I bet you have no idea what today's blog post is about? I started to post about how I never post anymore. How my blog actually creaked like old lady bones when I signed in, but I thought you'd much rather see something super cool like Mary Waibel's latest book…DIFFERENT KIND OF KNIGHT.
This baby is my favorite book in the Princess of Valendria series. Not that I don't heart them all. This one in particular had me totally captivated by sass and swoon. Love me some sass and swoon.
Now I'm switching over to my non-smoking, but sounding like a smoker announcer voice:
Through a twist of fate, Princess Gabrielle became First Knight of the King's Elite Guard, a position always held by the second born male. She's spent years proving to the Minsters of Faldaera she is capable of the leading the king's Army.
When mythical creatures plague her kingdom, Rielle is sent to capture Captain Brody, the alleged culprit behind the attacks and the man who broke her heart four years ago.
Brody, Crown Prince of Delphine, is living in self-imposed exile, atoning for the sins of his father. But Fate has different plans for him. Tired, beaten down, and ready to give up on life, he is tossed into the path of the one person he would do anything for…Princess Gabrielle.
With a traitor in her ranks, and a mark on her head, Brody joins forces with Rielle, hoping to keep the woman he loves safe. Happily-ever-after is not guaranteed, and mythical creatures aren't the only danger the couple face. As battles rage, Rielle has the chance to prove herself a capable leader, but will doing so cost her the love of her life?
Now that you're intrigued, you might want to check out this cool giveaway: a Rafflecopter giveaway
After that, you might want to take advantage of the coupon below, and as a special treat, check out the 1st chapter right here.
Have a great week, people!
A motley group of villagers stood in the field across the border, sunlight
glinting off the tines of their pitchforks. Undeterred, Rielle urged her horse
forward, crossing into the neighboring realm. Golden strands of hair escaped from
the tight braid she had confined them in, and her honey-colored eyes stared straight
ahead, not revealing any sign of fear.
Fifteen knights followed close behind her, armor jingling with every step of
their horses. The air was filled with a tension so thick she could taste it. One wrong
word, one wrong look, could send this group of Lowenguilde peasants over the
edge with tragic results.
As head of the King’s Elite Guard, she settled border disputes between the
neighboring kingdoms. Being daughter of the King of Faldaera usually made the
task easier, but today she didn’t think that would be the case. The people of
Lowenguilde had little regard for her king or her kingdom.
She clenched her hand. The gauntlet protecting her fingers creaked with the
movement. Things had been uneasy between the kingdoms of Faldaera and
Lowenguilde for years, and the recent troubles made a bad situation worse.
If this had been the only incident of trampled crops and dead animals, things
would be easier. But this was the fourth attack, in the fourth village, in four days.
Rielle began to suspect someone wanted to create more than tension between the
Ever since the announcement of her twin brother, Gabriel’s, betrothal to
Princess Tatianna of Lowenguilde, skirmishes and border disputes plagued the
neighboring kingdoms. As the wedding day edged closer, the incidents between the
two kingdoms increased.
An alliance meant to build peace didn’t sit well with some of the ministers or
nobles in either kingdom. Too many lives had been lost over the years, too much
blood shed, for all to be forgiven by an arranged marriage and a peace treaty. But
the kings were determined to see an end to all hostilities between the two
With peace weighing heavily on her mind, Rielle rode forward, stopping within
striking distance of the villagers’ weapons. The pitchforks and staffs shifted
uneasily in their hands, but she knew they would never land a blow. The cost
would be too high.
“I will speak with your emissary,” Rielle said.
As she waited for the man to step forward, a pair of village boys, hardly older
than ten, drew her gaze.
“Go back where you came from, you Faldaeran pig!” one of the boys yelled.
The crowd picked up the cheer, but Rielle held her ground, keeping her face
blank, no matter how deeply the words cut. She’d dealt with reactions like this ever
since her father named her First Knight. The position was traditionally held by the
second son, but her mother would never have a second son, leaving Rielle to fill
Her father had battled with the Ministers of Faldaera, forcing them to give her
a chance. She trained with the men from the time she could walk, working harder
than the other knights in training, knowing she was watched closely for any sign of
failure. In the end, the ministers begrudgingly agreed to appoint her, as long as
they could choose the knight who would be second-in-command.
Rielle glanced over at Tavares, the knight chosen by the ministers. Handsome,
with brown hair and friendly green eyes that sparkled when he laughed, his skill
made him an excellent choice for the position. She knew the ministers thought he
would resent being led by a woman, one whose abilities were below his. Instead,
he had pledged his arm to her and the king.
Her gaze drifted over the rest of her men―the best trained knights in the
kingdom. She would trust most with her life, but there were a few who made her
skin crawl. Tavares seemed to sense her unease and kept a close eye, always on the
ready to intervene on her behalf, for which she was grateful.
