Andalucía Spain, 1489: Innocent Beatriz is desperate to escape the threat of a miserable marriage to a cruel Marquis. Forced into the betrothal by her ruthless merchant papá, her only hope is to conceal her identity and become a servant in a nearby castle-a life drastically different from her comfortable upbringing.
Tomás doesn't know what to make of his well-spoken new servant girl. Her beauty and charm captivates the military hero; her mysterious nature intrigues him. And the desire she ignites burns brighter with each glance, as does his longing to claim her for his own.
Beatriz can't resist Tomás' passion nor deny the heat of her own. But neither the lush countryside nor the walls of the opulent Moorish castle can entirely protect her-and if he were to discover her secret, she could be torn away from him forever. Yet how can she sustain his love if she's living a lie?
|Product dimensions:||5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.48(d)|
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By Tina Donahue
KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP.Copyright © 2016 Tina Donahue
All rights reserved.
Andalucía, Spain — 1489
The castle of Tomás de Zayas
The siege had begun. Not from bloodthirsty Moors. Oh, no. Tomás de Zayas would have welcomed such a prospect. He'd fought Spain's enemies with ruthless determination during his service to the Crown. Those battles were frequently grisly, but the conflicts had always ended. What he'd face in the coming hours however ...
Two carriages approached his estate. The first of many, less than half a league apart, wheels kicking up dust clouds within the heavily vegetated land. Inside each conveyance was a scheming mamá and daughter with naught but marriage on their minds with him the unwilling suitor.
His gut churned. He refused to budge from the parapet until dragged away.
If only he could fly from his castle as jackdaws were doing, their wings outstretched on the mild breeze, sweet scents beckoning. Several birds dipped to spring flowers and lush vegetation shaded from the heavy sun. He longed to ride past the scene, laughing, loving ... with the right woman.
The dark-haired beauty he craved was hopelessly out of reach.
He gripped the stone, despising circumstances, dreading the arriving females.
He'd held them off for months, declining invitations to countless gatherings. The mamás had persisted with endless requests to visit his estate, claiming they and their daughters wanted to see how he was doing after his brush with death.
He was hearty as ever and wanted to enjoy life again, though not with them. The woman he desired was already here.
Heat, unbidden and insistent, rushed through him.
"Here you are," Nuncio said.
Just what he didn't need. His manservant. An ancient fellow who'd been with the de Zayas family well before Tomás's birth. Despite Nuncio's sixty years, the man held himself as erect as a Spanish knight. While his bearing and white hair gave him a courtly appearance, his casual manner was more intrusive uncle than groveling servant.
Nuncio arched a bushy white eyebrow at Tomás's goblet.
Gleefully, he finished his wine, wanting more to fortify himself against the coming hours.
Clattering horse hooves and wheels quieted.
The first carriage had arrived. Mother and daughter left their conveyance, chattering endlessly. Their voices rang with excitement. Their silly giggles grated.
According to his brother, Enrique, and sister-in-law, Sancha, this was Tomás's proper future, with someone from his own world. His wayward passion for a woman not of his station couldn't amount to anything, ever, except trouble and heartache.
He slumped against the railing.
"Are you planning to throw yourself off?" Nuncio sighed tiredly. "Should I be alarmed?"
He would be when Tomás tossed him off the side. "You should do your duty and see to my desires." He held out his goblet. "I need more wine."
Nuncio remained planted to the spot, wrinkled hands folded in front, striking a lord of the manor pose. "Your guests might believe otherwise."
The carriage and footmen were off to the side, the women nowhere in sight. Presumably, mother and daughter were within the castle, waiting for what they believed would be a private visit with him.
He offered a pleased smile. "As they have no regard for my feelings, I hardly care what they think. If you remember, I politely declined their requests to come here, until you hounded me about my indifference to their marriage plans with me as their grudging victim. Now, I have a chance to tell the mamás I have no intention of wedding any of their daughters."
"By gathering all of them here at the same time."
"Some might say reckless, considering their families are your political allies, though they may not be after today."
