by Cara Bristol
Sharona women and barbarian Lahon men maintain separate lives until libidinal fever strikes, and the women are forced to mate.
Stricken by a mysterious terminal illness, Sharona Princess Reena jumps at the chance to accompany a cousin on her mating journey so she can at least see a Lahon before she dies.
Garat, leader of the Lahon, hates the Sharona because of the woman who birthed and killed his son years ago. Now that a massive earthquake has left his people with precious little water, he has the perfect excuse to exact revenge by driving the Sharona from their homeland and taking what the Lahon need.
When he encounters Reena on the mating journey he takes her hostage to force the Sharona to capitulate to his demands, but finds himself drawn to her instead. As his desire rises, lust for revenge wanes.
But after what he’s done, can he convince her of the evil that lives in the palace in time to save her life?
Under a caress of sunlight, Reena floated in the pond, grateful to have escaped the watchful eyes of servants, advisers, and bodyguards. Well, most of them. She cracked an eyelid. Yep. Carinda was still there, keeping a firm grip on her electrical impulse disruptor and a steady gaze on the perimeter. Her bodyguard’s caution and devotion were admirable—but unnecessary. No danger could penetrate the protected grotto.
Reena rolled over and dove deep. Tiny fish scattered. She touched the sandy bed then swam along the bottom until the need for air forced her upward again. She broke the surface and flung her hair out of her eyes.
Hip deep in the water, Carinda splashed toward her. “Oh my Goddess. You scared me to death.” The big, burly guard looked like an oversized drowned rodent. Reena would have laughed except for Carinda’s contorted, stricken expression. She didn’t want to scare anybody; she only needed solitude. “You worry unnecessarily. I have been swimming since I was a little girl.”
“I can barely float, Princess,” Carinda replied. “Anything could have happened. I feared you were drowning.”
“I apologize. I shouldn’t have frightened you. Why don’t you return to the palace and get some dry clothes?”
Carinda shook her head. “No, I won’t desert you.”
“You’re not deserting me. You’ll be right back.” Please, give me a moment to myself. No attendants, no servants, no guards. “I’ll be safe. Promise.” She flashed her most beguiling smile.
“I am not asking.” Treading water, Reena compressed her lips in frustration. “I command you to return to the palace.”
Carinda bit her lip then shook her head. “I’m sorry, Princess, the queen’s wishes supersede yours. I have been ordered not to leave you alone, in case…something befalls you.” Her hurt expression turned questioning. “I don’t know how you got out of the palace without anyone seeing you.” She stopped speaking, probably willing Reena to fill the silence with an explanation.
The bodyguard would have a long wait. The existence of the secret passage would go with Reena to her grave. She hadn’t shared that information with anyone, not even with her cousin Honna, her closest ally.
Reena lifted her chin, and Carinda conceded the battle. “It was fortunate I spotted you while patrolling the grounds.”
Unfortunate. Reena refused to feel guilty. “Please go to the palace. I won’t be long.”
“You are not well.” Carinda held her ground.
“I’ll stay with her.” Honna stepped from the path onto the beach.
Having her cousin nearby didn’t qualify as being alone, but Reena much preferred her presence to the guard’s. Despite a seven year age gap, they were best friends, as close as sisters.
“If anyone can take of me, she can,” Reena argued. She owed her continuing life to her cousin. The Goddess had gifted Honna with a natural talent for the healing arts, which she had honed by intensive training. If not for her, Reena would have already died. Once, she would have become Shara, but her mysterious illness cast doubt she would live long enough to ascend the throne currently held by her mother, Ellynna.
Carinda waded out of the pool. Dripping and shivering, she planted both feet on the bank.
“If you catch a chill in those wet clothes, then how will you protect me?” Reena called.
Carinda’s resolute expression wavered. “What if there are invaders? Barbarians who would catch a woman alone? The Lajon.”
“At the very center of the palace gardens? Unlikely,” Honna scoffed. “They would have to scale the perimeter wall, neutralize our guards, storm the palace, and then choose the right path to this bathing pool.”
And if barbarians did achieve the near-impossible and breach their defenses, a lone bodyguard would be no match for them. Pointing that out would cause worrywart Carinda to freak.
“I suppose you’re right,” she conceded, wrinkles of doubt lining her forehead.
Reena swam toward shore until her feet could touch the bottom and then stood. Water lapped at her shoulders.
“Go,” Honna said. “Everything will be fine.”
“Everything will be fine…” Muwahaha….Famous last words.
Cara Bristol continues to evolve, adding new subgenres of erotic romance to her repertoire. She has written spanking romance, contemporary romance, paranormal, and science fiction romance. No matter what the genre, one thing remains constant: her emphasis on character-driven seriously hot erotic stories with sizzling chemistry between the hero and heroine. Cara has lived many places in the United States, but currently resides in Missouri with her husband. She has two grown stepkids. When she’s not writing, she enjoys reading and traveling.