And I Darken EXTRACT

No one expects a princess to be brutal. And Lada Dragwyla likes it that way. Ever since she and her brother were abandoned by their father to be raised in the Ottoman sultan’s courts, Lada has known that ruthlessness is the key to survival. For the lineage that makes her and her brother special also makes them targets. Lada hones her skills as a warrior as she nurtures plans to wreak revenge on the empire that holds her captive. Then she and Radu meet the sultan’s son, Mehmed, and everything changes. Now Mehmed unwittingly stands between Lada and Radu as they transform from siblings to rivals, and the ties of love and loyalty that bind them together are stretched to breaking point. The first of an epic new trilogy starring the ultimate anti-princess who does not have a gentle heart. Lada knows how to wield a sword, and she'll stop at nothing to keep herself and her brother alive.

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Vlad could not be bothered to be present for the birth of his second child by Vasilissa: a son, a year younger than his sister, practically chasing her into this world.

The nurse finished cleaning the newborn, then held him out to his mother. He was tiny, perfect, with a mouth like a rosebud and a full head of dark hair. Vasilissa lay, glassy-eyed and mute, on the bed. She stared at the wall. Her gaze never even drifted to her son. A tug on the nurse’s skirt brought her attention downward, where tiny Lada stood, scowling. The nurse angled the baby toward his sister.

“A brother,” she said, her voice soft.

The baby started to cry, a weak, garbled sound that worried the nurse. Lada’s scowl deepened. She slapped a dimpled hand over his mouth. The nurse pulled him away quickly, and Lada looked up, face contorted in rage.

“Mine!” she shouted.

It was her first word. The nurse laughed, shocked, and lowered the baby once more. Lada glared at him until he stopped crying. Then, apparently satisfied, she toddled out of the room.

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