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Lion's Bride

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Overview

Woven with searing sensuality, here is the unforgettable story of a woman who is carried away by a powerful Lord to a secret stronghold, where she becomes his prisoner, his tormentor...and his lover.

Johansen has won almost every major bookseller and reviewer award, and continues to demonstrate excellence in Lion's Bride, the spellbinding story of a runaway slave who finds safety--and passion--in the arms of a renegade warrior. But the passion may turn fatal when the...

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Lion's Bride

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Overview

Woven with searing sensuality, here is the unforgettable story of a woman who is carried away by a powerful Lord to a secret stronghold, where she becomes his prisoner, his tormentor...and his lover.

Johansen has won almost every major bookseller and reviewer award, and continues to demonstrate excellence in Lion's Bride, the spellbinding story of a runaway slave who finds safety--and passion--in the arms of a renegade warrior. But the passion may turn fatal when the warrior's enemies try to use the slave to destroy him. Original.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Johansen (Dark Rider) writes to her strength in a medieval romance filled with action, sex and the lively working-out of 12th-century gender differences. Indentured to a silk merchant, Thea of Dimas steals a basket of wriggling worms and sets out for Damascus to start her own embroidery-design studio and then effect the escape of her little sister, Selene. After her caravan is destroyed, Thea is rescued by blustery knight Lord Ware and carried (pressed up against his hard, unyielding armor) to his desert fortress, Dundragon. Ware, hunted by the Knights Templar because he's discovered the secret of their Lion Throne, must protect Thea from the deadly consequences to anyone who gets close to him. Thea, an ambitious career woman, must stop Ware from running roughshod over her big plans. Together the feisty lovers battle crusaders, Muslims and their own misguided agendas before settling down in the Scottish Highlands to breed lusty little bairns. (Feb.)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780553569902
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 1/28/1996
  • Series: Lion's Bride Series
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 420
  • Sales rank: 485,369
  • Product dimensions: 4.20 (w) x 6.80 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Iris Johansen
Iris Johansen is the New York Times bestselling author of Killer Dreams, On the Run, Countdown, Firestorm, Fatal Tide, Dead Aim, No One to Trust and more. She lives near Atlanta, Georgia.

Biography

After her two children left home for college, Iris Johansen decided to devote her new found free time to writing. Since she loved reading romance novels, she penned a love story, and found to her surprise that "I was just as voracious a writer as I was a reader." During the 1980s, her name was emblazoned on dozens of slender volumes featuring spirited adventuresses, passionate mystery men, and smoldering love scenes. These days, Johansen is one of a posse of former romance writers dominating the New York Times bestseller lists.

Early on in her career, Johansen developed the habit of following characters from book to book, sometimes introducing minor characters in one novel who then become major figures in another. She developed families, relationships, and even fictional countries in her romance novels, which "stretched the boundaries of the standard formulas," according to Barbara E. Kemp in Twentieth-Century Romance and Historical Writers. In 1991, Johansen broke out of category romance (a term for short books written to conform to the length, style and subject matter guidelines for a publisher's series) with The Wind Dancer, a romantic-suspense novel set in 16th-century Italy. She followed it with two sequels, Storm Winds and Reap the Wind, to form a trilogy, then wrote several more stand-alone romance novels before The Ugly Duckling was published in 1996.

The Ugly Duckling was her first book to be released in hardcover -- and the first to significantly broaden her readership beyond her romance fan base. Since then, Johansen's plots have gotten tighter and more suspense-driven; critics have praised her "flesh-and-blood characters, crackling dialogue and lean, suspenseful plotting" (Publishers Weekly). Some of her most popular books feature forensic sculptor Eve Duncan, who first appeared in The Face of Deception in 1998. But Johansen seems equally comfortable with male protagonists, and her books have crossed the gender division that often characterizes popular fiction. Indeed, Publishers Weekly called The Search "that rarity: a woman's novel for men."

Good To Know

Johansen rewrote the ending of Reap the Wind for its reissue in 2002. "I couldn't resist tightening and changing the climax to correspond with my changed ideas on plot structure but the story is basically the same," she explained in a Q&A on her publisher's web site.

Many of her early novels were written for the Loveswept series from Bantam Books; bestselling authors Sandra Brown and Kay Hooper also wrote for the series.

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Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

APRIL 21, 1189
SYRIAN DESERT

THE MOONLIT SILVER SANDS shimmered hazily before her eyes.

