BLOG TOUR – To Target the Heart by Aldrea Alien – #Interview #Excerpt #Giveaway

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🌟 Please join me in welcoming fabulous fantasy author Aldrea Alien to Stories That Make You Smile! Aldrea has brought along both an excerpt and a giveaway, and kindly sat down to answer a few questions about her epic new story. 🌟

To Target the Heart by Aldrea Alien

How can he win with the odds stacked against him?

Series: Spellster (book #2)
Cover Artist: Leonardo Borazio
Release Date: April 15, 2020
Length: Long Novel / 226,000 words / 598 pages
Heat Rating: 4 flames
Pairing / Genre: M/M Fantasy Romance, hurt/comfort, man in peril, cultural differences, big bottom/little top, bear bottom, dysfunctional family, opposites attract, love, attempted suicide, engagement challenge

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Although part of the Spellster series/world, To Target the Heart is a STANDALONE story.

Blurb

Prince Hamish has no interest in fulfilling his duty of marrying. Not to a woman, at least. That doesn’t stop his mother, Queen Fiona, from presenting him with every eligible noblewoman that enters their castle. He’s certain it’ll be no different with the representative of the Udynea Empire.

So when they do arrive, Hamish is relieved the imperial prince, Darshan, is not the woman everyone expected. Until the man kisses him and Hamish is confronted by the very emotions he has been forced to conceal or be punished for. Emotions he is eager to explore.

But the kiss proves to be a little too public and leads his mother to take drastic measures to ensure Hamish adheres to her family vision. The contest of arms will force Hamish to make a choice: give up his happiness for convention’s sake or send the kingdom spiralling into civil war for the right to love his own way.

Excerpt

The whole pub seemed to grow still the longer Darshan stared at the man, his expression blank.

“Bill,” Hamish hissed at the dockmaster. “That’s enough.” The man must have realised it would be the grandsire of all bad ideas to piss off someone capable of setting things on fire with a thought.

Ignoring Hamish, Billy continued to give the spellster a smarmy smile.

Darshan returned the grin, his tongue snaking out to run along the underside of his teeth. He calmly unhooked his glasses from behind his ears. “Hold these, will you?” he asked, waving the frames in Hamish’s general direction.

Hamish took a cautious step backwards. He couldn’t be certain if Darshan was merely posturing or actually planned to attack the man, but it would be better if he stayed out of it. After all, he couldn’t haul Darshan back to the castle if they were both unconscious.

He delicately reached for the glasses.

Darshan barely waited for Hamish to properly grasp them before he swung at Billy, clearly aiming for the man’s head.

Billy jerked back, too late in mounting a defence against the attack.

The spellster’s fist—heavily bedecked in jewelled rings—connected with Billy’s face like a hammer. The definite snap of breaking bone was almost an exhalation.

The dockmaster fell back, howling. Blood poured from beneath the man’s fingers, staining his blonde beard. At first, Hamish thought the ambassador had only broken Billy’s nose, until he caught sight of the dockmaster’s jaw. One side bulged alarmingly, whilst the right, the side Darshan had hit, was caved in.

The two men flanking Billy lunged at the spellster.

Sneering, Darshan flicked both his hands as if brushing the dust from his outfit. The men went flying, smashing into the walls. Neither one got up.

More men jumped up from their seats, agog. One ran out the door screaming. Not a one of them seemed to know what to do about the spellster who had made short work of three men; a foreigner who still stood over Billy without a care as to the bleeding state of his hand. Hamish wasn’t entirely certain it was even Darshan’s blood. Surely, with the force he’d hit the dockmaster, he must’ve broken something.

Darshan turned. He squinted at Hamish, then held out his bloodied hand. The fingers and knuckles seemed normal enough. No twists or swelling that suggested any harm had come to them. “My glasses, if you please?”

Hamish returned the item in question back to their owner. “I think this might be the best time to leave.” There’d be trouble once word of this got out—and a lot of questions Hamish wasn’t looking forward to answering. But if they returned to the castle now, then Gordon might be able to help him wrangle a more palatable version of events for his mother.

With the glasses once more firmly in place on his face, Darshan glared at Billy. “One moment.” He strode over to the howling man and grabbed his head. “Do not move or I will leave you injured. And I would advise against trying to talk.”

Billy stilled. Panic and fear flashed in his tear-redden eyes.

It had been some years since Hamish had last been in the presence of healing magic. But he’d been in no position to objectively watch either. Seeing the man’s face slowly reform to its previous state was something he’d never thought he would witness.

Billy’s cheeks shifted alarmingly, like a bubbling pot of porridge. The skin constantly changed colour, from the pinkish-red of freshly-struck to the bruised rainbow hues of blue, purple and green, then fading to trout-brown before regaining its natural wrinkled and heavily-tanned state.

Throughout it all, Billy’s eyes grew wider. He whimpered and fisted at his trousers. If Darshan hadn’t already stipulated stillness, he likely would’ve bolted from the spellster’s grip.

When Darshan was done, he released Billy’s head and let the man tumble onto the floor. “Call me that again and I shall do the same,” he snarled as he bent over the dockmaster. “Only next time, you can keep the broken jaw. Understood?”

Billy nodded. “Aye, your lordship.” He back-crawled across the flagstones, pausing only to rub his jaw and standing once Darshan was well beyond physical reach.

Dusting his hands, the ambassador returned to Hamish’s side. “As entertaining as that was, I think you are right, we should return to the castle.”