Tomás waved away Nuncio's comment. "Better to get this over with at one time rather than dragging the matter out through countless visits. Besides, my public declaration will keep gossip to a minimum. None of the women will be able to say I rejected any señorita because of her shrill laugh, slow wit, poor shape, or dull converse. They were all equally lacking."
Nuncio looked heavenward. He might have even started to pray.
Tomás gritted his teeth. "Equally lacking in my desire for them. Never fear, I shall be unfailingly polite and let each lady know how wonderful she is. More beautiful than stars sparkling in the night sky, more promising than the hint of spring after a brutal winter, more —"
"Forgive me for interrupting, but one would hope they would still be listening at that point." He squared his narrow shoulders. "Cook prepared a feast for your guests. If any of them have an appetite after your pretty speech, I propose we hide the knives. For your safety, of course."
"I can take care of myself. And I refuse to settle for less than what Enrique and Fernando have."
"You mean the families they started."
Not entirely. However, Isabella had given birth to her and Fernando's first child, a daughter. They named her Juana after Isabella's late mother. Sancha hadn't yet delivered. Given what Enrique had repeatedly said, he didn't care whether she bore him a son or a daughter. He simply wanted her and the child's health and happiness.
Nuncio cleared his throat delicately. "If I may be so bold ..."
"You will be, anyway. Get on with it."
"Very well. If you seek children, I advise you wed first as your brothers had."
"They fought for the women they wanted. Neither let convention get in his way."
"Your brothers wed women from their own backgrounds."
"They fell in love with them first and overcame numerous obstacles to be at their sides even though none were originally meant to be together. Have you forgotten Fernando's betrothal to Sancha was long before she married Enrique instead? What about Isabella pretending to be Sancha and wedding Fernando before he knew the difference between the two sisters? Despite such chaos, all are blissfully happy now."
"Miracles do happen, though in your case you best not hope for one."
Tomás shoved his hair back from where the wind had blown it. "As the youngest son, who I end up with, or if I end up with anyone, is of no consequence. Enrique inherits everything from Papá. Building upon the family dynasty is his duty. I can do as I please."
Nuncio looked off into the distance, his expression suddenly a mask, though the lines in his face seemed to have deepened. "Is this about Beatriz?"
Tomás's heart slammed into his chest. Lightheaded, he gripped the stone for support and pretended to drink from his empty goblet, since he was unable and unwilling to answer. Above, a jackdaw cried out. Below, wheels rattled against stone, announcing more guests. Three carriages drew near.
He wanted to run. His legs were too leaden to work properly. "Where is she?"
Nuncio shook his head.
Frustration oiled Tomás's limbs, allowing him movement. Fist clenched, he approached, prepared to thrash Nuncio to get an answer.
He stood his ground and kept his tongue.
Tomás crowded him further. "Answer me. Where is she?"
"Seeing to her tasks as the other servants are doing."
And would most likely finish her work before Nuncio offered anything more than he had. "Inform my guests I shall be delayed slightly."
"You plan to clean up a bit? Excellent. I suggest your dark green robe and doublet. The blue you have on hardly does you justice. As to your hose, one in peach, the other in white will work far better than the striped ones you chose. You should also have a shave."
Tomás slapped his goblet into Nuncio's palm and hurried down the steps, his shoes ringing on the stone. On the next level, he rushed through the castle once owned by a Moor, the same as Fernando's castle had been. Their service to the Crown had won them the reconquered estates. Although Tomás's new home was far smaller than Fernando's and certainly Enrique's, he still had to search numerous halls and countless rooms for Beatriz.
He wanted to see her. No. He needed to. A compulsion he couldn't seem to resist despite her being a servant. A matter important to Nuncio, Enrique, and Sancha, with them advising Tomás not to take advantage of his position and Beatriz, since a dalliance between them could lead nowhere.
He was well aware of the perils and hadn't done anything except watch her whenever he could.
She was remarkably different from his other servants, her air, manner, and speech refined. Intelligence shone in her eyes. She even seemed able to read. Weeks ago, he'd come upon her tidying his study. She'd regarded the book spines at length, the way one would when considering titles. Surprising and odd. If she were educated, he couldn't imagine why she'd willingly spend her days here in endless drudgery.
