Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Cover Reveal: RUTHLESS MAGIC by Megan Crewe—Exclusive Excerpt + Giveaway

PRESENTED BY ROCKSTAR BOOK TOURS
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Ruthless Magic
by Megan Crewe


In the contest to keep their magic, the only options may be die... or kill.

Each year, the North American Confederation of Mages assesses every sixteen-year-old novice. Some will be chosen. The rest must undergo a procedure to destroy their magical ability unless they prove themselves in the mysterious and brutal Mages' Exam.

Disadvantaged by her parents' low standing, Rocío Lopez has dedicated herself to expanding her considerable talent to earn a place in the Confederation. Their rejection leaves her reeling—and determined to fight to keep her magic.

Long ashamed of his mediocre abilities, Finn Lockwood knows the Confederation accepted him only because of his prominent family. Declaring for the Exam instead means a chance to confirm his true worth.

Thrown into the testing with little preparation, Rocío and Finn find themselves becoming unlikely allies—and possibly more. But the Exam holds secrets more horrifying than either could have imagined. What are the examiners really testing them for? And as the trials become increasingly vicious, how much are they willing to sacrifice to win?

The start of a new series by USA Today bestselling author Megan Crewe, Ruthless Magic combines the magic of Harry Potter with the ferocity of The Hunger Games alongside a poignant romance. Fans of Cassandra Clare and Holly Black, look no further for your next urban fantasy fix!

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Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
• Pub Date: May 30, 2018
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Purchase: Amazon Kindle

READ THE PREQUEL, MAGIC UNMASKED, HERE FOR FREE!
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Hail pelted us, and the wind lashed at us from all sides. I could hardly breathe. The only solid thing was Finn. I curled my fingers into the damp fabric of his shirt and sang into the stiller space between us. “Como veían que resistía.”

Magic hummed from the vicious air into me. An image swam up of the grate I’d come across in the courtyard, between the buildings. A grate that led to something below.

I knelt down, pulling Finn with me, and pressed my free hand to the spongy ground. The wind tried to steal my next lyrics from my lips, but the magic raced through me all the same—through me and down, down, into an open space I sensed below us like a gasp of fresh air.

I did gasp then, and forced out a verse. I’d never magically transported another person with me before, but I had to. I had to.

The magic rushed up around us with the thrust of my words. I clung to Finn, singing the energy around him as tightly as I could. Then I propelled us downward with a lurch.

We surged through rough blackness that rasped over my skin and landed with a feet-jarring thump. I exhaled in a rush, dizzy in the sudden quiet. My eardrums ached from the pounding of the storm we’d escaped and the effort of the conjuring.

We crouched in total darkness. The surface beneath me felt like concrete. Cold dank air hovered around us with a faintly salty flavor that reminded me of the ocean.

My fingers were tangled in Finn’s shirt. His arm was still around me. In the dark, I was abruptly aware of the rise and fall of his rasping breath, the warmth of his chest, and the answering warmth it sent through me.

He was alive—we were alive—and in that moment, it felt like a miracle.


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Like many authors, Megan Crewe finds writing about herself much more difficult than making things up. A few definite facts: she lives in Toronto, Canada with her husband and son (and does on occasion say “eh”), she’s always planning some new trip around the world, and she’s spent the last six years studying kung fu, so you should probably be nice to her. She has been making up stories about magic and spirits and other what ifs since before she knew how to write words on paper. These days the stories are just a lot longer.

Megan’s first novel, Give Up the Ghost, was shortlisted for the Sunburst Award for Canadian Literature of the Fantastic. The Way We Fall was nominated for the White Pine Award and made the International Literacy Association Young Adults’ Choices List, and Earth & Sky was an OLA Best Bet for 2015. She is also the author of the rest of the Fallen World series (The Lives We Lost, The Worlds We Make, and Those Who Lived), the rest of the Earth & Sky trilogy (The Clouded Sky and A Sky Unbroken), and the standalone contemporary fantasy A Mortal Song.



