Favel Farrington meets Roc Pendorric on the idyllic Mediterranean island of Capri, where she was raised and lives with her father. Roc sweeps her off her feet, taking her from her home by an emerald sea to the ancient family home of the Pendorrics, in Cornwall. His sister and her family await them with open arms, welcoming young Favel. She is the much anticipated Bride of Pendorric, a name that amuses and flatters her.
The castle is beautiful in its way, but the atmosphere is foreboding. Roc's twin nieces begin watching her carefully; even the stones in the courtyard seem to have eyes. On the walls hang portraits of two other Brides of Pendorric—one of them Roc's mother—who died both young and tragically. Favel's fear increases as Roc seems to be growing more and more distant. Has her courtship and marriage been just a deception?
Soon Favel can no longer dismiss as accidents the strange things happening to her. Someone is trying to kill her and she must confront the very real dangers that surround her.
|Publisher:||St. Martin's Press|
|File size:||275 KB|
About the Author
Eleanor Alice Burford Hibbert (1906–93), better known to readers as Victoria Holt, Philippa Carr, and Jean Plaidy, was one of the world's most beloved and enduring authors. Her career spanned five decades, and she was heralded as the "Queen of Romantic Suspense." She continued to write historical fiction under the name of Jean Plaidy and romantic suspense as Victoria Holt up until the time of her death.
Eleanor Alice Burford Hibbert (1906–1993), better known to readers as Victoria Holt, Philippa Carr, and Jean Plaidy, was one of the world’s most beloved and enduring authors. Her career spanned five decades, and she was heralded as the “Queen of Romantic Suspense.” She continued to write historical fiction under the name of Jean Plaidy and romantic suspense as Victoria Holt until the time of her death.
Read an Excerpt
I often marveled after I went to Pendorric that one's existence could change so swiftly, so devastatingly. I had heard life compared with a kaleidoscope and this is how it appeared to me, for there was the pleasant scene full of peace and contentment when the pattern began to change, first here, then there, until the picture which confronted me was no longer calm and peaceful but filled with menace. I had married a man who had seemed to me all that I wanted in a husband — solicitous, loving, passionately devoted; then suddenly it was as though I were married to a stranger.
I first saw Roc Pendorric when I came up from the beach one morning to find him sitting in the studio with my father; in his hands he held a terra-cotta statue for which I had been the original, a slim child of about seven. I remembered when my father had made it more than eleven years before; he had always said it was not for sale.
The blinds had not yet been drawn and the two men made a striking contrast sitting there in the strong sunlight: my father so fair, the stranger so dark. On the island my father was often called Angelo because of the fairness of his hair and skin and his almost guileless expression, for he was a very sweet-tempered man. It might have been because of this that I fancied there was something saturnine about his companion.
"Ah, here is my daughter, Favel," said my father as though they had been speaking of me.
They both stood up, the stranger towering above my father who was of medium height. He took my hand and his long dark eyes studied me with something rather calculating in the intentness of his scrutiny. He was lean, which accentuated his height, and his hair was almost black; there was an expression in his alert eyes which made me feel he was seeking something which amused him and it occurred to me that there might be a streak of malice in his amusement. He had rather pointed ears which gave him the look of a satyr. His was a face of contrasts; there was a gentleness about the full lips as well as sensuality; there was no doubt of the firmness of the jaw; there was arrogance in the long straight nose; and mingling with the undoubted humor in the quick eyes was a suggestion of mischief. I came to believe later that he fascinated me so quickly because I could not be sure of him; and it took me a very long time to discover the sort of man he was.
At that moment I wished that I had dressed before coming up from the beach.
"Mr. Pendorric has been looking round the studio," said my father. "He has bought the Bay of Naples water color."
"I'm glad," I answered. "It's beautiful."
He held out the little statue. "And so is this."
"I don't think that's for sale," I told him.
"It's much too precious, I'm sure."
He seemed to be comparing me with the figure and I guessed my father had told him — as he did everyone who admired it: "That's my daughter when she was seven."
"But," he went on, "I've been trying to persuade the artist to sell. After all, he still has the original."
