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A Knight's Reward
     

A Knight's Reward

4.9 10
by Catherine Kean
 

Assaulted and injured by her abusive husband Ryle, Gisela Anne Balewyne flees with her small son, Ewan. Hiding from Ryle and working as a tailor in the town of Clovebury, Gisela struggles to save enough money to move north and start a new life. All goes well until Dominic de Terre, back several years from the Crusade, accepts his lord de Lanceau's mission to find

Overview

Assaulted and injured by her abusive husband Ryle, Gisela Anne Balewyne flees with her small son, Ewan. Hiding from Ryle and working as a tailor in the town of Clovebury, Gisela struggles to save enough money to move north and start a new life. All goes well until Dominic de Terre, back several years from the Crusade, accepts his lord de Lanceau's mission to find out who has stolen de Lanceau's cloth shipment, worth a fortune. Dominic discovers not only that Gisela has lied to him about the stolen silks concealed in her shop, but he learns Ewan is his illegitimate son. She has betrayed his trust not once, but twice, and Gisela expects him to arrest her and take Ewan away. French merchant Crenardiue's thugs, however, reach Dominic first, and Gisela realizes there is only one way to save his life. She must go to de Lanceau, admit her crimes, and convince him to let her help him save Dominic.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"There are twists and turns at every corner."  —Publishers Weekly

"Kean's story is richly atmospheric and compelling. You'll want to stay with these wonderful characters long after the book ends!"  —Betina Krahn, New York Times bestselling author, The Book of True Desires

"I would highly recommend this one to anyone who loves a touching romance."

 —The Romance Studio

"Ms. Kean has done it again with her talent to capture the reader's attention. . . . Historical romance is this author's forte, and faithful followers, as well as first-time readers, will look forward to her next book."  —Fresh Fiction

"A fast-paced treasure . . . with wonderful characters, an excellent story line, and a tale that will leave you cheering at the end."  —Affaire de Coeur

"Once again, Kean weaves together a beautiful romantic tapestry with her newest novel."  —Suite101.com

"An enjoyable read, and a heartwarming love story."  —Night Owl Romance

"An engaging page turner. . . . This is a masterpiece, an extraordinary tale that should be read by all."  —Coffee Time Romance

Noveltalk
A truly rewarding book of medieval history and romance.
The Romance Studio
I would highly recommend this one to anyone who loves a touching romance.
Affaire de Coeur
A fast-paced treasure . . . with wonderful characters, an excellent story line, and a tale that ill leave you cheering at the end.
singletitles.com
I sincerely recommend A Knight's Reward, a five star read from Catherine Kean and the second book in her Knight's Series.
Suite101.com
Again, Kean weaves together a beautiful romantic tapestry with her newest novel.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781932815993
Publisher:
Medallion Press, Incorporated
Publication date:
04/01/2008
Series:
Knight's series
Pages:
375
Product dimensions:
4.00(w) x 7.00(h) x 1.12(d)

Read an Excerpt

A Knight's Reward


By Catherine Kean

Medallion Press, Inc.

Copyright © 2007 Catherine Kean
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-1-932815-99-3


Chapter One

Moydenshire, England Summer 1194

Someone was watching her.

Someone close by in the market crowd.

The smells of freshly baked bread, smoke from the blacksmith's fire, and dried lavender from the herbalist's stall suddenly became cloying, like a hand closing around Gisela Anne Balewyne's throat. Fear sluiced through her as she dug in her coin purse for a bit of silver to pay the baker for the loaf of coarse bread.

In her brief wander through the market, she'd almost resisted the inner cry for caution-the voice that had been her companion every day and night for the past four months. She'd nearly pushed back the hood of her drab woolen cloak, freed her hair from its leather thong, and raised her face to the warm sunshine. How she'd yearned to savor the sunlight. To pretend, for a moment, she was free to do so. That she didn't have to stay hidden within the confines of her cloak, and it did not matter who saw her face.

