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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…
April 2, 1318—Berwick, Scotland
Quiet humming did little to stifle the grumbling of Jennet’s stomach. Her constant hunger was somewhat easier to bear in the convent, where each woman within the thick, gray walls suffered equally. Unlike the greedy Lady de Tournay and her swinish family, Jennet mused, then hurriedly began her morning ablutions, hoping the icy water would push such uncharitable thoughts from her mind. She had fled to the convent to find peace. That would remain elusive if she did not shake free of her bitterness, born of six years in servitude to the ill-tempered de Tournays.
Again her stomach loudly protested its emptiness. She cursed, then swiftly begged the Lord’s pardon. It was such lapses that kept her from succumbing to the abbess’s constant urgings to take vows and begin working toward becoming a nun. Jennet was not sure she had the character to be a nun. She had too much bitterness, was too cynical, too angry and unforgiving. A year in the seclusion of the convent had done little to ease those feelings.
“And,” she muttered as she donned her plain brown gown, “I dinnae rush to prayer each morn.”
She shook her head, then began to braid her long raven hair. The abbess must have seen how tossled she was, proof that she had rushed to prayers straight from bed early that morning. As she donned her headdress she frowned, listening carefully. It was difficult to be certain, but there did seem to be a dull but rising roar of many loud male voices.
“Mayhaps the Scots have finally given up their siege,” she murmured as she sat on her cot to begin the mending she had been given to do. “They have certainly been harrying the town for months. Or”—she froze, needle in hand, and felt a swift rush of terror—“they have scaled the protective walls and finally retaken the border fortress from the English.”
Jennet forced herself to remain calm, to ignore the muffled sounds. She was safe. Despite the tales the abbess told, Jennet could not believe the Scots would defile a convent. Even eighteen years of war under the Bruce could not have made her people so ungodly. A battle might well rage outside, but here she was free of that at last. This time she would not have to face the violence and destruction directly.
The wimple she mended was barely done when she realized the sounds she sought to ignore were much closer now. Even as she wondered if she should chance a look into the hall, the door to her tiny room burst open, splintering slightly as it slammed against the stone wall. The sight that filled the doorway caused her to drive her needle into her hand. Only partly aware of that self-inflicted wound, she extracted the needle, absently put her wounded palm to her mouth to ease the sting, and stared at the man who had invaded her refuge.
He leaned indolently against the door frame, his strong arms encased in greaves and crossed over his broad mail-covered chest. His helmet, with its noseguard, hid so much of his face that she could see little but his smile. That indolent grin turned her shock and fear to rage. She was facing certain death, and he was laughing at her. Hissing a curse, she pulled her dagger from a hidden pocket in her skirts. Her fury was reinforced by the terrified cries of the nuns that began to echo through the halls.
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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.