C. J. Brightley grew up in Georgia. After a career in national security, she turned her attention to writing. She lives with her husband and children in Northern Virginia. She blogs at CJBrightley.com, where you can find sneak peeks of upcoming books, deleted scenes, background material, thoughts on writing, and books she enjoys.

She also runs PhoenixCrate, a subscription book box, and Noblebright.org, both dedicated to highlighting the best of noblebright fantasy. Noblebright fantasy characters have the courage to risk kindness, honesty, integrity, and love; to fight against their own flaws and the darkness of the world around them; and to find hope in a grim world.

The Wraith and the Rose by C. J. Brightley

The Fair Folk are stealing children.

One man is stealing them back.

When Miss Lilybeth Rose Hathaway and her family arrive in Ardmond for the season, Lily can't help but be charmed by wealthy, popular Theo Overton's lovely manners and genuine affection. The Hathaways are soon elevated far beyond what they might have imagined, and like everyone else, they are captivated by rumors of the national hero known as the Wraith, who is saving human children from the terrors of the Fair Court.

The arrival of the Special Envoy of the Fair Court tasked with capturing the Wraith frightens everyone. But the Wraith is far too clever to be captured… until the stakes become personal.

The Wraith and the Rose is a delightful reimagining of The Scarlet Pimpernel in a Regency-inspired setting with dangerous Fair Folk and a love worth dying for.


C.J. is known for her noblebright fiction, penning heroic tales where good triumphs and the villains get their just desserts. We all have days where we need to read about steadfast heroes saving stolen children from the treacherous fae, after all! – Anthea Sharp



  • "I was originally hooked by the idea of a fantasy Scarlet Pimpernel retelling, and then the beautiful writing, well-rounded characters, witty dialogue, and well-paced action kept me turning pages and not wanting to put the book down. I loved the hopeful, upbeat tone of the book, and the themes of nobility and honor and sacrificing for love throughout."

    – Ashley
  • "This is a masterfully written tale of heroism and love that delivers in every way. I loved every second of it."

    – DM
  • "With its sincere characters and an ending that left me catching my breath at its eucatastrophic beauty, The Wraith and the Rose is the definition of noblebright fantasy."

    – Suzannah
  • "My abso-freaking-lute most favorite part of this book is Theo, one of the main characters. He is vibrant, funny, kind, and just... the very best person. I want a Theo friend."

    – Constance



A mere month after the first children had been stolen from their homes in Aricht, three of the missing children turned up at the gate of the Valestrian king's palace in Ardmond. They were confused, pale, and exhausted, and the only thing they could say with any degree of certainty was that they had danced until they were insensible, night after night after night. When asked how they had escaped, they had agreed, after some argument, that a troll had pulled them from their beds, run through the woods, leapt in a hole, and tossed them out of the darkness at the gate.

A week later, two more children had similarly appeared, though they claimed their rescuer was an ogre, not a troll. They had given more detail about the darkness between the Fair Lands and the Valestrian palace gate. They said they walked for four hours in absolute darkness, and the ogre had carried the younger of the two children the entire way. The ogre had presented them each with an apple; he shoved the cores in his dirty pockets when they were done. The elder boy said he suspected the ogre was afraid of being followed, but the younger said he'd slept through that part and didn't remember it. The elder brother said he'd kept a tight grip on the ogre's rough jacket so as not to lose him in the darkness. At last they had emerged into the silvered brilliance of a full moon in front of the palace. The ogre had raised a fist and pounded on the door, then slunk away when the guard saw the children.

That had been nearly five months ago. Some hundred and fifty children had been rescued since then by the mysterious hero. Aricht, and then Valestria, had soon begun calling him the Wraith for his ghostlike ability to sneak in and out of the Fair Lands. He took on constantly varying disguises; quite often he appeared as one of the Fair Folk themselves. Several times he had been a troll or an ogre, once a kobold, and often as a man, though no one had ever recognized him later.

