Every night, seventeen-year-old Arun climbs above the mud and grime of the streets into the Grand Hotels to steal the foreigners’ gold. Her gang is her family, and she follows the old philosophies that say serving one’s family is more important than any laws.
When her cousin, Jaruk, is one of several boys kidnapped by a Grand Duke as part of a plot to put a fake prince on the throne, her loyalties are torn. Although gang rules forbid her from meddling with nobility or politics, she can’t abandon him to the duke’s schemes. Arun loves him like a little brother, and the duke is torturing the boys in his attempts to recreate the long dead royal family’s magic. But what the gang doesn’t know, they can’t punish. Sneaking behind their backs, she steals and trades for information she needs to break Jaruk out of the duke’s guarded mansion.
Taking Jaruk back isn’t enough to keep him safe. He knows too much for the duke to let him go, and there will be nowhere to hide when the duke’s “prince” controls the country. To protect Jaruk, Arun must outwit the duke and discredit his prince. That means creating her own more convincing fake heir, a con too high-profile to hide. Saving Jaruk will not only bring dishonor to her family, but it will be the end of her place in the gang.
THE FIRST LAW OF LOYALTY is a YA fantasy set in a world inspired East Asia in the late 1800s, complete at 99,000 words. It will appeal to fans of Marie Lu's The Young Elites and Alison Goodman's Eona.
I am a former ESL teacher, who spent two years teaching English in South Korea to elementary school children, and avid traveler. I currently live in my hometown, Boston, until my wanderlust strikes again.
Thank you for your time and consideration.
I would've rather been with my brothers, slinking through darkened hallways and snatching treasures from empty rooms. Instead, I sat at the back bar of a dockside inn. The stench of booze and sweat strangled me, the pressing heat like chains. Through the smoky haze, I stole glances at the unfortunate pair of foreign sailors beside me, their misfortune being they were idiots about to lose a bunch of money. At least, that was the plan.
They watched my accomplice, Petch, move three cards in circles on the bar top. Their thick, hairy arms folded across their chests gave them an intimidating edge, but the ignorance plastered on their pale faces indicated they'd make fine marks.
Petch stopped shuffling the cards. "Which one is the queen?" he shouted. The din of the off-key piano and the men bellowing along nearly swallowed his words. I placed a silver coin on the middle card. He flipped it, showing me the face of our country's first queen. Black smudged the edge of her gold headdress. I sent a silent apology her way for Petch shoving her face into the bar’s grime like that.
Petch pushed me two silver coins. Now came the part where I persuaded these sailors to throw money at the game, and therefore convinced Boss Suttirat I wasn't a completely incompetent con artist.
"You look intrigued." I turned to the sailors, tried to make my voice feathery and cute—not so easy with all the noise.