“A MASTER STORYTELLER.”
RT Book Reviews
The willful and beautiful Lady Genevieve would do anything to save her beloved Edenby Castle
. . . even if she had to share the name—and bedof her most treacherous foe . . .
He was Lord Tristan, nobleman and knight. Magnificent in battle, he would lead his invading army across the land, only to become captive to the sensual charms of the bold enchantress who was secretly plotting his destruction . . .
They were born to be enemies and destined to be lovers—players in a perilous game of intrigue and passion where the price was one woman’s innocence . . . and the prize was one man’s heart.
|Product dimensions:||4.10(w) x 6.70(h) x 1.40(d)|
About the Author
New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Heather Graham has written over two hundred novels and novellas and is a founding member of the Florida Romance Writers chapter of RWA. She has been published in approximately thirty languages, and has been honored with awards from Georgia Romance Writers, Affaire de Coeur, RT Book Reviews, and more. She has had books selected for the Doubleday Book Club and the Literary Guild, and has been quoted, interviewed, or featured in such publications as The Nation, Redbook, People, and USA Today, and appeared on many newscasts including local television and Entertainment Tonight.
Read an Excerpt
August 15th, 1485
"God's blood!" Edgar swore, hurtling the message from his hands into the fire, then turning his wrath on the herald who had brought it. "You wish me to feed and succor a regiment of an army advancing to do battle with my King? Nay, man! Not if every stone in this castle were overturned! I shall be among the men who fight that Tudor upstart from the land and sea, young man! You tell your commander, this — this Lord de la Tere — what I have said. Never! Unless this castle were razed to the ground and the vultures left to pick my eyes! Go now!"
The messenger, by now an ashy gray, turned quickly. As he exited the keep gates, Edgar Llewellyn, Lord of Edenby Castle, gave his daughter a satisfied grin.
"Pity, daughter, that one cannot take arms against a messenger!" he said with mock wistfulness.
Genevieve, sitting before the great hearth in the hall, stroking the long ears of a large hound, exhaled softly. She glanced at her aunt, Edwyna, and her betrothed, Axel, before returning her father's gaze.
"Father," she proclaimed firmly, "let's leave all as it is, shall we? The greatest dukes and earls and barons in the land are doing their best to remain uninvolved in this quarrel. 'Tis prudent, methinks, to keep quiet, and await —"
"Await!" Edgar cried, turning on her in passion. He was a tall man with blond hair barely graying and full of strength and vigor — but he knew his daughter would never tremble before him. Nor did she, as he ranted on. "What has become of loyalty? I swore an oath when Richard became King! I swore to support him at arms. And so, daughter, will I! In a few days' time we will ride to meet the King — and we will fight the Tudor beast!"
Genevieve smiled sweetly and continued to scratch the dog's ears, casting her fiance a quick glance of amusement. The young couple were both aware that she loved to tease her father.
"Father! Henry carries the red dragon of Wales as his standard! We go against —"
"Nay! Not even the Welsh lords have all sworn their fealty as yet, girl. And you cease this taunting of yours!"
Axel, staring into the fire at Genevieve's side, caught her eye and winked, and she winked in turn. A tall, scholarly, beloved man, Axel spoke respectfully. "My Lord Edgar, your daughter, my fair betrothed, does have a wondrous point here. Why, sir! Think on Henry Percy, Earl of Northumbria! Great-grandfather slain in fighting against Henry IV. His father slain at Towton — and the earldom taken in attainder! In 1470 the property is restored. But, sir! Can you imagine why Percy is now for the House of Percy, no matter who should be King?"
"Percy will come to Richard, side!" Edgar stated.
"Ah, but will he fight?" Genevieve teased.
"God's blood, little girl, but I never should have taught you to speak of politics!" Edgar complained. But he gazed at his sister Edwyna with an apologetic smile that belied his words. He was proud of Genevieve, his daughter and his only heir.
Edwyna, who could not have cared less about politics, smiled back vaguely and returned her attention to the tapestry she was weaving for her little daughter's bedroom.
