Trapped as a dragon for centuries by a curse impossible to break, Chanda is consumed by rage. Her heart broken, her life ruined, her entire tribe dead by her own actions, she never expects the warrior outside her lair to know the secret of her curse. Let alone that she will fall in love with him.Jalan survives the White Dragon’s teeth and claws. He survives her fire. He even survives her love. But he doesn’t come to break her curse or win her heart. Not exactly. His dark god will spare Jalan’s tribe–if the White Dragon is sacrificed.While Jalan must choose between the love of his heart and the safety of his tribe, Chanda realizes she may at last break her curse forever.
If she’s willing to make the greatest sacrifice of all.
It’s dark. It’s got dragons. It’s got bloodshed. It’s got writing so beautiful, tears come to your eyes.
And I’m so jealous that I didn’t write it myself, I’d probably put sugar in her petrol tank if she weren’t so nice. (Hey, it rhymes!)
What makes Survive My Fire shine is that you can see that Joely’s put everything she had, and then some, into it. You can tell that it is written by a woman with passion for her craft and a gift for storytelling.
It should be noted that I felt that the book kicked into high gear from the second scene. This doesn’t mean you should skip the first scene–you shouldn’t because the rest probably wouldn’t make enough sense to you then–just that you should at least continue reading past the first scene.
On top of being a friend of mine, Joely’s also just one of those writers whose voice is like crack for me. So there’s no grade, but since I think her voice is like crack, it’s kinda obvious what she’d get, don’t you think?
If you’re still not convinced–in which case I would never be able to get a job as a bookseller–check out the excerpt below. Her writing speaks for itself.
A note from Joely: If you peruse May’s sidebar, you’ll see a section for “Sisters of the Severed Hand.” Here’s an exclusive excerpt of Survive My Fire which illustrates how I came to toss severed hands at May and Michelle. Here be dragons indeed!
The clash of weapons woke me before sunset. Bleary-eyed, I crept to the opening of my lair and surveyed my domain. With dreams of Jalan fresh in my mind, his touch stirring Fire even in my dragon prison, I feared the smell of him in my nostrils was only a lingering dream.
But no, he’d returned despite my threats. I had no time to contemplate the surge of emotion in my hateful heart, though, because he returned with company.
Unfriendly company if the battle was any indication.
Two black-robed warriors fought at the base of my cliff. Jalan held the scimitar in one hand and a short blade in the other, both whirling and striking as fast as his tribe’s namesake. Through his bond, I felt blazing fury, a Fire to match my own.
Rage poured over me, a crushing betrayal that seized my mighty lungs before I could bellow my flames. He lied to me. He tricked me. He betrayed me. He never meant to break my curse. He couldn’t.
He was just as cursed as I. Worse, in fact. He was nigh to losing his humanity entirely.
I could see his beast just beneath his skin, a roiling energy of shadowed rage and smoke. Black and red hovered like a second hide of scale and leather. The invisible promise of massive wings swept above him, driving his opponent back.
Now I knew what dra’gwar meant. All of his Krait warriors must have already turned feral. He was terribly close himself. No wonder my stone warrior held his emotions in such fierce check.
Simmering with rage, I lay there on my rock ledge and watched as the sun set. I watched him dance the blades, his taamid a shadow as dark as his near wings, his blood burning. I watched him slit his opponent’s throat. I watched him attempt to leash his own beast, no easy feat with blood and meat before him. With his head thrown back and his weapons bare in his hand, he roared to the twilight sky.
A call I could not refuse.
I barreled down the slope at him, wings tucked tight to my back. Silent, swift, I slunk behind him, jaws gaping. He knew, though. The blood bond betrayed me. Fighting his rising dragon, he whirled away from my claws and retreated. Not because he was scared of me, no.
He feared becoming me.
I don’t know what I would have done if I’d caught him. I was so furious–at him, at myself, for daring to hope an end to my curse might be near. But spilled blood overwhelmed my senses. Blood, fresh blood, fresh meat.
Glaring at Jalan with my baleful eyes, I hunched over the dead warrior and feasted. Deliberately, I ate messily, slinging a severed hand in his direction, licking blood from my jaws, crunching the dead man’s skull open like a rotten melon.
Jalan watched me, silent, his rock face hardening with each jagged bite I took. His control returned somewhat, and the raging beast retreated. Power settled beneath his skin, but his eyes blazed at me in the dying sun. His blood still burned, but with a different need.
A need all male dragons felt in the presence of an unmated female. Domination. Aggression. Lust. He wanted to subdue me.
Somma damn me for all eternity, I wanted him to try.
Tail lashing, I dared him to interrupt my feast. I would be more than happy to eat him for dessert. I felt him through the bond, vibrating with tension and urgency. His dark eyes gleamed, locked on my every move. The more I tried to revolt him with my eating habits, the darker his eyes burned. Snarling, I munched on a femur and wished it was his.
The rising moon cast its glow on me. My scales itched and crawled, my bones cracked and convulsed. And then he slammed into me, pressing my very human body into the sands.
Too much of the dragon still burned in me to go gently to his embrace. Too much hurt in my Riven heart, too much disappointment to accept his caress. Outweighed by nearly ten stone, and armed with only human teeth and nails, I didn’t have a chance against him.
Fighting like a dragon only inflamed him–and me–all the more.
My human body wanted him. Even my shriveled dried-up broken heart wanted him. More, my dragon wanted him. I wanted his wild male dragon to force me into submission, and if he failed, I wanted to kill him. I would not accept a male who couldn’t fight me with tooth, claw, and wing–and win.
With a knee in the small of my back and a hand fisted in my hair, he pinned me face down in the sand while he shrugged out of his clothes. Not a word from him, not a curse, not a muttered endearment, merely the whisper of cloth, the deep pant of his breath, the musk of aroused warrior and male dragon rank in my nostrils.
My agonized whimper drove him to hurry, oh please hurry.
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© Joely Sue Burkhart