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4.3 32
by Jill Barnett

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War weary knight, Merrick de Beaucourt, wants nothing more than a simple life, a peaceful wife, and to oversee his new earldom. What he gets instead are orders from his king, Camrose Castle on the wild and rebellious Welsh borders, and a completely unbiddable wife. For six long years, Lady Clio has waited for her betrothed..waited, and waited. Once the news arrives


War weary knight, Merrick de Beaucourt, wants nothing more than a simple life, a peaceful wife, and to oversee his new earldom. What he gets instead are orders from his king, Camrose Castle on the wild and rebellious Welsh borders, and a completely unbiddable wife. For six long years, Lady Clio has waited for her betrothed..waited, and waited. Once the news arrives that he is returning, Clio returns to Camrose to again await the man who ignored her, but now determined to make him pay for the years she languished in a convent. Clio leads Merrick a merry chase, and she takes on the role of an independent alewife, driven to discover the lost recipe for ancient "heather ale," a magical beer first made by the Picts. Surrounded by the enchanted mists that circle Camrose Castle, these head-strong adversaries embark on a sometimes passionate, sometimes hilarious battle of wills in this unusual 13th Century tale of a brave knight who seeks to claim--and tame--his bride, or so he thinks....

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From "Wonderful"

Camrose Castle,


Lady Clio's father claimed her pale silvery hair was her greatest asset...or perhaps his greatest asset, considering he had the duty to see her wed to some poor unsuspecting fool.

To look at Lady Clio of Camrose, one would think she was the image of what every man, knight or king, peasant or merchant, wanted in a wife — someone who was meek in spirit: to make a man feel braver and stronger. A wife who was docile enough to allow a man to be the king of his castle. A woman whose head was as light inside as outside, to assure him that he would be more intelligent and therefore superior.

According to the Church, the color of a woman's hair bespoke her true nature. The men empowered by the Church based this theory on the conclusion that hair grew directly from the brain.

Fiery hair in a woman warned men of a woman's devilish spirit. Since woodland covered two thirds of the English isle, hair the color of tree trunks was considered common and showed the woman had little imagination.

Hair the color of midnight, which everyone knew was the witching hour, crowned the heads of women all too clever and devious. 'Twas even said by those same men of the Church that Eve herself had hair as black as a woman's sin.

But a woman with light hair was perfect.

Unfortunately, those men of the Church did not know Clio. Like a field of golden buttercups that hides a prickly hedgehog, Lady Clio's hair hid her true nature.

She was headstrong and determined, traits admired in men but scoffed at in women. Her father swore she had been born with that stubbornness.

Before Clio's birth, Clio's mother hadlost five babes. With Clio, as before, her mother's birthing pains had come before her time. So Clio came into the world two months early. When the priest tried to perform Last Rites over her puny blue body, she kicked his hand and, according to her father, opened her mouth and almost wailed the castle walls down.

To the utter amazement of everyone, Clio lived.

From the first moment of her life she had fought against the impossible. Lady Clio was born fighting to control her own destiny.

Of course, in her mind she wasn't stubborn. Persistent was what she was. Had she given up at birth where would she be?

Dead, that's where.

So Clio believed in being determined. She would not let anyone control her life, for only she held power over her survival.

She believed that with persistence came success. If one of her wonderful plans failed, she could always come up with another.

She was small in stature, but had the heart of a giant. Her mind was sometimes too quick for her own good. Once she got one of her infamous ideas into her head, she seldom thought about the consequences, of which there were usually many.

Yet no one could say she did not learn from her errors.

She was not that much of a goose. She seldom made the same mistake twice.

She always made new mistakes.

Which suited her, because she was the one who determined her own future. Even if the path was strewn with the remnants of her failures. At least they were her failures.

Clio never allowed something as minor as a lack of skill to daunt her efforts. She firmly believed perfection came with practice. Of course she had no sound reason on which to base this belief. Indeed, history, logic, and her reputation demanded just the opposite.

But she loved a challenge. Embraced it, reveled in it. Those who knew her called her tenacious spirit a mulish exercise in futility. But Clio just didn't believe in giving up. She would just conjure up a new plan — an idea.

Clio thought ideas were a wonderful things. Those who had been privy to some of her fiascoes recognized the warning signs. The quiet and sudden stillness of her manner. The small frown line that wrinkled between her brows. The thoughtful chewing of her lower lip or the twisting of her mother's jeweled ring on her finger. Her expression became dovelike. Peaceful.

But whenever Lady Clio got that look and, worse yet, when she claimed aloud that she had one of her "wonderful ideas," those around her immediately lost their sense of peace.

With good reason.

