Shadow Fire (The Light Chronicles #1)
Author: Kimber Leigh Wheaton
Release Date: February 24, 2014
Publisher: Astraea Press
Summary from Goodreads:
Ashlyn – a free-spirited teenager whose peaceful life is shattered when the village elders honor her with a perilous quest to recover a stolen relic.
Zane – a jaded mercenary, torn by his undeniable desire for Ashlyn and the dark secret that could make her hate him forever.
Delistaire – a malevolent sorcerer driven by an insatiable lust for power.
All three are bound together by an ancient relic supposedly infused with the power of a Goddess.
Shadow Fire - adventure, passion, secrets, and betrayal
As Ashlyn and Zane race to stay one step ahead of the evil lurking in the shadows, their passions are ignited and their bond strengthens. But will they find the relic before Delistaire? Or has their entire quest been orchestrated from the very beginning by a madman in pursuit of ultimate power?
The village is quiet as we make our way down the main street to the tavern. Brinda, Celeste and I walk in utter silence. The chirps of the crickets seem deafening in the unusual stillness. We plod along, shoulders slumped, eyes downcast. To an outsider we must appear more like a funeral procession than a group of girls heading to a party. Parties are meant to celebrate something, a birth, a marriage, completion of an apprenticeship. Who would throw a party to send a maiden off to her death? And why in the Goddess’ name did I agree to attend this blatant absurdity?
As the tavern comes into view, I’m awed by the beauty. Sconces full of candles flicker in the darkness, adorning the eaves and surrounding the entry. Someone took the time to make a banner out of pink cloth. It hangs above the entrance, the words scrawled out in black paint, ‘Good Luck Ashlyn Silverthorne’.
I swallow around the lump forming in my throat as I stare at the banner. After three weeks of sideways glances and whispers about my impending doom, the four little words written on the sign bring a bit of solace. Thank goodness it doesn’t read, ‘Try not to die, Ashlyn’ or even better, ‘May your death be quick and painless’. When I break out in nervous titters from the morbid thought, my sisters both stare at me, their faces pinched with worry. I’d like to reassure them I won’t have a breakdown tonight, but the way I’m feeling right now is far from cool and collected. Cory made the situation worse with his assault today. Dear Goddess, I hope he’s not inside!
“ASHLYN!” a chorus of voices chant my name followed by several minutes of cheering.
My fingers dig into the doorjamb, my nails scraping at the white paint. I contemplate whether fleeing now is an option. With a furtive glance, I scan the packed room, flushing when I locate Zane at a small table in the corner. His sultry garnet eyes meet mine. My breath catches in my throat, and my heartbeat accelerates, threatening to hammer right out of my chest. Before I can find the presence of mind to move, my older brothers, Abel and Jess, approach, each grabbing an arm before dragging me to a chair at the head of a large banquet table.
“There’ll be plenty of time for food and drink in a moment,” Jess shouts to the boisterous crowd. “Now it’s time for going away gifts.”
The cheer in the room is odd, making me feel as though I’m moving to a new town rather than leaving on a dangerous quest. When a wrapped gift is thrust into my hands, I’m too stunned to do anything other stare at the small box.
“This is from Jess and me,” Abel says, his lips curled into a melancholy smile.
For some reason the sorrow in his dark brown eyes is soothing, a tiny push back into reality.
False cheer is understandable, but the festive atmosphere in the tavern is downright creepy. Pushing it to the back of my mind, I tear open the bright red wrapping and open the box. Nestled inside is the most beautiful silver brooch I’ve ever seen in my life. I know this piece of jewelry quite well since I’ve been admiring it every weekend at the merchant’s fair in the town square. My fingers trace the head of the dragon following the scales down to the unfurled wings. The eyes are twin sapphires which match the velvet cloak Brinda and Celeste gave me.
“Thank you, I love it,” I breathe out in a whisper. Brinda takes the brooch from my shaking hands and pins it to my velvet cloak. “I don’t know what to say.”
“Just promise to take care out there,” Jess says, giving me a quick hug followed by a kiss on the head.
“We’ll go with you, Ashlyn,” Abel whispers when he leans down to kiss my cheek.
If only things were that easy. Jess has a wife and child, Abel is taking over the carpentry shop and is engaged. I could never ask them to risk their lives on a foolhardy quest, not as happy as both are. Besides, my parents shouldn’t lose three children all at once. Such pain would be unbearable.
“No, I’ll be fine on my own,” I whisper back through the lump forming in my throat. “You both have people here who need you.” Sadness is reflected in his soulful eyes along with worry, but the most disturbing is relief. “Hey, at least those martial arts lessons you and Jess have paid for since I was thirteen may finally come in handy,” I say with a fake laugh, trying to lighten the mood.
“You’ve become a formidable woman,” Jess murmurs. “Be careful out there and never let your guard down.”
Kimber Leigh Wheaton is a bestselling YA/NA author with a soft spot for sweet romance. She is married to her soul mate, has a teenage son, and shares her home with three dogs, four cats, and lots of dragons. No, she doesn’t live on a farm, she just loves animals. Kimber Leigh is addicted to romance, videogames, superheroes, villains, and chocolate—not necessarily in that order. (If she has to choose, she’ll take a chocolate covered superhero!) She currently lives in San Antonio, TX but has been somewhat a rolling stone in life, having resided in several different cities and states.