Dark demons, an underworld parallel to our own and a warrior queen reincarnated, it’s time to for Braving Fate by Linsey Hall.
As chaos looms, a warrior queen is reborn
Bookish academic Diana Laughton has been having terrible dreams. Dreams of battle, dreams of blood… dreams so vivid she’s living them day and night. When demons invade her quiet life, she wonders if she’s going mad. Or if perhaps she’s remembering a past life she had no idea existed…
In the midst of betrayal, he must protect her
Mythean Guardian Cadan Trinovante loved and betrayed Britain’s warrior queen Boudica two millennia ago. Now he’s tasked with protecting mortals whose lives affect the fate of humanity. His latest assignment is Boudica herself, reincarnated as a woman with no idea of her past or her fated future. Though in the irresistible form of Diana Laughton, it’s possible Cadan has once again met his match…
To succumb to seduction could prove fatal
Thrown together in a shadowy world that exists alongside our own, Diana and Cadan must fight not only the demonic forces that want Diana dead, but a past and a passion that have lasted centuries. Their desire could be deadly. But as evil from the underworld unites against them, their only hope could be each other.
Braving Fate Excerpt
Central England, AD 60, eve of the Roman conquest of Britain
The woman he loved lay dying in his arms. Blood spilled over her breast, trickling from the dagger she’d sunk into her chest. Drops of blood hitting the dirt floor of the stone roundhouse echoed hollowly in his ears, amplified by the dawning knowledge of what he’d done. What she’d done. What they’d done.
“Why, Boudica?” His heart and voice were breaking. “Why do this?”
She shuddered in his arms, her broken body cold and fragile with looming death, but no less fierce than when she’d fought on the field of battle the previous dawn. She was their warrior queen, the force that had drawn thousands of British Celts together to revolt against Roman occupation, and he her top general.
She was his love. The one bright spot in the miserable spectacle of blood and death his life had become.
Boudica drew a harsh breath that rattled in her wounded chest and glared at him, her eyes alight with hatred.
“Why?” It was clear she would have screamed it if she could. Another faltering breath. “After your betrayal, you ask me why?”
“Betrayal? I did it for you.”
Her bitter laugh died on a cough. “I thought you knew me. I was wrong. You only know what you think me to be. I’m a warrior, the leader and symbol of our beaten land. I led my people in battle for our lives, our homes, our freedom.” She paused to catch her breath. “But we’ve lost. Irreparably.”
His jaw clenched, his chest aching with the weight of their past and his future. For she would die this night, her future forever erased. Because of him. Because he hadn’t been able to protect her. As he hadn’t protected his village and family before he’d joined her.
“The Roman dogs are at our door.” She coughed. “My daughters dead at their hands. Our lands stolen. Why would I live when capture is inevitable and my very life will be used as leverage? My head will be on a pike in Rome before summer’s end. More likely, they’ll use me against our people.” She raked him with a scathing glance and coughed again. Blood marred her colorless lips. “What would you do, O great warrior?”
“The same.” His throat burned. Capture was inevitable. And unbearable. Now, with the final battle lost and thousands of their families and allies dying in the fields around them, the fate that awaited her at the hands of the Romans would be worse than death, not only for her, but very likely for her people as well.
He’d tried to save her from this, but she hadn’t let him. He would have committed any deed, no matter how terrible, to save the woman who’d changed his life when he’d met her a year ago. But Boudica was a warrior first, his woman second. And she would die believing he had betrayed her.
She coughed, her pallor more pronounced. “And yet you would deny me my honorable death?”
“I love you. I’d do anything to save you.”
“And I thought I loved you,” she whispered. And as her eyes closed, the enormous life force that had propelled Boudica, Celtic Queen of the Iceni, evaporated.
The crushing weight of grief squeezed the breath out of his lungs. Collapsing over her, the black night swallowed his roar of pain. He would have vengeance.
Cadan Trinovante jerked awake, the sheets tangled in his fists. He ignored the vibrating phone that had awakened him from the nightmare and stared at the wide wooden rafters supporting the ceiling above him, struggling to catch his breath. Of all the memories that had faded in his two thousand years of life, the memory of Boudica’s death was the one that never had.
Guilt tugged at him and he reached for the phone.
“Cadan,” he said as he glanced at the clock on the bedside table. The gleam of Edinburgh’s streetlights shone on hands pointing toward one a.m. The yells of revelers stumbling from pub to pub filtered in through the open window.
“Cadan, it’s Warren.”
Cadan merely grunted in response and walked to the window. He listened with half an ear as he stared out at the gothic spires of Edinburgh’s churches and the soot-blackened stone of the surrounding buildings. They rose tall and narrow, pressed cheek by jowl on either side of the sloping cobblestones of the city’s oldest street. Cadan shut out the cool night air and the sound of fading revelry.
“You’ve a new assignment,” Warren said. “Can you be here in an hour?”
