Genres: Historical Fiction, Romance
Crown Princess Nindalla knows the terrifying power of Sargon of Akkad’s army: Ten years ago, it destroyed her home city and killed her parents. Now the nightmare is happening again. The Akkadians conquer her new home, Susa; make her a widow; and strip her of her rank. Nindalla vows to protect her children from her enemies by any means necessary, including marrying whoever can shield them best. With plots swirling around her, can she trust her instincts to tell friends from foes?
Farm boy Ur-sag-enki was forced to become a soldier in the Akkadian army ten years ago after it destroyed his home and left him with nothing. When the Akkadians conquer Susa, he is awarded its governorship. He looks forward to settling down to the normal family life he craves. First, though, he must keep control of Susa despite enemies who exploit his inexperience, and he must gain legitimacy by persuading beautiful former princess Nindalla to marry him. But can he win her heart when it was his hand that struck down her husband?
Ur-sag-enki forced his thoughts to cold, heartless strategy. General Qisim had sent him to find Crown Princess Nindalla for a reason. To hold the city, he would her child alive and healthy and in his possession. The boy was the last of the royal line of Susa. Marrying Nindalla would legitimize Ur-sag-enki’s governorship.
His liver twinged, rebelling at the governor’s orders. Demons could take the man and his cold plotting! Ur-sag-enki would marry Nindalla because she was his destiny. The gods had decreed it at his birth. The shiny black hair he yearned to touch, the beautiful eyes he longed to look into, the rare smile he wanted to coax out—he had known they would be his since the day of the New Year’s Festival. He had never loved another woman, never expected to.
He had been waiting for her.
His skin tingled from his feet to his scalp. He had looked for her in every conquered city, his heart pounding each time he caught a glance of long, heavy hair or a certain arrogant tilt of the head. He had been disappointed too many times to count.
Now his restless body long to jump around or dance. He grinned widely. I must look like a fool. But he didn’t care. At last the gods had brought him to her! I will protect her and keep her safe always. I will let no one, not General Qisim, not even King Sargon himself, harm her or her baby.
He untied the amulet from his neck. It was a baked-clay figurine of a goat, an animal sacred to the god Enki. He wound the leather thong around it and tucked it inside the baby’s bindings.
Nindalla looked up and smiled. “You have done well, soldier. Find Prince Humba. Learn what name I should give his son and successor. Then bring my daughters here.”
He squeezed his eyelids shut as his body suffered the pain hers know to feel. The woman had daughters in the palace, a palace overrun by soldiers drunk on blood and beer and victory.
“My lady—” He stopped. He couldn’t tell her, not yet. She deserved a time of happiness with her baby first.
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Shauna Roberts writes fantasy, science fiction, historical fiction, and romance. She currently lives in Southern California. She was a copyeditor and an award-winning freelance medical and science writer for 21 years before retiring to write fiction. A graduate of the Clarion Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers Workshop, she now serves on the Clarion Foundation Board of Directors. In 2011 she won the Speculative Literature Foundation’s Older Writers’ Grant.
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