It has been four months, a traitorous little whisper had coaxed. Ryle has not found you. He likely never will.

Yet, despite all her careful precautions, mayhap he had.

Cold, sickly perspiration dampened her palms. Her heart lurched into a rhythm sharpened by months of simmering anxiety. She must pay for the bread, then leave the market as quickly as possible. If she were lucky, she could lose whoever watched her when she passed the throng gathered around the trainer with the two dancing bears.

"Ye all right, love?" asked the baker, a tall, broadly built man whose wife had died last year. He bent to squint at her. Gisela jerked her face away, pretending to be looking into her coin purse.

"I ... am fine. I do have the money," she said with a shaky laugh. As her slick fingers closed on a coin, a sigh broke from her.

With a musical clink, the silver slipped back down into the bag.

"Mercy!" She fought the urge to toss the bread she'd tucked under her arm back onto the table, then bolt. The same voice that had lived with her for so long warned that to flee in such a way would be foolish. Whoever watched her would realize she knew she'd been found.

They might try to capture her here in the market.

They'd take her back to her husband, to answer for slipping away with little Ewan in the dark, silent hours of the night.

To pay for what she had done.

"Try to run away, and I will find you," Ryle had sneered that horrible eve months ago as blood, seeping through the slash above her right breast, stained her silk gown. Her blood glistened on his knife. "Go to your family, and I will cut them, too. You can trust no one, Gisela. This I promise you."

A brutal shudder wrenched through her. Oh, God. Oh, God.

This time, he would not let her escape him.

This time, he would kill her.

She forced herself to swallow the fear threatening to suffocate her. Here, now, she had no choice. She must preserve the illusion of oblivion, so in a few moments, she could elude her watcher.

Her hand shook when she dug in her purse again. She willed herself to calm, even as she rationalized how much she needed the bread. The meager portion of vegetable pottage would not be enough to feed her and Ewan that day, without the dense bread to mop up the broth.

Her jaw tightened as her hand closed on the coin. Whatever had happened between Gisela and her husband, her young son did not deserve to go hungry.

"Here," she said, dropping the silver into the baker's hand.

"I thank ye." His voice held a kind note.

The wounded, shielded part of her heart constricted, and she blinked hard. She nodded and turned away.

His hand caught her sleeve. She jumped, even as she heard the baker say, "Take this for yer boy, Anne." He handed her a small, round currant cake.

Her gaze flew up to meet his. Of course, the baker knew her name-at least, her middle name, which she used to identify herself here in this village. Not surprising, either, that he remembered Ewan. Sometimes her rambunctious three-and-a-half-year-old son accompanied her to the market. On the good weeks, when Gisela had managed to put away the set amount of silver she was saving, she bought Ewan a sweet cake.

Not very often, lately.

The baker smiled, revealing two missing top teeth. An affectionate smile, nonetheless.

Rowdy laughter erupted behind her. Men jesting. The familiar fear roused inside her, a reminder of her watcher. She must be on her way.

Waving a gracious hand, she said, "Thank you, but I could not-"

"Go on." He pushed the cake into her palm, then patted her fingers closed around it. "Think naught of it. 'Tis my treat."

"Th-thank you."

His shoulders raised in a shrug before he addressed the farmer's wife who had elbowed in next to Gisela and asked about the rye loaves.

The currant cake cradled in her hand, Gisela walked away. Chickens clucked in crates at the stall farther on. Copper pans gleamed in the sunlight. Skirting a group of men haggling over a cow, she strode on, forcing herself to take lazy strides. Even though inside, panic welled.

A dog hurtled past her, a joint of meat in its jaws, two men in hot pursuit. She stepped aside, out of the way. Curiosity nagged at her. How dangerous to sneak a look at her watcher. Part of her didn't want to accept that her safe haven here in Clovebury, this town on the edge of Moydenshire, land of Lord Geoffrey de Lanceau, had been broached.

