Once a Knight (Knight Series #1)

( 7 )

Overview

A Lady's Choice

Only desperation can make strong-willed Lady Alisoun hire Sir David of Radcliffe to protect her castle. He had once been a hero renowned for his brave daring and knightly skills. But few know what he has been doing these past years.

A Hero Again

At George's Cross estate, Sir David does indeed discover danger afoot. But the danger that surprises him most is how quickly his own well-protected ...

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Once a Knight (Knight Series #1)

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Overview

A Lady's Choice

Only desperation can make strong-willed Lady Alisoun hire Sir David of Radcliffe to protect her castle. He had once been a hero renowned for his brave daring and knightly skills. But few know what he has been doing these past years.

A Hero Again

At George's Cross estate, Sir David does indeed discover danger afoot. But the danger that surprises him most is how quickly his own well-protected heart is falling to a fiery damsel who brings him to his knees. When put to the test, he must make a sacrifice. But will he lose his heart...or his life?

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Medieval fans have a real treat in store in Dodd's newest. Dodd (Move Heaven and Earth) fashions her hero and heroine with such candor and wit that it tempts the imagination. After an attempt is made on her life, Lady Alisoun, the lofty and aloof chatelaine of Georges Cross, seeks protection from the legendary mercenary Sir David of Radcliffe. Searching out the former "King's Champion," Alisoun discovers, to her dismay, a down on his luck, out of condition hasbeen. Desperate, Alisoun hires him, hoping that the past laurels of the fabled hero are enough to hold the assassin at bay. The sensitive and often humorous interaction between the hero and heroine keeps the story moving at top speed and should win this writer an even broader audience. (Apr.)
Library Journal

An independent noblewoman and the formerly renowned but now rusty knight she hires to protect her and her castle find love where they had least expected it in this sensual romance first published in 1996.


—Kristin Ramsdell
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780061083983
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 9/28/2007
  • Series: Knight Series , #1
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 416
  • Sales rank: 1,360,876
  • Product dimensions: 6.66 (w) x 10.94 (h) x 1.11 (d)

Meet the Author

New York Times bestselling author Christina Dodd builds worlds filled with suspense, romance, and adventure and creates the most distinctive characters in fiction today. Her fifty novels have been translated into twenty-five languages, featured by Doubleday Book Club, recorded on Books on Tape for the Blind, won Romance Writers of America's Golden Heart and RITA® awards, and been called the year's best by Library Journal. Dodd herself has been a clue in the Los Angeles Times crossword puzzle.

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Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Medieval England

Northumbria, 1252

I saw the whole thing from beginning to end, and I pray you note that there aren't many alive today who can say that. Most people, when they hear about it, say it's a legend, a romance, one of those foolish stories women make up to entertain themselves. I give you my vow, I saw it all, and whatever you have heard, it's the truth.

Better than that, whatever you've heard isn't half the truth.

The first of it I remember was the picnic. Oh, there were other incidents, but I was just a lad, a page in Lady Alisoun's household. I slept with the other pages, trained with the other pages, prayed with the other pages, and painfully penned a letter to my grandparents once every moon which Lady Alisoun read. She read it, she said, to see if I was improving in my lessons with the priest. I believed her then, but now I suspect a different truth-that she read to see if I was happy in her care.

I was, although my contact with her was limited to that once-a-month discussion of my progress toward squirehood. I knew I could become a squire. Lots of men and youths were squires. But I aspired to greater things. I aspired to the holy knighthood. It was the greatest honor I could ever achieve. It was my dearest dream, my greatest challenge, and I concentrated my whole attention on my studies, for I was determined someday to be a knight.

So it took that dreadful picnic to alert me that trouble brewed in Lady Alisoun's household.

The first shout came after lunch, when the young men and women of the village and the castle had scattered into the forest that surrounded theopen meadow. I would have been with them, but pages were subservient to everyone, and I had been commandeered to help the serving women repack the baskets while the men lounged in the lazy aftermath of a huge meal. Anyway, someone, I don't know who, yelled, "Lady Edlyn's been taken!"

