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Knight's Vow

Knight's Vow

3.6 13
by Gayle Callen

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He was her father's enemy, and now he was her husband by the king's decree. But that didn't mean Lady Isabel Atherstone planned on honoring James Markham, Earl of Bolton, with her love. She only hoped that her hasty marriage would bring her closer to the revenge she sought adn finally restore her family's name. But then, the willful new bride hadn't counted on what


He was her father's enemy, and now he was her husband by the king's decree. But that didn't mean Lady Isabel Atherstone planned on honoring James Markham, Earl of Bolton, with her love. She only hoped that her hasty marriage would bring her closer to the revenge she sought adn finally restore her family's name. But then, the willful new bride hadn't counted on what would happen when her handsome husband took her to the marriage bed.

James Markham was thunderstruck. Though an age-old family rivalry kept his new wife at arms against him, she quivered with desire beneath his touch. Now the newly married earl wondered if his passion would be his undoing. For though the lady swore she'd never love him, her eyes told another tale—one that made the earl vow to possess her completely.

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HarperCollins Publishers
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4.18(w) x 6.75(h) x 0.96(d)

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Chapter One

September, 1486

The dowry rested uneasily on James Markham's conscience as he rode through the forest towards home. Though hidden away in his saddle pack, the money could get him killed--not that it would matter to his former betrothed.

At the crack of a branch, he whirled in the saddle, expecting to see his soldiers. But the path was empty, dwindling away into darkness as the day crept towards its end. The senses he had honed in battle awoke, though they had lain dormant through his long debauchery at court. He eyed the trees above him, searching for any unnatural movement. His ears picked up every rustle of leaves. Something wasn't right.

Suddenly, a man dropped from the trees above, crashing into James and sending them both tumbling from the rearing horse. James rolled onto his back, digging in with his heels, pinning the man beneath him. Before he could reach for his dagger, a sword appeared at his neck. He went still, and looked up the thin length of steel, past the arm that steadily held it. He almost laughed at the mask that covered the upper half of his assailant's face, until he saw the long, wild, black hair of a woman. He took a deep breath and didn't fight the arms gripping him from behind.

They remained silent, the three of them caught in a strange moment in time. James was so overcome with fascination that the possibility of peril receded from thought. He could see little of her face, but she was stunrung, with her hair untamed and flowing in dark curling streams down the cloak that covered her body.

"Your purse, sir," she said, her voice cold, impassive.

James grinned. He felt suddenlymore alive than he had throughout the months of drunken lethargy and self-pity. Then the sword pricked his neck and he flinched.

"Do you think this a jest, sir?"

"No, my dear. Is this a whim on your part?" Though he tempted much, he couldn't resist taunting her. He wanted to hear the husky, low tones of her voice. His arms were jerked back harder, and he grimaced.

"Your money," the man's voice hissed in his ear, spraying spittle in a hot wave across his jaw.

"At my waist, you fool."

The woman pricked the tip of her sword beneath his ear. Her dark eyes never wavered. "I have no qualms about killing you. I am a desperate woman, and you are nothing to me."

"Very convincing, my dear." He felt the new flow of blood seep into his collar. He resisted glancing at his horse, for fear they'd search it, too. "Your plight so moves me that I must warn you. My men are not far behind."

Her eyes betrayed her and she glanced back down the path. James barely felt her accomplice pawing at his belt. His gaze was drawn to the smooth line of her throat, then up to her full lips compressed into a thin line. Her eyes were black as the depths he'd lived through so recently. She'd slashed crude coloring beneath her lashes, and he thought perhaps she wore paint on her skin.

"I have it," the man said, then abruptly threw James to the ground.

James rolled over and the woman brought her boot down on his neck. The sword danced bare inches from his eyes.

"Search the horse."

He clenched his teeth. The dowry money from his failed attempt at marriage was all he had to restore his estates.

"But his men--"

"Do it now, quickly." Her low voice rang with authority.