Yet, part of her-the angry, protective part-demanded to know who followed her.

Lingering a moment, she looked over the leather goods set out at the tanner's stall. Keeping her head down, she dared a sidelong glance down the row of stalls, skimming each of the people standing nearby to see if she recognized anyone.

A peddler in a long, tattered mantle, taking each of his steps with a wooden stick, hobbled his way through the throng.

The same hunched old man-aye, she was sure of it-had followed her to the baker's stall.

She rubbed her lips together, her mouth suddenly dry. Market day attracted all kinds of travelers, especially thieves and peddlers. If Ryle wanted to find her, he would not have sent a thug disguised as a peddler.

Would he?

The dog with the meat joint spun and hurtled back the way it had come, the men still in pursuit. As the mongrel darted past the peddler, it brushed the hem of his long garment.

He wore leather boots.

With spurs.

The mark of knighthood.

Most peddlers were lucky to be able to afford shoes.

A panicked cry flared in Gisela's throat. She turned on her heel, painfully aware of the peddler's stick rapping on the dirt.

Thud, thud, thud sounded behind her.

Run, run, run! her mind shrilled.

Squaring her shoulders, she strolled toward the trainer and his dancing bears.

* * *

Dominic de Terre cursed as he shuffled through the crowd, close behind the slender woman who, he sensed, had realized he was following her. Moving along with a steady plod, plod, he rued the itchy, woolen mantle that disguised him and hampered his movements. God's blood, but a man could roast like a suckling pig in such a garment.

A necessary disguise, though. One he and Geoffrey de Lanceau, his closest friend and lord, had agreed upon, as a means to infiltrate Clovebury's market.

Someone had stolen Geoffrey's last shipment of costly silks as they were shipped down the river to his castle, Branton Keep. A king's ransom in cloth, missing.

Dominic had vowed to find the thieves-a quest that had brought him to this sleepy little town on the verge of nowhere.

The woman ahead moved with a languid grace. Despite the well-worn cloak covering her from head to toe, a peasant's garb, she moved in a most enticing way.

Like a woman he'd known years ago.

A woman he'd loved with a passion close to madness.

And left behind when he rode away to join King Richard's crusade.

Regret pierced him. He shoved aside the inconvenient remorse, for years ago, he had no choice but to leave her. Moreover, the woman he followed could not be his beloved Gisela. The village where he'd met her was leagues from here. By now, she'd be married to a good husband, with four or five children crowding around her skirts.

She trailed her hand along a row of linen gowns drifting in the breeze, then turned left, heading toward the open space where the entertainers gathered. Dominic shuffled on, keeping his gaze upon her. Idiot that he was, he should simply give up pursuit and return to the market, to see what he might overhear. His duty to Geoffrey was far more important than idle pursuit of a wench with a sultry sway. Yet, he couldn't turn away.

Something about this woman drew him to her.

Curiosity, mayhap.

Desire.

A grin ticked up the corner of his mouth. What man would not be enticed by a woman who swayed like a young sapling? She, however, would hardly be enticed by a scruffy peddler.

Still-

She paused a moment to watch the bear trainer. Waving a stick, the man coaxed one of the large animals to rise up on its hind legs. The crowd roared.

Switching the stick to his other hand, Dominic wiped perspiration from his brow, then flexed his stiff fingers unaccustomed to curling around the wood.

He looked back at the crowd.

The woman wasn't there.

Disquiet flickered through him. Walking forward, he scanned the rest of the throng.

Gone.

An apt ending, mayhap, to a senseless quest.

Just as he was about to admit defeat, he spied her, darting into a side alley. As she ran, the hood of her cloak slipped off her head, revealing a mass of blond hair.

Gisela!

The walking stick slid from his hand and clattered on the ground. Before he could caution himself, Dominic broke into a run. The heavy mantle dragged against his legs, and he stumbled twice before regaining his balance. Clenching his fist into the coarse fabric, he yanked up one corner of his garment's hem.

