Edge of Power: (Viking Dystopian Romance)

Edge of Power: (Viking Dystopian Romance)

by Megan Crane

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781466885356
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publication date: 03/07/2017
Series: Edge , #4
Sold by: Macmillan
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 350
Sales rank: 172,641
File size: 1 MB

About the Author

USA Today bestselling, RITA nominated, and critically-acclaimed author Megan Crane has written a lot of books: from women's fiction, chick lit, and work-for-hire young adult novels to Harlequin Presents as Caitlin Crews. These days her focus is on contemporary romance, from small town to international glamor, cowboys to bikers, and beyond. She sometimes teaches creative writing classes, both online at mediabistro.com and at UCLA Extension's prestigious Writers' Program, where she finally utilizes the MA and PhD in English Literature she received from the University of York in York, England. She currently lives in California with a husband who draws comics and animation storyboards and their menagerie of ridiculous animals.
USA Today bestselling, RITA nominated, and critically-acclaimed author Megan Crane has written a lot of books: from women's fiction, chick lit, and work-for-hire young adult novels to Harlequin Presents as Caitlin Crews. These days her focus is on contemporary romance, from small town to international glamor, cowboys to bikers, and beyond. Her Edge of Ruin novellas include Edge of Obession, Edge of Temptation, Edge of Control and Edge of Power. She sometimes teaches creative writing classes both online at mediabistro.com and at UCLA Extension's prestigious Writers' Program, where she finally utilizes the MA and PhD in English Literature she received from the University of York in York, England. She currently lives in California with a husband who draws comics and animation storyboards and their menagerie of ridiculous animals.

Read an Excerpt

Edge of Power


By Megan Crane

St. Martin's Press

Copyright © 2017 Megan Crane
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4668-8535-6


CHAPTER 1

There was more than one way to sack a city.

Wulf would have preferred the classic approach. Raiders in the night, up and over the walls like everybody's worst nightmare, only bloodier. The screams of the little mainlander bitches as they woke to the sweet swing of a raider's favorite blade. Then a decent fight that lasted well into the morning and made a man not only happy to be alive, but fucking delighted to be a warrior brother of the raider clan.

Or in Wulf's case, its king.

The good shit, in other words.

Instead, he made his way into a walled city high in the western highlands, surrounded by towering mountains still draped in a long winter's snow some twenty days before the March equinox.

On foot.

There weren't many people foolish enough to brave this weather, a cut-glass cold morning that had tipped over into a blustery and grim afternoon. No one else was making the long, slow approach along the single track that wound through this narrow mountain pass with slick, steep cliffs on both sides. One road in, same road out, they'd told him in the bleak huddle of sad caravans clustered at the bottom of the Idaho mountain, where the kingdom's outcasts were condemned to spend their winters as bait for marauders and wolves alike. The king likes to see who's coming.

Wulf's fingers twitched in the microwool gloves he wore. It was like they were independently yearning for the blades he wore strapped to his chest beneath the heavy skins he'd made his winter coat, as in-your-face raider king, bitches as possible. Not that he needed his blades as he made his way along the final approach toward the great, gray gates that rose imposingly across the narrowest part of this winding gorge and marked the entrance to the seat of the richest, most powerful king in the whole of the western highlands.

Blades were the fun part. First, there was this.

In the distance, two guards stepped out of the narrow little houses that flanked the big gates to King Athenian's mountain compound and braced themselves in yesterday's half-assed dusting of snow on the ground, all bullshit semiautomatic weapons and laughable bluster. Wulf kept walking toward them, not bothering to adjust his pace as he moved, wholly unconcerned about the dumbass guns pointed at him.

Wulf hated guns. All the raiders did, because fighting was their life and guns were for pussies, waterlogged weapons as likely to misfire as hit a thing, for little bitches who couldn't handle a blade. False courage for small men who imagined themselves mighty. Wulf would like nothing more than to take those stupid-ass guns and shove them down the guards' throats.

But he forced himself to remain patient.

Wulf's brutal, necessary trek across the whole of the drowned, ruined world ended here, weeks after he'd started out on his regrettably necessary suicide mission from the eastern islands in the middle of a February squall. That had sucked, no matter how many modifications his tech-genius blood brother Gunnar had made to the clan's fleet to keep their boats as upright and dry as possible during a fucking terrifying winter Atlantic crossing no wise man should have attempted. Still, he'd survived. Somehow they'd all survived.

