Her One Desire

Her One Desire

4.8 7
by Kimberly Killion

Astride a stolen horse, encircled by the shackled arms of Broderick Maxwell, a Scottish spy escaping certain death in the Tower of London, Lizbeth Ives rides to the north, hidden by the darkness. By stealth and cunning, the daughter of the Lord High Executioner has undone her father's cruel work, compelled to save the innocent man with her. There is no



Astride a stolen horse, encircled by the shackled arms of Broderick Maxwell, a Scottish spy escaping certain death in the Tower of London, Lizbeth Ives rides to the north, hidden by the darkness. By stealth and cunning, the daughter of the Lord High Executioner has undone her father's cruel work, compelled to save the innocent man with her. There is no turning back-for they are bound as one in his iron chains. Consumed by mortal fear, driven by passion, they disappear into the night.

A single raven follows them. Is it an omen? Or only the first of those who would capture them? They must ride on. If captured, they will face death together. But if they reach the Highlands, he will claim her for his own.forever.

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Zebra Historical Romance Series
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4.10(w) x 6.70(h) x 1.00(d)

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Her One Desire
By Kimberly Killion
ZEBRA BOOKS Copyright © 2008 Kimberly Killion
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-1-4201-0442-4

Chapter One London, Eastertide, 1483

Father must protect me or I am dead.

Lizbeth Ives stumbled off the last step of the stairwell in her haste and landed hard on her knees. The guards' footsteps echoed in the distance. She glanced over her shoulder. Dancing shadows brought the torch-lit stone walls to life and sent her already pounding heart into a frenzy.

Scrambling to her feet, Lizzy clutched the neck of her mantle, safeguarding the document hidden in the bodice of her gown, already envisioning her head atop the chopping block. Her throat burned with every step. The passageway seemed longer, narrower, darker than it had when she was a child. She rounded the corner, and a bout of dizziness set her off balance. Her eyelids pinched shut, if only for a moment, to ease her escalating fear. She swallowed hard, then inhaled the sour stench of the dungeon, a smell she would never grow accustomed to regardless of the years she'd spent in the Tower.

Two men, who'd guarded the dungeon since her childhood, straightened in front of the arched doorway as she approached. She forced her steps to a calm, even clip.

"Good den, Lady Ives." One guard dipped his head in greeting.

"Sirs." She acknowledged them with a quick bow. "I have need to speak with my father."

"He is at work," the taller replied. "Lord Ives will not be pleased with your interruption, m'lady."

"Then I will suffer his fury of my own will. Now step aside, and allow me entrance." The authority in her voice shocked her, but she had no time for niceties. Lord Hollister's blackguards would be upon her any moment.

"As ye wish." Each guard slid sideways, granting her access.

She entered the antechamber and set the bolt in place. A single rushlight illuminated the short passage before her. Only ten more steps.

She clutched Mother's rosary, sliding her fingers over the glass beads to count her steps, until she reached the chamber door.


The sound of Father's whip snapped in her ears and jarred her insides. Her fingers stilled over the door lever. She cursed her lack of bravery and wished for the thousandth time she'd been born to the smith or the miller. She wrapped her rosary around her wrist, shook out her hands, and then fisted them to cease their trembling.

Father would not pity a coward.

She summoned the courage to push open the heavy door. The sharp odor of burnt flesh singed her nostrils, sending her hand immediately to her face. She set the iron bar in its catch, then turned toward her father.

Her presence went without notice. Father wouldn't hear a tree if it fell behind him.


He wielded his whip, delivering a blow that sliced into a man's back in a slash of crimson. "Confess and pledge fealty to the sovereign liege of England or die as a result of your obstinacy," Father demanded, his tone heinous, cold, cruel. She hated the person he portrayed beneath the black cloak.

"I confess naught." The prisoner's white-knuckled fists gripped the iron rings binding his shackles to the stone wall. Thick blue veins laced through his forearms, matching the color of an ancient symbol inked around his muscular arm above his elbow. Black hair clung to his nape by the sweat of his suffering. He did not cry out or plead for mercy, though the bold red lines painting his bronze skin told her he'd been in Father's company long enough to yield. Still, the fool held tight to his tongue.

