Series: The Cursed Princes #1
Published by: Amber Jantine
Release Date: June 3, 2017
Contributors: Amber Jantine
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Ella Anthony has been treated as a servant by her stepmother ever since her father died. All traces of her old life were meant to be wiped away, but one thing she's managed to save is her late mother's wedding gown. And she plans to wear it when she sneaks out to the royal ball being held in honor of the princes' homecoming. What she doesn't expect is to see the Crown Prince Luke and his younger brother stripping down in the palace garden before turning into wolves.
Luke and his brothers are cursed. After one of his younger brother's seduced and abandoned the daughter of a witch, the three princes have been condemned to shift into wolves every full moon, with beastly instincts and no memory of their actions during the night. When he realizes that a young lady at the ball has witnessed their transformation, he hunts her down and finds an exquisite beauty whom he will do anything to make his.
The last thing Ella expected was to receive a marriage proposal, and from the eldest prince, no less. Though his touch sets her body afire, she's not certain she wants to spend the rest of her life with a man who is part beast. But Luke is willing to do anything to get his way, and she finds herself swept off to a life in the palace.
But Ella's stepmother isn't about to let them have their happily-ever-after without a fight. And Luke's insistence on keeping his family's secrets may not just end up costing them their future, but also their lives...
The Wolf Prince is a sexy paranormal retelling of Cinderella with no cheating and a guaranteed HEA.
The trunk in question was small but exquisitely carved both on the sides and the lid. It was an heirloom passed down through her mother’s family, and in that sense, it would be one of the most valuable things that Ella owned. Perhaps she was fortunate that it wasn't the kind of value that her stepmother could appreciate, because she would have wanted to see and destroy the contents: an ivory silk gown that had belonged to Ella's mother.
It had been her wedding gown, saved, by her request, for the day when Ella married.
Her prospects for finding a husband were nonexistent now, but that didn't mean the dress had to remain locked away forever. It was the one thing she owned that would be suitable attire for the Midsummer night's ball.
Not that Ella had any hope or illusion that she might end up dancing with one of the princes. Or anyone else, for that matter.
It was too dangerous. If her stepmother ever found out there would be a heavy price to pay. Her body still wore the scars of the last time she had disobeyed one of her stepmother’s orders, carved into the skin of her back and shoulders.
Getting dressed on her own was difficult, but there was no way she would have risked asking Maria for help. Not that she didn’t trust the maid, but she wanted to protect her. If this all went bad and became public, she didn’t want anyone else to suffer for her decision.
Ella brushed out her hair and tied it up in a simple not. Not elegant at all, but it was passable. Then she set out for the palace on foot.
She crossed through her family’s estate rather than walking through the town. Again, she didn’t want to attract attention, if at all possible.
Her nose wrinkled as she passed by her stepmother’s walled garden. Lady Isabelle had said it was full of the ingredients you need to create her favorite beauty remedies.
Ironic that something meant to make women look good could smell so foul, though the fumes were always worse at this time of the year.
Ella vividly remembered the one time she had slipped into the enclosed space as a child, shortly after her father died. All she had done was brush up against one particularly unremarkable looking plant, with its pointed, oval-shaped leaves and purplish brown flowers, and had ended up with horrible sores all over her body.
Her stepmother had laughed, saying that it was proof that Ella would never be beautiful, not if the so-called ‘beautiful lady’ bush made her so ugly.
She stared wide of that section of the estate, but the sense produced by it seemed to be following her on the wind. She picked up the pace, slipping a few times in her ill-fitting leather slippers.
It was nearly sundown by the time she arrived, and though the footmen gave her strange looks for arriving the way she did, they didn’t try to keep her away, either.
She didn’t go directly to the ballroom. Ella knew her way around the palace fairly well, having visited there as a child. Her father had advised the king on occasion, though that had stopped shortly after he had married his second wife. Lady Isabelle had always resented the time that her father spent away from his family. Or rather, she resented any time that was not devoted to her and her own daughters. She had certainly never approved of Father spending time with Ella.
As she slipped around the back of the palace, her breath caught in her throat. Although the main party was being held with the indoors, the gardens had been decorated beautifully. Strings of miniature lanterns were set up all around the walkways, giving the entire area a fairy-like glow.
