Perfectly timed for the King’s Coronation, a royally-adjacent romance inspired by real life publishes: FALLING HARD FOR THE ROYAL GUARD by Megan Clawson!
About the Book
by Megan Clawson
Format 384 pages, Paperback
Published May 2, 2023 by Avon
ISBN 9780008554415 (ISBN10: 0008554412)
Love is in the heir in this royally good rom com debut releasing in Spring 2023 – perfect for anyone who likes relatable heroines (with great hair), hot and aloof book boyfriends (with great hats), near misses, almost kisses and a corgi or two.
Despite living in an actual castle, happily ever after is evading Margaret ‘Maggie’ Moore.
From her bedroom in the Tower of London, twenty-six-year-old Maggie has always dreamed of her own fairy-tale ending.
Yet this is twenty-first century London, so instead of knights on white horses, she has catfish on Tinder. And with her last relationship ending in spectacular fashion, she swears off men for good.
And then a chance encounter with Royal Guard Freddie forces Maggie to admit that she isn’t ready to give up on love just yet… But how do you catch the attention of someone who is trained to ignore all distractions?
Can she snare that true love’s first kiss… or is she royally screwed?
A right royal rom com, perfect for fans of Red, White and Royal Blue and The Royal We.
The sun always leaves the East Casemates first. It gets swallowed up by the western side of the White Tower, locked in its dungeon and liberated at dawn to the sound of the ravens’ cries. To move through the castle at this time is to be undisturbed. Residents hide at the hearths of their fires and don’t bother to distinguish between passer-by and
wandering spirit. There is little difference anyway.
I wander the south lawn alone, the dew-soaked strands of grass slip between my bare toes and around my ankles as I glide freely under the moonlight. Standing in her shadow, I drink in the glowing stone of the White Tower and lose myself in the shadowed arches of the windows as the twilight breeze pushes me further towards her.
Only the sound of soft laughter disturbs me. I whip around, my damp red hair cloaking my face in the motion. But I see no one, I feel no one. The sound crescendos until it becomes abusive, only growing louder, more animated as I begin to squirm.
Laugh, lick, laugh, lick.
I open my eyes with a start, before quickly clamping them shut again as the bright sunlight claws abusively at my vision from the window. The dampness on my feet spreads up my bare legs until it finally settles on my face. Working up the strength to prise open my eyelids again with a groan, I come face to furry face with my cat, who really has no concept of personal space. I rub my saliva- soaked feet against my bedsheets as I give Cromwell a playful scratch behind the ears. I can only work up enough anger to grimace at the slimy coating over my toes, the tortoiseshell ball of fluff absolutely impossible to tell off.
Giggle, Giggle, Giggle.
In my drowsy state, the sinister laughter has turned into . . . oh balls! I have to peek over the top of Cromwell’s fuzzy head to notice a pair of boys in their late teens and their high-tech DSLR camera upon the east wall peering back at me. My obnoxiously wide-open window provides absolutely zero cover to hide the fact my boobs have escaped my tank top and are practically waving back in my frantic fatigue. The Cheshire-cat smile appearing either side of the bulky tourist camera is all the confirmation I need to throw myself out of my bed and onto the floor.
Leopard-crawling across my carpet, I have to dodge empty glasses and random articles of clothing like I’m on a military assault course to escape the laughter that still reverberates from the inner wall. When I’m sure I’m out of sight, I flop dramatically onto my back on the floor, berating myself over all of the ways I could have resolved this situation, like simply cocooning myself in my duvet, actually remembering to close the curtains or, like any normal person, just readjusting the tank top that had betrayed me. It’s all well and good thinking of these solu- tions now that I already have a carpet burn across my chest. Without warning, my mum’s voice reverberates through my mind, and I flinch at the clarity of it, almost half believing – half hoping – she were in the room: ‘You know, Maggie, for a lass with brains you really do have no common sense.’ Ah yes, the phrase that haunted every moment of my teenage idiocy. It feels just that little bit
more tragic now in my late twenties.
‘Mags, is that you? You not at work today?’ my dad’s voice echoes up the stairs. It reaches me as I’m sprawled in just my baby pink knickers across the landing carpet, too full of embarrassment to have moved.
Hang on. What time is it? I grasp for my burgundy work shirt that has been screwed up on the floor since the end of my shift yesterday. The creased blouse now shielding me from onlookers, I reach for my phone: 9.53 a.m. I was meant to start work almost an hour ago. Stuffing my face into the carpet, I groan loudly making my dad laugh as he now stands in my doorway. Like me, he is only half dressed for work. A graphic T-shirt embellished with a joke only fit for a pudgy middle-aged dad splashes the words ‘with a body like this, who needs hair?’ across his chest. Navy trousers sit just above his belly, clinging on by a set of straining red braces. His red beard, speckled with white, has been left tucked into the neck of his T-shirt, as though it has been tossed on without a second thought. He’s still missing his Tudor bonnet and navy tunic. Right now, he looks like Father Christmas’s rebellious younger brother, a far cry from the fit and clean-cut British Army soldier that he had been for twenty-two years.
