Wolf Bride

Wolf Bride

by Elizabeth Moss

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Overview

"...full of sexual tension and political intrigue... For a terrific historical romance with a couple who can't keep their hands off each other, this is perfect."—RT Book Reviews

Set against the extravagant backdrop of the scandal-ridden Tudor Court, lady-in-waiting Eloise Tyrell learns the meaning of true passion—and danger—in this deliciously erotic novel, perfect for fans of Philippa Gregory and Sylvia Day.

Lord Wolf, hardened soldier and expert lover, has come to King Henry VIII's court to claim his new bride: a girl who has intrigued him since he first saw her riding across the Yorkshire moors.

Eloise Tyrell, now lady-in-waiting to Queen Anne Boleyn, has other ideas. She has no desire to submit to a man she barely knows and who—though she is loath to admit it—frightens her more than a little.

Their first kiss awakens in both a fierce desire that bares them to the soul. But as the court erupts into scandal around the ill-fated Queen, Eloise sees firsthand what happens when powerful men tire of their wives...

Lust in the Tudor Court series:
Wolf Bride (Book 1)
Rebel Bride (Book 2)
Rose Bride (Book 3)

Praise for Erotic Romances by Elizabeth Moss:
"Fifty Shades of Tudor sex." —The Sunday Times
"For a terrific historical romance with a couple who can't keep their hands off each other, this is perfect."—RT Book Reviews
"Infused with political intrigue, royal pageantry, infidelity, scandal, historical authenticity, romance and love, this story brings yesteryear to life while heating up the pages and fascinating readers."—Romance Junkies

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781492613824
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Publication date: 05/05/2015
Series: Lust in the Tudor Court , #1
Pages: 336
Sales rank: 780,158
Product dimensions: 7.90(w) x 5.20(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

Elizabeth Moss is the author of several historical romance novels, including Lavinia in Love, The Earl and His Tiger, and A Most Dangerous Lady. She also writes award-winning fiction as Victoria Lamb. Elizabeth lives with her husband and five children in South West England. Visit her at elizabethmossfiction.com.

Charlotte Anne Dore has been recording audiobooks since 2011, most of which have been historical romances. She has worked in film and television, but she mostly works in live theater and performance, with a focus on historical reenactments, ghost tours, mystery shows, and storytelling.

Read an Excerpt

Wolf Bride


By Elizabeth Moss

Sourcebooks, Inc.

Copyright © 2015 Elizabeth Moss
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4926-1383-1


CHAPTER 1

January 1536, Greenwich Palace, near London

The soft giggling from within the queen's chambers could be heard all the way along the corridor to the gardens. If they were caught, Eloise thought, the penalty would be death. Lady Margaret might be standing guard at the door to the west wing, against the king's approach, but there could be no secrets at court. Already the courtiers were whispering of the queen's infidelities, though discreetly, not in so many words, fearing the king's anger if the news should come to his ears.

Eloise had been sent to the queen's privy chamber with a pure white ermine mantle to guard Her Majesty against the cold. Now she did not know whether to knock and risk the queen's anger at being disturbed, or go back to the bedchamber with her mission undischarged.

With the queen's fur mantle draped over her arm, Eloise flattened herself against the wall and peered through a crack in the ancient oaken door. She had hoped the rumors were not true, or that the gossipmongers had exaggerated. Yet what she saw was enough to condemn the queen twice over.

Radiant in a billowing gown of yellow silk, Queen Anne was sitting on a man's knee beneath the casement window. The man was Sir Henry Norris, one of the king's own Gentlemen of the Chamber. His arm was tight about her waist. She was protesting, but with a smile on her face.

"Your lap is too hard for a lady's comfort, Sir Henry. Let me down before you do me some mischief!"

"I have never heard you complain before that a man was too hard, Anne."

The queen laughed, leaning back against him. Her slim white throat was adorned with pearls, a strand of wayward hair peeping out from under her black velvet hood.

"I do not know why I allow you to speak to me in such an insolent fashion, Sir Henry."

"Do you not?" he murmured in her ear, and Eloise saw the hand at the queen's waist slip upward, cupping her breast in an openly possessive gesture.

Queen Anne gasped, and slapped his hand away. "One of these days ..." she began warningly.