Father laughed in the rather hearty way he did when he was with customers who were ready to spend money, forced laughter. Father had always been happier creating his works of art than selling them. When my mother was alive she had done most of the selling; since I had left school, only a few months before this, I found myself taking it over. Father would give his work away to anyone who he thought appreciated it, and he needed a strongminded woman to look after business transactions; that was why, after my mother had died, we had become very poor. But since I had been at home, I flattered myself that we were beginning to pay our way.
"Favel, could you get us a drink?" my father asked.
I said I would if they would wait while I changed, and leaving them together went into my bedroom which led off the studio. In a few minutes I had put on a blue linen dress, after which I went to our tiny kitchen to see about drinks; when I went back to the studio Father was showing the man a bronze Venus — one of our most expensive pieces.
If he buys that, I thought, I'll be able to settle a few bills. I would seize on the money and do it, too, before Father had a chance of gambling it away at cards or roulette.
Roc Pendorric's eyes met mine over the bronze and, as I caught the flicker of amusement there, I guessed I must have shown rather clearly how anxious I was for him to buy it. He put it down and turned to me as though the statue couldn't hold his interest while I was there, and I felt annoyed with myself for interrupting them. Then I caught the gleam in his eyes and I wondered whether that was what he had expected me to feel.
He started to talk about the island then; he had arrived only yesterday, and had not even visited the villas of Tiberius and San Michele yet. But he had heard of Angelo's studio and the wonderful works of art to be picked up there; and so this had been his first excursion.
Father was flushed with pleasure; but I wasn't quite sure whether to believe him or not.
"And when I came and found that Angelo was Mr. Frederick Farington who spoke English like the native he is, I was even more delighted. My Italian is appalling, and the boasts of 'English spoken here' are often ... well a little boastful. Please, Miss Farington, do tell me what I ought to see while I stay here."
I started to tell him about the villas, the grottoes, and the other well-known attractions. "But," I added, "it always seems to me after coming back from England that the scenery and the blue of the sea are the island's real beauties."
"It would be nice to have a companion to share in my sight-seeing," he said.
"Are you traveling alone?" I asked.
"There are so many visitors to the island," I said consolingly. "You're sure to find someone who is as eager to do the tours as you are.
"It would be necessary, of course, to find the right companion ... someone who really knows the island."
"The guides do, of course."
His eyes twinkled. "I wasn't thinking of a guide."
"The rest of the natives would no doubt be too busy."
"I'll find what I want," he assured me; and I had a feeling that he would.
He went over to the bronze Venus and began fingering it again.
"That attracts you," I commented.
He turned to me and studied me as intently as he had the bronze. "I'm enormously attracted," he told me. "I can't make up my mind. May I come back later?"
"But of course," said Father and I simultaneously.
He did come back. He came back and back again. In my innocence I thought at first that he was hesitating about the bronze Venus; then I wondered whether it was the studio that attracted him because it probably seemed very bohemian to him, full of local color and totally unlike the place he came from. One couldn't expect people to buy every time they came. It was a feature of our studio and others like it that people dropped in casually, stopped for a chat and a drink, browsed about the place and bought when something pleased them.
What disturbed me was that I was beginning to look forward to his visits. There were times when I was sure he came to see me, and there were others when I told myself that I was imagining this, and the thought depressed me.
Three days after his first visit I went down to one of the little beaches on the Marina Piccola to bathe, and he was there. We swam together and lay on the beach in the sun afterwards.
I asked if he was enjoying his stay.
"Beyond expectations," he answered.
"You've been sight-seeing, I expect."
"Not much. I'd like to, but I still think it's dull alone."
"Really? People usually complain of the awful crowds, not of being alone."
"Mind you," he pointed out, "I wouldn't want any companion." There was a suggestion in those long eyes which slightly tilted at the corners. I was sure, in that moment, that he was the type whom most women would find irresistible, and that he knew it. This knowledge disturbed me; I myself was becoming too conscious of that rather blatant masculinity and I wondered whether I had betrayed this to him.
I said rather coolly: "Someone was asking about the bronze Venus this morning."
His eyes shone with amusement. "Oh well, if I miss it, I'll only have myself to blame." His meaning was perfectly clear and I felt annoyed with him. Why did he think we kept a studio and entertained people there if not in the hope of selling things? How did he think we lived?
"We'd hate you to have it unless you were really keen about it."
"But I never have anything that I'm not keen about," he replied. "Actually though, I prefer the figure of the younger Venus."
