I’m happy to announce the release of my paranormal romance novel Song of the Nile! This is a standalone sequel to Lady of the Nile and features Merneith the musician and Nikare the Medjai, who readers first met as secondary characters. Cover art by Fiona Jayde.
Here’s the official blurb:
Merneith, a harpist of rare talents, blessed by the goddess Hathor, has recently arrived in Thebes and joined Pharaoh’s court, but must hide secrets from her past. As she settles into her new life in the palace, the one man she can’t forget and followed to Thebes is unaccountably absent.
Nikare, a Medjai police officer serving under Pharaoh’s direct orders, is now deep undercover investigating high crimes against Egypt and forbidden to contact Merneith. Masquerading as a priest to deceive the plotters, he watches over her from afar and longs for the day he can approach her openly.
When an unscrupulous noble ensnares Merneith in the web of evil Nikare is pledged to bring down, the two must stand together against earthly and magical forces to save their own lives and protect Egypt.
How much help will the gods provide? Will the pair survive the final showdown between Pharaoh and the conspirators and find the happy future together they desire?
This is a standalone novel but is also a direct sequel to Lady of the Nile, which is where Merneith and Nikare were first encountered as supporting characters. Now they move front and center in the fight to protect Egypt from a new threat. Mild spoilers for Lady of the Nile.
The excerpt, as Merneith meets the Master of Musicians in Pharaoh’s palace:
“You must be my new musician, selected for me by the queen based on Hathor alone knows what qualifications but, of course, the Great One’s choices cannot be less than perfect.”
Merneith puzzled over his remark, which had the tone of being a criticism of the queen, and probably a slur on her as well. In her position she couldn’t afford to take offense or let her annoyance show. She opted to keep her own remarks to a minimum. “I was told to report to you at noon, sir.”
“Promptness is admirable.” With a sniff, he walked toward the room containing the selection of instruments. “Well, come on. What can you play?”
She hastened to follow him. “I’m a harpist but can also play lutes and lyres.”
He halted just inside the room and waved a hand at the waiting instruments. “Select one, tune it, and we’ll hear how well you play.”
Swallowing hard, she passed him to walk among the harps, nearly knocking over a stand of cymbals as she went, barely catching the rack before it toppled. There were four standing harps to choose from. The first she ruled out immediately, as the wood was dry and showing fine cracks. The second looked like a possibility but as she plucked a string to test the sound, she could tell the leather in the soundboard was of poor quality. The third one was a gracefully designed harp, with a lotus flower at the top and pretty shell-and-turquoise inlay along the bottom third.
“Come now, surely at least one of my poor offerings will meet with the approval of a harpist from the desert,” Khesuwer said, his tone impatient and condescending. “Take that one, girl, and let us proceed. I use the one you’re examining often for giving lessons to the daughters of noblemen.”
She ignored him. Choosing the right instrument was critical and although the harp she was examining was pretty to the eye, the angle of the wooden piece looked wrong to her, not by much but enough to send her to the last possibility. This harp had been sadly neglected, the wood needing a good polishing but, once she leaned it against her body and plucked a run of five notes, relief was a cool breeze in her heart. Out of tune but true. Merneith had begun to fear Khesuwer was trying to rid himself of an unwanted musician by giving her only inferior choices when it came to an instrument. She tightened the strings, worrying over a few of them which clearly needed replacing. She sent Hathor a small prayer they’d last through this test.
“This one is fine.” She thought Khesuwer nodded slightly, as if she’d passed his first test for her. “Am I to play in here?”
“Don’t tell me you disdain my fine chamber in the royal palace?” His voice was full of sarcasm.
I can’t let him upset me. I need this job. Chief Scribe Edekh had been clear she’d always have the pension granted to her but the lodging and food were attached to the position as a musician and the unpleasant Master was the gatekeeper. Since he hadn’t specified a song, she chose an ode to Hathor, goddess of music. The harp wasn’t quite tuned as yet, but she made a good attempt at the hymn and was pleased as the final notes sounded. Playing steadied her nerves.
“Rather an old version of the music,” Khesuwer said, nose in the air, sneering at her. “I suppose there was no more current material in your rural home.”
“No, we were limited and learned from our elders,” she said. On this point she had no defense and no pride to be hurt.
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