Title: The Key
Author: Jennifer Anne Davis
Published: November 15th, 2013 by Clean Teen Publishing
Word Count: 80,000
Genre: YA Fantasy Romance
Recommended Age: 14+
Within these pages lie kingdoms with castles and princes who fall in love with fair maidens, but make no mistake−this is no fairytale.
His father’s kingdom is on the brink of upheaval and at the center of it all is an ordinary girl who could be the key to its undoing. When faced with the ultimate choice, will he choose the girl he’s falling in love with or the kingdom he has sworn to protect?
An ordinary girl with an extraordinary past. All she wants is to be free. What she doesn’t realize is that freedom comes with a price she can’t afford to pay. She’s forced to accept the proposal of a prince she despises, even though her heart belongs to someone else . . . his brother.
Seventeen-year-old Rema lives in a brutal kingdom where travel between regions is forbidden, people are starving, and looking at someone the wrong way can mean death. Nineteen-year-old Darmik is the king’s son and Commander of the King’s Army. He spends his days roving the island, doing his father’s bidding and trying to maintain control over the people.
When a chance encounter throws Rema and Darmik together, they share an instantaneous connection, but any sort of relationship between them is strictly forbidden. Darmik’s brother, the Crown Prince, notices Darmik’s interest in Rema and, in a calculated, political move, blackmails her. Faced with an impossible choice, Rema is forced to sacrifice her heart in order to save her family.
As Rema is taken to the palace with the Crown Prince, Darmik confronts the growing rumor that a legitimate blood heir to the throne exists and is trying to overthrow Darmik’s family. In Darmik’s quest to hunt down and kill the threat, he discovers that nothing is as it seems. Locked in the king’s castle, Rema finds herself a key player in a massive power struggle. When Darmik shows up, she’s not sure if she can trust him. The line between friends, enemies, and loyalty becomes blurred. As truths are unlocked, Rema understands that she just might be the key to finding the rightful heir and restoring peace to the kingdom… if she can manage to stay alive long enough.
Prince Lennek slouched on the seat, putting his muddy boots up on the velvet bench across from them, appearing disinterested. Rema hated to admit it, but he was handsome. The side of his lips curled as his eyes sliced over to her. She’d been caught staring. Conceited, she thought. He was beautiful, and he knew it. Rema hated the idea of finding a murderer, someone so vile and repulsive, attractive. It sickened her. She focused her attention outside the carriage and remembered Bren, beaten and bloody from orders given by the prince.
“When we reach the city,” Lennek said, “I’ll introduce you to the people. Then I’ll propose, you’ll accept, and a huge party will be given in our honor. We’ll be married in a few weeks.”
“Why wait so long?” she asked, the hatred seeping through. “What if you get tired of me and change your mind?”
“Hmm,” he smiled, as if contemplating how much to reveal. “You needn’t worry. Everything is going according to plan.”
It was only a matter of time before Rema discovered what Lennek was up to.
Today the mountain range was closer—cold and unwelcoming, rising straight up into the sky. They were topped with snow and desolate of trees. No wonder nothing survived up there.
“I want to make sure you play the part,” Lennek said, recapturing her attention.
“And what would that be?” She glared at him. “Just so we’re absolutely clear.”
Prince Lennek chuckled softly. “Rema, darling, you are a feisty one.” Feisty? He had taken her away from her family. He had ordered Bren’s death. Rema was filled with rage.
Lennek’s countenance changed. His eyes turned shrewd, the lines of his face hardening. There was a ferocious quality to him that sent a chill over her body. “You will maintain your place.” He must have seen the confusion on her face. “You’re a horse merchant’s niece. Don’t you ever forget that.”
“How could I possibly?” she harshly said.
“Hmm,” he mused. “Then make sure you don’t forget that I am the Crown Prince, and as such, you are obedient to me.” His menacing eyes penetrated into hers.
Rema tried to control her emotions. There was no way Prince Lennek could know how afraid she was of him. “I understand, Your Highness,” she said, bowing her head, mocking the prince.
Lennek turned so his entire body faced hers. Rema tried to focus her attention outside the carriage, but he reached for her chin, forcing her to look at him. Their eyes locked. “You are going to be my wife,” Lennek said in a low, cold voice. “You will be royalty. Do you understand?”
“No. I don’t,” she answered as his nails dug into her chin. “Let go of me.” Rema knew she was out of line by making demands, but she wanted to know what she had to work with—how far she could push him until his temper exploded.
Lennek smiled wickedly at her. “You’re mine now. Get used to it. I’m giving you everything. Show some gratitude.”
He leaned closer. She could smell him—an odd mixture of rosemary and horse. Rema refused to close her eyes.
“And don’t forget, if you don’t play the part to my satisfaction, I know where your aunt and uncle live. I won’t just have them killed. They’ll be brought before you, tortured while you watch, and then slowly dismembered.”
He released Rema’s face, pushing her away from him like she was cow dung. Lennek slid back into his side of the carriage, no longer looking at her but at a sapphire ring on his finger—the ring of a prince.
If your book had a soundtrack, what songs would we hear playing on it?
- Rolling in the Deep (Adele)
- Burn It Down (Linkin Park)
- Set Fire To The Rain (Adele)
- Papercut (Linkin Park)
- Someone Like You (Adele)
- In The End (Linkin Park)
- Rumor Has It (Adele)
- Numb (Linkin Park)
- Turning Tables (Adele)
- Leave Out All The Rest (Linkin Park)
Since the story is from two different POVs, I always listened to Adele when writing Rema, the female character. I’d listen to Linkin Park when writing Darmik, the lead male character.
Jennifer graduated from the University of San Diego with a degree in English and a teaching credential. Afterwards, she finally married her best friend and high school sweetheart. Jennifer is currently a full-time writer and mother of three young children. Her days are spent living in imaginary worlds and fueling her own kids’ creativity.
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