Kennedy follows July's The Fire Lord's Lover with a slower-paced romantic fantasy set in a medieval England that has been invaded by evil elves from another world. Wholeheartedly devoted to the human rebellion, Giles Beaumont reluctantly agrees to guard Cecily Sutton, the daughter of a human woman and an elven lord. Cecily is the Rebellion's secret weapon, but all she wants is to live quietly like a human. As the war heats up, Cecily is forced to learn how to control the magical abilities that terrify her. Giles tries to resist his attraction to Cecily, but soon the two are deeply in love. Fantastical creatures, magical spells, lengthy quests, angst, and passion will satisfy readers looking for a romance plot in a well-developed fantasy setting. (Aug.)
From the Publisher
"Kennedy's exquisite world building and terrific plotting make this a must-read... Kennedy creates a satisfying, fully realized world where adventure abounds... thrilling and distinctive Elven Lords series." - Booklist
"Fantastical creatures, magical spells, lengthy quests, angst, and passion will satisfy readers looking for a romance plot in a well-developed fantasy setting. " - Publishers Weekly
"Kennedy mixes the fantasy and romance genres in a very rewarding manner... 4 Stars" - RT Book Reviews
"Ms. Kennedy has created another fascinating blend of history and magic in the elven kingdom of Dewhame. " - Historical Hilarity
"A glittering historical romance... [Kennedy's] imagination knows no bounds." - Fresh Fiction
"Romantic and emotional... a wild reading experience. " - The Long and Short of It
"Exciting and adventurous." - That's What I'm Here For
"A romantic fantasy in which love prevails, an adventure full of danger and exciting twists and turns captures your heart." - Bookloons.com
"[Kennedy] has a deft hand combining fantasy with historical story and romance so seamlessly that the reader is never jarred out of the special world she's created." - Star-Crossed Romance
"A fast paced, action packed fantasy that is sure to capture readers both of fantasy and romance." - My Book Addiction and More
Read an Excerpt
Devon, England, 1734
Giles Beaumont heard the sound of battle coming from beyond the rocks in the direction of the village at the same moment Cecily emerged from the waves of the English Channel. His magically cursed sword flew from its scabbard, smacked the palm of his hand, and it took every ounce of Giles's considerable strength to shove it back into the leather sheath. As much as his blade longed to be finally used, the years of training to protect the young woman held firm and he ran away from the village to the beach.
He'd removed his stockings and half jackboots after the first hour of waiting for Cecily, and now his toes dug through the hot sand while broken seashells stabbed his heels. But the elven blood that ran through his veins allowed him to reach the tide line soon enough, his feet now slapping on wet sand, the spray of the crashing waves cooling his face, the ocean breeze billowing open his half-buttoned shirt with even more welcome relief.
He kept his gaze fixed on naught but her.
Cecily Sutton, half-breed daughter of the Imperial Lord Breden, elven lord of the sovereignty of Dewhame, did not look like a direct descendant of the elven royal line. At least, not at the moment. She had one arm wrapped around the fin of a dolphin, the creature propelling her through the water at wicked speed. Her black hair gleamed in the sunlight, her luscious mouth hung wide open with laughter, and she'd half-closed her eyes against the spray of flight.
A wild magical woman, indeed. A mysterious creature whom he'd been assigned to protect since she was nine years old-and Giles himself only fifteen-in hopes that she would be of use to the Rebellion some day. But a daughter of those cold, reserved elven lords? No, she did not fit that mold.
She swam by herself the rest of the way to the shore, with a wave and a last caress for her dolphin-steed. Her magical affinity for the water made her look one with it, her swimming near effortless as she crossed the final distance to the beach. Giles waited for her, waves lapping about his ankles, watching as her eyes grew round with surprise when she recognized him. With her large inhuman eyes, he could not deny her birthright to the elven lord. They glittered in the sunshine, twin jewels of blue, with a crystalline depth that bespoke the enormous power the young woman could summon.
Although she'd managed to keep that power well hidden through the years.
