One Forbidden Knight

One Forbidden Knight

by Nicola Davidson

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781943892891
Publisher: Entangled Publishing, LLC
Publication date: 10/06/2015
Pages: 140
Product dimensions: 5.00(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.33(d)

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One Forbidden Knight

An Entangled Scandalous Novella


By Nicola Davidson, Kate Brauning

Entangled Publishing, LLC

Copyright © 2015 Nicola Davidson
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-63375-402-7


CHAPTER 1

London, March 1558

She was late. Horribly, fearfully, catastrophically late.

Gritting her teeth against a wave of self-directed anger, Catherine Linwood hurried down a wide, icy-cold corridor within St. James's Palace as fast as she could without hitching up her dark blue damask skirts and sprinting.

So few people had the trust and affection of their gracious and beloved sovereign Queen Mary. As the only child of Her Majesty's most favored physician, Arthur Linwood, she had been warmly welcomed to court, granted countless audiences, and given gifts and elegantly furnished rooms.

Now she was repaying the kindnesses with tardiness.

"Catherine, please ..." a voice wheezed beside her, and she glanced at Lady Jane Howard, whose complexion currently matched her plum-colored gown. Reluctantly, she slowed her steps.

"I'm sorry, Jane. We are a quarter hour late. You know how Her Majesty feels about punctuality."

"Yes, but we'll hardly impress dripping perspiration and gasping like landed trout. Besides, it was feast preparations for your father's return, not dallying with a gentleman. It was her ladies and their winter ills that kept him away in the country so long."

Catherine nodded, but her anxiety didn't ease. Papa would be furious if he knew she'd kept the queen waiting, especially in her current delicate state.

"I couldn't bear to distress her. She is so close to term now. Just think, finally England and Spain will be joined together again. It feels like we've waited forever for a Catholic prince, especially after the last mishap. Poor, dear lady. All the signs, but no bab —"

"Hush!" her friend hissed.

"It's true."

Abruptly, Jane grabbed her elbow in an unrelenting grip and yanked her well away from the courtiers calling out greetings and bowing as they passed. "Don't be a fool. True or false, it is dangerous to speak of such things. It always travels back, and then you're arrested and made a head shorter. A person's name, friends, whether they are even guilty, none of that matters. You're a favorite one day and decorating London Bridge the next."

Catherine winced. No one knew better than a Howard how precarious the love of a monarch could be. Old King Henry had executed Jane's father the Earl of Surrey, and her cousins Katherine Howard and Anne and George Boleyn.

"You're right. I won't —"

"Good. Just pray for the queen and her unborn child. As long as Elizabeth is heir, there'll be plots and rebellion. That sly red fox should be rotting in the Tower. Her mother tore this country apart, and she would too."

"But she's your cousin," Catherine mumbled, suppressing a twinge of sympathy at the rough treatment the queen's half-sister had endured over the years. "Distant cousin," said Jane coldly. "And a heretic, no matter what she claims. All proper, God-fearing people shun and despise her. You are a devoted Catholic, aren't you Catherine?"

"Of course!"

"Good. If Elizabeth were to become queen, the country would never recover. Look at the turmoil when Edward was king, then that usurper Jane Grey. Protestants make terrible rulers. They are weak and ungodly."

"Papa says —"

"Bah. Your father should do naught but doctor. And find you a husband while he has influence and you have your looks. Men might overlook a small dowry and lack of title now, even that you've studied Latin texts and tended uncovered limbs. But you are twenty years old, and time is swiftly running out."

Guilt prickled, the kind that warranted a confessional visit. Disloyalty to her beloved father was wrong, but her lack of husband had become a matter of embarrassment. Papa always laughed and said the day a worthy man presented himself — a kind, devout, and sober Catholic who treated his servants well — he would heartily consent. When she'd seen the unsuccessful men stomp away, with their sour breath and padded doublets, she'd been glad of the firm edict. But lately, she wasn't so certain.

"Perhaps I shall be a merry old maid, dancing till dawn and eating sweetmeats all day," Catherine said eventually, forcing a cheerful grin. "You may visit when your castles, jewels, and future lordly husband grow tiresome."

"Ha! And you may always visit me. Even if we must roll you from room to room and winch you upstairs. Now, let's see to Her Majesty."

