Bride Ball (Print) - Including: Poison, Lies, and No-Win Choices

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338 pages | Trade Paperback | 6x9"
Date of publication: 09/25/2015
  • ISBN: 978-1-943528-19-6
  • Model: 75139 words

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NOR's reviewer's pick was for the Poison, Lies and No-Win Choices portion of the book, as a stand-alone.

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Heat Rating: 5 Flames


Welcome to Lenvia, where the young prince has been given a year to choose a wife or have one chosen for him. Hoping for a desperate family to send an innocent into the fray, Edward arranges a series of Bride Balls--outrageous sexual events--and a willing decoy in his bid to find someone who loves him for himself and not his crown.

Enter Amber, daughter of a dead lord on his beloved mistress, a servant in her own household. When her irrepressible grandmother pushes her to find a husband or lover to protect her from the wrath of her step-mother, Amber loses more than her virginity...but it's not a glass slipper that the prince has to track her with.

The race is on. Before these two are through, more than one couple may find their way through the traps of poison, lies, and no-win choices forged at a long ago Bride Ball and left to fester through two generations of the royal family.

Topped off with... Long before Edward met Amber, there was the fateful Bride Ball that started it all. You won't want to miss the fireworks.




"You had no right to," Mora fumed.

Amber paused outside the parlor door, rolling her eyes. It always came to this. Nana owned the estate until her death. Any choice dealing with the house, grounds, or the bulk of the wealth was hers. Yet, Mora complained at every turn that Nana wasn't frugal enough, that Mora's stipend had to be increased, that one of Nana's changes would reflect badly on Mora and her daughters socially.

So, it had come to this again. Amber knocked, wondering what they were arguing about this time.

"Come in," Nana called before addressing Mora again. "You have a duty to the estate and to Marcus."

Amber entered and set down the tray of tea and cookies, pouring and preparing without question of what they wanted. She'd served them often enough to do so in her sleep.

"Cinder is not of this estate, and Marcus is dead. I owe him nothing. I owe his bastard even less, no matter your allowances for her. If anything, the girl is your responsibility."

Amber's hand faltered at the venom in Mora's voice. Mora spat untruths on a daily basis, and as far as Amber could tell, she'd never cared for Marcus and Amber as Nana Xandra reportedly had.

Keeping a straight face, Amber put a second spoon of sugar in Mora's tea. It was certain to infuriate her, since Mora was positively obsessive about her weight.

"You know I'm too old to attend a Bride Ball," Nana reasoned, taking the tea and cookies Amber offered her with a slight nod of thanks.

"Then she won't go. I won't be responsible for a backward little snip that isn't mine. I'll carry her regrets," she offered in stomach-churning false graciousness.

"I seem to recall that your own early Bride Balls were not always a stunning showing," Nana replied.

Amber paused, halfway to Mora, shooting a look of surprise at Nana as the tension in the room rose. Nana wasn't typically so circumspect; there was a story behind that simple statement, a story she would likely never know.

Mora's expression eased from fury to feigned disinterest that proved Nana had struck some sort of blow. "I will not take her. That is final."

Nana smiled sweetly, though her eyes hardened in rebuke. "Then I'm afraid you'll have to prepare your daughters out of your usual monthly stipend, Mora. After all, Marquita and Kambry aren't of the estate, either. Perhaps, the Duke might wish to offer aid to their cause?"

Amber bit the inside of her cheek, swallowing down a hoot of laughter. The Duke of Montberry aid his daughters? That one was beyond amusing. As far as she could tell, the man had washed his hands of his daughters, the very day he'd turned Mora out in favor of his mistress, a fine testament to how he felt about the lot of them.

Mora stared at Nana, her fury at the edges of control. Her stepmother ignored Amber's offer of tea, so she sat it on the low table and headed for the door.

"You can't," Mora protested.

"Oh, but I can. Amber, take this, please."

She turned back, taking the half-empty teacup and depositing it on the tray again. It was obvious that Nana wanted her to stay in the room, so she took up a serving position at the tray.

Nana continued. "Come now, Mora. You don't wear much to a Bride Ball. Surely, your purse will support that well enough...unless you wish to--"

"It will support," Mora snapped. She scooped up the teacup and drank down a healthy mouthful, coughing and sputtering on it, her face going crimson beneath her powder.

Amber bit back another smile. "Is there a problem, Lady Mora?" she inquired, feigning concern.

"You put extra sugar in my tea," she raged.

