A Royal Marriage (Love Inspired Historical Series)

A Royal Marriage (Love Inspired Historical Series)

by Rachelle McCalla

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781460300015
Publisher: Harlequin
Publication date: 12/01/2012
Series: Protecting the Crown
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 288
Sales rank: 253,463
File size: 339 KB

About the Author

Rachelle McCalla plays with words like some kids play with fire. When she’s not writing, she can be found digging deep research holes, setting up ideas like lightning rods to catch the next big bolt to shoot from the sky. Please use caution when picking up her books, as some may emit dangerous sparks.

Read an Excerpt

Castlehead, Lydia, A.D. 801

"A ship approaches, Your Majesty. Her sail is spread with the Carolingian cross." Renwick, chief messenger among the Lydian guard, bowed low before the king.

"Charlemagne." His Royal Highness, King John of Lydia, lowered the sword with which he'd been sparring with his younger brother, Prince Luke. Why would the Holy Roman Emperor send a ship to Lydia unannounced? Charlemagne's realm had expanded vastly under his leadership, but John had assumed the renowned ruler would have no interest in the tiny kingdom of Lydia. Was he wrong?

King John turned to face the messenger. "She approaches directly?"

"Making for the wharf at high speed, sire," Renwick panted as though he, too, had run to reach the king quickly.

"Then we shall make haste, as well." Sheathing his sword, John headed for the courtyard gate, the fastest route to the Mediterranean shore.

"To the lookout tower, Your Majesty?" Renwick appeared confused by the king's choice of direction.

"No, Renwick." John led the way. "To the wharf."

Prince Luke ran beside him. "Why would Charlemagne visit Lydia? We are not his vassals."

"I doubt it is Charlemagne himself," King John acknowledged. "The emperor regularly sends emissaries throughout his empire to report back to him." He prayed that was true this time, irregular though it might seem.

"But Lydia is not part of his empire." Luke chafed visibly at the idea.

"We are part of Christendom. As such, we ought to ally ourselves closely with the Holy Roman Empire. Such a position could prove to be advantageous." John reached the end of the wharf and shielded his eyes from the sun, examining the quickly approaching vessel, her sails emblazoned with the distinctive Carolingian cross, four tri-quetras joined at the center to form the distinctive symbol of Emperor Charlemagne's reign.

"Three masts!" The sight filled John with awe. Lydia had no ship to match it. And yet, "She looks to be wounded."

"Aye, brother." Luke clapped one hand on John's shoulder and pointed with the other. "Her foresail has been rent and hastily mended. Do you think she has weathered a storm?"

"Or an attack." John met his brother's eyes.

"Saracens?" Prince Luke spoke the word softly, as though saying it aloud might draw the vicious pirates closer.

"They raid the Mediterranean waters regularly."

"Never so close to Lydia."

"We don't know how far this ship has come," King John acknowledged. "Or whether the Saracens may have taken her."

"Taken her?" Fear sparked in his brother's blue eyes as he looked out to the ship and back at the ramparts of their castle. If the pirates had taken the ship, they could approach under Charlemagne's cross and dock before the Lydians realized trouble had reached their shores. The castle's defenses might be breached before they could even prepare for battle. "Why would Saracens approach so boldly?"

"For no good reason." John shook his head. He didn't want to believe that Saracen pirates had taken the emperor's ship, but given her condition, it was a distinct possibility. "Let us pray for Lydia's safety."

While the brothers murmured hasty yet heartfelt prayers, King John heard the rumble of boot steps on the wharf. He turned to find Eliab and Urias, two courtiers who'd been his father's close advisors, panting as they trotted down the wharf.

"Your Majesty," Urias called out. "You should not be out here!"

"This does not look good." Eliab gestured to the ship as he bent to catch his breath.

"His Majesty should hide until we've determined the motives of the approaching vessel."

John dismissed their concerns. The pair often treated him as though he was still a child, though he'd weathered twenty-eight winters and had ruled Lydia capably since his father's death four years before. "I may determine their motives much faster if I stay here."

"They've put down a boat!" Renwick had hardly taken his eyes from the ship.

"They're worthy seamen, then." John approved of the ship's rapid loss of speed. They'd obviously put down an anchor. It was wise. He'd never docked such a large vessel alongside the wharf, and though he couldn't be sure the depth of the ship's rudder, he doubted they'd have made it to the dock without scraping against the submerged rocks that hid not so far below the water at low tide.

