HE SAYS . . .
I, Aidan the Divine, am, well divine. My name was given to me by the Dragon Queen herself! I’m a delight! Cheerful. Charming. And a mighty warrior who is extremely handsome with a very large and well-hidden hoard of gold. I am also royal born, despite the fact that most in my family are horrendous beings that don’t deserve to live. And yet, Branwen the Awful—a low-born, no less—either tells me to shut up or, worse, ignores me completely.
SHE SAYS . . .
I’ll admit, I ignore Aidan the Divine because it annoys him. A lot. But, we have so much to do right now, I can’t worry about why he keeps staring at me, or why he always sits so close, or why he keeps looking at me like he’s thinking about kissing me. We have our nations to save and no time for such bloody foolishness . . . no matter how good Aidan looks or how long his spiked tail is. Because if we’re going to win this war before it destroys everything we love, we’ll have to face our enemies together, side by side and without distractions. But if we make it out alive, who knows what the future will hold . . .
“A hot-hot series.” —Library Journal
“This potent story mix is wacky and fun-filled, with plenty of humor and blood-thirsty action.” —RT Book Reviews on Feel the Burn
“A chest thumping, mead-hall rocking, enemy slaying brawl of a good book.” —All Things Urban Fantasy on The Dragon Who Loved Me
About the Author
G.A. Aiken is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Dragon Kin Series and the Scarred Earth Saga. When she’s not writing about sexy dragons and feminist blacksmiths, she’s writing about hot wolf, lion, tiger, and other fang-filled predators as Shelly Laurenston, the acclaimed and bestselling author of the Pride series, the Call of Crows, and the Honey Badger Chronicles. Originally from Long Island, she now lives on the West Coast and spends most of her time writing and making sure her rescued Pitbull doesn’t love everyone into a coma. Please visit her online at www.GAAiken.com.
Read an Excerpt
Seven winters later ...
The broken spear caught her on her right side, knocking her off her war horse. She landed hard on the blood-soaked ground but allowed herself no time to get her breath back. She forced herself to her feet and quickly blocked the damaged spear with her armor-covered forearm.
She swung at her attacker with her free hand, her fist slamming into his chest, sending him flying back into the wave of soldiers coming toward her.
She reached over her shoulder and grabbed her halberd. A long poleax that she liked using because the head was made up of an ax, a spear, and a steel point. To her it was like three weapons in one.
Impaling the first man she saw, she jerked her weapon to the side, tossing her victim off and readying herself for the next attack.
They surrounded her and she took a quick moment to size them all up. She crouched a little lower, adjusted her stance a bit more ... then she struck.
She slashed the tip of her weapon across several throats, lowered it, turned it slightly, and then thrust the tip into the sockets where some of the Zealots had eyes, but she pushed it in far enough to tear through skull and brain.
The remaining soldiers moved in, and she dragged her weapon closer, lengthened her stance, and anchored the end of the staff against the inseam of her foot. Turning it, she thrust up with the ax head and into the groin of one soldier, sending his bowels pouring onto the ground. She yanked the weapon out and used the ax head to cut legs off at the knees.
She felt a breeze, a change of energy around her, and quickly lifted the staff while lowering the head. She blocked the oncoming blade attack and twisted her weapon to disarm her attacker before slamming the staff end against his head and knocking him out.
She then swung the weapon up and over, letting the momentum turn her around to face those behind her.
She moved in time to avoid a blade aimed for her head and thrust her weapon at her attacker's inner thigh, piercing flesh and tearing open an artery. With a twist of her hands, she brought the weapon over her left forearm, jabbed it forward, and impaled the man next to her before he could strike. Did the same in the opposite direction and impaled a soldier on her right.
She blocked another attack from the front and brought the man down to the ground, holding him there with her foot against his throat while she used her halberd to dispatch the last two of those who'd attacked. Once they were dead, she impaled the man under her foot and finished off the one who'd just started to come around from his bash on the head.
