March 16, 2015

Suped Feature: Dissident by Cecilia London

Bellator Saga 1
Cecilia London
Sci-Fi | Fantasy
March 17, 2015

She once was important. Now she’s considered dangerous.

In a new America where almost no one can be trusted, Caroline lies unconscious in a government hospital as others decide her fate. She is a political dissident, wanted for questioning by a brutal regime that has come to power in a shockingly easy way. As she recovers from her injuries, all she has are her memories. And once she wakes up, they may not matter anymore.

Part One of a Six Part Series. Each part is a full length novel between 60,000-120,000 words and ends in a cliffhanger. For readers 18+. This saga contains adult situations, including non-gratuitous violence, explicit (consensual) sex, psychological and physical trauma, and an oftentimes dark and gritty plot (particularly in part two).

Dissident Is...

I suppose it's a bit of dystopian political thriller, somewhat along the lines of It Can't Happen Here by Sinclair Lewis, which was set in the 1940s but has some similar themes. I don't really give dates in the book(s), but it is safe to assume that the time period in which the books are set is an alternate present/near future, since the main characters are assumed to have been born in the 1960s and 1970s.

For a bit of background (without giving too much of the plot away)....DISSIDENT is mostly set in the hospital, with two secondary characters and the heroine, Caroline, who is essentially in a medically induced coma. The secondary characters provide us with a bit of background on the current political climate, but bits and pieces are leaked, and it isn't until part two that we see through flashbacks exactly how the totalitarian regime came into power. And that might even be a bit of a descriptive stretch; I designed the world in which this takes place to be one that could realistically happen. In other words, our society is at such a point that terrible things could start to happen and no one would really notice.

So, that's the "present" of Bellator Saga....and that is where the first book starts. I'd love to give away more of the details, but so much of it comes in future books that I don't want to give it away.

However...I realized when I first started writing Bellator Saga that the dystopia really ends up serving as a backdrop for the relationship between the two characters. They start out as friends, then lovers, then of course they have a hitch in the road but end up working things out. So, much of the series takes place after they are married. I fully intended to make the political regime a larger part of the book (and it is, of course, because we don't get our HEA until that issue is resolved), but it is a character driven saga, as opposed to plot driven. If that makes sense.

There are things that happen to Caroline that (I assume) are not in the mind of the reader. For example, the heroine may be led to believe that people are dead or gone when in fact they are not (although I don't know...I may just be too observant when it comes to these things, because some of my beta readers have been shocked by endings when I thought it was fairly obvious. But I guess I'm writing the things so, I'd better know! :)

Bellator Saga has a complete story arc, and each book has its own distinct plot. The first two books, DISSIDENT and Conscience feature flashbacks in chronological order, to help explain the backstory to the reader. The next four books have flashbacks that are triggered by the heroine's memories or other outside influences. Mostly just because I wanted to put a lot of sex in the book, LOL. A lot of the flashbacks are sex. ;)

