“You tempt me, my lady. Too much.”
Elysia did not want him to go. She knew they would not speak again before his departure. Now she couldn’t bear to see Conon leave. Forever.
He sealed her protests with one calloused finger laid over her lips. “I will not fail you, Elysia. I promise.” He cupped her cheek in his palm.
It required all her strength not to close her eyes and lean into that strong palm. “God speed, my lord.” She straightened, needing to escape the temptation of his touch. “And thank you.”
Elysia burrowed more deeply into the folds of his surcoat as she watched him walk away, praying he possessed the deep sense of honor she’d glimpsed in him.
By granting Conon her favor, Elysia had also given him a dangerous weapon—all the power he needed to break her heart…!
Praise for Historical author Joanne Rock
“Charming characters, a passionate sexual relationship and an engaging story—it’s all here.”
—Romantic Times on Girl’s Guide to Hunting & Kissing
“Joanne Rock’s talent for writing passionate scenes and vivid characters really sizzles in this story. Even the hot secondary romance has chemistry!”
—Romantic Times on Wild and Wicked
The Wedding Knight
“The Wedding Knight is guaranteed to please! Joanne Rock brings a fresh, vibrant voice to this charming tale.”
—New York Times bestselling author Teresa Medeiros
The Knight’s Redemption
“A highly readable medieval romance with an entertaining touch of the paranormal…. The plot is pleasantly complex, the setting well developed, the heroine and hero traditional and romantic and the ending happily interesting.”
My Lady’s Favor
For Catherine Cavanaugh, Anne Sheehan and Hollis Seamon, fantastic professors at the College of St. Rose who helped me recognize my love of writing and literature through their support and encouragement. Thank you so much for making English classes such a rich and exciting experience.
And for RoseMarie Manory, who helped history come alive for a non-major. I can’t thank you enough for infusing those lectures about European history with plenty of drama and intrigue!
Also, with loving appreciation to Dean, who appears in some small facet in every hero I’ve ever created, but most especially in Conon St. Simeon.
T he garden looks more promising than the groom. Elysia Rougemont stood outside Vannes Keep, admiring the profusion of plants in well-tended rows, hoping to distract herself from thoughts of her upcoming marriage. Thyme and rosemary stood shoulder to shoulder with more frivolous herbs like lavender and sweet marjoram.
Elysia had little use for lavender or marjoram.
The fragrant patch of earth signified the only redeeming feature Elysia could discern about Vannes, the monstrous château that would officially be her home by nightfall—when she would marry the ancient Count of Vannes, Jacques St. Simeon.
She peered back at the keep, a massive structure of stone that went far beyond a simple fortified manor house. Nay, her new home could only be called a fortress, built for war and defense with its abundance of gates and projected fighting galleries that dominated the walls. Her future husband had told her he was a man of peace, but his home did not seem to uphold his words.
Swiping a slipper-clad foot through the warm earth, Elysia tried to concentrate on the pleasing quality of the fertile soil and not her aging sot of a future husband.
She could almost pretend she was back at her own keep in England. No matter that she and her mother had been subject to the will of their overlord since her father’s death six years ago, Elysia had enjoyed their way of life. She’d built a small but thriving linen trade with the help of her mother, a venture she took both pleasure and pride in, a way to distinguish herself in a world that held little appreciation for the feminine arts.
And although now Elysia’s wealth rivaled the most sought-after heiresses on the continent, she could not touch a farthing of it. That right belonged to her overlord, the Earl of Arundel, and would soon pass to her husband.
If her brother hadn’t died last fall before arranging a marriage for her, Elysia might have been home reviewing the progress of her flax fields instead of contemplating the uses of Vannes’s fanciful herbs.
Her wishful vision vanished at the sound of a deep masculine voice.
“Be of good cheer, my somber lady. You are quite fortunate the count is but two steps from the grave.”
Whirling around with a start, Elysia sought the speaker of the callous words. A fragrant gasp of air caught in her throat. Surely the speaker was not the golden vision of a man across the boxwood hedge.
“Excuse me?” Elysia managed, certain she must have misunderstood.
“With any luck, chère,” he continued, “you will be rid of the count before the year is out.”
Of all the foul, crude things to say. She might not desire the marriage, but that did not mean she would wish any man dead. She searched her mind for the most cutting set-down she could give the intruder until he stepped over the boxwoods to stand before her, looking infinitely more intimidating at close range.
Tall and imposingly built, the newcomer was a warrior in his prime. He dressed in deference to the wedding day except for a sword at his waist. The sun shone on his tawny hair and crisp white shirt, lending him the luminous glow. Limned in bright light he appeared a favored son, smiled on by God and nature.
Elysia took a step back, wondering at the wisdom of loitering in the garden alone with a strange knight, no matter how intriguing his intense blue eyes. A niggle of fear forced her to clamp down the retort that rose to her lips. “Please excuse me, sir, I really do not think—”
He drew his knife and Elysia’s heart stopped. There was nowhere to