Category and Genre: YA/NA
Word Count: 76,000
After insulting her older sister’s suitors at a banquet, High Princess Tarakanova’s father decrees that she must marry the first beggar who comes to the door. High spirited and haughty, she refuses to apologize, and finds herself married, against her will, to Atrejo, a lowborn musician. Although she insists it’s a mistake, their clandestine marriage is binding and she must journey with him across the distant mountains to his village in the far away kingdom of Epicha.
When Tarakanova learns that the village is near the palace of one of her father’s allies, she formulates a plan to have Atrejo hung for kidnapping her. While serving as a palace kitchen maid she is recognized by her older sister, who is the king’s honored guest. The new queenly qualities Tarakanova developed are tested as she must decide whether to rid herself of Atrejo in order to be restored to her former high status. Can she condemn an innocent man to death in order to get her life back?
First 250 Words:
Like countless young women, Tarakanova used to dream of her perfect wedding day. It would take place in late spring when flowers were plentiful and the roads leading to the imperial city of Tarsecor were easiest to travel. The exquisite bridal gown would take months to be custom-made by the best dressmakers in the land. The guest list would include the highest noble families and luminaries of the seven kingdoms. The ceremony would be short, but the feasting and revelries that followed would continue for days with fireworks, music, and dancing into the wee hours of morning.
Her father’s subjects would commemorate by waving flags and cheering as she and her groom – no doubt the most eligible and handsome of princes, rode through the streets in an open carriage surrounded by dozens of uniformed guards. The dazzling sight would be spoken of for years to come and if she were truly fortunate, it would eclipse the wedding of High Princess Kilmeny, her older sister.
Tarakanova spent little time fantasizing about her future life-long companion. What need was there when her father would choose only the finest candidate with the best pedigree, impressive qualifications, and excellent prospects to be her spouse?
In reality, though her marriage had taken place in spring and while the ceremony was astonishingly short, alas, there was no finely-worked gown of silk or white veil in Tarakanova’s silver hair. Nor had High Princess Tarakanova envisioned a husband anything like the one she now found herself in possession of; coarse and lowborn.