A great journey…
A new love….
A dark secret revealed.
Evreux, France, 1788: Before she is Zoey's favorite professor and the House of Night's powerful horse mistress… Lenobia is just a normal 16-year-old girl – with enough problems to last a lifetime. As the illegitimate daughter of a powerful baron, she has never quite belonged, and instead has to watch her spoiled half-sister, Cecile, get anything she wants. As if that's not enough, her remarkable beauty draws unwanted attention wherever she goes. For once, she would like to just fit in.
But when fate intervenes, Lenobia suddenly finds herself surrounded by other girls, on a ship bound for New Orleans, where they will be married off to the city's richest Frenchmen. And they're not alone…. An evil bishop who is skilled in Dark magic makes the same journey. His appetite for lovely young women makes him dangerous – most of all to Lenobia, who caught his eye back in France. So she remains hidden, making secret visits to the ship's stables, where a handsome young man and his beautiful Percheron horses soon capture her attention.
Will they make it to land before the bishop discovers her true identity and a powerful evil breaks loose? And will Lenobia follow her heart, even if it puts lives at risk? Find out more about one of your favorite professors in Lenobia's Vow, the next heart-thumping House of Night Novella by PC Cast and Kristin Cast.
About the Author
#1 New York Times and USA Today bestselling author P.C. CAST is an award-winning fantasy and paranormal romance writer, as well as an experienced speaker and teacher. Her novels have been awarded YALSA Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers, and have received the prestigious Oklahoma Book Award, as well as the PRISM, Daphne du Maurier, Booksellers Best, Holt Medallion, Beacon, Romantic Times Reviewer's Choice, and Affaire de Coeur awards. She lives in Oklahoma with lots of dogs, cats, horses, and a burro. KRISTIN CAST is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author who teams with her mother to write the House of Night series. She has stories in several anthologies, as well as editorial credits. Currently Kristin is working on her first stand-alone novel, a dark, mysterious fairy tale.
Read an Excerpt
By P. C. Cast, Kim Doner
St. Martin's PressCopyright © 2012 P. C. Cast and Kristin Cast
All rights reserved.
February 1788, France
"Elle est morte!"
Lenobia's world exploded with the sound of a scream and three small words.
"She is dead?" Jeanne, the scullery maid working beside her, paused in her kneading of the plump, fragrant bread dough.
"Oui, may the Holy Mother have mercy on Cecile's soul."
Lenobia looked up to see her mother standing in the arched doorway to the kitchen. Her pretty face was unusually pale and her hand clutched the worn rosary beads that were always looped around her neck.
Lenobia shook her head in disbelief. "But just days ago she was laughing and singing. I heard her. I saw her!" "She was beautiful, but never strong, that poor girl," Jeanne said, shaking her head sadly. "Always so pale. Half of the château caught that same ague, my sister and brother included. They recovered easily."
"Death, he strikes quickly and terribly," Lenobia's mother said. "Lord or servant, he eventually comes for each of us."
Forever after, the yeasty scent of fresh bread would remind Lenobia of death and sicken her stomach.
Jeanne shuddered and crossed herself with a flour-whitened hand, leaving a crescent-shaped spot in the middle of her forehead. "May the Mother protect us."
Automatically, Lenobia genuflected, though her eyes never left her mother's face.
"Come with me, Lenobia. I need your help more than Jeanne does."
Lenobia would never forget the feeling of dread that engulfed her with her mother's words.
"But there will be guests — mourners — we must have bread," Lenobia stammered. Her mother's gray eyes, so like her own, turned to storm clouds. "That was not a request," she said, switching smoothly from French to English.
"When your mère speaks in the barbaric English, you know she must be obeyed." Jeanne shrugged her round shoulders and got back to her dough kneading.
Lenobia wiped her hands on a linen towel and forced herself to hurry to her mother. Elizabeth Whitehall nodded at her daughter and then turned, motioning for Lenobia to follow her.
They made their way quickly through the wide, graceful halls of the Château de Navarre. There were nobles who had more money than the Baron of Bouillon — he was not one of King Louis's confidants or courtiers, but he did have a family that could be traced back hundreds of years, and a country estate that was the envy of many lords who were richer, though not as well-bred.