When she had just passed her tenth saint's day, her father paid a large penance to the Gregorian monks for what he referred to as "chanting for help." Months later he'd claimed it was worth eating all those nightly platters of cheap, stringy mutton, since it only took until St. Thomas the Martyr's Day to haul the new catapult out of the moat.

When the tinker's cart had suffered the same fate two years before, it had taken twice as long to recover and had cost him much more.

At age twelve Clio took up a needle and thread to tend a hunting wound of a visiting bishop. After which her father used all the gold in his heavy purse to buy pardons for her from a passing pilgrim.

It seemed that unbeknownst to her father, the lecherous bishop had chased Clio for the entire previous week and had foolishly cornered her on the staircase, where he stole a kiss and squeezed her small breasts. So when it came time to doctor him, she had smiled sweetly and stitched up his wound in the shape of three sixes, the sign of the devil.

At fifteen, Clio was banished from the queen's court after only two disastrous days, and her father sent the pope a jewel-encrusted golden chalice in the hope of receiving papal prayer on behalf of his daughter and only child.

It had worked, for a week later the betrothal offer arrived from Merrick de Beaucourt, a knight who was then in the Holy Lands making the English king and the Church wealthier under the guise of fighting the infidels.

She asked her father to tell her what Sir Merrick was like. Her father said he was a great warrior.

That was not exactly the answer Clio was looking for.

She wanted to know if he was tall and kind and had a face that was sweet on the eyes. If he could play the lute and sing love poems. If he would hand her his heart on a silver platter.

Her father laughed and claimed Sir Merrick would protect her and that it did not matter whether she liked him or not, because she had no choice. The betrothal was by order of King Henry, his liege lord.

But de Beaucourt was to be gone for four more years and her father caught a chill one exceptionally cold winter day and died a few days later.

Lady Clio became a ward of Henry III. Queen Eleanor still barred her from court — once had been quite enough, thank you — and suggested that the king pawn his new ward off on one of their enemies, perhaps whoever was the latest troublesome Welsh prince.

Henry refused. He wasn't ready to start a war.

So until de Beaucourt returned from the Crusade, the king sent Lady Clio to a remote convent, where her life continued much as it had before her father's death: one "wonderful idea" after another.

Copyright © 1997 by Jill Barnett Stadler

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Wonderful 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 33 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Rather than wait at the convent for her betrothed to come (it has taken him 6 long years), Lady Clio has decided to meet him at their future home. Impressed by her beauty, and amused by her stubborness, Merrick proceeds to 'deal' with his future bride firmly, but with humor and patience which develops into a love that dreams are made of. Clio wants to be able to express herself and even though she has made a few mistakes in the past (she didn't mean to put dye in Queen Eleanor's face cream), she believes she can develop the ellusive heather ale (reputed to make warriors invincible). The results are rib-tickling and Clio pushes her future husband to the limit. Ever patient, Merrick eventually realizes what a jewel he has been given and is amazed at the depth of his love for his future bride. He vows to protect her with his life. There is a period of extreme happiness for the lovers and the tragedy they endure will bring tears to your eyes. The supporting characters, Thud, Thwack, Old Gladys, Roger, and the squire de Clare all meld to make this one of the most delightful romance novels on the shelf today. If you are not laughing, you will be crying. Don't miss this enjoyable book. You cannot help but fall in love with Jill's storytelling. I have never reread books until Jill and Julie Garwood. Their books have become some of my 'best' friends.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
One of the best books I have read, Funny, and Romantic. Easy 5 stars!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I have truly enjoyed the book the second i picked it up, never knowing what 'Wonderful idea' Clio had come up with next, and how Merrick would handle her ideas as they came to her.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I loved this book, it has earned the right to be one of my favorite books by Jill. She is one of my favorite authors. A must read book!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Thoroughly enjoyed this book. I couldn't put it down. The characters are very likable. Was sad when I finshed it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have just finished Wonderful. I loved this book, soon after the 3 chapter it was one of my favorite book. I laughed and cryed all throughtout it. One reason I like this book is because it is not the same old romance story. It shows that through the bad things in life, there is still love. This is one story I will read again and again.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed Wonderful, with many laugh out loud scenes. It was wonderful!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The first 3/4 of the book meanders all over the place with a lot of background information and seeming-less side-tracks of useless information that have no bearing to the central story. Then the big climatic event happens. But, the Old Hag, who is a big part of the story for her intuitive and healing abilities, suddenly is left out of the script following the climatic event, and for no reason and with no explanation. A lot unresolved.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
So funny and very entertaining! Love Jill Barnett!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loved this love story. The book was well done, hard to put down and fun to read. I would love to purchase the next book in this series, but it is way above my budget for an ebook. 258 pages
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