Palace of Sunderland. Paradise to the peasants. Prison to sixteen-year-old Anna, daughter of the king. She can never escape the castle’s cold walls and scorning disapproval of her father and his brute royal counsel, Seamus. She’ll always live in the shadow of her late mother, the queen. Will they ever see her for who she really is?
A riding accident lands Anna in the hands of traders who sell her as a slave in distant Kasdod to none other than her father’s enemy, Lord Anwar. After overhearing a dangerous plot to conquer Sunderland and kill the royal family, Anna must escape and warn her father, even if it means facing her greatest enemy.
With the doom looming over her, Anna is approached by a dangerous man in the dark. He claims to want to help her, but can she trust him with her secrets? The perils of the journey ahead will push Anna to the limit and answer the one question that has always plagued her…
Will she ever be enough?
“What an exciting book to read. It kept me on the edge of my seat the whole time. The characters were very well developed, and it made me cheer for them all the way through. The cover is very dramatic and fits very well with the story. Great read.” – Goodreads Reviewer
“One Tough Princess…A princess who despite great suffering never gives up. I really loved Anna’s determination and heart. You’ll find adventure, high stakes and romance in the midst of such horrible circumstances. A solid plot with a story that stayed with me.” – Amazon Reviewer
“A breathtaking journey into royal courts, slavery, escape, war, and love. This book has it all…” – Amazon Reviewer
Princess Anna is left to rule Sunderland as regent when her father, brother and her presumed fiancé Jack ride to battle devouring creatures in Jack’s home kingdom of Oclen. She must establish herself as a strong leader with the Sunderland council and a neighboring king who brings along two handsome princes to negotiate an alliance.
Trouble erupts as outlining Sunderland villages are attacked by pillaging marauders and the council loses confidence in Anna’s leadership. As Anna waits in trepidation for word from her father’s army, all she hears is silence. Her scouts never return. When the reports of a coming horror reach Anna, she forges an unlikely alliance and forgoes her father’s long-standing policies against gems of power. She trains Sunderland’s remaining soldiers to fight with gems. She’ll lead them to battle to rescue her family and the one she loves.
But first she must survive the treachery brewing in her own court.
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August 4, 2021 by Diane E. Samson
Reeling from Jack becoming king of Oclen, Princess Anna returns home as Sunderland’s Defender. Earning her title was a hard-fought honor, but Anna can’t escape the guilt of leaving Jack alone in that cursed, starving place.
When Jack comes to Sunderland seeking aid from Anna’s father, she must decide whether to return with him and help defeat the curse plaguing the cold northern land. If she remains Sunderland’s Defender, she knows her heart would never forgive her for abandoning Jack to rebuild a crushed kingdom.
Can Anna leave what she loves to become queen of a people suspicious of her and the gems? Joining Jack would mean battling an evil greater than anything she’s ever faced, for the curse’s roots grow deep. But if she doesn’t, Oclen will likely fall and Anna will lose Jack forever.
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Character Interview with Anna
(These answers represent the timing of Book One, Gems of Fire)
Tell me about yourself:
I’m Anna of Sunderland, 16-year-old, third-born to King Vilipp. My birthday is in autumn, September 21. I resemble my mother in appearance only. She was loving, good and adored by all. I can’t help but disappoint my father and his brooding advisor, Seamus.
Who are your siblings?
Stefan is my older brother and crown prince of Sunderland. He’s watched out for me to the best of his ability since our mother passed away when I was four. He is now 22 years old. Saira, 20 years old, is my older sister. She’s been away to be educated as an ambassador and has recently returned to Sunderland.
I get along better with Stefan. I’m frequently compared to perfect Saira. I’m always found lacking.
Describe your home:
Sunderland is a medium-sized kingdom in the heart of the continent, bordered by a semi-circle of mountains on the west, north and east sides. To the south of Sunderland lies a semi-arid region and the kingdom of Tagora. The capital city is Kasdod where King Vilipp’s enemy, Anwar resides.
Karfin is Sunderland’s capital, a city set into a white mountain where valuable gems are mined. The village in front of the castle is surrounded by a tall outer wall. The Alpin river weaves in front of the castle, providing protection from intruders. The only way into the castle is by a drawbridge.
Where are you the happiest?
I find comfort at the stables and riding my horse, Farley. He was given to me by a southern prince who found him alone in the desert as a yearling. He quickly became my project and my solace. Farley only allows me on his back. His groom’s name is Bart. I consider him my only friend.
What is your greatest fear?
I fear I’ll never gain the respect of my father. He only sees me as someone to marry off. And no one wants a headstrong girl. I also fear being locked away in a cage, trapped and unable to defend myself. I especially fear being alone with Seamus.
What are your pursuits?
I love horseback riding, archery and sparring with Stefan. I grew up hiding from my tutors, and they’ve pretty much given up educating me. I don’t have many friends at court.
Are you close to your father?
Not really. Father has never recovered from losing my mother. I pretty much lost both parents back then. Like I said, Stefan has done his best to look after me, as well as my faithful nurse, Mary.
Who is the person you admire and/or despise the most?
I admire my brother Stefan. He’s funny, caring and loyal. He’ll make a great king.
I despise Seamus, my father’s advisor. He’s pretty much taken over most duties of the king and poisons me in my father’s mind.
What do you remember of your mother?
Mother was gently, kind and always held me close when I cried. She loved me very much.
What three words would you use to describe yourself?
Spirited, Longing, Determined
About the Author
Diane E. Samson grew up on acreage just north of Kansas City, Missouri, with horses and dogs in the backyard. She later pursued her love of words and earned a degree in magazine journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia. After graduation she worked as a reporter, managing editor, freelance writer and in public relations. After moving around the country, she’s recently returned to the Kansas City area where she lives with her husband, children and golden retriever.
She’s written fiction off and on her whole life and is the author of the YA fantasy Gems of Fire series including Gems of Fire, Valley of Bones and Mountain of Flame. The series centers on a girl traveling a journey of self-discovery in a world of powerful gems, supernatural forces, epic battles and of course, handsome heroes.
Print copies of Gems of Fire and Valley of Bones by Diane E. Samson, a $25 Amazon gift card, three gem necklaces, and bookmarks (US only)
Ends September 19, 2021