Book Spotlight: Dancing with the Lion: Becoming by Jeanne Reames

Dancing with the Lion: Becoming
(Dancing with the Lion #1)
by Jeanne Reames
Date Released: July 1, 2019

About Dancing with the Lion
Two boys, one heroic bond, and the molding of Greece’s greatest son.

Before he became known as Alexander the Great, he was Alexandros, the teenage son of the king of Makedon. Rather than living a life of luxury, as prince he has to be better and learn faster than his peers, tackling problems without any help. One such problem involves his increasingly complicated feelings for his new companion, Hephaistion. 

When Alexandros and Hephaistion go to study under the philosopher Aristoteles, their evolving relationship becomes even harder to navigate. Strength, competition, and status define one’s fate in their world—a world that seems to have little room for the tenderness growing between them. 

Alexandros is expected to command, not to crave the warmth of friendship with an equal. In a kingdom where his shrewd mother and sister are deemed inferior for their sex, and his love for Hephaistion could be seen as submission to an older boy, Alexandros longs to be a human being when everyone but Hephaistion just wants him to be a king.


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An Excerpt from Dancing with the Lion: Becoming
A few turns around the yard had Boukephalas loose and warm. Sliding off his back, Alexandros tossed the reins over a fence rail—Boukephalas was trained not to wander—then went inside to collect the blanket and rope he’d brought.

Throwing the blanket over a rail, he dropped the coiled rope in the middle of the yard, then went back to lead Boukephalas towards it. As before, the horse sidled away, but gripping his bridle and coaxing, Alexandros convinced him to step over it. Eyes wide and nostrils flared, Boukephalas obeyed. He was beautiful all alert and aquiver, high-stepping with his thick tail flagged up.

With the rope behind them, Alexandros hugged his neck, stroking and praising him, then set his forehead to the stallion’s nose. Boukephalas blew softly, as he might with another horse in the field: sharing breath. Alexandros considered it an honor and sign of trust to be treated like a small, hairless horse.

After a moment of companionable silence, he turned the stallion about and they practiced walking over the rope a few more times until Boukephalas didn’t even flinch.

“He’s ready now to do it with you on his back.”

Alexandros spun. Hephaistion was leaning on the fence, watching. The morning sun made hollows beneath his cheekbones. “How do you know?” Alexandros asked.

Hephaistion didn’t answer. Instead, he pushed himself away from the fence to open the gate and saunter in. He moved like a dancer, or a horseman, and Alexandros was reminded who his father was. Son of Amyntor, of course Hephaistion knew horses and their training.

Crossing the yard to join them, he nodded to Alexandros, then to the stallion. “Khaire, o kalÄ“,” he said, pausing a few steps away to meet the animal’s eye, hands loose at his sides. “Khaire. Will you let me pat you? Will you?”

Boukephalas watched suspiciously but didn’t move back or attempt to nip, so Hephaistion came closer, keeping his movements smooth and himself to the side in the horse’s field of vision. After a moment, Boukephalas lowered his head and let Hephaistion stroke his neck whilst Hephaistion kept up a stream of low-voiced nonsense.

Alexandros was impressed despite himself. Few men could get on the stallion’s good side that fast and without treats.

“Is this the horse you gentled last summer?” Hephaistion asked. He must have heard the story; everyone, it seemed, had heard the story.

“Yes.”

“What was he shying at?”

“His shadow.”

Hephaistion had been watching the horse, but now glanced around at Alexandros. “What’d you do?”

“Turned him shoulder out and boxed him with my legs to keep him from jumping sideways.”

“Good.”

Alexandros bristled. “At the time, it wasn’t so easy to figure out. My father’s grooms aren’t fools.”

“I’d assume not. But they were probably too busy trying to keep his head down to notice what he was reacting to. Was he green broke?”

His assessment of the grooms was correct, and Alexandros backed off. “Not green broke, no. Well-trained, just badly handled since.” He changed the subject. “Where’s your horse?”

“In the stable. We went out early. I just finished grooming him and saw you as I was leaving.” He turned back to the stallion, who’d gone from suspicious to complacent, nosing the ground for stray grass, tail swishing. The flies were bad; Alexandros slapped one away from his shoulder.

“The stable boys can groom your horse, you know,” Alexandros said.

“Do the stable boys groom Boukephalas?”

“Of course not!”

“Mmm.” Hephaistion smiled slightly, still stroking the dark neck. “Did you ever get that mirror?”

The mirror. In the ruckus of his hunt, Alexandros had forgotten, but didn’t want to admit as much. “I decided it’s not worth it.”

Hephaistion shrugged. “Your choice.”

Well, that spoke volumes. “Look, I’m sorry I left you holding the net yesterday, but my father decided to take me for my boar. I didn’t know about it myself till they dragged me out of bed, then had no time to send you word.”

He paused. Expression inscrutable, Hephaistion waited. His irises were so dark, the pupils were nearly invisible.

“I would’ve sent a message later, but I just forgot. I’m sorry.” Alexandros shut his mouth. He’d said too much; he always said too much. His father told him he chattered like a magpie.

After a moment, Hephaistion shrugged again. “I did figure out about the boar, you know.” His tone was wry, and Alexandros realized he wasn’t angry. It didn’t matter enough to him to be angry.

