Tudor England, 1542
When beautiful widow Lady Annabelle Benton-Hayes is ordered to court, she is terrified. Henry VIII desires a sixth queen for his bloodstained throne, and her scheming family cares not for her wishes. Annabelle yearns for love, but there is no escaping her fate: escorting her is Rafe de Vere, the man who abandoned her to become England's most loyal and brutally successful soldier.
Rafe is utterly weary of war and its impossible demands. Thankfully, his final task is the easiest: accompany a wellborn lady to London for Henry's perusal. Until he discovers she is Annabelle, the woman who swore to wait for him but married another. Rafe isn't permitted to care, yet time hasn't dulled their sizzling attraction and his orders are increasingly difficult to obey. To love her, he would have to risk all and cross his king to secure the ultimate prize - Annabelle's heart.
A Scandalous Novella
About the Author
Nicola Davidson worked for many years in communications and marketing as well as television and print journalism, but hasn't looked back since she decided writing wicked historical romance was infinitely more fun. When not chained to a computer she can be found ambling along one of New Zealand's beautiful beaches, cheering on the champion All Blacks rugby team, history geeking on the internet, or daydreaming. If this includes chocolate - even better!
Keep up with Nicola's news on Twitter (@NicolaMDavidson), Facebook (Nicola Davidson - Author), or her website, www.nicola-davidson.com.
Read an Excerpt
His Forbidden Lady
By Nicola Davidson, Kate Fall
Entangled Publishing, LLCCopyright © 2014 Nicola Davidson
All rights reserved.
Essex, England, March 1542
The folded cream parchment sat atop the library's polished oak side table like a coiled snake poised to strike.
Lady Annabelle Benton-Hayes didn't dare touch it. In fact, she was trying to forget the missive existed. Unfortunately, the words were already seared in her mind.
Henry the Eighth, by the grace of God, King of England, France, and Ireland, Defender of the Faith and of the Church of England and also of Ireland in Earth Supreme Head, desires the pleasure of the company of ...
No. She would not torment herself with the words, not when there still might be a way out of this summons masquerading as an invitation to court. It was still a week hence, after all. Just because Henry Tudor commanded her to be paraded in front of him like a banquet platter didn't mean it would happen. Just because he sought a sixth queen to birth a passel of sons and secure his throne didn't mean she would be the one fated to grant his fervent wish.
Her fists clenched so hard she hid them in the heavy folds of her green velvet gown. The King of England always got what he wanted. And his people well knew it.
She jumped at the sharp tone. Her father and his illustrious guest had been discussing her great fortune in the sparsely-furnished manor library for over two hours now, neither expecting nor encouraging her participation. Until the moment she allowed her thoughts to wander, naturally.
Charles, Baron Mayberry, resettled his slender frame in a high-back chair and shot her a look of extreme displeasure.
"Your uncle asked you a question, girl, and you'd do well to answer him."
Guilty anger churned her stomach, but she forced herself to look directly at Edward Seymour, Earl of Hertford. Not actually her uncle but her father's younger cousin, yet undoubtedly head of the family. Save the king, no man in England held more power, and it was thanks to him she'd come to Henry's attention in the first place.
"Beg pardon, my lord. You were saying?"
"Sit, lady," Hertford replied gently, but his dark eyes held no warmth. "I'm not certain you comprehend the enormity of the opportunity ahead of you. In your appearance, you hold a significant advantage over the other ladies attending His Majesty's festivities."
Reluctantly obedient, Annabelle perched on an embroidered chaise. Only a halfwit wouldn't understand what it meant to be connected to the all-powerful earl. Or to bear a striking resemblance to their revered kinswoman Queen Jane Seymour, the king's third wife, who had died after birthing his long-awaited heir. Never in all her twenty-five summers had she cause to loathe the combination of wide brown eyes, fair complexion, and flaxen curls so well.
"Yes, my lord."
"His Majesty has bestowed much upon us because of young Prince Edward. But if Henry fell in love again, made you his wife, and you in turn presented him with another son ... we would be assured of favor and position for always."
She gritted her teeth. "As you say."
"However, I am concerned that in your first marriage, you failed to quicken with child. You are not barren, are you? Birthing a Duke of York for England will be your foremost duty."
Humiliation scorched her cheeks, but she had a defense for this, at least. "My husband was unwell for much of our marriage. I have no reason to think I cannot conceive."
"Good. Then you must travel to London without delay."
