Alluring and dangerous, the Hawk of Inverfyre came to rest at my father's house, his motives unknown. His seduction was breathtaking. I resisted him, this enigmatic warrior, but his kiss transported me to a time and place where his relentless pursuit and my passionate surrender made perfect sense.
'Twas then I erred. My defenses harried, I was tricked into marriage by the Hawk and taken by force to his lawless castle. I have vowed to flee: The grounds abound with rogues and whores, and the servants whisper of murdered wives. And yet, his dizzying touch hints that we have lived here before - he as the castle's intrepid founder and I as his betrayed lover.
Am I the bride who will break the spell of Inverfyre? Or have I been captured by a scheming sorcerer, only to be ravished and discarded like so many before?
-Lady Aileen of Abernye
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
By Claire Delacroix
Warner BooksCopyright © 2004 Claire Delacroix, Inc.
All right reserved.
Chapter OneAbernye, Scotland-March 1409
Does a hare know when the hawk's gaze lands upon it? Aileen knew the moment the stranger spied her. She first glimpsed him from the top of the stairs, but was so unsettled to find his gaze upon her that she immediately looked away. She feigned undue concentration upon her descent to the raucous hall.
The hair on the back of her neck prickled and her face burned under the weight of his regard, though she knew he would soon glance elsewhere.
Curiosity could only compel so long a perusal, especially for so plain a maiden as she knew herself to be. She held her head high and crossed the hall to the high table, fighting her desire to turn and look.
"Such a notorious guest!" whispered a maid as she arranged the skirts of Aileen's new stepmother, Blanche. This was yet another kirtle that Aileen had not seen before, the silken cloth richly gleaming in the light of the torches. It was trimmed with fur that must be ermine, and embroidered with gold.
Whatever Blanche had expected when she seduced Aileen's father, she could not have anticipated the simple austerity of Abernye, with its pastures and sheep and rough hall. From whence had the coin come for yet another kirtle? Aileen did not imagine it had been Blanche's own purse.
Though her stepmother had been rumored to have a fat dowry, it was the treasury of Abernye that seemed to pay for all her fripperies.
"The Hawk is said to have killed a thousand men to claim Inverfyre," confided another maid on Blanche's opposite side, her hands just as busy as her tongue.
Aileen's fears were momentarily forgotten. Their guest was the Hawk of Inverfyre? She knew his name and repute, of course-who did not? She struggled to suppress her urge to glance his way.
"It is said that he stole it from its rightful lords, slaughtering those who opposed him, and without remorse!" the first maid added gleefully.
"He is a thief."
"A murderer without morals."
Blanche's eyes gleamed with interest as she openly watched their guest. She was finely wrought, this prize fetched from the English court, her pretty features and delicate build making Aileen feel all the more tall and ungainly.
"All this and handsome, too," Blanche murmured with satisfaction. "What fortune brings us such an intriguing guest! I forbid you all to mention such rumors in his presence."
At that, Aileen could not help but steal a glance, certain the Hawk's attention would be diverted.
She sorely miscalculated. The man in question watched her avidly. She should have demurely dropped her gaze, she should have looked away, but Aileen could not. She found herself snared by his bright gaze, helpless as the proverbial hare. Indeed, her heart nigh stopped and her mouth went dry, though not simply because of his looks.
The Hawk was tall, his shoulders were broad, his hair was dark with a touch of silver at the temples. He was tanned to a golden hue that spoke of vitality and he moved with a warrior's resolve. He was handsome, that much could not have been denied. There was an ease about him, a grace uncommon in the fighting men of Abernye although beguilingly male all the same.
Yet he was a warrior, of that Aileen had no doubt. This man had made choices, he had swung his blade, he had decided who would live and who would die.
He did not appear to be burdened by regrets.
He was garbed in blackest midnight, a hue so dark as to draw the light of the hall and devour it. His boots were high and similarly dark, his tabard was devoid of insignia or embroidery. She decided that he would not be a man who favored embellishment. Three cohorts flanked him, warriors just as fearsome and just as darkly garbed, though there was no doubt in Aileen's thoughts who ruled them all.
She stifled a shiver, shocked to her marrow that she was still the focus of the Hawk's attention. It was the intensity of his regard, the fixedness of it that put Aileen in mind of his namesake, the predatory hawk. He was so still that she was certain he neither blinked nor breathed, his gaze so intent that he might have been touching her.
Even as she felt a desire to cross the floor to his side, Aileen understood instinctively that this man was dangerous. A thousand prickles raced over her flesh and her color rose hotly. She held her ground but still she could not demurely look away.
