Queen In Exile by Donna Hatch
Rumors of war hang over Princess Jeniah'speaceful country of Arden, a land that shuns both magic and warfare. Following a lifelong dream, Jeniah forms a telpathic bond with a revered creature called a chayim, who is prophesied to save her kingdom. But when aDarborian knight comes upon Jeniah with herchayim, he sees only a vicious monster about to devour a maiden, and he slays the beast.
Devastated by the loss of her chayim, and fearing that her own magic is evil, Jeniah doubts her destiny. When an enemy invades Arden City, they slaughter the people, storm the castle, and execute the entire royal family except the princess. Rescued by the knight who slew herchayim, Jeniah is now heir to the throne of Arden and the only hope for freeing her people from tyranny.
On the run and hunted by enemy soldiers, Jeniah must place her life and the fate of her kingdom in the hands of this trained killer. Torn between embracing her destiny as queen of Arden, and her love for a mere knight, she must ultimately rely on her magic to save herself and her people from death and tyranny.
Jeniah is a pampered Princess (which ones aren't?) who must learn to trust her magic and relearn to trust those around her. She wasn't allowed to participate in kingdom affairs because a woman doesn't have the smarts. No one believed she was capable, not even Jeniah.
Kai, a handsome and skillful warrior vows to become her protector, must learn to reopen his heart. Together they must save Jeniah'skingdom and trust their emotions and each other.
And fall in love. Of course, they are wrong for each other. Jeniah is royalty and Kai a commoner.
I enjoyed watching Jeniah and Kai growing throughout the story. I really, really wanted them to find a way to be together by the end of story.
I was a tad disappointed that Jeniah's magic didn't grow with her. I understand the reasoning behind making her go through hardships to become stronger, but still! I wanted to see her bust a few bad guys.
I didn't get hooked from the start probably because the place is magical and I was introduced to the world later in the story. But this story is character driven so I didn't notice as much.
This story is a good, clean, romance with a strong female character, handsome, strong warrior and intrigue.