Title: Daughter of the Overking
Author: Ashley York
Genre: Historical Romance
A mistaken identity. A gruesome murder.
Trained as a warrior...
Brighit of Clonascra despises the trappings and demands of womanhood and is far more comfortable training for battle. Long held alliances require she set aside selfish dreams and take Darragh as her husband. The union intended to promote peace between the clans is interrupted by the shocking murder of a neighboring king and she quickly discovers there are far worse things than being wed.
Trained to be king...
Darragh of Drogheda has no wish to be king, but he is an obedient son and supports his father's plans. His marriage to Brighit, however, will be no hardship at all since he finds her most intriguing when she fights him at every turn. A she-warrior indeed. Her persistent dismissal of him merely blows the fire aflame and sets him down the path to discovery of all her most tightly held secrets—secrets that could cost him his life.
“I’m thinking Niall did not expect his prized animal to be taken on such a ride as ye’ve given her this night. Her lameness will disappear once she’s rested, but I suggest ye walk her back.”
“Walk her back?” Lachlann all but whined and the rest of the lads quickly joined in, voicing their own objections to dragging out the return journey.
Darragh raised his hands, ceasing the complaints. “Only a suggestion, but if ye force her to bear the weight of a rider on that sore hoof, she may take longer to recover. I’m not sure how yer uncle will feel about trusting ye again.”
The grumbling started right back up as the lads tossed ideas back and forth. Darragh remained calm, keeping his face relaxed and his bride-to-be within sight. She remained silent, again nibbling at her thumbnail.
“Or—” the lads’ discussion ceased and Darragh continued. “—ye could allow me to take my betrothed upon my own horse while ye lead the lame horse home.”
The men separated like Moses parting the Red Sea, all eyes on Brighit’s shocked expression.
“Ye’ve been caught,” Lachlann said.
Brighit finally closed her gaping mouth to give her brother a fierce scowl. She then turned that same expression on Darragh, closing the distance until she stood directly in front of him. Her small body heaved with indignation.
“Are ye not the sneaky one? Pretending not to see me.”
“Pretending not to see ye?” Darragh forced an even tone. He found her pursed lips and narrowed eyes intriguing, but he wasn’t ready for her to know that. She was unlike any other lass, and this close proximity to her and her family was providing quite a bit of insight into her true nature. That she would go off playing lad, however, had been no more than a sneaking suspicion until this night. “And when was this?”
“This whole time.” she huffed.
With dramatic flair, he glanced at Lachlann and his friends with wide, innocent eyes, arms open in supplication. “Did I ever say that my betrothed was certainly not here?”
The others averted their eyes, their quiet chuckles receiving the same unrepentant glare from Brighit.
“Or that the daughter of one of the most powerful ri túath would certainly not be dressing up as a lad to race across the countryside in the dark of night.” His easy tone ended in a combative declaration.
“Ye did not call me out!”
“And why would I be doing that?” Darragh stood tall and crossed his arms, setting his lips to curl before he spoke again in a much quieter tone. “These lads certainly knew ye were here. As did I. There was no pretending involved.”
Darragh glanced about at the lads. Men, really, about the same age as he was. Why wasn’t someone curbing her behavior? Protecting her? They were doing the opposite by aiding her in the deception.
Surely they realized they were playing with fire to have the only daughter of their king ride with them, dressed as a warrior. What if she were hurt? What if they were attacked?
Turning his ire on them, Darragh said, “Lachlann, what were ye—”
“I told her not to come. She doesn’t listen.”
“Aye, she doesn’t listen,” Darragh agreed.
Glancing over her attire, he continued, “But are those not yer trews? I recognize the stain on the arse.” He pointed, and all eyes were suddenly on her derrière. Darragh stepped forward to block the view, irritated with himself at the sudden urge to strangle them one by one for turning their eyes to her. Heaving a heavy sigh, he swung an arm under her knees and grasped her shoulders to pick her up in one fell swoop.
“Put me down, ye oaf!” Brighit punched at his chest—surprisingly strong punches—and came damn close to heaving herself right out of his arms.
He tossed her astride his own mount, leaping up behind her before she could escape. With a strong arm wrapped around her waist, he yanked the reins with his free hand.
“Ye can continue to argue amongst yerselves, but I will see the daughter of the overking safely returned myself.”
The only objection was the unexpected elbow to his side. He oomphed and tightened his hold on her.
“Behave, or I’ll take ye over my knee.” He spoke under his breath, loud enough only for her to hear, and urged the horse into a trot, away from the others and the wider path they would have to use.
“Ye and whose clan?”
He couldn’t be certain he’d heard her correctly. Once they were far enough for privacy, Darragh reined in his horse.
“Ye think I need help subduing my own wife?” He allowed his gaze to wander the length of her, a self-assured smile turning up his lips. “I think not.”
“Subduing? And won’t that be the way of it?” She snorted. “Forcing me to obey yer every command.”
Her words shouldn’t surprise him since she showed the same willfulness with her family. And just like with his own clan’s teachings, she’d probably been told the only reason a man took a wife was to have his needs seen to: food, children, intimacy.
“Ye’ll be an obedient wife.” His tone was even, his words untroubled.
“I’ll fight ye at every turn.” Her voice cracked with indignation, her body rigid before him.
Her determination set something off inside of him. “Ye’ll lose.”
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Award-winning author Ashley York writes historical romance full of passion and intrigue set in 11th and 12th century Ireland, Scotland, and England where life was wild and survival was never guaranteed.
Whether it's in the mysterious ring forts of Ireland, the romantic Scottish Highlands, or the battlefields of Hastings, her characters fight hard and play hard. Good or evil, primary or secondary, they'll yank at your emotions and make it hard to put her books down.