Today, we have the character A'Yen from The King's Mistress for an interrogation...I mean interview.
A’yen: Wait. Where am I? Rachel, did you send me back to Liza the nut?
Rachel: I did. But it’s okay! Promise.
A’yen: I’m not sure I believe you… You always tell me it’s going to work out okay then put me through the ringer and leave me half-dead. This time you let me get shot! And you made Fae mad at me.
Rachel: If things get out of hand, tell Ro to melt her brain.
Liza: What? Hold on!
A’yen: I guess that’ll do. All right, Liza. I’ll play along. But my bodyguard is watching you! And his morals are questionable on a good day.
Liza: Great! Let's start out with something non-lethal to me. Do you like it you job?
A’yen: I’m a holographic cartographer. Computers are great, but they can only do so much. I love it. I also found out I’m destined to be king. Not so keen on that one, but I don’t have much choice.
To quote my dad about it, being a slave isn’t my identity. It’s my status. I don’t let people push me around and I’m not afraid to make waves. Though in this book, The King’s Mistress, I have to re-learn the lesson about the importance of being myself at all times.
Liza: Do you have someone you like?
A’yen: Yeah. I like her so much I married her. Love her, in fact. I’d give my life for her.
Liza: Tell me more about her...for example, her name.
A’yen: She’s an archaeologist. She grew up hearing the stories of my people and believed with all her heart they were real. So she decided to prove it. She found our homeworld, and now we’re fighting to get it back. To find out how she found it you’ll have to read our first book, My Name Is A’yen.
She’s my other half and perfect match. Her name, Farran, means adventurous, and it’s exactly who and what she is. I wouldn’t change anything about her.
Liza: If you could change the universe what would you alter?
A’yen: I’d go back and stop the Marcasians from enslaving us. No one should have the power to enslave a whole species, let alone be allowed to get away with it. It’d also make my life a hell of a lot easier and mean I’d have had a whole family growing up.
A family is what I’ve always wanted, and I’ll do anything to keep them safe.
Liza: What is your purpose or goal in life?
A’yen: Before The King’s Mistress it was to keep my owner safe. Now my purpose is to lead my people into freedom and do the hard work of making sure we don’t lose it again.
My personal goal is to have as many kids as possible and make sure they never have to wonder who their dad is and if he loves them.
Liza: What is the stupidest thing your author has made you do?
A’yen: I could almost write a book about that. But the one that stands out the most is when I broke just about every slave law in existence in the Marcasian Empire. I made eye contact with the emperor, which was forbidden.
I also once told a territorial governor’s wife to get her hands out of my pants and off my ass or I was going to break her fingers. In my defense, I didn’t know she was the governor’s wife. But it wouldn’t have changed my reaction. Nobody touches me without my permission.
My best friend still laughs at me about it. Not with me. At me. What else are best friends for?
Liza: What's the best thing your author made you do?
A’yen: Trust Fae. She’s the other half of my soul. She helped me heal from the worst year of my life and made me believe I could love again.
My author also gave me Ro. Being around him makes me feel like a shining example of a whole person. I do better when I have someone to protect and care about. He may be my bodyguard, but he also needs me as a person. He’s had a lot happen to him, and none of it’s good.
Liza: What’s the worst thing your author made you do?
A’yen: Did she tell you to ask this? I bet she did. On that basis I refuse to answer. Read the books.
Rachel: Play nice, A’yen, or I’ll write you into REAL trouble.
A’yen: I’m a king. You can’t tell me what to do.
Rachel: **sigh** If only the statement wasn’t so true…
Liza: Let's try this...What’s the craziest thing you’ve done to your author?
A’yen: Ha! Now I can get you back, Rachel. I had to argue with her to convince her she was spelling my name wrong. We went round and round for an hour about it. I won.
Liza: I don't envy you, Rachel. This character is a handful.
A'yen, can you tell us about the new book in your series, The King’s Mistress.
Freedom has a cost. Can A’yen pay it without losing his soul?
(A’yen: Talking about myself in third person is weird, just so you know. One could question your sanity for making me do it.)
Liberation of the enslaved Lokmane begins with the king. A’yen and Fae agree to visit the Hidden, a group of escaped Lokmane, to protect his identity while the Shadows make their move with emancipation acts. But he's not prepared for the prejudice rampant in the Hidden, or their lack of patience for him. And his new linked bodyguard is unstable to the point A'yen fears for the young man's sanity.
Upon returning to Titan, A'yen is kidnapped and taken to the largest breeding farm in the galaxy. This time he'll be himself even if it kills him. His resolve to unite his people grows as he wonders if he'll live long enough to do it.
With A'yen kidnapped, Fae returns to the Lokmane homeworld seeking the final pieces of what happened two thousand years ago when they were conquered and enslaved. Getting as far away from her father as possible is the only way to keep her from disappearing too.
Separated by light years, A'yen and Fae have to stand alone and fight for their right to live in freedom. No matter the cost.
A'yen: Here’s an excerpt, with a glimpse at one of the new characters.
A’yen motioned toward the kitchen. “Thirsty?”
Ro nodded again. Followed him through the hall. A’yen made another mug of tea and started more coffee for Fae. Ro looked around the kitchen and moved to stand with his back to the wall. The way he walked, the way he hugged himself, the way he didn’t take his jacket off, all screamed his fear. Fear A’yen didn’t understand. “What do you want to drink?” He paused at the cabinet holding all the glasses and mugs and removed a tall glass. “Name it and Fae probably has it stashed somewhere.”
A’yen quirked an eyebrow. “Do you want anything in it?”
Ro bit his lip. Released his death grip on himself. “Strawberries?”
“Crushed, sliced, or whole?” A’yen moved to the cooling unit and pulled open the drawer Fae kept filled with berries of all kinds, one of her favorite snacks.
“Sure.” He grabbed a handful of berries, closed the door, dropped the berries in the glass, and crushed them with a spoon. Filled it with cool water and gave it to Ro. He took it without touching A’yen’s fingers and took a long sip from it.
The corners of Ro’s mouth twitched. “Thanks.” He left the wall for the puddle of sunshine by the table, set his glass down, and removed his jacket. Long sleeves hid his markings, until he rolled them up to his elbows. Dark blue braided lines with points resembling thorns. Fitting, since they caused so much pain.
The coffee finished. A’yen pulled the carafe out to pour a cup for Fae. He’d never developed a taste for it, but the scent was nice. He twisted the lid off. A second later Ro’s glass shattered on the floor. Ro backed into the nearest corner, eyes wide and chest heaving, hands in fists and trembling from head to toe.
A’yen abandoned the carafe and went to Ro. Something about the look in his eyes said he wasn’t seeing Fae’s kitchen. He brushed his hand down Ro’s arm. Ro tensed. “Don’t touch me.” He shoved past A’yen and ran. A second later feet pounded up the stairs.
Where to buy The King’s Mistress:
Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Rachel_Leigh_Smith_The_King_s_Mistress?id=caW5BQAAQBAJ
Rachel Leigh Smith writes romance for the hero lover. She lives in central Louisiana with her family and a half-crazed calico. When not writing, which isn't often, she's hanging with her family, doing counted cross-stitch, or yakking about life, the universe, and everything with her besties. There may also be Netflix binging...
She's a member of the Science Fiction Romance Brigade and Romance Writers of America. She blogs sporadically at www.rachelleighsmith.com, hangs out on Facebook at www.facebook.com/RachelLeighSmithAuthor, and can sometimes be found on Twitter.com/rachelleighgeek. You can sign up for her newsletter here.