Debbie's World of Books
My book reviews, book news & random rants

Blog Tour: Review + Excerpt from Dirty Little Secret by Jennifer Ryan

December 30th, 2018 by Debbie's World of Books

I’m so excited to be participating in the Dirty Little Secret tour as I fell in love with this book! Be sure to grab your copy today!

Source: Received for review

Publication date: December 18, 2018

Publisher: Avon

Series: Wild Rose Ranch #1

Rating: ★★★★★

About the book

Meet the women from Wild Rose Ranch—and the men who want them—in New York Times Bestselling Author Jennifer Ryan’s breathtaking series of romance and scandal . . .

Noah Cordero is a modern-day cowboy who loves three things: ranching, his younger sister, and his step-father. John Cordero groomed Noah to take over the Montana spread where he learned to ride and work the land. But when John unexpectedly dies, he leaves half the ranch to a woman Noah doesn’t even know.

Roxy shares Noah’s last name, but not his blood. Estranged from her father, haunted by regrets, and eager to escape her notorious mother’s past, she is forced to fulfill her father’s last wishes. Inheriting means sharing a home with infuriating, challenging, and oh-so-tempting Noah. But John didn’t just make her owner of his ranch and guardian to her sister, his hidden sideline is her worst nightmare—she’s the new owner of the notorious Nevada brothel called Wild Rose Ranch where she grew up.

My Thoughts

I’ve only read one other Jennifer Ryan book and while I enjoyed it I didn’t feel the need to go out right away and get the next book in the series. HOWEVER, this book totally blew me away and I cannot for the next book in the Wild Rose Ranch series!

Jennifer Ryan totally won me over with her cast of characters. I absolutely loved Roxy and I swear I wish I could be more like her. She’s really been dealt a crappy hand in life with her mother and never being acknowledged by her father but instead of taking a woe is me approach to life, she’s used her experiences to become a strong and amazing woman. She doesn’t beat around the bush and tells it like it is. 

Noah has his own issues to work through and is thrown a curve ball with Roxy’s appearance in his life but while he definitely had his “shame on him” moments I also really loved his character. Watching the romance grow between him and Roxy was so heartwarming and this probably ranks as one of my favorite forced proximity romances. 

I cannot wait for the next book which sounds like it will be Austin and Sonya’s story so I’ll be counting down the days until its release!

Find it online

Amazon | B&N | Goodreads



God, the way she said his name.

“It’s late and I’m exhausted. Can this wait?”

“Uh, thank you. For my room. I, uh, really appreciate it.” He ran a hand through his hair, uncomfortable under her penetrating gaze.

“How’d that taste coming out of your mouth. You thanking me for anything after John left me half of your ranch and home.”

“Like horse shit.” Not really because the thing was, she got it.

Despite the fact she had to be jealous as hell that he’d grown up here with John, she understood his anger and resentment. She had a side. He had a side. And she was willing to concede that his feelings mattered just as much as hers.

She laughed and the sound went right to his belly and tied it in knots.

Unable to fight it any longer, he closed the distance between them and with one hand sliding to the back of her neck, his fingers buried in the thick mass of silky hair, he pulled her lips to his. She smelled of paint with a hint of flowers, like the ones she’d left by his bed. Their smell teased him all night and made him think of her.

His instinct was to devour, but he felt her tense and her eyes went wide. Watching her, he brushed his lips against hers. Once. Twice. With barely a touch, he tasted a hint of the sweet grapes she’d eaten.

She stood perfectly still, her breath washed over his mouth from her slightly parted lips. “I thought we agreed this wasn’t a good idea.”

“We both lied about that.” He kissed her softly again, lingering over the sweet torment. He could take the kiss deeper, have her wrapped in his arms, and begging for him to take her to bed. He saw the hunger to match his own in her eyes, but he also caught the slight hesitation and a trace of—not exactly fear, but doubt.

