Please give a warm welcome to Duncan from Ice and Embers by Augusta Li today as we sit down and see what makes him tick.
Q: So tell us about yourself. What got you in the crosshairs for your author?
I have a strong suspicion I act as a counterweight to Yarrow and Sasha. I often think I’m the only one who’s even remotely sane. I have been a knight most of my life and take my duty to protect innocents and act with honor very seriously. I believe doing what is right is more important than doing what is effective. My partners… not so much. Perhaps my author hopes I can be a good influence on them, but there is only so much one man can accomplish.
Q: What was it that drew you to your mate?
I have asked myself the same question! Sometimes I think I must be mad to put up with them. But neither Yarrow nor Sasha has had an easy time in life, and each of them has his own sense of honor. No matter what we face together, we are willing to give our lives for each other. Yarrow and Sasha are very capable men, and I can always count on them to be at my back when I need them. They’re skilled and can take care of themselves, yet I want to protect them and see them finally happy. I don’t always understand them, but I never doubt their devotion to me and each other. Goddesses, it’s a good thing they aren’t here to hear this. They would taunt me mercilessly for talking like a lovesick maiden.
I’m hardly a frivolous man, but I certainly don’t mind that they’re beautiful, either.
Q: A little naughty fun, where was the wildest place you seduced your partner(s)?
This is a bit personal! Oh, very well. The king’s estate in Meritage. I will say no more, though I know my author has recounted every detail.
Q: Boxers, briefs or Commando on a man?
I assume those are men’s undergarments of some sort? To be honest, I like to get them out of the way, not that I wish to rush the act. I just can’t see the reasoning behind concealing anything so appealing.
Q: If your partner wants to seduce you, what's one sure fire trick he can play?
Q: If your partner wants to seduce you, what's one sure fire trick he can play?
Sasha has a way of lowering his head and looking up at me through his eyelashes. It’s my undoing every time. Nothing pleases me more than watching his carefully schooled expressions fall away and seeing his true emotions. Sasha also disrobes… rather artfully.
As for Yarrow, it’s the way he blushes and trembles at my slightest attention. Those who know him might scoff at this, but he possesses an aspect of innocent vulnerability, and it makes me insane. I love being the one who gets to see that side of him.
Q: What is the one place on your partner's body that you know will drive them wild-in and out of bed?
Well, I don’t know about a specific place, but Sasha enjoys love bites. I never thought I’d enjoy doing that, but his reaction makes it a fair trade. I sometimes swear Yarrow gets aroused just from a brush on his hand. Both of them like having their tattoos touched, probably because it proves I accept the less… upstanding aspects of their personalities.
Q: What was one of the most embarrassing thing your author did to you in Ice and Embers?
Does making me answer these questions count? All right, I won’t dodge the question.
I’m sorry to admit I had my views of my skills as a warrior brought down a few pegs, by Sasha. It was… humbling for a knight of my experience to face such a challenge from that little… from a man so much younger and smaller. We would have been much more evenly matched in an honorable battle, but I have to admit we can learn a great deal from each other’s techniques. That sounded a little suggestive. The others would have a laugh.
Q: Anything else you would like to add?
This has been an interesting experience. Sasha or Yarrow would have been better at this than me, and I’m sure their accounts would have been much more—ahem—colorful. They like to mock me for sentimentality, and I suppose I earn it sometimes. At the risk of drawing even more teasing from them, I’m thankful to the goddesses to have them in my life, and I will protect them at any cost and against any enemy. I am also grateful for all of those who join us on our adventures. Thanks to you too, Dawn. I hope I have been as charming a guest as you have been a hostess.
Thank you Duncan for joining us on 'Meet the Character' day here at Dawn’s Reading Nook Blog. Please find Ice and Embers by Augusta Li at Dreamspinner Press.
A Teaser from Ice and Embers by Augusta Li
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Despite their disparate natures, Yarrow, Duncan, and Sasha united against overwhelming odds to save Prince Garith’s life. Now Garith is king and the three friends may be facing their undoing.
Distraught over Yarrow’s departure to find the cure to his magical affliction, Duncan struggles with his new role as Bairn of Windwake, a realm left bankrupt by his predecessor. Many of Duncan’s vassals conspire against him, and Sasha’s unorthodox solutions to Duncan’s problem have earned them the contempt of Garith’s nobles.
