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SOULBOUND = Out TODAY! Release Day Stuffs & Shhh… a Deleted Scene!

 

It’s Release Day!!!

 

Cover for Soulbound by Archer Kay Leah

 

Purchase directly from my publisher or from any major online retailer!
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Genres: Fantasy, romance
Series: The Republic

In a relationship that violates rules and expectations, Mayr and Tash have found their perfect match in each other. Despite their fears and difficult pasts, they hope for a shared future with security and a family. When Mayr’s secret first love, Arieve, proposes they create that family with her, it seems dreams could become reality.

But life is complicated, and so is the delicate balance between duty and love. While Mayr protects the Dahe family at all costs, Tash is determined to succeed as a priest. Both positions require sacrifice, forcing their relationship into painful choices. To make matters worse, criminals lurk in the shadows, seeking revenge on them and those they guard.

The life they want risks losing everything—including Arieve and each other. Even if they can have it all, keeping it may take more than they can give.

 

Content notes & trigger warnings: Soulbound contains some explicit content, references to self-harm, suicide, and mentions of suicide-related behavior and intent. This story also contains instances of graphic violence, references to rape and domestic abuse, and depictions and mentions of depression.

 

 

Are you on Goodreads? Add it to your shelves!

Also check out the other stories in the series: A Question of Counsel, Four, and Blood Borne. (While Soulbound can possibly be read on its own, readers might find it helpful to also read Four and Blood Borne for background on some of the references and characters.)

 

 

 

 

YAYYYY! It’s here! It’s real and available for reading! \o/

I hope folks enjoy it, especially those who enjoyed Four. My heartfelt thanks to Hudson L. for braving the manuscript as a beta reader and Victoria M. for the never-ending support. Warm thanks, also, to A.M. Valenza for the help and patient advice when I freaked out over edits so close to the holidays! And as always, thanks to Sam, Megan, Sasha, and LT3 for their support and for giving this book (and me) a literary home. ❤

Soulbound is an odd duck in the series. First, it’s the second book of three that deals with Mayr and Tash’s relationship, and the third part is meant to be the very last book of the series. Additionally, it’s also the last in a trilogy inside the series: Four introduced circumstances, Blood Borne saw certain decisions made, and Soulbound deals with the consequences of it all. But this is also a HUGE turning point for the series. The republic is in a state of chaos, though it might not seem like it on the surface. Rather, the chaos is underneath and creeping around. Things need to change… which is where Soulbound comes in. Most, if not all, of the remaining books in the series will deal with the consequences of actions in this one. It’s going to be a lot like playing with dominoes: certain people and things are going to come into play that no one saw coming, including a couple characters that everyone thinks they know…

Having said that, yeah, there’s angst in this story. It gets heavy. Things with Tash get deeply personal, coming from his POV for once, with the raw, grimy truths he has to deal with. He’s kept a lot of things back from readers and his loved ones, and some of them will finally make it to the page.

But I promise there’s plenty of happy stuff! There are cheesy moments, sweet moments, and moments where Mayr and Tash are just too saccharine for words. And surprises. And secrets… So many secrets. I can’t go into them here without spoiling it all. 😉

For now, however…………. I’m sharing a deleted scene!

WARNING: It includes spoilers.

I loved this bit, but it had to go. The book was way too long, and I had to cut whatever I could. None of these details will be trashed permanently — they’re just going to come out in the series in a different way. (aka. Yes, Pellon is getting a book, tentatively titled In Shadow and Valour)

So scroll down a bit more and you’ll find it. Enjoy!

 

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DELETED SCENE!! {Spoiler Warning}

Pellon’s boots scuffed the floor as he turned in the doorway and stepped out of the room.

Not before Mayr glimpsed the misery and defeat on Pellon’s face.

“Thanks, Ae.” Mayr cleared his throat. “How about you two go on ahead? I need to talk to Pell.”

“Sure.” Aeley smiled and clasped Lira’s hand. “Come on. Let’s cause some trouble.” In a fit of giggles, they glided out of the room.

“Hey, Pell, get in here,” Mayr called.

As though attending a funeral, Pellon entered the room slowly, dragging his feet. The door closed quietly behind him.

Mayr’s heart threatened to sink deep in his chest, regret seeping around his happiness. He had already gone through the important pre-ceremony talks with his parents and siblings, Aeley, Arieve, and Tash’s family. The short meeting with Betta the night before had been easier than he anticipated, her exuberant blessing releasing him from whatever residual obligations haunted him. His last conversation with Tash before they took to separate rooms to prepare had consisted mostly of long kisses, low moans, and hands that refused to stop wandering.

There was still one discussion he needed to have, one he had avoided for weeks. No moment had been good enough. No words had come. Saying something meant admitting to breaking a promise and violating Pellon’s confidence. Even worse, his words could drag Pellon’s heart through the mud of never-going-to-happen and toss him into what could be a violent storm of never-should-haves.

