Romanian unification is on the horizon and the spirited Crown Princess of Carpathia, Caroline, would prefer to ride horses and archery to embroidery and dancing. Complicating her life is her recent discovery that she's a witch.
Prince Stefan Sigmaringen travels to Carpathia to meet Caroline. He discovers he has much in common with her. He also learns that a strange man, Timon, has an unnatural interest in him.
Upon Stefan's engagement, he overhears his mother confessing to a horrible secret – she cursed him in order to conceive him and Stefan will become a werewolf when he turns eighteen. There is a condition to overcome the curse, but it will require Stefan to draw on all his inner strength and Caroline, her courage. Can they break the foul enchantment and secure their future or will Stefan give himself over to the lupine curse that haunts his family?
Caroline spun in the direction of the noise, effortlessly drawing an arrow and hitching it to her bow. A horse neighed, and bushes about fifty meters ahead of her rustled.
Someone was there, watching. But who? A blast of adrenaline rocketed through her. She wasn't about to let her guard down. It wasn't wise of her to be looking for Edwina's scarf with the Sigmaringens due to arrive today, but she believed in following her heart. She prayed on this occasion she hadn't been reckless. Spying a hint of color among the leaves, she let the arrow fly, determined to protect her ladies.
"Ow!" A man's deep voice shouted.
Caroline grimaced. She hoped she hadn't hurt anyone. Her arrow had merely been intended to scare away whoever was watching, not to harm them. Racing forward, she parted the bushes and came upon two young men around her age, both in riding clothes.
Caroline's gaze fell upon the young man on the horse. Their eyes locked. Her cheeks warmed, and some indefinable spark passed between them that heated her body. Oh, she had noticed several handsome guards under her father's command, but this man was different. His malachite eyes spoke of duty, the same sense of duty she harbored, yet hinted at a desire for mischief. His cheekbones were sharp, giving him an almost lupine appearance. He had an air of authority about him, a commanding presence that demanded respect.
His square jaw tensed visibly, and her gaze drifted down his leg. Her arrow had ripped his riding pants and blood trickled from a small flesh wound.
Concern flooded through her. She dropped her bow, pulled her scarf from around her neck, and rushed forward.
"I'm so sorry." The words gushed out as clumsily as she moved. "I didn't mean to harm you."
His mouth spread into a thin-lipped smile. Was he displeased? She couldn't blame him. Still, he said nothing. Caroline placed a hand on his thigh, and a rip current of energy shot up her arm. The space around him glowed brightly, and deep, unspoken desire flamed inside her.
She shook off the sudden, possessive thought and wrapped the scarf around his leg. The blood stained it, but she applied pressure with her hand and the bleeding stopped. Her heart beat a wild tattoo. His leg was well muscled, exuding power. When she looked back up at him, she couldn't deny that he was a handsome man with a beautifully proportioned body that heated her body with desire from their shared touch. She felt alive in a way she couldn't explain. But what man could ever desire the outdoorsy Crown Princess of Carpathia?
"What's your name?" he asked in a rich, deep voice.
Author Bio: Stephanie Burkhart is a 911 dispatcher for LAPD. She was born and raised in Manchester, New Hampshire. She served 11 years in the US Army and currently calls Castaic, California her home. Stephanie was married in Denmark in 1991 and has two young sons. She adores chocolate and is addicted to coffee. She writes paranormal, contemporary, and steampunk romance and has two children's books published with 4RV Publishing.
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