Twilight Magic

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Darian of Bruges knows where his loyalties lie. As a mercenary and right-hand man to William of Ypres, his loyalties lie to himself first and the King second and that will not change. When King Stephen summons him, asking him to assassinate a man on his behalf, Darian sees this as a job and nothing more. But he's been set up.

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New York, NY 2006 Trade paperback Good. Go green, recycle! Book may have wear from reading, may contain some library markings. Trade paperback (US). Glued binding. 321 p. ... Contains: Illustrations, black & white. Read more Show Less

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Overview

Darian of Bruges knows where his loyalties lie. As a mercenary and right-hand man to William of Ypres, his loyalties lie to himself first and the King second and that will not change. When King Stephen summons him, asking him to assassinate a man on his behalf, Darian sees this as a job and nothing more. But he's been set up.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
This tepid follow-up to Anton's Midnight Magic picks up her 12th-century tale of three orphaned English sisters with Lady Emma de Leon, who has a peculiar gift: looking into a pool of water, she is able to see events before they happen. One such vision shows her the image of a man, all bronze skin and dimples, who will one day become her lover-but that happy knowledge doesn't curb Emma's shock when she finally meets her dream man, Darian of Bruges, a lowly Flemish mercenary who stands accused of murdering an English noble. Believing him innocent, Emma bravely and scandalously offers herself up as Darian's alibi for the night of the murder, ruining her reputation while saving Darian from the noose. Instead of granting Darian's freedom, the king orders Darian to marry Emma and forces both into exile. Though attracted to Emma, Darian secretly plots to abandon her, return to London and find the man who framed him. Emma persuades Darian to take her with him, and the two embark on a dangerous journey made even more perilous by growing desire. Restrained and conventional, this bland romance remains unredeemed by its appealing characters and playful repartee. Anton's fans will be sated, but new readers will probably seek out steamier, more enchanting fare. (Dec.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780446617550
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
  • Publication date: 7/21/2009
  • Pages: 336
  • Product dimensions: 8.00 (w) x 5.00 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Read an Excerpt

Twilight Magic


By Shari Anton

WARNER FOREVER

Copyright © 2006 Sharon Antoniewicz
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0-446-61755-5


Chapter One

England, 1145

Not this morn, Lady Emma. The king has matters of great import to discuss with his counselors, so he will be occupied for the greater part of the day."

Lady Emma de Leon's nails dug into her palms in an effort to control her rising frustration. Shouting at the chamberlain's clerk would do her no good.

Yesterday, another of the chamberlain's clerks had refused her request for an audience with the king, and she'd heard similar excuses on other occasions throughout the past summer. With King Stephen so rarely in residence at Westminster Palace, her opportunities to speak to him had been few and she was determined to gain an audience before he left again.

"On the morrow, perhaps?" Emma asked of the pale little man with the graceful hands and uptilted nose.

He huffed. "A war is being fought, my lady. Events will dictate who will be allowed into the royal presence based on urgent need."

Emma understood all about the damn war. If not for the war's ghastly assault on her family, she wouldn't be forced to plea for royal intervention on her youngest sister's behalf.

In as calm a voice as she could manage, she explained, "A child's fate depends upon a royal decision, and I require only a few moments to make my request. Surely the king can spare a moment for an act of mercy."

"If I yielded to everyone who requested a moment of the king's time, His Majestywould be an old man when all were done."

Emma again tamped down her ire, striving mightily not to strangle the guardian of the royal chamber's door. "I realize the king's time is precious, and if any other person could act on my request, I would not bother him. But no other than King Stephen can make decisions over his ward's fate."

"Is the child in grave danger?"

"Nay, but ..."

Damn. The clerk's smug smile said she should have lied and told him she feared Nicole in physical danger. But Nicole hadn't complained of beatings or whippings. Instead, the letters stank of amiability and contentment, reeked of resignation.

No plea for deliverance. No entreaty for liberation. If not for the handwriting, Emma would think someone other than Nicole wrote the letters. The girl was either changing or despairing and Emma knew she must procure the girl's release from Bledloe Abbey before the nunnery sucked all the vibrancy and joy of life out of Nicole.

For four months Emma had tried to keep her oath to Nicole, and four months now seemed far too long to be prevented from keeping that oath.

The clerk waved an irritatingly dismissive hand. "Then the matter is not urgent and does not require the king's immediate attention. Indeed, I suggest you put your request to parchment for the king to consider at his leisure."

"I did, in late summer, but have received no answer. I can only assume my request has been ... misplaced."

Lost on purpose, no doubt. Shoved aside by the chamberlain's clerks as unimportant. Her deceased father, Sir Hugh de Leon, was considered a traitor, and no one at court felt any obligation to show kindness or mercy to the traitor's daughter.