About what, he didn’t know. He didn’t believe Roxy was afraid of anything. She’d left her old life and moved to a stranger’s house because a young girl needed her. That took guts, knowing her welcome wasn’t exactly friendly, at least on his part.

Instead of taking what he wanted, he gave in to instinct and pressed his mouth to hers in a soft undemanding kiss that was warm and sweet and unrushed. He didn’t pull her closer, but enjoyed the feel of her mouth against his, the way her eyes fluttered closed as she sank into the kiss and the moment with him, and the brush of the hard tips of her breasts barely skimming the hard muscles of his chest as her breathing deepened. Time stopped.

He withdrew slowly and she leaned into him, her mouth following his until they broke the kiss.        

Her eyes flew open and studied him.

“Thank you for putting the smile back on Annabelle’s face.”

“You’re welcome. She’s a great kid. I like her.” The soft smile told him she meant it. “Good night, Noah.” She stepped back and his hand slid out of her silky hair and across her soft skin along her neck.

“Night.” He stood rooted to the floor and watched her leave, aching to go after her.

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Review: Broken Lands by Jonathan Maberry

December 11th, 2018 by Debbie's World of Books

Source: Received for review

Publication date: December 11, 2018

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Series: Rot & Ruin #6

Rating: ★★★★★

About the book

Ever since her mother’s death, Gabriella “Gutsy” Gomez has spent her days flying under the radar. But when her mother’s undead body is returned to her doorstep from the grave and Gutsy witnesses a pack of ravagers digging up Los Muertos—her mother’s name for the undead—she realizes that life finds you no matter how hard you try to hide from it.

Meanwhile, Benny Imura and his gang set out on a journey to finish what Captain Joe Ledger started: they’re going to find a cure. After what they went through in the Rot and Ruin, they think they’ve seen it all, but as they venture into new and unexplored territory, they soon learn that the zombies they fought before were nothing compared to what they’ll face in the wild beyond the peace and safety of their fortified town.

My Thoughts

I had thought the Rot & Ruin series was over so seeing this one was a pleasant surprise. I was happy to see what Benny and his crew were up to after defeating the reapers. There is a lot going on especially with the relationships between friends and the couples which was interesting to see evolve. It’s understandable that after everything that happened that they might start looking at each other and their way of life differently than when they were constantly fighting for their lives.

We also are introduced to a new set of characters and a different town that introduces their own set of trials and tribulations. Gutsy was a bit hard to like but she started winning me over towards the end. She’s definitely a kick-butt heroine who knows how to hold her own and it is always nice to see a heroine who holds her own without needing a guy to come rescue her.

Benny’s gang’s story and Gutsy’s stories take a bit to come together but it is fascinating once they do. We also get to see some old friends from previous books which made my day. I don’t want to spoil them but these appearances were some of my favorite scenes in the book.

This book will have you clamoring for more and I am counting down the days until I can get my hands on the next book. This is an amazing series, definitely one of my favorites!

Find it online

Amazon | B&N | Goodreads

Posted in 5 Star Books, Books, Paranormal, Young Adult | No Comments »

Blog Tour: Navigating the Stars by Maria V. Snyder Review + Giveaway

December 5th, 2018 by Debbie's World of Books

I am so excited to be participating in the blog tour for Navigating the Stars by Maria V. Snyder. She is an amazing author and I highly recommend this new series!

Publication Date: December 1, 2018 (US Publication Date)

Publisher: Maria V. Snyder

Rating: ★★★★★

About the book

Navigating the Stars is the first book in a new science fiction series.

Terra Cotta Warriors have been discovered on other planets in the Milky Way Galaxy. And Lyra Daniels’ parents are the archaeological Experts (yes with a capital E) on the Warriors and have dragged her to the various planets to study them despite the time dilation causing havoc with her social life.

When one of the many Warrior planets goes silent, and looters attack her research base, Lyra becomes involved in discovering why the Warriors were placed on these planets. And, more importantly, by who.

