The King’s Dragon by W.M. Fawkes & Sam Burns
Series: Fire and Valor #1
Release Date: September 26, 2019
Subgenre: LGBTQIA+ High Fantasy Romance
Synopsis for The King’s Dragon:
Lord Tristram Radcliffe has a secret—he is the only dragon at the king’s court in Llangard. It’s a secret he’s kept from the knights he’s fought beside, from the ladies who bat their lashes at him, and from his closest companion, Prince Reynold. If it were to get out, he’d be banished to the Mawrcraig Mountains along with the rest of his kind, but the kingdom of men is the only one he’s ever known, and his heart lives in the stone halls of those who’d count him an enemy.
When the old king dies and Prince Reynold takes the throne, two visitors from the north throw Tristram into the middle of the ancient conflict between dragons and men. They put him on a collision course with the king’s shadow, Bet Kyston, a dangerous assassin who may want him dead or may want more of Tristram that he’d ever thought to give.
With the eyes of dragons upon him and a threat from the north creeping toward the home he loves, Tristram must weigh his allegiances before his dual legacies tear him apart.
Release Blitz Teasers:
Bet was at Reynold’s side so fast Tris didn’t even see him move. He looked unaccountably nervous for a man who could almost certainly take down any man on the field. “Your Majesty?”
“I want you to fight Lord Gaspar’s guards.” When Gaspar sputtered, Reynold turned to him. “You don’t think it a fair fight? Shall I allow you to join them as well?”
“I assure you, sire, any one of my knights could handle this whelp of a commoner, even if Lord Radcliffe cannot.” He sneered at Tristram, as he had since Tris had been a child. He’d been a friend of Tristram’s mother’s husband—the man the court thought was his father. Tris had always assumed Gaspar knew him to be a bastard, but frankly, he had more important things to worry about.
He wasn’t sure why, but he was worried about Bet. The man was dishonorable and infuriatingly smug, but also . . . like Tris, he never hesitated in his duty to his king. Wasn’t there a kind of honor in that, when one committed dishonorable acts for a king who could not afford to sully himself? Possibly it was Tristram grasping for excuses because he found Bet beautiful, but it still rung true. Perhaps.
“You question Lord Radcliffe’s skill as well?” Reynold asked, pretending to be surprised. He turned to Bet. “Get to it, then. You against Gaspar’s men. If you win, you and Tristram stay. If they win, they stay.”
He had to be joking. While Tris had every faith in Bet’s prowess, it was madness.
But this was no farce. Tristram couldn’t even suggest he deserved to have a part in the deciding of his future. Reynold had announced it, and now Tristram’s fate was in the hands of the king’s shadow.
Sidonie was from the southern reaches of Llangard, where they did not have women like that. There, women were hard workers with strong backs, field-roughened hands, and leathery skin. Rhiannon had seemed like a bauble worn by a noble lady, glittering and beautiful.
And not for the likes of Sidonie.
Still, she found herself scanning the crowd for signs of golden, almost white-blonde hair. Lord Tristram was from the north, wasn’t he? Perhaps that was simply the look of northerners. Most of the women in court were regularly aflutter over his pale hair and golden eyes, including Her Highness, Princess Gillian.
She supposed among men, Tristram was a decent choice. He had fine features and full lips that most men did not. Sidonie had never seen the appeal of blunt, angular, masculine features. Give her a soft curve and a round cheek any day.
Golden-blonde curls twirled on the breeze in front of her, followed by their owner, the beautiful sylph from the day before. Her eyes were bluer than the sky, like the wildflowers that grew along the roads, and of course, she had a few of those tucked behind her ear to show them off. The smirk on her face was downright dangerous. His Majesty was wrong if he thought this woman was trouble he could handle. She was too much trouble for any man.
“When can we go, Rhiannon?” Hafgan whispered in her direction, without even looking up at her.
She rolled her eyes at him. “We came here to do something. It isn’t finished yet.”
“They don’t want us here, and they’re—” He broke off and stared across the room, biting his lip.
When she turned to see what had grabbed his attention, she wasn’t sure whether to be impressed or jealous. “That’s a fine catch, Hafgan. Are you pursuing him?”
She’d noticed the half dragon around court. The king seemed to favor him, which was rather odd considering the man’s rabid hatred of their kind. Maybe half dragons were human enough for him.
Likelier, the little half dragon didn’t know what he was. Or maybe he was in hiding. Wasn’t that an interesting thought?
She wondered if he would be willing to take their case to the king. Maybe he had a better idea of how to present it so that the infuriating boor would actually listen.
Hafgan was looking back at her, surprised. “You mean Lord Radcliffe? No, nothing like that. We spoke for a moment. There’s just something terribly familiar about him.”
For the first time in days, Rhiannon laughed. Not that ridiculous courtly tittering that was expected of ladies, but a full-body laugh. She threw her head back and let the amusement take her. It seemed a rare opportunity in the human realm.
Hafgan blushed and glanced around them, not meeting anyone’s eye. He wasn’t ashamed of her exactly, but very aware of the reactions of the humans. They were important to him in a way they would never be to her.
Once people stopped staring at Rhiannon and went back to their own business, she leaned toward him and whispered, “Of course he looks familiar, sweet song. One of us is probably related to him.”
