QandA with Author Rachel Rossano

Can Rhett protect Cat when enemies from his past catch up to him? — Rumpled Rhett (Once Upon a Duchy Book 3) @RachelRossano

How do you find time to write as a parent?

When my kids were young, naptimes and bedtime were my writing time. Now that I have pre-teens and teens, they are old enough to respect my need for writing time. I announce when I will be writing that day and then enforce only an emergency rule. It is a challenge because I love my kids and enjoy spending time with them, but I have to write if I am going to produce more books.

What inspired you to write this book?

Rumpled Rhett came from multiple inspiration sources. 

First, there was the huntsman from fairytales. He appears most notably in “Snow White” and “Red Riding Hood.” I always thought he should have a story of his own. Years ago, a friend of mine started writing a story about Snow White and the huntsman, which I really enjoyed. She never finished it, but I couldn’t shake the idea that the huntsman needed his own story.

There is the billed source of inspiration, Rumpelstiltskin himself. The fairytale was always a fascinating one for me. After reading K. M. Shea’s retelling, I began brainstorming alternative stories where Rumple could be the hero of his own tale. By the way, I highly recommend K. M. Shea’s Rumpelstiltskin

Then, there was a surprise inspiration source in Between Floors by W. R. Gingell. Athelas and the dynamic between him and Pet inspired the crisis point at the climax of Rumpled Rhett.

Oh, and finally, I was inspired by “The Highwayman” by Alfred Noyes. The fact it has been a favorite poem of mine since childhood probably betrays a bit more of the strangeness of my interests. It is a tragedy, and I almost exclusively write happy endings (my two tragedies are short stories in The Making of a Man short story anthology, if anyone is interested).

What did you enjoy most about writing this book?

I absolutely loved Rhett. Writing his character was fun from the beginning to the end. After adorkable Silas in Grace by Contract and scholarly Crispin in Reclaiming Ryda, it was wonderful to get back to one of my favorite kinds of heroes, the man of action and danger. Who doesn’t daydream about a hero capable of defending her from the trials of life?

Do your characters seem to hijack the story, or do you feel like you have the reigns of the story?

It depends on the book, but most of my characters tend to hijack their own stories. In the case of Rumpled Rhett, Rhett had a moment where he insisted on burning Cat’s socks. The struggle between me and the character became a blog post for Lands Uncharted (https://www.landsuncharted.com/2021/02/writers-life-socks-must-go-rachel.html). Spoiler: he won the argument. 

Have you written any other books that are not published?

The short answer is a resounding yes. First, there is my early work which I hope will never make it into print. 

Then, there is an epic science fiction romance series for which I have written the first book, Diaspora (rough draft). I can’t publish the first book until I write the second. 

Oh, and I have a contemporary Christian novel written and tentatively titled White Bear. It is inspired by “East of Sun West of the Moon” and is set in the early 2000s. That one might appear soon. I have to fix a plot hole and get it through editing.

Finally, I have a long-lost (not really) fourth and final novel in The Theodoric Saga that has so many issues that it will require an extensive rewrite to bring it up to my current standards. I might just start that one from scratch…or bury it with my early work, never to see the publishing light of day.

Do the characters all come to you at the same time or do some of them come to you as you write?

It depends. Some characters appear in a flash of inspiration with their own distinct voice and personality. Those characters are the ones I spend the book discovering as I write. Other characters are built, piece by piece, either through the plotting or the writing process. Either way, writing them and finding their voice is a journey of delightful discovery.

Do you prefer to write in silence or with noise? Why?

I would prefer silence or listening to music that is so familiar that I can tune it out. But as a mother of three, I have to be flexible. Writing with the background noises of life going on around me is a necessity.

Do you write one book at a time or do you have several going at a time?

I usually only draft one book at a time, but I can be developing other book ideas while drafting one. Oh, and I publish and promote while writing the next novel. For example, at this moment, I am writing the next Once Upon a Duchy novel, editing a short novella for a multiple author project, plotting a different project, and promoting Rumpled Rhett. I am constantly juggling multiple projects.

