Author Name: Archer Kay Leah
Publisher: Less Than Three Press
Release Date: Wednesday, September 5 2018
Price: 6.99 eBook
Story Type: Novel >50k
Word Count: 136,000
Cover Artist: Natasha Snow
Genres: Fantasy romance, High fantasy, Romance
Pairings: MM (primary), MMF (secondary, overlaps with the primary)
Tropes: Soul mates
Series Title: The Republic
Position (Number) in Series: Fourth
Necessary to Read Previous Books: Yes
Warnings: "Soulbound" contains some explicit content, references to self-harm, suicide, and mentions of suicide-related behavior and intent. This story also contains instances of graphic violence, references to rape and domestic abuse, and depictions and mentions of depression.
In a relationship that violates rules and expectations, Mayr and Tash have found their perfect match in each other. Despite their fears and difficult pasts, they hope for a shared future with security and a family. When Mayr's secret first love, Arieve, proposes they create that family with her, it seems dreams could become reality.
But life is complicated, and so is the delicate balance between duty and love. While Mayr protects the Dahe family at all costs, Tash is determined to succeed as a priest. Both positions require sacrifice, forcing their relationship into painful choices. To make matters worse, criminals lurk in the shadows, seeking revenge on them and those they guard.
The life they want risks losing everything—including Arieve and each other. Even if they can have it all, keeping it may take more than they can give.
About the Series:
With the right people and the right price, the Republic of Kattal can be brought to its knees. But for every line crossed, someone waits on the other side, ready to push back.
Armed and ready to defend their lives, these heroes are not afraid of the fight. They stare adversity in the eye and dance with the darkness within. But in their justice, there is wisdom. In wisdom, there is protection. In it all, there is love. Sometimes it’s a matter of saving a village; sometimes it’s a matter of saving the one they can’t live without. Sometimes it’s just about doing the right thing and learning to love oneself.
Magic may lurk in the shadows. Crime may never sleep. But love doesn't back down.
Hi there, everyone! I'm Archer Kay Leah, author of LGTBQA+ speculative fiction romance with an undying love for fantastical realms of twisted proportions. Thanks for stopping by, and my heartfelt thanks to Wicked Faerie's Tales & Reviews for hosting this stop on the tour for Soulbound! <3
I thought I'd share an exclusive excerpt today, with just a wee bit of one of my favourite scenes from the book! Early on in the planning process, I knew I wanted to write about what would happen if Mayr and Tash ever faced each other in the training ring. Even though Mayr has been Head of the Guard for only a few years, he spent several years as a regular guard, so he's used to being roughed up and challenging his peers. Meanwhile, Tash prefers to stick to peaceful means, mostly because he spent ten years around violence and needs to get away from it. Being a priest allows him to do that.
But things have changed. Tash has found himself playing guard once again to protect people he's promised to help… even though his previous fighting skills are rusty. If he's is going to protect anyone, he needs to get back into it. Who better than his lover, who's used to making sure guards are up to the highest standards possible?
It's not that easy, though: Mayr hates the whole situation. When it comes to Tash, he's a lover, not a fighter. But he can't stop Tash, and he can't let Tash go without training — and he refuses to let anyone else do it for him. This is something new for them, a new level of trust and taking care of each other.
Tash yelped, his head narrowly missing the floor.
Before he fell over, Mayr scrambled over Tash. He dropped onto Tash's hips and slammed his knees to the floor. Sharp pain burst through his knees, but Mayr ignored it, too focused on ramming Tash's wrists to the ground on either side of his head.
"'Den mother' this," Mayr hissed, grinding into Tash. The more Tash struggled, the harder Mayr pinned him. He stole a suffocating kiss, thrusting deep as Tash moaned and returned the assault. Mouths crushed together, he sucked and toyed with Tash's tongue to silence the rest of the foul words in Tash's mouth. He would rob Tash of breath and offer his in its stead, claiming Tash and cleansing him of the Shar-denn's malice.
They writhed together, fighting to breathe, until Mayr ended the torture, unable to withstand the gnawing in his lungs. He shuffled back to sit on Tash's thighs, avoiding contact with Tash's hardened cock. "Go ahead and den mother my ass, you haughty bastard."
"Your beautiful ass," Tash murmured. "I'll do whatever you want to it."
Mayr leaned over until his mouth hovered over Tash's. "Take all the hate they taught you and roll it into a ball," he said, his bottom lip grazing Tash's. "Then pound into me so hard you forget all of it. Everything they taught you, whatever they wanted you to be. Make love to me and forget them." He slid his lips over Tash's in a softer kiss. "They had your past, but give me your future. Be my future."
Tash pressed his forehead to Mayr's. "I'm not going anywhere. I'm here to stay, mind, body, and soul."
The words stabbed Mayr's heart and slashed open his conscience, inviting self-deprecating insults to fling themselves about. How easy the sentiment seemed to be for Tash. No hesitation, no uncertainty, nothing to suggest he was not serious.
