What if your destiny lay on the other side of death?The annual Culling ceremony is a day every coming-of-age novice looks forward to within the Primeval Coven. It’s the start to being initiated into the Night Watchmen, humankind’s protectors, and it’s the long-awaited day when novices discover if they’re a Hunter or a Witch. But this day is not a happy one for Faye Middleton. Not when she’s known her whole life that she’s a Defect and is about to face banishment in front of her fellow novices. She’s forced to attend the Culling with little hope for her future, but what she discovers about herself is far worse than she could’ve imagined. And far more dangerous. Thrown into training and separated from her friends, Faye must learn to adjust. She struggles to find her place within the Coven, and with Jaxen Gramm, the darkly handsome and extremely unnerving man assigned to watch and protect her. Emotions run high, and when she discovers a deadly secret about him, her struggles deepen. As corruption within the Coven begins to unravel, Faye pieces together her role in saving the future of her people, and within Jaxen’s life...but will the truth save her, or be her undoing?
GENRE: Paranormal Romance
Available on Amazon & Barnes & Noble!Excerpt:
“This way,” Nathaniel says from the side of the stage. We’re like cows being herded into individual pens to await sacrifice. There are closed-in cubicles constructed backstage, and each of us is placed in one without a word of guidance or encouragement. “Wait a second,” I say as I try to scan down the row one last time for Katie, but I’m shoved into my cubicle and the door shuts, enclosing me in between four confining walls with only the light of a lamp. I drag my hands down the fabric of the walls until I fall down into my seat. I tug on my braid again and again and again. Calm down. Breathe. Calm down. I chant this over and over again, imagining that Katie’s the one who’s coaching me. I shut my eyes and am back in her room. The scent of her perfume overwhelms the small space, but instead of making me sneeze, it comforts me. It makes my imagined state more real. I hear loud clapping coming from off the stage and know someone must’ve just gone. They obviously weren’t a Defect. No one wants a Defect at their ceremony. A voice shouts, “Let’s go, Todd Jenson. It’s time to meet your partner.” I wonder if it was Katie on stage. I wonder if he’s her partner. I wonder this through eighteen more times worth of clapping and cheering and name calling. Anytime now, they’ll open my door and force me to stand before the crowd, force me to touch the quartz, force me to face my peers in shame. If they deem me a Defect, I’ll be the first this Culling, and most likely the only. I twist my hands into knots and think about my parents. They have to be out there by now. I’m going to walk out there and they’re going to be in the front row smiling. I open my eyes. Four walls. They’re closing in on me. They’re suffocating me. I have to get out. “Faye Middleton?” The door opens and air rushes in. I draw sharply on it as the cheering continues. Another novice and her new partner walk off stage. It’s the girl with black hair. She’s coyly looking at him from under her lashes. He looks pissed. Nathaniel guides me forward, and I want to yank my arm from him. I want to tell him I left my courage back in that cubicle, but I don’t. I can’t. My lips are glued shut by fear. My knees have turned into two extremities of doubt, and I know I’m going to fall. I’m going to forget how to speak. Steel blue eyes find mine from across the stage. Elder Maddock. He bows ever so slightly in my direction, his eyes seeking past my outer appearance. I wonder if he knows who I am. He has to. I stop right before him and feel like a bird trapped in a cage. I can’t escape the thousands of eyes studying me. I can’t escape the hundreds of assumptions building me into something I’m not. “Faye Middleton,” he says, his voice eager and curious. There’s a friendly lightness in his voice I don’t expect, a sound that makes me feel safe and comfortable under his gaze. He has thick, golden brown hair combed neatly over to the side and back, showing off the squared planes of his face. He looks much younger than he should, but older than my father. “Are you ready to begin?” I turn to the crowd and scan desperately for my parents. Eyes. There are so many eyes. Too many. They form together, creating an awful monster that wants to swallow me whole. I can’t find them. The eyes have hidden them from me. I’m all alone. I try to swallow, but my mouth is so dry. I bite the inside of my cheek, curbing the need to release tears. The Witch standing next to him says, “Faye, he asked you a question.” I take in a tight breath and force myself to look away and back at Maddock. “I’m sorry,” I whisper, my stomach twisting a little tighter. He pretends not to notice the panic I’m sure my face is masked in and offers me the kindest, most patient smile. “Everyone is nervous on the day of the Culling,” he says knowingly. “I was a wreck the day of mine.” Polite laughter comes from the audience, and I feel myself relax just enough so that I can breathe again. He offers me a small wink…a knowing sort of wink, and says, “Your parents will be proud.” He says these words carefully, evenly, and I know he’s trying to tell me something. They’re okay? He’s aware of who I am. “So are you ready to begin?”Chapter 10 Teaser:
“Come here,” he says, his tone low, husky. My heart flaps harder, wilder. He’s looking straight into the mirror. I want to be that mirror looking back at him, drowning in his eyes and words of want. His back is a mountain of lean, cut muscles. His fists are pressed against the counter, held tight and firm. Thick veins stick out from under his skin, just waiting for my fingers to trail over.
I find myself just a step away from him, my heart hammering against my chest. I don’t know why. He’s helping me, nothing more, so why do I feel so lightheaded and flushed inside? Why does my skin crave for his touch, a touch that’s sure to come, even if full of innocence?