My Thoughts

I am a huge fan of Maria V. Snyder’s Glass, Healer, and Poison series so I was so excited when I saw she had a new book coming out! Then on top of it, I saw it was related to the Terra Cotta warriors which have always fascinated me and I jumped on the chance to review a copy.

While this series is sci-fi vs fantasy I still found it just as engrossing. The world building was amazing. The space travel and how it affected time was a little confusing at first but once you get used to it and start to understand the nuances it’s mind boggling how people live like that. Here we think it’s hard when we move to another state and leave friends and family behind. We’ve got nothing on these characters who have to deal with how the passage of time can wreak havoc on friendships and family.

Not only was the world building great but every character was on point to me. I love both Lyra and Niall’s characters. Neither character is perfect which makes them more relatable but also neither crosses the line into being irritating because of any particular flaw. Watching Lyra in particular face so many challenges of losing friends, facing the unknown and having to settle into an entirely new environment was fascinating and made me feel so sympathetic towards her.

I even loved all of the supporting characters. Lyra’s parents while hyper-focused on their career, still manage to have a great relationship with Lyra. When we first meet Niall’s dad I thought he was going to be one of those characters you’re going to hate because he’s so uptight but he ended up being one of my favorite supporting characters.

The banter between all of the characters was great and had me laughing out loud at times. It kept the story moving steadily along with the perfect amount of action. The romance aspect was also well done. I felt fully invested in Lyra and Niall’s relationship but I didn’t feel it dominated the storyline to the point where it was ONLY about the romance. Really, all in all, this was just a great book and I highly recommend it!

Find it online

 Goodreads | Kindle link | Amazon Paperback | B&N | iBooks

About Maria

Maria V. Snyder changed from being a meteorologist to a novelist in 1995, when she began writing to keep her sanity while raising two children. Since then, she has published numerous freelance articles in magazines and newspapers, and teaches fiction-writing classes at the local college and area libraries. The classes give her the wonderful opportunity to encourage fellow writers, and to keep improving her craft.

Born and raised in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Maria always had a fascination with big storms. Dreaming of chasing tornados, Maria earned a bachelors of science degree in meteorology at Penn State University. But she discovered, much to her chagrin, that forecasting the weather wasn’t one of her skills. In order to chase tornados you had to predict where they might form. Creating fantasy worlds where she has complete control of the weather was more agreeable to her.

Maria’s research on food-tasting methods with an expert chocolate taster, her husband, turned out to be a delicious bonus while writing Poison Study.

Maria has a brown belt in Isshinryu Karate, and enjoys playing volleyball and the cello. Traveling in general and via cruise ship in particular are her biggest distractions from writing. Maria has traveled to Belize, Canada, China, Costa Rica, Europe, Mexico, the Caribbean and through the Panama Canal.

Maria lives with her husband, son, daughter and yellow lab, Hazelnut, in Pennsylvania where she is at work on more LUNA novels. She is also pursuing a master’s degree in writing popular fiction from Seton Hill University.

Readers are welcome to contact Maria at the following email address: [email protected].

Where you can find Maria:

Website | Blog | Facebook | Goodreads


3 Winners will receive finished copies of NAVIGATING THE STARS, US Only.

2 Winners will receive finished copies of NAVIGATING THE STARS International.

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Tour Schedule:

Week One:

12/3/2018- Moonlight Rendezvous- Review

12/4/2018- My Bookish Escapades- Review

12/5/2018- Debbie’s World of Books- Review

12/6/2018- a GREAT read- Review

12/7/2018- Two Chicks on Books- Review


Week Two:

12/10/2018- Lisa Loves Literature- Review

12/11/2018- Wishful Endings- Review

12/12/2018- Good Choice Reading- Interview

12/13/2018- Dani Reviews Things- Review

12/14/2018- Feed Your Fiction Addiction- Review

Posted in 5 Star Books, Blog Tour, Books, Giveaways, Science Fiction | 1 Comment »

