In only a few short days, my newest book baby, Elf Princess Warrior, will take its first faltering steps into the world. The release date is January 14th! Australians will be one of the first to download, which is only fair since Australia is my country of origin. If you would like to get my book at a massive discount, pre-order now for $0.99 US.
Here are the links:
As often happens, when writing The Elf King’s Lady, a secondary character cried out for her own book. That character was Princess Gwaethe Arenil, daughter of the murdered elven King Orionkael. Between the princess and Captain Jacques Vorasava there was instant chemistry. However, I wasn’t certain their love story would see the light of day. There was just too much pushing them apart. Besides the external and internal conflicts affecting the characters, I wasn’t sure I could pull off an inter-racial love story in a fantasy setting. I guess readers will be the judge of my success or otherwise.
I can’t wait to hear what you think of Gwaethe and Jacques and their road to love.
Here’s the blurb:
Caught up in a vicious civil war, elven princess Gwaethe Arenil is desperate to save her peace-loving faction and reunite her people. Help presents itself in the form of Captain Jacques Vorasava, the dashing human Brightcastle commander. But does Jacques’s aid come with more dangers than Gwaethe can accept, both for her people and her heart?
As the threat from the enemy elven faction forces them to work together, conflicts between their cultures push them apart. In a land of polarized opinion and intolerance, can Jacques and Gwaethe forge a new reality where their love can be accepted?
This story continues themes and characters from The Elf King’s Lady.
Speaking of Elf King’s Lady, I’ve secured a 50% discount for my readers for my two Pan Macmillan titles, Elf King and The Lord and the Mermaid. This will be active until mid- January. The heroine of Elf Princess Warrior, Gwaethe, is an important secondary character in Elf King’s Lady and I wanted readers to have the chance to read it on special. The Lord and the Mermaid is a fabulous retelling of The Little Mermaid and its heroine, Meri, pops up in The Lady and the Pirate.
I’ve also 50% discounted my self- published titles until mid-January. Just click on the above links and my Brightcastle Saga and Wildecoast Saga books will be easy to find.
Keep reading to check out the first scene of Elf Princess Warrior…
Gwaethe cursed as her cousin Isiloe helped her through the door and onto the kitchen chair. Pain, from the arrow head in her thigh, made her suck in a deep breath, and she sat battling waves of darkness that tried to drag her into oblivion. The deserted hunting lodge had been a gift from her elven Gods. Her insides curled with shame that she should need this refuge at all; a hunting lodge built by humans in their quest for game and glory.
The mission had started so promisingly. She had led the party of a dozen elves south from Selinore, her home in the northern mountains, to discover traitor High Prince Faenwelar’s hideout. It was meant only to be a scouting mission but, at dawn this morning, they had been ambushed by elves from Faenwelar’s faction, the Sis Lenweri. Six of her party had been killed, leaving her, Isiloe and five others who barely escaped with their lives. Isiloe was the only one not injured.
“Bite on this,” Isiloe said, handing her a hunting knife.
Gwaethe bit down on the wooden handle as Isiloe dug the arrow head from her thigh. Pain shot straight to her stomach. She leaned to the side and hurled until her belly ached.
“Hold still!” Isiloe hissed, shoving a moistened cloth at her. It felt cool on her forehead, and she panted away the agony washing over her in waves.
“There, it is out. I will flush the wound and bind it. You will live.” Isiloe placed her hand on Gwaethe’s shoulder and squeezed. Despite the abrupt tone, her cousin loved her and was her staunchest supporter. Gwaethe didn’t like to think what she would have done without her this last year.
Leaving Gwaethe with a mixture of hovard leaf for the pain, Isiloe went in search of the rest of the band who had spread out through the other rooms of the lodge. Gwaethe breathed deeply, sipping the medicine and distracting herself with her surroundings. There was a large fireplace with wood stacked ready for a blaze and four hooks for hanging pans. The walls were carved oak and quite beautiful, the table and chairs made from the same timber. Cooking utensils hung from the wall beside the fireplace, the glow of their copper drawing her eye. If this was the style of the kitchen, the rest of the lodge must be magnificent.
Gwaethe tried to stand, but the tiniest movement sent pain spiraling down her leg and sweat broke out on her brow. Much good she would be to the others now! How could she have been so stupid as to walk straight into the Sis Lenweri trap? She chewed on a strand of her long, dark hair as her thoughts flew to the skirmish they had just survived.
