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He drew the knife from his rope belt. Gwyneth's shiny hair was tempting as treasure to a pirate. It was not blond, nor white, but intermingled strands of gold and silver-as if she were not quite human but something otherworldly-fey or elvin. The luminous mass hung in a glittering cascade past her hips, the ends curling and skimming midway down her thighs.
The majestic black-and-white hawk on his shoulder dug her talons into the leather padding Jared wore beneath his clothing as if to protest his immoral desire.
"Peace, Aeliana," he cooed to the goshawk. "I only want a tiny curl. There is a loose one hanging by her shoulder. She will not even notice."
Skillfully, he concealed the blade in the folds of the brown monk's robe that he wore.
The bird ruffled her feathers at the motion.
"We will hunt later, my friend," he murmured to soothe her as he strained his neck to watch his prey wander through the crowds that had gathered here at Windrose Castle. "One small curl will not be missed."
Aeliana's feathers fanned against his cheek as if she understood every word and clearly disapproved.
"Perhaps I could gift her with something as an even exchange," he mused. Most of his possessions had been given into the church treasury. He only had his hawk, his staff, and, in his pouch, a small book. Yes, the book would be a perfect gift. It was valuable and gilded like Gwyneth's hair. The original leather cover had become worn with age and he had crafted a wooden cover for it that he had carved himself and covered with gold leaf. Surely something like that would satisfy anyone's sense of fairness.
Whistles and cheers rose from the crowd as if applauding his decision, although he knew no one paid any attention to him. Silken banners waved, acrobats performed on the lawn, and toward the back of the large bailey, an area had been set aside for a tournament. Merchants pushed carts filled with flowers and apples and trinkets. Children, limbs flailing, kicked a ball this way and that followed by a rowdy pack of small dogs.
Lady Gwyneth turned slightly. Jared's breath caught in his throat. Many women at the festival were beautiful, but she was glorious.
Her skin was alabaster, her eyes a brilliant blue. She had a slightly pointed chin and delicate ears. A sapphire ring twinkled on her finger.
Never in his life had he seen a woman like her.
His heart pounded and he tightened his grip on the staff. He tried to tear his gaze away, but could not.
Damn. More reason he must get to the monastery-never be near a female again. One woman had nearly ruined his life-torn apart his family and his heart. Monkhood offered salvation for his sins.
Gwyneth's left cheek dimpled as she smiled at a child. She spoke softly to an elderly hag, then she reached and patted a dog on the head as she passed.
Everything about her bespoke kindness, caring. Qualities he knew that he himself did not possess. Not after what he'd done to his brother.
He closed his eyes.
He would never deserve a woman like her.
He thought of his mother for a moment. With her coiffed hair, shiny jewels, and glittering gowns, she glistened like a cathedral alcove. And like the icons at the church, she always looked at him with blank eyes. He knew little about her except for catching glimpses of her across the bailey when she happened to be out for a walk while he worked with the castle's falcons. He was an embarrassment, her bastard child-proof of her indiscretions.
He slammed his thoughts against the memory.
The crowd was thick and loud and people bumped into each other at every step. If he was quick, he could reach forward, lop off a single lock of hair without her noticing as she passed by. He would braid it and keep it nearby to remind him that there was more to life than kneeling on cold stone floors and endlessly reciting Latin chants: a future he deserved, but one he looked forward to not at all. It was his duty to mend the strife he had caused between him and his brother. His duty to pay penitence for the woman and babe he'd killed.
"I thought you were done with women." Rafe, his half brother-the noble-born son who had grown up in the keep rather than in the falconer's mews-sidled up to him. He punched Jared on the arm, nearly dropping the two steaming meat pies and the loaf of bread that he was holding.
Blast him! Quickly Jared hid the sharp knife within the folds of his robe, adjusted his staff to hold it in the crook of his elbow, and took one of the pies.
"Watch your clumsiness," he snarled.
They stared at each other for a moment. Aeliana fluttered.
Rafe was shorter than Jared, but slightly stockier. In sharp contrast to Jared's plain robe, he wore fancy green boots with silver buckles and a finely embroidered surcoat. He tucked his thumb into his belt and braced his legs wide apart.
So much bad blood between them.
"You nearly dropped our food," Jared groused, but did not bring up the past between them. Rafe's betrothed. A beautiful woman. A passionate affair. The accusation of rape. And then her death. And the unborn babe's as well. 'Twas the reason he must enter the monastery-set himself away. He could ne'er trust his own flesh again.
A tinge of lavender wafted into the air. The luscious curves of Lady Gwyneth's hips swayed side to side as she sashayed past.
