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Thrill of the Knight

Thrill of the Knight

3.8 12
by Julia Latham

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A lady's deception

Lady Elizabeth Hutton will never succumb to the ambitions of a neighboring lord—even after his soldiers imprison the newly orphaned heiress in her own bedchamber. Ever resourceful, the proud beauty has devised a strategy to escape the devil who's determined to possess her and her great wealth: she will switch roles with her


A lady's deception

Lady Elizabeth Hutton will never succumb to the ambitions of a neighboring lord—even after his soldiers imprison the newly orphaned heiress in her own bedchamber. Ever resourceful, the proud beauty has devised a strategy to escape the devil who's determined to possess her and her great wealth: she will switch roles with her loyal maid so that she can save herself and her people.

A knight's rapture

Sir John Russell's love of adventure has always carried him to far-flung places and dangers—and now he must ride to the rescue of the noblewoman he's betrothed to but hasn't seen since boyhood. However, it is not his bride-to-be but her bewitching servant who enflames his passion—and Sir John's desire for the fiery beauty threatens to undermine his sacred, sworn oath, forcing a noble knight into the most devastating choice of his life: between duty and honor . . . or ecstasy and disgrace.

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Avon Historical Romance Series
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Product dimensions:
4.18(w) x 6.75(h) x 0.96(d)

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Thrill of the Knight

By Julia Latham

HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.

Copyright © 2007 Julia Latham
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9780061235153

Chapter One

Castle Alderley
Gloucestershire, England, 1486

Lady Elizabeth Hutton lay curled in bed, half asleep, half awake, disturbed by the sound of pounding feet on the winding staircase that led to her tower bedchamber. Frowning, she opened her eyes to see her lady's maid, Anne Kendall, fling open the door and slam it shut behind her. She leaned back against it, breathing rapidly, her face pale.

Elizabeth sat up in bed, the coverlet falling to her waist. "Anne? What is it?"

"Viscount Bannaster."

Elizabeth groaned. "Is he still here? I was hoping that when I feigned illness yesterday rather than be introduced to him, he would realize the uselessness of his courtship."

"Then you feigned too well. He stayed."

"Does he not care that he looks a fool? I am already betrothed!" Although it didn't feel that way. She hadn't seen her betrothed since he was thirteen years old, and she eleven. And even then, it had been his brother she was first to marry. But William had died being thrown from his horse, the next brother was also dead, and she was down to John Russell. He had spent his adult life in Normandy. Had word even reached him that he was the newest heir of land and wealth—and a bride?

At least being betrothed had been aprotection of sorts. Until recently.

Anne came to perch on the edge of the bed. She had black hair and eyes framing the palest skin, and to see her looking even whiter gave Elizabeth the first inkling of fear.

"Elizabeth, his soldiers have apparently been hiding in the forest. They swarmed into the castle just now."

"Oh God, who has been killed?" she cried, flinging back the coverlet and coming to her feet. Her night rail was no protection against the early morning chill.

Anne reached to take her hand. "No one, thank God."

Elizabeth began to shake with relief. Anne handed her her dressing gown and Elizabeth gratefully wrapped it around herself. She could not take any more deaths.

"It was too overwhelming and sudden," Anne continued. "Your men were in the midst of changing duties, and no one anticipated such a maneuver. They are confined to the barracks for now, until Lord Bannaster determines what their next 'duty' should be." She hesitated. "He was still assigning guards to the base of your tower, so I was able to ascend before anyone saw me. I heard him say that he will be up to see you in one hour."

"He thinks he will be admitted to my private chamber?" Elizabeth demanded, trying to force a laugh of disbelief. She had been in command of Castle Alderley since her parents died of a fever six months before. She was not about to relinquish her control.

But Holy God, how she wished her father were here. The ache that never went away was beyond tears now. None of this would have happened if the Earl of Alderley still held the castle, if Elizabeth had any brothers to inherit the earldom. But the only family she had left were two younger sisters, sixteen and fifteen, both being educated with another family, as Elizabeth had been. She had friends and servants, people to help her, but the responsibility for them all was hers alone.

