Interview with Jaycee Jarvis

This week, I sat down with Jaycee Jarvis who writes stories with a romantic heart set against a magical backdrop. Enjoy!

Where are you from? Tell us a little about yourself! eg family, hobbies, bucket list, 

I live in the beautiful Pacific Northwest with my husband and three children. Our area has lots of opportunities for outdoor adventures so we do a fair amount of hiking and occasionally go camping. I’m not much of one for roughing it, so we don’t go camping as much as my kids would like. I’m just too attached to my modern amenities to go without indoor plumbing for long. I do love a good adventure though, and traveling to see new places. This past year has been hard with travel so limited. I’ve always been a big reader, but never more so than this year. Even when I can’t travel physically, I’m happy read a book and take a vacation of the mind.

What got you started in writing?

I’ve always been attracted to stories and story telling, but I didn’t really start writing until college. I took a few creative writing classes and really fell in love with the art.

What do you like to read?

I read all kinds of books, though fantasy romance is my first love. These days I also depend on the happy ending that romances deliver so I’ve been reading a lot of romance in all different genres. I prefer stories that take me away from the ordinary world so I gravitate to anything speculative and historical romances a lot.

Tell us about your first published book OR your favorite work. How did it get started?

My debut was Taxing Courtship, the first in the Hands of Destin series. It’s an opposites attract romance between a lady thief and a man too honorable for his own good. Quintin is the kind of sweet and honest guy that I find appealing and somewhat rare in romance. I liked exploring some role reversals with the woman as the more jaded one in the relationship. This series is also a long time coming. I toyed with some of the world building elements–like a system of three elements, rather than the more traditional four or five–for years before getting into the story itself. These days I try to do my world building more on the fly, though it is still fun to chase those “what if” questions.

How do you create your characters?

I’m a character first author, so I like to delve into my characters and figure out what makes them tick. I use archetypes as a starting point and then explore the challenges and struggles in their past that shaped them and what drives them now. I try to really dig into my characters to make them as unique and interesting as possible while still keeping their core personality and values intact. Only after I understand my characters as people do I start working on the plot and how best to push them to their limits.

Where do you write? Do you plot extensively or are you a pantser?

As a mom, I’ve written just about everywhere, from the waiting room at the dentist to the sidelines of a wide range of kids’ activities. I prefer coffee shops and other locations with a little noise and bustle, though these days I write mostly at home. I’m a pantser with a few plotting tendencies. I try to identify a few of the high lights and turning points in the story before I start to draft. I don’t draft in order, so it helps to have a few key scenes in mind before I start writing.

What are you working on as we speak?

I’m currently working on the first book in a new trilogy. It’s a totally new world with new characters, and I’m enjoying it a lot. The hero is a Robin Hood type, and a total hoot to write.

What would your advice be for aspiring authors?

The most important thing is to keep at it. Writing, especially fiction writing, is a long game where even “overnight successes” are usually years in the making. If you have the writing bug stick with it! I would also caution anyone just getting into this business to be focused on your own goals and your own success and milestone. It is easy to get trapped into the mentality of comparing yourself to other authors, when really everyone is on their own publishing journey and no two paths look alike. Other writers can be your inspiration, your mentors or your biggest cheerleaders as long as you see them as colleagues, not competition.

How can we contact you or find out more about your books?


Newsletter signup:

Amazon Author Page:



Other: (BookBub)

Newest or upcoming release:

Crowning Courtship

Hands of Destin Book 4

In a world of magic and intrigue, a runaway prince lures a jaded healer into a dangerous scheme, putting her life—and her heart—at risk. 

When his father’s funeral calls him home, Han-Advocate Terin is sure his mother will ensnare him in a disastrous marriage to further her own political ambitions. While the sweet-talking prince can usually charm his way out of anything, only another marriage can thwart his mother’s matrimonial plans. He needs a pretend wife, and fast.

Disillusioned Han-Healer Aurelia has had enough of too-charming, too-handsome men to last a lifetime. Still reeling from her divorce, she scorns every flirtatious advance by the attractive younger man, until a mutual friend convinces her to go along with his outrageous deception.

It’s a harrowing trip, filled with jealous courtiers and potential assassins—not to mention the seductive temptation of Terin’s sweet kisses. When his mother enlists a powerful accomplice, Terin and Aurelia turn to allies of their own, but their help won’t be enough if the pretend lovers can’t rely on each other.