What is your writing process? For instance, do you do an outline first? Do you do the chapters first?

First comes inspiration. An idea, an image, or just a conversation can prompt a story idea. I immediately begin playing with it in my head to see if it is viable. Does it make sense? Does it excite me? Is it something I could make work?

Once I am confident I can make it work, I start sketching a rough high-level collection of plot points. Perhaps a few characters and interactions are added. I keep mulling as I collect ideas in a Word document, so everything is in one place.

Then, I sit down and plot out a series of points. Tensions, crises, motivations, villains, antagonists, pressures, family, settings, etc., until I get a solid framework. At this point, I know that it might change and shift as I develop it.

At the same time as this plotting/brainstorming is going on, I start collecting research and inspirational pieces.

Once I have a solid handle on the story, characters, and plot, I usually start writing. I write in chronological order. No scene hopping allowed. As I write, the story changes. Sometimes the end result looks nothing like the original plan. Other times, only some things change. Frequently the climax shifts around depending on what is needed to tie it all together into a satisfying ending.

When I finally finish the rough draft, it is time for proofing, beta readers, editors, and final polishing.

How long on average does it take you to write a book?


Oh, that is a tricky question. Some of my books, like The Talented Trilogy, took years and years. While others, like Rumpled Rhett, took about six months. It depends on what else is going on in my life, the time I can devote to getting words on the page, and my health. Writing while dealing with brain fog is dangerous. Characters do unexpected things, I drop words, or make little sense on those days.

I am a sucker for a well retold fairytale, especially when the fairytale offers the subtlest of seasoning to a beautifully laid out tale. Taken simply as historical fantasy fiction, it is worth the time to read. With the smallest touches that remind us of childhood bedtime stories, it is simply wonderful.

I was hooked on the Once Upon a Duchy series with Grace by Contract (book 1). Like in that first book, I immediately fell in love with the hero, In this case, the huntsman ( Rhett from the title). He is all business, gruff and overly solemn, but he takes his role as protector very seriously. When faced with a situation when he knows he is being manipulated for reasons as yet unknown, it is the role of protector that wins out over his reticence.

Cat has been abused her entire life. Far from being broken, she has an inner strength that has her doing what she feels is right regardless of the possible consequences. She is the perfect partner for Rhett, giving him something he didn’t know he needed. Though on the surface she is the one who needs to be rescued, she holds her own in surprising ways. Together they are formidable

There are bad guys aplenty in this story, from scheming tossers to full on brigands, but the pair, honorable, honest, and hardworking, manage to find allies as well. These friends (and enemies) make for some colorful and enjoyable-to-read characters.

I am loving how each new book, though seemingly only tenuously connected to each other, is laying the foundation for a larger story. Sign me up, these are fairytales after all. Grim, but hopeful. Epic and fantastic. Since I am a sucker for once upon a time there was a happily ever after, you’ll find me rooting for the heroes to win it all.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

I received an advance review copy for free through Silver Dagger Book Tours, and I am leaving this review voluntarily.

If this is your first visit to the series, check out Rachel Rossano’s guest post “Why Grace isn’t named Beauty.” and learn a bit about book one in the series

Rumpled Rhett
Once Upon a Duchy Book 3
by Rachel Rossano
Genre: Romantic Medieval Fairytale Retelling

Rhett is a Huntsman, skilled, secretive, and mysterious. A wanted man, he spends his life on the move. His sole retreat is the outskirts of an isolated village in the northern reaches of the duchies. Then one fall, he arrives to find his hovel burned to the ground and the village reeve offering a new arrangement.

Catherine knows her father, the village miller, only cares about what she can bring him. The latest scheme of marrying her to the Huntsman is not the miller’s first attempt to sell her. Cat’s dread wanes when she meets the Huntsman. There is something honorable about him, and he treats her with respect, unlike her father or brother. Perhaps she can escape her father’s influence forever.

