This blog is to keep my readers updated about my forthcoming historical romance books and to tell you a little bit about the history behind each one. I hope you enjoy reading it and feel free to comment.
promised to Lord Christopher," Felice repeated for the third time. She was
growing impatient, having spent the last hour or so going over the same ground,
repeating the same argument."It makes
no difference how many times you declare your disapproval, how many unlikely
schemes you invent to lure me away.The
promises our fathers made can no longer be honoured.You have to accept that, Thomas, and wish me
Lindsay frowned and shook his head slowly, reluctant to accept the inevitable.
love me," he insisted.
never said that I love you," she argued with an impatient sigh.
pledged to each other from the cradle," he said."We have grown up knowing that one day
we would marry.Does that mean
not mean that I love you," she said."It means that at the time a prospective marriage between our two
families was advantageous.Things have
changed since then; your father broke the betrothal agreement because I no
longer have a dowry and you do not have the means to save my father from his
own folly.Lord Christopher does and he
will keep his word. It would disgrace him to see his wife's family degraded, or
do you doubt that he is a man of his word?"
said Thomas reluctantly. "I have heard that he is, in fact.But he has other reputations which are not so
noble.I am also suspicious as to why he
would part with so much of his wealth to marry you."
at him in astonishment.It was hard to
believe that all her life she had been content with the idea of marrying this
man, when he could make such a remark.He had gone down in her estimation this evening, to come here with his
meaningless schemes to persuade her to renege on her promise to marry a wealthy
and powerful man, when he had nothing better or even equal to offer in return.If she had loved him, as he seemed to believe,
he would be causing her great distress, but that had obviously not occurred to
"I am sure
you did not intend to insult me with that remark," Felice commented
archly."Is it so unbelievable that
a man might give a fortune to win my hand?"
man might; I most certainly might, but not him, not Lord Christopher. He cannot
love you; he is incapable of love."Thomas paused for a moment, looking hopefully at her, while she studied
his face, wondering if he really believed that."Did you know that his first wife died in childbirth and he had so
little respect for her that he did not even give her a proper burial.She lies in a pauper's grave in the village
churchyard, no memorial stone, nothing to mark her passing but a rough, wooden
Felice felt her
heart sink, not only at this new tale but that Thomas would tell her such a
thing, even should it prove to be true.Surely she was better off not knowing.
come here tonight deliberately to frighten me?"She asked him.
"I came in
the hope of persuading you to run away with me.I can give you a comfortable life."
cannot pay my father's debts, you cannot restore my family's reputation,"
she argued."My father's creditors
have been kept at bay with the promise of this marriage, a promise made to them
by Lord Christopher himself.You are
asking me to force him to break his word, which I have heard he holds in high
regard.How do you expect he will react
reluctant to answer that question.She thought
it likely that he,along with many
others, was afraid of her future husband, although he would never admit it.
any other man, I would not be so concerned," Thomas persisted.
"Besides, they are your father's creditors, not yours,"
She shook her
head in dismay.
is dear to me," she said firmly, "as is my family's good name.You are not dear to me."
dear enough before," he muttered.
Her eyes held
his for a moment, while she cursed him for coming here and unsettling her like
this, for bringing her tales of her bridegroom of which she would rather have
remained in ignorance.
content with my marriage plans before tonight," she said sadly."I was even happy to be marrying a man
who is kind enough to help us.Indeed, I
was looking forward to being a good wife to him, then you came here with tales
to frighten me.Now I know not what to
expect, now I am dreading what tomorrow may hold.I trust that satisfies you."
Lordship had the reputation of being ruthless, but that could not deter Felice.
Her alternative was to marry Thomas with
no dowry to support her should he die, and to leave her father to rot in
debtor's prison. Lord Christopher was all that stood between her family and
ruin and she was only grateful that he had noticed her in time to save them.
It was growing
dark in the small porch outside the house, and the autumn damp was closing in. She glanced down at the frayed hem of her
brocade gown and pulled her fur lined cloak closer about her shoulders; only
she knew how worn and thin was the fur inside.This cloak had belonged to her mother and she had died ten years
ago.Felice had but one wish now, and
that was for Thomas to go home and leave her in peace.
"You know no
more of him than I do," she said. "He is powerful and wealthy; that
is all either of us know about him.Anything else is mere rumour."
wife's grave in the village churchyard is not rumour," he replied."Go, see for yourself.Her name was Sonia and she should be resting
in the family vault with her predecessors, not in a grave no better than that of
the poorest peasant.And he is reputed
to be a violent man, controlled by his temper."