She turned her head away from the scene only to fall upon a blood-soaked man crumpled in the corner. He bore a similar mark around his arm, indicating an affiliation between the two prisoners. Father's methods had obviously been more than he could withstand. The pallid color of his skin told her his blood had failed to flow some time ago.

The scrape of metal knifed up her spine as Father released the prisoner's manacles from the hooks in the wall. The large breath of relief he blew as he fell into a puddle at Father's boots came prematurely. She knew Father's routine-whipping preceded the burning. The man's crime would determine what followed.

She squared her shoulders. "Lord Ives." Her voice sounded small, weak, and she abhorred herself for fearing her father. She cleared her throat and clutched the tails of her sleeves, now a tangled mass in her hands. "Lord Ives," she called out louder. "I have need to speak with you."

Father whirled, his amber eyes filled with the light of madness. "Begone!"

He raised his whip to her, and she searched for a glimpse of the gentle man she once knew. Her heart jumped. She pushed the hood of her mantle back. "Nay, Father! 'Tis I, Lizzy." Holding her arm in front of her face, she braced herself for the biting sting, all the while praying he would not deliver the blow.

His grip on the knout eased the same time a raspy howl filled the chamber.

The prisoner reared up from the floor, all flesh and rigid muscles. With his fingers clasped into a giant fist, he drove the iron cuffs into Father's temple, knocking him sideways into a trestle table. Wood splintered like miniature arrows. Metal instruments clanked onto the floor. Father faltered but retained his footing.

"Nay!" She vaulted across the chamber and clung to the prisoner's forearm as his powerful fist caught Father in the nose. Osborn Ives was a big man indeed, but the force behind that blow knocked him off his feet and into the wall.

The impact sent a jolt through her breast.

Father staggered. The black whip slipped from his gloved hand and coiled into a ring like a dead serpent. The lump sliding down her throat mimicked her father's body withering to the floor along with her hope for protection. Desperation, hopelessness, and anger surged.

"Get away from him." She shoved the prisoner hard.

He grunted, but remained steadfast to his position. His fingers curled around her forearm. "Scream, and ye will cease to breathe."

"I will not. I vow it upon my soul." She struggled to break free of his bruising grip, her eyes fixed on the only person she had left in the world. "Please, he is my father."

The brute released her and made only a slight hesitation before going to the other prisoner. She dropped to her knees alongside her father and checked his breathing. The pulse in his neck flittered, but he remained unmoving. She feared Lord Hollister would see her head in the basket before Father awoke. In truth, that act would be preferred to the fate Lord Hollister planned for her. She would be no man's concubine. As the chief warder he might hold favor with the king's council now, but once she exposed his association with the man conspiring against the crown, she and Father would finally be free of Lord Hollister's personal vendetta.

"... May God sustain you, and the company of Heaven enfold you, my brother," the prisoner whispered in Latin.

In communion with all the faithful, may you dwell this day in peace. She couldn't prevent her mind from finishing the familiar chant. She looked up. The prisoner reflected her pose. His large hands cupped the dead man's face. Try as she might to quell her sympathy, she knew the pain of losing someone close and her heart ached for him.

A crash blasted and nearly sent her heart through her ribs. Only seconds later, the chamber door shook within its frame.

"Open, by order of Lord Hollister." A shuffling of feet accompanied the guard's order.

Her breath caught. She shook Father's shoulders. "Please wake. You must help me." Tears she'd held back for years dripped from her chin and splashed over his cheek.

The prisoner stood and swayed. His weight fell against the wall. Hugging his midsection, he drew a deep breath, then turned toward her. Piercing ice-blue eyes held her paralyzed. No words passed between them, but the dire consequences of their situation grew in volume.

Another bang at the door set them into motion.

She sprang to her feet.

The prisoner collected two daggers from the floor and tucked them into the waistband of light-colored trews. He hesitated only long enough to snarl at her. "Where are the keys?"

She scoffed internally. The man was a fool if he thought she would release his shackles and give him an advantage over her. She had enough trouble of her own. She knew too much and had to find protection. Lord Hollister was an adversary she could not fight alone.

"The keys, lass." The prisoner held out lightly fisted hands.

