The Bloodbound: Love in a Time of Warfare by Erin Lindsey
Meet Alix Black.
Lady Alix Black, actually, though you wouldn’t know it straightaway. For one thing, she’s not a knight, as her birthright entitles her. For another, she’s not what you’d call refined; she swears like a sailor and has a temper that does credit to her family name. Most of this is her brother’s fault. Rig was left to raise Alix when their parents died, and he didn’t give much thought to bringing up a lady. He regrets that now, probably.
At twenty-three, Alix is a little old to be in the first year of her King’s Service. She’s also a little old to be unmarried, especially as a daughter of one of the six most illustrious families in the land, collectively known as the Banner Houses. The only reason Rig hasn’t made an issue of it yet is that he has a soft spot for his little sister. (That, and he’s well past due himself.)
Why am I telling you all this? Because it’s essential to understanding Alix’s love life, and the dilemma she finds herself in.
First, there’s Liam. He’s good looking, of course, but that’s not the real problem. No, the problem with Liam is that he’s witty, laid back, and has a heart of gold. On top of which, he’s a better sword than half the king’s knights. He’s one of the first people Alix met when she joined the Kingswords, and she clung to him the way you cling to your new roomie in the college dorm. By the time she noticed those mischievous grey eyes, it was too late. The damage was done.
Why damage, you ask? Well, as Alix reflects miserably to herself:
“No one would begrudge her a casual dalliance. It was common enough in the king’s army – hells, it was practically obligatory. The two years of King’s Service was a time for youthful adventure, for the hunting of prey and the sowing of seeds. Even Rig would half expect her to end up in the arms of some handsome soldier or another. As long as she was careful to avoid unwanted complications, she needn’t worry about names or politics or rank. But Liam wasn’t just some handsome soldier. Apart from Rig, he was her best friend.
And he was a bastard.”
Alix knows that anything she starts with Liam is not going to stay casual for long. Yet as the daughter of a Banner House, she also knows he can never be a serious prospect for her.
You see the problem.
It gets worse, though. Following her heroics on the battlefield, Alix is appointed as the king’s bodyguard. Not only does this take her away from her fellow scouts, including Liam, it means she spends day and night shadowing the most desirable man in the kingdom.
King Erik White has something of a reputation. That’s because he’s young, handsome, and almost preternaturally charming. He’s also unmarried, which goes a long way to explaining that reputation of his. Though he’s been betrothed for years, he never seems to get around to marrying Lady Sirin Grey. Rumors abound as to why, but no one’s really sure. All Alix knows is that beneath that polished surface, Erik is badly wounded. Betrayed by his brother, surrounded by enemies, he’s in desperate need of a friend, someone he trusts enough to let him take off the royal mask, if only for a little while. When Alix earns that trust, she meets a man weighed down by burdens, unsure of his own worth, principled to a fault. A man tragically conscious of the need to hide all this behind a brilliant smile.
Irresistibly compelling, Erik is everything Alix could ask for. Except for that whole king thing.
Alix has never had much taste for life at court, and getting to know Erik doesn’t help. She’s seen what the burdens of his office can do to a person. His every move is scrutinized, his every decision heavy with implications. Breaking off his engagement, for example, might make an enemy of the most powerful of the Banner Houses at a time when Erik can ill afford it. Even if he were prepared to risk it, Alix isn’t even sure she deserves him, or that she can be the person he needs. And then there’s Liam.
Oh, and a war. A really big war, with invading armies and homegrown treachery and dark magic. Even if Alix manages to choose, there’s every chance none of it will matter in the end.
And you thought your love life was complicated.
Erin Lindsey is on a quest to write the perfect summer vacation novel, with just the right blend of action, heartbreak, and triumph. THE BLOODBOUND is her first effort. She lives and works in Bujumbura, Burundi, with her husband and a pair of half-domesticated cats.
She also writes fantasy mysteries as E.L. Tettensor.
Erin Lindsey has one copy of Bloodbound, first in her new series to giveaway. To enter just leave a comment. I’ll pick a winner on Wednesday.