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Book Blitz: EVERYTHING UNDER THE SUN by Jessica Redmerski + Giveaway

PRESENTED BY YA BOUND BOOK TOURS
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Everything Under the Sun
by Jessica Redmerski


Thais Fenwick was eleven-years-old when civilization fell, devastated by a virus that killed off the majority of the world’s population. For seven years, Thais and her family lived in a community of survivors deep in the heart of the Appalachian Mountains. But when her town is attacked by raiders, she and her blind sister are taken away to the East-Central Territory where she is destined to live the cruel and unjust kind of life her late mother warned her about.

Atticus Hunt is a troubled soldier in Lexington City who has spent the past seven years trying to conform to the vicious nature of men in a post-apocalyptic society. He knows that in order to survive, he must abandon his morals and his conscience and become like those he is surrounded by. But when he meets Thais, morals and conscience win out over conformity, and he risks his rank and his life to help her. They escape the city and set out together on a long and perilous journey to find safety in Shreveport, Louisiana.

Struggling to survive in a world without electricity, food, shelter, and clean water, Atticus and Thais shed their fear of growing too close, and they fall hopelessly in love. But can love survive in such dark times, or is it fated to die with them?

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Genres: New Adult, Romance, Post-Apocalyptic
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Purchase: Amazon Kindle / Paperback

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Jessica Redmerski is a New York Times, USA Today and Wall Street Journal bestselling author, and award winner, who juggles several different genres. She began self-publishing in 2012, and later with the success of THE EDGE OF NEVER, she signed on with Grand Central Publishing/Forever Romance. Her works have been translated more than twenty languages. Jessica is a hybrid author who, in addition to working with a traditional publisher, also continues to self-publish. The Portuguese rights to her popular crime and suspense series, In the Company of Killers, have been picked up by one of Brazil’s largest publishers – Suma de Letras; Paikese Kirjastus in Estonia; Ephesus in Turkey; Konyvmolykepzob in Hungary; Niezwykle in Poland; Bragelonne in France; Ahavot in Israel. The series has been optioned for television in the United States by actor and model William Levy, and a film exclusive to the Dominican Republic. She also writes as J.A. Redmerski.

Alexandra Monir is a frequent speaker at middle schools and high schools across the country and at major events including fan conventions, women’s leadership conferences, and book festivals. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband and newborn son. To learn more about Alexandra, visit her online at www.alexandramonir.com.


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Tuesday, April 17, 2018

{Blog Tour} FROM THE EARTH TO THE SHADOWS by Amanda Hocking—Excerpt + Giveaway

TOUR PRESENTED BY ST. MARTIN'S PRESS
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From the Earth to the Shadows
by Amanda Hocking


The epic conclusion to the thrilling Valkyrie duology by New York Times bestselling YA author Amanda Hocking, From the Earth to the Shadows.

While dealing with dark revelations about her life and her world, Malin finds herself with new allies--and new enemies. Her quest for the truth leads her to places she never thought possible, and she's never been one to shy away from a fight. But for all her strength and determination, will it be enough to save the world before it's too late?

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Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Moythology
Publisher: Wednesday Books/St. Martin's
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Purchase: Amazon / B&N / Kobo / TBD / IndieBound

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  ONE

The air that fogged around me was thick enough that I could taste it—earthy and wet, with a trace of salt. It stuck to my skin, which was already slick with sweat, and that only seemed to attract more insects. They buzzed around me, leaving burning little bites in my flesh. I wanted to swat them off, but I couldn’t. I had to stay perfectly still, or the Kalanoro would spot me too soon.

The oversaturation of green in the jungles of Panama had been a strange adjustment from the smog and bright lights of the city. Out here, it was an endless emerald sea: the plants and trees, the rivers, were all varying shades of green—even the sky was blotted out by a thick canopy of leaves.

This wasn’t where I wanted to be, crouched motionless in the mud with a giant millipede crawling over my foot. Not when Asher was still gone, held captive in Kurnugia by the underworld goddess Ereshkigal and her mad centaur boyfriend, Gugalanna. Not when the fate of the world felt heavy on my shoulders, with Ereshkigal attempting an uprising that would unleash the underworld on earth.