The music from the ballroom was audible even from this distance, and she recognized an old favorite of her mother’s. She swayed slightly, twirling about in the same steps she remembered mother and father using when she was a child, as they had waltzed about their parlor together. Neither of Ella’s parents have been very fond of attending formal balls or other events, but they had always loved to dance.
She stumbled several times, as her worn leather shoes continued to slip off her feet at the most inconvenient times. They had been handed down from Daphne, who had slightly larger feet than Ella did, and had never fit her properly.
An odd noise caught her attention.
She heard voices. Following the sounds, she peered through the bushes to see what was going on. She immediately recognized the two princes who had recently returned home. Prince Luke and Prince Adrian.
The entire kingdom was aware of how the king’s three sons had gone off to find adventure in foreign lands, but only two of them had returned. There were some rumored whispers about what had happened to the other prince, Edward, but no one was certain whether he was alive or not.
Both princes wore agitated expressions, constantly glancing over their shoulders. Were they sneaking away from the ball?
It seemed a bit… strange, to say the least.
There was no secret as to the main reason for tonight’s event. King Nicholas was seriously ill. It was not known if he would see the end of the season, much less the year, and he had made it clear he wanted to see one or more of his sons wed before he was gone. That was why they had made a point of emphasizing—no, requiring—all young ladies of marriageable age and of certain family status to attend and be introduced.
So why would the princes be sneaking away? Ella doubted there had been enough time to meet everyone at the ball who was desiring their acquaintance. They had cut their travels short at their father’s request—making it clear that they would not be completely averse to sacrificing some of their pleasures for the king’s sake. So one evening surrounded by debutantes and scheming, ambitious mothers should not have been too much for them to bear.
She caught her skirt in her hands, holding it higher than was proper in order to move as silently as possible. Following them deeper into the gardens. They finally paused at the edge of a wilder, wooded area that was reserved for hunting parties held by the royal family. Off-limits to everyone else, except by the strictest invitation.
The two men were carrying lanterns, for the sun had set and the outside was completely dark. The moon was just beginning to peek over the horizon and was casting little light at the moment.
Outside of their strange behavior, something about them simply fascinated Ella. In particular, she couldn’t take her eyes off the elder Prince, Luke. Perhaps it was because she had some familiarity with Adrian. They were close in age and had known each other as children.
The eldest prince was ten years older than his youngest brother and twelve years older than Ella.
He had always been a rather striking young man, with his black hair and bright blue eyes, but the years had made him into something more. He stood head and shoulders taller than most men, and there was an air of strength in the cut of his jaw and the way he held his shoulders.
Then, as if this evening wasn’t already strange enough, both brothers began to do something even more unexpected. They removed their heavy brocade coats and tossed them to the ground, without a care for the expensive fabric.
Luke took off his shirt, revealing golden tan skin and a powerful, muscular body that made Ella’s mouth go dry. A funny little pulsing took up residence between her legs. It felt like her heartbeat had dropped down there and she was flushing hot in a way that she had never experienced before. It felt like there was an open flame coursing through her body, just under her skin.
Ella knew she should look away, that she was seeing something no proper young lady should observe. Her heart was pounding so hard that she half-expected that the two princes would be able to hear it.
Luke reached for the fastenings on his trousers. She caught a glimpse of slightly paler skin and firm and rounded buttocks, strong legs and as he turned partly in her direction, of something else.
Something she didn’t have a name for.
Both princes now stood in the gardens as naked as they were born as the moonlight began to touch their skin. Luke started, as if startled, and glanced in her direction, though Ella was certain that she had not made a single sound.
His eyes widened and she thought he would certainly call her out, to shout at her for invading his privacy, but instead he threw back his head and let out a howl.
It was an eerie sound, more animal than man.
Ella shivered as it was echoed by Adrian, the chorus of cries freezing her in place.
It was a sound that every young child in the kingdom had learned to fear, despite the fact that wolves had been hunted out of the region nearly a century ago.
The princes twisted and turned, convulsing and letting out pained whimpers as fur sprouted everywhere and their faces elongated into distinctive snouts with wickedly sharp teeth. The whines turned into mournful pleas, as if some small part of them that was still human knew what was happening and was mourning the loss. As the full moon illuminated the gardens with its eerie glow, the princes were gone.
Replaced by a pair of wolves that were each larger than any man.
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