"I heard that his own peregrines are trained to hunt men," the first maid whispered. "That they tear out the very hearts of their prey, and that when he looses them from Inverfyre's towers, the skies turn dark with their many wings."
"Fool! It is the eyes of his enemies that the birds devour!"
The corner of the Hawk's lips quirked, offering Aileen the barest ghost of what might have been a smile. He could not have heard the nonsense repeated by the maids, for he was too far away, but his expression was so knowing that she wondered. Her heart thumped with painful vigor, yet still she could not avert her gaze.
He savored her predicament, her awareness of him, her inability to behave as she should. Aileen knew this. Indeed, the air seemed to crackle between them, as if they were old adversaries met again.
But they were not. Aileen had never met this man before. All the same, she was not some shy maiden unafraid to speak her thoughts. Aileen lifted her chin and held his gaze with defiance, even as the rumors of his deeds echoed around her, and his smile broadened ever so slightly.
Perhaps he savored his own dark repute.
Perhaps he did not care about her own reputation. Aileen's pulse quickened at the prospect.
"You know, of course, that he is the spawn of a family who made their livelihood in the theft and sale of religious relics," the first maid clucked.
"Unholy vermin!" breathed the second, though her tone was not as scathing as it could have been. "I heard that his desires cannot be denied."
They giggled together at this morsel. "His blade purportedly cannot be turned aside," continued the first, "and he refuses to be denied whatsoever he seeks."
"Yet he cringes from no deed, no matter how foul, if it will see him sated." The maids sighed in unison and Blanche's dark brows arched high with interest.
Why had the Hawk come to Abernye? Aileen had a dark premonition in that breathless moment, though her good sense dismissed the possibility with ease. No men came to her father's hall to hunt her hand any longer. He must be making a jest by feigning fascination with her, the icy daughter of the Laird of Abernye.
That realization made it simple for Aileen to turn away, even as her wretched heart sank. The Hawk's companions laughed loudly and she was convinced it was at her expense.
Aileen knew that she was old for a maiden, she was tall, she was plain of face, she was outspoken. She knew that she had recoiled from a man's kiss too often for her distaste to not be noted. She had had her faults so oft recounted that she knew them as well as a clerk knows the debts in his accounts.
The Hawk was cruel beyond belief to mock her in her father's hall. Aileen added "rude" to the list of his dubious attributes and fairly marched in her haste to reach the far end of the high table. She would sit away from the viper her father had been so foolish as to wed, she would eat with haste and then retire.
The pair of Blanche's women nudged each other as Aileen passed, no doubt noting her high color. "So, even your frosty womb can still recognize a man," the first maid whispered with a malice that made the other cackle.
"Do not set your ambitions so high, dear Aileen, lest you die of disappointment," added the second. They laughed together, these two evil old crones, though Aileen gave them a look so sharp it might have left a bleeding wound.
Her father's new wife, of course, did not defend her from her servants' insolence. Stepdaughter and stepmother had long past dispensed with pleasantries and Aileen tried to avoid any discussion with her father's new bride.
She felt compelled to be polite, though Blanche did not apparently feel the same obligation. Aileen had no doubt that Blanche would have had her cast from the gates if that lady had not feared that the laird himself might object.
Aileen was not certain he would. Her father was so smitten that it seemed Blanche could not err in his estimation.
"Our guest had best sit directly beside me," Blanche said smoothly, stroking the spot Aileen's father usually occupied.
Aileen halted, shocked that her stepmother would be so bold. She knew she should leave the matter be, but guessed that her father would not protest such an uncommon breach of protocol. "Father will be displeased by such uncommon arrangements," she said simply, though she longed to say more.
Blanche smiled with a confidence that made Aileen's blood boil. "He will not deny my will."
"But surely a laird should be shown respect in his own hall?" Aileen demanded. "Surely it would be unwise to show such a warm welcome to a man of such dark repute, especially when his mission here is unclear?"
Blanche sniffed, her gaze cold. "When I have need of your counsel, Daughter, I shall ask for it."
Aileen let her gaze drop to Blanche's slender waist. They were nigh the same age, daughter and second bride. "You surely know as I do, Blanche, that you are not my mother in truth."
"Unfortunately for you," Blanche whispered, her accent suddenly more pronounced. "For you are burdened with, how do you say, the taint of your mother's blood."
"She possessed no taint!"
Blanche's dark eyes narrowed and she might have said something vicious, but Aileen's father cleared his throat, revealing his unexpected proximity. He halted behind his wife, looking hale and hearty for all his years. Blanche turned one of her honeyed smiles upon him and Aileen was disappointed to see how her father fairly glowed.