Despite his suspicions, Rhett agrees to the deal and frees Cat from her father’s tyranny, at least for a time. But can he protect her when enemies from his past catch up to him?

Inspired by Rumpelstiltskin.

Read an excerpt:

Rumpled Rhett by Rachel Rossano

Excerpt #1 –

Rhett

“Ah, the nomad returns!” Duggan raised a half-filled beer mug to take a swig. A rotund man, the reeve’s belly sagged over his belt as he got to his feet.

The few other patrons warily quaffed the last of their drinks and made their way to the door. All of them avoided even glancing my way. I didn’t care. I had business with the man before me, not them.

“My house burned down.” Crossing my arms over my chest, I narrowed my gaze on Duggan’s flushed features.

“It went up in flames one night.” Duggan huffed out a dramatic sigh before draining the last of his beer. “We tried to stop the blaze, but—” He shrugged one of his plump shoulders beneath his fur-lined robe.

“We had an agreement. I protect the village, and in exchange, I get land and its tending while I am away.” I let the facts and my glowering silence sink through his thick skull.

He owed me. The village owed me. My reputation as the Huntsman kept most thieves and bandits from targeting the community. Only the foolish and foolhardy occasionally attempted to harass me, but I swiftly enlightened them.

In return, I had requested only two things. I wished to live at peace for a few months every winter, and I needed someone to guard my shelter when I was gone the rest of the year.

“We tried to save it,” he protested mildly.

“And didn’t bother to rebuild it,” I pointed out. Frost-tipped grass had peeked through the ash heaps. Months had passed since the fire by the looks of things.

“We considered it.” His voice was even and calm, but he continued to avoid looking at me. “But we needed the wood to expand the mill and—”

“The tavern.”

“We had none left to rebuild your house as well. So, we decided to work out a better situation.”

I let my silence speak for me. I had been content with my situation. It suited me well.

True, I hadn’t been particularly fond of the hovel I had been allotted, but it had been enough. I valued its attributes: warmth, isolation on the edge of the village, and comfort enough for my winterly retreat from my reputation.

“Come, let me show you.” He motioned toward the square outside.

“No.” He had planned this for all I knew, and the village’s enforcers awaited me beyond the expensive new tavern windows. “First, you explain.”

Duggan pursed his mouth like a spoiled child who had just been reprimanded by his mother.

“Explain.”

“We all discussed it…asked ourselves what a man needs…decided there were a few ways to improve things…”

I cleared my throat.

“So, we took it upon ourselves to—”

“The point?” My voice lowered and warned of my waning patience.

“We have chosen to give you land, a house, and a wife.” Duggan turned and banged his mug on the bar top. “Another!” he bellowed.

“A wife?” I stared at him in complete confusion. “How did you come to the conclusion that I needed a wife?”

“A house without a wife is empty.”

Exactly how I like it, I thought. But Duggan continued.

“She can cook for you, clean for you, and fill the house with comforts that make it a home. There is nothing like coming home to a warm meal on the table, hot mulled wine in one’s cup, and the pleasures of a woman’s company to keep one content.”

The image in my head was much less appealing—chatter, demands for expensive accouterments, expectations of me being home on time, and…children. My mind caught on the last thought. I did need children to carry on my family name and the traditions of the huntsman. Distant memories of my mother’s stories impressing upon me the importance of my father’s lineage and the bloodline I carried pressed in on me. Shaking free from their hold, I grimaced. That didn’t mean I had to do it now or even ever.

“Don’t discount it until you have tried it, Huntsman. A woman’s touch is what you need.”

“No. I need a secure place to rest.”

Duggan shouted his approval. “A house, a wife, some land, it is about time you settled down.”

“I have no intention of…”

Duggan was already out the tavern door and yelling to someone across the village square. “Master Billier! The Huntsman has returned. Bring your daughter to the meeting house.”

