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Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Reluctant Romance... Guest post from Danielle L. Jenson, author of the Malediction series!

I've mentioned on this blog (and in various vlogs) numerous time how much I loved Danielle L. Jensen's debut, Stolen Songbird. I even listed its sequel, Hidden Huntress among my top 5 anticipated books of 2015, and in all of the amazing books set to come out this year, that's really saying something. So of course, I was eager to invite Danielle back to the blog, to talk a bit about the series, now that the second book has made its way into the world.
I gave Danielle a few topics that I personally find most interesting about the books, and she picked her favorite and is here to talk with us about it! Check it out below, let us know your thoughts in the comments, and if you haven't already, make sure to check out this awesome series!

A big thanks to Misty for hosting me on her blog and for offering up the awesome topic: “something about the difficulties of building a convincing romance when the characters are being forced into it, essentially. I'd imagine it'd be tricky to avoid it being too Stockholm Syndrome, or just generally kinda iffy and agency-lacking.”

In my mind, the big reason why their relationship doesn’t fall into the Stockholm Syndrome category is that Tristan isn’t Cécile’s captor – his father is. The King takes away Cécile’s agency by forcing her to be bonded to Tristan, but he also takes away Tristan’s agency.

“You are the last person in the world I’d choose to marry,” I hissed.
“I don’t entirely relish the idea myself,” Tristan said, “but sometimes we must do the unthinkable.”
“Why must I?”
Tristan tipped his head slightly, expression considering. “Because you have no choice,” he finally said. “Just as I have no choice…” ~ Stolen Songbird

They are both subjugated to the will of the King, and as much Cécile dislikes Tristan in the beginning, she is not unaware that fact. They both perceive the King as an enemy, and their true relationship begins not in their forced union, but in their alliance against a mutual antagonist. It is in that alliance where their agency is recovered, because it is very much their own creation.

Making their relationship realistic required giving it time to develop – a slow burn romance. They begin as allies, become friends, and then fall in love because of the aspects of each other’s character that they’ve come to know and admire. But even given all that, the fact remains that Cécile is a prisoner, which calls into question whether she’d have fallen in love with Tristan if leaving Trollus had been an option.

“She’s your prisoner.”
Tristan showed no visible reaction, but I felt Chris’ words strike him to the core.
I turned, pressing my back against Tristan and pulling his arm around me. “That isn’t true Chris. I told you – I’m here because I want to be.”
“That true, my lord? Does she have the choice to leave if she wanted to? Has she ever had the choice?”
Tristan was silent. I could hear his heart beating furiously where my head rested against his chest.
“Just as I thought.” Chris’ face was dark with anger. “You stole her from her kin and now she’s your prisoner. She might say she loves you, but I don’t believe it for a minute. You’ve either put some magic on her mind or she’s just saying it because it’s what you want to hear!”~ Stolen Songbird

Cécile knows her own mind – she knows that her love for Tristan is true, not some twisted byproduct of her captivity. And she knows that she wants to stay in Trollus, not just to be with him, but to see the revolution through. However, Tristan – and potentially the reader – has no such certainty:

“Because I can’t live this way, Cécile. I feel like I’m losing my mind. I live every moment on edge, thinking that I’ll turn around and you’ll be gone. I never know whether you’re telling me what you feel or what you think I want to hear. I need to know that you’re here by choice, not because you were never given one.” ~ Stolen Songbird

The beach scene is the moment where Cécile is given control over her destiny and, ultimately, where I intended for the reader to see that she isn’t living a life that she was forced into, but one that she chose herself.

Interestingly (at least to me), Cécile addresses much of this in a scene in Hidden Huntress where she is asked whether she regrets that decision, and she gives sort of a summary of their relationship.

Hed been snide, nasty, and wicked, and Id loathed him. Except even then Id sensed something wasnt right, that there was a mismatch between what I was seeing and hearing and what I felt. It was this mismatch that made him captivating, and even as I was grasping for ways to escape, the need to know more about him had lurked in my heart.
That need had only been compounded when wed been bonded; the veneer of his exterior cracked to reveal a young man so different from the one he pretended to be. A Tristan whom I was uniquely privileged to know. He became a puzzle I needed to solve the key, Id thought, to my freedom.
Except solving him hadnt relinquished his hold on me. I remembered the moment in the empty palace stables where the truth had come out, when Id finally seen the emotions filling my head written across his face, and the veneer had fallen away entirely. It was then I stopped seeing the troll and began to see him. He became my friend, my ally and the leader of something I could believe in.
Id admired him, and yes, lusted after him, but then Id fallen. Fallen for a man who felt too much and took on too much, who believed if only he worked tirelessly and ceaselessly enough, that he could improve the lives of an entire race of people. And Id had that depth of passion turned on me seen it in his eyes, felt it in my heart. He loved me, and I loved him. And Id love him as long as I lived, and if my soul endured, Id love him for eternity. ~ Hidden Huntress

~ Danielle


Stolen Songbird 
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Fantasy, 469 pages
Published April 1st 2014 by Strange Chemistry
For those who have loved Seraphina and Graceling comes another truly fabulous fantasy...

For five centuries, a witch’s curse has bound the trolls to their city beneath the ruins of Forsaken Mountain. Time enough for their dark and nefarious magic to fade from human memory and into myth. But a prophesy has been spoken of a union with the power to set the trolls free, and when Cécile de Troyes is kidnapped and taken beneath the mountain, she learns there is far more to the myth of the trolls than she could have imagined.

Cécile has only one thing on her mind after she is brought to Trollus: escape. Only the trolls are clever, fast, and inhumanly strong. She will have to bide her time, wait for the perfect opportunity.

But something unexpected happens while she’s waiting – she begins to fall for the enigmatic troll prince to whom she has been bonded and married. She begins to make friends. And she begins to see that she may be the only hope for the half-bloods – part troll, part human creatures who are slaves to the full-blooded trolls. There is a rebellion brewing. And her prince, Tristan, the future king, is its secret leader.

As Cécile becomes involved in the intricate political games of Trollus, she becomes more than a farmer’s daughter. She becomes a princess, the hope of a people, and a witch with magic powerful enough to change Trollus forever.

Hidden Huntress
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Fantasy, 464 pages
Published June 2nd 2015 by Angry Robot
Sometimes, one must accomplish the impossible.

Beneath the mountain, the king’s reign of tyranny is absolute; the one troll with the capacity to challenge him is imprisoned for treason. Cécile has escaped the darkness of Trollus, but she learns all too quickly that she is not beyond the reach of the king’s power. Or his manipulation.

Recovered from her injuries, she now lives with her mother in Trianon and graces the opera stage every night. But by day she searches for the witch who has eluded the trolls for five hundred years. Whether she succeeds or fails, the costs to those she cares about will be high.

To find Anushka, she must delve into magic that is both dark and deadly. But the witch is a clever creature. And Cécile might not just be the hunter. She might also be the hunted…

Danielle was born and raised in Calgary, Canada. At the insistence of the left side of her brain, she graduated in 2003 from the University of Calgary with a bachelor’s degree in finance. But the right side of her brain has ever been mutinous; and in 2010, it sent her back to school to complete an entirely impractical English literature degree at Mount Royal University and to pursue publication. Much to her satisfaction, the right side shows no sign of relinquishing its domination.


Tell me all your thoughts.
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