It may be the 21st century, but in a not-so-united kingdom the wounds of the Wars of the Roses have never healed. The rivalry between the Yorkish north and Lancastrian south has threatened to pull the nation apart for over 500 years.
While the modern world struggles with fractures born of ancient conflict, Lady Amelia Brockett faces far more mundane problems. Known to her family as Meels, this youngest daughter of a Northern earl is having the Worst. Christmas. Ever. Dumped by her boyfriend and rejected from graduate school, her parents deem her the failure of the family.
But when her older brother tries to cheer her with a trip to the races, a chance meeting with Arthur, the widowed, playboy Prince of Wales, offers Amelia the chance to change her life -- and Britain's fortunes -- forever. Hunted by the press -- and haunted by Arthur's niece who fancies herself the kingdom's court witch -- Amelia finds herself adrift in a sea of paparazzi, politics, and prophecy.
With few allies beyond her allergic-to-horses sister-in-law, her best friend who has a giant crush on the prince, and the cute young receptionist at Buckingham Palace that calls himself her Royalty Customer Service Representative, Amelia must navigate a perilous and peculiar course to secure Arthur's love and become A Queen from the North.
“The genealogists put together a list,” the Prince said. “All unmarried women of the peerage, in a certain age demographic, who do not have children and have not been divorced. As you might imagine, it’s not particularly extensive.”
“Why not include commoners?” Amelia asked faintly.
“By what criteria? There’s a nation of those. If someone is going to be subjected to this life, they may as well go in as prepared as possible.”
“Wouldn’t it have been easier to hold a ball?”
Prince Arthur laughed. His whole face brightened, almost like it had at the races. “The treasury’s already girding its loins for the inevitable royal wedding. Best not to run up an even bigger bill in the process of finding a bride.”
"Are you…proposing to me?" She asked hesitantly. And then, more hysterically, “After five minutes? After talking about genealogy?”
"Hardly.” Arthur sounded offended. “This is me asking if you'd agree to meet with me again to discuss the matter of marriage further."
Amelia stared at him. This couldn’t possibly be happening.
“Your genealogy, though, is hardly irrelevant.” Prince Arthur removed a piece of paper from the folio, spun it around on the table and pushed it at her.
“This is my family tree.”
“Yes. We do our homework here,” Prince Arthur flipped through his folio again. “You’re attractive, well-born, and intelligent. Pursuing a graduate degree in the earth sciences, I believe.”
“I graduate in the spring. I’m applying to PhD programs. I want to study climate change,” Amelia managed to say, as if any of those words could be a defense against what was happening.
“All of which is excellent. You also happen to be the only eligible daughter of one of the oldest families of York. Both the city and the ancient house.”
“How is that a plus?” Amelia was wary. Little good ever came of the rare times London mentioned York.
“Political marriages — at least of this form — are rather out of style these days. But the rift between the north and the rest of the country only grows.”
“That’s the Prime Minister’s fault. And Parliament’s.” It was Amelia’s turn to be offended now. “The most recent jobs bill—”
The Prince sighed. “Yes. I know. I agree with you. Yet as a member of the royal house I can hardly engage in politics. At least not on a parliamentarian’s terms. But symbolism is mine. And what I can do is unite York and London — York and Lancaster — in a way they haven’t been in centuries. I know this proposition is awkward, but we could make history, you and I.”
“Awkward?!” Amelia exclaimed. “This conversation is insane.”
Prince Arthur blinked mildly at her. “I’m merely trying to apply the available resources to a set of problems. Before you judge, I suggest you consider the resources that could be applied to your problems were you to choose to help me with mine.”
“You don’t even know what my problems are!”
“I don’t have to, to know we could help each other.”
Amelia wanted to turn away from the intensity of his stare, but she couldn’t. He was magnetic, and there was a sharpness, even a shrewdness, to him that hadn’t been present at the races. His eyes may have been brown, but he was no prey animal. She couldn’t help but lean in ever so slightly. In her mind she cursed both the table between them and this proposed conspiracy.
“Lady Amelia,” Prince Arthur said, “do you want to be Queen Consort of England, Scotland, and Wales, Her Royal Majesty of Britain?”
“No!” Amelia pressed her feet firmly against the floor as the word came out of her mouth unbidden. The Prince was fascinating, but the question so baldly put was terrifying. Not to mention treasonous for her to answer in anything but the negative. She wondered, fleetingly, if this were a trap.
“Shall I call to have you shown out then?” His words were without rancor, but there was a coldness to them she did not prefer.
She shook her head. “No,” she repeated more softly.
About the Authors
Erin McRae is a queer writer based in New York and Washington, DC. She is a researcher, statistician, and novelist.
She has a bachelor’s degree in International Relations from the University of Toronto (Toronto, Canada) and a master’s degree in International Affairs from American University (Washington, DC).
Together with Racheline Maltese she founded Avian30, a literary collective dedicated to stories with magical and sexual realism. She is a hybrid author. She and Racheline Maltese have self-published titles (A Queen From the North, 2017; The Art of Three, 2017, and the Love in Los Angeles series, which was originally published by Torquere Press in 2014 and is being re-released in 2017). They have also published work with Cleis Press (Best Gay Romance, 2015), Dreamspinner (The Love’s Labours series, 2015), Supposed Crimes (Young Love Old Hearts, 2015).
She lives with her spouse and their two cats.
Racheline Maltese can fly a plane, sail a boat, and ride a horse, but has no idea how to drive a car. With Erin McRae she writes romance about fame and public life. She is also a producer and writer on Tremontaine, Serial Box Publishing's adventure of manners, swordplay, and chocolate that's a prequel to Ellen Kushner's gay lit classic, Swordspoint.
Racheline's training includes a journalism degree from The George Washington University, as well as acting and directing coursework at the Atlantic Theater Company Acting School (New York City) and the National Institute of Dramatic Art (Sydney, Australia).
Her fiction, non-fiction and poetry has appeared in numerous outlets, and she is a regular speaker on pop-culture topics at fan and academic conferences. Racheline also voiced Desire and Delirium in a benefit performance of Neil Gaiman's The Sandman for the CBLDF.