Genevieve had always found her aunt exotically beautiful. Not quite ten years Genevieve's senior, she had been widowed young, and since the death of her husband had dwelt with her brother Edgar. Genevieve loved having Edwyna there; she was less a mother than a sister, a dear friend, and was always a bastion of peace.
"Hmmph!" Edgar snorted. "Henry Tudor my ..."
"Edgar!" Edwyna remonstrated.
"Foot!" Edgar finished. He walked around to his daughter and patted her on the head; then he picked up a long tendril of her rich, golden hair, which was heavy and long enough to trail to the floor behind her when she sat. And her eyes ... silver-blue like moonbeams, sparkling like stardust. His throat constricted, for she was so like her mother — the one woman he had ever loved, dead since Genevieve had been a child. Ah, and beauty is, he thought, as beauty does, for he knew she was all things he wished her to be — proud, kind, intelligent, and keenly aware of duty and loyalty.
He leaned over the back of her chair. "Genevieve," he reminded her, "you came with me when I traveled to London to swear my oath of allegiance to Richard. Would you have me betray my word?".
"Nay, Father," Genevieve returned. "But 'tis true, most noble families mean to stay neutral in this battle. Father, should this thing continue many years more, there will be no nobility left!"
"That would be no problem to a new king," Axel said dryly, "for the king would create new nobles."
"The conversation," Edgar murmured suddenly, "is moot, daughter. I have sworn to bear arms in King, Richard's defense. My word is given, and I mean to uphold it. Axel, when the time comes, I shall lead the men of Edenby to join Richard's service. You will, I assume, join me."
Axel bowed in acquiescence. Edgar muttered something about Henry Tudor's parentage that made them all grin, and then he quit the hall. Edwyna sighed and set her yarn upon the table to stretch, then announced that she was going to see to her five-year-old daughter, Anne. Thus were Axel and Genevieve smoothly given a few moments alone.
Genevieve watched her fiance's face as he looked into the fire. She was fond of Axel, very fond. He tended to be soft-spoken and careful when he'd voice his views; Genevieve knew that he weighed matters with a grave intelligence. He was quick to smile, ready to listen to her and mull her opinions — a friend with whom she could well imagine it comfortable to spend her lifetime. And he was a handsome knight, too, she thought proudly. His eyes were hazel and warm, his hair a dusty blond like wheat. Tall and straight and fair in features, a gentle man, a scholar, good with figures, wonderful in his gift with languages.
"You're not easy with something," Genevieve observed, watching his expression.
He shrugged unhappily. "I don't like to say," he murmured, glancing at Griswald, who had come from the kitchen to light the tapers in the hall. Genevieve rose with a soft rustle of her silk skirts and hurried to old Griswald, asking that he bring them some wine, then whispering with a sly wink that she would like to be alone with Axel.
Griswald brought the wine and discreetly left them alone. Axel and Genevieve sat down to the table, and she softly stroked the bronzed flesh of his hand, waiting for him to speak.
"I shan't oppose your father, Genevieve," he told her at last, sipping the fine, rich wine. "I, too, swore loyalty to Richard. But this matter of the young Princes troubles me deeply. How can one honor a King who would murder his own kin — children at that?"
"Axel, it is not proved that Richard caused the boys' deaths," Genevieve said, "nor, for that matter, is there proof that they are even dead." She paused, remembering her meeting with Richard in London. She had been very impressed with him. Although a slight man, she'd found his face arresting, his eyes like magnets, reflecting the weight of the responsibility he carried. Richard, Genevieve was convinced, had not "seized" the throne. All of England had been up against the Woodvilles — the family of the "rightful" heir, his brother's son. Men — including the merchants of England — had come to Richard begging him to take power, to restore law and order and commerce. Genevieve could not believe the grave man she had met in London capable of murder.
And her father was right. Like him, she had sworn her allegiance. She could not change that — not unless the King were verily proven a murderer to her.
"I wonder if we will ever know," she murmured.
