Enjoy three fast-paced adventures of intrigue and treachery,
politics and passion, in 13th century England during the Barons’ War.
A WAR-TORN HEART
Book Two in The Barons’ War Trilogy:
Sometimes the most brutal violence isn’t found on the battlefield….
The fair and elegant Adele le Corbet suffers the same fate as her younger sisters as punishment for her involvement in a plot against the crown; she’s forced to marry a despicable King’s Man. But while her sisters are wed to noble, handsome men, Adele is put under the control of callow and cruel Walter of Evington, hardly more than a lad, but vicious and unprincipled beyond his years. This choice of groom makes no sense…until it becomes clear that Walter is to be the crown’s pawn. Under the pain of Walter’s unrelenting domination and brutality, there is little Adele can do to counteract her husband’s scheming. She instead must struggle with every ounce of her will to keep her spirit strong. A further shock stuns her when a former ally becomes an enemy and involves her in a dangerous plot—perhaps the abuse which will break her. Her only salvation lies with one Irish knight’s ability to show her that gentleness truly can exist in a man’s arms.
Sometimes redemption can be found in a man’s own heart….
Irishman Ruairí Breathnach has secretly been in love with Adele le Corbet ever since she brought him back from the verge of death with her healing hands. She’s earned a place in his mind as an angel—one who can surely heal the tormented reaches of his soul, as well. When an unexpected twist of fate allows him to claim her as his wife, he jumps at the chance. But behind closed doors the dark secrets of Adele’s past abuse become painfully evident, and Ruairí soon realizes that he will have to be the one to create healing and redemption. Then the precarious politics of his adopted country erupt in renewed strife, and the ally-turned-enemy threatens to harm Adele if Ruairí doesn’t do the impossible; take sides against the man who’s become like a father to him. His only chance for escape depends on the backing of his Royalist friend and brother-by-marriage, Bran Morek…and, unexpectedly, on the renewed strength of his own wife.
As the door to the bedchamber shut, Ruairí shuffled his feet and swiped his palms together, fidgeting like some dunsy lad at a mortal loss with how to go about this business. Actually…he damn well didn’t know what to do here. Adele was lying on the mattress and staring at the overhead canopy with white fingers clutching the bedclothes up to her chin. Begor, he’d never bedded an unwilling woman before. He’d never even seduced a woman who seemed to be vacillating between “yea” and “nay.” Which wasn’t to say he hadn’t flirted. O’ course. But he hadn’t done so with trickery or guile. Why should he? There were enough women in this world who’d given him a flat-out “aye” for him to bother with anyone who wasn’t dead certain about warming his pallet.
“Might we…proceed?” his new wife said hesitantly into his elongated silence.
He blinked at her mutely.
“I’m prepared to do my duty.”
That snapped him out of his catatonia. Duty? His member couldn’t have wilted more quickly if she’d just taken a hanch of it with her teeth. He snatched up his chausses and jammed his legs in perfunctorily, hauling the garment back on. “Truth is, me lady, the last thing I want teh do is take a woman who’d rather be rolled in cowclap than be wi’ me.” He crossed the chamber briskly, grabbing a nightrobe left draped over a hearthside chair, and held it out to Adele.
Adele frowned at the nightrobe. “But….”
He tossed the nightrobe on the bed next to her. “I don’t know why the sorra ye didden just reject me durin’ that cursed beddin’ ceremony, inanyway. Haith, I don’t even twig why ye agreed in the first place teh this union when ye so clearly didden want it.”
She shrugged weakly. “I grew tired of fighting.”
Isn’t that just chippin.’ “Oh, the stuff o’ a troubadour’s song, that is.”
Sitting up, she grabbed the nightrobe and hugged it to her chest. “If you were concerned about it yourself, why didn’t you say something before we recited vows?”
“Well, botheration, that’s the question o’ the hour, isn’t it?” He pinched the bridge of his nose.
For a long moment, neither of them said anything.
“’Twas because you felt sorry for me, wasn’t it?” Adele’s voice came out a low rasp.
He jerked his head up.
She pushed herself up in bed. “Your…interesting men gave you away on that score, I’m afraid, my lord.”
Interesting? He slammed his eyebrows down. Was that a lady’s polite way of saying something he didn’t want to hear? “Was one o’ me lads a ramguntchagh teh ye, me lady?”
“I—” She exhaled sharply. “I don’t know what that means.”
“Was someone rude teh ye?”
She gave her head an impatient shake. “Nay. ’Tisn’t how they behaved toward me, sir, but rather who they are.” She gestured vaguely. “There’s Cathal with one arm, Artúr who stutters, Fearghus whose face is burnt to ruin, Dónal who can’t seem to stop spitting and cursing—”
Ah, bejesus, Dónal had gotten to her.
“—Beagán with his disfigured foot—”
Wait…how could she possibly know—?
“—and your own best friend, Maghnus, with his one eye.” The skin on her throat grew tight. “I’m just another misfit you’ve acquired, aren’t I?”
He gaped. A—?
“You know about all of the things Walter did to me,” she accused.
He froze, his insides going very still and cold.
“And-and now you think I’m damaged or…or that I need saving.” Her lips quavered; she bit into them. “I don’t want to be married to someone who pities me, Lord Breathnach.”