Today the château's halls were hushed and the curved, mullioned windows that usually allowed plentiful sunlight to spill against the clean marble floors were already being draped with heavy black velvet by a legion of silent servant girls. Lenobia thought that the house itself seemed muffled with grief and shock.
Then Lenobia realized they were hurrying away from the central part of the manor and toward one of the rear exits that would empty out near the stables.
"Maman, où allons-nous?"
"In English! You know I loathe the sound of French," her mother snapped.
Lenobia suppressed a sigh of irritation and switched to her mother's birth language. "Where are you going?"
Her mother glanced around them, then grabbed her daughter's hand and, in a low, tight voice said, "You must trust me and do exactly as I say."
"Of-of course I trust you, Mother," Lenobia said, frightened by the wild look in her mother's eyes.
Elizabeth's expression softened and she touched her daughter's cheek. "You are a good girl. You always have been. Your circumstances are my fault, my sin alone."
Lenobia began to shake her head. "No, it wasn't your sin! The Baron takes whomever he wants as a mistress. You were too beautiful not to catch his eye. That was not your fault."
Elizabeth smiled, which allowed some of her past loveliness to surface. "Ah, but I was not beautiful enough to keep his eye, and because I was only the daughter of an English farmer, the Baron cast me aside, though I suppose I must eternally be grateful he found a place for me, and for you, in his household."
Lenobia felt the old bitterness burn within her. "He took you from England — stole you from your family. And I am his daughter. He should find a place for me, and for my mother."
"You are his bastard daughter," Elizabeth corrected her. "And only one of many — though by far the prettiest. As pretty even as his legitimate daughter, the poor, dead Cecile."
Lenobia looked away from her mother. It was an uncomfortable truth that she and her half sister did look very much alike, enough alike to have caused rumors and whispers as both girls began to bloom into young women. Over the past two years Lenobia had learned it was best to avoid her sister and the rest of the Baron's family, who all seemed to detest the very sight of her. She had found it easier to escape to the stables — somewhere Cecile, the Baroness, and her three brothers rarely went. The thought crossed her mind that her life would either be much easier now that the sister who looked so much like her — but who would not acknowledge her — was dead, or the dark looks and the sharp words from the Baroness and her boys would get even worse.
"I am sorry Cecile is dead," Lenobia said aloud, trying to reason through the jumble of her thoughts.
"I would not wish ill on the child, but if she was fated to die, I am grateful that it happened now, at this moment." Elizabeth took her daughter's chin and forced her to meet her gaze. "Cecile's death will mean life for you."
"Life? For me? But I already have a life."
"Yes, the life of a bastard servant in a household that despises the fact that their lord scatters his seed aimlessly and then enjoys flaunting the fruits of his transgressions as if that proves his manhood over and over again. That is not the life I wish for my only child."
"But, I do not under —"
"Come, and you will understand," her mother interrupted, taking her hand again and pulling her along the hallway until they came to a small room near one of the rear doors of the château. Elizabeth opened the door and led Lenobia into the poorly lit room. She moved purposefully to a large basket like those used to carry the linens to wash. There was, indeed, a sheet draped over the top of it. Her mother pulled it away to expose a gown that shimmered with blue and ivory and gray, even in the dim light.
Lenobia stared as her mother began lifting the gown and the expensive undergarments from the basket, shaking them out, smoothing their wrinkles, brushing off the delicate velvet slippers. She glanced at her daughter. "You must hurry. If we are to be successful, we have very little time."
"Mother? I —"
"You are going to put on these clothes, and with them you will also put on the identity of another. Today you will become Cecile Marson de La Tour d'Auvergne, the legitimate daughter of the Baron of Bouillon."
Lenobia wondered if her mother had gone utterly mad. "Mother, everyone knows Cecile is dead."
"No, my child. Everyone at the Château de Navarre knows she is dead. No one on the coach that will be here within the hour to transport Cecile to the port of Le Havre, or on the ship awaiting her there, knows she is dead. Nor will they, because Cecile is going to meet that coach and take that ship to the New World, the new husband, and the new life that awaits her in New Orleans as a legitimate daughter of a French baron."
