ABOUT THE BOOK: Barren Reed hopes to protect the Orient from his tyrant uncle, but his plans to make the King’s life a living hell aren’t supported by the Elders of the pirate community. As it stands, Barren has earned the Elders’ disdain for his carelessness, and they threaten him into exile if he makes one more mistake. Barren’s not the only one feeling the Elders’ wrath—they don’t trust Larkin either. Worse, Barren can’t comprehend Larkin’s wish to have a relationship with her father, and the secrets she’s forced to keep create a tension that may pull them apart forever. When the Pirates of Silver Crest begin to die, bullets laced with dark magic are to blame. With more and more of these weapons infiltrating the Underground, discovering who’s behind the dissemination is no easy feat. As fear and tension mount among the people of the Orient, Barren and his crew find themselves in a race against time to stop the spread of dark magic before the world of Mariana spirals into collapse.

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EXCERPT: Larkin lay against Barren, her head on his chest. She couldn’t sleep, though her eyes were heavy. It was so quiet in his cabin. She was used to sleeping in the hatch in a hammock in the back, where the groan of the ship was loudest. Then there was the heat of Barren’s skin. She’d come to know his warmth, yet she’d also come to know the absence of that warmth. Right now, there was energy between them that had gone unacknowledged since they’d closed the door. Strangely, it made her restless. She also had questions about this trial. What did it mean that one of Barren’s brethren had come to escort him to Sanctuary? What did it even mean to have a trial among pirates? By the way Edward looked at her, she suspected she might have something to do with this. “Will they take you from me?” she asked quietly, sleepily. Barren was very still. She watched his chest rise and fall with the breaths he took. After a moment, she felt his fingers tangle in her hair. “Is that what you fear?” he asked. “It is one thing I fear,” she said. She feared being taken from him. She feared being sent back to Maris. “In truth, I do not know what the Elders have planned for me,” he said. “Do they want to hurt you?” “They will not kill me,” said Barren. “I am not a traitor.” “But what you’ve done, it is punishable by the Elders?” She knew by the silence that Barren did not know how to answer that question. “By the code, I’ve done nothing wrong.” The code was a set of rules created by the Elders of Silver Crest. Larkin had once mocked the idea of pirates abiding by any type of law, but she’d come to learn that all Pirates of Silver Crest, even those touted as the most ruthless, were loyal to the code. It ensured that the pirates protect Saoirse, freedom. “Why call you to trial then?” “Because I’ve done something they do not approve of.” Larkin pushed herself up and stared at Barren in the darkness. His features were passive. It seemed so uncharacteristic. This should make him angry, because to her, it sounded unfair. “So in truth this is against the code,” said Larkin. Barren chuckled and sat up. “The Elders advise and protect the code, Larkin. To say they do anything against it is blasphemy.”

She regarded him for a moment. Barren’s loyalty to the code of Silver Crest was strong, which meant his loyalty to the Elders would be matched. “I was under the impression the pirates of Silver Crest lived a life dedicated to Saoirse,” she said. It was one of the first things she’d learned about Barren, how important Saoirse—freedom—was to him. “If that is so, why do these men seem to have power over you?” “The Elders are men and women,” Barren said. “They are the eldest among us, those with the most experience, and they have no power over us, only wisdom.” “So they call you to trial to impart wisdom?” This wasn’t making sense. A trial meant that Barren had been charged. It meant there were consequences for actions. He knew this just as well as she did. “Larkin,” he said and he ran his fingers over her cheek, tangling them into her hair, and secured his hand at the base of her neck. “I don’t want to talk about this right now. It’s in the future, but we’re in the present.” He pulled her to him, and their lips crashed together, sending heat through her body, diffusing the tension that had built between them in the silence. His mouth moved from hers and trailed her jaw and throat. When he wrapped his hands around her thighs and pulled her to him, she forgot her frustrations—all she wanted to know was how she could be closer to him. The heat from his skin was addictive. It filled her senses, made her desperate. He twisted, and she yelped as she found herself on her back with her legs still around his waist. He loomed over her and paused to stare, seeming completely focused, yet lost at the same time. She liked him like this. She often had power, but here she was in control. He would do anything she asked, bend to her will. So she reached for him, willing this distance between them to close, and he obliged, meeting her lips with a carnal growl.

REVIEW: Flintlock is outstanding! This book has adventure, romance and suspense all wrapped up together. Since this is the second book of the series, the story begins with Barren, the ship captain, and his crew being warned by the Elders for careless crimes. They threaten Barren with potential exile if another mistake is made. The ambassador takes them in since someone has made a threat against the king’s life and Barren and his crew have been asked to stop it from being carried out. During Ambassador Cove’s gala, he is shot in the chest by a mysterious bullet before problems start to arise tenfold as the crew discovers the bullets are laced with black magic. Barren is now faced with losing his crew, his friends and his life when he makes the final decision to investigate the Underground for the creator of these bullets. He captures the assassin and goes to Mariana where Larkin must return as a disgraced Lady in order to protect the pirates from further anguish. Will Barren’s carelessness get in the way of Larkin’s return to her father? What will the pirates find with their investigation…and could it be more than they originally bargained for?

I really enjoyed reading this story. My favorite characters in this book are Barren, Larkin and Leaf. Leaf is the Elf prince that befriends Barren in the first book. He is wise and/or skilled in several things like fighting, healing and compassion. While Barren may be careless, Leaf is Barren’s savior in many ways. The Elf prince protects his friend from many mistakes along the way. There is loss in this book which tore at my heart upon reading it, but it is understandable and somewhat of a necessity for change in certain aspects. Larkin is a constant reminder to Barren of his inability to trust. He cares deeply for her; however, he struggles with trusting her to follow through with orders that will keep her safe and away from danger.

I give Flintlock a five star review because the author created an entirely new world, new ideas, originality in plot and several intermingled and emotionally complex characters that all have a part to play in this adventure. The kings, the pirates, the Elves and the Underground are all describes vividly enough to where I was able to see what the author wanted me to see. This book is geared toward a young adult audience; however, it is not gender specific. It would be preferable to read the first book in the series and then this one since it is in a sequential order of events; however, it can be read as a standalone.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Ashley was born and raised in Oklahoma, where the wind really does sweep down the plains, and horses and carriages aren’t used as much as she’d like. When she’s not writing, she’s hard at work on her Master’s degree in Library Science and Information Technology, working out, or pretending she’s Sherlock Holmes. Her obsession with writing began after reading the Lord of the Rings in the eighth grade. Since then, she’s loved everything Fantasy–resulting in an unhealthy obsession with the ‘geek’ tab on Pinterest, where all things awesome go.

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