"What is this I hear of you seating our guest at your very side?" Aileen's father asked, his manner genial as ever. Aileen was certain, however, that she could detect a similar uncertainty in their guest's motives.
Her father had taught her when to be suspicious, after all.
"One would not wish to insult such a powerful guest, Nigel," Blanche cooed. When Aileen's father did not immediately agree, Blanche dropped her voice beguilingly. "You may be certain that I will offer compense for your inconvenience later, my lord." She ran a fingertip up his arm and licked her lips so overtly that Aileen felt obliged to glance away. The maids giggled.
The Lord of Abernye flushed. "Of course, Blanche. Whatsoever you desire is my will." He ceded to his new wife's demand as readily as that, much to Aileen's disgust, looking more like a besotted boy than a man of fifty summers. Her father was a large and genial man, increasingly cursed to see the good in the hearts of others at the expense of being blind to their flaws.
Blanche stood testimony to that.
Aileen addressed her own toe, driven by this exchange to remind her father of all he had once claimed to believe. "Forgive me, Father, but I am confused. Is it so that even if your guest comes with no stated intent or invitation, even if he travels beyond far for no apparent purpose, even if he is the most dreaded man in Christendom, Blanche must not be denied her whim in courting his favor?"
Blanche granted Aileen a look fit to curdle milk.
"Aileen, you see danger in no more than shadows," her father said heartily. "A man's repute is not the fullness of him."
"It was you who counseled me that smoke oft warns of a flame," Aileen reminded him quietly and her father had the grace to color.
"This is not the same, Aileen ..."
Aileen continued, feeling a strange compulsion to warn her father. She could not dismiss the sense of foreboding she had had when she held the Hawk's gaze. "Father, this man, rumored to be both violent and reclusive, has ridden across all of Scotland to visit Abernye, unannounced and uninvited. Why? He is neither liege nor vassal to you, his lands do not abut ours, and further, the spring weather is unruly."
Aileen heard her voice rise slightly in the face of her father's discomfiture and Blanche's resolve. "You do not hunt, so he cannot be seeking trade for his famed peregrines. You have naught that such a man might wish to buy and no associations held in common. I find his presence most suspicious, even if you do not, and I do so by the lessons you yourself taught to me!"
Aileen felt a sudden heat at her back and her heart sank to her toes. The false welcome that claimed her father's expression and the sudden brightness of Blanche's eyes told her more than she wished to know.
A man touched the back of her waist with a heavy fingertip and she stiffened in outrage at his familiarity. Aileen knew, she knew who stood there, and she knew too that he had overheard every word of protest she had uttered.
"I see that my reputation has preceded me," the Hawk murmured for her ears alone and Aileen felt herself flush scarlet at the intimacy of his tone.
Worse, she liked the low rich timbre of his voice and dared not glance in his direction when he stood so close behind her. She strove to give every appearance of ignoring him, though her flesh was all a-tingle. She would be scolded later for her rudeness, she knew it well, though in this moment she wished she might simply disappear.
Sadly, she could not flee, not with the weight of the Hawk's fingers on her back. His touch seemed to sear her flesh, even through the thick woolen kirtle that she wore.
"Good evening, Laird of Abernye," the Hawk said, seemingly untroubled that Aileen ignored him. His words were uttered slowly as if he pondered the import of each word-or sought to beguile his audience. "I am most honored by your hospitality to myself and my companions."
Instead of demanding a reason for the Hawk's arrival, Aileen's father smiled like a fool. "A Christian host cannot do enough for a guest." He inclined his head slightly. "I apologize for my daughter. She is cursed to be outspoken."
Before the Hawk could reply-if indeed he had any intent of doing so-Blanche summoned his attention to herself. "Bienvenue, monsieur," she said, offering her hand with the coy gesture Aileen so despised.
The Hawk stepped forward to bend over Blanche's hand, Aileen's back chilling when his hand was lifted away. "Enchanté," he murmured, his accent perfect to Aileen's rustic ears.
Aileen eyed him covertly, reluctantly acknowledging that he was more handsome close at hand. The hard planes of his features seemed softer when she could see the glint in his eye.
She took a step back, hoping to ease away, but the Hawk's hand landed upon her elbow so surely that she was halted in place.
Blanche smiled and, typically, her accent became more evident as she sought to charm. "S'il vous plaít, you must sit with me. It is not often that we have guests from afar, and I know that I shall savor the tales of your adventures." She patted the place to her right.