My lip curled of its own accord. Billier was the town miller, and fat, thanks to his position running the only mill for miles around. That didn’t stop the man from being despicable. I avoided him when I could and wrestled my temper and conscience every time I couldn’t. I wanted nothing to do with any scheme in which he was involved. Last year he had claimed that his daughter could spin straw into gold in an effort to sell her off to a traveling nobleman. I wouldn’t entrust any living thing into his care, not even a cat, and I cherished no love for the furry creatures, thanks to their effect on my eyes and nose.

Duggan beckoned from outside. “Come, Huntsman. Billier fetches his daughter to the meeting house. She’s as fair and biddable a lass as any other.”

A woman was far less deserving of Billier’s care than a cat. I decided to allow the farce to continue a bit longer, the better to understand their intentions. Surreptitiously checking my access to my weapons, I followed the reeve in the direction of the dark meeting hall.

As Duggan rushed about lighting a fire in the hearth and a few of the lanterns against the walls, I staked out the corner farthest from the door. The reeve had only lit the corner nearest the door before it opened to admit the greasy-haired miller and his daughter.

She was small. Petite and barely a handful of feet high, she could fit beneath one of my arms, and I could carry her off without much effort. Not that I would. However, there was a dignity, a solidness to her tiny frame that made her father keep his distance despite his evident eagerness to sell her assets.

“She cooks, cleans, and keeps house well enough for a girl. Has a fair enough figure, so I am told. Come on, girl, show off your wares.” Billier shoved his daughter forward so that she stumbled.

Only a brief glare in her father’s direction betrayed her anger. Still, she obeyed. Back straight and shoulders tight, she walked with confidence despite a slight limp. Perhaps she had an injured hip, knee…no. I watched for a few more steps. Something was wrong with her foot, and walking on it pained her, causing a slight hitch in her breathing. Her betrayal of the weakness was so minute that I had almost missed it.

My attention swung to her father. Had he injured her? It would fit his malicious personality. What he could not bully, he humiliated. One look at his daughter’s tightly wound body, and it was easy to imagine him pressuring her to do something solely for his benefit. But what was he getting out of her marrying me?

“Leave,” I demanded.

“What? If she doesn’t please you—” Billier sputtered.

“You two.” I jerked my chin at the two men. “Leave.”

“Come.” Duggan caught Billier’s arm. “Best let him talk to her.”

Billier’s glare at his daughter intensified as the reeve guided him toward the door outside. “You mess this up, girl, and—” Whatever he intended went unsaid as Duggan closed the door behind the two of them with a sharp tug.

The girl relaxed infinitesimally. However, she also eyed me warily and oriented herself to duck behind a table should I become more clearly dangerous.

“What is your name?” I asked. I hadn’t seen her about the village before, but then I rarely spent any time in the village.

“Catherine, but everyone calls me Cat.”

I laughed. It came out as a rusty sound, as though I didn’t do it often, which I didn’t.

Her eyes narrowed. “My name isn’t funny.”

“No, but the irony is.” Then I realized by her blank expression that I would need to explain. “Cats make me sick, the four-legged variety that is.”

She didn’t smile. Instead, she simply nodded. “Then it is good I am not that kind of cat.”

“It is.”

Silence descended between us. Faintly through the door behind her, we could hear her father raging. My concern for Cat’s safety grew. I didn’t think Billier was capable of murder, but one never could tell by looking at a person. Also, accidental murders happened, like beating someone to death in a fit of rage.

Excerpt #2 –

Cat

The Huntsman stood in the darkest corner of the room, a solid, inky shadow in the growing dimness. Despite the malevolent impression created by hiding himself from me, I didn’t feel threatened. If anything, the opposite feeling lingered. Perhaps it was because he was so bluntly honest with me. It made a refreshing change from Father’s lies and offered hope that the Kurios had heard my prayers.

“Father wishes to be rid of me because I am useless for his purposes.”

“Oh?” His voice, rugged and husky, betrayed mild interest and nothing else.

“I talk back, argue, and refuse to comply with his orders. To make matters worse, I am lame.”

He frowned. “I see no cane.”