Isiloe returned, standing in the doorway of the kitchen, her face grey with exhaustion. “They will all live. Your wound is the most serious. We will return home and heal, and next time Faenwelar will not catch us unawares.”
“I must mobilize the others,” Gwaethe said. “You take Lomari and rouse our people. Tell them to meet me here in a week. I need a party of at least fifty, perhaps more.”
Isiloe snorted. “I am not leaving your side. If I had not been with you today, you would now lie dead.”
Anger swept through Gwaethe. “I think you overstate the situation, cousin, and underestimate my talent for survival.”
Isiloe raised her pale brows. She was small compared to most of the elven race but could never be called delicate. Her fair hair and blue eyes set her apart from other elves, where dark hair and eyes dominated. “I won’t leave without you. That wound needs weeks to heal, not a patch and back on the road. And you cannot make good plans without consultation. We must return home.”
“I am battle leader, so I will decide strategy, with or without consultation. I can do that as well here as anywhere.” Gwaethe frowned as she thought about the one person she would give anything to speak to; her half-brother Kain. He had been the human army general until six months ago, but now he was a free agent. Well, not free exactly. He would inherit her elven kingdom if he ever acknowledged his heritage. Instead, he was making his nest with his wife, Alique, wasting his time while Gwaethe fought to bring about the fall of Faenwelar and unite the elven people. Perhaps she should try again to contact him through the ring and bracelet. Tonight.
“You are thinking of him again,” Isiloe said. “You get that look every time. When are you going to admit Kain cares nothing for us?”
“He cares,” Gwaethe replied, “but it is hard for him. He must come to terms with the fact he and I share a father who was an elven king. I lived that reality, but to Kain it is just a story. One day he will feel it, and then he will step into his role.”
Isiloe snorted. “We don’t need him. We don’t need any human; any man. You and I are more than capable of leading the Lenweri.”
“Tell that to those who follow Faenwelar, to the traditionalists amongst our own society. Even Mother would vote against me.”
Isiloe frowned. “One day, perhaps, it will not be the case. If that day is to come, you and I must make it so, cousin.”
Gwaethe smiled. “There is nothing I would like better, Isiloe, but it will not happen overnight. Kain is the first step. We need him. I need him.” The last was whispered as Gwaethe’s determination was replaced by doubt. The sounds of horses outside caught her attention.
Isiloe was already at the window, peeking through a crack in the shutters. “Kingdom soldiers,” she said. “Thirty of them; armed.” She turned to Gwaethe. “Do we fight?”
Gwaethe drew a deep breath, her thoughts chaotic, unwilling to believe they should face more danger so soon. She shook her head. “We must talk first. Find out who they are. Tell the others to hide. At least some may escape to raise the alarm if we are taken.”
Isiloe slipped through the door. Gwaethe gripped the edge of the table and tried to rise. Her head spun and pain shot from the wound. She froze and took a shuddering breath. She could not even defend herself in this condition! What if the wound was even more serious than Isiloe had said? She had no more time to ponder as the door slammed open. A dark figure appeared. A man in the spotless uniform of a Kingdom captain.
Her heart beat faster, and it wasn’t fear this time. She knew him! As her gaze swept over the smooth lines of his face – the muscular ridges of his form barely hidden by his uniform – her body heated as it had done only once in the past. Once, six months ago, this man had been on her side, had fought beside her against Faenwelar. But would it be the case this time?
“Gwaethe Arenil,” he said, sweeping a graceful bow, “well met.”
She took another shuddering breath before she could speak. “Captain Vorasava. I would rise but I fear I am unable to.”
Concern chased the arrogant light from his eyes as he took in the blood-soaked bandage around her left thigh. He snapped his fingers, and a stocky young soldier, with brown hair and eyes, appeared. “Corporal Exmund, fetch the medical bag and see to Princess Gwaethe’s injury.”
Exmund left but returned moments later with a bulging leather satchel. He fixed his eyes on Gwaethe but made no move toward her. The young man cleared his throat and straightened his tunic with his spare hand. “Captain?” he said, licking his lips, “are you sure?”
Vorasava tore his eyes from Gwaethe and turned to Exmund. “What do you mean, lad? I asked you to tend this lady’s wound. Is there something unclear in my request?”
Exmund snapped up straight, eyes directly ahead. “No sir,” he said. “Right away, sir.”
The young medic knelt beside Gwaethe. “If I may?”
Gwaethe nodded, and Exmund began to gently unwrap the wound.
“I need to cut away these leggings.” Exmund produced a knife, ready to strip the clothing from her leg, but Gwaethe grasped his wrist.