The mountains on the horizon seemed an eternity away.

Thea staggered, fell to her knees, then struggled again to her feet.

She must keep going. . . .

She must not waste the night. The darkness was less cruel than the burning light of day. Barely.

She tried to swallow.

Panic seared through her. Dear God, her throat was too dry; she would strangle.

She drew a deep breath, trying to calm the wild pounding of her heart. Fear was as much her enemy as this burning desert. She would not be frightened into taking the last few swallows from her water bag.

Tomorrow she might reach an oasis.

Or even Damascus.

She had been traveling so long, surely Damascus was a possibility.

She would not give up. She had not escaped those savages just to succumb to the desert.

She stopped and concentrated. See, she could still swallow. She had not reached the point of total desperation. She started jerkily forward again.

Think of coolness, smoothness, glowing threads of gold on fine brocade. Think of beauty. . . . The world was not this desert.

Yet it seemed to be the world. She could not remember anything but glaring sand by day and shifting sinister shadows by night.

But tonight the shadows seemed more alive, less evanescent and more purposeful. Coming toward her.

Pounding toward her.

Not shadows. Horsemen. Dozens of horsemen. Armor gleaming in the moonlight.

The savages again.

Hide.

Where? No shrubs in this barren place.

Run.

No strength.

There was always strength. Call on it.

She was running. The water skin and the basket on her back weighed her down, slowing her.

She could not drop either one. The water skin was life. The basket was freedom.

The pounding of hooves was closer. A shout . . .

A sharp stitch in her side. Ignore it. Keep running.

Her breath was coming in painful gasps.

The horses were streaming around her, in front of her, surrounding her. . . .

“Stop!”

Arabic. Saracens. Savages like those others.

She darted blindly forward, seeking a way through the ring of horses.

She ran into a wall of iron.

No, not a wall. A broad chest garbed in iron mail. Huge gauntlet-clad hands grabbed her shoulders.

She struggled wildly, her fists pounding at the mail.

Stupid. Hit flesh, not armor. She struck his cheek with all her strength.

He flinched and muttered a curse, his hands tightening with bruising force on her shoulders.

She cried out as pain shot through her.

“Be still.” His light eyes blazed down at her from beneath the steel visor. “I won’t hurt you, if you don’t fight me.”

Lies.

She had seen the blood and rapine and the killing. . . .

She struck his cheek again. And again.

Her shoulders went numb as his grip tightened again.

Her body arched with agony. She slowly lifted her fist to strike him again.

“Christ!” He released her shoulders, and his hand swept out and connected with her chin.
Darkness.

“Very good, Ware. You vanquished a helpless woman with one blow.” Kadar nudged his horse forward to look down at the figure on the ground. “Perhaps soon you will progress to brutalizing children.”

“Be quiet and give me your water skin,” Ware growled. “I had no choice. It was either break her shoulders or this. She wouldn’t do as I told her.”

“A sin, to be sure.” Kadar got down from his horse and handed Ware his water skin. “You didn’t consider patience and turning the other cheek?”

“I did not.” He pushed back the cloth covering the woman’s head. “I leave courtesy and gallantry to you. I believe in expedience.”

“She appears very young, no more than ten and five. And with fair hair . . .” Kadar paused musingly. “Frank?”

“Possibly. Or Greek.” He lifted the woman’s head and poured a few drops of water into her mouth, waited until she swallowed before giving her a few drops more. “Whatever she is, she’s thirsty.”

“You think she may have escaped the caravan from Constantinople that Hassan ibn Narif attacked last week?”

“It seems reasonable. One doesn’t find women wandering the desert alone.” He called over his shoulder, “Bring the torch closer, Abdul.”

Abdul rode forward and Kadar gazed down at the woman with interest. “She’s comely.”

“How can you tell? She’s burned and dry as an overripe date.” Ware wrinkled his nose. “And she smells.”

“I can tell beauty when I see it.”

Ware supposed the woman’s features were pleasing enough; wide-set eyes, a small nose, well-shaped mouth. Though the line of her jaw and chin were a bit too firm.

“Once she’s clean, she’ll be very comely,” Kadar said. “I have an instinct about these things.”

“You have an instinct about everything,” Ware said dryly. “It serves to take the place of thinking.”

“Cruel.” As he continued to look down at the woman, he added absently, “But I forgive you because I know of your fondness for me.”

Ware forced another few drops of water between the woman’s lips. “Then you know more than I do.”

