Hi Abigail Owen and welcome to HJ! We’re so excited to chat with you about your new release, The Liar’s Crown!
Thanks so much for having me as always!!! I love visiting HJ. 🙂
Please summarize the book a la Twitter style for the readers here:
In the desert dominion of Aryd, a dynasty of queens is built on lies, Shadowraith haunts the darkness, and twin princess–one born to rule, one to forfeit–have secrets to keep.
Please share the opening lines of this book:
Time is measured by a single star creeping across the sky outside my tiny, glassless window. I watch it, waiting.
I’m always waiting. Waiting to sneak out. Waiting to be called upon to fulfill my duties. Waiting for Omma, who has raised me since birth, to tell me what to do. Waiting to be anything but who and what I am.
Mereneith Evangeline XII of Aryd.
A second-born princess in a long line of royal twins—one to rule, the other to serve as nothing more than a secret body double in dangerous circumstances.
Which means, of all the waiting I do, I’m basically just waiting to die.
Please share a few Fun facts about this book…
- The initial idea came from a Hans Christian Anderson fairytale about a man who sheds his shadow. When the shadow becomes real, it takes over his life and kills him.
- This is the first in a new upper YA / NA fantasy trilogy. And yes there’s a happy-ish-for-now but with a bit of a cliffhanger.
- I created the world and mythology around the villain’s backstory.
- Meren is my favorite heroine I’ve ever written. And I love all my heroines. 🙂
- The book is available in hardcover, ebook, and audiobook!
What first attracts your main characters to each other?
They are both doing the best with the terrible situation they were born into. When they both realize that about each other, it’s a connection neither expected, and one that means more than you’d think.
Using just 5 words, how would you describe your main characters”love affair?
enemies to lovers meets soulmates.
The First Kiss…
“Breathe.” Reven’s voice comes at me like he’s far away again. “Breathe, princess.”
Only I realize I can’t. Air rasps in and out of me on panicked draws that rake down my throat, but my chest is so tight. Too tight.
Warm hands cup my face, and Reven is close, lips moving and eyes focused on mine. I stare back, trying to center on him, trying to hear him, but I can’t hear anything over the ragged edges of my struggle to get air into my body. Tears are leaking out of the corners of my eyes, and my body is locking up as tight as an animal-skin drum.
“Goddess forgive me,” Reven mutters. I have no trouble reading that on his lips, though I still can’t hear him.
Then his mouth is pressed to mine.
Everything fades to that one touch. The kiss is as soft as thistledown and surprisingly gentle, like I’m one of my glass flowers and he doesn’t want to shatter me. More sensations break through my panic, like rays of sunshine. The strength of his hands. The way the fresh scent of him—so like home—surrounds me. His body is close but not against mine. Not close enough.
I close my eyes because, goddess, it’s like I’ve been waiting for this without knowing it.
With each brush of his lips, my struggles slow, and the tension drains from my body until I realize that I’m breathing again. Safe.
And kissing him back.
A flicker of darkness has me opening my eyes, and I tear away from his kiss on a gasp. Shadows have filled the entire room.
Without revealing too much, what is your favorite scene in the book?
Before I can turn back, though, a man steps out of the darkness into my path, and everything inside me goes quiet.
“You.” I’m not sure if I whisper the word or just think it, my lips are so stiff.
Recognition is instant—a full-body rush, as if all of me knows him. The stranger from last night. Goddess, my mind hadn’t exaggerated the harsh beauty of his face or the heavy aura of dangerous command that lingers around him.
He’s dressed in black again, only this time the cut and material of his clothing tells me he has to be one of the authoritates. A lower courtier, maybe, though one I’ve never seen in the palace. And nothing about this man suggests lower anything.
Criminal or authoritate? Which is it?
Authoritate would be much worse. Because, despite my face having been covered that night, I met this man as Meren. As the real me, dressed as a waif, sneaking through the streets of Enora, out of the city and into the desert.
The queen has been dead all of one day, and I’ve fouled up twice. It’s bad enough I’ll have to deal with Cain—if this man recognizes me, no way in hells can I explain why Princess Tabra had been doing any of that.
I should demand who he is. We can’t risk anyone else knowing about us.
Only his gaze stops me. That same intentness as before strikes me silent, along with the same odd sense that he sees beyond the trappings of royalty and truly sees me.
Sees me and wants me.
Just like before, I can’t seem to untangle myself from his gaze. Iron bands tighten around my lungs with every passing second, every breath. I hesitate for…I don’t know what.
“Hey!” Cain shouts from behind us.
The stranger’s eyes go hard, predatory, as he jerks his gaze from my face to over my shoulder.
