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Born of Fire

Born of Fire

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Audiobook narrated by Gabra Zackman. Listen to a sample:

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5x8 paperback

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tropes 'n details

  • fire magi
  • sweet romance
  • action & adventure
  • set in Italy
  • coming of age
  • includes a bonus novella


Stepping into her destiny comes with a price she never expected.

Saxony Cagney counts herself lucky when she wins a position as an au pair in Venice for the summer. It’s her responsibility to take care of two young boys - speak to them in English, make sure they get to their swimming lessons on time. Piece of cake, right?

She unexpectedly forms a strong bond with the youngest boy–Isaia. She also meets two Italian men… both are smart, successful, sexy. So far things are going her way. Who doesn’t like options?

When she discovers Isaia is actually dying, and his mom is trying to keep it a secret from his dad, things get a violent shove into complicated…

And then contagious––She’ll never be the same again.

Just when she’s got more on her plate than she can handle, she accidentally gets tangled up with the most powerful crime family in Venice.

Will Saxony survive long enough to learn the secrets of her new abilities, or will they kill her?

Born of Fire can be enjoyed as a standalone, but is also the second book in The Elemental Origins, a series of captivating nonlinear YA urban fantasy novels. Welcome to the world of fire magi, where what doesn’t kill you (literally) makes you stronger. 

Intro to Chapter One

Six-year-old boys were not supposed to look like they were four. They were not supposed to have pain-filled eyes. They were not supposed to have dry, pale skin. They were not supposed to have thinning hair or bald patches, limp limbs and a protruding spine. They were not supposed to have purple smudges under their eyes. Isaia had all of these things. I'm no expert, but I knew enough to spot a sick kid when I see one, and Isaia was one sick kid.

My stomach had yet to settle fully and my eyes felt full of sand, but the jet-lag fell away as Isaia approached, carried like a toddler in his father's arms. My mind flashed back to the welcome letter I'd received about my host family and their sons. Cristiano Baseggio, nine, a soccer fiend with a talent for mathematics. Isaia Baseggio, six, a sweet, shy kid with a fondness for bedtime stories and Lego. Definitely no mention of illness. Why hadn't they told me that one of the kids in my care for the summer wasn't well? 

My indignation went up in smoke when Isaia turned and his eyes caught mine. My breath hitched as our gazes locked. His eyes were black as coal and grabbed me as fiercely as two desperate fists at my collar.

Pietro's head bent toward Isaia and he kissed his son's patchy blond crown. The tender love the father expressed was heart-meltingly beautiful. 

"Sweetheart, can you greet your au pair?" His mother, Elda, sat beside me on their couch. She had a soft accent, an even softer voice, and tired eyes.

Isaia—whose gaze had not unlocked from mine—held out a hand toward me. He leaned out of his father's arms. "Madonna," said Pietro, when he realized that his son was reaching for me.

As a reflex, I held out my arms and the boy leaned so far that Pietro had no choice but to hand him to me. My heart puddled as the tiny, warm frame settled into my lap. He put his head against my shoulder the way it had been against Pietro's, and his small hand touched my cheek before he tucked it under his chin.

My heart pounded. "Hello, Isaia," I said quietly, feeling anything but quiet inside. Questions flooded my brain, but for once they jammed up behind my teeth instead of leaping out of my mouth. Goosebumps swept my forearms. Isaia was hot and limp in my arms, like a warm sack of bones.

Elda and Pietro's faces were slack with shock. Elda had a palm on either side of her face, the whites of her eyes visible. 

I looked from one to the other. "Does he do this with everyone?" 

"On the contrary," said Elda. "He doesn't let anyone touch him aside from family." She spoke to Pietro in awed Italian and he sat down on the stool beside her and spoke back, sounding just as amazed. 

Isaia looked up at me and the suffering in his black eyes clamped like a vise around my heart. My throat constricted. What was he suffering from? Why had he reached for me? A stranger. And what had this little guy done to me? I had never had an attachment to a child form so quickly before. Emotion roiled under the surface and I worked to swallow it down. I was probably just exhausted and jet-lagged, just overreacting. I realized Elda and Pietro were staring. The silence in the room felt crushing. 

"I think we're going to get along just fine, don't you?" I asked Isaia.

Elda cleared her throat awkwardly and I looked up.

"Isaia doesn't speak," said Pietro.

"Oh!" I couldn't hide my surprise. He was mute? Another significant fact they'd left off the briefing. It occurred to me that I could complain to the placement agency about being misled. But as Isaia melted against me and  as I looked from one embarrassed parent to another, I pushed the notion away. 

"At least, not anymore," Pietro added.

Elda cast her eyes downward. 

"He used to speak?" This was only getting stranger. "What happened?"

Pietro scratched his head. "We don't know. Doctors can't explain it. We've taken him to see three different specialists." He shrugged. "He has never been strong since birth but he used to speak perfectly well. Then one day," he snapped his fingers and made a dry pop. "He just stopped."

Elda kept her eyes on the floor. Was it me or her husband that she was avoiding eye contact with?

"When did that happen?" I put my hand against Isaia's back, feeling the hot, bumpy spine under my palm.

"He was three?" Pietro looked to his wife for confirmation. 

"Three and a half," Elda answered. Her gaze flicked to mine but not to her husband's. I had the strangest sensation that she knew something about the boy's condition that her husband didn't know. I shoved the ridiculous thought aside. I only just arrived and I was already making assumptions about their family dynamics. 

"The best thing for him," Elda continued as her brown eyes locked on mine, "is to make sure he drinks a lot of water. He's prone to rapid dehydration. I cannot impress this upon you enough. Otherwise, he's pretty low maintenance. More than you would expect from looking at him." Was her expression apologetic?

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