Title: A KNIGHT'S RANSOM
Genre: Adult, Historical Romance
Word count: 93,000
My main character’s most stressful relationship is...
Bernat’s most stressful relationship is with his new wife. She saved his life, true, but forced him to marry her. She’s penniless and probably with child and someone else’s son will now inherit Bernat’s estate. He’s been the subject of gossip and hated it. He’s also a spy, so being talked about makes him nervous. The circumstances of his wedding to Leona guarantee his marriage will be grist for the mill of court gossip for years. How is a man to woo his wife under such conditions?
Leona is the only survivor of an attack on a convent. When she discovers an English goddam hired the mercenaries that killed her mother, and continue to hunt her because of an inheritance in England, she disguises herself as a beggar and plots her vengeance. All she needs is the right man to give her entrée into the Prince of Wales’ court where the murderer hides.
Bernat is perfect for her plan. He’s a Gascon with ties to both France and England. He’s friendly with the Prince, he’s strong, loyal, and very, very desperate. The English believe he’s a French spy. With no money to pay the ransom for his life, he’s given a choice: marry Leona or face the headsman.
One gallows-wedding, too much wine, and a few drops of chicken blood later, Leona and Bernat are irrevokably wedded and bedded. Now they have to make a marriage. Everything is perfect but for one thing: they never expected to care for each other. When Leona’s enemy discovers her in Bordeaux, she has to tell Bernat everything—her identity, her past, her deception—and hope the love between them is strong enough to survive the revelations. Faced with the truth, Bernat has two choices: seek an annulment and save his family lands or risk his honor and his future to save the woman he loves.
First 250 words
Carbonne France, August 1362
He’d failed. On every level possible. Now he’d die without fortune. Without family. Without honor.
Bernat-Guilhem Rabain de Gavaudun knelt on the hastily built wooden scaffold and waited for the English commander to hand down his sentence. Despite the heat, a crowd had gathered in Carbonne’s large market square to witness the execution of a spy.
Damn Monington to the devil. Of all the English captains to capture him Monington was the least likely to listen.
He’d risked everything to spy on the French—his life, his honor, his family’s future—to gain the Prince of Wales’ favor. He had hoped that favor would translate into a wealthy bride, a bride with a dowry large enough to repair Gavaudun castle, dower his sister, and ensure his parents spent their years in comfort. His death meant there was no hope. No longer would the castle deter the French armies. Nor was there enough plate left to dower his sister into a modest convent, let alone find a husband. His impatience, his grand plan, had failed to rescue his family. Instead, it had destroyed them all.
His death on the scaffold, his execution as a traitor, would devastate his family.
On Monington’s orders the English and Gascon soldiers had stripped him of his armor, taken his sword, and bound him. His ribs ached where one of the bastards had kicked him. He supposed the enthusiasm of the English soldiers was a testament to his skill at infiltrating the French forces as a spy.