Yelena returns to Valek’s suite to find him…worried about her? He covers it quickly saying Brazell’s soldiers have taken out a bounty on her and he doesn’t wish to train a new food taster. Yeah, right ;) the damage is done – he cares for her. How much is yet to be determined.
Yelena learns how to taste the various brandies. Why brandy? When I was younger and went camping with my friends, we’d drink blackberry brandy while sitting around the campfire. Before the Generals’ meeting Valek appears in his dress uniform. Sigh. There’s just something about a man in uniform…come on, ladies you know what I’m talking about! ;) Yelena’s has enough brandy at this point to be not as guarded around him. Plus he does look stunning! I also like how he’s not comfortable with all the finery and probably would rather be climbing the walls in his sneak suit. And only when Yelena tells him how nice he looks does he even consider that aspect. This guy doesn’t spend much time preening in front of a mirror.
The Generals’ brandy meeting was a good place to give readers information about Ixia and the Military Districts, and an ideal time to show how the Commander interacts with the Generals on making decisions. During the meeting, the Commander introduces two more complications—the change in his successor and the fact that he is allowing a Sitian delegation to visit Ixia. Both things have never happened in the fifteen years since the takeover. This is a red flag for Valek and the reader that something’s not right quite with the Commander.
The idea of sliding the bottle along the table versus passing it around came from Kim, one of the people in my writing critique group. She wrote Victorian era romances and told me about meetings during that time period and how they slid the bottle around. It sounded like a fun little detail to include.
The meeting was also a great place to give the reader some background on the Commander and his family. And then there’s the dream….or is it a dream? Yelena witnesses a woman celebrating over killing a snow cat (an almost impossible feat) and this action is proof to her that she is really a man with the wrong body. Basically the first hint that the Commander is transgender. Yelena dismisses the idea, but Mogkan has been watching her and Valek reports that someone used magic during the meeting. Hmmm...the plot is so thick it's almost gelatin :).
When Yelena and Valek return from the meeting, I like this little bit of playful banter:
“About the same time your snoring could be heard halfway across the room,” Valek said.
“Ha,” Yelena said rather loud. “You were so stiff at that meeting I thought rigor mortis had set in.”
Valek snorted with amusement. “I doubt you could have looked any better sitting in that uncomfortable dress uniform all night. I imagine Dilana sprayed on extra starch with malicious glee.”
In this exchange, the readers learn that Valek has a sense of humor and that he doesn’t take himself so seriously. It’s a nice moment and it’s about to get…nicer? Yelena, drunk from all the brandy she tasted, slips behind him and starts massaging his shoulders.
And then…the chapter ends! Do you really want to close the book now? ;)
Question 23 – In Taste of Darkness, what is the motto Avry and her friends use in place of "Thank the creator!"?
Don't answer this question in the comments!! This is another chance to win! There will be 31 questions for each chapter note published. Collect the answers to ALL the questions (or your best guess) and then enter to win a T-shirt at the end of the month (I'll post the Rafflecopter on the 31st).