Overview

The demise of Villanova will begin when the blood of its ruler is too weak to sustain her. Famine, illness, and poverty will lead to the destruction of Villanova unless the blood of her two first families is once again united.

To save his kingdom from the ancient curse, Prince Nicolai Alexandrov must marry. Faced with two candidates, Nicolai chooses Lady Bronwyn Mongtomery, a descendant of a Villanovan family and the reclusive daughter of an ...

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My Footman, My Prince

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Overview

The demise of Villanova will begin when the blood of its ruler is too weak to sustain her. Famine, illness, and poverty will lead to the destruction of Villanova unless the blood of her two first families is once again united.

To save his kingdom from the ancient curse, Prince Nicolai Alexandrov must marry. Faced with two candidates, Nicolai chooses Lady Bronwyn Mongtomery, a descendant of a Villanovan family and the reclusive daughter of an earl.

Lady Bronwyn has finally accepted that no man could possibly love her because of the birthmark that mars her face. After a disastrous first season with the London ton, Bronwyn has retreated to her country home, where she hides from the rest of the world.

Nicolai poses as a footman to gain admission to Bronwyn’s home, in hopes of persuading her to give up her hermit ways, marry him, and save his kingdom. But when Bronwyn finds out his secret, can her footman become her prince?

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781595782618
  • Publisher: Liquid Silver Books
  • Publication date: 8/14/2004
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 217
  • File size: 550 KB

Meet the Author

Robin credits her grandmother with first introducing her to the world of romantic fiction. She grew up reading her grandmother's dog-eared Barbara Cartland novels and Harlequins, all the while dreaming of the day her sultan/prince/knight would rescue her from the doldrums of day to day living. Since then, Robin has learned that there is still more fun to be had in a book than real life, so she turned her hobby into something a bit more productive and began writing her own happily ever afters. The Game of Desire was her first foray into sensual romance and she hopes it did her grandmother proud. Robin is currently dreaming up her next hero, but her readers can contact her at bookrobin@aol.com or through her website, robindanner.com
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Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

"Damn this curse!"

Prince Nicolai Eduard Alexandrov burst through his chamber door with his loyal manservant, Frankov, at his heels. Tearing off his purple sash, he tossed it across the room. It was quickly followed by his jacket and waistcoat, until Nicolai was left wearing a loose fitting white shirt and black trousers.

Every inch of his body vibrated with anger as he strode across the room. "They cannot demand that I marry. This time the counsel has gone too far."

Nicolai knew his stance and belligerent expression might make Frankov remember him as a child, but he didn't worry overmuch. He was no longer that mischievous boy, but a man that stood in line to inherit the great crown of Villanova in less than two months' time.

Even though Nicolai had ruled the kingdom since his father's death, Villanovan law decreed that the heir could not receive the crown until the one year anniversary of the previous monarch's demise. The period between one monarch's death and the crowning of his successor was historically a period rift with political schemes and attempted overthrows, yet the past ten months of Nicolai's interim had been calm. He had easily acquired the good will of his father's subjects by ruling with the same fairness of the previous king.

Yet now, two months from his coronation, Nicolai was in jeopardy of losing their support if he ignored the curse. Although he was a young ruler, he knew enough of politics to realize that the ramifications of such an act would be great.

The prince spun back to face Frankov, who was visibly agitated. He crooked a finger at his servant and he cautiously ventured forward. "Tell me,Frankov. Do you believe there is any truth in this talk of a curse?"

Frankov made the sign of the cross and nodded vigorously. "That I do, Your Highness. For several months now, the farmers have complained of ruined crops."

Nicolai believed there was a perfectly reasonable explanation. "We are in a drought season. It is no worse than the crop shortage we suffered three years ago."

"And the accident at the mines last week?" Frankov prodded.

Nicolai grimaced at the reminder of the valuable workers that had been injured when a scaffold collapsed. "That was due entirely to human error. The person responsible has been reprimanded."

"Yes, but what of the infertility our women have been experiencing?"

"Malnutrition and the men's low spirits," Nicolai said, but his voice lacked his previous conviction. "Besides, the curse made no mention of infertility."

