Almost Innocent

Almost Innocent

3.7 23
by Jane Feather
     
 

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Dear Reader,

Almost Innocent is a romance that is particularly dear to me, with a heroine who surprised me with her strength and resourcefulness, and a hero who will always be one of my favorites.

Growing up behind the impenetrable walls of an English fortress, young Magdalen does not know that she is the illegitimate daughter of a powerful English

Overview

Dear Reader,

Almost Innocent is a romance that is particularly dear to me, with a heroine who surprised me with her strength and resourcefulness, and a hero who will always be one of my favorites.

Growing up behind the impenetrable walls of an English fortress, young Magdalen does not know that she is the illegitimate daughter of a powerful English prince and his murdered French mistress — or that she has been a pawn in the struggle between England and France ever since she slipped from her dying mother's womb.

All she knows is that she longs for excitement. And then one day, as if in answer to her prayers, the splendid figure of Guy de Gervais, a true knight in shining armor, rides into her cloistered world and spirits her away.

For Magdalen it is love at first sight. The one and only love of her life. Yet Guy sees only his responsibility to keep Magdalen safe until she can be wed to his nephew and thus fulfill her political destiny.

Then duty calls Guy to the bloody battlefields of France, and when he returns, time has transformed Magdalen into a stunningly sensual beauty. Suddenly the noble knight is fighting the fiercest battle of his life: against a searing desire for a woman he cannot have.

I hope that you will be thrilled by Magdalen and Guy's passionate love story, and that you will have as much pleasure reading it as I had writing it.

Warmest wishes,

Jane Feather

P.S. Don't miss my latest novel, The Widow's Kiss, featuring an enchantress who has been widowed no less than four times ... and the formidable hero who finds himself reluctantly falling under her spell.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"An accomplished storyteller ... rare and wonderful."
Daily News of Los Angeles

Also by Jane Feather:

A Valentine Wedding
The Least Likely Bride
The Accidental Bride
The Hostage Bride
The Emerald Swan
The Silver Rose
The Diamond Slipper
Vice
Vanity
Violet
Valentine
Velvet
Vixen
Virtue

and now in hardcover

The Widow's Kiss

Available wherever Bantam Books are sold

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780553573701
Publisher:
Random House Publishing Group
Publication date:
05/01/2001
Edition description:
Reissue
Pages:
432
Sales rank:
878,700
Product dimensions:
4.20(w) x 6.90(h) x 1.06(d)

Read an Excerpt

Prologue

Carcassonne, 1360

The woman was smiling, and it was the smile that never failed to set the serpents of lust crawling in his belly, the heat of urgent desire suffusing his skin. It did so even tonight.

The man returned the smile, reaching to touch the rich dark hair falling to her knees, glowing bright against the virgin white of her linen shift. A virgin white belied by the swell of her belly.

"It seems nothing can dim your beauty, Isolde."

The woman took the compliment as her due. She began to play with the dripping wax from the tallow candle on the table in front of her, rolling the little puddles into soft balls. Her nails were long.

The man felt the stirring in his loins. How many times had those nails raked his back in the throes of passion, those little white teeth nipped his shoulder during the violent heat of their sharing?

He turned aside, walking to the narrow slitted window set into the turret wall of the fortress monastery of Carcassonne. He could see nothing but the black strip of night sky and a single steady star. The silence in the bastion room was profound, its quality somehow undiminished by the crackle of a splitting log in the hearth, the scrape of her chair on the stone-flagged floor, the whisper of wine flowing from pitcher to cup. At the last sound, he felt his shoulders stiffen. He kept his back to the room until she spoke. And it was a minute or two before she did so.

"Come drink with me, John. You are in a strange mood this night. It is the last time we will be together for many months." Her voice was sweet and cajoling, and bile rose in his gorge.

"Aye, and this meeting was the devil's own work to arrange," he said, turning back to the room. Two pewter goblets of wine stood on the table. Her hand curved possessively around the one at her place. The man's full, passionate mouth smiled, but his blue eyes were hooded, concealing their expression. The candlelight caught his golden head as he bent to kiss her mouth, curving beneath his caressing lips. How easy it was to do that.

"I have a present for you," he said, straightening slowly.

Her gray eyes glittered as they always did at such a prospect. "What is it?"

"A christening present for our child," he replied. "I must leave tonight for the fighting in Burgundy, and you will be delivered and churched long before I may see you again."

"Where is it?" She rose from the table, tall and graceful despite her swollen belly. Vibrant, she was, with her glowing dark hair and her glittering gray eyes, and her rich red lips now parted eagerly. Her lover's generosity was always princely.

He gestured to the leather pouch on the settle beside the fire. "Why do you not see for yourself?"