She had heard
that herself and people hereabouts did seem to fear him, but whatever his
temperament or his character, she had no choice.If she did not marry him, her father would
lose everything and she would not let that happen, not while it was within her
power to prevent it.
are not always justified," she remarked hopefully.
also reputed to keep a peasant woman who has his children.I hope you do not expect him to be
She looked sharply
at Thomas, not sure whether he was now inventing tales of his own.She had heard nothing of this peasant woman,
but the news came as no great surprise and made no difference to her
plans.Nothing could make a difference
to her plans.
"I do not
expect any man to be faithful, Thomas," she said calmly."It is not in their nature."
be faithful to you," Thomas insisted."I love you. You should not be bartering yourself for your father's
sake.Let him sort out his own
She stared at
him with contempt.How could anybody be
so ignorant as to make such a stupid remark?Whatever Lord Christopher's character might be, she was rather glad she
would not, after all, be marrying Viscount Lindsay.
thought for one moment that you really did love me, I would feel sympathy for
you.But you are only annoyed that you
have lost a possession, like a small child with his favourite toy.My father's problems are my problems," she
said firmly."Lord Christopher will
save him from debtor's prison and by so doing will save the good name of my
family.That is well worth bartering
myself for, as you so elegantly put it."
not give up.I have spent my life
expecting you to be my bride."
tomorrow I will be Lord Christopher's bride and you must look elsewhere.I am sorry, Thomas, but this is the way it
has to be."
She got to her
feet to indicate that the meeting was at an end, then turned to face him.
leave me alone now, Thomas.Tomorrow I
will be the Countess of Waterford, and I intend to make Lord Christopher a good
and faithful wife.I shall be grateful
if you will respect that and leave me alone."
realised how cold you could be, Felice," he persisted."You do not even know this man, you have
never once spoken to him, but you accept that you will be his wife without a
qualm.You will spend tomorrow night in
his bed. Do you think it is an accident that half the countryside fear him? He must have done something to earn that
needed him to tell her that.She knew
very well that he was a formidable and powerful man who struck terror into the
hearts of many, but all she could do was to be as good a wife as she could, and
hope he was not violent for violence sake.If he was, she was strong enough to live with it, strong enough to find
ways to appease him.
you say about him is true, it would not be safe for you to be seen with
"I am not
So typical, thinking
of himself as always.She knew nothing
about the man she was to wed, nothing whatever.All she knew were rumours, mostly spread by his enemies of which he
seemed to have many.She should be afraid
to marry such a man, but she feared penury more. As she walked to the door to her
father's manor house, she knew a little spark of gratitude for His Lordship.He was not only rescuing her father, he was
rescuing her from a marriage with a weak and selfish man who would put her
safety at risk to get his own way.
She turned back
to face him as she reached the door.
you suppose he will do to me if you continue to pursue me?" She said after
a few minutes thought. "Or does that not matter?"
Christopher gazed at his own reflection and sighed impatiently.
not think, Howard," he addressed his valet, "that this outfit is a
little flamboyant for my tastes.It is
too fancy; makes me look like an idiot."
Lord," Howard replied hesitantly, "it is your wedding day."
is special, is it?"
well that it is, My Lord."
work out too well the last time, did it?"Lord Christopher mumbled, wondering just why he allowed himself to speak
so intimately to this one particular manservant.Perhaps because the man had been with him all
his life and was the only one in his employ who was not terrified of him.
this marriage is worthy of you," Howard replied."I am sure Lady Felice will be a
better be," Christopher answered with a note of anger."If she is not, she will regret
shuddered, knowing that his master was not given to making empty threats.
adjusted his hat, squirming his neck to make the thing a little more
comfortable.He hated new clothes; they
were always so stiff and uncomfortable and he always made Howard wear them
before him, to make them looser and easier to wear.But Howard had talked him out of making him
wear his wedding suit before him; the man had the damned cheek to say it was
the wrong thing to do.Just as if
Christopher followed rules of etiquette, or rules of anything else for that
He had been half
heartedly looking for a suitable wife since his last one died, but he had so
far found no one he believed he could trust, not even the one he was to wed
this day.He had to marry someone, had
to attempt to sire an heir to his title and his estates, as there was no one
else and if he died childless the whole lot would go to the crown.Christopher believed that the crown had
enough money and he was not a great supporter of the present King.
