Egalion’s Imperial court, you can’t tell one from the
other…especially when they change at the flip of a coin. Behind the
luxury and splendor lies a realm of treachery where cloak-and-dagger
political maneuvering threatens to destroy the peace of two thousand
Battlemage Jex Xander has a mouth that frequently gets him into
trouble, while in contrast, Enari Namelum speaks not at all. When Jex
becomes the target of a faceless curse-slinger, Enari, the girl he
has protected since the day they met, must now protect him. A string
of ritual human sacrifices coupled with Jex’s growing inability to
keep his feelings (and hands) to himself only serve to complicate
matters. Amidst the mounting chaos, passion and romance should be the
last thing on their minds, but life and the Goddess seem to have
collide, leaving lives irrevocably changed. The events of a single
summer stand to change the course of more than just the kingdom of
Egalion and the ones dismissed as pawns may yet prove to b the most
plunge. The flint has been struck and it’s possible the whole world
might go up in flames…because love in the Imperial court is as
dangerous a thing as backroom politics and jealousy can be as much a
driving force as silver and gold.
Antoinette is a broad, epic, sweeping fantasy with more twists and
turns and ups and downs than a wild roller-coaster! The first
installment of the Elemental Trials series is one of those books that
really is so much more than what the blurb can convey. Described as
“surprisingly complex and visionary” by one reviewer, Errant
Spark will leave you mesmerized from the first page to the last.
about interesting characters with just enough romance and magic to
make it work.” Errant Spark is as complex as George RR Martin, with
a world that is well-suited for conniving and cavorting. Rest
assured, there is plenty of sex and violence, but not as raw and
stabby as the aforementioned works. It’s more like a big kid’s
version of a fairy tale.
As of 11/21/16, a series glossary has been included at the end of
this novel (in ebook and print form only).
“May I join you?”
Without waiting for a response, Jex Xander settled gracefully to the ground beside her. He offered her a tin cup and she took it, warily examining the contents.
“You have the look of someone who could use that.” He jerked his chin at the cup before turning his attention to his own bowl of stew and chunk of bread.
Chamomile and meadowsweet wafted up on the steam and she inhaled appreciatively, but didn’t drink.
“Oh, I almost forgot!” Fishing a flask out of his pocket, the mage unstoppered it and leaned over her, pouring a small amount of something brownish into the tea. “Not the best quality, I’m afraid, and I know it smells vile, but it’ll take the edge off your sore muscles, I promise.” He grinned at her startled expression before settling more comfortably and beginning to eat heartily.
Enari took a tentative sip and tried not to gag. It was horrid, but the warmth that spread in her belly was soothing, so she continued to drink. They sat in silence for several moments as stars twinkled to life overhead. A few even shot brightly across the sky and Enari watched them, still awed at the sheer immensity of the view above her. At the Temple, parts of the night sky had always been obscured by foliage, even when viewed from the high branches of the trees she climbed.
“Mmm, Plamen works his forge tonight,” Jex observed around a mouthful of bread, “Wonder what he’s making?”
Enari didn’t answer and after a moment, he tried again.
“Did the kvinna speak truth? Are you really still a novice?” He used the remaining crust to mop out his bowl before licking his fingers and wiping them in the grass beside him.
She nodded, still not looking at him.
“May I ask how old you are?”
It was a rude question to ask a woman, he knew, but he’d been watching her all afternoon and hadn’t been able to guess her age. ‘Young’ was all he’d determined for certain. Probably too young.
Using a stick, she drew a number in the dirt and his conscience eased. Eighteen. Not too young, then, or at least not so much that he felt guilty for looking. And he definitely had been looking. Couldn’t blame a man, really.
Well, the kvinna probably would. She seemed the excessively protective sort.
“I have a sister about your age, back in Rowan. Not as quiet as you, though,” he mused, hoping to at least get a smile out of the girl. She was exotically appealing and he could only imagine how much more radiant she would be if she smiled.
Enari stood quickly. She didn’t know how to fend off interested men and retreating to bed seemed like the easiest way out of this awkward situation.
“Novice!” one of the guardsmen called out. To Jex, he sounded more than a little drunk. “If you be done with that pretty boy, come and spend time with a real man. The night promises to be chill, but I’ll warm you well if he won’t!”
Jex rose to his feet upon seeing her uncertainty and embarrassment.
“You!” he called back, “Didn’t your mother teach you how to address a lady?”
“Mind your own business, mage,” the man retorted. He got up unsteadily and swaggered towards Enari. She hurriedly backed away, eyes darting left and right as she sought an avenue of escape.
Before the man could reach her, Jex stepped up and put his palm in the center of the other’s chest. He gave him a stiff shove, eyes dark with menace.
“Don’t be a fool. I wasn’t sent to protect these women from their own escorts but I will. I suggest you find your bedroll, friend,” he said dangerously, “Sleep it off, or you’ll be no good to anyone on the morrow.”
Enari stared at the pair with round eyes. The mage didn’t even know her, yet here he was, protecting her honor like she was some grand lady.
After a moment of glaring at each other, the guardsmen broke eye contact first. Muttering sullenly under his breath, he retreated and Jex released a sigh. He really hadn’t wanted to fight the drunken lout, even though he was confident he’d have won.
“Silent little thing, aren’t you?” Returning his attention to Enari, he reached out and touched her cheek gently.
Weariness in blurry waves of gray, spikes of hard red adrenaline and anger, fading sparks of vibrant blue lust… Goddess, she’d be so pretty if she smiled. Too pretty to stay much longer in a group of men with no one but her Sura to look after her. Stupid, stupid to send such a small party across so much open land.