There had been no other choice.

In contrast, a little stroll toward two idiots who thought the gate behind them made them safe and the weapons in their hands made them strong was child's play.

A mainlander child's play, he amended. Raider children were far better trained and infinitely more lethal.

"These gates are closed for the winter, buddy," the guard at the gate barked out at him as Wulf finally made it close enough to hear him over the wind. He pointed his Uzi directly in Wulf's face, something no one had dared do for a long, long while. Maybe ever. It made Wulf smile as pure mayhem danced through his head and lit him up everywhere else, every inch of him primed and ready to do grievous bodily harm to assholes just like this one with far less provocation. But he sucked that shit back down, because he was playing a long game. "They'll open to the public a few days before the equinox and no sooner."

Wulf tilted his head slightly to one side and regarded the man for a moment. The douchebag was big, burly, with round copper cheeks and dark black brows drawn down over dark eyes. He likely thought of himself as pretty tough.

Wulf waited for them to recognize the extreme danger they were in. He might have been wearing winter furs, but surely the way they sat upon his obviously muscled shoulders indicated the harness he wore beneath them and the blades he carried. His tattoos might not have been visible. He was on foot, not at the helm of a ship or coming over a wall in the dead of night with his brothers at his back. But they should have recognized the intricate braid he wore, the one that marked him a warrior. Worse than that, a raider warrior. A threat by definition. Death on two feet, standing before them while they risked their lives by pointing guns at him.

Instead, they only scowled at him. As if he was nothing but a minor irritant.

Really, it was kind of cute.

"No one in or out until the equinox," the second guard snapped, louder. As if he thought perhaps Wulf was hard of hearing. "That's the rule."

"I think," Wulf said after a moment, taking his time and making it sound as if he was barely awake this late in the gloomy day, "that your king will make an exception for me."

The first guard scoffed. "The king don't make exceptions and he don't give a shit about vagabond trash like you, friend. Turn around and start walking back to whatever cave you crawled out of."

Wulf sighed.

"I'm not your friend," he informed the first guard. Patiently, he thought. So patiently he deserved his own fucking church and a matching set of martyrs to go with it, like one of the latter-day priestlings who roamed the ruined remains of this planet and claimed the best parts of it for their god. "My friends know better than to point guns in my face."

The burly man let out a laugh of sheer bravado that Wulf could see was entirely about the gun he held and had precious little to do with any skill. Novice.

"Or what?" the guard brayed, waving that Uzi even closer to Wulf's face as if he was volunteering for his own bloody death. "What the fuck are you going to do, friend?"

Wulf smiled. Barely. Then he calmly reached out, grabbed the extended, narrow snout of the weapon, and yanked it out of the man's hands. And before he or his partner could react, slammed the heavy piece of ancient artillery right back into the burly guard's throat.

The fucker went down. Hard. And then sputtered and choked there on the ground, about as imposing and mighty as a headless chicken.

Wulf tossed the gun aside, then eyed the second guard blandly as the man's eyes bugged out of his head and he gripped his own Uzi that much tighter in his bare, brown hands, like he thought Wulf might transform into a snarling, savage beast right there in front of him. Or that he already had. Good. The little fucker was learning.

"My name is Wulf," he told the second guard gently. As if he was so relaxed he might fall asleep where he stood, with the knocked-out first guard sprawled out at his feet. "I believe your king has been looking for me."

The second guard scowled at him, but Wulf could see the panic in his gaze. The muzzle of his stupid, oversized gun shook.

"Why the fuck would King Athenian bother with some vagabond asshole who doesn't know enough to stay inside during the dark season?"

"Because," Wulf said, even quieter than before, "I am the raider king he has nightly wet dreams of conquering. Surely you've heard of me."

The guard leapt to attention as if Wulf was an entire army — or might have been concealing one in his coat. He backed up toward the looming gate, never shifting his gaze from Wulf's mild, vaguely interested one. When he was at what he must have judged was a safe distance, he lowered the weapon and reached over to the long rope that snaked down the side of his guard house. Then he began to pull on it, splitting the gloom of the afternoon with the sudden clanging of the bell in the tower above him.