When he'd asked his housekeeper about her, Señora Cisneros said Beatriz came from one of the many villages Tomás owned and that she needed work to support her ailing mother. He hadn't bothered to check out the story, sensing Beatriz might have an ill parent, which drove her to seek work here. As to the other part of her background ... Deep inside, he sensed she hadn't come from any village.
Not that he cared whether he was right or not.
Seeing her again, settling his overwhelming desire was his only goal. Today, he could compare Beatriz to the other women and determine if his desire for her was only a passing whim. Once he'd had another look at her, he might be able to dismiss his feelings as mere fantasy and have peace at last.
Where had she gone?
He strode toward the first hall and the bedchambers, this area open and airy, his face warmed by sun spilling through arched windows that stretched from floor to ceiling. Rays glinted off intricate Moorish mosaics, flashing blue, yellow, green, and red, turning the stone columns and floors milky and bright. He squinted.
Upon reaching the chambers, he checked room after room, each filled with rich wall hangings and Spanish furniture, the dark wood and leather carved with ornate designs. Every chamber was spotless and duly aired to smell quite fresh. Also empty. With only two more rooms to go, he sensed Beatriz might be elsewhere in the castle, tending to those rooms.
No matter. He'd run her down in time.
After a quick check of the remaining chambers, he turned.
Beatriz stood across the hall, holding linens heaped in a basket.
His mouth went dry.
Despite her red gown, white tunic, and linen cap, the same livery his other female servants wore, she might as well have been a queen.
She was certainly beautiful enough. Her skin was paler than most, the color of a fine pearl, features delicate, light brown eyes lushly lashed and softened with what appeared to be need.
His chest tightened, breathing became difficult, the air too thick suddenly.
Her plush lips, pink as an Andalucían dawn, parted in what seemed to be an invitation.
Everything grew quiet. Colors and the surrounding area faded into the background, leaving nothing except her to feast on. Dewy skin, sensuous mouth, full breasts, lush hips.
His shaft thickened and grew hard, craving her heated sheath damp with her excitement.
His for the taking. He merely had to cross the small space separating them.
The distance seemed wider than the ocean with too many warnings bombarding him. Sancha's advice that he not ruin Beatriz, leaving her few options for marriage to a respectable man. Enrique warning about the child Tomás would eventually sire with her. Nuncio's repeated admonitions about her peasant background that wouldn't allow them a future together no matter how much Tomás may have wanted one.
He shouldn't have sought her out. His plan to dismiss any feelings he'd had failed miserably. He wanted her far more than earlier.
He tipped his head. "Buenas tardes."
Pink bloomed in her cheeks. Her eyes cleared, no longer dreamy or aroused. She stepped back.
The distance between them was already too great. She didn't need to add to it. Although he understood her prudence, he hated that they had to resist their desire.
"Buenas tardes, Patrón." She propped the basket on her hip and retreated two steps.
In another moment, she might bolt.
He prayed not yet. "Are the linens too heavy?" He wanted to help, needed to be near. "Do you want me to carry them?"
She shook her head, dark, silky tendrils dancing near to her cheeks.
He ached to wind the strands around his fingers and ease her closer. "Are you quite certain?"
She gripped the basket hard enough to make her knuckles white. "I can see to my duties. I can work all day and night if necessary."
"Have you ever needed to do so in order to finish?"
"No." Beatriz frowned, then made her face a mask, the kind servants show a master, leaving the poor fool no way to know what they thought. "I finish my tasks quickly. Without problems."
"How wonderful." He stepped in her way before she could get around him. "How is your mother doing? Does she need a potion or poultice?"
She stared, color draining.
Why? He only wanted to help. "Señora Cisneros mentioned your mamá's troubles in passing. How sad I am for you and her. However, I know a physician who may be able to make things better. Tell me the symptoms and I can bring you what she needs."
