Tracy’s rating: 5 of 5 stars
Series: Orignally Published in the anthology Romantically Enchanted in 2018
Release Date: October 10, 2020
Duncan Maclean saved a young girl fifteen years ago and ends up cursed. While he was off saving the girl, his mother and her companion were set upon by outlaws and mortally wounded. Duncan arrives back just before they die, his mother’s companion is a witch and she curses Duncan – but softens the curse when his mother begs for mercy. He will live for 15 years, his time marked by the leaves of a rowan tree, if he does not win the heart of a daughter of Morrigan, his life will end when the last leaf falls from the tree. She gives him a rusty spearhead from the spear of Assal and tells him he must put the spearhead under 12 mattresses to test any woman he thinks is a daughter of Morrigan. Duncan becomes obsessed with the tree and never leaves the castle, his time is running out and all hope seems lost. But fate seems to smile upon him when a young woman wanders into his garden.
Evina MacGregor is a mercenary, she has no family and no memory of her time before waking in a monastery – she has an uncanny ability with weapons and is never injured. She stumbles into Duncan’s garden during a storm and is amazed to find the garden an oasis, she touches the rowan tree and is attacked by a huge man. He takes her in the castle and his manservant Gillespie begs him to “test” her, he will take care of everything, including staffing the castle, Duncan is wary, but agrees. They feed her and offer her a bed for the night. Evina is amazed, the room is gorgeous and the bed has 12 mattresses, she is not accustomed to such luxury and even if the servants are a little strange, she looks forward to staying. But when she tries to sleep, she feels incredible pain and in the morning finds she has been cut! She has survived countless battles without so much as a scratch! She decides to leave, but after wandering in the storm, she ends up back at the castle.
She demands answers and Duncan tells her of his curse (without mentioning about the Daughter of Morrigan part) it is then that he learns that Evina is the girl he saved all those years ago. Later back in her room, Evina breaks down, all her hopes and dreams seem to have been lost – in a fit of rage, she pulls all the mattresses from the bed before falling down exhausted. Within moments of falling asleep she is woken by excruciating pain. Duncan finds her, apparently dead, but Gillespie uses magic to save her. She wakes and needs answers – they tell her she is a daughter of Morrigan and show her the spearhead – they will help her learn about her mother. Duncan and Evina spend time together researching Morrigan and something starts to blossom between them. When Duncan learns how she can meet her mother, he is willing to sacrifice himself to make her greatest wish come true. Evina doesn’t know the full truth of Duncan’s curse, so she wants to go to her mother’s realm. She knows that Duncan needs her help to break his curse and promises to return. She enters her mother’s kingdom, but before she can meet her, she realizes that Duncan is dying and she needs to go to him. But if she leaves, she can never return, so she must choose: Duncan or fulfilling her greatest wish!
This was a great story, I am a huge fan of twisted fairytales and this was the perfect blending of Beauty and the Beast and the Princess and the Pea. This story was well written, flows nicely, has steamy love scenes, amusing moments, magic, heartache, a lot of emotion and a lovely ending. I orignally read this novella in the Romantically Enchanted anothogy and loved it! If you are a fairytale fan, a paranormal fan, a mystical/supernatural fan or just a historical romance fan – this wonderful novella shouldn’t be missed! My fabulous blog partner Barbara also reviewed this novella as part of the anthogoly – check out her review here!
*I am voluntarily leaving a review for an eARC that was provided to me.*