Weddings. When we discussed this theme I knew exactly what I wanted to share with you. Lord Alex, a seventh son, would do anything for a domain of his own. Below is an excerpt where Alex finds out what his King has in store for him. Grab a cup of tea, coffee or a glass of wine. I hope you enjoy the scene as much as I had writing it.
She must choose between keeping her secret and
losing the man she loves.
losing the man she loves.
Lord Alex Stelton can't resist a challenge, especially one with a prize like this: protect a castle on the Scottish border for a year, and it's his. Desperate for land of his own, he'll do anything to win the estate—even enter a proxy marriage to Lady Lisbeth Reynolds, the rumored witch who lives there.
Feared and scorned for her second sight, Lisbeth swore she'd never marry, but she is drawn to the handsome, confident Alex. She sees great love with him but fears what he would think of her gift and her visions of a traitor in their midst.
Despite his own vow never to fall in love, Alex can't get the alluring Lisbeth out of his mind and is driven to protect her when attacks begin on the border. But as her visions of danger intensify, Lisbeth knows it is she who must protect him. Realizing they'll secure their future only by facing the threat together, she must choose between keeping her magic a secret and losing the man she loves.
Review for The Guardian’s Witch
As a fan of historical romances, this book has got it all. With the added spice of the paranormal that has been added, the book got even better. Having read a book of this nature by this author previously, I can honestly say that it was a joy to read. The story was a beautiful tale of love and betrayal, and the enduring faith of the human heart. The characters are delightful and charming, and quite easily drew me in. I found this novel to be thoroughly enjoyable and totally delightful.
...Night Owl Romance Top Pick - 4.5 Stars
Excerpt from The Guardian’s Witch
The king’s message on the top of a very orderly pile of papers on his desk caught his eye. The bold red seal screamed for attention. Lord Alex thought about the last time he saw King Edward.
“Alex, are you still here?” King Edward came out of his private apartment.
Alex uncurled to his full height from the hard bench. “Yes, Your Majesty.”
Early in the morning a royal messenger had pounded on his door and rousted him out of bed. He had handed Alex the summons. The king demanded Alex attend him. But that was hours ago. He had planned to leave this morning as soon as the castle gates were open, and instead had spent the day suffering in the small antechamber. The room filled and emptied several times while he paced, cursed and finally sat and waited. His anger long gone, he was resigned to the whim of his king.
“Where is everyone?” The king looked around the room. He had a surprised look on his face.
Alex followed the king’s gaze. “It seems, sire, I’m the last one left. You wanted to see me—this morning.” Alex approached the king.
Edward’s face gave nothing away. His slow, mischievous smile annoyed Alex. What was the man up to?
“Yes, Alex. Come with me.” The king treaded the well-worn carpets with a lively step and led Alex up one hall and down another until Alex was certain they would end up back at the king’s chamber. “Ah, here we are.” The king threw the doors open revealing a large party. Everyone quieted and made way for His Majesty.
One courtier’s voice rang out. “To the bridegroom.” Alex looked startled. Who was the bridegroom? Then the chaos began.
Alex, accompanied by King Edward through the tumult, was the center of attention. His back was pounded and his arm pumped by anyone close enough to touch him. When they got through the room, the king’s man brought the crowd to silence when he pounded his staff on the floor.
“Lord Alex,” said Edward. “Say goodbye to your bachelor days. Tonight you marry.”
Alex felt the blood drain from his face. He quickly summoned up his control to stall the display of any emotion.
“You’ve succeeded where the others have failed. Every other protector I’ve sent to Glen Kirk has gone missing. Was it Lady Lisbeth’s beauty and charms that kept you there?”
The mention of Lisbeth’s name among this crowd made his temper rise. The room exploded in loud laughter. A flurry of activity left Alex draped in flowers and propelled onto the small dais where a veiled woman stood attended by two others. Alex glared at the king.