Her mother dropped the gown and grasped both of her daughter's hands, squeezing them so hard Lenobia would have flinched had she not been so shocked. "You must! Do you know what awaits you here? You are almost sixteen. You have been fully a woman for two summers. You hide in the stables — you hide in the kitchen — but you cannot hide forever. I saw how the Marquis looked at you last month, and then again last week." Her mother shook her head, and Lenobia was shocked to realize she was fighting back tears as she continued to speak. "You and I have not spoken of it, but you must know that the true reason we have not attended Mass at Évreux these past weeks is not because my duties have overtired me."
"I wondered ... but I did not want to know!" Lenobia pressed her trembling lips together, afraid of what else she might say.
"You must face the truth."
Lenobia drew a deep breath, yet still a shudder of fear moved through her body. "The Bishop of Évreux — I could almost feel the heat of his eyes when he stared at me."
"I have heard he does much more than stare at young girls," her mother said. "There is something unholy about that man — something more than the sin of his corporeal desires. Lenobia, Daughter, I cannot protect you from him or any other man because the Baron will not protect you. Becoming someone else and escaping the life sentence that it means to be a bastard is your only answer."
Lenobia gripped her mother's hands as if they were a lifeline and stared into the eyes so much like her own. My mother is right. I know she is right. "I have to be brave enough to do this." Lenobia spoke her thought aloud.
"You are brave enough to do this. You have the blood of courageous Englishmen pounding through your veins. Remember that, and it will strengthen you."
"I will remember."
"Very well, then." Her mother nodded resolutely. "Take those servant's rags off and we will dress you anew." She squeezed her daughter's hands before releasing them and turning back to the pile of shimmering cloth.
When Lenobia's trembling hands faltered, her mother's took over, swiftly divesting her of the simple but familiar clothing. Elizabeth didn't even leave Lenobia her homespun shift, and for a dizzying moment it seemed she was even shedding her old skin for new. She didn't pause until her daughter was totally naked. Then, in complete silence, Elizabeth dressed Lenobia carefully, layer upon layer: shift, pockets, panniers, under petticoat, over petticoat, stays, stomacher, and the lovely silk robe à la polonaise. It was only after she had helped her on with the slippers, fussed with her hair, and then swirled a fur-trimmed, hooded pelisse around her shoulders that she finally stepped back, curtseyed deeply, and said, "Bonjour, Mademoiselle Cecile, votre carrosse attend."
"Maman, no! This plan — I understand why you must send me away, but how can you bear it?" Lenobia pressed her hand over her mouth, trying to silence the sob that was building there.
Elizabeth Whitehall simply rose, took her daughter's shoulders, and said, "I can bear it because of the great love I bear for you." Slowly, she turned Lenobia so that she could see her reflection in the large, cracked mirror that rested on the floor behind them, waiting to be replaced.
Lenobia gasped and reached toward the reflection, too startled to do anything except stare.
"Except for your eyes and the lightness of your hair, you are the image of her. Know it. Believe it. Become her."
Lenobia's gaze went from the mirror to her mother. "No! I cannot be her. God rest her soul, but Cecile was not a kind girl. Mother, you know she cursed me every time she saw me, even though we share the same blood. Please, Maman, do not make me do this. Do not make me become her."
Elizabeth touched her daughter's cheek. "My sweet, strong girl. You could never become like Cecile, and I would never ask it of you. Take only her name. Inside, in here." Her touch went from Lenobia's face to the spot on her breast under which her heart beat tremulously. "In here you will always be Lenobia Whitehall. Know that. Believe that. And in doing so you will become more than her."
Lenobia swallowed the dryness in her throat and the terrible pounding of her heart. "I hear you. I believe you. I will take on her name but not become her."
"Good. It is settled then." Her mother reached behind the laundry basket and lifted a small, box-shaped case. "Here, take this. The rest of her trunks were sent to the port days ago."
"La casquette de Cecile." Lenobia took it hesitantly.
"Do not use the vulgar French word for it. They make it sound like a casket. It is a travel case. That is all. It is meant as the beginning of a new life — not the ending of an old one."
