TITLE Girl From Gurian
GENRE YA Historical Romance
Gurian Sultanate, Philippines, April 1765
15-year-old Crown Princess Juzliza clamped her lips until the urge to sneeze passed, averting disaster.
Whoever decorated her boat with hundreds of flowers should endure a day’s lecture from Hajj Ibrahim.
Alas, most likely he ordered the flowers.
Hajj Ibrahim, her tutor and advisor to the sultan, did not expressly forbid sneezing, but could have easily added it to his rules:
Stare straight ahead. Look stern so people will not think you are frivolous. Keep your hands still at all times. And Juzliza’s favorite: no falling out of the boat.
“Even accidentally?” Juzliza had asked, wide-eyed. She smiled now at the memory of his disapproving expression.
How glorious to jump in the water and cast off all these trappings, which said to the world she was ready to be married off!
Instead, she sat still in her gilded palanquin with an itchy nose as slaves rowed her sampan away from the palace, down to the main bay where guests waited. Legions of guards trailed her in smaller boats.
Who would dare harm her here?
A school of fish darted out of the way in the clear shallows. Juzliza leaned to watch them, then realized her mistake.
Her nose, catching a strong whiff of orchids, twitched yet again.
This time, she could no longer suppress it. She sneezed into a lace handkerchief and steadied her headdress just as her handmaiden screamed.
It’s just a sneeze, Juzliza thought, annoyed at Remina, then realized something else was happening.