Nina Pennington does. It makes her day when she lands the plum role as the heroine of The Scarlet Pimpernel in a class assignment based on a computer game. She knows she can win—until she realizes her one chance for success requires an alliance with her least-favorite fellow grad student, cast as the Scarlet Pimpernel himself.
The game challenges Nina in ways she never anticipated, and that least-favorite fellow grad student starts looking better by the minute. But then, she has always had a soft spot for the swashbuckling Scarlet Pimpernel.
Now Nina has to choose: win the game, or take a chance on love?
LEGENDS OF THE FIVE DIRECTIONS
The Golden Lynx (West)
WHO IS THE GOLDEN LYNX?
Russia, 1534. Elite clans battle for control of the toddler who will become their first tsar, Ivan the Terrible. Amid the chaos and upheaval, a masked man mysteriously appears night after night to aid the desperate people.
Or is he a man?
Sixteen-year-old Nasan Kolychev is trapped in a loveless marriage. To escape her misery, she dons boys’ clothes and slips away under cover of night to help those in need. She never intends to do more than assist a few souls and give her life purpose. But before long, Nasan finds herself caught up in events that will decide the future of Russia.
And so, a girl who has become the greatest hero of her time must decide whether to save a baby destined to become the greatest villain of his.
The Winged Horse (East)
The mission seems simple: head south, collect the bride promised six years earlier, and find out what is going on among the nomadic Tatars. Ogodai anticipates no problems. In fact, he’s looking forward to the chance to break free of his father and establish himself in a horde of his own.
But Ogodai’s betrothed seems wary at best, his half-brother has competing plans for both the girl and the horde, and even the briefest investigation shows that indeed, something very odd is going on in the nomadic camp.
Before long, Ogodai realizes he must secure his betrothed’s allegiance if either of them is to survive. But can he persuade his unwilling would-be queen that an alliance with him offers more than the traditional role of chief wife?
The Swan Princess (North)
In the two years since the events that propelled Nasan Kolycheva into marriage to a Russian nobleman, life has become intolerable. She spends every waking minute learning the skills of household management under the lash of her sister-in-law’s tongue and the cloud of her mother-in-law’s perpetual disappointment while pining for her husband, stationed in the western borderlands to ward off foreign invaders. When Nasan’s mother-in-law decides that a pilgrimage to a distant monastery may be the only solution for her failing heart, the journey sparks memories in Nasan of a life she has almost forgotten, where her interests and skills serve a purpose lost to her in Moscow. What can a Swan Princess do when she no longer wants to return to the nest? Before Nasan can answer that question, she encounters a once-vanquished foe determined to avenge himself on those he blames for his misfortunes—and realizes she has ridden right into his trap.
Desert Flower (1)
Love plays no part in marriage arrangements on the desert planet of Tarkei. So when Danion, junior priest of the sun goddess, finds himself drawn, in defiance of his oath of celibacy, to a human ballerina encountered by chance, he does his best to resist. The ballerina, tormented by memories of violence that may be real or just the product of an unknown enemy's twisted mind, has no interest in him anyway—or so they think.
But Tarkei has an ancient tradition: that two unusually compatible people, whether they believe they belong together or not, can bond at first touch. Once formed, the link lasts until death. Legend calls it “the joining.” Danion calls it a myth. He and his ballerina will soon discover who’s right.
Tarkei do not believe in miracles, but the evidence points to Sasha’s return. At last, Danion and his wife can be together. Or could, if he had not taken responsibility for guiding a group of young rebels whom he cannot abandon—not once he recognizes the existence of a traitor in their midst.
Available in print and digital formats.
For purchase links, see the Five Directions Press book list.