It would be so easy to ask him… so easy to give him a ring. Mayr drew his splayed hands down Tash's chest, his skin moistened with a light sweat. The longer he stared into Tash's eyes, the deeper he felt his future. Possibility whispered in the back of his mind, telling him to surrender his own past. He needed to run into Tash's arms, not stumble. He needed to believe Tash would never let him go.
"Mayr," Tash admonished gently, "I trust you, but I need you to trust yourself and me."
"No, you don't. You're relying on soft defense instead of challenging me with brutality." Tash's fingers slipped down Mayr's jaw. "You're merciless in training with experienced guards—I'm asking for the same. I won't break, I promise. I wasn't a weak fighter." A faint smile passed over his lips. "If I was, they'd never have let me protect a faction boss. They would've assigned me to a cache house or made me protect dead bodies. I proved myself in those days—this isn't any different."
"You'll crack your head open." Mayr motioned angrily at the floor. "Or dislocate—"
Tash caught Mayr's wrists. "Stop." He clutched Mayr's hands to his chest. "I know the risks. I've had my share of injuries. But I need this, and I need your help." Freeing one of Mayr's hands, he brushed a kiss over Mayr's knuckles. "I give you permission to go full strength. That's how I learned in the Shar-denn: they threw me into the ring and watched the blood fly. I had to learn how to smash down my opponent before they broke me. It's a part of me now."
Mayr sucked in a breath. He whimpered his annoyance as Tash cupped his cheeks.
"I need you to challenge me, not teach me," Tash said. "I need to fight your experience and sharpen my skills. Give yourself the permission to be you."
It isn't an identity problem. It's me keeping you safe. It's me being the one you're safe with.
Given all the people and things that could hurt Tash, Mayr wanted to protect the time they had together, safeguarding it from everything that could break them. He hated that Tash had to leave the village and travel to other places to fulfill his oaths as a priest. He despised every time they said goodbye, always afraid it would be for the last time.
The fear and desperation were strongest when Tash attended a meeting of the Sacred Assembly or visited another village without Mayr. Although he did his best to accompany Tash on his journeys, Mayr still served Aeley first. There were times he could not trade one love and duty for the other, but he never let Tash go alone. On the trips Mayr missed, he sent at least four guards in his stead.
It's not enough. Even when I'm with you, it's not adequate. Mayr traced his fingertip along Tash's hairline, captivated as Tash closed his eyes and settled his hands on Mayr's hips. They were both servants to duty, unable to let people down. They could not stay by each other's side every moment of every day. Just as Mayr had sworn to take care of Aeley, Tash had sworn to serve the people of Kattal. They led separate lives with responsibilities that originated from opposite directions.
Then you come home and everything's all right. You fall asleep in my arms, and the world doesn't bother me as much. That's the real reason I agreed to Ress and Adren moving into the estate. It wasn't because I'm selfless or because of logic. It's because I wanted you back.
Mayr frowned and stared at the floor past Tash's shoulder. For three weeks, Tash had stayed in the temple, insisting Mayr remain at the estate. They had spent little time together while Ress and Adren attended hearings before the High Council and began community service to fulfill the stipulations of amnesty. Tash had stayed in the temple to protect Adren; Mayr had stayed at the estate to protect Aeley and Lira.
The time apart hurt Mayr more than the fight in Araveena Ford, particularly whenever he saw Tash's bruised face. Not being able to hold Tash had killed his patience.
Though it's been dead for a while, let's be honest. This occasionally sleeping in separate beds and thinking of the temple as Tash's home isn't doing it for me. There's too much space between us. With Adren and Ress here…
He could have a home with Tash.
If I try harder, show him I'm serious. No more jokes. No more lies messing with my head. The past can't have us.
"I'm giving myself the permission to be me," Mayr whispered. Fears were meant to be overcome. The past was meant to be conquered. To rise above them once and for all, he would prove Tash was worth the rest of his life…
And on that note, here ends today's post. Thank you so much for reading! I love hearing from readers, so feel free to share your thoughts, questions, or comments.
Silence fell, deep with meaning conveyed by long gazes and soft smiles. Why had he expected Aeley to say anything different?
Three loud knocks rapped the door, scaring them both. Cursing under his breath, Mayr opened the door.
Every foul word tumbled back down Mayr's throat. "Hey." He leaned against the door, one arm sliding up the side.
In an instant, he tripped on his own feet and stumbled into the door, swinging it open further.
"You can't possibly be drunk already." The corners of Arieve's eyes crinkled with her smile, her glossed lips painted pink like her cheeks. Dark curls and plaits cascaded over her shoulders, the firelight lending a golden hue to the white-blonde streaks in the fringe of hair across her forehead. She held a silver tray, presenting two glass goblets filled with a bluish-purple drink and fragments of gold leaf sprinkled on top. "Otherwise, this might be a bad idea."
"What's a bad idea?" Mayr grimaced, his mouth suddenly dry as if filled with pillow stuffing. Quick to recover, he smoothed his shirt, resettled his belts, and slicked back his hair, pretending he meant to be clumsy.
"Your after-dinner drinks. Lira was going to bring them, but I thought I'd save her the trip. She's having fun trading stories with your mother." Arieve cleared her throat. "I didn't want to interrupt your conversation."