The clerk's eyes narrowed. "Naught which is overseen by the chamberlain's clerks becomes misplaced. You must have patience, my lady. The king will consider your petition in due time."

With that, he strode down the hallway toward the royal residence, to a doorway leading to the king's chambers, which she could see but wasn't allowed to pass through, leaving her standing alone and with no recourse. Naturally, the guard opened one of the huge oak doors and the clerk swept through without a challenge.

The clerk belonged; she did not.

Tempted to rush the door and force her way in, knowing she might hurt her cause further by such boldness, Emma fled in the opposite direction.

All the way back to the queen's solar, where Emma spent most of her days and nights, she fought the urge to scream and make someone listen to her. No one would, however. Not even if she wailed her outrage.

Since her arrival in London, she'd been shunned, considered the undesirable outcast. Emma had known from the moment she'd been informed she was coming to court that she wouldn't be a favorite. However, she had not expected to be treated with malicious contempt-as now, when entering Queen Matilda's sumptuously furnished solar.

Several elegantly garbed women who served as the queen's handmaidens looked up from their embroidery, or loom, or book, to see who had entered. All immediately turned away when they saw who came through the door.

No one of importance, their expressions said. Only the traitor's daughter, their malevolence shouted.

Intent on ignoring the hurtful dismissal, Emma plopped down on a bench at the far end of the chamber, near the open window slit through which she heard rain splatter against the palace's thick stone walls. A deep breath helped calm her upset and sort her thoughts, trying not to blame her father or her new brother-by-marriage for placing her in an untenable situation.

On the day of her father's death, King Stephen had knighted Alberic of Chester and gifted him with her father's barony. Then the king had ordered Alberic to marry one of the three de Leon daughters, send another to court, and give the last to the Church.

Alberic's decision on which daughter to marry hadn't surprised Emma. Her younger sister Gwendolyn was by far prettier and more likeable than she was. Nicole, besides being too young for Alberic's taste, had tried to stab him with a dagger. Still, Alberic would allow the girl to return to Camelen, which only proved her brother-by-marriage possessed a generous heart.

Emma had promised Nicole she would petition the king to allow the girl to leave the nunnery and return home. Of late, Emma had considered adding a plea for deliverance of her own, but admitted she didn't particularly want to go home to Camelen. To be dependent upon her slightly younger sister and her brother-by-marriage didn't appeal.

Sweet mercy, she'd been excited when Alberic informed her she was being sent to King Stephen's court at Westminster Palace, and had arrived with hopes of finding a place for herself. Instead, she'd found only misery. 'Struth, she didn't particularly wish to remain at court any more than she wanted to return to Camelen.

For now, however, she must put her own discontent aside and concentrate on freeing Nicole. With her little sister's future settled, Emma could then worry about her own fate.

Not that she had any control over her fate, for that, too, rested in the king's hands. A king whose time was limited and guarded by wretched, uncaring clerks.

People gathering at the doorway signaled the return of Queen Matilda from her daily walk in the garden, accompanied by the flock of men and women who comprised the cream of the queen's court. Everyone in the solar stood, giving the queen the honor due her royal rank. Not until she crossed the room to her ornately carved, armed chair and gave a small hand signal did everyone return to their occupations.

Emma wondered if she should again ask the queen to intervene on her behalf. Matilda, however, showed no more inclination to assist the traitor's daughter than the chamberlain's clerks. Nor were any of the people favored by the royal couple interested in Emma's problems, save one caring soul, who now came toward her.

Lady Julia de Vere, the lovely niece of the earl of Oxford, had come to court years ago to serve as hostage for her uncle's continued support of the king's efforts to hold on to his crown. Though both Emma and Julia were prisoners of the crown-though held gently in the sumptuous prison of Westminster Palace and not the dreary White Tower-Julia de Vere was treated with utmost courtesy and respect by all and sundry. Emma didn't know why Julia didn't consider the traitor's daughter little better than a leper. She was just grateful the woman deigned to be friendly.

She tried hard not to notice how favorably Julia's blond hair compared to her own drab brown, or how much better Julia's bliaut of sapphire silk, shot through with gold thread, fitted into the elegant surroundings than Emma's well-made but now-faded green wool.

Emma accepted the difference in their position at court, even though she outranked the niece of an earl. Being the daughter of a Norman baron placed Emma within the ranks of the nobility, but being the daughter of a Welsh princess boosted her far over Julia. Her high birth was, perhaps, the reason she resided in the palace and not the Tower. However, no one at court felt inclined to acknowledge her station further.