Quiet thunder of a rapidly pounding heart, the sharp tang of fear-sweat, nervous little brown mouse… That man almost…he could have…and the mage. I don’t even know him, he doesn’t know me, but he stopped the other one. His hand is on my skin and…
Starting in alarm, Enari recoiled and the string of awareness that was and wasn’t hers snapped like gossamer thread. She took a quick step back and the sudden movement unbalanced her. Her sore leg muscles were unable to compensate and with a surprised gasp, she fell onto her bottom in the dirt. Jex looked down at her, clearly as startled as she.
A heavy hand grabbed the back of his tunic and the grizzled old guard captain shook him roughly. His voice was deep and his accent was rough. “She dun’a like to be touched, mageling. Keep your mitts to yourself!”
“I-I’m sorry. I didn’t know, I,” Jex stuttered and cleared his throat. “Sorry,” he finished lamely, looking back and forth between Enari and the captain, as if unsure who he was actually apologizing to. He offered her a hand up, took a look at the captain’s face, and put both of them in his pockets.
“You alright, little mistress?” the captain asked Enari.
She nodded and climbed stiffly to her feet, brushing dirt from her trousers.
“I’m sorry for startling you, Nani,” Jex apologized again. Enari smiled and waved it away. He frowned at the captain and opened his mouth.
As if guessing the younger man’s thoughts, the captain shook his head. “She dun’a speak, either.” He narrowed his eyes threateningly at Jex, thick brows beetling down even further. “But dun’a you be going and thinking she be stupid for it, mage. She ain’t.”
Jex held up his hands in placation and took a step away. “I would never!”
“See that you dun’a.” With that, the captain strode away into the darkness. Jex made a face and gestured rudely at his retreating back. Enari covered a smile.
Turning back to her, he raised a speculative eyebrow and put his hands on his hips. “He wasn’t having me on, was he?”
Enari’s expression turned distant.
“Alright, alright. Keep your secrets.” His eyes darted to the bowl of stew she’d somehow managed not to drop or spill all over herself. “Are you going to eat that?”
Enari Alycon in a precarious position. Long-time lovers they might
be, but the Imperial ambassador and the daughter of Egalion’s High
Mage have rather public roles in the court—whether they wish it or
not—and scandal couldn’t come at a worse time.
two-thousand years of peace is on the line. In the midst of
negotiations, Enari becomes the target of one of the Greater
Maelstrom. She and Jex must race against time to save her life and
that of her unborn child. What happens when an earth-shattering
secret, a demon bent on destruction, and a kingdom teetering on the
brink of war collide is anyone’s guess.
will remain standing in the end is still uncertain. Hearts and lives
are on the cusp of irrevocable change…and not necessarily for the
He raised the shard, letting her examine it for a heartbeat or two, then used the blade to cut her palm and his own. Enari winced at the line of pain that blazed across her skin, biting back a hiss just in time to keep from breaking the mandate of silence. Jex pressed their weeping palms together and laced his fingers through hers.
She could almost taste her own dread now, bitter as a mouthful of lemon rind.
“Blood to blood and gift to gift,” Jex intoned, “I lend you my strength for the test ahead. I will hold the door so you may pass and may it be with joy that I close it after your return.” There was a hint of fear in his emerald eyes as he spoke the final words.
“Initiate, it is time for you to face The Pool and The Dweller below,” her father announced.
Sweat broke out across her forehead and the back of her neck as her eyes settled on The Pool.
Jex rose to his feet, fingers still twined with hers, and she balked, not wanting to go any nearer to that still and menacing water. He reached behind her and seized her belt, forcing her up and forward. His hand remained at the small of her back to hold her in place once they stood at the very lip of The Pool.
Her stomach knotted and a slithering nausea twisted its greasy fingers around her throat. She swallowed hard and tasted bile.
Jex put his mouth against her ear and began to speak.
“We have to lower you into the water. Take a deep breath, close your eyes, and don’t be afraid. It’ll be over before you know it.”
She turned to him, shaking her head. More than anything, she did not want to let that black water touch her. Blue eyes met green and she pled the only way she could.
His expression went flat and his voice hardened. “You asked me to serve as your Chosen. Let me do my duty.”
“Be silent!” the high mage barked.
Jex gave him a dirty look, but nodded once and the two men took hold of her, each putting a hand under one of her arms and grasping her hands in theirs. With agonizing slowness, they began to lower her.
The first shock of bitter cold stole her breath.
As the velvet of her robe became wet, it dragged on her and clung to her legs. She kicked, trying to free her feet but the heavy fabric stuck fast.
Before she was half-submerged, she started to tremble. The water felt just short of freezing solid and had a slimy quality that disgusted her.
Soon, only her head remained clear and Jex was crouching at her side, still gripping her bloody hand. His other settled on her hair.
“Deep breath, now,” he directed.
And before she could even think to scream, he jerked his hand free of hers and thrust her head beneath the surface.
one dog-who-believes-he’s-a-person. While she is a mother of none,
she’s an auntie to what should qualify as a small army. She is an
admitted caffeine addict, chocoholic, and hopeless romantic who has
carried on a passionate affair with the genre of fantasy since she
was old enough to read ‘chapter books’.
(She even considered it as a major in college, though she ended up
getting a Bachelor’s degree in Counseling Psychology.) She published
her first novel, Errant Spark, in July of 2016.
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