She devised her own standards for the perfect man. Now, can she resist him?
Betina Krahn, the New York Times bestselling author of Sweet Talking Man and The Soft Touch, is at her most charming and witty in this enchanting tale of unlikely love.
She vowed never to be married....
Sister Eloise was perhaps the most well intentioned novice at the Convent of the Brides of Virtue -- and the one always in the most trouble. Headstrong and earnest, she was determined to surprise her frustrated abbess and succeed in her latest role as the convent's new husband judge.
But to do so this modest beauty, who had forsaken all carnal pleasure, must judge a warrior whose mere presence exuded a dangerous, unpredictable, and totally male sensuality.
He'd do anything to be a husband....
Peril, earl of Whitmore, needed a virtuous wife in the worst possible way. And he could think of no way worse than taking a stubborn, opinionated young novice back to his blighted estate and proving he was husband material. But in the days and nights to come he finds that the one test he can't pass is resisting this maddeningly irresistible woman.
And as the dark secret of the Whitmore estate is revealed and their passion ignited by a single forbidden touch, they find that the perfect match is often made in a far more sensuous place than heaven.
Hunter's fresh, singular voice and firm grasp of history set this lively 14th-century romance apart from the slew of mediocre historical romances. Lady Reyna, the daring Scottish widow of Robert of Kelso, becomes the pawn in a high-stakes game involving land, wealth and power when Ian Guilford, a notorious English mercenary allied with Morvan Fitzwaryn (the hero from Hunter's The Protector), lays siege to her keep. In a misguided attempt to save her people, Reyna visits Ian dressed as a courtesan, intending to seduce and kill him. Instead, she unwittingly aids him in overtaking her holding. Ian, known as much for his conquests in the bedroom as for on the battlefield, is intrigued by Reyna's feisty nature, but he soon discovers that her past is shrouded in mystery. What was the nature of Reyna's marriage to the much older Robert? Did she poison him, as many in the castle suspect, or was he murdered by someone else? And why does her childhood contain barely repressed memories of terror? The mystery unfolds with surprising twists and turns as characters from Hunter's previous novels join the action and Reyna discovers why she's suddenly become so valuable to her callous clan. An electrifying blend of history, romance and intrigue, this fast-paced tale is a testament to Hunter's considerable narrative prowess. (Dec. 4) Forecast: Hunter already has brand-name recognition, which is impressive since this is only her fourth title. Her latest will likely top the wish lists of many historical romance readers this holiday season. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
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November 26, 2001
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Excerpt from The Husband Test by Betina Krahn
One “Heaven save me from that wretched girl!” The abbess threw down her quill and slid from the tall stool at her writing table. As she kicked aside the voluminous skirt of her black woolen habit and headed for the door of her solar with both her elderly assistant and her informant in tow, she glanced skyward and issued Heaven yet another command. “And while you’re at it, you’d best save her from me.” Tension spread in an expanding wave across the enclosed green and through the open doors that faced the peaceful garden heart of the convent. The sisters of the order and their young female charges heard the scrape of feet on gravel and the muffled whispers rising in the abbess’s wake, and a number left their stitchery, looms, and tutoring to join a growing tide of curiosity at her back. A storm was brewing, and in a restrained and tautly run community of women there was nothing so fascinating as a vehement discharge of passion. It was well past midday, not long until the bells would ring None, but the long wooden dining tables were bare and the chapter dining hall was deserted. Wisps of smoke hung in the air near the kitchen steps and grew steadily thicker as the abbess and her party descended through the passage. Smells of burned onions and fish and charred flour, overlaid by something like a tincture of “wet dog,” caused her curious followers to hesitate, wince, and clutch their noses. The abbess, however, charged through the stench with veil billowing and determination hardening. There was no question now that dinner would be late, and the abbess had no doubt about who was to blame for it. Baskets of turnips, bags of flour and oats, and willow ricks of vegetables were stacked everywhere, some still bearing aromatic traces of damp earth from the underground cellars. The three long worktables in the center of the great stone chamber were cluttered with crocks, pails, wooden trenchers, and the ash-covered remains of what was once edible fish. Both the tables and the floor were covered with flour, and at the far end of the chamber, plumes of gray smoke boiled from various parts of the great stone hearth. Sister Boniface, the convent’s head cook, stood to one side with her wimple wilted and sooty, her eyes stony, and her brawny arms crossed over her bosom. Clustered behind her, eyes wide with expectation, were her kitchen staff: a pair of aged nuns, two novices assigned to the kitchens, and half a dozen orphaned scullery maids and pot boys from the nearby village. Through the haze, the abbess’s piercing gaze fixed on the singular soot-covered figure standing between the worktables and the roaring, overheated hearth. It was a young woman in a worn novice’s habit. As she turned in response to the gasps and whispers in the doorway, her gaze locked with the abbess’s and she froze. “What in the blessed name of Heaven do you think you are doing?” the abbess roared. Eloise of Argent shoved behind her back the iron skimmer she had been using to rescue some charred fish from the coals, and she felt her blood draining to her feet. She had seen that look in the abbess’s eye before ... when she improved the well and they had that little cave-in and the convent had to go without water for a day or two... “Helping Sister Boniface,” she answered, her throat tightening the way it most certainly would if the abbess could get her fingers around it. “Helping her to do what?” the abbess roared, flinging a finger at the smoking hearth. “Burn down the kitchens?” “No, Reverend Mother, I was only showing her how to fit a few more things on the ... to improve her use of the...” “Improve?” The noti