Letting out a breath, Branwen the Awful, Captain of the First and Fifteenth Companies of the Dragon Queen's Armies and Colonel of the Ninety-Eighth Regiment of the Southland Armies, slammed the end of her halberd against the blood-soaked ground and took a moment to look over the carnage she'd caused on this mountainside.
Her troops were in the valley below fighting the ones they now just called the Zealots — those who were loyal unto death to the eyeless god, Chramnesind.
As she stood there, staring, she instinctively knew someone was coming up behind her. Turning only at the waist, Brannie brought the weapon up and through the head of the blood-soaked priest who stood behind her. As her weapon tore through the top of the priest's head, she had to jerk her body slightly to the left to avoid the spear that came through the back of the priest's head, almost skewering her in the process.
"Sorry!" Aidan the Divine called out. The gold dragon winced a bit when he realized how close his spear had come to impaling her. "Just trying to help."
That's what he always said. "Just trying to help!" He should have that branded on his bloody forehead.
"Yes, I know," Brannie replied. "But I didn't need your help."
"Everyone needs a little help now and again."
Yanking her weapon from the priest's head, Brannie secretly enjoyed the way blood splattered across that pretty face and right into those bright gold eyes.
Aidan said nothing as he attempted to wipe the blood away, but then he gave her that wide smile again, showing Brannie those annoying dimples. Or, as her uncle Addolgar called them, "Pits in the face."
Turning away, she took a step, but then heard, "Aren't you going to thank me?"
"Not even a thank-you kiss?"
She faced the gold dragon. Like her, he was in his human form, shoulder-length gold hair perpetually falling in front of his gold eyes and nearly blocking the sight of those sharp cheekbones. Brannie stepped close to him and put her fist under his nose. She didn't hit him, just held her chain mail–covered fist there and asked, "What about a thank-you punch to the face?"
"Is that my only option?"
She chuckled, even though she didn't want to. Bastard.
Branwen didn't know when it had happened or why, but somehow she'd become friends with Aidan the Divine. An actual royal from the House of Foulkes de chuid Fennah. A far cry from Brannie's low-born Cadwaladr Clan roots.
But for these past long years as they'd been fighting against the Zealots, they'd become close despite his royal hatching and her lack of one.
It amazed her even more that she liked him despite his affiliation with the Mì-runach. Dragons loyal only to the queen, the Mì-runach were nothing more than a hit squad who killed on command.
Brannie didn't have the luxury of running around, killing randomly, and only listening to the queen. As an officer and a dragoness, she had to think about all sorts of things before and after her troops got neck-deep in battle.
She didn't respect the Mì-runach, but she had come to — grudgingly — respect Aidan the Divine. And, over the years and in their own way, they'd become somewhat close.
Which was why she knew something was really wrong by the sudden look on Aidan's face, his eyes widening in panic. His mouth opened like he wanted to say something. And all of that meant only one thing — Aidan's idiot brethren were up to something again. Something that would only make her angry. Before Brannie could figure out what, though, she heard a distinctive noise. A noise she had better not be hearing.
Mouth open, Brannie spun around and glared up at the dragon oaf eating her horse!
Human body shaking, teeth gritting, Brannie felt her rarely unleashed rage explode.
"What have you done?" she bellowed.
Caswyn the Butcher, in his enormous dragon form, gazed down at her as he kept chewing. The front half of her beautiful, loyal horse hanging from his snout.
"Wha?" he mumbled around his meal.
Her human hands tightened on the staff of her weapon and she raised it. She slammed the end of the weapon against the ground and it grew to its full height for use when she was in her dragon form. She was so angry right now, her human form wasn't even overwhelmed by the now-enormous weapon. She simply pressed the tip of her halberd against a main artery in the dragon's neck.
Caswyn stopped chewing, eyes wide, her poor horse's front hooves still sticking out of his maw. Still twitching.
They were still twitching!
But before she could embed her weapon into the idiot's neck and end him for such an affront, Aidan jumped between them. Protecting his idiot friend and getting in her way!
