Accompanying her twin sister who is marry the Barovian King, Lady Belle Bradford agrees to switch places with her sister until after her twin has met her future husband. But when rebels surrounded the village, Belle is whisked away to safety by the King’s military commander.
Prince Nikolai Orsini, heir apparent and Supreme Commander of Barovian Forces, recognizes his only duty is to get his future Queen safely to the church on time. What he hadn’t counted on was falling in love with her. Deceived, betrayed and hunted, can these two learn to rely on love?
I’ve always loved reading, especially a romance that is based on history and includes a dash of mystery. I am a retired teacher who has wandered the globe with my military husband. Currently, we lived in the Southwestern region of the U.S. When I’m not writing, reading, researching or traveling, I can be found out in my garden or in the kitchen creating new flavors/combinations of fudge that I donate to various local charities for fundraising.
My favorite quote is: Someone said it couldn’t be done but she with a chuckle replied, “maybe it couldn’t but she won’t be one to believe it until she tried.” So, she buckled right in and with a bit of a grin, she took off her hat and went to it. And she started to sing as she tackled the thing, it couldn’t be done but she did it.
Prince Nikolai Orsini Garaini, otherwise known as ‘Niko’, slapped his black leather riding gloves against his gray breeches then frowned. Blast! The situation wasn’t good by any stretch of the imagination. Although his men had secured the perimeter of the Black Swan Inn, the life of their future Queen was in jeopardy. “And you say the rebels have cut off all access by road into the village?”
“Yes, Your Highness,” Colonel Cyrek Domokos handed him the spyglass and pointed to the main road leading into Saranda. “There is a main force waiting by the bridge down there.”
“How many?” Niko asked as he swung the scope and adjusted the knob to focus on the road running east from the village of Saranda to the town of Suri Kalter over the mountains.
“About three dozen.”
“Have they pitched tents?” Niko asked as he turned the glass to the south.
“No,” Cyrek assured him. “Evidently they don’t think they’re going to be there that long.”
“Good,” Niko said knowing if his enemy was entrenched it would be more difficult to roust them out. “And the south road?”
“It’s guarded by a small force,” Cyrek replied.
“So, we’re up against a contingency of about fifty-four rebels?” he asked then wondered if the rebels were there simply to attack another village or if they had been informed that their future Queen had come ashore. If that was the case, then their presence meant that they were there to harm the Lady with the aim of striking a crippling blow to the country.
“Could be more,” Cyrek said, slowly.
Niko heard the caution threaded through his friend’s words. “And the village itself?” he asked, pivoting in that direction, knowing stealth had always been the best option when creating a plan.
“We’re not sure, Your Highness,” Cyrek said. “The villagers are believed to be loyal to the Crown. However, there could be rebels planted in every house or none at all.”
Niko nodded. In these uncertain times, his first priority was to keep Her Ladyship safe and to effectively extract her from harm’s way. “Has there been any unusual movement seen inside the village?”
“Nothing out of the ordinary,” Cyrek said. “As you ordered, our men have filtered into the village over the past two days. Some dressed as fishermen, others as itinerant peasants and a few appear as tradesmen. They are positioned both inside the inn and stationed around it.”
“Good,” he said then frowned. If there had been any way he could’ve delayed the Lady’s arrival until after he’d found out with certainty that someone was supplying information to the rebels then he would’ve. But Stefan needed this marriage pronto to stabilize their country. “And the Lady?”
“She and her entourage arrived minutes ago while you were making your way up here.”
Niko nodded then hesitated. “How large a group?”
“Nearest I can tell,” Cyrek said, “there’s a middle-aged chaperone, two lady’s maids, and another female.”
“Likely her personal secretary,” Niko guessed, pleased she had kept the number of attendants to the maximum his cousin had requested.