Review: The Three Secret Cities by Matthew Reilly

December 4th, 2018 by Debbie's World of Books

Source: Netgalley

Publication Date: Dec. 4, 2018

Publisher: Gallery Books

Series: Jack West Jr. #5

Rating: ★★★★★

About the book:


My Thoughts

If you’re a fan of the rest of the Jack West Jr series this one definitely won’t disappoint and if you haven’t started this series yet go start now! This is one of my favorite series from one of my favorite authors. If you enjoy James Rollins, Lincoln Child or Douglas Preston you definitely need to add Matthew Reilly to your list.

The Three Secret Cities picks up pretty much where The Four Legendary Kingdoms ends with Jack recuperating from the games and then immediately finds himself swept up in another adventure. The story contains Reilly’s trademark action, thrills, puzzles and more but also be ready for your heart to break a bit. There are a few surprises you won’t see coming and let’s just say the ending will leaving you mentally and possibly verbally screaming nooooooo, as you have to wait for the next book to release. I did love that Scarecrow gets another mention in this book AND the Black Knight shows up! I really am hoping he will get his own series soon.

A fabulous book that you definitely do not want to miss!

Find it online

Amazon | B&N | Goodreads

Posted in 5 Star Books, Action, Books | 1 Comment »

Blog Tour Excerpt & Review: The Other Miss Bridgerton by Julia Quinn

November 21st, 2018 by Debbie's World of Books

Source: Edelweiss

Publication date: November 20, 2018

Publisher: Avon Books

Series: Rokesbys #3

Rating: ★★★★★

About the book

She was in the wrong place…

Fiercely independent and adventurous, Poppy Bridgerton will only wed a suitor whose keen intellect and interests match her own. Sadly, none of the fools from her London season qualify. While visiting a friend on the Dorset coast, Poppy is pleasantly surprised to discover a smugglers’ hideaway tucked inside a cave. But her delight turns to dismay when two pirates kidnap her and take her aboard a ship, leaving her bound and gagged on the captain’s bed…

He found her at the wrong time…

Known to society as a rascal and reckless privateer, Captain Andrew James Rokesby actually transports essential goods and documents for the British government. Setting sail on a time-sensitive voyage to Portugal, he’s stunned to find a woman waiting for him in his cabin. Surely, his imagination is getting the better of him. But no, she is very real—and his duty to the Crown means he’s stuck with her.

Can two wrongs make the most perfect right?

When Andrew learns that she is a Bridgerton, he knows he will likely have to wed her to avert a scandal—though Poppy has no idea that he is the son of an earl and neighbor to her aristocratic cousins in Kent. On the high seas, their war of words soon gives way to an intoxicating passion. But when Andrew’s secret is revealed, will his declaration of love be enough to capture her heart…?

My Thoughts

You honestly can’t really go wrong when it comes to Julia Quinn. Her books are delightful, funny and full of great romance. She has a flair for developing entire casts of characters that will make you fall in love with them. The Other Miss Bridgerton definitely lived up to expectations.

Poppy isn’t your typical husband hunting miss and instead is busy exploring the world around her and pondering questions that make her a bit eccentric amongst the rest of society. I loved that about her and that she didn’t let others opinions keep her from questioning and being independent. She also has a bit of sass that made her interactions with Andrew fun to watch. Andrew was also a great character and I loved seeing him puzzling out how to react to Poppy and eventually falling for her.

Considering a good deal of the story takes place on a ship I never felt the story was moving too slowly and the pace of Poppy and Andrew’s relationship development was spot on. This book makes an excellent addition to the series and I’m hoping at some point we see an extended family tree of the Bridgerton family to include Poppy and the rest of the crew.

Find it online

Amazon | B&N | Goodreads


He motioned with his arm, urging her a few more steps forward. “Careful,” he murmured.

