Life hasn’t been easy for Aeley since she arrested her brother, and her role as a political leader leaves her feeling isolated and lonely. Days before her brother’s trial, she meets Lira, a quiet and modest scribe who makes Aeley want more than just a professional relationship.
When she attends the trial and leaves with a marriage contract, Aeley doesn’t know what to do. She must choose one of two brothers, marrying into a family she doesn’t know. Then she discovers that Lira is part of the same family–a sister to Aeley’s suitors and the family’s disgrace. And not at all opposed to an intimate relationship.
Except random acts of violence against her people test Aeley’s ability as a leader, and a web of lies and deceit threaten not only her chance at happiness, but her life…
About the Author:
Archer Kay Leah was raised in Ontario, Canada, growing up in a port town at a time when it was starting to become more diverse, both visibly and vocally. Combined with the variety of interests found in Archer’s family and the never-ending need to be creative, it has been this diversity that has inspired Archer’s love of toying with characters and their relationships, exploring new experiences and crazy situations.
Archer started writing stories at age six and became “that kid” with their nose in the books and a pen in their hand, pursuing the challenges of writing novels at age thirteen and conquering the dread of poetry at fifteen. Archer most enjoys writing speculative fiction and is engaged in a very particular love affair with fantasy, especially when it is dark and emotionally charged.
When not reading and writing for work or play, Archer is a geek who has too many hobbies, keeping busy with other creative endeavors, a music addiction, and whatever else comes along, especially if it is in technological form. Archer lives in London, Ontario with a same-sex partner and their cat.
Archer’s Top Ten Fictional Couples:
One of the best things about being a writer is what we can do with relationships – familial, friendships, intimate companions, enemies, colleagues, and more. Every new work offers a world of opportunity in terms of who gets thrown together and how they react. I’m a sucker for all of them, especially those with a touch of romance. But not just romance in terms of sex and cuddles: I’m talking about the romances where both partners give and take on a deeper level, sometimes to the point of surrendering everything they have.
So here it is: my Top Ten Fictional Couples! This list includes the couples from literature, film, and TV that I adore and could talk about at the drop of a hat.
#10 – Prudence & Sebastian (from The Devil Earl by Deborah Simmons)
This is a fun story, part of the Harlequin historical romance family. Prudence got my attention right away because she’s an author at a time when women authors were a shocking thing. She knows herself, writes unapologetically, and takes care of a really annoying sister. Which is why it’s amusing to see what happens when she meets up with Sebastian, who really doesn’t care what people think, especially since he has more important things to worry about. They throw each other for the spin of their life, and I can’t help but giggle. Headstrong, confident, and bold describes both of them. They’re suited for each other and the universe’s warped sense of humour.
#9 – Katharina & Petruchio (from The Taming of the Shrew by William Shakespeare)
My favourite couple in my favourite Shakespeare play – an odd choice, I know. They spend the whole time butting heads and struggling for power in their forced relationship. And that’s part of why I love them: it’s not “love at first sight”, gushy, or sweet. It’s frustrating, turbulent, and ridiculous. But by the end, they figure it out. Petruchio isn’t necessarily *always* a complete ass and Katharina figures out how to get what she wants/needs from their marriage in her own way. They’re not a couple I’d suggest anyone look to for relationship advice or mimic, but there’s something to be said for finding out how each other ticks and working within that framework to achieve a better relationship. (Although if you want a better, happier version of this relationship, watch the movie, 10 Things I Hate About You.)
#8 – Owen & Sebastian (from Forty-Two Stairs by A.F. Henley)
A sweet pairing that prompted me to read the book another two times after I’d finished it. Both have their issues – Owen’s a recovering alcoholic and Sebastian has anxiety issues – but they’re there for each other. Despite the rules of Owen’s addiction program, they hook up, and I’m so happy they did. Sebastian offers Owen the chance to grow and support someone else rather than always focusing on his addiction and what happened because of it. Then when Sebastian’s issues are revealed… I couldn’t help but cheer them on.
#7 – Dustin & Nicholae (from Inflori by A.F. Henley)
Another sweet, romantic relationship that held my attention and compelled me to re-read a couple times. Dustin and Nicholae come from vastly different backgrounds (Nicholae is Roma while Dustin isn’t), but they work it out. I was taken by Nicholae’s confidence and control, his soft-spoken way, and the fact he acts on instinct and a deeper sense of knowing. From the little details, I caught onto the feeling that they were just meant to be together. They overcame a few struggles like every good relationship and are stronger on the other side of it.
