Chained by Memory - Hardcover
Chained by Memory - Hardcover

Chained by Memory - Hardcover

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The plan is simple. Get to the weretiger realm where a wise woman will be able to help Sarroch and I get a mating bond in place, thus saving me from execution.

Easy peasy, lemon squeasy.

Of course it ends up going more like difficult, difficult, lemon difficult.

Which is why right now I’m standing in the stunning forest of the weretiger realm, facing Sarroch in tiger form.

Except that it’s not Sarroch any more. Something has taken control of him. Something that for some reason doesn’t like me one bit and is clearly determined to destroy me.

Little old me with my weak magic, facing off against one of the oldest and most powerful weretigers in existence.

Anyone care to place a bet on the outcome?

Or you can just read Chained by Memory now to see how it all goes down.

 Paperback Edition 200 pages
Product Dimensions 6 x 9 x 0.7 inches (15.2 x 22.9 x 1.8cm)
Publisher Celine Jeanjean
Series Razor's Edge Chronicles #6

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Bearing in mind that Sarroch is the CEO of a large company, when he said he had a plane, I had certain expectations. I’m not a princess, so it’s not like I expect the height of luxury when I travel. But I do expect something from this century, at least, especially when I’m flying in the private plane of the CEO of one of Panong’s largest companies.

Instead, what I got is a small rust bucket that would have looked like it had seen better days during World War II. I don't actually know if it's old enough to have been around back then—I’m not one of those plane nerds—but it sure looks that way to me.

And more importantly, it feels like that, too.

For starters, the plane has a propeller. Flying over the Himalayas in something that requires a propeller really doesn't inspire confidence. The cockpit is narrow enough to make a budget airline economy seat feel roomy, so Sarroch and I are crammed in there next to each other with our knees making a decent attempt at reaching our ears.
We're both wearing headsets and oxygen masks. The headset so we can hear each other over the roar of the engine and the wind. The oxygen mask because—I don’t know why, I just know that I would feel a lot safer in a plane where one wasn’t required.

The turbulence up here is something else, and the rust bucket rattles and shakes and lurches painfully, setting my stomach lurching in response.

Which is why, although Sarroch is helpfully pointing out the world's tallest mountains as we pass them, I'm far too busy white-knuckling my armrests, gritting my teeth, and trying not to reach for my air sick bag.

The leather covering my seat is cracked and split, allowing the stuffing to show through, the padding so thin I can feel the seat’s steel frame digging into my sit bones and back. Some kind of strap—maybe normally used to secure cargo?—dangles to the right of my head, hitting me in the temple every time the plane shakes. Which is often. The strap is worn ragged in places, like everything in this damn death trap.

Why I agreed to climb aboard a plane that’s held together by optimism and prayer, I don’t know. Must have been a moment of temporary insanity. A moment of temporary insanity that might well result in my untimely death.
My breathing is heaving in and out of my nose like I’m a panicked cow on the way to the slaughterhouse, and my mouth is filled with the bitter tang of panic. In short, this flight is bloody miserable.

“Apiya, if you open your eyes, you can see Everest over there.” Sarroch’s voice is irritatingly cheerful in my headset.
I foolishly—stupidly, moronically, and every kind of synonym for total bloody idiot you can think of—open my eyes. Yes, that is Everest, a little below us, ahead to the left.

Everest. The tallest mountain in the world. Thirty thousand feet of inhospitable snow and ice-covered rock.
And we’re above it in a rust bucket that can barely keep itself together.

The plane bucks as if attempting to throw us out, and then gives a long, drawn out shiver that sets everything—including my teeth—rattling loudly, as the turbulence toys with us.

I close my eyes again. Sarroch has strong abilities with metal, but are they strong enough to prevent a rust bucket from plummeting out of the sky and crashing to the ground? If we crash here, no one will find the plane. And if the crash doesn’t kill us, the cold will.

As if hearing my thoughts, the plane gives an almighty lurch and then abruptly drops out of the sky. Not low enough that we’re in danger of crashing into the mountains, but enough that all my organs leap up and cram themselves into my throat as I scream in fear, clinging to my armrests so hard my hands hurt.

“Ohmygod, ohmygod, ohmygod!!!”

“It's fine, Apiya. Really. Trust me, I’m a good pilot. And if all else fails I can keep the plane flying using magic.”

