Welcome to this week’s Friday Author Spotlight! Today I have Ronelle Antoinette visiting to tell us about the first book in her Elemental Trials series, Errant Spark. She’ll be sharing both a written and audio excerpt of her book, but first lets learn a little more about her.
Ronelle Antoinette lives in western Colorado with her husband, two cats, and one dog-who-believes-he’s-a-person. While she is a mother to none, she’s an auntie to what should qualify as a small army. She is an admitted caffeine addict, chocoholic, and hopeless romantic who has carried on a passionate affair with the genre of fantasy since she was old enough to read ‘chapter books’. She dabbled in creative writing for many years and even considered it as a major in college. (She ended up getting a Bachelor’s degree in Counseling Psychology.) She published her first novel, Errant Spark, in July of 2016.
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About the Book
In Egalion’s Imperial court, there is splendor and luxury, but it’s also a realm of treachery and cloak-and-dagger political maneuvering that threatens to destroy the peace of two thousand years. They say to keep your friends close and your enemies closer, but at court you can’t tell one from the other…and they change at the flip of a coin.
Twenty five-year-old Battlemage Jex Xander has a mouth which frequently gets him in trouble, while in contrast, Enari Namelum speaks not at all. When Jex becomes the target of a faceless curse-slinger, Enari, the girl he protects, must now protect him. The discovery of ritual human sacrifices and Jex’s growing inability to keep his feelings (and hands) to himself only serve to complicate matters. Passion and romance should be the last thing on their minds, but life and the Goddess seem to have other ideas.
Errant Spark is the hush before the storm, the last deep breath before the plunge. The flint has been struck and it’s possible the world might go up in flames…because love in Egalion’s Imperial court is as dangerous a thing as backroom politics and jealousy can be as much a driving force as silver and gold.
Get it today on Amazon, Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, iBooks, and Audible!
Listen to the Audio Excerpt, then keep reading for a written excerpt below:
“May I join you?”
Without waiting for a response, Jex Xander settled gracefully to the ground beside her. He offered her a tin cup and she took it, warily examining the contents.
“You have the look of someone who could use that.” He jerked his chin at the cup before turning his attention to his own bowl of stew and chunk of bread.
Chamomile and meadowsweet wafted up on the steam and she inhaled appreciatively, but didn’t drink.
“Oh, I almost forgot!” Fishing a flask out of his pocket, the mage unstoppered it and leaned over her, pouring a small amount of something brownish into the tea. “Not the best quality, I’m afraid, and I know it smells vile, but it’ll take the edge off your sore muscles, I promise.” He grinned at her startled expression before settling more comfortably and beginning to eat heartily.
Enari took a tentative sip and tried not to gag. It was horrid, but the warmth that spread in her belly was soothing, so she continued to drink. They sat in silence for several moments as stars twinkled to life overhead. A few even shot brightly across the sky and Enari watched them, still awed at the sheer immensity of the view above her. At the Temple, parts of the night sky had always been obscured by foliage, even when viewed from the high branches of the trees she climbed.
“Mmm, Plamen works his forge tonight,” Jex observed around a mouthful of bread, “Wonder what he’s making?”
Enari didn’t answer and after a moment, he tried again.
“Did the kvinna speak truth? Are you really still a novice?” He used the remaining crust to mop out his bowl before licking his fingers and wiping them in the grass beside him.
She nodded, still not looking at him.
“May I ask how old you are?”
It was a rude question to ask a woman, he knew, but he’d been watching her all afternoon and hadn’t been able to guess her age. ‘Young’ was all he’d determined for certain. Probably too young.
Using a stick, she drew a number in the dirt and his conscience eased. Eighteen. Not too young, then, or at least not so much that he felt guilty for looking. And he definitely had been looking. Couldn’t blame a man, really.
Well, the kvinna probably would. She seemed the excessively protective sort.
