Title: In Pain and Blood (Spellster Series Book 1)
Author: Aldrea Alien
Publisher: Thardrandian Publications
Release Date: December 15, 2017
Genre(s): Epic Fantasy M/M Romance
Length: 309000 words/740 pages
It wasn’t meant to be like this.
Dylan’s life in the spellster tower has everything he should want: magical knowledge, safety from the King’s Hounds and frequent clandestine affairs with women. All at the cost of his freedom. So when the chance to leave the tower—even as a leashed weapon for the King’s Army—arises, he seizes it.
When his first scouting mission goes awry, Dylan is left alone in a hostile world with the tower a distant beacon of safety. Only the flirtatious Tracker, an elven man whose very presence awakens Dylan’s long-repressed desire, can help him return to his old life before the crown discovers his unleashed status.
But the risk of being branded a deserter may be the least of his concerns as whispers of an armed presence in the North threatens his home. Dylan must rely on Tracker to protect him even as everything he thought he knew begins to unravel around them.
In Pain and Blood is a standalone story and the first in a series of standalones.
The dagger was the first thing he saw. Curved and sharp. In the lantern-light peeking out from the street, the blade bore an insidious purple sheen.
Barely daring to breathe, he followed the blade down to the bronze hand and onwards to the elven man glaring up at him. “If you’re after money. I have none.”
The elf’s sharp eyes, in a shade that reminded Dylan of rich honey, narrowed. “Money?” The man sneered. “My dear spellster, do I look like I need your paltry coin?” He spoke with the vaguely similar smooth accent of his old roommate, Sulin. The words tumbled off his tongue much like rock down a hill, catching occasionally on a soft trill or hiss. Only those from Wintervale spoke in such a way.
“I don’t—” The man knew he was a spellster? That could become problematic if he also knew of a hound in the area. Dylan lifted his hands, careful to ensure his palms remained facing away from the elf. As well as sharing a similarity in accents as his old roommate, the man was quite tall for an elf. Not quite as much as Sulin, but the top of the man’s head easily reached the base of Dylan’s neck. “Look, I really don’t want to hurt you.”
The dagger flashed up with barely a twitch from the elf, the flat of the blade tapping Dylan on the lips. “No more talking. I have been looking all over this village for the spellster everyone says is here and now I have you.” The point returned to his throat. “Now lower your hands. I am sure it has occurred to you that attacking me will do you no good. You would be dead well before I.”
His gaze dropped to take in the man’s armour. Hard to tell in the watery light, but it looked well-made and leather. Not a common thief, then. A mercenary, perhaps? Something about the style nagged at him. He’d seen it before, as far back as the tower. Not on the guardians, but— The hound. Fetcher might have been human and a woman, but she’d worn the exact same armour. “You’re a hound,” he breathed, amazed he could say a word when it felt like his heart had relocated to his throat.
The man’s full lips twisted into a humourless smile. “How very astute of you. At least you are not entirely without your wits.”
“You have to help me.” Was it not a hound’s job to bring spellsters to the tower? Just like they’d done with Sulin and Launtil and countless others who’d been born outside the walls. And this elf would know the quickest route. “I need to get back to the tower.”
“So you admit you left.”
“Well, yes, but I was—” The minute change in the blade’s pressure against his throat stilled his tongue. The hounds will hunt you. His guardian’s words echoed in his ears. Safe in the tower, safe with a neck banded in metal, but venture outside without being leashed? Practically a death sentence. Any spellster rumoured to have fled the tower weren’t heard from again.
“The crown does not exactly take kindly to runaways.”
About the Author
Mother. Animal Lover. Vampire. Fangirl.
Aldrea Alien is a New Zealand author of romantic speculative fiction of varying heat levels. She grew up on a small farm out the back blocks of a place known as Wainuiomata alongside a menagerie of animals, who are all convinced they’re just as human as the next person (especially the cats). She spent a great deal of her childhood riding horses, whilst the rest of her time was consumed with reading every fantasy book she could get her hands on and concocting ideas about a little planet known as Thardrandia. This would prove to be the start of The Rogue King Saga as, come her twelfth year, she discovered there was a book inside her.
