“Star-crossed lovers during the time of the Bubonic plague, with a happy ending.”
For the month of February I’m spotlighting my very first historical romance novel, Time Enough to Love, set in Medieval England.
I wrote the first version of this book from January of 2009 until the end of July 2009, ending up with 187,000 words! Then I went on to other projects before coming back to this huge novel to carve it down to a publishable length. When I found I couldn’t get it down any further than 169,000 words, I decided to publish the work as three novellas, Betrothal, Betrayal, and Beleaguered. Eventually I published the book as a single title in 2014, and it’s been out on its own since then.
If you enjoy medieval romance, you really should take a look and enjoy!
When Lady Alyse de Courcy is betrothed to Sir Geoffrey Longford, she has no choice but to make the best of a bad bargain. The hulking knight is far from her ideal man, and although he does possess some wit and charm, he is no match for the sinfully sensual man she secretly admires, Thomas, Earl of Braeton, her betrothed’s best friend.
From the first, Sir Geoffrey finds himself smitten by Lady Alyse, and, despite her infatuation with his friend, vows to win her love. When Geoffrey puts his mind to wooing Alyse, he is delighted to find her succumbing to his seduction. But when cruel circumstances separate them, Geoffrey must watch helplessly as Thomas steps in to protect Alyse—and falls in love with her himself.
As the three courtiers accompany Princess Joanna to her wedding in Spain, they run headlong into the Black Plague. With her world plunged into chaos, Alyse struggles with her feelings for both the men she loves. But which love will survive?
Throughout the month I’ll be posting a continuing excerpt from Time Enough to Love, starting with today’s scene which begins at the top of Chapter 7.
Alyse has been informed that she is to marry Sir Geoffrey Longford, a man she met the evening the betrothal was announced. She and Geoffrey got off to a rocky start, but Geoffrey has made quite an effort to woo Alyse, and believed he was winning her regard.
This week the scene begins immediately after last week’s excerpt, outside the chapel where Alyse and Geoffrey are coming to terms with their betrothal.
He stood stoically ready to face her ire.
But it no longer existed.
Alyse sighed, her resentment draining away. “Nay, good my lord, never say that I have no regard for you, for ’tis false.” She spoke softly and avoided his eyes. Shame at her thoughtless words ate at her. “I believe you an honorable man and I have accepted our coming marriage.” She risked a glance at him.
His gaze flicked over her face doubtfully. “Then why, sweet lady, did you look like a heavy storm was brewing in your face? Tell me what is wrong, sweetheart, if ’tis not the banns?”
“But it is the banns!”
He stepped back, his mouth pursing with impatience. “Alyse, we have but little time. I must attend the king yet I have news that will not wait.”
She breathed deeply and shook her head. “’Tis not the reading of the banns that distresses me, my lord. But rather standing in front of the whole church, on display for everyone to gawk at that frets me. Everyone seems to stare only at me, looking for faults that can later be bandied about in conversation. And not just today,” she mourned, “but twice more we shall have to stand there, for all the world to see.”
His lips twitched.
If he laughs, I will curse him.
He managed to compose himself before grasping her hand. “My lady, I care not what the court says or thinks of me, but if any would offend you by word or deed, rest assured he would feel the sting of my displeasure before the world was yet another hour old.” His hard tone softened as he squeezed her fingers. “Mark not what they say, heed only my words when I pledge you my troth ’til death us do part.”
He kissed them and wound her arm through the crook of his as he led her away from the chapel toward Princess Joanna’s apartments. Although she was loath to admit it, his words, as well as his attentions, had soothed her ruffled feelings. She smiled inwardly to think that his regard for her ran so deep. A quick peek at him from lowered lids showed her his countenance bore a smile also. They seemed to have come far in but two days’ time.
As they approached the door of the Princess’s chamber, he turned and took both her hands. “My lady, I have news that I would share with you.”
He seemed both solemn and excited by whatever message he had brought. It had to be news indeed, for she had heard nothing, either last night or this morning, that would touch upon them. This mystery so bemused her that she almost failed to see him lean down, bringing his mouth mere inches from hers. She gasped, snatched her hands from his and ducked around him before he could draw closer.
“Would you share something else besides news, Sir Geoffrey?”
“That I would, little maid.” He spun around before she could back away. He darted his hand out to secure hers again and raised it to his mouth. “It seems, however, that I must be content with this.” He grazed her skin with his lips, skimming over the surface of her flesh with a floating touch that made her shiver. “And with my news. You know the king called for a joust, a Round Table, at Windsor next week to celebrate the princess’s betrothal?”
Alyse nodded and frowned. The mere thought of jousting sent a quiver of dread down her spine. But his statement was hardly news; the court had been preparing for the tournaments for weeks.
“It has been decreed by His Majesty that on the first day the festivities will begin with a procession of ladies and knights of King Arthur’s court, starting at the Tower of London and winding through the town out to the lists. There are to be twenty-five knights on the king’s side who will joust and fight in a pas d’armes. So there needs be twentyfive ladies as well, to escort them to the field.”
She nodded again. “Princess Joanna rides in this procession.” Her part in the festivities had been determined last week. Did he have anything truly new to impart?
“You have been chosen to be one of the ladies.”