Fantastic Fables continues today with a spin on Cinderella. Amy Raby’s debut novel, Assassin’s Gambit, is a fantasy/paranormal romance featuring the assassin Vitala. The first novel in the Hearts and Thrones series releases today, April 2, 2013.
One lucky reader will win a copy of Assassin’s Gambit. A huge thanks to Penguin books for today’s giveaway!
Vitala sat alone by the campfire, sipping a mug of spiced wine to calm her nerves. The emperor had returned to his tent to confer with his advisors. When he was finished with them, he would summon her for a liaison. And she would kill him, as she’d been trained to do.
A white bird fluttered down from the sky and lit on the chair next to hers. “If you want to impress the emperor,” it said, “you’ll need a nicer dress.”
Vitala stared at the bird. She couldn’t tell what species it was. Perhaps some sort of dove, only larger. Its wings glittered as if made of starlight. “I didn’t think I’d had this much to drink.”
“I’m your fairy godmother,” said the bird.
“You don’t look like a fairy godmother.” Although, in truth, she had no idea what a fairy godmother was supposed to look like.
“I take many forms,” said the bird. “This is one of my favorites. But in other tales I’ve appeared as an old woman, a fish, an eagle, and a crab. For thousands of years, throughout all the world, I have aided worthy young women whose families neglected or oppressed them.”
Vitala’s eyes narrowed. “Is that what you do?”
The bird chirped its assent. “I am ready to help you win your emperor with a pretty dress!”
“Where were you fifteen years ago?” asked Vitala. “When I was the only dark-haired girl in my village and the other children threw rocks at me?”
“Well—” began the bird.
“Where were you a dozen years ago, when my stepfather, sick of the expense of keeping and feeding me, sold me to a resistance group?”
The bird fluttered anxiously on its perch. “Uh, at that time—”
“Where were you when they made me into what I am, an assassin who seduces and kills important men? Where were you when they forced me to kill bound men, imprisoned men, again and again, to make sure I wouldn’t waver when it was time to strike the final blow?” asked Vitala. “Where were you when the ghosts of those dead men took up residence in my head such that I can never exorcise them?”
“I do not come to girls in their childhood,” said the bird. “I come when they are ready to meet their prince.”
Vitala gave a harsh laugh. “You’re too late. I want no prince, and deserve none.”
“Your prince is the Emperor of Kjall,” said the bird. “A handsome fellow! And he likes you.”
“He does not know me,” said Vitala. “I am here not to win him, but to kill him.”
The bird jumped from its perch, flapping its wings in distress. “You mustn’t do that! Let me give you a pretty dress—”
“It’s too late for pretty dresses,” said Vitala. “If you’d come when I was a young girl, I’d have welcomed you. But nobody rescued me. No one will ever help me unless I help myself first. Nobody will stand up for me unless I stand up for myself. I’ve come a long way, and I did it without a fairy godmother.”
“But it’s time for your happy ending!” chirped the bird.
“It isn’t.” Vitala drained the last of her spiced wine and set the mug down in the ashes of the campfire. She stood. “If there’s a happy ending for me, I’ll earn it myself. It won’t be given to me by any fairy godmother. In fact…” She squinted at the bird. “I’m pretty sure you don’t exist.”
The white bird disappeared in a puff of smoke.
Vitala headed toward the officers’ tents. She had an emperor to assassinate.
I’m literally a product of the U.S. space program since my parents, both computer programmers, met while working for NASA on the Apollo missions. Later, they moved the family to Austin, where I grew up hunting lizards and crawdads in the Texas hill country, reading everything I could get my hands on, and learning how to program our first computer, a TI99/4A.
I dreamed of working for Origin Systems, a game company located nearby, so in college I majored in Computer Science, and then I called up Origin and asked them if they offered summer internships. They didn’t, so I asked what skills they were looking for in their new hires. They said they wanted Windows experience.
I figured, what better place to get Windows experience than Microsoft? So I flew to Seattle for an internship with Microsoft’s electronic publishing department… and I essentially never left Seattle. I transferred to the University of Washington to finish my degree, and continued working for Microsoft until my kids were born and I left to take care of them.
I had been writing as a hobby all this time–stories, journals, essays–and with more time available, I started writing full-length novels. I wrote a couple of fantasy novels. Then I discovered romance and fell in love with the genre. I wrote Assassin’s Gambit, a fantasy romance novel. It won the 2010 Emerald City Opener and was named a 2011 Golden Heart® Finalist. I am thrilled to be represented by Alexandra Machinist of Janklow & Nesbit.
I have several works in progress, including several novels and novellas in the Hearts and Thrones series. I also have a fantasy/romance/mystery novel, nearly finished but not quite, entitled Flood and Fire, which won the 2012 Daphne du Maurier award. I’m heavily involved with my kids and their activities, and I’m an animal lover who spent years riding and showing horses, and training dogs. These days, I have a disabled Golden Retriever, and I run a pedigree and genetic information site for dog breeders. I also keep two rosy boas. I ride dressage horses but do not own one (wish I did!).
I still read everything I can get my hands on.
Want to read more from Amy Raby?
This giveaway is provided by Penguin Books!
One lucky reader will win a copy of Assassin’s Gambit by Amy Raby
Available April 2, 2013 from Signet/Penguin
About this Book:
Vitala Salonius, champion of the warlike game of Caturanga, is as deadly as she is beautiful. She’s a trained assassin for the resistance, and her true play is for ultimate power. Using her charm and wit, she plans to seduce her way into the emperor’s bed and deal him one final, fatal blow, sparking a battle of succession that could change the face of the empire.
As the ruler of a country on the brink of war and the son of a deposed emperor, Lucien must constantly be wary of an attempt on his life. But he’s drawn to the stunning Caturanga player visiting the palace. Vitala may be able to distract him from his woes for a while—and fulfill other needs, as well.
Lucien’s quick mind and considerable skills awaken unexpected desires in Vitala, weakening her resolve to finish her mission. An assassin cannot fall for her prey, but Vitala’s gut is telling her to protect this sexy, sensitive man. Now she must decide where her heart and loyalties lie and navigate the dangerous war of politics before her gambit causes her to lose both Lucien and her heart for good.
Click HERE to read an excerpt
You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.