Wulf didn't blink when the first guard rolled over and started to crawl — well, it was really more of a slither — toward the gate.

He merely stood there, casually, as if he could remain where he was until the winter made him into an ice sculpture. As if he was bored.

The great gates were heaved open and more guards poured out.

Some sort of leader stepped forward, all bristling black brows over a tremendous red nose, while rows of morons waved more guns from behind him.

"Open your coat and show us that you pose no threat," the leader brayed from about ten feet away, as if that would save him.

"I can't do that." Wulf shrugged. "I am a threat."

"Open your coat, asshole."

He met the man's gaze, and he knew his own was frigid. Blistering like that icy whore of a northern wind, it was so cold.

"No." He waited a moment, letting that sink in. "I'm the king of the raiders, not a sniveling little bitch who got lost on a morning walk. I didn't end up here by mistake. And I do not throw down my weapons at the order of some petty, piece of shit guard who is not fit to lick my shoe. If you want them, come and take them."

The guard made a convulsive sort of move with that gun.

Wulf smiled. "But you'll have to kill me first."

An uneasy silence fell then.

And this was the gamble, of course. They could just shoot him. He could see that some of the men were tempted. More than tempted, all flush with the notion that there was some safety in their numbers. These weren't raiders, after all. These men had no honor. They lived by no code. They were nothing but the mercenary servants of a bastard king who trafficked in fear and darkness. They had no particular reason to offer a strange barbarian safe passage just because he showed up at their door.

Safe passage was a raider notion, Wulf had learned this past year, thanks to a scumbag mercenary dispatched by this very kingdom. Because only battle-tested warriors who could kill each other with the barest lift of one finger recognized the strength and bravery in the offer of safety or the honor in a man's word to begin with. Punk bitch cowards, who shot up everything on sight and had no honor to speak of, predictably considered it a weakness.

Still, he thought they'd hold off on executing him. His presence here was too confounding. It made no sense. Killing him right here and now meant that they'd never know why he'd appeared in the first place.

"Okay, asshole," the leader of the guards bit out, gesturing with his gun, because to a man like this the gun was an extension of his weak-ass body and that bright red nose. A proxy for his limp little dick, Wulf was sure. "Start walking. Keep your hands where I can see them unless you want them blown off."

Wulf smirked. Then he took his sweet-ass time raising his hands and lacing them on top of his head.

"Does this make you feel safe?" he asked the leader.

The man growled at him, but only jerked his head, indicating that Wulf should precede him through the huge gates that led into the stronghold. And Wulf tried to look suitably chastened and something like cowed when the rest of the men fell into a loose, armed circle all around him. He tried.

But he found he couldn't quite wipe his smirk off his face.

He didn't let the bristling men on all sides of him keep him from casing the city, either. They marched him straight through the center of their compound as if it had never occurred to them that they were doing his reconnaissance for him. The king's personal stronghold stretched the length of the whole long gorge, from the heavy gates at one end to the mountain palace that he could see in the distance, sprawling there at the top. And then further on behind that, toward the hydraulic dam the king treated like his own personal property even though it was the main power source for most of the mainland, west and east alike.

King Athenian — the sickest of the douchebag western kings, according to all reports, who Wulf had every intention of killing with his own hands as painfully as possible for forcing him to make that fucking hideous ocean crossing alone — had chosen well. Though much of his territory was vast, high desert with no reasonable, defendable perimeters, his ancestors had built this personal, infinitely more defendable hideaway here in these mountains. The compound stretched along the shore of a skinny, currently half-frozen lake, in between towering, slick cliffs that looked forbidding and impassable. The compound meandered much the way the lake did, a clump of buildings here, then nothing but the wall of the mountain, a narrow path, and the frozen water of the lake. Then another plump, cozy little settlement when the gorge widened again. It would make it incredibly difficult to bring any kind of force through, because the king's army could bottleneck the attackers and hold them off at any one of the narrow passes.

Though incredibly difficult was not impossible, of course. Wulf had been pulling off incredibly difficult since he was barely more than a kid, including that time he'd deposed the former king of the raider clan when everyone claimed it couldn't be done — especially with Wulf's own evil bastard of a father as King Donovan's right-hand man — and taken the throne as his own.