"You are a prisoner of the crown. I cannot help you."

His response came in the form of a glare and a snort, both of which she ignored. She rushed across the chamber and frantically dug her fingertips along the wall's seam. The secret door ground open, her passage into the darkened maze beneath the city. A burst of musty air brushed her face. The blackness promised freedom, but curse her coward's heart, she was terrified to enter. Three and twenty was far too old to fear the dark, yet she couldn't prevent the panic taking over her mind and body. Her breath came in tight gulps.

She reached for the wall torch as another crash splintered the door behind her.

"Go!" The prisoner pushed her into the narrow tunnel.

Her fingers fell short of retrieving the torch. The thick stone door sealed shut behind them, blinding her instantly. Her eyes widened, searching the pitch for the smallest existence of light. A pinhole. A slit. But the only source she found was the bright white explosion of terror behind her eyes.

Arms bent, she steadied herself between the walls closing in around her. In one sweeping motion, she was hauled up against the prisoner's chest. She sucked in an audible breath. A strong hand covered her mouth and trapped the scream inside her. Raising high up on her toes, she clawed at the forearm imprisoning her. Oh, God, protect me.

She had to get back on the other side of the wall. Back to the light.

She couldn't breathe. Her legs wilted beneath her. A palm pressed flat against her stomach. The chain binding his manacles draped between her heaving breasts and pressed against the document that had brought her here-a document promising to endanger the crown, and now, her only hope of freedom.

"Cease your struggles." Broderick Maxwell held firm to the woman shaking like a freshly sheared sheep in the Highlands. She'd attacked him with a strong enough resolve in her efforts to protect the heinous man flogging him to death, but had since turned craven in his arms.

After a sennight in this louse-ridden dungeon, escape was finally within his reach. No mere slip of a woman would prevent him from returning to the borderlands. Unfortunately, he would return a failure. Damn! He and his brother had been so close to uncovering the leader of the rebellion plotting to seize England's crown. He could name a dozen nobles involved in that conspiracy, but had no proof of any of it for his king.

The wench dug her nails into his forearm. The action, at the very least, should have felt like thistle pricks, but like the rest of his flesh, he only registered a dull pressure. Broc leaned close to her ear. "If ye call out, I'll snap your wee neck. Do ye understand?"

She nodded beneath his hand.

"Do the guards have knowledge of this tunnel?"

Her head moved side to side against his chest and released a foreign scent that attacked his nose. Heady. Exotic. Unmistakably female. No doubt, she was the seraph the prisoners buzzed about. The one they called "the Angel of Fire." He'd thought them wowf. Mayhap plagued by fever as a result of torture. He wouldn't have given pause to the existence of such a creature until he'd witnessed the firelight dance in her golden eyes. He doubted they would weep for her if they knew their angel was Lady Ives, kin to the Lord High Executioner.

Turning his head, he tried to distance his nose from her hair. His efforts failed. Shifting his weight in the narrow space, he tuned his ear to the ruckus in the chamber. Deep voices droned behind the thick stone. Part of him wanted to retrieve Aiden's body for burial-the part seeking his mother's affection-but the warrior in him cast the fool's quest aside. As the oldest living son to the laird of Clan Maxwell, Broc's responsibilities now included keeping himself alive. The guilt he bore for desiring his brother's title now weighed as heavily on his conscience as his sisters' deaths.

The English minx swatted haphazardly at his head. He gave her a little shake to let her know he was in control. "Do ye know the way out?" Cautiously, he removed his hand from Lady Ives's mouth, fully prepared to stifle any sound that might arise from her.

"Eight steps forward, twenty-six to the right, seventeen around the-"

"Where does it lead?"

"To a door hidden behind the goldsmith, north of Cheap-side," she whispered against his palm, sending a frisson of heat up his arm. His body hummed. What was wrong with him? Though confident Lady Ives was no angel, Broc remained neutral to the possibility of her being a sorceress.

"Lead the way." He gave her a nudge of encouragement, but her feet seemed fixed to the floor.

"I cannot. I must go back."

"I cannae allow ye to do that." He gave her another shove, after which she spun around in his arms, knocking his elbows against the sides of the tunnel. Her icy palms flattened against his bare chest. Another unusual tingle raised gooseflesh over his skin. She was definitely a witch.

