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.
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.
About the Series:
With the right people and the right price, the Republic of Kattal can be brought to its knees. But for every line crossed, someone waits on the other side, ready to push back.
Armed and ready to defend their lives, these heroes are not afraid of the fight. They stare adversity in the eye and dance with the darkness within. But in their justice, there is wisdom. In wisdom, there is protection. In it all, there is love. Sometimes it’s a matter of saving a village; sometimes it’s a matter of saving the one they can’t live without. Sometimes it’s just about doing the right thing and learning to love oneself.
Magic may lurk in the shadows. Crime may never sleep. But love doesn't back down.
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Hi, everyone! I'm Archer Kay Leah, author of LGTBQA+ fantasy romance and sci fi romance. My deepest thanks to My Fiction Nook for hosting today's stop on the Soulbound blog tour, and thanks to all of you for joining us. <3 span="">3>
I thought I'd share an exclusive excerpt from Soulbound today. This bit comes from a scene that started pretty rough on Mayr, putting him through the emotional wringer with a nightmare he'd really rather forget. It isn't the first nightmare of its kind for him and it isn't the last, all of which puts him on edge more than he already is. He feels the pressure of the Shar-denn gang around them, but he doesn't know what to do with it except protect Tash as much as possible. This scene also involves Arieve, Mayr and Tash's lover, who adds an entirely new level of concern. Mayr loves both of them deeply, so much he'd rather choose silence over everything else…
Whatever the problem, it was limited to Gailarin. A blessing, the High Council had called it.
Sure, because blessings usually feel like a portent in disguise.
The lack of arrests was nothing to overlook, its significance meaningless without understanding why. From the details provided by Adren and Ress, there were enough gang members to keep a hundred bounty hunters busy for the whole of their lives. Gailarin was the prime tract in Kattal, hosting both the seats of the High Council and the governing assemblies, as well as being the centre of trade and economy. It was logical for the Shar-denn to operate heavily in the region. Two hundred gang members could easily do the damage they had.
Yet the latest raids had turned up abandoned houses. The hunters had nothing to track those who should have been there. Even Adren and Ress were at a loss for new leads, saying the Shar-denn had gone into hiding—but where and why now? They frequently taunted High Council and law enforcement, deliberate moves in the Shar-denn's game. The crimes themselves were often invisible but not the disorder. Without the chaos, what did they have left?
They were up to something, but Mayr could not prove it. Most of the High Council scoffed at his concern. Only Severn entertained Mayr's worries, combining her distaste for criminals with her own suspicions. While Aeley and the bounty hunters agreed with him, no one offered a better plan of action than protecting Adren and Ress. If the Shar-denn struck back, they would attack Adren first. As the child of a former faction boss, Adren was the most valuable. Ce knew enough to sink at least three factions and dozens of acquaintances—many that had vanished, taking their work with them.
The best Mayr could do was be vigilant and hold onto Tash as though he would die at any moment. Arieve too, because if the Shar ever found out about her…
Losing them was not an option.
He snatched the towel beside the washing bowl and dried his face, then glanced at the bed. His gaze followed the curves of Tash and Arieve's bodies, yearning to touch. They're everything worth fighting for.
Mayr sighed into the towel, his eyes squeezed shut. More than once, he had feared being with Tash would lock him up in the chains of obligation and habit, paired with expectations and demands he could not meet.
Instead, he felt liberated. They did things together he never would have done on his own. That's how safe I feel with him. Mayr tossed the towel onto the table. That's what I want to share with Arieve—how good it can be. She's already been hurt, treated like she's not enough. I want her to know she's more than that, just like he's teaching me I am.
He crossed the room to the window and swept back one of the curtains. Frost framed the blue-green windowpane. Snow blanketed the yard and trees below, sunlight reflecting off its pristine surface. An image of calm he wished he could be.
What peace he had was wrapped up in Tash and Arieve. In their safety, in their slumber, in the comfort they offered. Through them he saw the rest of himself: his fears, his secret wishes, and everything that hid deep inside. Together, Tash and Arieve were gently unraveling the most vulnerable parts of him.
Arms folded, Mayr smiled at the flecks of snow that floated through the sky. He had been terrified to pursue Arieve, but Tash had discovered the bit of courage Mayr had stuffed away. Even more, Tash encouraged him. There was no pressure, no shame, and no ultimatum. Mayr was free to share his feelings instead of locking them away.
Marrying you is the best choice I have. Mayr studied his ring, flicking his finger to catch the light.
Feet padded across the floor behind him. Arms encircled Mayr, one sliding over his waist. A hand grasped his and entwined their fingers, matching rings on display side by side.
"I'll kiss it better, whatever it is," Tash whispered, kissing Mayr's neck. He drew Mayr's arms across Mayr's chest and squeezed, his naked body flush to Mayr's. "Come back to bed. Let us ease your burdens." His beard scraped Mayr's shoulder lightly, his cheek a welcome pressure on Mayr's skin.
Shivers rushed through Mayr from Tash's heat—he was colder than he realized. Eyes closed, he rested his head on Tash's shoulder and clasped Tash's arms. A content sigh slipped from Mayr as he leaned into the embrace. Did Tash realize how perfect his timing often was? How accurately he read Mayr and offered precisely what was needed? Or was it by intuition alone?
"We've slept late as is," Mayr murmured. "You're supposed to be at the temple."
"This afternoon, yes." Tash combed his fingers through Mayr's disheveled hair, tender as he worked around the tangles. "But morning isn't done, not until you tell me what's wrong or come back to bed—preferably both."
Tempting as that is…
"Nothing," Mayr lied. "I'm fine."
"So retching is something to do for fun now?"
"No, it means I'm coming down with something." Mayr bit the inside of his cheek. The last thing he needed was to worry Tash more than he already did. After twenty-three years of the Shar-denn, Tash needed better.
"I suppose you're right… if lying can be considered an illness."
Mayr held back a frustrated breath but whimpered as Tash nibbled his earlobe.
"Keep your secrets for now," Tash whispered. "I'll be waiting to hear them, to make them my secrets."
The grind of Tash's hips against his did nothing to stop Mayr's moan. "Not fair."
"Completely fair." Tash gripped Mayr's hand. "Come, lie down. Maybe you'll feel like talking afterwards."
"Is this a bribe?" Mayr followed Tash to the bed. "You might have to up the payment."
Arieve rolled onto her back, arms stretched above her head. "No one's upping anything until you've washed and eaten something that tastes amazing." She yawned and arched into another stretch. "And priests don't bribe. They entreat with all the sneaky grace of the Goddesses."
Tash laughed and slipped into the bed. "What can I say? It's a skill."
"Mm, I'm sure. It's probably your first lesson."
And here we are: the end of today's post. Thank you so much for hanging out and reading! I love hearing from readers, so feel free to share your thoughts, questions, or comments. Have a great one, folks!
Archer Kay Leah was raised in 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, this diversity inspired a love for toying with characters and their relationships, exploring new experiences and difficult situations.
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 with too many hobbies and keeps busy with other creative endeavors, a music addiction, and whatever else comes along. Archer lives in London, Ontario with a bigender partner and rather chatty cat.
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