"Perhaps we should think about this?" Aidan gently suggested, as was his way. The only Mì-runach she knew who tried to use reason rather than brute force.
"No," she snapped. "Move."
"You're not thinking this through."
"Get out of my way before I kill you both."
"He didn't mean it!"
"I don't care! I will have his head!"
"He was dying anyway," Caswyn mumbled around the hooves.
"It's just a bloody horse," Uther noted, his blood-covered human form coming at her from the opposite side.
But he stopped when the tip of Brannie's sword now pressed against the artery in his neck. She'd pulled it from her scabbard without making a sound and so quickly, the males had no time to react. As Branwen well knew, it was her speed that had always kept her alive.
Of course, at the moment, she really wasn't in danger. These dragons, no matter their form, would never hurt her. Not because they fought on the same side. Not because she outranked them, no matter which army she represented. Not even because she was faster and a better fighter than any of them. But because she was the "baby cousin" of Éibhear the Despicable. Their brother in arms. As brethren of the Mì-runach, they protected each other's kin as they would their own. So she knew that none of these males would ever harm a hair on her head, which only meant she could kill them quickly and leave their bleeding corpses to the wild animals of these mountains.
It seemed fair enough for what Caswyn had done, and for Uther sticking up for the idiot.
Of course, Éibhear wouldn't be happy, but what did he expect when he allowed his Mì-runach brethren to roam around free, doing stupid, stupid things?
"Could you both do me a favor?" Aidan asked his friends. "And stop talking?"
When neither male responded, Aidan faced Brannie, and opened his mouth to speak ... but the sound of crunching that came from Caswyn as he slowly began to chew on her precious horse's hooves made him stop, his head dropping forward in silent defeat.
Talwyn, only daughter of Fearghus the Destroyer and Annwyl the Bloody, buried her ax into a brawny chest and forced her enemy to the ground. Once she had him there, she yanked her weapon out and slammed the blade into the man's head, ignoring the spray of blood that splashed across her face.
She turned and looked through the battle raging around her until she locked eyes with her twin brother.
"What did you say?"
"I said get Mum!"
"Why is she my responsibility?" Talwyn wanted to know before cutting off the leg of a man standing next to her.
"She's our mother."
"Then why don't you do it?"
Her brother, covered in blood, looked away from the corpse he was trying to raise. "I'm busy."
"Busy failing. You can't raise human dead. Accept it!"
"It takes practice!"
"Oy! You two!" General Brastias — or, as Talwyn used to call him when she was a little girl, Uncle Bra-Bra — motioned to both of them. "One of you idiots get your mother. No one watches her back!"
"Does anyone need to watch her back?"
Brastias grabbed one of their enemies by the neck and bent him over at the waist. He buried his sword into the back of the man's exposed neck, killing him instantly. And not once did he take his disapproving gaze off Talwyn.
Always her! Why not Talan? How come her mother's care always fell to her?
She cut the throat of another soldier coming at her and quickly looked over and through the battling crowd, trying to find her oh-so-precious mother.
One would think the ruler of the entire Southland regions could take care of her bloody self.
But after all these years of war, somehow Talwyn had become the overseer of all things that involved Queen Annwyl of the Garbhán Isle. Or, as she was more commonly known, Annwyl the Bloody, the Mad Bitch of the Southlands.
Talwyn just called her "Mum." Mostly.
Finally spotting the queen, Talwyn saw that her mother was doing what she still did best. Killing anything near her that did not wear her colors.
The queen brought one sword down on her opponent, cutting into him from the shoulder through the torso at an angle, until he was in two pieces. She turned and slashed her sword again, taking a head. Turned once more and slashed. Turned and slashed. Over and over, cutting a swath through the battling men.
Her mother wasn't like most queens. She didn't stay in the safety of her castle and get information relayed to her from messengers on horseback. No. Talwyn's mother was always knee-deep in the muck and blood and body parts. She hated her nickname, but the woman had truly earned it.
Talwyn sneered. What were her brother and uncle so worried about? If there was one being in this world who could take care of herself, it was Annwyl the Bloody.
