Sex in the 16th Century [Secure eReader]
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eBook by Juliet Landon & Paula Marshall
eBook Category: Romance/Historical Fiction
eBook Description: Arranged marriages, sizzling sexual attraction and tender romance--this bundle set in Elizabethan England has it all. Included are A Most Unseemly Summer, Sweet Treason and The Deserted Bride.
eBook Publisher: Harlequin/Historical, Published: 2007
Fictionwise Release Date: August 2007
6 Reader Ratings:
Lady Honoria Deventer shaded her eyes against the strengthening pale green rays that streamed into the best bedchamber at Sonning House. By her side, Lord Philip Deventer quietly opened the window, blowing a brittle winter cobweb into the garden below, where already a fuzz of new green covered the untidy plots.
Their joint attention was focussed on a tall and slender figure who stood motionless in the early sunshine, her dark mass of silky hair piled untidily on top of her head, her back curving into a neat waist without the support of whalebone stays. And though her face was turned from the house, her mother had guessed at its expression of sadness.
'What is wrong with her these days?' she whispered. 'So angry. So quiet.'
'She was not so quiet yesterday morning when she boxed the gardener's lad's ears, was she?' her husband replied.
'He was tipping birds' eggs out of their nests to feed the cat. He deserved it. But she was never so severe until recently, Philip. Perhaps I should find her a new tutor.'
'She'd be better off with a husband. A home. A few bairns.' The typically brusque response sent a shadow across his wife's face, which naturally he missed. His great hand wandered across her distended stomach, anticipating the gender of the new bulge, the first of a new strain of Deventers. Their combined families, eleven of his by his late wife and seven of hers by two previous husbands, would total nineteen by summer.
Lady Honoria nestled into him, covering his hand with her own. 'But she has a home here…' she turned her face up to him, suddenly unsure '…doesn't she? She's only nineteen, dearest, and she's always been good at managing a household. Until we moved here to Sonning,' she added as an afterthought. Lord Deventer's household had not appreciated her expertise.
'Well then, she can go down to Wheatley and manage that.'
'What d'ye mean?' Lady Honoria slowly turned within his arm, puzzled by his tone. 'To Wheatley Abbey? There's no one there, dear.'
'Yes, there is. Gascelin will be there now, after the winter break. He sent a message up last week. There'll be plenty of room for her in that big guesthouse, and she can make a start on the rooms in the New House ready for our move. We could be away from here in the autumn, if they both get a move on.'
His new wife turned away, glancing at her daughter's lovely back with some scepticism. 'You cannot be serious, Philip. I know you and Felice haven't got to know each other too well yet, but I'll not have her packed off down to Hampshire on her own to work with that man. There'd be trouble.'
'Yes,' Lord Deventer replied, unhelpfully, 'but that man, as you call him, is the best surveyor and master builder this side of the Channel. Brilliant chap. And anyway, Hampshire's only the next county, love, not exactly the other side of the world. She can always come back if she finds the task too daunting.' He braced himself for his wife's predictable defence of her beloved and only daughter.
'Daunted? Felice? Never! But he's not the easiest man to work alongside, is he? You know what a perfectionist he is.'
Lord Deventer had chosen Sir Leon Gascelin for just that quality and was only too well aware that the last thing he would appreciate would be someone like young Lady Felice Marwelle getting under his feet. However, there were ways of overcoming that problem.
'Well,' he said, 'so is she, for that matter, and heaven knows the place is big enough for her to keep out of his way. He won't want much to do with a lass like her. He was after Levina again when I last heard.'
'Levina! Tch! Half the court is after Levina.' Hearing the amusement in his voice she quickly closed the window against his impending laughter. 'You'll send a message to prepare the best rooms for her? She'll be comfortable, Philip?'
'Of course she will, love,' he said, bending to kiss her downy neck. 'I'll send a man down today. She'll be in her element.'
'Today? So soon?'
'Yes, love. No time like the present, is there?'
If only the daughter had been so pliable.
* * *
The daughter, Lady Felice Marwelle, had surprised her stepfather by an unusual co-operation verging on enthusiasm over a means of escape that had occupied her mind almost incessantly in recent weeks. But her expectations of the comfort promised by her mother were dashed against the large stone gatehouse leading to Wheatley Abbey through which a large and untidy building site was framed.
The elegant but sour-faced steward held his ground, clinging to his staff with one hand and the wide spiked collar of a mastiff with the other. 'I received no orders from Sir Leon about a visit,' he said. Though his tone was courteous, his finality might have dismayed most of those present.
But the young lady astride the bay mare was remarkably steadfast, giving back stare for stare from large brown eyes rimmed with thick black lashes, beating down the watery pale ones that time had faded. 'That has no bearing whatever on the fact that I am here, now, with thirty members of Lord Deventer's household and a fair proportion of his possessions,' she replied, coolly. 'And in Sir Leon's absence you may take your orders from myself, Lady Felice Marwelle, Lord Deventer's stepdaughter. Is that good enough for you?'
'Lady,' the steward bowed stiffly, 'I beg your pardon, but the fact is that Sir Leon—'
'The fact is, steward, that we have been on the road for two days, at the end of which I was assured there would be lodging in the guesthouse available to us. Are rooms available or not?'
Copyright © 2007 Harlequin Books S.A.