He wanted to
help his bride's father for his own reasons; he did not like to see a fellow
earl degraded as it did nothing to support his own position.Lord Sutton had little left save his pride
and his daughter.The first made him
refuse Lord Christopher's attempt to pay off his debts; it seemed the man
regarded such an offer as charity and would make him feel more degraded than
his present circumstances.The second
was another matter.Lady Felice's long
standing betrothal to a young viscount had been dishonoured because her father
had gambled away her dowry, and despite her beauty and fine heritage, she had
received no offers since.It was
possible she would be grateful for Christopher's offer of marriage and such an
arrangement would satisfy her father, make him feel less of a charity case and
more like a nobleman arranging an advantageous marriage for his daughter in the
Christopher was surprised that Lord Sutton would not agree without his
daughter's agreement.He found that very
odd indeed, considering the marriage was his only hope of redemption.Lord Sutton obviously did not want his
daughter to marry Christopher, and he held no malice toward him for that.He knew his reputation was one that would
make the most indifferent father think twice about allowing a marriage with
him, and the pauper's grave in which he had buried his late wife did nothing to
dispel that reputation.
When Sonia had
died, people had thought it a disgrace that someone of his wealth and standing
should bury his countess in such a way.Of course, no one had the courage to tell him so, but he had his spies
and he did not miss the scowls that followed him wherever he went.None of it bothered him.He could have made his reasons public, but
why should he?It was nobody else's
concern and they could think whatever they liked.He knew the truth and that was enough for
Everyone of any
importance had been invited to this wedding and not a single one of them had
refused.Apart from being too curious to
stay away, none of them wanted Lord Christopher as an enemy.
Once he had
made his offer of marriage, he watched the house to catch a glimpse of the
woman who was to be his bride.He had
seen a portrait of her in Sutton Hall, but he had never before seen her in the
flesh, never seen that the porcelain complexion was not a mere brush stroke by
a clever artist, that the cornflower blue of her eyes was not simply an
imaginative touch on the part of that artist.She was beautiful, really beautiful, the sort of beauty that made people
turn their heads to watch her as she went past, the sort of beauty that made
both men and women catch their breath in awe.
He wanted to
present his bride with a fine piece of jewellery to mark the day, and had
refused to accept her father's word that his daughter would prefer simple
flowers.He thought perhaps Lord Sutton
felt Christopher had spent enough on them, and wanted to save him the extra
expense.But the man had been so
insistent, that he had given way and ordered the roses, while he also made sure
he had a precious stone to give her if she should be less than delighted.
He was marrying
this woman solely to persuade her father to take his money.Christopher smiled a little in amusement at
Lord?"Howard saw his smile in the
mirror and was quite taken aback.His
Lordship was not given to smiling.
servants brought the rose scented bathwater into Felice's bedchamber that
morning, she realised that this would be the last time she would awake in these
familiar surroundings.This bedchamber
had been hers since she was a small child and she had never slept anywhere else.Tonight she would sleep in Waterford castle, the home of Lord
Christopher; she would be his Countess and she could only hope that he would
treat her fairly.Thomas' tale about his
first wife and her pauper's grave made her shiver, but she could not afford to
was a frightening idea.She had never
spoken to the man, only seen him from across a crowded marketplace and for a
few minutes when he came to arrange the marriage with her father.She had no real idea what manner of man he
was, but tonight she was expected to share his bed and what else she did not
know.She was fairly sure that babies
were not made simply by sharing a bed with a man, but she could not imagine
what else one had to do.
Of course he
would want babies, sons.Why else would
a man like him marry at all?She still
had no idea why he had chosen her, but perhaps it was some perverse need to
control her father, Earl Sutton, who had squandered his fortune at thegaming tables and would face criminal charges
were it not for this earl who would pay off his debts and help him to begin
earning income from his estate once more.All that in return for the hand in marriage of his daughter.
Christopher could have any of the fine ladies who were available; he was an
important man who had the choice of many, so just why he had chosen Felice she
could not imagine.
She had made no
attempt to refuse this marriage.She had
agreed willingly, even eagerly, when her father had told her of the offer and
she had agreed with a sigh of relief that they would not be turned out in the
street after all.
