The Knight's Redemption. Joanne Rock

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Название The Knight's Redemption
Автор произведения Joanne Rock
Жанр Историческая литература
Серия
Издательство Историческая литература
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      Did she truly wish to wed a man who seemed so unfeeling?

      Then again, suitors were not exactly lining up at Glamorgan’s gates. Ariana could scarcely afford to be choosy about her husband. Her heart hammered in her chest, as much from being caught skulking about the door as from nervousness at meeting the knight. Flustered hands straightened her surcoat as she cleared her throat and strode forward. Heat rose in her cheeks.

      Hope sparkled through her when the stranger turned green eyes upon her. For one shining moment it seemed as if the veil of the curse had lifted. His gaze penetrated her with the intense scrutiny of a man seeking a mate, and in that moment she connected with him on some unspoken, fundamental level.

      And then it vanished.

      The curse still loomed, but by God, Roarke Barret had seen through it for one incredible instant…!

      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 and Kissing

      “Saucy, smart and sexy, Rock’s story rocks with a hero to die for, a classy heroine and a romance that will leave you breathless.”

      —Romantic Times on Sex & the Single Girl

      “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

      Joanne Rock

       www.millsandboon.co.uk

      For Kim Hacking, who listened to the long version of the

       dream that inspired this book while we watched our little boys play at the beach. And while it wasn’t always easy to attend to the real-life concerns of toddlers while still sharing pieces of ourselves, you somehow found time for Jungian psychology, world religions or Arthurian legends while we doled out peanut butter sandwiches. Thank you for believing in me and my stories.

      And to Cecil Wall, for being my first fan.

       Thank you for making me feel like family during my time in Utah, because “I was a stranger, and you invited me in.” I wish you all the best!

      Contents

      Prologue

      Chapter One

      Chapter Two

      Chapter Three

      Chapter Four

      Chapter Five

      Chapter Six

      Chapter Seven

      Chapter Eight

      Chapter Nine

      Chapter Ten

      Chapter Eleven

      Chapter Twelve

      Chapter Thirteen

      Chapter Fourteen

      Chapter Fifteen

      Chapter Sixteen

      Chapter Seventeen

      Chapter Eighteen

      Chapter Nineteen

      Chapter Twenty

      Chapter Twenty-One

       Prologue

      Wales, 1260

       “T he knight we have dreamed of enters the realm before nightfall. Do not let him escape you.”

      Though the whispered words emanated from the lips of a dazed old woman, they were of grave import to Ariana Glamorgan.

      “A man?” Shifting closer to the drowsy figure on the hard wooden bench, Ariana touched the seer through the fog of hickory-scented smoke wafting from the stone hearth, hoping to gather more insight before the trance dissipated. “At Glamorgan?”

      But the wisewoman’s gray head drooped forward as if in sleep, and Ariana knew her mentor’s revelations were finished for today.

      “Arise, Eleanor.” She shook the healer gently, frustrated she would learn no more about this mysterious newcomer and eager to test the truth of the woman’s vision. “I must return to the keep.”

      Full blue skirts swirled around Ariana’s feet as she stood and gathered her things from the small wooden cottage. The fustian gown was rich and obtrusive to wear while sneaking about the forest, but Lord Glamorgan insisted his daughter don nothing but the finest garments.

      One of many ways he restricted his only daughter.

      Impatiently, she pushed up the heavy lace sleeves and collected the herbs Eleanor had mixed before she took up her seat in front of the fire in a search for prophetic visions.

      The old woman woke with a start, her gaze focused and penetrating as she peered into Ariana’s eyes. “I have foreseen a foreigner’s arrival, child. He may be your only chance to break the curse.”

      Ariana hesitated, gazing into the beloved older woman’s eyes. Eleanor had been her nurse. Her mother’s nurse. But that had been before her father banished the old woman from his keep when she failed to save his wife with her healing.

      “You do want to free yourself from the Glamorgan legend, do you not, my dear?”

      Desperately. She had endured her father’s bitterness and the suffocating atmosphere of her doomed household long enough. Having given up any pastimes that would bring her pleasure within the confines of Glamorgan, Ariana still pursued her love of music in secret, retreating to the forest to sing and to seek out the wisewoman for her counsel and for lessons in the healing arts.

      Now, she would give anything to break the cycle of unhappiness that held her and her nieces in thrall. Whether the so-called curse of the Glamorgan women was real or imagined, the females of Ariana’s line had certainly experienced more than their share of heartache for nearly one hundred years. ’Twas whispered that long ago a Glamorgan woman stole another woman’s love. The spurned female cursed all the family’s daughters to spinsterhood, a fate that had claimed all of Ariana’s aunts ever since.

      Twisting her fingers through the intricate adornment of her cuffs, she confided her biggest fear. “But what if this stranger is not well suited to me? ’Tis such a gamble to rest my future on the shoulders of a man I know nothing about.”

      Pacing the dirt floor, Ariana hummed away her nervousness in a halting rendition of a somber chant she’d heard at chapel, an ancient habit she’d never fully conquered.

      “’Tis not as bad as all that, my girl.” Eleanor cast her a stern look, the weathered furrows lining her face deepening. “The situation hardly warrants a funeral dirge.”

      Chastened, Ariana paused her song as well as her pacing.

      “If you break the curse with a marriage, you will bless your brother’s daughters with a bright future as prospective brides.” Eleanor rose, her posture bent, but the tilt of her chin still proud despite her ancient years. She smoothed one leathery hand over upswept snowy locks. “Furthermore, you know your marriage was your mother’s greatest