TITLE: The Fiddler King
GENRE: YA Fantasy
Eighteen-year-old King Lesandro and princesa Anna-Maria are destined for an arranged marriage, until assassins attack Lesandro and Anna-Maria is accused of his murder. When Lesandro turns up alive, disguised as a minstrel, the two of them must learn to trust one another as they try to outfox the new Regent’s forces and reclaim Lesandro’s throne.
Lesandro d’Orsino eyed the black knight bearing down upon him. He shifted to the left, but knew he was cornered. He was the lone white piece left on the board and there was no way he could keep his tiny black and white kingdom.
“Check and mate.” His cousin, Taddeo, spoke precisely as he nudged the black bishop forward. The light of the campfire flickered on the polished ebony. He made a disappointed sound. “When will you open your eyes and start using the board to your advantage?”
Lesandro’s jaw tightened. It wasn’t as if he were trying to lose, yet Taddeo trounced him every night since they’d left home. One hundred and three times, to be exact. Somewhere, his cousin had gotten it into his head that if Lesandro could develop tactics on the chessboard, it would translate into a talent for useful things like court intrigue and leading a kingdom. “I haven’t your gift for strategy.”
“You do when a sword is in your hand.” His cousin’s voice took on the lecturing tone that was becoming more common. “As soon as you sit down at a chessboard, you become as intelligent as a straw-headed practice dummy. Look, here.” He brought Lesandro’s attention back to the remnants of the game. “Use your queen more. She could have taken my knight four moves back, yet she only sat in her square bower, listening to gossip.”
“Exactly why I have no use for a queen. Why should I shackle myself to a girl like that?”