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Forever My Princess (The Royal House of Atharia, Book 3) (Ebook)

Forever My Princess (The Royal House of Atharia, Book 3) (Ebook)

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She’s not who he thinks she is. But she just might be everything he needs…

Tired doesn’t even begin to describe how Princess Elena of Atharia is feeling. A brief respite from the pressures of her position will do her good. Unfortunately, rest isn’t something royalty is typically afforded. But she’ll do what is necessary to escape her responsibilities for a time—even if it means becoming someone else entirely…

Lord Theodore Ward has no love for the wealthy. But if he doesn’t marry well soon, he’ll lose everything. And his hunt for a perfect bride cannot begin while his mother is unwell and unattended. So, hiring a lady’s companion is the only option. Then the lovely Elena Smith arrives at his door and his plans become
infinitely more complicated…

When all the truths and secrets come to light, can these opposites find their way to happily ever after? Or will Theo lose his princess forever?

Read a Sample

Princess Elena of Atharia sat in the opulent wingback chair in her sister's new London home and waited for her friend Lady Margaret Villiers to arrive.
She had sent word almost two hours ago for her to call, and yet still, she had not arrived. Elena stood, pacing back and forth between her chair and the mantel, the clock clicking down the time with an annoying tick.
What could have kept her? Margaret had not sent word that she could not attend her summons.
Elena frowned. For her plan to work, she needed Margaret's loyalty and silence for the next month at least. The many letters she had written to her sister crinkled in her pocket, and she patted her leg, ensuring herself they were still there.
She had spent hours penning them, wanting to ensure her sister Alessa never assumed she was not where she was supposed to be. That she would not come looking for her for the next month at least.
A footman knocked and came into the room, bowing. "Your Highness, Lady Margaret Villiers wishes an audience."
Elena whirled about, seeing her friend grinning behind the footman's back. "Thank you, John. We will have tea if you please," she commanded the footman, watching as Margaret came into the room and closed the door behind her.
Elena met her across the room, taking her friend's hands. "Oh, I'm so very pleased you are here. I did not think you would attend, and then I was not sure what I would do."
Margaret, sensing the worry in Elena's tone, frowned. "Whatever is the matter that you are all aflutter? I thought you would be busy packing for Kew Palace? What fun we shall have for the next month. Do you think King George will attend after all?"
Elena gestured toward a chair. "We need to talk. Please sit, Margaret," she asked her friend, joining her on the settee.
"What is it that you need to discuss so urgently?" Margaret asked, trepidation in her tone. "Are you about to tell me you're not going to attend the house party? I shall be ever so disappointed if you do not."
Guilt pricked her conscience that her friend's concern was about to come to fruition. But there was no way around it. She needed to leave London to remove herself from the endless cycle of balls and parties. Having entered society last year in Atharia, Elena felt she had done nothing but parade herself before eligible young men who were looking for a bride.
She no longer wanted to play such games. A month away at a country house with an elderly lady who needed her, a woman who had once been her mother's closest friend, was just what she needed. If only to regain her composure, to prepare herself for a union that would eventually come.
She was not fool enough not to know that she would eventually marry a man whom her sisters deemed appropriate. But it was not how she wanted to choose a spouse. She wanted to fall in love, to marry her best friend. The gentlemen in town were all so charming and complimentary, so much so that their constant flattery made her teeth ache they were so sweet.
And false, she accepted. None of them would love her for the woman she was inside her royal shell. They loved the power and influence that came with marrying her, what she brought to the union monetarily and in status only. She could not marry such a man. Being gone from London may help her rally to stand firm and not settle for anything but the best.
"I'm afraid I'm going to disappoint you, Margaret dear, but I do hope you'll support me as your dearest friend, for I shall need your help, even if I'm not with you at Kew Palace."
"What do you need me to do? Or better yet," Margaret added, raising one questionable brow, "what is it that you're going to do?"
"As to that," Elena said, nerves and expectation making her stomach flip. She had never been adventurous. After being left at the castle in Atharia when her sister Alessa had escaped, she had done all she could to become invisible.
Such a temperament and desire had not left her since coming out and being in society. She was no longer so comfortable in boisterous and crowded ballrooms. She would much prefer a country ride or a long walk in beautiful gardens to a ball. And she could not stomach falsehoods, and there were many directed at her from the men who wished to make her their wife.
"I have taken a position as a lady’s companion to the Dowager Marchioness of Lyon in Somerset. She was friends with my mama during her coming out, but we have never met. I know she will not recognize me. I will be working for her ladyship under the alias of Miss Elena Smith. I leave for the estate tomorrow, the same day I'm supposed to leave for the house party at Kew Palace."
Margaret's mouth gaped, and Elena hoped she had not bitten off too much for her friend to take in or for her to do. "Tell me you're willing to help me. I truly do not wish to attend the house party. I need some time away from London and the madness that my title brings into my life. A month in the county will be the perfect escape, and I shall return in four weeks, ready to find a husband and marry."