Kadar beamed. “Oh, yes, infinitely more. How kind of you to admit it.”

Ware frowned. “I didn’t hit her that hard. She should be awake.”

“You underestimate your strength. You have a fist like a mace.”

“I never underestimate myself. It was only a tap.” Yet she was lying too still. He bent forward and saw the faint movement of her chest. “She must be in a faint.”

“Concern?”

“An observation,” Ware said flatly. “I feel neither guilt nor pity toward this woman. Why should I? I didn’t attack the caravan and leave her in the desert to die. She means nothing to me one way or the other.” Though, as Kadar knew, he did admire strength and determination, and the woman had displayed an abundance of both. “I merely wish to determine whether to bury her or take her to the nearest village to heal.”

“Burying her would be a little premature, don’t you think?” Kadar bent forward. “She’s clearly suffering from heat and thirst, but I see no wounds. Though I doubt if Hassan let her escape unscathed. He likes pale women.”

“She’s not pale now.” It was a wonder she had survived ten days in the desert after Hassan had finished with her. He felt a surge of rage that surprised him. He had thought he had grown so hard that he had lost the ability to feel pity or rage for the innocent.

“Well, since you’re not going to bury her, shall we take her with us to Dundragon? The nearest village is over forty miles north, and she needs care.”

Ware frowned with impatience. “You know we take no one to Dundragon.”

“I fear we must make an exception. Unless you intend to leave her here to die.” Kadar shook his head. “And that would not be appropriate. It would defy a law of nature. After all, you’ve saved her life. Now she belongs to you.”

Ware grunted scornfully.

Kadar shook his head and sighed. “I’ve tried to explain this to you before. You don’t understand. It’s a law of--”

“Nature,” Ware finished. “I think it’s more Kadar’s law.”

“Well, it’s true I’m often far wiser than nature, and also more interesting, but I can’t claim to be as all-powerful.” He added, “Yet. But I’m only ten and nine. There’s still time.”

“We don’t take her to Dundragon,” Ware said flatly.

“Then I suppose I’ll have to stay here and protect her.” He sat down beside the woman and crossed his legs. “Go on. I ask only that you leave a skin of water and a few grains of food.”
Ware glared at him.

“Of course, Hassan may come upon us. I’ll be out-numbered, and you know I have no skill with weapons. There’s also the possibility that Guy de Lusanne may pass this way on his glorious journey to Jerusalem. It’s rumored his troops are no more godly than Hassan’s.” Kadar smiled guilelessly. “But you must not worry about me. Forget that I saved your life in that den of assassins.”

“I will.” Ware stood up and mounted his horse. “I didn’t ask for your help then nor your company now.” He wheeled, lifted his hand, and motioned the riders forward.

Someone was holding her, gently rocking back and forth.

Mother?

Yes, it must be her mother. She was back in the House of Nicholas, and soon she would open her eyes and see that sad, gentle face. Her mother was always gentle, and her meekness filled Thea with wild frustration.

Not for me. I’ll not let them break me. Not you, either. Let me help you and together we can leave this place. You’re afraid? Then let me be strong enough for both of us.

But Thea hadn’t been strong enough, and her mother would be even more unhappy when she learned how Thea had failed her.

A sharp pang of regret surged through her.

I tried to keep my promise to save Selene. I won’t give up. Soon I’ll be stronger and try again. Forgive me, Mother. You’ll see that Selene--

But her mother would see nothing ever again, she remembered suddenly. She had died long ago. . . .
But if this was not her mother, who was holding her with such tenderness?

She slowly opened her lids.

“Ah, you’re awake. Good.”

She was being held by a handsome young man with great dark eyes, a sweet smile--A turban!
Savage.

She started to struggle.

“No. No.” He held her immobile with surprising strength for one so slim. “I mean you no harm. I’m Kadar ben Arnaud.”

Her eyes blazed up at him. “Saracen.”

“Armenian, but my father was a Frank. In truth, my mother’s people have proved more civilized than my father’s.” He gazed soberly down at her. “And I’m not of the band who attacked you. You were with the caravan from Constantinople?”

“Let me go.”

He released her at once.

She rolled away from him and scrambled to her knees.

“You see, I don’t hold you captive. I wish only the best for you.”

She could not trust him.

Yet there was nothing but gentleness in his expression.

But there had been that other man who was neither gentle nor merciful.

