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Secrets of the Knight

Secrets of the Knight

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by Julia Latham

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A knight never reveals her secrets . . .

When young Diana Winslow arrived at Castle Bannaster, her beauty and bravery disguised beneath a servant's dress, she had no idea her life would change forever. But now the cruel and lecherous Viscount Bannaster lies dead—and the novice Bladeswoman cannot escape her guilt. Nothing, not even fighting for the Crown,


A knight never reveals her secrets . . .

When young Diana Winslow arrived at Castle Bannaster, her beauty and bravery disguised beneath a servant's dress, she had no idea her life would change forever. But now the cruel and lecherous Viscount Bannaster lies dead—and the novice Bladeswoman cannot escape her guilt. Nothing, not even fighting for the Crown, can erase her fears . . . especially when she comes face to face with Thomas, the viscount's startlingly seductive brother.

Desperate to keep him from discovering the truth, Diana attempts a daring abduction. But all her skills as a knight are no defense against the powerful, irresistible nobleman who has just become her prisoner. A man with a mystery of his own. A man who eyes her so hungrily, so wantonly, that he could tempt her to give up all her secrets for one wicked night in his arms . . .

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
4.10(w) x 6.70(h) x 1.10(d)

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Secrets of the Knight

By Julia Latham
HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.
Copyright © 2008

Julia Latham
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9780061432965

Chapter One

Yorkshire, six years later

Aching with the cold of winter, Tom Bannaster and his small party of men had been traveling north from London for several weeks, and only the promise of looking over a potential bride made him keep going—and the fact that his cousin, King Henry, had "suggested" he take the journey to meet this particular woman. That in itself made Tom uneasy. But he was a loyal subject, and through the last six years—and four different kings—he'd managed to choose the right path. Not without several stumbles, of course, but when a man had to relearn an entire childhood's worth of lessons, some mistakes were inevitable.

The town of Richmond was a welcome sight to men who'd been urging their mounts ever higher into the flat, hilltop moors of the Pennines. Tom had three men-at-arms with him and they all grinned at each other when they could see the lights of the town on the River Swale, glittering in the distance against the snowy patches of ground.

The tavern they chose overlooked an ancient stone bridge that arched over the river. There was cheerful company, a huge stone hearth that warmed the room, and a plentiful supply of ale.

As Tom bit into a dripping lamb pasty, he thought of the woman he would soon meet. Cicely Winslow was reputed to be a true beauty, the sister of a baron. That theking had suggested her gave Tom pause, but then his cousin understood that he hadn't had good luck persuading a woman to be his wife. By the devil, it had taken Tom a long time to even understand how to treat a woman after his unusual upbringing, and he'd made some foolish mistakes in the last year.

Tom took a swig of ale to hide his wince. He'd thought for certain he could persuade Lady Elizabeth Hutton, daughter of the earl of Alderley, to marry him, joining two great houses and settling Gloucestershire after his cousin's ascension to the throne. But the situation had deteriorated, and before he knew it, he had kept her confined in her tower bedroom at Castle Alderley until he could confer with the king. And even then, she'd switched places with her maid to outwit him. Perhaps he should have relieved his steward, Milburn, for suggesting the plan. But Tom had to bear some of the blame, for he had gone along with him willingly enough, feeling desperate.

And now Tom wondered if his foolish mistakes had only earned him the chance to woo the daughter of a baron in the remote North Riding. Yet . . . Tom had been able to repair some of the damage to his reputation by assisting the king last summer in the delicate matter of traitors to the Crown. Perhaps Cicely Winslow was even a reward, of sorts, a beautiful woman easily won to wife. He wanted heirs, children to love and treat better than he'd been treated. He had thought he would never have a wife or children of his own, and the promise of companionable nights with his family drove him. For even though he'd renounced the priesthood six years ago, and spent the occasional night with a willing woman, his new life had gradually seemed lacking. He wanted to feel . . . close to someone, to feel loved and to love in return.

He thought he was finally ready to put the past behind him. After six years, the suspicion of his people had faded, if not entirely disappeared. But at the beginning of his rule, it had been a different matter. He had been the one with the most to gain from his brother's death, although there was no proof that he'd committed the crime. It had taken several years of hard work and proof of his determination to be a decent leader to win the sympathy of his people.

But the king's court was another matter. He knew there would always be men who thought he'd killed his brother out of greed and ambition. And for a long time, their suspicion forced him to pretend to search for his brother's murderer. But although the maidservants had shared suspicion with him, no one had been identified. Even he hadn't seen the girl's face, for he'd been staring at his dead brother while she'd pulled her hood forward to disguise her features.

Perhaps the king thought a happy marriage would further his acceptance at court. Yet it was hard to persuade a noblewoman that he was nothing like the rumors about him. Maybe Cicely Winslow would be different.

Or maybe she just wanted to escape this frigid corner of Yorkshire. Tom drained another tankard of ale, feeling his toes begin to unfreeze at last. He tapped his foot in time to a patron's lute and smiled as several women began to dance. The crowd grew raucous, clapping a beat and roaring approval as the women dipped and swayed their hips. Their garments clung tightly to their breasts, and Tom watched with hearty appreciation. After so many years of being unable to even look at a woman, now he found that he could stare at their graceful forms like a starved man. When one of the women ended up in his lap, he'd had just enough ale to agree to her whispered proposal. He followed her out of the public room and up to the chamber he'd paid for.

When the door closed, he reached for her, but she stepped away, laughing as she plopped a horn of ale on the small wooden table.

"More drink, milord?" she said, swaying, a lock of her dark red hair loose at her shoulder, her smile full of promise. "The night is far too cold."

He grinned. "Then let me warm you."

When he reached for her waist, she eluded him, uncorking the horn and taking a sip before passing it to him. The wench was right, he thought, drinking deeply. His belly burned with warmth, though the fire in the hearth was meager, and the shutters rattled with the wind.


Excerpted from Secrets of the Knight by Julia Latham
Copyright © 2008 by Julia Latham. 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

Julia Latham has an abiding love for the Middle Ages, when knights were knights and ladies had to tame them. After several varied jobs, the last in computer programming, she realized her life's dream of being published with Avon Books. She lives in Central New York with her three children; her dog, Apollo; and her husband, Jim.

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Secrets of the Knight 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
In 1480 League of the Blade warrior Diana Winslow traveled to Castle Bannaster in disguise as a servant. Her assignment was to end Viscount Bannaster¿s brutal mistreatment of women. However, she went too far leaving the viscount dead and his brother Thomas accused by the lords as his killer. P Six years later, King Henry strongly suggested to his ¿cousin¿ Thomas to court Cicely Winslow. Thus he heads to Richmond while Cicely¿s sister Diana knows she cannot hang around just in case he recognizes her in front of her family as the servant who could defend herself with the blade on that fatal day. Instead once again the impulsive master bladeswoman acts she abducts Thomas. As she holds him prisoner, the pair are attracted to one another. However, if extended family relations were not convoluted enough, her employer orders her to investigate Thomas' loyalty to the King P The third League of the Blade historical romance (see THRILL OF THE KNIGHT and ONE KNIGHT ONLY) is a fabulous gender bending tale as Diana is super with the sword and not afraid to act often impetuously and unwisely. Thus she is weaponless when she falls in love. Thomas is a strong character too, but this deep period piece belongs to the third bladeswoman. P Harriet Klausner
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