Then suddenly, impossibly, he’s gone.
I jerk around only to shriek as a shadow rears up behind Cain like a wall of heavy smoke. It slams him hard against the nearest column, and Cain’s head hits with a crack that reverberates through the courtyard.
He crumples, out cold.
I should be screaming, helping, running, something, but I’m frozen, like flash-heating sand only to instantly turn it to hard glass. My mind doesn’t accept what it’s seeing. As if I’m watching from a distance or from other eyes. Confusion swirls through me because my senses are telling me this man is scary—like Enfernae scary.
Cain’s hand drops to the tiles, and something he was holding rolls across the pathway—the golden cuff he’d offered me before. For me? Or was he planning to give it to his new bride? It takes me another beat of pure disbelief to yank my gaze from the bracelet to the man who now stands over my friend.
Anger burns through the shock holding me immobile. Anger at myself.
What the hells am I thinking, standing here staring? Self-preservation finally kicks in. “Guards!” I call out, frustration sharpening my voice. On that single shout, I bolt, hampered by my dress.
“I’m sorry,” that delicious voice whispers into my ear, a lover’s caress.
So fast. He got to me so fast.
My heart is doing its best to break through my chest and leave the rest of me behind.
“I can’t let him have you,” he says.
Can’t let who have me?
The thought has barely formed when shadows snap out from the night. The darkness pins my arms to my sides and swallows us, wraps around us like a cocoon.
“Don’t waste your breath, princess.” No more lover. His voice is bored now. And brutal. “No one can hear you.”
If your book was optioned for a movie, what scene would be absolutely crucial to include?
Reven, unmistakable to me now for anyone else, stands shirtless, his eyes closed, in the center of the clearing, the cold starlight playing over the ridges of his muscled torso. The blood thrumming through my veins pulses with the energy emanating from the man in front of me. An energy that has nothing to do with my unwanted reactions to him. This is all coming from him.
He holds out his arms, and I stifle a gasp. The jagged scars on both his wrists glow around the edges with the same deep purple light as his palms. Almost like his magic is trying to get through the cracks.
And then the fabric of night itself moves.
Rivers of what almost look like ink flow between beams of moonlight and into his body. Coming from every crevice of the forest, the shadows pool and swirl around his feet, surging to a beat that my heart echoes. The darkness creeps up his form, shrouding him, turning his entire being to ravenous night.
Then the darkness swells out of him, up and over his head, and I choke. Hardly a sound, and yet the churn of shadows seems to turn on itself, and his eyes, two glowing spots of aquamarine, open and lock onto me.
“You shouldn’t be here.” His voice—deeper even than before and smooth, like a pool of star-kissed water—slides over me, through me, into me.
“What are you?” I whisper.
His face spasms. “Don’t test me, princess. Go back to the tree and wait.”
This isn’t Reven speaking but something else. Something elemental and savage.
I should be terrified. I should sprint back down the path that led me here, back to the safe haven he found us.
I’m not. And I don’t.
Maybe it’s the way I’ve always felt safe in the shadows, drawn to them, because the pull to stay is too strong. Like something deep inside me doesn’t want me to go.
“Why do you need…me?” I almost said Tabra.
Those eyes flicker brighter.
“To keep Eidolon—” The darkness around him rears up, seemingly in protest at that name, and a pained grunt reaches my ears. “To keep you from being used against others, and maybe even save a few along the way.”
Then the shadows ease and dance, reaching and flowing across the forest floor toward me. Arms beckoning. Alluring.
“You need to go.” His voice is strained now, rough. “I can’t hold them—”
Tendrils of night brush over my skin—seductive and intoxicating. They wind around me, drawing me into the circle. A sense of rightness settles in my center, and I take a halting step forward.
“Princess.” His voice is right in front of me now, and I open my eyes to find myself surrounded by shadow and Reven himself, solid and real, standing before me, close enough to touch.
I blink slowly, because I’m having trouble separating out reality. It has to be a dream, and I’m asleep beside him in the tree still. Right? Sure I have it figured out, I smile almost tentatively.
Only his eyes narrow at the sight.
“See me,” he says in a voice gone deadly harsh. Silk frayed by thorns.
The shadows punch out from us, abandoning us, leaving only Reven and me in the clearing. Only the man in front of me isn’t entirely Reven. His face appears to crawl with…goddess…with other faces. No other way to describe it. Changing and morphing before my eyes, like a hundred different men exist within him and all are fighting to be seen.
Each a different manifestation. Some harsh and hard, some daring, some laughing. All compelling.
