Every bit as headstrong, fearless, and lustful as her grandmother, the legendary Skye O’Malley, Jasmine had twice been forced into marriage. Rebelling at King James’s decree that she wed Jemmie Leslie, fifth earl of Glenkirk, she flees to France with her children—a bold move that has further enraged the courts. For Jasmine’s youngest son is the illegitimate offspring of her lover, Prince Henry Stuart, the king’s only grandson. But nobody tells Jasmine whom to love—even if the fearsome man on her heels is the one she secretly desires.
Jemmie Leslie has come to France to possess Jasmine—by force if necessary. Though they shared a night of pulse-quickening passion, her rejection of their betrothal stunned and maddened him. Yet once he sees her again, Jemmie realizes what it will take to win back the elusive Jasmine . . . and it’s something beyond ecstasy.
“Rare poignancy, heartstopping adventure, and sizzling sensuality.” —Romantic Times
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"You simply cannot remain here alone, Mama," Willow, Lady Edwards, said in a firm tone that all of her children knew meant she would have her way in whatever matter she was discussing.
Skye O'Malley de Marisco stared out the window of her day room. The snow was falling lightly, but it had already covered Adam's grave site upon the hill. The snow, she thought, was better than that raw slash of dark earth. The snow softened everything.
"You are in your seventy-fifth year, Mama," Willow continued.
"I have only just celebrated my seventy-fourth birthday last month, Willow," Skye said, her tone edgy with her irritation. She did not bother to turn her view from the landscape. It was growing dark. Soon she would not be able to see Adam's grave at all. Not until the dawn.
"A woman of your years cannot live by herself," Willow persisted.
"Why not?" her mother asked.
"Why not? Why not?" Willow blustered a moment, unprepared, although she knew she should have been, for the question. "Why, Mama, it simply isn't respectable for a matriarch of your age to live alone."
The light outside had faded completely now. Skye turned and faced her eldest daughter. "Go home, Willow," she said wearily. "I want you and all of your siblings to leave me in peace to mourn my husband of forty-two years. From the moment of Adam's death four nights ago you have not given me a moment's surcease. I need to be alone. I want to be alone. Go home."
"But ... but ..." Willow began again, only to be silenced by a fierce look from her mother.
"I am not helpless, Willow. I have not yet lost my reason. I have absolutely no intention of closing up my home, displacing my servants, and moving myself in with any of my children. I intend remaining here at Queen's Malvern until I die. Is that quite clear?"
Daisy Kelly, Skye's faithful tiring woman, felt her mouth turning up in a small smile, but she withheld her laughter as she sat by the fire, mending the hem on one of her mistress's gowns. She was surprised at how little Mistress Willow seemed to know her mother if she actually believed Skye would come and live with her, or any of her other children. They might not be as young as they once were, Daisy ruefully admitted to herself as she squinted to see her stitches, but she and her lady were perfectly capable of looking out for themselves.
"But, Mama," Willow persisted, "Queen's Malvern no longer belongs to you. It belongs to the little duke of Lundy, Charles Frederick Stuart."
"Do you really believe that either my granddaughter, or the duke's guardian, the earl of Glenkirk, would dispossess me, Willow?" Skye snapped. "I think it is you who have lost her wits, and not I."
"Jemmie Leslie was back at court this autumn, Mama," Willow informed her mother. "He is very angry that he has not yet been able to track Jasmine down in France. It will be two years this spring since she fled him, taking the children with her."
Skye chuckled wickedly. "I do not know why he has been unable to find her," she said. "After all, Adam practically told him exactly where to look, but then, of course, I did send a messenger to warn her of her grandfather's lapse in judgment."
"Ohh, Mama, how could you?" Willow wailed. "You will make an enemy of the king should your interference with James Stuart's will become public knowledge! Was it not enough that you made an enemy of our good queen, Bess? Has age taught you no discretion?"
"My darling girl has made two marriages to please her family," Skye said in firm tones. "I hope that this time she will be able to make her own choice, Willow. No one, not even the king, should force Jasmine to the altar. It was foolish of James Stuart and his silly romantic queen to even try."
"But Jemmie Leslie loves Jasmine, Mama," Willow said softly.
"I know," Skye said, "but it is not all a certainty that Jasmine loves him. I shall go to France in the spring, and tell my granddaughter of her grandfather's death. Then we will see what she wants to do. Though I miss her, the choice must be hers to make."
"You will go to France?" Willow looked horrified.
"If you suggest that I am too ancient a crone to travel any longer," Skye told her daughter, "I shall surely smack you, Willow!" Her Kerry blue eyes glared at Lady Edwards.