She was about to tell the worried males just that when her mother suddenly stood tall, ignoring the enemies at her feet, begging to be finished off so that they could go to their god as a martyr.
That was usually something Talwyn's mother took great joy in providing to her enemies, and Talwyn didn't think she'd ever seen her stop in the middle of a bloodbath.
So why was she stopping now?
Annwyl lifted her head, gaze scanning above the heads of the soldiers battling before her. What was she searching for? It wasn't prey. They were all around her.
"Mum?" Talwyn called out. "Mum!"
Her mother either didn't hear her or ignored her completely, something she was known to do when she was in one of her rage-fits. But when that was happening, Annwyl the Bloody was usually hacking at anything that moved. Not standing and staring.
Annwyl's head cocked to the side. Did she hear something? What could she hear that Talwyn couldn't?
"Talan," she called to her brother. "Something's wrong."
Talan finally left his now-rotting corpse — once dead, the Zealots seemed to decay faster than most humans, an annoyance to the queen, who really enjoyed planting the heads of her enemies on her castle walls — and moved to his sister's side.
"What's she doing?" he asked, using magicks to send a small passel of Zealots flying in the opposite direction with a quick twitch of his hands.
"I have no idea." Talwyn went up on her toes to get a better look.
What disturbed Talwyn more than anything? That none of the Zealots were trying to kill her mother. None attacked. Suddenly Annwyl the Bloody was invisible to them. The woman they wanted dead more than anything else in this world for bringing forth what they called the Abominations — Talwyn and Talan, specifically — was the one woman they were suddenly not paying any attention to.
"We better get her."
Talwyn agreed and followed her brother, briefly pausing once or twice to hack at a few attackers with her short sword. But as they neared Annwyl, the queen's head twitched to one side ... then another. Like Talwyn's dog. She almost laughed until her mother suddenly charged off.
Talwyn and Talan ran after her, no longer bothering to fight the soldiers coming at them. They just pushed them aside and kept running, trying to catch up with their fast-moving mother.
If this was anyone else, Talwyn would be less concerned. But their mother was known for her "bouts of rage," as their father put it. He was just being kind, though. Saying their mother had bouts of rage was like saying that a typhoon was a "little storm."
The twins also knew that their mother's rage could be coming from her frustration. She'd expected this war would have ended long ago. She'd had more legions, more supplies, and more seasoned generals and soldiers than the enemy. But Talwyn's father had tried to warn her. Fighting Zealots was different. And all of Salebiri's loyalist troops were Zealots. So loyal to their eyeless god that many of them had purposely had their eyes removed during some ceremony. Yet, even without eyes, the Zealots still fought amazingly well and did constant damage to Annwyl's troops.
Then, in the last year, the Zealots tried a new tactic. Scorched earth.
They'd been destroying the Southland territories, burning down farms, towns, even cities. They'd done even more damage than the dragons when, several centuries ago, the dragons and humans had an all-out war.
Apparently Salebiri's Zealots told the people whose land and lives they were destroying not to worry, "our god will replace all that you have lost once the whore is dead."
Annwyl being that whore, of course.
The name-calling didn't bother Annwyl as much as the suffering of her people. Knowing they'd lost their homes and livelihoods tore at the queen more than she could say, but she kept pushing forward.
Annwyl knew the gods well enough to know that the eyeless god would never hold true to his word. With or without their land, her people would never be safe under the rule of Chramnesind. So she fought on.
And, now, they were nearing the City of Levenez. The seat of power of Salebiri and his female.
Talwyn still wondered if Duke Roland Salebiri knew the true identity of his wife. The one he called Ageltrude, but that the rest of them knew as Vateria Domitus. A cousin to the Rebel King of the Quintilian Provinces and most hated bitch of the free world.
Excerpted from "Bring the Heat"
Copyright © 2017 G.A. Aiken.