"Really?" Margaret scoffed, chuckling a little at her words. "But what of Lord Lyon? Will he not be home? From what I know of him, he never attends the Season, something about a rift that happened years ago with his father and King George, I believe, here in London."
"That does not mean he does not need a companion for his mother, but from what the correspondence has stated so far, forwarded to me from the servant registry office I've been hired through, he is to return to town."
"Well," Margaret said with a surprised exhalation. "I did not think he would ever come to London. He is one of those country gentlemen who never comes to town, but I'm sure his return here will cause a lot of hearts to flutter."
Elena did not care how many hearts fluttered in London for the marquess, so long as she had a lovely, relaxing four weeks looking after his mother and keeping her company. A month of long country walks, of reading and sitting before the hearth, not having to attend a ball or soiree, or a royal event would be a pleasure indeed.
"Perhaps he intends to find a wife, like so many other gentlemen of our acquaintance. Nevertheless, his plans are not my concern. I have been hired as Miss Smith and Miss Smith I shall be for the next four weeks."
Margaret pinned her with a disapproving stare. "And may I ask how it is, Princess Elena," she said, accentuating her title, "that you will get away with such a plan? Your sister is in London and will want to know that you are safe and well, especially after her own safety scare last Season. I do not see how you can get away with this foolery at all."
Elena had it all planned and this plan was the reason she had asked Margaret to call today, for she too featured in her escape. She reached into her pocket and pulled out the six letters she had written to Alessa. "You know that I adore you as a friend, and I do need your help if I'm to succeed. Will you help me?"
Margaret's mouth opened and closed several times, her eyes wide with surprise. "Me?" she said, pointing to herself. "What is it that I'm supposed to do? Need I remind you that you have a sister who is a queen and another who is a very independent, strong-willed princess right here in town? Should either of them find out I helped you escape, I shall be strung up and hung from the nearest gallows."
Elena chuckled. "I can always count on you to make me laugh, but you are wrong. Neither sister will ever find out. If you can have these letters sent over the next four weeks while you're at Kew Palace, Alessa will be none the wiser. She will not know that I'm, in fact, in Somerset."
"And if your sister calls in at Kew Palace. The estate is not so very far away from London."
Elena waved her friend's concerns away. "She is far too busy with her charities to be worried about me at a house party for a month. While I have little doubt that she will lecture me to behave and remember my manners before I go, she will never think that I shall not attend at all."
"And what of King George who sent out all these invitations? Will he not out you to your siblings should he find out you did not attend?"
"No," Elena stated, shaking her head and not the least concerned with that part of her plan either. "King George will not attend, even if he has invited us all to his country estate. You know he prefers to keep his select few and himself locked away at Windsor."
"Even so, I feel nervous about deceiving your sisters. They will be ever so cross with me should they find out."
Elena reached out and took Margaret's hand. "Listen, they will not be angry with you; they will be angry with me." She reached back into her pocket and pulled out another letter. "This is all the information of where I am and the dates I shall be away. Lord Lyon was very particular as to the time that he required a companion for his mama, and it was perfect luck that they coincided with the house party at Kew. Do not worry at all. You enjoy your time away from town, hand these letters to a footman at the palace, and that is all you need to concern yourself with."
While Margaret considered her decision, Elena wondered if she had been foolish in thinking she could do such a thing. To run away, even if only for four weeks, was still a risk. Her heart went out to her friend, worrying so. "If you do not wish to, that is perfectly well too, Margaret. I would never ask you to do anything that you're uncomfortable or disagree with. I can change my plans and come to the house party, and no one would ever be the wiser to what I wanted to do."
Margaret bit her bottom lip in thought. "No, I shall help you. You are my closest friend, and you deserve to do what you think will make you ready for marriage. An institution that we all shall have to face very soon, I should imagine. I want to help you, and I shall post your letters. But," Margaret said, stemming Elena’s attempt to pull her into a hug, "should your sisters arrive and inquire of your whereabouts or want to see you, I will tell them the truth. Are you in agreement?" she asked her, holding up her hand and sticking out her smallest finger.
"What are you doing with your hand?" Elena asked, having never seen anyone hold out their finger in such a way.
"This is a pinkie promise. Should you shake my finger with your own smallest finger, it will mean that you agree to my terms, and you are free to travel to Somerset and Lord Lyon's estate."
Elena stared at Margaret's smallest digit, thinking over her friend's terms, which were utterly appropriate and fair. She hooked her finger around Margaret’s. "I swear and agree to what you say, and I thank you so very much."
Hope and excitement thrummed through her veins over her forthcoming month away from town, from people and noise, scandal and negotiation. How wonderful her time in Somerset would be, and tomorrow morning when the carriage arrived to take her away, she would be ready and willing to transform into Miss Elena Smith, Princess Elena no more.

Main Tropes

  • Mistaken Identity
  • Royal Romance
  • Regency Romance
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