“I rarely need one.” I adjusted my weight to rest on my good leg and give my right foot a bit of a rest.

“May I see?”

“What?” I peered at him in alarm. “See what?”

“Your foot.” He stepped forward so that he was partially out of the shadows. My gaze first went to his hair. Gold-streaked brown, it was rumpled a bit about his forehead and ears despite the short crop. His dark eyes, almost black in the dim light, studied my face, waiting for a response. “That is what is injured, right?”

I nodded but didn’t offer it for his inspection. “I have not shown it to anyone since the accident.”

His lips pressed tightly in what might have been disapproval. Of me?

“How did the accident happen?” he asked. Again, he studied my features.

When had someone last asked that? Never. No one ever asked. Before I had recovered, my father had seen to it that everyone had heard his version of the story. Unless I wished to call him a liar and risk a confrontation that would end up with me nursing more than a mangled foot, I had been constrained to silence. “My father crushed it in a door.” I blinked back the burning in my eyes. “Though he will deny it.” I swallowed carefully.

“When?”

I almost smiled. The man had a way of using as few words as possible. “I was seven.”

“And you are now?”

“Twenty-four.” I cleared my throat of the lump of gathering tears. “How old are you?”

“Thirty.”

I nodded.

“You approve?” Amusement tinged his voice, but when I glanced at him, there was no hint of humor about his expression.

“Not too old and not too young,” I explained.

“Just right.”

I nodded again, this time with a small smile.

“I am going to look.”

He knelt at my feet. Before I was ready, he lifted my lame foot. Off balance, my hands went to his head, fingers sinking into a mess of soft strands, as I struggled to stay upright. Despite his evident care, the sudden pressure of leaning on my twisted foot in his hand to compensate for my shifting balance made the constant ache of my foot ramp up to pain. Tears sprang to my eyes.

“Inspecting the merchandise?” I asked sharply.

“No.” He adjusted his grip, so he held my ankle instead of my foot. The impression of solid, warm fingers seemed to burn through my stockings as he removed my shoe. “Has it healed? Is it infected?”

“No and no.” Angry tears burned my eyes. Heat flushed my cheeks.

“Does this hurt?” He pressed my toes.

“Yes.”

“And this?”

After a few more rounds of the same question and more pain, he finally replaced my shoe. Setting my foot back on the floor with far more care than he had picked it up, he waited until I had regained my balance before rising to his full height. Blinking away the tears, I waited for him to move, but he didn’t step away.

“Your father will do worse if I reject you?”

“Don’t worry about me. I will survive.” I studied his tunic front. The coarse wool was dyed a brown so dark it was almost black. Not precisely the clothing of a rich man. My father’s claims about the mysteries surrounding the man before me ranged from his great riches to his right to a lost title. I didn’t believe a word of any of them.

Excerpt #3 –

Rhett

Cat remained silent the whole journey back to the tavern. I took care to not crowd her but still walked close enough that anyone approaching would know that we were together. Darkness fell around us as we approached the tavern again. This time it was alight with sights and sounds. Men crowded the central room inside. The only women were a few who lingered in the back corner. They laughed and giggled as they peered out at us. None of them appeared to be Cat’s age. My future wife hobbled to the back of the room and sat on the same bench as the women that ran along the back of the room. Albeit, she chose to sit far enough from them to not be part of the group.

“Our protector!” Duggan toasted my appearance with great boisterousness. Motioning me to join the crowd of younger men at the counter, he pressed a wet and frothing mug into my hand before cracking his own half-drunk mug against it.

“To security!” One of the larger lads thrust his mug in the air as he leaned back on the counter.

“To bargains!” Another lad struck his mug against the first, sloshing ale over the sides of both vessels.

“To profit!” Duggan drowned them both out. The whole group of men broke out in a cheer.

