A Choice of Secrets
Ever since raiders from the north began attacking villages, Lady Nicole
Montagna has known that defending her people would come at a
cost. The betrothal of her sister Chloe to a neighboring lord
seems the perfect solution, forging a powerful alliance. But
shortly before the wedding, Nicole is shocked to discover that her
sister is with child—and not by her husband-to-be. Now she
must make a choice. She has just hours to decide . . .
believing the child is his—
protect herself and those she loves with the weapons she has: wits,
herbs, and fortitude. But no matter her cleverness, neither she norher family can escape unscathed—for there are repercussions she
could never have foreseen, involving her own heart . . .
author Barb Hendee spins a tale of intrigue, integrity, and the bonds
of love and loyalty as one young woman finds her place in a turbulent
world . . .
nothing outside her lady’s chambers. Until Royce Capello, a
visiting nobleman, is struck by her ice-pale looks, and demands her
as payment for the land the family needs.
With barely time to protest, Kara is sold and packed off for a life as a
concubine—until a raiding party descends on Royce’s company and
she’s kidnapped for the second time in as many days.
Whatever happens, Kara will be alone in the world, inexperienced and fearing
even the vast unfamiliar sky. But one raider gives her a choice—and
a magic mirror appears to show her where each path will lead…
She can leave with her protector Raven and journey with his performing
troupe, competing for his mercurial affections.
She can flee the raiders’ settlement, and return to Royce’s manor,
chattel among devious nobility.
Or she can stay in the settlement, bound to firm, silent Caine, who is
as gentle as he is staid and inscrutable.
Her fates twist and turn to affect far more than she could have guessed,
tangling the bitter with the sweet—and Kara must choose which
consequences she can live with…
A Choice of Crowns
Dark Glass Novel Book #2
Olivia Geroux knew her king was reluctant to marry her, whatever the
negotiations had arranged. But she never expected to find handsome,
arrogant King Rowan obsessed with his stepsister instead. And before
she can determine what course to take, she overhears her greatest
ally plotting to murder the princess.
Olivia must act quickly—and live with whatever chaos results. As the
assassin hunts his prey, a magic mirror appears to show Olivia the
three paths that open before her . . .
If she hesitates only a moment, the princess will die—and she will
If she calls for help, she will gain great power—but she must also
thrust away her own happiness.
If she runs to stop the murder herself, she will know love and
contentment—but her whole country will suffer.
As she lives out each path, her wits and courage will be tested as she
fights to protect her people, her friends, and her heart. And
deciding which to follow will be far from easy . . .
Through a Dark Glass
On her seventeenth birthday, Megan of Chaumont discovers she’ll be
sold as a bride to the brutish Volodane family—within hours. Her
father grants only that she may choose which one of the ruthless,
grasping lord’s three sons she weds:
As shy, horrified Megan flees the welcome dinner for her in-laws-to-be,
she finds an enchanted mirror that will display how her life unrolls
with each man, as if she were living it out in a breath. But there is
no smooth “happily ever after” in her choices.
Deaths and honors, joys and agonies, intrigues and escapes await her in a
remote, ramshackle keep, where these rough but complex men reveal one
side and then another of their jagged characters—and bring forth
new aspects of Megan, too. But the decisions of one teenaged
marriage-pawn reverberate much farther than any of them have guessed . . .
Barb Hendee is the New York Times bestselling authorof The
Mist-Torn Witches series. She is the co-author (with husband J.C.) of
the Noble Dead Saga. She holds a master’s degree in
composition/rhetoric from the University of Idaho and currently
teaches writing for Umpqua Community College. She and J.C. live in a
quirky two-level townhouse just south of Portland, Oregon.
small round iron on the curls around my face. Then she’d put touches of black kohl at the corners of my
eyes. I wore an amber silk gown with a low, square-cut neckline that showed the tops of my breasts. I
don’t know where she’d found the gown. It wasn’t mine, and it was much too small to have fit Helena. I
supposed my mother must have had it made at some point while anticipating its need.
However, at the sight of me, my father beamed. I couldn’t meet his eyes. Seating at dinner was
equally awkward with my father at the head of the table, my mother and I seated on one side, and all
four of the Volodanes seated on the other—so I had no choice but to look at one of them when I raised
my eyes from my plate of roasted pheasant.
None of them had changed for dinner, and with the exception of Sebastian, they all wore armor
and swords. Jarrod hadn’t bothered to shave his face and sported a dark stubble. I could almost feel my
mother’s discomfort, but she smiled and made attempts at polite conversation.
Only Sebastian responded to her questions about weather and wild flowers in the northern
provinces. Rolf spoke only to his father or mine. Occasionally, he glanced at me as if I already belonged
to him. I wasn’t listening to any of them. My heart pounded too loudly in my ears. But then I did hear
Rolf say something about heading back north as soon as he and I were married.
A long pause followed, and for the first time, I paid attention.
“It is not settled yet that she will marry you,” my father finally responded. “Per our agreement,
Megan will choose for herself.”
Rolf’s face clouded. “I never agreed to that. I am the eldest. She will join with me.”
Jarrod turned in his chair. “You’ll do as I tell you! Nothing less and nothing more!”
