of work. And I love this book. The people who will love my work will find it, eventually. I must trust that the fantasy of writing fantasy could become reality.

To help make this a reality, I am happy to announce that The Solstice Prince will have four full-size hand-drawn illustrations created by the talented Sarah Jo Chreene, whose previous collaboration was with Riley Hart. Sarah is also the illustrator and designer for The Solstice Prince cover. This cover is one of the most beautiful illustrations I have ever seen, and holding onto it for so long has been torture.

You can check out Sarah Jo’s work at her Facebook Page here: https://www.facebook.com/SarahJoChreeneArtist/

The Solstice Prince is a long novella (what I would call I novella, we all measure them differently), at just over 51,600 words, and is the kickoff book in my new series, Realms of Love. RoL will be a series of books, some standalone, some connected, that all exist in the same universe with the same rules. The Solstice Prince will be the shortest of the series at 51k words, and the others will be very comfortable in the full-length novel range. The next book in the series is The River Prince, a tale of treachery, magic, and a twist on the marriage of convenience trope—one of life or death. Expect The River Prince, Realms of Love Book #2, in 2018.

About the Cover Artist

Sarah Jo Chreene is a 23-year-old resident of Dallas, Texas, where she works part-time in an antique shop, which is one of her dreams jobs. Sarah Jo delights in meeting new people, interesting personalities, unique restoration projects, and the atmosphere of the shop inspires her muse. Her other passion, and one she devotes most of her time to, is her art. She sold her first piece at the age of 17, and hasn’t stopped since.

Her professional portfolio includes the self-titled album cover for the popular Texas band, Thieves of Sunrise, and will be working with the band again on their third album cover. Sarah Jo has worked with international best-selling romance author Riley Hart, doing a wide range of projects from promotional artwork to interior illustrations, and artwork for Hart’s alter-ego, Nyrae Dawn, in the YA novels The Weight of Destiny, and Turn the World Upside Down. Sarah Jo’s most recent collaboration is with urban fantasy author SJ Himes, creating the cover art, design, and interior illustrations for The Solstice Prince, the first novel in The Realms of Love epic fantasy romance series. Sarah Jo will also be creating the interior artwork for the remainder of the series, a project for 2018 and 2019.

Sarah Jo loves to work in a variety of mediums, including digital painting, Photoshop, charcoal, pens, pencils and freehand sketching and painting in a wide range of styles from anime, sketchy, realism, and cartoons. Sarah Jo ranks Norman Rockwell as a primary influence for his evocative use of emotion and his beautiful portrayals of humanity.

Between professional commissions, Sarah Jo delights in creating private artwork based on personal requests, from original characters, to portraits, and has brightened the walls of many patrons over the last eight years of selling her work.

For examples of her work, Sarah Jo is on Instagram, DeviantArt, and Facebook. She is accepting commissions for a wide variety of projects, and can be reached through social media and the following platforms:


About SJ Himes

I'm a self-employed writer who stresses out about the silliest things, like whether or not I got my dog the best kind of snack and the fact my kindle battery tends to die when I'm at the best part in a book. I write mainly gay romance, erotica, and urban fantasy, with occasional forays into contemporary and paranormal. I love a book heavy on plot and character evolution and throw in some magic, and that's perfection. My current series are as follows: The Beacon Hill Sorcerer, Bred For Love (as Revella Hawthorne), and The Wolfkin Saga, and the brand-new epic fantasy romance series, Realms of Love (starting in November 2017.) My last two novels in the Beacon Hill Sorcerer won 3rd Place in the Gay Fantasy category for the 2016 Rainbow Awards. I live in New Orleans, where the personalities are big and loud and so are the bugs! New Orleans is rich in cultural history, and the flavor and music of the City are impossible to hide. Before that, I lived all over the United States: Tampa, Western Massachusetts, Indianapolis, and on and on.... I'm a nomad, and I've yet to find a place that calls to me strongly enough to become home. My faithful travel companions are my dog Micah, the numerous voices in my head who insist they all get put on paper, and the wind at my back.


One Print or Ebook Edition of The Solstice Prince, gifted via Amazon if Ebook, By Snail mail if Print.

Contest will end on November 21st. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. Love it!! Can’t wait!! Congrats

  2. Thank you everyone! Sarah Jo did an amazing job!!

  3. WOW! I'm impressed. Sarah did an excellent job. That cover is nothing short of magical.

  4. The cover is seriously Lush. Can’t wait to read the book.

  5. I love fantasy books. This looks good.

  6. Congrats on the cover, Sarah and SJ. I see you live in Big D, Sarah, which is where, many moons ago, I was born & raised (now in Chi town). But I won't leave you out, SJ. Met my husband at Mardi Gras 15 yrs ago and loved NOLA (and him) ever since. I liked Wolves and interested in what you do in this realm.

  7. Congrats on a great cover & on the new release!

  8. Congratulations on the fantastic cover and upcoming book!

  9. Congrats on the upcoming book it looks fantastic and sounds awesome. I'm looking forward to giving this a read.

  10. pretty cover
    can't wait to read this :)

  11. Awww, this story sounds so cute! Congratulations and much success!
    taina1959 @ yahoo . com

  12. Wow!!! What an awesome cover!!!!


  13. Great cover! Can't wait to read!