I walked around them and sat down at a table diagonal from where Cat was seated. With my back to the wall, I had a clear view of the front entrance, the swinging door behind the counter directly across from me, and the tables at the back where Cat sat a few feet away from the giggling horde of women. As my gaze slid across the room, marking the placement of everyone without pausing to let them notice, none returned my observation. At least none until I glanced over the women’s table. A bold-eyed beauty grinned in a slow, overtly seductive twisting of her blood-red mouth. Biting her bottom lip while holding my gaze, she lowered her eyes just enough to call attention to her long lashes.

Someone approached. I recognized the footfalls of the reeve’s business manager. I turned toward him in time to catch a view of the top of his balding head as he bowed. “Master Huntsman—”

“Just Huntsman,” I corrected instinctively. It wasn’t my name, but the title I preferred. “Greetings, Osbert.”

Osbert straightened and eyed me uneasily. “My master indicated I was to work out the details of your contract with you.” He adjusted his grip on an armful of books.

I nodded.

He set his books and papers down, and we settled in for our discussion. Despite him serving a despicable master, I found I liked Osbert. He was a detail-oriented man, astute and meticulous. Within a few moments, he ascertained my intent regarding the contract.

“But my master does not own that land. The estate was abandoned decades past. There are rumors that the heir to the land and title still lives, but he has not stepped forward to claim either.” Osbert’s frown gave him the appearance of a kicked dog.

“I am aware of the history.” It was part of the reason I had chosen to winter in the area, though I never revealed that to anyone. It was too dangerous.

“How can I draw up a contract for the rental of land that my master does not own?”

“Write it in a way that makes me custodian of the land and buildings. That way, I can deal directly with the heir should he appear. Should he not, I will remain as a renter.”

Osbert’s nose twitched. He rubbed it absentmindedly with the back of his hand. “Unconventional at the least, Mas—Huntsman.” Huffing slightly, he appeared to mull the idea for a few moments. “Doable, but definitely not ordinary.”

“I am sure you are up to the task.” I surveyed the room briefly. The crowd of men was growing more raucous. The tavern keeper and his wife rushed about serving food, perhaps in hopes of slowing the customers’ descent into drunkenness. Cat remained at her table. As the volume rose, she seemed to shrink in on herself. Despite my attention lingering on her, she never raised her head. The girls to my left burst into another round of laughter as one of them told a joke. From the number of glances in Cat’s direction, I suspected she had been the object of the jest. The bold woman with the dark red lips was eyeing me again as though I were a piece of prime cut meat. I slid my gaze back to my companion, who was busily scribbling away on a piece of paper.

“How long would you like the contract to be for?” Osbert asked without lifting his head.

“Indefinitely.” I caught the tavern keeper’s attention with a jut of my chin. Osbert coughed, most likely in surprise, but I ignored him. The tavern keeper approached with trepidation in his eyes. He hid his discomfort by paying extra attention to cleaning his hands on his apron.

Excerpt #4 –

Cat

The stranger was huge, tall, broad-shouldered, and very clearly at ease with his ability to physically intimidate. I had been watching Osbert fidget and cough his way through their discussion. From the scribbling, the paper shuffling, and the Huntsman’s grim expressions, they were probably discussing the contract. Still, the Huntsman never relaxed into his seat. Those dark eyes routinely scanned the room, locating and noting the orientation of each of us, even me. No one ever kept track of me. I wasn’t sure I liked the fact he kept glancing my way.

Then the tavern keeper’s wife appeared with his dinner. The smell of cooked meat, flaky pastry, and savory vegetables filled my nose as the woman passed with the two loaded platters. My stomach roiled and growled in anticipation of food, but I ignored it. The meal wasn’t for me. It was never for me. I would eat a few scraps of whatever remained from the midday meal when I returned home if my brother didn’t get to them first.

Then the Huntsman stood. I felt the occupants of the room tense, well, the still sober ones. Keeping my face tilted slightly down as though I studied the table, I watched him from beneath half-lowered eyelids. He spoke to the tavern keeper’s wife and then Osbert. Whatever he said pleased Osbert. I hadn’t seen the man smile in ages.

