||New Concepts Publishing
||Oct 1 2001
New Concepts Publishing
An exiled assassin-prince, a grieving mage, a mute minstrel, and a transported fantasy artist must work together to save their world. They'd rather kill each other!
Ten years ago, an otherworldly woman destroyed the kingdom of Nord D'Rae, condemned the prince Reynart D'Altha to a shadowy existence as an assassin, and destabilized the network of magical gateways. Now, she's back, and she holds the key to either restoring Nord D'Rae or destroying the rest of the kingdoms. The mage's council has asked for Reynart's help. He just wants revenge.
Honorable Mention, Reviewers International Organization Dorothy Parker Award
Now available electronically. Coming in Paperback from New Concepts Publishing, November 2002
Angelique lifted her arm and wiped the blood-red dust from her sweaty forehead. She could still hear the family she'd passed earlier, the father lecturing from a guidebook while the two boys shouted and whooped. Abandoning her favorite thinking rock, she continued trudging up the narrow path through the Valley of Fire. The path petered out beneath her feet, turning to hard-baked rock in every direction, and she gnawed her lip as she looked for landmarks.
Striking off blindly, Angelique walked until the tourist family's voices faded into silence, then sat down on the first level rock she found. She uncapped her canteen and poured cold, clear water into her mouth. Swishing it around like mouthwash, she rinsed away all the dust she'd breathed in, and spat a stream of red mud onto the parched stone. She tilted her head back and filled her mouth again. The water cooled her parched tongue, and soothed her dry throat. She wanted to gulp down all the water, but forced herself to cap the canteen and save half for the trek back.
She sat for a moment, enjoying the heat of the afternoon sun beating down on her, the warmth radiating from the rock beneath her, and the arid desert air that leached the moisture from her skin.
The setting sun burned on the rocks around her, pulling flames from the red stone. It was a beautiful illusion.
She closed her eyes and turned her thoughts inward, searching for the meaning behind her visions. Slowly, a nagging sense of wrongness intruded into her meditation. Her skin felt cool and slightly damp, not hot and dry, and not-so-distant sounds of people talking and working drifted to her ears when she should have heard only silence.
Angelique opened her eyes to see a gray stone building directly in front of her, its features indistinct in the twilight. More buildings of similar rough stonework stretched to either side, lining the cobblestone street. She sat on the broad lip of a stone fountain, at one end of a public square. Behind her, a few last customers in medieval dress bargained for goods while the merchants closed up their stalls, or finished loading unsold goods into carts for the journey home.
No! This couldn't be happening. She buried her face in her hands, unable to look at any more. The visions that overcame her during the day always replayed scenes from the two weeks she'd spent with Reynart. This was something else.
Maybe this was just another nightmare. She screwed her eyes tightly shut and visualized the baked rocks of the Valley of Fire. That's where she was, back in Arizona. Hesitantly, she opened her eyes.
No good. She was still trapped in the dream. But none of her nightmares had ever felt so real, or smelled of the lingering odor of cooked meat, trampled produce, and too many horses wandering the streets.
Her pulse raced. She was wearing a dark blue wool gown, with a tightly laced bodice and flared skirt, just like she had been in her teenaged hallucination. Reaching up, she patted her hair. It coiled around her head in an elaborate braid, unlike her own short bob but identical to the style she'd worn on her imagined sojourn ten years ago. Everything was the same. But she had never seen this square before.
Angelique struggled for oxygen in the unyielding bodice that forced her to take short, rapid breaths. She wasn't insane. Somehow, she'd fallen into another coma, that's all. Maybe she'd suffered a heat stroke or been bitten by a rattlesnake. Whatever the cause, the park guards would check their tallies at closing time, and realize she hadn't come out. They'd send someone after her. She'd be fine.
She clamped down on the terror struggling to get out. If she was in a coma, she needed prompt medical attention. But she hadn't stayed on the paths. Searchers might not be able to find her until morning. That might be too late, if she was sick or injured. She had to wake up.
She sensed a presence before her, and lifted her head enough to see black hose, black leather armor, a black surcoat, and a swirling black cloak.
"Is milady in need of assistance?"
Her head snapped up in shock. Reynart!
His eyes widened, but he didn't move. "Anjeli," he breathed.
"Was one kingdom not enough for you? Did you feel you must come back to destroy this one as well?"
Para Normal Romance Reviews - Highly Recommended
Ten years after the accident which had killed her parents and put her in a coma, Angelique Blanchard’s artistic career may be at a standstill due to her irrational fear of rain. She’d missed several major showings due to the threat of precipitation. Now her agent is threatening to quit if she refuses to attend the next gallery showing in Seattle, a city known for its rain.
