The Aurelian Guard #1
By: Nicole Elizabeth Kelleher
Releasing March 8, 2016
This gorgeous, sweeping historical romance will enchant the readers of Deanna Raybourn, and introduces a wildly talented new voice.
Anna was born of Chevring, a territory renowned for its valorous war horses, in the kingdom of Aurelia. But peace reigns, and her family’s fortune has dwindled. Her father brokers an alliance with the wealthy Lord Roger of Stolweg. The price: his eldest daughter and the secrets to her family’s once great power. Soon after they are wed, Roger proves himself cruel and calculating, a harsh lord who sows the seeds of fear in his people.
He has an ambitious secret, and nothing will stand in his way. Not his new bride, nor his older brother, heir to all that he covets. But secrets have a way getting out, and the people of Stolweg quietly bide their time, coming to love Anna for her noble bravery in standing up to her scoundrel husband. She will prove the leader they need to rise up and bring their underground resistance to flourish.
But it is Larkin, a guard of Aurelia, whose presence brings Roger’s treachery to the forefront, igniting the spark of war. Larkin comes to Stolweg to investigate Roger for treason against the realm and ends up giving all of his attention to Anna. For she not only captures his heart, she may be the only person who can stop the battle that will tear the kingdom apart.
"Nicole Elizabeth Kelleher's debut novel Wild Lavender is engrossing right from the prologue." —B.B. Haywood, New York Times bestselling author
A graduate of the University of Michigan’s College of Literature, Science and Arts, Nicole Elizabeth Kelleher studied French Literature and Language, Spanish and Mandarin while concurrently attending UofM’s Art School. She moved to France and attended the Université Catholique de l’Œest before relocating to Belgium to complete an internship at a fine arts and antiques auction house. During this time, she traveled throughout the countryside of Europe, immersing herself in its history, architecture, and art. Nicole lives in Northern Virginia with her two children, husband and Tully the Dog.
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…He should have tended to Rabbit himself, knowing how mulish the beast had been all morning. When he walked into thestructure, the stable hand was off to one side, calming the other horses. Unbelievably, he’d left the woman, Lady Aubrianne, to settle his stallion.
Lark started forward but paused when he heard her speak.
She was doing her best to calm his horse. Rabbit let out a pained whinny and reared. Aubrianne continued soothingly, clucking her tongue and whispering, “Shhh. Hush now, friend.”
Upon hearing her voice, the destrier stopped bucking, but his head and neck continued to dip up and down violently. “So you do remember me, boy. I was beginning to feel slighted.”
His horse calmed even more. She placed her hands on each side of Rabbit’s head and touched her forehead to his. “That’s it, good lad. I’ll fix whatever ails you.”
Larkin cleared his throat. “His name is—”
“Rabbit,” she supplied tersely, cutting him short.
“How do you know his name?” he demanded. The stable hand glared at him and moved closer to protect the woman. Brave lad, Lark thought.
With her forehead still pressed to Rabbit’s, she answered, “I’d better know his name. I gave it to him. How’ve you been, Bunny? Do you still like to be scratched here?” She inserted her fingers under the bridle strap that fit along and behind Rabbit’s cheekbones. When Rabbit snorted in pleasure, she laughed. “What’s hurting you, boy?”
She gestured to Will to approach, and Rabbit gave a threatening nicker. “Come now, Rabbit. He’s a good friend. Say hello to Will. Will, this is Rabbit.” Will reached out his hand to the horse’s neck. Rabbit nickered again, this time without the warning. “What were you doing
before our Rabbit caused the ruckus, Will?”
“I pulled the cinch tighter, to loosen it, m’lady. He jumped sideways, crashing into the other horses. Lucky he didn’t jump my way.”
“You’re too smart for that, aren’t you, boy?” she said, patting Rabbit’s neck.
Lark had yet to see the face of Roger’s wife, the Lady of Stolweg, but she’d removed her cloak. The breeches she wore left little to his imagination. Baldric might be interested to know that Little Aubrianna was no longer. She was a grown woman. Something inside him tensed;
he felt like a bow string pulled too far and not released.
She was running her fingers down Rabbit’s neck, along his withers, and over his barrel, never once lifting her touch, tracing lazy circles over his ash-colored coat. She stepped closer to Rabbit’s side and carefully lifted the stirrup, fixing it over the pommel of the saddle. Lark took a
position in front of Rabbit where he could observe Lady Aubrianne. Her fingers trailed delicately along the cinch, and Rabbit turned his head to nudge her. She shushed him again, murmuring something under her breath. Her hands had made the trek about three-quarters of the way
down when they stopped. She sighed heavily.
“Will, fetch my bag. And a swatch of leather, too.” She nodded to Will after he arched an eyebrow in Lark’s direction. “It’s all right. Go ahead.”
“Right away, m’lady,” he called and ran to the tack room.