Friday, September 19, 2014

Blog Tour: The Gifted Dead by Jenna Black (Excerpt & Giveaway)

Paperback, 410 pages
Expected publication: September 23rd 2014 by Aardwolf Press

Politics and magic make dangerous bedfellows.

Deep within the Order, the seeds of corruption have taken root. While younger generations of the Gifted have embraced modern democratic values, a secret society of old-guard zealots seek a return to the past, when only European men of distinguished bloodlines held power.

Now, three venerable European families and a maverick American each plot to seize control of the Order and shape it to their will. A cutthroat game of political intrigue will decide the winner; and the stakes couldn't be higher, for ruling the Order carries with it the power to grant—or deny—an afterlife.

What begins as a battle of wills could turn into an all-out war. And magic could prove deadlier than any missile.


[Excerpt 10—Lynda Powell scene 2]

Saint-Malo, France

It was dark by the time Lynda’s driver pulled up to the front of the quaint little hotel she had chosen in the medieval walled city of Saint-Malo. It was a beautiful place, steeped in well-preserved history, with its walls still intact and many of the buildings hundreds of years old. She felt a pang of mild regret that she wouldn’t get to see it during the daytime.
She tipped her driver generously and checked in, though she had no intention of staying. The more normal she could act before she struck, the better her chances of success. And it was nice to have a chance to freshen up after the long drive.
Lynda fixed her makeup and her hair, then changed from her comfortable traveling pants into a somber black dress and a pair of low-heeled pumps that she hoped wouldn’t hurt her feet too much. She had some walking to do tonight, and she should have thought to bring flats in deference to the cobblestones that had rattled her teeth as soon as her car had passed through the gates of the city.
She could have taken a cab from her hotel to the Abbey, but she chose to walk instead. Now that she was actually here, her nerves were beginning to buzz and her heart to race. She even swayed dizzily a couple of times when she was getting dressed and wondered if she was really up to the challenge.
But she was sixty-three years old, and this was only the second time in her life the Anima had set her on a Quest. She was not going to let fear stop her. Though perhaps it wasn’t fair of her to think of it as “only” the second time; most of the Gifted received no further Gifts aside from their spirit guides and their inborn connection with the Anima. To be chosen to perform a Quest, to have a chance to receive a Gift, was a rare honor, and it was a thrill to think that she was worthy of a second such honor.
The cool night air calmed the worst of Lynda’s nerves as she walked to the Abbey, and she found herself almost at peace as the moment of reckoning drew near. She had lost her Harry forever, and her son was a spoiled, selfish power-monger who would happily walk over his family and friends in his fierce attempt to claw his way to the top. There were no ties to hold her back, no matter what the end results of this night might be.
Lynda entered via the tourists’ entrance just in time for the last tour of the evening, paying the admission fee and stepping aside to wait for a tour guide as instructed. She had studied maps of the Abbey carefully before coming, and further research into the life of the current Patriarch had revealed a pattern she could easily exploit. Every night at nine o’clock when he was in residence at the Abbey, the Patriarch dined with twenty or thirty members of the Council of Elders in the refectory. Apparently, there was fierce competition among the Elders for invitations to that dinner table, and one could gauge who was in favor and who was not by how often they were invited.
The tour group, naturally, went nowhere near the refectory or the Patriarch’s residential apartments, but when Lynda was as close as she was likely to get, she invoked her Gift, letting the tour group go on ahead of her while she slipped down a forbidden hallway. She tripped some kind of alarm, and her pulse started thundering in her ears, but her Gift held true and the alarm was ignored. It had been more than thirty years since she had earned her Gift, and she couldn’t help wondering if the Anima had known way back then what it would one day ask her to do with it.
There were guards everywhere, armed with mortal weapons and, no doubt, deadly Gifts, but none sensed Lynda’s presence. She had it on good authority that there were those whose Gifts included neutralizing the Gifts of others, but they couldn’t use that Gift it they didn’t know Lynda was there.
Thus Lynda made her way through the heavily guarded halls of the Abbey and into the refectory, a task that on its surface seemed impossible. How could the Anima have known thirty years ago, when Adrian Farraday was decades away from being elected Patriarch, that Lynda would need this particular Gift someday? And yet, how could it possibly be a coincidence that her particular Gift was the only way to get through the Abbey’s defenses?
The refectory was an enormous rotunda with a domed ceiling and arched doorways. The floor was of inlaid tile, the ceiling gilded with gold leaf. The great table that dominated the room had been in use in the Abbey since the fifteenth century.
Lynda paused to gather herself in the doorway, her heart fluttering against her ribs. There were guards against each wall and beside each doorway, and servants bustled about carrying food and wine to the black-robed Elders who sat at the table. The Patriarch alone wore white robes and sat at the head of the table in a throne-like seat, on the far end of the room from Lynda’s doorway. The noise of at least twenty conversations echoed in the domed room, as did the clatter of knives and forks against plates, the sound so loud Lynda could almost feel it in her bones.
Keeping herself unseen had been effortless for the first few minutes, but Lynda had never tried to use her Gift for such an extended period before, and she found she was getting alarmingly tired. She couldn’t allow herself to take her time, or to be awed by her surroundings or the concentration of male power that sat before her.
Mouth suddenly dry, Lynda reached into her pocket with a shaking hand and pulled out her gun. She needed to get closer, though the sudden weakness in her knees made each step an onerous effort, the fatigue rapidly growing worse. It was imperative that she fire at close range, due to both the small caliber of her weapon and the uncertain aim of her shaking hands.
Sweat dripped into her eyes, stinging, and her shaking was getting worse instead of better. Just a little closer, she urged herself, but her strength gave out.
The sudden chorus of gasps and exclamations told her she had lost her grip on her Gift. If the Patriarch realized an attack was coming, he could invoke his own Gift to make her bullet pass harmlessly through him—assuming she hadn’t been shot by a guard already. It was now or never.
Heedless of her shaking hands and her questionable aim, Lynda pulled the trigger.

About the author:

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Jenna Black is your typical writer. Which means she's an "experience junkie." She got her BA in physical anthropology and French from Duke University.
Once upon a time, she dreamed she would be the next Jane Goodall, camping in the bush making fabulous discoveries about primate behavior. Then, during her senior year at Duke, she did some actual research in the field and made this shocking discovery: primates spend something like eighty percent of their time doing such exciting things as sleeping and eating.
Concluding that this discovery was her life's work in the field of primatology, she then moved on to such varied pastimes as grooming dogs and writing technical documentation. She is now a full-time author of fantasy, young adult, and romance novels.


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Monday, September 8th Fiktshun
Tuesday, September 9th Books and Things
Wednesday, September 10th Xpresso Reads
Thursday, September 11th Addicted 2 Heroines
Friday, September 12th Gizmos Reviews
Monday, September 15th The Book Swarm
Tuesday, September 16th Jessabella Reads
Wednesday, September 17th Romancing the Dark Side
Thursday, September 18th Literary Escapism
Friday, September 19th Bookish

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