For a moment, she felt disoriented, weak, a woman caught in a situation not of her own making. Her parents were dead, her first betrothed, a man she'd worshiped from childhood on, was dead. She felt passed off to the next brother in line, and now taken advantage of by a nobleman who lusted after the earldom.

But she was not the type of woman to allow herself to feel overwhelmed. She always took matters into her own hands. After her parents' deaths, she had sent a missive to her betrothed alerting him to her situation, telling him that, although he had not planned it, he had to return to marry. She had vague memories of him always in the background being compared to the brilliance that was his eldest brother. But now he was the baron, and she had heard nothing from him. She was considered one of the greatest heiresses in the kingdom—was that not enough to lure him?

"I will let this villain speak, and then I will make whatever decision is necessary," Elizabeth said with determination. "Surely the king will not tolerate such an outrage."

"Lord Bannaster is King Henry's cousin," Anne said bleakly.

Elizabeth straightened her shoulders. "I care not. I am in the right here. He cannot force me to wed him, not when a betrothal is as binding as any marriage ceremony."

"Unless the king decrees otherwise."

Elizabeth threw up her hands. "Anne, I need no more pessimism!"

"Forgive me. I only know what you tell me, that the king is growing impatient with your maidenly status. Your unsettled estate weighs on his mind."

Elizabeth frowned at her.

Anne rose to pour water into a basin. "Let me help you prepare." But as she gathered linen and soap, she suddenly paused. Her expression turned distant, then determined.

"What are you thinking?" Elizabeth asked.

"You have never met Lord Bannaster," the maid said slowly. "Neither have I. You sent word to his lordship about your illness through another maidservant."

"Mayhap he didn't appreciate the slight," Elizabeth said with bitterness.

"Nay, that is not what I mean. I have an idea. If he keeps control of Alderley, you'll be trapped here, at his mercy."

"The king would not allow—"

Anne put up a hand. "It will be some time before the king knows what is going on here. Think you Lord Bannaster will permit someone to inform his mighty cousin? Nay, Lord Bannaster knows what he's doing is illegal. He must be counting on a few days' secrecy to conclude his plan, whatever it is."

"'Tis a good thing you were educated with me," Elizabeth observed wryly. "One of us has to show some intelligence."


Excerpted from Thrill of the Knight by Julia Latham Copyright © 2007 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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Thrill of the Knight 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 12 reviews.
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Love this book and Julia Latham (Gayle Callen) . I have almost read all her books.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
Julia Lathem is an outstanding writer, I could not put this book down!!!
harstan More than 1 year ago
In 1486 Gloucestershire, England, Lady Elizabeth Hutton rejects the courtship of Viscount Bannaster. However her persistent neighbor refuses to go away even when she insists she is betrothed to another though she knows being betrothed did not stop her from marrying another man. Bannaster¿s knights take over her estate and lock her inside her bedroom. Sir John Russell has returned from Normandy as a Baron to wed his betrothed Elizabeth to keep her safe from fortune hunters and to use her wealth to rebuild his family¿s neglected lands as he only recently learned of the demises of his older brothers. However, instead of Elizabeth he finds himself attracted to her fiery maid. Still he may be half way in love with Anne Kendall, but duty comes before the heart so it is the lady he must ¿steal¿ from Bannaster. Meanwhile the maid begins to fall in love with the knight, but wonders how to explain to the intruder that she is actually Lady Elizabeth having switched places with her loyal Annie to thwart the ambition of King Henry¿s cousin Bannaster. --- This is an exciting fifteenth century romance due to the antics of the lead duo struggling to prevent the efforts of the arrogant royal cousin and other gold-diggers from abducting the widowed heiress. Sir John is a fascinating protagonist who has come home to see his estate in trouble, his betrothed incarcerated, and his prospects of retuning to the tournament circuit nil. Elizabeth is an intrepid person who knows her wealth makes her a male magnet and plots accordingly to elude these greedy suitors. Though Bannaster is so egotistical that he seems genuine and worthy of reader scorn, fans of the King Henry era novels will appreciate Julia Latham¿s fun-filled historical intrigue. --- Harriet Klausner