Embarrassed for making so much of it, Alexandros kicked hard at the dirt. “Why didn’t you come to my banquet, then?”

“No one asked me.”

“You didn’t need an invitation! All my friends were invited. Koinos should have told you; I’ll have to yell at him.”

Raising both hands, Hephaistion said, “No, please; it’s all right. He probably assumed I knew.”

“It’s not all right—” Alexandros began, then stopped, narrowing eyes. “But I won’t say anything to Koinos if you’d rather I not. I don’t suppose I should anyway. In a week, I’ll be in the Pages and he’ll outrank me; it shouldn’t look as if I’m pushing my place.”

“That wouldn’t be politic,” Hephaistion agreed. “But tell me, is it true you ran towards the boar?”

Blushing, Alexandros returned his attention to the horse, smoothing hands absently over the coat. “Well, it would’ve got away if I hadn’t. But I can see now how dumb that was.”

“I’d say so!” Hephaistion was laughing, and startled, Alexandros glanced around. He hadn’t expected agreement. It wasn’t polite, but he’d gathered Hephaistion and politeness were nodding acquaintances at best. On the one hand, the older boy wore an aura of mystery like a Seer wore a white cloak, but on the other, he said what he thought—or said nothing—and Alexandros suspected he’d found someone fundamentally reliable. He tried to guess the thoughts behind those black eyes, but this time, Hephaistion looked away first, gesturing to the blanket on the fence. “Were you planning to use that next?”

“I need to ride him over the rope first.”

“Yes, of course. I meant when you’re done. Shall I flap it so you can stay up near his head?”

“That’d be good. That way I won’t have to borrow one of the stable boys. Horsemaster doesn’t like it when I do.”

Their eyes met again, but once more, Hephaistion glanced away first. Maybe he wasn’t as self-controlled as he wanted to appear.

“The cot by mine is empty still,” Hephaistion blurted, diction precise. Alexandros recognized it now for shyness, not hauteur. “If you’d like, I’ll hold it for you. I doubt anybody will be joining before you, but just in case, I’ll hold it.” He paused a heartbeat, then amended, “Will you be staying in the dormitory?”

“I will. And yes, I’d like that. Thanks.” Alexandros mounted Boukephalas. “By the way, I spoke to my father about having you at Mieza. He said it’d be all right.”

Nodding, Hephaistion smiled briefly before his face returned to its habitual mask, then he nodded towards the center of the yard where the rope waited. “Let’s get to work.”


About the Dancing with the Lion series
Alexandros is expected to command, not to crave the warmth of friendship with an equal. In a kingdom where his shrewd mother and sister are deemed inferior for their sex, and his love for Hephaistion could be seen as submission to an older boy, Alexandros longs to be a human being when everyone but Hephaistion just wants him to be a king.

Learn more about the Dancing with the Lion series on Riptide Publishing.


A Note from Jeanne Reames
XairÄ“! That’s ancient Greek for “Howdy.” [KHAI-rae]

Welcome to my blog tour for Becoming, Book 1 of the Dancing with the Lion duology, about the young Alexander before he became “the Great.” It’s an historical coming-of-age tale with a love story embedded.

Best known for conquering most of his known world before the ripe old age of 33, Alexander made even Julius Caesar weep (for not being him). But who was he before his meteoric rise? And how did his best friend and lover, Hephaistion, give him the emotional support needed for him to become Megalexandros (the Great Alexander)?

Dancing with the Lion Website:
Contains everything from cut scenes, to videoblogs of Macedonia (Northern Greece, where Alexander grew up), to audio pronunciations of those weird Greek names! Visit here: https://jeannereames.net/Dancing_with_the_Lion/DwtL.html

For our GIVEAWAY, I’m going to offer something a bit different. Yes, there’s a $10 gift certificate from Riptide Publishers. BUT, for the lucky winner, you get your very own scene request.

Want to see a scene in the novel from a different character’s point-of-view? Want to know what happened after a scene ended, or before it began? Or is there something you’d like to see that wasn’t in the novel? Ask for it! I’ll write it just for you.


About Jeanne Reames
Jeanne Reames has been scribbling fiction since 6th grade, when her “write a sentence with this vocabulary word” turned into paragraphs, then into stories…and her teacher let her get away with it—even encouraged her! But she wears a few other hats, too, including history professor, graduate program chair, and director of the Ancient Mediterranean Studies Program at her university. She’s written academic articles about Alexander and ancient Macedonia, and does her best to interest undergrads in Greek history by teaching them (et al.) to swear in ancient Greek.

Connect with Jeanne


Giveaway
To celebrate this release, one lucky person will win a $10 Riptide credit and a very special bonus scene of their request, written by the author! Content is subject to the author’s approval. Each tour stop is a chance to enter by leaving a comment below. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on June 6, 2019. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Thanks for following along, and don’t forget to leave your contact info! 

Follow the Dancing with the Lion: Becoming blog tour.


Comments

  1. Thanks for the excerpt!
    jlshannon74 at gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  2. Super exciting! I've been enjoying reading this between thesis writing :D

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks. Thesis writing is important. (Such a professorial thing to say, I know...)

      Delete

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