Thursday, February 13, 2020

Book Blitz and Giveaway: Off Balance (Aunare Chronicles #2) by Aileen Erin


Title: Off Balance
Series: Aunare Chronicles #2

Author: Aileen Erin
Publisher: Ink Monster LLC
Publication Date: February 11th 2020

Print Length: 516 pages
Genres: Space Opera, Young Adult

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From USA Today Bestselling Author Aileen Erin comes the second book in the Aunare Chronicles.

Broken, beaten-down, and plagued by nightmares, Amihanna di Aetes is surrounded by the Aunare race that makes up the other half of her heritage, but she feels alien amongst them. She’s not sure which is worse: SpaceTech’s overt hatred of Aunare or the Aunare’s covert hatred of halfers. She hears their whispers whenever she enters a room and sees her death reflected in their eyes. Amihanna doesn’t know who to trust anymore, but she hasn’t survived this long by ignoring the warning signs all around her, especially when her instincts are screaming that a familiar choice is coming: flee or fight.

Her parents assure her everything is okay—that there won’t be any reason for her to fight, let alone flee—but with Amihanna’s sudden return, questions arise among the Aunare: who should be blamed for the start of a full-scale war with SpaceTech, how much danger will the war bring, and is Amihanna truly fit to be the next high queen?

Honestly, Amihanna wants to forget all the politics, her betrothal to Lorne, and the possibility of being queen. Her needs are much more basic. All she wants is a solid night’s sleep where she doesn’t wake up screaming with the phantom pain of her skin burning. All she needs is to live without fear of a mob tearing her away from her family. All she hopes for is a chance to dream of a future instead of constantly fighting for her right to live.

And yet, somehow, everything she does leads her back to Lorne. He always seems to know when she’s about to break under the pressures of her new life. His quiet patience is wearing Amihanna’s protective walls down, and she’s terrified of what will happen if they fall.

EXCERPT:
“What did he say to you?” He didn’t need to name who he meant. I knew.

When I didn’t say anything, he dropped his head again. “Please.”

I didn’t see any good coming from telling him what his father said to me. I stayed frozen in my spot as I watched him. “It really doesn’t matter. Knowing won’t change anything.”

He stood slowly. “It matters. I know it had to have been horrible.”

If he wasn’t taking no for an answer, then I had to give him the best non-answer I could and then change the subject. “He didn’t say anything that I didn’t already know. You don’t have to worry about—”

His skin flashed bright, and he stepped toward me. I could feel his anger flowing off of him, and I knew I had to say the right thing, or he’d lose it completely. But what good would come from Lorne knowing that his father had propositioned me? And I wasn’t sure I wanted to know if Lorne thought I was worthy or not. If I was, then that made everything more complicated. And if not, then my self-esteem might take a hit. It was a solid lose-lose.

I licked my lips, trying to give myself time to come up with something to say—the right words that would help him out—but my best bet was to pivot the subject at least a little. “Your father’s a mess. At first, I thought he was drunk—”

“He was absolutely wasted. He’s smart and cunning—no matter what state he’s in. What did he say?” Lorne took another step toward me.

I took a small step back. Okay. New subject. “Why haven’t you taken over for him yet?”

“Because I needed you back first. What did he say?” He took another step toward me.

I took a step back. “Me? That’s…” Stupid? Idiotic? Dumb? I couldn’t think of anything that wouldn’t be insulting. “Why did you need me back?”

He gave me a moaning sigh. “Because.” He sighed one more time. “Because I didn’t trust myself not to give SpaceTech whatever they wanted just so that I could have the freedom to go back to Earth and search for you myself. I knew you were there somewhere—alive and scared—and if I had even the smallest bit of power, I would’ve used it to get you back.”

What? That made no sense. “You couldn’t possibly care about some girl you knew over a decade ago to give up—”

“You are my shalshasa.” He stomped toward me, nearly closing the distance between us. “It makes complete sense.”

I wasn’t sure if I should laugh or cry or scream, but damn it—I didn’t understand. We weren’t even speaking the same language.

Plarsha was right. I had to ask him. Instead of taking another step back, I took a step toward him.

I was going to get my answer. Now. Tonight. “Everyone refers to me as your shalshasa, and I have no clue what it means. I don’t understand other than that we’re betrothed, but—”

His eyes were wider than I’d ever seen. All the anger—along with his glow—seemed to drain away from him. “I’m sorry, what did you just say?”

My ignorance was about to hurt him—and I hated that—but I hated my ignorance more. “My mind was wiped. I don’t have my memories.” I didn’t get why this was so hard for people to understand, but apparently, it was. “I don’t know what shalshasa means or why it’s important or why everyone keeps calling me that. The translator tonight turned it into mirror soul—as if that makes any sense at all—but I still don’t understand. I feel lost and confused all the time, and if I knew what that word really meant, then maybe I would know at least one little piece of who I’m supposed to be and why I’m such a f*cking disappointment to everyone.” I shoved him, but he didn’t even move an inch. “Answer the question. What the hell does shalshasa mean?”

“I…” He closed his eyes. “I…” His throat moved as he swallowed. “I’m sorry. I need a second. I’ll answer you. Of course, I will. I just need a second to process. You’ve just shredded me, and I feel like a fool for not understanding sooner. You must be so—”

Damn. I knew this was going to hurt him. I backed away from him. “I shouldn’t have asked.” Everything I did and said was the wrong thing, and that was more frustration than I could take tonight. “Forget—”

“No. I won’t forget. We will deal with this together like two shalshasa should.”

I was going to kill Plarsha the next time I saw her. She planted the idea that I should ask him, and now this was about to be a total sh*t show. I could already tell.

Lorne gave a crazed, half-laughed, half-cry, and he looked frantic as he shoved his hands through his hair and paced away from me. “Goddess. It’s like my heart keeps getting ripped from my chest in a fun new way every day, and you don’t even know you’re doing it.”

Sh*t. I’d really f*cked this up. “I’m sorry. Can we just forget—”

Don’t apologize for something that was done to you when you were a child.” His fao’ana flickered, but as he turned to me, the flickering faded and died. “I’m sorry. It’s not your fault. I just…I’ve never had to explain it before.” He closed the distance between us and gripped my hands in his. “Answer me one question first.”

The way his hands gripped mine and the way he was looking down at me made my skin glow. But that was okay because his was glowing, too. “Okay.”

“Be honest. No lies.”

I stared into his aquamarine eyes and nodded. I couldn’t lie to him. Not really. Not when he was so upset.

“How do you feel about me?”

I was dumbstruck again. Same as with Plarsha. Nothing came out. No words. No thoughts. But a single tear slipped free, rolling down my cheek.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Aileen Erin is half-Irish, half-Mexican, and 100% nerd–from Star Wars (prequels don’t count) to Star Trek (TNG FTW), she reads Quenya and some Sindarin, and has a severe fascination with the supernatural. Aileen has a BS in Radio-TV-Film from the University of Texas at Austin, and an MFA in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University. She lives with her husband in Los Angeles, and spends her days doing her favorite things: reading books, creating worlds, and kicking ass.

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GIVEAWAY:
Win a $25 Amazon gift card, galaxy earrings, or books/eBooks in the Aunare Chronicles series by Aileen Erin!


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