"I was not thinking any such thing," Willow replied, although in truth she was.
"And when the snow stops you will leave," Skye said firmly. "You and all of your siblings. I need time to come to terms with the fact my dearest Adam has departed. I must be alone. I realize that you do not understand that Willow, but you must accept it."
Willow nodded, defeated, and, curtsying to her mother, left her apartments, making her way to the family hall where her brothers and sister awaited her.
"Well?" demanded the earl of Lynmouth, Robin Southwood, his lime green eyes twinkling. "Is Mama come to live with you in her dotage?" "Oh, be silent, Robin!" Willow snapped. "I hate it when you are smug. Mama is most recalcitrant, as she always is when asked to be reasonable. I could get nowhere with her, as you fully expected, but I had to try. She wants us all to leave as soon as the snow stops."
"Should she be left alone?" Angel, countess of Lynmouth, worried.
"She absolutely insists upon it," Willow said sourly.
"I can understand that," said Deirdre, Lady Blackthorne, Skye's middle daughter. "Mama will show no weakness to anyone, even her children. Have any of you yet seen her cry? We must all go home as soon as we can, so she may mourn Adam in her own fashion."
Her siblings, and their mates, even Willow, nodded in agreement.
" 'Tis not a strong storm," Padraic, Lord Burke, said. " 'Twill be over by the morrow. We had best set our servants to packing."
"Mama says she is going to France to tell Jasmine herself," Willow informed them. "Sometime in the spring, she says."
"Has anyone sent to my mother and my father?" asked Sybilla, the countess of Kempe, a granddaughter of the de Mariscos.
"I dispatched a messenger the morning after," Robin Southwood told his niece. "I don't imagine he has reached Dun Broc yet with this weather, but in a few more days Velvet will know her father is dead."
"Poor Mama," Sybilla said softly, and her husband put a comforting arm about her shoulders.
"Aye, Velvet will be devastated," Murrough O'Flaherty said soberly. "She adored Adam. Hell! We all did now, didn't we? He was the one father we can all remember. None of mother's other husbands lived long enough though we may recall them slightly."
The others nodded solemnly.
"Adam was father to us all," Lord Burke said, "and a good father, too. We learned much from him."
"Do you think Mama can survive his loss?" Deirdre wondered.
"She will miss him greatly," Robin said quietly, "but I do not think Skye O'Malley is ready to give up the ghost yet, sister. She has survived the others well enough."
"But she was younger then," Willow noted.
"True," Robin agreed with his elder sibling, "but she is stronger now than she has ever been. We will leave our mother to mourn our father as she wishes to do. Then we will see."
"I wonder if she will wed again," Valentina Burke mused.
"Never!" Robin spoke emphatically. "Of that I am certain."
The snow had stopped the following morning as Skye O'Malley's children and other relations departed Queen's Malvern. Each had bid the matriarch a fond farewell, and then clambered into their separate coaches to begin their journey home.
"Ye'll send for me if ye need me, sister, won't ye?" Conn O'Malley St. Michael, Lord Bliss, asked his elder sibling.
"If I need ye," Skye told him.
Conn shook his head. She was a proud woman, his sister, but he and his wife, Aidan, were near enough in case of emergency.
"Cardiff Rose will be ready when you need her, Mama," Murrough O'Flaherty said softly so only she might hear him.
Skye nodded and kissed her second born, and then his wife.
"God speed you safely home," she told them.
"I simply don't know what to say to you, Mama," Willow declared as she confronted her mother a final time.
"Farewell will do quite nicely, Willow," Skye replied, kissing her daughter upon the cheek. She turned to her son-in-law, James. "Godspeed, my lord. I do not envy you your trip."
"I sleep quite heavily upon the road," he replied with a twinkle in his eyes. "I do not hear anything."
"Thank God for that!" Skye said, and then she turned to her granddaughter, Sybilla. "Are you breeding again, Sibby?"
Sybilla chuckled. "Aye, madame, I fear I am, and 'twill make five. The babe will come in early June. Perhaps it will cheer Mama."
Skye nodded. "Take care of each other," she told Sybilla, and her husband, Tom Ashburne, the earl of Kempe.
Deirdre Burke was teary, but she struggled to maintain her composure as she bid her mother farewell.
"Now, Deirdre," Skye scolded the most fragile of her children, "you're just going home, and God knows you live near enough to see me whenever you like, but for mercy's sake give me a few days of peace."
Deirdre swallowed hard and nodded, as her husband, John, helped her into their coach.
"I don't like leaving you like this," Padraic Burke said.