"What are they loading?" Luke studied the men as they carried a large fabric-draped bundle onto the boat. From the care they took in handling it, the cargo must have been delicate. The dark green cloth glistened in the sunlight like silk. Whatever was wrapped inside must be quite valuable.

A plump, wimpled figure was loaded next, with no shortage of howling admonitions. Then six burly men boarded and took to the oars with vigor, slicing through the water as though Charlemagne himself was watching.

"I believe that bundle is a person." John observed the way they'd propped the bundle in the stern with the wimpled woman fussing over it. "A slender figure, perhaps a youth or a child."

"Or a woman," Prince Luke offered.

"On a ship?" Urias scoffed.

"It is possible," Luke pointed out as the boat drew nearer and its contents easier to see. "The cut of the silk clothing is certainly suggestive of a female. And it would explain the lady in waiting."

"Bah. A nurse to the child," Urias insisted.

"Whatever it is, I hardly think myself to be in immediate danger from it." John felt glad that he hadn't run and hidden as his father's advisors had suggested. Granted, he had an obligation to protect the throne. Urias and Eliab were understandably skittish about the issue of safety, having been with his father, King Theodoric, when he'd died defending one of Lydia's villages on the Illyrian border.

But King John had two younger brothers and a much younger sister, as well. Prince Luke was a worthy leader, and Prince Mark would be, too, if he ever returned from his long journey by sea. God would provide a leader for Lydia. When his wife had died in childbirth three years before, John had resolved that his line would end with his death. He would not ask another woman to risk her life trying to bear an heir for him.

"You don't suppose it's a ruse?" Eliab watched the fast-approaching boat with skepticism. "To lull us into thinking we've nothing to fear and take us while our guard is down."

"Eliab, you are far too suspicious," John chided him. As the boat moved closer, the shrieks and groans of the white-faced woman in the wimple grew louder. If she was part of a ruse, she was overplaying her role. Rather than pay the woman much heed, John examined the faces of the other men in the boat. To his relief, none of them had the stature or features of Charlemagne.

John had met the emperor once, before Charlemagne had been crowned Holy Roman Emperor of all Europe. Then King of the Franks, Charlemagne was an impressive bull of a man who ruled with an iron fist. Despite the power and gusto with which he governed, the man was also an intellectual and a devout Christian of renowned faith. John not only respected and admired him, he also feared him.

And he feared, too, the reason for this unannounced visit under Charlemagne's sails. Protocol would have had them send greetings well in advance of their visit so that John would have an opportunity to make preparations to host them. Obviously, there had to be some reason the men hadn't wanted him to meet them well prepared.

The wimpled woman howled. She swayed on her feet but refused to sit. Her cries carried ahead of the rowboat through the warm August air. "Must you lurch so? Oh, I fear I shall faint before we make it to the shore!"

The rowing men grimaced, and John suspected they'd have liked for the woman to faint, if only to still her cries. As the boat drew nearer, the man closest to the prow, the only man without an oar in his hand, called out, "Greetings in the name of Charlemagne, Emperor of all Rome." The man spoke in impeccable Latin. "What lands are these?"

John could only hope his own linguistic training was up to the imperial standard. "Friends, this is the Christian Kingdom of Lydia."

A relieved smile spread across the man's face, and John realized his expression had been quite anxious up to that moment. The man tossed a rope. "We seek King John, the healer."

"You have found him." The symbol of cross and crown that decorated John's habergeon signified his position. He caught the rope and pulled the boat toward the dock with a mighty heave. Behind him, Luke and Renwick grabbed the line, while Eliab and Urias stumbled over themselves.

The man's smile grew broader. "Then God has surely been with us. I am sorry to arrive unannounced, but we had no alternative." As the boat was pulled alongside the length of the dock, the man bounded onto the wharf and bowed low. "I am Boden, a servant of Charlemagne and acting captain of the emperor's ship."

"Acting captain?" John looked the man over. Clearly the youth was a strong and strapping lad, but he hardly seemed old enough to be a captain. Indeed, he was certainly younger than John or Luke.

"Alas, my beloved father was commissioned captain by Charlemagne himself and vested with a mission of the utmost importance—to carry the emperor's most precious cargo. But we were attacked at sea by Saracens, and my father died defending his ship." Boden's face blanched as he spoke.

"You have done well to continue on his mission." John hoped his words would provide some comfort to the youth.

But Boden only shook his head. "I implore thee, Your Majesty John the healer. You are our only remaining hope that this mission might succeed." He raised his hand toward the boat.

