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She would have no man—Far from the intrigues of the king's court, all Lady Gillian desired was to keep her family's estate safe—and to honor her vow never to marry. Then Sir Bayard de Boisbaston arrived at D'Averette castle to warn of possible danger and protect all within. Who was this man, to take over her castle? No matter that he was surely the handsomest knight in the realm, and made her rethink her steadfast vows.He would have no other—Chivalry demanded Sir Bayard protect Lady Gillian. Though he never ...
She would have no man—Far from the intrigues of the king's court, all Lady Gillian desired was to keep her family's estate safe—and to honor her vow never to marry. Then Sir Bayard de Boisbaston arrived at D'Averette castle to warn of possible danger and protect all within. Who was this man, to take over her castle? No matter that he was surely the handsomest knight in the realm, and made her rethink her steadfast vows.He would have no other—Chivalry demanded Sir Bayard protect Lady Gillian. Though he never expected to do battle with the lady herself. Gillian was a woman of fire and spirit who soon had Bayard plotting a conspiracy. One to convince the Lady Gillian that a knight of her own was useful, not only on the battlefield—but in the bedroom, as well!
THE IRON RINGS of chain mail jingled as Sir Bayard de Boisbaston raised his right arm to halt his men.
"Well, Frederic, what do you make of Castle Averette?" he asked his young squire, pointing across the wooded valley.
Frederic de Sere squinted at the gray stone fortress on the low rise opposite and shifted nervously in his saddle. "Small, isn't it?"
"From what we can see, you'd think so," Bayard agreed, "but not every castle is built in a circle. It could be that the barbican and towers facing the main road are at the narrow end."
He gestured at the towers at either side of the gate. "Archers have a clear view of the portcullis and good angles to shoot
He'd also noticed that the trees and bushes had been cut back from the sides of the road, leaving a swath of brackencovered ground between the road and the wood that was at least ten feet wide on either side. No enemies or footpads could ambush travelers before they had time to draw their swords and defend themselves.
Frederic brushed a lock of light brown hair from his eyes. "Yes, I see, my lord." "On to Averette," Bayard said as he nudged his horse into a walk.
Whatever else the late lord of Averette had been—and apparently he'd been a terrible man—he'd also been a man of some intelligence, at least when it came to defense, Bayard reflected as he and his men rode in silence along the river toward what looked to be a prosperous village. They passed a millpond and the mill, its wheel turning with a slow, steady motion. Cattle lowed from a nearby field, a few sheep scattered as they went past a meadow, and they could hear geese honking and chickens cluckingin farmyards along the road.
The village itself was not large, but the buildings were in good repair and the people appeared well fed. A few ragged children, with mongrel dogs yapping at their heels, ran out of an alley between a chandler's stall and an inn sporting a sign depicting a stag's head to stare at them, openmouthed. At the inn's door stood an ample-bosomed wench who eyed Bayard and his men with avaricious calculation. If she thought she'd get any custom from him, however, she was sorely mistaken.
Around the green, merchants at their stalls, as well as their customers, stopped to watch them go by. So did the group of elderly men seated beneath the large oak by the smithy that belched smoke even on this summer day, and the girls and women standing by the well.
No doubt there would be the usual comments after he was the scar that ran from his right eye to his chin. They'd wonder where he got it, and how, and who had done it. Some would say it marred his face; a few would declare they liked it.
He'd heard it all before. Too many times.
the notorious Sir Bayard de Boisbaston and recall the nickname he'd earned when he'd first arrived at court. He'd been sixteen, as well as spoiled, vain, and determined to make a name for himself.
He'd certainly done the latter.
Bayard slid a glance at fifteen-year-old Frederic, who was now sitting his horse with more lordly dignity and looking straight ahead as if completely unaware of the feminine attention directed their way.
Undoubtedly he was really enjoying every moment of that attention. The pride and folly of youth! One day he, too, would likely learn that not all attention was good, and not every woman who admired him was worthy of pursuit, or that winning his way into her bed such a great triumph.
A shout of warning came from the castle.
The sentries were alert, then. Given the news he had to deliver, Bayard decided it would be better to get the initial meeting over. He ordered his men to quicken their pace and lightly kicked his own horse into a canter.
As they neared the castle gates, a boy suddenly darted out from behind a farmer's cart filled with empty baskets, running toward the rickety gate in the fence opposite like a pheasant flushed from the underbrush.
Cursing, Bayard reined in his mount so hard, Danceur went back on his haunches and whinnied in protest. At nearly the same time, a woman appeared as if out of thin air in the cottage yard. She wrenched open the gate with such force she tore the top leather hinge clear off, scooped the child into her arms, and fled back to the well-kept yard. Clutching the child to her, she glared at Bayard as though he'd deliberately tried to murder the boy.
His heart pounding as if he'd been attacked, Bayard glared right back. He hadn't harmed the child, and it wouldn't have been his fault if he had. The boy had run directly into his path.
He was about to remind this ungrateful peasant of that fact when he recalled his mission here. He was to offer help, not enmity, so he stifled his temper. Thinking a few coins would soothe any ill will caused by this near accident, he dismounted and walked through the broken gate toward the mother and her child.
The boy, who couldn't be more than six years old, stared at him with wide-eyed awe. His mother continued to glower.
She wore a simple peasant's gown of light-brown wool and her honey-brown hair was covered by a linen veil. She was no great beauty, however, and although she might be spirited—and Bayard usually liked women with spirit, at least in his bed—he didn't appreciate such vitality when it was directed against him.
A heavyset man clad in the rough homespun of a peasant appeared from behind the cottage. His stunned gaze went from Bayard to Frederic and the mounted soldiers on the road, then back to his wife, as if he'd never seen a nobleman with an escort before.
