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338 pages, ebook
First published October 14, 2014
“The day I was born, my father was more interested in unusual weather for the season. He chose my name and had some genetic resequencing done. He wanted what he wanted. So I was made Princess Snow, eyes like the sky and hair as white as my name."A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, there lived Snow White.
My stepmother. Crying never got me anything but a slap across the cheek from her. She haunted the edges of my earliest childhood memories. She was inescapable…until I escaped.The Huntsman.
“You were the one,” Dane whispered. “The one who helped her escape.”The poison apple.
A knife in Kip’s hand, both of us staring at it, staring at each other…The indecision in his eyes fading only when he hands it to me.
I hardly glanced at Olivia’s gift—a ruby-studded pendant in the shape of an apple I remembered her wearing a few times.But there are also spaceships, evil emperors, adorably clunky androids... named Dimwit and Cusser.
Dimwit chose that moment to spot-weld one of its feet to the deck.
As usual, I didn’t include that infuriating bucket of a malfunction in my tally of problems. After all, I could solve that one with a quick hour of dismantling work.
For some reason, though, I never did.
My surroundings went fuzzy, blurring with motion as something inside of me was yanked somewhere else.And Snow White herself...genetically engineered to look like her name.
To someone else.
"I didn’t want to go home,” I said simply. “I still don’t.”Essie is a rough, tough girl with a secret. She has not had an easy life. One of the youngest miners on the planet, she is no stranger to hard labor. She is a brilliant programmer and engineer. She can fight, and does. Essie can watch her own back, and she will need to. She is all alone, and nobody will watch out for her.
The flats spread before me, and the shuttle lay dead center. Not as bad a crash as I’d feared—it was still in one right-side-up piece. The sparks and smoke, however, didn’t bode well.Dane is pretty nice, he gains her trust, he even helps her fight off an attacker. He's just kind of a a little dumb, because hello, he's a treasure hunter. Right. But seriously, he's not a bad dude. That is, he was nice until he kidnaps her. Well, fuck.
Every alarm in my body went off.
Something cold and metallic touched my neck. The shuttle skewed out of focus. My legs weren’t under me anymore, but somehow I hadn’t hit the floor.
“I’m sorry, Essie.”
“I’m not one of the half-drunk miners you’re used to fighting…Princess.”Essie is not Essie. Essie is the long-missing Princess Snow. Daughter of the despotic King Matthias and his magical, bewitching Queen Olivia. Dane is part of the Exiles, and he has pretty valid reasons for wanting to kidnap Essie. When she disappeared, his people were blamed. They were punished, reviled. But was it truly the princess' disappearance that made the king seek to destroy their people...or is it part of a much bigger plot?
I couldn’t breathe.
“I’m the ‘treasure’ you were looking for,” I whispered.
“The treasure I got, the way I see it.”
she’d put her trust in people who couldn’t protect her. People who maneuvered lives like strategically placed pawns.Snow has her own reasons for running away. Her life as a child in the palace was not as blissful as it seemed. Is she ready to confront her past? Is she willing to put her fears aside? Will she finally embrace her destiny and become the queen everyone knows she could be?
Leaving only me, the last.
Shoulders straight, Essie. Chin level. Just like Mother.
The council sat around the large table, caught in the midst of an argument. Dane was the first to spot me, his lips parting in mute surprise. The older council members followed his gaze, and the room went silent.
“You wanted a queen,” I said solidly, pushing my Thandan accent aside. “You’ve got one.”
Windsong needs you.…I really, really hate her name. Essie = nail polish brand to me, so yeah, name = hate. The character, however, is just fine.
My mother’s voice again. After the memory of the pond and the dragonflies, it was too much. I turned and ran back to the complex, ignoring Dane’s shouts.
One thing hadn’t changed since he took me from Thanda—I still would not let him see me cry.
When he doubled over, I kicked his legs from under him. He dropped and I followed, bracing my legs against his while my upper body pinned his shoulders. The shouts surrounding the cage crested as Thacker pushed against the threadbare mat. Before he could throw me off, I grabbed a fistful of his sweaty hair and slammed his head down.
Knocked out, helpless in a room full of drunk men.I like the fact that she is hard, with a core of steel. She is not a crier, she holds things inside, but she is ever-so-vulnerable just the same. Nobody is perfect. I like that she holds herself back, while still being susceptible to ever-growing teenage hormones, while never letting it overwhelm her. She remains strong, but never so stubborn as to become the cut-off-your-nose-to-spite-your-face type. THE FEELS, LET IT OUT, GIRL!
I splashed icy water on my face, forcing deep breaths to keep both the memory and the panic attack at bay. Nothing had happened. Not then, and not today.
“Dimwit Essie queen Essie,” he said. “Essie mother proud.”The Romance:
And the twitchy malfunction who’d never botched anything he didn’t mean to dipped himself into an unmistakable bow.
I didn’t fight the tear that slipped down my cheek.
I smiled, and I bowed back.
A siren blasted my ears, echoing off the smooth walls. Lockdown. If we got trapped in that chamber, it was over.Priority, girlfriend. You haz them. And I love you for it. Yes, this book has romance. The love interest is a kidnapper, and I don't give a fuck. Dane is a good guy. Yeah, Essie has her silly girl moments. So what? You have them. I've had them (and still have them). The point is that the lovey-dovey is kept to a minimum, and I never found myself going...
I turned, and my eyes found Dane’s. He was still with me. He looked right at me and took a breath.
And I did.
Kidnapping me to trade for political prisoners made him a despicable smear of buzzard dung. Trading a girl he’d just met for the father he’d lost eight years ago…that made him something else.And do I ship them? You fucking bet I (space)ship them. Dane and Essie bring out the best, the brightest, the bravest part of themselves when they fall in love.
“Please, Essie,” he said. “Let me take you home. Let me make it right.”
If I let him take me back to hide behind mine-drones and cage fights…it would never be the same. I couldn’t forget the price of my freedom.
There had to be another choice.
I had to create one.
Do what needs doing, even if it terrifies you.
Only one option remained. The one I’d never been willing to acknowledge, but now I had to.
“Right, then, I’ll go home.” Dane relaxed and smiled at my words, but I wasn’t done. “Home,” I went on, “is Windsong.”
...okay, not really.
At least she has a reason why she hates you, mister.
“The day I was born, my father was more interested in unusual weather for the season. He chose my name and had some genetic re-sequencing done. He wanted what he wanted. So I was made Princess Snow, eyes like the sky and hair as white as my name."
"I didn’t want to go home,” I said simply. “I still don’t.”
“Feelings can’t be wasted. Knowing they’re real for however long they last makes them worth having.”
“Brave is being scared and doing what needs to be done anyway.”