Castles in the Air

Castles in the Air

by Christina Dodd

Paperback(Mass Market Paperback - Reissue)

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Bound by the King . . .

The document, signed and sealed by King Henry himself, commanded lady Juliana of Lofts to marry Raymond, Count of Avraché.

Shattered by the Past . . .

She refused, though it was treason to defy one's king. What man would have her once he discovered her secret?

One Knight Would Crusade for His Lady's Heart

Yet Raymond would not be denied. And when he came for her, she'd learn that even the strongest will cannot resist the softest touch.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780061080340
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 10/27/2009
Series: Castles Series , #2
Edition description: Reissue
Pages: 432
Sales rank: 853,018
Product dimensions: 4.16(w) x 6.84(h) x 1.19(d)

About the Author

New York Times bestselling author CHRISTINA DODD builds worlds filled with suspense, romance, and adventure, and creates the most distinctive characters in fiction today. Her fifty novels have been translated into twenty-five languages, featured by Doubleday Book Club, recorded on Books on Tape for the Blind, won Romance Writers of America’s Golden Heart and RITA Awards, and been called the year's best by Library Journal. Dodd herself has been a clue in the Los Angeles Times crossword puzzle.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

England, 1166

She had all her teeth.

Raymond heaved a sigh of relief. She was wrapped in too many layers of clothing to see aught else, and she fought him with all the strength in her slight body, but her teeth glimmered behind her blue lips and they made a sturdy clinking as they chattered together. That meant she was young enough to beat children, in reasonable health, capable of warming his bed.

He tried to lift her onto his horse, but she twisted in his arms, flinging herself down onto the woodland path and scrambling away with a desperation he respected. Respected, but ignored. Too much was at stake for him to pay attention to a woman's apprehensions.

She floundered in the snow that misted the ground. Catching her, he wrapped her in his cloak, bundling her so tightly that her hands and feet flailed uselessly. With a heave, he tossed her face down in front of the saddle and mounted before she regained her breath. "Steady, Lady Juliana, steady," he soothed, patting her back as he urged the horse forward.

She battled against his solace, kicking her heels and trying to slide away. He didn't understand her persistent opposition in the face of such odds, nor did he understand the impulse that drove him to try and comfort her as if she were some wild bird he could charm to his hand.

Perhaps her refusal to scream appealed to his sympathies. She'd made no sound since he'd stepped out from the trees, only fought him with determination and silence.

Then again, perhaps she couldn't say anything. Bundled as she was, with her head bobbing beside the horse's belly, he couldn't see her face, and hebegan to wonder if she could breathe properly. Leaning down, he groped for her face, and those same strong teeth he had admired bit deep into his fingertips. He jerked his hand back with a grunt and an oath, shocked by her violence yet not truly surprised.

Hadn't he compared her to a wild creature? His own carelessness was responsible for his pain, and he sucked the drop of blood from his skin and then tucked his hand into his armpit to warm it.

Her breath froze as she panted harshly, the sound rending the still air. Scratched from the sky by bare, ice-tipped branches, the snow sifted down relentlessly, filling the spaces between the dried leaves with a thin layer of white. Damn, it was cold, and getting colder by the moment. "We'll be there soon," he said aloud, and held her firmly as his promise brought renewed strife.

I He topped the hill, and the blast of frigid air snatched his breath away. Here the threatening blizzard threatened no more. It was reality, and the world disintegrated into a narrow, white passage that opened as they moved through and closed behind them. The woodcutter's hut stood not far ahead, yet he worried about the lady, now rigid where she lay over the horse. He leaned over her to give her all his body warmth and peered ahead.

Dug into the hill, the hut had proved a godsend for him, providing a stock of fuel for warmth and a store of dried foods. Traveller's provender, he'd guessed, provided by Lady Juliana of Lofts and used by him for her abduction.

"Just a few more steps, my lady." His breath froze on the muffler before his mouth, but he thought it fair to warn her since she seemed so averse to his touch. Sliding out of the saddle, he pulled her down. She tried to stand; her legs collapsed, whether from cold or fear he didn't know. Like a bear with a haunch of venison, he dragged her along and swung wide the door. "We're here," he said unnecessarily. "I'll stable my horse close by the door. The fire's just beyond. If you'll sit on the straw until I can carry you in there . . ."

Her wide eyes glistened in the dim light as he dropped the bar, then she bolted into the little room beyond. Through the slats of the feeding pen, he watched as she frantically paced the length of the tiny room.

A fire burned in a pit in the middle of the woodcutter's shed. The smoke rose to a small hole in the thatch, melting the flakes as they drifted in. Drawn by the flames, she held her hands out and looked around, dazed. All the cracks in the walls had been stuffed with cloth, the window had been covered with a blanket. A rough bed laden with furs stood in one corner and his gear lay in another. But the only door lay behind him, and she couldn't reach that.

To give Juliana time to adjust to her surroundings, he took his time feeding and grooming the hardy gelding that had served him so well, but at last he could delay no more. "We'll be cozy enough, my lady, to weather the storm here."

She blinked away the snowflakes melting on her lashes and stared at him, and he wondered what she saw that made repugnance curl her lip so expressively. He was only a man, albeit a tall one. "You need to remove your damp clothes," he said.