The children were of little help. Not only did the Wraith appear as all manner of creatures, but had apparently assumed different nationalities. He had used a native Arichtan accent at times, as well as Valestrian, Altavian, and Rulothian accents in different rescues.

In fact, the only thing to indicate that the hero was one person, or at least a team acting in concert, was the fury of the Fair Court, which had eventually revealed that after each rescue, there was some small piece of paper with a tiny rose inscribed upon it left in the place of the children. The Fair Folk had thus called the rescuer the Rose, after his insignia, but since this had not been revealed for some time, the Arichtan court had styled him the Wraith, and the Valestrian court had followed. The Wraith had remained the more popular name in Valestria and Aricht, but the rose symbol had immediately become wildly popular among both the nobility and common people.

The Fair Court had become increasingly angry. His Majesty Oak Silverthorn had never publicly admitted that the Fair Folk were stealing human children, but his envoy in Aricht, Lord Linden Brookbower, had made it clear to both the Arichtan king and the Valestrian ambassador that he intended to find and kill the Rose. Whatever the Fair Folk wanted the children for, it was important.

So far, only Arichtan children had been stolen. It had at first been speculated that the Wraith was Arichtan, which seemed logical since an Arichtan citizen would have more reason to risk himself for his countrymen than a Valestrian, Altavian, or Rulothian citizen would. But since the rescued children consistently reappeared just outside the Valestrian palace, the Fair Court now believed that the Wraith was Valestrian.

Lord Willowvale gave the slightest possible bow, his mouth twitching at the required civility when he apparently wished to more openly reveal his rage. "Your welcome is well understood. I do not require your assistance in my assignment."

"Very well." Lord Radclyffe raised his chin and turned away.

Lord Willowvale turned to the prince and bowed stiffly, his mouth tight. "Your Royal Highness."

"Lord Willowvale." The prince acknowledged the fairy and sketched a faint, mocking bow. "Welcome to Valestria."

Prince Selwyn smiled more warmly at Theo, who now stood at his shoulder. "I heard you bought another horse?"

"A very nice hunter. I took him out yesterday around the pond. I couldn't be more pleased." Theo turned to include the fairy in the conversation. "Do you ride, Lord Willowvale?"


Theo stared at the fairy expectantly, a pleasant smile on his face. Finally he prompted, "Do you have a favorite horse, then? Or a favored trail? Anything at all, really?"

The fairy stared at him, his narrow lips turning downward. "Yes. Why?"

"It is what we humans do at dances: we make pleasant conversation with fellow guests." Theo frowned faintly. "I haven't been introduced to you, though. I'm Theo Overton."

"What is your title, then?" The fairy's eyes flicked up and down, taking in Theo's immaculate lace cuffs, expensive shoes, and the fashionable cut and exquisite fabric of his jacket and breeches.

Theo smiled brightly. "I have no title at all, not even a courtesy title! My father is a baronet, so we're really not that important."

Lord Willowvale narrowed his eyes. "Why are you here, then?"

Theo's hazel eyes sparkled. "I like dancing, and the food is delicious."

The fairy's expression darkened. "I mean why did they let you in?"

"Oh, that's a puzzle, indeed. I think it's because I'm amusing." If there was mockery in Theo's smile, it was mostly hidden. "Also, His Royal Highness Selwyn is too excellent of a whist player; if I don't agree to play on the other team, he'd have no opponents at all."

Lord Willowvale looked him up and down again. "Introduce me to the men of title here."

Theo blinked, then smiled kindly. "Lord Willowvale, it is not the custom in Valestria to order about free men, even when you are an honored guest." His smile brightened, and he added, "I would be delighted to do so, if you asked more courteously."

The fairy bared his teeth in a rictus of a smile, and Theo beamed at him.

"Please introduce me to the men of title, useless puppy," ground out the fairy.

Theo said with equanimity, "A puppy is charming and beloved by anyone of good character. Using the word as an insult is in poor taste, my lord. Come."