Julia's smile went far to lighten Emma's mood. She took a seat on the bench, careful to spread her skirt to show it to the best advantage.

"How is your head today?" Julia asked. "You are sitting up and seem less pale."

"Better. I appreciate your concern."

"Four days is a long time to spend on pallet in a dark corner with a pounding head. I still contend you should allow a surgeon to examine you."

Julia meant well, and Emma would heed the advice if she didn't already know why the headaches occurred and what she could do to make them cease. However, she considered the cure worse than the agony. She willingly suffered the pain rather than allow cursed, devil-sent visions to overtake her as they had in her childhood. Since discovering how to both evade and fight off the visions, she'd done so-though not with complete success.

If she told Julia of the visions, her friend would be horrified, and Emma didn't wish to lose Julia's friendship. Best to change the subject, an easy task with Julia.

"The surgeon's time would be wasted. How went your walk in the garden?"

"The flowers are fading. Michaelmas is but a fortnight away and with it will come harvest time's chill. You should come with us on the morrow. Each day might be our last opportunity to take the boats into the pond and feed the swans. Were you able to make your request of the chamberlain's clerk?"

Emma suppressed a shiver at the thought of spending the day by the pond and forced herself to continue. "Apparently the king is too busy today to attend to aught not concerning the war. Tomorrow as well. Perhaps I will have better luck the day after."

Julia leaned closer. "I gather you did not offer to bed the clerk."

"Sweet mercy, nay!" Emma said, though she'd been at court long enough not to be entirely shocked at Julia's suggestion.

"Officious, pompous clerks must be bribed into granting favor, either with body or with coin," Julia stated. "If you have not the coin, then spending a night or two in the clerk's bed may soften him in your favor."

Emma had already observed that Julia accepted the practice as a means of getting her way. Her uncle kept her well supplied with coin, but depending upon what she wanted and from whom she wanted it, Julia wasn't above taking a man to her bed, or she sharing his. She was selective, though, in her bedmates and usually most discreet.

Indeed, taking a lover seemed common practice. Once the queen retired to her private bedchamber, a veritable parade ensued of men coming in and women going out of the solar. Emma had moved her pallet to a dark corner of the large chamber to avoid being stepped on or mistaken for another woman, as much as for a quiet place to endure her headaches.

"I refuse to offer up my virtue to so mean a little man. Nor do I have the coin to offer him. And nay, I shall not take your coin because I have no way to repay you. Allow me my pride."

"Pride will not open the king's door."

Perhaps not, but to bed the clerk-well, not only did the pale little man not appeal to her, but even if she offered herself to him, she doubted he would accept. She wasn't slender and pretty, as were most of the ladies who lived in the palace, and she would be mortified if she offered the clerk a tumble and he backed away in horror.

Besides, she already knew the man to whom she would give her virginity, and he certainly wasn't one of the clerks, thank heaven above.

"Then I must find another way into the royal chambers. Perhaps I should slight the clerks and make my request of the chamberlain."

"Tsk. The chamberlain is as hard to gain an audience with as the king. The clerks guard both zealously. 'Struth, Emma, you must somehow bribe one of the clerks or you will never gain a royal audience!"

Emma sighed inwardly. "There must be another way."

"Then you must find a means of entry quickly. I understand the king will be in residence for four more days before he returns to the field."

Four days! Certes, the king couldn't spend all four days in war council, could he?

Well, if she couldn't go through the clerks, or appeal to the chamberlain above them, then she would have to go around them all. Make a direct assault on the royal chambers. Somehow get past the doorway's guards.

Unfortunately, she didn't have any effective weapons in her armory-save one. Bravado.

She would give the king today and tomorrow to meet with his counselors. Early on the morning after, she would be among the throng of courtiers, advisors, and attendants milling outside his chamber door, prepared to sneak, bluff, or push her way inside.

No matter if she lowered her standing at court-which was already so low she didn't see how she could sink further-she would keep her oath to Nicole. Pride and honor, and her own peace of mind, demanded she do no less.

Darian of Bruges strode through the passageways of the royal residence beside William of Ypres, commander of the Flemish mercenaries, matching his stride to that of his shorter and rounder mentor.

He'd made this trek several times over the past years, and each time Darian felt amazement that he was allowed onto Westminster Palace's grounds, much less into the royal chambers. Of course, there were people who would prefer that a man of his ilk not be allowed in the city of London, much less inside the palace.

Too bad.

King Stephen needed men like Darian if he hoped to win his war against the Empress Maud. Men willing to take risks, capable of accomplishing those tasks that men of refinement were reluctant to undertake. A mercenary skilled in warfare, willing to do whatever necessary to defeat an enemy.

