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вЂњA rich tapestry of love...embroidered with golden threads of sensuality.вЂќ
A classic love story from Karen Ranney, one of the true legends of historical romance, My Beloved tells the poignant, sensuous story of the fabled Langlinais Bride, who has not seen her husband since their wedding day, twelve years earlier. Judith Ivory calls Ranney, вЂњA rich, rare find.вЂќ And with My Beloved, the beloved New York Times and USA Today bestselling author enchants with the story of a truly unforgettable reunionвЂ”as an errant bridegroom, forced by perilous circumstance to return to his untouched, abandoned wife, finds himself bewitched by the innocent angel he wed but never intended to love.
- ">Historical Romance - Medieval
- ">Romance - Love and Marriage?
Read an Excerpt
Chapter Onelanglinais Castle
Were all brides as terrified?
Her hands felt icy, despite the fact that the air was heavy with the summer heat. How odd that her palms should feel cold and wet at the same time. Juliana wiped them surreptitiously on her surcoat. The embroidered cote she wore was too heavy for the warm weather. A veil was attached to the toque on her unbound hair; the chin band felt as if it were strangling her.
She had dreaded this day for years. She had only been five when she'd been led by her mother's hand to her father's side in the solar. The room had been hot and stuffy and crowded with people. They had spoken words she'd barely understood, about vas-sals and oaths and territories and land. "Do you un-derstand, Juliana?" she'd been asked. She had nodded, and said the words as she'd been in-structed. Then, she'd seen the boy there, the tall one with the brown hair and impatient tapping foot. He'd smiled at her, but she'd only scowled at him, then thrust herself behind her mother's skirts again.
She had not seen him again after she'd been led from the room. Only later did she learn it had been her wedding day, and the boy her husband.
At the convent she was known as the Langlinais Bride, for all that she'd never seen the castle before, and her husband only once. For most of her life, she'd lived at the Sisters of Charity, preparing for e role of chatelaine of this sprawling demesne. !ars had been spent inside gray walls, waiting for is very day.
She had another name bestowed upon her by the girls fostered at the convent. Juliana the Timid. Ju-liana the Mouse. "They are jealous of your position," the abbess hadtold her. Ignore their words. Pay em no heed. She had never told the abbess that air teasing rang with undeniable truth. She was frightened of the dark, disliked the height reached en when standing upon a stool, avoided the pond ~ the convent property. On the journey here, she'd discovered that horses could be added to that list of things she'd choose to avoid if she could.
But it hadn't always been so. Once, she had been brave and daring. The day she'd made a face at they who'd stared at her. The same boy who was now a man, and the husband she awaited.
She had lived in an agreeable limbo, married but it forced to be a wife. Ten years had passed, then twelve. At a time most brides would have joined sir husbands, she'd been sent word that Sebastian, Earl of Langlinais, had gone on crusade. Two years later, he'd returned. A week ago word had come, explaining that her husband had been imprisonedthe infidels, ransomed, then released. There was further reason to delay joining him.
Her journey from the convent of the Sisters of Charity had taken no more than a few hours, the procession of twenty men-at-arms escorting her a show of honor and force expected for a knight's bride, a lord's wife. At dusk they had ridden through the gates of Langlinais. An hour ago she had been escorted to the great hall and left there beside the fireplace. She could hear a faint summer breeze sigh through it now, as if calling her name. Juliana. It was more a warning than a welcome.
The great hall at Langlinais was easily three times larger than her childhood home and decorated more lavishly. She traced the painted outline of one stone block on the wall beside her. Her fingertip came away shaded red, and she hurriedly wiped her hand on her skirt once more. Her head was still bowed, but she glanced from beneath her lashes to see if her actions had been observed. Three men were setting up tables, and a servant girl had placed a large plat-ter upon the head table, but they paid no attention to her.It seemed no one knew she was here. Should she stand and announce her presence? The idea of call-ing attention to herself was daunting. It would be more fitting to simply wait until she was greeted. She returned to her covert perusal of the hall.
She could not recognize all of the different flowers painted on the wall. She had had little experience in the convent gardens. Sister Helena had merely pointed to the weeds and Juliana had obediently pulled them from the soil.Her skill lay in the scriptorium. Her joy there, too. With her husband's blessing, she might be able to continue her work here, in this new and imposing home.
The fireplace beside her was one of two structure in the great hall. They were built into the walls, the stones curving over the hearth in a wide arc. Comfort was evidently a priority to her husband. The iron brackets upon the wall were filled with a pro-fusion of oil lamps and candles. The night was being pushed back by such brightness. The rushes beneath her feet were clean, strewn with daisy and rose petals. And perhaps lavender, she thought, taking a deep breath.
A dwelling not in dire need of a chatelaine.
All of the tables, the bustle of activity, and the smell of roasting meat made her wonder if there was to be a celebration to mark the occasion of her arrival at Langlinais. If so, she would sit at the dais with her husband. She would share a trencher with him, and be expected to smile and act pleased to be mar-ried to a man she'd met only once in her life when she was barely out of infancy. He had been pos-sessed of a kind smile and an impatience to be done with it.
Wilt he fee! the same tonight-our wedding night?
A soft knock was prelude to the call. "My lord?" Sebastian ignored both.
He stood in the master's chambers looking west, toward a sun that had already reached its zenith and was slowly descending into night. He knew what his steward was about to tell him. She had arrived. His bride.
"My lord?" Jerard was not going to go away, it seemed.
Sebastian went to the door, braced his hand against the thick oak studded with iron braces. This portal had stood for generations, bulwark against in-trusion, but it could not protect him now.
"She is here?"
"Yes, my lord."
What kind of woman would agree to the bargain he was about to make? My Beloved. Copyright В© by Karen Ranney. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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