Axel shrugged, then caught her hand and turned it palm upward and drew a soft line upon it, smiling ruefully. "Nor does any of it really matter. Richard will remain King. Henry Tudor has landed, it is true, but not even the Welsh lords who promised their loyalty have all flocked to his standard. Richard's forces will outnumber his nearly two to one." He smiled. "We needn't really talk about this. I don't care to bore you —"
"You know that I am never bored with such discussion," Genevieve corrected him primly, making him laugh.
"Neither am I, but as our banns have been cried and our nuptials approach, I had rather hoped that you would be wont to tease and taunt me with images of your gown. With —"
"It is silvery gray. And exquisite," Genevieve told him simply, and added, "Edwyna has sewn in dozens and dozens of pearls, and I am quite sure you will never see anything so glorious in all your life."
"Nay, but that's a lie!"
"Most sincerely, it's —"
He kissed her hand. "I do not dispute that the gown will be glorious. I say only that what lies beneath it will be far more glorious than any fabric, fur, velvet, or silk."
Genevieve said softly "Oh!" then laughed, and kissed him quickly, telling him that he was capable of saying the most flattering things. They talked for several moments more, and she found herself thinking that it really was going to be such a good match. They liked one another, and he found it important to come to her with the things that weighed heavily on his mind. He would, of course, gain not only a bride but much property; yet Axel was a rich man himself. He approved of the fact that she knew the land so well — even though she would never totally relinquish to him what was her inheritance. Axel expected that they would rule their little world together, and Genevieve was keenly aware that another man might not have been so farsighted.
In time he told her that he must join her father, for if they were to meet up with Richard's army in a few days' time, there were still many things to be seen to. Genevieve smiled a little dreamily and offered up her lips to him for a good-bye kiss. When he had stepped out into the daylight, she went back to the hearth and watched the fire burn, with a small smile curving her mouth. Ah, her father! He was so staunch in his beliefs! A good half of England would sit on its tail while Richard went off to fight the usurper, but not Edgar!
A little shiver touched her with sudden realization. Her father, beloved, the dearest man on earth, might be killed!
Nay, he will command younger men! she assured herself. Nor would the battle be drawn out. Surely Richard would quickly expel Henry Tudor, quickly send him running back across the Channel!
But if ...
A flutter touched Genevieve's heart; she reached for the mantel to steady herself and she thought suddenly that if she were to lose her father she probably could not bear life. He was still young, he was still handsome; but more importantly he was gentle and kind. And when he talked about her mother in his soft and reverent tones, with love glowing in his eyes, she thought that that was how she wanted to be loved one day — that this was the kind of love that she wanted to elicit.
"Meditating? 'Tis not like you!"
Genevieve spun around at the sound of Edwyna's teasing voice.
"I was just thinking — that I was frightened," she answered honestly.
Edwyna shivered slightly, and Genevieve realized that her aunt had been quietly fearful since the first rumors of Henry's invasion had reached them.
Edwyna walked to the fire and, putting an arm about Genevieve's shoulders, pulled her close. "Edgar, Axel, Sir Guy, and Sir Humphrey are out there now, in the courtyard. Men! I watched them from my window. They have just sent two hundred men to Richard. If I know Edgar, he has sent promises that he will come in person soon."
"It just never occurred to me before, Edwyna, that — that I could lose father. Oh, Edwyna! I love him so much! He has always been everything to me! If —"
Edwyna gave Genevieve's shoulder a little squeeze. "Nothing will happen to your father; Richard will see to that. But, Genevieve, remember — if Edgar must fight, there is nothing that anyone can do. Men live by honor."
"And don't women?" Genevieve asked sharply.
Edwyna did not take offense. She smiled, lowered her eyes, and moved over to the great table, helping herself to a cup of the wine remaining there. "Honor," she mused, "is a very expensive commodity."
"What are you saying?" Genevieve cried hoarsely. "Edwyna! You helped to teach me the meaning of honor!"