Poppy looked to her toes. The deck came to an abrupt halt in front of her, its elevation dropping by several feet.

The captain hopped down. “The beakhead, my lady,” he said with a gallant wave to the triangular deck that formed the pointy front of the Infinity. He reached up and placed his hands on her hips to help her down.

But when she was steady, he didn’t let go.

“This is as far forward as one can stand on deck,” he told her.

She pointed to a spot a few feet ahead. “What about—”

“As one can stand safely on deck,” he amended. He adjusted their position so that he was standing behind her. “Now close your eyes.”
“But then I can’t see the stars.”

“You can open them later.”

She tilted her head to the left, right, and back again, as if to say, Oh, very well, but she closed her eyes.

“Now tilt your head up. Not all the way, just a bit.”

She did, and maybe it was that motion, or maybe it was just because she’d closed her eyes, but she felt instantly off-balance, as if something far greater than the ocean had stolen her equilibrium.

The captain’s hands tightened on her hips. “What do you feel?” he asked, his lips coming close to her ear.

“The wind.”

“What else?” She swallowed. Licked her lips.

“The salt in the air.”

“What else?”

“The motion, the speed.”

He moved his mouth closer. “What else?”

And then she said the one thing that had been true from the beginning.



JULIA QUINN started writing her first book one month after finishing college and has been tapping away at her keyboard ever since. The New York Times bestselling author of more than two dozen novels for Avon Books, she is a graduate of Harvard and Radcliffe Colleges and is one of only sixteen authors ever to be inducted in the Romance Writers of America Hall of Fame. She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her family.

Posted in 5 Star Books, Books, Historical Fiction | No Comments »

Review: Between a Highlander and a Hard Place by Mary Wine

November 15th, 2018 by Debbie's World of Books

Source: Netgalley

Publication date: November 6, 2018

Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca

Series: Highland Weddings #5

Rating: ★★★★☆

About the book

Athena Trappes thinks she’s in love…until she discovers the scoundrel only wanted her as his bit on the side. Enraged, she does what any spirited Englishwoman would do: set fire to his belongings, incur his dangerous wrath, and flee—immediately. With nowhere else to turn, she seeks freedom in the wilds of Scotland.

Highland Laird Symon Grant lost his wife years ago, and it’s his duty to find another. Athena is not exactly what the clan has in mind for him, but Symon’s heart burns with unexpected passion for the woman who would risk everything to be free.

My Thoughts

I didn’t realize this was book 5 in a series but I didn’t feel like I had any trouble settling into the story. Mary Wine is a new to me author but after finishing this book I definitely want to read more of her works.

I loved Symon’s character and I was rooting for him all the way. His cousin and the other clan members all made me smile and fall in love with them. Athena was a bit harder to like as I felt like though she was strong and independent she sometimes took it too far and didn’t make the smartest choices. She seemed to find it more important to make go her own way just to show she could even when logically it didn’t make sense. Still it was great watching the interaction between her and Symon and watching their relationship develop.

Despite my misgivings about Athena I couldn’t put this book down and cannot wait for Brenda’s story!

Get Your Copy

Amazon | B&N | Goodreads

Posted in 4 Star Books, Books, Historical Fiction, Romance | No Comments »

Blog Tour: The Christmas Layover by Robert Tate Miller Excerpt + Giveaway

November 12th, 2018 by Debbie's World of Books

About the Book:

The weather forecasters said the snowstorm would miss the eastern seaboard. They were wrong. When Ally Henderson’s flight from Southern California to finally marry her fiancé in New York City on Christmas gets diverted to the tiny Midwestern town of Bethlehem, she’s desperate to get back in the air and to the Big Apple. But with all the airports closed, she’s forced to rely on Midwestern hospitality to wait out the storm.Living with a welcoming stranger is one way to spend a snowed-in Christmas, but when she meets the local diner owner, the kindhearted and surprisingly sexy Jake, sparks fly. Only, Ally’s a big-city girl with big-city dreams, and Jake will always be a Bethlehem boy.

