They must choose between love and duty...
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Song of Blood & Stone
by L. Penelope
Series: Earthsinger Chronicles Book 1
Publisher: Heartspell Media
Publication Date: January 13, 2015
Genre: NA Fantasy
Print Length: 259 pages
Available from: Amazon
Orphaned and alone, Jasminda is an outcast in her homeland of Elsira, where her magical abilities are feared. When ruthless soldiers seek refuge in her isolated cabin, they bring with them a captive—an injured spy who steals her heart.
Jack’s mission behind enemy lines nearly cost him his life, but he is saved by the healing power of a mysterious young woman. Together they embark on a perilous journey straight into the heart of a centuries-old conflict.
Thrust into a hostile society, Jasminda and Jack must rely on one another even as secrets jeopardize their bond. As an ancient evil gains power, Jasminda races to unlock a mystery that promises salvation.
The fates of two nations hang in the balance as Jasminda and Jack must choose between love and duty to fulfill their destinies and end the war.
** This multicultural, new adult, fantasy romance takes place in an alternate 1920s timeline with hints of steampunk, dieselpunk and decopunk. Perfect for those who want magic and adventure in their love stories. Recommended for readers 17+.
The girl looming above Jack looked like a mirage. She’d marched directly to his hiding place behind a cluster of coarse shrubbery and stood, peering down, head cocked at an angle. He went to stand, years of breeding kicking in, his muscle memory offended at the idea of not standing in the presence of a lady, but apparently, his muscles had forgotten the bullet currently lodged within them. And the girl was Lagrimari—not strictly a lady, but a woman nonetheless—and a beautiful one, he noticed as he squinted into the dying light. Wild, midnight curls floated carelessly around her head and piercing dark eyes regarded him. Her smooth skin was a confectioner’s delight. His stomach growled. When was the last time he’d eaten?
Her presence meant he was still on the Lagrimari side of the mountain range bordering the two lands and had yet to cross the other, more powerful barrier keeping him from his home of Elsira: the Mantle.
The girl frowned down at him, taking in his bedraggled appearance. From his position lying on the ground, he tried his best to smooth his ripped uniform, the green fatigues of the Lagrimari army. Her confusion was apparent. Jack was obviously Elsiran; aside from his skin tone, the ginger hair and honey-colored eyes were a dead giveaway. And yet he wore the uniform of his enemy.
“Please don’t be scared,” he said in Lagrimari. Her brows rose toward her hairline as she scanned his prone and bloodied body. Well, that was rather a ridiculous thing to say. “I only meant that I mean you no harm. I . . .” He struggled with how to explain himself.
There were two possibilities. She could be a nationalist who would turn him in to the squad of soldiers currently combing the mountain for him, perhaps to gain favor with the government, or she could be like so many Lagrimari citizens, beaten down by the war with no real loyalty to their dictator or his thugs. If she was the former, he was already dead, so he took a chance with the truth.
“You see, I was undercover, spying from within the Lagrimari army. But now there are men looking for me, they’re not far, but—” He paused to take a breath; the effort of speaking was draining. He suspected he had several cracked or broken ribs in addition to the gunshot wound. His vision swam, and the girl turned into two. Two beautiful girls. If these were his last moments before traveling to the World After, then perhaps he was not as unlucky as he’d always thought.
He blinked rapidly and took another strained breath. His mission was not complete; he could not die yet. “Can you help me? Please. I’ve got to get back to Elsira.”
She stole an anxious glance skyward before kneeling next to him. Her cool hand moved to his forehead. The simple touch was soothing and a wave of tension rolled off him.
“You must be delirious.” Her voice was rich, deeper than he’d expected. It eased the harsh consonants of the Lagrimari language, for the first time making it sound like something he could imagine being pleasant to listen to. She carefully worked at the remaining buttons of his shirt, pulling the fabric apart to reveal his ruined chest. Her expression was appraising as she viewed the damage then sat back on her haunches, pensive.
“It probably looks worse than it is,” he said.
“I doubt that.”
Jack’s chuckle sounded deranged to his own ears, so it was no surprise that the girl looked at him askance. He winced—laughing was a bad idea at this point—and struggled for breath again. “The soldiers . . . they’re after me. I have to get back through the Mantle.”
“Shh,” she said, digging into her bag. “Hush all that foolishness; you’re not in your right mind. Though I’ll admit, you speak Lagrimari very well. I’m not sure what happened to you, but you should save your strength.”
She retrieved a jar filled with a sweet-smelling substance and began spreading it over his wounds. The constant, throbbing pain eased a notch making it easier for him to breathe.
“What is that?”
“Just a balm. Helps with burns, cuts. Can’t do any more for you right now, but you can’t stay here. Storm’s coming.”
He laid his head back on the ground, closing his eyes to savor the slight reduction in pain. “A quick rest and I’ll be back on my way. Need to keep moving, though. Need to get back.”
She shook her head. “Back through the Mantle?” Her voice was skeptical.
“And away from the Lagrimari soldiers chasing you?”
“Yes.” Her palm met his forehead again. She thought he was delusional. He wished he was. Wished the last few weeks had been nothing but the imaginings of an impaired mind.
“The Seventh Breach ended almost five years ago.” Her voice flowed over him, as cool and comforting as the balm she’d used. “We’ve had peace since then. No way to cross the Mantle from either side.”
He shook his head, aggravating the hole in his upper chest, inches from his heart where an inconvenient bit of metal was still lodged. “There are ways.”
A crunch of boots in the distance set him on alert. He grabbed the girl’s wrist to halt her while he listened. The soldiers were near.
He opened his eyes and looked into her startled ones. “Shh, they’re coming.”