No matter what ailed the woman, Sancha could prepare a remedy. She was a healer. When Tomás had fallen ill at the fortaleza, she'd saved his life. A dangerous matter for her because of the Inquisition, which led to accusations claiming she was a witch. Thankfully, he, Enrique, and their brothers had handled the matter, leaving her free to practice healing in secret.
Beatriz hefted the basket and settled the thing more firmly on her hip.
"Those linens are too heavy for you." He grabbed them.
She held on.
Surely, she didn't think she'd win against him. He was a head taller, nearly twice her weight, and far stronger.
She let go.
He locked his knees to keep from staggering back at the weight. Far too cumbersome for such a delicate flower as her. He'd have to talk with Señora Cisneros about Beatriz's future duties.
Rather than offering a sweet smile for his help, she bit her lip.
Tenderness welled within him, along with unruly desire. "No reason to be afraid. Your position is safe. I merely want to help. Tell me what ails your mamá."
"Nothing at the moment. She recovered fully from her latest illness. I must get back to work." She reached for the linens.
He kept them away. "Is my housekeeper demanding too much even with you willing to work day and night?" f "Señora Cisneros is a lovely woman."
She had a mustache, hairs on her chin, weighed more than two women combined, and owned a high-pitched voice that set his teeth on edge. However, she did keep the castle running smoothly without being too overbearing. "I find her efficient in a slightly masculine way. Is that what you meant?"
Beatriz's mouth curled up, though she didn't allow herself to smile.
Making her laugh meant everything to Tomás without him understanding why. "Do you promise not to tell her I said such a thing?"
She gripped her skirt. "We rarely speak. Work keeps us busy."
"So you do promise. Wonderful." He grinned and lifted the basket to his shoulder, showing off his strength. "Where did you plan to take this? I can bring the linens to whatever room you —"
Loud throat clearing flowed down the hall.
Either Señora Cisneros or Nuncio had just entered from behind. Hard to tell which, since they both made the same noises when displeased with the help. He looked over.
Beatriz pulled the basket from Tomás with surprising strength, though she did totter.
"Careful." He reached for her.
She twisted away.
Nuncio cleared his throat once more.
Tomás frowned at him. "Did you inform the guests of my delay?"
"Several times. They still await your presence. Every one of them in the same room."
Surely without knives if Nuncio had anything to say. Tomás gentled his mood for Beatriz. "If your mamá should fall ill again, please tell me. I can help."
Her attention remained on Nuncio.
Wanting to speak softly to her, Tomás leaned closer, catching her seductive fragrance, freshly washed clothes and clean skin. He reeled, finding speech difficult. "If Nuncio rails at you for keeping me here, let me know. I shall thrash him soundly."
Laughter bubbled from her, which she quelled without pause.
Her joy, no matter how brief, was a balm for everything wrong with today. How marvelous if they, at least, became friends, speaking freely, laughing, enjoying themselves. An odd notion for any man when faced with such a delectable woman. However, he didn't see many other options at this point.
He strode to Nuncio. "Shall we go?" Halfway down the hall, Tomás spoke. "Make certain the ladies' carriages, drivers, and footmen are ready to depart. I trust no one will be staying long once I give my speech."
"As you wish. Whatever you wish. Whenever you wish."
Tomás rolled his eyes. If wishes were his for the asking, he'd still be speaking to Beatriz, inviting her to ride the grounds with him, having a late supper with her on the hillside overlooking his estate, finally carrying her into his chamber for some much-needed passion with them discovering wondrous things about each other.
He surely wouldn't be facing women who might want to harm him once they understood he had no intention of wedding anyone.
Excerpted from Passionate Pursuit by Tina Donahue. Copyright © 2016 Tina Donahue. 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.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I didn't enjoy this story as much as I did the other two in the series. I felt like the writing wasn't as strong in this book compared to the other two. Unfortunately, it was just an ok read for me...