Excerpted from The Warrior by Claire Delacroix Copyright © 2004 by Claire Delacroix, Inc.. Excerpted by permission.
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.
Table of Contents
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
The third book in the Rogues of Ravensmuir takes place 18 years after the first two books, and focuses on Gawain and Evangeline's son, Michael, known as Hawk. Hawk returned to Inverfyre to reclaim his mother's lands and waged war for 18 years. On his arrival he meets Adaira, the old hag who aided Evangeline. There is a lot of history between the souls of Adaira and Hawk. Adaira dies in his arms and 18 years later he still can't forget her words or the visions she shared with him. When he lays eyes on Aileen, his soul recognizes her for who she truly is, his soul mate and Adiara reborn (also Anne, and every other reincarnation that she has taken since their love began). Without going into too much details on the back story of the two main characters, Michael, Hawk, pretty much kidnaps her and forces her into marriage. Not the best way to start a life together even if they are drawn to each other from the moment they lay eyes on each other. Her developing visions, his doubts about whether he can truly trust her or anyone so close to the final battle to win Inverfyre, and their burgeoning understanding that their souls have lived many lives all ending the same way--with one betraying the other and their chance at a happy ever after lost yet again for another life time, blend into a story that is hard to put down. I really looked forward to reading this one, the whole concept of two souls joined forever yet never truly succeeding in being together was intriguing. It didn't disappoint and it definitely didn't hurt that Aileen isn't some meek push over. She stands up and fights for what she wants when she realizes that it is up to her to win Hawk and prove to him that he can trust her. Very enjoyable. I loved it. I was given a complimentary copy of this book by the author.
The Warrior is book three of the rogues of Ravensmuir. Why it is book three of this trilogy I can't guess as it has nothing to do with Ravensmuir. Be that as it may our hero Michael Lammerguier more commonly called the Hawk is finally claiming his birth right Inverfyre. Lady Aileen of Abernye is our heroine, she is very young and unsophisticated but some how aware of her destiny. She gives in to the Hawks kisses and finds herself married and gone from her home before she can think. Some say she is mad like her Mother because when she is with the Hawk she sees/lives the past and tries to understand/explain it with poor results because the Hawk is having none of it. Even though he feels/sees the same visions of the past. This story has many things going on at once: lots of fighting, some paranormal stuff, lust, sex, love, betrayal, intrigue and of course a happy ever after. This is an interesting story that does not heavily depend on the two previous books for background. A trilogy that is part of a series is always best read in order and I am recommending you read the full story of the Lammergeiur family which starts with the Rogues of Raqvensmuir that leads to the Jewels of Kinfairlie and continues with The True Love Brides. ALL well worth the read! Copy gifted by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
This was a very well-written, enjoyable book! In early 15th century Scotland, The Hawk has come to Inverfyre to reclaim his inheritance, stolen by a rival clan. When he meets Aileen of Abernye he recognizes that she is his destined bride. They kiss, and she has inexplicable visions and becomes sure the two of them are reincarnated and have known and loved each other in previous lives. Their courtship, and how they come to understand what they are to each other, as well as The Hawk's efforts to bring peace to his property and people, was fascinating to read. I couldn't put the book down. The Warrior can be read as a stand-alone story, though it is the third in a three-book series. The previous two books provide some background information. Copy gifted by the Publisher in exchange for an honest review.
"The Warrior" is the story of Michael and Aileen. I liked how the characters developed throughout the story. Michael was able to grow to accept things that he refused to believe were true, but learned that there was more to his life than he knew. Aileen was able to grow and develop aspects of her character throughout the story. Aileen also developed much more strength and confidence. I enjoyed reading about these two finding themselves and each other. Copy gifted by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Absolutely wonderful..highly recommend
The sample for this book is one sentence long.
See the comment from the rogue ... the book when purchased exhibits only blank pages. Warning will robinson, danger, danger.
I love this final sequel of Ms. Delacroix's!!! The Hawk and Aileen are amazing star-crossed lovers that will last forever! I also enjoyed their biting wordplays with one another as they eventually fall for what neither of them can deny! I also loved the second characters, the cunning romance between Nissa and Ahearn are sweet and touching. Ahearn's mischief and Nissa's affection for him are a perfect complement to the main characters. It is easy to see how this is a fitting ending to one of the best romance trilogies I have read in a long time!! The best part was how Ms. Delacroix allowed the characters from her previous books, 'The Rogue' and 'The Scoundrel' to once again grace the final book! Ms. Delacroix's enticing phrases in all her books is definitely not lost here..!