About the Book
Twelve strangers. Six marriages. One year in Esperance.
Amryn has many reasons to hate the empire. Her latest is her forced marriage to General Carver Vincetti, better known as the Butcher. If he learns even one of her secrets, he will kill her. And Amryn has many secrets. Not only is she an empath with forbidden magic, she's also a newly recruited rebel intent on destroying the empire—starting at Esperance.
Carver knows the rebels have infiltrated the remote temple of Esperance. His job is to hunt them down before they can wreck the emperor’s new peace. Despite the demons that haunt him, Carver is intent on his mission—but he’s not prepared for Amryn. From her fiery red hair to her surprising wit, his new wife has captured his attention. The attraction that flares between them is undeniable. Now he just has to determine if she’s the enemy.
When the newly married couples become targets in a violent game, Esperance becomes more dangerous than anyone anticipated. Carver and Amryn are about to discover that no one is exactly who they appear to be—especially each other.
About the Author
Heather Frost is an #1 Amazon bestselling author of YA/NA fantasy romance. Her books have been Whitney Award and Swoony Award Finalists, and Royal Decoy was a 2022 semifinalist in The Best In Indie Awards. She has a BS in Creative Writing and a minor in Folklore, which means she got to read fairy tales and ghost stories and call it homework. Heather lives in a beautiful valley surrounded by mountains in northern Utah. To learn more about Heather and her books, visit her website: www.HeatherFrost.com.
Carver stood in profile, shirtless as he peered into the mirror and carefully dragged a long razor over his jaw. His bronzed skin, so much darker than her own, was on proud display. His arms were corded with muscles that jumped and rolled as he guided the razor across his skin, his gaze never wandering from the glass before him. Broad shoulders shifted as he leaned in, and she could see the curve of his spine, and the dip of his lower back.
Amryn also saw scars. Some were nothing more than narrow white marks, clearly long-healed. Others were newer. Pink, and puckered. Some even looked like stripes. Were those . . . whip marks?
She must have inhaled too sharply, because Carver’s eyes snapped to hers in the mirror. He lowered the razor and turned to face her. It took considerable effort not to stare at his bare chest and the lined ridges of his abdomen, but somehow she kept her eyes on his face.
White cream still streaked the lower half of his face, since he hadn’t finished his shave, and his blue eyes were intent on her. “Amryn.” His voice was rougher than usual—probably still heavy from sleep. He cleared his throat. “Did I wake you?”
“No.” Her own throat felt dry, and if her cheeks weren’t already sunburned, they’d surely be flaming with her embarrassment. She clutched at her robe and took a quick step back. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to interrupt. I didn’t hear you. I can come back later—”
“It’s fine,” he cut into her rambling. “You just startled me.” His fingers tightened on the razor’s handle. “Did you, uh, need the room?”
His flash of embarrassment as he glanced toward the chamber pot only made her own flare.
She shook her head. “No, I . . . I just wanted to retrieve something Ahmi brought for my sunburn.”
“Oh.” His wave of relief might have made her laugh, under other circumstances. He shifted back from the counter, and she noticed his feet were bare beneath the black cuffs of his pants.
Saints only knew why that detail made this whole moment feel more intimate.
He gestured to the counter with his razor. “I’m not sure which one it is . . .”
She followed his gaze to the array of bottles that sat on the countertop. As much as she wanted to simply run away from this whole situation, her skin was burning. So she forced herself to step into the washroom, even though it put her closer to him. If only she could be as nonchalant and confident as she’d felt yesterday on that training field with him.
She found the aloe with a little searching, and then she sidestepped toward the door. “Sorry again for the intrusion.”
“It’s fine, really.” He gestured to the looking glass. “Do you need the mirror?”
“There’s one in the bedroom.”
His eyebrows tugged together as his gaze narrowed on her neck. “That’s quite the burn. Do you need help applying the salve?”
“I . . .” It would be so easy to say no.
But this truly would go easier with help. And though she didn’t have her orders from the Rising yet, she knew the rebels wouldn’t want her to miss an opportunity to get closer to Carver.
She lifted the ointment. “If you’re sure?”
“Of course. Can I finish shaving, first? I’m nearly done.”
She nodded and stepped back into the doorway, allowing him the space to finish.
Other than their breaths, the low rasp of the blade against his skin was the only sound. He angled his chin in the mirror, moving the blade deftly but with precise strokes. Each movement was controlled and practiced, and watching him was strangely fascinating.
When he finished, he rinsed the razor in the shallow basin on the counter and dragged a towel over his face, wiping away any residual cream. Then he faced her and held out a hand.
She passed him the jar, and her pulse jumped when their fingers brushed.
As he twisted the jar open, she slipped into the space in front of him, so she could stand in the light coming in from the small window. She turned her back to him and gathered her loose braid over one shoulder.
Her voice seemed especially loud in the silence. “If you’d rather just do the back of my neck, I can do the rest.”
In the mirror, she caught the corner of his mouth lifting. “I really don’t mind. I have younger siblings, remember? I’ve been putting aloe on sunburns my whole life.”
The images that leapt to mind made something low in her belly curl. Carver, kneeling before a child and tending their sunburn. Dabbing blood from a scraped knee. Drying tears.
Her pulse skittered, and she lowered her head, partly to give him better access to her neck, but mostly to avoid seeing him in the glass.
He stepped closer, and she could feel the heat that radiated from his larger body. Even though he didn’t touch her, she was wholly aware of the fact that he stood directly behind her, bare to the waist.
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Readers of new adult and fantasy romance will devour Esperance, Heather Frost’s latest release. This book is deliciously delightful on so many levels. It is filled with plenty of edge of your seat action, suspense, politics, magic, and a slow burn romance. The characters are intriguing and the story is completely captivating. Readers who enjoy stories like The Selection Series by Kiera Kass and The Desolation Series by Kortney Keisel will definitely want to pick up this fast paced and exciting book. Once again, Frost has written a story that readers will absolutely not want to put down!
Series: Esperance Trilogy
Genre: New Adult, Fantasy, romance
Publication date: November 18, 2022
Number of pages:531
Disclosure statement: A complimentary review copy of this book was provided from tour groups, publishers, publicists, authors, and others, including NetGalley, OR was borrowed from the library, including OverDrive, Or borrowed from Kindle Unlimited, OR borrowed from Deseret Bookshelf, OR pre-ordered/purchased for review, including Audible. A review was not required and all views and opinions expressed are my own.
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