Her hooded cohort untied the saddle packs and staggered beneath their weight. James sighed heavily, waiting for her grin of triumph. She showed nothing.

He had trouble swallowing beneath the pressure of her foot. Her cloak swirled above him, offering glimpses of feminine legs encased in hose.

"I will find you," he whispered.

She gave a faint smile, almost a grimace. "You may try. But you reveal your foolishness, sir. I could easily kill you."

He reached for her boot. As she lost her balance, the sword slashed his cheek, deeper this time. She steadied herself, applying even more pressure to his throat. The sword shook in her hand and blood from its point dripped onto his shirt. Her face betrayed its first emotionshock. She staggered back.

James lifted himself to his elbows and the sword returned swiftly.

"Do not tempt me, sir. " She looked up at her partner. "Let us be gone."

The man came forward with a rope in his hands.

James's calm vanished as he realized she might actually succeed with her theft. KnockMg the sword aside, he lunged off the ground and reached for the woman. She whirled towards him, but before he could touch her, a blinding flash of pain exploded through his head. The last things he saw were her blackrimmed eyes.

A dull pounding invaded James's dreams, and it seemed a long time before he realized it came from his head. Slowly, he opened his eyes. The room was dark, with no windows. By the dim light of a fire, he could see a prickly thatched roof. Where was he?

Suddenly, the fire roared higher, and James noticed a squatting man tending it, his face covered by a hood. The robbery had been no dream.

He remembered the woman then, and turned his head until he saw her. She was watching him through the slits of her mask. The throbbing inside his skull rose and ebbed, and he gritted his teeth. "You have all my money. What more could you want of me?"

She came out of the shadows into the firelight, wearing a man's short, black doublet, and hose beneath. Her legs were fine and long, her waist narrow but not fragile. Wild hair curled and clung, wrapping itself insidiously about her anus and waist. Of her face, he could only see her eyes and lips, and knew for certain that she had painted them. He saw intelligence and purpose in those eyes, and knew instinctively that she was the enemy.

"My lord, your head is badly bleeding," she said.


"I could not leave you to die."

The Knight's Vow. Copyright © by Gayle Callen. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Meet the Author

After a detour through fitness instructing and computer programming, Gayle Callen found the life she'd always dreamed of as a romance writer. This USA Today bestselling author has written more than twenty historical romances for Avon Books, and her novels have won the Holt Medallion, the Laurel Wreath Award, the Booksellers' Best Award, and been translated into eleven different languages. The mother of three grown children, an avid crafter, singer, and outdoor enthusiast, Gayle lives in Central New York with her dog, Uma, and her husband, Jim the Romance Hero. She also writes contemporary romances as Emma Cane.

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Knight's Vow 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 13 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I loved it and just could not put it down. A knight's vow is one of my all time favorite books. It's a fabulous story and a must have for anyone who enjoys a medieval romance.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is nothing like I have ever read before. It actually sends you back through time to where you are in the book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Had trouble finishing (why did I?)
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Could of been longer but good
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is the second book in the trio ( #1 The Darkest Knight). It is set in the late 1400's and Lady Isabel is anything but your typical Lady. I could not put my nook down while reading this. I wish my nook would read to me sometimes! Anyway this is my new fave book by Gayle Callen and I have read all her books except My Ladies Guardian. Which I am starting tonight.
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ErocticTreasures More than 1 year ago
Of all the years I have been reading I never had a book that i didnt give at least a 4 star on the story I did give it a 1. This story was so off beat This is so bad, I dont even remember the names. all I can say is the girl in this book dose not know one thing on being a lady or a girl, she didnt even know how to brush her hair she had dirty pants shirt on all the time she dress like a man fight like a man she was nothing like a lady at all in this book. She didnt even know what a bathtub was. She even took her bathing in the river like every guy did. Like i said this book was so off beat it bored me to tears dont let the cover get you like it do me. and this is the first one ever I had that did get me fooled. And she put out really good books. Ms Callen was really off on this one.