Curse Rafe and his timing! The opportunity for stealing her hair was gone! Guilt touched him, but he let it go: 'twas only hair and not her virginity or her soul or her life that he planned to steal. Unlike Colette. Unlike the baby daughter who had been inside her.
The crowd parted for Lady Gwyneth as though she were a princess. She wore finery-silver and blue silks, sapphire jewels, and ermine trim. Small satin slippers graced her feet. Her ethereal beauty set her apart-made her seem to float rather than walk as other humans did. She had delicate brows and generous lips.
"Close your hole, Jared." Rafe sipped ale from his drinking horn. "You are acting as though you have ne'er seen a woman afore. And after what you did with-"
Giving his brother a withering glower, Jared took a step forward and allowed himself the guilty pleasure of admiring the way Gwyneth's neck swiveled as she greeted the horde of young men who had come to this feast to vie for her hand. Her hair glistened like a gold-and-silver cloud.
"She's glorious," he whispered.
She was an angel. The most picturesque sight he had ever seen. Light and sparkle compared to the darkness and cold inside his own being. He longed to run his tongue over the skin of her shoulder, tease her to pleasure.
Rafe rolled his eyes. "Bah. We will head to the brothel later. One woman is the same as the next."
Anger flashed inside Jared.
"I have no use for whores," he said with a piety he didn't feel. He latched onto the wooden cross hanging from a cord about his neck for good measure. Guilt wound through him that he had just imagined the fey Lady Gwyneth in an unclean manner, that he had considered stealing a piece of her hair. He would take his vows soon-become a man of peace and live only for heavenly treasure. There would be no more tasting of women for him.
He tucked his knife into the rope belt.
Aeliana twitched restlessly, her wing brushing against her face.
Lady Gwyneth stopped. Ignoring the scores of admirers, she swooped up a small girl, placed the youngster on her hip, and tickled her toes.
Jared's pulse leapt as she laughed in response to the child's giggle. Her white-gold hair mingled with the girl's brown locks.
What a wonderful wife she would make.
If only he could rip the novice robe from his back and use his staff to fight for her hand as others at the faire would do this day.
He looked down at his plain brown robe and simple leather sandals. Even if he could be free of the guilt that regaled him to be in a monastery, he could not support a wife such as Gwyneth on the meager income of a falconer. He was not of noble blood; it would take a castle with strong walls to keep her safe from men who wanted to steal her.
Asides, she had not so much as glanced at him.
She was far above his station.
Her father-at least Jared supposed it was her father-frowned and cleared his throat. He was an elderly man with a well-stitched tunic, a ceremonial sword, a gray beard, two deep lines betwixt his eyes, and a demeanor of disapproval.
The smile melted from his angel's face. She set the young girl on the ground and stared straight ahead. Utter misery clouded her sky-colored eyes.
Sadness washed over him. He flicked his fingers against his staff; the wood felt solid and smooth against his palm. Clearly she had no real desire to be here either-to be shown and displayed as a prize.
Likely she was a pawn in her family and, like himself, forced to a life path that suited not at all. Her shoulders slumped as she followed Graybeard toward the box above the field where she would watch the tournament. Banners waved above them.
Were those tears in her eyes? Surely he could not see such from this distance.
The longing to protect her flowed through his heart. If she were his, he would give her all the babies and children she wished to hold. He would never frown at her for tickling a girl's toe.
Her hips swayed as she climbed the steps. His groin tightened.
Rafe let out a raucous guffaw. "Oh, she's a fine vixen, that one. Just look at her arse. I could turn up her skirt and tup her right hard, I could."
Swiveling on his heels, Jared forgot his guilt, forgot all reason to become a man of God and live a life of celibacy and peace.
He punched his brother in the nose.
Gwyneth of Windrose gazed at the bowed head of the handsome novice who was saying grace and wished she, too, could join a monastery instead of parading about with her titties half hanging out. Being heiress to Windrose along with her own dower lands made her a sought-after prize, and her father's quest to marry her off to the highest bidder revolted her. Somehow she had to persuade him that 'twould be best to hold off just a little longer-that none of the young bucks here were quite rich enough, quite powerful enough.
She should be allowed to control her own lands, her own destiny-no need of a man at all. Her dower estate, given to her by her mother, was small but profitable-all she truly needed. Then Windrose could be given to one of her sisters and she could live a life of freedom rather than duty.
The prayer ended and the young novice lifted his head. Heavens, he was tall. And wide-shouldered. His green eyes locked with hers and she felt a bolt of attraction. Unlike the others, his eyes remained fixed on her face instead of her bosom. He had straight dark hair, chiseled features, and an enigmatic gaze.
Pushing her hair over one shoulder, she smiled at him. He seemed friendly. Safe. A welcome respite from the shamelessly lustful stares she had endured most of the day.
