Title: Under the Trees
Genre: YA Historical Fantasy Romance
Short pitch: Desperate to escape an abusive arranged marriage, Princess Araya flees her father’s kingdom only to find herself at the mercy of Prince Thoredmund, the neighboring kingdom’s crown prince. After deciding to help Araya by hiding her in a forest near the castle, Thor has to cover their tracks with secrecy and lies. It isn’t long before the two royals start falling for each other, but their tentative new love is put on the line when Araya’s father and her betrothed show up, accusing Thor of kidnapping and demanding the return of their princess.
Second line of first paragraph of 1st chapter: Despite my burning muscles and the sweat rolling into my eyes, I could not let my horse slow down as we cleared fallen logs and ducked under branches.
First 250 words of second chapter: The hunting party intended to leave in the afternoon. After stopping and hearing requests and complaints in the villages along the way, we planned to set up camp under the yellow trees of the Golden Woods. Ten of my best men, all part of my signet guard, were to accompany me, in case we ran into trouble. Father feared we might.
“It has been too long since Darrell has pulled one of his stunts,” he said. “Expect trouble and be prepared. No harm can come from that.”
“My men are always prepared,” I replied. “They’re trained to anticipate such things as you say.”
I turned away to finish tying off my bag of supplies.
“Thor--” Father grasped my upper arm. “If you come across them, don’t underestimate them. Be careful. I fear Darrell is up to something. I don’t want to give him reason to cross the line.”
His words sobered me, but they were not unexpected. The feud between King Cyric, my father, and King Darrell of Rowlst was well known and had only worsened since the engagement between my sister and Darrell’s son had fallen apart. They fought over resources: the Golden Woods. The great woods were the most significant source of lumber for either kingdom, and the best game always came out of it. Darrell’s men frequently crossed the boundary from his side to ours, meaning we had to constantly patrol, making sure no one pushed the line.
Still, I gave him my promise before we set off.