Frankov began to recite from an ancient scroll that he held in his hands. "The demise of Villanova will begin when the blood of its ruler is too weak to sustain her. Famine, illness, and poverty will lead to the destruction of Villanova unless the blood of her two first families is once again united." Frankov looked up from the scroll with a pointed glance. "I certainly believe that infertility qualifies as a type of illness."

Nicolai came forward and took the scroll. He scanned the remaining lines with a studious eye, shaking his head when he was finished. He rolled up the scroll and handed it back to Frankov. "I will not marry just because the counsel and a small group of my subjects are superstitious."

"A small group?" Frankov asked in disbelief. "Almost the entire population of Villanova is gathered outside the palace walls, demanding an audience with you. Each of their stories is more tragic than the last."

Nicolai appeared taken aback by the information. "Is this true?"

Frankov nodded. "Take a look for yourself."

Nicolai strode toward the window and tossed back the curtain. A large number of his subjects were indeed camped on the palace lawn. Even from a distance, he could tell that they looked frighteningly downtrodden and weary. His appearance at the window normally gained an exuberant cheer. This time, his presence apparently went unnoticed, since no one made a sound. He turned back to Frankov with worry evident in his clear green eyes. "You have spoken with them?"

"Yes, Your Highness, and I fear there may be trouble brewing if you do not agree to end the curse."

Nicolai glanced down at the signet ring on the third finger of his left hand. His father had given it to him shortly before his death. When he had accepted the ring, Nicolai had promised to do everything within his power to keep Villanova safe, but he had never expected to be forced into an arranged marriage.

In Villanova, young people were given the freedom to choose their mate. Even his father had exercised this right when he married the only daughter of a lowly baron. His parents' marriage had been a happy one, full of love and laughter. Nicolai had wanted no less for his own.

"How long have they been out there?"

"Nearly all morning, Your Highness."

Nicolai's face tightened with irritation. "Why was I not informed of their presence sooner?"

"The counsel believed it best that you hear the demand from them rather than your subjects. They were unsure of how you would react." Frankov paused, giving Nicolai a brief look of censure. "And judging from your outburst this morning, the counsel was correct in their decision."

Nicolai was ashamed of his behavior that morning, when he had jumped to his feet and proclaimed to all and sundry that he would not be forced to marry for such a ridiculous reason. He had then stormed out, leaving the counsel stunned at such an explosive reaction from a normally even-tempered prince.

He tried to think of a way to rationalize his reaction and finally settled on a half-truth. "What they are asking goes against every principle for which my father stood. If I ever decide to marry, it will be for my own purposes, rather than that of the counsel."

"And is ensuring the well being of your people not one of your purposes?"

Nicolai heaved a sigh. "You are right, of course, but damned if it makes it any easier to swallow."

Frankov cleared his throat with a delicate cough. "If I may ask, why are you so opposed to marriage?"

"I am not opposed to marriage itself," Nicolai answered as he sat down in the chair beside the window. "I dislike not being able to choose my own bride."

Frankov's worried face suddenly cleared. "Oh, but you do have a choice, Your Highness!"

"I do?" Nicolai paused in the act of removing his boots and glanced up with a surprised look.

Frankov nodded and reached into his pocket to retrieve a small packet of letters. The paper crinkled in his hands as he unfolded it and handed it to Nicolai. "There are two unmarried females that are believed to be descendants of Pasha Savin and Nellya Kuzmin."

"There are only two?"

Frankov nodded. "The Savin line is nearly extinct."

"As is the Alexandrov," Nicolai remarked wryly. In fact, other than a smattering of cousins, he was the only remaining heir to the powerful dynasty that had ruled Villanova for nigh five hundred years.

Nicolai quickly read the detailed descriptions of Miss Eliza Dewitt and Lady Bronwyn Montgomery. Miss Dewitt was apparently the daughter of a wealthy merchant, while Lady Bronwyn's father was an influential earl. If he did decide to pursue one of these women as a bride, Miss Dewitt would be the obvious choice, since she would be more biddable. Yet he found himself drawn to the challenge, according to the information, that Lady Bronwyn would present.