"Oh, aye — I do consider myself 'honorable'!" Edwyna assured Genevieve, still smiling. She held up her chalice, in a toast to Genevieve, and to Edgar's picture above the fire. "It's just that love is a far greater thing. I love my daughter dearly. And were Edgar's honor the price of my daughter's life or security, I would pay it gladly. When you have children, Genevieve, you will understand."
Genevieve turned back to the fire. "No matter," she said softly. "I know what love is."
"Ah yes, Axel! Did you enjoy your moments of privacy with the young swain?" Edwyna changed her tone; she was teasing and light again. Had Genevieve imagined that grave, nearly bitter, side of her aunt? Probably.
"Swain?" Genevieve laughed back. "Axel is the dearest man, but no swain — and well you know it!"
"Spoken like a good fiancee!" Edwyna returned cheerfully. "Yours will be a beautiful wedding! Are you anxious, Genevieve?"
"Of — of course," Genevieve murmured.
"You're not feeling hesitant, are you?" Edwyna asked. "Oh, Genevieve! I was always so happy for you! Your father's choice being a man of whom were were so fond!"
"Nay, nay! I feel no reservations!" Genevieve protested.
"It is simply —" She hesitated, and a flush suffused her cheeks. Then Genevieve laughed mischievously — for if she did not talk with Edwyna, with whom could she talk?
Genevieve plucked up a chalice of wine and carried it with her in a little dance before the fire. "Axel and I shall make a brilliant match! Our cares are the same, our minds match, we've everything in common. He respects me, and I admire him! And more! Oh, I do love him, dearly. I imagine us sipping wine before the fire, laughing at the Christmas mummers, sitting down cheerfully to meals. It's just that ..."
"Just what?" Edwyna prodded.
"Oh, I don't know, I don't know!" Genevieve wailed softly, spinning about, hair and gown trailing around her as she rushed to Edwyna. "Just — something! That something in all the sonnets, in all the beautiful poetry, in the French ballads, in Chaucer, in the Greek idylls. Edwyna, does it come, does it come with marriage? That wonder, that mystical feeling. That you'd die for his kiss, for his touch! That —"
"Genevieve," Edwyna said shrewdly, "you're in love with the idea of being in love! Love itself is different. It's quieter, it's deeper, and that's what can last forever. What you're talking about is —"
"What?" Genevieve asked wistfully.
"Well, passion," Edwyna murmured uneasily. She crossed to sit before her tapestry again, picking up her needle, looking into the distance, then pausing. "Genevieve, don't go looking for passion! Such a thing always hurts those who pursue it — even those who stumble upon it. Be glad that you and Axel are mature, that he is a gentle and considerate man, that —"
"Edwyna! Is that what it was for you?" Genevieve knelt at Edwyna's feet. Edwyna gazed into her niece's immense, beseeching eyes — eyes the color of silver, glittering how, beautiful, enchanting. She winced slightly, reflecting that Genevieve would never do things in half measures. She was reckless and filled with passion; and for a moment Edwyna worried that perhaps Axel had not been the right choice for Genevieve. He was a fine man, but more the scholar than the knight; too gentle, perhaps, for this wild spirit, yearning to soar.
Edwyna forced herself to answer Genevieve's question.
"Was love passionate for me?" She laughed. "Genevieve, my first taste of grand passion left me wondering how on earth anyone had ever managed to write love poems. But then ..."
"It did come to you! After marriage!" Genevieve persisted. "Oh, Edwyna! That's what I want! A man to love me like Lancelot loved Guinevere, as Paris loved Helen!"
"Destructive love," Edwyna warned.
"Romantic love!" Genevieve countered. "Oh, Edwyna, will it come? When we're married, will it come?"
What answer could Edwyna give? No, it had never come to her. Not the love that inspired the poets, that kept you from sleeping or eating, that made you shiver with anticipation.
Yet she had discovered a softer kind of love, and she had discovered that she wasn't at all a cold woman. Marriage had become fun; they had both been surprised — and pleased. But then Philip had died, and Edwyna had learned all about loneliness.
Excerpted from "Lie Down in Roses"
Copyright © 1988 Heather Graham Pozzessere.
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.
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