The Crown of Anavrea
The Theodoric Saga Book 1
by Rachel Rossano
Genre: Historical Romance
In a time when castles were the strongest…in a place where combat was face to face…Labren was on the run. He hid his true name and he admitted it freely.
In a time when slavery was legal…in a place where kings were all-powerful…Eve, a slave, appeared in the right place at the right time.
Eve saved his life. In return, he offered her the opportunity of freedom. She did not know what would happen to her if she chose to accept his proposal, but she did know the consequences of rejecting it.
Eve covered her head and crouched low in the raspberry patch. She concentrated on not making a sound. The blare of the horn and the cries of the hunters faded. Lowering her hands, she strained her ears. Not even the echo of their crashing in the distance remained. The birds stayed silent, but considering the recent ruckus, they might have all fled.
A groan broke the unnatural silence.
She froze and listened, heart in her throat. A pained, male grunt came from about three feet to her left. Cautiously she turned her head. A stranger stared at her through the tangle of bushes between them.
A wild mess of brown hair fell over his dark blue eyes as he regarded her in alarm. Sweat plastered the hair to his forehead. He observed her with more of a feverish glaze than true understanding. Pain etched lines about his eyes.
He opened his mouth as if to speak, but then shook his head. Falling forward, he then rolled onto his back and lay still.
Eve hurried to untangle the thorns from her tunic.
Free at last, she crept out of the patch and approached him. Fear and instinct screamed she should flee. Instead she paused. If she stopped to help him, she would be beaten. Her master warned her to stay away from the king’s men.
Well, the king’s men or not, the pursuers were gone. As their prey, he could hardly be one of them. Was he worse?
She inched forward and a twig snapped under her knee.
“Go away and leave me be,” he ordered.
“What will become of you?”
He stared into the sky above the trees. “My pursuers return.” His chest still heaved from his recent exertion. “I die.” Restlessly, his hand clenched and released at his side as though he was fighting the urge to run.
“I know of a place where you can hide.” She watched his lean form for a reaction. “It is nearby.”
He stopped moving. Finally, as though sensing she would not leave, he spoke. “Come over here. I want to see you.”
She crept to his side. As soon as she drew close, she could see the source of his pain. A shallow gash ran across his left arm above the elbow and an even more serious injury marred his right leg above the knee. The leggings, torn and caked with a combination of dried and fresh blood, trailed filth in the wound. She was calculating how she could slow the bleeding when he commented.
“You are only a child.”
She brought her eyes to his face and bit her tongue. This was not the time to argue her age. She returned to assessing his injuries.
“If you are wondering whether or not I am able to walk, stop.”
“I will help.” She met his eyes with a cool determination that left no room for doubt.
After a moment, he broke her gaze and returned to staring at the sky.
“What if I want to die?”
The King of Anavrea
The Theodoric Saga Book 2
A reluctant king, a blind queen, and a marriage that sparked a rebellion…
Ireic Theodoric, King of Anavrea, constantly battles with his council over who will run the country. When the council insists on a treaty with Sardmara, he agrees. However, the treaty quickly becomes an arranged marriage. Ireic offers up himself for the sake of Anavrea. But after he signs, no princess appears.
Lirth Parnan, only daughter of the king of Sardmara, survives alone in a cold, damp tower room. Baron Tor kidnapped her in an attempt to control her father. No one came to claim her. She suspects her father considers her flawed beyond use in his political games. After five years of waiting, her hope of rescue wanes with her health.
After Ireic fights his way into Lirth’s tower, he realizes the depths of her father’s deception. Instead of being an answer to his problems, Lirth creates new ones. The council will not accept her as queen, but Ireic has sworn an oath that he will marry her. His choice could cost him his throne, perhaps his life.
Ireic’s stomach ached.
The woman gazed straight before her with calm assurance. Her composure unnerved him considering she acted as though he was going to strike her a moment ago.
He dropped his hand and studied the top of her head. Shiny, dark brown hair caught the fading light as she turned toward the door. He registered the sounds of the creaking stairs and voices as he grappled with yet another betrayal.
His older brother stood in the doorway.
Behind Trahern, he could see the outline of his personal guard, Isack. Ireic returned his attention to his brother’s strained features and tried to pull his anger back under control. This woman could not be blamed for her father’s dishonesty.
Trahern’s blue eyes regarded him, questioning as he nodded toward Lirth. Ireic glanced back at his betrothed and encountered her upturned face.