The wimpled woman had quit her moaning and now peeled back the silk veil that covered the face of the bundled figure the men had so carefully loaded onto the boat.

John saw a flushed jawline and rosy lips that could only belong to a woman. So Luke had been right. This was no boy but a female of about twenty years of age. In fact, whoever she was, her features were beautiful, her complexion pale, save for a flush John recognized all too well.


Her drawn lips confirmed it. The woman was suffering. No wonder Boden had twice referred to him as John, the healer. It was a title he was loath to use, but one which desperate men rushed to give him, especially when they had need of a man to stand between their loved ones and the advancing scythe of death. Yes, he'd been trained by his mother as a healer—a practice her family had observed for generations. When he'd taken to his studies with far greater success than his brothers, some had said he had a gift.

Now he considered it a curse. He hardly considered himself worthy of the title healer. Not when he'd failed to save his own wife or the mother who'd trained him.

Boden nodded to the lady in waiting, who peeled back more of the cloth.

"Ah!" Urias and Eliab recoiled at the sight of the infected gash above the woman's right eye, which followed the curve of her eyebrow. The angry wound had swollen her eyelid shut, festering across her face in fever-reddened waves.

John understood immediately. He'd seen injuries that had deteriorated to a similar state before. Rarely had the sufferer survived. Rather than ask the men to lift the young woman, John lowered himself into the boat and approached her. He could smell the rancid scent of the infection and recognized with dismay the golden yellow crust that seeped from the gash.

The sight and smell carried as clear a message as any tolling death bell.

The lovely woman had less than a day to live.

And the herb that could save her grew half a day's journey into the mountains, in the borderlands Lydia shared with the Illyrians. John's father, King Theodoric, had died defending those borderlands. And yet, as John observed the woman's fever-flushed features, he realized she'd have to have crushed hare's tongue leaves applied to her injury by nightfall. Even then, it might be too late to save her.

He turned to Boden. "Was she injured two or three days ago?"

"Three days," Boden answered. "How did you know?"

Relieved that the Saracens hadn't attacked closer to the Lydian coast, John nonetheless felt the weight of the young woman's grim prognosis. She'd already gone too long without treatment. "Infections of this nature always run the same course. Once the secretions turn yellow, the sufferer has less than a day to live."

Boden's face blanched, and his men at the oars hung their heads.

John didn't doubt the sailors had been at the oars to bring the ship to Lydia—with her sails rent and patched, they'd have rowed in desperate hope of saving the woman's life. Obviously the woman must have meant a great deal to them for the men to take on such a strenuous task. John wished he could tell them their efforts hadn't been in vain. "You mentioned the emperor's precious cargo." He began the question slowly and found his throat had gone dry.

As he'd feared, Boden pointed to the woman. "She is the precious cargo—Princess Gisela, one of Charlemagne's daughters. She has been pledged to marry an Illyrian prince. We were to have her delivered by Christ-mastide."

"You were running ahead of schedule."

"That we were," Boden acknowledged with a bittersweet smile, "until the Saracens found us. If she dies, there will likely be war."

"War!" Urias exclaimed.

"And you've gotten us involved in it?" Eliab added.

John raised a hand to quiet the courtiers. "Boden made the right choice." He looked at the flushed face of the princess and felt sorrow rise inside him. Such a beautiful young woman. It would be tragic for her to die so young. His heart beat out a desperate prayer that somehow, in spite of his failures as a healer, God would see fit to spare the princess from death.

Princess Gisela felt the boat rock as someone stepped out from it. The sun burned hot against her face, even hotter than when the stifling veil of silk had covered her. Or perhaps her fever had grown that much worse.

"Can you save her?" Hope sprang to Boden's voice.

"I could." The voice of King John, the healer, followed him as he climbed back onto the dock. "Hare's tongue leaves have proven an effective cure against this type of yellow secretion. But the leaves must be freshly picked, and the nearest plants grow in the mountains on the Illyrian borderlands. A swift rider could reach them by nightfall."

"Then send your swiftest rider," Boden insisted. "We will pay the expense—"

"It is not the expense that worries me. The rider must know what he is looking for." King John's tone grew pessimistic. "And have daylight enough to find it. Besides that, if the hare's tongue leaves are not applied today, there won't be time to stop the spreading infection. She'll be dead by morning."

"She is a vigorous one," Boden insisted. "There is fight in her."

"I can see that. Otherwise she would be dead already."

"Oh!" Hilda, her maid, who'd been simpering through the conversation, sounded as though she might faint.

