Comte Grégoire FitzHenri, the new Earl of Shyleburgh, is known for his prowess as one of the Norman conqueror’s most favored warriors...but not for his romantic sensibility or his command of the English language. Grégoire looks forward to his imminent marriage with his seneschal’s beautiful daughter, his longtime betrothed. But as a rough-hewn soldier, he wishes to enchant the elegant lady before taking their wedding vows—which means an interpreter...and much-needed lessons in courtly love.
The clever Bridget of Shyleburgh has been secretly in love with Grégoire since his visit as a dashing young warrior—when he was promised in marriage to her sister. But when he returns five years later as their new earl, Bridget is tasked with translating for him—including his love letters and somewhat awkward attempts to woo her sister. Mortified at first, Bridget soon finds herself completely charmed by his whispers of love and desire. She never expected such tenderness...or such wicked temptation... from a man like him. Grégoire’s heated missives tempt a fair maiden to stray down a path filled with forbidden pleasures.
But his words are meant for another… aren’t they?
Each book in the Rogues of Rouen series is a standalone, full-length story that can be enjoyed out of order.
Book #1 Come to Me
Book #2 A Knight of Her Own
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
Come to Me
By Oberon Wonch, Nina Bruhns
Entangled Publishing, LLCCopyright © 2015 Oberon Wonch
All rights reserved.
Shyleburgh, England, near the Scottish border 1071 A.D.
The dawn mist roiled thick, the way it always did when an English night became an English morn, swirling like a living thing as it crept from the fens beyond the trees and transformed itself in myriad ways.
Where he leaned against a pippin tree beside the gate to St. Bede's Abbey, Comte Grégoire FitzHenri of Dragonmere, newly made Earl of Shyleburgh, gazed into the nearby play of gloom and shadow while waiting for his man to bring the horses. At his back, the monks' morning prayers wended audibly to heaven.
He was about to reach for a polishing cloth and his Viking dagger when a shift in the scene before him made him straighten. The churning fog took the shape of a figure in gray that glided from the autumn bracken and drifted onto the lane.
Grégoire blinked against the surprise.
When had fog ever carried a basket on its arm? Or borne the face of an angel?
Surely this was a local brew-wife or farmer's daughter, perhaps a village wench on an errand to the abbey. He waited for her to approach and observe him. Rather than proceed to the main gate, however, she crossed the lane, stepping into the monks' orchard.
The mist clawed at her skirt hem, anxious to moor her to that other world whence she'd come, but she broke its bonds with every step she took.
Impatient with his imagination, he pushed away from the pippin tree. She was just a woman, blast it, not a fantasy. But at this time of day? Alone, in the vicinity of an establishment crammed with males deprived of feminine companionship?
He frowned. Perchance she required protection. Monks were men, despite their sheen of chastity, and could be lured into any manner of villainy.
More important, true villains might still be lurking about the village. Grégoire had only the night before pursued the outlaw known as Black Hand, the most powerful of the English resistors, through Shyleburgh and into neighboring Cumbria. That the brigand was once betrothed to the thane of Shyleburgh's daughter and expected to inherit the shire one day made him a determined and dangerous foe to Grégoire.
There was no telling how long the man would stay out of England, nor how many henchmen he'd left behind to guard his traitorous interests. Men who would think nothing of despoiling a lone female.
Grégoire set off to track the woman's steps, quickening his pace round the corner of the abbey wall. He spied her near another entrance farther along, a postern of timber with iron bindings. As he skirted a berry bramble obstructing his path, his quarry looked suddenly over her shoulder. He ducked behind the briar.
God's bones, she was toothsome. Oh, not in the way of highborn, cultured ladies who perfected a way of floating across a palace floor leaving their elegant skirts and lofty headdresses undisturbed. Nay, this one had a purposeful march in her step and was clad in the practical woolens of an English peasant. The shape of her defied even the camouflage of all those bolts of cloth. She was buxom, curvy, soft all over. Just as he preferred his women.
When she turned back to the portal, he freed the breath dammed in his chest.
The woman reached upward, rising to her tiptoes, and scrabbled her hand about a niche in the curtain stones. Once she'd located the object of her search, which proved to be a large ironwork key, she wedged it into the lock at the door.
So, that was it. She'd been invited to serve the denizens of St. Bede's Abbey, and in a capacity he could well guess at. She was a regular, too, by the looks of it.
He stepped round the briar. In five strides, he stood beside her.
"Good morrow, fair one," he said in what he guessed to be her language — brute English as he'd learned it defending the king's farthest flung conquest.