His boot heels clicked against the highly polished plank floors, too loudly for a man accustomed to approaching others too quietly for them to hear before he struck. But then, this morn, his only task was to act as an added set of ears and eyes for his commander.

An easy task, but one few others could perform. Not only did William trust Darian's keenly honed ability to assess his surroundings, but Darian was also a member of a carefully chosen band of mercenaries who knew William's eyesight had begun to fail. King Stephen didn't yet know of the mercenary commander's difficulty, and William planned to keep the problem secret until it interfered with his ability to command troops in battle.

Darian hoped that time might not come for many years yet.

"Do you know why we have been summoned, or who else will be present?" Darian asked.

William shook his head. "The clerk did not say, though I would not be surprised to see Bishop Henry. He did not approve of the plan we decided upon yester noon and I fear he may have convinced the king to change his mind."

Damnation! If the king changed his mind, then Darian wouldn't be leaving London anytime soon, and Edward de Salis, a vile, evil man, would continue to ravage villages and maim and murder more innocents.

The son of a baron, Edward de Salis took advantage of the war's upheaval to add coin to his coffers, uncaring who suffered from his endeavors. Though warned several times to cease, de Salis ignored the king's orders in his pursuit of wealth.

(Continues...)



Excerpted from Twilight Magic by Shari Anton Copyright © 2006 by Sharon Antoniewicz. 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.
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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 25, 2006

    A Splendid Medieval Read

    Ms. Anton does it again!! With her endearing characters, historically rich world and distinctive voice, she effortlessly transports you to a time when Knights, Lady¿s and honor abound. Ever since she was a child, Emma de Leon has suffered visions. After a few traumatizing ones involving her loved ones, she found a way to suppress them. Yet the strongest vision, one of the man who would one day be her lover, has haunted her for years. When a family matter finds her at the Kings court, she at long last sees the man in the flesh. No sooner does her elation at finally seeing him crest, he is accused of a horrible crime. In her heart Emma knows he¿s innocent and steps in to save his life. The end result of her helpful act sees them wed by the Kings order. Emma¿s new husband is none too pleased with her for butting into his life, and for more reasons than just their hasty nuptials he believes there is no future in their marriage. Little does he know Emma has seen that they not only have a chance at a future, they have a chance at love. Darian of Bruges has always been a faithful and loyal subject to the crown. So when the King orders he wed a stranger, Darian obeys without question. But he¿s not happy about it. Sure the woman is everything a man could want in a wife. Emma is beautiful, spirited and loving. However Darian is a wounded soul who believes himself not worthy of her. Not to mention, he¿s grown accustomed to his solitary life as a mercenary. Even so, the more time he spends playing husband to this intriguing Lady Emma, the more his heart yearns for the peace and contentment he feels when they¿re together. Will Darian be able to swallow his pride and become the man he sees in Emma¿s eyes? Or will his one chance at true love and happiness slip through his fingers? I have been a fan of this very talented writer for years and she keeps upping the bar with each effort. No one can write medieval romances like her. She peppers the perfect amount of accurate historical details through the story to bring her well fleshed out characters to life. Twilight Magic is a wonderful, heartwarming tale that will sweep you up in the times and carry you away into a wonderful romance. Emma and Darian are delightful, and it is a pure joy to watch their love for one another blossom. I eagerly await the third book in this magical series about the De Leon sisters.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    A magical and enchanting romance

    In 1145 London Lady Emma de Leon is frustrated with King Stephen as she petitions him to allow her younger sister Nicole to come home from Bledloe Abbey to live with her married other sibling Gwendolyn. The monarch has no time for Emma as he is fighting a civil war.------------- The King¿s brother Bishop Henry offers strong circumstantial evidence that accuses Flemish mercenary Darian of Bruges of killing Edward de Solis. Darian provides no alibi so Stephen says he must be executed. However, Emma says he was with her last night. Henry is irate and insists she lies but Emma describes scars on him. She knows Darian intimately though they never met before as he has been the man this witch has made love with in her dreams. He wants nothing to do with her, but Stephen forces them to marry. They flee the city for Kent though Darian plans to investigate who framed him for murder starting with which friend betrayed him.-------------------- The second de Leon ¿magical¿ medieval romance is a fun tale that hooks readers from the moment Emma speaks up and never slows down until the final confrontation with a sly villain. As with the first novel (see MIDNIGHT MAGIC), readers obtain a taste of the impact of the English civil war between Stephen and Maud. On the top of a whodunit, the relationship between the witch and the mercenary make for a superb historical as she knows he is the one and he knows she is the one he must avoid as she bewitches him.--------------- Harriet Klausner

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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