They had been dragging themselves through the woods for hours, with him holding the flashlight and leading the way, and her faltering through the ice and snow trying to keep his pace. They moved slowly, their injuries hindering their flight. The forest was thick and foreboding and the biting winter wind whistled through the branches in the trees, cutting them to the core. They listened for the sound of flowing water in the hope that the Allegheny River was no longer frozen over and they could follow it up to New York.
They knew their odds were long but held out faith that despite the blustering wind and bitter cold, they could somehow find a way to Buffalo. The Canadian border. Their last, best chance at safety.
The flashlight began to flicker and the man knew that the batteries would only last them so much longer. It had been snowing earlier in the night, but the clouds had been carried away by the wind and the flashlight was supplemented by the glow of the winter moon.  He turned the flashlight off and his wife tumbled into him.
“Jack, why did you do that?” It was hard for her to stay upright without her momentum to keep her going, and even harder to follow him without the artificial light.
“The flashlight’s getting low and the moon is relatively bright. We should conserve the batteries. Do you need to rest?” he asked, knowing the answer was yes.
“No,” she lied. “Let’s keep going.”
He put the flashlight in his coat pocket, feeling it bump up against the gun he had concealed there. He put his arm around her waist and hoisted her up.
“Let’s go,” he said, as he kept his arm around her to steady her as she walked.
Their pace continued to slow until they were hardly moving at all. He could see her grimacing with every step, could hear her labored breathing, and he knew that she was much more seriously injured than she was letting on. Although he himself was in pain he did his best to keep them both going. His ankle was sprained and the weight of two people upon it was almost too much for him to bear. But they couldn’t stop.
He saw a clearing up ahead and knew they were nearing a road. But that wasn’t what they wanted. Roads meant people and people meant danger. Almost no one could be trusted. The soldiers who had run their car off the road were biding their time, waiting, until the moment was right to come after them again.
The two of them weren’t about to make themselves easy prey by following a path trod by others. Their footsteps were not hard to trace because of the snow, but it was better than being out in the open. No, the river was their best bet, their least dangerous path north.
He turned sharply and started to steer them both away from the road, as close to a westerly direction as he could manage. He was a suburban Philly boy and could only depend on his poor instincts to guide him.
“What are you doing?” she asked.
“We need to find the river, Caroline. There’s a road up ahead and we have to avoid it.”
The woods grew hilly and she began to struggle. He was practically carrying her as they made their way up an incline and he knew he wouldn’t be able to support her much longer.  Suddenly she broke free of him and lurched into a nearby tree, sinking to the ground.
She pulled off her earmuffs and loosened her scarf with difficulty, her back to the tree. He could tell she was in tremendous pain and knelt down in the snow beside her.
“Sweetheart, we have to keep going,” he said.
Her face was windswept and her eyes were red.  She was sweating in spite of the cold and he could practically hear her heart beating out of her chest.
“Jack, I can’t do this. I’m too tired. I can’t breathe.”
“Yes, you can. We can keep going. I’ll help.”
“You can’t help. You can barely walk while you’re lugging me along.” She began to cry.
He wiped away some of her tears with his gloved hand. “We’ll stop for a minute, all right? Then we’ll start again.”
She closed her eyes and tried to breathe. The tears coursed silently down her face. He let her rest, hoping that she would then tell him they could move on even though they really had no time to waste. She opened her eyes a few moments later and looked at him. His breath caught in his throat. Her brown eyes, which had once been so warm, confident, and loving, were now laced with a fear he’d never seen before.
“You have to go,” she said. “Now.”
We have to go,” he corrected her.
“No. You.”
“No.” He looked at her incredulously. “We.”
“You have to go, Jack. It’s the only way.”
His mind started racing. He couldn’t wrap his head around what she was suggesting.
“No. I’m not leaving you here.”
She closed her eyes again. The wetness on her face was beginning to freeze in place. Her voice broke.
“Tell my girls how much I love them.” She stifled a sob. “Tell them I’m sorry.”
Her children. Their children. Who were hopefully already in Canada.
“This is absurd, Caroline. I’m not leaving you here alone. Are you insane? We’re wasting time.”
“You can move ten times faster without me. You know I’m right.”
Hot, angry tears pricked his eyes. “I’m not leaving you, sweetheart. There has to be another way.”
“This is the only way and you know it.” She took her left glove off and traced his lips with her bare fingers. “My darling. My Monty. I love you so.”
He kissed her fingers and wrapped them in his, trying to warm them. “I’m not leaving you,” he repeated.
Her voice was weak, but firm. “This is bigger than us. You have to go. Get to Canada. Share that information. Stop Santos. Don’t let all our sacrifices be for nothing.”
“I love you.” He took off his gloves and began to caress her face with his bare hands. “I’m not leaving you.”
“Listen to me. You are going to go. You are going to get to Canada. You are going to get this flash drive to people who can do something with it. Please, Jack. Please do this for me.”
He was adamant. “I am not leaving you here!”
“You are. You need to go. They will find us soon and they’ll find us even sooner if we’re moving together.” She tried to straighten up, using the tree for support. “If you don’t leave, I swear to God I will never forgive you. I mean it. There is no point in both of us getting captured or worse. Please. Do this for me.”
He kissed her forehead, still cradling her face in his hands, and the tears in his eyes spilled over. “Don’t make me do this. I can’t. I won’t leave you.”
“Go,” she whispered. “Go before they catch up with us.”
She removed the glove from her right hand and began to slip her wedding rings off her left ring finger. Her large diamond and sapphire engagement ring glistened in the moonlight. She’d thought it was gaudy when he’d first given it to her, and the media had loved speculating about how much it must have cost. But she’d grown accustomed to it. Aside from its sentimental value, it was now almost worthless in the fragile American economy.
She fumbled through the simple task, her hands numbed by the cold. She placed the rings in Jack’s hand and wiped the tears from his face. He searched her eyes for an explanation.
“They’re no good to me out here,” she said. “Take them. They belong to you. I don’t want those bastards to have them.” She closed her eyes and began to nod off.
Jack grabbed her chin, desperate to keep her awake. “Stay with me, Caroline. We can do this.”
“Go now.” Her voice was fading. “Be safe. Be strong.”
Jack brought his lips to hers and kissed her hard, wanting it to last, wanting to breathe life into her, to give her the strength to keep going. He gripped her rings tightly in his fist. The prongs from the engagement ring were prodding into his ice cold palm, but he was oblivious to the pain they caused. He didn’t want to break the connection between them. Caroline brought her hands up to his stocking cap, drew it off, and ran her fingers through his hair. He pulled back, his lips close to hers.
They heard a rustling in the distance and Jack turned his head, not sure of what he would find. He half hoped that a deer would come gliding through the trees but he knew that would be too good to be true. Their luck had run out too many times. Caroline squeezed his hand, the one with the rings in it.
“Go, Jack. They’re coming. Go.”
He pressed his lips to hers again, a long, frantic kiss. She pushed him away and reached into her coat pocket, pulling out her Glock and an extra magazine. “Take these. You might need them.”
Jack dropped the rings into one of the interior pockets of his coat, and heard them clink against the box containing the flash drive he was hiding. He put the gun and magazine in his outer coat pocket and leaned down to kiss her cheek. She very clumsily put his stocking cap back on his head and stroked his face, wiping away the wetness there.
“I will always be with you,” she whispered, so softly he could barely hear her.
He took in a sharp, painful breath and put his gloves back on. The night air was freezing. “I will come back for you, Caroline. Understand? I promise I will come back. I’m not giving up. I will find someone we can trust and I will come back.”
She smiled and closed her eyes.
He heard the rustling getting closer. There was almost no way that noise was an animal. And he knew he had only one choice.
He ran.

