Hi, Everyone The Family Secret has a rather complex place in the developing story arc. Basically, it fits into a subseries that starts with The Family Shame (which kicks off immediately after the first three Zero books) and carries on, to some extent, through The Family Pride and The Family Name. If you don’t want to read those books - can offer copies for people who read and comment on this book - all you really need to know is that Isabella Ruben was branded a traitor and sent into exile, found a new place for herself at Kirkhaven Hall, was tempted with the prospect of family power ... and chose to return to Kirkhaven, with her fiancé, rather than try to make a bid for power herself after her father’s death. Right now, Isabella is on the way home, unaware that the events of The Zero Secret are about to cast a long shadow over her new home. (I’ve posted a longer outline at the front of the book.) The Zero Blessing, the first book in the series, is on Kindle Unlimited - https://www.azonlinks.com/B06XPXGHKV As always, comments, corrections and suchlike are warmly welcomed. I’ve been working on expanding my list of ways for people to follow me. Please click on the link to sign up for my mailing list, newsletter and much - much - more. How To Follow Thank you Chris PS - OUT NOW – Cast Adrift (Cast Adrift I) Historian’s Note The Thousand-Year Empire dominated the twin continents of Maxima and Minima through two advantages, an unmatched command of magic and the development of Objects of Power, magical weapons and tools that made them seemingly invincible. But the Empire fell and the secret of making Objects of Power was lost. Hundreds of years later, a young girl - Caitlyn Aguirre - was born to a powerful magical family. Caitlyn - Cat - should have been powerful herself, like her two sisters, but she seemed to have no spark of magic at all. She lacked even a sense for magic. In desperation, her parents sent her to Jude’s in the hopes that exposure to magical training would bring forth the magic they were sure lay buried within her. There, she met Isabella and Akin Rubén, children of her family’s greatest enemy. Isabella became her rival, while she formed a tentative friendship with Akin. Cat developed no magic, but she discovered something else. Uniquely, as far as anyone could tell, she had no magic at all. She eventually discovered that a complete lack of magic was necessary for forging Objects of Power. Far from being useless, her talent made her extremely valuable and utterly irreplaceable. As far as anyone could tell, Cat was the only true ‘Zero’ known to exist. This led to her - and her friends, Akin and Rose - being kidnapped, then targeted by Crown Prince Henry and Stregheria Aguirre, Cat’s Great Aunt, when they launched a coup against the Great Houses and the King himself. Their subversions - which turned Isabella against her family - nearly led to complete disaster ... and perhaps would have done, if Cat and Akin hadn’t become friends. In the aftermath, Cat proposed that she and Akin should be betrothed, creating a marriage bond between their families and making it impossible, at least for the next few years, for the two houses to come to blows. This was - reluctantly - accepted, with the proviso that either Cat or Akin could refute the agreement if they wished, when they came of age. Cat left Jude’s to found her own school, where other Zeroes - when they were found - would be taught. Meanwhile, the Great Houses had to deal with the repercussions of the attempted coup and the sudden shift in the balance of power. Isabella Rubén, condemned as a traitor, was exiled to Kirkhaven Hall, where she discovered a secret her family had sought to bury ... and a new secret, one of her own. Others took advantage of the chaos to stake a claim to power themselves, plots that were only foiled through sheer luck and outside intervention. The city remained unstable ... Six years passed, slowly. Akin Rubén went back to school for his final year, to discover - thanks to his father - that he had to compete in the Challenge, a contest to find the ‘Wizard Regnant.’ Reluctantly, Akin complied, forming a team consisting of his cousin Francis and a handful of misfits, including merchant’s daughter Louise Herdsman and Saline Califon, a distant relative who was under a spell cast by her wicked uncle. Despite Francis’s betrayal - the work of Malachi Rubén, a shadowy figure from the family’s past - Akin managed to realise the true nature of the Challenge and forge a last minute alliance with Alana Aguirre, Cat’s sister, that allowed them to share the victory. This did not please everyone, most notably Adam Mortimer. Disgusted with the Great Houses, and uneasily aware his city was on the brink of exploding into class war, Adam joined the Kingsmen and became instrumental in stopping a plot to use Infernal Devices to trigger the war. However, he was unable to prevent the plotters from damaging the city’s harmony and far too many innocents wound up paying the price. One of them was Lucy Lamplighter, who inherited House Lamplighter after her father was killed in a detonation and discovered, the hard way, that her family was effectively bankrupt. Embarking on a desperate scheme to rebuild the family fortune, Lucy found herself tangled in a complex web of blackmail spun by Malachi Rubén and was forced to kill him in order to save her life and reputation. Unknown to Lucy, this accidentally upended plans by Stephen Rubén to break the alliance between House Rubén and House Aguirre. Discovering that Isabella Rubén had forged a relationship with Callam - the only other known Zero - Stephen mounted a plan to bring her back to the city, make her Heir Primus of House Rubén and shatter the alliance once and for all. Unfortunately for him, Isabella had come to realise she didn’t want the post and intended to return to Kirkhaven as soon as possible. Undaunted, Stephen mounted a coup in a final desperate attempt to stop the alliance. The coup failed, but claimed the life of Lord Carioca Rubén - Akin and Isabella’s father. Akin, now Patriarch, took control of the family and promised the alliance would remain intact. However, events got in the way. Cat was asked, by her old tutor, to return to the Eternal City to investigate strange energies emitting from the ruins. There, she clashed with hidden warlocks and discovered both a flying city and a dark truth about their world. The magic field, the source of all power, is growing stronger ... ... And, right across the world, people are starting to notice.