"It has her jewelry in it. I heard Nicole and Anne talking." The other servants had gossiped incessantly about how the Baron had ignored Cecile for sixteen years, but now that she was being sent away he lavished jewelry and attention on her as the Baroness wept about losing her only daughter. "Why did the Baron agree to send Cecile to the New World?"
Her mother snorted in disdain. "His latest mistress, that opera singer, has almost bankrupted him. The King is paying handsomely for titled, virtuous daughters willing to marry the nobility of New Orleans."
"The Baron sold his daughter?"
"He did. His excess has purchased you a new life. Now, let us go so that you might claim it." Her mother cracked the door and peered into the hallway. She turned back to Lenobia. "No one is about. Put your hood over your hair. Follow me. Quickly."
"But the coach will be stopped by the liverymen. The drivers will be told about Cecile."
"Yes, if the coach was allowed to enter the estate they would be told. That is why we shall meet it outside the grand gates. You will board it there."
There was no time to argue with her mother. It was almost mid-morning, and there should have been servants and tradesmen and visitors coming and going from the busy estate. But today there was a pall over everything. Even the sun's face was veiled as mist and low, murky clouds swirled over the château.
She was certain they would be stopped, would be found out, but sooner than it seemed possible the huge iron gate loomed out of the mist. Her mother opened the smaller walkway exit, and they hurried into the road.
"You will tell the coach driver that there is an ague at the château, so the Baron sent you out so that no one would be contaminated. Remember, you are the daughter of nobility. Expect to be obeyed."
"Good. You have always seemed older than your years, and now I understand why. You cannot be a child any longer, my beautiful, brave daughter. You must become a woman."
"But, Maman, I —" Lenobia began, but her mother's words silenced her.
"Listen to me and know that I am telling you the truth. I believe in you. I believe in your strength, Lenobia. I also believe in your goodness." Her mother paused and then slowly took the old rosary beads from around her neck and lifted them, placing them over her daughter's head, and tucking them under the lace stomacher so that they were pressed against her skin, invisible to everyone. "Take these. Remember that I believe in you, and know that even though we must be apart, I will always be part of you."
It was only then that the true realization hit Lenobia. She would never see her mother again.
"No." Her voice sounded strange, too high, too fast, and she was having trouble catching her breath. "Maman! You must come with me!"
Elizabeth Whitehall took her daughter in her arms. "I cannot. The fille du roi are not allowed servants. There is little room on the ship." She hugged Lenobia tightly, speaking quickly as, in the distance, the sound of a coach echoed through the mist. "I know that I have been hard on you, but that was only because you had to grow brave and strong. I have always loved you, Lenobia. You are the best, the finest thing in my life. I will think of you and miss you every day, for as long as I live."
"No, Maman," Lenobia sobbed. "I cannot say good-bye to you. I cannot do this."
"You will do this for me. You will live the life I could not give you. Be brave, my beautiful child. Remember who you are."
"How do I remember who I am if I am pretending to be someone else?" Lenobia cried. Elizabeth stepped back and gently wiped the wetness from her daughter's cheeks. "You will remember here." Once more, her mother pressed the palm of her hand against Lenobia's chest over her heart. "You shall stay true to me, and to yourself, here. In your heart you will always know, always remember. As in mine, I will always know, always remember you."
Then the coach burst into the road beside them, causing mother and daughter to stumble back out of the way.
"Whoa!" The driver of the coach pulled his team up and shouted at Lenobia and her mother. "What are you doing there, you women? Do you want to be killed?"
Excerpted from Lenobia's Vow by P. C. Cast, Kim Doner. Copyright © 2012 P. C. Cast and Kristin Cast. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
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
Love the series. SHAMEFUL to charge fans ten dollars for a short story like this.
Seriously? 85 pages for 10 bucks? A little ridiculous to me. I thought it was going to be a little longer than that :( I feel ripped off.
85 pages for 10 bucks is a rip off, the book is not worth the money spend your money else where Barnes and Noble you should be ashamed! and PC Cast this is ridiculous!