“Are you thinking about leaving?” Isabella asked. “If you do, Tomas will follow and try to bring you back.” “Not if he believes I fear Papa beyond anything else. What woman wants a life constantly looking over her shoulder or dreads becoming a widow, forced into a second marriage with a brute? All I have to do is convince Tomas I want an end to this madness by never seeing him or my father again.” “Although women have succeeded in deceiving men since time began, you will never fool Tomas. The man would have to be blind not to see how you feel about him even if you say otherwise. Best you stay here with us and face this.” How would you feel if you fell in love with someone you weren’t supposed to? You are just another servant in a huge mansion, but he is royalty. Does he even notice you? Donahue engages her readers with a timeless romance, chalked full of desperate longing and defiance of the rules. Love does not gauge status, class, or wealth. Love does not wait until someone is ready to fall. Love just happens. It strikes at the most inopportune time, often leaving more problems than what you had before. But, love is supposed to work itself out too…that is what they say. Tomas may not be a marquis or a king, but he does have a lot of wealth and power. Coming back from battle, he finds running his estate a bore and needless time is spent fantasizing over things that he has no control over. His head male servant, Nuncio, has to remind him countless times that he cannot lust after a servant—it is just unthinkable. Especially, when he has so many other women and their mothers to attend to. With Tomas being an eligible bachelor, women seem to flock in from all locations to try and tempt his hand. Beatriz is the only woman that he sees though. She is so much more than just a servant—she knows how to read, ride a horse, speak properly, and other things that are not characteristics of the lowly servant that everyone else would make her out to be. What begins as simple lust, grows faster than either of them can possibly imagine, but when she declines his wedding proposal, she does not provide him with a suitable explanation. His curiosity beckons him to look into exactly who Beatriz really is and where she comes from. After speaking to his brothers, he comes to the conclusion that he cannot lose her. He will not lose her. What lengths will he go to prove to her that nothing else matters as long as they are together? Can he find out what is standing in their way before it is too late and she leaves for good? Donahue does a great job with character development. Some of the characters lack explanation, when readers may want more from their personality. The writing is clean, well-written, and fast-paced, which makes it very easy to read. If you are a reader of historical romance, you may enjoy reading this book. It can be read as a standalone, but it may be beneficial to begin reading the series from the first installment for an entire understanding of all characters. A copy of this book was provided to Turning Another Page by Words Turn Me On, but this in no way affects our honest opinion of the book or the review that has been written. We provide a four-star rating for Passionate Pursuit by Tina Donahue.
This is the first book that I've read by Tina Donahue and I wish that it wasn't. I used to read historical romance novels like crazy and then I just hit a wall. No matter which one I picked up, I just didn't like it. Because of that, I haven't read one in quite a while and when I was approached about this one, I almost said "no, thank you". Boy, am I glad that I didn't. It restored my faith in the genre. That kind of stamp of approval is not something I give easily. I'm a jerk about books. I won't lie. I will pick them apart and take no prisoners. I'd like to think that my criticism is constructive ... but I'm sure that some authors don't feel that way. Anyway ... this one is easily a four-star book because I really didn't have any issues with it. Passionate Pursuit is well written and I think true to the time-period. I've actually not read anything that dates back as far as this one does. Usually I kind of stay away from them because I just didn't know if I could connect with that time-period. I was pleasantly surprised! Donahue wrote this book in such a way that it really pulls you into the story and you believe that you're in the 15th century. Does that mean that everything was completely accurate with the times? I have no freaking clue but she made me believe that it was and that's all that matters. I enjoyed getting to know Beatriz and Tomás. I don't want to really delve into the whole premise of the story ... hopefully you've read the blurb and there's no reason to go over that again but Beatriz's character was interesting. I appreciated what she was going through and how she was always trying to do the right thing but ornery Tomás was having none of that. Tomás behaved a bit like a petulant child at times and that made me smile because all men get that way, right? "I want what I want, when I want it", type thing. Brats. That being said, the push and pull between Beatriz and Tomás was what made me love the story so very much. Tomás was always there to save the day and in turn, make the reader swoon and want to be rescued right along with Beatriz. The only issue is that now I'm interested in reading the previous two books in the series. They aren't necessary to understand this one but I think that the back story from those two books would just make this one even richer. Great book, great author and it was a nice break from my usual romantic suspense novels. * I received this novel in exchange for an honest review *
Beatriz is desperate to escape an arraigned marriage to a cruel man that her father is forcing her into. She runs away to a nearby castle and becomes a servant. Tomas find his new servant girl intriguing and can’t see to stay away from her, will he discover her secret? This is a fast paced steamy read. The chemistry between Beatriz and Tomas is scorching. The story held my interest throughout. A very steamy historical read! I loved it.