I don’t open my eyes again. “Your qualities as a pilot are not in question,” I tell him through clenched teeth. “The ability of this damn plane to remain whole and in the air is.”

“It’s a bit old and worn, I’ll grant you, but it’s still perfectly serviceable.”

The plane rattles again, hard enough that it feels like it's trying to take itself apart in midair.

“This plane is as serviceable for flying as a geriatric with a zimmer frame is suitable for the gymnastic Olympics!” I snap.

Sarroch laughs.

I could kill him. If we survive this flight, I might just do that. What is wrong with him that this is the most relaxed he’s been since my trial? Well, more to the point, since we’ve found ourselves needing to hot-wire a mating bond between us when his tiger doesn’t want me.

If we don’t manage to make that happen, my head goes straight back on the chopping block because the Mayak defence laws won’t apply to me, and I killed another Mayak. It was self-defence, but apparently they only apply that important aspect of their laws to other Mayaks, not to humans.

Which is why I need to become Sarroch’s mate, so I can be recognised as a Mayak and have the self-defence clause apply to me. Sarroch hasn’t been mad keen on the idea, mostly because his tiger not only doesn’t want me as a mate, but seems to actively dislike me. The whole situation is a bit of a disaster, so Sarroch has been understandably a little tense.

That is, until we stepped into this death-trap of an excuse for a plane. Apparently, near-death experiences relax him. Who knew? Certainly not me, for the very simple reason that no sane person would willingly put themselves through this. Yes, I am questioning Sarroch’s sanity right now.

By some miracle, we continue on our journey without dropping from the sky, crashing, and without the plane spontaneously disintegrating. The turbulence finally reduces to a more manageable level, so the plane only shakes and trembles periodically, and I reopen my eyes.
The snowy peaks of the top of the Himalayas have made way for lower, brown and green mountains.

“Okay, we're going to start our descent,” Sarroch announces cheerfully. “Your trial is almost over.”
“Stop being so bloody perky.”

I can tell he’s grinning at me from the way his eyes crinkle above his oxygen mask.

Now, normally I really like his smile. Sarroch is definitely one of life’s more serious men, all capable, efficient, and aloof, but when he smiles, it gives him a boyish quality, warming his face and making his eyes dance. Normally, when said smile is directed at me, my stomach tends to do a happy little flip.

However, right now my stomach is still lodged in my throat along with my heart, kidneys, intestines, and all the rest of my innards, so nothing in my guts is in the mood to do a happy flip.

“Come on, Apiya, it really isn’t that bad.”

“I like being alive, Sarroch, and do you know what I enjoy even more than just being alive? Being alive without continually feeling like any moment I might be off to meet my maker.”

“I’m sure Qinglong would be delighted to get some more time with you.” He winks.

Murder. Cold bloody murder if he keeps that up—I’m not kidding. I take a deep, calming breath before I actually follow through on my murderous thoughts. I need him to land the plane, after all.

On the plus side, if the rust bucket managed to pass the Himalayas, then we should now be fine. The hardest part of the journey will have been flying over the roof of the world, right? So it should be all easy peasy going forward.

That is, until I remember what our destination is.

Paro, Bhutan. I foolishly looked it up before leaving. Google helpfully informed me that it is one of the top ten most dangerous airports to land at. A fact I wish I didn’t know right now.

It hadn’t seemed so bad finding that out when I still entertained the delusion that I would be making the landing in something modern. Something with lots of reassuring, glowing digital screens, automatic systems, and other bits of high tech that keep the plane purring along.

The rust bucket’s cockpit doesn’t have a single digital anything—instead there are lots of little dials with needles indicating…things. Whatever these things are. Sarroch seems to be able to make sense of them, which is slightly reassuring. Less reassuring is the fact that more than one of these dials has a cracked glass covering. Do they still work if the glass is broken?

That’s anyone’s guess. I’m praying they do, just like I’m praying the plane doesn’t disintegrate during the landing manoeuvre.

Google’s helpful article on the world’s most dangerous airports also informed me that only two dozen pilots are actually licensed to make the landing at Paro Airport. I asked Sarroch if he was licensed before we headed to the plane. He thought it was a funny question and told me that he has flown in and out of Paro enough times. Not exactly the answer I wanted, but at the time, I had taken that as him being self-deprecating or modest. Given that he thinks this plane is serviceable, I’m now seriously questioning the soundness of his judgement.