Amber furrowed her brow, adopting a look of confused innocence that no one in the room would buy as sincere. "One spoon only...though perhaps a bit too rounded?" she suggested.

"Much, and you know it."

"My apologies, stepmother. I will try harder." Mora hated to be reminded that she was Amber's stepmother, and Amber loved reminding her, because of it.

"Leave us, you unruly little beast."

Amber looked to Nana. "Do you require anything more, Nana?" she asked, making it clear that she was Nana's servant and not Mora's. It was a prod, a snub that she would surely pay for later, but for now, it was precisely what she wanted to impress.

Nana smiled. "No, dear. I will manage. I'll send Mora to let you know when to remove the tray."

Amber escaped without laughing, though the chickens were treated to the full explosion of her mirth.


* * * *


"That was a horrible thing to do," Nana admonished, but she did so with glee in her expression.

"She deserved it." Amber waved it off with a flour dusted hand and went back to the rolling of the pie crust.

"I thought you didn't want to go."

"I don't, but I dislike Mora's posturing more than that. She has no right to speak to...or about any of us that way, least of all Father and Mother."

Nana shook her head but didn't offer correction. She'd long since abandoned trying to force Amber to call her stepmother "Lady Mora" in private. Since Mora and the hens were out clucking about some clothier for "appropriate attire" for the Bride Ball, there was no one who cared to overhear her being so disrespectful.

Nana shifted on the cushioned chair Amber had drawn into the kitchen for her. "You've decided to attend, then?"

Amber halted in her work, her hands fisted on the ends of the rolling pin. She went back to it...slowly, weighing her options. "I can't. You heard Mora." Though she hated allowing Mora any victory over her, she was relieved she wouldn't have to endure the Bride Ball.

"Whether she transports you or not, I have named Mora as your escort."

She considered it, working the dough with half a mind to the task. "Then how would I get to the ball? How would I get inside?"

"I can hire Keane to take you, and if you're on the list, you have only to announce yourself to the manservant coordinating. Since your proclaimed escort will be inside, you'll be admitted. They only turn away women who arrive without benefit of an escort."

Amber wondered why that was. Why would they want an older woman watching over the younger, if the men were not permitted trickery or force in bedding them?

"Well?" Nana pressed her.

"I have nothing to wear, and Mora will... Well, you know what she'll be like, if you--"

"I'm certain one of my old outfits would do nicely."

"Mora would still--"

"Cause a scene? Highly unlikely."

Amber set the rolling pin aside, staring intently at it to avoid meeting Nana's eyes.

"It's settled, then," Nana decreed. "You're going."

Amber groaned. "There's no talking you out of this, is there?"

"You're going, Amber. You must. If not for me, then go for yourself."

"I fail to see how this travesty would be that much better for me." Amber peeked up at Nana's expression.

As she feared, the old woman wasn't ordering her; Nana's dark eyes pleaded with her, and Amber had never been able to stand up to that.

She sighed. "As you wish, Nana. I'll go...but I cannot promise that I'll meet someone."

"Good. I'll find just the thing for you to wear."

"That's what I'm afraid of," she muttered in return.


Brenna Lyons
About Brenna Lyons:
Fireborn Publishing Main Page

Brenna Lyons wears many hats, sometimes all on the same day: former president of EPIC, author of more than 100 published works, owner of Fireborn Publishing, columnist, special needs teacher, wife, mother...and member in good standing of more than 60 writing advocacy groups.

In her first ten years published in novel-length, she's won 3 EPIC e-Book Awards (out of 15 finalists) and finaled for 3 PEARLS (including one Honorable Mention, second to NY Times Bestseller Angela Knight), 2 CAPAS, and a Dream Realm Award. She's also taken Spinetingler's Book of the Year for 2007.

Brenna writes in 26 established worlds plus stand-alones, poetry, articles and essays. She's a bestseller in indie/e fantasy and horror, straight genre and cross-genres thereof. Brenna has been termed "one of the most deviant erotic minds in the publishing world… not for the weak." (Rachelle for Fallen Angels Reviews) Milieu-heavy dark work is practically Brenna's calling card, with or without the erotic content. She teaches classes in everything from POV studies to advanced editing, networking to marketing. Brenna enjoys hearing from people who read her work and can be reached by e-mail.




For more information, please visit the author's webpage.
For more information, please visit the author's webpage.

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This book was added to our catalog on Thursday 10 September, 2015.

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