Roots of Ruin (Garden of Thorns #3)
by Amber Mitchell
Publication Date: August 16, 2021
Publisher: Entangled Teen
They did the impossible, but their problems are far from over…
After freeing the Delmarion empire, Rose and Rayce must go to Varsha, the desert home Rose fled when she was a child—the country she’s meant to rule.
Rayce is the new emperor of Delmar, Varsha’s longtime enemy, but that won’t stop him from assisting the girl he loves. Armed with the brute force of Rayce’s military, Rose sets out to free her people from the oppressive rule of the usurper king who killed her father.
But even if they win, how can she be queen to her homeland and in love with the man ruling its bitter enemy? With her loyalties split between heart and crown, Rose must find a way to do the impossible again…unite two kingdoms at war, or sacrifice half of herself to save the other.
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We slow down as we reach the dead end, exhaustion threatening to tug my entire body to the ground. I look around the corner and catch sight of twelve more soldiers thundering toward us. We’re trapped here with no help from the rebellion coming.
“What are we going to do?” I shout.
“You’re going to hold on,” he says, pulling my back against his chest.
He wraps his arms around me tightly while my mind scrambles to figure out how we can defeat all of these soldiers while I’m weaponless. Then I look down beyond the delicate stone railing to the oasis several stories below. Even in the dark, the tops of the leafy palm trees shine a deep emerald and patches of desert rose gleam along the tan stone walkways all around. We’re right in front of the long stretch of navy water that reflects the stars back into the sky. Beyond it, the whole of Varsha spreads out before us, glowing blue in the night in a nonsensical pattern.
Rayce moves us closer to the edge. A chill comes over me when I realize why.
There’s no way to go but down into the garden fountain.
“You can’t possibly be considering—”
Rayce grunts in acknowledgement, tipping forward as a bolas wraps around both of our legs. Pain shoots through my ankles as the heavy metal ball collides with my bone, but I’m too preoccupied with Rayce spinning us around so that I’m facing the pursuing soldiers. The closest one is only twenty feet off, his pointed sword gleaming as he runs for me.
“I can’t swim!” I yell.
“I know,” he whispers, his lips brushing against my earlobe. “I won’t let you go.”
The cool wind from up this high sings against my skin but his chest feels solid pressed against my back.
I shake my head, feeling my heart about to burst from my chest. “But what if you can’t help and—”
“Arianna,” he says, tipping my chin up to look in my eyes. “I won’t let you go. Trust me?”
The sharp point of the blade is fifteen feet away. Then ten.
I turn to glance up at him, into his dark eyes that have never stopped captivating me. “Always.”
Rayce dips backward before my brain can catch up, and then we’re both falling through the air. He grasps me tight as if I’m the most precious thing in the world, and he’s positioned himself so he’ll take the brunt of the fall. Normally, my stomach would flutter with the familiar greeting of the wind, but I can’t find any comfort now, knowing water waits to break our fall.
For the first time in a long time, I feel a very real fear of heights even tucked within the safety of Rayce’s arms.
I manage a huge gulp of cold air, then the water embraces me and my world goes silent.
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