Relieved at her friend's restored humor, they swiftly rounded the last corner of the torch-lit stone corridor and halted outside a pair of wide oak doors blocked by two heavily armed guards.

Taking a deep breath, Catherine smoothed the front of her gown and patted her head to ensure her wayward ebony curls were still secured under a modest velvet hood. It was ridiculous to be nervous, but usually her father stood beside her, and without his calm, black-gowned presence, that comforting scent of herbs and fresh linen, she felt a touch alone. It was always so hard when he was away tending others. Their rooms felt too big without his chatter, his husky laugh, the bubbling of boiling water and knocking of pestle and mortar as he tried new elixir recipes.

Before she could say a word, Jane glared at the guards.

"Do you not know who we are? Let us pass at once!"

"Yes, Lady Jane. Mistress Catherine," said one of the guards quickly, bowing respectfully as he immediately turned to knock on the door.

Eventually one of Queen Mary's ladies appeared to usher them both through. As she followed the two other women into a short passageway, Catherine turned her head and smiled apologetically at the man. As much as she loved Jane, no guard or servant ever moved fast enough for her friend. When the Howards were in power, they more than made up for the times they weren't.

In the queen's spacious chamber, her nose wrinkled at the strong odor of perspiration, tallow and perfume. As was custom for childbed seclusion, there was a large fire for heat and candles for light as the windows were boarded over to stop ill winds. It made the area almost unbearably stuffy and taxing for the ladies who attended Her Majesty constantly. Several sat embroidering, one strummed a harp and three more played cards, but all looked flushed and uncomfortable.

"Are you all right now? Do you need me?"

Catherine grinned at the look of sheer longing Jane directed toward the card game. "Go. Go and unburden those poor women of their coins."

"If you're sure ..." her friend replied, but she had already half-crossed the room.

"Catherine," boomed a deep, almost manly voice.

She spun around and sank into a low curtsy as Queen Mary ambled toward her, a flowing ermine-trimmed cream gown brushing the floor with each of the petite monarch's steps.

"Your Majesty. I beg your forgiveness for my lateness today."

"We shall excuse you today, child, but do not keep us waiting again when we have need of you."

"No, madam. Never. Are you well?"

"As can be expected," the queen replied, resting a bejeweled hand on her hugely distended belly. "But everyone will rest better once the child is born. Our seclusion is just begun, yet already we are weary of these four walls. Perhaps you will join us in beseeching the Blessed Virgin for a swift and safe delivery?"

Catherine nodded eagerly. England desperately needed this child to secure the Catholic throne. Three years ago the queen and all those around her had thought her to be pregnant, but there had never been a babe in her belly. This time was different. And Papa, the greatest physician in all of England, would have the honor of delivering the heir.

"Madam, you are in my daily prayers. And King Phillip of course. I hope ... I hope very much he will be able to return to England soon."

Mary sighed, her expression unbearably sad. "That is our dearest wish, but Spanish affairs of state keep him most occupied. He is the best of rulers, so just and dutiful."

"Of course."

"Come here and tell us your news," the queen said, carefully settling herself into a cushioned throne and beckoning Catherine over to a footstool. "It will be a pleasant diversion."

"Shall I rub your feet for you?"

"Sweet child. So like your mother, God rest her soul. I wish ..."

Glancing up from carefully removing the queen's shoes, Catherine almost shivered at the truly odd expression on Mary's face. Hard. Calculating. And yet sorrowful too.

"Yes, madam?"

"All wrongs will be made right once our son is born. We ask you to remember that. And know as an obedient and faithful subject, we shall always hold you fondly in our heart."

"How could I not be?" she said carefully, confused at the queen's intense words. "The prince will make England whole again. We'll all rejoice."

Just for a moment, Mary looked away, one hand clutching the strand of polished rosary beads about her neck. Then she turned back, smiling.

"Indeed. And once we are recovered, we will hold a feast, and you shall be introduced to some fine gentleman. Past time you were married ... unless our Lord is now calling you to a different purpose?"

Catherine paused in her gentle rubbing of the queen's swollen right foot. "No, madam. I still hope to marry. Very much. A special man, handsome, learned and charming would be most agreeable."

The queen chuckled, a hint of color brightening her usually pale cheeks and livening her brown eyes. "A list! My word. Should he be a lord? A knight? A physician?"

"Well, I ..."