Ultimately, Aurelia must choose between protecting her heart and trusting a charming rogue once more in this exciting conclusion to the Hands of Destin series.

I hope you enjoyed learning a little more about Jaycee’s stories and don’t forget to check out her latest release, Crowning Courtship.

Happy reading!

Princess Avenger on!

Announcing today an ever expanding availability to download Princess Avenger in audio format!

Here’s the link…

And if you would like to purchase on another platform, please check out my recent post HERE for Audible, Kobo, Apple and more!

Romantic Fantasy Shelf Feature

This week, I was delighted to have the Queenmakers Saga feature on Romantic Fantasy Shelf. Here’s the link

Happy reading!

Bernadette x

Interview with Jamie Schlosser

This week, I sat down with Jamie Schlosser, author of new adult and contemporary romance as well as fantasy romance/romantic fantasy. Enjoy!

Where are you from? Tell us a little about yourself! eg family, hobbies, bucket list

I’m from Illinois. I live in a small town with my husband and two kids. It just so happens that my favorite hobby is also my career–writing. Even if I never wanted to publish, I’d probably still write just because I enjoy it. I’m an introvert and a homebody, so I don’t get out much. I know, I sound super boring! Ha.

What got you started in writing?

About five years ago a story came to me when I was in the shower. It was a story I wanted to read, so I searched for it. Much to my surprise, I couldn’t find a book about a trucker and a hitchhiker at the time, so I decided to write it for myself with no intention of publishing. Several months later, I thought maybe others would like to read it too, so I started looking into self-publishing. That one story idea turned into three, and it kind of snowballed from there. Now I’m getting ready to publish my thirteenth novel.

What do you like to read?

I love to read anything that’s romance. Romance has so many subgenres, it can always fit whatever I’m in the mood for. New adult, paranormal, taboo, fantasy, dark. Romance has it all!

Tell us about your first published book OR your favorite work. How did it get started?

Since I already mentioned my first book in question #2, I’ll talk about my most recent publishing adventures. Up until about a year and a half ago, I’d stuck to writing in new adult romance and contemporary romance. I didn’t think I had it in me to write romantic fantasy or paranormal. But then I got a story idea about a fae prince who was cursed by blindness and he accidentally ends up taking a portal to some woods in the human realm.

He meets a girl there and they become best friends. He’s not supposed to be with her because the only way he can break the curse is to find his fated mate… but of course they fall in love. I started writing this story for fun, but once I got going, I couldn’t stop. The Fae King’s Curse was finished in about 7-8 weeks, which is the fastest I’ve ever written an entire book before. Since then, I’ve written four books in that series and I’m loving every second of it.

Wow! I wish I could write that quickly! How do you create your characters?

My characters start out pretty one-dimensional. I usually have a good idea of what they look like and a few personality traits, but the character development doesn’t happen until I get to know the character better. (Because I’m a panster all the way.)

Where do you write?

I write in my bedroom. I have a sit-to-stand desk set up in the corner, and I need it quiet so I can concentrate. I never write in public.

What are you working on as we speak?

Right now I’m gearing up to release The Fae King’s Prize, then I might switch back to my new adult series, The Good Guys.

What would your advice be for aspiring authors?

My advice for aspiring writers would be to take it one day at a time. Write when you can. Even a few hundred words is better than none. Take breaks when you need to. Burnout is real. And if you get discouraged, remember why you started writing in the first place. Your “why” is what’s going to keep you motivated.

Here are all the places you can find me and my books







Reader group:

The Fae King’s Prize releases on April 8th. Good luck with the launch, Jamie!

Stay tuned for more interviews in the coming weeks!

Happy reading

Bernadette x

Princess Avenger Audiobook – Now Available on Audible

I’m so exited to let you know that Amazon/Audible now have Princess Avenger available.

Here’s the link … Princess Avenger Audiobook on Audible





Google Play



Binge Books

You can listen to a sample on all the above platforms.

Happy listening!

Bernadette x

Interview with Tanya Bird

Last week, I got together with author Tanya Bird and asked her some pretty probing questions about her life and writing. If you love fantasy romance, historical romance and series, I’m sure you’d love her books. I strongly recommend giving them a try.

Read on for the full interview…

Where are you from? Tell us a little about yourself! eg family, hobbies, bucket list.