A flurry of movement to my right drew my attention. Bess was on her feet. Red lips puckered, hand on her hip to emphasize her curves, and a come-hither flutter to her eyelashes, she was ready for the stranger to notice and respond to her unspoken invitation.

That must have been why he rose. I had noticed his gaze hesitating briefly in the women’s direction a few times.

Unwilling to watch Bess land another conquest, I dropped my attention to my hands. Chapped and raw, they needed more salve. Tomorrow, I would seek out Widow Louisa and ask for a refill of the jar she had given me last year.

“Mind if I sit here?”

The rough, deep tones resonated in my bones as my head snapped up in surprise. I just blinked at him for a moment. Why was he here? Bess wanted him. What Bess wanted, she took.

“Nod if you can’t find your tongue, or Osbert might attempt to murder me.”

“Osbert would never.”

He chuckled that odd rusty laugh of his and set his mug on the table between us. Strangely, the liquid inside didn’t smell of ale or cider. He placed the platter of food next to the mug before turning around to look for a chair. Moments later, he was sitting just around the side of the table to my left, his knee almost bumping mine.

I tucked my knee further under the table.

Despite the fact he made no indication that he had noticed my movement, I had the impression that he observed it all. I suspected that nothing slipped his notice. Instead of commenting on my avoidance, though, he calmly leaned back to untie a pouch from his belt before dropping it on the table. Then, inclining forward with companionableness as though we were the best of friends, he began rummaging through the interior of the bag.

Excerpt #5 –

Rhett

The contracts were in order. We gathered in the village meeting room where I had encountered Cat the night before. I read each very carefully before turning them over for Duggan’s signature. Billier arrived late, huffing and groaning.

“I thought we were to meet at the tavern,” he declared with a glare at Duggan.

“This seemed more fitting.” Duggan slid the marriage contract over for Billier to read and sign.

After a long moment of silence as the man caught up with us, he signed both copies. Then, I signed. Claiming my documents, I tucked them away beneath my tunic.

“Where is your daughter?” I asked. The sun was near mid-sky, and the miller appeared very much alone.

“Back at my house.” Billier pursed his lips. “I thought you would fetch her.”

“He can’t.” Duggan frowned. “I arranged for the seeker to meet us in the tavern at noon to perform the ceremony.”

“Then I will fetch her there.” The miller heaved himself to his feet before turning to me. “Or you can fetch her yourself. That contract says she isn’t my responsibility anymore.”

“Billier.” Duggan glowered at him. “Go fetch your daughter and bring her to the tavern. You won’t want to miss the toasts.”

The miller visibly brightened, eyeing me hopefully. “You buying?”

“That is traditionally the father of the bride’s role,” I pointed out.

“Don’t,” Duggan advised with a conspiratorial wink. “He will drink you into debt should you let him.”

I abruptly rose to my feet. “I will await your daughter at the tavern then.”

Billier seemed to take this as my consent to fund his drinking and rushed through the door, presumably to fetch my future wife.

“Your wallet.” Duggan levered himself off his seat with a groan and a significant shifting of fat.

“I am not paying.”

“Oh? Be warned, Billier doesn’t take well to being deceived.”

“I have no intention of paying for that man’s alcohol.” I would not host a man who bullied and abused his daughter. “How long will it take him to go home and back?”

“A half hour at the least.”

I nodded. “Then, I will arrive at the tavern at that time.”

***************

Excerpt from Rumpled Rhett ( by Rachel Rossano. Copyright 2021. Reproduced with permission. All rights reserved.

 

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Rachel Rossano is a happily married mother of three children. She spends her days teaching, mothering, and keeping the chaos at bay. After the little ones are in bed, she immerses herself in the fantasy worlds of her books. Tales of romance, adventure, and virtue set in a medieval fantasy world are her preference, but she also writes speculative fantasy and a bit of science fiction.

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The Sexy Nerd ‘Revue’
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A Wonderful World of Words – GUEST POST
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Sharon Buchbinder Blog Spot
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Sep 29
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Sep 30
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Teatime and Books

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