The Mercenary's Bride
The Mercenary's Bride
SHE WILL BE NO MAN’S PRIZE Brice Fitzwilliam is finally paid his due: awarded the title and lands of Thaxted, the warrior waits to claim his promised virgin bride! Gillian of Thaxted will not submit to the conquering knight’s powerful physique, or the bold way his arm drapes protectively over her at night…Brice thought he would pleasure his new wife out of duty – but it’s become a nightly pleasure! Now he risks exposing a chink in his armour if he succumbs totally to his new bride…The Knights of Brittany Born to conquer…and seduce!
Brice had removed his chainmail and the other accoutrements of fighting and war and stood there as just a man. Yet now he seemed even more dangerous than before.
He was tall and large, with broad shoulders that spoke of years of training in his craft. She swallowed deeply as she realised he watched her perusal of him. Gillian lowered her gaze to her clasped hands and waited quietly. Without even lifting her head, she could see him moving closer to her.
‘Do you need something to drink or eat?’
‘My lord,’ she said quietly as she rose to her feet and stood before him, ‘I need nothing from you save your grant of safe passage to the convent.’
The tension between and around them grew as she waited on his word. His brown eyes darkened even more as the intensity and heat of his gaze moved over her.
‘You have asked for one of the two things I could not grant you, lady, even if I wished it to be so.’
Her heart began to pound in her chest as he reached out and took her hand in his, tugging her even closer.
‘What is the other?’ She held her breath as he lifted her hand to his mouth and kissed the inside of her wrist. He allowed his lips to rest there for a moment longer than necessary before looking back at her.
‘I could not let you greet the morning as a maiden still.’
Although the 1066 invasion of Duke William of Normandy brought about huge changes in the politics and society of England, some of those changes were already underway. Normans had become an integral part of England during Edward the Confessor’s reign; many gaining lands and titles long before the Conqueror set foot there. So, the Saxons had some experience with Norman ways before this major invasion force landed in Pevensey in October, 1066.
Many Saxons held their lands after William’s arrival—those who pledged their loyalty to the new ruler were permitted to retain them, but many were supplanted by those who’d fought for William. Important Norman nobles gained more property and often Saxon heiresses.
Thought ruthless and not hesitant about using force to implement his rule, William did not employ it fully after the Battle of Hastings until the revolt three years later in the north of England. Then, he unleashed his anger on those in what’s still called ‘the Harrowing of the North’, destroying everything in his path and effectively wiping out what was left of the Saxon way of life.
In my story, one of Harold’s sons, Edmund, appears as a leader of the rebels. ‘My’ Edmund is really a composite of several real people who lived in the aftermath of the Battle of Hastings and continued to fight the Normans as they moved from the southeast of England northward and westward to take control of the whole country.
It is believed that at least two of Harold’s sons did survive (or avoid) the battle that killed their father and that they and their mother joined in the efforts of some of the others opposing the Normans. The earls of Mercia and Northumbria, Harold’s brothers-by-marriage, switched sides several times during this conflict, were even taken to Normandy along with the designated Saxon heir-apparent, Edgar Atheling, and were later part of this struggle that led to William’s Harrowing of the North.
So, any resemblance of ‘my’ Edmund to the real protagonists of history is intentional!
About the Author
TERRI BRISBIN is wife to one, mother of three and dental hygienist to hundreds when not living the life of a glamorous romance author. She was born, raised, and is still living in the southern New Jersey suburbs. Terri’s love of history led her to write time-travel romances and historical romances set in Scotland and England. Readers are invited to visit her website for more information at www.terribrisbin.com, or contact her at PO Box 41, Berlin, NJ 08009-0041, USA.
Previous novels by the same author:
THE DUMONT BRIDE
LOVE AT FIRST STEP
(short story in The Christmas Visit)
THE NORMAN’S BRIDE
THE COUNTESS BRIDE
THE EARL’S SECRET
TAMING THE HIGHLANDER
SURRENDER TO THE HIGHLANDER
POSSESSED BY THE HIGHLANDER
BLAME IT ON THE MISTLETOE
(short story in One Candlelit Christmas)
THE MAID OF LORNE
THE CONQUEROR’S LADY*
and in Mills & Boon® HistoricalUndone!eBooks:
A NIGHT FOR HER PLEASURE*
*The Knights of Brittany
Soren’s story is next in Terri Brisbin’s
The Knights of Brittany Look for HIS ENEMY’S DAUGHTER coming soon in Mills & Boon
Taerford Manor, Wessex, England December 1066
Bishop Obert summoned a meeting with the second of the knights on the list he’d prepared months before of those who were to benefit from the king’s generosity. He carried the papers with him that would turn the knight into a baron and make a penniless bastard into a rich lord—if he could take the lands granted him from the Saxon rebels who still held them.
Obert paced along the length of the table, waiting for Brice Fitzwilliam, bastard knight from Brittany, to arrive. If he was to make it back to London before the king’s coronation he must leave on the morrow, and this was his last duty here in Taerford. Regardless of the winter closing in around them, regardless of the yet unsettled lands and regardless of his own wants or needs, he was Duke William’s loyal servant. After God, of course, he mused as he turned towards the group of men now approaching.
As seemed to be their custom, the new lord of Taerford, Giles Fitzhenry, walked side by side with the man for whom Obert waited. Thinking back to his weeks here, he rarely saw one without the other, whether in the hall or yards, in any task needed to be done here in Taerford. They strode in, followed by more of Giles’s men, fresh from practising their fighting skills in the yard. They became quieter with every step closer and bowed as one to him.