It has been a huge week for Kailin Gow, author of our Kindle Nation Romance of the Week, THE FAIRY LETTERS.
We’ll post some of the new developments in her career later today, but for now she’s here to share a compelling 3500-word excerpt to introduce you to her characters Kian and Breena. Just scroll down to start reading, and enjoy!
|Promised to each other at birth during a brief interlude of peace between the warring fey, Kian and Breena have always known they were each other’s destiny. Now they are the brokers of peace, but must they sacrifice their love in order to broker peace? Can they keep a promise that Kian thought would never be broken? Kailin Gow’s THE FAIRY LETTERS (A Frost Series Novel) 5 STARS – $2.99|
| Romance of the Week is a sponsored collaboration between BookLending & Kindle Nation Daily.
More information here.
But that’s not all!
For one week only, bestselling novelist Kailin Gow is offering Kindle Nation citizens a special 60% discount on four novels from her “Frost” series! Get all four Frost novels now for just $1.99 each and you’ll stay cool all summer!
Excerpt from The Fairy Letters: Letters from Prince Kian to Queen Breena (A FROST Series Novel)
By Kailin Gow
My Dearest Breena,
They will remember us. Long after these wars have been mourned and then forgotten, long after Summer and Winter fairies lay aside their rancor for one another and forget that they have ever tasted hatred, they will remember – Summer fairies, and Winter too – of a fairy king who loved his queen. They will remember that the war ended, and after there was peace at last there came a time of glory, a golden age, in which Winter and Summer stood united: one powerful Feyland. And they will remember too the love that brought the Summer and Winter Courts together – a love so great that it shattered the very boundaries of magic – and they will think of us and our love not as a danger, not as an ill, not as a transgression, but as the force that saved our world.
I have to believe this, Breena. Every day that goes by, I force myself to imagine a world in which there is not only peace between the two kingdoms, but peace in my heart as well. I know what my duties as Fairy Prince are. I know what my duties are to the land of Winter. And yet – despite all this – I know that my heart will never truly be whole unless the treaty that unites my land with yours is followed by the promise that unites your hand and heart with mine. Perhaps you are stronger than I am, Breena. You were able to put aside our love and work for peace. That was something that sometimes, in my most anguished hours, I am afraid that I would never be able to do. If I were forced to choose at this very moment between the peace we strive for and the future with you of which I so often dream, I know that my heart would be torn – the right answer, the unselfish answer, would perhaps not be the answer I would be able to give.
Funny, isn’t it? I spent my whole life learning how to be a Prince – what a Prince wears, how he moves, what he thinks, what he eats, what he drinks, what he does. I was trained from an early age to rule Feyland – much to the dismay of my sister Shasta, for she so longed to wear the crown that had been forced upon my head (before, alas, her love for Rodney clouded that earlier ambition). I learned early on that what I wanted, that what my heart wanted, was of no matter: all that mattered was the good of Feyland. My mother the Winter Queen taught me these lessons, lessons that – I knew – she wished that my father had been alive to teach me. When I first met you on your sixteenth birthday, all I could think about were those lessons: it was my duty to capture you, my duty to take you hostage, to use you as a pawn in our war against Summer.
And look at me now. Once, I was willing to forego all my desires, my attractions, to cast aside my fairy intended in order to serve the interests of the Winter Court. But now you are the strong one, Breena. You are the one able to make the hard decisions, the ones I cannot make, because when the thought of being without you crops up in my mind I can focus on nothing but taking you in my arms, kissing your shoulders, stroking your soft hair and kissing each wispy strand. We are apart now because of your strength, your courage, your wisdom. You did all this without the benefit of any fairy lessons – any upbringing at court. You never had a Queen Mother locking you in the dungeon overnight because you had failed to show sufficient humility when playing games with fairy squires. You never had a fencing-master engaged to chase you over miles of tundra to ensure that your arm did not tire in a fight. You never spent hours poring over the annals of past rulers of Feyland: great kings and queens whom you admired, and whose bravery you were told to exceed. And yet you proved yourself a great Queen nonetheless.