"What are you doing here?" she said, her gaze flicking away from him to stare at her abandoned clothing on the beach. Cecily kept her body hidden in the water, but the motion of the waves occasionally revealed the swell of her breasts. Giles made sure his gaze stayed fixed on her face, but despite his efforts to appear unaffected by her nudity, the warmth of a flush crept over his cheeks.
For he'd been ordered to protect her but keep his distance. Thomas had warned him that the girl was destined to marry a great lord. And in more subtle terms, that Giles would never be good enough for her. So by necessity he had spied upon her from a distance for years. Many times he had damned her for her magical affinity to water, for scarcely a day went by without her sneaking off to this private cove where she stripped and flung herself into the ocean. Perforce he'd watched her body develop from skinny youth into the full curvature of womanhood.
Now her curves rivaled those of any woman he'd bedded; indeed, once she'd matured, he would often dream of those perfect features while he made love to one girl after another.
Many times he had fancied himself in love with one of the village maidens. For a time he would feel relieved that he had been able to put the forbidden girl from his thoughts. But thoughts of Cecily would always intrude yet again. He would find himself comparing those vivid blue eyes, that heart-shaped brow, the lilt of her laughter, with every girl he met. And would find himself dreaming of her once again, chiding himself for a fool.
"There's something wrong in the village," he managed to say. "I want you to stay hidden in the water until I return."
As usual, she avoided looking into his eyes, her gaze fixed somewhere around his nose. "How did you know I'd be here? How did you manage to climb the rocks? No one knows about my secret place-" A more urgent question suddenly halted her flow of indignation. "Has Thomas returned?"
He shook his head. "No, but I fear that your father may have something to do with it."
"With what? What is happening?"
"I'm not sure, and I don't have time for this. Just stay here!"
Giles spun, raced back to his hiding place, struggling damp skin into woolen hose, sandy cloth into leather boots. He pulled his sword from the scabbard, the greedy thing ringing with delight, eager for the taste of the blood Giles had denied it for so many years.
A thrill went through him from hilt to hand and he fought it with a clench of his muscles. "You devil," he murmured. "If I could have gotten rid of you, I would have. Father's gift or no."
The sword answered him with a tug in the direction of the village, where the sounds of battle had grown louder. Giles took one last glance over his shoulder...
The little hoyden had ignored him. Cecily stood next to her clothing, her net with her day's catch abandoned in shallow water, flopping fish and scuttling crabs quickly making their way back to ocean. Giles would have cursed if he'd had the wits to, but the sight of her bending over to pick up her chemise near knocked the power of speech completely from his head.
He sprinted back to the water, his sword resisting him all the way. Giles should have known she wouldn't listen to him. She treated him like all the villagers did, as if he had nothing between his muscled shoulders but his fine elven features. He had carefully cultivated that impression of course, assuming the quiet manner of a humble blacksmith, in spite of how much he despised the role. But Cecily's attitude had surpassed his assumed disguise. After the night she offered herself to him and he gallantly refused her, she'd avoided him with a disdain that bordered on contempt.
By the time he reached her side Cecily had pulled on her chemise, struggled into her stays. Her fingers fastened up the front-lacing stays most working women wore, and she pulled on her jacket and skirt without benefit of her quilted petticoat.
Giles found it easier to speak once she'd covered that glorious body. "I told you to stay in the water."
She did not answer, pulling on stockings and shoes.
Not for the first time, he mentally cursed the task of having to protect this young woman. "I cannot keep you safe while fighting."
She straightened, her eyes widening at that. "Why would you care-what in heaven's name is wrong with your sword?"
The damned blade kept twisting his arm around, pointing at the village like a dog scenting a hare. Giles's boots began to slide across the sand, little furrows left in his wake. "It smells blood-"
She flew past him in a blur of black hair and linsey-woolsey skirts. Giles blinked then followed. He'd forgotten she shared the speed elven blood could provide; indeed, it ran even stronger through her veins than his. But his eager sword aided his flight and he managed to catch up with her at the top of the rise. He threw an arm about her waist, managed to drag her and his sword behind an outcropping of rock.
Despite years of watching over her, he had never dared touch her before and the shock of it took him by surprise. A thrill ran through him and for a moment he could only stare speechlessly at her.