Add to Goodreads


“Let me get this straight,” Ally said. “You sneak over here every December 22nd and build a snowman in the yard?”

“Pretty much,” Jake said. “Each year I have to wait a little longer because Maddie’s bedtime keeps getting later.”

“But what if there’s no snow?”

“Yeah, we did have that problem a couple of years ago. Luckily, I have a buddy who works at Echo Mountain Ski Resort. I drove two hours one-way to load up my pickup with manmade snow. Had more than I needed, so I spread the rest in the yard.”

Ally smiled. How sweet that he would go to all that trouble.

“Does Maddie know you’re the culprit?” Ally asked.

“She pretends she doesn’t,” Jake said. “Though I did catch her peeking out the window one night several years back. To be honest, I think she enjoys the fantasy more than the reality.”

“Don’t we all?” Ally said. “So,” she added, “let’s get started.”

Jake swung open the gate. “I like your attitude.”

He retrieved a canvas bag of supplies that he kept hidden beneath the porch steps, explaining that he stowed the bag at his sister’s so that he’d have the materials on hand year in and year out when he stole over in the night to do this snowman-building deed. As she worked side-by-side with Jake constructing the surprise snowman, Ally noticed that he seemed a bit chattier than usual. She liked it. He was getting more comfortable with her.

“So anyway,” Jake said, “when this all started, Maddie was into Bob the Builder. That’s why she named him Snowman Bob. One year, I put one of Mom’s wigs on him just to test that, and she still called him Snowman Bob.” Ally laughed as she packed some icy snow onto Bob’s mid- section. “Been doing it every year since she was four. And, tomorrow morning, she’ll wake up, remember what day it is, run outside and…here he’ll be.” Ally stepped back and took in their joint venture. They’d been at it for about a half hour, and she thought they’d done a pretty fair job.

“I bet this one’s the best yet,” she said.
“Yeah,” Jake said. “And it’s all because of you.” “Oh really?” Ally asked. “Are you patronizing me?”

“Maybe a little,” Jake said.

“Well, that won’t do.” Ally picked up a clump of snow and flung it at him. “That’s what you get.”

“Oh, it’s on now!” Jake said. He went to retaliate, quickly packing some frozen snow into a ball, while Ally worked furiously to beat him to the punch. Ally’s shrieking laughter echoed down the street, bouncing off the houses.

“You’re going to wake the whole neighborhood,” Jake teased.

“It’s your fault,” she said. She picked up another handful of snow and plopped it on his head, then let out another cackle of laughter that reverberated down the block.

“Nice,” Jake said. “Real nice. How would you like it down your back?” Jake grabbed a chunk of ice.

“Don’t you dare!” Ally said. She made a halfhearted attempt to avoid capture, but Jake grabbed her around the waist as Ally laughed so hard she could barely catch her breath. “Jake, you’d better not! Ahhh! That’s cold!” Jake managed to slip a chunk of ice down her collar, and Ally felt the freezing cold against her bare skin. As she squirmed trying to dislodge it, Ally realized that, for the moment, at least, her troubles were miles away. She felt girlish and euphoric. So, this is what fun feels like, she thought.

The snow battle lasted no more than a couple of minutes, but Ally felt like she’d had a real workout. If there had been ringside judges, she felt she would have held her own, gotten a split decision at the very least. Jake had just as much snow on him as she did.

The bout ended like some clichéd romantic comedy with the participants tumbling into the snow, Jake ending up on top of her, looking down into her face, which Ally could feel was pink with flush. Her head rested on the firm snow, and she could feel the cold on her exposed neck. They were both laughing and breathing hard, and then Ally realized they were all alone and face-to-face. She felt calm and happy as she looked up into his sea-blue eyes. He’s got specks of brown in his pupils, she thought. She also picked out a few light freckles high on his cheeks that she hadn’t seen before.