Several men gathered around the dancing bears turned to glance at him in surprise. With a pinch of dismay, he recognized them from earlier in the morning, when he'd convinced them he was a crippled old vagrant.

He reached the entrance to the alleyway where Gisela had gone. Yards down the narrow, rubbish-strewn alley, he caught sight of a figure in brown. Her hair was again concealed by the hood, which she held in place with one hand while she ran.

"Gisela!" he called. She didn't stop, glance over her shoulder, or give any indication she'd heard him.

He sprinted into the alley. Rotting cabbages and onions littered the ground. Flies buzzed in a black, swirling cloud. Muttering an oath and batting away flies, he skidded through a slick mass of vegetables. The stench flooded his nostrils. Coughing, he covered his face with his grubby sleeve.

Halfway down the alley, he paused. The cacophony of market day carried from the other street, while in contrast, the alley seemed intensely silent. Glancing to and fro, he searched for Gisela. A sense of urgency burned in his gut. He had to find her. After all this time-

A scrawny gray cat scampered over a nearby pile of broken wooden crates. One of the wooden slats shifted, then fell to the dirt. With a yowl, the feline bounded away. It disappeared down another alleyway, farther ahead.

Holding up his mantle again, he followed.

The side street led into the backyard of The Stubborn Mule Tavern. A wide dirt space-enough to turn a horse-drawn wagon-fronted the two-story, wattle and daub building with a sagging thatch roof. Glancing to his left, Dominic noted the stable's low roof also bowed in the middle, damage likely caused by heavy spring rains.

He pushed aside the mantle's hood, gasping for cool air. Wiping his brow, he scrutinized the tavern yard. His sense of urgency deepened. Could she have fled into the tavern? Not a safe place for a young woman alone, but most of the townsfolk seemed to be at the market-meaning there would be fewer drunkards inside to harass her. From her brisk run, she'd seemed desperate at all costs to elude him.

Odd, her desperation. Why did she try so hard to evade him?

Had she stolen something from one of the stalls? Surely not. The Gisela he knew had a soul as pure as unblemished snow, but then again, he'd not seen her for years.

Did she recognize his voice, but not want to speak with him ever again? Aye, that could be the crux of it. As he dried his dirty palms on his mantle, regret burrowed deeper, for their parting had been very painful. At that difficult point in his life, he had no choice but to leave England and join King Richard's crusade. As much as he loved her, he couldn't marry her. As she well knew.

Shrugging aside his misgivings, Dominic started toward the tavern. A small, round object lying on the ground a few yards from the stable caught his gaze. He crossed to it before dropping to one knee in the dirt. With careful fingers, he picked up the object.

A broken currant cake.

The baker had handed Gisela one of the sweets.

Pushing to his feet, Dominic looked toward the stable doorway. Grayed shadows marked the entrance, concealing the interior. She could be hiding inside.

As he shifted the remains of the little cake in his palm, it disintegrated. Crumbs slipped between his fingers, like rough-grained sand. Like the years that had passed and changed them both.

He tossed the crumbs in the direction of a starling, watching bright-eyed from the tavern roof. The inevitable choice loomed before him-to step into the stable and face Gisela, or turn around and stride away, leaving the past behind him.

Years ago, he'd walked away. Every night since then, Gisela had been with him, smiling up at him while she lay in the lush meadow grass, her hair spread around her like golden fire. A bracelet of daisies dangled from her wrist as she trailed slender fingers down his cheek, over his lips, down to the front of his tunic.

God's blood, he could not walk away now.

Dragging a hand over his jaw, he exhaled a ragged breath, and then strode toward the stable.

* * *

Gisela flattened against the stable's far wall. Sunlight poked through cracks in the worn wood, slashing lines across the mounded hay in the center of the room, the implements hung on the opposite wall, the empty water trough nearby. Farther in the stable, a horse snorted, then pawed its stall.

