New Release Blitz: Moonlight and the Monarch by Evelynn Carver (Excerpt & Giveaway)

Title:  Moonlight and the Monarch

Series: The Moonlight Curse, Book Two

Author: Evelynn Carver

Publisher:  NineStar Press

Release Date: 07/11/2023

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 73100

Genre: Fantasy, romance, fantasy/paranormal, mystery, magic/magic users, demons, kidnapping, captivity/imprisonment, action/adventure, family drama, shifters, political intrigue, HFN

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The exciting adventures of The Moonlight Curse series continues when family loyalty comes up against love.

Brand’s curse remains, his family estranged, and his carefully constructed plan gone ridiculously awry. He’s fallen head over heels for the powerful mage and temperamental socialite, Valentino Vicari, the descendant of the witch who cast a dark curse on his family.

Is Brand prepared to give up everything, crown and consequences be damned, for an excellent pair of legs and a scalding tongue?

The decision is taken from him when Brand and Valentino are captured by agents of Brand’s father, the ruthless King Lykanos, and the newly built trust between them is shattered.

Valentino is forcefully conscripted, thrown into yet another unwanted engagement, his precious pride rubbed in the dirt and stomped on. Left feeling utterly betrayed and powerless without his magic, Valentino can’t help but hope that, somehow, he’ll get a chance to burn the whole castle to ashes and escape. Will his fledgling relationship with Brand survive the fallout?

Brand will have to think two steps ahead of his watchful father, enlist the help of some unlikely allies, and climb through a couple of sewer pipes to scheme his way out of the castle and back into Valentino’s heart.

Family drama, trouble-making ex-lovers, and political intrigue provide the backdrop for a test of our heroes’ newfound love amidst the rising tide of war in this second installment in the series.


Moonlight and the Monarch
Evelynn Carver © 2023
All Rights Reserved

Chapter One
Somewhere in Kaenys

Valentino awoke to darkness. He blinked his eyes open, but he still could not see. Paralyzing panic took him, and suddenly he could barely breathe, barely think. Had he gone blind? With a start, he realized something covered his face. Some sort of rough fabric. He could shift slightly, but a rope encased his wrists and ankles, bound tight.

What in the White Valleys of Hell?

A hand grabbed his shoulder, and he flinched.

“Don’t move,” Brand whispered urgently. “Just lie still and pretend to be unconscious.”

“What in the…?” Valentino groaned.

“Is he awake?” an unfamiliar voice asked, startling Valentino into silence.

“No, just moaning in his sleep, I suspect,” Brand answered. “Is it much farther?”

“Just a block or two off.”

Valentino held stock-still, but his mind raced. He focused on the faint sounds of a wagon creaking and shaking under him. They moved quickly through bumpy streets, each gap in the cobbles giving him a jolt, but the other occupants in the wagon were still and silent, just the faint sounds of breathing and horseshoes hitting stone coming to his straining ears. No light filtered through the bag over his head, so it must still be night or perhaps early morning. That left a considerable gap in his memory. The last thing he remembered was he and Brand standing in their room together, about to share a meal. Brand had just confessed everything, his lies, his hidden royal heritage, the suspected origin of the curse, and how none of that mattered, that Valentino was enough.

It had been terrible. And wonderful.

They were going to make a plan, a life, together. They were going to toast to new beginnings, and then… What? Valentino distinctly remembered removing his pants at some point, but his trousers and things appeared to be in place now, and for that, he was grateful. When had he gotten dressed? Had Brand dressed him? He couldn’t remember.

The clinking of chains and a crash resounded outside. A drawbridge falling? Valentino listened closely as the wagon rolled up a ramp and over uneven ground, the hollow sound of horseshoes clattering over planks muffled by the fabric over his head. Men called to one another, their voices echoing as if in a large space, water splashing in the distance. The wagon lurched forward again, a short sudden drop making his stomach churn. Had they crossed a moat?

Valentino continued to feign sleep, the sound of his own heart pounding in his ears so loud he couldn’t believe no one else had noticed it. What was going on? Had someone captured them? The only place in Remira he remembered with a moat was the castle. That would mean they were going into the Rock Keep, and that would mean terrible things.

After a lot of clank and clatter, the wagon came to a halt, and Valentino yelped as something struck him.

“Wake up, you!” a rough voice demanded. “If you can’t walk, we’ll drag you.”

“He’s still disoriented from the draught,” Brand said and roughly lifted Valentino up and onto his shoulder. “I’ll carry him in.”

The other man snorted. “Suit yourself, Your Highness.”