It had only been three days since I’d gone to the Gates of Kurnugia, along with Oona, Quinn, Asher, and Atlas to aid me. I’d wanted to avenge my mother—and I had killed the draugr that had killed her—but all of that may have set off a chain of events that would bring about the end of days.

And I had lost the guy I … well, not loved. Not yet. But I cared about him. All I wanted to do was rescue him. But I couldn’t. There was too much at stake. I couldn’t let my heart get the best of me. I had to hold it together, and follow my orders.

After Gugalanna had pulled Asher down into the underworld where I could not follow, the rest of us had gone to Caana City in Belize. It was the safest city near the Gates of Kurnugia, and Oona needed medical intervention to survive. She was on the mend now, and that’s why I had left her behind, with Quinn and Atlas.

I didn’t want to risk losing them the way I had Asher, and I was on a special assignment, coming directly from the Valkyries’ highest authority—Odin.

Odin had found me outside of the hospital where Oona was being treated. I had never met him before, and, like most of the Vanir gods, he changed his appearance to suit his needs, so I hadn’t recognized him.

He towered over me in his tailored suit, with his left eyelid withered shut. He had a deep rumble of a voice, with a softly lilting accent, and a grim expression. His large raven, Muninn, had been watching over me, but when I tried to press him for a reason why, he had told me that there wasn’t time to explain.

“I need you to go deep into the heart of the jungle, where no man dares to live,” Odin explained, as we had stood in the eerily silent parking lot in Caana City. “You must retrieve something for me.”

“Why can’t you retrieve it yourself?” I asked bluntly. I wasn’t being rude, but the reality was that Odin was a powerful god, and I was just a young mortal Valkyrie-in-training. He had far more knowledge and power than I could ever hope to have.

“I’m not allowed to meddle in the affairs of humans or any of the other earthly beings,” Odin clarified.

“But…” I trailed off, gathering the courage to ask, “What is this you’re doing now, then? Isn’t directing me to get something for you the same as meddling?”

A sly smile played on his lips, and he replied, “There are a few loopholes, and I think it’s best if I take advantage of one now. If you want to save your friend, and everyone else that matters to you, you need to act quickly.”

“What is it that you need me to get?” I asked, since I didn’t seem to have a choice.

“The Valhallan cloak,” he explained. “It was stolen centuries ago by a trickster god—I honestly can’t remember which one anymore—and he hid it with the Kalanoro of Panama.”

“The Kalanoro?” I groaned reflexively. Having dealt with them before, I already knew how horrible they were.

If piranhas lived on land, they would behave a lot like the Kalanoro. They were small primate-like creatures, standing no more than two feet tall, and they vaguely resembled the aye-aye lemur. The biggest differences were that the Kalanoro were tailless, since they lived mostly on the ground, and they had razor-sharp claws on their elongated fingers and a mouth of jagged teeth they used to tear apart the flesh of their prey.

“What is the Valhallan cloak, and how will I find it?” I asked Odin.

“You’ll know when you see it. It’s an oversized cloak, but the fabric looks like the heavens. The rumors are that the Kalanoro were attracted to the magic of the cloak, though they didn’t understand it, so they took it back to their cave,” Odin elaborated. “They apparently have been guarding it like a treasure.”

“So I have to go into the treacherous jungle, find the man-eating Kalanoro, and steal their favorite possession?” I asked dryly. “No problem.”

Which was how I ended up in the jungle, alone, in the heart of Kalanoro country—at least, that’s what the nearest locals had purported. In front of me, on the other side of a very shallow but rapidly moving stream, was the mouth of a cave. The cave I hoped was the home of the Kalanoro, but I was waiting to see one for official confirmation.

Sweat slid down my temples, and a large dragonfly flew overhead. The trees around me were a cacophony of sounds—monkeys and frogs and birds and insects of all kinds, talking to one another, warning of danger, and shouting out mating calls.

