In This Excerpt From The Ashes & the Star-Cursed King, Love Is a Political Battlefield

Books Features Carissa Broadbent
In This Excerpt From The Ashes & the Star-Cursed King, Love Is a Political Battlefield

If you’ve delved into the Romantasy genre at all, it’s likely you’ve heard the name Carissa Broadbent. Initially a self-published author selling her books on Etsy, Broadbent’s high0stakes stories became wildly popular on TikTok, and now, having moved into the world of traditional publishing, she’s both a New York Times and USA Today bestseller. Her buzzy novel The Serpent and the Wings of Night follows the story of Oraya, the human heir to the vampire king, and Raihn, a vampire warrior who hates his own kind. After a very nontraditional meet-cute—they clash as opponents in a Hunger Games-style death tournament—their relationship only gets messier and more complicated from there.

The finale of Broadbent’s Nightborn Duet, The Ashes & the Star-Cursed King picks up right where its predecessor’s devastating cliffhanger left off. As Oraya reels from a devastating personal betrayal and grieves the only family she ever really knew, Raihn assumes the throne of the House of Night. Now essentially his captive queen, Oraya must decide whether she can trust his promise of a secret alliance, even as she attempts to unravel her father’s legacy and learn more about her own power in the hopes of getting revenge. 

Here’s how the publisher describes the story. 

In the wake of the Kejari, everything Oraya once thought to be true has been destroyed. A prisoner in her own kingdom, grieving the only family she ever had, and reeling from a gutting betrayal, she no longer even knows the truth of her own blood. She’s left only with one certainty: she cannot trust anyone, least of all Raihn.

Raihn’s own nobles are none too eager to accept a Turned king, especially one who was once a slave. And the House of Blood digs their claws into the kingdom, threatening to tear it apart from the inside.

When Raihn offers Oraya a secret alliance, takin the deal is her only chance at reclaiming her kingdom–and gaining her vengeance against the lover who betrayed her. But to do so, she’ll need to harness a devastating ancient power, intertwined with her father’s greatest secrets.

But with enemies closing in on all sides, nothing is as it seems. As she unravels her past and faces her future, Oraya finds herself forced to choose between the bloody reality of seizing power—and the devastating love that could be her downfall.

The Ashes and the Star-Cursed King will hit shelves on June 4, but we’ve got an exclusive sneak peek of the highly anticipated sequel for you right now!

I looked around for something, anything, I could use as a weapon. That would be too easy, appantly.

“Are you going to come out from under that,” Raihn asked, “or are you going to make me get you?”

My jaw clenched so hard it shook.

Suddenly I felt just like I had in the Moon Palace, when he had taunted me in the greenhouse. I was cornered then, and I was cornered now.

I rose and turned to face him. My hands curled at my sides. I wished I didn’t see the flicker of disappointment in Raihn’s eyes at my concession. 

He leaned against the doorframe, surveying me, that brief reveal disappearing beneath the smirk at his mouth, his performance reassumed.

I said nothing.

“I know you’re very good at sneaking around places you aren’t supposed to be,” he went on. “Should I feel lucky you don’t have your blades on you this time?”

He touched his thigh, calling back the first time we had met—when he’d grabbed me in an attempt to save my life, and I’d thanked him for it by driving my dagger into his leg.

What did he think he was doing here? Playing with me like nothing had changed between us. Like we were still just two contestants in the Kejari, reluctant allies.

My voice was hard and sharp. “Somewhere I’m not supposed to be? This is my home.”

I was never very good at seeming cold and collected when my emotions were thrashing under the surface of my skin. Vincent had reminded me of it often.

Raihn saw the truth.

His smirk disappeared.

“I know that,” he said. No hint of teasing this time.

“No, you don’t,” I shot back. “You don’t understand that because you’re keeping me a prisoner here.”

“You’re not a prisoner. You’re—”

You’re my queen, he always said.

Bullshit. I couldn’t stand it anymore.

“Stop,” I snapped. “Just—just STOP. Stop with the lies. Stop with the willful ignorance. You lock me in my room every night. You sleep in the next apartment so you can guard me—”

Raihn moved abruptly—two steps forward so he was up against the other side of the desk, leaning close to me.

“I am trying to keep you alive, Oraya,” he said, voice low. “And it’s hard fucking work, alright? I know none of it is ideal. But I’m trying.”

I wanted to say, So what? Let it happen, if it’s so hard to stop it. Let them kill me.

You’re better than that, little serpent, Vincent whispered in my ear.

“How benevolent of you,” I shot back. “How selfless.”

Raihn’s palms now pressed to the table, and he looked directly into my eyes.

“Do you think I want any of this?” he spat. “Do you think I want to listen to you sob every night?”

The blood drained from my face.

At my expression, his mouth thinned. I could practically hear him silently scolding himself for saying it.

I knew there was a possibility that he heard me. I knew that Raihn had always seen everything I didn’t want him to. But fuck, to hear it acknowledged—it violated some unspoken contract. My cheeks warmed.

I took a step back, suddenly desperate to put more space between us, and Raihn matched it forward. His gaze was steady and unblinking—as inescapable as if he’d grabbed me and pinned me to the wall.

“I made you an offer,” he murmured. “The night we—”

A stutter to his voice. I heard what he didn’t say: The night we were married.

Neither of us ever acknowledged that. Our marriage.

“I made you an offer that night. And it still stands. It always will.”

Another step back. Another step closer.

“I hate this place.” He exhaled the words, ragged, like he’d torn them from deep in his chest. “I hate these people. I hate this castle. I hate this fucking crown. But I don’t hate you, Oraya. Not even a little.” His face softened, and I so wanted to tear my eyes away and didn’t. “I failed you. I know that. I’m probably still—” He shook his head a little, as if to shut himself up. “But you and I are the same. There is no one I would rather have help me build a new version of this kingdom. And honestly, I . . . I don’t know if I can do it without you.”

The Ashes and the Star-Cursed King will be released on June 4 from Bramble, but you can pre-order it right now. 

Lacy Baugher Milas is the Books Editor at Paste Magazine, but loves nerding out about all sorts of pop culture. You can find her on Twitter @LacyMB

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