“Your brother?” An amused smile pulled at her mouth and one eyebrow raised with her question.
“How did you guess?”
“You sound alike.” She turned to his brother. “A pleasure to meet you, Prince Trahern.” She dipped a low curtsey. Blind or not, she had been raised well at some point.
“The pleasure is mine, Princess, but I must ask you to call me Trahern and later perhaps brother.”
Ireic’s heart sank as he watched first confusion and then surprise pass across her face as she realized the implications of the title. She dropped her chin.
Trahern caught Ireic’s gaze over her bent head and silently asked the obvious.
Ireic shrugged his shoulders in reply.
He didn’t understand the situation any better than his brother.
After the treaty signing, Ireic had waited a day for Trahern to arrive before traveling to claim his bride. At the end of the four day journey, he found an empty house and a gardener keeping watch over the grounds. The truth was Princess Lirth hadn’t lived there for years, ever since her abduction by a northern baron named Tor.
Determined to finish his task and validate the treaty, Ireic, his brother, and half of the armed men with them continued north while the councilmen headed back west across Braulyn.
Now, frustrated and tired, Ireic was tempted to walk back down the tower stairs, out the main gate and disappear forever into the northern wastes. The council could run Anavrea just fine without him.
But what would happen to Lirth? He was not the only person being managed and manipulated.
He glanced at his bride. Her father valued her as a pawn in his political games, not even bothering to rescue her. More a victim than he in this political mess, she needed protection.
“Am I a clause in an alliance agreement?”
Lirth’s bright, blue eyes drew Ireic’s focus back to the present. For a woman just informed of her betrothal to a stranger, she appeared unusually calm. How could she act so serene?
“Is our marriage part of an alliance agreement?” Small lines appeared between her eyebrows.
Watching hesitancy and wariness play on her face, he replied. “Your father offered your hand to me as a show of goodwill between our nations.”
The Reward of Anavrea
The Theodoric Saga Book 3
She couldn’t hide forever.
A hard life taught Jayne to avoid men, powerful men most of all. When a new nobleman arrives to take over the vargar, she takes her family and hides. But the new baron seeks her out and makes her an offer she can’t refuse: protection. However, once they were sheltered behind the dark stone walls of the vargar, who would protect her from the new master?
His reward isn’t what it seems.
King Ireic of Anavrea charges Liam, a former bodyguard, with the task of retaking and taming a corner of the northern wilds. Upon arrival at Ashwyn Vargar, Liam finds challenges beyond his military experience. The keys to the vargar are missing and so are the field hands who should be harvesting the fields. Once he finds the keeper of the keys, she raises more questions than answers.
“My Lord Tremain.”
Liam grimaced at the sound of his new title. Drawing back on the reins, he slowed his horse and guided it to the side of the winding trail.
“My lord.” Braxton drew his mount alongside Liam’s, matching the warhorse’s pace.
“How many times do I need to tell you? You don’t have to use my title. We are friends, not–” Liam couldn’t find the words to describe what they were.
“I know.” Braxton waved him off with his hand. “But you have to get used to it soon.”
“That was not my point.”
Braxton merely nodded.
Liam knew his friend was correct, but he was not willing to take on his new role as a titled landowner any sooner than necessary. Glancing over at his comrade-in-arms of ten years, he asked, “So what were you ‘my lording’ me for?”
“The captain says we should be able to see the village and vargar after the next rise,” Braxton informed him.
“Then let us pick up the pace.” Liam urged his horse to trot. “I wish to know the magnitude of the job before me.”
King Ireic Theodoric, monarch of Anavrea, was replacing his nobles, one title at a time. Ever since the attempted coup a year ago, he pursued a strategic removal of power from the hands of his opposition. So, when Lord Alain of Ashwyn died without a legitimate heir, he chose Liam to take the title and lands.
Liam supposed he was a logical choice. As the third son of noble parents, he chose to enter the military. There he served his country and king with honor. Then the rebellion occurred. He found himself on the opposite side of the conflict from his parents and many of his childhood friends. The king triumphed. The title and lands handed to him were a reward for exceptional service.
“There is the vargar.” Braxton pointed toward the far rise as they crested a hill. Liam reined in his horse so he could take in the view.
Before them, the valley dropped away and spread out in a green and brown patchwork of fields and hedgerows. The road they followed wound slightly to the east on its route to the village huddled beneath the shadow of a massive fortress. The village was smaller than Liam anticipated. This close to the wild northern border he expected the village would be closer to the stronghold of the lord protecting them.
