There’s only so long a book blurb can get and still be considered catchy or concise. There’s only so much visual information a book cover can contain, and for much the same reasons.
A shame, really, because An Emperor for the Eclipse (the first book in my After Exile series) is home to more than one ongoing romance. Sure, the cover shows our hero, Raothan Ga’ardahn, and yes, the blurb on Amazon teases you about him and Niquel. But another couple gets almost equal romantic page time in the book: a general and a thief, two of my favorite female characters I’ve had the pleasure to write.
It’s no joke, Bellora and Kadrian’s meeting and entanglement takes up plenty of Book 1, and won’t be fully resolved until Book 3. In honor of this unsung romance that you’ll never know about unless you get at least five chapters into the book, I’ve made an alternate blurb and [passable] cover for the book, giving these two as much of the spotlight as they deserve.
An Emperor for the Eclipse, Alternate Bellora & Ayzhus blurb:
At least that’s what ‘witnesses’ said. It isn’t true, but the bars of the imperial prison don’t know the difference. Sure, she’d committed crimes. Lying. Illegal trafficking of goods. But not this. Never this.
Kadrian Ayzhus never spends more than a single night with any one of her lovers. The general of the imperial forces enjoys the chase far more than any tamed conquest. She’s left behind sea of jilted lovers deep enough to float a navy to prove it.
The night of his coronation, the new emperor breaks with tradition at the Release Rite. In addition to the life he spares—an honor meant for him, alone—he allows Kadrian to pardon one of the condemned, as well.
And there she is. A petite Novamnean criminal. Caustic. Fearless. A perfect challenge. Kadrian pardons Bellora. Instead of the usual lifetime of service, she offers a deal. The convict can have her freedom after a single night with general.
Bellora sees it as a means to an end, but her time in Kadrian’s bed leaves her shaken. She’d love to leave her confusion behind in the palace, but the rebellion brewing in the capital won’t leave her out of it. Her past grabs hold of her with both hands and forces Bellora to loosen her liar’s tongue once more. This time on Kadrian Ayzhus.
And why not a little excerpt from one of their scenes?
The important thing to remember was that the woman had survived whatever had made those marks. Kadrian Ayzhus had not earned her place as General by way of her bedroom conquests. Bellora would not win in a fight.
And now the bitch wants to bargain with a round of Catch.
It was a game often used to settle disputes between Parthi lovers or spouses, and a frequent wedding night tradition. The winner could claim victory in the argument and often some other agreed-upon prize. Bellora had a feeling she knew what General Ayzhus would claim as a trophy.
At least if it was a man, I’d know how to handle this. Pack it all.
“Yeah,” Bellora said, finding her way around the opposite side of the table from Ayzhus, well aware of what would come next, “I’ve played Catch.”
Silence stretched as she watched the blonde woman tie off her braid again with the leather strip Bellora had lifted while they were standing close. The general had tried to conceal her shock, but the lightning fast raise of brows and subtle intake of air told her she’d managed to slip past the taller woman’s defenses with her thefts. Ayzhus had power, but Bellora had speed and stealth, and it would serve her to make full use of this disparity.
The general stood, waiting, calm, and Bellora humphed.
Time to get this over with.
“What are your terms?”
“You win—I don’t catch you before time runs out”—she gestured to a small sand clock on the table—“you walk out of here untouched. Go back to your life, your home, if you want. Anywhere, really. Won’t be any business of mine by then. I’ll release you from your service. Forever.”
“And if I lose?”
“If I catch you,” the general said, leaning her weight on her palms at the edge of the table, “you owe me satisfaction. Tonight.” The woman shrugged, straightening. “But once I’m satisfied, you can go anyway.” She took in the surprise on Bellora’s face and laughed. “I don’t want to take advantage of you forever. One night’s enough. You’ll get out of here either way; it’s just a matter of what games you’ll have to play first.” At this last, blue eyes wandered away from Bellora’s and down to her throat, her breasts.
“I assume I already know what you mean by ‘satisfied’?” Bellora’s tone was dry.
Ayzhus winked. “I’m pretty sure you do.”
Bellora let out something between a grumble and a sigh. There would be no getting out of this.
“No use of Will,” the general said, eyeing her tattoos.
“Saw that coming,” Bellora fired back with a grunt of resignation. “Fine. No intentional pain then, either.”
“Fair enough.” The grin on the Parthi’s face grew predatory as the warrior’s body prepared for the chase, hips shifting, neck bending to one side with a not-so-subtle loosening crack of bone. “And take that off,” Ayzhus said, nodding at her charade of a toga. “You’re not hiding anything with it and you won’t want to give me the advantage of an extra hand hold. Fair is fair.” She finished off with another shrug.
Bellora narrowed her eyes at the woman and held her gaze as she reached down to grab the bottom edge of her garment. In a fluid move, it joined the general’s on the floor.
“We’re agreed?” the Parthi said.
Ayzhus took up the sand clock. “Be ready,” she said, giving a quick, upward twitch of her brows, eager for the competition.
A tangible silence grew in the room as the two women squared off, tensing for the moment.
The clock flipped. Bellora bolted.
And so much more!
What’s even more ridiculous is Raothan & Niquel, Bellora & Ayzhus aren’t even the only couples the series follows. Book 1 barely scratches the surface of Doxolemy (the First Chronicler/astrologer to the emperor) and his wife, Janeva. And there’s another pairing set to flare up in book 2, but one of the characters hasn’t been introduced yet, so I can’t talk about it. Muahahaha!
If these two strong-willed ladies intrigue you, Emperor is available on Amazon, and is also free in Kindle Unlimited.