A woman of spirit.
As the new castellan, Sir Nicholas Beringar has the daunting task of
rebuilding Ravenmoor Castle on the Scottish borderlands and gaining the trust of the locals—one of whom wastes no time in trying to rob him. But instead of punishing the boy, Nicholas decides to make him his squire. Little does he know the thieving young lad is really…a lady.
Lady Elizabet Armstrong had donned a disguise in an attempt to free her brother from Ravenmoor’s dungeons. And though intimidated by the confident Englishman with his well-honed muscles and beguiling eyes, she cannot refuse his offer.
Nicholas senses that his new squire is not what he seems. His gentle attempts to break through the boy’s defenses leave Elizabet powerless to stem the desire that engulfs her. And when the truth is laid bare, she’ll have to trust in Nicholas’s honor to help her people—and to surrender to his touch…
Purchase Link: Amazon Kindle
This series is a trilogy:
book #2, An Oath Broken story of Giric & Sarah
book #3, An Oath Sworn story of Colyne & Marie
Many of you know that I love volunteering my time and energy in helping to make a positive difference in others’ lives. As a military brat, a retired Navy Chief, a former military wife, and a mom of three children who have served in the military—two in the Marines and one in the Army, all who have served in Afghanistan—I understand the demands on members of the military and the impact on their families.
Upon return from combat duty, many Veterans face challenges including depression, PTSD, survivor’s guilt, suicidal thoughts, brain injury, as well as physical issues incurred during deployment. I wanted to do something that would make a difference and help these Veterans. So, I will be donating 100% of my proceeds from the first week of sales of An Oath Taken (8 December 2014 – 14 December 2014) to veterans’ charities and causes that support military service members and their families.
I shared my idea with my editor, and then asked if she could notify me of my royalties after the first week of sales for An Oath Taken. My editor’s response brought tears to my eyes. Kensington Publishing Corp.* would gladly do as I asked — and make a matching donation. I’m awed by my publisher’s generosity, more so that I know the money raised will go toward making a positive difference in military members’ lives.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Lady Elizabet Armstrong tugged the folds of her cowled hood closer to her face and sunk deeper into the thick, green shield of leaves. Mary, mother of God, of all people to rob, why did he have to be the new castellan?
Sweat beaded on her brow, and her hands grew clammy. She should have followed her instincts and returned home with this day’s spoils. Except as she’d started to climb down, she’d spied the single rider in the distance.
The castellan’s steel-grey eyes locked on hers.
Sensation swept through her. His aura was magnetic, yet lethal. Broad shoulders needed no gambeson or hauberk to increase their dimensions. His trim, well-muscled physique attested to his physical adeptness. And he sat upon his steed with the confidence born of years of battles.
Shaken by her attraction to her enemy, she forced her attention to his mail, his chestnut war horse and the finely-tooled broadsword. His trappings bespoke wealth. If he held but even a few coins, she would take them. And if he carried none, she would relieve him of his weaponry. They would bring a fair price at the market.
“If you carry nay gold, leave your sword and dagger,” Elizabet demanded, keeping her voice low.
A deep, impatient sigh rumbled from the castellan’s chest.
A slap of anger streaked through her. The Englishman would take her seriously! She nocked an arrow and drew the bowstring taut.
“Such a move would be unwise,” Sir Nicholas said, his voice disturbingly calm. “I know you are alone.”
Her hand shook as she sized up the large man, too confident for her liking. He bluffed. “Obey my command or my men will kill you.”
The castellan’s expression darkened. “I see the blackened string threaded through the trees.”
Blind panic shredded the last of her calm. What was she going to do? She couldna obey his command. Believing she was a lad, he would most likely punish her, mayhap sever her hand or worse. What if he discovered she was a woman? Terror raced through her. Before he would touch her, she would fight to her death!
Body trembling, Elizabet lowered her bow. She shifted on the limb to steady herself, and the branch gave a traitorous groan. With a gasp, she caught a nearby limb. She must get rid of him! “I have decided to allow you to pass.”
The foreboding knight studied her a long moment. “Come down, I wish to speak with you.”
She edged closer to the trunk. Why couldna he react like any of her previous targets over the past couple of days? If given the opportunity, each would have fled like the spineless fops they’d been. Instead, Sir Nicholas was proving to be a formidable challenge.
What was she going to do?
A lonely wind howled through the trees, bantering the newborn leaves with a careless hand. The scent of peat, tinged with fresh, mountain-fed water, sifting on the breeze. She took in the darkening sky, wishing she was home, safe in her chamber. Again she cursed herself for nae returning to Wolfhaven Castle when she’d had the chance.
“Lad. I will not harm you.”
Though several feet separated them, she sensed his frustration. And resolve. “’Tis a trick. I know the penalty for thievery.”
The castellan kicked his mount forward.
She held her breath as he halted beneath the branch she stood on, his gaze straight at her. If he’d stared at her in anger, that she could ignore. But the intensity of his grey eyes probed her as if seeing straight to her soul. Shaken, she pressed farther into the leaves.
“I would offer you a job as my squire.”
She stilled. A trick! “I am nae a lackwit. If I climbed down you would cut off my hand.” And God help her if he discovered she was a woman.
A frown creased his brow. He lowered his broadsword and laid the flat of his blade across the withers of his mount. “You have my word as a knight that my offer is sincere.”
Hope ignited. What if he spoke the truth? Elizabet ached at the thought of her family and people trapped within Ravenmoor Castle. Were they wounded? Suffering? She hated nae knowing. Worse, with each passing day her belief that they lived dwindled. The coin she’d stolen these past few days was far from enough to bribe a castle guard at Ravenmoor to set her family and people free. If she agreed, could she successfully play the role of a lad?
A fool’s lot to consider his offer. As if she could ever trust a Sassenach? The slang name for the English suited their lie-infested truths.
But even as she pondered the reasons why such a decision would be dangerous, if the castellan’s offer was sincere, she must use this opportunity to gain entrance to Ravenmoor Castle. Her family’s future depended on it.
Fighting her nerves, she nodded. “I will be your squire.”
Satisfaction shone on the castellan’s face. “Come down. You will ride with me to the castle.”
“Nay. I will make my way on the morrow, at first light.”
A muscle worked in his jaw. “I have given my word that you will not be harmed.”
She tightened her grip on the nearby branch. “And I have given mine. I will arrive at Ravenmoor Castle at first light.”
“I could come up there after you,” he said with challenge.
She darted a glance to the nearby tree then back to him. His well-honed muscles left no doubt of his prowess. In which case, she would jump. Then, if she didn’t break her neck, slowed by the weight of his armor, she could outrun him.
Leather creaked as he shifted in the saddle.
Instinct assured her he knew exactly of her thoughts to escape. Irritated, she tilted her chin in defiance.
Mirth flickered in his eyes. “At first light then.”
She released a slow breath.
“I would have your name.”
A name? Of course he would expect a name. “Thomas,” she replied before she could change her mind.
“Thomas,” he said without preamble, “If you have not reported to me by Terce, I will track you down.” His brow furrowed. “’Twould serve you well to heed me. I do not make false claims.”
Of that she had little doubt. “I will be there.”
With a nod he turned his destrier, kicked him forward, and cantered toward Ravenmoor Castle.
Elizabet swallowed hard as her enemy’s daunting outline melded into the trees. She’d made the right choice. To doubt herself now could only lead to disaster.