Edward leaned close to ensure only Alex heard. “If only you could see your face.”
“A word, sire,” Alex asked in a controlled quiet tone.
“You have my full attention,” the king said softly as he nodded recognition to courtiers.
“There was no mention of a marriage.”
“And your point?”
“Sire, I’m certain I will marry, but it will be to a woman of my own choosing.” Alex held to a thin glimmer of hope that this was all a bad hoax.
The king’s expression turned hard. “Do you doubt my judgment?”
Alex looked at his king and knew all was lost. “No, sire.” He bowed his head slightly in submission. “But would you reconsider?” He could hear the desperation in his voice.
“You know I have your best interest at heart.” Edward paused. “Would you give me Glen Kirk as forfeit?”
He imposed an iron control on his face. “I am grateful for your choice of wife, sire. I am a fortunate man.” Alex bowed. He would never give up Glen Kirk.
The king straightened, clapped him on his back, and boomed in a loud voice, “Come, you’ll be married to your Lisbeth by proxy. I’ve arranged everything.”
Alex was certain he had. He smiled through clenched teeth.
“Lord Alex.” The king ushered Alex in front of a meek little man who hardly fit the elegant robes he wore. Two of Alex’s brother’s, Bennett and Cameron, moved out from the crowd and joined him.
“Easy, Alex,” said Cameron. “The king’s entertainment will soon be over.”
Alex stood there seething. The robed man went on and on but Alex stood rigid and remote. Glen Kirk was worth the inconvenience of a wife.
“Kneel, sir,” the robed man, sword in hand, demanded of Alex. “Kneel and prepare for the sword of courage.”
“Watch that sword of yours, Alex. You won’t need courage, more likely stamina. I suspect you’ll be thrusting it all night,” shouted someone, sending the crowd into peals of laughter.
Every muscle tightened but Alex forced a bland disinterested expression on his face while deep down he raged. Out of the corner of his eye he saw Bryce standing by the door. A silent signal passed between them.
“Steady, man,” cautioned Bennett.
“Take your rightful place and humble yourself before your king and maker. As you bravely and solemnly come here today, you have shown to all present that you are worthy and ready to care for this woman your king has chosen for you, from this day forward. To take thy woman’s hand is an act of bravery only supplanted by the call to arms”
“Is it war he enters or Lady Lisbeth?” Another roll of laughter passed through the room.
Husband or not, Lisbeth was Wesley’s daughter. Her name would not be dragged into this farce. He turned to the crowd and gave them a hostile stare.
The effect was immediate. The raucous talk quieted at once.
“Do you understand and accept this, sir?” The little man couldn’t hide the fear in his voice.
“Sure he does—now get on with it. There’s no wine until this is over.”
The king gently nudged Alex.
Alex glanced at Edward and saw something honest in his gentle smile. The edge smoothed off his anger. He turned to the holy man. “Yes, I understand.”
The sword was too heavy for the man to handle. The tip came dangerously close to Alex’s neck but he didn’t move. Cameron quickly interceded and helped place the blade on Alex’s shoulder.
Alex gave his brother a scathing look.
“Mother would never forgive me if I let someone lop off your head,” he whispered.
“Three times I tap thee, once in the name of our King…”
A shout rang up from the attending audience.
“…once in the name of our bishop, and once in the name of our holy protector. Now that you have knelt and been christened and tapped, I declare thee ready to receive your bride.”
The king squeezed his shoulder. The veiled woman approached. “My dear.” The king took her hand and drew her next to Alex.
With all the solemnness the little man could muster he began. “We are gathered here to join this man and this woman in a binding of life. At this day of binding, if any man declares any reason why they may not be coupled together, speak now.”
“It is all well with us—let them marry,” responded the crowd in unison.
The man turned to Alex. “Sir, do you take this woman who represents Lady Lisbeth Reynolds, daughter of the late Lord and Lady Reynolds to wife?”