Another voice, similar to the king's, spoke with challenge. "You could find it, John."

Gisela noted that the man hadn't addressed the king with his title. A peer of some sort? Perhaps a brother or uncle.

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A Royal Marriage 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 9 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
BrittanyMc More than 1 year ago
When Princess Gisela, daughter of Holy Roman Emperor Charlemagne, arrives injured at Lydia, King John is her only chance at survival. Trained as a healer, King John must risk his life to save Gisela’s. What he did not realize was that he would also be risking his heart. Princess Gisela and King John were characters I could feel for. Gisela is betrothed to a man she does not love. It is a political alliance. When she is injured and spends time healing at King John’s castle, her heart begins to long for King John’s love. King John, on the other hand, has promised himself never to love again. He lost his wife in childbirth and carries enormous guilt over this. As he begins to fall in love with Gisela, he longs to share a life with her. Two things hold him back: the political repercussions that could unfold if he were to interfere with Gisela’s arranged marriage and the fear that he could ever be the cause of another wife dying while trying to bear him an heir. There is much more to this story – love, deceit, battle, political intrigue, secrets…the list goes on and on. I look forward to reading more from this author.
arlenadean More than 1 year ago
Author: Rachelle McCalla Published by: Love Inspired Age Recommended: Adult Reviewed By: Arlena Dean Book Blog For: GMTA Series #1 Rating: 5 Review: "Royal Marriage" by Rachelle McCalla..Protecting the Crown Book # 1 setting from Castlehead, Lydia... was a good read with plenty of 'action, drama, romance and spies' that would take you to that 'magical time in history of Kings, Princesses, castles and knights in battles. How does this story start..... The novel will definitely draw you into this story of "Princess Gisela would honor the wishes of her father and that was to marry an Illyrian even though her heart tells her something different. On her way to be betrothed and she is injured and near death. If she dies war could break out. They stop in Lydia as King John is known to be a healer. Gisela struggles between the feelings she has towards King John and knowing she is promised to Prince Warrick and that much in the political realm depends upon their union. Illyrian’s had killed King John’s father four years ago and now he must surrender this beautiful princess to those violent men as well. After his wife’s death three years earlier, John had sworn never to love again or chance losing a woman while trying for an heir." Has God sent Gisela into his life to shown him that he can love again? It was a beautiful moment when you could see how King John's heart was so wounded yet he holds to his 'strong faith in God. "Royal Marriage" was a beautiful told story of a 'Christian Historical Romance.' And this is where I will say you must pick up "Royal Marriage" to see how this will all come out. Be ready for a great suspense, fantastic historical and enjoyable read. Would I recommend? Yes! You will definitely be left only wanting the next series...book # 2 Defending the Duchess (Love Inspired Suspense).
rhonda1111RL More than 1 year ago
4 STARS Protecting the Crown series The history part I really did not know much about it at all. I liked the plot. The characters and that it is a clean read. I take for granted that if you want to read the bible it is easy to do. I have many copies in out house and even on my kindle. Only the very rich would have a book of scripture like Acts not the whole bible. Princess Gisela is going to be married as part of a contract to keep the peace and the Christian church together and not split apart. Her ship is attacked and she is wounded. The Captain was killed. The now acting captain had heard of the healer King John and sailed to his island than continue on to her intended. King John sees that the Princess will die if she does not get a certain herb on her eye before evening. There is no time to ride to where the herb is and bring it back to her. Also the lands were taken away from his kingdom and could cause a war if they are discovered. King John also realizes that if he does not try and the Princess Gisela who's father is Holy Roman Emperor Charlemagne dies will also cause a war maybe on two fronts. So King John takes just the Princess into the danger area and puts the herbs on her eyes. She is burning up and both eyes swollen badly. They make it safely out but they are seen. Princess Gisela finds out that the King's father death was by her intended groom's family and refuses to carry on the marriage till it is settled. She sends her ship back to her father and lets him know of the deciet that is going on. King John lost his wife in childbirth and does not intend to remarry. He plans his brother Luke to be his heir. Prince Luke is watching the border. He wants to advenge his fathers death. He is taken hostage. Gisela has developed feelings for King John but she knows that she has to continue the marriage her father made for lasting peace. Gisela owes her life to King John and feels like the coming war is her fault. There is lots of action,drama,history,romance,spies that make it a fun read. I look forward to reading more from Rachelle McCalla in the future. I was given this ebook to read and asked to give honest review of it by Netgalley. Published November 27th 2012 by Love Inspired Harlequin 288 pages ISBN:0373829442
