Win A Signed Paperback & Poster From USA Today Bestseller N.D. Jones!
A QUEEN'S PRIDE
(Feline Nation Book 1)
by USA Today Bestselling Author N.D. Jones
For centuries, humans descended on shifters' lands, killing and claiming. They devoured all in their path–gold, God, and glory their battle cries. From the flames of destruction on the Zafeo continent, two nations emerged–the human territory of Vumaris and the feline nation of Shona.
No more wars.
No more bloodshed.
Eight decades of peace.
For eighteen-year-old Asha, traveling to Vumaris with her parents, lion alphas of the Kingdom of Shona, should've been a simple matter. Recommitting to an eighty-year-old peace treaty between their countries should've been easier still. Yet, greed and corruption know no boundaries of time and place. So when a group of mercenaries converges on Sanctum Hotel, hellbent on kidnapping Asha and assassinating her parents, her family trip turns into the bloodiest night of her life.
Will Asha lose those closest to her heart–her parents and Ekon, a young bodyguard she loves. If so, will she forgive her enemies or seek divine retribution?
Only time will tell, and it's running out for Princess Asha of the Kingdom of Shona.
Excerpt from A QUEEN'S PRIDE:
Asha flipped from one television station to the next, her mind more on the way Ekon had made her body feel than on finding a show for them to watch before Mafdet took over the post and sent Ekon to his suite. While Zarina had raised Asha to speak her mind, she had also taught her to do so with forethought and care. Zarina may have a tendency to shock people, but it wasn’t because she hadn’t calculated the impact of her words before uttering them. But her mother had yet to teach her how to curb her thoughts when her body wanted to do the talking for her.
Foregoing the television, she clicked it off and dropped the remote control onto the couch cushion beside her. She ached in places she wanted Ekon to touch. If she were alone in the suite and in her bed, she’d close her eyes, slip her hand inside her panties and—
Knock. Knock. Knock.
Opening eyes that had closed of their own volition and dropping the hem of her dress she hadn’t consciously lifted, Asha sat up—embarrassed and breathless.
The knock came again.
Asha stood. Waited. A Shieldmane would announce himself, even Mafdet who had a key to the suite. Her parents would call, if they required something of her, expecting Asha to come to them, not the other way around.
By the time the third round of knocking sounded, Asha had moved closer to the door, scenting more than the human on the other side.
“Miss. Miss. Are you inside? We have an emergency. We need to evacuate this floor.”
The man knocked again–hard and urgent.
Peering through the peephole, she saw a tall man dressed in the same uniform she’d seen the front desk workers wear. He appeared both anxious and impatient. If there was a fire or gas leak, the man’s emotions were justified. Asha and Ekon needed to get out of there.
She unlocked and opened the door. Mistake. Asha stepped backward, and the human stepped forward, shutting the door behind him.
A gun she hadn’t seen through the peephole pointed at her.
“Don’t scream. Don’t fight. If you follow my directions, you won’t get hurt.”
If he didn’t have a gun leveled at her stomach, Asha could’ve misinterpreted his smile as a sign of kindness.
“You’re making a mistake.”
“No, I’m making the world better for humans.” Gun hand steady, the man who clearly wasn’t a hotel employee, scanned the outer room of the suite. “Is someone in here with you? A guard?” Green eyes tracked up and down her body. “Yeah, as pretty as you are, there has to be a guard nearby. Where? Bedroom? Bathroom?”
Asha wouldn’t tell a lie, only to be caught in one, but she also wouldn’t reward the human’s threat of violence with the truth.
“Fine. I’ll take your silence as a yes.” He drew closer, blond hair pulled back in a shoulder-length ponytail Asha would rip from his scalp if given an opportunity to strike. “We’ll just wait right here for whoever is in that other room to come out.”
They waited. It didn’t take long since Ekon had already been in the ensuite for five minutes. Asha knew why he’d made a quick escape. She hadn’t been toying with him when she’d asked to see him naked. She’d very much wanted to feast upon his body … and with more than her eyes.
The door to the ensuite creaked open.
The human shoved the barrel of the gun against her ribs, his breath smelling of cigarettes when he whispered in her ear. “I knew someone was in here with you. You’re too important to be left alone. But didn’t your parents ever warn you about opening doors to strangers?” His other hand found one of Asha’s curls and twisted it around his finger. “I told them I could get you to open the door for me. It was the uniform, wasn’t it? No need to answer, little girl. Now, let’s see who came to play.”
Ekon appeared in the living room, having reached them on soundless feet. If not for the creaking door, the human would’ve never known he approached. As it was, though, it was Ekon who was taken by surprise.
Asha saw the moment her gentle boyfriend morphed into her deadly Shieldmane. His eyes darkened, eye teeth lengthened, sharpened, and his fingernails transformed into long, curved claws.