Release Blitz Excerpts
“What, exactly, did Jorun say?”
Bet’s nose flared as he drew in a breath. He’d learned not to stoke Reynold’s anger unnecessarily. In this instance, it seemed unavoidable, however unlikely that that anger would fall upon his own head.
“He likened your father to a farmer. More shepherd than king—lord over wayward beasts. He said that King Edmund had outlived his usefulness, but that Your Majesty was not likely to.”
The lands of Tornheim, to the north past the high ridge of the Mawrcraig Mountains, past even Lord Radcliffe’s seat at Merrick, were harsh and unforgiving. There, the mighty ruled. There had been whispers of a jarl who could call the wind. That the Cavendish line had not produced an heir with significant magic in generations would signal to their enemies that the kingdom was weak. It was only a matter of time before they tried to take advantage of that weakness.
Reynold considered him a moment. The king’s tempers were much more dangerous when they swept cool as a wind out of the frozen north. He nodded shortly.
“And Jarl Katrien?” His Majesty asked.
“Said very little.”
Behind his closed lips, Bet could see the king run his tongue over his teeth. Never let it be said that Reynold did not weigh his options before acting.
“Jarl Jorun flaps his tongue too much,” Reynold said casually. “Bring it to me. If it’s still in his skull, all the better.”
With a dismissive wave of his hand, Reynold turned back to the lingering mourners. Bet bowed deeply, even as he stepped away. “Yes, Your Majesty.”
“Could you get me some wine, Alf?” His squire’s eyes went wide, and with good reason. Tris never drank wine before or during tourneys. He stuck to watered ale that didn’t dull his senses. At the moment, though, the important thing was calming his nerves.
The best of squires, Alf nodded and ran off instead of asking questions. It was obvious enough why Tris was asking for the stuff. He just had to toe the line of calming himself without getting intoxicated.
He caught motion from the corner of his eye, and his head snapped up to make sure he wasn’t in danger. When he took in the motion’s source, danger remained to be seen. His Majesty’s shadow, Bennet Kyston—known to everyone as simply Bet.
There wasn’t a person alive who invoked more turbulence in Tris. He was dangerous, obviously. Tris didn’t know what he did for Rey—for the king—but no one spoke of it in polite company, which included himself. He seemed perpetually angry, and seemed to particularly dislike Tris.
On the other side, the man was beautiful beyond all, and no one seemed to notice it. Those shining dark curls and intense black eyes, the way his lips curled up in a combination of smile and sneer when he felt . . . emotions of whatever kind it was he felt.
But not right then. Bet’s expression was blank as he marched right up to Tris, grabbed his chin and tipped it to the side so that he could inspect his face, specifically the side that Jorun had nearly removed. “The eye?” he asked tersely.
Tris blinked for a moment before he realized he was supposed to answer. “Fine. It’s fine. Are you—” How could he ask if the man was concerned about him without seeming ridiculous? “Is something wrong?”
Bet wore an unfamiliar scowl, with no hint of that smile to tame the curl of his upper lip. Tris didn’t think he’d been at fault, but Bet’s sneer could make a man apologize for being born. It was all he could do to keep his mouth shut.
After a long, silent moment, Bet nodded sharply and turned to march off.
When Alf came back with the wine, Tris downed the goblet, sobriety be damned.
Roland slipped his hand into Bet’s and stared up at him. “Did you kill Lord Jorun? I heard the maid say—” He chewed his lip.
Bet sucked his cheeks between his back teeth and sighed through his nose. The king would not appreciate Bet illuminating the horrors of the world for his son, but though Bet might wish he’d heard more lies to protect his own young heart, he couldn’t lie when Roland had complained of the same.
He released Roland’s hand and turned to face him. Roland stared up at him, but as Bet crouched, the prince’s chin tucked down to meet his gaze squarely.
“Do you remember what happened to Lord Lunden?” Bet asked.
Roland nodded slowly. “He was executed for treason.”
Lord Lunden, a close friend and counsellor to the royal family, had been one of the preeminent magicians in Llangard—until he’d been discovered attempting to enchant King Edmund.
Bet licked his lips. “Yes. For the good of the realm, King Edmund had him executed.”
The prince swallowed. His head bobbed. “And Lord Jorun tried to kill Tris.”
Bet’s lips twitched. How like Prince Roland to think Tris’s life held the same value as the king’s. “He did.”
Roland considered him for a moment before he agreed. “Well, sometimes kings must make difficult decisions for the good of the realm. Will I have to kill someone one day?” Roland’s eyes were wide enough that Bet could see the whites all around his irises. How much longer would he be able to hold onto that innocence?
“Not with your own hands, Your Highness,” Bet promised. “You may always use mine.”
W.M. Fawkes is an author of LGBTQ+ urban fantasy and paranormal romance. She lives with her partner in a house owned by three halloween-hued felines that dabble regularly in shadow walking.
Sam lives in the Midwest with husband and cat, which is even less exciting than it sounds, so she’s not sure why you’re still reading this.
She specializes in LGBTQIA+ fiction, usually with a romantic element. There’s sometimes intrigue and violence, usually a little sex, and almost always some swearing in her work. Her writing is light and happy, though, so if you’re looking for a dark gritty reality, you’ve come to the wrong author.
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