Series: The Cursed Princes #3
Published by: Amber Jantine
Release Date: July 22, 2017
Contributors: Amber Jantine
Genre: Paranormal Romance
After her mother tried to kill her, Catherine Tremaine found refuge with her stepsister, Ella, and Ella's husband, the Crown Prince Luke. To repay them for their kindness, she plans to do the one thing no one else has been able to do: find Luke's lost brother, Edward. Disguised as a man, she sets out alone.
Prince Edward has hidden away from the world, refusing to see anyone until he can find a cure to the curse he's brought upon himself. But his isolation is turned on its head when a beautiful woman crashes into his life. Despite her attempt to disguise her sex, Catherine is undeniably the most enticing creature he's ever encountered in his life. When they're caught in a compromising position by his housekeeper, he lets everyone believe that she's his wife--but it's only an excuse to not let her go...
Catherine was well aware of Edward's previous reputation as a womanizer, but never imagined his attentions would ever be turned on her. Bookish and shy, she's always lived in the shadow of the beauty of her sister and stepsister. She's also hiding a dark secret, something that would keep any man from wanting her as a wife. Yet at the same time, she's finding his touch intoxicating, though she knows it's wrong.
As their forbidden passion threatens to consume them, an old enemy is stalking them. A woman set on revenge for what Edward has done to her daughter and she'll stop at nothing--even if it means hurting anyone who happens to get in the way.
Just as she has done before...
The Beast Prince is a sexy paranormal romance based on the fairy tale, "Beauty and the Beast." It contains no cheating and a guaranteed HEA.
Catherine pulled her soft hat lower, hiding her face from anyone who bothered to look in her direction. Not that she truly had to worry about being noticed. She had become a master of blending into crowds.
The freedom given to her by wearing men’s clothing certainly helped with that. No proper young woman could appear in public alone, unchaperoned, but as a man, she was simply just another face passing by.
The quality of her clothing helped. Just fine enough to keep her from looking completely disreputable, but also not so fine that she would appear wealthy. She was as eager to avoid the attention of bandits that she was to pass through the different villages unnoticed.
She finished folding the last letter she received from her stepsister, Ella before tucking it into the leather satchel she wore over one shoulder. As soon as it had arrived at her last location, she had departed that village forever. She was trying to stay one step ahead of anyone that Ella might have said to look for her.
Because Catherine wasn’t supposed to be here. Not on her own. This wasn’t originally her quest. Her mission. But she made it her own.
Ella and her husband Luke had brought Catherine with them during the initial part of the search for Luke’s brother. Edward had disappeared nearly a year before, when he and his brothers had been struck with a curse that turned them into wolves every full moon.
Then Ella became pregnant and the couple had been forced to return home so that they would not risk their child being born away from Glaecor. Luke was the crown prince, and it was the tradition for the next heir to the throne to be born in the family’s main palace.
That was when Catherine had slipped away. To continue the search until the missing prince was found.
In a way, she was glad to be alone. It had been growing more and more difficult to be with Ella and Luke over time. Not because either of them were cruel in any way—just the opposite, in fact. They had shown her more kindness in these last few months then Catherine had ever received from anyone.
Especially from her mother.
No, the real problem came from having to watch the two of them together. Any fool could have seen how much they loved each other.
It was perfect and beautiful now, though she knew it had not always been so. But it was still the sort of love that would be worth any struggle.
Catherine envied them, but not because she wanted the prince for herself. Ella deserved every happiness, after the way Catherine’s mother had treated her for most of her life. As a servant in her own home.
She just wished she could find a little bit of that same happiness for herself. At the same time, she had little hope of ever finding a man who could look at her the way that Luke looked at her stepsister. She had spent most of her life in scholarly pursuits and no man would be interested in a woman who could barely be bothered to take her nose out of a book.
Her mother had always reminded her of that fact. Over and over and over again.
She shied away from thoughts of her mother. They would lead to nothing good and Catherine needed to keep her focus on the task before her.
This small village had only one bookstore, but that was precisely where Prince Edward’s trail had led. Perhaps in his isolation he needed amusement of some sort, preferable without making contact with people if he could help it.
It was a very long shot that the bookseller would know anything, or would reveal anything. But right now, it was the only lead that Catherine had.
She stepped into the shop and paused, inhaling deeply.
Oh, how she loved the smell of books, both old and new. There was nothing else like it in the world. Transporting her back to happier days, when she had spent most of her time in her stepfather’s library. Ella’s father had been a gentleman scholar, renowned enough that he often advised the king. His library had been a hall of wonders to Catherine when she had first discovered it, and the late Lord Anthony had always encouraged her in her education even though her mother had strongly disapproved of it all.