"Annabelle knows her duty," said her father, smiling ingratiatingly. "When it is unclear, time in a locked chamber provides clarity. Or sterner correction, as her husband Walter used to —"
"Now, now," said Hertford, amusement quirking his thin lips. "Damaged goods won't tempt His Majesty. To ensure this, the captain of my personal guard will lead her escort to London. Rafe de Vere is a seasoned military man and won't allow any harm to our jewel."
Her father leaned forward and lifted her chin with a careless finger. "Who would have thought you the sweetmeat to tempt a monarch?"
"Papa, I — "
"Go and begin your packing. Gerda will assist."
Head bowed at the order, she stood to leave, her shaky legs working by sheer force of will.
Abruptly Hertford loomed over her.
"De Vere will arrive on the morrow. I shall see you again at court. And remember this — no fresh-faced, dim-witted whore like Katherine Howard will win the king's love this time. You must be as my late sister was: gentle, decorous, devout, a loving stepmother. Yet also free with your widow's tricks, for Henry's palate is ... jaded. Allow him every liberty bar your bed, for that will be a wedding night privilege."
Breath hitching at the matter-of-fact coarseness, Annabelle curtsied deeply. "My Lord Hertford. Papa."
They dismissed her with a cursory wave. Fortunately, her anger remained within until she reached her chamber. Then a heeled slipper, embroidery frame, and pewter tankard greeted the north wall in quick succession.
"They will 'ear, my chick," soothed a kind voice as a small framed portrait of her father was forcibly removed from her white-knuckled hands. "Tell me the news instead."
Annabelle scowled at her beloved waiting woman, Gerda.
"I must go to court. Tomorrow! They want me to entice and marry the king."
"Bah. Foolish men make thrice-foolish plans. Hertford's schemes benefit Hertford. Your father should know better."
"More than that, he broke a promise. When I first came home, Papa swore I could choose my second husband."
"I know, I know. But remember, no tapestry is complete till the final stitch."
Annabelle shook her head. To think she'd actually dreamed of courtship this time. A handsome young man — a valiant, dark-haired, and chivalrous knight — winning her heart with daring deeds, unusual trinkets, and sweet kisses. Sweeping her away to be mistress of a charming manor ready to be brought alive with the laughter of sturdy sons and pretty daughters. Surely after being sold to Lord Benton-Hayes, an old, wealthy landowner who padded his doublet, smelled of mildew, and preferred the buckled belt for correction, she deserved a little happiness.
Instead, her father sought to gift her to the royal monster who banished, set aside, and executed his wives at will.
"Stop woolgathering, my chick. How are you getting to London? Could the escort be bribed?"
Annabelle locked her gaze with Gerda's. "My escort is Rafe de Vere."
"No," choked her waiting woman, crossing herself swiftly. "Hertford's Butcher himself?"
"The very same," she replied, shuddering at the horrifyingly accurate nickname. Of course she'd heard the tales. One could hardly be unaware when they were whispered in every household, church pew, and village green in the country. De Vere conquered castles, sacked towns, and killed all who opposed him with nary a drop of sweat, and was well paid for his brutal efficiency.
Yet he hadn't always been so. Before Gerda, before Hertford, Rafe had been a very different man. No girl in their northern village could resist his devil-may-care grin, quick-witted teasing, or steadfast defense of those younger or weaker. It might have been an uneven match, a high gentry daughter and a magistrate's youngest son, but all her dreams of the future had been woven around him. Annabelle and Rafe, talking, dancing, stealing kisses amongst the emerald-green hedges or stone wall ruins — until he'd left her for the military's lucrative opportunities and never returned.
The Rafe of yesteryear might sympathize, perhaps even assist her. But today's cold, hard soldier of fortune wouldn't so much as blink at the task, merely truss her up and hand her over to Henry with his best compliments. There would be no escape.
She was doomed.
* * *
Rafe de Vere slid from his purgatory-black stallion in one smooth movement, although a slightly unsteady landing reminded him of the knee injury yet to properly heal. And how little sleep he'd had in the past week. Make that month. Or year.
Most military men would be insulted to their very bones being given a task like this. Who would choose escorting some spoiled, wellborn widow to London over leading a charge against the French or the Scots? Yet all he felt was relief. Since turning thirty, he'd grown weary of war, of mud and blood and the sick despair that blazed in a man's eyes just before an expert blade extinguished it. Of broken sleep in cold tents. Of ruthlessly suppressing his urges rather than slaking them within a soft, sweetly scented woman.
