Alison Quinn, Countess of Waxwold, is content with her bookish life—until she’s summoned to be a lady-in-waiting to the Queen of Tremontane’s mother for six months. Even the prospect of access to the Royal Library doesn’t seem enough to make up for her sacrifice, but Alison is prepared to do her service to the Crown. What she’s not prepared for is Prince Anthony North, Queen Zara’s playboy brother, who’s accustomed to getting what he wants—including the Countess of Waxwold.
When the fallout from an unfortunate public encounter throws the two of them together, Alison has no interest in becoming the Prince’s next conquest. But as the weeks pass, Alison discovers there’s more to Anthony than she—or he—realized, and their dislike becomes friendship, and then something more—until disaster drives Alison away, swearing never to return.
Then Alison is summoned by the Queen again, this time to serve as Royal Librarian. A threat to Tremontane’s government, with her treasured Library at stake, draws Alison into the conflict…and into contact with Anthony once more. Can they work together to save the Royal Library and Tremontane? And can she open her heart to love again?
Exclusive Excerpt from Servant of the Crown:
Prince Anthony slid his hand from the base of her spine up to caress her back and the bare skin at the base of her neck, a swift stroke that probably no one noticed. Alison’s cheeks went blotchy with anger and embarrassment. And to think she’d been having such a nice time. This always happened, always, she would let her guard down and some man would take advantage of that, as if she were nothing more than a beautiful body. They were in the middle of the ballroom, spotlighted by a hundred thousand sparkling rainbows. She had nowhere to go. She felt ice fill her from deep within her chest, radiating out to the rest of her body. Frozen, where this arrogant Prince couldn’t touch her.
They separated again, briefly, and the Prince held her at a distance for several steps longer than he should have, his eyes caressing her as his hand had done. “You are incredibly beautiful,” he said, his words a little slurred. “Do you realize how beautiful you are?”
A mask of ice descended over her face, her lips. “Modesty requires I not answer that, your Highness.”
He laughed and drew her close again, finally, breaking the rhythm of the dance. “Oh, you’re beautiful,” he said, his breath hot on her ear. “But I’ll wager you’re even more beautiful with that dress off. I would love to see you without—”
Without thinking, Alison whipped her hand out of his grasp and brought it around hard to slap the Prince’s face. The sound of her bare palm striking his cheek carried unnaturally far in the crowded, overfull ballroom. The dancers nearest them stopped to stare, and their stillness spread outward until half the floor was occupied by unmoving figures. The music went ragged and then stumbled to a halt. The Prince stood with his hand pressed to his cheek, his eyes wide and unblinking in surprise. Alison felt her breath coming in short, quick pants that left her dizzy. Her hand throbbed. “How dare you, sir,” she snarled, and pushed past him at a near-run, shoving her way through the forest of observers without caring whom she bumped into.
About the Author
Melissa McShane grew up a nomad, following her family all over the United States, and ended up living in the shadow of the Wasatch Mountains with her husband, four kids, and three very needy cats. Her love of reading was always a constant during those uncertain years, and her love of writing grew out of that. She wrote reviews and critical essays for many years before turning to fiction, and was surprised at how much she liked it. She loves the fantasy genre and how it stretches the imagination.