Faint, gritty boot falls reached her, the sound of her pursuer running into the tavern yard, then coming to a halt. Hardly daring to breathe, she imagined him studying the quiet, empty yard, his face crumpled with defeat. She prayed he wouldn't think to check the stable. That any moment, she'd hear him curse, spin on his heel, and stride away.

More crunched footfalls. Coming closer, not receding.

A pause.

Oh, God.

The moment of silence stretched, poignant and insidious. Her pulse thundered, as loud as a musician hammering on a tabor. She bit down on her bottom lip, even as a violent shiver tore through her. The sticky residue from the currant cake burned her palm like a brand, for in her frantic dash to the stable, she'd dropped Ewan's treat. Where, she could not remember.

Mayhap her pursuer would not find it, she quickly reassured herself. By now, a hungry mongrel had probably eaten it.

Her watcher might not even have seen the baker hand it to her, and therefore, even if he did find it, the cake would have no significance.

None.

Yet, the doubt settled deeper. Like months of dust, stirred up by a cloud of ill wind, floating down to collect again in a stifling blanket.

The memory of Ryle's reddened face, twisted into that terrible sneer, again wrestled its way into her thoughts. That eve, he'd been angrier-and more drunk-than she'd ever seen him. Thank the saints, sleeping Ewan, tucked away in his chamber at the other end of the manor house, hadn't witnessed the violence.

She could only imagine Ryle's wrath when she was returned to him.

Oh, God. Oh, God!

Her legs shook. She pressed her back against the rough wooden wall, into the darkest shadows. With only one route in or out of the stable, she must force herself to be patient, to be as still and silent as a tomb sculpture. Despite the smell of hay tickling her nostrils.

Despite the splinter biting into her right palm.

Despite-

Just as she covered her nose to stop a sneeze, the light in the stable's doorway dimmed. The muted thud of footfalls reached her.

Her pursuer had stepped inside.

Tension hummed inside her with the resonance of a single, plucked harp string. The air inside the stable changed. Shifted.

She sensed his presence. Determined. Inquisitive. Familiar, somehow.

Confusion flared, even as she fought the terrified moan rising up inside her. She squeezed farther against the wall. Her hand moved sideways a fraction and bumped against a wooden-handled spade. With a loud rasp, the implement keeled sideways, then clanged onto the floor.

(Continues...)



Excerpted from A Knight's Reward by Catherine Kean Copyright © 2007 by Catherine Kean. Excerpted by permission.
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.

Meet the Author


Catherine Kean is the author of Dance of Desire, winner of two Reviewer's Choice Awards as well as best medieval novel in Affaire de Coeur's 2006 Reader-Writers poll. She lives in Florida.

