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Mar 6 2017 12:00pm

First Look: Kerrelyn Sparks’ How to Tame a Beast in Seven Days (March 7, 2017)

How to Tame a Beast in Seven Days by Kerrelyn Sparks

Kerrelyn Sparks
How to Tame a Beast in Seven Days (Embraced Series #1)
St. Martin's Press / March 7, 2017 / $7.99 print & digital

Fans of Kerrelyn Sparks who have been mourning the loss of Ms. Sparks’ literary wit for the last year can finally rejoice.  In the same style as The Princess Bride, Kerrelyn has created an entire new world for us to savor with all of the marvelous characters and sparkling humor we have come to expect.

She has created a world where the night sky shines with the light of twin moons.  Here there are five kingdoms and the four that share borders are constantly at war.   But no matter which kingdom you hail from, any children born on a night where the two moons are intertwined in the sky are born Embraced.  Those who are Embraced are born with a special ability and are much feared in all the kingdoms.  How to Tame a Beast in Seven Days gives us our first introduction to those who are Embraced. 

The current King of Eberon is so greedy to own all the land in his Kingdom that he sets nearly impossible goals for this Lords and failure to succeed at the King’s demand can be a death sentence for you and your family.  And his demands on his own family is even harsher.  Leofric of Benwick is the Lord Proctor of the Realm tasked with keeping their enemies from crossing the borders.   Leo knows that he was given this position since the King hopes that Leo will be killed in a skirmish with their enemies which is a much simpler way to get rid of a possible successor to his throne then simply killing Leo outright.  Not that he could kill Leo in a fair fight. 

Leo was born Embraced.  He can harness the power of lightning, and does so anytime a storm passes by whether he wants to or not.   He is not called the Beast of Benwick for nothing and being able to shoot lightening makes him a very powerful leader of the army.   Unfortunately, it also means that Leo can’t touch anyone without electrocuting them.  He hasn’t felt the touch of another person since he was five years old and his touch killed his nanny.  Now he is not only feared by the King, but all the people of the Kingdom as well. 

Regardless of his powers, Leo is as much a pawn of the King as anyone else and the King has declared that Leo is to marry the daughter of Duke of Vindalyn.  The King hopes that the Duke refuses to marry his daughter to the Beast, then the Duke would forfeit his very, very prosperous lands.  But just in case the Duke decides to allow the union, the King has sent several assassins to make sure the bride never arrives at the alter.  Failure to provide a bride is still a failure to fulfill the King’s wishes after all.  Yet even if the assassins fail, the King knows that consummating the marriage will be the death of the young bride.  So this plan will definitely be a win-win-win for the King.

And while Leo initially objects to the idea of the arranged marriage, he swiftly changes his mind once he meets his bride to be.  He just needs to convince her that he is not the Beast that his reputation indicates.  But earning his new wife’s affection only makes things harder on Leo.  She might be returning his feelings, but that doesn’t change the simple fact that he will never be able to touch her, and now he very much wants to.

Why did he worry about winning her heart? Why did he care so damned much?

As a warrior, he was accustomed to analyzing battle plans, not emotions.  Even so, he made an attempt to put labels on what he was feeling.

Lust.  That was the easiest to discern.  She was a beautiful woman.  Lovely face, gorgeous body. A glint in her eye and a lift of her chin that spelled intelligence and courage. Of course he desired her.  He could lose his right nut and still lust for her.  Hell, he could be on his deathbed, and she’d still make him hard.  He shifted his weight. His damned breeches were getting too tight.  He’d better stop thinking about lust. What else was he feeling?

Possessiveness. He didn’t want to share her.  Something about her filled him with greed. And lust. Move on.

Protectiveness.  The king wanted her dead, so his protective instincts were in full swing.  Along with lust.  Get a grip.

Kinship. The king wanted both him and her dead, so he felt a connection to her.  And a great deal of lust.

Dammit. Wasn’t there more to him than lust? He might be a Beast, but he still had a soul.  He delved deeper into his heart till he reached an inner core of truth.

The Beast needed to be loved.

Hungry men could dream of food, thirsty men might dream of wine, but his soul was shriveling from a different kind of starvation.  How many years had it been since he’d touched someone?  Since someone had touched him?

His soul was starving.

It seemed that the King might actually succeed in tormenting poor Leo to death.  At least it seemed so until an accidental brush against his wife’s skin resulted in no injury to her.  Leo is overwhelmed with hope (and a more than a little lust) at the idea he might actually be able to touch someone for the first time in decades and more importantly, he would finally be able to claim his bride.  This possibility is so overwhelming to him that the dangers of war, the possible assassins and the threats of the King all fade to the background as the Beast launches his greatest campaign – ridding his wife of her virginity.

Leo could only nod in silence, for his mind was still reeling.  If he could touch Ana, he could make love to her. 

“We’ll catch him,” Edmond boasted, then glanced at Leo.  “Right, my lord?”

Leo nodded as he flexed his gloved hands.  “Nevis, take your men and half of my personal guard.  Edmund can go, too, if he likes.  And Brody, if you’re up to it.”

Nevis’s eyes narrowed.  “Aren’t you coming?”

Leo shifted his weight.  He couldn’t admit in front of everyone that he was more desperate to bed his wife than catch an assassin.

If Leo can consummate his marriage, then someday he could have an heir.  If that happens, the King will not only lose his chance to claim the ripe lands of Vindalyn for himself, but there will be yet another heir who could try to seize his throne.  Leo might be very happy with the way the King’s plans are working in his favor, but the danger to Leo and Ana has only just begun.

Kerrelyn Sparks has created a new world full of Kingdoms ripe with magic and intrigue and we have only begun to delve into the possible abilities these new Embraced characters will surprise us with.

***

Learn more about or pre-order a copy of How to Tame a Beast in Seven Days by Kerrelyn Sparks, available March 7, 2017:

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H&H Editor Picks:

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Lucy Dosch writes book reviews for her blog http://ebookobsessed.com. Her e-reader has turned her love of reading into an obsession. When she is not reading, she likes to spend time with her husband and two daughters.

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