And just like that, my nerves spike again at the thought of the landing ahead.

Sarroch goes through a short checklist, reading each item aloud and confirming their status. And then he says four words that send pure terror plummeting into my poor, already tortured stomach.

“Turning GPWS system off.” And he flips a switch.

“What?” I squeak. “Isn't that something you need? Isn't GPS or GPWs, whatever that is, pretty important when landing at one of the world's most dangerous airports? Turn it back on!”

“No need. There's no radar. We have to do the landing manually, by eye.”

“What?” My voice has grown so shrill I’m pretty sure human ears would struggle to hear me. Good thing Sarroch’s a weretiger. “That’s…that’s crazy,” I squeak, my breath once again heaving through my nose.

“It’ll be fine. Don’t worry.”

The plane rattles and lurches. I cling to my armrest as my stomach lurches painfully in response. “Oh god. Oh god.”

“The turbulence is quite bad today,” Sarroch comments mildly, in the tone of one remarking on a gentle breeze.

Did I mention the murderous thoughts earlier?

The turbulence is bad, and we have to land without radar. I think I'm in danger of crushing my armrests. I’m not ready to die. I’m so not ready to die.

The plane starts to lower, but we’re still facing mountains, rather than the kind of nice flat expanse of land I've come to associate with airports. And more to the point, I don't see any cities on the horizon. Nothing but rocky terrain, the kind that isn’t forgiving if a plane goes crashing into it.

“Um, Sarroch, where is Paro?” I’m not even trying to keep the panic from my voice.

“We won't actually see it for a little while. It's behind those mountains over there. We have to lower into the valley, and then bank left, keeping to a forty-five degree angle. The reason this landing is tricky is that we won't actually see the airfield until the last moment. So we have to get the plane in alignment without actually seeing the landing strip.”

And without radar. I feel nauseous. “Jesus, Mary, Joseph, and a bloody camel.”

“You’re probably better off invoking Buddha here, since it’s a Buddhist country.” I hate how much Sarroch is enjoying this.

“Stop making stupid comments and focus on the damn mountains.” I’ll admit I’m starting to feel a tad hysterical. I’m not such a bad flyer normally, but I swear, this would test the most hardened traveller.

We continue to drop altitude, the rust bucket rattling harder, occasionally lurching like a horse at a rodeo. I can make out neat squares of rice paddies down in the narrow valley below and buildings on the foothills climbing up on either side of us.

Still no sign of an airstrip. And the valley is so narrow. Dangerously narrow. Sarroch manoeuvres the plane, and we bank left, the plane remaining tilted.

We're getting seriously close to the ground now. If it wasn't for the fear roiling in my belly, I would be quite fascinated by the beautiful Bhutanese buildings. But they're far too close to the plane's wings for comfort.

And then finally, I spot the airstrip, like an oasis after a long trek through the desert.

The landing is much like the entire flight—painful, jerky, death-defying.

The plane bounces a couple of times, the roar of the engine becoming painfully loud, while the plane makes a final, last-ditch effort to disintegrate on the runway.

By some miracle, the prayers and optimism work, holding it in one piece. It comes to a stop before the end of the runway, and without torrents of smoke pouring out of the engine.

The propeller has slowed right down, and Sarroch manoeuvres us off the runway.

He removes his oxygen mask and smiles at me. “Welcome to Bhutan.” He leans over towards me, pulling the headset off my ears and releasing my oxygen mask. “Those were some highly entertaining squeals at the end.” He laughs, straightening up. “And that is cold murder in your eyes or I’m not a weretiger.”


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Hi! I'm Celine

I write different flavours of fantasy with a twist, but always with one uniting thread: quirky, flawed characters and heart-warming found families.

My books span the sub-genres of steampunk (but set in a secondary, tropical world) urban fantasy (set in Asia and London) and gothic gaslamp fantasy.

I'm French, grew up in the UK, and for the last few years I've been living a life of nomadic adventure, exploring the world with my laptop as my constant companion. My adventures have been a great source of inspiration for my stories.

These days I'm trying to figure out where in the world I might stop and setup some bookshelves.

I love to hear from readers, so feel free to contact me at

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