Back in the city, beings and creatures of all kinds lived among each other, but there were rules. The jungle was not bound by any laws. I was not welcome, and I was not safe here.

I heard the crunch of a branch—too loud and too close to be another insect. I turned my head slowly toward the sound, and I saw movement in the bushes right beside me. Tall dark quills, poking out above the leaves, and I tried to remember if the Kalanoro had any quill-like fur.

I didn’t have to wonder for very long because a head poked out of the bushes, appearing to grin at me through a mouthful of jagged fangs and a face like an alien hyena. The leathery green skin, mottled with darker speckles, blended in perfectly with the surroundings, with a mohawk-like row of sharp quills running down its back.

It wasn’t a Kalanoro—it was something much worse. I found myself face-to-face with a Chupacabra.

TWO

The Chupacabra—much like dolphins, dogs, and quokkas—had the uncanny ability to appear to be smiling. Unlike those contemporaries, there was nothing adorable or friendly about this Chupacabra’s smile. It was all serrated teeth, with bits of rotten meat stuck between them, and a black tongue lolling around his mouth.

“You don’t want do this,” I told the beast softly, even though he probably didn’t understand English.

I kept my gaze locked on the Chupacabra, but my hand was at my hip, slowly unsheathing my sword Sigrún. The name came from my ancestors, as had the blade itself. It had been passed down from Valkyrie to daughter for centuries.

Sigrún was a thick blade made of dark purple crystal, so dark it appeared black, but it would glow bright brilliant purple when I was working. It was short and angled, like it had been broken off in battle. Maybe it had—the full history of my blade was unknown to me.

But the handle was a black utilitarian replacement. It had been my mother’s gift to me on my eighteenth birthday. Her final gift to me, well over a year ago.

The Chupacabra stared at me with oversized teardrop-shaped eyes and took a step closer to me, letting out a soft rumble of a growl.

Valkyries weren’t supposed to kill anyone or anything they were not specifically ordered to kill. The one exception was self-defense. Since I was on an unsanctioned mission into territory I had no business being in, this would all get very messy if I had to kill a Chupacabra.

But the hard truth was that I was beyond worrying about my career as a Valkyrie. I would do whatever I needed to do.

When the Chupacabra lunged at me, I drew my sword without hesitation. Since this wasn’t an official “job,” my blade didn’t glow purple, but it sliced through the leathery hide as easily as I knew it would.

I didn’t want to kill the creature if I didn’t have to—after all, he was merely going about his life in the jungle. So my first blow was only a warning that left him with a painful but shallow cut across his shoulder.

He let out an enraged howl, causing birds to take flight and all sorts of smaller animals to go rushing deeper into the underbrush. From the corner of my eye, I spotted several Kalanoro darting across the stream back toward their cave. They had been watching me.

The Chupacabra had stepped back from me, but by the determined grin on his face I didn’t think he was ready to give up yet. He circled around me, and I turned with him, stepping carefully to keep from slipping in the mud.

“This is stupid,” I said, reasoning with the animal. “We should both go our separate ways, and you can go back to eating … well, I think you mostly eat the Kalanoro and birds.”

Apparently growing tired of my attempts at talking, the Chupacabra snarled and jumped at me again. I dodged out of the way, but he kicked off of the tree behind and instantly dove at me. I didn’t move quick enough this time, and he knocked me to the ground.

Fortunately, I fell on my back, with one of his feet pinning me and his claws digging into my shoulder. I put one hand around his long, slender throat, barely managing to hold him back as he gnashed his teeth.

With one of my arms pinned, he was too strong for me, and I wouldn’t be able to throw him off. As his thick saliva dripped down onto me, I knew there was only one thing I could do if I wanted to survive.

I drove my sword up through his breastbone, using all my might. He howled in pain, but only for a second, before falling silent and slumping forward onto me. I crawled out from underneath him, now covered in mud and his thick green blood, along with my own fresh red blood springing from the wounds on my bare arms and shoulder.

In the mouth of the cave across from me, two dozen or so beady little green eyes glowed. The Kalanoro were crouched down, watching me. So much for the element of surprise.