That was twenty years ago. Wulf was a hell of a lot craftier now.

He marched on along the main road through the compound, surrounded by strutting, posturing douchebags and fucking guns everywhere. He ignored them. Though it was still afternoon and the weak winter sun was making its half-assed attempt to shine, lights blazed everywhere. In the cottages and higher up along the cliff walls in what he assumed were watchcaves and sniper perches. There were lights in the streets and along the narrow outer road that Wulf was marched along. Light everywhere. Light like it was free and abundant instead of the world's most coveted resource. Light like it was an afterthought while most of the world lived in the dark, with only the fires they cooked on to hold back the night.

It was a good reminder — not that Wulf needed one — of why he was here.

He'd come a long-ass way. He'd made it over the bitch sea that had tried to murder him more times than he could count, one killer squall and rough patch of swells after the next. He'd made it across the flat farmlands out by the port of Lincoln, where the bandits ruled, then onto the only remaining decent, paved highway that connected the Mississippi Sea to where the Pacific licked the shores of the Sierra Nevadas near Reno. He'd made it through asshole ground blizzards in Wyoming and a few pathetic attempts at attacks from highwaymen grown lean and weak over the course of the winter months in the foothills of the Rockies. He'd climbed over the mountains that led down into the church's protected valley in Utah, then had headed north and west on what they called the King's Highway, which was a piece of shit road designed to be a pain in a man's ass and a trial on his tires. But he'd pushed on up into these hills that perched on the northern edge of the Great Basin that was, as far as Wulf could tell, flat desert bullshit as far as the eye could see with a few sulky-looking mountains tossed in for no apparent reason.

And in all that traveling, hauling his ass around in sleek raider-built ships or the reconstituted all-terrain vehicles his blood brother Gunnar had made to purr or on his own two goddamned feet, there had been very little light. Watchfires high in the towers in the bandit-held port city of Lincoln, but none below. Cookfires in the tiny villages or packs of caravans cobbled together out in the darkness along the Eighty, trying to make it through another winter intact in whatever flimsy shelter they had. It was only when he'd come over those Utah mountains and seen down into the stretch of that famously church-owned valley that he'd seen light. Everywhere. Light to ward off the night, the rains, the long, slow winter. So much light it was hard to remember that the world had ended. That all these ruins and all these battles were just the few people who remained living through what was left.

Wulf had understood these fuckers, walled off in the western kingdoms and up their own asses, much better then. None of them felt the bite of winter here, not really. None of them suffered. Darkness was on the other side of their gates, out there in the contested provinces of the lawless eastern mainland and beyond. Darkness was a story they told, because even the shitty caravans at the foot of these mountains had light. Clean, sweet, electric light when the rest of the world did without.


(Continues...)