But it’s better to try than keep settling for less. Being with Tash is teaching me that a thousand times over, and if I we’re finding a way… Doing something is better than always waiting. And he’s always been here for me, through all these years of disappointment and bad choices, even when I was a complete fool. He’s still putting up with my decisions, protecting Ress and Adren and Tash and anyone else I throw at him. It’s time I give him something back.

“I’m sorry,” Mayr said softly.

Surprise raced across Pellon’s features, chasing away the tension of dejection. Red brow furrowed, Pellon stepped back. “For what?”

“For getting married twice when you still can’t marry your girl once.” Wincing at the words, Mayr crossed his arms and shifted his feet. “You’re my only attendant who isn’t married, even though you should’ve been married for years now and chasing after an entire brood of miniature torments. I feel horrible that you’re standing up there with me given all that. I almost didn’t ask,” he murmured, crossing the room to lean against the wall, his chin lowered. “If not for Tash, I might’ve given up.”

Pellon let out a long breath and rubbed the back of his neck. “That’s a real nice sentiment, and I appreciate it, but it’s not your burden, brother. You always make someone else’s problem your problem — and you need to let it go.” He laughed weakly, gesturing to the door. “Why is this even a thing right now? You should be out there, getting married. Take what happiness you have and enjoy it. I’m living vicariously through you, so get it right.”

“Yeah, I know, and that’s the point.” Mayr snorted. “You’ll be standing there thinking of Nesandra and what you don’t have. It’ll be an ugly reminder of your damn family and hers, and I’m sorry, but I’m not interested in smashing your heart into tiny little pieces just so I can be happy. Thought I’d try giving you some hope instead, especially when I’ve got all the power to offer it.”

“And what’s that supposed to mean?”

“It means I’m tired of your parents dictating who you can and can’t marry,” Mayr answered, smirking. “I’m making it my personal mission to flick my fingers in their faces and tell them to shove it. Grand Families or no, you’re still people, and Nesandra’s not something they can trade or sell just to piss all over you. It’s messed up, forcing you to choose between staying with Aeley and crawling home just so they’ll grant you permission to even look at Nesandra. If I were Council, I’d have kicked their asses by now. So forget it — I wouldn’t mind going rogue on this.” He scrambled to keep hold of his confidence as his gaze flickered to the floor. There was every chance his next comment would get him hurt. “But I can’t do it alone. I know you don’t want to involve more people than is necessary, and I know you hate people being in your business…”

Eyes narrowed, Pellon pursed his lips and crossed his arms. “What did you do?”

“Told Tash.” Mayr grimaced. “He brought up Sorys and Wynn; said the Keeper ran his mouth a little. So I told him more of the situation, just to make it clear why we hate those bastards — part of my new no-secrets approach to being married. And then I told him about the whole Nesandra debacle.”

“Everything?” Pellon asked quietly, blood rushing from his face.

“Almost. He’s got the gist of it,” Mayr muttered. “Enough to agree it’s not right. And he agrees: your ass stays with us until you’re damn well ready to leave, not whenever your daddies call you to heel. The family businesses are their problem, not yours. And forget Nesandra’s father and grandmother — they’re no better, pulling these games, ruining every attempt you’ve made to court Nesandra honestly. They won’t keep getting away with assaulting your integrity, not if I can help it.”

Pellon groaned, drawing both hands down his face. “Mayr, Mayr, Mayr. Don’t, please don’t. Just…” He held out both hands. “Things are so good for you, so good, and if you get involved in this… My family, hers — they’re in for the long fight. And they’re playing by the rules. You do anything to piss them off and it’ll be my head on Council’s desk. Aeley’s been trying to negotiate–”

“Yeah, I know. She’s an excellent Tract Steward, playing all the political moves.” Mayr tilted his head, casting Pellon a cynical gaze. “But she’s been at it since Korre died and no one’s budging. You’re still seeing Nesandra in secret and the bureaucratic options are wearing thin. One of these days, it’ll fall apart. Worse than this underhanded marriage they want for Nesandra to some pompous ass who doesn’t even know her name.”

“Don’t remind me,” Pellon ground out. “Pretty sure my fathers have something to do with it.”

Mayr grunted and drew his hand over his braids. “Would be just like Sorys, that sneaky bastard.”

“Nesa’s got fight though. She’s my little fire.” A glimmer of hope brightened Pellon’s features. “She’ll keep refusing and stalling. Aeley, too, since she’s got Nesa’s formal ask to help. They’ve petitioned Council to intervene.” The hope drained from Pellon’s face. “Though Ae’s talking about possibly marrying Nesa off to some friend of hers, a girl in another Grand Family willing to pretend to be a suitor. Someone we can trust, who’ll let me and Nesa be together.”