The address made Valentino’s blood run cold, and he could only allow himself to be hoisted like a sack of potatoes, his heart in his throat.

Right. Brand is a prince.

It still didn’t seem quite real. Brand, the man who had shoveled horse shit with him in a barn in the middle of nowhere, the man who had taken a bullet for him, had lain beside him, kissed him, fallen in love with him over the past two moons was actually bloody royalty.

“Don’t do anything stupid,” Brand said into Valentino’s ear. “Just go along, and I swear I’ll figure this out.”

Valentino squirmed slightly in acknowledgment, though he wanted to kick and scream. If Brand had brought him into the keep, what did that mean? Surely, he hadn’t really given him up to the crown after all? After everything they had been through together?

Other men gathered around them, barking orders and expressing excitement and amazement.

“Out of the way, out of the way you lot!” the other man yelled good-naturedly. “Cain’t you see the prince here has his hands full? Clear off!”

The crowd continued their barrage of questions, closing in on them, shouting and laughing. Valentino tried desperately not to vomit.

“Do you no longer follow orders?” a deep voice bellowed from off to the side, authority and stern command clear in her tone. “Get back to your duties this instant!”

The crowd grew silent and dispersed.

“Dyana,” Brand said stiffly.

Brand’s sister. Was she in on this too?

“I see you’ve had a change of heart,” she said evenly, and Valentino could almost feel her eyes crawling over his person. “You’ve brought in the Vicari mage, after all?”

That’s what I want to bloody know!

Brand went quiet. “Let’s speak of this matter inside,” he said finally, his normal country drawl completely absent. It was jarring to hear him speak so formally.

“As you will,” Dyana said slowly. “Father is waiting to meet you in the vestibule. Come this way.”

Valentino swallowed. Brand paused, the tension in his back buzzing against Valentino’s belly. He shifted, hesitating, before moving in the direction of Dyana’s voice as she barked orders to the guards. Brand’s shoulder pushed into his stomach with every step, but Valentino tried to stay limp and still as the sound of boots crunching on gravel changed suddenly to a more even rhythm of steps on stone. A heavy door closed behind them. They must be inside the castle now.

Suddenly there was a rush and a scuffle; loud voices shouted, and armored bodies descended upon them. Valentino didn’t have the time to react before someone wrested him from Brand’s hold and slammed him against a wall, knocking the air from his lungs. They ripped the bag off his head and snapped something around his neck before he could do so much as blink. He tried to scream but sputtered and retched instead.

It was as if they had stuffed cotton wool in his ears and nose, clogging his senses and filling his head until it became as heavy and dense as a brick. This was exponentially worse than any illness he’d ever endured, and the sudden shock of it sent him reeling. He gagged again, bile rising in his throat as they dragged him away through a long hallway, down a set of stairs, and threw him into a dark room. He looked around blearily, the walls shifting in his vision. It was like being drunk on the worst cheap liquor but remaining completely self-aware and, therefore, deeply, horrendously terrifying.

Where did Brand go? Why had he allowed this to happen? Surely this was a mistake.

The guard reached for him again. Valentino jerked away and tripped, what he’d intended as a quick-footed dodge turning into a lead-footed stumble. The guard pushed him against the wall again and slapped heavy iron manacles on his arms and legs. The cold metal stung his skin.

“What is this? What have you done to me?” Valentino choked out.

The guard answered with a rough laugh. “This is a special bit of jewelry for talented little troublemakers like yourself.”

Valentino tried to reply but could only retch. The bastards must have put a mage collar on him—a magical dampener of the worst sort. Valentino knew the stories, but he’d always assumed they were simply fairytales meant to scare disobedient children from misusing their magic. They weren’t real. They couldn’t be. Desperately, he reached deep for his magical reserves, but it was like reaching into a pocket thought to be full, only to find it empty with a hole at the bottom.

His knees buckled and he slid to the ground, arms held in place above him by the chains. “Why are you doing this? I’m a guest of your prince!”

“You’re not a guest.” The guard laughed again. “You’re a prisoner.”

With that, he slammed the door, leaving Valentino alone in the darkness and unable to light so much as a matchstick.


NineStar Press | Books2Read

Meet the Author

Evelynn lives with her partner, child, and dog in the Deep Dark South (also known as Atlanta, Georgia). She studied art in school and is somehow still deemed employable. In her free time, she reads genre fiction, plays video games, watches cartoons, and engages in other related unseemly behavior. She’s been writing and drawing stories since she was in grade school and would one day love to grow up to be a Real Author.

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