Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Sneak Peek: Maiden of Fire by Ishabelle Torry

Maiden of Fire by Ishabelle Torry

I've featured Maiden on my blog before, but this is a special sneak peek into the novel, available now from author Ishabelle Torry! If you love historical SF/F with dystopian themes, this books is for you.

Jalomar’s temper rose as he reclined himself back on the chair’s two back legs and waited for Ramona to appear. He’d summoned her to the library hours ago to discuss the events leading to her entrapment. Based on reports from his men and his own personal observations from afar as she settled in, he no longer believed her to be the Fiery Maiden. The legendary being was recorded to be a warrior, something her mannerism fell far short of. Aside from an obnoxious laugh and a foul mouth, she displayed nothing other than ordinary female qualities.

A timid knock, immediately followed by the tardy Ramona, startled Jalomar and caused him to lose balance. The chair fell backwards with a loud thump; a last minute leap saved him from tumbling with it. “It’s about time, milady,” he growled.

“I came as soon as I was able to,” she responded sweetly.

He noticed her servant’s attire, minus the white apron, but chose to ignore it. “I am certain you did.”

She crossed her arms. “What's up? Your gofer said it was important.”

“By gofer, I assume you’re referring to Kald. But aye, it’s a matter of importance.”

“Yeah, then shoot .”

“Shoot what?”

She pursed her lips. “Say what you need to say, Jalo. Meg and I have plans.”

Jalo? Did the woman purposely disrespect his title? He'd let the indiscretion pass. This time. She'd learn soon enough the customs of his kingdom. He returned his focus back to the task—dispelling the Fiery Maiden myth. “What were you and the others doing beneath so much rubble?”

Emerald eyes mocked him. “Taking a vacation. What the hell do you think we were doing? We were taking cover for our lives.”

“What were you running from? Whom were you escaping?”

“Umm, the same as everyone else…an asteroid named Abaddon. Why the redundancy, Jalomar?”

“Lord Jalomar, or milord,” he scolded this time around. He rounded the desk and snatched up an open text book. So much for an easy solution. She was obviously well learned and knew her history. “What kind of warrior are you?”

“Warrior? More like a student.”

He looked her up and down. Those puny arms could never hold a sword. A scholar fit perfect. “Who is your teacher?”

“I've had several. What’s with the third degree?”

“Third degree? Are you a potter as well?”

She tapped her feet. “No. My turn for twenty questions. Why are refusing to acknowledge the bombardment?”

“Why are you pretending to be the Fiery Maiden?”

“Who?” She threw her arms into the air. “Is that what all this maiden calling is about?”

“Aye, and you know it is. The legend of the maiden is common knowledge, and that unnatural color of hair you possess makes it easy to accomplish.”

“You’re insane. I'm outta here.” She turned to leave.

He closed the gap with three long strides and snatched her back by the upper arm. “I have not dismissed you, milady.”

She whirled around, fury contorting her lips. “Dismissed me? Are you fucking serious? Dude, I know we're currently living in a castle due to the end of the world thing, but seriously? Dismiss me? The Dark Ages have passed, and I highly doubt they're coming back.” She jerked her arm free. “And this whole I am the master of blah blah blah isn't working either.”

Her rant fell on deaf ears. Jalomar couldn’t help but stare at her bright red locks—her link to the prophesy. Beautiful. Vibrant. Tempting. Unnatural.

Majikal…just like the lights surrounding her arrival. He let out a deep growl. How could he not have seen it before? Damn her. He’d let her comely face distract him from seeing the truth of her real identity. He clenched his fists and inhaled deeply.
“Labelle sent you. You’re Labelle’s spy!”

“Who’s Labelle?”

“Don’t continue to lie to me, woman,” he snarled. “You are Labelle’s spy. Did you think a little dark majik to change your hair color would fool everyone for long?”

“My hair makes me a spy? You’re nuts. It’s hair dye. Women use it all the time to alter their natural color.”

He snorted. Nonsense. Who would purposefully discolor their hair for no reason? “Labelle sent you. Admit it, and I may be inclined to show leniency.”

“Fuck you.”

Jalomar raised his hand as if to strike her, but instead grabbed the loose hair at the nape of her neck and pulled her fully into him. She tried to collapse, but he held her firmly, ignoring the look of fear in her beguiling emerald orbs. Every part of him wanted to punish her for her deceit, but the idea of causing her pain turned his stomach into knots. His mouth rested a hairsbreadth from hers, he couldn’t resist brushing his lips against hers. “I will not hit a woman, spy or not. But be warned, milady. There are many among my men who will. I advise you to choose your words carefully while in the dungeons. Some may even take your choice phrases as an offer.”

“You wouldn’t? Let me go!” She lifted her leg in an attempt to clip his genitals, but he prevented the blow by catching her foot between his thighs. After several more attempts, she gave up and stood motionless against him.

“I’ll let you go if you promise to remain calm.”

She said nothing. He hoped for a denial, proof of innocence. He’d much rather lock the comely wench in his bedchamber than a dark and damp prison. The feel of her curves pressed against his body excited all of his senses. She remained close-lipped, breathing heavily in her guilt.

Jalomar released her, unable to concentrate with her so close. He returned to the desk, and snatched up the book containing the Fiery Maiden’s legend. He flipped through the pages without really looking. Since ascending the throne, he’d never had to imprison a woman. But what was he to do with her? She couldn’t be freed with the knowledge she’d gained of his defenses. By the Vespa. His only option was taking her into custody. He continued to peruse the pages in an effort to find another solution. He froze several pages over. “This cannot be,” he whispered. “Nay…it’s all wrong.”

“What can’t be?” she demanded from across the room. “What’s going on in this place? And for the love of God, what and where is this place? Goddammit! Answer me!”

He placed the book on the desk and motioned her closer. Humility silenced his anger. His fingers pointed to the passage he'd just read. “Read this here.”

Ramona crept to the desk; untrusting eyes watched him. She shook her head in denial as she read the text. “That’s absurd! You’re stupid to think I’ll believe this!” She fell to her knees. “It’s stupid…absurd…a joke, right?”

Jalomar stiffened. If only it were a jest.

He patiently waited for her to turn the page.

About Ishabelle:

When Ishabelle Torry stole Warrior’s Lady by Madeline Baker from her mother’s glass “no-no” cabinet at the age of fourteen, she had no idea it would be the start of a love affair with romance that would last a lifetime… so far! She loved the escapism from the real world, the strong and relatable characters and the powerful concept of love conquering all. Even having her scorching books confiscated at school couldn’t cool her passion for them and she swore that one day she would also write the kinds of stories that kept people turning the pages no matter where they were!

Find Ishabelle:

Twitter: @IshabelleT

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