He moves just enough to fit me in between him and the counter. I swallow down my nerves and stand in front of him, resting a hand against the marbled countertop to help stabilize me. I try not to notice the tension in his body, the way his eyes close when my leg brushes against his, the way he licks his lips when our faces come just a breath’s length away from each other.
His eyes open, and he holds me with his gaze. He allows me to see past his titanium wall. In front of him, gazing into his endless, green eyes, I know I could fall at any moment, physically and emotionally, and this scares the hell out of me. I barely know him, yet, I feel like I’ve known him forever.
He reaches behind me and turns the hot water on. He’s so close, so unbelievably close, my fingers almost slip out from under me. There’s no steadying my heart, no taming my breathing as he waits for the water to heat before wetting the towel. He lifts his other hand, and it hovers next to my waist like he’s waiting for something; a sign, an approval. I close my eyes, breathe in, and then his hand drifts down my waist where it comes to rest on top of my hip.
My breathing stops, along with my heart. My muscles clench with want. I curse the material between my skin and his hand. I want to give in to whatever delirium has taken over my rational thinking.
He gently pushes me back against the counter. The back of my legs bump against it, stopping me as he closes the distance between us. The way his body ever so slightly presses against mine ignites a flame inside of me, burning and aching for more of his touch. His hand lifts, slightly shaking, and then brushes the hair from my face until it comes to rest at the base of my neck. He’s a pyromancer, controlling and building the fire within me. The firmness of his grip sends heat to places I’ve never felt heat before.
His eyes lock on mine. His other hand lifts, bringing the towel just to the edge of my lip where the cut is. I wince when he presses it against my mouth and squeeze my eyes shut. Shut the pain off, I tell myself. I had during the fight without even trying. I open my eyes again and focus on the color of his, the deep evergreen color that displays wisdom. He’s looking down at my mouth, still wiping away blood. His eyes brush mine again, and then move to the cut on the side of my eyebrow.
My heart feels like it could drift away at any moment with all the fluttering. There’s such a gentleness about him, a kindness that has yet to be shown, and yet, here he is, showing it to me, to someone who had brought this upon herself.
I received an ARC of this book for honest review; no other compensation was received on my part.
In a world of magic hidden from the general public and only known to a few higher members of government throughout the world it is the Knight Watchmen who keep humans safe from evil paranormal beings. Every hunter is paired with a witch through an infinity bond, without the other they are powerless and it is at a ceremony called the Culling that every young one is determined to be either a witch or a hunter and, at the same time, introduced to their partner for life…that is until Faye.
Faye is a young adult, convinced by what she was told was a vision her mother had at her birth, that she would be banished as a defect when it was time for her to attend her Culling ceremony. A defect is a child conceived of hunter and witch who has no powers and therefore must leave the magical life of the coven without looking back and live forever more as a simple human. However, those in Faye's life have kept secrets from her and suppressed her powers in attempt to keep her hidden. When her parents go missing the eve of her Culling ceremony and the ceremony itself produces surprising results, her life is no longer simple and straightforward. She is something more than a witch, something more than a hunter…she is special type of defect, a myth, an everlasting.
Candace Knoeble has done an outstanding job of creating an enchanting but realistic world filled with a cast of characters so diverse, yet so compatible you can't help but be sucked in. Faye is an outstanding character…though only 18 years old her strength and maturity in dealing with the onslaught of what she is, what she has lost, and what monumental tasks are looming before her is to be commended. Jaxen…oh I just loved him from the get go, but I am a sucker for a damaged man. The intensity of the pull they have towards one another is breathtaking, but there are obstacles that may not be able to be overcome…what seems impossible may just be.
Every supporting character focused on in this book spiked my interest…there is more to meet the eye with many of them and I want their stories. I can honestly say I did not hate any of them…though some really upset me and others I just don't fully trust…but I can't put my finger on it exactly. This story had me from the beginning…I could not put it down! Between the hidden conspiracies, ulterior motives, love interest, and secrets you are constantly wondering what will happen next, who you can trust, and how it is going to turn out. I was on an emotional rollercoaster of heartbreak, fear, anticipation, and adrenaline.
That being said, you can bet your life I will be one-clicking book 2 in this series to find out what happens…though things are wrapped up nicely, it is definitely a cliff hanger. Cleanly written this book is easily, in my opinion, acceptable for younger teens…though there are a few very mild sexually intimate scenes, nothing happens and there is no detail…just the anticipation between the eventuality of the characters progressing to that next step. I would absolutely recommend this book to any lovers of a well-written, magic influenced, action packed story that not only deals with the coming of age and acceptance of a young woman, but also the ultimate story of good vs. evil and the understanding that evil can hide in the best of intentions. I can't wait to get my hands on the next installment of this series!!!
About The Author
Candace Knoebel is the award-winning author of Born in Flames-a young adult fantasy trilogy.Published by 48fourteen in 2012, Born in Flames went on to win Turning the Pages Book of the Year award in February of 2013. Embracing the Flames, the second in the trilogy, is scheduled for release in the summer of 2013. Candace Knoebel discovered through lunch breaks and late nights after putting her kids to bed, a world where she could escape the ever-pressing days of an eight to five Purgatory. Since then, she crawled out of Purgatory and has devoted her time to writing and sometimes heelying.