Saturday, January 07, 2012

State of Affairs by Dany Sirene

State of Affairs
by Dany Sirene

Cover art: Reneé George
ISBN: 978-1-60521-756-7
Genre(s): Dark Fantasy
Theme(s): Ménage, Elves, Dragons & Magical Creatures, Gay and Lesbian
Length: Novella
Page Count: 63

Jade Harron has been tapped for a very delicate mission. Twin kingdoms, at war for ages, only have one chance at alliance: union by marriage. But someone doesn't want the warring kingdoms united. No way the king's willing to put his daughter's neck on the line! But he's got the perfect spy for the role -- half-Elf and cross-dressing courtesan Jade Harron, of course.
Somehow Jade's not convinced Prince Keandre will be all that pleased when he discovers their deception. Then again, what will they do if the prince prefers to keep his Elven "Bride"? And then there's Jade's former lover, Gareth, Captain of Prince Keandre's guard and keeper of his secrets... and secret desires. Gareth knows far too much about Jade's past. Will he expose Jade for who he is? Or coerce him back to his bed?
Jade has a feeling no matter how this ill-conceived affair turns out, his life will never be the same. Danger, deception, espionage and unbridled lust -- all politics as usual in this decadent court.

State of Affairs
Dany Sirene
All rights reserved.
Copyright ©2012 Dany Sirene

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Holding up the flouncy skirts with the easy grace of a dancer, I pranced into the assembly hall, right past the guards whose eyes looked like they were about to pop right out of their sockets. I stopped in the entranceway and curtsied with a flourish to the king and queen of Aleyne. The king stared at me, trying really hard not to show his astonishment.
"Good evening, Your Majesties," I said in my most melodious girly voice -- my trademark and the best part of my act. "You wished to see me?"
The king shook his head. The queen looked utterly scandalized and hid her face behind her fan.
"Seriously, Master Harron. Was this really necessary? It's... disconcerting, to say the least," the king said with a disapproving look.
I assumed an expression of insulted innocence. "I simply didn't wish to waste my time or yours."
The king heaved a sigh. "All right. The illusion is believable enough, I'll give you that. But could you foil an assassination attempt in this..." He gestured at the puffy under-layers of lace peeking out from beneath the sky-blue silk skirt.
"Crinoline," I finished helpfully. "I assure you, my combat skills are in no way diminished by --"
At the king's signal, the guard who stood just behind me pulled out a knife and lunged at me. I reached up and gripped the guard's wrist. The blade stopped just inches away from my elaborate coiffure. Stifling a yawn, I gave his arm a little twist. The guard gasped in pain and let go of the blade, which clattered to the floor. I let go of him instantly, and the man rubbed his wrist, muttering a few extremely unflattering words.
I smiled coquettishly at their majesties and patted my hair. "Any other questions?"
The queen's mouth was a little painted "O" of shock on her pale face. The king cleared his throat, trying to collect himself. "Yes. You do understand that this is a highly sensitive political matter."
"Of course."
"And therefore discretion is absolutely crucial."
I tried not to let my disappointment show. "Yes, my lord. Of course."
"Now, the story is, Princess Amalia is my darling Lisele's little sister. No one has seen her up to this point because she was raised in a convent." He paused and glared at me. "A convent, Master Harron. Integrate this knowledge into your act if you can."
I nodded, trying not to crack up. "That's all very well. I also know that the people of Levant are known for their pious chastity, but I still think Prince Keandre will notice that something is not quite right when the wedding night comes around."
"Harron, this is serious," the king fumed. "And it won't come to that. Once you get there, your job is to figure out who is sending the threats to assassinate my Lisele, and to... deal with them. Then I will revoke my decision and send Princess Lisele in your place."
"Yes, sir, but are you sure it won't cause political, ah, frictions?"
The king's expression made me want to swallow my tongue. "You let me worry about that, Master Harron. You just do what I assigned you to do, nothing more and nothing less, without making an idiot of yourself and this whole court by extension. Think you can handle that?"
I broke out in a cold sweat under the tightly laced corset of the gown, swallowed the lump in my throat, and nodded.
"That's all. You will be leaving first thing tomorrow."
And thus, my fate was sealed.

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