Or perhaps he was wondering why there was a knight standing in his yard.
The woman passed the little boy to her husband, crossed her arms—incidentally revealing that she had very fine breasts—and addressed Bayard without a particle of deference or respect. "What is your business here, sir knight?"
"Who are you to speak to a nobleman in that insolent fashion?" Frederic demanded.
"Easy, lad," Bayard warned, glancing over his shoulder at the disdainful youth.
Those had been no peasant's dulcet tones or accent; the woman had betrayed herself with the first word that passed those full and frowning lips.
Bayard removed his helmet, tucked it under his arm and bowed. "Greetings, my lady. I am Sir Bayard de Boisbaston and I bring you news from your sister."
Not unexpectedly, there was a flash of surprise in the woman's bright green eyes, but it was quickly gone. Nor did she try to deny who she was.
"What news might this be? And from which one of my sisters?" Lady Gillian d'Averette inquired as coolly as if she met knights in a farmer's yard every day while attired in peasant's garb.
Maybe she did, and maybe that was her usual mode of dress; Armand had warned him his bride's sister was rather unusual, although he hadn't gone into detail.
Maybe she discussed important news out in the open where anyone might hear, too, but he did not. "I don't think this is an appropriate place for you to read the letter I bring you, my lady."
She pursed her lips, and for a moment he thought she might actually refuse.
Fortunately, she didn't. "Very well," she said as she marched past him with unladylike strides. "Come with me, if you will be so kind," she added over her shoulder.
Armand might also have mentioned that not only did his sister-in-law dress like a peasant, she issued orders like an empress, stomped like an irate merchant, and was nowhere near as beautiful as her sister, Adelaide. She hadn't given him a kiss of greeting, either.
God's blood, he'd had a friendlier welcome from the man who'd held him prisoner in France, Bayard thought as he followed her.
In spite of her discourtesy, however, he would say nothing and try to ignore her rudeness.
After all, he hadn't expected to be welcomed with open arms, so it shouldn't matter that she was less than thrilled by his arrival. Armand had asked him to bring a message to her, as well as stay to protect his wife's sister, and that he fully intended to do.
WHAT NEWS COULD this arrogant fellow be bringing from Adelaide and the king's court? Gillian wondered as she hurried toward the castle and the privacy of the solar.
She doubted it was good.
She and her sisters, Adelaide and Elizabeth—Lizette to those who knew her—were wards of the king. That meant John had complete power over them. He could marry them off as suited his purposes, without any regard at all for their happiness. He also gave guardianships of young male heirs to men who would strip the estates bare before the boys came of age. Indeed, he gave no thought at all to the welfare and safety of those for whom he was responsible, including the people of England.
Who could say what he might have done that could affect her, or the people of Averette?
And why had this knight been chosen to deliver her sister's message? If Adelaide were ill, a servant would have been dispatched.
Was it possible John had selected a husband for Adelaide, or Lizette, or even her—and this man was to be the groom?
Surely not. Please, God, she hoped not. Not for her, and not a man like this, an arrogant fellow who regarded her, and everyone else, with aggravating condescension.
Over the years she'd met many a man just like him. No doubt this Sir Bayard expected her to be impressed with his rank, his bearing, and his good looks. To be sure, he was handsome, despite the thin scar that went from the corner of his right eye to his chin, but she was no flighty, foolish girl to be so easily impressed.
Only once had she met a knight who had been generous, kind, and humble, and who had, surprisingly, been more interested in her than either of her sisters.
But that had been years ago, and James d'Ardenay was dead. She glanced at Sir Bayard again. What was he seeing as he approached Averette? Tithes and income? Peasants who should be ready to fight in battles and die for their overlord's cause?
She saw her home and people who labored to keep it prosperous and safe, secure in times of trouble. She saw men and women with names, faces, families, hopes, and dreams—like Young Davy, who knew more about the history of this village and its folk than anyone else. Old Davy was like a grandfather to her, as his wife had been more of a mother to her than her own poor sickly mother had ever been.
She knew the miller and the baker with their constant conflict, Sam at the tavern and Peg, as well as the morose
She saw people like Hale, the hayward, and father of little Teddy, whom Sir Bayard had nearly run down—not that he seemed troubled by that near accident, and of course he'd assumed a sum of money would be appropriate compensation.
There were many others, each one unique, some more likable than others, but all hers to protect, like this household, castle, and estate.
less of who sat on the throne, she would.
Posted December 9, 2008
In 1204 at D'Averette Castle, Gillian d¿Averette vows to adhere to the pledge she and her sisters Adelaide and Lizette made to never marry she has never forgotten what an SOB her sire was. However, she is stunned when Sir Bayard de Boisbaston arrives with the news that Adelaide married his half brother Lord Armand (see MY LORD¿S DESIRE). Besides feeling a bit betrayed by her sibling, Gillian cannot rid herself of the handsome pest, who intercedes in her running the castle.------------ Bayard detests his nickname as the ¿Gypsy Lover¿, which he knows is false. He tries to persuade Gillian that his notoriety is not only a lie, but that it is implausible. He struggles to convince her that she is the only woman for him even as Gillian admits to herself she loves her brother-in-law.------------- THE NOTORIOUS KNIGHT is a fabulous medieval romance starring two obstinate lead characters that in some ways are like the irresistible force meeting the immovable object. Bayard knows he wants Gillian as his wife while Gillian knows she wants no one especially an arrogant knight who reminds her of her father to be her husband. The sub-genre audience will enjoy their gender war compounded by law that disallows family members from marrying since their siblings are wedded they are by law family.---------- Harriet KlausnerWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
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