She glanced around but saw no one else in sight, only a single horse a dozen yards away.

“They’ve gone away.” He set the water skin before her. “More water? I don’t think Ware gave you enough.”

She looked at the container as if it were a scorpion about to sting her.

“It’s not poisoned.” He smiled. “You drank for Ware, now drink for me.”

His smile was the most irresistible she had ever seen, and his tone was like dark velvet. She felt a little of her fear subside. “I don’t know this . . . Ware.”

“Lord Ware of Dundragon. You struck him several times. I’d think some memory would linger.”
Cold blue eyes, gleaming mail and helmet, bruising pain in her shoulders. “He hurt me.”

“He meant no harm.”

Hard, ruthless face, eyes without mercy. “He meant to hurt me.”

“He has a great anger in him and he’s not a gentle man. I admit he often takes the most direct path to reach his destination. Unfortunately, it’s sometimes also the roughest. What is your name?”

She hesitated.

He smiled and pushed the water skin toward her. “Drink.”

She picked up the water skin and drank deep. The water was warm but flowed like mead down her parched throat.

“Not too much,” Kadar warned. “It may have to last us awhile. Ware and I had a small disagreement regarding your disposition, and he can be very stubborn.”

She lowered the water skin. “I . . . thank you.” She searched her memory for his name. “Kadar.”
“It was my pleasure . . .” He looked at her inquiringly.

“Thea. I am Thea of Dimas.” Panic rushed through her as she suddenly realized her basket was no longer on her back. “You took my basket,” she accused fiercely. “Where is it?”

“On the ground in back of you. I don’t steal from women, Thea of Dimas.”

The relief flowing through her was immediately followed by shame when she met his reproachful gaze. How foolish to feel shame for doubting a stranger.

He tossed another leather pouch to her. “Dates and a little mutton. How long have you been without food?”

“I ran out yesterday.” But she had limited herself to only a few bites a day since she had escaped the attack. She opened the pouch and tried not to snatch at a piece of meat. It was dried and tough, but she chewed blissfully. “You don’t wear armor. The others wore armor.”

“Because I’m not a soldier. I regard those who battle with lance and sword as barbaric. I prefer my wits.”

“You call this Lord Ware barbaric?”

“On occasion. But he has known nothing but battle since he was a child, so he must be forgiven.”

She had no intention of forgiving him when her jaw still ached from his blow. Those light-blue eyes and aura of power were imprinted on her memory as vividly as the bruise he’d inflicted.

“He’s a Frankish knight?”

He shook his head. “Ware is a Scot.”

“Scot?” She had never heard that term. “From where?”

“Scotland is a country far more barbarous than this one. It’s north of England.”

She knew of England. In Constantinople it, too, was considered a barbarous country.

“And was he going to battle when you came upon me?”

“No, we’d just come from helping Conrad of Monferrai fight off Saladin’s siege of Tyre. We were on our way back to Dundragon.”

She took another piece of meat. “Then the war is over?”

He chuckled. “The battle is over. I doubt if this war will ever be over.”

“Then why do you go home?”

“Ware’s contract with Conrad ended with the siege, and Conrad didn’t wish to part with any more funds.”

“Lord Ware battles for gold?”

“And property.” He smiled. “He’s the strongest knight in the land, and it’s made him a very wealthy man.”

Which was not uncommon, Thea thought. Everyone knew that many knights who had supposedly come on the great Crusades to fight a holy war had stayed to plunder and win vast properties for themselves.

“As for myself, I’ll choose a far less dangerous way to riches.” He changed the subject. “Thea. You’re Greek?”

She nodded.

“And you were traveling with the caravan to Damascus?”

She nodded again.

“You’re very fortunate. We had heard no one escaped from Hassan’s attack. He brought over a hundred captives to the slave market at Acre and bragged he’d killed another hundred.”

Her eyes widened. “You know him?”

“One does not know a reptile. Ware and I are acquainted with him. There’s a difference.” He dampened a cloth and handed it to her. “Bathe your poor face. Your skin must be very sore.”

She took the cloth and then stopped. “You said I shouldn’t waste water.”

“I’ve changed my mind and decided to trust in my instincts. Take it.”

The wet cloth was heavenly moist on her burned cheeks and forehead. “You’re very kind.”

“Yes.” He gave her another sweet smile. “Very. It sometimes makes my life difficult.” He paused.

“Were your parents among the slaves Hassan brought to Damascus?”