So today was to be his final assignment. For the first time, actually a simple matter — deliver this Lady Benton-Hayes to court and collect a hefty purse. At long last he'd be able to purchase the seaside manor and acreage he'd coveted for years and, once settled, find a pretty, lusty widow — he had no time for timid virgins — who somehow hadn't heard of his reputation, and together fashion a life of amiable contentment.
A grim smile tugged at his lips. God willing, soon he'd not have to set eyes on a relentlessly ambitious Seymour ever again. Damned fools. Henry Tudor's love was as fickle as spring weather and he only grew darker and more fragile in mind as the years passed.
"Master de Vere. Welcome. It's been a long time, eight years I believe."
Rafe glanced sideways and froze in recognition. Charles Hamilton?
"Thank you, sir. Indeed, both years and miles from home. Do you know Lord Mayberry? I'm commissioned to —"
"I am Mayberry. An elevation gifted to me, along with this property."
"Then ..." His voice faltered, unable to continue. Surely not.
"Yes, 'tis Annabelle you'll be escorting to Hampton Court."
Breath rushed from his lungs so hard he nearly choked.
Annabelle was a widow. The widow.
Why the news even affected him was a mystery. He'd gone to war believing that lying, scheming witch's promises of love and patience while he made enough money to marry her, but she'd barely waited for his horse to round the hedgerow before leaping into another man's wealthy, highborn arms. What was the point in returning then? Besides, he'd discovered a talent for battle, and war offered plenty of profitable opportunities for an angry man with nothing to lose.
"Well then. I trust she'll soon be ready to depart? Won't do to keep His Majesty waiting."
Or allow others time to sink their claws into the royal flesh.
"Indeed. My daughter is well aware of what rests on this journey. We are much obliged to Hertford for sending you, especially considering your usual duties and responsibilities."
Rafe inclined his head and tried not to loom over the baron. 'Twas difficult, though, as the man was more than a head shorter and probably half his weight.
"And where is the lady?"
"I am here, sir."
His every muscle involuntarily tightened. Her voice hadn't changed, still soft, liquid honey, although the words were cool, lady-of-the-manor. Well used to such games, he turned slowly. Which was just as well, because when he got his first glimpse of an older Annabelle, he barely resisted the urge to cross himself. God's teeth.
The promise of Seymour beauty had always teased, but now she was the spitting image of Queen Jane. Slightly taller, with curlier hair, but no wonder the family were so eager to get her to court. One look at Annabelle and Henry would be simultaneously professing his undying love while attempting to mount her wherever he could get her alone. Those curved hips were made for delivering healthy sons and, as for her lush, lush breasts, what a pillow they would make for a weary head.
"Lady," he replied stiffly, waiting for her direct gaze, impatient to know her mind. No trace of the dreamy, laughing Annabelle he once knew appeared in her rigid stance. She might have been carved from stone. Finally her large brown eyes met his, and the emotion there jolted him to his toes. Not fear, sadness, or triumph, but fury. As if she held the right to be blazingly angry with him.
His lips compressed, but Annabelle neither spoke nor looked away until Mayberry broke the seething silence.
"Don't dawdle, girl, can you not see Master de Vere is eager to leave? Gerda will follow in the cart with your belongings."
Actually the thought of being back in his polished leather saddle so soon almost made him groan, but he nodded firmly.
"If it is agreeable to you, Lady Benton-Hayes," said Rafe, irritation roughening his tone even more than usual, "we'll begin our journey soon to ensure we cover as many miles as possible in daylight. Far too many unsavory types who become even bolder with their weapons under the cover of night —"
His voice snapped off like a green twig. It was months since he'd been to London, yet it seemed he could out-innuendo any of those damned mincing courtiers. And Annabelle had understood the accidental inference too, the hint of color in her cheeks telling, although she still remained resolutely mute. Well. If she wished a swift, silent journey, that suited him just fine. The sooner they were on the road, the sooner he could collect his bounty and continue onto freedom.
"Ah, daughter, here is your horse. Safe journey, then." announced Mayberry, not even bothering to disguise his impatience as he hurried back toward the manor house.
The seething silence fell again.
"Here," he said eventually, stalking toward Annabelle. "Let me help you."