Good book I think I was just so eager to read it like everyone else because Its a series and curiosity kills. I love Fallen Angel too puts you in that craze.. would prefer it over this book , just my opinion. This is a good read too.
One of my favorite characters I enjoy reading about in the HoN series soo I def can't wait to see her backstory !! I've also learned that P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast are writing novellas for Neferet and Kalona possibly soo it would be really interesting to read about their back story as well. Also, the next installment in the HoN series is going to be called Hidden but no date has been set for when its due to come out but I'm praying it comes out in the middle of next year because I honestly can't wait to see what happens next after that severe cliffhanger in Destined !!
Absolutely love the books, cant wait to read it and Destined, but you know why the e-book is cheaper because you dont have to pay for printing and the binding and paper and such its all digital the e books should be cheaper than the books.
This book was just enough to get you interested, then it ended! Not worth $9.99! Rip off!
5 stars for Lenobias Vow, one of my favorite characters in the House of Night series. P.C & Kristin do it again, in this second novella. The books just keep getting better,& better. I was hooked from the very first word to the last!
I have read every single house of night book and the first mini novella which was called dragons oath i cannot wait for the second novella of theirs, I am a HUGE fan of theirs! :D
I loved this!
I was expecting more feel like I was ripped off, it was 10.00 and only 85 pages. What is up with that. Very disappointed.
This is sold as a book. It is only a short story. Although it is a good short story but your paying for a book.
Great addition to the house of night seris
It's called a novella for a reason. Besides, it's cheaper than the cost of a full novel. Lenobia's Vow was beautiful and sad, having me in tears on more than a few occasions. I fell in love with the characters, cheering them on while feeling their joy and hope. Then crying along with them, feeling their pain and sadness. P.C. Cast and Kristen Cast never disappoint.
Everyone keeps saying that this book only has 85 pages, but it costs $10.00. I really want to read this book, but is it really worth paying $10.00 for only 85 pages?
I love this book.. just wish it was longer
This exciting installment of the House of Night delves into Lenobia's dark and mysterious past. This story is filled with twists, turns, lies betrayal love death and new beginnings.
Lenobia has always been one of my favorites in the HON series. I am so happy to be let into her history and can't wait to see what happens between her and her new horseman in the next book. Reincarnation of Martin? Fingers crossed!
This was such a great book! I highly recommend it :)
Anything from house of night is GOOD ! Just like pretty littlr liars
This litttle book is so full of interesting stories, and action about each character in the house of night novel. I think these little books might be better then the actual "House of Night" books themselvs. I want to buy more books on each of the house of night professors.
Lenobia's story starts in 1788. She is a young girl on the verge of womanhood. On a boat headed to New Orleans. But danger lurks aboard the ship. Soon after making land she is Marked to be a fledgling. Her world opens up to good and bad things.I was excited to see Lenobia would be the next in the novellas. She is one of the most intriguing characters in the House of Night. I've always thought her class would be a fun one to take part in. This second novella in the series is a great read, so far it's my favorite of the novellas. I loved the connection between Lenobia and Martin. Lenobia's Vow is one of hardship, first loves, loss and new beginnings. A vibrant story that has wonderful description. Mostly it is set aboard the ship that is headed to New Orleans. I was quickly taken with the story.Lenobia's Vow is read by Caitlin Davies. This is the third time I've listen to Ms. Davies on audio and she does an amazing job each time.
P. C. Cast does a wonderful job telling Lenobia's tale. I've liked Lenobia's character since her introduction in the House of Night novels. I'm glad Zoey has someone like Lenobia she can talk to when the plot thickens. I really like that Lenobia has an affinity for horses; I feel a pull towards animals as well. :) This is a good way to keep the readers entertained and connected to the House of Night world while we await book 10.
I wasn't quite sure what to make of this story at first. I enjoyed knowing Lenobia's background, but I wish that there had been a bit more of a tie to the House of Night outside of the ending. It would have been nice to have more her background at the House of Night as well. Overall, I did enjoy the story, but found that I was wanting more.I hope that the next novella(s) in the series give us more of what we're looking for.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book, I read the entire in just a couple of hours. I can't wait for the next one in the series!