Wednesday, April 25, 2012

A Hint of Frost by Hailey Edwards: Character Interview, Excerpt



Hope dangles by a silken thread.

Araneae Nation, Book 1

When the head of the Araneidae clan is found poisoned in her nest, her eldest daughter, Lourdes, becomes their clan’s new maven. If her clan is to survive, she has but one choice: she must marry before her nest is seized. All she needs is a warrior fierce enough to protect her city and safeguard her clansmen. Such a male is Rhys the Cold.

Born the youngest son of an impoverished maven, the only things Rhys has to his name are his sword and his mercenary reputation. His clan is starving, but their fondness for the flesh of fellow Araneaeans makes them unwelcome dinner guests. Torn between loyalty to his clan and fascination with his future bride, Rhys’s first taste of Lourdes threatens to melt the cold encasing his heart.

Amid the chaos of battle, Lourdes’s sister disappears and is feared captured. Lourdes and Rhys pursue their enemies into the southlands, where they discover an odd plague ravaging southern clans as it travels north, to Erania. Determined to survive, Lourdes will discover whether she’s worth her silk or if she’s spun the thread by which her clan will hang.

Product Warnings
This book contains one mercenary hero with a biting fetish, one determined heroine who gets nibbled, and an answer to the age-old question, “What does dragon taste like?” Matricide and sibling rivalry are available upon request. The house special is revenge, best served cold.


 



Fear kept my steps nimble. All my life, sentries had guarded these underground tunnels beneath the city of Erania. There was no one now. My clansmen hid in their nests, on my orders.
Darkness warped my sense of direction as cold shriveled the marrow in my bones.
ThumpThumpThump.
I froze. Were those…footsteps? Pressing my back against the chilled earth of the tunnel walls, I waited for the intruder to pass. No one materialized from whence I’d come. Yet the pounding stuffed my ears. Slumping, I realized my heart was to blame.
Another time, I would have laughed at how I leapt at shadows in my own clan home, but not this night. No doubt the one shadow I failed to outmaneuver would belong to an invader, the one footstep I ignored would be the one to crush me, and the one breath I held would be my last.
The people of my clan, the Araneidae, were gentle silk spinners, artisans without armaments.
I was one of the few Araneidae who favored weapons. Ironic I was unarmed now. Habit made my fingers creep down my thigh, but my quiver was absent and my bow leaned forgotten in a corner of my room. I’d been dressed for bed, not battle, when I witnessed first blood spilled.
Those who had been our guardians when my head sank into my pillow, the Theridiidae clan, had attacked during the night. The murderous bastards had betrayed us. Casualties littered the city above. Wounded huddled in the tunnel behind me, lives I had but this chance to save. I’d sent a plea for aid to the one clan cruel enough to stave off the Theridiidae invasion and, I hoped, merciful enough I hadn’t signed my death warrant by exposing my soft underbelly to them.
Gods, I hoped the Mimetidae weren’t hungry.
Light burned ahead, marking the tunnel’s end. Creeping to the edge where dark tunnel met lit square, I scanned the cobbled roads for intruders. I saw none. No shadows danced. No sound carried. All was quiet in this forgotten sector where stone statuary stood as silent sentinels to the night.
Swallowing a bitter lump, I stepped from protection onto the uneven pavers.
Frigid winds sliced my cheeks raw, and my breath hung in clouds suspended before me.
Between one frantic beat of my heart and the next, darkness coalesced and Theridiidae warriors bled from the shadows I’d just deemed safe. Their faces were familiar. They’d been employed by my father. Sightless eyes…blackened skin…the stink of rotten flesh…both dead…
I squeezed my eyes shut, stomach roiling, ready to spill.
“You’re out past your curfew, aren’t you, Lourdes?” The guard’s concern rang genuine until my eyes opened and I caught the eager gleam in his. “Your father will worry.” He presented his arm to me. This morning I would have accepted it without hesitation. “I’ll take you home.”
His companions smirked, confirming my suspicions. They were conspirators as well.
“Thank you.” Winter’s chill kissed my bare shoulders, and I shivered. “I know my way.”
“Do you now?” He stared where my nipples pebbled so hard they burned. “The city at night is a dangerous place.” He rubbed his jaw. “You’re wearing but a scrap of silk.”
“I forgot my coat.” I forced an embarrassed smile and poised to turn. “I’ll go fetch it.”
He nodded. “I’ll go with you.”
No.” My voice rang brittle with the cold and my fear. “I mean, I can do it myself.”
“Is there something the matter?” His name came to me. Tyrone. He and his men were Theridiidae and guardians of the wall. They had once been trustworthy. Now they would die.
A bulky male at Tyrone’s right lumbered forward. “Enough. Look at her eyes. They’re all white. Barely a pinprick of blue is left.” He leered at me, leaning closer. “This one—she knows.”
“I’d hoped this could be done humanely.” Tyrone sighed. “Forgive me, child, but this battle must be won.” He dipped his chin at Bulky. “Calum, she’s yours. Keep her quiet.”
My next move would dictate how my life ended. Here and now, or at a more distant hour.
“I’ve something to occupy her mouth nicely.” Calum reached a meaty hand toward me. I darted aside and he stumbled. A smile tempted my lips. I’m faster. I can wear him down. I can…
I gasped as thick arms circled my waist from behind. Another of Tyrone’s guards had sneaked behind me. I couldn’t breathe. Dots swarmed my vision. No. I would not die this way.
“You’ll like this,” he murmured by my ear. “Or not.”
I struggled in his hold. “I will not speak with traitors.”
“Don’t worry your pretty head.” He licked my pulse. “Calum’s not much for talking.”
This night, neither was I. I was not a warrior born, but perhaps a warrior made.
Icy adrenaline trickled through my veins. I was half Theridiidae, trained by one of their best strategists, my father. The short stature and delicate build I’d inherited from Mother’s clan meant no one suspected the tricks he’d taught me. Araneidae spun silk ten times the strength of the strongest metals, and my fingertips tingled where my spinnerets loosed a single silken thread.
Prickles coasted along my spine as his hot breath fanned my damp neck.
This new guard held me steady as Calum approached. Closing my eyes, I said a prayer to the gods as I sank my elbow into the guard’s gut. He was tall. When he gasped and bent forward, he leaned over my shoulder. Ours eyes met. His narrowed with thinly veiled contempt. Perfect.
I looped my thread behind his head, jerking down hard enough his chin caught my shoulder. While he was stunned, I whirled to his side, out of Calum’s reach, until I stood at his back and my makeshift garrote sliced his throat. My knee at his lower back gave me leverage. Using my weight, I pulled until he gurgled wetly and my thread flossed between his vertebrae.
As his final breaths clouded the air, I let go and shoved him from me. His cheek bounced off the stone pavers on impact.
For a moment, quiet reigned as Calum stared at me in disbelief. When his jaw fell open in a roar that shook me to the bone, I used the guards’ momentary shock to slip past them, and I ran.
Heavy footsteps thundered behind me. I’d lost the element of surprise, and Calum was too hulking and too furious for me to fell him without aid. Pumping my legs as fast as I could, I wished I wore pants rather than my frivolous nightgown to this midnight rendezvous. Lungs ablaze, I savored the burn, let it propel me toward the oblong statuary where I hoped my saviors waited.
Turning a sharp corner, I skittered across the cobbles. A strong arm plucked me up, held me to a hard, male chest. Anise-scented breath hit my cheek. “Don’t move or I’ll kill you.”
When his warm chin brushed my icy shoulder, my shivers wracked me into compliance.
“Hand her here.” A female’s voice I recognized rasped from my right. “Go on, then.”
With reluctance, my captor shoved me toward Isolde, the maven of the Mimetidae clan and my mother’s dearest friend. I held tight to hope that friendship extended to me and my favor.