“Right, so you can keep skulking around. How is that any better?”

“It’ll be safer than what you’ve got planned, I’m sure.”

Tense silence fell between them. Mayr worried his bottom lip, fingers flexing in loose fists. He knew what it was to fight for love and nearly lose everything. Had Armamae not intervened, he could have lost Tash completely. They owed their happiness to someone who had the audacity to forgo the rules. As much as Mayr believed in following laws and procedures, he hated the games people played with each other, moving hearts around like coins on a board. Even more, he hated the exploitation of those who never consented to partake in those games. It was time to do what was right. If he had to bend the rules of high society until they snapped, he would.

“Just hear me out,” Mayr said softly. “We’ve got an idea, Tash and me. I told him about Nesandra because he’s a priest, Pell. Even better: he’s a priest of Emeraliss. Where you and I are all angles and bite, this love stuff is his specialty. And I’m starting to get that. I’m accepting it. It’s part of who he is. The best part.”

“So?”

So he’s serious about helping you. You’re my family, and now you’re his. He’s offering to do whatever he has to, whenever and wherever.”

Pellon arched a brow. “Yeah, that’s not pointed.”

Mayr snorted. “Please.” He moved towards Pellon and stopped with a foot’s length between them. “He knows of safe places where you can get married; places where no one can get to you. You pick the day and the time, he’ll be there. Me, too, and Aeley and Lira — plus anyone else you want. Tash will do the rite so no one will be able to contest it. No one.

“You’re saying exactly what I think you’re saying, aren’t you? You, who got married in secret and then got used and taken and spent all that time hating secret ceremonies…” Pellon flushed and looked away. “Sorry, low blow.”

“Yeah, I know, but your marriage won’t be a mess like mine and Betta’s. Three reasons.” Mayr held up fingers as he continued. “One, Nesandra practically kills herself trying to stay with you. Two, Tash is a high-level priest and you’ll have all the witnesses you need. He’ll make it a midnight wedding in the middle of nowhere and no one can refute it. And three, the Temple can offer Nesandra asylum. One word from Tash and she’s got it. Kee won’t turn her away, and no one would dare attack just to get at her. She’d be safe until Council officially recognizes your marriage and tells your parents to stand down.”

“Mayr…”

“Happy, Pell.” Mayr gripped Pellon’s shoulders, shaking him gently. “You want to be happy, remember? That’s all we ever wanted, you, me, and Ae. We fight to have better lives. Ae’s got it with Lira, and I’ve got Tash. We’re not leaving you behind. Since we’re filling the house with spouses and strays, I don’t think Nesandra will be any less welcome.” He cupped the back of Pellon’s neck. “Once this wedding chaos is over, we’re planning a whole covert mission. You, me, Tash, and Aeley will kick your families where it hurts most. You always said Sorys likes hitting. Time we gave him a fist to suck on.”

“You’re a trouble-making bastard,” Pellon whispered. “Nesa’s probably going to hate it. I’ve thought about getting married in secret practically every day, but she loves her family, even with all this. She doesn’t want to cut ties. Doesn’t want to hurt them or throw this in their faces. She’s still holding onto promises she made her mother. I haven’t bothered to ask about a secret wedding because I know her answer. She’ll throw it back at me and refuse.”

Mayr rolled his eyes. “A hundred tidepins says she’d trade all that in an instant considering how you two go on. Just like I know Ae would throw a disgustingly huge wedding feast and spread the word to every aristo around, daring them not to show up. Doesn’t matter what your families do.” A smirk spread over his lips. “It’s no less a risk than Aeley taking on Lira’s family, and look how prettily we’ve smacked them down.”

“I don’t know…”

“At least consider it? Nothing has to happen right away.” Mayr clapped Pellon’s arm. “The bureaucrats aren’t getting it. We’re soldiers — it’s time we do it our way.” He pouted. “Besides, I’m tied of you staring at Tash and Arieve like you want a piece.”

Pellon snorted and laughed, the deep rumble breaking the lingering tension. “No, they’re very much yours. She’s cute, but I don’t do cute. And while he’s a looker, he’s not my type. You know I prefer guys prettier than me with just a hint of kick. Not full-on fist and knife work.”

“Saying I like them dangerous, are you?”

“No, I’m saying you need to get your ass to the altar before he decides to kick it.” Before Mayr could move, Pellon pulled him into a tight hug. “Thanks. For caring; for wanting to try. For giving me another option.”

Mayr returned the embrace even harder. “‘As the heart of Kattal beats, so do we,'” he recited, kissing Pellon’s cheek and pushing him away. “Come on. You grab the sword and I’ll get the door.”

“Aye, Head Guard.” With quiet laughs, Pellon rushed to the bed to retrieve the sword and its black leather scabbard from their lined wood case…

 

 

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