Excerpted by permission of KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Feels like the end of a close frienship. The laurenston books also seem to have ended the "pride" saga and have now moved into a honeybadger drama. As for dragonkin, gwenvael must never fade away. I know authors must tire of the same characters but surely the " abomonations" must have a tale or two to pass on.
First, I like GA Aiken. One of my favorites. However, I am disappointed in her latest books. She keeps picking up the story line from past books. Usually I enjoy h touching base with past characters but I think she is trying to do to many storylines at the same time. She ends up spending so little time on what is supposed to be the main storyline that the characters are under developed. Not to mention that you never really get into any one storyline because she jumps around so much. It makes it hard to engage and become emotional invested in the characters. Very disappointed. If you would like to read something by her I highly recommend skipping the new books and reading the older ones. They are well worth the read.
Can't wait for more books
I have always loved her writing but the fact that she keeps incorporating the old characters is always a winner in my book same sense of humor, same bad language, same family hilarious cruelty...best author I know and read. Can not wait for the next.
Just devoured this book. I always looked forward to anything by G A Aiken or her alter ego. Hope the next one is published soon! I look forward to more laughs, action, mayhem, and romance dragon style.
I love this series!
Love all the dragon kin books. Cannot put it down until I'm done.
I tried to draw reading it out, so it would last more than a day, but I couldn't. Great characters, story line and as always a love story.
Great read as always but after growing so attached to the characters it was hard to read about them when the author has forgotten what they were about. Rhianwen has white hair for example not brown with a little white. And the character development just felt weak. I loved the earlier books and was sad to see the once three dimensional masterpiece fall to two.
I have waited so long for Branwen’s book and I absolutely adored it!!! By herself, Branwen is great. She is hilarious and totally over the top at times, but then you pair her up with Izzy and crap hits the fans in the most awesome way! The hilarity in the story is totally over the top and so typical of this author. And the story itself really kept me interested. One thing that I can say about the author, she brings on some freaking amazing characters, steam between them, and a freaking awesome story that totally keeps me engaged in the book. What she does with each plot is great. They always bring something new and interesting that i think will keep readers wanting more.
The book is hilarious, keeps the story moving, and has you hooked. A must read!
I LOVE the dragon series but this was a great culmination of the storylines and uses of ALL the characters. I believe that all G.A Aiken's book stand on there own and can be read and enjoy but I believe in this case in order to understand the story lines and the intricate history of the plot and banter. I would suggest reading all of the prior book in or before touching Brannie's book. Which by the way is EPIC and a nail biting page turner!!!!
Always brings the best battle scenes and keeps me guessing where the storyline will go next.
Branwen the Awful is high up in the queen’s army. Her reputation is definitely deserved. When she and her friend, Aiden the Divine, are sent on a separate mission, things get a little heated between them. Since the dragons are all in a life or death battle, she doesn’t have time to go any further than that. I’ve read a number of books by this author, and they never cease to amuse me. Her characters tend to be full of character (pun not intended) and have a bit of ADHD. For some, this might not be your cup of tea, but I absolutely love them. I laughed a lot during this book and loved Branwen’s interactions with the different people. There was one thing that was annoying. It had been a long time since I read the last dragon book in this series, so I didn’t remember many characters. This book went back and forth through a lot of characters, many of whom I didn’t remember. It took a little away from the book for me, unfortunately. I can’t wait for the next book in this series. I recommend. **I voluntarily read and reviewed this book
Wow. At one point I was really upset about the loss of a character and put the book down. But the book called me back and I couldnt put it down. Love the twist and the journey. Thanks for another great read and a journey.