She whirled with a gasp to face him. Her eyes, luminous and colored like dark honey, skittered over him. Now he knew he'd been too long afield, for her regard had the effect of a lover's stroke on his hungry body.
She moved a hand to her breast in that gesture of self-calming women had.
He stepped back. "Forgive me. I didn't mean to alarm you. Upon my honor, I mean you no harm."
Her pale brows drew together, but now that her initial start had subsided, she appeared wholly unafraid. She glanced about, as if looking for someone.
"My lord!" she said with that trace of awe in her voice he'd come to expect from the common folk when they encountered him. "Welcome to Shyleburgh. We didn't know you'd arrived."
He curtailed a wince. Damnation. She knew him? He didn't remember ever seeing her before. It had been years since he'd sojourned in this region.
Mayhap she was a camp follower.
"Thank you ...?" he returned, subtly prompting for her name. At least, he thought he prompted. Damn this English tongue.
"I beg you," she entreated, missing his prompt entirely. "Please don't tell anyone you've seen me."
"I won't if you won't," he said, stepping nearer.
"I know I shouldn't be here, especially not alone."
He raised an eyebrow. She usually worked with a partner? How very interesting.
But he had a more important point to press. "Verily, you should not be out alone. Not until I've secured the shire."
Her brow crinkled. "I couldn't take a guard away from his post, and this was the only spare moment I had. Brother Lefrid asked for me, you see. Please, my lord. Your word you haven't seen me?"
Hmm. A peasant wench speaking of guards and asking for his word?
"Very well," he said, smelling wildflowers as he bent closer to her. He lowered his voice conspiratorially. "I give you my word. I won't tell a soul."
She smiled up at him, and this wretched little corner of England brightened. Though delightfully voluptuous, she was small in stature. He could easily hoist her aloft and take her against this very wall. But only if she allowed it. He was no beast of the wilderness.
God's bones, he hoped she allowed it. He'd been too long without. However, a faint qualm bedeviled him. He shouldn't dally here, he had commitments elsewhere — and an imminent marriage arranged for him by King William, himself. Grégoire's union with the former thane's daughter come Michaelmas would cement the king's hold over this far northern territory ... and bring the sons Grégoire should have had years before, had his first marriage not ended in disaster.
Yet this unfettered wench attracted him; her intrigue charmed him. After so many hard weeks routing the king's foes, if he must cleave to the noble bride chosen for him, why not tarry first with an unaffected female, one who actually appealed to him? Would not his expected bride be grateful that he'd burned off his baser energies elsewhere before attending to the marriage bed?
With a whispered, "Thank you," the girl turned back to the abbey door, then rattled the key in the lock.
He placed his hand upon hers at the lock, earning a wide-eyed look from her.
"Pardon, mignonne — pretty one. Good Brother Lefrid can wait his turn. I haven't that kind of patience."
When she released the key, he interlaced his fingers with hers. Neither his leather gloves nor her woolen ones shielded him from the impact of that contact. She was warm, solid, female.
He breathed deep. Aye, wildflowers.
Nay, richer ... like honeysuckle.
Desire spiked in his gut.
"But, my lord —" Her protest died at the touch of his fingers to her jaw. He tilted her face upward. Her hood fell back, revealing bronze-hued hair pulled tightly into a braid at her nape.
Her eyes swept over him, resting on his mouth with such consuming interest, it piqued his own even further. He squeezed where his fingers tangled with hers.
"Wherefore your haste?"
Her eyelids flickered, even as she returned his stare. "I — I have a schedule to keep." She swallowed. "My lord."
"As do we all. But can we not step into the woods just there and enjoy ourselves for a time? I know the ground is cold and hard, but I'm hot and hard. I'll lay my cloak down upon the earth to soften your bed."
She shook her head, but in feigned confusion rather than refusal. Oh, she was good at this.
"You play the innocent." He stroked her jaw. "I like that. Verily, I like that." He brushed a thumb over her curvaceous lips. Seeing his black, worn leather glove against her flawless skin nearly tore him apart at the seams. "Come, let us take our pleasure."
Her eyes rounded once more. That they darkened as well pleased him immensely.
"Pleasure?" she whispered. "With me?"
He glanced to the portal behind her with a sly grin. "On second thought, inside might be more comfortable. And so wicked."
The wench's mouth fell open. Behind the wall, the monks' prayers hit a resounding note, and for a moment, the celestial workings stilled.
"You wish to —?" Her jaw snapped shut, her lips thinning in reproof. "In a church?"
"Forsooth, I will ensure you're well played and well paid."
Her warm amber eyes hardened. "You've no notion who I am, do you?"
"Forgive me. 'Tis —" There was no hope for it now. "There are so many women."
