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Black Snow by EAB

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I’d like to thank Dreamspinner Press for publishing Black Snow and Divine Magazine for hosting me here today. I’ve had several people ask me about the title “Black Snow”, so I’ve decided to give you the English lit. explanation of the title.

If you’ve read the blurb, or the tag line, or the prologue, or ever watched a Disney movie, you know that Black Snow is loosely based on Snow White. Not the Brothers Grimm version lol. Black Snow is obviously a play on Snow White. It’s the inverse, since Brier is male. However, the reason I chose Black Snow, instead of White Snow, is because black snow has meaning.

White snow symbolizes pureness, innocence, chastity, hope. In contrast, Black snow is impure. Black snow is usually dirty and often times forgotten. It’s that snow you pile up and let freeze. Then the sun comes out and it slowly….slowly begins to melt. And once it turns into water, it becomes pure and fresh again.

Brier starts as our lonely hero. He’s innocent and sheltered, but treated with contempt.

Roland is our broken huntsman. Content in his solitude, but bitter, lonely and angry.

The refugees are treated with equal parts disdain and disrespect.

So even though a lot of the characters in this book start as forgotten, or dirty, or flawed in someway or another, they all melt and transform into something more.

Thank you all for reading and supporting Black Snow! I hope that you’ll enjoy this fantasy-fairytale as much as I enjoyed writing it!


black-snow

Prince Brier Snow has lived in the shadow of King Snow’s exalted memory. However, his fate changes when he nears his majority and Lirend’s steward queen attempts to dethrone him by exploiting an obscure requirement in the late king’s will: a yearlong sabbatical.

Brier travels to the desolate land of Aire to train under the Ceve guild, scorned refugees of war, including their guarded leader, Roland. Brier’s skillful master unlocks hidden potential, and what begins as a dutiful bond turns into ill-fated affection. When Brier returns to the capital, he’s carrying proof of his indiscretions with Roland—and his condition grows more apparent with each passing day. An affair with the huntsman is a scandal Brier’s enemies can use against him, but the birth of an heir is a burden even Brier is not sure he can bear.

Roland Archer, a man with a murky past, is skeptical of the contract to train the prince but willing to do anything for the guild’s freedom. Despite his best intentions, he is smitten by Lirend’s future king. Roland has resigned himself to solitude, but fate has other plans—for him, for Brier, and for Lirend’s oppressed subjects. Can Roland help Brier face a power-hungry queen and a country torn asunder? Either they will bring equality to a land that desperately needs it, or they’ll be thwarted by cunning enemies and an illusory curse.

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Excerpt

Prologue

“LONG AGO, there was a maiden with hair black as ebony and skin as white as the snow, so that they called her Snow White. Her lips were red as the rose,” Brier’s portly nurse told him, smiling.

“And she sang and danced. And she was very beautiful,” Brier added perfunctorily.

“Indeed she was,” replied Marietta. “She was kind and comely, and all the kingdom loved her, but the queen of the kingdom was jealous and wanted to get rid of her for good.”

“How?”

“She decided to have her killed.”

“Oh no!” Brier answered, tone darkening.

“Oh yes!” cried his nurse. “She hired a huntsman to kill her in the wood and bring back her heart, so that she could keep it forever.”

Brier slid his legs up and placed his chin on his knees, enraptured in the story about the fair princess whose name was like his own.

“The huntsman did as he was told and took Snow White to the forest. As they entered the forest, they came across a field of flowers. Snow bent down to pick a bouquet of wildflowers, and the huntsman crept behind her and lifted his dagger!”

Brier gasped, horrified. “But he should not kill her!”

“He could not,” corrected the nurse, excitement alive in her eyes. “For he had fallen in love with the princess and told her of the evil queen’s plan.”

“Good gods,” Brier exhaled, relieved.

“Snow White ran,” Marietta whispered, and Brier hugged his knees more firmly. “She had to run away deeper into the woods to escape the queen’s wrath. She found herself alone in the deep, dark wood. ‘Get out… out…’ the trees whispered all around her, and she was terribly afraid. And rightly so,” the nurse added, whipping her head toward Brier almost in warning. “The dark wood is a dangerous place. She tripped and fell into a great crack in the earth. As she fell, a nearby willow’s roots seized her and pulled her under.”

