I’d like to thank Dawn’s Reading Nook for giving me the opportunity to talk about my new book, Nightshade, available from NineStar Press. It’s taken a while for this novel to develop into what it is now, and these characters have been on my mind for a few years. They’ve finally matured in this novel, ripe with fantasy, adventure, and complicated emotional struggles. I think there is a lot here to relate to, and I’m excited to share their story with you.
The main character, Eleanor Reed, has grown up with a determination to prove that she’s more than just a water mage with an affinity for healing. So when an opportunity arises for her to show off her skills and infiltrate the city’s infamous thieves’ guild, the Nightshade Brotherhood, she volunteers wholeheartedly. She expects to be thrown into a world of mystery and intrigue, with danger at every turn. What she doesn’t expect is to find love, too.
That's where Cassandra comes in. Eleanor doesn't know much about her, except that she's beautiful, mysterious, and somehow connected to the higher-ups in the Brotherhood. For the sake of the mission, Eleanor decides to get closer with Cassandra. But there’s a fine line between getting to know your enemy and sympathizing with them, and Eleanor is drawing closer to that line every day.
Publisher: NineStar Press
Release Date: November 23, 2015
Genre: Lesbian, Fantasy, Romance
Tags: Literary Romance, Fantasy, Thieves
Length: Super Novel
Purchase Links: http://ninestarpress.com/product/nightshade-brooke-radley/
Eleanor Reed spent most of her life at the Darten Academy, trading her childhood for an education in magic. When the King’s Council comes to her with a mission, she jumps at the opportunity for adventure. The assignment is deceptively simple: infiltrate the Nightshade Brotherhood, the city’s infamous thieves’ guild, and confirm their responsibility for the recent emergence of a hallucinogenic drug.
Unfortunately for her, the Brotherhood hates mages. If they catch Eleanor, they’ll slit her throat and toss her in the ocean.
Hiding her identity proves to be an impossible task. Cassandra, a thief as beautiful as she is dangerous, sees Eleanor cast a spell during her trial for the Brotherhood. Rather than kill her, Cassandra offers her a position in the guild. Cassandra holds the key to success for Eleanor—but is she after something more?
Under Cassandra’s tutelage, Eleanor discovers that the Brotherhood isn’t quite what it seems to be, and the ever-growing drug problem is more complicated than originally anticipated. Whoever is at fault will stop at nothing to get what they want.
Things go from bad to worse when Eleanor realizes her growing passion for Cassandra. Will Eleanor be able to decide where her loyalties lie before it’s too late?
The stranger introduced herself as Cassandra. With a sinking feeling, Eleanor knew regardless of how bad an idea it was to call attention to herself, she couldn’t help it. This woman had an inexplicable draw to her and Eleanor was caught in her trap.
She managed to introduce herself to Cassandra without further embarrassment. Just as Toby instructed, she only used her first name. She wasn’t sure if Cassandra had meant to do the same thing, but the other woman didn’t seem bothered by the impolite introduction.
While Cassandra ordered a drink from the innkeeper, Eleanor studied her profile. She had blonde hair, something unusual in the city. It was long, too—longer than Eleanor’s—and tied into a loose ponytail that fell well beyond her shoulders. As soon as the innkeeper left with Cassandra’s order, she turned back to Eleanor. “So what brings you to this part of Darten City?” she asked. The question was innocent enough, but Eleanor couldn’t help but wonder if it was a good idea to talk to Cassandra, much less anyone else at the bar. At least she would blend in better if she were engaged in conversation; she’d been quiet and alone in a dark corner for too long. Cassandra was as good a cover as any, she reasoned.
“I recently moved to the area,” Eleanor said. Cassandra looked intrigued. “Is this your first time living in the city?” Eleanor thought back to the cover story she and Ben had come up with. It had been a brief conversation, but at least it gave her something to go off of when he returned. “Yes,” she said. Then, hesitating, she added, “My fiancé and I came here for a better life. He found work at the shipyard.”
Cassandra’s face became unreadable. Had Eleanor done something wrong? But then Cassandra smiled. “That’s great! A lot of people come here expecting the worst—overcrowding, steep rent, not enough jobs to go around—but there are so many wonderful opportunities in the city, ones you can’t find anywhere else. You just need to know how to find them. How long have you been here?”
She and Ben hadn’t discussed their timeline, so Eleanor improvised. “Not even a week. We’re from a small village south of here and it’s rare to find someone coming all the way to Darten City who isn’t taking the main road. We got very lucky to find a trader to travel with.”
That seemed to appease Cassandra’s curiosity, and for a minute there was a lull in the conversation. Eleanor fought the urge to turn and look at the stairwell. That was, until Cassandra asked, “Is your fiancé still working? I hear the hours at the shipyard are bad for newcomers.”
“It’s our anniversary,” Eleanor said, this time remembering to use their cover story. Cassandra’s brow slanted in confusion and Eleanor realized she’d spoken aloud. “He’s upstairs,” she hastened to explain. “He wanted to do something romantic— candles, flowers, you know.” Cassandra nodded. This was the perfect opportunity to leave and check on Ben. He was probably fine, but this conversation was becoming personal fast and Eleanor wasn’t sure how many more questions she could answer by lying through her teeth. “As a matter of fact, I really should go see how he’s doing.”
Cassandra’s polite smile faltered for a split second, and Eleanor was sure she would have missed it if she had so much as blinked. The whole situation confused her, but she couldn’t dwell on it right now, not with the uncertain status of the mission looming over her. Cassandra’s voice was gentle as she said, “Of course. I wouldn’t want to keep you from enjoying your evening.”
“Thank you,” Eleanor said as she stood. She couldn’t help but glance at Cassandra one last time. Their eyes met, and Cassandra gave her a soft smile.
“It was a pleasure to meet you, Eleanor.” Cassandra tipped her mug in Eleanor’s direction. “If you ever need someone to show you around the city, I would be more than willing.”
Brooke Radley is an office manager who lives in southeastern Virginia. She has a degree in English from Virginia Tech. When she’s not writing, she’s either reading or spending time with her two dogs. You can visit her at www.brookeradley.com.
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