Rowena's Key, Book I, The Golden Key Chronicles
Genre Fantasy Romance
Author Name AJ Nuest
Book heat level (based on movie ratings): R
The key would unlock his future and the safety of his kingdom, but he never imagined the sorceress would unlock his heart...
Antiques restorer, Rowena Lindstrom, finds herself the owner of an ancestral armoire containing a hidden key and a magic mirror leading to another realm. But the handsome warrior prince waiting on the other side is truly the final straw. This must be an elaborate joke, right?
As she struggles to discover the truth, Rowena learns Prince Caedmon Austiere needs the key to save his kingdom. In the end, she cannot deny him anything. Including her heart.
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Publisher Harper Impulse
Interview with AJ Nuest
Why did you write this book?
Well, I've always been in love with the fantasy romance genre, and knew I would eventually take the plunge into trying to craft my very own fantasy romance. So, one day, I just sat down and started writing. I guess you could say I'd finally reached the place in my career where I just knew I was ready. A month later, the first novella was completed and I had officially caught the fantasy bug. A year after that, I'd turned the first installment into a four book series, and now a spin-off is rumored to be in the works. ;-)
What is your favorite genre to read?
Definitely fantasy with strong romantic elements. I just have a thing for princes, I guess...or any swashbuckling hero that charges in to save the day. I love the world building of fantasy romance, the complex plots and that persistent element of "Oh no! How're they going to get out of this fix?" Fantasy authors always keep me guessing and I love that. There's also a lot of external conflict in fantasy romance (i.e. the characters are kept apart by circumstances beyond their control) and I love that angsty-goodness.
What is your favorite character from fiction (not including your own characters)?
Jacqueline Carey wrote a two book series called The Sundering – Godslayer is Book One and Banewreaker is Book Two. The stories feature a hero by the name of General Tanaros. He is not a good man. He is extremely conflicted throughout the series, is deeply tortured, and lives with the bitter realization that he's made terrible mistakes in his life – even though he has good reason behind these mistakes and continues on the same destructive path during the stories. There is just something about his character that I completely fell in love with. To me, he represents a intrinsic part of human nature. How maybe we would all go back in time and do things differently if we had the chance. He represents our regrets...how we wish things or circumstances would be different all while knowing we are powerless to change them. It's a brilliant, brilliant series I would highly recommend to everyone. Read it. You will never be the same.
Do you enjoy films and/or TV shows? Which are your favorites?
I love both films and television shows, but I don't really watch much TV. I just don't have the time. If I'm going to sit and watch, I usually rent a movie or catch up on the programs I've recorded on the DVR. That being said, I'm a huge Marvel fan and race to the theatre the minute any of those movies come out. Bring on anything sci-fi as well...Transformers, Star Trek, etc. For television I love Sleepy Hollow and Once Upon a Time in Neverland. Oh and I'm a HUGE Big Bang Theory fan.
What are you working on at the moment, and what are we likely to see from you in the coming months?
I just finished the final installment of my fantasy romance series for HarperImpulse entitled The Golden Key Chronicles. Rowena's Key is the first of four continuing novellas under this title. Right now, I'm working on a free read that will be offered with the collection release on April 3rd. I also have two other fantasy series clamoring for attention in my head. One is a three book fantasy under the working title Branches of the Willow Tree, which was just contracted by Harper this past week, and the other is a spin-off of The Golden Key Chronicles. I really hadn't planned on writing more in that series but, after receiving so many requests from readers to continue, I folded. LOL
Please tell us about your latest book.
Rowena's Key is a time travel fantasy romance set in both modern day
Chicago and a 14th century realm based loosely
Rowena is an antiques restorer who finds herself drawn to purchase an ancestral
armoire in order to retain a connection to her past, only to find her decision an
epic failure. The first evening the armoire is delivered to her condo, she discovers
a key inside a hidden compartment, and from there things go from strange to outright
bizarre. Not only are her initials stamped on the side of the key, later that night
the door opens and she finds herself face to face with a man who claims to be a
prince from another realm. While she's very suspicious of Prince Caedmon—and, in
fact, believes the whole thing to be a set up conceived by her best friend, Oliver—as
Rowena learns more about Caedmon and his life, she finds she holds more than just
the secret to saving his kingdom. She is the answer behind a prophecy, and the key
to unlocking his heart.
This scene is taken from when Rowena and Caedmon first meet, each of them standing on opposites of what she believes to be a computer monitor...
What was with this guy, with his sable, shoulder-length hair and closely trimmed beard? His white shirt was best described as puffy, with ballooning sleeves and wide, ruffled cuffs. The front hung open, exposing the muscled contours of his beveled chest, the roughly stitched tails skimming the thighs of his fitted, leather...breeches?
Oh, God. She chuckled and shook her head. He had to be one of Ollie's theater friends. Bravo for his stunning portrayal of a swashbuckling swashbuckler. Too bad that also meant he was gay.
He lifted the sword in both hands and turned a broad shoulder toward the mirror, the taut planes of his stomach easing in and out with each controlled breath. A trail of dark hair arrowed down inside the waistband of his pants, where his perfectly cupped manhood bulged for her inspection. Oh yes, too bad indeed.
"If you scheme to divert me with your alluring attire and guileless stare, I'll have you know an abundance of courtesans await my nightly dalliance. I am not so easily swayed."
Rowena inched a slow perusal of the delectable landscape back up to his face. His dark eyes glittered in the candlelight, and she mirrored his arched eyebrow. "Oh, really?"
Perhaps she'd pegged him wrong. Wouldn't that be a treat?
She glanced down at her gauzy nightgown, the flickering fire doing little to cover her rosy nipples, pert in the chilly air. But he invaded her space with this theatrical exploit of his. What else did he expect her to be wearing, showing up like this in the middle of the night?
"You'd better be careful." She wagged a finger at him. "Or I'm apt to get busy with some serious despoiling all up in here."
"Enough, Sorceress!" He lunged forward, the blade of his sword slicing the air when he aimed the silver pommel straight at the screen. "Let us be done with this trickery. Name your demands before I smash the glass and ensnare your bewitching guise for an eternity."
A low laugh tickled the back of her throat. Talk about living a role. Sheesh, take the drama down a notch. She stepped close and ran a hand around the edge of the frame. The signal had to be streaming live, what with his ability to interact with her, but there wasn't a wire or a microphone, heck, not even a screw in sight.
She stood back and crossed her arms, shifting her weight onto one hip. Okay, she would bite, as long as Ollie promised this whole escapade wouldn't end up on YouTube.
"Fine. You're extremely gorgeous and very talented. Seriously, you've got the whole English accent down perfect. And while I appreciate all the work that went into this little program, it's about two in morning and I have to get up early for work. Tell Ollie I said good show, props to the production crew and I'm nominating the wardrobe guy for an Oscar."
There. That should call the evening a wrap. She grabbed the edge of the door and swung it closed.
"You wear Rowena's Key."
She froze...and then tentatively eased the door back open.
I am a multi-published, award-winning author who lives in the middle of a cornfield in NW Indiana. My loving husband, two beautiful children and a bevy of spoiled pets have agreed to stay and, in exchange for three rations per day and laundry service, tolerate my lunacy. While I spend most days happily ensconced in crafting romance across a multitude of genres, an underground coup has been percolating. The dogs just informed me the cat is secretly vying for dictatorship.
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