Title: Royal Enchantment
Author: Sharon Ashwood
Genre: Paranormal Romance
She married the king. She wanted the man.
Guinevere’s marriage to Arthur was a political partnership, never a romance. Merlin knows that the king’s court, newly restored at a medieval theme park, will only be complete if Arthur has his lady. Little did anyone suspect that once Guinevere gets a taste of twenty-first-century freedoms that this ancient queen would lose interest in belonging to any man—even a royal one.
It takes a dragon, and some passionate nights spent in each other’s arms, to lure her back to her husband’s side. Arthur is willing to accept Gwen’s help in protecting the new Camelot from a fae menace, but the bigger challenge will be wooing back Guinevere for a second chance at love…
Enchanted Warrior, the first story in this stand-alone series, is a 2017 RITA Finalist for Best Paranormal Romance.
This, at least, was familiar territory. Battling monsters was a man’s business. Never mind that it was the women, left at home, who had the most face time with whatever horror was tearing the village apart. They typically had the beastie on the run by the time Sir Whatever showed up to poke it with a sword.
Gwen paused, wondering at her thoughts. Merlin’s spell had introduced a lot of unfamiliar—and usefully sarcastic—words and phrases. She rather liked that.
“I can wait. There’s always a dragon. Or a troll. Or a quest.” Closing her eyes, Gwen leaned back against the squishy cushions, discovering the ugly piece of furniture was actually comfortable. “While we wait, you can tell me why Camelot needs a queen.”
Merlin’s voice was soft. “That’s also something Arthur needs to say.”
Gwen sighed. She considered trying out one of the useful modern phrases, but when she looked up again, Merlin had disappeared. The only thing left was a faint curl of smoke drifting toward the spackled ceiling.
Gwen huffed. Coward. It was Merlin’s fault she was here. She hadn’t asked to be dragged forward in time.
She rose, too nervous to stay still. The prospect of seeing Arthur turned her insides cold. She was angry with him, of course, but there were other emotions, too—ones that she really didn’t want to examine. And then there was the fact she’d never done the one thing required of a queen—she’d failed to give him an heir.
She drifted around the space, picking things up and putting them down again. The office door beckoned. Why was it closed when every other room was open for inspection? There was no lock, however, and in a moment she was inside. She froze before she’d taken two steps.
Now she understood the closed door. This was the room where Arthur lived. It was not large, but there was a substantial desk in the corner covered with papers. The clutter had the feel of determination and excitement, of boundless enthusiasm colliding with rigorous organization. She approached it, her hands at her sides, touching nothing.
A map hung on the wall, poked full of colored pins. Gwen studied it, not sure what it signified but recognizing the hand of the high king who had made a conquest of Britain. He’d been barely more than a child when the lesser rulers had bowed to his sword. Give Arthur something to conquer, and he was in his element.
Once upon a time, that confidence, that strength of purpose had stopped her heart. Who wouldn’t revere a man who could pluck kingdoms like ripe fruit and make them his own? But she might as well have loved the sea or a range of mountains. Great works of nature had no time for mortal women. She had been a clause in a treaty between Arthur and her father, King Leodegranz. Marriage had been the price of peace, and her dowry had been the famous Round Table.
The table had got more of Arthur’s attention. Gwen frowned and turned away from the map.
There was a computer on the desk, and she experimentally touched a key. The black screen jumped to life, displaying words and pictures. She bent closer to look, her brain catching up to the spell that made it possible for her to read the modern text. Once she began, Gwen lost all awareness of the room around her. She pushed the arrow buttons, making the lines of type move. The novelty of it intrigued her.
So did the words themselves. It was a report of mysterious destruction outside the town. Was this the dragon Merlin had mentioned? Her pulse quickened.
A thickly muscled arm caught her around the waist. Deep in thought, Gwen jerked away from the desk, surprise quickly turning to alarm. The grip tightened, pulling her back against a wall of chest. And then she knew him. She knew the scent, the feel of his body.
“Arthur.” She put both hands on his confining arm, but he didn’t release her.
“What are you doing in here?”
He’d spoken to her on the phone, but the device had done his voice an injustice. Up close, the deep, rich sound was something touchable, like warm fur. Gwen closed her eyes, wishing it didn’t enchant her quite so thoroughly. He’d left her behind. That said enough about his true feelings.
“Shouldn’t you be asking why I’m here at all?” She put an edge in her voice out of reflex, as if that would hold his magnetic effect at bay.
“You forget I spoke to Merlin. I know how you arrived.” His tone was carefully neutral.
His coolness burned her. “And no more needs to be said?”
“What would you have me say?”
“You could begin with hello. I am your wife.”
He relaxed his grip enough that she could turn and pull away. She took a step back, looking up into his face. The encounter with the dragon hadn’t been gentle. His left cheekbone was purpling over raw scrapes that said he’d skidded on hard ground.
They stared at each other for a long moment, teetering at the edge of—something. Could it be he was glad to see her? There was so much unsaid, so many hurts, and so many things she didn’t understand.
In all their years together, she’d never come to grips with what drove him. Most of all, she’d never known what drove him away, exactly, beyond the fact that she wouldn’t sit still and say nothing for years on end.
All Gwen’s unspoken questions rose up. At times—though not often enough—she would have swallowed her questions back, bowed her head and retreated. But she’d been ripped from her century and dumped here, and she was done with silent obedience.
“Why am I here?”
Sharon Ashwood is a freelance journalist, novelist, desk jockey, and enthusiast for the weird and spooky. She has an English literature degree but works as a finance geek. Interests include growing her to-be-read pile and playing with the toy graveyard on her desk. As a vegetarian, she freely admits the whole vampire/werewolf lifestyle fantasy would never work out, so she writes paranormal romances instead. Sharon lives in the Pacific Northwest and is owned by the Demon Lord of Kitty Badness.
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Author Amazon Page: https://www.amazon.com/Sharon-Ashwood/e/B003FDTFF0/