"One of these days you will go too far, Norris, and find yourself out of all favor," a deep male voice finished for her, and the queen looked up, smiling gratefully.

There was another man in the chamber, Eloise realized. She watched this man kneel before the queen and jolted with horror, recognizing him from his profile.

Sir Thomas Wyatt, a gentleman of courtly disposition, and a poet of great wit and intelligence. Surely he too was not involved in the queen's dangerous inner circle?

Sir Thomas had always seemed so well mannered and quietly spoken. Eloise refused to believe he was one of those ambitious courtiers who surrounded Anne like hungry dogs whenever the king was absent.

Wyatt was murmuring, "Forget Norris's insolence, and permit me to amuse you instead, my sweet lady." His hand brushed Anne's cheek, an intimate touch which suggested they were more than mere friends. Certainly if the king had been present, that touch alone would have earned them both a pass to the grim Tower of London. "Do you have some small token I could borrow? A jewel, perhaps?"

Anne looked deep into Wyatt's eyes. Then she smiled, slipping a large emerald ring off her finger. It glittered greenly in the sunlight. "The king gave me this as a gift at New Year," she confided. "Will it do?"

"It is perfect." Wyatt's voice seemed to waver, becoming husky. "Like its wearer."

"Will it be returned to me soon? I do not begrudge it to you, Sir Thomas, but the king may notice its absence."

"You may have it back if you can find it, Your Majesty." Sir Thomas Wyatt hid the ring behind his back. "If you cannot find it," he murmured, "I will be forced to claim a forfeit from you."

Watching through the crack in the door, Eloise saw him shift the ring from one hand to the other. Then he presented both closed fists to the queen.

"A challenge?"

Queen Anne gurgled with teasing laughter, still seated with indecent intimacy on Norris's lap. She leaned forward to choose, her bosom on show, then hesitated a moment, biting her lip as though in doubt. Her wavering hand hovered first above one fist, then the other.

With a sudden lightning stab, she chose the left hand. "That one!"

Sir Thomas turned his hand over. His palm was empty. Queen Anne gave a little cry of disappointment.

"You were unlucky this time, Your Majesty," the poet murmured. "For if you had chosen the right hand ..."

Slowly, he opened his other hand; the emerald ring was nestled there, gleaming. Before she could snatch it back, Wyatt clenched his fist again.

"A kiss," he reminded her softly.

The queen's eyes widened, and a tiny ripple of fear seemed to move through her countenance. She did not refuse him though. Sir Henry Norris made some small noise of protest but Anne ignored him, leaning forward with her gaze on Wyatt's face. At that moment she looked like a woman dazed, unable to resist the temptation before her.

Eloise stared too, unable to believe her eyes. Surely the poet would not dare kiss the queen on the lips?

The sound of running feet in the corridor made Eloise turn, springing back guiltily from the door.

She had only meant to peep through for a moment, but had found herself caught by the scene before her. Now it seemed to her that the rumors of infidelity might be true after all. If the queen was flirting with courtiers like this behind King Henry's back, it might have gone beyond kissing with one or two of them.

Eloise shuddered. The horror of what might happen to Queen Anne when the king discovered the truth did not bear thinking about.

It was Lady Margaret, a few years her senior and already one of the queen's most trusted ladies-in-waiting, who had interrupted her. Margaret was agitated, holding up her gown to run, her cheeks flushed, her unbound hair flying about her face.

"Out of my way, girl!" she gasped, pushing Eloise aside. "The king is coming! The king is coming!"

But she had been heard from within. A second later, the door to the queen's privy chamber was flung open. Flushed and with her eyes sparkling, Queen Anne stood on the threshold. She pulled in her jeweled skirts to let Norris and Wyatt pass, ushering them out of her private quarters.

"Hurry!" she whispered, watching as the courtiers slipped down a shadowy side corridor that led out to the queen's privy garden.

"Where are my ladies?" she demanded, turning to Margaret.

"In the rose chamber, Your Majesty."

"Quickly, then," Queen Anne insisted, hurrying along the corridor into the rose chamber. With deliberate dignity, she seated herself near the fireplace. Her color was high, yet she did not seem too discomposed by the king's sudden arrival. The sound of men's voices could be heard in the corridor now. "Fetch me that embroidery."

While Anne set a few lopsided stitches into her embroidery frame, Lady Margaret bent over her mistress, whispering urgently in her ear.

