Praise for Denise Lynn
‘With revenge, romance, intrigue and passion at its hottest, Ms Lynn has truly penned a story that ranks high with the best romances I have ever read…A definite keeper.’
—Romance Reviews Today
‘A charming romance full of wit and sensuality.’
—Historical Romance Writers Review
‘This medieval romance has all the things that I enjoy reading in a book: a mystery to solve, and a hero and heroine who hate each other so much that when they finally realise they are in love, it’s explosive!’
—The Best Reviews
‘Non-stop action, a marvellous captive/captor plotline, a hint of fantasy and more than a touch of passion converge, making this book a memorable romance and a feast for fans of medieval romance.’
—RT Book Reviews
“Was it easy to forget our marriage? Did you go as willingly to Thornson’s bed as you did mine?”
“Do not be crude. What choice did I have?”
“You could have said no. We’d exchanged vows.”
Marguerite had expected this. But the deadly tone of his voice brought a breathless gasp out of her lips. “I spoke but a promise to you. Not all promises can be kept.”
“It was much more than a simple promise.” Darius stepped towards her. “It was a vow made to me, before God, before witnesses. A vow to be my wife.”
She pushed him away. “Do not do this, Darius. We were impetuous children who acted on a whim. Nobody, not the King nor the Church, would hold us to those vows.”
“Children? Impetuous children?” He grasped her arms. “Did you love Thornson?”
She nodded, then thought to turn the tables. “What about you? Do you not care for your wife?”
“I cared a great deal for my wife. To my misfortune she cared not enough.”
Marguerite was stunned to realise he talked about her…
Award-winning author Denise Lynn has been an avid reader of romance novels for many years. Between the pages of books she has travelled to lands and times filled with brave knights, courageous ladies and neverending love. Now she can share with others her dream of telling tales of adventure and romance.
Denise lives with her real-life hero, Tom, and a slew of four-legged ‘kids’ in north western Ohio, USA. Their two-legged son, Ken, serves in the USN, and comes home on occasion to visit and fix the computers, VCRs or any other electronic device Mum can confuse in his absence. You can write to her at PO Box 17, Monclova, OH 43542, USA, or visit her website, www.denise-lynn.com
For Mom, with love.
Falcongate Normandy, Late Spring 1142
A small brazier provided light in the one-room hunter’s cottage. They would supply their own brand of heat to warm the tiny chamber.
He slid beneath the furs on the narrow cot, then gathered her close. She came to him willingly, pressing the length of her body against his.
Her head rested just below his shoulder, her shaking breath blew hot against his chest. Stray curls from hair as bright as the summer sun tickled at his neck.
Her skin was so soft and smooth, like the fluffy softness of a rabbit. He stroked her slender naked limbs, reveling in the knowledge that she was his. She trembled beneath his touch, her nervousness making him feel bold and protective at the same time.
The thought humbled him and he silently swore to protect her always. Had he not recently vowed to keep her safe, to honor her, to love her for all time?
This night they would learn of passion and desire together. They would bind the vows they’d shared with love.
“You would think a Faucon would know not to let down his guard.”
Darius of Faucon jolted out of his dream at the statement. He’d fallen asleep while fishing and had not heard the men approach. His first instinct was to grab the weapon lying at his side. But the tip of a sword steadily pressed to his neck kept him in place against the tree he’d leaned against earlier this day.
He squinted against the blazing sun and counted eight blades pointed at his chest. He glanced toward the next tree and saw Sir Osbert in the same predicament. Darius felt a measure of relief knowing that the aging captain of his guard had come to no harm.
From the tenseness of the man’s stout body and the bushing of his near-white eyebrows, Darius doubted if Sir Osbert shared that relief. One thing was certain, had these armed men wanted either of them dead, they’d already be conversing with those in the afterlife.
Darius stared at the man leaning closest to him and asked, “Who are you? What do you want?”
The man stood, sheathing his blade as he did so. “King Stephen and Queen Maud wish a favor.”
Though Darius was thankful to have been awoken from a dream that had haunted him nightly for nearly six years, he asked, “They could not simply send a missive?”
“They did. No one responded.”
Obviously the request had been sent to Faucon Keep. He’d not been on his brother’s property for a fortnight now. Instead, he’d taken up residence at the smaller and more secluded holding of Falcongate. Situated along a lazy river, it suited his needs for the moment.
Darius informed the man, “Comte Faucon is recently married and has not yet arrived home. The king knows this.”
“Aye, and your other brother is encumbered elsewhere. That is why Queen Maud sent us directly to you. She thought you might be here instead of at the main keep.”
“Obviously, she was correct.” Darius rose, silently cursing the queen for remembering this holding. “What do they want?”
The humor evident in the man’s voice gave Darius pause. “Exchange of what?”
“A favor for your traitorous life.”
The man shrugged. “It seems proof has been given to place you in league with Empress Matilda.”
The possible repercussions of that statement brought Darius’s heart to a near standstill. “Who makes this wild accusation?”
The man’s smirk widened. “Queen Maud.”
Darius gritted his teeth to capture a shout of frustration. This false accusation was nothing but a game. A game the king and queen would play to ensure his immediate cooperation. A game where his life would likely be the only prize.
A game he obviously had no choice but to play. “And what…favor causes King Stephen and Queen Maud to employ such extreme measures to gain my assistance?”
The man nodded. “Good. You seem to understand the importance of this request.” He waited until Darius was joined by his captain before