#6 – Sir Percy & Marguerite (from The Scarlet Pimpernel, an A&E film)
Thanks to Baroness Orczy for writing The Scarlet Pimpernel, the book upon which the TV film series was based. Sir Percy, an English aristocrat who goes on in public about foppish ideals, cravats, and makes fun of the French. Marguerite: his French wife and former actress with personal issues. They love each other, really, but things got screwed up by the French Revolution. They both want their marriage so badly, but there’s no communication. It’s heartbreaking. But aha! Percy’s secret blows all of that wide open and their marriage blooms. Marguerite claims her spot as a headstrong heroine by putting herself into danger to save her husband. Percy does the same. They fall in love again and all is right in their little corner of historical fiction. Although the films really make it for me: the cheeky banter, the inclusion of Marguerite in Percy’s work, and the clear dichotomy of Sir Percy/Scarlet Pimpernel. Take that, Chauvelin.
#5 – Felicity & Gus (from Road to Avonlea, TV show)
I’m a huge Road to Avonlea nerd and have been since the show first aired on CBC. It took me awhile to get into Felicity’s character, but Gus I loved from the beginning. As the show progressed and the characters grew older, I couldn’t wait to see what would come of Felicity and Gus’s relationship. She was a prim, know-it-all with a tight family; he was a sailor with a dead/institutionalized mother and incarcerated father. They were total opposites. But by the time the writers “killed” Gus off, the relationship was sold. I was in tears at the thought that they were never to be again after the many ups, downs, and their mutual stubbornness. The last few episodes nearly killed me with heartbreak and joy. They grew as characters thanks to that relationship, to a point where I loved them more than other characters by the end.
#4 – Nykyrian & Kiara (from Born of Night by Sherrilyn Kenyon)
Oh, Nykyrian. Poor, tortured hero in need of a million hugs. I gravitated towards his character from the first few pages. Then there’s Kiara, who annoys me some of the time, but makes an oddly perfect match for Nykyrian. They’re another couple who undergoes turbulent times, but Kiara holds her own and fights for him as much as he does her. She doesn’t fear him and he learns to trust in her. She learns how much the world really sucks, but he’ll do the craziest things to save her. He finds a shred of peace he’s been missing his whole life and someone who takes him the way he is. I consider all of that pretty sexy, which is why their relationship has a spot in this list. I have a soft spot for wounded heroes/heroines finding peace. That and the idea that love is worth fighting for, even when the odds are stacked against them.
#3 – John & Aeryn (from Farscape, TV show)
Out of all the science fiction shows, these two are the ultimate couple and top my list. The first episode threw them together and Aeryn kicked John’s butt – a great start to every eventual marriage, right? For them, it worked. John: scientist, earthling, sense of humour, and learned to be kick-ass. Aeryn: Peacekeeper, sarcastic, and so kick-ass, it hurts. Together they put up with crazies trying to kill them and Aeryn’s emotional – and interpersonal – issues. What comes of it is a couple who’s a bit crazy themselves, but they’d die for each other – and do. They’re a solid team, even when they’re fighting. At the end of the day, they’ll do everything to save each other, sometimes in a very large, galaxy-damaging way.
#2 – Richard & Kahlan (from the Sword of Truth series by Terry Goodkind)
Another pairing of a kickass hero and heroine, brought together by extraordinary circumstances. Both powerful and strong in their own right, but together, they’re that much stronger. They’re one of the main reasons why I was captivated by the series: every book, I wanted to know what would happen between them. Up, down, missed chances. Things get screwed up but fixed, then drama, gasp, oh noooooo, and the final thank-god-that’s-finally-worked-out. They go to lengths for each other that people think are absolutely insane. And there’s that little loophole in the Confessor magic thing that I find a clever, but beautiful, resolution. Two people obviously meant for each other. But they don’t lose who they are in their relationship, and they know how to hold their own in their arguments and convictions. They just learn how to do it together rather than being alone – and that’s a wonderful thing.
#1 – Aragon & Arwen (from Lord of the Rings, Peter Jackson’s films)
One of my most favourite things that came from the LOTR film trilogy was the expanded role of Arwen, not just because I value female characters in their own right, but because she allowed Aragorn to show a side that makes my heart flutter. I can’t help but get teary-eyed during the scene in The Two Towers when it’s just the two of them being sweet. They’re deeply connected. If Arwen’s undying belief in hope and Aragorn while facing the reality of mortality doesn’t scream true love, I don’t know what does. And he returns the same. They’re on the same page. It also seems like it’s more a relationship focused on giving rather than receiving… all of which is probably why I get so annoyed when Éowyn steps in.
And that’s all for this list. Thanks for reading, everyone! Thanks to In the Binding for letting me share. Hope you enjoyed it.