☆ Interview ☆

Welcome, and thank you for stopping by! Tell us a little about yourself and your writing goals.

Firstly, thank you for having me. I’m really excited, it’s been some time.

Well, I’m Aldrea Alien, bisexual author from New Zealand. I write fantasy romance (with a heavy focus on said romance) of varying heat levels. Recently, my goal has been to add more diversity, especially the lgbtqia+ kind, to my little pocket of the fantasy romance genre. That’s roughly how the spellster series came about and since I’ve around sixteen novels, novellas and short stories buzzing about, I guess that’s not going to change anytime soon.

Congratulations on your new release. Please tell us a little bit about it. What’s your favorite aspect or part of the story? Do you have a favorite character? Who/Why?

In short, To Target the Heart is about two princes from completely different cultures finding each other and falling in love whilst one struggles to help the other win free of his controlling mother.

Of the two MCs, Darshan vris Mhanek is my favourite. When I first started fleshing him out, he was a lot colder… and also a distant figure briefly mentioned in In Pain and Blood. It was only once I stepped into his mind that I discovered all these layers and it ultimately led me to having the MCs share the povs rather than stick to the one as I had largely done during the previous book.

Beyond the MCs, my favourite characters would be the nephews, purely because I just loved writing them. They’re your typical brazen preteen boys, who are just all for their uncle hooking up with the foreign prince purely because they want him to be happy.

Did any of the characters in this story lead the story astray of your original plan?

Queen Fiona, Hamish’s mother and the antagonist of the story. When she first popped up, she was a lot softer towards her son and not so abrasive towards Darshan. That doesn’t mean she was happy with the idea of them being together or that of her children leaving the kingdom, but she wasn’t outright hostile.

It wasn’t until I got to “the kiss” that her true personality came to light for me. She is far more controlling than I accounted for and has done some really evil things. The story gained a darker edge because of it.

After that, what I had planned just didn’t fit and I’m glad I chose to write this linearly because it altered the plot, the timing, the whole family dynamic of Hamish’s siblings: His brother, whilst remaining in the same “wing man” position, grew warier of newcomers and quicker to shield Hamish. Whilst where Hamish’s older sister was meant to side with their mother, she became more sympathetic and not the least bit interested in snitching. Even his father changed, having less of a say in matters.

Choosing from among your own stories, which is your favorite book? Why?

That’s an unfair question as my favourite right now isn’t even out. But it’s Someone Else’s Shoes, currently in the fairytale box set Once Upon Another World. The reason it’s my favourite is that it was challenging. It’s a take on Cinderella but set in the spellster series world where there are no fairy godmothers and elves, even half-elves like Alla, are very much looked down upon. Writing within those confines whilst also keeping to a low word count (something I struggle with) was fun.

Of out-and-published works? It gets harder as my fondness is split between In Pain and Blood and To Target the Heart for different reasons.

What was the most difficult part of writing this book? Why?

*deep breath*

It’s just a little over halfway into the story. Hamish’s tipping point. I’ve made no secret that there is an attempted suicide.

I didn’t go into lightly—it’s really not a topic to be made light of—and I actually kind of baulked at the idea when it first presented itself. In all honesty, it wasn’t in my original plotline. But any attempts to avoid going in that direction felt forced and Hamish suffers a lot of mental abuse from his mother who expects him to just suck it up and get on with being a good son despite his feelings. He’s been scarred by it and it doesn’t magically disappear with Darshan’s presence and care.

There is a piece leading up to it that wasn’t easy, but the chapter itself was the hardest thing to write in this book. Not just because of the topic, but because of the memories it stirred of younger me struggling with my own hopelessness and how much I had considered ending it just so the pain I felt would stop.

The actual chapter took me a day to write and a week of self-care to re-centre myself. It’s still very difficult for me to read.

How long did it take to write this book?

That’s a tricky one. Straight writing, I would say about a year. But I stopped a couple of times to focus on other projects. So probably closer to two years all up, not including editing.

What did you edit out of this book?

Actually, it was a couple of sex scenes. Shock horror, I know. They’re my favourite thing to write because, whilst the act is generally the same, the way characters will react or feel to them is vastly different, sometimes even within the same character as their mindset changes.

I largely edited them out at the plotting stage. One had no place within the new plotline and the other survived only in mention towards the end as added it seemed more like a secondary epilogue. Although I might get around to writing that one for my own amusement some day.

Do you put together a playlist and/or soundtrack for your books (or for particular scenes from your books)?

Yes. It’s actually still on spotify along with others in the series. https://open.spotify.com/playlist/7H3TpbGBGUufuITxKVoZQ0

The list is mostly instrumental because I use it to drown out the TV, which sits two metres away, whilst I’m writing. Having five adults and a teen in a house isn’t the quietest writing environment, especially when my computer is in the dining room.

Meet the Author

Aldrea Alien is an award-winning, bisexual author of fantasy romance with varying heat levels. Born and raised in New Zealand, she lives on a small farm with her family, including a menagerie of animals, who are all convinced they’re just as human as the next person. Especially the cats. Since discovering a love of writing at the age of twelve, she hasn’t found an ounce of peace from the characters plaguing her mind with all of them clamouring for her to tell their story first.

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3 thoughts on “BLOG TOUR – To Target the Heart by Aldrea Alien – #Interview #Excerpt #Giveaway

    1. You’re welcome! I loved In Pain and Blood, and I’m looking forward to reading more in that fabulous world! ❤️💖

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