All of his life, Caden DeMott’s mismatched eyes have made him the target of superstition and scorn. Though he is the son of a nobleman, he’s been allowed to run free over the hills and moors, mostly ignored by his family. No one ever thought to inform him that he had been betrothed since infancy, until the day his fiancé, Prince Rhys Gwyther arrived to marry him.
Rhys is the prince of the small island country of Mauritania, a land rich in gems, rose oil, and pearls, but poor in skilled artisans and seeds to grow crops. In order to further cement the trade route to the mainland, he’s been sent to marry a man he’s never met, and bring him back to Mauritania. Unfortunately, an accident years before has left Rhys with a lot of emotional baggage and very little trust in strangers.
But trust is exactly what Caden and Rhys are going to need if they are to make a life together, and help unravel the mystery of who’s been smuggling valuable gems and pearls off the island. Add in the realization that Caden’s stepmother, Mildred and her island representative, Maxwell, have been importing inferior goods for years, forcing Mauritania to become more dependent on them, and trust becomes even more difficult.
Caden possesses the knowledge to finally allow Rhys’ father to unravel the plot to ruin Mauritania, but only if the king and his son are willing to put their faith in Caden’s loyalty to his new home. Something that is difficult to do after Caden is accused of cheating on his marriage vows to Rhys with his guard, Luc. Will Rhys believe him innocent? Or will their marriage be over before it truly has a chance to begin?
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Jackson had watched a medley of emotions play across Caden’s face as the story unfolded, but now the young man sat with his hand still upon the head of his hound, a blank, almost expressionless look in his eyes. Jackson lingered with bated breath, waiting on Caden’s response.
Caden blinked several times and resumed scratching Brutes’ ears. “Will I ever see you again?”
Jackson tried to give his son a smile but was certain it came out a grimace. “I will do my best to come to Mauritania and visit with you each year around the time of your birth.”
Caden dropped his gaze, but not before Jackson saw the shimmer of tears forming there. He should have known Caden would not be fooled by such a flimsy lie.
“And what about them?” Caden asked, stroking Titus’ head now as well. Jackson heard the hitch in his son’s voice and the shaky exhale of breath that revealed just how flimsy a hold he had on his emotions.
“I honestly can’t answer that,” Jackson told him. “You will have to ask Prince Rhys if he will allow you to keep them. I promise you that they will have a home here for the rest of their days if he will not.”
Caden ducked his head, hiding the tears that now flowed freely. With some difficulty, Jackson swallowed down the lump in his throat and reached out to pull his son into an embrace. For several long minutes, no other words were spoken.
“I have never disobeyed you father,” Caden’s soft voice whispered in his ear. “I will marry the prince and do my best not to shame you.”
“I am proud of you, my son,” Jackson whispered back, hugging him tighter, “and I have faith in you. I know you will do your best.”
“Is he kind? Is he going to be afraid of me? Perhaps he won’t want me because of my eyes.”
“He faces the same repercussions as you do if he refuses to honor the contract. As for whether he is a kind man or not, I cannot say, for I have never met him. All I know of Prince Rhys is that he is two years older than you.”
Caden pulled out of his father’s embrace and laid his head on Titus’ back as a loud horn sounded in the distance. There was no more time for words; the prince had arrived.
About the author
LAYLA DORINE lives among the sprawling prairies of Midwestern America, in a house with more cats than people. She loves hiking, fishing, swimming, martial arts, camping out, photography, cooking, and dabbling with several artistic mediums. In addition, she loves to travel and visit museums, historic, and haunted places.
Layla got hooked on writing as a child, starting with poetry and then branching out, and she hasn’t stopped writing since. Hard times, troubled times, the lives of her characters are never easy, but then what life is? The story is in the struggle, the journey, the triumphs and the falls. She writes about artists, musicians, loners, drifters, dreamers, hippies, bikers, truckers, hunters and all the other folks that she’s met and fallen in love with over the years. Sometimes she writes urban romance and sometimes its aliens crash landing near a roadside bar. When she isn’t writing, or wandering somewhere outdoors, she can often be found curled up with a good book and a kitty on her lap.
Layla Dorine can be found at: