Clara Merrick has a new MM urban fantasy out, Magic Emporium Book 8: The Young Man’s Guide to Love and Loyalty.
Loyalty is Lieutenant Owain Morgan’s watchword—loyalty to England’s Queen Elizabeth XII, to her daughter the Princess of Wales, and to the Royal Navy in which he serves. When his loyalty leads him into danger, an unseen something—or someone—lends a helping hand. Is he imagining it? Could it be a guardian angel? Or is it someone—or something—else?
Enter the intriguing Benjamin Fletcher. Owain knows that sharing a drink and a steamy afternoon together doesn’t have to mean anything, but Benjamin’s quiet charm works its way into his heart…. Until Benjamin turns up in the Earl of Essex’s retinue, that same Earl who, rumor says, is angling to marry the Princess of Wales and make her power his own.
Every encounter with Benjamin binds Owain’s heart more tightly to this enigmatic man yet tests his loyalty to Queen and Country. Will Owain be forced to choose between love and loyalty?
The Young Man’s Guide to Love and Loyalty is part of the Magic Emporium Series. Each book stands alone, but each one features an appearance by Marden’s Magic Emporium, a shop that can appear anywhere, but only once and only when someone’s in dire need. This alternate history contains princesses, palaces, steam trains, fumbling lovers, and a guaranteed HEA.
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It is not easy for a six-foot-tall Navy lieutenant in dress uniform to skulk down corridors in pursuit of a man he had hoped…. No, now was not the time to entertain such thoughts. I kept to the shadows and when I met anyone, I walked with deliberation, as if I belonged there. No one questioned my presence.
We played our game of cat and mouse for almost a quarter hour. Then I rounded a corner and stepped back, out of the gas-light, flattening myself against the wall. I was partially hidden by a tall cabinet. Ahead, Benjamin stood at the juncture of two corridors, talking to…
They spoke quietly for a time, when suddenly Benjamin laughed and clapped Howard on the back. Howard, for his part, caught Benjamin’s other hand in his and brought it to his lips.
My breath caught. I wanted to look away but could not.
Benjamin smiled, and his cheeks grew ruddy. I had seen his color darken so just that afternoon when I had…. And now he was allowing Howard, a damned Walsy, the same liberties.
If only I had died in the battle onboard ship.
I closed my eyes and breathed deep. Of course I did not wish to die in the battle. What a ridiculously overwrought statement, fit only for the self-pitying moans of a man who feels neglected by his peers.
Another laugh made me open my eyes. Benjamin had turned away and was striding down the corridor away from me. Howard stood for a moment, watching him, then moved purposefully down a side hall.
My gaze lingered on the spot where they had conversed.
“Well, are you just going to stand there, mooning over them?”
I turned toward the voice on my left.
“I beg your pardon?”
A young woman in a hooded cloak stood in the shadows. Despite the hood that shaded her face, her delicate features remained visible. And recognizable.
My jaw dropped for a moment. Snapping it shut, I bowed low.
“Your Royal Highness.”
Thank God I remembered the correct way to address the Princess of Wales.
She waved her hand dismissively and it was possible, although I would not swear, that she gave a small snort.
“Yes, yes. You may dispense with the awe and titles.” She looked at me as a tutor might look at an unpromising pupil. “And you are Owain Morgan, lieutenant in my mother’s fleet.”
I bowed again. “Yes, Your Royal Highness.”
This time it definitely was a snort. “I said dispense with my title. I endure that at Court, because I must, but not now. Call me Miss Elizabeth. That will suffice.”
“Of course.” My knees quivered and I barely kept from bowing again. “Miss Elizabeth.”
“Excellent.” She turned, her cloak flaring in a dramatic swirl. Then she started back down the corridor I had traversed. “Come along, come along! Pine over whichever one is your lover later. We have much to discuss and little time to do so.”
“Yes, Your— Miss Elizabeth.” I hurried after her.
My life had taken yet another unexpected turn. I wasn’t certain how many more of these I could tolerate before being committed to an asylum.
Clara Merrick was the kid who buried her nose in a book as she walked to and from school and the teen who read ahead in class and then complained of boredom. “Just let me finish this chapter” became her life motto at an early age and hasn’t changed over the years. She expects they will be her last words, as well.