England, winter, A.D.1121. After fleeing Sutton Castle, where her ruthless father, Lord Phelan, drunken brother, Eustace, and an elderly suitor are all determined to see her married off for a second time, Lady Margaret and her best friend, Catherine of Wortham, travel through a blizzard to reach isolated Bowen Manor, owned by Catherine’s brother, Arden, who has long been absent from England. There they hope to be safe. They don’t know that Arden has returned to England and is heading for Bowen, where he plans to stay alone until he can decide how to face his father, Royce the baron of Wortham.
Arden has terrible sins to confess and the last thing he wants is two women to chatter at him and destroy what little peace he can find. But when Catherine learns that Tristan, the man she has always loved, has married and will soon be coming to Bowen to join Arden, she falls ill. Margaret’s quiet kindness and good sense work wonders as she tries to reconcile the siblings. Arden finds himself aching to make love to her. But he has no right to love any woman, not after what he has done.
Margaret’s family heads for Wortham Castle to demand that Lord Royce help their search. After warning Royce about their traitorous political designs and declaring he wants nothing more to do with Lord Phelan, the elderly suitor departs. Royce takes his priest and Margaret’s family and heads for Bowen Manor. There Tristan and his charming wife, Isabel, have also arrived.
Phelan, seeing an advantage to himself, demands that Arden and Margaret must marry immediately after spending so much time alone together. Arden declares that he cannot marry, not under any circumstances. But Phelan’s brutality toward his daughter soon forces Arden to agree, for marriage is the only way he can protect her.
On their wedding night, Arden confesses most of his crimes to Margaret and is amazed at her understanding. After Phelan and his son are sent back to Sutton, Arden meets with his father, Margaret, and Father Aymon in the castle chapel. There he reveals the worst of his wrongdoing and is surprised when Royce, though hurt and unhappy, still forgives the son he loves. Father Aymon sets a penance for Arden and orders him to be a good husband to Margaret.
The next day, as all of the guests depart Bowen, headed for Wortham Castle, another severe snowstorm is predicted. .
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About the Author
Flora Speer is the author of twenty-two book-length romances and two novellas, all traditionally published. The stories range from historical romances to time-travel, to futuristic.
Born in southern New Jersey, she now lives in Connecticut. Her favorite activities include gardening (especially flowers and herbs used in medieval gardens,) amateur astronomy, and following the U.S. space program, which has occasionally been a source of ideas for her futuristic romances.