He expected her to try and run again, but she seemed hypnotized by him, treating him with the attention one might give to a ravenous bear. She flinched when he removed his cloak from around her, then her cloak, heavy with snow. Working the gloves off her hands, his gaze remained fixed on her face, wondering what lay beneath the overhanging hood and the drooping muffler.

This woman he would spend the rest of his lifewith, and he was torn. Since the day King Henry gaveherto him, Raymond had wondered what she lookedlike. Now he would see her, but what would a fewmore moments matter?

Her shivering calmed his brief cowardice. As he untied the hood and unwrapped the muffler, he realized she was more than just young and healthy.

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Castles in the Air 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 22 reviews.
Sparky_Patches More than 1 year ago
Overall Rating: 3.85 // Action: 3.0 / Emotion: 3.0 / Romance: 3.0 / Sensuous: 1.0 / Suspense: 3.0 // Historical Flavor: 4.0 / Laughter: 1 / Tears: 1 Castles In The Air: 3.85 Dodd wrote an entertaining and enjoyable story that sweeps the reader back to medieval England.  She failed, however, to inspire that deep sense of connection to the characters that is necessary for an outstanding read. Hero: 3.0: Geoffroi Jean Louis Raymond, Count of Avraché: Although Raymond had all the requisite factors that make him typical hero material -- tall, handsome, intelligent, confident, and a background filled with angst, the attributes Dodd featured in this story were his compassionate and kind-hearted nature as he tried to inveigle himself into Juliana's family unit.  Just a bit disappointed because was more in the mood for a sword-wielding alpha knight. Heroine: 2.5: Lady Juliana of Lofts: Just could not warm up to this strong-willed, self-sufficient, compassionate heroine because of her inconsistencies.  One minute she's issuing orders like a drill sergeant, the next she's cowering like a whipped puppy -- all the way through the book. Story Line: 3.0: The premise for this story was good -- Raymond goes to retrieve Juliana from her home because she refused to heed the king's command to marry him.  But rather than force her to marry him, Raymond decides to woo and seduce Juliana into compliance.  The biggest problem during the telling of the story, however, was that Dodd spent way too much time trying to inspire a degree of intrigue by referring to Juliana's 'big secret' for way too long. Action: 3.0: There were a few exciting action scenes, but most of the story was comprised of everyday events that moved the story along at a slow, but steady pace. Emotion: 3.0: It was difficult to connect to Raymond and Juliana on an emotional level for a couple of reasons.  The first was Juliana's vacillation between strength and fear because she was unable to overcome her insecurities caused by the event that happened three years ago.  The second was Raymond's fears of being unworthy because he 'broke' while being held as a captive of the Saracen's. Romance: 3.0: Enjoyed the fact that Dodd slowly built the romance between the two protagonists because Raymond decided to show Juliana that actions spoke louder than words -- that he was a man worthy of trust and love.  Raymond aspired to work beside Juliana rather than demand he was lord of the realm. Sensuous: 1.0: Raymond was forced to lay next to Juliana night after night and built her to such a level of lust that she was ravenous for him.  And while readers were allowed to see the attraction that built between Raymond and Juliana, Dodd did not share any of the sizzle or spice when it came to the actual lovemaking scene.  (Remember the book was written in 1993 -- the days of purple-prose sensuality.) Suspense: 3.0: The story was pervaded by a lazy aura of suspense about {1} the haunting events that occurred in Raymond and Juliana's past and {2} what was Sir Joseph going to stir up next. Secondary Characters: 4.0: Dodd did a great job of including some very interestingly-developed secondary characters who added wonderful depth to the story.  {1} Loved Keir, Raymond's friend and confidant. {2} Juliana's daughters, Margery and Ella, were minimally developed but really enhanced the enjoyment of the story.  {3} Couldn't help but dislike {a} Sir Joseph, the villain, and {b} Raymond's cold, mercenary parents, Geoffroi and Isabel, the Count and Countess of Locheais.  The last two memorable secondary characters that added to the story were: {1} Tosti, a tracker who was working on the building project and {2} Denys, the troubled squire William sent to Raymond to train. Historical Flavor: 4.0: Dodd did an outstanding job of taking the reader back in time with her descriptions of the buildings, including the political climate of the country, describing the attire and including the roles of aristocrats and serfs reminiscent of England in 1166. See Wolf Bear Does Books for a more in-depth, detailed review of *Castles In The Air*.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
the plot dragged and kept on draging, not recommend at all
dabriabria More than 1 year ago
Christina is a talented writer. I loved this book. If you don't like it. I would say not to give up on her books. Choose another one.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this book and have read it many times. I have been a historical romance reader for decades and this book has made it through serval purges of my collection. The hero Raymond was masculine and endearing, the Lady Julianna spirited and sweet. The secondary characters made the book highly entertaing. Even my favorite queen, Eleanor of Aquitaine, made an appearence. I found many parts humorous and there were several unexpected twists as well. Excellent lazy weekend read!
Guest More than 1 year ago
i thought id try a new author and i cant believe i picked this author and this book. it just barely keeped me awake and i only read it to see if anything good happened which never did.
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This one is not as good as some of her others but its still a good read
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