Alex gave the obligatory response but he didn’t hear the rest of the ceremony.
“Lord Alex, I said you can kiss the bride,” said the frightened man.
The room was quiet. Whispers went through the room. “Who is she?”
“Well, Lord Alex? Do you need instructions?” The king’s words sent a ripple of laughter through the room that soon turned into a tidal wave.
With a smile on his face that didn’t reach his eyes, Alex gently unveiled his proxy wife. There staring at him with wide blue eyes and a lovely smile was Lady Barbara Kincaid.
She looked at him boldly. Another roll of laughter filled the room.
He gave her a nod. She was still a beauty after all the years.
“I know you did not brood when I declined your proposal.”
“No, m’lady. There was nothing to brood over. You were merely a youthful dalliance that was quickly forgotten.”
Barbara’s eyes widened at the insult. “Alex, is there someplace we can speak?”
“No, m’lady. I know of none.”
“Did you really vow to never take a wife?” asked another faceless voice in the room.
He looked at Barbara. She had a pleasant smile on her face. How well trained she had become in the ways of the court. She covered his affront with poise.
“I stand here ready to marry Lady Lisbeth. Does that answer your question?” Indeed he had vowed to never marry. The humiliation of his youthful blunder and her not-so-private rejection spread through court like a spring storm. He hadn’t enough words to thank his father for quickly getting him a commission with a regiment that left for Wales.
“We heard all about your brave deeds in Wales. You returned to us much changed,” said Barbara.
“Come on, Alex. Kiss the bride so we can get on.”
After four long hard years he had returned to London to find Barbara willing to renew their friendship. He had no interest.
Barbara moved with lightning speed, threw her arms around him, and kissed him deeply, to the enjoyment of the crowd.
He stood cold as a statue against her assault. “Let’s finish this entertainment, m’lady. I’ve important matters that need my attention.”
The spectacle over, the bride and groom mingled with the crowd.
“Alex,” his brothers Bennett and Cameron pulled him to the side. “We had no idea you were the intended groom. If we’d known, we would have gotten you away. We thought you and Bryce had left for Glen Kirk early this morning.”
“That was our plan but the king summoned me.” He nodded and flashed a tight-lipped smile at the people who walked by and congratulated him. “I leave for Glen Kirk as soon as I can, if I have to wake the king’s guard to open the gate.”
“We’ll go with you.”
He gave his brothers a penetrating stare. Finally, he relaxed. “No, you both stay here and enjoy the entertainment. But thank you for the offer. Bryce rides with me.” Alex headed for the door.
“Where are you going, Lord Alex? Aren’t you staying for your wedding feast?” asked Edward, who stood by the door speaking to Howard.
“No, sire.” He laughed as if amused. “I have a long journey to be with my wife.”
He watched Cameron sidle up and lead Barbara away. Both were quickly lost in the crowd.
A shiver of unease crossed his back. He focused on the king’s message still on his desk. He’d been back at Glen Kirk for weeks, and he still hadn’t told Lisbeth she was his wife. He let out a loud sigh. He could wait no longer. What would he say? He paced in front of the hearth. His quick mind was blank. He should have told her when he first arrived. He saw that now.
About the Author
RUTH A. CASIE is an author of swashbuckling action-adventure time-travel romance about strong empowered women and the men who deserve them, endearing flaws and all. Ruth also writes contemporary romance with enough action to keep you turning pages. She lives in New Jersey with her husband, three empty bedrooms and a growing number of incomplete counted cross-stitch projects. Before she found her voice, she was a speech therapist (pun intended), client liaison for a corrugated manufacturer, and international bank product and marketing manager, but her favorite job is the one she’s doing now—writing romance.
Please visit Ruth at www.RuthACasie.com or visit her on Facebook, @RuthACasie, Twitter, @RuthACasie, and on Pinterest RuthACasie. Please sign up for her monthly newsletter.