Last year I was introduced to Kerrelyn Sparks. The Embraced follows a group of adopted sisters as they discovered they have elemental or magical powers. I really enjoyed the previous books in the series and I’m looking forward to this one.
fluff, she thought about wishing for that magical world where the tall and handsome stranger was waiting for her. But what were the chances of that actually happening? It made more sense to wish for something that could possi- bly come true. A long and happy life for Eviana and Eric.
“I’m weady!” the little girl announced.
“Me, too!” Gwennore took a big breath and started to gently blow.
Eviana huffed and puffed, spitting more than blowing, then giggled as white florets detached from the flower head and floated away on a breeze. “We did it!” She danced about. “Guess what I wished for!”
“Ye shouldn’t say, or it won’t come—”
“I wished you not be sad.”
Gwennore stiffened. Good goddesses, was she so obvious that even a three-year-old could tell? “Ye think I’m sad?”
Eviana nodded. “ ’Cause we get pwesents, and you don’t. But I’ll give you some fwowers, too.”
Gwennore smiled. “That’s very sweet of you, but ye needn’t worry. My birthday will happen in the fall at the Autumn Embrace. I have the same birthday as yer papa. And Brigitta, Maeve, and Brody.”
Eviana clapped her hands together. “Then we can have another party?”
Gwennore nodded. “Now let’s get some flowers for Sorcha, so we can head back to camp.”
“All wight!” Eviana skipped away, stopping every now and then to pluck a flower.
A large shadow swept over them, and Gwennore glanced up. Good goddesses! Her heart lurched.
She scrambled to her feet. What was a Norveshki dragon doing here? Was that what had been circling them? Why would it be interested in her? Not me. Icy-cold terror crept into Gwennore’s bones, freezing her for a few seconds. Eviana. Dragons were known for kidnapping small children.
With a shriek, the dragon swooshed down. Fire burst from its mouth and hit the ground, creating a wall of fire between the hill and the encampment. Heavenly god- desses, it was cutting them off!
“Eviana!” Gwennore dashed toward the little girl. She would grab her and run for the nearby forest. There, the larger trees could shelter them from the dragon’s view.
Eviana’s eyes grew wide with terror, and the flowers tumbled from her hand. She turned and ran. Away from the forest.
“Nay!” Gwennore struggled to catch up with her. The dragon swooped down.
Gwennore heard the beating of its wings and its breath huffing just above her head. She reached out a hand to grab Eviana, but the dragon shoved her with its powerful back legs, flattening her facedown on the ground. She barely caught her breath before she saw the talons of the dragon’s forelegs curl around Eviana.
With a squeal, the little girl squirmed.
“Eviana!” Gwennore scooted forward on her elbows while the dragon hovered a few inches above her. She seized its talons and attempted to pull them back. But they only tightened, digging into Eviana’s skin till beads of blood blossomed on the girl’s white dress.
“Stop it!” Gwennore cried. “Ye’re hurting her!”
Whoosh, whoosh. The air around them stirred as the dragon beat its long, black wings.
It was going to take off! Gwennore frantically yanked at its talons, but it enveloped the little girl in its forelegs and pulled her tight against its smooth chest.
A bolt of lightning struck the ground just as the dragon rose in the air. Leo was attacking. The ground beneath Gwennore trembled from the impact, and a booming noise deafened her ears.
The dragon rose high enough for her to gain her foot- ing. A sudden blast of wind shoved the dragon to the side, causing it to collide with her and knock her back down. That had to be Brigitta’s husband, using his wind power to attack.
As the dragon struggled to regain its equilibrium, she scrambled to her feet and grasped one of the creature’s forelegs to try to keep it from flying away. If the two kings succeeded in frightening the dragon enough that it re- leased Eviana, she would fall, and it would be dangerous for her to fall more than a few feet.
A second lightning strike ripped past them, then an- other one, dangerously close to the dragon’s head. The air sizzled with energy, buzzing in Gwennore’s ears.
With a screech, the dragon shot up into the air. Gwennore gasped as she was pulled off the ground. Her arms strained, and panic threatened to overwhelm her. Should she let go? No! She couldn’t leave Eviana alone.
Higher and higher, the dragon rose. The people below grew smaller, their screams more distant. The Norva River was now a blue ribbon, winding through a minia- ture forest. Luna and Lessa help her! If she lost her grip, she would plummet to her death.
Another bolt of lightning streaked past them, and she cringed. Poor Leo! He had to be frantic, but what could he do? If he hit the dragon directly, the shock would kill his daughter. And if Ulfrid used his wind power to make the dragon crash into the ground, Eviana would die.
“Gwennie,” Eviana whimpered.
“I’m here!” Gwennore’s arms burned. How long would her strength last? How long could she hold on with this fierce grip before her hands began to cramp?
Don’t think about it. She hissed in a breath between clenched teeth. She had no choice. Letting go would mean death. Letting go would leave Eviana unprotected. “I won’t leave you.”
A squawk sounded in the distance, and she spotted an eagle following them. Brody. Thank you. She wasn’t alone.
But could she hold on all the way to Norveshka? If only there was a way to reason—
Of course! If the dragons worked for the Norveshki army, then that meant they were able to follow orders. They had to understand the Norveshki language.
“Can you hear me?” she yelled in Norveshki. “You must return us immediately!”
No answer, but then how could a dragon reply?
She raised her voice. “You have kidnapped a princess! She’s the daughter of the king and queen of Eberon and the niece of the queen of Tourin. Those countries will declare war on Norveshka! They will attack you!”
The dragon made an angry huffing noise.
“Return us now!” Gwennore screamed. “Return us or hundreds of Norveshki will die. Take us back now!”
Do as she says, brother.
Gwennore flinched as a deep male voice reverberated in her head. Who—what was that?
No, another male voice answered.
She gasped. There were voices in her head? And they were arguing? Goddesses help her, she had to be losing her mind. She twisted in the air, looking around.
Another dragon! It was coming from Norveshka and flying straight toward them.
Is it true what the woman says? the deeper voice asked. Have you taken a princess?
The queen needs a princess, the other one replied.
She was hearing the dragons, Gwennore realized with a shock. The voices were speaking Norveshki, and there was no one else around, other than Brody, who was far behind.
This is a mistake, brother. You must return the child, the deeper voice insisted.
That had to be the newcomer. “He’s right!” Gwennore yelled. “It’s a terrible mistake. Take us back now!”
Was it just her imagination, or had she felt the muscles in the dragon’s foreleg flinch? The dragon that was carrying her and Eviana had grown tense.
She heard us, he hissed. The damned elf can hear us!
Stay calm, the newcomer urged him.
No! The dragon shot straight up into the sky.
Gwennore cried out, struggling to keep her grip. The wind buffeted against her, threatening to tear her loose. Good goddesses, the dragon was trying to kill her!
“Gwennie,” Eviana whimpered.
“I’m here!” Tears stung Gwennore’s eyes as the ache in her shoulders and hands became more agonizing.
The dragon went into a series of rolls.
As Gwennore was tossed about, one of her hands slipped loose. No! Luna and Lessa, help me! The dragon used his back legs to kick her loose.
Down, down, she was falling. Dear goddesses, am I going to die? The wind rushed past her ears, mingling with the little girl’s screams. Eviana. I wanted to protect you.
Something dark blocked her vision, then bam! She struck something so hard, it knocked the breath out of her. Stunned, she was unable to think for a moment. Then, with a rush, her mind raced. She was still alive. Black,leathery legs held her suspended in the air.