Today on Medieval Monday, I welcome the talented Lauren Linwood, whose novel of the Hundred Years' War is bound to leave you cheering for Gavin, the knight rejected by the man he thought was his father, and for Elizabeth, the love of Gavin's heart.
When Gavin of Ashgrove and his closest friend are captured in a fierce battle during the Hundred Years’ War, their captors demand a hefty ransom from their fathers for their return. Robert is quickly set free, but Gavin’s father refuses to pay for his son’s release, leaving him to rot in a squalid French prison. Aided by a sympathetic priest, he escapes and returns home to England, only to find he has been proclaimed a bastard and disinherited.
With nowhere to turn Gavin journeys to Kentwood, where he fostered as a boy, hoping Lord Aldred will take him on as a knight in his guard. The old warrior is close to death, but he soon realizes Gavin is his son. Aldred plots to have Gavin inherit Kentwood and marry his much younger wife, Elizabeth, a famed and opinionated beauty who remains a virgin after a decade of marriage.
Will the king recognize Lord Aldred’s first request of a marriage between Elizabeth and Robert, uniting Robert’s estate with Kentwood—or will the temperamental Edward reward Aldred’s years of service and honor a dying man’s final request?
Fear struck Elizabeth as Gavin’s lips met hers. A kiss! What was he thinking? She could not kiss him. She didn’t kiss anyone. Aldred’s feeble attempts over the years flittered into her mind. She stiffened in his arms.
Her hesitation did not stop him. His lips slowly brushed against hers. The sensation was most pleasant. A ripple of heat ran through her. His hand stroked her hair. Her scalp tingled. Her body relaxed.
Panic set in suddenly. She tensed again. She didn’t know what to do, how to respond. Yet respond she did, as if her body were no longer her own. Her knees grew watery. She gripped Gavin’s shoulders for support. He pulled her closer still. His arms wrapped firmly around her, drawing her into a muscled chest.
And still his lips worked their magic, now nipping her lower one, teasing her. He licked the corner of her mouth and trailed kisses along her jaw. Her head fell back. A shudder rushed up her spine.
This is heaven.
His kisses continued along her exposed throat. She began to throb everywhere. Her fingers kneaded his shoulder. She heard a noise that sounded like a satisfied growl come from him.
Then his lips were gone. A shiver passed through her as the gentle breeze blew. She opened her eyes, only to meet his gazing down at her. He brushed a kiss against her temple, another one on her cheek. The slow play of his mouth began again as he caressed her. The throbbing built within her, starting an ache that clamored for a satisfaction she didn’t know how to satisfy.
Elizabeth opened her mouth to speak, to ask what was happening. Gavin’s hand, tangled in her curls, caught them and pulled slightly, forcing her head back. His eyes glowed, a heat in them that frightened and excited her at the same time.
Then his mouth was upon hers, gentle no longer. She clung to him. His tongue demanded to mate with hers, taking, taking. Again and again he took from her, even her very breath, till she no longer knew where she ended and he began. His arms pinned her against him. Her breasts ached. Her bones melted. A dizziness swept across her. She wanted this to go on. Forever.
A rooster crowed in the distance. It brought her to her senses. She broke their embrace.
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