This series needs to be read in order. Oh the joy of returning to the Dragon Kin series. I love these hilarious and bloodthirsty dragons and characters along with their fierce loyalty and unconditional love. The books tend to be over the top and ruthless, but so much fun! It took me a moment to get on the same page. Several years have passed from Feel the Burn to Bring the Heat and I had to remember what was happening. The big war that the series has been building up to is now going to go down. The Zealots have made their move. The romance between Brannie and Aiden doesn’t start right away. Ya, their is something their, but they don’t see it until later and then things heat up quickly. The banter is phenomenal; between all the characters. It’s one thing that I have come to love and enjoy about this series is that it’s present throughout the books. I also have come to love how Aiken writes strong and independent heroines who are also quite ruthless. I was surprised to get a lot of Keita. Well not surprised that she shows up like other previous characters, but that she plays a big part in this book. Keita and Briannie are cousins. It was fun and made me laugh watching these two fight with each other. Bring the Heat brings us romance, the war, and it’s politics. This novel defiantly lived up to my expectations. Rated: 4 Stars
Although this book includes many familiar faces it's also wonderful as a stand-alone. You get the dry humor you expect from G.A. Aiken, and the parallel stories weave around to keep you completely involved in the action. I highly recommend this book!
I can always count on a fun and interesting book from G.A. Aiken/Shelley Laurenston. This is book 9 in the Dragon Kin series. It features Aiden and Branwen and, while light on romance, there's lots of Aiken's signature fun, laughter, and zaniness. Other characters in the series show up, of course, and sometimes take over the story a bit but it just adds to the overall fun of this book. I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher, Kensington, via NetGalley
This one did not disappoint!! Loved it!!!! Couldn't put it down
I love all of g.a Aiken / Shelly Laurenston books. She writes the best series ever. Her Dragon kin series is my favorite dragon series ever. Throw in shifters, crows, ravens and gods and you have one of the best author's ever
HE SAYS . . . I, Aidan the Divine, am . . . well, divine. My name was given to me by the Dragon Queen herself! I’m a delight! Cheerful. Charming. And a mighty warrior who is extremely handsome, with a very large and well-hidden hoard of gold. I am also royal-born, despite the fact that most in my family are horrendous beings who don’t deserve to live. And yet, Branwen the Awful—a low-born, no less—either tells me to shut up or, worse, ignores me completely. SHE SAYS . . . I’ll admit, I ignore Aidan the Divine because it annoys him. A lot. But we have so much to do right now, I can’t worry about why he keeps staring at me, or why he always sits so close, or why he keeps looking at me like he’s thinking about kissing me. We have our nations to save and no time for such bloody foolishness . . . no matter how good Aidan looks or how long his spiked tail is. Because if we’re going to win this war before it destroys everything we love, we’ll have to face our enemies together, side by side and without distractions. But if we make it out alive, who knows what the future will hold . . . Review: You know how sometimes series start to get stale after so many books, well this series does not suffer from this problem!! In each book you have a continuing/evolving story that includes a hot couple, wickedly fun dialogue, blood and gore, and Annwyl. Seriously though, I love each of these books. You never what is going to happen. I love that even though it is featuring a specific couple, everyone and their brother is usually involved in the story. And again, Annwyl, good thing she is a tough b***** because she sure does get beat on a lot and the baddies always under estimate her. This book is Aidan and Brannie's story, but like I said everyone is involved. They were a great couple, who came together a little easier than some of the other couples in the series. Theirs was globe trotting adventure with lots of fun, drama and blood. I am not going to give away more than that. This series, though not necessary to be read in order, really should be because of that continuing/evolving storyline. 4Stars *I voluntarily read an advance reader copy of this book provided by the publisher.*
If you haven't read a GA Aiken (or Shelly Laurentson) then I highly recommend you do so! Her books are great! This is the ninth installment of the Dragon Kin series. I would definitely read the books before just so you understand all the things that are talked about in this book as the books are all interconnected and part of a bigger story ARC. This one covers Aidan the Divine and Branwen the Awful, two dragons we see in previous books. I have been impatiently waiting for Brannie's book and I loved it! She is still just as funny as she was in the previous books and then when you throw Aidan in there with her, it was even funnier! The two of them together are perfect!They interact together like friends before anything else even happens, and just the way they compliment each other in battle and interactions with other characters was great! The only reason I didn't give this book 5 stars was because it started off slow for me. Which made it hard to get into. However, once you get past the beginning, I flew through it because it was so good! Loved it!