Cecilia London is my pen name. I am a native Midwesterner who never thought I'd end up in Texas and yet here I am, determined to help Keep San Antonio Lame. I have been known to dabble in the practice of law. I can apply Simpsons quotes to everyday life, and I live for baseball season. I've been writing off and on since I was a kid, but never really thought I’d have any idea that could turn into a single novel, let alone a series. There aren't many books about how dystopias/totalitarian political regimes come into existence, and I wanted to touch upon that topic while still maintaining a primary focus on the epic romance. Dissident is my first published novel.

Follow Cecilia
@authorclondon | Facebook | Website


  1. Dissident sounds great! Thanks for sharing the guest post and excerpt, Braine. ;)

  2. This sounds really interesting and I love that it has a mix genre thing going on for it.

    1. That's rare. Most books slide thru genre boundaries too easily

  3. Hadn't heard of this one before, it sounds interesting :)

  4. This one sounds like an ice-cream sundae tastes, lol :) Mewants!!! A really good post, thanks Braine <3

  5. This sounds like a read that will miss with your head and one that is full of twists and turns.

  6. Interesting! I've recently come to appreciate dystopian themed books. Sounds like a possibility.

  7. I love that cover! I'm definitely interested. A year ago I wouldn't give a Sci-Fi a chance, but after Red Rising I'm open to this genre :)
    Thanks for sharing!

  8. haven't read a good dystopian story and a good while and this sounds good :) I love the political aspect of the story

    1. Political conflict is the heart of dystopian IMO. If it's not strong then it won't be as good.

  9. I love that cover! I'm definitely interested. A year ago I wouldn't give a Sci-Fi a chance, but after Red Rising I'm open to this genre :)
    Thanks for sharing!

  10. Dissident sounds great. I love a good dystopian but like that this also focuses on the characters and their relationship.

  11. Ah love the mix of genre in this one! I didn't know about it but the period is also intriguing. Thanks for sharing!

  12. Replies
    1. The cover is very pretty, gotta give it that

  13. Dissident sounds amazing! Dystopian political thriller, huh? Just my kind of mixed genre that seems to be filled with excitement and a fast pace.
    Thanks for sharing, Braine!!

    Lexxie @ (un)Conventional Bookviews

  14. I love the friends to lovers kind of reads, so it would be great to see it twisted into a dystopian!

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