Isn’t is awesome? I feel so blessed to have such amazing covers. 🥰
CR is also available for preorder, so if you’re planning to pick it up at release on May 19, 2020, I hope you’ll consider preordering it early. Here are some handy links for you! :)
And the back cover copy:
Interplanetary intrigue and romance combine in this electrifying finale to the Consortium Rebellion series.
As the youngest member of her High House, Catarina von Hasenberg is used to being underestimated, but her youth and flighty, bubbly personality mask a clever mind and stubborn determination. Her enemies, blind to her true strength, do not suspect that Cat is a spy—which makes her the perfect candidate to go undercover at a rival House’s summer retreat to gather intelligence on their recent treachery.
Cat’s overprotective older sister reluctantly agrees, but on one condition: Cat cannot go alone. Alexander Sterling, a quiet, gorgeous bodyguard, will accompany her, posing as her lover. After Cat tries, and fails, to ditch Alex, she grudgingly agrees, confident in her ability to manage him. After all, she’s never found a person she can’t manipulate.
But Alex proves more difficult—and more desirable—than Cat anticipated. When she’s attacked and nearly killed, she and Alex are forced to work together to figure out how deep the treason goes. With rumors of widespread assaults on Serenity raging, communications down, and the rest of her family trapped off-planet, Catarina must persuade Alex to return to Earth to expose the truth and finish this deadly battle once and for all.
But Cat can’t explain why she’s the perfect person to infiltrate hostile territory without revealing secrets she’d rather keep buried. . . .
And, as promised, here’s a little snippet. This has not been edited (at all!), so it’s subject to change, removal, etc. I think I removed the spoilers for AB, so it should be okay even if you haven’t read book two. Happy reading!
Bianca’s living room was a study of retro-industrial looks. Silver chain link curtains spanned the large windows and glittered in the sun. The furniture was sleek and black. Exposed ducting in the high ceilings added additional visual interest, and a single vivid painting saved the room from being utterly colorless.
The air was rich with the smell of cinnamon and sugar, but my sister was conspicuously absent. “Bee?” I called.
“We’re in the kitchen!” she yelled back.
My smile slipped at the we. I didn’t know anyone else was joining us for breakfast, but if Bianca was yelling like that, then it couldn’t be anyone too important. Maybe our oldest sister Hannah was back on Earth. She had taken some much-needed time away while we [redacted], but I hadn’t expected her back for another month or two.
The living room and dining room were one large, open space, but the kitchen was tucked away out of sight. Bianca liked to cook and her vast kitchen reflected that. It had the full range of high-end appliances as well as two oversized synthesizers.
I took in the scene at a glance. An unknown man and woman sat at the bar while Bianca bustled around. My sister had on a casual outfit and flats. The only time Bianca went without towering heels was around close friends and family. So who were these two and why had I never met them before? They turned my way, and I froze.
It was the man from the club.
I blinked and switched into public mode, mind racing. What was he doing here? I had a feeling that the pause hadn’t gone unnoticed by either of them as they tracked my progress into the room.
The woman had pale ivory skin, strawberry blond hair, and a lean build. Her eyes were sharp and neutral. Not unfriendly, more like undecided. The man had light brown skin, dark hair, and heavy musculature. His square jaw had a few days of dark stubble adorning it. His features were too strong for traditional beauty, but he was damn attractive all the same. His expression was even more guarded than the woman’s.
He did not seem to recognize me. That should’ve brought relief, but I felt a vague sense of disappointment instead.
Both of them wore close-fitting black shirts. I’d bet utility pants and boots hid behind the bar. Not Consortium types, then. Were they Ada’s friends from Sedition?
I realized I’d been staring for a beat too long and turned to my sister with a wide smile. “Bianca, you didn’t tell me you had visitors,” I admonished. “I would’ve rescheduled! And I apologize, but since I didn’t know you had guests, I only brought coffee for you.”
She accepted the coffee with a hug and a grateful smile. “These aren’t guests, these are my friends Alexander Sterling and Aoife Delaney.” She pronounced the woman’s name EE-fa. “They helped me [redacted]. I wanted you to meet them.”
I turned back to them. “Thank you so much for your help,” I said sincerely. I’d only gotten the barest of details out of Bianca about how she’d [redacted], but based on the introduction, I bet these two were a big part of it. We owed them a great deal.
The woman waved off my words. “Your sister more than paid us,” she said. Her voice was pleasant with just a hint of lilt. She was likely lower to middle class from one of the more isolated planets where Universal Standard wasn’t taught as rigidly.
Bianca put a tray of warm sticky buns on the small table in the kitchen’s breakfast nook. “Shall we talk over food?” she asked a little too brightly.
I narrowed my eyes at her. What was she plotting?
While Bianca could’ve easily ordered food from the synthesizer, she preferred to cook. And, truth be told, synthesized food had nothing on Bianca’s cooking, so I was always delighted to eat at her table. Today she didn’t disappoint. The informal kitchen table was laden with four different kinds of pastries, all homemade, as well as bacon, eggs, and roasted potatoes.
The round table seated four. I sat next to Bianca. Alexander took the seat across from me and Aoife sat on my left. If anyone else noticed the tension in the air, they didn’t show it. I was generally very good at reading people, but Alexander gave me nothing other than he had manners and liked all of the food on the table. I had to force myself not to stare at him.
“How goes the investigation?” Bianca asked.
