Author: Jeffe Kennedy
Release Date: February 25, 2021
Series: Bonds of Magic #1
Genre: Fantasy Romance
The proctor approached the desk and set down an elaborately decorated wooden tabernacle, like a small cabinet, inlaid with metal foil and arcane runes. The ancient, incredibly potent magic that oozed off of it made Gabriel’s skin crawl, and he fought the urge to scoot his chair farther away from it. What in the dark arts was in that thing?
“Never seen an oracle tabernacle before, Lord Phel?” the proctor inquired. She made a tsking sound. “But I forget, you don’t have a formal education. Pity.” Gabriel ignored her pointed remark—far from the first or the rudest insult he’d heard. “The Convocation will handle this, Lord Elal,” she continued. “I would have been on the case earlier, had I been immediately notified, as I should have been according to protocol.” She held up a hand as Lord Elal opened his mouth. “Regardless, I have been alerted and, I, as the Convocation proctor assigned to this case and as an objective observer, will lead the inquiry.”
“Now, see here—” Lord Elal said, rising from his chair, a swirl of spirits taking shape in the air around him.
The proctor pointed a finger at him. “Stand down, Lord Elal,” she commanded, “or you will receive even more severe sanctions than you already face. This is a Convocation inquiry, and you are a suspect.”
“What?” Aghast, seeming staggered by that, Lord Elal sank into his chair. “You can’t think that—”
“Can’t I?” the proctor returned coolly, making it very clear she could—and did. “Lord Phel here is hardly the ideal son-in-law and ally, not for a High House like Elal. No insult intended, Lord Phel. I’m sure you understand.”
Gabriel swallowed a reply along with a sip of brandy, keeping a wary eye on the tabernacle. Oracle tabernacle—where had he read about that?
“There are other incriminating indicators, Lord Elal,” the proctor said, her fingers working an incantation pattern over the tabernacle’s locked doors. They looked like the entrance to a castle, two of them, arched to meet in the middle, with detailed latches. “Lady Veronica, while an exceptionally well-trained familiar—as all of our Convocation Academy graduates are—is also a naïve and sheltered young woman. Living here, in the lap of luxury…” The proctor glanced around the lavishly appointed room with a thin-lipped expression of contempt, and possibly envy. “Lady Veronica is soft, sheltered, and blissfully unequipped to cope with the greater world. She could not possibly have executed an escape on her own.”
“We don’t know that she—” Lord Elal burst out.
“I know,” the proctor interrupted in a repressive tone, “and so does the Oracle. Observe.” She opened the doors of the cabinet, not with the dramatic flourish Gabriel expected, but with meticulous care. Fascinated despite his intuitive horror, he sat up to look. It seemed to be a sculpture of a human head, the skin made from leather, though from an unlovely, rough-cured variety. The lips were thin and colorless, no hair on the smooth scalp, eyebrows made of delicately etched gold. Its eyelids had been inlaid with lapis outlined in gold leaf, and—had it moved? Surely not.
He leaned closer.
It opened its eyes—and he threw himself back in the chair.
About the Book:
Lord Gabriel Phel wants one thing: to restore his shattered House to its former station in the Convocation’s complex and arcane society. Fortunately, through a wild chance of birth, he was born with the magic of a powerful wizard, the first in his family in generations. If he can obtain a familiar to supplement his skills, ideally one who is a highborn daughter who can also be his lady wife, then he’ll be that much closer to restoring House Phel. And to exacting his ultimate revenge on the Convocation that destroyed his family.
Lady Veronica Elal doesn’t have many choices. To her bitter disappointment, she will never be the powerful wizard she and her father hoped she’d be. Instead Nic is doomed to be a familiar like her mother, a second-class citizen in the Convocation, and one destined to be bonded to a wizard, serving his purposes for the rest of her life. Her one hope lies in entering the Betrothal Trials—and choosing a wizard from the Convocation candidates that she can manipulate. Whichever one of her suitors impregnates her will claim her as familiar and wife, and she can use her wiles to rule her wizard master, and the House she marries into.
But Gabriel throws a wrench into Nic’s careful scheming, by seducing and fascinating her. When she finds she’s pregnant by the rogue wizard she can never hope to control, Nic does the unthinkable: she runs.
About the Author:
Jeffe Kennedy is an award-winning author whose works include novels, non-fiction, poetry, and short fiction. She has won the prestigious RITA® Award from Romance Writers of America (RWA), has been a finalist twice, been a Ucross Foundation Fellow, received the Wyoming Arts Council Fellowship for Poetry, and was awarded a Frank Nelson Doubleday Memorial Award. She serves on the Board of Directors for the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) as a Director at Large.
Her award-winning fantasy romance trilogy The Twelve Kingdoms hit the shelves starting in May 2014. Book 1, The Mark of the Tala, received a starred Library Journal review and was nominated for the RT Book of the Year while the sequel, The Tears of the Rose received a Top Pick Gold and was nominated for the RT Reviewers’ Choice Best Fantasy Romance of 2014. The third book, The Talon of the Hawk, won the RT Reviewers’ Choice Best Fantasy Romance of 2015. Two more books followed in this world, beginning the spin-off series The Uncharted Realms. Book one in that series, The Pages of the Mind, was nominated for the RT Reviewer’s Choice Best Fantasy Romance of 2016 and won RWA’s 2017 RITA Award. The second book, The Edge of the Blade, released December 27, 2016, and was a PRISM finalist, along with The Pages of the Mind. The final novel in the series, The Fate of the Tala, released in February 2020, along with a short novel epilogue, The Lost Princess Returns. A high fantasy trilogy, The Chronicles of Dasnaria, taking place in The Twelve Kingdoms world began releasing from Rebel Base books in 2018. The novella, The Dragons of Summer, first appearing in the Seasons of Sorcery anthology, finaled for the 2019 RITA Award.
Kennedy also introduced a new fantasy romance series, Sorcerous Moons, which includes Lonen’s War, Oria’s Gambit, The Tides of Bàra, The Forests of Dru, Oria’s Enchantment, and Lonen’s Reign. And she released a contemporary erotic romance series, Missed Connections, which started with Last Dance and continues in With a Prince and Since Last Christmas.
In September 2019, St. Martins Press released The Orchid Throne, the first book in a new romantic fantasy series, The Forgotten Empires. The sequel, The Fiery Crown, followed in May 2020, and culminates in The Promised Queen in 2021.
Kennedy’s other works include a number of fiction series: the fantasy romance novels of A Covenant of Thorns; the contemporary BDSM novellas of the Facets of Passion; an erotic contemporary serial novel, Master of the Opera; and the erotic romance trilogy, Falling Under, which includes Going Under, Under His Touch and Under Contract.
She lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico, with two Maine coon cats, plentiful free-range lizards and a very handsome Doctor of Oriental Medicine.
Jeffe can be found online at her website: JeffeKennedy.com, every Sunday at the popular SFF Seven blog, on Facebook, on Goodreads and pretty much constantly on Twitter @jeffekennedy. She is represented by Sarah Younger of Nancy Yost Literary Agency.