Authors: Cate Rowan
Tags: #Fantasy Romance
A Fantasy Romance
by Cate Rowan
Copyright © 2010 by Cate Rowan
Print ISBN-13: 9781456368609
Print ISBN-10: 1456368605
Digital ISBN: 9781452465739
Published by Cate Rowan
Photos used to create the cover were obtained from Shutterstock.com and RomanceNovelCovers.com
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. This book may not be reproduced or retransmitted in any form in whole or in part without written permission from the author, with the exception of brief quotations for book reviews or critical articles. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to locales, events, or actual persons living or dead is purely coincidental.
“A must-read for all fantasy romance lovers.”
The Romance Reviews
“Magic, passion, and intrigue–
has it all! Cate Rowan’s uniquely compelling fantasy debut is set in a fascinating and fully realized world where danger lurks in every shadow. Rowan is definitely an author to watch!”
New York Times
is a magical, exhilarating, sensual delight. Lush exotic world building, riveting storyline, and strong personable characters set the stage for a rich and captivating story.”
“A wonderful Arabian Nights story laced with humor and scheming with intriguing twists.”
–Robin D. Owens, RITA-winning author of
Guardian of Honor
“…Envelops the reader in a lush, exotic world of silk and sherbet, scimitars and precious stones…
delivers an exhilarating reading experience.”
is a lush, inviting, immersive gem of a book. No one who loves being swept away by a great story should miss this!”
–Kendra Leigh Castle, author of
Call of the Highland Moon
is a k-i-s-s-a-b-l-e read filled with magic, intrigue and romance!”
Cheryl's Book Nook
“…A harem fantasy brimming with desire, enchantment and betrayal… I highly recommend
to all readers who enjoy a touch of magic with their romance.”
The Romance Studio
is a compelling tale of love and duty set amid the clash of cultures. A thoroughly enjoyable adventure!”
–Jana Oliver, author of the Time Rovers series and
The Demon Trapper's Daughter
has everything a reader of fantasy could ask for–suspense, action, incredible world-building and magic. What captured me most was a romance so exquisitely crafted that it kept me up all night, devouring every word until the very last page. This story is a one-sitting read to be savored again and again!”
–Shelby Reed, author of
The Fifth Favor
About the Author
Cate Rowan has washed laundry in a crocodile-infested African lake, parasailed over Cabo, had monkeys poop in her hair, and swum with dolphins, but her best adventures are her story worlds. Her lush fantasy romances about magic, danger and passion in faraway realms have won more than thirty awards.
he will come.” Old Dabir’s clouded eyes fixed on Kuramos, the Great Sultan of Kad, who had been holding vigil at his bedside for hours.
“She?” Kuramos enfolded his mentor’s trembling fingers between his own bejeweled hands. “It doesn’t matter,
. Sleep now. We’ll talk later.”
“There will be no later.”
Kuramos’s jaw tightened. His gaze slid away, seeking refuge among the scrolls, piled sketches, and leather-bound tomes cramming Dabir’s sizable palace quarters. “Don’t say such things. Your illness isn’t like that of the others. You’ll feel better in the morning.”
Silence gnawed at Kuramos until he turned back to the bed. The gray eyes of the shriveled Grand Vizir were half-blinded by cataracts, but still held more wisdom than any other man in Kuramos’s realm could claim. Those eyes gazed at him now, and neither man spoke further of the truth they both knew.
Kuramos’s head grew heavy with grief, the muscles in his battle-proud neck almost too weary to hold it up.
“Call for her.” Dabir’s voice quavered. “She will come.” His hand fluttered against Kuramos’s enclosing palms like a bird preparing for flight.
Kuramos frowned. “Call who,
?” Dabir’s relatives were long dead. The Grand Vizir was a venerable six hundred years old, and Kuramos had known him for nearly two hundred of those years. There was no one left.
“It won’t be easy for you,
,” Dabir murmured, his voice so frail that Kuramos nearly missed the precious word. He could count the times it had been spoken to him, this endearment from a father to his son—as Dabir now was to Kuramos in all but blood.
“What won’t be easy?” He flattened both hands around Dabir’s, as if by calming the tremors he could prevent Dabir from leaving.
“You are the
husam al din
of our people. Your faith, your ways are dear to you, as hers are to her. Will you bend, or will she? Perhaps neither.” Dabir gave a short chuckle; it twisted into a hacking cough that racked his gaunt body.
Kuramos reached for an almond-scented handkerchief and held it to his mentor’s mouth. When the coughing spell had eased, the white linen was stained with spatters of blood.
Dabir’s gaze, less focused by the minute, swept Kuramos’s face. “I wish…” But pain furrowed his brow, and the words faltered.
Kuramos swallowed and clasped Dabir’s hand again.
Why, Naaz? Why must You take him now? Why must You take
He hurled his despair towards the goddess’s home in the sky, but refused to look toward Her. Dabir would notice.
A soft tapping at the door yanked him from his thoughts. The sultan turned with a furious rebuke on his tongue.
His steward, Hamar, bowed deeply from the threshold. “O Lord, my most humble apologies for disturbing you, but Yaman needs your counsel. The illness has spread.”
If it had been anyone else, or any other news, Kuramos would have flayed the intruder. Instead, he gave a terse nod. “Have him meet me in my chambers. I’ll be there shortly.”
Hamar bowed low again and backed out, closing the door without looking up.
Kuramos turned to Dabir. “I’m sorry,
Dabir rolled his head feebly on the pillow. “It’s time. Look to Teganne.”
Shards of ice in Kuramos’s heart thawed in yearning, then bitterly re-froze.
Dabir’s fingers, weightless as fallen leaves, tugged at Kuramos’s hand, and at his heart. All hope drained away.
He raised the oval sapphire ring of the Sultanate of Kad to Dabir’s parched lips.
Hoary breaths leaked from his mentor as he kissed the ring. “O Lord, I hope I have served you well.”
“Always, Dabir ib Rubai.” Kuramos’s voice broke. “As I hope I have ruled you.”
“Always,” came the whisper. “She comes. And I go.” With that, the life Naaz had bestowed upon Dabir departed for the Sands of the Dead.
vening settled over the palace as Kuramos paced the elegant rugs and marble of his chambers. When servants entered on silent feet to light the torches and bring a beverage, he turned away and gazed at his garden of jasmine and roses under the silvered moon. At last the servants withdrew, drawing the massive double doors closed with a click.
The sultan leaned against the arch of an open window, lifted his glass and stared into the drink. Ice carried by oxen down the Ravia Mountains cooled his pomegranate juice. The chunks, cut to resemble the soaring arches of his palace, bobbed in the sweet red liquid like drowning men.
He hurled the glass against the mosaic wall, where it shattered with a satisfying crash. The juice slithered down the azure and ivory tiles, rivulets of blood against the span of his life.
How many others would die?
The best glass from Jindua was supposed to break into large chunks; the glass had been true. He knelt and picked up a shard. The wet surface glittered in the flickering torchlight.
He slid the jagged tip across his index finger. Thick drops of blood welled to the surface and rolled over the shard. Real blood, now…the blood of his family, his household.
The Royal Physician, Yaman, had brought a list of those in the palace afflicted by the illness. Eleven names were on it: palace servants, stable boys, the master baker, a guardsman, the royal children’s head teacher…and Dabir. Three had already died. Several others were very close.
None of his immediate family had been struck—yet. That his children’s teacher was one of those near death worried him immensely.