"No," she snapped, raising both hands to ward him off, her eyes practically shooting poisoned darts. But his hands had already encircled a surprisingly slender waist to lift her. Off balance, her arms flailed and she fell forward.
Plastering her body against his.
Several violent oaths leaped to the tip of his tongue as her ample curves briefly settled against him. She writhed in an attempt to put distance between them, only succeeding in grinding herself directly against his long-neglected and abruptly awake cock.
You once knew her lips, but sweet Jesus, imagine Annabelle in your bed. Hair unbound, nipples damp and swollen, thighs spread wide. She'd be tight. So damned tight and hot, arching and moaning her pleasure, desperate to feel the bliss of an explosive climax ...
"Please," she gasped.
He blinked. "What?"
"Please ... I can't breathe."
Cursing again as he realized exactly how bruising his grip was on her waist, he quickly swung her up into the sidesaddle and stepped well back.
"Let's be away," he barked, remounting his stallion and gesturing impatiently to the two servants perched atop the cart carrying Lady Annabelle's waiting woman, clothing, and trinkets.
This would be the longest journey of his life.
* * *
The countryside was beautiful, green and fresh after the light morning mist lifted for pale blue skies and surprisingly warm afternoon sunshine. But even after a day's riding in the shadow of her escort's rather evil-looking mount, when her bottom had long numbed and gloved fingers cramped around the sturdy leather bridle, the courtyard incident still circled Annabelle's brain like hungry falcons.
Despite his calling and incalculable sins, time had only increased Rafe de Vere's appeal. His former boyishly swarthy good looks and lanky physique had become the very portrait of masculinity — broad shoulders, a heavily muscled chest barely contained by a black velvet doublet, well-shaped thighs, calves lovingly outlined by hose and needing no padding whatsoever.
Now she had sins of her own to confess, but were there even words to describe the wicked rub of her breasts against his chest? Of his full codpiece pressing directly between her legs? How swiftly he'd turned a calm, respectable widow into a mindless wanton. How easily he'd woken her body from sleep so all the frustration, anger, and desire could be hidden no longer. And how tempting it was to imagine how life might have been ...
Sweet heaven. She truly had gone mad. So much depended on the weeks ahead, on this prearranged audience with His Majesty. If she failed to win the King's love, her family would never forgive her and even harsher punishment than usual would follow. Perhaps she'd be married off to another cruel ancient or locked away forever in a nondescript nunnery. Or worse.
Excerpted from His Forbidden Lady by Nicola Davidson, Kate Fall. Copyright © 2014 Nicola Davidson. 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.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
A quick, light, and sweet read, His Forbidden Lady was a lovely historical romance. While not particularly amazing, it was a nice read that I enjoyed. Annabelle and Rafe were both fine. Their characters were shallow, even for a novella, but not to the point that I wasn't interested in what happened to them. Annabelle, after being forced to do her father's bidding for so long, wanted to make her own decisions and find her own happiness. Rafe, having longed for the woman he loved for so long, was determined not to let her go for a second time. They were both good characters. The romance was sweet. Annabelle and Rafe were determined to be together and were willing to fight for their future. And, they had some heat between them. The plot went by quickly and I was kept interested the entire way through. I enjoyed the story and the ending was lovely. His Forbidden Lady was a good historical romance. It was a light, sweet read that was quite enjoyable. Romance lovers, if you want a quick romance to pass the time, you might want to look this book up. *I received a complimentary copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review
I’m not much of a historical romance reader, but holy moley, Nicola Davidson’s debut novella grabbed me by the throat and hauled me into Henry the Eighth’s court. Drama, danger, passion, and a smoking hot *fans self* hero, Rafe de Vere. As well as the scorching hot sex, I loved the sweetness of the hero and heroine’s back story. Once this author had sucked me into her world, I really, really didn’t want to climb out of it again – so my only complaint is I wish ‘His Forbidden Lady’ had been a novel! Can’t wait to see what this author writes next.
Lady Annabelle Benton-Hayes is going to Henry the Eighth's court as a political pawn. Will he claim her as his bride? She hopes not, but she is forced to by her family to attend him. Her travel escort is Rafe de Vere. They had been in love once long ago. Is the attraction still there? His Forbidden Lady is a short passionate story of love denied. Annabelle and Rafe are memorable characters. She is a feisty woman who is trapped by duty. Rafe is a war weary soldier who wants to find a new peaceful life. Their romance is very sensual and satisfying. I was drawn into their story. I wanted to know how the found their HEA against so many obstacles. Nicola Davidson did a great job writing this short love story.