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A Knight's Reward 4.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 10 reviews.
NavyWave62 More than 1 year ago
BE STILL MY HEART - WOW - SO ENJOYABLE!! This is book 2 of the Knight's Series, but really could be a stand alone, but if you want to fully enjoy our main character's from book one making an appearance, read it first. My only disappointment is, no EPILOGUE, how I love when an author wraps up with our H/h somewhat in the future. I am hoping maybe book 3 will catch us up with our H/h from this story. I won't go into the storyline, since it has been down before, but this is such a sweet love story. Only the last page is about their coupling - very very mild, compared to other romance stories. I loved Ada and her relationship with Ewan and Gisela, maybe me laugh at times. Ms. Kean is such a wonderful writer, that the story comes to life and she makes you care about our character's from the very first time you read about them. (ljb)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed Dominic and Gisela's story. I only wish that the ending included Ewan learning the truth. On to book 3! 198 pages.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It was such a good book I was a very bad patient! Released from the hospital early because I kept whining about my bed! They finally caved and dismissed me early with strict instructions to sleep. Well I'm going to be a good girl and go to sleep after reading this fantastic book. Read the 1st one also THEY ARE AWESOME! I LOVED THEM! BOTH ARE START TO FINISH NO PUT DOWNS! READ STRAIGHT THROUGH! EMOTIONALLY WORTHY!
Joni78 More than 1 year ago
This was an absolutely wonderful historical romance!! The characters were believable and lovable. I could not stop reading I sat up through the night to finish it. It was so easy to be captivated by the hero (Dominic) and heroine (Gisela). Gisela's son Ewan brings so much to this story as well he is such a big part which was a pleasant change.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this book. I had a hard time putting it down.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Highly recommend
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
Catherine Kean continues her Knights Series with a wonderfully enchanting and heartwarming story of love once lost and now found. Years ago, the strong, handsome nobleman, Dominic de Terre, fell in love with an exquisite commoner, Gisela Anne Balewyne. Rather than give in to his family¿s demands and marry a noblewoman, he chooses to leave his home and the arms of his ¿Little Daisy,¿ of his life, Gisela, and join up to fight in the Crusades with King Richard. All he thinks about during his time away is being in the meadow of daisies with his Gisela. He returns, feeling that his life has changed and that Gisela is probably married. He joins up to support his friend and strong local lord, Lord de Lanceau. While on an undercover mission to find out who has been stealing Lord de Lanceau¿s precious shipments of rare silks, he sees his Gisela in the marketplace. But this woman says she is Anne and the little boy with her is her son, Ewan. Dominic¿s eyes and heart know differently, and he continues to follow and discover that Anne really is his Gisela. He immediately wonders why she is in hiding with her son and working as a tailor. Little does he realize that Gisela has many secrets, but most of all, she has run away from a brutal husband who has scarred her for life and has threatened all that she loves, especially her son. The mystery begins as Gisela is trapped in a situation with a French Merchant Crenardieu and the very silks that Dominic is looking for, as well as another deep secret she must tell Dominic. For a short time, Gisela has her Dominic back, but she knows once she meets Crenardieu¿s blackmail demands, she must take the money made from the silk garments commissioned for him and run far, far away from her evil husband Ryle and her newfound love for Dominic. But Dominic does not want to give up on Gisela, and as their passion once again reignites, Gisela, her son, and Dominic get trapped in the dangerous plot by Ryle and Crenardieu. Will Gisela run, or decide to stay and save Dominic while facing the loss of both Dominic and her son by admitting to Lord de Lanceau that she was involved in the stolen silk plot? But most of all will Dominic forgive her most important secret? As all of the other Knight Series, Catherine Kean has once again written an interesting and intense story with mystery and many characters with depth. A Knight¿s Reward is another page turner that keeps the reader absorbed from beginning to end, and is another Medieval Romance that is a keeper for collectors.
harstan More than 1 year ago
In 1194 frightened more for the safety of her son Ewan even if he is the lord¿s heir, Gisela Balewyne runs away with her child from her odious abusive husband Rhys. She takes shelter in Clovebury where she obtains work as a tailor. Her goal is to save enough money so that she and her child can travel even further away from Rhys she hopes one day she can stop looking at every stranger she sees with suspicion that he is the one.--------------- Lord de Lanceau sends his loyal knight Dominic de Terre to find stolen valuable silk. When the trail takes him to Clovebury, Dominic is stunned to see Gisela, who he loved before going off to war, sewing garments from the very cloth he seeks. She is working on a special order for French merchant Crenardieu. Dominic cannot believe she would be part of a theft ring, but the evidence is clear just like he learns who Ewan¿s sire really is. He knows his heart loves Gisela, but his head tells him she is untrustworthy of his feelings while Crenardieu sends hooligans to eliminate the investigating knight.------------- This is an interesting medieval romance that uses a late twelfth century setting to tell a tale that in many ways feels contemporary with a sleuthing warrior and a woman hiding from her husband. The story line is fast-paced, but obviously driven by the relationship between the lead couple as he suspects her of thieving and lying while she prays he proves her love for him is right by protecting Ewan. Catherine Kean writes a fascinating historical tale.----------- Harriet Klausner