My hair had come free from the braid I’d been wearing, and it stuck to my forehead. I reached up to brush it back, and the Kalanoro let out a squawk of surprise, and one darted off into the woods.

That’s when I realized the Kalanoro were afraid of me. I glanced over at the Chupacabra—the Kalanoro’s number-one predator, and I had left it dead and bleeding into the stream. They were right to fear me.

I tested my new hypothesis and stepped closer to the mouth of the cave, and the Kalanoro screeched and scattered. Most of them ran into the woods, but a few went deeper into the cave. My fight with the Chupacabra had left them far more skittish than I had anticipated, and I doubted that I would need my sword for them, so I sheathed Sigrún.

I unhooked my asp baton from my hip and pulled my flashlight out from my gear bag. I took a deep breath and walked toward the cave, hoping that this wasn’t a trap where they would all pounce and devour me the second I stepped inside.

As I walked into the cave, I heard them chittering and scurrying, but it reminded me more of a rat infestation than man-eating primates. Once my eyes had adjusted to the darkness, I shone the flashlight around the narrow cavern. The beam of light flashed on a few pairs of eyes, but they quickly disappeared into the darkness.

The entrance of the cave stood well over eight feet, but as I walked, the ceiling height dropped considerably. Very soon I had to crouch down to venture farther.

The ground was slick with Kalanoro droppings and bat guano, and it smelled like a musty cellar that doubled as a litter box. Tiny bones of partially digested meals crunched underneath the heavy soles of my boots.

My flashlight glinted on something, and I crouched down to inspect it. It was an old pocket watch, the face broken and the gears rusted, but it had once definitely belonged to a human. Near the watch was another trinket—an old walkie-talkie.

That’s when I realized it was a trail of treasures, piling up more as I went deeper into the cave. Old car parts, a titanium hip replacement, and even what appeared to be a wedding band. The Kalanoro apparently loved hoarding shiny things.

On the ground a few feet ahead of me, I spotted something particularly sparkly. It looked like stars, shimmering and glowing from a puddle on the floor. By now I had to crawl on my knees, since the ceiling was so low.

As I reached for those stars, a Kalanoro leapt out from the darkness. Its rows of teeth dug painfully into my right arm, and I beat it back with my asp baton. It took three hits before it finally let go and ran off screaming.

I grabbed at the stars, picking up a satiny fabric. The way it glimmered, it looked exactly like the night sky, and I now understood what Odin meant by looking “like the heavens.” This had to be the Valhallan cloak. I hurriedly shoved it into my gear bag. The Kalanoro couldn’t be happy about me stealing their treasure, so I had to get out fast.

I raced out of the cave and gulped down the fresh air. Around me, the trees had changed their tune, from the normal song of the jungle to something far more shrill and angry. I could hear the Kalanoro growling and screeching at each other, sounding like high-pitched howler monkeys. They were enraged, and they were chasing after me.

It was a ten-kilometer hike downhill, through thick forests, to the nearest village. There I would be able to clean up and catch the hyperbus back to Caana City. Back to meet Odin. The Kalanoro were now alerting the entire jungle to my presence, and even as I hurried ahead, deftly moving through the trees, I could hear them following me.

I ran down the hill, skittering through the mud and branches, swatting back giant bugs and the occasional surprised snake. My legs ached and my lungs burned but I pressed on, running as fast as I could. I had to make it to the town before dark, because I doubted the Kalanoro would let me out alive.


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Amanda Hocking is the author of over twenty young adult novels, including the New York Times bestselling Trylle Trilogy and Kanin Chronicles. Her love of pop culture and all things paranormal influence her writing. She spends her time in Minnesota, taking care of her menagerie of pets and working on her next book.






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Wednesday, April 11, 2018

{Blog Tour} SHADOW CALL by AdriAnne Strickland & Michael Miller—Excerpt + Giveaway

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Shadow Call
by AdriAnne Strickland & Michael Miller


His throne. Her rebellion. Their war.

