Saturday Excerpt: The Emperor’s Arrow by Lauren D.M. Smith

Debut author Lauren D.M. Smith delivers an epic fantasy romance in this soaring tale of a kick ass warrior and the emperor she’s honor-bound to defend.

Read on for an excerpt from The Emperor’s Arrow, available now!

lgcover-9781460397435The bride candidates have been summoned. Their numbers are many, yet only one is an Amazzi warrior. Only one would give her life to protect him.

Evony of Aureline, warrior of her people, has no intention of becoming a hideous old man’s bride. Though her people have sworn their loyalty to the legendary emperor Galen, Evony knows little of courts and intrigue. It’s simply not her world.

Yet it’s on the palace training grounds where Evony’s archery skills gain her the respect of soldiers and legates alike. The emperor himself takes notice of the beautiful, ruthless warrior. In turn, the young, steely eyed Galen is nothing at all what Evony expected.

This man could very well conquer her heart. But does he feel the same?

As the rivalry among the remaining bride candidates intensifies and the plot for the throne unfolds, Evony must make a grave choice: fulfill her destiny and protect her people or follow her heart and pursue true love.

Either way, the honor of the Amazzi people and the future of the empire now rests with Evony of Aureline. For she is the Emperor’s Arrow.

 

***

“You are aware Amazzi don’t typically have much trade in intrigue? I’m not certain how much use I will be, but I will certainly do all I can.”

“I can ask nothing less,” he said, with a tiny quirk of his lips that seemed to be the closest thing to a smile to cross his face. Evony often wondered why nothing seemed to please this man. “I will of course reward your efforts. Do you wish to be empress?”

She snorted. “No. I came because you requested a daughter of our clan. Once I’m released from this competition, I will complete my secondary mission and return home.”

The wrinkle reappeared in his forehead. “What is your secondary mission?”

As he was the Adnuhom, Evony saw no reason not to tell him. “To find a man who is suitable to act as stud to me. I would like to find a lifemate like my mother did, but I’m not certain I’ll be able to. But it is my duty and honour to bring children into our clan. Since I was already to come to the mainland, it was decided that I should do this as well and save myself a trip later.”

Galen stared at her, his lips parted slightly. He blinked slowly a few times before he ran his stare over all of her then met her eyes again. “That… That may work well for both of us.”

“What do you mean?”

“We both seek the same thing: heirs. You would like a daughter, and I would need a son to succeed me. If I cannot find a suitable woman to become empress and you cannot find a man to suit yourself, we could pair up until we both had our heir. I imagine I would be considered suitable.”

It was Evony’s turn to stare for a moment. She could hardly argue with him, not when he was the Adnuhom. Legend said that one of the ancestresses of her clan had become the lifemate of one of the Fuscienne men which had forged the alliance that persisted today. Which made Galen practically Amazzi. He seemed healthy, strong, and intelligent. She imagined any children of his would be the same. It was certainly an interesting offer, but she wasn’t without concerns. “How can you be certain we’re compatible physically?” she asked, thinking back to the stories some of her aunts and cousins had told her. “It would be difficult to produce multiple children if we aren’t.”

“There is a simple method to test that,” he said, taking a step towards her.

“What is it?” Evony asked, leaning forward. No one had told her you could test for that! If she could learn this test, it could make it easier to find a suitable man, and maybe even a lifemate!

“Like this,” he said, reaching out and pulling her towards him. An arm snaked its way around her waist so her body was pressed into his, while his other hand cradled the back of her head. His warm, soft lips were against hers in a moment. Evony opened her mouth to say this wasn’t a test and was rewarded by the entrance of his tongue.

Evony tried to pull away a little at that and made a little noise of protest that quickly died away. Because what Galen was doing with his tongue and lips made her flush all over. His lips opened and closed around her lips, while his tongue explored her mouth like it belonged there. He was even so bold as to flick her tongue with his.

The new sensations brought a familiar tightness to her breasts and lower. He had to feel the way her nipples stood up, given the way her chest was pressed into his. She knew her face was flushed, her skin feeling hot, the familiar tug of need making her shift her weight. It was so much stronger than she’d ever felt it before. Her body wanted this and more.

Without thinking about it first, Evony began to reciprocate. She did her best to match his lips movements, pressing herself even more closely against him, one arm going around his neck, the other wrapped into the folds of his tunic. This seemed to encourage Galen and he pushed himself forward, forcing Evony to back up until she was against the wall.

With the full force of his hard body against her, Evony found herself enveloped in Galen’s scent, a clean, faintly spicy smell that made the space between her legs get even tighter. His lips continued their delicious assault on hers and Evony fought back as best she could. From the way Galen shifted against her, Evony thought she was doing well, until he moved away.

As he pulled away and the comparatively cooler air hit where his body had been, a little whine came from the back of Evony’s throat. She didn’t want to stop. Not so soon at least. Her chest heaved, and Evony realized she was warm all over and slightly out of breath, like she’d been running.

Galen was breathing harder as well, but he seemed to be handling it better if the way he was focused on straightening his tunic was any indication. Once he was finished, he looked at her. “I believe we are very compatible.”

It took a few moments for Evony’s brain to catch up, her body still complaining about the sudden stop to the activities it had liked. Then she nodded and tried to fan her cheeks to cool them a bit. “I guess so. I hadn’t thought a test like that existed,” she said, voice cracking a little.

“It is best not to use it unless you are relatively certain of the outcome. Misuse could be…disastrous.”

Evony could imagine. She’d been warned enough growing up about the different types of people on the mainland and the different cultures. Many she imagined would find such an act forbidden or reserved only for lifemates. People always did forbid the most pleasurable things.

“Shall we?” He jerked his chin towards the next garden over.

She nodded again, brain still trying to reconcile everything so she wasn’t about to try speaking again. She wasn’t sure what she’d say. Still, Evony thought if Galen knew that kind of technique just for kissing, laying with him would be well worth it, and not just for her duty.

Don’t miss THE EMPEROR’S ARROW by Lauren D.M. Smith

available wherever Carina Press ebooks are sold.

Copyright © 2016 by Lauren D.M. Smith

www.CarinaPress.com

 

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