Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Check It Out: Sting of Thorns


Sting of Thorns by Kristen Brand
Dark and Otherwordly #2
Paranormal Urban Fantasy

Victory always has a cost. 

The fight is over, and Leigh Morgan won. After spending months spying in Otherworld as a servant, she’s rescued the humans who were abducted by the Others and sent them safely home. She had to stay behind to destroy the gateway between worlds and keep them safe, but tough luck. She’s prepared to pay the price.

But she didn’t expect the curse that the queen of Otherworld lays on her: a thorny vine growing under Leigh’s skin that will kill her when it reaches her heart. The queen will lift the curse…if Leigh uses her connections in the human realm to locate a magical weapon lost hundreds of years ago.

To ensure she succeeds, the queen sends her son, Dredarion Rath, the cunning prince Leigh had to betray to save her people. With anger and hurt still fresh, they can barely stand to be in the same room together, much less cooperate on such a dangerous mission. But as Leigh’s friends risk everything to help her, she’ll have to find a way to reconcile with Dredarion before their quest gets her and everyone she cares about killed.

The Dark and Otherworldly series continues with deadlier threats, darker romance, and deeper secrets. Return to Otherworld and buy it now.

Walking through a portal was kind of like getting pushed into a pool. Leigh fell forward through something. It wasn’t liquid or air. Cold, silky, and semisolid, it slid over her skin, parting before her. Dredarion’s hand tightened around her arm as they plunged through it, but she couldn’t see him. She was blinded by white-blue light.

Then the light vanished, and snow crunched beneath her feet as she stumbled forward. She blinked rapidly, squinting, trying to banish the afterimage of that unearthly light from her eyeballs. The air was bitingly cold, and she rubbed her arms for warmth. Eventually her vision cleared. Trees surrounded her, but it was no otherworldly forest; just maple and pine, covered in snow and looking blessedly mundane.

A plain brown sparrow chirped from a nearby tree, and the rumble of cars came from somewhere in the distance. Leigh looked up, seeing a familiar yellow sun rather than the strange, whitish one in Otherworld. Home. She smiled and took a deep breath, having almost forgotten how different it was.

Dredarion murmured something in an arcane tongue, and the portal hovering in the air disappeared with a pop. He knelt to the ground and pushed away the inch of snow covering it. Using two gloved fingers, he traced a symbol into the dirt. It glowed faintly with golden light before fading. Then he rose, and Leigh bit down on the urge to ask what that was all about.

He surveyed the woods, his lips curling in disdain—probably unimpressed by the lack of glowing mushrooms and fluttering sprites. Then he pinned her with his gaze. “Lead the way,” he commanded.

Leigh squared her shoulders, trying not to shiver from the cold. “Where to?”

“Don’t play the fool,” he snarled. “You heard the queen. Take me to Salvador Velasquez.”

“Then what?” she asked. “What will you do?”

He lifted his chin. “Convince him to help me find the Evensong Sword.”

Leigh resisted the urge to scoff. Sure, he’d just talk to him. Nice and civil. Then again, Dredarion probably wouldn’t have to do much talking. He could just show Sal the vine growing under Leigh’s skin.

“Why do you need the sword so badly?” she asked.

“That’s none of your concern.” His jaw tightened. “The days of me explaining my plans to you are over. Just take me to the enchanter.”

The hate in his eyes made her cringe, hurting worse than the sting of thorns did. Her stomach roiled with guilt and regret, but then she forced herself to look back at him. She couldn’t let her feelings get the best of her when there was so much at stake. Holding his gaze, she dropped to the ground, planting her butt in the snow and crossing her legs.

“What in the pit are you doing?” he snapped.

“What I’m not doing,” she replied, “is leading you to my friends when I think this is a trap and your queen just wants revenge.”

“Don’t be ridiculous. I’ll pick you up and carry you if I must.”

The wet snow was starting to soak through the bottom of her tunic, but she didn’t move. “Carry me where? You don’t know where Sal is. Have you even been to this world before?”

His nostrils flared, and he took a threatening step toward her. Then he jerked to a halt, shaking his head sharply. “You can’t refuse. The heart vine will kill you.”

“Then it kills me.” Leigh swallowed the lump in her throat, feeling colder than ever. “Better I die here alone than get all my friends murdered.”

Dredarion peered at her for a long moment, his chest rising and falling beneath his leather armor. Small puffs of breath formed before his face in the cold air, and his eyes looked harder than iron. Leigh couldn’t stop herself from shivering. If she stayed out there in nothing but this light smock, she’d probably freeze to death before the vine reached her heart—which sounded like a much better way to go, to be honest. Hopefully, it would be peaceful, like falling asleep. Right now Leigh felt as if she could sleep for years.

“I don’t intend to murder your friends,” Dredarion said at last. “I need the Evensong Sword. It…” He sighed. “It’s the only thing that can stop the Rashrang.”

Where to buy: Amazon

Add to your TBR list: Goodreads

About the Author: f Kristen Brand could have any superpower, she'd want telekinesis so she wouldn't have to move from her computer to pour a new cup of tea. She spends far too much time on the internet, and when she's not writing, she's usually reading novels or comic books. She lives in Florida, the Sunshine State, and will someday go outside for long enough to actually get some sun.

To find out more about her work and read her free web fiction, visit her website you can also find her on Twitter

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