I was raised in the green hills of South Gippsland, so I’m a country gal at heart. When I finished school, I sold my horse, bought a very unsafe car, and moved to Melbourne to study. After changing degrees multiple times, I moved to the other side of the country where I worked a lot of random, badly paid jobs. Eventually I found my way back to Melbourne and met Mr B. After a six year stint in media/advertising, I decided I’d had enough of sleeping for more than two-hours at a time, and had three children.

In my free time (I struggle to say that with a straight face), I do yoga, contemporary dance, make a lot of broth, adopt sad dogs, and plan holidays we can’t afford.

My bucket list? Holy tacos, it’s enormous. It includes a lot of travel as well as experiences like sword fighting on horseback, a shipwreck dive, and meeting a shoebill stork.

What got you started in writing?

I wrote a lot of stories when I was a younger and had a pretty wild imagination. I went on to study professional writing and was told by a teacher at the end of the course that there is no money in creative writing and I would need to do something else. So I went and studied PR and headed down a different path. While at home having babies, I returned to University and took a couple of writing units. I fell completely in love with it all over again.

After graduating, I started freelance copywriting, taking $5 jobs on Upwork just to get my foot in the door. During quiet periods, I wrote a book that turned out to be a romance. When I learned about self-publishing, I thought why not? No one’s going to read it anyway. But people did read it. So I wrote another one. Then another one. Then eight more. And I’m still going.

What do you like to read?

I read widely within the Romance genre. Everything from fantasy to mafia to rom-coms. I also read a lot of historical non-fiction, literary, and women’s fiction.

Tell us about your favourite work. How did it get started?

Favourite work? That’s like picking a favourite child… it changes daily. I’m kidding. There is one book in particular that has a special place in my heart. A few years back, I was reading about Severus’s last campaign in Scotland and wondered if I could turn one of the darkest points in military history into a romance. I did. I jokingly refer to A Legate’s Pledge as genocide romance, but it’s really an enemies to lovers story packed with history and action. It has the most fierce heroine I’ve written to date. It’s also my worst selling book despite great reviews. Who knew genocide romance wouldn’t take off?

How do you create your characters?

I’m often inspired by characters in movies and TV shows. I figure out why I’m drawn or repelled by certain people, take those traits, and build from there. I need to know my characters prior to writing them, so I spend a lot of time in my own head before I start a project.

Where do you write? Do you plot extensively or are you a pantser?

I can write anywhere. Desk, outside, in the car, in a messy room with kids screaming around me. Unless I’m stuck on a plot point. Then suddenly I’m demanding silence and practising feng shui.

And I’m a plantser, a weird cross between the two. I spend a few weeks outlining a book and then often write a completely different story. My best ideas come while I’m creating, so I’ve learned to just go with it.

What are you working on as we speak?

I’m writing the first draft of Defender of Hearts, book two in my Kingdom of Walls series.

What would your advice be for aspiring authors?

Write. You can’t get better without practise. And read—lots, taking note of the parts you love and the bits you skim over. Write the book you want to read. Then write another one that’s even better. Repeat.

How can we contact you or find out more about your books?

Website & newsletter sign up:

Amazon Author Page:





Newest or upcoming release: 

Defender of Walls releases February 22, 2021. This is book one in the medieval dystopian romance series Kingdom of Walls. More details at

Keen to dip your toe into Tanya’s worlds? She has book 1 in her Companion Series (The Royal Companion) permafree on all platforms, find it HERE

I hope you enjoyed this insight into Tanya’s writing world. Stay tuned for more author interviews in the coming months…

Alpha Males versus Beta in Romance

As authors, it’s common for us to write our heroes as alpha males but can a beta hero be just as compelling? Let’s examine the differences and this question might be answered.

The alpha male is most women’s idea of the hero. He is masterful, confident, a man of influence and a man of action rather than words. This hero is protective of his woman but often not interested in being tied down. He will be sexy and sensual, fully aware of his effect on the opposite sex and willing to use it to get what he wants. What makes our alpha hero even more intriguing are his vulnerabilities. These will be hidden from the world, masked by aloofness, and only our heroine will be able to expose his softer side. She will heal his wounds.

The alpha hero will likely be first born and a leader in everything he does. He has climbed the tree of success to the very top. He won’t suffer fools and won’t be slow to confront a problem head on. He moulds the world to suit his needs, he makes things happen and will never die wondering. Sensitivity is not his forte and he will put people offside with his confidence and brashness.

