Will Somers has always thought himself unlovable. When he encounters a creature of myth and magic, he seizes the chance to finally have a wife and family of his own. Emma is a selkie—one of the immortal fae-folk of the sea—bound to Will by the magic of her kind, and eager to learn about life on land. She has to learn to adapt quickly to human customs, because Will is headed for the court of Henry VIII, to serve as the king’s fool. It’s a glittering, dangerous world, where a careless word can lead to the scaffold and the smallest of gestures is loaded with political implications. Anne Boleyn is charmed by Emma’s naïveté and soothing selkie magic and wants Emma for her own fool. Can Will protect his newfound love from the dangers that lurk in every shadow? Circa regna tonat: around the throne, the thunder rolls.
Release Date: February 20, 2014
And now, for the cover!
chamber. Fermor gave his name to the steward.
again tomorrow. His Majesty is in a temper today.”
have ended well. Fermor sputtered, panicking as he saw his chances slip away.
regaled by a fool’s antics,” Will noted.
then gave a slight smile. “This way.” He led them through a tapestry-covered
door through the empty presence chamber. Will paused, awed by the sight of the
throne—the symbol of the king’s power—wide and heavy, gilded and jeweled, set
on a carpeted dais. Beside it was a smaller throne for the queen, and over both
were canopies bearing the coat of arms of each. The steward bowed to the empty
throne as they passed, and they copied him before continuing out into a smaller
king is at cards with the Lady Pembroke. You will be called to him when he is
amusing in his life, and his wits were logy. A horrifying thought occurred to
him. If he was unable to persuade the king to take him on, he wouldn’t be able
to keep Emma. He couldn’t take her with him if he returned to the comedy
troupe. Panic made his mind blank for a moment, and he did not hear his name
called. Fermor elbowed him, and Will stumbled to his feet and followed the
steward into a chamber.
his surroundings. He had an impression of tapestries over dark wood paneling
and the glitter of gold, but his eyes were on the floor in front of two figures
seated in x-shaped chairs. He knelt.
Your Graces, I present Master Richard Fermor and Will Somers.”
at him and saw a large, but still muscular man with thinning reddish-blond
hair, dressed in a dark brown velvet doublet, ornamented with pearls and gold
frogs. The king had gained weight in the last few years, and to disguise it he
had widened the shoulders of his surcoats. Will had to admit the effect was
powerful. His large codpiece jutted up from the center slit of his doublet,
also meant to convey power, or at least, virility. His eyes were small, a
piercing blue-gray. Will caught a glimpse of them before he lowered his gaze to
The king’s voice was low and gruff, and he didn’t sound much interested. The
lady seated at his side wore a French hood and an initial pendant attached to
her strand of pearls, the letters “AB” twined together. She was garbed in a
dressing gown of brilliant scarlet, trimmed in ermine. It was casual raiment
only the highest nobility was entitled to wear outside their own bedchamber,
but Anne Boleyn was now royal in all but name. Just weeks ago, the king had
created her Marquess of Pembroke, the highest noble title in the land. She
patted the small dog in her lap.
pleases Your Grace.”
king to speak to him. “I—I can juggle, Your Majesty,” he croaked. “I can make
jests, tumble, and sing a little.”
balls from his bag. “If it pleases Your Majesty,” he started. He straightened
his shoulders as best he could, and said in his haughtiest tone, “I, Will
Somers, am the best juggler in England.”
amusement. He fell into his act, bragging about his abilities while seeming to
lose track of his juggling and keeping the balls in the air seemingly by
accident alone. He was grateful he had performed this particular act so many
times, because he thought he’d completely forgotten his lines, but they slipped
from his mouth of their own accord, and his limbs seemed to move themselves.
The king guffawed a couple of times, and he thought he heard Anne laugh at one
point. Will ended with one of the balls balanced on the tip of his nose, before
dropping it into his hands and sweeping low into a bow.
he seemed a bit more jovial than he had when Will first entered the room. Or
perhaps it was wishful thinking on Will’s part. “But tell me this: I have fools
already who can juggle and make jests. Why would I wish to have you at my
court? What have you to offer that they do not?”
though he had rehearsed it. “Because I will do something none of your council,
lords and ladies, nor servants will do.”
“Oh, I do like him.”
that so, Master Fool? Then perhaps you are worth it, after all.”
calmed when Anne giggled at Will’s audacity. “What?”
Christian king.” Will’s mouth was as dry as paper and his heart thudded in his
chest, but he continued. “You must swear to me, on your honor, you will never
hold it against me when I tell you the truth.”
and then he burst into laughter. He slapped his knee and elbowed Anne, who gave
him a sharp glance at being prodded by his arm, before she laughed along with
him as a courtier trained to echo the king’s mirth.
accepted a perfumed handkerchief from one of his serving lords to wipe away the
tears seeping from his eyes. “Or must I write it out and put my royal seal to
the king said in solemn tones and burst into guffaws once again. “Go and have
my steward find you rooms. Have you a wife?”
expected this, and he didn’t want Emma to live at court, but there was nothing
he could do. Refusing lodgings offered by the king would be a gross insult.
wish to see what the wife of a fool looks like.”
Will said, and that sent the king into laughter once more.
waved a hand at the steward. “Find him some decent garb, and some for Milady
Fool as well.”
from the room. “And for you, Fermor,” he heard the king begin before the door
was shut behind them. Will’s knees gave out and he collapsed to the floor. His
head swam in sick circles. He sat back on his heels and looked up at the
steward. “Pray, pardon,” he rasped.
not the first to react in such a manner.” He held out a hand and Will stared at
it in surprise. The steward was a lord, and here he was, offering a hand to a
baseborn commoner. Will took it, and the steward helped him to his feet and
drew him near.
the steward whispered, “ ’tis that man in there.” He drew away again, and
his manner was once more brisk and officious. “Follow me.”