"Oh ... that!"
He put his hand on my arm and said: "It's charming. Yes, I far prefer her."
"I simply must be getting back," I told him.
He leaned on his elbow and smiled at me, and I had a feeling that he knew far too much of what was going on in my mind, and was fully aware that I found his company extremely stimulating and wanted more of it — that he was something more to me than a prospective buyer.
He said lightly: "Your father tells me that you're the commercial brains behind the enterprise. I bet he's right."
"Artists need someone practical to look after them," I replied. "And now that my mother is dead ..."
I knew that my voice changed when I spoke of her. It still happened, although she had been dead three years. Annoyed with myself as I always was when I betrayed emotion, I said quickly: "She died of T.B. They came here in the hope that it would be good for her. She was a wonderful manager."
"And so you take after her." His eyes were full of sympathy now and I was pleased out of all proportion that he should understand how I felt. I thought then that I had imagined that streak of mischief in him. Perhaps mischief was not the right description but the fact was that while I was becoming more and more attracted by this man, I was often conscious of something within him that I could not understand, some quality, something which he was determined to keep hidden from me. This often made me uneasy while it in no way decreased my growing interest in him — but rather added to it. Now I saw only his sympathy, which was undoubtedly genuine.
"I hope so," I answered. "I think I do."
I still could not control the pain in my voice as I remembered, and pictures of the past flashed in and out of my mind. I saw her — small and dainty, with the brilliant color in her cheeks, which was so becoming but a sign of her illness; that tremendous energy which was like a fire consuming her — until the last months. The island had seemed a different place when she was in it. In the beginning she had taught me to read and write and to be quick with figures. I remembered long lazy days when I lay on one of the little beaches or swam in the blue water or lay on my back and drifted; all the beauty of the place, all the echoes of ancient history were the background for one of the happiest existences a child could know. I had run wild, it was true. Sometimes I talked to the tourists; sometimes I joined the boatmen who took visitors to the grottoes or on tours of the island; sometimes I climbed the path to the villa of Tiberius and sat looking over the sea to Naples. Then I would come back to the studio and listen to the talk going on there; I shared my father's pride in his work; my mother's joy when she had succeeded in making a good sale.
They were so important to each other; and there were times when they seemed to me like two brilliant butterflies dancing in the sunshine, intoxicated with the joy of being alive because they knew that the sun of their happiness must go down quickly and finally.
I had been indignant when they told me I must go away to school in England. It was a necessity, my mother pointed out, for she had reached the limit of her capabilities, and although I was a tolerable linguist (we spoke English at home, Italian to our neighbors, and, as there were many French and German visitors to our studio, I soon had a smattering of these languages) I had had no real education. My mother was anxious that I should go to her old school, which was small and in the heart of Sussex. Her old headmistress was still in charge and I suspected that it was all very much as it had been in my mother's day. After a term or two I became reconciled, partly because I quickly made friends with Esther McBane, partly because I returned to the island for Christmas, Easter, and summer holidays; and as I was a normal uncomplicated person I enjoyed both worlds.
But then my mother died and nothing was the same again. I found out that I had been educated on the jewelry which had once been hers; she had planned for me to go to a university, but the jewelry had realized less than she had hoped (for one quality she shared with my father was optimism) and the cost of my schooling was more than she had bargained for. So when she died I went back to school for two more years because that was her wish. Esther was a great comfort at that time; she was an orphan who was being brought up by an aunt, so she had a good deal of sympathy to offer. She came to stay with us during summer holidays and it helped both Father and me not to fret so much with a visitor in the studio. We said that she must come every summer, and she assured us she would. We left school at the same time and she came home with me at the end of our final term. During that holiday we would discuss what we were going to do with our lives. Esther planned to take up art seriously. As for myself, I had my father to consider, so I was going to try to take my mother's place in the studio although I feared that was something I should never be able to do entirely.
I smiled remembering that long letter I had had from Esther, which in itself was unusual, for Esther abhorred letter writing and avoided it whenever possible. On the way back to Scotland she had met a man; he was growing tobacco in Rhodesia and was home for a few months. That letter had been full of this adventure. There had been one more letter two months later. Esther was getting married and going out to Rhodesia.