I am writing these letters to you with a twofold purpose. One is a selfish one – to assuage my own pain, my own loneliness, by writing to you, by sending a little figment of my soul to you in every stroke and every curve of this blueberry ink. I feel that, by writing to you, I am keeping that ephemeral and gossamer thread that connects us alive – I am igniting the magic that unites our souls. If I do not write to you, if I do not find some receptacle for all the words and pains and passions that gush forth like the Arctic Waterfalls of the Far North from my soul, then I fear that I – like poor Shasta – may go mad.
Yet I have another purpose. I am afraid – I do not fear admitting it – that in this long absence you will forget me, forget us, forget the words and worlds we have shared. Not at first, of course, but over time your memories will dim, as all memories do. I fear that one day you will be unable to recognize the sound of that sweet melody played for us at our first dance in Feyland, that you will be unable to remember that first meal we shared in my hunting lodge, the conversations over my paintings, the first time we kissed. If I cannot be there with you physically, to remind you of these moments and to create new ones, then I will, at least, do what I can: I will write you a series of letters, one each week, and tell you stories about Feyland. I will tell you all that I remember of you – even those childhood impressions you likely have long since forgotten – and I will tell you too about all the things I never told you when we were together – myths and stories of Feyland, memories of my upbringing at the Winter Court, legends of fairies who fell in love before love was banned in our kingdom – anything that can bring a smile to your face. It is only in our separation that I realize how much there is that I wish to say to you, how much I never said to you. I pace the walls and corridors of my castle and grow angry with myself because I never told you the story of my mother’s favorite courtier, or because I never laughed with you about the drawing-lessons we took together, lessons I doubt you even remember. There is so much of my life, my memories, I have not shared with you.
This is my offering, then. I have told you many times that I would give myself for you – utterly and totally. If I cannot sacrifice my life for you in other ways, then at least I can give myself thus: sending you a piece of me, and of my love, with each letter that goes forth from this palace.
And perhaps one day, in the dream I have described, when we are remembered as King and Queen of a beautiful and peaceful land, and our love is recorded in the annals of Feyland, these letters will be discovered by some clever-minded fairy historian, and my passion quoted and recorded in dry history-books. Children will read in school how Prince Kian pined for his beloved fairy queen – and they will laugh because they know how the story ends: of course it has ended for them, as you say in the human world, happily ever after. But you and I don’t know this yet. We are caught in the middle, you see – we cannot look back, as I hope and pray that these children will do, and say of course – of course it all turned out right in the end.
We just don’t know.
But because if I let myself rest on that uncertainty my mind would collapse within itself, I will not dwell. I will think of those children whom I imagine reading our love-story in the history books, and pretend that it has all been decided already. We will prevail. We will survive. We will remain together – in love.
I am thinking back now, as I write this, to the very first time I heard your name mentioned. It is a hazy memory, glazed over by time. I must have been five years old, a small toy prince wearing clothing I had not yet grown into, fumbling with a sword that reached at least two feet over my head. I was in the hills around our palace with that fencing-master of mine – for five years of age was not too young to learn to fence. He was not at this point strict with me, the fencing master (the severity came later, after my father’s death, when my mother’s grief was so great that she imagined she could resurrect my father from my unripe bones), and we were playing a game that, while ostensibly a duel, had ended up something rather more like a particularly high-stakes game of tag.
And then I saw my father coming up over the hills, wearing his enormous fur pelt (it hangs on the wall of the Great Hall now) and his silver crown shining and glinting in the light of the white winter sun.
“Kian, my boy,” he said to me, enveloping me in his great pelt as he knelt to my level. “I’ve got some news.” He sighed. “The scion of the Summer House…is a girl.” He gave a great laugh of relief. “Bet you’re relieved to hear that, eh, my boy?”
