Brooke Radley on Nightshade ~ Excerpt, Guest Blog, Rafflecopter Giveaway

Prism Book Alliance® would like to thank Brooke Radley for stopping by today.

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Title: Nightshade
Author: Brooke Radley
Publisher: NineStar Press
Cover Artist: Aria Tan
Genre: Action/Adventure, Fantasy, Fiction, Lesbian, Lesbian Romance, Thriller

Blurb:

Eleanor Reed spent most of her life at the Darten Academy, trading her childhood for an education in magic. When the King’s Council comes to her with a mission, she jumps at the opportunity for adventure. The assignment is deceptively simple: infiltrate the Nightshade Brotherhood, the city’s infamous thieves’ guild, and confirm their responsibility for the recent emergence of a hallucinogenic drug.
Unfortunately for her, the Brotherhood hates mages. If they catch Eleanor, they’ll slit her throat and toss her in the ocean.
Hiding her identity proves to be an impossible task. Cassandra, a thief as beautiful as she is dangerous, sees Eleanor cast a spell during her trial for the Brotherhood. Rather than kill her, Cassandra offers her a position in the guild. Cassandra holds the key to success for Eleanor—but is she after something more?
Under Cassandra’s tutelage, Eleanor discovers that the Brotherhood isn’t quite what it seems to be, and the ever-growing drug problem is more complicated than originally anticipated. Whoever is at fault will stop at nothing to get what they want.
Things go from bad to worse when Eleanor realizes her growing passion for Cassandra. Will Eleanor be able to decide where her loyalties lie before it’s too late?

Only Ninjas Wear Black

You know all those useless bits of trivia you pick up? Those facts that you’re never going to use in your day-to-day life? As it turns out, those facts (and lots of research) come in handy when you’re a writer.

My first book, Nightshade, has just been published. The greatest challenge I faced with Nightshade was creating a believable and formidable organization for the protagonist, Eleanor Reed, to fight against. Of course, I’ve never had the experience of being part of a thieves’ guild, so I wasn’t sure where to even start. I wanted this guild to be a massive, sprawling giant, to be the biggest threat to the city, which meant that there had to be multiple locations and a multitude of thieves.

I researched everything I could about thieves’ guilds, which, unfortunately for me, wasn’t much. In the end, I settled with creating the Nightshade Brotherhood as I would any other guild in a medieval setting. I created apprentices and masters, and a specific location for those beginning their craft to live and learn as a group.

Around this same time, my younger brother bought a lock-picking kit. One of his friends had recently come back from a convention and told my brother about the adventure of picking a lock and gaining entrance to the off-limits hotel rooftop. His enthusiasm was enough to convince my brother that he absolutely had to purchase a kit.

When the package arrived in the mail a few days later, I asked to look at the tools. The kit was simple—just a handful of picks and wrenches, but as I held the tools I knew I wanted to write a scene with one character teaching another how to use the tools. Thankfully, my brother never used the lock picks to unlock anything more than a closet door or two. I think perhaps I got more out of the set than he did!

Between the kit and the research I’d done for the thieves’ guild, I had a good start on the Nightshade Brotherhood. The only thing missing was the clothing they wore. I pictured the thieves in all black ensembles, melding into the night. I wrote the entire novel with the thieves in black, but then discovered that black is perhaps the worst color for a thief to wear. It’s so dark that it stands out, making those who wear it at night easy targets. After learning about my error, I hastily changed the black to dark gray.

Since then, I’ve been a little more careful in my research!

It’s paid off—and the result is my new book, Nightshade, available from NineStar Press now. Thanks to Prism Book Alliance for giving me the opportunity to talk about Nightshade. I hope you enjoy reading it!

Excerpt

The stranger introduced herself as Cassandra. With a sinking feeling, Eleanor knew regardless of how bad an idea it was to call attention to herself, she couldn’t help it. This woman had an inexplicable draw to her and Eleanor was caught in her trap.

She managed to introduce herself to Cassandra without further embarrassment. Just as Toby instructed, she only used her first name. She wasn’t sure if Cassandra had meant to do the same thing, but the other woman didn’t seem bothered by the impolite introduction.

While Cassandra ordered a drink from the innkeeper, Eleanor studied her profile. She had blonde hair, something unusual in the city. It was long, too—longer than Eleanor’s—and tied into a loose ponytail that fell well beyond her shoulders. As soon as the innkeeper left with Cassandra’s order, she turned back to Eleanor. “So what brings you to this part of Darten City?” she asked. The question was innocent enough, but Eleanor couldn’t help but wonder if it was a good idea to talk to Cassandra, much less anyone else at the bar. At least she would blend in better if she were engaged in conversation; she’d been quiet and alone in a dark corner for too long. Cassandra was as good a cover as any, she reasoned.

“I recently moved to the area,” Eleanor said.
Cassandra looked intrigued. “Is this your first time living in the city?”
Eleanor thought back to the cover story she and Ben had come up with. It had been a brief conversation, but at least it gave her something to go off of when he returned. “Yes,” she said. Then, hesitating, she added, “My fiancé and I came here for a better life. He found work at the shipyard.”

Cassandra’s face became unreadable. Had Eleanor done something wrong? But then Cassandra smiled. “That’s great! A lot of people come here expecting the worst—overcrowding, steep rent, not enough jobs to go around—but there are so many wonderful opportunities in the city, ones you can’t find anywhere else. You just need to know how to find them. How long have you been here?”

She and Ben hadn’t discussed their timeline, so Eleanor improvised. “Not even a week. We’re from a small village south of here and it’s rare to find someone coming all the way to Darten City who isn’t taking the main road. We got very lucky to find a trader to travel with.”

That seemed to appease Cassandra’s curiosity, and for a minute there was a lull in the conversation. Eleanor fought the urge to turn and look at the stairwell. That was, until Cassandra asked, “Is your fiancé still working? I hear the hours at the shipyard are bad for newcomers.”

“It’s our anniversary,” Eleanor said, this time remembering to use their cover story. Cassandra’s brow slanted in confusion and Eleanor realized she’d spoken aloud. “He’s upstairs,” she hastened to explain. “He wanted to do something romantic— candles, flowers, you know.” Cassandra nodded. This was the perfect opportunity to leave and check on Ben. He was probably fine, but this conversation was becoming personal fast and Eleanor wasn’t sure how many more questions she could answer by lying through her teeth. “As a matter of fact, I really should go see how he’s doing.”

Cassandra’s polite smile faltered for a split second, and Eleanor was sure she would have missed it if she had so much as blinked. The whole situation confused her, but she couldn’t dwell on it right now, not with the uncertain status of the mission looming over her. Cassandra’s voice was gentle as she said, “Of course. I wouldn’t want to keep you from enjoying your evening.”

“Thank you,” Eleanor said as she stood. She couldn’t help but glance at Cassandra one last time. Their eyes met, and Cassandra gave her a soft smile.

“It was a pleasure to meet you, Eleanor.” Cassandra tipped her mug in Eleanor’s direction. “If you ever need someone to show you around the city, I would be more than willing.”

Links

Nightshade on Goodreads
NineStar Press
Amazon US
Amazon UK
Amazon CA

Giveaway


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About the Author

Brooke Radley is an office manager who lives in southeastern Virginia. She has a degree in English from Virginia Tech. When she’s not writing, she’s either reading or spending time with her two dogs. You can visit her at www.brookeradley.com.

Farewell Giveaway
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.

Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,

Brandilyn
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