That caught my attention at once, for at fifteen (four years older than me), Lady Edlyn was kind, beautiful — and unaware of my existence.

I adored her.

The shout caught Lady Alisoun's attention, too. She stood up quickly. Quickly!

No one who lived outside of George's Cross could understand the significance of that, but it brought silence to the meadow. Every eye clung to Lady Alisoun's tall figure, alarmed by her haste.

Lady Alisoun never did anything quickly. She did everything deliberately, calmly. Every day, she rose at dawn, attended Mass, broke her fast, and proceeded to the duty of the day. Every year, she celebrated Twelfth Night, fasted at Easter, supervised the lambing in the spring, and went to Lancaster in the autumn. She was the lady, our lady, the one we timed our lives by.

I'm making her sound old — to me, she was old — although looking back, I know she couldn't have been more than twenty-four or twenty-five. Yet Lady Alisoun didn't look old. She just looked perfect, and that was why that one hurried, unwary motion told us so much.

Three serving girls burst from the woods and ran toward Lady Alisoun as if drawn to a lodestone. "A man...a man! He grabbed her!"

One silly village woman screamed, and Lady Alisoun spun and bent a stare on her. Silence descended at once; Lady Alisoun expected proper behavior from all on her estate, and for the most part, she got it.

Then she asked the girls, "Who grabbed her?"

"A man...a man," one girl gasped.

But Heath, my lady's chief maid, pushed forward and punched the girl in the arm. "Speak. What man?"

"A stranger."

I heard Alisoun's personal maid, a woman with a babe at her breast, mutter a raw prayer.

Sir Walter called, "A strange man took Lady Edlyn?"

He didn't rise from his seat to ask the question, or act in any way concerned, and I again realized how much I disliked him. For all his superior airs, he was nothing but a knight, elevated by Lady Alisoun to the role of her steward. He was supposed to secure her estates, but today he could scarcely unwrap himself from his woman long enough to show respect.

Looking around, I saw the same dislike mirrored on everyone's face.

We held our breaths, waiting for Lady Alisoun's reprimand. She might be the epitome of a lady, but she could reduce a grown man to tears with a few wellchosen words.

She didn't do it this time. She just looked at Sir Walter through those funny-colored eyes, judging him in her mind. I suppose you could wonder how I knew that, but I did, and so did Sir Walter, because that stocky lowland knave scrambled to his feet so fast his woman fell backward and hit her head against a rock.

Served her right, the slut.

Once Sir Walter stood on his feet, a mad rush ensued. He organized search parties, sending the villeins to different parts of the forest to look for the Lady Edlyn. I wanted to go, too. I hopped up and down on one foot, waggled my hand, finally spoke up, but he denied me the honor of joining the search. I should stay with the women, he said, sneering in his offensive manner.

He didn't like me because he didn't think I knew my place. Actually, I did know it. I didn't keep to it, but I knew it.

Sir Walter himself insisted on going with the trackers to the place where Lady Edlyn had been taken. They would seek her and had the best chance of locating her. Sir Walter wanted to be in on the find to impress Lady Alisoun.

When the searchers had dispersed and their loud calls to each other faded, Lady Alisoun sent the women who carried babes or tended toddlers to the protection of the castle. She sent the contingent of remaining men-at-arms to protect them, too, and big, dull Ivo tried to argue with her about that. He didn't want to leave her, but years of obedience had left their mark, and before long, I found myself alone with Lady Alisoun.

She sat alone on a rug in the middle of the open...

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 7 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 4, 2008

    PERFECT

    I am a huge fan of Christina Dodd's. Every book that I have read has kept me intrigued and unable to lay it down! This one did not disappoint. From start to finish, I was in love with this story! Definitely recommend to anyone that wants to flee the real world and fall in love again!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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