I am so pleased to share this stunning EPIC romantic fantasy novel with you today! Read on for details, an exclusive excerpt to read, and a chance to win a fantastic book box including a signed copy of Flame in the Palace!
Flame in the Palace (Lady of Avalion #1)
Publication Date: May 13, 2022
Genre: Fantasy Romance/ Romantasy/ Epic Fantasy
With her heritage shrouded in mystery and a future seemingly destined for obscurity, a young orphan is raised in her grandmother’s roadside inn. And though she loves her work tending tables, Myria yearns for more. She learns any magic she can from traveling mages, though this only serves to kindle her desire to break free from her mundane life.
When a chance visit to the inn provides an opportunity to learn the magic of the noble elite, Myria’s life changes. But to join the nobility and learn their mystical secrets, she must win the prince’s heart by the end of the summer and become the future Queen of Avalion.
Five noble ladies contend for the same prize over a season of ritualized competitions and formal events, and Myria is thrust into a world of glittering ballrooms, excessive wealth, and charming aristocrats.
But as she learns that the gleaming palaces of Avalion conceal nests of vipers, she must decide if joining them is a cost worth paying to unravel the mysteries of their magic. And the more she learns, the more she realizes there is a shadow hanging over the kingdom that cannot be dispelled merely by a Flame in the Palace.
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The minotaur reveals himself at the mouth of the cave. He is taller than any man she has seen, with the chest and arms of a human covered in dense fur. The bull shows in his cloven hooves, horned head, and elongated face. He must not have been asleep yet, as he watches her with alert and wary eyes. He is always careful. And she is careful to finish her music to the end of a major chord—careful to remain still for him.
When the last note fades, Myria lowers her flute and smiles.
“Hello there. I’m sorry. I know it is rather late. I hope you forgive me, but I brought some people who are keen to meet you.” She doesn’t know if he understands her, but she always speaks to him as if he can.
The minotaur raises his snout and sniffs the air before creeping to her. Myria remains still and waits for him to finish his inspection. Other humans have probably not been so kind to him as she, so she is patient with his trepidation. When his face is inches from hers, the minotaur stops and gazes at her. The anxious whispers of the men grow louder, distracting the minotaur. He snorts out a powerful breath with an uncertain grunt, blowing the hair out of her face. She senses the minotaur tensing in front of her, and her body coils like a spring.
She slowly reaches into her bag to break the tension and offers a peach. “Here,” she whispers, a slight tremble in her voice. “I know how much you like them.”
It is enough to refocus his attention. He is no longer cautious as he reaches for the fruit and bites into it eagerly. Myria breathes a sigh of relief and strokes his long snout.
“I am sorry for my rude friends. Can they come closer? I promise they won’t hurt you.”
The minotaur seems to consider her question for some time, chewing on his peach with his head cocked to the side. Then, amazingly, he nods.
The others draw near with less certainty than Myria. The minotaur’s ears flatten back, but he appears no more imposing than that as he waits for the men to approach.
Myria introduces each man by handing them a peach to give to the minotaur. “This is my cousin Geffrey, and his friends: Aryn, Emiri, and Leor.”
They stand in line, awaiting their turn to give their offering of peach as they gape at the towering minotaur. Myria steps back to provide them with space, crossing her arms and smiling at her handiwork. Emiri steps back with her as Geffrey hands his peach to the minotaur.
“Do you do this often?” he asks as he spins the peach in his hands.
“Do what?” she asks coyly.
“Make friends with dangerous, magical creatures,” he replies with a snort.
“No, the minotaur is the only one I know.”
“You know it’s crazy, right?” His spinning peach increases in speed. “Geffrey has us hunting a minotaur, and some barmaid takes us right to one, plays music for the beast, and feeds him peaches.”
Myria smirks, remembering his calloused hands. “Some barmaid? Is it as crazy as a commoner dressed up as a noble?”
Emiri chuckles, a husky sound that dissipates as he explains, “You are right; I am not a noble.”
“But you ride around with them searching for minotaurs? Do you do that often?” she points out, echoing his initial question.
“Looking for minotaurs? No. Ride around with them?” He gestures to the group before them, where Aryn is offering his peach. Emiri hesitates. “Yes, it happens occasionally.”
“How did you get so lucky?” Myria sighs.
Emiri tenses beside her. “I’m not sure if I would call it luck. How did you even know I was just a commoner?”
“I wouldn’t call you just a commoner, but if you must know, I saw your hands.” Myria reaches for one and holds it between the two of them. She traces the rough edges and lines with two fingers. “You have callouses, which means you’ve had to work hard in your life at some point. I have plenty of my own. Your friends don’t have any.”
Emiri says nothing about the sudden, forward gesture, and merely watches her. She maintains his piercing gaze with a shy smile. It is an expression that earns her many tips with the inn’s patrons, but that is not why she smiles now. The inn and minotaur are far from her mind as she puzzles out Emiri’s role among his noble friends.
“You never answered my question,” she points out.
“I—” Suddenly, a small gasp from the others cuts him off. Myria drops Emiri’s hand and races back to the minotaur, only to be greeted with a strange sight.
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About the Author
Seluna Drake (she/her) is a high school English teacher, author, poet, and artist. Most of the time she passes as a chaotic creative who spends way too much time on video games and not enough time talking to her therapist. She also considers herself a witch, INFP, and an advocate for youth and marginalized voices. You can find her primarily on Twitter: @SelunaDrake.
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