The Scholar’s Heart
Series: Chronicles of Tournai
Release Date: May 30, 2016
Author: Antonia Aquilante
Youngest son of a royal duke, Etan is a scholar at heart who juggles his work for the prince with his studies of the history and legends of Tournai, something of particular interest to him because he shares the magical Talent that runs in the royal bloodline. Etan’s peaceful world turns upside down when his best friend—the man he secretly loves—unexpectedly marries a woman. Though Tristan values his friendship with Etan and has always been attracted to him, he is a dutiful son, raised to shoulder responsibility for the family business one day. That day comes far sooner than anticipated, and he makes a deathbed promise to his father to marry the woman his father chose and become head of the company and family.
A year later, Tristan is a widower with an infant daughter and a mother who demands he marry again quickly—something Tristan resists. Circumstances throw Etan and Tristan together, and even as they succumb to the desires they’ve always harbored, Etan battles his feelings, wary of being cast aside again. When Tristan’s daughter is kidnapped, Etan and Tristan must come together to find her, find the person responsible, and support each other through the ordeal… and maybe beyond.
Add to your shelf on Goodreads
Buy in Paperback: Dreamspinner Press
“There you are!”
Tristan’s musical voice made the simple sentence something special, or perhaps Etan’s feelings made it seem so. Etan smiled as he looked up from his book, a glow of warmth and welcome lighting him up inside.
Tristan strode into the small room that Etan had claimed for his own in the palace’s labyrinthine library. He had a desk in the university library as well, but these days, out of necessity and preference both, he conducted most of his work in this cozy little room. Obscure history books filled the shelves lining the walls. The table in the center of the room held Etan’s notes on his studies and projects, all neatly organized so he could find anything he wanted quickly. But this morning he slouched on the comfortable couch instead, book propped in his lap.
He sat there, book forgotten as he watched Tristan, the morning sun streaming in through the window and glinting off Tristan’s bright gold hair. Tristan seemed to bring the sunshine into the room with him, brightening what had been an ordinary morning until that moment.
“Good morning, Tristan.”
“Good morning to you.” Tristan sent a flirtatious smile in his direction and skirted the table, coming closer.
“It’s good to see you.” He probably sounded ridiculous, but he hadn’t seen Tristan in a few days, and, well, he’d missed him.
Tristan’s smile warmed, turning a bit softer. “You too.”
Etan frowned as Tristan flopped on the couch at Etan’s side. Not at the action, but at the look in Tristan’s eyes. The bright blue seemed shadowed somehow. “Everything all right?”
“Fine. Why do you ask?”
“No reason. You just seem a little….” Etan shrugged. He couldn’t quite put a word to it, and he couldn’t very well say he didn’t think Tristan’s eyes sparkled as much as they usually did. “Troubled, maybe.”
Tristan was quiet for a moment, then scooted closer and rested his head on Etan’s shoulder. “I’m fine. A little tired. What are you up to?”
“Doing some reading.”
“For work or pleasure?”
Etan suppressed a shiver at the way Tristan’s voice shaped the word pleasure. Certainly it had to be unconscious on Tristan’s part, but it put ideas into Etan’s head that he didn’t want there, not yet, not when he and Tristan hadn’t spoken of feelings between them beyond friendship. But he could see those feelings were there. Perhaps he should just come right out and kiss Tristan. Tristan seemed to be over what feelings he’d had for Amory, Tristan’s lifelong friend who was now married to Etan’s cousin. Etan didn’t see any of the emotion or longing he used to in the looks Tristan sent Amory’s way. Maybe Etan had waited long enough.
He’d certainly paused long enough before answering. “A bit of both. Want me to read to you?”
He’d read to Tristan before, many times, sometimes with Tristan sitting as he was now, snuggled up against Etan’s side, sometimes with Tristan lying with his head in Etan’s lap. Tristan seemed to like when Etan read to him, seemed to enjoy the legends and histories Etan habitually occupied himself with, seemed to even enjoy when Etan forgot himself and ran his fingers through Tristan’s soft hair as he read. Etan hadn’t read to anyone before except for his youngest sister, Meriall, but reading to Tristan was a far different experience from reading bedtime stories. He liked it, liked having Tristan close and hearing Tristan’s comments and reactions.
“I’m not sure I can sit still today. I’m sorry.”
“That’s all right.” He’d realized early on in their friendship that Tristan was an athletic person who enjoyed being active and outdoors. Etan came to treasure the moments of stillness and quiet, when he saw Tristan’s intellectual side and his softer side in equal measure, but he enjoyed sharing the other more active times with Tristan too. Tristan always made the rides through the countryside and the hikes along the cliffs and the rambles over the beach fun. “What would you like to do?”
“Will you go for a ride with me?”
He thought briefly of the work awaiting him in the office he shared with Cathal, of his plans to spend the morning with his books and his studies before he returned to that work. And tossed it all aside with one look into Tristan’s eyes. As he always did. His books would still be there when he returned to them later.
And he wasn’t convinced Tristan really was all right.
“Of course. Shall we go now?”
When Tristan agreed, Etan set his book aside and tidied away a few papers. On the way to the stables, they stopped in Etan’s suite so he could change into riding boots, but they didn’t dally otherwise. Stable hands saddled their horses quickly, and they mounted up. They rode together out of the palace gates and through the city, an easy conversation flowing between them. Once they left the city, Etan let Tristan lead. When Tristan took the road that would lead them out to the cliffs, Etan knew his suspicions about Tristan’s state of mind were correct. Tristan seemed to prefer a gallop along the cliffs when he felt he needed to escape something, some pressure in his life. He talked to Etan about it sometimes, at least a little, but only after the ride.
As Etan expected, Tristan veered off the road as they neared the cliffs. The path he chose wound through some trees until it ended in the meadows overlooking the sea. Once they were through the trees, the view opened up before them, with fields dotted with wildflowers and a rocky precipice tumbling down to the vivid blue of the sea. The area was one of Etan’s favorites. He’d rather walk along the cliffs or picnic at the top so he could better appreciate the view, but riding was exhilarating too. Well, any ride with Tristan was. Tristan was a skilled and fearless rider, who ended each ride flushed and smiling. Etan always wanted to grab him close and kiss him when he saw Tristan that way, to see if he could make Tristan breathless for another reason entirely.
Maybe today he would.
Add to your shelf on Goodreads
Buy in Paperback: Dreamspinner Press
About the Author:
Antonia Aquilante has been making up stories for as long as she can remember, and at the age of twelve, decided she would be a writer when she grew up. After many years and a few career detours, she has returned to that original plan. Her stories have changed over the years, but one thing has remained consistent – they all end in happily ever after.
She has a fondness for travel (and a long list of places she wants to visit and revisit), taking photos, family history, fabulous shoes, baking treats which she shares with friends and family, and of course reading. She usually has at least two books started at once and never goes anywhere without her Kindle. Though she is a convert to ebooks, she still loves paper books the best, and there are a couple thousand of them residing in her home with her.
Born and raised in New Jersey, she is living there again after years in Washington, DC, and North Carolina for school and work. She enjoys being back in the Garden State but admits to being tempted every so often to run away from home and live in Italy.
She is a member of the Romance Writers of America, the New Jersey Romance Writers, and the Rainbow Romance Writers.
Find her online: