When Prince Aiden sets out to rescue a princess, the last thing he expects to find is a cross-dressing artist named Robert. Can he set aside his fears and find the fairy tale ending he longs for?
In a world where fairy stories are historical fact, Prince Aiden is on a quest to find a princess to rescue and bring home as his bride. Deep in the Enchanted Forest, he finds Robert, a cross-dressing artist who lives alone in his tower. Mistaking him for a woman, Prince Aiden is determined to have Robert as his bride.
When the prince of his dreams shows up at Robert’s tower he is far from happy, especially when the handsome prince refuses to believe he is a man. Can he convince Prince Aiden to love him as the man he is, or is their happily ever after doomed from the start?
Excerpt: (as taken from Fireborn Publishing’s website)
Prince Aiden rode at the head of the small party of riders. They had entered the Enchanted Forest an hour earlier and were making extremely slow progress. Every few yards they travelled some creature darted into their path, spooking the horses and causing delay. The trolls were definitely the worst of the bunch; Aiden was sure they were jumping out on purpose.
“Your Highness, I must insist we bear east.”
Aiden ignored the whining of the priest from the back of the party, lest he be tempted to feed him to the next big bad wolf they came across. He knew exactly what was due east and if his parents wanted him to bring a bride back to the castle, then heading towards the fire-breathing dragon was the wrong way to go about it. Any princess daft enough to get herself captured by a dragon was on her own.
His best friend, Lord Marcus, drew up his horse alongside Aiden. “Obviously you’re avoiding the dragon, but just out of curiosity, which fair maiden are you planning on rescuing?”
Aiden grinned. “I thought Rapunzel might be an easy rescue.”
“I thought she was guarded by a witch?”
“There aren’t any actual witches these days. She’s probably just bored out of her mind and waiting for her prince to come carry her off into the sunset.”
Marcus shook his head and laughed loudly. From the back of the group, the priest was still calling out to head east. “Tell me again why you brought him along.”
Aiden grimaced. “My parents insisted. They’re still annoyed about Elisabeth changing her mind on the way back to the castle.”
“You never did tell me what you said to her to scare her into riding off in the dead of night.”
“I didn’t say anything to her. She’s probably just flighty. I told Mother I hadn’t any intention of travelling so far this time, but they don’t want to take any chances. I’m under orders to get a ring on this new bride’s finger before we travel home.”
“How far is it to the tower?” Marcus asked.
“Only a few more hours ride. I intend to be home in time for supper.”
“If that’s the case, why did you bring the cook?”
Aiden ignored Marcus’s question and spurred his horse on. Just because he liked to plan ahead; there was no need for snide comments from friends who should know better.
He was pretty sure they were lost, not that he would ever admit it, when they finally stumbled across something vaguely resembling a path.
“It’s about time,” Marcus said, as they started down the dusty track.
“I told you we should have turned east,” the priest called from the back. “We’d have been at the castle hours ago if you’d just listened to me.”
Aiden, who had perfected the art of selective hearing over the last few hours, ignored him.
They continued down the path for nearly half an hour until they reached a break in the trees. At the edge of the clearing was a wooden sign reading True Love’s Tower.
“Perfect.” Aiden pointed to the sign. “No dragons, no witches, just true love ready and waiting for me to claim it.”
“If you say so,” Marcus said. “Can we hurry this up? I’m getting peckish.”
Aiden was rather hungry himself and nodded his agreement. Ahead of them stood the tower. The grey stone building looked well-kept and rather quaint, though he was not impressed with the location. In the middle of the forest, with no other sign of civilisation, it was far too quiet for his liking. There were four floors to the tower, the highest of which was above the tree level. The topmost window of the tower appeared larger than the rest, and it was through the wide opening that Aiden first caught a glimpse of the damsel in distress. With long blonde hair and a pale pink gown, she flitted in and out of sight as she awaited her rescuer. He pointed up at the window.
“Do you see her?”
Marcus squinted in the direction he indicated. “Not very clearly. For all you know, she might be a troll.”
“She will be beautiful, as is fitting for my bride.” Aiden wasn’t even going to contemplate the alternative. “Now, watch how it’s done and maybe one day you’ll be rescuing a fair maiden of your own.”
Marcus climbed down from his horse and directed the men to set up a small camp.
“Excellent idea,” Aiden declared. “Set up the altar over near the flowerbed, and I’ll go fetch the blushing bride.”
* * * *
Robert sat on the stool in the room at the top of the tower that had been his home for his entire life. He chewed on the end of a paintbrush as he studied the partially completed portrait on the easel in front of him. The eyes weren’t quite right, but he wasn’t sure how to fix them. He was distracted, and his mind hadn’t been on his work all day. His mother would have said it was his latent magic warning him something was about to happen. He was more inclined to believe it was hunger pangs from skipping breakfast in his eagerness to paint. He turned to clean his brushes, intending to come back to the painting later.
Humming softly, he glanced out the window, enjoying the peace and beauty of his surroundings. The beauty remained, but the peace was suddenly shattered by the sound of hooves coming from below.
Robert never had guests, only lost travellers and misguided idiots ever made it here.
“Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your hair!” The deep, rich voice yelled from the ground, scaring the nearby birds from the trees.
Robert rolled his eyes. “Great, another one.” That made three so far this month and May wasn’t nearly over yet.
He supposed he only had himself to blame really. He stepped away from the window and turned to the mirror, smoothing out the faded, rose-coloured lady’s gown he was wearing. With his penchant for dressing in women’s garments, combined with his waist length, blond hair, many a traveller mistook him for a maiden. He ignored the shout from below and waited for the men to depart.