10 June 2010

Excerpt Thursday: Margaret Mallory

This week on Excerpt Thursday we're welcoming back contributor Margaret Mallory as she celebrates the release of KNIGHT OF PASSION, the third of her "All the King's Men" trilogy from Grand Central. Join us Sunday when Margaret will be here to answer questions and give away a signed copy. Here's the blurb:

Can This Passionate Knight...

Renowned beauty Lady Linnet is torn between two desires: revenge on those who destroyed her family or marriage to her childhood sweetheart Sir James Rayburn. One fateful night, she makes a misguided choice: she sacrifices Jamie's love for a chance at vengeance.

Trust A Beauty with a Past?

Jamie Rayburn returns to England in search of a virtuous wife--only to find the lovely Linnet as bewitching as ever. Their reckless affair ignites anew, even hotter than before, although Jamie vows to never again trust her with his heart. Just as Linnet begins to make amends, she's tempted by one last opportunity to settle old scores. But a final retribution could cost her Jamie's love--this time forever.
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"As in the previous book in her 'All the King's Men' series, Mallory brings history to life, creating dramatic and gut-wrenching stories. Her characters are incredibly alive and readers will feel and believe their sensual and passionate adventures. Mallory raises the genre to new levels." 4 1/2 Stars, Top Pick! ~ RT Book Reviews

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Set Up: Five years ago in Paris, Jamie and Linnet were young lovers. The affair did not end well...

The stench of the Thames made Sir James Rayburn's eyes water as he rode through the angry crowd. Men glared at him but moved out of the way of his warhorse. As he pushed through them, his thoughts returned to the evening before.

Over supper, the other guests pressed Jamie for news of the fighting in France. As he warmed to his tale, the ladies leaned forward, hands pressed to their creamy bosoms.

He liked to tell stories. Just when he had begun to enjoy himself, Linnet's words came back to him. What you need, Jamie Rayburn, is a dull English wife who will be content to spend her evenings listening to you recite tiresome tales of your victories.

After all these years, Linnet's ridicule still rankled. Damn the woman. Five years since he'd seen her, and she could still ruin his evening.

Calling him boring was the least of Linnet's crimes against him. It embarrassed him to recall how he had worn his heart on his sleeve back then. While he professed eternal love and adoration, Linnet used him without a shred of guilt or regret.

Someone should have told him that men value a woman's virginity far more than women do themselves. He had mistaken the gift of hers as a gift of her heart--and a pledge of marriage. Never again would he let a woman humiliate him like that.

Thinking of her now put him in a foul mood. "We've seen enough," Jamie said, patting Thunder after the horse snapped at a fool who got too close. As Jamie turned his horse to return to the bishop's palace, someone grabbed hold of his boot.

"Please, sir, help me!"

The old fellow's eye was purple with a fresh bruise. From his clothing, Jamie guessed he was not a part of the rabble, but a servant of some noble household.

Jamie leaned down. "What can I do for you?"

"The crowd separated me from my mistress," the man said, his voice high and tremulous.

Sweet Lamb of God, a lady was alone in this mob?

"Where? Where is she?"

The old man pointed toward a gap created by the drawbridge, and Jamie had a clear view of a lady in a bright blue and yellow gown sitting astride a white palfrey. She stuck out from the horde around her like a peacock atop a dunghill.

"Out of my way!" Jamie shouted, waving his whip from side to side above the heads of the crowd. He was still twenty yards from the lady when he heard her scream. Hands were grabbing at her, attempting to pull her off the horse. Someone caught hold of her headdress. Despite the noise on the bridge, Jamie heard the gasps of the men around her as a cascade of white-gold hair fell over her shoulders to her hips.

The air went out of him. There was only one woman in Christendom with hair like that. Linnet. And she was in grave danger.

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