“No.”

“Your husband?”

“No, I was alone.”

His brows raised. “Odd. You’re very young.”

She had blurted the truth without thinking. “I’m ten and seven. Many women have wed and borne children by my age.” But women did not travel without escort. It would be safer for her if everyone believed she had been orphaned during the attack. “I mean . . . my father was killed by that man . . . Hassan.”

“Oh, is that what you mean.” He smiled. “How?”

He did not believe her. His tone was faintly chiding.

“I don’t want to talk about it.”

“How cruel of me. Of course you don’t.”

She quickly changed the subject. “And what of you? You said your father was a Frank. Have you lived here long?”

“All my life. I grew up on the streets of Damascus. Have a little more water. Slowly.”

She sipped from the water skin. “Yet you serve this Scot.”

“I serve myself. We travel together.” He smiled. “He belongs to me. It’s rather like owning a tiger, but it has interesting moments.”

She frowned in bewilderment. “Belongs to--”

“Shh.” He suddenly tilted his head, listening. “Ah, do you hear? He’s coming.”

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 24 )
Rating Distribution

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 24 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 24, 2005

    i couldn't put the book down

    i actually found this book in my mother's car, and i decided to read the first page, but as i went on i found that one page became three, three became ten, and i literally could not put this book down. while reading it, i found myself connecting to the characters, i felt like i had become a part of their world. this book made me cry, made me smile, and ,on a few occasions, made me laugh out loud. it is a beautifully written book that displays many different themes, such as romance, adventure, drama. i highly recomend that you read this book. i fell in love with all of the characters. never in my life have i felt so strongly about a work of art.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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

    Posted January 7, 2004

    In the end, a good book.

    I bought this book for a dollar at an antique store (of all places). I was not sure about it at first, but the more I read, the more I got into it. I loved how Ware always protected Thea no matter what. He always put her safety first, even over his own life. I liked all the twists and turns in the novel. The only reason I did not give it 5 stars was because of the authors take on religion (or at least that is what I assume is her take since she wrote the book). I thought it was way to far-fetched and even blasphemous. But, if you can get past that part of the book, the rest of the story is a page-turner.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 17, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Pretty Good

    I enjoyed the story. Interesting take on the Knights Templar.

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  • Posted June 17, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Silk Worms and Swords

    When Thea of Dimas runs off from the slave shop of a silk merchant she finds herself at the mercy of a savage warrior who rescues her from certain death in the desert. Thea is the only survivor of a brutal attack on the caravan that she had attached herself to as she sought to reach Damascus and the hope of a better life. Once there she would be able to send for her younger sister. An accomplished needlewoman, she is hoping to set up her own silk shop.

    But Lord Ware of Dundragon, her rescuer, is a complex man; one who is on the hit list of the Knights Templar. He doesn't wish to become close to this girl, Thea, in order to spare her from being associated with him and thus putting her in harm's way. It is his intent to get her well and send her on her way.

    Somewhere in all this mess, Ware and Thea begin to bond and soon the dark warrior lord is aware that the woman has become his true love and his Achilles' heel.

    Lots of soul-searching for both Ware and Thea, a secondary romance for Thea's sister Selene with Ware's friend Kadar, a stunning backdrop for a locale, lots of action thrown in for good measure and you have an Indiana Jones-like story that anyone would enjoy.

    Falls just short of 5 stars due to some spots of slow movement within the story line.

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

    Posted September 22, 2008

    Loved It

    I could not put this book down. I absolutely loved it and think it's Iris Johansen's best work. I can't wait for the second part to come out this December.

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

    Posted April 24, 2008

    Cute, sexy, Fun!

    Awesome book, I love Iris, she blends the right amount of drama, love, etc, to create a romantic, funny, book that you just can't put down! The characters were relatable, endearing, and CUTE. Loved it, if you get thrown off by 'blasphemous' religious explorations/speculations this book might offend you, but if you don't get weighed down by such things, this is a killer story!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 3, 2002

    A MUST READ

    A very good book. I especially like the encounter between Lord Ware and Thea. I would have never guessed tha teafter an encounter like that they could actually becaome lover. Johansen weaves a magical tale around two people struggling with their love and the danger surrounding them.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 14, 2000

    How can you not read this???

    Sex, lies, and love all rolled into one pint-sized Iris Johansen novel. I loved every minute of this and was very sad when it ended because it was wonderful. I couldn't complain about anything in this story.

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