Saturday, August 6, 2011

Sweet Saturday Samples

In this excerpt from my sweet medieval romance, Loyalty's Web (rated PG), my eighteen-year-old heroine, Heléne, is watching the arrival at her father's castle of the Earl of Gunthar and his entourage. A few years before, King Henry II's sons rebelled against him and Heléne's father fought on the side of the rebels. The Earl of Gunthar has been sent to marry Heléne's sister, Clothilde, to cement their father's reaffirmed loyalty to the crown. Heléne is spying on Gunthar's arrival from her bedroom window.
           
Heléne's voice took on a crisp note of anger. "It is not enough that the King has ordered Gunthar to take our brother away and make him little better than a hostage. He insists on humiliating us with this insulting offer of marriage.Were the King to bear such a dictate to me, I would--"
            
"Heléne, is he fat?"
            
Heléne turned her head, biting her tongue on an exasperated response. What on earth had that to do with anything?
            
Clothilde gave a despairing shudder and too late Heléne understood the urgency of her sister's question. 
            
"No, no," she said quickly as Clothilde raised trembling hands to her face. "He is just as you hoped. He is very tall and lean and--and handsome." She added this last though in fact she had not yet seen his face. "Come, Clo, see for yourself. He will never know we are looking."
            
She turned back towards the window and leaned out over the courtyard once more. Only then did she realize the inaccuracy of her last statement. The Earl of Gunthar had turned away from her father and, as if sensing her gaze, suddenly glanced up at the window. 
            
Heléne expected to feel again the rush of hatred she had known when she had seen him in her father's hall, his features concealed by a fearsomely crested helmet. Instead she gasped. His face, exposed to her now, was hawkishly proud, though not exactly handsome. His eyes, grey and piercing beneath thick, lowering brows, met her contemptuous stare with a powerful, probing regard. For a moment it transfixed her so thoroughly that she felt as though she had ceased to breathe, had been frozen into some curiously fashioned image laid open, every favor and flaw, to his uncompromising gaze.
            
Then one of his heavy eyebrows lifted and his cold, unyielding mouth curved upwards into a quizzical smile.
            
With that first glimmer of unexpected charm, Heléne remembered her awkward state of undress. Like her sister, she wore only a sleeveless chemise, with her pale gold braid spilling over her shoulder. With belated modesty, she drew back and leaned against the cold stones that ensconced the window seat. She pulled up her knees and twisted her arms around them, trying desperately to quiet the wild thudding of a heart which had but a moment ago been so inexplicably still.


Thank you for stopping by! If you'd like to read last week's sample from Loyalty's Web, click here.


Click on the links below to read more Saturday Samples!



10 comments:

Sherry Gloag said...

Hmmm, fireworks in the offing, methinks. An intirguing snippet.

Jennifer Lowery (Kamptner) said...

Great sample. Thanks for sharing.

the1940mysterywriter said...

Oh, that's beautifully done!
Gunnar-with-the-ever-expanding-TBR-list

Lindsay said...

Love the description. And it's in my TBR pile

Marsha Ward said...

How nice to revisit this outstanding book. Thanks, Joyce!

Marsha Ward
Writer in the Pines

Beth Trissel said...

Oh, I love medieval settings and your story is intriguing.

Meg said...

Wait a minute - isn't that Clo's betrothed? or did I read it too fast? UH OH!

Debbie Brown said...

Beautifully descriptive- his face hawkishly proud. I had to stop and picture a hawk and create a man from it- I enjoyed that! I'd love to win.

Debbie Brown said...

Lol, forgot myself. This was not a giveaway. :0 Don't worry, I'll track you down on another.

Joyce DiPastena said...

Thank you all for stopping by to read my excerpt and for leaving such kind comments. Meg, yes, Gunthar is Clo's betrothed...at least, in this scene. ;-) Debra, sorry there's no giveaway this time. I'll probably hold one in the not-too-distant-future, so stay tuned!