These are all wonderful characteristics for our romance hero but can a beta hero work just as well when it comes to stoking the fires of love in our heroine?

Beta guys are more popular now than they once were. This could be due to the advent of a more sensitive society where the particular traits of the beta are valued. He is often a younger sibling, perhaps a middle child. As such, he is a people person, good at getting along with others and is someone who will put the needs of others first. He would be a great hero for a heroine in need of a little TLC.

Our beta hero is a diplomat whose confidence will be boosted when he can master a problem. When he rescues his heroine he shines. He is a practical person, a quiet achiever, more likely to walk away from confrontation but that doesn’t mean he can be pushed around. Family is important to him unlike our alpha who is often a loner. The beta hero is prone to hide his feelings behind humour, especially if he has been hurt by a situation. He could appear weak at times, influenced by the desires of others and unable to make quick decisions. His self-sacrificing nature could grate if carried to extreme.

So, can a beta hero work in a romance novel? I think he could be the right choice if he has qualities that the heroine needs. A heroine with tragedy in her past, especially relating to a man, will need someone she can count on who will place her needs first. She will appreciate his consideration and his chivalry because he makes her feel like she is his princess. A feisty heroine could also compliment a beta hero- opposites attract. In this situation, the writer would need to be careful not to create a hero who can be pushed around by his woman. She might be able to get her way in most situations but when it matters, his word will be law.

Have I changed your mind about writing a beta hero? Do you now want to read a story where the beta is the hero and not a secondary character? Have you written or read a story based around a beta hero? What were his endearing characteristics and what sort of woman was he set against?

Why do I ask? My book The Lady’s Choice has a beta hero and I’ve been reflecting on him this week as I create a ‘behind the scenes’ for him. He is gorgeous, takes his duty very seriously and will do anything for the woman he loves. I wanted to get his character right from the start. He must care without being weak; be a man of action but not confrontational. He must be a thinker and have deep emotions. He isn’t wounded but he does have flaws that are consistent with the beta male – possessive and a little obsessive, makes judgement mistakes when he allows his emotions to take over and is too self-sacrificing. I’ve walked a fine line with Ramon Zorba, but I find him an enduring and endearing leading man.

I’d appreciate your thoughts on the beta hero and his place in the romance novel.

Happy reading

Bernadette x

Specials at Bernadette Rowley Fantasy

Times are tough so I thought this was a good time to have some specials. If you act quickly, you can snap up Princess Avenger, my box set and my latest, Elf Princess Warrior, on super special.

Princess Avenger, book 1 – now only 99 cents until April 5th.

Queenmakers Saga Box Set of Books 1-4 – now only $2.99 until April 5th

Elf Princess Warrior, book 8 – now only 99 cents until April 9th.

Happy reading and stay safe!

Bernadette x

Elf Princess Warrior – Happy Release Day!

I’m so happy to announce the release of book 8 in the Queenmakers Saga, Elf Princess Warrior! One day, after I started writing this series, my imagination/muse revealed to me an elven princess, perched high on a mountain. At that stage, I didn’t know who this princess was. I now know she was Gwaethe Arenil, the courageous heroine of Elf Princess Warrior.


Gwaethe was a secondary character in The Elf King’s Lady, book 5 in this series. It was in this story that she met Captain Jacques Vorasava, though his role in the Queenmakers Saga goes right back to The Lady’s Choice.

There was instant chemistry between Gwaethe and Jacques but I wasn’t sure their relationship would flourish beyond attraction. I started writing Elf Princess Warrior as book 7 in the series but took a break about a third of the way in because The Master and the Sorceress called to me with urgency to write Katrine’s love story.

I’ve learned to trust my muse. When I returned to Elf Princess, the words came easier and I’ve been gratified that early readers have enjoyed the steps that Gwaethe and Jacques have made together.

Here’s the blurb…

An Elven Princess

Caught up in a vicious civil war, Gwaethe Arenil is desperate to save her peace-loving faction and reunite her people.

A Human Commander

Dashing army captain Jacques Vorasava has fought on the same side as Gwaethe in the past, but will he help her this time? And will his support 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, book 5 in the Queenmakers Saga.

I hope you can support this latest installment in the series and I’ve priced it at a special of only 99 cents U.S. for the next week.

Happy reading and stay safe.