Her fear did not stem from the storm-caused accident as her doctors thought, nor from her coma-induced fantasy as her agent accused. Angie knew she couldn’t explain the reason for her fear to anyone, even Donald, lest she be thought insane. It was because, after ten years, the mere mention of rain could still bring those vivid visions crashing back. Just discussing the showing had had her fighting for control of her mind. The hallucinations inspired her work, but she could not afford to let anyone witness one of her “episodes”. She knew that the only way to dispel them was to paint.
Back at her studio, Angie surveys her latest work and realizes that the same presence has invaded all of her recent paintings. Reynart, her dream lover, is an intangible, dark, and shadowy presence in each piece. Catching herself for a moment believing that her fantasy world is real, Angie decides to go hiking in the Valley of Fire to clear her head and think about her future.
Something terribly wrong had happened to her. Had she lapsed into a coma again? Been bitten by a snake? She’d been resting in her favorite thinking spot one minute, the next she was once more in a world that only existed in her imagination, and try though she might she couldn’t wrest her mind back to reality. She could only pray that someone would find her and get her the medical attention she obviously needed. Still stunned, Angelique finds herself face to face with Reynart D’Altha, who seems to have aged ten years as well, and doesn’t appear to be happy to see her.
He is not. “Anjeli” had been his lover once, but she had betrayed him and now she would pay for the destruction of his kingdom. After the gates had collapsed, he’d been unable to access Nord D’Rae even to survey the damage. What might have been would never be his. He was but a shadow prince now, an assassin for hire.
She had claimed to be from another world, and he had sent her back there in the aftermath of her betrayal. Now she had returned, apparently lost to her world once more, and she would remain that way if he had anything to say about it. She would suffer the loss of all she loved, just as he had suffered.
Reynart has business to take care of and arranges to meet Anjeli the next day at an inn. She obeys only because she knows he is the key to breaking free of her fantasy. There they are approached by a mage with a mission. She claims that the gate collapses had been caused by the failure of a high level spell attempted by a rogue wizard, and explains that a member of the Nord D’Rae royal house, and an energy source such as Anjeli, are needed in order resurrect them. Together with the mage’s magical ability, the three could restore the natural balance of energy in this world. They have been given one month in which to restore the central gate.
If the mage’s tale is true, Anjeli’s spirit had been a pawn in the wizard’s grand scheme, a conduit that would form a gateway between their world and her own. None of her arguments sway Reynart. He is bent on revenge, but agrees to come along in exchange for a personal favor to be named later. Thus Beryl the mage, Reynart the prince, Anjeli the energy repository, and Kerrim, a young and stalwart minstrel (subject of Angie’s last painting), embark on a perilous month long journey, each with their own agenda, all knowing that the reason for Angeli’s sudden return must soon be faced. To win that battle they must learn to work together – to trust.
From present day Arizona to a medieval world fueled by magic, SHADOW PRINCE will hold the reader in its thrall with deep characterizations, wry humor, and plausible fantasy. It is a tale of personal growth that many will be able to identify with, for Reynart’s issues with love and trust had developed long before he’d encountered Anjeli. He must deal with his past, in order to accept her and the feelings that they share. Can he give up his plans for revenge? Can he open his battered heart to a woman who would give the world to be with him? Highly recommended.
Romance Reviews Today - Highly Recommended
A thrilling fantasy ... SHADOW PRINCE grabbed me with the opening paragraph and held me until its surprising conclusion. There are characters of great depth, beginning with Angelique and Reynart, but also in the secondary cast of Beryl and the young minstrel, Kerrim. Adventure abounds as does intricate magic and a unique view of time travel. I especially enjoyed the interplay between Angelique and Reynart as their relationship develops. With some very well written love scenes that heat up the story, this is, nevertheless, a fantasy that makes you think. Fantasy and romance readers alike will enjoy SHADOW PRINCE. I highly recommend taking the time to download this extremely entertaining novel by Jennifer Dunne.
eBookIsle.com -- For fantasy and romance readers alike
Battling an unknown evil mage and the quest to find and repair the main Nord D'Rae gateway is an adventure that will grasp your imagination. The renewal of love between Anjeli and Reynart and surprise ending are events that are worth reading. I am sure this story will be enjoyed by Fantasy and Romance readers alike.
Reviewed by Cy Korte, Book Isle Paperbacks
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