Today I am so pleased to welcome J.V. Speyer to Joyfully Jay. J.V. has come to talk to us about her latest release, The Dented Crown. She has also brought along a great giveaway. Please join me in giving her a big welcome!
Once upon a time, I found myself messaging back and forth with a good friend instead of doing my actual job. (This isn’t an infrequent thing.) I had two things I needed to discuss. The first was that I wanted to participate in NANOWRIMO that year, but I had a lot going on from a personal perspective and I was feeling lost.
The second was about a TV show we both loved. We shared the same favorite character, who had an official Tragic Backstory™. There was a storyline involving memory erasure, and we had a lot of comments (often involving f-bombs) related to consent and identity.
I decided I’d put all of the energy I was devoting to creative use of a very Anglo-Saxon word into exploring those ideas in fiction. My friend helped me to flesh out a plot, because apparently an author-insert character who bashes the culprit in the face with a rolling pin is “not good fiction, Jaye,” and “not sanitary for cooking, either, Jaye.”
And The Dented Crown was born.
In The Dented Crown, one of the two main characters has amnesia. He can’t remember anything. He can’t remember his own name, or his native language. He learns pretty quickly that he comes from a kingdom that’s at war with the place where he winds up, but he doesn’t feel any animosity. On the contrary, he finds himself falling in love with the crown prince of this new kingdom.
Who wouldn’t? Malires, the other main character, is hot.
The only problem is that Malires knows who our mystery man is. They’ve faced each other in battle, more than once. Malires needs the memories trapped in his new guest’s brain, but he’s falling in love with the man his enemy has become.
What is the right thing for Malires to do here?
The first character assumes the name Sokol, because few people want to be known as “Hey You” for any length of time. Is Sokol the same person as Aleric, a prince and general of the hostile northern kingdom? They don’t share the same memories. Sokol doesn’t have any loyalty to the crown for which Aleric has killed. He doesn’t have any memory of the intrigue and betrayal that are so deeply ingrained in the Northern culture.
I’m not sure what the “right answer” is, or if there’s a “right answer” at all. I had a lot of fun asking the question, and watching the consequences play out, though.
Identity is a slippery topic for a lot of people. Some parts of our identity can’t be changed. They’re in our skin, in our sexual orientation, in our gender identity. Some parts of our identities are more fluid. Am I still the person I am if I don’t have the lived experiences that contributed to that identity in the first place?
Of course, our heroes don’t just wander around pondering the moral rightness of falling in love with someone who has amnesia. There is a greater threat. Sokol wound up with amnesia somehow, right? The coup that overtook his homeland has nasty implications for Malires’ kingdom, and if they’re going to keep the place safe they need what’s locked inside Sokol’s brain.
As Malires’ love for Sokol deepens, though, his dilemma grows. Going after the memories will put Sokol in danger, and not only from being subsumed back into the man he was before his head injury. Malires has a duty to his kingdom, but he also has a responsibility to the man he loves. Once again, we have a question of identity. Malires can’t shed the identity of a prince – the man who will become king someday. He can’t justify hurting this man who will cheerfully sacrifice everything for him, either. Which will win out?
I had so much fun writing this book that I even loved the editing process. I honestly hope you do too. It’s a story of family, of loss, and of redemption. Ultimately, though, it’s a story about two men who probably shouldn’t love each other, but do, and how that’s not a bad thing at the end of the day.
Two kingdoms. Two princes. One secret to break them, or to bind them.
When a rowboat washes up on the riverbank, Prince Malires puts his kingdom’s security first. The dead man lying in the boat can’t answer many questions, but the seriously injured survivor might be able to give Malires some details about what happened in the hostile kingdom to the north. If, that is, the young man ever wakes up.
Malires knows who the survivor is: Prince Aleric, youngest son of the King of Gerelen. He’s the most renowned warrior that Gerelen has ever known, and Malires has barely survived their previous encounters. Only his need to understand why Gerelen suddenly stopped communicating with the outside world keeps him from taking advantage of the situation and taking out this threat to his kingdom.
It has nothing to do with the sudden discovery of how beautiful Aleric is.
Unfortunately for Malires, when Aleric does awaken he has no memory of who he is or even of his own kingdom. The court physicians insist that Aleric’s memories must return naturally, or else they might be lost forever.
While both men recognize the urgent need for answers, they cannot fight their attraction for one another. Aleric comes to feel just as defensive of Malires’ kingdom as he once did of his own. When the truth comes out, will love conquer all, or will misunderstanding and pride drive Aleric to a desperate undertaking?
J.V. Speyer has been telling stories since she was a small child. Her father raised her on a steady diet of science fiction, horror, and fantasy, and she came to romance later in life. Most of her inspiration is drawn from music, whether from a specific song or just a rhythm.
J.V. grew up in Upstate New York, in a deeply diverse city in the heart of the Rust Belt. She now makes her home just outside of Boston in an old farmhouse with more animals than people. She’s held jobs in security, accounting, finance, and non-profit management before turning to writing professionally.
In her spare time, J. V. enjoys baseball, history, and music. She can often be found avoiding direct sunlight and seeking out the perfect martini.
J.V. has brought a $10 Amazon gift card to give away to one lucky Joyfully Jay reader. Just leave a comment at the end of the post to enter. The contest ends on Thursday, October 5th at 11:59 pm ET.
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