Happy February – official (according to me) KissingBooks month! And welcome to another Love Stories giveaway post! This LOVE STORIES giveaway series is thusly named for two reasons – first, because I love stories and second, because I love Love Stories.
Throughout the entire month of February, I’ll be spotlighting swoony Christian fiction & ‘clean read’ romances. Three cheers for KissingBooks!!! So… grab a fan or two, your trusty fainting couch, and maybe a freezer just to be safe and start making your KissingBooks tbr list! Oh… and did I mention there are GIVEAWAYS with EACH POST in this series??!! (Because authors are awesome!)
Today’s first book is Brand of Light by Ronie Kendig – plus a swoony scene from the book!!! Seriously, y’all, if you don’t have a fan handy yet, go get one & then come back and finish this post.
BRAND OF LIGHT
SERIES: The Droseran Saga #1
GENRE: Inspirational Science Fiction/Fantasy Romance
RELEASE DATE: December 3, 2019
There’s a price on her head, and it has everything to do with the brand on her arm.
Tertian Space Coalition has blessed every planet in the quadrants with high technology, save one: Drosero. But in spite of their tenuous treaty with the ruling clans, TSC has plans for the backward planet. And they’re not alone.
After a catastrophic explosion, Kersei Dragoumis awakens in a derelict shuttle, alone, injured, and ignorant of the forbidden technology that has swept her into a nightmare. The brand she’s borne since childhood burns mysteriously, but the pain is nothing to that when she learns her family is dead and she is accused of their murders.
Across the quadrants, Marco Dusan responds to the call of a holy order-not to join them, but to seek a bounty. Gifted-or cursed-with abilities that mark him a Kynigos, a tracker sworn to bring interplanetary fugitives to justice, Marco discovers this particular bounty has nothing to do with justice and everything to do with prophecy. One that involves the hunter as much as the hunted.
Defiance lifted her jaw. “How do you know what I’m feeling?”
He snagged his shirt and smirked that blasted smirk again. “I say again, know you how we hunt?” He threaded his arms through a tunic and pulled it down.
Though she enjoyed the sound of his voice and the lilt of his accent, with words broader, sounding more … rounded, Kersei bristled. “You asked that the last time.” Right before Ixion barged in. She couldn’t help but glance back to the passage. “You smell.” She waited for him to detect her taunt.
He tossed her another smirk. “Smell is but a tool. A warrior does more than aim an arrow to take down a target.” He raked his hands through his hair, then planted his hands on his belt.
“I concede.” She held out her palms. “I do not understand how you hunt.” She could not help but stare at the mark on his face—and how it had somehow shifted from terrifying on Cenon to intriguing here in close quarters. “What is your strength—besides arrogance?”
Surprise widened his eyes. “You think me arrogant?”
“I beg your mercy. That was rude of me.”
He chuckled, a nice deep one. “Aye, but you feel it true all the same.”
She wrinkled her nose again and shrugged.
“I am not arrogant, Mistress.” He lifted his coat and started toward the door as he put it on. “Only confident in my abilities.”
“Is that not the same?” Kersei trailed him into the brightly lit corridor, glancing up one end and down the other.
She blinked. Balked. “No, I—”
“Scared he will find you again with me. And now you’re anxious, afraid you’ve offended me.”
Kersei stared. “How could you possibly know those things?”
A steward came toward them, eyeing Kersei, then the hunter. She watched him go, not sure where to place her eyes or what to say next. This entire encounter had been awkward, and the last thing she wanted was to return to the quarters to hear more politicking.
“The steward,” Marco said quietly, drawing her attention back, “was jealous.” He peered down the passage and jutted his chin. “And attracted.”
She laughed, feeling heat in her cheeks. “I don’t understand how you can know all those things just by smelling.”
“I simply state what pheromones hang in the air.”
He breathed a smile and glanced down. “On Drosero, you had a horse?”
Her heart tripped at the memory. “Bastien.”
“And he could smell storms coming?”
She eyed him warily. “Aye.” Then frowned. “You jest.”
Shaking his head, he walked—no stalked—down the corridor. The man didn’t know how to walk. He exuded so much confidence and authority, people deferred to him. “I can smell fear,” he said quietly. “And any other emotion.” He pointed to the lift and pressed a button as they waited. “In the obstacle arena before you entered, I could detect your signature.”
“Each person has a distinct chemical makeup unique to them. Hunters can sort those.” His gaze swept the corridor, then rested on her. “The more we’re around a person, the more it’s registered, if you will, on our olfactory nerves. We might forget a face, but we never forget a scent.” A tone signaled the lift’s arrival, and he motioned for her to enter.
Kersei hated these things—too much like the chamber on the Macedon. She stiffened, but told herself it was okay.
A teen appeared in the doorway. “Hold u—” His gaze hit Marco, then he backed up. Palms out. “Go ahead. I’ll wait.”
The doors closed.
“He’s afraid of you.”
Chin tucked, black hair curling around his face and neck, Marco stared at the doors. “The guilty usually are.”
“Guilty?” She frowned, amazed. “I can’t imagine having people constantly afraid of me.”
The mark across his nose somehow amplified his intensity. “I would hope not. You’re an attractive evengis. It is not a life you should have to experience.” The box whisked open and he indicated across an airwalk to a set of doors.
“Evengis?” she balked. Boils, she hated that word. “I am a warrior’s daughter.”