Catherine suppressed a shudder. That wasn’t the worst that Mother had done, either. To both Lord Anthony and Catherine.
“Looking for something in particular?”
“I am not certain.” She deliberately tried to deepen in her voice, but of course it cracked. In part because she was speaking a mostly unfamiliar language. “But thank you.”
She knew from experience that it was best not to ask the shopkeeper any questions right away. They would be much more receptive to conversation if they thought she was a real customer.
The selection was small, but had been put together by someone with exceptional taste. She recognized the foreign language versions of several scholarly works her stepfather had owned and could not resist running her fingers down each leather-bound spine.
She was sorely tempted to purchase the volumes but would have no place to properly store them during her travels. Maybe if she was lucky, she would be able to come back again later. She would have to remember this place, was her quest was done.
As she continued browsing along the shelves, the shop door opened.
A man entered. He looked distinctly out of place. His clothes were shabby, even torn in places, and his hands were calloused with dirt under his fingernails.
He didn’t look at all like the sort would be frequenting a bookstore. It appeared unlikely that he could even read. It was not common for manual laborers be educated, especially in smaller villages like this one.
Yet the shopkeeper greeted him with a warm smile. “Back again?”
“I have another list.”
The bookstore owner looked it over, then gathered together several volumes, including a few of the ones that Catherine had been admiring earlier. The scruffy man handed him a bag. A small leather pouch tied with a ribbon. It was nothing particularly fine about the ribbon, but she couldn’t help noticing that it was cobalt blue and trimmed with something that looked like almost gold.
The family colors of the very prince that she had been searching for.
She returned the volume that she had been thumbing through to the shelf watched as the transaction was completed. Then she headed out, following the man at a discreet distance.
He never once looked back nor seemed to care that someone might be following him. He was heading toward the mountains outside of the village. Which was definitely strange. Everyone Catherine had spoken to had sworn that no one lived up there.
That no one would even consider living there.
According to local legend, the mountains were cursed, as was the dark forest that surrounded the peaks.
Which made it a perfect place for someone to hide. Halfway up the side of one of the tallest of the mountains, was what might have once been a grand estate. It was gated off with a solid wood fence that appeared to have been recently installed, despite the fact that the place was supposed to be abandoned and most likely had been forgotten.
The only visible building was an old tower. Run down and decrepit, it almost seemed to be falling off the edge of a mountain cliff.
She followed the strange man all the way to the building, then hid and watched as he headed inside. He soon emerged with another leather pouch, similar to the one he had given the book seller.
This had to be where Prince Edward was hiding. She was sure of it.
Catherine crept forward, circling around the structure to get a better idea of what she was dealing with. There was only one entrance on each side and there appeared to be no servants on the grounds.
The front door was partially ajar. Perhaps the messenger had not closed it properly.
She could not hear any movement. Nor did there appeared to be any other signs of life.
Not surprising. If this was truly the hiding place of Prince Edward, he would not exactly be lingering near the entrance. He would most likely be holed up somewhere deeper within the tower.
For a moment, she considered calling out to him, then decided against it. Though her suspicions were strong, she didn’t know exactly who she was dealing with.
The smell inside the structure was not completely foul but had definitely not been fully aired out in some time. There were no lamps or candles lit, making it difficult to see anything beyond a few feet within the entrance.
Catherine heard a sound. Thought she saw a possible movement of the corner of her eye. Before she could turn to face it, something slammed into her, shoving her up against the wall with such force, the breath was knocked from her body.
“What are you doing in my house?” The low voice was so close to a growl, it was difficult to understand the words.
“I’m looking for—”
“Nothing you could want could be here. You should leave.” The pressure lifted slightly, but not for long. Whoever it was grabbed her hands and pinned them over her head. Then he leaned in close, inhaling deeply as if taking in her scent before reaching behind her to pull her long braid out from its hiding place under her shirt. “You’re a woman.”
She found his behavior a little unnerving, yet sensed that she had finally found her quarry. The curse that had been afflicted upon Prince Edward and his brothers meant they were now animal as well as man, even during the times when the full moon was not in control of them. When they looked the most ‘normal’ and unchanged.
He was certainly behaving very much like a wild beast, though at least he had not tried to hurt her.
She swallowed hard, struggling to hide any trace of fear, though she knew it was futile either way. He could smell her emotions. “Your Highness?”
He stiffened and released his hold on her hands. There was a soft scratching sound, followed by the flare of light from a match. He shoved a lantern directly in her face, blinding her. “How did you know who I am?”
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