She moved with measured step. She bent over the pouch. Soundlessly, he switched the positions of the pewter cups on the table.

"Why, 'tis beautiful!" She held up a golden two-handled cup studded with emeralds and rubies.

"Look within," he said softly.

Slowly, she drew out a strand of sapphires, each one the size of a robin's egg. "Ah, John, but you never fail." She regarded him with that same smile. Was there a hint of regret in her eyes? If there was, it was gone almost before it was visible.

"Let us drink," he said. "A toast to the babe." He lifted his own goblet. She took the one at her chair and raised it to her lips.

"To love, John."

"To love," he said, and drank.

She watched him drink before she drained her own cup, then she came into his arms, so warm, so loving ... so treacherous. But yet the passion stirred even as he felt on his own body the child in her womb kicking against her belly, pressed so close to his own.

"Why do you wear chainmail?" she asked suddenly, running a hand beneath his surcote. "'Tis hardly the garb for a lover's tryst."

"The roads are dangerous," he said, tracing the curve of her jaw with his finger. "Brigandage in these parts is beyond control." He drew her back into his embrace, tasting the wine on her lips.

Then came the sound he had been expecting. The piercing note of a bugle, his own herald, sounding the call to arms from the great court. His own men would have been ready for the attack, however it was launched, although those who attacked would know nothing of the spy whose dying words, wrenched by torment, had alerted their intended victims. The woman in his arms pulled away. "What is that?"

Running feet, stumbling feet sounded from the stone passage beyond the heavy oak door. The door flew open.

"Lady, we are betrayed." A friar, in the corded habit of the Franciscan, stood clutching his chest where the hilt of a dagger stood out. Strangely, there was no blood. Then he fell into the doorway, and the lifeblood began to flow from the wound.

"What is this?" The woman clutched her throat, staring at her lover in the horror of realization. "What have you done?"

"What you would have done to me," he told her in a voice as flat as a summer sea.

He whirled suddenly, withdrawing the dagger from his belt. Then it was lodged deep in the chest of a man-at-arms whose springing leap across the dead friar was stopped in mid-air. He fell, the wicked, two-pronged knife in his own hand clattering to the flags.

The woman gave a sudden, choking gasp, her hand plucking desperately at her throat, her eyes widening in horror. "What have you done to me?"

"What you would have done to me," he repeated.

Her eyes flew to the goblets on the table, and terror stood out clear on her face. Suddenly, she doubled over. "Help me! In the name of pity, help me!"

He eased her to the floor, unable to feel pity for the woman who was suffering the torments she had prepared for him. Only she knew whether the poison in the goblet was mercifully quick or whether she had from her twisted soul planned a tortured death for him. Her eyes glazed rapidly, her body convulsed rhythmically, but all awareness seemed to have left her. He knelt beside her and swiftly murmured the words of absolution as papal decree permitted. For all her sins, and they were grievous and many, for all the blood she had upon her hands, he could not abandon her to hell's damnation. As he whispered over her, he became aware of something else, some other convulsive movements of her body. The child was fighting its way into the world.

For a moment he knelt, irresolute. The child was his, but it had grown in such a womb and was nothing to him. If he left, it would die beside its mother. It would probably die anyway; what chance did an eight-month child have? But there was something about the elemental struggle, the blind need of that life to emerge, that refused to allow him to turn aside.

He pushed up the woman's linen shift and helped the infant into the world as her mother died. To his amazement, the child immediately drew breath on a gulping cry. She was small, as was to be expected of an eight-month babe, but her limbs were whole, and she offered him an unblinking stare even as the thin wails shook the tiny body.

There had been enough death in this chamber. He took a small knife from his belt, cut the cord, and knotted it. Then he wrapped the child in his fur-lined mantle and left the place of birth and death.