"I need to be alone," Skye told her youngest son. "There is plenty of family nearby should I need them." She gave him a hug. "Yer like yer father. You don't think I can take care of myself, but I can, Padraic. Now let me be to mourn my Adam."
"Get into the coach, Padraic," his wife, Valentina, said in a firm tone. She kissed her mother-in-law's cheek, and gave her a wink.
The last to depart was the earl of Lynmouth and his family. Angel and her children had bid Skye good-bye. Now it came time for Robin Southwood to say adieu to his mother. "Will you consult with me, Mama, before you do anything rash?" he asked her wryly.
"Most likely not, Robin," she said, smiling at him.
"You're already plotting," he accused her.
She smiled mischievously. "How can you tell? It has been years since I did any serious plotting, Robin."
He laughed. "I remember the look, madame." Then he grew serious. "I am glad I was here this Twelfth Night instead of giving my fete in London. The damned thing has become outrageously expensive. I count it good fortune that I came to Queen's Malvern this year."
"I loved your father's fetes," Skye said, the memories rising to fill her heart. "Especially the Twelfth Night one. I can still see the queen's barge making its way up the river to Lynmouth House. Twelfth Night has always been special to me. I knew I carried you one Twelfth Night, Robin. And do you remember that Twelfth Night just a few years back when Jasmine almost caused a scandal because Sybilla caught her in bed with Lord Leslie. And now Twelfth Night will always be etched in my memory with Adam's passing." She shivered, and drew her cloak about her shoulders. "I shall never enjoy the holiday again."
"Though I know you need your solitude," Robin said, "I dislike leaving you, madame." His arm was tight about her.
"I feel fragile at this moment, Robin," she admitted to him, "but it will pass. It did with your father, and it did with Niall."
But you had Adam to be your bulwark each time, Robin considered, but kept the thought to himself. "Tell me before you leave England," he said. "And tell that niece of mine to come home." He kissed her soft cheek, then hugged her hard.
"Godspeed, Robin," Skye said to her son, then stood watching as his coach made its way down the drive and around a bend, out of her sight.
"Yer a devious old woman," Daisy told her mistress as she helped her into the house. "You have no intention of telling him when yer leaving for France, do ye?"
Skye chuckled. "Of course not," she replied. "If I tell Robin, he will tell the earl of Glenkirk who will seek to follow me to Jasmine and the children. Nay, I'll not tell him a thing."
"He'll tell the earl anyway when he passes through London in a few days," Daisy said.
"Which is why I'll already be on my way to France," Skye answered her tiring woman. "They'll not use me to force my darling girl back to England. She'll not come unless she chooses to come."
"Oh, yer a wicked creature," Daisy said chortling, but then she grew serious. "How will ye mourn his lordship if ye go, my lady?"
"I do not have to remain at Queen's Malvern to mourn my Adam," Skye told her servant. "Adam is always with me no matter where I go."
"I'll begin packing this very day, m'lady," Daisy said, "and I'll pray for a calm sea when we cross to France."
"You do not have to come with me, Daisy. I can take a younger lass to serve me. I think Martha would do, do ye not?"
"I do not!" Daisy said indignantly. "Yer not going off without me this time, Mistress Skye. We're of an age, you and I. If you can travel, then so can I! Martha indeed! Why the chit is a slattern, and not fit to serve a child. Martha, humph," Daisy snorted. Then she bustled off to begin packing for their trip.
Skye had not yet removed her cloak. Pulling the hood up, she slipped from the house and, walking through the barely ankle-deep snow, made her way across the lawns and up the gentle hillock to her husband's grave. A small wooden cross marked the spot although later there would be a more impressive monument of stone. She stopped and stared down.
"Well, now, old man," she said softly, "and didn't you give us a Twelfth Night to remember. How could you leave me, Adam? Ahhh, I know 'twas not your fault." She sighed deeply. "They've all gone now. I don't know when I've been quite so irritated with Willow. Yes, yes, I know she means well, but you know how I dislike it when she tries to run my life. Three daughters. One who brays constantly like a donkey; the second, a dear mousekin; and the third, in Scotland. God's boots!"
A gentle wind ruffled the fur edging the cloak's hood, and a small smile touched the corners of Skye's mouth. "Now don't go trying to wheedle around me, Adam de Marisco," she said. "You know that I'm correct. Not one of my girls is a bit like me. Only Jasmine is like me, old man, and well you know it. I'll have to leave you for a while because I'm off to France to tell her of how you left us. She's enjoying her freedom, I can tell, but 'tis past time she came home with the children and settled down. She won't have an easy time with Lord Leslie until she makes her peace with him. You were right, old man. I should have insisted she come home long since instead of encouraging her in her rebellion. Ahhh, Adam, I can almost hear you laughing with my admission. I didn't often say you were wiser than I, but you were, my dearest."
