We're Team Hera! Because here on Balancing Act, we're both bad-ass and warm and nurturing, and we'll fight to bring out the best in our crew, um, team. :-)
You can check out other teams on the other hosting blogs: Elsie Elmore (Team Droids), Elizabeth Roderick (Team Leia), Kathleen Ann Palm (Team Darkside), Rena Rocford (Team Rebels), and of course, our organizer and Grand Poobah, Katie Hamstead Teller.
Category and Genre: Adult/Historical Fiction
Word Count: 90,000
An orphaned Dutch girl, a warlord about to lose his lands and a bold adventurer are brought together in the twilight era of the samurai.
Why must this happen to me, as brutal hands born to untie sashes slid the kimono from my pale shoulders. I was so obviously made for other things.
For a chance to win her freedom, Miyako must embrace the samurai way and change everything about herself. Sailing into the land of snow and pine, the sole-survivor of a doomed ship, she could never envision the future as a warlord's concubine. This man will hold her captive. This man she will loathe like no other. Luckily, Dutch mettle comes in handy when she realizes she has been handed a unique situation. There’s plenty of scheming and intrigue to go around as the other women will do anything to stand in her way.
But a man is a samurai first, the blade is his lover. One magical winter, a bold adventurer arrives on a Russian ship offering Miyako more than a warlord’s empty promises. She’s a woman who has struggled so long against prejudice to find her purpose. She’s fought against enemy concubines but Miyako finds her greatest challenge yet-hiding forbidden love in a land where dishonor is a breath away.
Suspicions are aroused but a surprise from the shogun will force more secrets to go public. When the warlord takes the Russian ship hostage, grabbing her greatest happiness or the freedom she craves collides because no concubine should look at another man, unless she wants to be hung high from a turret at dawn.
First 250 Words:
It’s not that I could forget about the killing.
If I stopped for a second, I’d remember.
The ripe dirt shoved deep under broken nails.
Bruised knees perched at the edges of an open grave.
He hadn’t slept in weeks-now he’d sleep forever.
The sound of the blade popped in my ears, the weapon tore flesh, shattered bone. My hand opened, and the shiny hilt slid from my fingers. He was still staring into my eyes when he dropped and slumped on his side. I shrieked into my hand, the dagger buried within his chest. And all that blood, shimmering crimson under the shadow of the moon.
I had to pull the blade out.
“Go away. Don’t,” he murmured, red gurgling down his lips.
I trembled, hard.
His hand sought the hilt and drew the steel from mortified flesh; a sucking whir spit back squishy ooze.
He looked so deeply into my eyes that a flash of that old feeling stirred.
“Oh, my God.” I wept, clutching my stomach next to his lifeless body.
The black shadow of that castle all that had been my heaven and my hell loomed large. My life as a warlord’s concubine shouldn’t have happened. Courtesans rise by select methods, not by accident. I left on a ship that sank off the coast of a far-flung island. The beauty and glamor of a concubine is celebrated, their praises sung. I was exotic and homely to them. And I didn’t look well in kimono.