Reclaiming Ryda (Once Upon a Duchy, #2)
by Rachel Rossano
Publication date: April 20th 2021
Genres: Fairy Tales, Fantasy, Romance
Synopsis: Rydaria lives as a prisoner in a tower library. Captured as a child, her past is a mystery. Maintaining the literary treasures within her care, she studies the world through books that give her a glimpse of the freedom she craves.
A scribe by trade, Crispin has devoted the last three years of his life seeking the lost heir of Avalene. He travels to Worthenave’s famed library in hopes of finding the key. Instead, he discovers a new mystery, a beautiful librarian who is locked in with her books every night.
As the days pass, Crispin must choose. Rydaria’s precarious situation is deteriorating. Meanwhile, his duty demands he leave before the Duke of Worthenave uncovers his quest. Still, the scribe can’t bring himself to abandon the captive in the library tower, even if it costs him his mission.
Inspired by Rapunzel and East of the Sun West of the Moon
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About the promised half hour later, Pip arrived at the gate. “Hey, Lady of Ink and Paper, is my master about?” He almost tripped over the bucket of dirty water still waiting for dumping. A bit of quick footwork saved me a mess to clear up. Once he was steady on his feet, he lifted his face and grinned at me. “He holing up here?”
“He is above stairs on the second floor,” I explained.
Crispin emerged from the stairwell and cleared his throat. “No, he is following his stomach’s commands to eat. Did they send a decent meal this time?” He flashed the lad a grin. “Welcome, Pip.” Straddling the chair at the end of the table, he pulled his covered tray over and began disassembling the contents beneath the napkin.
Crispin paused and regarded him for a moment. “If you are hungry, just say so.”
“I am not hungry. I have news.”
Crispin simply nodded as he returned to eating his meal. “Then have a seat and spill the news.”
Pip obediently sat, pulling off the felt cap on his head as he did so. “I spoke to that man on the side street about the horses.”
“Twenty. Each.” Pip watched Crispin’s face with the intensity of a cat watching a mousehole.
“Tell him five for both or no deal.”
“But I talked to all the other men selling horses, and they all gave me the same price.”
Crispin set down his knife, leaned back, and eyed Pip. “So, you think I should let this man scam me?” His gaze narrowed. “Why?”
Pip squirmed, wringing the life from his felt hat. “I really like that red one.”
Crispin’s features softened. “He is a handsome horse. But the more important question is, are you willing to give up a couple of months’ worth of meals to have him?”
Pip’s eyes widened. “No.”
“I thought not. I am not a rich man, Pip. There is a limit to my funds. Besides, we won’t want mounts that will attract attention.” Crispin returned to his meal.
“The red one isn’t that flashy,” the lad protested. “I will even refrain from brushing him too often to keep his hide from being too bright.”
Crispin smiled at this. “Very well, tell the man that your master is not pleased that he tried to cheat him. Then inform him we are giving him one more chance before we go to another horse dealer. Two gold is a more than generous price for two creatures of humble origins and limited use. Take it or leave it.”
As Pip mulled this over, I interrupted. “I can’t ride.”
I had done the math. Crispin had come with one horse. I knew he and Pip had spoken of seeing to its care. With an addition of two more to his party and the chance of pursuit increasing, he was trying to buy a horse each for the boy and me.
I explained. “I mean it. I have never even been near a horse. Please don’t buy one on my behalf.”
Crispin continued chewing before pausing to speak. “It doesn’t matter. You and Pip will learn.”
“I already know how,” the lad protested. “I have been practicing every day.”
Crispin leveled a measuring gaze on the boy. “You know how to stay on a horse, which is entirely different from riding one for any length of time.”
I had visions of him putting me on the back of a massive creature and me promptly falling off into the dirt. “What if I can’t even stay on a horse right away?” Panic began to tighten my chest. “I am very clumsy. I fall off ladders all the time, and downstairs, and—”
Crispin reached across the table and stopped my rambling by resting a fingertip on my top lip. Suddenly, I couldn’t focus on anything other than his dark-brown eyes calmly assessing me. An acute awareness of him flooded through me.
“I will take care of you.”
Rachel Rossano specializes in clean romantic fiction set in historical-feeling fantasy worlds. She also dabbles in straightforward historical romance and not-so-strict speculative fiction. A happily married mother of three children, she divides her time between mothering, teaching, and writing. She endeavors to enchant, thrill, entertain, and amuse through her work. A constant student, she seeks to improve her skills and loves to hear from readers.
Author links: Website ~ Facebook ~Pinterest ~ Twitter ~ Instagram ~ Goodreads ~
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