Albert Camus

Don't walk behind me; I may not lead. Don't walk in front of me; I may not follow. Just walk beside me and be my friend.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

a dividing line - Ariella's Escape (Stars at Zenith Trilogy #1) by Carolee Croft

18+ Together, they make their way through a den of thieves and an enchanted elf forest, but the biggest danger of all may be their fiery attraction to each other and the secret that will draw a dividing line between them.


Published: July 22nd, 2017

Ariella had always believed that the life of a warrior should include indulging in wine and men whenever they were on offer… And in Chaldea, the capital of the old empire, they certainly were.

Especially the man she finds in her bedchamber, a slave provided by her hosts to entertain her in any way she wishes.

But when betrayed and surrounded by enemies in a strange land, there is only one man she can trust—the slave who was meant only for her pleasure but is much more than he seems.

Demetrius had been captured in a battle at the age of fifteen, and slavery was all he had known in his adult life. When his chance for freedom comes along, his fate is bound to the noble warrior maiden whose voice and body he cannot resist. Duty calls him to return to his kingdom, but the journey will take him places that will change him forever.

Together, they make their way through a den of thieves and an enchanted elf forest, but the biggest danger of all may be their fiery attraction to each other and the secret that will draw a dividing line between them.

Changing the Roles

It’s a case of “If you can't find the book you're looking for, write it yourself.” There just aren’t that many books with bad-ass female characters, ones who take charge, especially in romance. Why is it always “nice girl” meets “bad boy”? So yes, I wanted it to be more like a “bad girl” meets “nice guy” kind of story.

Don’t get me wrong, I've always loved the bad boy characters but more in the sense that I wanted to be them. I mean who wouldn't identify with that type of character? The charmer, the playboy, the gambler. Someone who lives in the moment, has a devil-may-care attitude, and wins everyone’s hearts. Often I thought, why can't there be more female characters like this? Are women seen as more innocent, or motherly and responsible?

It’s time for something different. A female character who is more interested in having fun than meeting that special someone. Especially in this book, I think that role suited Ariella naturally because she's a lady warrior with her own castle in a land where women are in charge, her parents are dead, and she had been hurt in love before, so she chooses partying as her way to escape the loneliness.

As for the hero, does he get overshadowed by such a strong heroine? I don’t think so. Even though he's not the cocky bad boy that romance readers normally love, Demetrius is a really cool guy. Like many beloved romance heroes, he’s extremely protective of the heroine, he serves her needs without losing any of his masculinity, and I believe he will win readers' hearts from the very first chapter.

Even after he escapes from slavery, he is still very loyal to Ariella, and I think she holds a lot more of the power in their relationship. Although it's not literally a BDSM novel, there are some unusual things that happen in the power relations between the characters which makes for some interesting love scenes. It’s not your typical romance, but I’m sure readers will love this tale of two strong and complex characters.


“Now tell me the truth, Demetrius,” she asked, a smile playing at the edges of her lips, “Did the king send you here to find out my secrets?”

“The truth…” he lay back, cradling his head in his hands, a pose that the huge muscles of his chest stand out even more. “The truth is, this is a gesture of hospitality. But yes, he did want me to report anything you might say in regards to the negotiations. However, I don’t believe that he was interested in any information regarding your swifthounds, so that secret is safe with me.”

Ariella burst out laughing. She wanted to playfully slap his shoulder, but she was afraid of where it may lead.

“I knew it!” she exclaimed, “But does he really expect me to spill the muckpitts to you, especially when you’ve just told me of his plan?”

“I admit, I find it rather far-fetched myself,” he replied, “but then again, when I’m embracing you in the heat of passion…” he scooped an arm under her and rolled her over to face him, “who knows what political secrets you might reveal.”

When he had first seized her in mock abandon, she laughed, but then feeling the embrace of his strong arms around her, seeing his face just inches from her own, she suddenly froze, not wanting him to let go.

“It’s doubtful I will reveal anything,” she said slowly, “but we won’t know until we try, will we?”

They lay there facing each other, and he still did not let go. This seemed so wrong, Ariella thought. She knew she was in danger here, and that this man could very well be posing as a friend to gain her trust, though she knew not for what purpose. The ease with which he confessed to being sent to her bedchamber as a spy was suspicious, or on the other hand it could mean that he was no spy at all, that he was only teasing her.

She couldn’t read much in the clear blue fount of his eyes, more liquid than fire now, except a strong yearning for closeness.

His lips were slightly open, just inches away from hers. She realized she was now beyond any reasoning. She leaned into him, inhaling that ravishingly innocent smell, and her lips just lightly touched his.

Ariella suddenly wondered if she had had too much to drink after all, for in that moment when their lips had barely touched, she felt as if his lips were the most sensuous, delicious lips she had ever kissed.

As if disbelieving her own senses, she pulled back for a moment – though a moment long enough to see he looked as overwhelmed as she was – and then her lips encountered his once more, with a more determined pressure… Ariella was completely lost in the kiss, which sent the whole room spinning and the blood rushing through her body in a furious tempest.

About the author:
Enchanted by romance on page and screen, I have always tried to write my own versions of the perfect fairytale. As for real life, I believe I may have already found the man of my dreams, but I still haven’t found the dog of my dreams. Currently, I’m obsessed with Italian greyhounds. I can usually be found enjoying the outdoors or relaxing with a good book on the west coast of Canada.

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Anonymous said...

Thank you very much for posting. I hope you enjoyed my opinion piece and excerpt from the novel :)

CCAM said...


You're welcome!
I'm all for a "bad-girl" attitude, but in some aspects (as in "heart" ones), I'm still a bit more "traditionalist"...
In what regards the "bad-boy" roles I preferred them mixed with the "anti-hero" ones... they should do the right thing when it counts :)

Anyway, I cannot wait to read Ariella's Escape - when to expect the book #2?

Anonymous said...

I know what you mean, sometimes there's nothing more comforting than a traditional romance where the man seems a bit dangerous but he comes to the rescue or does the right thing in the end. I hope you like Ariella's Escape; let me know what you think!

Book 2 should be out sometime in December.