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
weatherlover1 More than 1 year ago
 Princess Gisela is on her way to her future husband(diplomatic arranged marriage) when the ship she is traveling on is attacked and she is gravely injured. The crew of the ship know of King John of Lydia and his healing ways so they set course and arrive with only hours left before Princess Gisela might die. The only way to save her is to apply a special herb but its not easy to get and is on enemy land. As King John fights to keep the Princess alive he also brings possible war to his people.      As the Princess begins to heal from her wound she finds herself falling for the handsome king but he is off limits. Can she help him save his country with out losing her heart? What I liked: I don’t normally read books set in this time period but I am glad I read this one. I really liked both the King and Princess. I found myself really hoping they could find a way to be together. The storyline was quite interesting and reading about how a war worked back then was fascinating. It was very easy to get drawn into this time period in history. What I did not like: Since I don’t read a lot of this time period I felt lost at time trying to understand how things worked with royalty, wars etc.       Over all I really liked this book and am looking forward to the next book which sounds like it will be about the Kings brother. If you like books set in this time period your going to love it and if you don’t like this era this book just might change your mind!
GodBlessAmericaJB More than 1 year ago
Loved, loved, loved this book!!! I started reading A Royal Marriage at bedtime and it kept me awake until I was finished. :) I just love it when a book draws me in and takes me to that magical time in history of Kings, Princesses, castles and knights in battle. Princess Gisela is a beautiful heroine who intends to honor her fathers wishes for her even when her heart tells her to love King John of Lydia. I found myself drawn to the wounded heart of King John and his strong faith in God, as he tenderly cares for Princess Gisela. I really loved A Royal Marriage and give it a 5 out of 5 stars. I received this book from Harlequin Love Inspired Historical and Net Gallery for my honest review.I was not paid in any way to review this book.
BookwormReflects More than 1 year ago
A Royal Marriage By Rachelle McCalla On her way to her wedding Princess Gisela’s ship is attacked by pirates and she is gravely injured helping her men defend the ship. Her men rush her to King John of Lydia who is a renowned healer in the hopes that he will be able to save her, but when they finally arrive the princess’s injury has become life threatening. Through determination and prayer King John is able to use the knowledge he has of herbs to save her life, but when Princess Gisela was brought to his castle it may be the catalyst to a war. I started reading the love inspired novels when I was twelve, as I had become a romance fan and my mother didn’t want me reading something inappropriate. I fell in love with the Christian romance books fifteen years ago yet this is my first time reading one of the Historical versions. Rachelle McCalla has done a wonderful job in bringing to life 800 A.D. with action and romance what could go wrong? At times though Gisela is not what I would expect from a woman in this time period, she is highly knowledgeable in fighting, strategic maneuvers, and building. Though this does make the character truly interesting I am not quite sure it fits the time period, but then again I wasn’t there so how would I know? I did have a lot of fun reading this book, you can’t help but become wrapped up into the story. I was sent a free copy of this book for an honest review.
Jutzie More than 1 year ago
A Royal Marriage by Rachelle McCalla Protecting the Crown Book 1 Castlehead, Lydia, A.D. 801 Princess Gisela, daughter of the Emperor Charlemagne, was to marry an Illyrian. Their ship is attacked on the way to her betrothed and she is injured and near death. If she dies war could break out. They stop in Lydia as King John is known to be a healer. Gisela struggles between the feelings she has towards King John and knowing she is promised to Prince Warrick and that much in the political realm depends upon their union. Illyrian’s had killed King John’s father four years ago and now he must surrender this beautiful princess to those violent men as well. After his wife’s death three years earlier, John had sworn never to love again or chance losing a woman while trying for an heir. Has God sent this woman into his life to show him he could love again? Only she would be the woman he wants and no other yet duty calls and he must answer. Rachelle continues to weave an enthralling tale. Going backwards in time from her Reclaiming the Crown series she now goes back in time. Introducing new and exciting characters to build this new series on. King John, a man who has known sorrow and felt failure. A healer who could not save his mother nor his wife and he had watched his father die. Prince Luke, a headstrong young man who wants to take back the Lydia lands they have lost. Prince Mark, a younger brother. Princess Elizabette ‘Bette’ the youngest and only daughter. I am looking forward to this new series and after reading A Royal Marriage I have no doubts each following book will be a new exciting adventure as well. **Received through NetGalley for review