NIGHTS OF NAEL
Neena always longed to travel the world, but her sudden ascension to the throne of her jungle nation, Natalat, makes that impossible. Not only does she have to give up her dreams of freedom, she feels pressure to participate in a ritual, Nael, that will give her a child and cement diplomatic ties. Motherhood is the highest station in her matriarchal culture, but it could only further complicate Neena’s upended life. With the pressures of her government and the memory of the late queen who raised her weighing on her, Neena agrees to participate but is determined to skirt the rules of the ritual.
As she gets to know the three men chosen for her from the diverse nations in the Nael alliance, she begins to realize that her plan may not be as easy as she thought. Each representative has attractions and secrets of their own, along with clashing cultural practices. The tentative balance Neena hopes to strike between duty and her own desires is threatened when her mentor and advisor unexpectedly dies, and she receives reports that the mysterious drought threatening her people’s wellbeing and way of life has worsened. Neena’s missteps put her throne at risk when members of the Natal government doubt her leadership. Hidden motives, betrayals, and secrets come to light, and Neena finds that motherhood is no longer her biggest concern.