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Almost Innocent 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 23 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
this is by far my favorite romance novel of all time. it was so well written and the characters weren't boring, but they were also so real you totally get drawn in. i highly recommend this book. i didn't put it down after i picked it up, so yeah. haha.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Read thisbook years ago in paperback. I remember enjoying jt.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read this book years ago and could not put it down. It was a true picture of how the heart loves who it loves. It is still my most favorite book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Acanoffleas More than 1 year ago
Redonk Nutshell: Illegitimate daughter of renowned parents falls in love with her married guardian On a whim, I pulled this off the library shelf because a) I want to read more of Jane Feather and b) I liked that it was set in an earlier period of history than what I usually read. So here's what we get: Magdalen is born amid a betrayal of her mother, who was French, to her father, who is English. Because of her illegitimacy, she is sent off and raised with supporters of her father. When she turns eleven, she is shuffled to the care of Guy de Gervais, a handsome and chivalrous knight. Guy explains she is destined to marry his nephew, Edmund and she accepts it as her duty. Though spirited, Magdalen knows her responsibilities and expectations leveled upon her. As she grows up in the Gervais household she becomes even more enamored with Guy. Guy is happily married and has a huge brood of nephews and nieces under his roof, and dismisses Magdalen's attachment to him as innocent. Which, honestly, it is. But Magdalen is an old soul, and she knows in her heart she loves him. On the night before her wedding to Edmund she professes her love for Guy and tells him her arrangement with her fiance is ill advised, but Guy dismisses her. Years later, Magalden is grown up and married several years to Edmund. When a conspiracy unfolds to remove Edmund and Magdalen from the picture, Magdalen is removed to her husband's land under Guy's escort. When Edmund is attacked along the road and presumed dead, a romance between Magdalen and Guy reluctantly unfolds. When Edmund turns up over a year later, both Magdalen and Guy are forced to face their actions and emotions. Lawd, I had a time of it getting through this one. It started off intriguing enough, but from moment one the plot was one predictable cliche after another. Magdalen is a hard heroine to like, and while try not to hold that against her, I had a heck of a time sympathizing with her. She's just...meh. Bland. In fact, most of the characters are. By the halfway point of the book I found myself skimming through the pages. In fact, the last quarter I didn't really "read" at all. It was the "epic" conclusion involving a kidnapping and rescue in which only one of her men will live. And we all know which one it will be. Definitely not my favorite read of Ms. Feather's, though I haven't given up on her. Almost Innocent by Jane Feather, 432 pgs, 1990 Rating: D Romance: 2/5 Raunch: 3/5
Yaronda Kilgo More than 1 year ago
If+you+did+not+fall+in+love+with+this+novel.+One+of+the+BEST+historical+romance+novels+I+have+read+during+my+25+years+on+mother+Earth%21%21%21%21+A+true+MUST+READ.+BRAVO+
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Guest More than 1 year ago
It's the best book I've read in a long time. One that can't be beaten easily! I thought it was one of those boring books, but I was wrong! I didn't put it down until I finished it (literally).
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is absolutely the best Jane Feather book!!! It is a tad slow at the beginning, but once you get into it, it really is an amazing novel!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
WELL,WHAT THE HECK, IT WAS PERFECT...DREW ME IN UNTIIL IT WAS DIFFICULT TO ADJUST TO THE REAL WORLD...LOVE, HONOR, VILE TORMENTS, DESPERATE MOTHER, SWEET BABY,WHAT MORE CAN YOU WANT FROM A BOOK...OH YES,NOBLE KNIGHT FIGHTING THE FIERCEST BATTLE FOR HIS LADY...OH,MY...
Guest More than 1 year ago
i thought that this story was magnificent. it had romance, action and and an underlying message that makes you think. i loved reading into the lives of the two lovers. the struggle between love and honer ultimatly knowing the things that you cannot have, but fighing anyway. i could not put the book down in fact i read it twice. it was great!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book showed the true meaning of love. Magdalen loved Guy with all of her heart and soul, and together they created a child. She might have been married to Edmund de Bresse but her heart belonged to Guy de Gervais.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was really boring and the heroine was really heartless. Her husband got killed because she wanted to marry the hero. It was soo boring that i left it incomplete. I have read alot of Jane Feather's books but this one was the worst!!!!!!!!!!!!`
Guest More than 1 year ago
I thought this book was terrible. I had read one of Jane Feather's previous books and enjoyed it but I had a difficult time staying interested in this one. Too much description...detail, etc.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is so Good!!!!! I thought the story line was wonderful with Magdalen and Guy and everything they face. I could really not stop turning the pages, this book was terrific. I think everyone will enjoy this book as much as I have. Jane is a great writer and I can't wait to read all of her books.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is probably one of the worst books Jane Feather ever wrote. I found the heroine, Madeline, incredibly annoying. She nursed her childhood crush for Guy and as soon as Edward was out of the picture she didn't waste any time in seducing him. Guy's character was also annoying and weak. He was disturbed with Madeline's advances towards him especially when there was no concrete proof of Edmund's death. He also knows about all the political shenanigans surrounding her birth and marriage yet he still has an affair with her. Some would argue that this book shows true love but I think it shows the "love" of a short-sighted, selfish girl. The book dragged on; the "evil" characters were boring; Madeline and Guy were both annoying and Ms.Feather made it seem that their love was justified because Edmund was a poor lover and therefore not The One.
Guest More than 1 year ago
At first, I didn't enjoy reading this book at all. There were too many details and it was just plain boring at first. However, once i finished reading this book, it instantly became a favorite. It wasnt your average love story that would just end in a happy ending. It had meaning and sent out a message. I definately recommend this book, but dont lose patience at first!