Royal Bastards, Book #1
by Andrew Shvarts Coming June 6, 2017
---------------------Being a bastard blows. Tilla would know. Her father, Lord Kent of the Western Province, loved her as a child, but cast her aside as soon as he had trueborn children.
At sixteen, Tilla spends her days exploring long-forgotten tunnels beneath the castle with her stablehand half brother, Jax, and her nights drinking with the servants, passing out on Jax’s floor while her castle bedroom collects dust. Tilla secretly longs to sit by her father’s side, resplendent in a sparkling gown, enjoying feasts with the rest of the family. Instead, she sits with the other bastards, like Miles of House Hampstedt, an awkward scholar who’s been in love with Tilla since they were children.
Then, at a feast honoring the visiting princess Lyriana, the royal shocks everyone by choosing to sit at the Bastards’ Table. Before she knows it, Tilla is leading the sheltered princess on a late-night escapade. Along with Jax, Miles, and fellow bastard Zell, a Zitochi warrior from the north, they stumble upon a crime they were never meant to witness.
Rebellion is brewing in the west, and a brutal coup leaves Lyriana’s uncle, the Royal Archmagus, dead—with Lyriana next on the list. The group flees for their lives, relentlessly pursued by murderous mercenaries; their own parents have put a price on their heads to prevent the king and his powerful Royal Mages from discovering their treachery.
The bastards band together, realizing they alone have the power to prevent a civil war that will tear their kingdom apart—if they can warn the king in time. And if they can survive the journey . . .
My father nodded toward a nearby table with three empty seats. Grezza and his sons strode toward it, but then Grezza shook his head. He said something in Zitochi, a grunt of a command. The older son laughed, and the younger son started walking toward us instead.
“What’s happening?” I whispered. “Is he . . . a bastard?”
“I don’t know. Maybe? I don’t think so. Could be?”
I could practically see the gears in Miles’s head whirring. “Do the Zitochi have a practice of bastardom? Do they even understand what this table is? I mean, I never thought to ask, but I suppose I assumed that—”
“Just stay cool,” I said. I was feeling a little excited. I’d never talked to a Zitochi before, not really. And yes, I’ll admit it. He was hot. Not in that sweaty, broad-shouldered way like the blacksmith’s apprentice, but more of a cold, quiet smolder, like the kind of guy who would sit quietly next to you all night and then suddenly grab you up in a heart-pounding kiss.
Maybe I was imagining things. Maybe I just really needed to make out with someone.