My gaze cut to hers, but I couldn’t tell what she was doing. “I don’t want to bore your guests,” I demurred. Why would she bring up House business in front of strangers? I was looking into Ferdinand’s kidnapping. Both [redacted] were involved, and that wasn’t information we wanted shared.
“Not guests,” she reminded me, “friends. And they are here to help.”
I kept the shock and suspicion off of my face. “Help how?”
“From what I’ve seen, you’ve wrapped up everything you can do here. What is your next step?”
We’d found the ties between [redacted] and House James, but hadn’t been able to tie House James to any of the other Houses or the Syndicate, despite Bianca’s uncanny ability to gather intelligence. Either House James was acting alone or they were being very, very careful.
But so was I.
Over the last two months, I’d slowly expanded my circle of friends to include Lynn Segura and Chloe Patel, the two young women who had been caught talking shit about Bianca. Lynn was a genuine delight. Chloe was not. But both of them were friends with Stephanie James, youngest daughter of House James.
And every year, Stephanie James hosted a summer retreat at House James’s estate outside of Honorius. It was part vacation and part informal networking event, but mostly it was a chance to get out of Serenity and have some fun away from censorious eyes. It also coincided with the stunning annual Bouman meteor shower.
When guests weren’t busy trying to steal kisses while watching space rocks burn up in the atmosphere, Honorius had some of the best haute couture shopping in the ’verse. House James also offered an assortment of entertainments on their sprawling estate, including an excellent hover bike rallycross race course.
Invitations were highly coveted in Stephanie’s circle of friends and acquaintances, and this year Chloe was finally old enough to help her best friend host—a task she had taken up with gusto.
Based solely on our brief friendship, Chloe had been cheeky enough to invite me, and through me, Ying Yamado and Elizabeth Rockhurst, the two youngest daughters of the other High Houses. She was aiming high, which is exactly what I had expected. If even one of us accepted, it would be a major coup for her.
I had let her stew for two days before accepting, and then I’d talked Ying into accepting, too. But now I had to break the news to my overprotective older sister. In front of friends.
“I’m attending Stephanie James’s house party in two days. I will be gone for at least two weeks.”
Bianca smiled which immediately put me on guard. That was not the reaction I’d expected. “That’s perfect,” she said.
Concern whispered through me—something odd was going on. “I thought you’d be against it,” I said, fishing.
Bianca’s smile softened just a tiny bit. “I don’t love sending you into danger, Cat, you know that, but we need information, and right now, you’re best positioned to get it.”
I glanced at our silent dining companions. They were both pretending to focus on their food, but I caught Alexander’s eyes. They were a rich, warm brown. Despite his guarded expression, he had kind eyes, not what I would expect from a man with his build. Once again, I was struck by the fact that he looked like a soldier—or a bodyguard.
And then, like a light blinking on, suspicion hardened into certainty. I turned back to my sister. “Bianca,” I said slowly, “why are Ms. Delaney and Mr. Sterling here?”
Bianca’s smile never faltered. If anything, it got brighter. I was not going to like whatever came out of her mouth next.
She proved me right when she said, “Aoife is going to be your bodyguard while you’re in Honorius.”
“I already have a guard,” I reminded her. “Several, actually.”
“None like me,” Aoife said without an ounce of humility or arrogance. It was less a boast and more a statement of fact, one I was inclined to believe based on nothing more than her attitude and confidence.
I might be the most sheltered of my siblings, but I was still a von Hasenberg. I’d grown up around—and trained with—all types of people until the side effects of my childhood became too difficult to hide. Aoife had the calm self-assurance of someone who knew that she could take anyone in the room and come out ahead.
I briefly wondered how she would fare against me.
It was a silly thought because I’d given up real fighting long ago—it was too dangerous for me. But that didn’t mean I was going to roll over. “That may be true, but I’ve worked with my current guards for years. I know and trust them.” I also understood how they thought and how they might be influenced.
Aoife’s flawless composure was impossible to read, but I smiled apologetically at her. She inclined her head slightly, seemingly not offended.
My eyes snagged on Alexander. For such a big man, he had a way of fading into the background that was almost uncanny. If not for my humming awareness of him, I might’ve overlooked him completely.
“And you?” I asked him directly. “Why are you here? Are you Ms. Delaney’s partner?” I glanced between them. “Or husband?”
A slow smile broke over his face and he chuckled quietly. My breath caught. He was utterly captivating when he smiled and I envied the beautiful woman next to me for the first time.
I felt his gaze like a physical weight and fought the prickling awareness trickling through my system. He focused on me intently, but I’d bet half my fortune that he also remained aware of everything else happening in the room and could react in a heartbeat.
What would it take to capture all of his attention?
I shoved the question away. He wasn’t for me. Someday, I would marry for the good of the House, and until then, I preferred my men more manageable.
“We are partners,” he said. His voice was low and delicious, a velvet rumble I felt in my chest. He had no discernible accent.
Partners could mean anything from business partners to romantic partners. Without knowing which, I had to stop mentally ogling him. I didn’t pursue taken men.
I turned my attention back to Bianca. Mischief flittered through her expression before she smoothed it away. “Alex is here for you.”
I forced myself not to react to the tiny thrill of pleasure I felt at the words. I frowned at her, not liking where this was going. “What do you mean?”
“He’s going with you to Honorius as your plus one.”