Author: S.L. Jesberger
When Aislin first came to me, I knew I wanted her to be an older heroine. When you’re older, you begin to understand that nothing is going to be handed to you—not even if you’re a princess. You begin to get the funny feeling that life is going to be a struggle, and if you’re going to make it, you better learn how to fight and get your hands dirty. It doesn’t hurt to have some pretty good coping mechanisms, even if one of those coping mechanisms happens to be a brick wall around your heart.
When Aislin of Arianrhod begins, our heroine is 35 years old, single, and a woman determined to hold things together under seemingly impossible odds. She’s been managing the day to day affairs of the Kingdom of Arianrhod for the past 11 years, since the death of her brother, King Fionn, who died during the sickness that also wiped out most of their population.
In the wake of heartbreak, five-year-old Prince Bryce, Fionn’s son and heir and Aislin’s nephew, is sent off to an uncle in a neighboring kingdom to be schooled in the ways of managing a kingdom. He is due to take the throne of Arianrhod when he turns 18 in two more years. Until then, Aislin must assume the mantle of responsibility for the kingdom.
It’s a difficult enough job to do with half your population dead, but Aislin also has to deal with a suitor who refuses to take no for an answer. Prince Jariath of Morrigan has pursued her relentlessly for years, but he’s violent and unstable. Despite her continual refusals, he tries one last time to win her, sending his assistant Brock with an outrageous proposal.
Aislin angrily refuses, and Jariath and Brock decide to invade Arianrhod. They plan to take Aislin’s lands and force her into marriage. This sets up the conflict for the rest of the book.
I wanted Aislin to be like most women I know: struggling a bit, yet marvelously resilient.
She is fiercely devoted to her slightly dysfunctional family and puts her life on hold for them, yet she can’t help but wonder when it’s going to be her turn. She doesn’t like conflict, but she won’t run from it, even against overwhelming odds. She has a strong sense of responsibility, and does not abdicate when the going gets tough. She cries when she’s alone sometimes, but presents nothing but a spine of steel to the people who are counting on her. She is not without a wry sense of humor. She exasperates her friends at times, but inspires boundless loyalty and love.
**An Epic Struggle in the Land of Alainnshire...
A series of misfortunes finds Princess Aislin of Arianrhod acting as regent for her five-year old nephew. Things go from bad to worse when Arianrhod is invaded by an army led by Prince Jariath of Morrigan, who is determined to have her as his wife, willing or unwilling.
Barely escaping him, Aislin and a trusted friend are forced to flee into Blackthorne Forest. The forest is dark, dangerous, and uncivilized. It is also the shortest way to the Kingdom of Wyndham and the help they so desperately need.
Blackthorne Forest is also full of surprises. Caught and taken into the heart of the forest, Aislin will soon forge an alliance she never expected with a being she didn't believe existed.
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