I nodded, but in truth I had not remembered that there was to be a scion of the Summer House at all. I knew vaguely that if we headed west past the Autumn lands we would arrive in a land of ripe oranges, and that my father spoke of these people admiringly, though with some wariness at their power, but if my father had mentioned to me that the consort of the Summer King was with child, I had completely forgotten it in favor of more enjoyable childhood pursuits like riding and fencing.
“Just as well,” my father said to me. “If she had given birth to a boy, he would have been your greatest friend or your greatest enemy. But instead she’ll be something else entirely!” Of course, I didn’t know then what he meant – the closest I had come to understanding girls was an inchoate sense that my sister Shasta was not quite like me – but the words have a bitter meaning now.
For my father was wrong. You may be a woman, Breena, but you are my closest friend.
And yet – curse this war! – you are still my greatest enemy.
My Dearest Breena,
The last time I wrote to you I told you about the very first time I heard your name – on the lips of my father. If only I had known then about the magic that sparked in the air at that incomparable sound – my Breena, born in the Summer Court! But the name still meant little to me – the idea of a princess, born in some faraway tower, swaddled in the golden silks of the Summer Court, meant as little to me as the lessons in the language of Ancient Fay my tutor tried in vain to make me memorize. No, I was still a young lad, and girls were in my mind a race at once infinitely stranger and yet infinitely less interesting than the giants of Coburn Causeway in the far northern territories of Zaphon. How I blush to think of those days, when my youth and my stupidity did not admit a female presence to my mind or to my activities – even Shasta, much to her consternation (and to my mother’s!) was excluded from my boyhood games. But all that changed, Breena, the moment I met you. I was a child, and you were a child, and yet that very first sight of you – your shimmering eyes staring with the wisdom of ages out at mine – convinced me.
It was at your christening. Of course, when my father announced to me that a Royal Christening required the presence of all noble fairies in the land – the Autumn vassals and the Winter kings alike – I was far from pleased. I remember distinctly that I had planned a rematch with my fencing-master, who had (I am ashamed to say) beaten me rather decisively on the previous occasion, and I had managed to convince myself that, despite my small statue and my laziness in practicing, I would prevail upon the morrow. And so I objected to dragging myself away from the tundra plains behind the castle for something so irrelevant, so foreign, as a princess’s christening. “But Father!” I pleaded. “Who cares if some girl has been born? She’s only a baby. She isn’t interesting yet. Shasta’s already almost two years old and she’s still dull! What could a baby possibly do that’s interesting?”
“Hush,” my mother’s voice was low and strong. “Don’t trouble your father so. He has far too much on his mind as it is.” Her gaze grew dark – a darkness that would come to be familiar to me in later days – and I know now that she must have been thinking of the first seeds of tension which had begun to crop up in those days between Summer and Winter, for the first Spring Rebellion had occurred some months prior. (At the time, of course, I simply attributed her gravity to one of those maternal mysteries well beyond my juvenile grasp).
“But she’ll be even stupider than Shasta!” I (I am ashamed to admit) whined. Shasta, toddling over from her miniature throne, let out a convenient wail – though barely able to walk, her eyes still had the same sapphire ferocity that you, my dearest Breena, know so well. She fixed her babyish glare on me and I felt a bit chastened.
“There is nothing to discuss,” said my father, his voice as gruff as the wolf whose pelt he wore. “These are dangerous times. Diplomacy is more important than ever. We cannot risk offending the Queen. Redleaf is known to be less than merciful with those whom she deems an affront to her…ahem…rigid schemes of etiquette.”
“But why should what the Queen says matter?” I persisted. “After all, isn’t the King the one who’s in charge? What do Queens do that’s so important?”
My mother gave a wry smile. “I can’t think of a thing,” she said – her almost smooth enough to hide her sarcasm.
“Now, now,” my father said, “there have been plenty of great Queens in Feyland in the past. In the absence of first-born sons – or when those sons proved unworthy – there have been instances in which Queens ruled alone, and held all the power. Remember the story of Queen Tamara – she who built the mysterious Ice City in Zaphon.”