“Then what happened?” Brier whispered, breath hastening.

“Then she lost hope that anyone would ever find her. She thought that she was doomed to live out her days locked in the roots of the old willow tree. Starving, thirsty, and withering away like an old winter branch. However, this could not be further from her fate. Yes, she was stuck, but a passerby heard her cries in the tree roots. He stopped in his tracks and called his brothers to come investigate. Men that wore beards and were half the size of normal men. Some might call them dwarves. Six more dwarves stopped and listened to the cries coming from the old willow. ‘Chop it down!’ the eldest brother answered. And so they did, all seven of them. They cut the tree down, and Snow White was saved.”

“Hooray!” Brier shouted as he jumped on the pillow top mattress.

“When they took her from the tree, she was dirty and exhausted. The willow had cursed her in its last effort of revenge for cutting it down. She had a scar on her neck in the pattern of a tree leaf, but she was alive, and so they brought her back to their cabin, and they mended her to good health.”

“Did she dance and sing again then, Marietta?”

“She did. And how fair she was, thought the dwarves. They spoke of her beauty to other folk who came through the wood. But then, word traveled back to the evil queen. And she was furious! She called for the huntsman, and he confessed that he could not kill Snow White. Enraged, she ordered the guardsmen to kill the huntsman, and, with his dying breath, he confessed his love for the princess.”

Brier reached over to grab a pillow off his oversized bed and squeezed. He suddenly had the feeling that the story would take a turn for the worse.

“The queen decided to finish the job the huntsman did not with a poisoned apple. She disguised herself as an ugly elderly woman, and she came to the cabin that Snow White lived in with the dwarves. She showed Snow White the apple she poisoned, bloodred and perilous, but still Snow had the urge to taste it. The princess took a bite of the apple, and when she did, she died.”

“How dreadful.” Brier shook his head. “Why should the queen hate Snow White so?” he asked, incredulous. “I do not understand.”

The nurse chuckled and smiled at him. “Shall I continue?”

“Please do, Marietta. I should like to know the ending,” Brier replied with a sad smile.

“Well,” the nurse said in a warm voice. “The queen did think that she had finally rid herself of the fair maiden, but alas, there was a crack in her black magic, one that she could not foresee. The magic of the willow was stronger than her own, and it purged the strength of her poison so that Snow White did not die but slept for many years. The prince of the neighboring land did hear of a maiden sleeping soundly in the wood on a bed of wildflowers, in the cabin of seven dwarves.”

“And, I suppose, he too was handsome!”

“He was a handsome prince, I should say, though not as handsome as you, Prince Snow.” Brier blushed through his wide smile. “He came on his white steed, and he found Snow White sleeping soundly just as the rumors had told. Indeed, she was fair, and the prince decided that he had to have her in death or in life, and so he leaned down and placed a chaste kiss to her rose lips.”

“What did happen then I wonder?”

“Then she did wake up, Prince Snow! Her eyelids fluttered open, and she rose from her bed made of daisies and baby’s breath! Oh, how happy were the dwarves and the prince. The dark magic that the queen put on Snow White fell upon herself! And she turned into the old and ugly woman she disguised herself as. The queen was so furious that she drove herself mad with rage. And so, Snow White married the prince, and the dwarves sang and danced and were happy. Princess Snow White had many children, and lived ever after.” When the story finished, the nurse stood up and helped Brier into the comforter. His eyes were heavy with sleep, but he pursed his lips and sighed.

“Did you not like the story, little prince?”

Brier bit the inside of his lip, struggling. “It is not that, Mar’, only that I feel sad for the princess.”

“And why should you? Did she not meet a happy end?” the nurse asked as she sat down on the corner of the bed.

“Mayhap,” Brier answered, considering. “But how did she come to love the prince who had only loved her for her beauty when the huntsman had loved her for her heart?”