5**** Steamy, intelligent historical romance ***I received a copy of this ebook in exchange for an honest review*** I like my historical fiction to be accurate and historical romance to be swoon-worthy. Passionate Pursuit is both. This is book 3 in a series, but it’s a standalone so you can start from here. I started with book 2 so I jumped at the opportunity to review this one as well. Tomás explains the first two books quite well in the beginning of his own story. He tells Nuncio, his manservant, that both his brothers had married women for love but not after overcoming immense obstacles. Another given in historical romances. However, this series has an additional characteristic that has great appeal to me: it’s an erotic historical romance trilogy. Being an avid reader and a writer of erotic stories myself, I have become a fan of Tina Donahue’s books. Passionate Pursuit has it all: laughter, romance, passion, perils, and steamy love scenes. My kind of story! LOL Tina Donahue certainly did her research for this trilogy. She also expertly crafted an engaging story about a strong-willed and intelligent woman ahead of her time, who would rather reject her aristocratic upbringing than marry someone she despises just because her father tells her so. In 15th century Spain, that would be an amazing feat! Yet Beatriz chooses a life as a servant over an arranged marriage, and that’s how she finds love. More precisely, Tomás, her boss. I also liked the fact that when the story begins, our hero already knows he’s fallen for the heroine. That was refreshing; although, it didn’t mean they would have it easy. After all, he doesn’t know Beatriz’s real background so, despite his strong attraction, Tomás doesn’t want to ruin her reputation, and Beatriz wants to protect her real identity. That’s a recipe for disaster. Or blissful passion, which is what the reader actually gets from this amazing couple. LOL I highly recommend Tina Donahue’s book if you haven’t already tried them.
Passionate Pursuit is the third book of the Dangerous Desires Series and the second I’ve read. I started with book two and it was a good book, so when asked if I would review this one, I agreed. It is an interesting story. A young girl runs away from her wealthy family to avoid a marriage arranged by her father. Hides in disguise and becomes a servant for a very wealthy man; only to fall in love with her boss, the very wealthy man. She displays traits rare for servants; she can read, is articulate, and generally behaves like a well-educated woman in so many ways. She still has the innocence and good heartedness of a servant, so I too was fooled until it was I learned who she really was. Passionate Pursuit was well written, the characters were extremely developed and the story was interesting with a few twists. It had mystery, suspense, drama and romance. A strong 4 Boundless stars; I really liked it.....Beth
Passionate Pursuit is a compelling historical fiction novel that takes place during the 15th century. Beatriz Gonzalez y Serrano of Andalucia, Spain, didn’t want to marry someone, just because her father told her to do so. Her father had chosen Marquis Larnaz Telles, a cruel and ruthless man to be her betrothed. Her mother was sent to an early grave because of her father’s abuse. Beatrice had no intention of following in her footsteps. No, Beatriz would rather work as a lowly servant, for the rest of her life, than marry a man like her father. After Beatriz had escaped her childhood home, she secured a job, working as a servant for Don Tomas. Although she worked long hours and was exhausted most of the time, she was grateful to be free. Although Beatrice realized that a love relationship could never develop, she couldn’t help but to look forward to Don Tomas’s visits. Don Tomas, knew that his life would be a lot less complicated if he could just forget about Beatrice, but he couldn’t. She was unlike any servant he had ever had. It was puzzling to him, though, that Beatriz could read and write. Don Tomas was convinced that she was hiding something, and he was determined to unearth whatever secrets the mysterious woman thought she had safely buried. This novel is well-written and captivating. If you enjoy reading adult medieval romances, than Passionate Pursuit is the book for you. I received this book from the publisher, via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.