"Let me pass! Your Majesty! Your Majesty!"

Catherine jumped at the hoarse cry, but Mary remained very still, calmly watching her personal page's stumbling approach.

"Yes, boy?"

"Majesty, I bring grave news."

"Then do not tarry, tell me."

"It's Doctor Linwood, Majesty. He's —"

"What?" said Catherine sharply, all manners forgotten as icy fright crept down her spine and turned her hands clammy. Had her father caught the fever he'd gone to tend? Fallen from his horse?

The page inclined his head, his eyes somber. "Mistress, I am grieved to report Doctor Linwood has passed away."

Catherine stared uncomprehendingly. No. Passed away meant dead. And her father was hale, hearty, and shortly to be dining with her. Turbot, roasted beef, marzipan fruit, and a good wine to celebrate his homecoming.

"Don't be ridiculous," she said, pushing the words out past the driest tongue in Christendom. "I received a message earlier, he returns this evening. You must be mistaken."

His gaze didn't waver. "No, mistress. I'm so sorry. It was his weak heart. And ill humors from traveling in the rain."

"Papa never travels in the rain. And he certainly didn't have a weak heart!"

"Are you sure? I —"

"Thank you," snapped Queen Mary. "That will be all."

The page immediately bowed low and hurried away, but Catherine barely noticed. Shocking, crushing cold enveloped her, making her body shake and vision gray.

Dead.

Sounds erupted. An awful high, keening wail like a soul condemned to purgatory. Women shouting and heavy boots crossing the stone floor. Chairs scraping and steel flashing. Clamping her hands over her ears, she fought to escape the noise, awkwardly falling from her stool and huddling in a ball.

Dead.

Without warning, impersonal arms hauled her to her feet and a pungent blend of lavender and vinegar assailed her nose. The world spun and spun, and she coughed and clawed at the arms, desperate for an anchor, some way to halt the terror advancing on her like a relentless French army.

The scent came again, choking, overwhelming, but finally relief, as she fell into blessed darkness.

Everything about the day screamed death. From the unnatural slate-gray sky and bone-chilling wind to the dull, ponderous rhythm of the church bells confirming another soul's departure.

Sir Brandon FitzAlan pulled a flagon of wine from a hidden pocket in his thick black cloak and took several healthy gulps. He was entirely too sober for this and his damned servants were to blame for his rare state of total awareness. Instead of wine, he'd been presented with watered ale all day. One particularly hardy soul, a fourth generation maid with the temperament of a bear woken during hibernation, had actually set a goblet of warmed milk in front of him at breakfast.

Milk.

His stomach lurched, and he coughed, pulled the cloak closer about him, and strode forward past several clusters of gray-and-black-clad mourners who wished to pay their respects but weren't familiar enough to the family to enter the crypt. As always, he ignored the curious stares, the whispers, the deferential curtsies and bows from those who feared or respected his very powerful family.

God's blood, he was weary of death. Not only that, he was disgusted by the ugly, hollow shell England had become under the rule of Bloody Mary Tudor — the beheadings and burnings all in the name of her cursed religion. If this woman had her way, England would be naught more than Spanish territory, dragged back to the dark ages and ruined. She'd even managed to lose the jewel of Calais back to the French; Old Henry would be turning in his grave.

Some called the queen generous. Indeed, so generous she'd sent Arthur Linwood, the finest man he'd ever known, the doctor who'd saved his mother's life, into the heart of a small plague outbreak. Robbing England of one of its most gifted physicians. Robbing a child of a beloved father.

Damn her to hell.

Finally reaching the Linwood family crypt, he dropped to one knee and bowed his head. His hose was no match for the cold, damp stone but the discomfort was naught compared to grief and rage. His friend and savior was dead.

"Why?" Brand burst out, anger almost robbing him of breath. "I don't understand. Why you, Arthur?"

"I don't understand either."

His head jerked up at the soft, tear-soaked voice. He hadn't even seen the woman sitting in a shadowed corner, dressed in a heavy and rather shapeless black velvet gown, with a modest black hood and thick lace veil covering her face. Yet the pure misery in her tone reflected his. She wasn't a casual acquaintance or a courtier attending to see and be seen. This woman had truly adored Arthur Linwood.

"Forgive me, madam," he said, inclining his head. "I didn't mean to intrude."