"Henry will suspect nothing if we can only keep our heads," the queen replied sharply.

"Yes, Your Majesty."

The flustered lady-in-waiting tidied Anne's black velvet hood, pulling back her hair so her slender neck — so admired by King Henry in the early days of their courtship — could be more clearly seen. Anne sat straight in the chair, gazing down upon her embroidery with apparent absorption, her sallow cheeks lit with a blush which was already fading.

Her chief women, who had been lounging at their ease on velvet cushions strewn across the floor, rose in a whisper of silk at the king's approach and arranged themselves about the queen's chair.

Eloise hurried into line with the other maids of honor, shaking out the crumpled folds of her court gown. Hers was made of yellow taffeta, for they had all been instructed to wear yellow that month, in celebration of the death of old Queen Katherine, who had been the king's wife before Anne.

Eloise had only come to court a few years before, a northern girl with little taste for court life. To her father's relief, the new queen had seemed willing to accept her as a maid of honor, where the old queen, Katherine of Spain, had not been interested. Even so, Eloise was not blinded by gratitude. She did not think it wise of the queen to risk her husband's displeasure in this dangerous way, flirting with his courtiers behind his back.

She could almost understand Anne's flirtation with Sir Thomas Wyatt, who was a poet and stirringly handsome. But not Norris, an older courtier whose appearance and manners were far less appealing. Besides, her position was already dangerous. It was rumored that the king was growing bored of his new wife, even though he had disrupted all of England — and even split with the Holy Roman Church — to divorce Katherine and marry Anne instead. There were whispers that he was looking elsewhere for a wife, and all because Anne had failed to bear him a son and heir.

Perhaps the queen had fallen in love with Wyatt, Eloise reasoned. That would explain her flirtatious behavior. A woman in love must follow her heart.

But could Her Majesty be in love with two men at once?

The door to the queen's apartments was flung open, and King Henry entered the room, accompanied by Sir Thomas Cromwell, one of the most feared and hated men in the country.

All the ladies sank to the floor as the king entered, their heads bowed, and Eloise followed suit.

Rising on his command, Eloise glanced at the king with sudden apprehension. Would he speak to her again today?

Although her family was too obscure to make her an eligible match, the king's eye had lighted on her more than once in the three years since she had come to court. But then King Henry seemed to study all the queen's younger ladies with interest, admiring their figures and their hair, their dancing and their features, as though weighing up each one as a potential companion for his bed.

Indeed, King Henry had taken more than one lady-in-waiting as his mistress since his marriage, much to Anne's fury.

Yet what could the queen do but accept her humiliation? Henry was the king, and the king's word was law.

Anne had risen too, and was curtsying to her royal husband. He raised her, kissing her hand in a leisurely fashion. It made Eloise wonder how he had wronged the queen this time, for he was rarely courteous toward his wife these days.

"How is your head today, Anne? Still aching?" His sharp eyes slipped to her belly, a little rounded under the stiff yellow-gold gown. "And how is my son?"

Anne muttered some polite reply, but the king did not seem to be listening. His hungry gaze was already roving the room. Soon it found Eloise.

His Majesty came forward, smiling indulgently at Eloise. One hand stroked his neatly trimmed beard, the other rested on his hip, where the heavy folds of his richly embroidered suit hid his liking for sweetmeats.

"You keep so many maids of honor, Anne, I cannot number them all. What is this pretty thing's name?" Cromwell came forward to murmur discreetly in his ear. The king nodded. "Ah, Eloise. I remember now. A sweet young maid from the North Riding."

She curtsied very low, though his lascivious attentions made her skin crawl. "Your Majesty honors his poor servant too much."

"Where such an honor is deserved, it can never be too much." The king seized her hand as she rose, kissing her fingertips, his touch lingering on her skin. She did not know where to look, so stared at his vast doublet, the contrast of red velvet beneath the slashed yellow sleeves, and the ornate gold chain that hung about his neck. "Your father has come back to court at last. Have you spoken with him yet?"

Eloise was startled. "My father is here?"

Sir Thomas Cromwell came to the king's elbow again, his sallow face expressionless. "Your Majesty? I believe the queen wishes to speak with you about the arrangements for your forthcoming tournament."

Gently and with due reverence, Cromwell steered the king back toward his wife, then turned to look on Eloise thoughtfully.

