Title: The Third Son (Kings of Cardenas, Book 1)
Author: Elise Marion
Length: 113,000 words
Sub-Genres: Historical, Mystery/Thriller, Suspense
Rake. Rogue. Scoundrel. Each of these words has been used to describe Damien Largess, youngest prince of Cardenas, most frequently by his ridiculously somber eldest brother. Damien is perfectly content to spend his days drinking at the card tables, and his nights in the bed of his scheming mistress, especially since doing these things seems to vex his high-handed brother to no end. But when he steps into a glittering ballroom on the night of his twenty-fifth birthday, the roguish young prince’s life will be forever changed.
Beautiful. Graceful. Sensual. When Esmeralda steps into the center of the King’s ballroom to perform for his youngest son’s birthday, every eye in the room is glued to the tall, lithe Gypsy dancer. One pair of eyes seems to burn straight through her, and though she has worked endlessly to shield her heart, she finds her defenses slowly slipping away in the presence of the handsome prince. She cannot resist his devastating charm, nor is she immune to the earth shattering desire in his kiss. As she falls rapidly under his spell, Esmeralda dares to hope for a future she would never have thought possible.
With a deadly plot against the royal family surrounding him in danger and intrigue, Damien will face a decision he never thought he would have to make. Would he step up to claim a responsibility that should never have fallen to the third son? Or will he abandon it to risk all for love?
“Tell me about that thing you were looking into earlier.”
Damien stood and grabbed the long black instrument from the balcony rail. “This? You’ve never seen a telescope before?” He smiled when she shook her head again.
“My father told me about them,” she said wistfully, thinking of the stories her father used to tell her of his travels. “I’ve never seen one in person though.”
“Well, allow me to demonstrate how it works,” he said handing her the portable telescope and pointed out various constellations. Esmeralda noticed the way his face softened and his eyes lit up as he showed her each cluster of stars and the history behind them.
“I would not have guessed that you were interested in something as intellectual as astronomy.” Esmeralda regretted the words the moment she said them. She had not wanted to offend him. But he merely shrugged and returned the telescope to its case.
“It is not common knowledge,” he said, rejoining her on the chaise. “My less reputable hobbies are more known than my intellectual ones. I have several telescopes, of varying sizes and for different purposes, kept in the observatory in the east wing of the palace. My personal library contains several volumes on astronomy, poetry, botany, and biology.”
“The rumors I’ve heard about you make you seem so superficial,” she said, unable to believe that this man before her who spoke so eloquently of science and poetry could be the same drinking, gambling rakehell she’d heard so many stories about. “How is it that no one seems to know of your many other interests?”
“That is mostly my fault,” he admitted, toying with his signet ring to keep from touching her skin. “I have kept these interests mostly to myself, though my family and servants know of them. Publicly though, I have only allowed people to see one side of me.”
Esmeralda nodded. “I know exactly what you mean,” she said sincerely. “Being a Gypsy who dances in a tavern gives people certain ideas about me all the time.”
Damien knew he was guilty having misguided thoughts of his own about her. “Yes but you are innocent, where I am not. People have the right idea about me.”
“Then why don’t you change it?”
Damien shrugged. “Because for all the gossip that exists about me, people are more concerned with the heir to the throne than with me. Lionus will be king, Serge will be general of Cardenas’ military, and I will be the third son. No one really expects much from me.”
“But surely you must want more than that? To be known as more than just the last son?”
It was like she had read his mind, Damien thought. How could she have known of his desire for a more fulfilling life?
“Of course I want more. It is just that no one has ever expected anything of me, and so I’ve never expected anything from myself.”
“But there must be something,” she prodded.
“I have often thought of founding a university, perhaps even naming it for my father.”
Esmeralda smiled, and her entire face nearly glowed. Damien felt that smile tugging at his insides, twisting at his heart. “That’s a wonderful idea!” she said, her excitement contagious, sparking something in him now that he had given voice to his dream. “I see no reason why you shouldn’t do just what you’ve said.”
Damien studied her face, illuminated by the pale moonlight. “You are a marvel,” he said softly, cupping her cheek with his hand. He had resisted long enough, the urge to touch her had finally overcome his will. “Such freshness and passion,” he murmured, reaching up to slide the white cap from her head. Her hair tumbled around her shoulders; the scent of jasmine grew even stronger. She stiffened slightly when he leaned toward her, but relaxed when he pressed his face to her thick locks and inhaled. “That fragrance is intoxicating.”
“My mother makes perfumes and soaps,” she said. Or at least she thought she said it aloud. Damien brushed his lips lightly up her neck, moving up over her chin, and finding her lush mouth. The moment his lips touched hers, she was lost.
He swept her swiftly into his arms and crushed her against him, molding her body against his from chest to hip. Though his hold on her was tight and fierce, his lips moved with surprising softness over hers. He took her mouth slowly, trying carefully not to overwhelm her with his growing ardor. He clenched a handful of her hair and tugged gently, slanting her head back to gain better access to her mouth.
He deepened the kiss, his tongue sliding achingly over hers, arousing feelings she never thought could exist low in her belly. Heat suffused through her, spreading from her middle until she was hot all over. Her hands rested on his chest, tingling at the feel of his corded muscles beneath her fingers. He brought his hands to her waist, so slender he could nearly span the width of it with his large hands. He slid his hands slowly upward over her ribcage, his fingertips lightly brushing her breasts. She sighed into his mouth and arched her back unknowingly, her body responding before her mind could rationalize what she was doing. He lowered his head, showering her neck and shoulders with kisses, working his way steadily downward. His hand cupping one breast jolted her senses, sending her blood rushing rapidly through her veins.
This was an awesome read for me, the more I got to know Damien (the hero) the more I fell in love with him, I was so jealous of Esmeralda but she deserved some happiness, without giving anything away just let me say her life had not been a bowl of cherries. This book has some very strong secondary characters that I can’t wait to read more about them in the rest of the series. I fell asleep reading on my kindle at 2 am and woke up two hours later and my first thought upon waking was trying to figure out how the author was going to get to a HEA from where the plot was, it seemed impossible. Any book that engages me that much has to be good! The characters were well developed and the plot was very engaging, I can't wait to read more about the Kings of Cardenas! I am starting the second book and hope there will be more coming after that. It is just one of those reads that allows you to escape for a few hours and that's exactly why I read in the first place.
(Review copy supplied by author)
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The Third Son (Kings of Cardenas)
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
As a child I always had my nose in a book. From R.L. Stine to Chronicles of Narnia to The Babysitter's Club and Sweet Valley High, I read it all. When I started Junior High and found out that the school library had over 400,000 books, my goal was to read every single one! Of course I didn't achieve that particular goal, but I sure had fun trying!
In high school I developed a talent for writing and discovered romance. Needless to say I combined my love for both and am now a published Indie author. After almost a year of peddling my book from agent to agent with no success I decided that my work was good enough despite the constant rejection. That's when I discovered the world of indie publishing through e-books. I couldn't have made a better decision than stepping out on faith and doing something for myself instead of waiting around for someone else to do it for me.
A litle bit more about me: My husband Kevin and I have been married for 4 years and have two beautiful children, Haley (4) and Gavin (4 months). We are a military family, which means I spend a lot of my time alone with two children. People often ask me how I deal with the military life. I simply say, someone's got to do it, right? I am proud of my husband for serving his country.
When I'm not reading (which is almost always) or writing (I try to every day), I am watching movies (which I love), cooking (which I love even more) or watching someone else cook on TV (love me some Paula Deen). I have been singing my entire life and enjoy being my church's choir every Sunday. My large, extended family is close and means the world to me.
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