She drew in a breath, exhaled loudly. If he hadn't known her profession, he would have considered it a snort of disapproval. "I beg you, my lord. Let me be on my way."
"If 'tis a matter of your fee ..." He scanned her figure while slowly shaking his head, trying to regain the moment. "I'll gladly pay whate'er you ask."
She squeaked in umbrage. "No fee could ever induce me to do what you are asking!"
"Comte!" came his comrade Albert's call from around the corner, distinct from the hollow echoes of the chanting issuing from the abbey. The stamp of horses and the jangle of trappings meant Albert had brought their mounts.
"Ici," Grégoire returned over his shoulder, frustrated at the untimely interference. Here.
The woman glanced worriedly to where the sounds originated, then gave him a beseeching look. "Please, my lord."
Apparently, she didn't wish to be seen by anyone else.
Though sorely vexed at being pulled away when such delightful amusements could be had, he decided to honor her wish. "Very well," he said to her. He shouted to Albert in their own language, "Wait there. I'll come round."
Relief showed in her face. Had she understood his Norman words? A peasant wench who knew more than simple English? Intriguing. To her, he said, "I would fain know your name, pulcele."
Her expression cooled. He longed to bring back the maid's soft expression and excited eyes, but higher matters pressed. He was due at Shyleburgh Keep.
"Bridget, lord," she stated blandly, with a slight lift of her chin. "I am Bridget."
"Belle Brigitte." He smiled, tapping a finger to her nose. "Make no mistake of it. We'll meet again."CHAPTER 2
"And sooner than you know," Bridget murmured to herself, her stomach knotting in a skein of conflicting emotions.
She watched him go, Comte Grégoire FitzHenri, the Earl of Shyleburgh, who now ruled the shire in her father's place — and was destined to wed another in a fortnight's time. His cloak hem swirled about his ankles; his boot heels bit the earth.
He hadn't even remembered her.
Or more likely, he hadn't noticed her at all when he'd visited Shyleburgh five years earlier. He'd come with the new king, William of Normandy, who had just defeated England's sovereign and swept through the country removing English lords and placing Norman ones in their stead.
Her father, Thane Oelwine, who was Lord of Shyleburgh at the time, had been promptly demoted to a mere seneschal, and FitzHenri had been named lord over her father's lands. Now the Norman had been given the highest English title, earl, as reward for faithful service.
Ah well, his lack of notice shouldn't surprise her. With such activities on his mind as conquering kingdoms and subduing rebellion, what handsome young lord had time to observe the starry-eyed, worshipful gaze of a foolish girl?
It mattered not, anyway. Bridget's days at Shyleburgh were shortly numbered, the yearnings and disappointments of youthful folly — along with childhood nightmares — soon to be scoured away by purity, toil, and prayer.
She turned back to the portal, flipped the key, and heard the clunk of the mechanism releasing, when a commotion behind her made her pivot round again.
The monks' dawn prayers droned unceasingly at her back, but the sound fell away to nothing in her ears when she saw he was coming back, charging toward her atop a snorting behemoth.
Clumps of earth flew as his mount rounded the corner, dodging Brother Baldric's ancient apple trees. Her heart thundered at the sight of the four-legged beast bearing down upon her. Somehow, she forced her attention up to FitzHenri, to discern his intent.
And understood why he'd earned the name The Dragon during his years of battling the Norman king's enemies. Mist churned like smoke about horse and rider. Vapor gushed from the steed's nostrils, and the earl's cloak flapped like dragon wings. She could swear, too, that she smelled the odors of brimstone and molten rock.
Man and beast drew closer, FitzHenri's eyes steady upon her even through the gloom. That stare made her feel as if he saw right through to her innermost fantasies. Had he finally recalled who she was?
His ferocious advance made her hasten backward, pressing her trembling body to the wall, but her feet refused to flee. He reined in hard before her, evoking a guttural complaint from the steed beneath him.
"Brigitte," he murmured in his foreign lilt, then smiled.
Her heart gave a ridiculous little swoon.
With a creak of saddle leather, he reached down for her, his dark bulk filling her vision. Before she understood what was afoot, he'd wrapped a brawny arm round her middle. She was hoisted up and clamped firmly to his side, with her feet dangling in the air. Crashing to the ground went her basket, the jars of apple blossom honey rolling away.
She squirmed, grabbing at his arm and feeling more ungainly and awkward than ever before. Her bottom jutted heavily outward; her breasts jammed painfully and too intimately against the mail shirt he wore. She tried frantically to push away.
It was too much like what had happened all those years ago, with her betrothed. He'd taken the liberty to grab her when she wasn't expecting it, and she hadn't like it then, either.
The four-legged monster beneath them shifted, stomping a hoof. She cried out and slammed a palm to FitzHenri's thigh, clenching her fingers into rock-hard muscle to steady herself. When she looked up, she found him watching her, his green eyes as dark as the forest.
A few strands of sable hair had unfurled over his wide brow, making him look both roguish and intense. The flare of his nostrils, the virile cut of his jaw ... It was all there, just as she remembered. And she felt as helplessly entranced by it as she had since her very first glimpse of him from the shadows of her father's keep.
She swallowed thickly, barely managing to ask, "What do you want?"
"Merely this." His hand cupped her jaw, fingers splayed carefully over one cheek. She could smell the leather of his glove and the horrible beast that panted and pawed below. When the earl bent toward her, she smelled him. Smoke, and autumn, and leaves on a woodland floor.
And then he kissed her. Aye, beyond all reason, he kissed her.
Just a nip, and then he drew back.
A surprised thrill shot through her veins. This was nothing like what had happened with her betrothed! Back then, she'd been an untouched girl with no knowledge of men and their lusty ways. Now she was a woman grown, with different feelings and a different body.
What's more, this kiss was gentle. This man wasn't Samson of Reggeland.
Her focus centered inexorably on his bottom lip. Full and exciting, with the merest hint of a dip in the middle, that mouth had figured in her dreams for five long years.
He bent again, and this time he touched her with his tongue. Her eyes slipped shut and her lips parted. She hadn't intended the latter, but his fingers and thumb squeezed her jaw ever so gently and coaxed her mouth open.
His tongue found hers. Even back where her own tongue had withdrawn in uncertainty, he found her. And flicked her.
She'd had no idea ... Perhaps she'd occasionally fantasized, wondered what could have been, but ...
A whimper stole out of her; her tongue retreated farther.
Excerpted from Come to Me by Oberon Wonch, Nina Bruhns. Copyright © 2015 Oberon Wonch. Excerpted by permission of Entangled Publishing, LLC.
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
Totally worth the read! The heroine is strong and speaks her mind. The hero is exactly what a hero should be, alpha yet sweet, kind, and understanding. Oh, and the sex was hot too!
Comte Gregoire FitzHenri is the new Earl of Shyleburgh and is ready to marry his betrothed, but first he wants to romance his bride into wanting to marry him. Bridget is the interpreter between Gregoire and her sister, she has also had a crush on him for years. As Bridget and Gregoire spend more time together their attraction grows. But who are Gregoire’s words of love for, her sister or Bridget. Enjoyable historical romance. This story has wonderful characters, heartbreak and romance.
Comte Grégoire FitzHenri has been awarded Shyleburgh by William of Normandy the new King of England who replaces the English lords with Normans. As a pledge of loyalty, he is betrothed to the former lord’s – now his seneschal - heir & daughter. But Grégoire is resolute that his bride must come to him willing and in the 2 weeks prior to their wedding, he commences on a campaign to woo her. Unfortunately the beautiful Aislinn hardly speaks any French while Grégoire speaks little English & thus it is up to Aislinn’s elder sister Bridget who is fluent in both languages to play the part of interpreter between the two. This was an absolutely beautifully written story! It is Bridget that Grégoire finds himself drawn to; her earthly, natural charm & intelligence rather than Aislinn’s pallid, remote beauty. While Aislinn finds Grégoire's maleness intimidating, Bridget has been secretly idolizing him since meeting him 5 years ago when he was made the Earl. But her decision had been made before then to give up her position as her father’s heir & join a convent after suffering abuse at the hands of her 1st betrothed. Bridget does her utmost to bring Grégoire & the somewhat detached Aislinn together but gets her own emotions very much tangled into it. The romance is amazingly intense, as Bridget speaks supposedly of Aislinn’s feelings to Grégoire, what are her own feelings. She pours out her own wants & yearnings to Grégoire as “Aislinn’s” to convince him that he is winning Aislinn over but you can feel the heat curling off the pages between Bridget & Grégoire with every word she speaks. This was my 1st time reading a book from this author & I enjoyed it thoroughly. Copy gifted in exchange for an honest review.
Bridget made in an act of despair made a decision that has consequences could have far reaching consequences. Come to Me is a love that is almost ethereal. Oberon Wonch does a wonderful job of exploring the balance between forbidden love, painful decisions and the balance between right and wrong. I requested an ARC of this novel in exchange for an honest review from NetGalley. Bridget was not a person who jumped into a situation without weighing the consequences. Having endured the heartbreaks that were put before her I think she went a little crazy and let confusion allow her to end of in regrettable circumstances. A wonderful starting point.