Great! Because today I’ve got an excerpt from Darkhaven by A.F.E. Smith. It’s a great scene, and I hope it hooks you as much as it hooked me. 🙂
Stay tuned afterward, because I’ve got all the deets on a great Rafflecopter giveaway at the end of the post!
As was fast becoming their habit, she and her father had started that evening by arguing. They’d always argued, of course, but not like this. Not as if each would rather kill the other than concede the fight. Ayla knew she couldn’t beat Florentyn in a real fight, either in human or in creature form, but she hoped this battle of words would be different. Her father probably wouldn’t go so far as to physically chastise his wayward daughter.
She had to keep trying, anyway, for Myrren’s sake.
‘You can’t do that to him,’ she said for the tenth time in as many days. ‘He is your true heir, your pure-blood son. I’m only half a Nightshade.’
On the other side of the desk, her father sat motionless and in shadow; no need for light when only Changers were present in the room. Ayla resented the fact that he’d summoned her into the library as if he had every right to control her movements. That he’d made her stand in front of his desk like a stripling awaiting punishment, not a fully grown woman. She resented a lot of things. But she had to concentrate on the one that mattered.
‘You can Change.’ Florentyn’s face showed no more emotion than the ancestral busts adorning the bookcases to either side of him. ‘Myrren cannot. I have no choice but to disinherit him.’
‘I won’t take his birthright away from him, Father.’ She lifted her chin, but he was as impervious to her defiance as his Firedrake form was to steel.
‘You will start accompanying me on state visits. It’s time you began to learn what is required of Darkhaven’s overlord.’
Ayla bit her lip. Always he dangled that in front of her: the chance to meet people, different people, not just her family and the Helm. To see and be seen, rather than be kept hidden away like a secret. She yearned for that. She could almost taste the tang of it. But she had her brother to think of.
‘Myrren is your heir,’ she repeated. Then, knowing she’d sound like a child, but unable to help herself, ‘It’s not fair.’
Abruptly, Florentyn pushed his chair back and stood. Palms flat on the desk, he leaned forward, towering over her. For an instant she saw Myrren in him – all Nightshades looked alike, hair the colour of a moonless night and eyes like deep pools of spilled ink. But her father’s face was far crueller than her brother’s.
‘Fair? Fair has nothing to do with it,’ he said, every word as sharp-edged and clear as broken glass. ‘Else I’d have two true-blooded children, not one who Changes into some mongrel creature no-one’s ever seen before and one who is incapable of Changing at all.’
Ayla’s hands curled into taut fists. She was all too aware that her creature-self was an unusual one, not one of the pure forms of power her ancestors had taken – Firedrake or Griffin, Phoenix, Hydra or Unicorn. Her mother had been an ordinary woman, a common girl from the city; no doubt that blood had weakened the Nightshade strain. Yet the knowledge didn’t make the contempt in Florentyn’s words hurt any less.
She wanted to retreat. She wanted to seek comfort with her brother, who at least loved her wholeheartedly. But instead she gripped the desk herself, matching Florentyn’s stance.
‘You married outside the bloodline after Myrren’s mother died,’ she said in a voice that shook. ‘If you don’t like what I am, you have only yourself to blame.’
About the Author
A.F.E. Smith is an editor of academic texts by day and a fantasy writer by night. So far, she hasn’t mixed up the two. She lives with her husband and their two young children in a house that someone built to be as creaky as possible – getting to bed without waking the baby is like crossing a nightingale floor. Though she doesn’t have much spare time, she makes space for reading, mainly by not getting enough sleep (she’s powered by chocolate). Her physical bookshelves were stacked two deep long ago, so now she’s busy filling up her e-reader.
What A.F.E. stands for is a closely guarded secret, but you might get it out of her if you offer her enough snacks.
About the Book
Ayla Nightshade never wanted to rule Darkhaven. But her half-brother Myrren – true heir to the throne – hasn’t inherited their family gift, forcing her to take his place.
When this gift leads to Ayla being accused of killing her father, Myrren is the only one to believe her innocent. Does something more sinister than the power to shapeshift lie at the heart of the Nightshade family line?
Now on the run, Ayla must fight to clear her name if she is ever to wear the crown she never wanted and be allowed to return to the home she has always loved.
And now, onto the rest of the fun!
The aforementioned giveaway includes a host of great prizes. There’s an e-book copy of Darkhaven, a signed paperback of Felinity, a set of five bookmarks, a notebook and keyring, some chocolate, AND a £10/$15 gift card! It’s a king’s ransom in prizes, and they could be yours if you enter this Rafflecopter giveaway!
You can earn entries in several ways:
1. Join the release party.
2. Sign up to A.F.E. Smith’s mailing list
3. Leave a blog post comment
4. Add Darkhaven on Goodreads
5. Tweet about the giveaway
6. Follow @afesmith on Twitter
7. Visit A.F.E. Smith on Facebook
8. Complete the scavenger hunt
A scavenger hunt, you say? Why, yes! To join in the scavenger hunt, all you have to do is visit at least one of the stops on the tour each day and collect the letters (see the M up above). At the end of the tour, you should have five words. Type ’em into the Rafflecopter for five entries!
See? Toldja it’d be fun. 😀
Don’t forget to stop back tomorrow for my review of the book!
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