Excerpted from Edge of Power by Megan Crane. Copyright © 2017 Megan Crane. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Edge of Power: (Viking Dystopian Romance) 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
belllla More than 1 year ago
Edge of power is another book from Edge series and I anticipated to finally read it. But I was not blown away by it story. I have a feeling that was more just talking, discussing and staling. I missed action, missed Vikings possessiveness toward his mate. Characters were well developed. Kathlyn is interesting character and I didn’t completely understand all her actions especially at the ceremony and her wish to have it. I liked how she really saw Wulf for was he were, that she tried to protect him, that she did everything to have him. Wulf was true to himself with laziness and his way of twisting words had he hidden well his attentions. In a way I understood him, because he couldn’t let his Clan and all the plans that they made to run down the drain for some woman. Of course all the action between him and Kathlyn was hot and it was good to see that her love affected him so much that he had improved his physically condition by running every night. Great read. I volunteered to review an ARC of this book for Netgelly
Books6565 More than 1 year ago
I received an ARC for an honest review. I have been eagerly awaiting the book about Wulf ever since he made an appearance in the first book. He is such a charismatic character, I wondered who his leading lady would be. Kathlyn was definitely a match for him, not because she was physically strong but because she seemed to slip into his heart. He calls her the only soft thing in this world but that doesn't mean she is weak. She has been lost being under her father's tyrannical rule but she is strong and kind in her own way. You could feel how frustrated Wulf was as he was acting the decoy under King Athenian. This is not a standalone......the main arc from the last 3 books gets resolved in the Edge of Power with the other characters making an appearance. I'm not sure if this is the final book of the series but I have enjoyed this dystopian world. The 1st and thei last book has been my favorites.
TammyS32 More than 1 year ago
Lots of suspense and drama in this fast-paced read. I liked the characters as well as the story and Wulf and Kathlyn have great chemistry. It certainly can be read as a stand-alone but it is a good series.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
One of the best series I've read in a long time!! Sexy, fun, exciting! I am hoping for more!!
CathyGeha More than 1 year ago
Edge of Power by Megan Crane The Edge #4 Being king means you put the wellbeing of those you govern first. You do what must be done, even if it means pretending to hide your true strength, knowledge and abilities. And, that is just what Wulf, the Viking raider king, does to help win a huge battle for his clan and many others. Little did he know when he entered King Athenian’s stronghold that he would meet Kathlyn, Athenian’s daughter, and that the time he spends with her will change his life. Wulf is magnetic, charismatic, strong and lethal – he can also be tender and loving which I think surprised him a bit. Kathlyn, though a princess, has been abused, suffered and been fed doctrine that has made her compliant to customs that demean women – she is getting fed up but is not sure how to change things. This novel explains more of the beliefs, customs and activities of the world’s survivors. It tells of a wicked depraved king who puts himself and his desires before those of his people. It tells of the strength of a woman in the face of adversity and almost certain death. It shows what can happen if a group works for the good of more than just themselves. And, it provides an introduction for more books to be written in the series that may see raiders going out to explore the rest of the earth and perhaps link their clan with other surviving groups of humans. It is a bit more vanilla than previous books in this series but just as well written and perfect for the two people in the story. I can hardly wait to read book five in this series! I love this series and applaud the author for the complete detailed world she has created for her characters to live in. Each book has been wonderful in its own way and this one, though a bit tamer in some ways, was just as entertaining as the previous ones. Thank you to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for the ARC. This is my honest review. 4.5 Stars
asgoodrich More than 1 year ago
Outstanding addition to the Edge series! Wulf has been a mysterious character from the beginning and my fascination with him has only increased with each book. Needless to say, I could not wait to get my grabby hands on Edge of Power. And Crane did not disappoint as she weaved the tale of the Raider King, the Western Highland Princess, and a love that neither ever expected to find, let alone with each other. If you’ve read the series from the beginning – and I strongly recommend that you do because a major series arc comes to a head in Edge of Power – you know that while all the raiders in the brotherhood are fierce, there are none more so than Wulf, the Raider King. Which is precisely what makes his infiltration of King Athenian’s mountain compound so amusing because few men would walk right up to the front gate of the man who’s sent dozens of assassins to kill him. It also made being inside Wulf’s head riveting as he forced himself to tamp down his natural inclination to fight, as he forced himself to appear dimwitted, as he forced himself to bide his time and appear to play into the king’s games, and as he found someone who made him rethink is decision to live his life alone. As for that someone, watching Princess Kathlyn adapt to the new world she was thrust into as her blinders were ripped off and she began to see the darker side of the world she lived it was intriguing. That she was not nearly as pampered as one would expect a princess to be helped facilitate her growth and it enabled her to take hold of her own destiny, eschewing the rules of the “civilized” world in which she was raised, in order to claim the future she wanted for herself. There was so much about Edge of Power that I enjoyed, but I think the scene that had me enraptured was when Wulf shared with Kathlyn how he came to be the Raider King. Even knowing how violent raiders could be, I was stunned by the brutality of it, and it explained so much about Wulf and the bond he shared with Tyr. Also, I could not help but wonder if Eiryn was aware of the part their father played in it because she doesn’t strike me as someone who would back that kind of move. However, what absolutely shocked me was the twist I did not see coming when the raiders descended upon King Athenian’s compound. I wasn’t surprised that the cowardly king attempted to hide and that several of his men laid down their weapons in surrender, not willing to die for the tyrant. I was surprised by who betrayed him and why. My only complaint about the book is that we didn’t get to see Lorna get her comeuppance, but I’m petty that way. The ending of Edge of Power was perfect because Crane wrote it in such a way that it can serve as the series end or set the stage for another installment – I know which one I’m hoping for because I would love to return to The Edge. I received a free copy of this book to read and review for Wicked Reads.