Ekon stalked toward Asha, his focus on the gunman.
In a swift upward movement, the human pointed his handgun at Asha’s head. “Calm down, kitty, or I’ll splatter her brains all over this white carpet.”
“That’s good. Real good. Put those fangs and claws away, friend.”
“I’m not your friend. If you want to make it out of this room alive, you need to get that gun away from her and leave.”
“Yeah, no, that’s not going to happen. She’s why we’re here. Where we go, she goes. You’re the one I don’t need.”
A lion roared, and Asha had never heard a more beautiful sound.
“That would be my father.”
The roar was followed by gunfire, then what sounded like all-out war in the hall.
“Fuck! Fuck! What in the hell are those guys doing?”
“They’re fighting my parents, which means they’re dying. If you give Ekon your gun, you won’t have to die with them.”
Meet USA Today Bestselling Author N.D. Jones
N. D. Jones, Ed.D. is a USA Today bestselling author who lives in Maryland with her husband and two children. In her desire to see more novels with positive, sexy, and three-dimensional African American characters as soul mates, friends, and lovers, she took on that challenge herself. Along with the fantasy romance series Forever Yours, and a contemporary romance trilogy, The Styles of Love, she has authored three paranormal romance series: Winged Warriors, Death and Destiny, and Dragon Shifter Romance.
Interview with N.D. Jones:
Q: Hi N.D. Can you begin by telling us a little about yourself?
NDJ: My name is N. D. Jones. I’m a USA Today Bestselling author from Maryland, where I live with my husband and two young adult children. I’m an author of fantasy, urban fantasy, paranormal, and contemporary romances. Along with the fantasy romance series Forever Yours, and a
contemporary romance trilogy, The Styles of Love, I have authored three paranormal romance series: Winged Warriors, Death and Destiny, and Dragon Shifter Romance.
Q: Why paranormal? What drew you to the genre?
NDJ: I write in the same genre I love as a reader. What’s cool about paranormal as a genre is the vastness of time, location, people, and culture. From shapeshifting dragons in modern-day New York to elemental witches locked in a life and death battle near a primordial river to a thousand-
year-old fallen angel seeking love and redemption, the paranormal genre is simply fun. It takes some of what readers are familiar with—the normal and mundane, perhaps—and sprinkle in a healthy dose of “What if powder.” What if magic existed? What if humans could transform into
werewolves? What if faeries were real and our concept of reality false? What if? What if? The posing and answering of “What if” questions is what makes reading and writing paranormal stories an enjoyable endeavor.
Q: For those who are new to your books, what is the story about?
NDJ: A Queen’s Pride is the first book in my Feline Nation duology. I purchased the cover as premade—meaning the designer created the cover without a specific story in mind. When I saw the cover with a beautiful African American woman flanked by two fierce lions, my mind went straight to the ancient Egyptian lion-headed goddess Sekhmet. I purchased the cover because it was lovely, but I had no concrete story in mind. In the end, the story is about the impact of one awful night in the life of a nineteen-year-old who would become queen of a nation of shapeshifting humans as a result. Asha, my heroine, grows into the woman readers see on the cover.
Q: Tell us about your heroine. What inspired her quirks and struggles?
NDJ: It took a little while to settle on the character of Asha. But as the story’s plots formed, so too did the character I needed as my heroine. Asha, at nineteen, is the youngest character I’ve written. And while her age fits within the young adult genre, A Queen’s Pride is not a young adult novel.
Asha is the beloved heir and only child to the rulers of the Kingdom of Shona. As such, she’s intelligent beyond her years but that’s balanced by the fact that, at the end of the day, she is a young woman. She’s playful, polite, and a little mischievous. She loves to read and often escapes her mother’s lessons by running off to her favorite beach with her latest novel. Asha has a boyfriend–Ekon, her young bodyguard. Most of all, Asha adores her parents. In many ways, Asha is quite innocent, although not at all naïve. She’s witty, sarcastic and stubborn as hell—all of which comes out as she is tested throughout this novel.
Q: Is any part of your story or the characters based on personal experience?
NDJ: A Queen’s Pride, indeed, the Feline Nation duology, is based on the awful practices of racism and colonialism. The idea that one group has the right to encroach on and take the land of another group of people because they’ve deemed themselves better and more worthy is the foundation of the history between the shapeshifters of the Kingdom of Shona and the humans of the Republic of Vumaris. History, including American history, abounds with such ideals as manifest destiny and nationalism, which have pitted groups against each other. For my prologue, I researched treaties between various American tribes and the United States. As a quick backstory of the relationship between my shapeshifters and human characters, I created a couple of treaties, modeling them after the broken ones entered into with tribes of North America. The idea of broken treaties framed the major conflict in this novel.
Thank you so much, N.D. Jones!