The tray rattled in her hand. The drinks threatened to slosh over the rims.
Mayr steadied the tray. "Thanks for that. This. These." He offered her an awkward smile and took the goblets. "I'll let you get back." So you won't see me kick my own ass for being completely inappropriate.
"Thanks, Arieve," Aeley called from her desk.
"You're welcome." Arieve hesitated as she lowered the tray. She swayed gently, the rich green layers of her tiered, ruffled skirts moving with her. "I'll let you finish."
Before Mayr could say anything else, Arieve hurried down the hall and around the corner.
"I wonder what the mix is this time." Aeley snatched one goblet to sniff it. "Hint of gaffa nectar, soured pamolea extract, and a bite of fulore. Plus maybe, probably—" another sniff "—syrup from the Sailor's Sweetheart bush." She took a sip and nodded. Flakes of gold leaf clung to her top lip. "Not as fun as last night's concoction, but I could get used to it."
"That's what you always say." Mayr brushed the flakes from Aeley's lips with his thumb.
Aeley wiped her mouth on her sleeve. "Not always, just a lot. Cook knows her stuff. To be fair, she's known me since I was three, getting into her puddings and tarts anytime she turned around. I trust that when she serves up a hodgeypodgey drink, it's got personality." She tapped her goblet against his. "I'm heading back to our guests. You should, too, considering it's your party. We can resume this conversation later."
After a kiss to his cheek, Aeley flounced out the door and through the corridor, humming to herself.
Mayr stared into his goblet, watching the gold swirl in an abstract pattern. My stomach. My head. I can't even…
He set the goblet on Aeley's desk. He needed Tash's forgiveness more than he deserved a fancy drink.
As he exited the room, questions assaulted him hard enough to drown the sound of the door latch as it caught. One question practically shouted above all the others: how much had Arieve heard of his conversation with Aeley?
His heartbeat faltered. He was mortified. The door was not impervious to sound. What would Arieve think of him had she heard…
Hey, stupid! It doesn't matter. Mayr grumbled and hooked his thumbs around the back of his belts. It still comes out to you're taken and happy, so shut up. Dragging his heels, he wandered through the corridor and turned into the next, towards the ballroom.
Around the corner, Arieve leaned against the wall, head bowed, with her face hidden by her hair. She twined the trailing black laces of her bright green tunic around her fingers and pulled taut, then released them only to repeat the process. The empty tray rested beside her, abandoned against the wall.
"Hey." Mayr stopped, careful to leave two foot lengths between them. "I thought you went back?" He toyed with his marriage ring, twisting the band nervously. Memories of Tash surged forward, the airy weight of his kisses almost real enough to feel.
"I wanted to wait for you." Arieve raised her head and offered a tender smile. "I probably won't get a word in the rest of the night given the company, so I thought…"
She was in his arms before he could reply. Her hug stole his surprise, shredding it until all that remained was stunned.
"Congratulations," she murmured, her forehead tucked beneath his chin. "He's got a good heart, solid. You've found your match. If the Four could grant me one wish tonight, it'd be for you two to have everything you desire."
Mayr hesitated, his hands hovering over Arieve's back. Touching was a bad idea, especially while he kept Tash from the truth. "Thank you." Quick as he could, he embraced Arieve and pushed her away, feeling worse than the coward he was. "Let's go back. I need to stop my mother from revealing every baby story she has or everyone's going to hear about my naked backside and trailing diaper crowns."
Arieve picked up the tray and started up the hall. "I'm sure Tash is soaking them up as we speak." She laughed, the joyous sound digging up a dozen memories.
Memories he needed to lock up and burn down.
He followed Arieve and cast his gaze to the ceiling. Please, Reverent Goddesses, get me through tonight. Then let's talk about strength of will, because one of these days I'm going to have to confess everything and it'll hurt more than scorching my pride.
Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07GVVDK1Z/
Amazon Canada: https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B07GVVDK1Z
Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07GVVDK1Z/
Amazon (International): http://www.smarturl.it/Soulbound
Archer is giving away three $10 Amazon gift cards with this tour – enter to win via Rafflecopter:
Archer Kay Leah was raised in Canada, growing up in a port town at a time when it was starting to become more diverse, both visibly and vocally. Combined with the variety of interests found in Archer’s family and the never-ending need to be creative, this diversity inspired a love for toying with characters and their relationships, exploring new experiences and difficult situations.
Archer most enjoys writing speculative fiction and is engaged in a very particular love affair with fantasy, especially when it is dark and emotionally charged. When not reading and writing for work or play, Archer is a geek with too many hobbies and keeps busy with other creative endeavors, a music addiction, and whatever else comes along. Archer lives in London, Ontario with a bigender partner and rather chatty cat.
Author Website: http://archerkayleah.wordpress.com/
Author Facebook (Author Page): http://facebook.com/archerkayleah
Author Twitter: https://twitter.com/archerkayleah
Author Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/ArcherKayLeah
Author QueeRomance Ink: https://www.queeromanceink.com/mbm-book-author/archer-kay-leah/
Author Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/author/archerkayleah