“Aye,” he said, striding forward. “I saw evidence of that, too. Both—”
“Where are we going?” She stepped into the unfamiliar area, waiting for an explanation. And why in the world was she still with him? Go back to the suite. If they were caught together … She remembered the necklace, wanting to hear more of how it had come back to her.
“To see the stars.”
“We’re in the stars.”
Smirking, he nodded to the gray doors with a question in his gaze. A playful question. As if daring her. The way he looked at her, the mark so fierce. Like his eyes. And yet not. The pale blue tones were somehow comforting.
No, assuredly threatening. He was a hunter, after all. A hunter staring at her.
Realizing he meant for her to take note of something, Kersei finally spotted a small plaque. “Stardeck.”
He accessed it, and the doors surrendered to their presence. Pitch-black greeted them, and Kersei jerked tight at the confined space. The chamber—boils, would everything remind her of that thing? She would be free of it. The screaming amid the flames. Adara. Lexina. Ma’ma. Pain. Shrieks. Blood.
And he was there. Pushed right into her space. “Are you well, Kersei?”
Startled at her name on his lips, she opened her eyes. Released the tension in her hands, nearly placing them on his chest. “Y—” The word caught in her throat. She swallowed. “Yes.”
“Come up the stairs. It’ll be okay.” His words were like water crashing over rocks, commanding yet reassuring. His hand on her back guided her in. Dots of light lined the stairs. With each step she climbed, darkness fell away—but not wholly, as the environment of the stardeck was decidedly peaceful with its low lighting and soft instrumental music. All curated to provide a serene experience as one gazed at the sea of stars.
A bar ran the circumference of the room and stopped people from touching the glass. Benches offered places to sit, think, and reflect. To the far right, cozy settees hugged couples.
Kersei strode to the bar, amazed at the view yet terrified of the height. Which wasn’t really height. But how did one describe this? The expanse of stars reminded her of the gown she had worn to the last Winter Solstice ball at Kardia. Comparing the heavenlies to a dress made her laugh.
“What?” He eased back against the bar, crossing his legs at the ankles and staring behind her.
She refused to share her thoughts and have him mock her. “I could stand here a lifetime and still not wholly appreciate this view.” It was impossible to see all the stars. To count them.
He turned. “It’s amazing, isn’t it?” But his grin beneath that ominous mark seemed such a dichotomy. He seemed a dichotomy as he pointed to the right. “Cenon.”
She followed his direction and tried to find the big planet. “Where?”
“There.” He leaned in, his chest against her shoulder. “The yellow one.”
“It’s so small!” She looked at him, startled he was so close. So handsome. The deep lines arcing his nose had barbs that swung upward. “Your mark,” she said, then thought better of it. Glanced away.
“The Kynigos sigil,” he said quietly, arms folded.
“Sigil?” She wrinkled her nose, thinking of the green aetos that served as the Kalonican sigil and the destrier for Stratios. “Why do you have it? To scare people?”
He snorted. “Its purpose is twofold: to mark our gift from Vaqar and to ensure no hunter ambushes a quarry. Our effectiveness scares them enough.”
“And you question why I think you’re arrogant?”
A deep chuckle. “Fair enough.”
What was the mark like? Was it like her brand, the lines as much a part of her skin, or was it like scar tissue? Did it burn as her brand did? Only when his hand snapped around her wrist, startling her, did she realize she had reached out to touch the sigil. Locked in his gaze, she felt the pressure around her wrist lessening. Falling away. Giving permission.
Blue eyes beckoned her into his domain.
Her stomach fluttered as her fingers continued their course. Touched his warm cheek where the arc flung up over his nose. It wasn’t raised or scarred. So like her brand, except on his nose, which was arrow-straight, but not … pretty. Not like Darius’s. Marco’s was stronger. Maybe it’d even been broken. And the planes of his olive face were well defined. Even his lips were … nice. She recalled the way they’d tickled her earlobe when they’d hidden. Even now she felt the darts in her stomach. Wisps of his dark hair hung askew. Rugged. Handsome. So very handsome.
“Satisfied?” he asked, his voice husky, brusque.
Kersei started, realizing what she’d done. How she’d stared. Admired him. She jerked her hand to her chest and stepped back. “I beg—” No, he would taunt her if she begged his mercy again. “Yes.” She shook her head. Pulled herself together. Pushed her thoughts back to where a proper young woman would have them.
The mark seemed threatening, yet it only made her curious. And maybe attracted her more than she’d admit. With his complexion and the deep hues of the sigil, it was all so … dangerous.
*Excerpt used with permission of Enclave Publishing & Ronie Kendig
Ronie Kendig is an award-winning, bestselling author of over twenty titles. She grew up an Army brat, and now she and her Army-veteran husband live a short train ride from New York City with their children and dogs, VVolt N629 (retired military working dog) and Benning the Stealth Golden. Described by literary agent as an empath, Ronie has used her degree in psychology to write books that have won the coveted Christy Award, Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice Award, HOLT Medallion Award, and more. Her books have also hit the CBA Bestseller list multiple times.
Ronie Kendig is offering a print copy of Brand of Light + plus series-related swag (candle, ornament, character cards, and maps) to one of my readers! (US only) This giveaway is subject to Reading Is My SuperPower’s giveaway policies which can be found here. Enter via the Rafflecopter form below.
What about you? What interests you most about Brand of Light and that swoony excerpt?