From fast–growing USA Today bestseller Linda Needham, a medieval historical romance between a young maiden and the powerful knight who's taken over guardianship of her castle – and of her.
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Bride Bed, The
"By the rood, Lady Talia, that bloody Lord Rufus be the meanest, ugliest bugger there ever was!"
Mustn't forget cruel, malicious, and stone-stupid, Talia thought, but didn't dare say to Leod, else the dear old warrior and his compatriots might take the matter of Lord Rufus into their own hands.
"Mean and ugly or no," Talia whispered, swallowing the cold panic that had settled against her heart, "in just a few minutes Lord Rufus will be my husband."
Husband. Dear Lord, the word tasted bitter.
"Hell's hoary hound, girl, y'can't marry that Pig-snouted bastard!"
"It's not a matter of choice, Quigley," Talia said, a darkly distant thunder shifting her off-balance as she stepped into the firelit shadows of her castle courtyard. "I'm Rufus's Ward."
And this time there would be no escaping the inevitable.
No escaping the horrid ogre waiting for her to join him on the chapel steps.
To marry him.
This time there'd be no army to come crashing through the castle gates, like the last time.
No act of God, like the time before, no broken siege.
No royal warrant in trade for her wardship, like the first.
No escape at all from this marriage to Rufus.
"When you reach the chapel steps, my lady, stand clear of the blighter, and I'll put an arrow through 'is empty black heart."
"You'll do nothing of the sort, Jasper." That's just what she needed; Rufus's men tearing her father's old archers to pieces. She took hold of the man's bony arm. "You'll each behave yourselves tonight, else you'll have worse than Rufus to answer to."
Talia heard the three men grumbling as they all set off again toward the chapel. She suffered another soul-hollowing chill as the sky rumbled and thundered again, as the night wind slipped over the timber-picketed battlements, whirling together clouds of glistening leaves and sparks from the fire baskets.
"Gor, Rufus!" someone shouted over the milling mass of brutish soldiers. "There your lady be!"
The crowd laughed and parted only wide enough for Talia and her old champions.
"Mmmmmm ... Tasty, she looks to me."
"'E's waiting for ya, yer bridegroom is. Stiff as a pike, I'll wager."
On she went, through the serpentine corridor of jeering, ogling men, stinking with drink and neglect.
So like their master.
There he was, strutting around at the bottom of the chapel steps.
Her gluttonous, barely human guardian turned husband-to-be, downing a flagon of ale and grabbing another from a cowering page.
Rufus de Graffe.
Mother Mary, where was a true warrior when she needed one? Her very own Green Knight to slay these dragon whelps and their unspeakable master?
A man who would keep this unrelenting war at bay, who'd keep her people warm and fed and secure in their homes.
Who'd be a husband to cherish?
Just one more miracle. And I'll never ask again.
"There she is, Father John," Rufus bellowed, his ale-slitted eyes gleaming at her, "my little bride. All pink and clean and ready for me."
Aye, ready to lose her stomach as the ghastly man staggered and stumbled toward her through the drunken crowd.
Please God, let the great ass drink himself into a stupor long before our wedding chamber is blessed.
"Come here, girl." Rufus clenched her upper arm between his bruising fingers and yanked her up against his barrel chest, his foul breath flipping her stomach on end.
"Keep your bloody " But Quigley's outraged shout ended behind Jasper's hand.
"Please, let's get on with it, Father John," Talia said, easily yanking out of Rufus's reeking embrace. She took the few steps toward the chapel, terrified that the old warriors would draw Rufus's wrath relieved when Rufus trailed her, revolted by his nearness.
"Ah, now that's what a man needs in a wife, eh, priest: eagerness to be bedded."
Talia swallowed the bile in her throat and cursed the lot of brides, of women, of royal wards who must obey their unworthy guardians.
The thunder came again, more deeply, rumbling across the cobbles, seeping its oddly intimate warmth through the soles of her slippers, riding up her calves to soften her knees.
Father John cast Talia a look of helpless distress as he motioned toward the steps. "If you'll, uhmmm, take your place beside Lord Rufus."
Her place. No. Rufus was far, far from the right man to stand with her here on the chapel steps, the lord of her beloved father's castle, her husband.
"No more lagging, priest," Rufus said, growling as he slid his hand over Talia's backside. "The lady has her needs."
Rufus squeezed hard and she slapped his hand away without thinking, hoping Leod wouldn't jump the man. "I'm not your wife yet, Rufus."
"Be damned, woman! You'll speak when you're asked to " Rufus's beefy face reddened. He drew back his fist and Talia was about to dodge out of the way, when the force of his swing was caught by a wide-eyed soldier.
"Trouble, Your Lordship."
Another crash of thunder, closer, grazing her heart.
"Bloody impudent sot, can't you see I'm busy!" Rufus sent the guard sprawling into the muddy cobbles. "Now, on with it, priest!"
Father John had wound the twine of his wooden crucifix around his fist. "But, Lord Rufus, shouldn't you "
"The wedding, dammit!" Rufus grabbed Father John by the front of his cowl and thrust him back against the door. "Begin now!"
But the thunder came again, rocking the very steps now, and her balance. Another shudder seemed to make the timbered wall of pickets dance along the stone parapet.
Father John's eyes bulged as he squawked out, "Bless, O Lord, this ri "Bride Bed, The
. Copyright © by Linda Needham. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
Meet the Author
Linda Needham credits her bachelor's degree in Theatre Arts, support from her fellow writers, and her hero-husband for her publishing achievements. Winning the RWA's Golden Heart as an unpublished author and joining Avon Books two months later are among the highlights of her Fabulous Forties. Seven books, two stageplays, three musical revues and the USA Today and Waldenbooks bestseller lists later, Linda has entered her Fantastic Fifties with brazenness, exaltation, and an RWA Top Ten Favorite Book of the Year award!
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The plot started out great but became boring near the end. The ending did not seem to be what the plot was preparing you for....it seemed quite abrupt. All in all, it was an 'OK' read..not great, just ok.
This book started out well, Alex and Talia were interesting, although she seemed a little bratty, but then the story just got so boring. It was a trial to finish.
In the middle of the twelfth century, six times in the recent past, soldiers conquered her castle, followed by the leader trying to force Lady Talia into marriage. However, the last victor came a bit to close to the alter as she only escaped holy matrimony when Alexander de Monteneau interrupted the ceremony as the wannabe groom flees. Alex needs to prove to King Stephen that he is not just a loyal supporter, but can also manage an estate by turning this rundown keep around before giving it to another lord to run along with marriage to Talia. Alex¿s ambition is much greater than this land and its dowry poor lady that is until he falls in love with his intelligent, but belligerent hostess. However, though Talia reciprocates Alex¿s feelings, her work on keeping her people permanently safe from the constant conquerors that seem to never stop coming is more important to her than her heart¿s yearning. THE BRIDE BED is an exciting medieval romance that shows the impact of the constant back and forth state of war had on civilians, but could have been any era as the medieval period never focuses into view. Talia is a nasty individual, but her motives are solid and pure so it is difficult not to admire her courage. Alex feels like he belongs to a past century as a kind person who believes conquering is more than just his job, it is his right. Sub-genre fans will enjoy the relationship war that highlights Linda Needham¿s historical romance. Harriet Klausner