For a clerk, his voice was oddly cultured, the words tinged with an accent Rose could not quite define.
He stood and stepped from behind the writing table. He was clad entirely in black, but now that she saw him fully, she could not call it sober. His flowing shirt was unlaced halfway down his chest and tucked into a pair of sable breeches that clung to the hard muscles of his thighs. Bare feet were silent on the wooden floor as he approached.
This is no mere clerk, she thought uneasily. He must be one of the prince's men. She swallowed hard and sat a little straighter. The Prince of Venya might commit acts of piracy, but everyone knew he had been driven to such desperate measures by cruel necessity. At heart, he was no pirate, but a nobleman. What she had not considered was that his crew—even his clerk—would be the real thing.
A thin white scar, very prominent against his sun-bronzed skin, ran down one cheek; another through an eyebrow. A gold ring glittered in his ear. Looking into that hard young face, Rose sensed instinctively that this man knew more about survival than she could ever hope to learn.
Or wanted to.
She stood, taking a step back as he continued to advance. The stool overturned with a small clatter that she barely noticed. Another step and her back was to the wall.
"I suppose an introduction is in order," he said, sweeping her a bow that no courtier could have bettered for its grace. There was nothing of the humble clerk about him now. How could she have ever been so blind as to mistake this man for a servant?
Stupid, credulous fool, she raged at herself, they never meant for me to see the prince at all. I have been tricked, trapped ... and sold? Oh, Jehan, not that, not sold. Not me! But why not her? It happened every day, women carried off by pirates and never seen again. At least now I'll know what becomes of them, she thought. She almost laughed, but the sound tangled in her throat and came out as a gasping sob.
She shot a desperate glance toward the door, praying that even now the prince would walk in and rescue her. But that hope died when the pirate spoke again.
"Florian of Venya at your service."
Fleeing for her life with her murderous uncle hard upon her heels, Rose of Valinor seeks the aid of the one person she is certain will help her—the legendary Prince of Venya, who was forced into exile by Rose's uncle. Bold and dashing, wily and clever, the Prince of Venya is the hero of a hundred songs and stories—a sorcerer pirate whose courage is only exceeded by his gallantry. All the tales agree that he would never refuse a lady in distress, but the man Rose meets is far from her chivalric ideal.
Florian of Venya has one goal: to free his people from King Richard's despotic rule—and time is running out. He has no intention of letting any woman distract him, particularly Richard's niece, whom he suspects is either a madwoman or a spy. When he realizes that that Rose is the key to regaining his lost kingdom, he will use any means to win her heart—but first they must escape King Richard's pursuit.
"This is the way books should be…. Swashbuckling, evil kings, handsome rogue princes, intelligent heroines, great humor, compelling love… Needless to say: It’s a new favorite." — Reading Backwards Review
"This was a wonderful story! Ms. [English] weaves a passionate tale, full of suspense, romance, mystery, and a healthy dose of the paranormal. Readers will venture in to the swashbuckling world of pirates, where no one is quite what they seem, and magic is the name of the game. The plot is swift moving and well developed, luring one in on the first page and holding tight until the final scenes unfold, surprising in their outcome." —The Best Reviews