"Your father, Sir John, has returned to court in the company of his neighbor, Baron Wolf," Sir Thomas told her coolly.

It was clear to Eloise that the king's chief minister did not wish Henry to become too interested in her. For this intervention, Eloise was most grateful. She herself took no pleasure in the king's flattery, but knew that it would be just as dangerous to spurn it as accept it. They said he had hunted Anne Boleyn in the same persistent way before she gave in and became his mistress, refusing to believe any woman would not please her king by lying with him, virgin or not.

"I believe your father intends to make a match between you and Lord Wolf, and has come to beg the king's blessing on your impending marriage," Cromwell continued. "For myself, I trust it will be a happy and fruitful union."

She blanched. "My ... my marriage?"

But Sir Thomas Cromwell had already moved on, having not heard — or tacitly ignored — her question. For King Henry was not speaking with his wife according to his intention, having spotted Jane Seymour instead amongst the queen's ladies. He was now eyeing Jane in such a lewd fashion it brought color to that lady's cheeks, though she did not seem reluctant to receive his attentions. Cromwell did not interfere, but watched them carefully. It was no secret that he disliked Anne. Perhaps he hoped the king would push her away in favor of Jane Seymour if this new pregnancy ended in yet another miscarriage.

Eloise did not hear another word that was said until King Henry had left the queen's apartments, for she could not quite believe what Sir Thomas Cromwell had told her.

She remembered Lord Wolf from her childhood; a grim, disagreeable old man, he had been forever in a bad temper because his son was either away serving the king on campaign or else plaguing his heart out with his dissolute ways.

Surely her father could not expect her to marry such a man? Lord Wolf must be nigh on sixty years of age, and thrice widowed already.

"I must speak with Simon at once," she muttered, taking her friend Bess aside while the other maids gathered excitedly about the queen to discuss the king's visit. "If Her Majesty asks where I am, will you tell her I am unwell and have retired to bed?"

"Of course." Bess looked concerned though, following her to the door. She was a sweet-natured girl, but biddable, and did not approve of Eloise's secret meetings with Simon. "But do nothing rash, Eloise. If your father has arranged a marriage for you, it is pointless to pursue Simon. He is a younger son and has no hope of providing for you."

"Wealth is not everything," Eloise said hotly. "We love each other, and that is all that matters."


* * *

Simon was her most perfect man. Dark-eyed, fair-haired, he might not be a knight, or set to inherit a vast fortune, but he was handsome and clever, and always knew how to make her smile again when she was unhappy. Only a year apart in age, they had been more like brother and sister when she first came to court, but in the past year, things had grown more serious between them, until Eloise found she was quite in love with him. His quiet humility was what she admired most about Simon. Although his father was a baron, he did not strut about like the other young men at court. The youngest of five sons, he was largely ignored by his father, so came and went as he pleased, and had wooed her with a gentle patience which she found deeply pleasing.

After sending him a note, Eloise hurried to their favorite meeting place, a small privy garden on the north wing of the palace. It was a beautiful spot in any season, though she preferred it in spring, with the flowers just opening their buds. Today, the January weather was chill and sunny, no wind but a slight bloom of frost on the flagstones as she swept through the cloisters, her yellow gown raised slightly to avoid soiling the hem.

To her relief, Simon soon appeared, ducking his head as he passed through the arched doorway to the cloisters.

"Eloise!" Simon clasped her hands, kissing them as the king had done earlier, though now she thrilled at the warm lips against her skin. "You look flushed. Are you in trouble with the queen again? I have warned you not to be so free with your speech. She will not tolerate impertinence, even less now that she and the king are so estranged."

"My father has come to court," she told him urgently, "and intends to offer me as a bride to Lord Wolf."

Simon nodded. "Yes, I have seen Sir John."

"You have seen my father?" She stared. "Have you spoken with him?"

"Not spoken, no. But I saw him with Lord Wolf only this morning." Simon shrugged. "They say King Henry has given his blessing on the match. The queen may not wish to release you from her service, for she dislikes it when her maids are wed. But she will bow to the king's will in the end."


(Continues...)

Excerpted from Wolf Bride by Elizabeth Moss. Copyright © 2015 Elizabeth Moss. Excerpted by permission of Sourcebooks, Inc..
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