Qole is the youngest starship captain in living memory on her homeworld of Alaxak and has spent her life hunting a dangerous energy source called Shadow. Alaxans distrust and evade the galaxy’s royalty as a rule, but Qole is now harboring the exiled Prince Nevarian Dracorte, along with some very conflicting feelings about it—and him.

Nev’s feelings are just as complicated, but not towards her. When it comes to Qole, he knows one thing: he’d do anything to stay with her. But when Alaxak is attacked and Nev finds himself framed for murder, he realizes the only way to help Qole and her people is to fight for the throne that should be his. To become the royal she might hate.

As for Qole, she would never have imagined herself as the leader of a rebellion. Despite that, she soon realizes that hiding from her power is no longer an option. It’s time to answer the call, even if it kills her.
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Genres: Young Adult, Science Fiction
Publisher: Delacorte Press
• Pub Date: April 17, 2018
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Purchase: Amazon / B&N / Kobo / TBD / IndieBound

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This night was mine.
The party was in full swing: the gossip buzzed along my skin, the music thrummed through the soles of my towering heels, and the crowd flowed around me like a river of colorful silks and gems, bending to me.
The ballroom itself was the crown jewel of the palace: a transparent crystalline floor, slowly darkening bell-shaped walls, and the blackness above, where a scale holo-map of our star system hovered and sparkled in the air. Directly under the image of Luvos, my homeworld, in the heart of the palace that overlooked our capital city, I stood. I was the center of it all, everything and everyone in my orbit.
But I had a mission. Heathran Belarius had arrived and was in my sights. I snatched a glittering goblet from a passing platter and downed the contents, which lent me extra fire. Not that I felt like I needed it, particularly. Not even the heir to the galaxy’s most powerful family would be able to withstand my charm, despite how forbidding he looked in his dark purple suit and gold cravat, which perfectly offset his near-black skin. His flat eyes scanned the crowd, seeking . . .
Someone stepped in front of me, cutting off my view of Heathran in the scintillating crowd. The words of dismissal rose on my tongue, ready to be bared.
“Marsius!” I said instead as I recognized my little brother. “I was about to greet Heathran. We have very important busi­ness to discuss.”
The dismissal sheathed in my words didn’t escape him, and he made a face. “You never discuss important business. You probably want to talk about clothes or the latest gossip vid or”—his face distorted further—“kissing or something.”
“Or something,” I said as patiently as I could manage, suppressing the desire to put my hands around his throat and squeeze. Amazing how an eleven-year-old could try to be so belittling to his superiors. “And since you’ve made your dis­taste for such topics plain, why don’t you run along and leave me to it?” Tousling his brown hair, I looked over his head to find Heathran slowly migrating from where he’d stood near the ballroom entrance. He wasn’t getting much farther from me, but he wasn’t getting any closer, either.
“Because you should be discussing important business,” Marsius said, dodging out from under my hand and drawing my eyes back to him once again.
I tried not to grind my teeth in impatience. Tonight was for smiling. “Oh? And I suppose you’re here to tell me what that is. Let me guess,” I said, giving him a taste of his own belittling medicine. “Now that I’m heiress, you’ll want more sweets at dinner, and your favorite team to be declared the unending victors—”
“Sol,” Marsius interrupted with a frustrated jerk of his head, “just because I’m younger than you doesn’t mean I’m stupid. And I know you’re not stupid either, even though you act like it most of the time.” He hurried on after my eyes in­voluntarily widened, misreading my surprise for anger, most likely. “Which is why I’ve been trying to talk to you for weeks. I have a plan.”
“For how to get more cake on the menu?” I asked dismis­sively, trying to move around him.
He planted himself in front of me once again, a miniature version of all the men in dress suits who’d been trying to force my attention to their plans, of late. “I can help you. We can help each other. I know that you don’t really want to be heiress, that you didn’t want Nev to be exiled.” His voice grew ragged over the name. Of course. This was about Nev, our older brother and mutual grievance. “I think we need Nev back. I know I can convince him to return, but Father won’t listen to me.”