Today, I am pleased to introduce and talk with the heroine from A Hint of Frost, Lourdes, the Maven of the Araneidae clan.


Tell us about your family.

I have three younger brothers, and a younger sister. Armand is my dashing eldest sibling and my heir until I have children of my own. Henri is my middle brother. He’s quiet, thoughtful. He dabbles in herbology, but I’ve yet to convince him to train as a physician. Channing is my youngest brother. He has the roundest cheeks and the most precious laughter. My sister, Pascale, is… I love her, I do, but forgiveness is slow in coming.


I miss my parents. I wish they were here, that they had met Rhys. 



What was the scariest moment of your life?


When my parents died, and I knew I was to become the Araneidae maven.


As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?


I was groomed from birth to become maven. I had no other aspirations. I do, however, intend to honor my father’s wishes and make our clan more self-reliant. We will not suffer such losses again. We will not bow before our enemies. This time, our lines will not break.


Do you play any sports?


I’m an archer. It was a hobby when I was a child. It’s my best defense now, as a female who craves her independence.


If you could apologize to someone in your past, who would it be?


My parents. I failed to see the danger to them until it was too late. 


What would we find under your bed? 


There are boxes filled with mementos, childish fancies, gifts from my parents, my siblings. Oh, and the short sword Father had commissioned for me prior to his death. I haven’t worked up the nerve to open the case, but the smith told me of its contents.

Thanks so much for stopping in.  I've enjoyed finding out a little more about you.




Hailey is a wife turned mother turned writer, who loves her husband, her daughter and alone time with her computer. Whenever southern living strikes her as too ordinary, she can be found squinting at her monitor as she writes her next happily-ever-after or with her nose glued to her Kindle’s screen. Wings and/or cupcakes are usually involved…

Links:
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7 comments:

Kimberleigh said...

This book looks good, I'd never heard of it before! It'll be going on my TBR list :)

Sarah Elizabeth said...

I hadn't heard of this book either before today but it sounds really good! Another one to add to my wishlist!

Gale Nelson said...

Love the cover of this book!!! Gale

Lisa Marie @ The Young Adult Connection said...

I love the cover!

:).

Bridget Howard said...

Love the cover I would love to win!!!!

Kylie said...

Best description line ever- "What does dragon taste like?" Thank you for a lovely giveaway.

Lacey Thach said...

The book sounds great, can't wait to read it!
Thanks for the giveaway :)