Title: Beauty's Beast
Author: Amanda Ashley
Author Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads
Publisher: Kensington: Zebra
Release Date: September 2, 2014
Genre: Historical, Paranormal, Romance
Fair of face and figure, Kristine is young, innocent, pure. Yet she has been condemned to the gallows for killing a man. The only one who can save her is a lord so infamous that some say he is the son of the Devil himself…
And the Beast
Erik Trevayne is called the Demon Lord of Hawksbridge Castle, but few know of the curse he lives under. Or the terrifying changes slowly gnawing away at his humanity. When he weds her, all he wants of Kristine is a son. But when he beds her, a wild hope is born—that love that can tame even the most monstrous of beasts...
The rattle of the guard’s keys roused her from a troubled sleep. She bolted upright, fearing that it was morning and they had come to take her to the block. Stomach churning with fear, she stared at the guard, blinking against the light of the lamp.
“That’s her,” the guard said. He stepped into the cell and lifted the lamp higher. “Stand up, girl. His lordship wants to see yer face.”
She had learned long ago to do as she was told, and to do it quickly. Hardly daring to breathe, she scrambled to her feet.
It was then that she saw him, a dark shape that looked like death itself shrouded in a long black woolen cloak. The garment fell in deep folds from his broad shoulders to brush the tops of his black leather boots. The hood of the cloak was pulled low, hiding his face from her view. Black kidskin gloves covered his hands. He stood there, tall, regal, and frightening.
“Her name’s Kristine,” the guard remarked. “Don’t recall her family name.”
The hooded man nodded and made a circling motion with his forefinger.
“Turn around, girl,” the guard demanded brusquely.
She did as the guard asked, her cheeks flushing with shame as she felt the hooded man’s gaze move over her. She was barefoot and filthy. What was left of her hair was dirty and crawling with lice. Her dress, once the color of fresh cream, was badly stained, the hem torn. And worst of all, she smelled bad.
She heard a faint noise, like the rustle of dry paper, and realized the stranger had asked the guard a question.
“Just turned seventeen,” the guard replied with a leer.
She heard the rasp of the hooded man’s voice again and then he turned away, melting into the shadows beyond her cell.
The guard followed him, pausing at the door to look back over his shoulder. “This be yer lucky day, girl. Seems his lordship has taken a fancy to ye.”
“I don’t understand.”
“He just bought yer freedom.”
Kristine staggered back, overcome by a wave of dizzying relief. She wasn’t going to die.
“He’ll be comin’ by to fetch ye tomorrow night.”
Coming for her. Tomorrow night. Relief turned to trepidation. “What…what does he want with me?”
The guard threw back his head and barked a laugh. “He says he’s going ta marry ye.”
“Marry me!” Kristine stared at the guard in shock.
“But…he doesn’t even know me.”
The guard shrugged. “What does it matter?”
Why would a stranger want to marry her? And why did she care, if it would get her out of this terrible place with her head still on her shoulders? “Can you tell me his name?”
“Why, don’t you know? That’s his lordship, Erik Trevayne.”
Stunned, Kristine stared at the guard. She would rather lose her head that very night than become the wife of the infamous Lord Trevayne. A beheading, at least, would be swiftly and mercifully over. “And he wants to marry me? Are you sure?”
“Aye, girl. It seems a fittin’ match. A murderin’ wench bein’ wed to the Demon Lord of Hawksbridge Castle.”
Kensington © Amanda Ashley
Amanda Ashley is one of those rare birds—a California native. She's lived in Southern California her whole life and, except for the earthquakes, she loves it. She shares a home with her husband, as well as an adorable Pomeranian named Lady, a wild house sparrow named Tweety, and a tortoise who remains nameless. Amanda and her alter ego, Madeline, have written 60 books. Not bad for someone who started writing just for the fun of it. Her books regularly appear on the New York Times and USA Today bestseller lists.