*A short and satisfying read
I really enjoyed this book. Quick and fast pace, and man did I love how on the edge of my seat I was, wondering what would happen with our hero and heroine. You see I have a thing for rough around the edges hero that have that sweet charming side to them, and Rafe was certainly such a hero. I did not get much back story on him, and I did want more. But the glimpses I got really had me enthralled. Broody, slightly tortured, wants a wife and family, lost a woman he had loved deeply and now to have her in his life again. Sweet.... Our heroine is not bad either. Really enjoyed the glimpses I got of her character. she displayed strength and gumption when needed to fight for what she most loved. Rafe and Annabelle intimate moments were both steamy and sweet. Loved how they both decided to defy what was expected of them, and faced the possibility of treason for Love. I felt they could have both been developed more, but the unraveling of the plot and the excited edge I waited on more than made up for it. Overall a lovely read and would recommend to historical romance lovers.4.5 beautiful stars
Lady Annabelle Benton-Hayes has been ordered to court by the king and her scheming family doesn't give her any choice in the matter. Her escort is none other than her former sweetheart whom abandoned her. Rafe de Vere has one final mission to complete for his king, collect a widow, before he can finally start his life away from all the fighting. He is surprised to find the woman that didn't wait for him before marrying another. What will happen when they find that their attraction to each other is just as strong as ever? This was a nice short story. Davidson did a good job of getting me invested in the story in such a short amount of time. The story moved along at a quick pace and had me on my toes guess as to what would come next. I'll definitely be picking up future books by Nicola Davidson. Thanks go to Entangled Publishing via NetGalley for a copy of the book in exchange of an honest review.
3.5 - 4 stars My love of reading the romance genre began with historical love storys, particularly those set in the Tudor period and this novella was a great addition to my reading list. It was a quick read that followed the story of Anabelle and Rafe and their unrequited love for each other and I thought the author did a great job of depicting this era. Although it was short, i still felt a connection with these characters and could easily have read a full length novel that gave us more background to their story and then more detail to their current situation. For the purposes of this novella however, I felt it was a well paced tale of finding a happy ever after, against seemingly insurmountable odds. I felt the passion and the chemistry between Anabelle and Rafe. I felt their despair when they thought that their love for each other would be lost forever, and then the fire and determination when they chose to risk it all. The ending was sweet and gave us a fairytale ending. This novella was the perfect interlude between books and I look forward to reading more from this author.
This book is a great read. Annabelle and Rafe story is no matter what you been through,you never forget your true love.
I liked this book. The author did a great job in making you feel compassion for Annabelle. She truly got the wrong end of the stick when it came to her family. I would have loved to punch them out after the way they treated her, as well as Rafe when they first saw each other again. I wish he would have been a little more compassionate and understanding with Annabelle's past. Thankfully the author worked it out and this couple received their HEA. It was a very intense quick read. I did receive this book in exchange for an honest review.
This is a wonderful lunch time read. Annabella has been summoned to the court of King Henry VIII. The King is on the hunt for another wife and Annabella may be next in line. She is being escorted there by Rafe de Vere who Annabella was in love with as a teenager but forced to marry another by her father. This was an excellent read. This read was fast paced and exciting and the romance between Rafe and Annabella is wonderful. Enjoyable read.