Felice was a
proud woman, young though she was.She
knew her place in the world should be privileged and she could not avoid a
certain disappointment in her father for degrading them both in the eyes of the
world, as well as in her own eyes.She
was a person who would always be true to herself, no matter what the world
threw at her, and she had made a pledge to herself that she would do her best
to make Lord Christopher a good wife.She would endure anything to do so, if the need arose, but she would
prefer to win him over, to elicit some affection from him, if that were
This day her
blonde hair shone and she smelled of roses, her favourite perfume.There was a time when her father would send
for the flowers from Europe when they were out of season here in England, but no
more.Now he could not afford such
luxuries and she had not seen a fresh rose since the summer. Scenting the bathwater this morning had taken
the last of the dried flowers she had saved from then. She so wanted a bouquet of
roses for her wedding, but that was an extravagance too far.
Once she was dry,
her hair was brushed and dried before the fire and her servants proceeded to
dress her in the embroidered Chemise and white satin kirtle that Lord
Christopher had provided for her to wear. She tried to resist the need to feel the
cloth, to run her fingers over the fine fabric, smell its newness after all
this time of wearing patched up, tattered cloth, but the temptation was too
great.The satin was smooth and soft to
her touch, the chemise embroidered with delicate little pink roses especially
Over the kirtle
was a see through gown of cloth of gold which shimmered in the sunlight from
the window opening.Her father could not
even afford to provide her wedding clothes, and for that she was ashamed.But she bore him no malice. He had always
done his best for her, even after her mother's death when he failed to tell her
of the mess he was getting himself into.He had educated her, taught her to read, which was not something most
people could do, especially females.
If anything, on
closer scrutiny of Viscount Lindsay, she was grateful that she had the
opportunity to wed another man, even though all she knew of him was his
fearsome reputation. What she did know for certain was that men did not acquire
reputations like that of Lord Christopher by being weak and cowardly.
beautiful, My Lady," said the one maidservant they still kept. Lord Sutton
had freed all his serfs and servants or sent them off to work for other lords
when his plight became so dire, he could not longer afford to keep them. She had no wages, only her bed and board, and
she stayed out of loyalty to Felice and her father.Without her there would be no one.The servants who had brought her bath and
helped with her hair and dress had been sent by Lord Christopher, another
Lisa," she said softly. "You know I would really like you to come
with me.I shall ask Lord Christopher at
the first opportunity."
as though she felt a sudden chill.
very good of you, My Lady, but your father needs me."
"And?"Felice asked."There is more.Come; you
can tell me."
you every happiness with Lord Christopher, My Lady," Lisa replied pertly,
"but I am glad it is you who will share his bed tonight and not me."
laughed.So the rumours had found their
way into the servants' ears.It mattered
not.She was grateful, tremendously grateful.She loved her father too much to be anything
else and she was only pleased she could do something to help him.She would never show him anything but joy
over this marriage, no matter what it may hold in store for her.
known about Lord Christopher for most of her life, ever since his own father
had died when he was a very young man and he had succeeded to the title.She had seen him once across a market place
and thought him handsome, just the sort of man to whom she was attracted.She had heard tales of his ruthlessness but never
thought to think long about them.After
all, he was nothing to her, just a local earl and one who had more land and
more power than most.When she had been
told of his offer of marriage, she had been shocked at first, recalling the
rumours about him, but when she had given it some thought, that shock had
turned quickly to delight.Ruthless he
may be but he must have some goodness in him, or he would not be offering to
save her family, her father and she would always thank him for that.
She felt an ache
in her throat as she thought of the things that her bridegroom had provided,
things that should have been provided by her father and she felt grateful all
over again.She could hardly wait to get
to the church, to take her vows before God and put her life of poverty behind
her.She could hardly wait to restore
her father's pride and return him to his rightful place in the world, but most
of all she could hardly wait to get to know this man who would take her as his
bride.Ruthless and fearsome he may be,
but there was also a side to him that was extremely generous and kind to be
providing all these things, and that was the man she wanted to know.
There came a
gentle knock at the door and Lord Sutton opened it and stepped through.He wore a smile but she could see behind it,
see that he was holding on to an ache of his own.
beautiful," he whispered."You
look just like your dear mother on our wedding day.........except that she wore
the Sutton necklace which I no longer possess.You are the only possession I have left to give away, and I wish more
than anything I could give you to a worthier man."
earth do you mean?"She
protested."Lord Christopher is a
worthy man.He will make me a fine
husband and you will not have to worry any more."