A commotion at the back of the throng reined in her wandering thoughts. The
crowd of foreigners parted, and a man with grey sprinkled through his dark hair
stepped forward. When he raised his hands in the air, the jeering died down.
“You may speak with me.”
Rielle looked down into a face lined with deep creases from years spent toiling
in the sun. “And who is it I am addressing?”
The man spat at the ground, barely missing the hoof of her horse. “You may
call me Jerome. And you are?”
“I am Gabrielle, Princess of Faldaera, First Knight of the King’s Elite Guard.”
She held her chin high, the breeze teasing more golden strands free from her braid.
A murmur of laughter rippled through the crowd, and Jerome grinned. “I have
heard the Faldaerans have strange customs, but a princess leading an army of
Rielle tightened her grip on her reins, tired of the same old reception of her
“Do you not see the crest she bears?”
Rielle glared at Tavares, the quelling look silencing him. She didn’t need him
playing big brother right now. It would undermine her authority, and she couldn’t
Jerome stared at the crimson bird, outlined in gold, emblazoned above her
breast. The crimson griffonvul―the symbol of Faldaera, and the insignia that
marked her as head of the King’s Elite Guard.
Rielle waited for the man to lift his gaze back to her face before continuing. “I
am here concerning the truth of the attacks on the animals and crops in this area.”
“The truth?” Jerome asked, sweeping a hand downward. “The truth is your
people have violated the peace treaty. They have crossed the border to kill our
cattle and steal our crops.”
“My people have not broken the treaty.”
“The dead cows in the field over there tell a different tale, Princess.” He spat
her title as if it were a curse.
The stench of death tickled the air, and even without her animal ability, she
knew what she would see. Rielle looked to where he pointed, watching the large
carrion birds circle overhead. With the head of a vulture and the body of an eagle,
the griffonvul was known to devour the carcasses of animals.
Taking a deep breath, Rielle focused on the closest bird. She stared into the
sky, letting her eyes widen and her vision go hazy. Just when everything became a
swirl of color, she pushed the connection, seeing the world below through the
Cows, or what remained of them, lay on the ground. From the marks crisscrossing
their hides, it was clear they had been attacked by a creature and not a
man. The bird turned, and Rielle surveyed the damage to the crops in the fields, an
uneasy feeling settling over her. She closed her eyes, released the link with the
bird, and turned to face Jerome.
“No man has harmed these animals or these fields,” she said.
“How do you know this? You haven’t even looked at them.”
Rielle raised a brow. “I looked through the eyes of the griffonvul and saw
enough to know there was no man involved in this incident.”
“Of course you would side with the Faldaerans,” Jerome said.
“I am not siding with anyone.” She fought to keep her tone even, not wanting
to argue with this man. “The Faldaerans made the same claims against you as you
make against them.”
“We have done nothing to their beasts or food.” Jerome puffed his chest out.
Rielle turned and pointed to another flock of circling birds. “That is what I told
my people when they showed me their dead cattle and trampled crops.”
Jerome followed her gaze as a muttering swept through the crowd. “Then what
has caused all this damage?”
“If I had to guess, I would say a hippogriff,” Rielle said.
He scoffed. “There have been no signs of hippogriffs in the area. We would
have known if that was what had attacked.”
“Nonetheless, the evidence indicates a hippogriff was responsible.” She flexed
her fingers on her reins. “My men and I have set up camp nearby. We will remain
there and watch overnight. If we see the beast, we will take care of it so it will not
cause any further damage.”
“And what if there is no hippogriff? What if there is proof your people are
behind these acts of vandalism?”
Rielle glared at him. “Whoever the responsible party is will be found and dealt
with.” With those words ringing in the air, she turned her horse and rode back to
“That went well,” Tavares said as he rode up beside her.
“It certainly could have gone worse.” Rielle pressed fingers to her temples,
hoping to remove the pain plaguing her head. “You should have remained silent.”
He arched a brow at her. “And let him treat you so poorly? I think not.”
“I could have handled him. Would have handled him. One of these days your
interference is going to ricochet and make things worse for all of us.”
He grinned, his eyes sparkling, and her headache eased slightly. “I doubt that
will ever happen, Princess.” He looked back at the birds circling in the air, his
smile fading as his gaze turned serious. “What made you think a hippogriff is in
the area? Did you see one?”
Rielle shuddered at the thought of seeing the strange creature. Half giant eagle,
half horse, the creature would stand out in any crowd. Given the rolling fields they
stood in, it was no wonder the villager questioned her assessment. A hippogriff
would have nowhere to hide here, yet the marks on the dead cattle and crushed
crops screamed hippogriff.
“No, but there were claw marks on the cowhides and hoof prints in the fields,”
“Just because you saw both marks there, doesn’t mean they were made at the
same time,” Tavares said, his frown deepening.
“Are you questioning me?” Rielle teased.