I hadn’t thought my dad could get any more eccentric than when he sold his house to live on a narrow boat, but here we are, living in the Tower of London where he managed to obtain the most obscure job he could find: a beefeater – or a Yeoman Warder if you want to be fancy. The result? He spends most of his days showing tourists around the Tower of London, bragging about being the monarch’s bodyguard, subtly omitting the ‘ceremonial’ prefix in his title. I am pretty sure he chose the job based on the fact that there is none other out there with a uniform so bizarre. He was more excited than he’d ever admit hopping into the ruff and tights of his ceremonial dress, which is sewn together with the finest gold thread. He sprouted his ginger beard and popped out a little round belly as soon as he stepped over the threshold, really taking a method approach to his new role. It only took a matter of weeks for him to look like he had stepped out of the print of a novelty tea towel that you find in the tourist tat shops across London. And he loves it.
‘Oh, bloody hell!’ I dart around the room, desperate to
find the trousers I had discarded somewhere in the dark after waking up from my ‘ten-minute bit of shut-eye’ at 3 a.m. Finding them lodged down the back of my bed, I only have enough time to wedge my toothbrush between my jaws and say a very brief and garbled goodbye to Dad before running down the five flights of stairs to the front door. Racing though I am, I can’t bring myself to forgo my usual routine of saying a whispered ‘love you’ to Mum, and I pause briefly in the hallway on my way out, spending precious seconds staring at her photo. She looks exactly how I remember her: her hair windswept and wild, with a smile pinching so tightly at her cheeks that her eyes disappear into it as well. Sighing as I reluctantly tear myself away, I give her a sad smile in return and resume my manic morning. Too late to grab a coat I just sprint, hoping that the March breeze might aid even slightly in taming my hair.
‘Morning!’ I call to each one of the beefeaters that I pass on the way. My next-door neighbour Richie, half dressed, like a mirror image of my dad in his T-shirt, braces, and salt and pepper beard, waters his array of out-of-control flowers in front of the house. He waves back with his free hand, absentmindedly sloshing water across his boots with the other in the process. Continuing my mad dash, I pass Linda as she steps out from the wide front door of Brass Mount in the east corner of the casemates. I am pretty sure Linda is the only person in the world who can say she lives in an old artillery tower from which they fired the cannons back in the day. She places her Tudor bonnet upon her perfectly sleek bun and shouts her greetings, knowing far better than to corner me for a conversation on my daily rush to work.
Having conquered the cobbles, I make it onto the path
over the drawbridge. It takes all of my strength to not bend down to stroke Timmy, Beefeater Charlie’s Newfoundland, as they both emerge after a morning of chasing seagulls in the moat.
‘Morning, Charlie! Can’t stop or Kev’ll have my head!’ He laughs and gives me a mock salute as I overtake him. Timmy tries to join me on my panicked dash. Being the size of a black bear, his paws thump audibly against the floor and his whole body moves in a wave with the motion. His excitable tail adding a Total-Wipeout-style obstacle for me to vault. His giant tongue lolls out the side of his mouth and leaves a splodge of saliva on the hem of my
With work in my sights, it’s only Ben, the gardener, I have left on my checklist of hellos.
‘Good morning, Ben! The lines in the lawn this morning . . .’ I kiss the tips of my fingers in an exaggerated ‘chef’s kiss’ motion.
He just laughs in acknowledgement and waves me on to work.
Panting, I slide through the door of the ticket office, far too late to be excused as fashionably late, and sweating as though I’d fallen asleep inside a sauna. Edging towards my seat, I glance furtively around, hoping against hope that I might still get away with my tardy arrival.
‘Margaret Moore . . .’ I tense – no such luck. ‘How can someone who literally lives at the place they work still be late? You may live in a castle but don’t expect me to treat you like the princess you think you are.’ I could hear my boss before I could see him.
‘I am so, so sorry, Kevin, I really am. I didn’t realise the—’ He cuts me off with a hand shoved so close to my face I can smell that he has already been to the café for a bacon butty and chased it down with a secret fag behind the storehouse.
I stop trying to plead my case. When Kevin is in this mood, there’s no talking to him and I already know the punishment I’ll end up with: a trip down into the White Tower’s cellar to place the day’s cash into the safe. I shudder at the thought. It wouldn’t be so bad if it weren’t nearly one thousand years old with a lighting system almost as dated. Not that newer lights would make much of a differ- ence: no one ventures down the creaking staircase without first closing their eyes and running like a child fleeing from the monsters that reach for their heels on the way to bed, and no one goes in any deeper than they must. Centuries-old bottles of wine remain stored for a rainy day by nobility dead and buried, protected by the instinc- tive human fear of the dark.
With a flick of his wrist, Kevin shoos me away to my
designated ticket booth, his fool’s gold bangle clattering against his ‘Realex’ as he does so. Thankfully each booth is secluded from the other by partitions and faces the street outside, so I am only seen by the general public when I childishly mock his gestures in a farce-like performance. I slump down in my chair, and, catching a glimpse of my reflection in the glass, unsuccessfully attempt to smooth down the halo of frizz on top of my head. Damp strands cling to my face and red flyaway hairs tickle at my nostrils. I tuck the rest of it down the back of my shirt to get it out of the way of my desk and it itches at the waistband of my trousers.
Plastering a fake smile across my face, I welcome my very first customer: ‘Good morning and welcome to His Majesty’s Royal Palace and Fortress, the Tower of London. How many tickets can I get for you today?’
About the Author
Megan Clawson was born and raised in Boston, Lincolnshire. A beefeater’s daughter, her heart was ensnared by the city of London at a young age, and she moved to study English with Film at King’s College in 2018. Whilst there, she fell in love with her own royal guard. Now, she still resides in the Tower of London, alongside her little dog Ethel – and works as an English Tutor and a TV and film extra, alongside her writing. FALLING HARD FOR THE ROYAL GUARD is her debut novel.
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