Spring storms and computer problems aside, the newest release in the Ballads of the Roses, Scent of Wild Roses (Book Four), is now available.
A knight of King Henri and a beautiful serf are caught up in a web of intrigue … and the lure of abiding love. Return to the post-Conquest world of the powerful D’Auvrecher family with subterfuge, duplicity, and danger….
Sir Evart D’Auvrecher, home from Crusade, travels through the New Forest to take up a newly assigned duty. His journey is interrupted—the hard way—when outlaws attack.
Captured, tortured and abandoned to a slow death, Evart is rescued by Annice of Aiglantier, an apprentice healer with an unusual talent. Her birth is a mystery, her early years cloaked in shadows, yet Evart is captivated by her exotic beauty. Love blossoms between them like the wild roses of her home, Aiglantier Keep.
Soon they learn the attack against Evart was but one strand of a complex web of intrigue—a net in which they are now entangled. The deadly scheme threatens the very throne of England. While they seek to solve the mystery of Annice’s past, they must also work to unravel the conspiracy before England is embroiled in civil war.
Annice stiffened and drew herself up to face him.
So, she rallied her defenses. They would do her no good. In battle, all was fair, and Evart had privately declared war. The desire, the hunger-the lust-between them held powerful, mind-numbing sway. He would use its sweet burn to beguile, to overwhelm the resistance of her will.
In an instinctively protective gesture, her hand went up between them, palm out.
He stopped, giving her chance to hold him at bay. With bare inches separating them, he towered over her.
“So,” he said, keeping his tone conversational, as if they discussed naught that could tear out both of their hearts, “you would deny love, cast aside hope of lifelong joy, all for some misguided notion of self-sacrifice?” She made no answer, but the gray of her eyes darkened almost to black. “Very well,” he said. “For the nonce, I will do as you ask. I will accept this foolish barrier you place between us. But think not I will leave it at this. You are my heart, Annice, my life and my future, and naught you say or do will change my determination to make you mine for all of our days. There is that which I must do, a task I must fullfill on the day after the morrow, which cannot be set aside. I will be away from the keep for a time, but when I return, we will deal again on this matter.”
Her beautiful eyes had gone huge. “Evart.”
“I assure you, demoiselle, you will not again find it so easy to gainsay me. You are meant for me, Annice, and I for you. So, I believe, it has been from our births. Aye, there will be a reckoning between us then.”
He settled his gaze on the wispy confusion of her unbound hair. He leaned into her, crushing her gently with his heat against the wall where she stood braced. He slid his hands into those midnight waves to anchor her head as he took her lips.
She gasped at the first brush, that first tempting touch, and her eyes drifted shut, hiding her desire. Her palms on his chest did not push him away.
He deepened the kiss, tapping into her passion, pulling it from hidden depths until she moaned her pleasure.
His hands abandoned her hair to stray downward, seeking warmth, softness, yielding curves, drawing forth from her little cries as he relinquished her lips to trace kisses along her chin, nuzzle the soft skin beneath her ear and nibble the smooth expanse joining neck and shoulder. When her body writhed inside the prison in which he caged her, he pulled away only enough to allow her arms to lift and grasp his shoulders.
The action gave him unlimited access, and he took it, yielding no quarter. He tightened his arms around her and pulled her close, and closer still, his hands on her hips joining her feminine undulations to his male surges.
Frantic little croons broke from her lips. Her hands fluttered over his shoulders and up into his hair, seeking, stroking, caressing. She gasped and tensed as his assault intensified.
He returned to claim her mouth, giving and plundering, both at once. He wrapped himself around her, tightened his hold, offered one final, surging assault on her senses and then… stopped.
He dropped his arms and stepped away.
It cost him. Oh, how it cost him. But he would win this conflict between them.