When a born and bred cowboy takes the throne . . .
Mark Jaroka is content with his life on the ranch, his brothers by his side.
Until he becomes the cowboy king.
Hauled halfway across the world after a royal family tragedy, Mark resolves to be worthy of the title. He’ll learn the ways of a monarch, but between him and his untamed brothers, the marble floors better get used to worn leather boots. Then he falters at an unexpected duty—forming a strategic alliance with the whip-tongued and supercilious Princess Ava Veisi.
Ava’s only chance at happiness is to escape royal life and leave her poisonous secrets behind. The problem? Her parents have demanded she marry the new King Markus. She stoops treacherously low to try to make him refuse her, but as her escape plans start to take form, she finds herself falling for the sexy, kind-natured cowboy.
On the brink of fleeing, Ava is torn between claiming her freedom and the love of a king. No matter her choice, it’s going to break her heart.
Her Cowboy King is the first book in the Cowboy Princes contemporary romance series. If you enjoy heartfelt emotion, real and compelling characters, and sweeping settings, then you’ll love this trope-blending romance by award-winning author Madeline Ash.
Read an Excerpt:
Markus Jaroka would never regret that his last night as a free cowboy was spent camping with his brothers. They went up into the craggy mountains of Montana, breathing in the pines and lounging around the flickering flame. A night of bedrolls and beers and in-jokes that had all three men smearing tears off their faces. His brothers were his lifeblood, the land his home. Farewells didn’t get much sweeter.
He knew Tommy wouldn’t regret it either. In town, his brother used his downward-tipped hat as a social shield, adding shadow to his reputation as an enigmatic lone rancher. But Kris—who’d landed the lion’s share of cowboy swagger and a coyote’s ferocity to boot—would likely have preferred to devote his last night of freedom to a woman, making the most of his feral-edged charm.
None of them knew they were about to be bucked from ranching life forever.
They rose before sunrise. Doused the embers, shouldered their belongings, and hiked through wilderness to their ranch in Sage Haven. Routine was to dump their packs at the homestead and hit the stables, but the tread of the three brothers faltered as they emerged onto the back meadow of their property.
Their father, Erik, sat on a wooden stump by the far gate.
Tommy adjusted the strap of his bedroll. “What’s he doing here?”
“No other way to reach us.” Guilt fringed Kris’s voice. Phone reception didn’t follow them into the mountains, and it had been his idea to go camping.
“I’m sure everything’s fine,” Mark said, despite his unease.
“He’s in yesterday’s shirt. Still buttoned wrong.” Tommy spoke under his breath, observant as ever. “He hasn’t slept.”
Kris swore and lengthened his stride.
“He probably just fell asleep in the armchair again.” But Mark clenched his fists as they crossed the field.
Their dad stood as they neared, raising a hand. It tremored, outlined against the dawn sky.
“Morning, Dad.” Kris offered from Mark’s right.
Erik nodded once. “Boys.”
Boys, sure, or twenty-five-year-old men with a profitable quarter horse ranch between them. They stopped a few paces away, planting their feet and swinging their packs to the ground.
Erik’s smile was tight. “Good night out there?”
“Cold,” Mark said. “What’d we miss?”
“Is Mom okay?” Tommy moved in beside Mark, and a moment later, Kris appeared at his other shoulder.
With his brow creased, their father looked at each of them in turn, his features softened by regret. “She’s . . . fine. She’s worried.” He let out a turbulent breath. “We had news overnight.”
Mark’s gut warped as he braced for the worst. Had their father received more test results? Was it bad? No matter what, Mark would hold it together for his parents, for his brothers. Steadily, he asked, “What’s happened, Dad?”
“My brothers and nephew were in an accident yesterday. I’m afraid they didn’t survive.”
Faint with selfish relief, Mark lowered his head. His parents were okay. The deaths of his uncles and cousin were tragic, but he couldn’t pretend to mourn men he’d never met. Men who’d never shown a spark of interest in Mark or his family.
“How?” Tommy’s question was quiet.
“Balcony collapse,” Erik said. “They were banqueting under the night sky.”
“All three of them?” Kris sounded sick.
Mark jerked his head up as his brother’s tone kicked him in the gut. His own nausea rose fast. In one swift tragedy, their father had become the sole surviving Jaroka of his generation. Which meant—God above, it meant . . .
Mark spoke as if a firm word could stop fate. “No.”
“But that—” Tommy choked on his own voice.
Kris turned his back, cursing roughly.
The field tipped, a disorienting slant, and Mark struggled to hold his balance. This wasn’t possible. The mortality of his uncles had always seemed like that of legends—their deaths were unthinkable.
They were royalty, after all.
“This is—” No. “Not happening.”
His dad spoke gently. “It has happened, Markus.”
Kris hadn’t turned around. His body was rigid. “There must be someone else.”
Tommy was stark white and swaying. He held his hat loosely by his side, his other hand deep in his dark hair. “There is no one else.”
“But Dad.” Panic controlled Mark’s pulse, pushing it hard. “Your health. You can’t take this on.” The stress would surely accelerate his Parkinson’s disease. “You need peace and quiet in the country—not a country to rule.”
His father nodded slowly, heavily. “I hate that you’re right.”
“It’s true.” Kris spun around, his lip curling in outrage. “This can’t be expected of you.”
Tommy had stopped moving. His hat lay in the grass by his feet.
“Tell us what we can do to stop this.” Mark could take time off the ranch. They all could. Shock knotted the thoughts in his head, but once it eased, he’d hunt down the world’s best lawyers, doctors, activists. Anyone who would fight for his father against the burden of hereditary monarchy. “We’ll work this out.”
Tommy clamped a hand over his shoulder. “Mark,” he said, his voice strangled.
Mark covered his brother’s hand with his own. “I’ll sort it out. Don’t worry.”
“I know you will.” Their father sagged back down onto the tree stump, features breaking. “Your mother and I discussed this all night. Like you, she forbade me to accept my responsibility. I’d be stupid to ignore my condition.” Remorse filled his sigh as he looked at them all. “I’m so sorry, boys. I’ve decided to abdicate.”
He looked at the firstborn of his triplet sons.
“Mark, the crown will fall to you.”
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