"We must wait until they leave and then retrieve the torch."

Paying no heed to her suggestion, Broc moved forward. She stepped up on his toes and clung even tighter to his bruised ribs. "Ach, lassie! Think ye could ease your grip?" Only then did it occur to him that her fear didn't lie with him. She'd been as eager as he to rid herself from the chamber. Yet, now she seemed afflicted with a greater problem.

"I cannot make it through the tunnel," she insisted. Obvious panic altered her words in high and low pitches.

The woman pressed so tight against his chest he was certain she intended to walk through him to get back into the chamber. He raised his gaze over her head, but the abyss was as black as the devil's heart. "Are ye afraid of the dark?"

She nodded beneath his chin, and her alluring scent again assaulted him. God's hooks! As if he had the time to play protector to a cowering angel who smelled like a valley of flowers dipped in honey. A moment of weariness sent him swaying. A trickle of sweat rolled down his neck. He shivered.

She stilled in his arms, then inched back. A small hand pressed against his neck, then his jaw, his cheek. "You have little time. You must go before your body fails you."

Broc worried over her swift change in demeanor, and even more so over his body's reaction to her simple caress. "Explain."

"The whip was coated with a numbing tonic, so your flesh can bear the elements of torture."

"'Tis poison?"

"Nay. A product of mercy."

Broc snorted. "The executioner delivered twenty lashes upon my brother's back, then burned the flesh from his hands and feet without any regard for mercy. Think me a fool to believe he cares a nit about those he persecutes?"

"My father did not coat the whip. I did." Her head fell beneath his chin. "You will not feel the pain of your lashes until the moon is high, but within an hour's time your legs will struggle to carry your weight."

Broc had not spent the last six months befriending the damned English only to die and rot in the veins of London. "Then we have less time than I predicted." Raising his shackled hands over her head, he turned Lady Ives around and attempted to push her into the tunnel. Her velvet skirts brushed against his knees, and another wisp of her troublesome fragrance tickled his nose. She crawled between the space of his arm and side, and then clung sweetly to his backside.

He might not be able to feel his fingertips or the gashes in his back, but he definitely felt the executioner's daughter curved around his arse. He'd yearned for only one woman in all his twenty-nine years, but this English angel seemed to heat his blood with her scent alone.

It must be the poison.

Clearing the unwanted lust from his head with a shake, Broc began counting the initial eight steps. His toe jammed against a stone wall when he reached four. "Ach! I thought ye said eight steps forward."

"Eight small steps. I was a child when last I tallied."

A scuffling of claws plucked out to his right. He followed, stumbling through the pitch. He was certain to have more success following the vermin than placing trust in Lady Ives's directions.

"Fourteen, fifteen, sixteen ..." Numbers rolled off her lips in whispered chaos. "Eight, nine, ten ..." They came in sets of three, and no longer followed the count of her steps. Broc wondered briefly if she even knew how to count.


Excerpted from Her One Desire by Kimberly Killion Copyright © 2008 by Kimberly Killion. 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.


Meet the Author

RITA® nominee and award-winning author, Kimberly Killion, writes sexy Medieval romances for Zebra Books. Her gorgeous, dramatic novels have the sweep and intensity of Hannah Howell's megaselling Scottish romances. She is quoted by RT Book Reviews as an author who writes "captivating romance with excellent pacing and characters who are honorable, intelligent and full of humanity." Please visit her website at kimberlykillion.com