Finally, a face of utter despair settles in place the longest, tired lines etched into the skin around his mouth and eyes, and, without thinking, I reach up and put my hand against his cheek, try to smooth those lines with the pad of my thumb. Reven grabs my wrist, hard, and the sadness disappears, replaced by a face that glints at me with something purely evil.
“Run, little girl.”
Readers should read this book …
if you love enemies to lovers, mistaken identity, a strong heroine, a darkly brooding hero, non-stop action, a huge magical world, scorching romance, intrigue, and sharp fantasy twists!
What are you currently working on? What other releases do you have planned?
I’m deep into edits on book 2 in the series, and after that it’s writing book 3!
Thanks for blogging at HJ!
Giveaway: $25 Amazon GC
To enter Giveaway: Please complete the Rafflecopter form and Post a comment to this Q: If you could use shadow to do anything, what would it be?
Excerpt from The Liar’s Crown:
With a grunt, I manage to dislodge my knife from the bark, then slip it back in the strap on my leg now under my skirt. I hate skirts. They get in the way of things like running and climbing and probably fleeing.
More muttered curses slip through my lips.
“I didn’t know princesses could swear.”
Hopefully he doesn’t see how his sudden appearance startled me, either. Cain would be so disappointed with how I’ve handled this so far. I slowly turn to face him, determined not to give him the satisfaction of a reaction. “You shouldn’t sneak up on people that way. It’s rude.” So is stealing people.
His gaze slides from my face to the trunk of the tree where my knife had been embedded, then to my leg where the weapon is now safely hidden. He leans one shoulder against a tree, perfectly at ease. “So the pampered princess turns out to be a wasp with a stinger?”
I barely resist rolling my eyes. Too bad such a pretty face has to come with such a nasty soul.
“A wasp’s sting is only a prick,” I toss back. “Watch out for my claws, though. They draw blood.”
“Then I’ll declaw you.” He holds out his hand and signals with a wag of his fingers that he wants the knife.
I tip up my chin and stare him down, so haughty even I’m not entirely sure if I’m Tabra or Meren at the moment. Not that Tabra is haughty, but our grandmother sure was, and Tabra is now queen. A certain level of haughtiness is probably expected. “You want it, you’re going to have to take it from me.”
He moves toward me, and self-preservation has me taking a nervous step back, which I immediately resent. Okay. Maybe that was the wrong thing to say.
But before I can fix it, I find myself in the air, hanging upside down by my ankles from a rope of shadow. My skirt falls over my face, and with an annoyed hand, I lift it up and glare at him.
I really should have seen that coming.
He doesn’t move a muscle, still leaning against that tree as if he does this all the time, and watches almost dispassionately as the shadow suspending me removes the knife, then makes a cursory check for any more weapons.
“I was led to believe you’re a sweet, innocent girl.” He shakes his head. “I don’t know what’s wrong with the rest of your dominion. You’re a holy terror.”
Before I can squeak a reply, he flips me over and lowers me to the ground with a thump. This time, at least, I manage to keep my feet. I bury a satisfied smirk. He’d missed the knife hidden in my bodice.
Excerpts. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
Everything about my life is a lie. As a hidden twin princess, born second, I have only one purpose—to sacrifice my life for my sister if death comes for her. I’ve been living under the guise of a poor, obscure girl of no standing, slipping into the palace and into the role of the true princess when danger is present.
Now the queen is dead and the ageless King Eidolon has sent my sister a gift—an eerily familiar gift—and a proposal to wed. I don’t trust him, so I do what I was born to do and secretly take her place on the eve of the coronation. Which is why, when a figure made of shadow kidnaps the new queen, he gets me by mistake.
As I try to escape, all the lies start to unravel. And not just my lies. The Shadowraith who took me has secrets of his own. He struggles to contain the shadows he wields—other faces, identities that threaten my very life.
Winter is at the walls. Darkness is looming. And the only way to save my sister and our dominion is to kill Eidolon…and the Shadowraith who has stolen my heart.
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Meet the Author:
Multi-award-winning author, Abigail Owen, writes adult paranormal romance & upper YA/new adult fantasy romance. She loves plots that move hot and fast, feisty heroines with sass, heroes with heart, a dash of snark, and oodles of HEAs! Other titles include wife, mother, Star Wars geek, ex-competitive skydiver, spreadsheet lover, eMBA, organizational guru, Texan, Aggie, and chocoholic.
Abigail attempted to find a practical career related to her favorite pastime by earning a degree in English Rhetoric (Technical Writing) and an MBA. However, she swiftly discovered that writing without imagination is not nearly as fun as writing with it.
Abigail currently resides in Austin, Texas, with her own swoon-worthy hero, their (mostly) angelic kids, who are growing up way too fast, and two adorable fur babies.
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