Finally. He needed something to keep his mind off the past. The damn dreams had been hounding him more often lately and he was ready to forget, to slip back into work.
“Aye, I’ll see you by two,” he said.
Damn it. He could still hear the revelers below. Living for so long was wearying, but listening to others take such joy in life was just salt in the wound.
In less than an hour, he strode through the great iron-sheathed wooden doors of a building on the campus of the Immortal University. The eyes of the eerie stone gargoyles who guarded the entrance followed him as he entered the cool halls of the Praesidium, named over a thousand years ago when Latin was still the language of education.
Fucking Latin. Fucking Romans.
He dragged a hand through his hair. The short drive to the outskirts of Edinburgh where the university was located hadn’t fully banished his dreams.
His footsteps were soundless on the marble floor of the wide, familiar hallway. It was a habit he’d never broken, though there was no need for stealth here. Terrible, unforgivable things happened when you let your guard down. But this was the safest place for a Mythean in Edinburgh since it was hidden from the prying eyes of mortals, who shouldn’t know of the existence of the supernatural beings who walked among them.
He pushed open the old oak door at the end of the hall and entered his friend’s office, a book-filled room lit by a small fire that smelled of autumn. Warren looked up from his cluttered desk and leaned back in his chair.
“Cadan, thanks for coming in so early.”
“No’ a problem,” Cadan said. He sank into an old leather chair across from Warren’s desk. “Who’s it this time?”
As one of the few Mythean Guardians in the world, it had been Cadan’s responsibility for nearly two millennia to protect those mortal or supernatural beings deemed important to the fate of humanity.
Warren glanced down at a rumpled piece of paper. “Looks like a Celtic warrior.”
Interesting—a man who’d been alive for as long as he. “Why’s the bloke need protecting if he’s made it this long? Destiny just revealed to him?”
And why haven’t I met him before? Though he didn’t get out much, Cadan knew, or knew of, nearly all the Mytheans in Great Britain. The ones who hadn’t gone rogue, at least.
“Well, that’s where it gets a little strange. The warrior hasn’t been alive. The soul has just been reborn.”
“A reincarnate? They’re damn rare. Doona think I’ve ever actually met one.”
“It doesn’t happen very often,” Warren said, picking up the Slinky on his desk and fiddling with it.
Why wouldn’t Warren meet his eyes? The claws of nerves crawled up Cadan’s back, little pinpricks sinking into his skin that wouldn’t shake loose. It took him off guard; he hadn’t felt that in centuries.
“I’ve spoken briefly to Aerten about it.” Warren finally glanced at him, but looked away almost immediately.
“What does the goddess of fate have to say about it?” He hadn’t seen her in ages. Hell, he’d only seen her a few times since she’d offered him a spot in the Praesidium. Whether he should thank her or curse her was something he hadn’t figured out yet.
“That only select souls are reborn. Those who were so strong in life that their souls never left this plane.” Warren set the Slinky down. “Their souls wait in stasis until humanity needs them. At that point, they’re brought back to perform a task that only they can accomplish.”
“So, I’m going to be protecting a child who will save the world?” A cold sweat broke out on his skin. Killing and guarding adults—no’ a problem. But dealing with children was something he was entirely unqualified for after being alone for two thousand years. Fuck, what a mess.
“No’ exactly,” Warren hedged. “Apparently with Druidic reincarnation, the soul is reborn in another person, but the person doesn’t become conscious of their previous life until they reach the approximate age at which they died originally.”
“Shite, they develop split personalities?”
“Ah, no’ exactly.” He paused, seemingly unaware that he’d grabbed the Slinky again and was juggling it faster and faster. “They doona survive that long. Once they remember who they are and complete their fated task, they die.”
“Die? That’s some shite luck.”
“Aye. The tragedy that took the soul too early the first time follows it. History is destined to repeat itself, after all. You need to protect the reincarnate until the fated task is complete, longer if you can.”
That would be a challenge, but then, he liked a challenge. “Do we know what this guy’s task will be, once he regains his memory? And where is he, anyway?”
“Doona know the task, but Aerten has prophesied that a catalyzing event will spur the memory of the reincarnate and lead them to Arthur’s Seat, likely today or tomorrow. That’s where you’ll meet.” Warren hesitated before continuing, finally meeting Cadan’s eyes. “And the warrior isn’t a man.”
Cadan’s breath stuck in his throat and a chill broke out on his skin. Nay, it couldn’t be. “Who is it, Warren?”
Linsey Hall is the author of the Mythean Arcana, a sexy paranormal romance series. Before becoming a romance novelist, Linsey was an underwater archaeologist who studied shipwrecks in all kinds of water, from the tropics to muddy rivers (and she has a distinct preference for one over the other). Her books draw upon her love of history, travel, and the paranormal elements that she can’t help but include. Several of her books may or may not feature her cats.
Author Email: LinseyHallAuthor@gmail.com