Bernadette x

Elf Princess Warrior Sneak Peek

To catch up with the other books in this series, click the covers to the left. >>

Chapter 1

GWAETHE cursed as her cousin Isiloe helped her through the door and onto the kitchen chair. Pain, from the arrowhead 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.

She bit down on the wooden handle as Isiloe dug the arrowhead 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.

“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 to check on 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.

She 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 her. “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.” She 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 a 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,” she 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.”

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 her 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 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 Thorian 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. 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?”

She 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 she grasped his wrist.

“No. Tend the wound as it is.”

She helped widen the hole made by the arrowhead, 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.

She raised her head. “I could ask you the same.”

“Ah, but I’m 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 her. “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.” 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’ll 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.” 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’s 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’ll 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’ll ensure Exmund gets you something for the pain.”


Jacques Vorasava strode from the bedroom and went in search of Exmund, all the while trying to dampen his reaction to Gwaethe’s predicament and her challenging words. She was extraordinarily beautiful; exotic with her dark skin and hair, and deep brown eyes. It was an ethereal, alien beauty that the women of his world didn’t have. He was overwhelmed by it. Over the past six months, he’d relived the few moments he had spent with her when they had battled Faenwelar’s forces, and, afterward, as they traveled back to Wildecoast, the King’s Seat.

The princess was athletic and fierce, the leader of the Lenweri forces, and passionate about bringing her people and Faenwelar’s together. Jacques cared not a jot for Faenwelar’s elves. They were a direct threat to the kingdom, determined to drive the humans from southern Thorius and return it to the forests of ancient times. In his opinion, there was no going back. The line had been drawn. The war would end with the elimination of the Sis Lenweri. Gwaethe and her elves were welcome to stay if they lived in peace.

His interest in Gwaethe was something he had taken out from time to time, examined, then put away. He couldn’t afford to get caught up in his feelings for her. They were from different worlds, and his determination to lead the Thorian armed forces would never come to fruition if he involved himself with an elven woman. Still, it might be fun to explore a relationship with her if they both understood the boundaries.

He walked through his lodge, checking each of the rooms and finding injured elves in several of them. They appeared to be doing well, though they had little time for his enquiries. Eventually he found Exmund, stitching the shoulder wound of a young elf.

“Exmund, Princess Gwaethe needs a pain draught. Can you attend to her when you’re finished here?”

He wiped over the wound and stood. “Right away, Captain,” he said, hurrying from the room.

Jacques caught up to him outside. “What do you think of the princess’s wound? I’m fearful of complications.”

Exmund stared at his feet. “Why do you care?” he muttered.

Jacques couldn’t believe his ears. “What do you mean, Corporal?”

Exmund slowly raised his eyes. “She’s an elf; they all are. We’re at war with her people and here you treat them as though we’re on the same side.”

Jacques slowly straightened himself to full height. Impertinent pup! “I’ll have you know Princess Gwaethe fought on the same side as us in the recent battles. That’s why I care. Before you speak so again, I’d appreciate it if you checked your facts.”

The young aide had turned a pleasing shade of pink. “Sorry, Captain. I didn’t realize. If I may be excused, I’ll attend the princess right away.”

Exmund scuttled away, and Jacques took a deep breath to compose himself. He knew how the lad felt. Elves were mysterious, foreign creatures, not human and rarely seen by the citizens of Thorius. Human youngsters were raised on stories of elves raiding farmhouses and stealing children, for it was known they were slow to have offspring of their own. Perhaps that was what had happened with Gwaethe’s half-brother, Kain Jazara. Once commander of the King’s army, he was now a disgraced half-human and half-elf. Jacques had been shocked to discover the truth after the last battle against Faenwelar’s Sis Lenweri. Kain had soon lost his position.

Jacques had never learned how the son of an elven king came to lead the kingdom army. The man had seemed honest and was a good leader before his fall from grace. Perhaps he had been one of the stolen children and not half elven at all?

He shook his head. None of this speculation would get him where he needed to be. These elves were a distraction, but they need not stop him from seeing his plan through. He must extract from them what information he could and continue into the northern mountains to seek out the rebel, Prince Faenwelar. He returned to the kitchen, hoping to make himself a mug of tea.

He found Isiloe standing before the fireplace, stirring a kettle of stew and muttering to herself.

“Lady…Ramar Isiloe, I don’t wish to disturb you.”

She glanced at him and returned to her task. “As if you could ever disturb me,” she said. “At most you would be like a mosquito buzzing in my ear.”

