Ginny doesn’t want to be queen. Known as the mead-loving, trouble-making princess of Newrock, all she wants is for her beloved little brother to marry, so he can assume the throne and she can disappear. But when tragedy befalls her kingdom and pushes the crown into her hands, she’s forced to face her worst nightmare. Surrounded by betrayal and the threat of death, her only thought is to save her brother–even if it means giving herself over to the enemy.
Targeted Age Group:: Teen/Young adults
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
I had for a long time been wanting to write a story about kings and queens and knights, and I wanted to write about strong princesses and brave women, not damsels in distress. It took me awhile to fully develop the story for Hopeless Reign, but I like how it turned out!
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
At first, Ginny was just a rebellious teen princess. She is actually the one that came up with the idea to have a mead problem, and I agreed, because I think it made her more vulnerable. Ward, her best friend, is a boy, and I thought that added an interesting touch. Her best friend isn’t another girl, and the name “Ward” reflects that he looks out for her, even when they’re up to no good. I wanted Liam to seem like a stereotypical prince, really good looking and full of himself, but underneath, he’s really sweet and he cares deeply for his kingdom.
Behind the black curtain is an alley lined with shops and pubs. The king mandated that the curtain be put up to discourage children from going down the alley. Because the town sits so close to the border, foreigners frequent the alley to trade and drink. Fights routinely break out over trades gone wrong, drunken fools stumble around looking for trouble, and murders committed there rarely are solved or punished. The king tries to control the alley by having his men patrol the area, but more often than not, someone will buy them a drink or gift them something of value, and they leave with the word that all is well. The alley behind the black curtain continues its business day after day, night after night. It’s certainly no place for children, or anyone respectable, definitely not a princess.
But here I am.
Maybe a princess wouldn’t usually find herself in the presence of thieves, drunkards, and troublemakers. But I find them to be some of the most non-judgmental people I know. Sure, one has to keep an eye on one’s pocket, and it’s best not to bring anything one isn’t willing to lose. But never once has anyone told me I don’t belong here, or that I should get my act together, or that I’m setting a bad example for the whole kingdom. Here, I am simply Ginny.
And Simply Ginny is dancing to the fast music of the traveling minstrels, downing my second jug of mead, and letting the bittersweet, fruity flavor tingle my brain and lighten the mood. Beside me, Ward—already on his third jug with its contents sloshing each time he hops to the beat—is laughing as he tries to dance with a girl who is as horrible a dancer as he is. A misstep sends him tumbling into the nearby crowd, which scatters to let him fall rather than attempt to help him. He remains on the floor and joins our laughter at his idiocy.
I am having the best time of my life.
“Uh…Ginny?” Ward recovers from his fall and points behind me at the doorway. I glance over and groan. But the new arrival has already spotted us and is making his way over, strutting with his chest out like a buffoon. He greets a nearby girl with a kiss to her hand and she erupts in giggles, hiding her suddenly red face behind her other hand. Ward pretends to heave and I laugh.
“My lady.” Buffoon reaches us and puts on quite a show of bowing, one hand on the hilt of his emerald-encrusted sword, the other across his heart. Behind him, his entourage laughs politely at his sarcasm.
“What are you doing here, Liam? I thought I told you your kind isn’t welcome here.” I greet him in a friendly way. His arms cross defiantly.
“My kind? Half the room is from Etigan and you have yet to kick them out.”
“I said your kind. I didn’t say anything about Etigan.” His entourage laughs at my retort and earns a sharp look from him.
“My lady, have I done something to offend you? Surely you will accept my deepest apologies.” His second bow is more annoying than the first.
“Your best apology would be leaving. And don’t come back.” I turn my back on him. Ward pokes his tongue out at him before turning his back on him, too.
“Very well. But not before a dance.”
I yelp when I’m roughly pulled away from Ward. I hit Liam’s chest, feel his arm encircle my waist, and my hand flies to my leg. I would have my dagger on his throat, but his other hand catches mine mid-grab.
“I’d prefer you kept your hands where I can see them.” He smiles, then sighs. “Relax, Princess. I only want a dance.”
“That’s what all the princes say,” I retort.
“Did you take my advice at least and get a longer dagger? You’d be lucky to scratch someone with that tiny thing.”
“It’s well-made and I assure you if I had reason to harm someone, it would hurt,” I say defensively.
“I’m just saying.” Liam puts up a hand in defeat. He glances around the room while we dance; I see that Ward has returned to his partner and is dancing, too. Liam eyes them, then looks back at me. “My uncle is increasing security around the border. I don’t know when I’ll be able to return here after tonight.”
“I shall send him a thank you gift for that,” I reply. Liam rolls his eyes.
“Do you insist on being this insufferable?”
“Yes. Ask my father.”
“Perhaps I shall. Perhaps I will ask him for your hand. Then I could put you in your place, Princess.”
“Except I would overthrow you and take your crown.” I shrug as if that were an easy task.
“Using that dagger, I suppose? I shall quiver with fear, then.”
“You shall. Why is your uncle increasing security?” I ask only to change the subject.
“He’s been paranoid since…” Liam’s voice trails off, and I cringe at my own lack of compassion. Liam’s father, King Declan of Etigan, was murdered a year before. Tensions have been high between our kingdoms for decades, but after the king’s murder, they had nearly spilled over into war. The death of his father had hit him hard, and Liam turns away from me as I open the fresh wound.
“May the king rest in peace,” I say respectfully. Liam looks at me gratefully.
“May the king rest in peace,” he repeats, then clears his throat and blinks. “I just came tonight to tell you that. In case you should wonder why I’m not here later.”
“I would never wonder about you,” I reply, back in my sarcastic tone. A small smile creases the corner of his mouth, and I feel his hand on the small of my back gently nudging me closer. I clear my throat. “So, these minstrels—what do you think? I like them. They’re different.” Liam doesn’t answer, but we’re so close now I’m stepping on his toes. His intense, emerald-green eyes stare at me, and I find myself again thinking how fitting it is that he is Etigan’s heir. I look away before I lose myself in them. “Usually we get one singer, but there are four of them up there.”
“Ginny!” Ward shakes my shoulder and I’m grateful for the interruption. “We had better go!”
“You’re right. It’s late.” I break away from Liam, not missing the look of disappointment on his face. “When we meet again then.”
“My lady.” He makes to bow again, but I grimace.
“Shall I not show my respect for the future queen of Newrock?”
“The kingdom would bow to your uncle in Etigan long before they would ever bow to me,” I reply. I had intended it to be a joke, but the bitterness in my voice is evident. Before Liam can push the matter further, I take Ward’s arm and we hurry from the pub.
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