The nurse blinked at the prince’s reply. “How indeed.”

“And the poor huntsman, who had died, rather than to disgrace himself with the blood of his beloved. ’Tis a sad story indeed, Marietta.” Brier pouted. “Although you said it was a happy end.”

“Well….” Marietta sighed, bemused. “I did not think of it in that way, little prince.” She tucked him in tighter as if swaddling a babe.

“I think that I should marry a huntsman over a prince,” Brier decided as he flopped his head into the mountain of pillows, smiling softly.

“And why not a princess?” the nurse questioned, crossing her arms.

“That is because I should like to be kissed by a huntsman,” Brier answered matter-of-factly.


Review by Elaine White

Book – Black Snow

Author – EAB

Star rating – ★★★★★

No. of Pages – 350

Cover – Gorgeous!

POV – 3rd person, dual POV

Would I read it again – Yes!

Genre – LGBT, Fantasy, MPreg

 

*It is impossible to talk about the plot without the risk of SPOILERS. So, please be forewarned that there MAY BE SPOILERS AHEAD*

Okay, so this is a really long story, but I get it now. It’s like a trilogy of around 100 pages, all put into one novel and it’s frickin’ fantastic!

For me, it’s split like this →

Part 1 – Brier’s year long sabbatical with Rolande and the Ceve Guild.

Part 2 – Brier returning to his life and then the whole mpreg storyline.

Part 3 – Brier and Quintin’s storyline, as well as the sneaky little Epilogue at the end 😉

I have so many conflicting emotions that I’m going to have a serious book hangover now that it’s over. First…a glossary at the front? Awesome! Thank you. Why is this important? Because I don’t read Contents pages, because in cases like this, where chapters have titles, they can often give spoilers away if you peek them before their time. I avoid that because I like to be surprised. So I often don’t see if there’s a glossary at the back until I reach the end of the book, which is pointless because I’ve just floundered through it all. Not in this case. It’s right at the beginning, so I bookmarked it and it came in so handy when I needed to flick back to check that a word meant what I remembered it meant.

Next up, the whole Snow White gig? Loved it! Right from the start, when the entire Prologue was dedicated to a re-telling of Snow White, with a twist, I knew it was going to be important and I wasn’t wrong.

There were so many ‘moments’ in this story that my head is in a bit of a spin. First of all, the whole Rolande’s hands in Brier’s hair was beautiful:

“Brier felt gentle hands in his hair. He closed his eyes and wished they did not calm his spirit so effortlessly.”

The chemistry between our MC’s, Rolande and Brier was palpable and then explosive and then downright gutwrenching. They had this slow build of trust, friendship and then romance. It all came together perfectly.

There is a very tame Dom/sub-element, a hint of voyeurism, a May-December romance, and definitely plenty of Mpreg in detail (from discovery of birth to pregnancy, to labour and beyond). Oh, and let’s not forget the eww! <spoiler> drinking breast milk during sex, straight from the partner <spoiler> *shudders*. Not my cup of tea, I’m afraid. But other than that, there isn’t really anything risky other than some serious amounts of sex in some pretty explicit and sometimes over-eager detail.

So, by going in order of my three separate sections, I have to admit that I loved the sabatical the most. For me, that was the real gem of the story, because it’s where all the drama, the romance, and the chemistry was. Brier and Rolande were very little to each other and we had to watch them grow and adapt to each other. I also really loved that it was all over by 38% because it meant that I got to really enjoy that part of the story in full, without compromising the necessary return to the palace and what came after that.

I loved the Guild characters. Leighis was my favourite, as well as the enigmatic Umhal, but I was sad to see that after the first third of the story, they didn’t come back into it until the last third. They were missing for a good 30% of the story and I really felt it.

For the second aspect of the plot, I have to admit that I saw the Mpreg coming (which I’d forgotten was a part of the plot, between picking the book and actually reviewing it) so it was a great is-it-or-isn’t-it moment for me, to wonder if I was right, which I was. I loved that all the pieces were there, even for someone who (*cough cough* had forgotten) didn’t know that there was an mpreg element, could still spot it if they were paying enough attention.