His gaze moved to the window and was captured by the sight of a small boy clinging to his father's neck. Exhaustion and worry was evident in the father's face. Ragged clothing hung on the farmer's normally robust frame, as if he had not eaten in days. It was an unusual sight in a kingdom renowned for the general health and well being of its lower classes.

"Has anyone sent food to them?" Nicolai asked calmly.

Frankov shook his head. "I am not sure, Your Highness. Shall I see to it?"

"Right away, if you please."

Frankov turned toward the door, but paused and sent Nicolai a questioning look. "What about the curse, Your Highness?"

Although he doubted his kingdom's current problems stemmed from an ancient prophesy, as a ruler Nicolai could not stand idly by and witness such dejection in his subjects. If his marriage would restore their previous spirit, he would do it.

Nicolai made his decision instantly. "Find out all you can about Lady Bronwyn."

Frankov began to sputter. "Lady Bronwyn? But, Your Highness, did you read the part about..."

Nicolai held up a hand for silence. "I have made my decision."

"But it is rumored that she..."

Nicolai once again interrupted. "Her father is an earl. If I must be made to marry for political reasons, I might as well gain an influential father-in-law in the process."

Frankov tried one last time to dissuade him. "Lady Bronwyn is a recluse. Some say that she has not seen a man, other than her servants, in over five years."

"Wonderful." Nicolai's mouth widened into a satisfied smile. He yanked one boot off and tossed it across the room. "Then I won't have any competition for her hand, will I?"

"No, I suppose not," Frankov answered. "But how do you plan to get close to her if she won't allow visitors?"

Nicolai smiled mischievously as he heard his servant groan.

"My dear Frankov, I have a plan."

* * * *

Unaware of the conversation taking place nearly half a continent away, Bronwyn Montgomery was facing a distressing decision of her own.

"An entire month?" Bronwyn did not even pretend to consider her father's proposition. "I cannot do it."

Walter Montgomery looked at his daughter with undisguised pity as he settled into the chair opposite her. He was an attractive man in his fifties with graying hair and thick sideburns, although his face was presently lined with concern for his only daughter's state. The chair's leather creaked as he shifted into a comfortable position. "I know that your first experience in London was not pleasant, but won't you give it another chance?"

She lifted a hand from the book she was holding and cradled the right side of her face. "I can't, Papa. You must understand that."

He sighed and reached over to cover her hand with his own. "Sweetheart, you are a lovely girl. You cannot continue to hide yourself in Wiltshire forever."

"I am happy here." She forced a smile to her lips. "Wiltshire is my home."

Walter's hand moved to her shoulder and he patted it awkwardly. "I know it is, but I feel guilty leaving you here all by yourself."

"Don't be ridiculous, Papa. I know that your presence is required in London when Parliament is in session. It will be Easter soon enough. Surely I can last a few months on my own?"

Though he had to know it was a losing battle, Walter continued to press the issue. "I know you are old enough to make your own decisions, Bronwyn, but I really wish you would consider returning to London with me."

Bronwyn's hand returned to her lap, where she clenched it tightly. "Don't ask this of me, Papa. I will never go back to London."

Walter looked disappointed at her answer. It was obviously not what he wanted to hear, but he should have gotten used to it over the past five years. Each year, he came to her and requested her presence in London. Each year, she gave the same answer.

He smiled encouragingly. "What if I promise to take you to Vauxhall? The fireworks are extraordinary this time of year. Remember how much you used to enjoy the fireworks?"

She lifted an eyebrow in amusement. "Are you trying to bribe me, Papa?"

"That depends," Walter answered. "Is it working?"

She shook her head regretfully. "No. I am sorry."

"At least say you will think about it," he pleaded.

"I will," she promised. "But I doubt it will affect my decision."

"If you change your mind," he began again, only to be interrupted.

"I won't," she answered quickly.

He continued as if she had not spoken. "But if you do, please let me know."

She nodded. "If I ever decide to return to London Papa, rest assured you will be the first to know."

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