Mother, Father, and I all flinched at his tone and his unthinkable manner at the table. Rolf’s face
went red, and Sebastian leaned back his chair, smiling. Something about him was beginning to strike me
as sly. He clearly enjoyed his older brother’s chastisement and discomfort.
“Now, now,” he said, dryly. “We mustn’t seem uncouth.”
Kai ignored all this. He ignored everything but his surroundings. His eyes were light brown like
mine, and they moved from the opulent tapestries on our walls to the peach roses in silver vases on the
table to the porcelain plates and pewter goblets.
Then for the first time, he looked directly at me.
“I fear you’ll find the furnishings at Volodane Hall somewhat lacking,” he said.
His voice dripped with resentment, and I knew I’d not been wrong in my first assessment. He
His tone was not lost on my mother, who answered him with a strained smile. “Of course, we’ll
be sending some household things with her, and Megan will give your hall a woman’s touch.”These words made me wonder what had happened to Kai’s mother. I’d never asked and no one
had mentioned this, but it seemed I would be the lady of their house. The very thought ensured I would
not manage to eat another bite of dinner.
Kai studied my mother evenly and breathed out through his teeth. “Our hall won’t be good
enough for her. Nothing of us or ours will be good enough.”
Then I realized the source of his anger. He resented the need for this bargain as much as we did.
He knew that we—and most of the noble houses—looked down upon the Volodanes, and the last thing
he probably wanted was a permanent reminder in his home of their lowly state in comparison to ours.
“Quit!” Jarrod ordered him, pounding one hand on the table. In obedience, Kai stopped talking
and withdrew back inside himself, ignoring everyone again.
Sebastian looked at me and raised one eyebrow in amusement. I glanced away.
Somehow—and I never quite knew how—we made it through the rest of dinner.
By the time my mother rose, signifying the meal was over, my heart pounded in my ears again. I
felt the edge of my self-control slipping away and knew that I had to gain a few moments to myself or I
might possibly do or say something I’d later regret.
“Please make my excuses,” I said quietly to Mother. “I will return quickly.” She frowned briefly,
but then her face smoothed in annoyed understanding, and I realized she most likely thought I needed
to relieve myself. I didn’t care what she thought.
Turning, I fled the dining hall as fast as I could without running. Upon reaching the passage that
led toward the kitchens, I couldn’t stop myself and broke into a run, racing in my heavy silk skirts until I
reached an open archway in one side of the passage, just a few doors from the entrance to our kitchens.
There, I took refuge in an old, familiar hiding place.
As a child, I’d come to this storage room whenever I didn’t wish to be found. It was filled with
crates, casks, and places to hide. No one ever entered except servants from the kitchens, and none of
them ever noticed me secreted away behind a stack of crates.
I hadn’t come here in years, but now, I breathed in relief at the respite of solitude and the
illusion of safety.
Slowly, I sank to my knees.
As we were expecting a delivery of goods any day now, the storage room was nearly half-empty.
I didn’t even attempt to hide behind crates or casks, as I knew I’d have to return to the hall long before
anyone came looking me. A dismal prospect.
What was I going to do? I couldn’t face the thought of my life married to any of those men. Until
this afternoon, I’d never faced the prospect of marriage at all . . . but to one of them? I was not a
weeper. My parents had never allowed such an indulgence, and I honestly wasn’t aware I knew how to
cry, but tears came to my eyes and one dripped down my cheek. The water in my eyes made the
following moment even more uncertain than it might have been.
The air in the storage room appeared to waver. Alarmed, I wiped away my tears, but the motion
of the wavering air grew more rapid, and then…something solid began taking shape.
Jumping up to my feet, I gasped.
There, near the far wall across the storage room, a great three-paneled mirror now stood where
there had been only empty air an instant before. The thick frames around each panel were of solid
pewter, engraved in the image of climbing ivy vines. The glass of the panels was smooth and perfect,
and yet I didn’t see myself looking back.
Instead, I found myself staring into the eyes of a lovely dark-haired woman in a black dress. Her
face was pale and narrow, and she bore no expression at all. But there she was, inside the right panel
gazing out me. Was I going mad? Had my parents driven me mad?
“There is nothing to fear,” the woman said in a hollow voice.
I doubted that statement. I feared for my sanity, but as yet, I’d not found my voice to answer
“You are at a crossroad,” she continued, “with three paths.” As she raised her arms, material
from her long black sleeves hung down. “I am bidden to give you a gift.”
Here, sadness leaked into her voice, especially at the word “bidden,” and my mind began to
race. Was this truly happening?
“You will live out three outcomes . . . to three different choices,” she said. “Lives with men . . .
connected by blood. Then you will have the knowledge to know . . . to choose.”
I shook my head. “Wait! What are you saying?”
Lowering both hands to her sides, she said, “The first choice.”
Before I could speak again, the storage room vanished. Wild fear coursed through me as the
world went black for the span of a breath, and then suddenly I found myself back in my family’s dining
hall, only everything was different.
Chairs had been set up in rows, and guests were seated in them. I wore a gown of pale ivory and
held my father’s arm as he walked me past the guests toward the far end of the hall. Flowers in tall
vases graced that same end, and a local magistrate stood there with a book in his hands.
Beside the magistrate stood Rolf, wearing his armor and his sword.
Turning, he looked at me in grim determination.
He was waiting.