"You aren't," she replied, standing and pushing the veil back from her face.

Brand sucked in a harsh breath at the perfection revealed — thickly lashed, deep blue eyes set in a pale oval face with a slightly pointed nose, high cheekbones, and full, pink lips, all framed by pitch-black curls. Had such a beauty been Arthur's lover? His friend's wife had long passed, no doubt the man would have been lonely with only a young daughter for company. If so, he'd been remarkably discreet. In their country jaunts, their many alehouse meetings, Arthur had never mentioned a woman, only his pride and joy: clever, amusing little Carey. Perhaps she was Carey's nurse? Her aunt or older cousin? In which case he could leave with a clear conscience. Even in her terrible grief, she had an air of quiet gentleness that spoke of a kind and loving guardian to a child.

"Sir?" she said, briefly resting her hand on his. "Are you well?"

He frowned at her concern, unnerved by something rarely shown to him as much as the heated jolt from her light, innocent touch. He clearly needed to find himself a lusty wench and a great deal of wine. Tonight. Yet first he had to pose the question.

"Well enough," Brand said, clearing his throat. "I don't mean to be indelicate, but by chance are you a relative? Perhaps little Carey's nurse? Arthur was a dear friend, and I should like to know his daughter will be well cared for, and to offer funds if needed."

"It is very kind of you to care about my well-being, but I'm not so little."

He froze. "What? You can't be Carey! She's a girl, not, er ..."

Unexpectedly, she smiled, a ray of sunshine in the cold, gloomy crypt.

"It is Catherine Mary actually, but I never could pronounce it as a child. I'm not sure why Papa would speak of me as if I were still young. I'm twenty."

Brand stiffened. He could guess. What loving father would want a heretic, a nobleman's wretched bastard, lusting after his beautiful, pure, Catholic daughter?

"I've heard a lot about you," he said gruffly. "Apart from your age, of course. I am Sir Brandon FitzAlan."

Her eyes widened.


(Continues...)