Aldrea now lives in Upper Hutt, on yet another small farm with a less hectic, but still egotistical, group of animals (cats will be cats). She self-published the first of The Rogue King Saga in 2014. One thing she hasn’t yet found is an off switch to give her an ounce of peace from the characters plaguing her mind, a list that grows bigger every year with all of them clamouring for her to tell their story first. It’s a lot of people for one head.
Social Media Links
INTERVIEW WITH ALDREA ALIEN
What would people be most surprised to know about you?
I don’t like coffee. Everyone always seems surprised that I can’t stand the stuff.
How do you relax?
Video games, mostly. Lately, those have been the Lego ones played with my daughter, they’re surprisingly addictive and tricky.
Do you have a favorite quote (either from your own books or one’s you’ve read)?
I’m terrible at remembering quotes from other people’s books. My favourite one from In Pain and Blood is: “I am not so sure there has ever been such a thing as happy ever after, but we could certainly try for secure mutual existence.” I’m not sure where this level of sappiness comes from, because anyone who knows me also knows that I don’t do soppy stuff, but a certain elven man likes to say stuff like this.
How long have you been writing and what made you fall in love with writing?
Oh, years. Decades, even! I started writing one story way back in the 90s (I still need to get back to the rest of that one, actually) and, bar the few stints in hospital, haven’t really stopped.
Did you always want to be a writer?
Not to begin with. I started off wanting to be a paleontologist, go out into foreign places and dig up some dinosaurs. I sort of became a writer when all these stories wouldn’t stop playing through my head unless I wrote them.
What’s your favorite part of writing?
That part where all those little bits that have been sprinkled through the story on some whim actually start to come together and make sense.
Why did you choose to write GLBTQ romance?
I think it was more the story chose me. They were very insistent characters, very sure of what the story was going to be about even when I wasn’t.
Do you write any other genre?
Technically, yes and no. They’re all speculative romances, running the gamut of science fantasy, gothic and paranormal, just none of them are glbtq romances. The straight exception would be the very short story, Willow, which is a horror of sorts.
Describe a scene in your writing that has made you laugh or cry?
One of the scenes that made me laugh was the pond scene, where Dylan’s just trying to get his clothes (and himself) clean and Tracker’s trying to suss out whether Dylan is interested in guys. But, Tracker being Tracker, he kind of goes about it the usual way and winds up with the opposite effect to what he wanted.
What genre does it fall in?
High fantasy romance.
Give us a little insight into your main characters. Who are they?
That would be Dylan and Tracker. On the surface, one is a powerful weapon of the army and the other is just another one of the King’s Hounds. In reality, Dylan is a caring, naive nerd far more suited to studying ancient civilisations than killing people. Whilst Tracker… I always feel a little guilty for what I’ve put him through, it’s made him a very emotionally damaged elf who yearns to be loved and fears falling in love again.
Will we be seeing these characters again any time soon? Is this book part of a series?
Whilst In Pain and Blood is part of a series, it’s a standalone, so they probably won’t be popping up in the other main books, except maybe briefly if I happen to write a novel set nearby. That being said, I am in the process of writing a novelette of sorts from Tracker’s pov.
Which actor would you like to see playing the lead character from your most recent book?
Mario Maurer seeing that I modeled Dylan’s looks on him.
Tell us a little bit about your writing style.
I’ve been told it has an archaic flare, but that’s likely due to my NZ English roots. It’s heavily well-established, I’m afraid.
What does your writing process look like?
It wavers a lot depending on what I’m doing but with something new, I’ll type a chunk, break when I lose momentum to type another chunk and return on a different day to stitch those pieces together. Other times, I’ll be tapping out scenes on my phone, sending them via email to add later.
When/where is your favorite time/place to write?
Anywhere as long as it’s nighttime because that’s generally when it’s quiet in the house.
What genre/s do you enjoy reading in your free time?
Fantasy, mostly. It takes up 99% of my shelf space. Science fiction is there, too, along with paranormal as well as a little bit of historical and contemporary romances.
What was the last book you read? What did you like about it?
It’s been so hectic these last few months that I’ve not actually been able to complete a book since… goodness… May (Wow, I really need to snuggle down somewhere and do some serious reading. Ahem The last book was A Forest of Eyes by Ashley Capes. It’s the second in the series and not as fast-paced as the first, but the MC is sick from an illness caught early in the first book and the weight of it was worked really well into the story. Plus, I’m a sucker for scrappy MCs.
THANK YOU FOR SHARING, ALDREA.
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