CRYSTAL WARRIORS 3: JADE'S CHOICE by Maree Anderson (for Writers Gone Wild)
I have a new release to celebrate: the third book in my Crystal Warriors series. This one's called Jade's Choice, and it's Jade (obviously!) and Malach's story.
If you've read the first book in the series, The Crystal Warrior, which featured Chalcedony and Wulf, you might remember Malach. He's Wulf's 2IC, and the tehun-leader of the troupe. And partway through that story, readers learn that Chalcedony's mother, Francesca, was chosen for Malach. But Francesca rejected the bond, meaning that neither of them underwent the Crystal Guardian's Testing and Malach lost his chance at redemption. Francesca's always believed that Malach was killed by the Crystal Guardian but in Jade's Choice, readers learn that Malach wasn't killed. Instead, he suffered a worse fate: he was again imprisoned in his crystal.
By the time Malach's released from his crystal prison for the second time and bonded to Jade, he's suffering the Crystal Warrior equivalent of PTSD. He'd rather die than be imprisoned again, and if he sees no hope of passing the Crystal Guardian's Test, and therefore freeing himself from the curse, he's vowed to kill himself. So Jade's really got her work cut out for her if there's going to be a happy ending for her and Malach!
When I first wrote this this book back in 2008/2009 I wanted to explore a bit of a May/December romance: Jade is about to turn twenty-one, and Malach is twenty years older than her. Plus, having spent a year at a language school learning Mandarin and learning about the Chinese culture, I wanted to incorporate a cross-cultural romance: Jade is Chinese-Australian. I had fun including the odd Mandarin phrase here and there, too--especially when Jade's talking to her aunt. (I didn't have fun with the Mandarin accents over the pinyin words though. Turns out the epub version doesn't much like the accents and replaces them with question marks. WTF? They work just fine in mobi and PDF versions, though. Sheesh. The joys of self-publishing....)
Strangely enough, neither the age difference nor Jade's nationality ended up being the driving force behind the conflict between Jade and Malach--funny how characters have their own ideas and insist on things being written their way :) Mind you, it doesn't get much more cross-cultural than a modern-day woman and a Crystal Warrior from another world, does it? *g* And of course since Jade's Choice (like The Crystal Warrior and Ruby's Dream) was first written in first-person heroine's POV, and then rewritten in third person to give the hero a "voice", conflicts tended to take on a life of their own and through me a curve-ball the deeper I got inside the hero's head.
Anyway, I had my first piece of fan-mail for Jade and Malach's story the other day from a reader who's read the other two books in the series. She said: "I could cry right now over Jade & Malachite. How is it that this book is even better then the previous two?" For me, it doesn't get much better than that :)
Here's the blurb for Jade's Choice:
A young woman, desperate to provide her chronically ill sister the care she needs, decides to sell herself. But who could have foreseen her first client would be the alien Crystal Warrior destined to be her life-mate? Or that this complex, compelling man who’s captured her heart, plans to kill himself rather than risk being imprisoned in his cursed crystal a third time. She’ll fight to save him, but it could be a losing battle… because he’s still in love with the woman who refused to bond with him decades ago.
Jade’s a talented painter, but was forced to give up her dreams of art school to care for her chronically ill sister. Faced with escalating medical bills, Jade lies to her sister and her best friend, and advertises herself as an escort. Her ad is answered by Peter Stone, aka Pieter, the Crystal Guardian. He gives Jade a malachite crystal and when she touches it, she shares the torment of the man trapped inside. The crystal breaks and a Crystal Warrior named Malach appears in the flesh.Malach spent centuries imprisoned in his cursed crystal before he was given the chance to bond with a woman named Francesca. When the bonding failed, he believed he would be put to death by the Crystal Guardian, but he discovered a far worse fate was to be imprisoned yet again to suffer years of torment and sensory deprivation. He’ll willingly bond with Jade, if that’s what it takes to have another chance at freedom, but if he deems it likely they will fail the next stage of the bonding–the Testing–Malach has vowed to kill himself rather than endure imprisonment a third time.Jade is horrified when she learns the true extent of Malach’s suffering. She’s determined to save him, but it could be a losing battle… because he’s still in love with Francesca, the woman who refused to bond with him decades ago.Jade’s solution is to have her aunt cast a love-spell over them. But will a simple love-spell fool the Crystal Guardian and allow Jade and Malach to pass the Testing? And how far is Jade prepared to go when Malach’s first love, who’d believed him dead all these years, comes knocking on her door?
Jade's Choice, Book Three of The Crystal Warrior Series is available at: