Hard Day's Knight

( 77 )

Overview

Men in tights never looked so good. At least that's Pepper Marsh's first impression when she attends a jousting competition at the Rennaissance Faire in Ontario. An unemployed and unattached software engineer, Pepper has had enough of the computer geeks in her dating pool. She yearns for a man of yore. A man not afraid to stare death in the face . . . and laugh at it. A man with a big lance . . .

Pepper's cousin has promised to find her a knight in shining armor, on the ...

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Overview

Men in tights never looked so good. At least that's Pepper Marsh's first impression when she attends a jousting competition at the Rennaissance Faire in Ontario. An unemployed and unattached software engineer, Pepper has had enough of the computer geeks in her dating pool. She yearns for a man of yore. A man not afraid to stare death in the face . . . and laugh at it. A man with a big lance . . .

Pepper's cousin has promised to find her a knight in shining armor, on the condition that Pepper walk around in wench garb. With her mind on her embarrassingly revealing bodice, Pepper promptly steps into the path of an oncoming steed . . . and is rescued by sexy Englishman Walker McPhail. Once the wild man of jousting, Walker has let a brush with death keep him out of the ring. Though his emotions are clad in almost impenetrable armor, Pepper finds Walker infuriatingly sexy—and she's about to go medieval on his heart.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
The Barnes & Noble Review
The ever-saucy author of Men in Kilts and The Corset Diaries turns to the world of contemporary jousting at Renaissance Faires for this offbeat romance. Pepper Marsh, an unemployed software engineer, is dateless and gawky. Her cousin, the ultimate matchmaker, has dragged her to a two-week Renaissance Faire so that Pepper can meet the man of her dreams; all Pepper has to do is parade around in a Wench costume that pushes her breasts nearly to her chin. Within the first half hour, she is almost run over by a herd of wild horses and yelled at by Walker, a big, handsome knight on a very big horse. Within the week, she's learning to joust with a lance by day and with Walker by night. The intrepid Pepper surmounts all the obstacles throw in her path, and her Elizabethan cursing scene is a special treat. Ginger Curwen
From the Publisher
"Generously seasoned with her distinctive brand of impudent wit, set against the fascinating world of jousting competitions, and graced with a full cast of deliciously original characters (including a fiendishly adorable cat), MacAlister's latest fresh, funny, and fabulously sexy contemporary romance is pure fun." —-Booklist
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780451213860
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 1/28/2005
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: Reissue
  • Pages: 368
  • Sales rank: 441,811
  • Product dimensions: 6.74 (w) x 4.14 (h) x 0.95 (d)

Meet the Author


Katie MacAlister is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of numerous romance novels, including the Aisling Grey series, the Nobles series, and the Dark Ones novels.

Karen White has been narrating and directing audiobooks for more than a dozen years and has well over one hundred books to her credit. Honored to be included among AudioFile's Best Voices 2010 and 2011, she is also an Audie Award finalist and has earned multiple AudioFile Earphones Awards for narration and direction.

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Read an Excerpt


"Right, so where are all the good-looking men in formfitting tights?"

"Probably rehearsing. You can set that down next to the cooler."

"Rehearsing? Rehearsing what? Hunky men in skintight clothing don't rehearse! They're far too manly for such a sissy thing. Actors rehearse. Men in tights ... well, they just don't. Unless ... hey! You wouldn't drag me out here to the middle of nowhere by promising me really handsome, dashing guys in extremely cool knight getup without telling me they were all gay, would you?"

CJ grinned as I deposited a box of toilet paper, napkins, and assorted towels on top of the red plastic cooler. "I'm sure some are, but not all. Don't worry; you'll have lots of manly-man guys to slobber over."

"I'd better," I muttered darkly as I stomped off to the car to fetch another load of camping accessories. Twenty minutes later I returned from the wilds of the parking lot. "You know, I always imagined ye old days of medieval yore had a whole lot more dashing, daring knights hanging around, and fewer steaming piles of poop." I stepped carefully over the huge pile of fly-bespecked horse manure, and staggered toward the ever-growing collection of bags, boxes, coolers, food hampers, and suitcases that contained those items my cousin deemed vital to our continued existence.

"Oh, no, poop was everywhere back then. Open sewers, you know," CJ answered from where she was on her knees digging into a rucksack, muttering to herself as I dropped a box of canned beans and packages of freeze-dried hiking food next to her.

"I still haven't seen even one man in tights. There's a couple of women a few tents down who are dressed like knights, but that's it. So help me, Ceej, if you dragged me out here on false pretenses ..."

"I didn't!" CJ all but climbed into the rucksack, her voice muffled as she tried to placate me. "They're rehearsing, I promise. Everyone rehearses before opening day. The vendors are probably vendoring or setting up their booths. And the jousters are doing practice runs."

"Okay, but I'd better start seeing some soon. You promised me great big herds of manly guys being knights and rogues and swashbuckling pirates." I peered around at the sea of tents that surrounded us. The flat, open field adjacent to the fairgrounds housing the Faire served as a tent city of Faire performers, vendors, employees, and joust participants. Most of the tents were blocky squares and rectangles of dull gray or green, like the one CJ had provided for us, but at the far end of the tent city were clustered beautiful striped tents of all colors, some with pennons and flags bearing coats of arms waving lazily in the late afternoon summer breeze. Other than the two women I'd seen coming from the car, the tent city was strangely devoid of human life. "I'm not seeing even a small flock of manly knights, much less a herd of them. In fact, there doesn't seem to be anyone here at all. Are you sure that this Faire is a hotbed of romance and dishy guys?"

"Would I lie to you?" CJ pulled herself out of her rucksack, a smile lighting her happy gray eyes. "I personally know of six couples who met because of the Faire in the last two years, and they're all happily married. So don't worry; there are oodles of manly knights here, all of them dashing and daring and wildly romantic, just like my lamb."

I rolled my eyes as I started back toward the car, located a hot, sweaty half mile away in a distant field. "Oh, yeah, your lamb, the man known to everyone as the Butcher of Birmingham. I said I wanted a modern-day personification of knightliness, Ceej, a man who's not afraid to laugh triumphantly in the face of death, a man who lives for adventure and excitement-not a guy who scares the crap out of anyone who gets a good close look at him. I'll go get the last of the stuff. If I'm not back in half an hour, find the bravest, handsomest jouster you can and send him after me. Maybe you'd better make it two. I'm feeling like I'll need a lot of resuscitating."

CJ waved an acknowledging hand at me as she dug through the canvas bag. "Right. After you get back you can slip into the garb I brought for you."

I sighed a sigh of the soon to be martyred, and staggered off toward the car. By the time I collected the last items, locked up CJ's VW Beetle, and returned to our tent, sweat was rolling down my back, soaking the light gauze shirt I'd put on before we left my aunt and uncle's house in London-the town midway between Detroit and Toronto, not the English capital.

"Whew!" I set down the box of kitty litter, kibble, tiny little cans of premium cat food, bottled water, three different kinds of cat treats, a bag of dried catnip, assorted cat toys, and one huge domed litter box with infrared beams and automatic clump removal. "Criminy dutch, the things this cat ... Moth! Come back here; that isn't yours! Ceej!"

My cousin CJ looked up at my whine. "Hmm?"

"Your parents' cat is eating someone's tent." I pointed at the huge white cat with four orange stockings that was gnawing on the black canvas tent set up next to ours.

"Oh. Probably isn't best that you let him do that. He'll just puke it up later. I wonder where I put my side-lacing bodice?" Ceej walked on her knees over to where three suitcases were stacked neatly in front of the humongous pea-green tent it had taken us a half hour of sweating (and swearing) to erect.

"Me? He's not my responsibility anymore. My job was to get him from Seattle to Ontario in one piece while your parents did the cross-country thing. I did that, not that it was easy, since he insisted on yowling and trying to claw me through the cat carrier the entire flight. But we're here now, and that means he's your responsibility."

"Nope, sorry, I've got too much to do, what with the official Wenches' Conference and all. Besides, Mom paid you to take care of him."

"Only for the flight!" I dug through the ice in the cooler and extracted a chilled bottle of water. "They were supposed to be home by now to receive the horrible beast with open arms."

"Yeah, well, you know how Dad is. Once he gets an idea in his head, there's no changing his mind. He's always wanted to see the Klondike."

"He's the only man I know who'd feel it necessary to drive from Seattle to Ontario via Alaska," I grumbled as I swigged the cold water. "Moth, dammit ... argh! No! Spit it out! Bad cat!"

"You really should keep a closer eye on him," CJ said as I grabbed the cat and pulled out of his mouth the bit of tent he was gnawing on. "Mom's really attached to him. She'd never forgive you if anything happened to him."

Moth shot a slitted, yellow-eyed glare at me as I picked him up.

"The feeling's mutual," I growled, and lugged him over to the pyramid of stuff in front of our tent. I checked the snap on the long leash that was tied onto a lounge chair, adjusted his harness so he couldn't slip out of it again, and tethered him to the chair so I could put stuff away. "There isn't enough money in the world to pay me for having to babysit him for two whole weeks."

"Well, it's not like you have a lot of other options, is it?" CJ asked.

I froze in the act of hauling the sleeping bags into the tent.

"Oh, Pepper, I'm sorry. That wasn't nice of me. I didn't mean it. It's not your fault that unemployment is so high in Seattle."

I shrugged the sting of her comment away and tossed the sleeping bags inside the musty, faintly mildew-scented tent. "It may not be nice, but it's the truth. I don't have anything else to do except sit around and watch my unemployment benefits run out." That wasn't really the truth; my days were very busy, what with job-hunting and all the volunteering I did to keep myself sane-I didn't even have time to date, let alone sit around and do nothing-but still, her point was taken.

"Maybe if you went to California? I always heard that was a good place for software engineers."

"It was, which is why when so many of us were laid off two years ago, everyone moved to Silicon Valley and its environs. I figured with the mass migration south, I'd have a better chance at finding a job where I was, but ..." I shrugged, unwilling to dwell on my increasingly desperate situation. This was supposed to be my vacation, my man-hunting, romantic, "fall madly in love with some gorgeous guy" vacation. I wanted to forget the depressing life I would have to face if it all came to nothing.

"Isn't there anything else you can do?" CJ asked, her brow wrinkled as she sat on her heels watching me. "You've got a degree; surely there must be some job-"

I shifted a few more boxes into the tent. "You'd think so, huh? But since there were some fifty thousand other people let go by the local airplane company, there's nada job-wise. Squat. Zilcho. Not even a McDonald's fry-jockey job."

"Boy, that is hard." CJ sucked her lower lip for a moment as I flopped down exhaustedly on the cooler, brushing at the trickles of sweat snaking down the valley between my breasts. "I guess you don't really have any other option but to find yourself a man, fall in love with him, and live happily ever after. Fortunately, I'm here to help you."

My shoulders slumped as the full realization of what I was doing hit me. I'd been in delusional mode ever since my cousin had convinced me that she'd be able to hook me up with a veritable God of perfection, courtesy of the local Renaissance Faire and international jousting competition. And now here I was, actually believing her promise of finding me a man, a soul mate, someone who would fill my empty, lonely life. It was all so ... sordid. Unrealistic. Stupid. I let my damp forehead drop into my hands as I moaned. "Oh, Ceej, what am I doing? Why did I let you talk me into this? Your plan is ridiculous, utterly ridiculous! What was I thinking? I'm thirty-six, unemployed, have a degree in programming and half of one from the vet school I quit before I got eaten by something big with sharp teeth, and guys don't even look twice at me. Why on earth did I imagine that you can find me a man in two weeks when I haven't in sixteen years of concerted searching?"

"Because I can!" She tipped her head to the side as I rocked miserably on the cooler. "I told you that Butcher and I met at the Faire last year, and we were madly in love after just a couple of days."

"He lives in England. You live here," I pointed out, wondering if I shouldn't just give in and have an indulgent wallow in self-pity.

"But I see him every couple of months, and just as soon as I get that job at the BBC, we'll be set. And then there was Fairuza Spenser, Cathy Baker, and Mary Denhelm."

I looked up, having decided against the wallow. "Who are they?"

"Wenches in my local chapter whom I introduced to their respective husbands last year at various Faires. You'll meet them later. And the year before that there were three others whom I also found hubbies for. I'm a matchmaker extraordinaire, so relax and place yourself fully in my capable hands. Before the Faire is over, I will have not only found you your perfect man, but you'll be deeply in love and well on the way to happily-ever-aftering."

"Life is not a fairy tale," I said morosely, wanting to believe her, but knowing that things like that just didn't happen to people like me.

"No, it's better," she said calmly, then frowned as her brows drew together. "You have to help, though, Pepper. You can't just stand around waiting for the love of your life to swoop you up and carry you off."

"Why not? We're surrounded by knights in shining armor."

Her frown deepened. "I just want to make sure that you're totally committed to the idea of finding a guy."

"Committed like to a madhouse?"

"Pepper!"

I held up my hands in mock surrender. "Okay, okay, little joke. I'm committed; I really am."

"I hope so, because once I find a guy for you, you're expected to keep him. I just worry that you're not really serious about this. After all, look what you've done at home."

I stood up and glared down at where she sat poking through the bag. "What do you mean, what I've done at home? I haven't done anything!"

She grabbed a handful of jeans around my knee region and tugged me down to the cooler. "Stop looming over me like a great hulk. You're too tall. I can't bend my head back far enough to see you. And that's exactly what I mean-you seem to expect the perfect man to drop into your lap without your lifting a single finger to find him, but that's not going to happen unless you get proactive. You have to admit that until now, you haven't actually expended any energy in dating."

I grabbed her ear and peered in. "Hellooo, anyone home?" She slapped my hand away. "Didn't you hear me on the drive up here? I've looked and looked and looked, but all the guys back home are either unemployed plane mechanics or likewise unemployed software geeks. The first group hang around bars ogling women and having competitions about who can pee the farthest, while the second thinks a wild time is getting drunk and creating dirty computer animations."

"Maybe your standards are too high," CJ said thoughtfully as she eyed me up and down. "There's nothing really wrong with you. You're pretty, in a general sort of way. You have nice thick red hair. And freckles-guys like freckles. And if you're a bit ... well ... solid, guys like that, too. Some guys. Most guys. And you're smart; that's a plus."

I paced the length of the tent, avoiding Moth as he lunged for my ankles when I passed in front of him. "You try it, cat, and you're going to find yourself locked into the tent for the next two weeks. Thank you for your so reassuring assessment of my many fine qualities, CJ."

"You're also stubborn, very set in your ways, and you like to argue, but that's okay, I think we can work around those points." She gestured expressively with her tiny little hands. I added that to the list of injuries I was nursing. In addition to being gainfully employed by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation as a researcher-a job that allowed her to travel to England several times a year-CJ was graceful, delicately built, and had a charming little heart-shaped face and a fragile manner that left most men prostrate before her. I, on the other hand, was built along the lines of a brick house, or so my mother always used to tell me. Big-boned, tall, and gawky-that was me. The only way a man was going to be prostrate before me was if he accidentally ran into me and was knocked out cold. I knew it wasn't fair to add CJ's genetic makeup to my list of ways the world was picking on me, but I was too crabby to care.

"I don't know, maybe it's me. Maybe something's wrong with me."

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First Chapter

Hard Day's Knight


By Katie MacAlister

A SIGNET ECLIPSE BOOK

Copyright © 2005 Marthe Arends
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0-451-21386-6


Chapter One

"Right, so where are all the good-looking men in formfitting tights?"

"Probably rehearsing. You can set that down next to the cooler."

"Rehearsing? Rehearsing what? Hunky men in skintight clothing don't rehearse! They're far too manly for such a sissy thing. Actors rehearse. Men in tights ... well, they just don't. Unless ... hey! You wouldn't drag me out here to the middle of nowhere by promising me really handsome, dashing guys in extremely cool knight getup without telling me they were all gay, would you?"

CJ grinned as I deposited a box of toilet paper, napkins, and assorted towels on top of the red plastic cooler. "I'm sure some are, but not all. Don't worry; you'll have lots of manly-man guys to slobber over."

"I'd better," I muttered darkly as I stomped off to the car to fetch another load of camping accessories. Twenty minutes later I returned from the wilds of the parking lot. "You know, I always imagined ye old days of medieval yore had a whole lot more dashing, daring knights hanging around, and fewer steaming piles of poop." I stepped carefully over the huge pile of fly-bespecked horse manure, and staggered toward the ever-growing collection of bags, boxes, coolers, food hampers, and suitcases that contained those items my cousin deemed vitalto our continued existence.

"Oh, no, poop was everywhere back then. Open sewers, you know," CJ answered from where she was on her knees digging into a rucksack, muttering to herself as I dropped a box of canned beans and packages of freeze-dried hiking food next to her.

"I still haven't seen even one man in tights. There's a couple of women a few tents down who are dressed like knights, but that's it. So help me, Ceej, if you dragged me out here on false pretenses ..."

"I didn't!" CJ all but climbed into the rucksack, her voice muffled as she tried to placate me. "They're rehearsing, I promise. Everyone rehearses before opening day. The vendors are probably vendoring or setting up their booths. And the jousters are doing practice runs."

"Okay, but I'd better start seeing some soon. You promised me great big herds of manly guys being knights and rogues and swashbuckling pirates." I peered around at the sea of tents that surrounded us. The flat, open field adjacent to the fairgrounds housing the Faire served as a tent city of Faire performers, vendors, employees, and joust participants. Most of the tents were blocky squares and rectangles of dull gray or green, like the one CJ had provided for us, but at the far end of the tent city were clustered beautiful striped tents of all colors, some with pennons and flags bearing coats of arms waving lazily in the late afternoon summer breeze. Other than the two women I'd seen coming from the car, the tent city was strangely devoid of human life. "I'm not seeing even a small flock of manly knights, much less a herd of them. In fact, there doesn't seem to be anyone here at all. Are you sure that this Faire is a hotbed of romance and dishy guys?"

"Would I lie to you?" CJ pulled herself out of her rucksack, a smile lighting her happy gray eyes. "I personally know of six couples who met because of the Faire in the last two years, and they're all happily married. So don't worry; there are oodles of manly knights here, all of them dashing and daring and wildly romantic, just like my lamb."

I rolled my eyes as I started back toward the car, located a hot, sweaty half mile away in a distant field. "Oh, yeah, your lamb, the man known to everyone as the Butcher of Birmingham. I said I wanted a modern-day personification of knightliness, Ceej, a man who's not afraid to laugh triumphantly in the face of death, a man who lives for adventure and excitement-not a guy who scares the crap out of anyone who gets a good close look at him. I'll go get the last of the stuff. If I'm not back in half an hour, find the bravest, handsomest jouster you can and send him after me. Maybe you'd better make it two. I'm feeling like I'll need a lot of resuscitating."

CJ waved an acknowledging hand at me as she dug through the canvas bag. "Right. After you get back you can slip into the garb I brought for you."

I sighed a sigh of the soon to be martyred, and staggered off toward the car. By the time I collected the last items, locked up CJ's VW Beetle, and returned to our tent, sweat was rolling down my back, soaking the light gauze shirt I'd put on before we left my aunt and uncle's house in London-the town midway between Detroit and Toronto, not the English capital.

"Whew!" I set down the box of kitty litter, kibble, tiny little cans of premium cat food, bottled water, three different kinds of cat treats, a bag of dried catnip, assorted cat toys, and one huge domed litter box with infrared beams and automatic clump removal. "Criminy dutch, the things this cat ... Moth! Come back here; that isn't yours! Ceej!"

My cousin CJ looked up at my whine. "Hmm?"

"Your parents' cat is eating someone's tent." I pointed at the huge white cat with four orange stockings that was gnawing on the black canvas tent set up next to ours.

"Oh. Probably isn't best that you let him do that. He'll just puke it up later. I wonder where I put my side-lacing bodice?" Ceej walked on her knees over to where three suitcases were stacked neatly in front of the humongous pea-green tent it had taken us a half hour of sweating (and swearing) to erect.

"Me? He's not my responsibility anymore. My job was to get him from Seattle to Ontario in one piece while your parents did the cross-country thing. I did that, not that it was easy, since he insisted on yowling and trying to claw me through the cat carrier the entire flight. But we're here now, and that means he's your responsibility."

"Nope, sorry, I've got too much to do, what with the official Wenches' Conference and all. Besides, Mom paid you to take care of him."

"Only for the flight!" I dug through the ice in the cooler and extracted a chilled bottle of water. "They were supposed to be home by now to receive the horrible beast with open arms."

"Yeah, well, you know how Dad is. Once he gets an idea in his head, there's no changing his mind. He's always wanted to see the Klondike."

"He's the only man I know who'd feel it necessary to drive from Seattle to Ontario via Alaska," I grumbled as I swigged the cold water. "Moth, dammit ... argh! No! Spit it out! Bad cat!"

"You really should keep a closer eye on him," CJ said as I grabbed the cat and pulled out of his mouth the bit of tent he was gnawing on. "Mom's really attached to him. She'd never forgive you if anything happened to him."

Moth shot a slitted, yellow-eyed glare at me as I picked him up.

"The feeling's mutual," I growled, and lugged him over to the pyramid of stuff in front of our tent. I checked the snap on the long leash that was tied onto a lounge chair, adjusted his harness so he couldn't slip out of it again, and tethered him to the chair so I could put stuff away. "There isn't enough money in the world to pay me for having to babysit him for two whole weeks."

"Well, it's not like you have a lot of other options, is it?" CJ asked.

I froze in the act of hauling the sleeping bags into the tent.

"Oh, Pepper, I'm sorry. That wasn't nice of me. I didn't mean it. It's not your fault that unemployment is so high in Seattle."

I shrugged the sting of her comment away and tossed the sleeping bags inside the musty, faintly mildew-scented tent. "It may not be nice, but it's the truth. I don't have anything else to do except sit around and watch my unemployment benefits run out." That wasn't really the truth; my days were very busy, what with job-hunting and all the volunteering I did to keep myself sane-I didn't even have time to date, let alone sit around and do nothing-but still, her point was taken.

"Maybe if you went to California? I always heard that was a good place for software engineers."

"It was, which is why when so many of us were laid off two years ago, everyone moved to Silicon Valley and its environs. I figured with the mass migration south, I'd have a better chance at finding a job where I was, but ..." I shrugged, unwilling to dwell on my increasingly desperate situation. This was supposed to be my vacation, my man-hunting, romantic, "fall madly in love with some gorgeous guy" vacation. I wanted to forget the depressing life I would have to face if it all came to nothing.

"Isn't there anything else you can do?" CJ asked, her brow wrinkled as she sat on her heels watching me. "You've got a degree; surely there must be some job-"

I shifted a few more boxes into the tent. "You'd think so, huh? But since there were some fifty thousand other people let go by the local airplane company, there's nada job-wise. Squat. Zilcho. Not even a McDonald's fry-jockey job."

"Boy, that is hard." CJ sucked her lower lip for a moment as I flopped down exhaustedly on the cooler, brushing at the trickles of sweat snaking down the valley between my breasts. "I guess you don't really have any other option but to find yourself a man, fall in love with him, and live happily ever after. Fortunately, I'm here to help you."

My shoulders slumped as the full realization of what I was doing hit me. I'd been in delusional mode ever since my cousin had convinced me that she'd be able to hook me up with a veritable God of perfection, courtesy of the local Renaissance Faire and international jousting competition. And now here I was, actually believing her promise of finding me a man, a soul mate, someone who would fill my empty, lonely life. It was all so ... sordid. Unrealistic. Stupid. I let my damp forehead drop into my hands as I moaned. "Oh, Ceej, what am I doing? Why did I let you talk me into this? Your plan is ridiculous, utterly ridiculous! What was I thinking? I'm thirty-six, unemployed, have a degree in programming and half of one from the vet school I quit before I got eaten by something big with sharp teeth, and guys don't even look twice at me. Why on earth did I imagine that you can find me a man in two weeks when I haven't in sixteen years of concerted searching?"

"Because I can!" She tipped her head to the side as I rocked miserably on the cooler. "I told you that Butcher and I met at the Faire last year, and we were madly in love after just a couple of days."

"He lives in England. You live here," I pointed out, wondering if I shouldn't just give in and have an indulgent wallow in self-pity.

"But I see him every couple of months, and just as soon as I get that job at the BBC, we'll be set. And then there was Fairuza Spenser, Cathy Baker, and Mary Denhelm."

I looked up, having decided against the wallow. "Who are they?"

"Wenches in my local chapter whom I introduced to their respective husbands last year at various Faires. You'll meet them later. And the year before that there were three others whom I also found hubbies for. I'm a matchmaker extraordinaire, so relax and place yourself fully in my capable hands. Before the Faire is over, I will have not only found you your perfect man, but you'll be deeply in love and well on the way to happily-ever-aftering."

"Life is not a fairy tale," I said morosely, wanting to believe her, but knowing that things like that just didn't happen to people like me.

"No, it's better," she said calmly, then frowned as her brows drew together. "You have to help, though, Pepper. You can't just stand around waiting for the love of your life to swoop you up and carry you off."

"Why not? We're surrounded by knights in shining armor."

Her frown deepened. "I just want to make sure that you're totally committed to the idea of finding a guy."

"Committed like to a madhouse?"

"Pepper!"

I held up my hands in mock surrender. "Okay, okay, little joke. I'm committed; I really am."

"I hope so, because once I find a guy for you, you're expected to keep him. I just worry that you're not really serious about this. After all, look what you've done at home."

I stood up and glared down at where she sat poking through the bag. "What do you mean, what I've done at home? I haven't done anything!"

She grabbed a handful of jeans around my knee region and tugged me down to the cooler. "Stop looming over me like a great hulk. You're too tall. I can't bend my head back far enough to see you. And that's exactly what I mean-you seem to expect the perfect man to drop into your lap without your lifting a single finger to find him, but that's not going to happen unless you get proactive. You have to admit that until now, you haven't actually expended any energy in dating."

I grabbed her ear and peered in. "Hellooo, anyone home?" She slapped my hand away. "Didn't you hear me on the drive up here? I've looked and looked and looked, but all the guys back home are either unemployed plane mechanics or likewise unemployed software geeks. The first group hang around bars ogling women and having competitions about who can pee the farthest, while the second thinks a wild time is getting drunk and creating dirty computer animations."

"Maybe your standards are too high," CJ said thoughtfully as she eyed me up and down. "There's nothing really wrong with you. You're pretty, in a general sort of way. You have nice thick red hair. And freckles-guys like freckles. And if you're a bit ... well ... solid, guys like that, too. Some guys. Most guys. And you're smart; that's a plus."

I paced the length of the tent, avoiding Moth as he lunged for my ankles when I passed in front of him. "You try it, cat, and you're going to find yourself locked into the tent for the next two weeks. Thank you for your so reassuring assessment of my many fine qualities, CJ."

"You're also stubborn, very set in your ways, and you like to argue, but that's okay, I think we can work around those points." She gestured expressively with her tiny little hands. I added that to the list of injuries I was nursing. In addition to being gainfully employed by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation as a researcher-a job that allowed her to travel to England several times a year-CJ was graceful, delicately built, and had a charming little heart-shaped face and a fragile manner that left most men prostrate before her. I, on the other hand, was built along the lines of a brick house, or so my mother always used to tell me. Big-boned, tall, and gawky-that was me. The only way a man was going to be prostrate before me was if he accidentally ran into me and was knocked out cold. I knew it wasn't fair to add CJ's genetic makeup to my list of ways the world was picking on me, but I was too crabby to care.

"I don't know, maybe it's me. Maybe something's wrong with me."

Continues...


Excerpted from Hard Day's Knight by Katie MacAlister Copyright © 2005 by Marthe Arends . 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.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 77 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 78 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 31, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    Jennifer Wardrip - Personal Read

    If you like romantic comedy, then Katie MacAlister's HARD DAY'S KNIGHT is definitely the book for you. A modern-day romance set in contemporary times, this book has the feel of a historical comedy, revolving as it does around the world of a Renaissance Faire. For those of you who aren't familiar with this look into the past, Ren Faires are big business-a large number of people gather at these yearly events for a variety of reasons. A combination craft fair, historical reenactment, and performance arts, faires such as the one mentioned in this book draw huge crowds, from participants and spectators alike. <BR/><BR/>In Ms. MacAlister's world of the Renaissance Faire in Ontario, the characters might be make-believe, but the goings-on at the faire are anything but. For Pepper Marsh, being a software engineer without a job is bad enough. Being unable to find a date, and having nowhere else to look outside the geeks and computer techies she's used to working with, she travels with her cousin, CJ, to the Faire with an eye towards landing one of those hunky guys in tights that CJ is always talking about. <BR/><BR/>Unfortunately, the first things Pepper notices about a reenactment of medieval days of yore is the tireless effort it takes to put up a tent, avoid horse poop, and the disturbing chore of wearing revealing and embarrassing wench attire. Sure that all is lost, Pepper seeks out that knight-in-shining armor that she's sure is around the hot and dusty Faire somewhere. Stepping into the path of a hell-bent steed, she's fortunate enough to be rescued by none other than Walker McPhail. <BR/><BR/>A sexy, single, gorgeous Englishman who once jousted in the ring with the fervor of a true devotee, he's let a near-death experience keep him from jousting, his first love. The infuriating wench who seems out of her element is intriguing, even though Walker has a feeling that his buddies of the Three Dog Nights jousting team may have had a hand in their initial encounter. <BR/><BR/>With funny, believe secondary characters, fresh and humorous dialogue, and a hero and heroine who lock horns over just about everything, HARD DAY'S KNIGHT is a contemporary romantic comedy that you don't want to miss.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted April 14, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    I loved this book. It was laugh out loud funny. Pepper was a gr

    I loved this book. It was laugh out loud funny. Pepper was a great character. I really enjoyed this one!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 24, 2013

    Loved the book.

    Read it.you will love it.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 13, 2012

    good but

    Slow moving, great story it just long winded. My favorite character is moth the cat. Toooooo cute! Good book but not my favorite of hers. Good steamy parts! I would still recomened though.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 1, 2012

    Funny and Romantic

    I love MacAlister's sense of humor. Being able to read a book and laugh out loud and have a happy ending is always a book worth my time. :-)

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted March 27, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Fun Read

    This was a fun read for me. I've been to many a ren-faire and worked at a few as well. The atmosphere was spot on. I liked the quick and easy banter between the two. Reminds of a couple I once knew.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 7, 2012

    Love

    I have read this book two times. It is steamy and funny.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 14, 2012

    Didn't hate it.....

    This was an okay book.....boring toward the end. Glad Im finished!!!!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted November 15, 2011

    highly recommended

    love it

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 11, 2011

    Great easy read

    I have enjoyed all the Katie MacAlister books I have read so far and this one didn't disappoint!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 13, 2011

    Hard to get started....

    but worth the struggle. Very cute and a fun read!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 13, 2011

    Hard to get into....

    But worth it. Very cute and a quick read!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 23, 2007

    A reviewer

    If you like romantic comedy, then Katie MacAlister's HARD DAY'S KNIGHT is definitely the book for you. A modern-day romance set in contemporary times, this book has the feel of a historical comedy, revolving as it does around the world of a Renaissance Faire. For those of you who aren't familiar with this look into the past, Ren Faires are big business-a large number of people gather at these yearly events for a variety of reasons. A combination craft fair, historical reenactment, and performance arts, faires such as the one mentioned in this book draw huge crowds, from participants and spectators alike. In Ms. MacAlister's world of the Renaissance Faire in Ontario, the characters might be make-believe, but the goings-on at the faire are anything but. For Pepper Marsh, being a software engineer without a job is bad enough. Being unable to find a date, and having nowhere else to look outside the geeks and computer techies she's used to working with, she travels with her cousin, CJ, to the Faire with an eye towards landing one of those hunky guys in tights that CJ is always talking about. Unfortunately, the first things Pepper notices about a reenactment of medieval days of yore is the tireless effort it takes to put up a tent, avoid horse poop, and the disturbing chore of wearing revealing and embarrassing wench attire. Sure that all is lost, Pepper seeks out that knight-in-shining armor that she's sure is around the hot and dusty Faire somewhere. Stepping into the path of a hell-bent steed, she's fortunate enough to be rescued by none other than Walker McPhail. A sexy, single, gorgeous Englishman who once jousted in the ring with the fervor of a true devotee, he's let a near-death experience keep him from jousting, his first love. The infuriating wench who seems out of her element is intriguing, even though Walker has a feeling that his buddies of the Three Dog Nights jousting team may have had a hand in their initial encounter. With funny, believe secondary characters, fresh and humorous dialogue, and a hero and heroine who lock horns over just about everything, HARD DAY'S KNIGHT is a contemporary romantic comedy that you don't want to miss.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 6, 2007

    A reviewer

    I believe this is my most favorite Katie Mac book published to date. I cried, I laughed, laughed and cried some more. As a cat person, I loved her cousin CJ's cat, as a huge Ren Faire and Celtic Fest fan, I loved the whole Medevial Festival idea behind this book. Way to go Katie on another oustanding masterpiece! If you want a quick entertaining read, this is your book, you will not be able to put it down, not for a bathroom break, to eat dinner, or even to get the kids in the bed.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 15, 2007

    Fabulously entertaining!

    I love Katie MacAlister's Novels! I have read a ton of her books, this one most recently. I loved it. Walker is an incerdibly realistic character, as is Pepper. I expecially like how Pepper is a stong willed woman who takes nothing sitting down, though she, as most woman do, has a few weak spots. Katie also does a great job keeping things realistic when it come to the setting. I've been to a medival fair, and they're a blast. Katie did a great job capturing the atmosphere and mood. over all, a FABULOUS read, I reccomend it to anyone. Who doesn't like a sexy Englishman with an accent?

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 13, 2006

    Just finished

    I can't say enough about this book. I recommend this book to anyone. It was fun and had its share of serious moments. This is the first book I have ever read from this author and I will be trying out another of her books.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 14, 2005

    Couldn't Believe it was a 'Romance' Novel

    A friend of mine picked up this book based solely on the fact it dealt with Ren Faire and she couldnt say enough great things so I set my doubts aside that a 'romance' novel could be more than just heaving chests and glistening skin and dove right in. The characters are realistic and you hold your breath and laugh out loud. If you have ever been to Ren Faire this is a fantastic read (its what we all wish for!).If youve never experienced it this book will definetely perk your interest. I would suggest this to anyone looking for a little romance along with alot of humor.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 8, 2005

    Funny, ribald, and charming.

    Down to earth and believable characters, intense sexual charisma between hero and heroine, unique, well-portrayed, and believable setting. Pepper's a spunky, relatable, intelligent girl, though it's a little odd she never directly stands up for herself in some places (while she does in others). Her love interest is decidedly hot; her interaction with him satisfying. Issues were consistency in character behavior (for example, Pepper's supposedly mild-mannered, loving cousin drags her into a world she's not used to, bullies her around, claims to intend to matchmake for her but gives all her attention to her own love interest, ignores Pepper when she tries to interact and bond with the jousting group, and easily turns on her at various points in the book - if she'd been my cousin I'd have flamed her early on to get a grip and straighten herself out). Also some odd handling of transitions (you'll be deeply into an aspect of the plot and the story will suddenly break and jump forward in time - this happens with the plot resolution at a point of high drama between all the characters). I was a bit torn with the style - the humor was great, but sometimes there was an over-the-top aspect I couldn't quite believe. Sometimes it felt deliberate and part of the humor, and sometimes it threw me out of a scene - particularly the love scenes. One minute the language was intense and passionate, the next comic and frank, the next flowery and cheesy. All around a funny read (love the hate/love relationship Pepper has with animals and Walker, her knight), cute, won't make you pant or squirm in bed, but serves its purpose! A fun, light read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 9, 2005

    Hard day knights

    I love this book!! I read it in 2 days and was laughing though the whole book!! It is a must read

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 1, 2005

    Great!!!

    This was a great book because the main characters weren't so perfect. They were down to earth, but still so likeable and believeable. I did have a problem with the heroine's cousin, someone she'd known all of her life, who thought she was the one sabotaging equipment and hurting people. I thought it made for a weak, unbelievable subcharacter, but the resulting sucking-up that went on when they realized she was innocent was histerical.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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