He studied the diminutive elven woman. She was the shortest dark elf he had seen. Her race was generally tall, elegant, dark-skinned and dark-haired. Isiloe barely came to his shoulder, and she had white hair and the palest blue eyes he’d seen on anyone. Her pointed ears were pierced from top to bottom with all manner of rings and studs. Despite her prickly nature, Isiloe was beautiful, with a curvaceous figure well displayed by the forest green tunic and breeches which were the habitual garments of the elves. He shouldn’t be noticing, but he wasn’t the only one. Jacques had observed more than one admiring glance from his men toward Isiloe.

“What do you want?” she asked, still not looking at him.

“I came to make a pot of tea.”

“The water is boiled, kingdom man,” she said, pointing to the large kettle hanging over the fire.

He went about making the tea and poured it into two cups. “I’ll take the princess a mug of tea. Would you like one?”

“What are you trying to do?”

“I’m just being a good host.”

Isiloe almost snarled. “I know what you think of us, so do not bother.” She turned back to her stew, furiously stirring the mixture.

Instead of trying to make more conversation, Jacques placed the mugs of tea on a tray and took them to the bedroom where Gwaethe dozed. He placed the tray on the breakfast table and sat beside it, sipping his tea and watching the light of the fire play over her features. It made her look even more foreign, like a wild animal. His thoughts wandered to the battle of six months ago when he met her. It had been a fierce confrontation with Faenwelar, with many Thorian and elven dead, but, in the end, they had won.

Faenwelar and his closest supporters escaped, but the Sis Lenweri had taken a hit and run away like mangy curs. Or so the king and his general thought at the time. Now, it seemed the Sis Lenweri were pushing back into the south; but what was their immediate aim?

There was a rustle on the bed. He looked up to find Gwaethe’s gaze upon him.

“How are you?” he asked.

She appeared so weak she could scarcely lift her head from the pillow. “I am feeling much better thank you.” Her voice was stilted, too polite.

He found himself wishing she’d look at him with other than wariness in her eyes.

“I brought you tea,” he said, stirring in honey. “It should still be warm enough.” He helped her sit up and placed pillows for support, then handed her the tea. She brought the mug to her lips, her eyes fluttering closed as she swallowed.

“That’s heavenly,” she said, “the perfect temperature.”

He watched as she finished the mug, searching and discarding several topics of conversation. “You know your wound is a serious one,” he said, finally.

Her eyes snapped to his, and he was speared through his soul.

“I am beginning to realize that,” she said, handing him the mug. She looked brighter, but her hand trembled. “I’ve seldom been this weak. With the energy of battle in me I did not realize how close I was to…”

“You should return to your home, wherever that is. Regroup, recover.”

She straightened her spine, looking more regal than Queen Adriana. “I will decide what we should do, Captain. It is not up to you to advise me.”

He stood and paced back and forth across his room. “Don’t you see how vulnerable you are? He has killed half your force. You can’t go back up there without reinforcements, without more preparation.”

“Then you will help us,” she announced, her gaze challenging him to accept.

“Oh no, no, Princess. I have a mission from King Beniel. I don’t intend to jeopardize my reputation by making a unilateral decision to fight with your people. Look how it worked out for General Jazara; or should I say, former General Jazara.”

As much as he might like to have Gwaethe alongside him, he’d learn from the past, not repeat it. No, unless he had a letter signed by the king himself, he’d not be working with the Lenweri any time soon.

“You would not be fighting,” she said, a sly smile lighting her eyes. “You would be gathering intelligence.”

“Just as you were trying to do when you were set upon?”

Her fingers gripped the blanket, nails digging through the thick material. “I cannot afford the time it will take to return to Selinore. There is no telling where Faenwelar will show up next, or what he has in mind. We must act now. You are my one hope of continuing this mission.”

“Then your mission is at an end.” He stood to gather the tea things.

“Captain Vorasava —”

“Call me Jacques.”

That gave her pause.

“Jacques, please reconsider. Stopping Faenwelar might hinge on this decision.”

There was desperation in her eyes, but she held herself just a hair’s width from begging. Impressive.

“Oh, my men and I intend to continue north and discover Faenwelar’s scheme, but you, my dear Princess, are going home. I won’t have your death on my conscience. And I won’t work with you, not without royal approval.” He continued to the door. “Rest well. Tomorrow you head for home if you’re well enough to travel.”


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