When word reaches Duncan and Sasha that Yarrow is in danger, they want nothing more than to rush to his aid. But Duncan’s absence could tip Windwake into the hands of his enemies. In addition, a near-mythic order of assassins wants Sasha dead. Without Yarrow, Duncan and Sasha can’t take the fight to the assassins. They are stuck, entangled in a political world they don’t understand. But finding Yarrow may cause more problems, and with his court divided, King Garith must strike a balance between supporting his friends and assuaging the nobles who want Duncan punished—and Sasha executed.
THE bairn of Windwake cast off his golden ceremonial cloak emblazoned with the crag eagle livery and let it fall heavily to the stone floor of his chambers. Duncan collapsed into an upholstered chair by the inglenook and rubbed his forehead. The fire had long ago diminished to embers, leaving the expansive suite dark and chill on this early spring night. Ruling Windwake had turned out nothing like he’d imagined, and the stresses of yet another day of listening to the demands of squabbling nobles wore on him. When Duncan had been granted his lands and title, he’d anticipated protecting and providing for his people, much as he’d done when he’d been a knight. The reality clashed hard against his expectations. He’d rather face an entire field of soldiers than those nattering, duplicitous aristocrats any day. At least men with swords were honest about wanting to destroy him, and he knew how to counter them.
Duncan had no sooner let his eyes fall shut and his head rest against the padded velvet of the chair when he heard a sound, even softer than the flutter of a night bird’s wings, on the balcony opposite his hearth. He tensed, his exhaustion replaced by alertness. Many of his vassals couldn’t be trusted; he found them avaricious, their only loyalty to their own treasuries. Some of them still owed fealty to Taran Edercrest, the traitor whose mantle Duncan had assumed after the man’s death in a failed attempt to overthrow Selindria’s true king. Duncan knew at least a few of the backstabbing nobles might stoop to murder if they could profit from it. He crept as quietly as he could to the weapons stand and picked up his greatsword. He held it in both hands as he approached the balcony, ready to defend himself.
With the sole of his boot, Duncan nudged the wooden double doors, and they swung open with a rasp and a groan. The red-tinged crescent moon provided little light as he glanced from one end of the parapet to the other. Nothing moved except a few leaves tumbling across the stone in the light breeze. Duncan blinked hard as sweat dripped into his eyes. He knew he’d heard something, but now he wondered if the combination of his weariness and the ever-present threat of treachery toyed with his mind. He’d never been a paranoid man, but as he stood looking out from the western side of Windust Castle, over the deep, round Barrier Bay, sheltered on three sides by high cliffs, he heard nothing but the gentle lap of the waves against the strong, gray ironstone that made up so much of Windwake. On a clear day, Duncan could see almost to the southern shore of Lockhaven from this balcony, but the gloom of the night and the chill mist rising from the water restricted his vision to the dozens of ships huddled close to the shore, bobbing gently on the calm tide.
“You should be more careful.”
Duncan started and turned toward the low, velvety voice. He scanned the shadows but couldn’t locate the speaker. Then, at the opposite end of the terrace, a sliver of shade separated from the wall, and a lithe silhouette tiptoed along the thin, stone railing before leaping down in front of Duncan without even disturbing the leaves. His boots met the stone silently, and the leather armor he wore didn’t even creak or rustle.
Duncan blew out an extended breath and lowered his weapon. “Goddesses, Sasha. Why must you sneak around like that? I could have cut you in two before I recognized you.”
Sasha answered with a sensuous laugh devoid of any genuine amusement. “I don’t think you could have.”
“Perhaps not,” Duncan conceded, his happiness at his lover’s return trumping his slight annoyance. Besides, he knew Sasha spoke not out of arrogance but simply stated the truth. Sasha had been trained by a cult of assassins so legendary and feared most doubted they even existed. The Order of the Crimson Scythe held mythical status throughout Selindria and Gaeltheon, and Duncan had witnessed Sasha’s lethal skill on more than one occasion. If he’d been inclined, Sasha could have cut Duncan’s throat while Duncan stood watching the boats like a dull-witted child.
Sasha’s training was also responsible for what Duncan saw when he stepped closer to his partner: a face that, while exotically beautiful, betrayed no hint of emotion. Shrewd, black eyes offered no clue of the intentions behind them. Though they hadn’t seen each other in weeks, Duncan looked into the cold face of a killer, not the warm smile of a lover. He tried, unsuccessfully, to staunch the hurt by reminding himself Sasha had been taught almost since birth not to feel love or attachment, let alone show evidence of what he’d been told was weakness.