It was exciting and she was wonderfully happy; but I knew it was the end of our friendship because the only bond between us now could be through letters which Esther would have neither time nor inclination to write. I did have one to say that she had arrived, but marriage had made a different person of Esther; she had grown far from that long-legged untidy-haired girl who used to walk in the grounds of the little school with me and talk about dedicating herself to Art.
I was brought out of the past by the sight of Roc Pendorric's face close to mine, and now there was nothing but sympathy in his eyes. "I've stirred up sad memories."
"I was thinking about my mother and the past."
He nodded and was silent for a few seconds. Then he said: "You don't ever think of going back to her people ... or your father's people?"
"People?" I murmured.
"Didn't she ever talk to you about her home in England?"
I was suddenly very surprised. "No, she never mentioned it."
"Perhaps the memory was unhappy."
"I never realized it before but neither of them ever talked about ... before they married. As a matter of fact I think they felt that all that happened before was insignificant."
"It must have been a completely happy marriage."
We were silent again. Then he said: "Favel! It's an unusual name."
"No more unusual than yours. I always thought a roc was a legendary bird."
"Fabulous, of immense size and strength, able to lift an elephant ... if it wanted to."
He spoke rather smugly and I retorted: "I'm sure even you would be incapable of lifting an elephant. Is it a nickname?"
"I've been Roc for as long as I can remember. But it's short for Petroc."
"Not in the part of the world I come from. I've had a lot of ancestors who had to put up with it. The original one was a sixth-century saint who founded a monastery. I think Roc is a modern version that's all my own. Do you think it suits me?"
"Yes," I answered. "I think it does."
Rather to my embarrassment he leaned forward and kissed the tip of my nose. I stood up hastily. "It really is time I was getting back to the studio," I said.
Excerpted from "Bride of Pendorric"
Copyright © 1987 Victoria Holt.
Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
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.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Victoria Holt's early works are her best, and this is one of them. I have been a fan of hers for a long time, and found Bride of Pendorric to be attention-grabbing from the very beginning. Keeps you awake to see what happens!! Characters/plot appear developed.
I read this book as a teenager in high school! Can't wait to add it to my Nook library. Victoria Holt was one of my favorite authors. Very descriptive, takes you right on location.
Awesome dude. This is a great example of what good good a million times good writing really is. Victoria Holt was an amazing writer with an eye, pardon my possibly incorrect grammer, for the mysterious and dark going on of late eighteen hundreds and early nineteen hundreds england. This book as well as all of her books gets two thumbs and eight fingers up from me. Read this book now. I gaurentee you'll love it as much as I do. If you don't then you just took a gamble at discovering magic. Win win situation.
Victoria Holt is my favorite author! Please bring all her books to Nook! I buy everyone that I can find
This was the first of her books that i read and was hooked! I proceeded to read all of them throughout my teen years. This one has a great plot line that you'll want to read all at one sitting, even though its long. "You won't want to put it down!"
I love this book. A true Gothic romance in the line of Daphne du Maurier's 'Rebecca'. I wish more modern-day authors knew how to write like this.
Victoria Holt was an incredibly prolific writer, writing under several pseudonyms - most prominently Victoria Holt, Jean Plaidy, and Philippa Carr. Victoria Holt was her pseudonym for writing Gothic romance and these books are wonderful and old-fashioned and fun to read. I remember staying up all night at my Mississippi grandmother's house when I was in high school reading The Legend of the Seventh Virgin and loving every minute of it. I've also read The Mistress of Mellyn although I thought it was just okay. I grabbed this one because I'm reading books published in my birth year and I'm glad I did.This was great fun! The plot obviously owes a lot to Rebecca, although to Holt's credit her heroine is much less whiney and annoying than Du Maurier's - I never once had the desire to smack her around. The Cornish setting combined with mysterious and dangerous happenings, family surprises, sexy nurses and governesses with husband-stealing on their minds, and (I kid you not) evil twins - this makes for lots of Gothic fun and some chills and thrills. Great escapist reading.
I wish they would bring more of her books back into publish, because I have yet to read one I did not enjoy. In this story, it's not too heavy on the romance. It is there, but the focus is more the odd events and strange family history. It is a good read and will keep you guessing until the last chapter.
Victoria Holt is amazing, I fell in love with this book just as quickly as all her other books.