Two days later, before the dawn had even begun to tint the eastern skies, Thistlewood, the de Marisco coachman, climbed up onto the box of his mistress's great traveling coach where his assistant already waited. "Well, me boy," he said, his breath coming in icy little puffs, "we're off for France we are. At least this day appears to be coming on fair, but Jesu, 'tis cold!" He settled himself and, turning, asked the younger man, "Are ye ready then?" And at his companion's nod, Thistlewood cracked his whip over the horses' heads. The coach lurched forward, moving slowly down the drive of Queen's Malvern toward the main road and southeast toward the coast.
In London the earl of Lynmouth found his friend, the earl of Glenkirk, at Whitehall Palace. "Are you in the mood to bring a wily vixen to heel, Jemmie?" he asked, a wicked smile upon his lips.
"You know where she is?" James Leslie replied, his tone cold.
"No, but if you are quick, I know how you may find her," Robin Southwood replied. Then he went on to explain that his stepfather had died, and Skye had said she would go to France to tell Jasmine.
"In the spring?" James Leslie said. "Then there is time."
"My mother said in the spring, but she is guileful as always. I would wager she'll be on the road now, racing for the coast, because she knows full well that on my way home I have come to London to tell you. I set two riders on my brother Murrough, who did not go straight home as he said, but rather has headed for Harwich according to information I received today. Mama will cross to Calais from there. You must get to Dover so you may intercept her and follow her to wherever my niece has hidden herself."
The earl of Glenkirk's green eyes narrowed in contemplation. Thanks to Robin Southwood, he was finally to catch up with the recalcitrant dowager marchioness of Westleigh, Jasmine de Marisco Lindley. A woman he had once believed himself in love with, but whom he had learned to hate these past twenty-one months since she had made him the laughingstock of the court by jilting him in the face of King James's order that they marry. Worse, she had taken the king's grandson, the late Prince Henry's infant, their child, with her. Yet the king had appointed Glenkirk the boy's legal guardian. But now for the first time in almost two years he had a serious chance of catching Jasmine, and this time, he instinctively knew he would catch her.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Darling Jasmine"
Copyright © 1997 Bertrice Small.
Excerpted by permission of KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP..
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.
Table of Contents
Queen's Malvern - TWELFTH NIGHT, 1615,
Belle Fleurs - WINTER 1615,
England - SPRING 1615,
Scotland - AUTUMN 1615-AUTUMN 1618,
Queen's Malvern - MIDSUMMER'S EVE, 1623,
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Jasmine has been ordered by King James in England to marry his distant cousin, Jemmie Leslie, the Earl of Glenkirk. She knowingly makes a run for it with all of her children in the hopes to escape the royal order. This book is as well written as the others in this series as well as out. Bertrice Small presents characters that are realistic as well as intelligent. Not only that, the research and history in her books is astonishing. You find yourself lost in all types of intrigue and romance thus leaving it hard to down like the rest.
I have also read all of Ms. Small's books. I really enjoyed this one. Jasmine and Skye's adventures took me away. I could not put it down. I ordered this book on a Monday and it arrived on Tuesday, needless to say, I tore open the package and started reading. I didn't put it down. I finished the book on Wednesday. I can't wait to read the next one. It was a great read. I couldn't wait to see what would happen next.
There are 12 books in this full series and I think Bertrice Small is the best romance writer ever.
I love this author and her series are great reading. Historical romance is my favorite type of book.
Please know that I have read all of the sky o,malley books and love them all I can' tell you how many times I've read theses books I enjoy them so much that I have the paper backs and some hard back. You are a wounderfull writer keep them coming. Your loyal fan than you so much it has help me with my pain.xoxo
Love all the Sky legacy books
I enjoyed this so much I couldn't put it down this weekend. Will order the remainder of the Skye's Legacy Series!
Is this book "Darling Jasmine" and the book "Wild Jasmine" the same book but in two different series from the same author? Im so lost.
Reading this book gave me the creepy crawlies. First off, I don't like Jasmine, even if I am the only reader who doesn't like Jasmine. She's smug and prideful and conceited and arrogant and...uck. James Leslie is no prize, either. The writing is stock and rather boring. 'Jasmine's Da Bomb' might have been a better title, but it would take more than a new title and a kitsch-erotic new cover to save this ship.