The wait is finally over and the Heartstone Series has landed! Check out what readers are calling “Full of betrayal, intrigue, romance and action, and serving as a very interesting deconstruction of the idea of “love at first sight”, Shrouded is a riveting story that should be on the list of any lover of far-off worlds, likeable but flawed protagonists, and political intrigue.”
Dolfan believed in the Heart… until it gave her to another man.
When Vashia arrives on Shroud as an indentured bride, Dolfan recognizes immediately that they are meant to be together. Broken, lost, and on the run, she trusts no one, but Dolfan has enough faith for the both of them… Until his people’s sacred ritual gives Vashia to someone else. Until Dolfan’s faith, and his heart are tested.
Vashia’s arrival ignites a storm on Shroud, and the full-scale invasion that chases after her threatens to destroy Dolfan’s home, his culture, and his planet. If he can’t challenge his own beliefs enough to admit the ritual was wrong, the only woman he wants will likely be the end of everything he’s ever known.
When the Shrouded Heart sends him on a mission of diplomacy, Shayd is eager to obey. The treason of his predecessor has stained the rituals and weakened his relationship with the sacred crystal, but when it brings him to Rowri, he is certain the alien priestess is destined to be his heartmate. Despite the fact that their mission is to deliver her to her wedding… to someone else.
Rowri’s duty to her people insists Shayd must give her away, even as their heartbond draws them closer and closer together. Though he understands her loyalty, honoring her choice will put her in danger, leave her planet open to attack, and unleash an old enemy dead set on destroying them all.
Disguised as a slave, Mofitan infiltrates the enemy forces on Eclipsis. Certain his people’s Heart is all a lie, his only mission is to help his friends, to overthrow an evil man, and free the people of Eclipsis from a tyrant. Except the enemy’s right hand man just might be the woman he’s meant to be with.
If the Heart isn’t fooling him again, Mofitan is on the wrong side… or she is. Between sabotage, deep core mining, alien extermination and random explosions Mofitan has to work out how to get Corah on his team before she gets orders to take him out. If his heart wasn’t breaking, he’d definitely be having the time of his life.
Life Under The Shroud:
Unlike a lot of my books, which begin with a scene or a flash of charcter, the Heartstone books started with a world. I’m not sure, to be honest, where Shroud came from. Like most of my crazy ideas, it probably flashed at me during a nice hot shower, someplace where I absolutely couldn’t write immediately. Regardless, it did flash, bright and cloudy and with absolute clarity. A world buried under a layer of clouds and gas. A poison atmosphere hiding a civilization that wants very much to stay hidden.
I spent way too much time researching planetary dynamics, gas giants, and natural magnetism. A nice side-trip, and one that spawned the Shrouded tech, which relies on natural and inlaid magnetic roads and leads the unsavvy visitor on a wild goose chase that is likely to end in death in the desert. Throughout the research, however, the question that pressed me most was character driven. Who would live here? If the planet was this hostile, and required so much effort to make livable, who would possibly hide beneath that toxic blanket?
And there was my answer after all. Hiding. The people who dug their cities into the Shrouded core would be refugees. They might not even remember what they’d fled from (though over the course of the series, we’ll definitely discover that) but they’d certainly be a wounded people. Skittish, protective of their culture and their independence.
The Shrouded people are descendents, then, of the original seven surviors who fled the mythical and mostly forgotten home world. They provided seven bloodlines, each of which provides a candidate, or Prince, for the kingmaking. The Shrouded blood always breeds true, Pelinol says just before retiring his throne to the next king. Why, we’ll have to wait for a later story to learn, but I knew these were proud people, and at the same time, frightened ones.
Everything outside their protective covering was suspect, terrifying, and so of course I had to invent a vehicle to force them from their shell, or to bring the outside world crashing down upon them. Seven men on a barren world. Even if their genetics did prove dominant, to continue there had to be an influx of partners, mates, the Shrouded brides. I suspect originally this happened on accident. There had to be foreigners involved in the reformation of the core to make it livable, engineers, scientists, builders. I imagine the first hearbonding happened on accident, a Shrouded man and his true mate came together near the vein of heartsone and the stone reacted.
Someone would have worked it out, organized the process, and when the contractors and government assitance vacated the Core and left the Shrouded in peace, they’d have invented the candidate import system, the first shipment of society’s lost and forgotten would have boarded transports for Shroud, for a promise of, maybe not freedom, but a better end than they faced oustide.
It is these people who told me their individual stories. Finally. The characters solidified and came to the stage. Why would someone sign away their freedom willingly? What would it take to drive a soul to run to a world from which there was no leaving ever again? I leave it to Vashia and Murrel, Tarren and Lucha, to explain.
I can tell you that trouble comes with them, that no world, no culture, and no person, can live in isolation forever. Eventually, the shell cracks, the world peeks in, and all sorts of exciting things happen! Welcome to life under the Shroud.
About the Author
Frances Pauli writes speculative fiction, usually with touches of humor or romance, which means, of course, that she has trouble choosing sides.
She’s always been a fan of things outside the box, odd, weird or unusual, and that trend follows through to her tales which feature aliens, fairies, and even, on occasion, an assortment of humans.
More information on her work and upcoming releases can be found on her website:
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