"A toast to Gwyneth's beauty," crowed a fat, drunken nobleman. The beginnings of his meal dripped down upon the patterns of his blue brocade doublet.
The scents of roasted game and cinnamon apples wafted through the great hall.
Ivan of Westland, a young lord wearing a prissy tunic with lace around the sleeves and shoes with points so long they were tied to his knees, yanked off his feathered cap and held it to his breast. "Gwyneth, my fair love," he sang chivalrously.
Another man raised his tankard, spilling drops of brown ale as he leaned over to peer at the young mounds of flesh pouring over the top of her square-cut bodice. "To Gwyneth's breasts, er, beauty!" he echoed.
Raunchy laughter burst throughout the chamber.
A pox on them all!
She glanced at the young monk, wishing for a friendly face, someone who did not see her as an object of lust, but he had turned aside, apparently in disgust. At her?
Gritting her teeth, she glared at her father. 'Twas he who insisted she display her wares as fully as if she were a harlot in a brothel. She had done naught wrong! She never showed this much flesh. 'Twas unseemly! She wanted an apron, a needle, to do something useful. As her mother would have done.
Brenna, her sister, gave her a cutting look from across the trestle table. She wore a green gown of fine silk and her red hair was swept into an elegant updo with long, curling tendrils that concealed the scar on her cheek. "Slut," she muttered, not even trying to hide her animosity.
The unfairness of her sister's envy was a knife stab in the gut. Only a few months ago, the two of them had been stealing pies together and hiding beneath the North Tower's stairs.
But then their mother died.
Everything had changed. Their friendship. Their relationship. The love between them.
Shrinking in her chair to make herself as inconspicuous as possible, she stared down at her hands, at her mother's sapphire ring encircling her index finger, and wished she could go back in time.
Brenna pushed around the dish of stuffed salmon on her trencher until it was piled and shaped like two pink breasts. She leered at them in mocking imitation of what the menfolk had been doing for most of the day.
Gwyneth felt her ears heat. "I'll tell father," she whispered, kicking her sister beneath the table. It was an empty threat. He would punish her severely for fighting at the feast instead of playing the part of hostess and lady of the keep. She forced herself to sit up straight and proper. The way her mother would have wanted her to do.
Brenna wagged her tongue vulgarly.
"Go rot," Gwyneth mouthed at her, careful to turn her face to one side so her father could not see the action.
From atop the gallery, a band of musicians warmed up their instruments. A minstrel started in on a warbling ode to the color and shine of her hair.
Faith! She'd heard every trite word of praise over and over until they all ran together: a mishmash of idiotic terminology.
"Ivory glowing in the dawn," the bard proclaimed. "The fair Gwyneth's hair outshines them all."
Out of the corner of her eye, she saw Ivan lick his lips and the young monk curl his in distaste.
Heat flooded her cheeks. She jabbed her eating dagger into a hunk of rosemary-roasted rabbit and staved off the urge to scream. Of a truth, she would cut the mass to her shoulders if she did not fear her papa's reaction. The way men reacted to her was dunderheaded!
Brenna glared at her. "You know you love the attention."
A tight ache banded Gwyneth's chest; surely her sister knew she had no say in the bard's choice of songs.
"You preen like a peacock," Brenna snarled, "flirting and prissing about and wanting all the men to follow you."
"That's not true!"
"Bah. I saw you making eyes at that monk-"
"Your jealousy is pathetic."
"Your vanity is so great that you even want men of God to lust for you-"
"You go too far."
Twisting away from her sister's mocking face and the horrible pile of salmon that rounded up on her trencher, Gwyneth searched the sea of faces. If only she could find someone to ease her hurt. She told herself she was not looking for the monk.
Emily, a girl who had been her friend just this past summer, turned a shoulder away as Gwyneth offered a tentative smile.
Brenna coughed at the victory and Emily turned toward her, took notice of the mound of fish on Brenna's trencher, and giggled under her breath.
Stinging prickles crawled down Gwyneth's neck, flushing even the tops of her shoulders.
"Gwyneth will make an excellent wife," she heard her father say in a loud, booming voice as if this were an auction and not a meal. "She's got fine wide hips for bearing heirs."
The hundreds of flickering candles lighting the chamber whirled in a spectacular display of color, and it was as if his voice were far, far away.
She longed to cover her ears, to get up, to run, anything besides sit here and pretend this was normal. Twirling her mother's ring, she stiffened her back and squared her shoulders. A lady should never slump, her mother had instructed.