“I wouldn’t dream of it.” Tavares laughed and shoved a lock of brown hair
behind his ear.
It still amazed her he didn’t object to being her second-in-command, rather
than First Knight. After all, he was three years her senior and certainly stronger
than she. And he possessed incredible leadership skills. Of all her men, he stood
toe to toe with her, kept her striving to better her abilities. Truthfully, she didn’t
know how she would have succeeded without Tavares, and she thanked the gods
every day that the ministers had assigned him this post.
He was her best friend and confidant. However, their closeness caused gossip
throughout the kingdom. Some hoped the two would marry. Secretly, Rielle found
it amusing. Not that there was anything wrong with Tavares. He was a very
handsome man. But he was like a brother to her, it wouldn’t feel right to marry
him. There was no spark, no romance. Besides, it was customary in Faldaera for a
princess to marry a prince, and there were still a few unmarried princes in the
nearby kingdoms, although none had come courting.
Not that she looked to be married soon. No, marriage was the last thing on her
mind. Right now, she was only focused on catching a hippogriff.
After turning the care of her horse over to a page, she headed for her tent,
Tavares keeping pace with her.
“Make a watch for tonight and inform the men. Those up first should rest
now.” She paused in front of her tent and pulled off her gauntlets. “I will stand at
“As you command, Your Highness,” Tavares said. He gave a short bow and
Rielle pulled open the flap as a squeaky voice called out, “Message for you,
She dropped a hand to the sword at her side as she turned to face the speaker. A
young boy, dressed in the red and gold of Faldaera, stood before her, a parchment
in hand. His mud spattered clothes told her he had ridden hard and fast to find her.
Her stomach clenched as worry of bad news filled her.
“Thank you,” Rielle said, pleased her voice and hand were steady, not shaky as
she felt. She took the paper and frowned at the black wax. No one she knew used
that color to seal letters. “You may wait here while I read it.”
She stalked inside, her finger rubbing over the trident seal. They’d seen the
same emblem on the shackles of the creatures they killed. It reminded her of the
kingdom of Delphine, but something about the trident seemed wrong. She just
couldn’t place what it was.
Frowning, she sat behind her makeshift desk―a plank of wood held up by two
tree stumps―and dropped her gloves on the rough surface. She pulled a dagger
from her boot, sliced through the seal, unfolded the paper, and read the unfamiliar
More than a hippogriff will keep you entertained,
While your men to the north are maimed.
She threw the parchment onto the desk, her eyes narrowing and fingers
drumming over the plank as she contemplated the boldly scrawled words.
The tent flap opened and Tavares ducked inside. “I have the watch list ready
“Double the shifts,” Rielle said as she stood.
“Double? Has something happened I don’t know about?” He gestured at the
door. “There’s a messenger outside. Did he bring bad news?”
“Yes. Have you word from the north?”
Tavares shook his head. “No, the only things I hear are from you.”
Rielle laughed, the sound carrying no mirth. “If only that were true… I am
certain you see and hear things from many sources, and you damn well know it.”
“I haven’t a clue what you are referring to, Your Highness.” He said the words
with a straight face, but the twinkle in his eyes told her he was lying, and he knew
she knew it. “May I see the message?”
Rielle handed him the parchment, waiting while he scanned the words.
“You believe this threat to be real?”
She nodded. “Given the creatures we have seen the last three days, all with the
same trident markings on them, this isn’t a coincidence.”
“What do you mean?”
“Didn’t you see the seal and the signature?”
Tavares turned the parchment around and studied it. “What does Delphine
stand to gain by causing strife between Lowenguilde and Faldaera?”
“It isn’t Delphine.”
“But the seal—”
“Look closer. There’s something wrong with the trident. It isn’t Delphine’s.”
Tavares shrugged. “If you say so. I’ll add men to the list, but I hope you’re
wrong about it.”
“Me too,” she said as she watched him walk out of the tent.
Rielle sat back down at her desk and penned a quick message to her father,
telling him of the hippogriff and the veiled warning of attacks to the north. She
folded the parchment, then held a stick of red wax near her candle, letting it drip
over where the edges of the paper met. A quick press of her signet ring and her
message was ready.
She stalked to the tent flap, flipped it open, and focused on the messenger
“Take this directly to the king.”
“Yes, Your Highness.”
The boy stuffed it into his satchel and hurried off. Rielle sighed, wishing she
could speak to animals as her mother did. It would certainly cut down on the time
it took to send messages.
She cast a glance at the setting sun. The last few days had left little time for
rest. Between traveling and fighting creatures, Rielle had pushed herself past her
limits. Her nagging headache became a constant reminder she needed sleep. With a
shake of her head, she slipped back into her tent and lay down on the blankets she
had tossed over the lumpy ground. Mid-watch would come soon, and Rielle knew
for certain she would need all the strength she could muster.