Excerpted from One Forbidden Knight by Nicola Davidson, Kate Brauning. Copyright © 2015 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.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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One Forbidden Knight 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 8 reviews.
DebDiem More than 1 year ago
One Forbidden Knight by Nicola Davidson is an awesome read. Ms Davidson has crafted a well written book filled with amazing characters. The suspense in Carey and Brand's story will keep you on the edge of your seat. This is a fairly quick read though, so you won't have to sit there long. This is a perfect choice for those with limited time for reading. There is' plenty of drama and sizzle with bits of humor now and then to keep you glued to this fantastic story. I totally enjoyed reading One Forbidden Knight and look forward to reading more from the talented Nicola Davidson in the near future. This is a complete book, not a cliff-hanger.
BuckeyeAngel More than 1 year ago
Catherine was among the favored of queen Mary until her father dies on the road back to the palace, Catherine finds this mysterious and that something isn’t right. Catherine’s father had been Queen Mary’s chief physician. Catherine is determined to look for answers to her fathers death. Catherine meets Sir Branden Fitzalan/Brand at her father’s grave when he went there to pay his respects. Brand had been one her father’s best friends. Brand offers his services if Catherine ever needed him. Catherine asks Brand to help her find out the true reason her father had died. So Catherine and Brand set out to see what really happened and Brand would not have left Catherine alone in the tutor court while she looked for answers. Brand had his own secrets: he was illegitimate and his father would not recognize him as a son only as his cousin. Also Brand’s wife had a mysterious death as well as a new religion. Catherine went after Brand when he tried to stay away from her in a romantic way. Oddly the Queen’s guards will do anything to stop the truth from being known and this puts Catherine and Brand in danger, I liked the story alot. It was a short story but had alot in it like: passion, intrigue, romance, suspense, secrets, action and so much more. The story started out a little slow but got past that until it picked up . This story had a good plot that I enjoyed. I was a little surprised when Catherine initiated sex but maybe that was done at court anyway got over it. I liked the ins and outs of the story as well as the ins and outs Catherine and Brand went through. I recommend, I received an ARC of this story for an honest review.
MELHUTCHINSON More than 1 year ago
This was a great historical short read! Nicola Davidson did an awesome job with keeping everything in the Era that she was writing about and made it all seem real life. Catherine is the daughter of a well known physician that has mysteriously turned up dead. Catherine is dead set on finding out the cause of her father's death and what really happened. Catherine really has no one to turn to except Sir Brandon FitzAlan. Brandon is committed to help Catherine get to the bottom of things with her father's death as well as protect her at all costs. Catherine and Brand end up getting pretty close on their adventure and sparks begin to ignite. The romance in this short story will leave you longing for more and fanning yourself. This was such a great short read historical. Thanks Nicola Davidson for a great read and I look forward to many more from you in the near future!
Historical_Romance_Lover More than 1 year ago
Living in the Queen's court as a favorite, Catherine Linwood is devastated to learn of her father's death. When she suspects that what she is told about his death, she turns to Sir Brandon FitzAlan for help in finding the truth. When they suddenly become wanted by the crown, Catherine knows she was right. Can Catherine and Brandon find out the truth about her father's death? A quick, enjoyable read with some insight into the Tutor court. A romance that developed while on the run and a plot from the queen! Thanks go out to Entangled Publishing via NetGalley for a copy of the book in exchange of an honest review.
SummerSnowFalls More than 1 year ago
Set in during the reign of "Bloody Mary" Tudor, ONE FORBIDDEN KNIGHT tells the story of Lady Catherine Linwood, a favorite to the Queen and daughter of a beloved physician, and Sir Brandon Fitzallen, a solider who is determined to discover the reasons behind the mysterious death of Catherine's father. Catherine is an educated young woman, intelligent, compassionate, and incredibly loyal. Brandon is equally intelligent, though is bitter and cynical due to his father's rejection and hard life as a soldier. When Catherine and Brandon are accused of plotting against the Queen, their love and loyalty stand firm in the face of conspiracy and distrust. Overall, ONE FORBIDDEN KNIGHT is an entertaining read, but the pacing was off. It felt very rushed all the way through. Moreover, Catherine and Brandon's love is of the "instant" variety, which is not my favorite since it comes across forced and unrealistic. I would have loved this story more if it had been another 100 pages longer. Plot Twist Reviews [dot] Com I received this book for free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
TammyS32 More than 1 year ago
Wonderful historical romance! Catherine is one of Queen Mary’s ladies in waiting and is shocked to receive the news that her father has died. Not believing the circumstances surrounding her father’s death she receives help from a friend of her father’s Sir Brandon FitzAlan. The story has plenty of drama and intrigue with smoking hot sex scenes. It is a fast paced read with excellent characters. I really liked it!
Angelized_1st More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed the mystery that surrounds Catherine Linwood in One Forbidden Knight. Catherine finds herself caught up in a wicked deception following the surprising death of her father. She later convinces Sir Brandon FitzAlan to join her quest in learning the truth about her father’s demise. Having the book set in Tudor England during Queen Mary’s reign was a nice touch, and provided a backdrop of intrigue and danger. I also really enjoyed Sir Brandon. He seems like an interesting character, and I would love to read more of his adventures. However, I wasn’t a big fan of Catherine. She didn’t come across to me like a true Tudor-era woman. Her behavior was not what I would envision a woman would behave during that time, and I found Catherine quite confusing. She came across both smart, and stupid at the same time. One thing I noticed about One Forbidden Knight, was the dialogue. It read a bit cheesy at the beginning, but improved as the story continued and found its footing. As the mystery plot became more involved, the story and characters seem to grow stronger, and I found myself eventually getting sucked into the story. I would recommend One Forbidden Knight to anyone looking for an easy, romantic read. However, if you’re looking for a real historical story, then One Forbidden Knight fell a bit short. True, the elements of Queen Mary’s life and situation towards the end of her reign were present, I never felt as if she were truly a part of the story. I received this book for free from Entangled Publishing in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
FizzaYounis More than 1 year ago
An interesting historical romance, full of intrigue, deception and love. Story line is good. The mystery surrounding death of the Physician adds a little more flavor to it. Not to mention the romance between two amazing characters. Total opposites and yet perfect for each other... Catherine doesn't know what to think, she knows that her father wasn't sick and he was always careful so it doesn't make sense that he would die so suddenly. She asks his friend Brandon to look into his death. This starts a series of events and eventually both of them must flee London as their lives might be in danger. They cannot trust anyone... It is a quick and entertaining read. I recommend this book to all historical fiction lovers. The story has substance and characters are well-developed, so I enjoyed reading it.