“No. Tend the wound as it is.” She helped widen the hole made by the arrow head, exposing the jagged puncture without revealing any more of the brown skin of her thigh than was necessary. Exmund packed the hole with a poultice and gently bound it. All the while, she burned under Vorasava’s gaze. What was he thinking? That she was a stinking elf? That he would like to be on his way?
Perhaps not. Vorasava was one of the few humans who had treated her as an equal, but was it just inherent politeness disguising his true feelings? Humans thought they were above elves when, really, they were interlopers in these lands. Her people had been here since time began; since the trees were young. But Gwaethe believed in peace, and she would live that way, as would her Lenweri. There was plenty of land for all.
“What are you doing here, Princess?” Vorasava asked.
Gwaethe raised her head. “I could ask you the same.”
“Ah, but I am not trespassing in your hunting lodge.”
“Your lodge?” She looked around the kitchen, trying to come to terms with Vorasava in this room.
“My lodge. I occasionally have to coax a grumpy bear from the woodshed, but I hardly expected an elven princess to have taken up residence.”
“Believe me, Captain, I am only passing through. But for this injury, I would not have had to use your home.”
He shrugged. “Be my guest.”
He stuck his head out the door and shouted orders to his men then turned back to Gwaethe. “My sergeant and I and young Exmund will bunk in here while the others can use the stable. Where are the rest of your band?”
She shook her head. What could she say? The others would be found soon enough. It seemed she must trust him for now. “We are only seven. We lost six in a skirmish with Faenwelar’s elves.”
Isiloe appeared at the inside door. “I knew you couldn’t resist telling this human everything, cousin.” She glared at Vorasava. “Gwaethe is always too trusting.”
Gwaethe closed her eyes, drawing a deep breath. She didn’t want to cope with Isiloe’s belligerence right now.
“Lady Isiloe,” Vorasava said, inclining his head, “I will take Princess Gwaethe where she can be more comfortable, then perhaps you could show me to the rest of your people.”
“If you must address me, human,” Isiloe said, “you will call me Ramar, or Captain. Anything else is highly inappropriate on a mission.”
Vorasava raised an eyebrow at Isiloe then scooped Gwaethe up from the chair. Pain smashed through her body at the sudden movement. She bit her lip to stop from crying out as he strode with her through to the bedrooms. Somehow, he managed to open a door with her in his arms, and she was soon laid gently on a huge bed covered with bearskin.
“My bedroom,” he said. “I killed that bear myself.” He turned to a wardrobe and pulled a thick blanket from the top shelves, placing it over her.
Isiloe growled from the doorway. “Always the killing,” she said. “Are you not able to live in harmony with nature? Lenweri only kill creatures when needed for food or hides.”
Gwaethe couldn’t have cared less at that moment, battling as she was with pain and nausea, and not a little fear if she was being honest; fear of her wound and of the powerful man who stood gazing down upon her.
He treated Isiloe as he would a buzzing fly. “Fetch my man, Ramar,” he snapped, still not looking at her. “Tell him to attend me here.”
Gwaethe held her breath, waiting for Isiloe’s angry response to being ordered about.
Isiloe drew herself up. “Fetch him yourself, human,” she said. “I was not born to run after you.” She left the room, the door closing after her with a sharp click.
Vorasava appeared to barely notice. He took Gwaethe’s wrist, frowning. “You’ve lost a lot of blood, Princess. Your heart is racing, your hands cold.”
She couldn’t look away from his strong fingers on her skin. She tingled all over and wanton thoughts came unbidden; thoughts of bare skin, sweat and his mouth on her breasts. She shook her head and might have fainted if she were not already lying down. I must be delirious! Yes, that is the reason for these thoughts. Indeed, when she tried to focus on his face, it was fuzzy, indistinct.
Trying to push all contemplation of his lips aside, she gathered her wits and met his eyes. “I will be fine with some rest, Captain.” Yes, that was much more appropriate for her standing as battle leader and princess.
“Nonsense,” he said. “You need careful nursing. I wish now I had brought my doctor with me, but he is getting a little too old for these outings.”
“Why do you even care?” she asked without thinking.
“How can you ask that? We are bound by our past, our shared status as warriors on the same side. Of course I will do all I can to help you.”
“And that is all?”
Vorasava’s gaze fell from hers, his jaw tightening. “That’s a lot, Princess. Rest, and I will ensure Exmund gets you something for the pain.”
I hope you enjoy Elf Princess Warrior!
Until next week!
Happy reading x