“Ugh, girls having power! I don’t see any girls in my fencing lessons” (Forgive me, Breena – but I am bound to report this anecdote in all honesty. I may have not been the most enlightened of toddlers – my mother, after all, had not yet come into her own as leader. She was far quieter then, hiding her strength and power like a lamp under a bushel, and I could not have known from looking at her then that she would prove to be as great as the fabled Tamara.)
“Don’t be so cocky,” my mother gave my father a soft smile. “I seem to recall that many a marriage was made when a young girl defeated a rather arrogant lad in a match or two with the scimitar.”
My father chuckled and returned her grin. “Funny…such a tale just might have slipped my mind!”
“What are you talking about?” I asked, but before I could receive an answer Shasta let out another bellowing wail, and my mother rushed to attend to her.
“Girls get all the attention,” I mumbled to myself, putting my hands in my pockets. “It isn’t fair.”
“Don’t grumble so.” There was a twinkle in my father’s eye. “One day, my lad, you’ll be giving that attention, and not resenting it.”
I responded with a self-important harrumph.
On the carriage-ride over I eavesdropped on the gossip that my mother and father were sharing – albeit in hushed tones, so as not to wake the sleeping (at last!) Shasta. Apparently the child, though recognized by Flametail as his own and – at least provisionally – his heir, was not the child of Redleaf, but rather of the king’s favorite concubine, a fact that had caused no small amount of chatter in Feyland. The Autumn people – humiliated that their favored princess would not be the bearer of the heir to Summer – had begun rioting outside the palace. Indeed, my mother noted sagely, it was the revolt of Autumn that had sparked the similar revolutions in the Spring lands, which were but tenuously under Summer’s control.
“The Spring denizens have seen what happened to Autumn,” my mother said. “The Autumn Kingdom gave up its autonomy to become a vassal to Summer under the expectation that the heir to both kingdoms would have both Summer and Autumn blood – and look what has happened! The queen’s infertility was a travesty, I know, but for him to spawn an heir from a human! Spring will no longer trust Summer to protect their interests.”
“The first rebellion may have been put down,” my father mused, “but the next one will not be so easy to quell – especially if we choose to support the Spring lands, and offer them our protection.”
My mother raised her head. “A dangerous proposition,” she said in a low voice. “If you support Spring, you risk Redleaf’s wrath.” She scoffed. “Flametail may not be much of a threat – he cares more about wine and womanizing than he does about running the kingdom; if he’d been more careful about where he put his heart he would never have offended Autumn so. But Redleaf…if she causes war, it will not be by a hapless accident. It will be dangerous.”
“Nonsense,” said my father. “The Spring lands are an important source of revenue – we can’t feed Winter on lily-blossoms and snow cream alone! If we had control over the Streaming Meadows, let alone the Orchards of Saturn, we’d be able to double or triple the rations we give out.”
“And if we get into a war,” my mother said sharply, “there won’t be enough fairies alive to eat them.”
Oh, my Breena! What foolishness! Your father’s love for your mother – my father’s pride in war! Your stepmother’s jealousy! It falls to us now to correct the sins of our parents’ generation. They have led us into war, not by malice but by simple errors, simple sins: selfishness, lust, pride, avarice – and now it falls to us to deny ourselves not only these errors that arise out of “human” nature – but also the good. We must be strong – but we must also suffer. We may not cause wars, but we also may not love. Are we destined to suffer for the sins of our parents forever?
And yet I digress. For it is only when we arrived at the Summer Court, scented with bergamot and gleaming before us – its great golden dome like another Feyland sun – that my story really begins. For there it was that I first caught sight of a bassinet – piled high with gold and lilac and lavender silks, so ornately bejeweled that I at first had to shield my eyes from the light. Before me I saw, decked out in all his majesty, Flametail your father, wearing a cloak of bright phoenix feathers, his gold chain mail lustrous in the noonday sun. I gasped with admiration. My own court was beautiful, in its way, but it was cold, silvery, as misty as moonlight. This place was bright and shining, full of life. The warm sun on my face, so much more pleasing to my skin than the wintry sun of my own court, brought a smile to my face.
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