His eyes were locked on hers, searching. She could sense him wanting to kiss her, and she felt a sudden warmth rush through her. Ally recognized it instantly. Desire. She wanted that kiss, wanted his lips on hers. She wanted to reach up and grab him by the lapel and pull him down to her, but, instead, she waited. It was his move.


Meet the Author:

Robert Tate Miller was raised in the North Carolina mountain town of Hendersonville and began writing at an early age. He began his writing career with homespun essays of small town life that were published in such publications as Reader’s Digest, The Christian Science Monitor and the Chicken Soup for the Soul book series. He moved to Los Angeles in the late 1980s and wrote hugely successful family-oriented telefilms for NBC, ABC Family and the Hallmark Channel. Robert lives in Northridge, CA..

Connect: Site | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads


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Blog Tour: War of Storms by Erica Cameron Excerpt + Giveaway

November 8th, 2018 by Debbie's World of Books

Happy release day to War of Storms by Erica Cameron! If you haven’t read this amazing YA fantasy series you really need to go out and grab the entire series.

About the book:

The immortal mages have risen, and they’re out for blood.

Khya arrived at the Ryogan coast too late to stop the invasion. Now, cities are falling before the unrelenting march of an enemy army, and Khya’s squad is desperately trying to stay ahead of them. Warning the Ryogans, though, means leaving her brother imprisoned even longer. Time is running out for everyone.

But how can her squad of ten stand against an army of ten thousand?

Calling in help from every ally she’s made in Ryogo, Khya tries to build a plan that won’t require sacrificing her friends or her brother. It’s a tough balance to find, especially when the leadership role she thought she wanted sits heavy on her shoulders, and her relationship with Tessen is beginning to crack under the strain.

The end is coming, and there’s no way to know who’ll be left standing when it hits.

Link to Goodreads

Purchase Links:

Amazon | Amazon Australia | Amazon UK | Amazon Canada | B&N | iBooks | Kobo


“I also saw Sanii and Yorri moments after their bond.” His quiet words take a few seconds to land. When they do, they hit like a boulder.

I’d forgotten that. How had I forgotten? Tessen was the one who told me about the bond, and when he did, he admitted that he’d known since the day it happened.

“Your brother always felt like he had to chase everyone else’s progress, and it made him wary. He was on guard with everyone but you.” He shifts closer. “That day though, he looked… I don’t even know how to describe it. It isn’t an expression I’ve seen in any other moment.”

Closing my eyes, I turn away, not because I don’t want to see him, but because I don’t want him to see me. Everything he’s saying is true, and yet it doesn’t ease the fear knotting my stomach when I think about bonding myself.

I’ve talked about it before, but only in offhand comments as nebulous as heat waves. I’ve thought about it, but only the good parts—being able to hold on to someone I loved even beyond death. In a daydream, the pain that death brought never came; I didn’t have to consider how easily a sumai bond could tear a soul apart.

“Nothing is certain, Khya, but when has that stopped us?” Tessen shifts, something he’s wearing scraping against the rock. “Why are you letting it stop you now?”

“This is different! I’m not afraid of suffering. I’ll gladly throw myself into a maelstrom if I need to.” My hands are tight fists against my thighs, but my words flow like a waterfall once I start. “How can whatever joy someone finds in a sumai be worth the inevitable agony? And it is inevitable. Even immortality isn’t forever. We’ve proven that. A sumai means one day tearing someone I love in half and leaving them bleeding from the inside out. Because of me.”

Silence. My own breathing is shockingly harsh in the stillness. When did I start sucking in air like I was sprinting?

Why isn’t Tessen saying anything?
 “What if I told you I was willing?” he asks after so many breaths I’d stopped counting. “What if, for me, suffering that kind of agony is worth it for everything that came before?”

Purchase Links:

Amazon | Amazon Australia | Amazon UK | Amazon Canada | B&N | iBooks | Kobo


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