The Lady's Champion by Marie Lipscomb
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"I'm not gentle with you because I doubt your strength, my lady, but because I know the full extent of mine."
Lady Natalie Blackmere has always dreamed of meeting the renowned champions of Aldland, especially the legendary Brandon the Bear. When at last the Grand Tourney comes to Blackmere, Natalie swaps places with a barmaid and sneaks out to follow her dreams. But when bandits besiege her town, Natalie barely escapes with the surviving champions. Alone in the woods with the man she has always admired, Natalie must keep her identity a secret and step up to become the leader she was born to be, if she is to save her people.
Brandon the Bear is a champion that ballads are sung about. Or, he was. Past his prime and struggling with each new tourney, Brandon fears his time as a champion has come to an end. When the fight becomes real, he is determined to save the townspeople of Blackmere and rescue the lady who ruled over it. Though there is no love lost for Lady Blackmere, the noblewoman who allowed her town to be vulnerable to attack, and his fellow champions slain, Brandon is resolved to do the right thing. And when a beautiful barmaid looks at him with stars in her eyes, he feels like maybe he can be the hero she thinks he is.
Note from the author: Content warning: This story is about two people falling in love and neither of them are skinny. On a couple of occasions, a big jerk picks on the hero for his weight. He is a jerk, and no one likes him. He'll get what's coming to him in future books. We love the hero and his magnificent bod. Also a few people get murdered. Enjoy!