Mardan's Mark (Mardan's Mark, #1) by Kathrese McKee ($10 Amazon GC Giveaway}

Mardan's Mark (Mardan's Mark, #1)
Release Date: 12/25/14
Summary from Goodreads:
Srilani is second in line to the throne, and she’s always known what is expected of a princess — bring honor to her family and marry well. Aldan has been a pirate’s slave for as long as he can remember, and all he wants is to be free. The Twin Kingdoms have been sister nations for centuries, but now their unity and existence are threatened by enemies both inside and outside their borders.

After pirates abduct Srilani and her three siblings, they are stranded behind enemy lines and across the Great Gulf. As the eldest, Srilani is faced with the dangerous task of bringing her father’s heir home. She convinces Aldan and his two fellow slaves to share their journey to freedom. These unlikely allies — seven youngcaptives — must defeat the web of lies, murder, and betrayal tearing the kingdoms apart.

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An hour passed while the captain entertained his guest. Rozar called Aldan to clear away
the drink tray and the empty flagon. Green Tunic departed, and as soon as the visitor’s sailboat
pulled away, the captain shouted orders to set the ship in motion.
“Bring her about, north by northeast. Look alive, you worthless curs! Scar! Get those
sails trimmed.” Rozar didn’t quit giving orders until he’d set every hand to work. “Aldan, come
here.” He lowered his voice. “Get me down the ladder. Don’t know why I ever touch wine.”
Aldan half-supported, half-carried the captain to his cabin. Rozar hummed a tune under
his breath and settled onto his berth with a muzzy smile. “Ish good you’ve grown up a bit or I’d
be . . . hmm . . . hmm.”
Aldan stared at the captain who’d fallen asleep the moment his head hit the pillow. “It’s a
good thing I’m the same size as you or you’d have broken your neck coming down that ladder.”
He stole a moment to watch the waves through the porthole. Cathartid’s hull vibrated
with life under his hand. This ship possessed a soul of her own, an evil soul set on destruction.
Cathartid made the most of the wind in her swept-back sails, slipping through the waters of the
Great Gulf like the deadly predator she was, barracuda swift and shark hungry, the fastest ship in
King Dzor’s pirate fleet with a captain and crew to match her ruthless nature.
A short nap later, Captain Rozar took the helm. Aldan took his normal place--out of reach
but near enough to take orders. Rozar summoned him with a snap of his fingers.
“Find Sam and clear out the cabin across from mine. Tell the cook to make a fresh batch
of the sleeping potion. Don’t make me wait.”
Aldan found Sam in the galley. No surprise there. His best friend had long ago
discovered he could earn extra food scraps if he acted as cook’s drudge. Sam needed all the help
he could get maintaining his extra-large form.
Mirza, the ship’s resident witch, was in the galley, too, preparing some unspeakable
sacrifice of fish entrails, strong spices, and spoiled eggs for Azor. The stench was unbearable.
Aldan’s stomach rolled over, and he tried not to breathe through his nose. He relayed the
captain’s orders to Biscuits in one breath.
“Sam. Come with me.” Swallowing a gulp of air, Aldan raced through the narrow space
to reach the fresh breeze flowing through the hatch overhead.
Sam emerged a few moments later, munching on a stale piece of bread. He held more
pieces in his other hand.
Aldan stared as Sam popped another crust into his mouth with relish. “How can you eat
when she’s making Azor’s stew? That’s disgusting.” 
About the Author
Kathrese McKee writes epic adventures for young adults and anyone else who enjoys pirates and princesses combined with life's difficult questions.  She is committed to exciting stories, appropriate content, and quality craftsmanship.
Mardan's Mark, the first book in the Mardan's Mark series, has won a couple of awards:
Winner: 2014 Novel Rocket Launch Pad Contest, MG/YA Category
Finalist: 2014 Phoenix Rattler writing contest, Christian Writers of the West (CWOW) - Arizona's ACFW affiliate
The sequel, Mardan's Anointed, is in process along with a related novella.

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