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Released Oct 27th, 2015
There is little hope for sanctuary in the midst of the tumultuous Scottish border wars, yet one woman may find safe refuge . . . in the arms of her sworn enemy . . .
Jennet Graeme has witnessed terrible tragedy during the many years of strife between the Scots and the English. As Scottish invaders plunder her convent sanctuary, she defiantly resists the blond warrior who claims her as his prize. But his brute strength is overpowering and Jennet is forced to ride with him through the lawless lands, tending to the wounded, protected and desired by a man she wants to hate . . . but cannot . . .
Sir Hacon Gillard is moved by Jennet’s compassion and mercy. As a loyal knight, he’s pledged fealty to his king’s command, even as he loses his heart to this remarkable woman. Merciless in combat . . . yet there burns within him a spark for something far beyond the heat of battle…
It was late when Hacon finally sought his bed, a sheepskin laid before the fire. Although he had not told Jennet outright that they would share that bed, he saw no surprise on her face, only annoyance, when he gestured for her to lie down. At least she showed no fear, he told himself as he unwrapped the thongs holding his cuarans in place and removed the rawhide boots. He was eager to feel her slender body curled up against him. Stripping down to his braies, he cynically eyed the sleeping child she had set between them.
“That game willnae work, lass,” he said, and decided her look of puzzled innocence was very well feigned.
“And what game is that, Sir Gillard?” She had not held out much hope of success in using the baby to keep him at a distance but was still annoyed that her ruse had failed so completely.
“Using this innocent bairn to keep me away. Put him on the other side of you.”
“Then he would be between me and the fire. That would be too dangerous.”
“Ah, is that the difficulty? Weel, ’tis easily solved. We will just change places. Slide over, lass.”
She inwardly cursed as she did as he commanded. Then the fear she had more or less kept at bay began to break the bonds she had placed upon it. She concentrated harder on quelling it. There was no way she could fight him. Not allowing him to see her fear was her only hope of retaining some shred of pride.
Closing her eyes tightly, she tried not to look at him. To her great self-disgust and consternation the man’s image was already etched clearly in her mind. It was impossible to understand, but she felt a hint of fascination mingled with her fear.
He was far too easy to look at, too pleasing to the eye. When he had started to take his clothes off, she should have looked away, but she had not been able to. He was all lean, hard muscle. A light triangle of blond curls, a shade darker than his pale hair, adorned his smooth, broad chest. It tapered into a thin line which disappeared into the top of his linen loincloth. His legs, lightly coated with hair, were long, attractively muscular, and excellently formed. His skin was a light golden tone, not as pale as she would have guessed. He was also remarkably free of the scars that men of battle tended to collect. There was one on his right thigh and one over the left half of his rib cage, but neither was very big or ugly.
A flaw would have been helpful, she thought as she felt him settle down beside her. She should be disgusted by the thought of lying with him, yet she was not, not really. A perverse part of her whispered that if rape was unavoidable, at least her abuser was not ugly or still carrying the stench of battle. It hinted an acceptance of her fate that chilled her.
She supposed the fact that he had not yet raped her, had not even struck her, made the threat too tenuous to seem real. It could be the only explanation for why she found herself wondering what Hacon would be like as a lover. She knew few women who got the chance to hold such a fine-looking man in their arms. She would not be a woman if she did not at least ponder what it would feel like. However, such complacency and curiosity could prove very dangerous in her situation. The man did not offer lovemaking but rape, not desire but defilement. She must not forget that.
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Hannah D. Howell is a highly regarded and prolific romance writer. Since Amber Flame, her first historical romance, was released in February 1988, she has published 25 novels and short stories, with more on the way. Her writing has been repeatedly recognized for its excellence and has "made Waldenbooks Romance Bestseller list a time or two" as well as was nominated twice by Romantic Times for Best Medieval Romance (Promised Passion and Elfking's Lady). She has also won Romantic Times' Best British Isles Historical Romance for Beauty and the Beast; and, in 1991-92 she received Romantic Times' Career Achievement Award for Historical Storyteller of the Year.
Hannah was born and raised in Massachusetts (the maternal side of her family has been there since the 1630's). She has been married to her husband Stephen for 28 years, who she met in England while visiting relatives, and decided to import him. They have two sons Samuel, 27, and Keir, 24. She is addicted to crocheting, reads and plays piano, attempts to garden, and collects things like dolls, faerie and cat figurines, and music boxes. She also seems to collect cats, as she now has four of them, Clousseau, Banshee, Spooky, and Oliver Cromwell.