I sighed. Clearly, Marsius didn’t grasp the severity of the situation. “Nev forced Father to disinherit and exile him. Our brother betrayed us for a commoner girl, and you know ex­actly how many soldiers and Bladeguards he killed in the pro­cess. And our family has been an absolute disaster since he was exiled. You think I don’t pay attention to important business, hm?” I asked, flicking him lightly on his silver cravat, which seemed too grand for his lanky neck. “Well, our finances have taken a dive, our research into Shadow has stalled, and everyone is moping about like you.”
“But what are you doing to elevate it?”
Alleviate it, you mean?” I asked, smirking as he flushed. He might want to play at being an adult, but there was nothing like an older sister to remind him he wasn’t one. I tossed my shining golden curls. “By being a pleasant diversion. How do you like my party?” I didn’t wait for him to answer; his expres­sion was answer enough. “Don’t fret, Marsius. I promise to talk to Father about Nev.”
Despite my not specifying when, he brightened. “Really? I can—”
“You can enjoy yourself, like other kids your age are doing.”
“But—”
“You can help, I know. You’ll help by leaving me in peace right now.” It sounded churlish, but I was out of patience. Before Marsius could make even more of a scene, I stepped around him, and bumped right into someone else. A broad chest blocked my view, another dark suit. I wanted to run them through with my smile . . . and then my sharpness melted entirely.
“Father!”
“Solara,” he said, giving me a nod. “Marsius.”
There was no mistaking the dismissal in how he said my little brother’s name, and no avoiding it for Marsius. He bowed his head and dodged off through the crowd, sending me one last pleading look. I didn’t acknowledge it. Too bad Father hadn’t dismissed me with him. I could have gone straight for Heathran, who was drifting away from me, now that he’d seen who was speaking to me.
Nothing killed the potential for romance like a father—and a king, no less.
Father stood, regarding me for a moment, taking in the daring cut of my dress with a disapproving twitch of his eyelid. His own suit was the model of a Dracorte king’s, darkest of blues, subtly embossed with our family emblem at the cuffs, less subtly layered in silver embroidery and military medals that no doubt indicated something grand about his person. The ensemble looked as stiff and uncompromising as he was, though the sharpness of his Dracorte-silver eyes looked dull from the pressure of recent events.
He surprised me by holding out his hand. “Will you honor me with a dance?”
He hadn’t paid any attention to me yet this evening, never mind that this was the party celebrating that he’d declared me his heiress. Perhaps he was too busy silently mourning his pre­vious heir.
And perhaps he was right to.
I stilled the thrill of both anticipation and apprehension that came with Father’s attention, and took his hand. “The honor is mine.”
“We need to talk.” Of course, he wouldn’t want to sim­ply dance with his daughter. He was here because he wanted something, just like everyone else. The music and our choreo­graphed motions would cover any disturbance between us.
“If this is about that peace accord you wanted me to study, please, spare me. I’ll get to it soon.” Actually, I already knew it back to front, but even if I’d wanted to tell him that, he likely wouldn’t have believed me. I hadn’t exactly cultivated the image of studious daughter.
Father led me into the first couple steps of the dance. For a flaring, astonishing second, I wished he would just move with me to the music and keep his mouth shut, and not only be­cause I knew I wouldn’t like whatever he was going to say. He was a skilled dancer, and I could almost imagine enjoying my­self. But the feeling, and any chance of that happening, passed.


Want more? Go to Two Chicks on Books tomorrow for the next part!


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ADRIANNE STRICKLAND and MICHAEL MILLER met in their hometown of Palmer, Alaska, where they agreed on 99% of book taste and thus decided to write together. Adri spends her summers as a commercial fisherwoman in Bristol Bay, Alaska, and the rest of the year writing. Michael grew up off the grid in a homestead in Alaska and now works in IT and tech. This is their second book together.

ADRIANNE: WEBSITE • GOODREADS • FACEBOOK • TWITTER
MICHAEL: WEBSITE • GOODREADS • FACEBOOK • TWITTER





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