Tudor England, 1542 When beautiful widow Lady Annabelle Benton-Hayes is ordered to court, she is terrified. Henry VIII desires a sixth queen for his bloodstained throne, and her scheming family cares not for her wishes. Annabelle yearns for love, but there is no escaping her fate: escorting her is Rafe de Vere, the man who abandoned her to become England's most loyal and brutally successful soldier. Rafe is utterly weary of war and its impossible demands. Thankfully, his final task is the easiest: accompany a wellborn lady to London for Henry's perusal. Until he discovers she is Annabelle, the woman who swore to wait for him but married another. Rafe isn't permitted to care, yet time hasn't dulled their sizzling attraction and his orders are increasingly difficult to obey. To love her, he would have to risk all and cross his king to secure the ultimate prize - Annabelle's heart. Review: This was a quick and satisfying historical read! I really enjoyed this romance set in Tudor England, I have always enjoyed reading about this time period and I think the Author did an excellent job of wrapping historical events within this romance. Though I find it difficult to believe that Henry the VIII would have let Annabelle and Rafe go instead of charging them with treason, it is a romance, so take it for what it is...a good read. The Authors writing style and voice kept me interested in the story and wanting to see what wold happen for the lovers. Again, I think the Author did a great job of researching and I thought she did a good job of relating how women did not have a lot of options and were used by men to gain something. Now, to the really good stuff ;) story was great and the romance scenes were hot and the love and chemistry really showed. I cannot wait to see what else this Author writes. 4Stars
I liked the story as well as the characters. It is written in an engaging way and kept me intrigued. I wanted to see how they will over come obstacles in their way. I think it portrays a very realistic picture of Tudor England. It was a good romantic short story. When Lady Annabelle is ordered to court she is very unhappy. She did not want to marry yet another man who would not love her for herself. She wanted courtship and romance but her family had other plans. and there was nothing she could do about it. Rafe is ordered to escort her to the court. A hardened soldier, he should not care about the lady in question but she was the only woman who ever touched his heart. Both were unable to resist the pull towards each other. They knew it was treason, they knew Henry can very well kill them both but they did not give it a second thought before running away together. Because any life where they were together was better than the life they would be forced to live. Now the question is whether they would be able to cross their king and live to tell the tale or not? It is an engaging tale of love. Although a short novel, it is still able to reflect the feelings and actions of all the characters in a way which will make it a worthwhile read. I'll recommend it to all readers, whether you like historical romance or not, I am sure you'll like this one.
I sometimes forget that Tudor England is very different from Regency England. The treatment of women in the latter is a vast improvement to the former. Some might debate that, but for me the differences are huge. However, I should have remembered those differences when I started reading this book. What Annabelle and Rafe had years ago was cut short when she married another man, an older man, a man not of her choosing. That fact was not made known until Annabelle and Rafe were on their way to court as a potential bride for the king. My heart broke when Annabelle thought of marriage to her late husband Walter, then it broke even more when she told Rafe what she endured when she resisted her father’s demands that she marry Walter. Despite their years apart, the attraction they once felt for one another and the yearning to be together was still there. Rafe’s own bitterness at having been denied what he’d wanted then spilled over into demands of what Annabelle thought he should have done. He might have thought himself unworthy of her then and now, but what Annabelle said in reply summed up how she felt for him: “Oh, Rafe. I would have run with you anywhere. Gladly.” I really, really love this story. The time period is different for me, but I think that difference is what makes this an excellent story. I reacted differently to it. There was so much at stake, so much both could lose if they consummated their love. However, there was so much to gain if they successfully escaped the king’s palace to live the life they’d waited so long to have. Ms. Davidson made the impossible, possible for Rafe and Annabelle. She tells not only a moving tale of lovers reacquainted, but of love rekindled.
Nicola Davidson’s His Forbidden Lady is set in Tudor England in 1542. King Henry VIII is looking for wife number six. Edward Seymour has another relative to through the King’s way. Lady Annabella Benton-Hayes is the spitting image of her beloved late cousin, Queen Jane (Seymour). Edward Seymour’s man Rafe de Vere, which he is known as Hereford’s Butcher, is to escort Annabella to Hampton Court Palace to meet the King. Annabella and Rafe were in love when they were teenagers. He has not seen her since he left to become a soldier, and then she married the late Benton-Hayes against her wishes. True love conquers all, even King Henry VIII. This story is short and sweet. Received copy from Entangled Publishing in exchange for an honest review.
I really liked this historical-romance novella a lot. I have a fascination with this time and place, which is England in 1542. Henry VIII had lost his beloved queen, Jane Seymour, and he is now entertaining options for another wife. He summons the Lady Annabelle Benton-Hayes to court. Sweet tension quickly arises when Rafe de Vere, the soldier sent to take her to His Majesty, also happens to be the very man she loved before he went away to war. This is a short tale of the forbidden kind of love. It’s established right away what had happened with Annabelle and Rafe while they were away from each other’s presence and what they long for in their lives. I adored them so much that it made me cheer them on for their second chance from the very beginning; however, because of the situation, the possibility of them together may never be. I think Nicola Davidson captured Henry VIII’s mercurial temperament perfectly! His mood is so hot and cold, but she even made me feel a little sorry for the guy. I loved the character of Gerda and her unexpected candor. This story is short, sweet, and steamy with heart-pounding twists. I’ll definitely check out Ms. Davidson’s future stories! *I received this book as a gift and this is my honest review.