The castle loomed above the clustered cottages on its perch at the top of the next rise. Its thick walls of black stone soaked up the late afternoon sunlight. The same light painted everything else vivid shades of bronze and gold.
“Ashwyn Vargar,” Braxton murmured.
“Aye.” Liam sighed. The cacophany made by the following company of men made Liam cringe. “Come,” he said as he urged his horse forward, “Let us get this over and done.”
Rachel Rossano specializes in clean romantic fiction set in historical-feeling fantasy worlds. She also dabbles in straightforward historical romance and not-so-strict speculative fiction.
A happily married mother of three small children, she divides her time between mothering, teaching, and writing. She endeavors to enchant, thrill, entertain, and amuse through her work. A constant student, she seeks to improve her skills and loves to hear from readers.
I write fantasy, but I love history
I love history. From a young age, I sought out everything I could about the past, reading and learning about what happened in the past. I wanted to know everything I could about how people dressed, lived, and interacted. Dates weren’t that important. My interest in historical politics came much later. As a child I was interested in the people and everyday life.
Now as an author, I tap into that gathered knowledge from my childhood. Although I write fantasy, I had in great helpings of historical inspired settings, clothing, and situations. My characters’ lives are circumstances are influenced by the long hours I spent pouring over history books, biographies, and paintings from different periods.
What inspired you to write the Novels of Rhynan?
Duty was inspired by a single sentence, the opening one. “’The red one is mine,’ he said.” Lord Irvaine is referring to Brielle, my red-headed heroine. From there, an adventure was born. Initially I planned on writing a short story, but the story ended up needing a larger canvas and became a novel.
Honor was inspired by a reviewer falling in love with one of my secondary characters, Dentin. He appears and plays an integral part in the last parts of Duty and he made such an impression that the reviewer begged for me to write his story.
The Making of a Man, the anthology short story collection, was born out of the writing of the first two Novels of Rhynan. So many secondary characters were catching my readers’ notice that I felt compelled to delve deeper into the world and give more of them their own story. The stories seemed to fall into place around Dentin, so the focus quickly became him, his past, present, and future. Also included are hints that will be picked up in the final three planned novels of the series.
What inspired the Theodoric Saga?
The first book, The Crown of Anavrea, was begun out of boredom on a trip to the Black Forest area of southern Germany in the late ‘90s. A two week trip became three. I had read everything I could get in English, including some nightmare inducing suspense novels. Finally I decided that I needed to write my own novel for my own entertainment. I wrote the first few pages and then promptly lost them to a glitch on my laptop. Thankfully I didn’t give up and I rewrote them again.
The King of Anavrea was born from a love for the secondary character of Ireic Theodoric. I felt guilty for leaving him with a throne he didn’t want and a mess of a government with no one to help him clean up the mess. Though, as stories usually go, the solution was messier than the original problem.
The Reward of Anavrea was inspired by a challenge to myself to write a difficult female lead and a different male lead than I had previously written. Jayne proved to be quite a challenge for both me and Liam. I think you will enjoy sheering Liam as he tries to work through Jayne’s many emotional defences.
Where were you born/ grow up at?
I grew up on the road in many ways. Although we lived in one place at a time, my childhood as a missionary pastor’s kid involved many hours on the American highways as we did deputation together. From the time I was born until I was ten, we moved every three to four years, sometimes more frequently. I learned young how to make friends and introduce myself to people. Although I spent most of this time in the northern Midwest, I have since come to call New England my home. Since marrying my husband, a man who has lived his whole life in one town, I have managed to stay in one place for over twenty years.
What can we expect from you in the future?
You can expect more books. I have three finished novels (a series my husband is currently reading) waiting for the publishing treatment. Another novel (the last of the Theodoric Saga) requires an extensive overhaul. Meanwhile, I am actively writing the next novel of the Rhynan series as well as a new science fiction novel/prequel to an old short story of mine. Both of them are keeping my very busy. Plus, there is a large backlog of story ideas and at least one more almost completed novel. One thing you can count on is much more reading material to come.
What are some of your hobbies?
When I am not writing, home-schooling, mothering, housekeeping, etc, I also design book covers for other authors. I kind of fell into the job by designing my own covers. Someone liked my work so much that she asked me to design a cover for her. The rest followed.
I love designing. It is similar to writing in that I am trying to capture a story in a single image. Drawing on my lifelong love of art, I am constantly learning new techniques and trying out new ways to capture the essence of the story within the book in a single image.