She held out
her hand to him and he kissed it, then held on to it.
times, the tribe would choose their most beautiful virgin as a sacrifice to appease
their evil god. I feel as though that is exactly what I am doing, sacrificing my
most beautiful maiden to the evil god who is Lord Christopher."He paused and swallowed to keep his lips from
creasing up."I am so sorry, Felice.I wanted to give you so much but you have
been forced to break your betrothal to the Viscount and marry this fearsome stranger
to keep me from the punishment I am owed."
she said, taking his arm, "I cannot tell what the future will hold for me
now, but if there is one thing about this arrangement for which I am grateful,
it is that I will no longer be marrying Viscount Lindsay."
looked in surprise at his daughter.
you were fond of him," he commented.
I," she answered, "until last night, when he showed his true
colours.Do not fret about me,
Father.I am sure I will be perfectly
content with my new husband and my new home."She paused thoughtfully for a moment before
going on:"I can only hope that he
is perfectly content with his new wife."
"If he is
anything of a man, he will love you."
She took his
arm and they descended the stairs to the carriage that awaited, the carriage
sent by Lord Christopher.Her father
still kept a carriage, but it was old and unsafe, the paint peeling and the
wood rotten, certainly not fit for a noblewoman to arrive at her own wedding
As her father
opened the door, she saw on the seat a beautiful bouquet of white roses,
wrapped up in cloth of gold.She picked
it up tentatively, almost afraid it was an illusion which would vanish on first
contact.She read the note from her
bridegroom."Lovely though these flowers may be, they cannot overshadow the
beauty of my bride."
She gasped and buried
her face in the flowers.Her eyes met
her father's to see that he had turned his head away, once more ashamed that he
had not been able to provide them, that it had been left to this stranger who
was about to own them both.
have told him," she said softly."He could not have known about the roses unless you told him."
me if you had a particular jewel you preferred.I thought you would prefer the roses," he said."Was I right?"
She put her
arms around his neck and kissed his cheek.
you were, Father.Thank you."
Lord Christopher," he replied."I did not think he believed me."
the short journey to the village church with a little smile on her lips as she
buried her face in the sweet and half forgotten scent of the roses.
There were a
lot of people inside the church, all standing and watching her arrive, watching
her father lead her to the altar to be given to this handsome man who was to be
her husband. She wondered if any or all of them knew just why she was marrying
him, whether they knew of her father's shame and the thought made her flush
But she saw
that he was watching her and the look of admiration in his eyes was not lost on
her. He was so tall, Felice barely came up to his chest, and he was resplendent
in embroidered gold satin, with a matching ermine lined hat covering his dark
hair and a neatly trimmed dark beard.
fluttered a little as reality presented itself at last.She seemed to have been in a little trance
since Lord Christopher had made his offer, not really believing that it would
come to pass.But here she was and as she
drew close to him and her eyes met his, he gave her a smile that warmed her
for the roses, My Lord," she whispered as the priest appeared before
them.He gave a little bow of his head
in acknowledgement, then the ceremony proceeded.She understood no Latin, and neither did
anyone else in the church, yet she knew she was married at the end just the
She took his
arm and allowed him to lead her slowly through the churchyard to the lychgate,
to his waiting carriage. There were many people following them, wedding guests
as well as villagers come to watch, and Felice felt conspicuous as she walked
among them.Everybody was laughing and
smiling, except for one lone woman who stood outside the churchyard and looked
down at the wedding party from a hill in the distance.She wore rough linen and a peasant's cap
covered her hair, allowing only a few blonde tendrils to escape.She was not smiling; she looked angry, if
anything, and Felice recalled Thomas' tale of a peasant family.
her eyes away from the woman and glanced surreptitiously at the edge of the
churchyard where the poor had their final resting places.There she saw a pile of earth covered with
grass and a wooden cross with only the words Sonia and her child.
So it was
true.Her new husband, her very wealthy
and important new husband, had buried his first wife in a pauper's grave with
no respect and no remorse.Felice's
heart sank and she was suddenly filled with dread.What was the story behind Sonia's untimely
death that her husband had done that to her, with no respect for her memory, not
even a thought for the opinions of his peers?Felice could not even imagine what crime she had committed, but she
hoped it was not because she had failed to give him a healthy son and had not
survived to try again.That would be
callous in the extreme, but from what she had heard, he was quite capable of
such an act.