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Lord of Rage

(The second book in the Royal House of Shadows series)

A novel by Jill Monroe

LORD OF RAGE

Dear Reader,

Writing Lord of Rage was an amazing experience. Not only because I’ve always been a fan of dark, sizzling paranormal romance, but I also got to work with three amazing and talented authors—Gena Showalter (Lord of the Vampires), Jessica Andersen (Lord of the Wolfyn) and Nalini Singh (Lord of the Abyss).

We started out with a single idea—rewrite fairy tales with a mystical twist—and from that, the Royal House of Shadows was born.

And, baby, did we have a blast! Our world is filled with dangerous magic, vampires and werewolves, and I couldn’t resist adding one more creature to the mix—an elusive berserker possessed with a strength and rage so intense, his enemies shudder with fear, even though he’s the last of his kind. Add in a lost princess desperate to save her brothers and find her kingdom, and watch as the sparks start flying. But can she conquer the Lord of Rage and right the wrongs an evil sorcerer has dealt her?

I’m so excited about this electrifying series, and hope you have as much fun reading as we did writing!

All my best,

Jill

PROLOGUE

ONCE UPON A TIME, in a land unseen by human eye, there was a beautiful princess…destined to wed to further her father’s political gains.

Not the kind of fairy tales Princess Breena of Elden grew up reading in the warmth of her mother’s solar room. In those stories, the princesses rode glowing unicorns, slept on piles of mattresses, their rest only interrupted by a tiny pea, or lived in towering enchanted castles filled with magical creatures.

Although, none of those princesses could talk to themselves in their dreams.

As far as magical abilities, Breena’s gift was pretty worthless. When she was a child, she could talk herself out of a nightmare, which was a bonus to her seven-year-old self, but now, as an adult, it didn’t add anything special. Her mother could look into the dreams of men, was able to send fearful emotions into the hearts of her father’s enemies or even peer into possible futures.

And once upon a time, Queen Alvina had married Breena’s father for her own father’s political ambition. Joining her magic to the blood drinker’s power. Her oldest brother, Nicolai, could absorb the powers of others, while her other brothers Dayn and Micah could mind-speak with the blood drinkers of their kingdom.

While Breena’s dream talking was not powerful…she could always connect to one particular warrior.

That’s how she referred to him while awake. Warrior. As she slept, she thought of him as lover. His dark eyes matched his unruly hair that she so liked to slide her fingers through. His broad shoulders begged for her touch. Her lips. Sometimes in her dreams he’d take her in his arms, his body big and powerful, and carry her to the nearest bed. Or down to the hard floor. Sometimes it was even against the wall. Her lover would tear her clothes, ripping them from her body, then cover her skin with the softness of his lips or roughness of his callused palms.

Breena would wake up, her heart pounding and her nipples hard and throbbing. She’d ache all over. She would draw her knees to her chest, trying to suck in air, clearing her mind of the need and the wanting.

Once she caught her breath, and her heartbeat slowed, she was left feeling only frustrated. She spent the time just after waking trying to remember. To get back into the dream. She’d been with her warrior a hundred times in her sleep, but what came after the clothes ripping and touching? Her dreams never told. Nor could she ever fully see his face. While she knew how he smelled, tasted and what he felt like beneath her fingertips, he remained elusive. Mysterious. A dream.

But one thing was for sure. If the man barged out of her dreams, through her door and stalked across her chamber, she’d be frightened. He was little more than savage. Fierce and primal. He wielded a sword as easily as she brandished a hairbrush.

Hairbrushing. Now that was important in the life of a princess. Especially one whose sole job was to marry. Breena sighed, and began to pace the confines of her room. Her feet as restless as her spirit.

And she knew those kind of thoughts would lead to danger.

In all the fairy tales her mother had read to her while growing up, a princess always got into the most trouble when she yearned for something more. She’d be tempting—no, challenging—fate, if she strode with a purpose to her window to gaze below, out past the castle gates, to the trees of the forest, and wonder…what if? What’s out there? Is there anything more than this?

She might as well swing the doors open wide and invite in disaster and offer it a cup of sweet tea.

Besides, how was she prepared for adventure? Out past the gates, armed with only a few paltry magical abilities, she’d be as lost as that little boy and girl whose trail of bread crumbs was eaten by the birds. If she could defeat a fearsome ogre with a fabulous meal plan, then what lay beyond those gates might not be so worrisome. But giants and ogres wouldn’t be impressed that she was competent in more than twenty kinds of dances from all over the realm. Or that she could arrange every detail from the musicians to the amount of candles needed in the great hall for a ball.

She eyed her discarded needlework. That’s what a princess should be concerned about. Perfect stitches.

Tomorrow her father would begin the search for her husband. Breena knew King Aelfric had put off the task; he didn’t want his daughter living away from him. His life with Alvina had started as a marriage of convenience where love had grown, and they’d forged a close-knit family. But that family was growing up and changing. Her oldest brother, Nicolai, quickly escaped the dinner table after the meal was over, most likely to the bed of a woman. As a gently bred princess of Elden, Breena wasn’t supposed to know those kinds of details—but she did. Already approaching the middle of her second decade, Breena was several years older than when her mother had arrived in Elden, ready to fulfill the marriage contract.

That’s why she was so restless. Their family could no longer hold back time and the changes a ticking clock brought with it. Soon she’d be leaving her childhood home, to marry, and go to another kingdom. She’d be in the arms of a man whose face she could see clearly, whose features were not fuzzy results of a dreamhaze. A man who’d show her what happened after the clothes came off. The time of her dream lover was over. It would be wrong to force him into her dreams once she belonged to another.

But she wasn’t married yet. Her fingers found the timepiece her mother had given her on her fifth birthday. She wore it on a necklace around her neck, a sword and shield decorating the front.

“Why a sword?” she’d asked. Though she was more prone to running through the castle than walking gracefully, even her five-year-old self knew weapons of war did not suit a princess.

Her mother had shrugged, secrets darkening her green eyes. “I don’t know. My magic forges the timepieces.” The queen bent and kissed Breena’s cheek. “But I do know it will aid you on your journey. Your destiny. Make it a good one.”

A craving to see her warrior jolted her. Breena should probably be worried that those cravings hit her more and more frequently.

But if her destiny were not to be with her warrior, then she’d take her mother’s advice and make her journey a good one. Breena kicked off her delicate slippers and lay down on her soft mattress, not bothering to slip out of her dress or tug the covers up over her chin. She closed her eyes and pictured a door. When her mother tried to teach her how to take over the dreamworld, she’d told her that all she had to do was turn the knob, and walk through. The door would take her anywhere she wished to be.

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