When it comes to characters in this part, I absolutely, positively, no doubts about it fell in love with Quintin. I swear that I spend the entire second half of the book flip flopping between wanting Brier to be with Rolande and wanting him to be with Quintin. Okay, you got me, I totally spent part of that also hoping for a super hot M/M/M between all three! There, I admitted it. So sue me.

For that, I loved the strength Brier had in this third. He made a decision and stuck with it, until he couldn’t bear the pain it caused any longer. I’m not going to spoil it too much, but I do have to say that this is where I cried the most. Because the way he loved Quintin and the way he loved Rolande were so at odds and it broke my heart for poor little 20-year-old Brier, who was still just a baby, in reality.

Saying that, I also really loved Meade and Lord Yvette. They were fun, upbeat, supporting characters that Brier needed so badly.

I cried a lot. Like, A LOT. But this part killed me:

“This was his life now. Brier closed his eyes to numb his apprehension, and he wondered whether he would ever feel pleasure from a kiss again.”

*sigh* Yup. Cut me up and tore me to pieces.

Now, I specifically marked out a request to include in my review, as I was reading. It said “Can Quintin get his HEA please?” with lots of question marks, desperation, and pleading. Well, I got part of my answer in the Epilogue and that’s all I’m going to say except → I NEED IT NOW! Pretty please? With cherries on top and anything else you could possibly want from me. I will give it all.

~

Overall, I have to say that I’m a little torn. Though I loved the whole thing, as a whole, I do have to admit that the first 30-40%, with the sabatical was my favourite of the main story. Then, of course, I was hooked for life with the Epilogue. Which I definitely, desperately, urgently need to read!

Why? Well, for me the sabatical plot had more impact. I can’t really put that into better words because it was just a feeling. But when there were issues raised, they were resolved quickly or at least mentioned enough that you knew it was still an issue. The middle part left me with too many questions that weren’t answered until the final part and there was too much of not talking about it or recognising how important it was, even though it was staring them all in the face. The first part also had more drama, the pure chemistry that drew me in, and not so much happened in the middle. It all came together in the final part of the story, but it felt a little uneven for me. That didn’t, at all, effect my enjoyment of the overall story, as I loved every part of it. But the first 30-40% will hold a special place in my heart.

~

Favourite Quote

“I think that I should marry a huntsman over a prince,” Brier decided as he flopped his head into the mountain of pillows, smiling softly.

“And why not a princess?” the nurse questioned, crossing her arms.

“That is because I should like to be kissed by a huntsman,” Brier answered matter-of-factly.”

“You ask what I would have you do? I would have you love me as I love you,” Brier whispered, voice choked with the tears. Roland reached out to touch Brier, but the prince pulled away. “I would have you see me as more than just a child to indulge.” He stood tall. Roland watched as he headed for the bedroom door.

“What can a man like me give to a future king?” Roland uttered quietly, and Brief paused.

“Nothing if you can’t give me your trust.” Roland heard Brier sniff his shed tears and the door shut with a solid thud.”

“Please, do not hate me.”

“I couldn’t.” Quintin shook his head and smiled sadly. “Because when he breaks your heart again, Brier, I’ll be here to pick up the pieces.”

 

* ARC provided by Dreamspinner Press in return for an honest review


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Black Snow Cover Art Poster

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Meet EAB

EAB is an airline steward/stewardess—depending on the day—who loves writing erotic fiction. This translates to serving Wild Turkey bourbon at 38,000 feet and writing smut at 3:00 a.m. EAB spends free-time role-playing and reading. While EAB’s true passion is writing, EAB also enjoys reaching high scores in nerdism, spending time with family (cats included), and watching anime. An East Coaster at heart, EAB loves New York’s Broadway and greasy, heartburn-inducing pizza. Feel free to drop a line or recommend some good reads! Always looking for a new book to devour!

E-mail:  Eabemie@gmail.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/EAB-Author-Page-549015555136236/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/12644899.EAB

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