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Her One Desire 4.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Put this book on the top of your TBR pile! Kimberly Killion has brought 15th century England to life in her debut novel, Her One Desire, due out in July from Zebra Books. She writes a splendid romance, imparting factual details with a deft hand. Lizbeth Ives, daughter of King Edward¿s Lord High Executioner, saves a Scottish spy, Broc Maxwell, from certain death at her father¿s hands. They flee across England, pursued by a truly evil villain who conspires to kill the King. Broc must reach the protection of his homeland and take his place as laird of his clan, as well as honor the betrothal plans his father negotiated. Lizbeth seeks to bargain her father¿s soul for the proof she possesses of the conspiracy against the King, knowing she will eventually live within the protection of the church. Ms. Killion makes a fascinating time in history more accessible to the casual reader without overwhelming us with her research. The sexual tension sizzles, while Lizzy and Broc find their way to each other. This book is highly recommended, and the author is one whose future work I eagerly await.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Broderick Maxwell a Scottish Spy is in The Tower being tortured when Lady Lizbeth Ives ¿ the executioner¿s daughter comes bursting through seeking help from her father. A man ¿ Lord Hollister is seeking a document she stole exposing him as an accomplice to treason and murder of King Edward IV. When guards start breaking down the door, Lisbeth escapes with the prisoner into a secret tunnel and away from The Tower. Running for their lives, each with a different agenda. Lisbeth wants to get the document to the Duke Of Gloucester ¿ Broderick¿s nemesis. Broderick wants to get the document to King James so he might align Scotland with France. However, Broderick promises Lizbeth that he will escort to his nemesis and they form a strong and protective bond as they flee England toward Scotland, with Lord Hollister and his guards chasing and tracking their every move. HER ONE DESIRE by debut author Kimberly Killion is what I¿ve been looking for in a medieval novel for a long time. Is it steamy and sensual the fact that they are both engaging and intelligent characters enhances the passion between Broderick and Lizbeth. The secondary characters were also enlightening and often times providing humorous and eye-opening statements that made for a witty trek into Scotland amidst the danger and betrayal surrounding them. I like the fact that Kimberly Killion took a mysterious piece of actual history and wrote a powerful plot while not overpowering the love story or characters with facts and data. There are not many Medieval¿s set in this era anymore and it was refreshing and a nice change of pace that perfectly balanced the good and evil in this story. HER ONE DESIRE went automatically on my keeper shelf, it¿s a novel I¿m sure every Medieval romance fan will devour and cherish for years to come. I also hope the author plans to continue writing about these characters and time period, as I miss them already.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Handsome and strong Broderick Maxwell is held captive in the Tower of London, now Laird to the Maxwell clan, due to his brother¿s death while they both experience the intense torture endured in order to discover important, life-threatening information about their King. In the midst of Broc¿s torture an angel appears that relieves him of his pain, saves his life, and plans his escape. He discovers this beautiful and kind savior to be none other than Lisbeth Ives, the daughter of England¿s Lord High Executioner, the very man responsible for his torture! She pleads for Broc to take her along in the escape, as she has proof that she is keeping to herself about the King being in danger from a powerful Lord close to the King that will also exonerate her father, who has been forced to do his cruel work for many years. Broc is reluctant to take this beauty along for several reasons. The obvious is that she is the executioner¿s daughter whom he blames for his brother¿s death, but also because he is strangely sensually drawn to the kindness and beauty of Lisbeth. When he agrees, they must escape the evil forces chasing them both. Lisbeth and Broc¿s attraction strengthens and grows as their escape plan twists and turns physically and emotionally. Broc is confused about his growing desire and passion for Lisbeth as the new Laid of the Maxwell clan because he knows he must not only honor the betrothal to another lady arranged by his family for his brother and to cling to his clan and brother¿s honor, but he will have to face the clan¿s disapproval for making the High Executioner¿s daughter their laird¿s wife. During their personal struggles and the many evil forces chasing them, Lisbeth, who has grown to deeply love Broc, holds her secrets from him in order to keep him and his clan safe when he returns to Scotland. The story is enticing and grips the reader from the first all the way to the end with secrets, passion and action making this book difficult to put down. Kimberly Killion is a talented debut author to look forward to for many more exciting in-depth stories. She has a keen talent for holding the reader to the story and creating interesting characters of depth, mystery and action like a writer who has written for years. This is a debut writer that has already written a keeper with this debut!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
JenMcG More than 1 year ago
I absolutely LOVED this book!! This new author is amazing. She can write and capture you inside the book. I finished this book in one day, because I couldn't put it down. I absolutely recommend this book. Great read and amazing romance novel. Very hot!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was a very enjoyable book. I fell in love with the characters right away and I always love a book where the characters meet in the first few pages of the book. You get drawn into Broc and Lizzy's romance right from beginning. Loved this book!