Excerpted from Defiant by JESSICA TRAPP Copyright © 2010 by Jessica Trapp. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Posted December 12, 2010
Jared St. John escapes from jail and an obvious execution for the murder of his brother. He has no time to grieve his sibling as he must find a way to prove his innocence beyond a shadow of a doubt and uncover the real culprit before he is killed. However, he fails to reach home because someone abducts him after drugging him. He is forced to marry Gwyneth of Windrose, whom he met years ago and was attracted to her back then.
Gwyneth was given a choice between a husband and poverty; as remaining unmarried meant losing her lands. She selected Jared as he reminded her of a kind monk who gave to her a book several years ago. Jared rages in hopelessness not just because she kidnapped him and married him, but because he is attracted to her and admires her grit. As they fall in love working her land together, she continues her efforts to help accused innocent women from being sentenced into slavery. However, when he perceives his beloved betrayed him, he wants nothing more to do with her. His rejection puts his wife in peril.
This is an enjoyable medieval romance with a great twist that brings a uniqueness rarely seen in the sub-genre. Fast-paced from the moment Gwyneth ties Jared to her cot and never slowing down, fans will enjoy the love story of the defiant ones as each understands imprisonment and the craving for freedom as well as each other.
2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted November 22, 2010
Posted September 18, 2012
Once I picked this book up, I couldn't put it down. I particularly liked the hero, who's standards kept getting compromised by the defiant heroine. I was left wishing for more sexy conversation and wanting to know more about the characters. It was an easy read and a good escape. I will be looking for Jessica Trapp's other books!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 13, 2012
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Posted August 19, 2011
The hero rapes the heroine on their wedding night to pay her back for forcing him to marry her. They like the way each other smells, yet they don't bathe for days and their clothes aren't washed. There is no mention of how the heroine will get the money to restore her lands and to free the women who have been unjustly enslaved. Also, how can the heroine be respected when her husband has paraded her around with a brank (a metal head piece with a tongue depressor)on her head? These two had no chemistry and the story had too many holes. He was in the very place where his brother was killed and no one recognized him? At the end he cuts off her hair so no man will think she is beautiful and she can not flirt. He is no hero and she is no heroine.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted July 28, 2011
I was very disappointed in this book. The hero was insufferable, arrogant and cruel. His abuse of his wife on their wedding night (even though he had been forcibly married), the whole affair with the brank (a cage device fitted over a women's head with a tongue depressor so she cannot speak), parading her through town by a leash with the brank on her to humiliate her, constantly threatening her with it afterwards and finally cutting off her hair because he was jealous of the attention men gave her. I found his actions a bit too much to enjoy the book. I will NOT read anything by this author againWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted January 8, 2011
"Defiant" is another sexy romp through the Middle Ages with author Jessica Trapp. I am not typically not a fan of the Medieval era but the author really brings the period to life and creates a passionate and winning romance.
Jared St. John doomed himself to life as a monk for his lustful tendencies but even his impending vows can't keep him from longing for Lady Gwyneth of Windrose. Beautiful and headstrong Gwyneth is tired of being controlled by the men around her. When her family arranges a marriage for her, Gwyneth decides to take matters into her own hands.
The handsome green-eyed stranger at the brothel doesn't look dangerous, so Gwyneth drugs Jared, abducts him and forces him to marry her. She bribes him to leave after the marriage, but Jared wants a real marriage.
"Defiant" is the story of a blazing battle of wills that will leave you breathless! I wanted to run off to a Renaissance Fair and find my own Jared! It's definately not the Dark Ages you learned in history!
Posted December 27, 2010
This is my first time reading a book written by Jessica Trapp and I must say I was NOT disappointed! Loved the story plot and it certainly kept me guessing. It was easy to get transported into medieval England and caught up in the lives of Gwyneth and Jared as the story unfolded. I didn't want it to end! Jessica is clearly a gifted author and I can't wait to read her other books already published and any forth coming! I just wonder where on earth can I find my own Jared? He sounds like the man of every woman's dreams....Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 21, 2010
jessica is a wonderful person, who writes a mixture of a book. serious, funny, humorous, romantic, sexy, & interesting. i know jessica personally, she is all the above & that is how she can write such great books. jessica provides a great escape in her books & i really need that in a book, to get away from real life for a little bit each day!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 15, 2010
I have enjoyed all of Jessica's books, but Defiant is my favorite. As always I wish Jared and Gwyneth would have been a little more open with each other and Jared willing to listen, but these are the things that add to the conflict. I stayed up late and gave up much needed sleep for these characters ... really couldn't stop reading! I especially liked hearing from both Jared and Gwyneth ... listening in on their thoughts. I admired Gwyneth's commitment and turmoil and Jared's integrity and emotion ... and of course the image I have of his body. The love scenes are moving, the stories satisfying and meaningful beyond the immediate tale. Thanks, Jessica, for the escape.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
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