“I have a sister about your age, back in Rowan. Not as quiet as you, though,” he mused, hoping to at least get a smile out of the girl. She was exotically appealing and he could only imagine how much more radiant she would be if she smiled.
Enari stood quickly. She didn’t know how to fend off interested men and retreating to bed seemed like the easiest way out of this awkward situation.
“Novice!” one of the guardsmen called out. To Jex, he sounded more than a little drunk. “If you be done with that pretty boy, come and spend time with a real man. The night promises to be chill, but I’ll warm you well if he won’t!”
Jex rose to his feet upon seeing her uncertainty and embarrassment.
“You!” he called back, “Didn’t your mother teach you how to address a lady?”
“Mind your own business, mage,” the man retorted. He got up unsteadily and swaggered towards Enari. She hurriedly backed away, eyes darting left and right as she sought an avenue of escape.
Before the man could reach her, Jex stepped up and put his palm in the center of the other’s chest. He gave him a stiff shove, eyes dark with menace.
“Don’t be a fool. I wasn’t sent to protect these women from their own escorts but I will. I suggest you find your bedroll, friend,” he said dangerously, “Sleep it off, or you’ll be no good to anyone on the morrow.”
Enari stared at the pair with round eyes. The mage didn’t even know her, yet here he was, protecting her honor like she was some grand lady.
After a moment of glaring at each other, the guardsmen broke eye contact first. Muttering sullenly under his breath, he retreated and Jex released a sigh. He really hadn’t wanted to fight the drunken lout, even though he was confident he’d have won.
“Silent little thing, aren’t you?” Returning his attention to Enari, he reached out and touched her cheek gently.
Weariness in blurry waves of gray, spikes of hard red adrenaline and anger, fading sparks of vibrant blue lust… Goddess, she’d be so pretty if she smiled. Too pretty to stay much longer in a group of men with no one but her Sura to look after her. Stupid, stupid to send such a small party across so much open land.
Quiet thunder of a rapidly pounding heart, the sharp tang of fear-sweat, nervous little brown mouse… That man almost…he could have…and the mage. I don’t even know him, he doesn’t know me, but he stopped the other one. His hand is on my skin and…
Starting in alarm, Enari recoiled and the string of awareness that was and wasn’t hers snapped like gossamer thread. She took a quick step back and the sudden movement unbalanced her. Her sore leg muscles were unable to compensate and with a surprised gasp, she fell onto her bottom in the dirt. Jex looked down at her, clearly as startled as she.
A heavy hand grabbed the back of his tunic and the grizzled old guard captain shook him roughly. His voice was deep and his accent was rough. “She dun’a like to be touched, mageling. Keep your mitts to yourself!”
“I-I’m sorry. I didn’t know, I,” Jex stuttered and cleared his throat. “Sorry,” he finished lamely, looking back and forth between Enari and the captain, as if unsure who he was actually apologizing to. He offered her a hand up, took a look at the captain’s face, and put both of them in his pockets.
“You alright, little mistress?” the captain asked Enari.
She nodded and climbed stiffly to her feet, brushing dirt from her trousers.
“I’m sorry for startling you, Nani,” Jex apologized again. Enari smiled and waved it away. He frowned at the captain and opened his mouth.
As if guessing the younger man’s thoughts, the captain shook his head. “She dun’a speak, either.” He narrowed his eyes threateningly at Jex, thick brows beetling down even further. “But dun’a you be going and thinking she be stupid for it, mage. She ain’t.”
Jex held up his hands in placation and took a step away. “I would never!”
“See that you dun’a.” With that, the captain strode away into the darkness. Jex made a face and gestured rudely at his retreating back. Enari covered a smile.
Turning back to her, he raised a speculative eyebrow and put his hands on his hips. “He wasn’t having me on, was he?”
Enari’s expression turned distant.
“Alright, alright. Keep your secrets.” His eyes darted to the bowl of stew she’d somehow managed not to drop or spill all over herself. “Are you going to eat that?”