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The Baron's Bride

The Baron's Bride

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The Baron's Bride

Length:
184 pages
3 hours
Publisher:
Released:
Jan 8, 2012
ISBN:
9781466107915
Format:
Book

Description

It is the turbulent thirteenth century and Henry III is facing rebellion by Simon de Montfort. Eva, more concerned with her own fate, is plotting how to make her father agree to her marriage with her cousin Gilbert, when she is told she is to marry the rich and influential Sir Piers de Granfort. Gilbert is poor, but they try to escape. These attempts all fail, to Eva's fury and despair, and she finally meets Sir Piers, who is not so old as she expected. She also meets the lovely widow whose eldest son is named Piers, and who looks remarkably like Sir Piers. What are they to one another? And why, if they are in love, do they not marry? Taken to her new home Eva tries to solve these puzzles.

Publisher:
Released:
Jan 8, 2012
ISBN:
9781466107915
Format:
Book

About the author

Most writers can't help themselves! It's a compulsion. Getting published, though, is something really special, and having been so fortunate myself I now try to help aspiring writers by handing on tips it took me years to work out. I've published over 60 titles, including four in the How To Books' Successful Writing Series, and Writing Historical Fiction for Studymates. I have judged short story competitions, been a final judge for the Harry Bowling Prize and was an adviser to the 3rd edition of Twentieth Century Romance and Historical Writers 1994. If you want to find out more about your favourite authors, consult this book. I once wrote an article on writing romantic fiction for the BBC's web page, for Valentine's day. I have given talks and workshops for the Arts Council and at most of the major Writing Conferences, and helped establish the Romantic Novelists' Association's annual conference. I was Chairman of the RNA 1991-3, ran their New Writers' Scheme and edited their newsletter. I am now a Vice-President. As well as writing I have edited books for Transita, featuring women 'of a certain age', and for Choc Lit where gorgeous heros are the norm. I was asked to write A Century of Achievement, a 290 page history of my old school, Queen Mary's High School, Walsall, and commissioned to write a book on Castles and Corvedale to accompany a new circular walk in the area. Most of my Regencies written under the pseudonym Sally James are now published in ebook format as well as many others of my out of print novels which my husband is putting into ebook format. Our daughter Debbie is helping with designing the covers. For details of all my books and my many pseudonyms see my website.


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The Baron's Bride - Marina Oliver

THE BARON’S BRIDE

BY

MARINA OLIVER

It is the turbulent thirteenth century and Henry III is facing rebellion by Simon de Montfort.

Eva, more concerned with her own fate, is plotting how to make her father agree to her marriage with her cousin Gilbert, when she is told she is to marry the rich and influential Sir Piers de Granfort.

Gilbert is poor, but they try to escape. These attempts all fail, to Eva's fury and despair, and she finally meets Sir Piers, who is not so old as she expected.

She also meets the lovely widow whose eldest son is named Piers, and who looks remarkably like Sir Piers. What are they to one another? And why, if they are in love, do they not marry?

Taken to her new home Eva tries to solve these puzzles.

The Baron’s Bride

By Marina Oliver

Copyright © 2016 Marina Oliver

Smashwords Edition

The moral right of the author has been asserted

Cover Design by Debbie Oliver

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or distributed in any form, including digital and electronic or mechanical, without the prior written consent of the Publisher, except for brief quotes for use in reviews.

Smashwords Edition, License Notes

This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you are reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please return it to Smashwords.com and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.

First print edition published 1986 by Robert Hale

See details of other books by Marina Oliver at

http:/www.marina-oliver.net

AUTHOR NOTE

I have always loved visiting castles, and wanted to set a story where they play a part. As in other times, marriage for family gain, in wealth or influence, where a girl's preferences are ignored, is a feature of the time, and gives rise to interesting plots.

THE BARON’S BRIDE

BY MARINA OLIVER

Chapter 1

Eva sat calmly on the stool, her head bowed, but beneath her outward submissiveness she boiled with anger and resentment. After a few moments she raised her eyes, now icily blue, and glanced through long, thick lashes at her father who stood near the narrow window looking down into the outer bailey.

He was absentmindedly pulling at his lower lip, a certain sign that he was perturbed. He'll be even more worried soon, Eva vowed to herself. He swung round towards her and she hastily lowered her gaze for fear he should read the rebellion in her eyes.

'So you realise the need for exemplary behaviour, child. This marriage is a greater one than I could have hoped for you, and you must do nought to give Sir Piers a disgust of you. He has proposed the marriage because my lands will round out his estates, but I doubt whether he would proceed if he felt you were unsuitable to take to wife.'

Eva risked looking up at him, hoping her thoughts did not reveal themselves in her expression.

'I had not looked to marry yet awhile,' she said in a soft controlled voice. 'I hoped to come home with you, indeed I thought that was the reason for your visit. Is it not time I took charge of your household?'

'You are past seventeen, child, high time for you to have a home of your own and start giving me grandchildren. As for me, I have managed these past fifteen years since your dear mother died in 1244 and I do not need a housekeeper.'

'You married Mother because you loved her,' Eva said persuasively. 'Alice always told me how much you cared for her.'

'Alice was a romantic fool and filled your head with nonsense. A man is bound to love his wife,' Edmund de Beauville said gruffly. 'She pleased me but it was an unwise marriage. Your mother, God rest her soul, brought me almost nothing. I have never been able to take a proper part in the affairs of the realm as I feel I could have done. King Henry needs men born in England to advise him rather than his wife's Poitevin relations, who want only the power and wealth he showers on them.'

'I thought most of the Poitevins had fled to France,' Eva said, recalling remarks she had heard on this subject, but her father did not appear to listen, he was still talking.

'There has been too little time, I have been too preoccupied with wresting the last penny I could out of my lands to provide adequately for you.'

Eva sighed. It was a frequent theme. Her father had a comfortable fortune but yearned to participate in Court affairs. He frequently complained of the King's shortcomings, suggesting the remedies he would apply if only he knew more men of influence, or could be at Court more often himself.

'Sir Piers is a trusted adviser to the King's brother,' her father was saying, almost to himself. 'Richard of Cornwall was always very capable, a pity he was the younger. The barons trust him more too, he might be able to bring de Montfort under control. That man is far too powerful, married to the King's sister, ruling Gascony, making peace treaties with France. Did you know he even suggested himself as Regent in France when the Queen Mother died and King Louis was on crusade a few years ago? And he was nobody, a younger son, with no proper claim to the earldom of Leicester either!'

'Marguerite said Simon de Montfort gave up his castles at Odiham and Kenilworth,' Eva remarked.

'In exchange for Winchester!' Sir Edmund snorted. 'He's still too ambitious, wants to control even the King. Let's hope Earl Richard is a match for him. The King's too easily swayed. No doubt Richard has learnt a great deal while he's been away in Germany, and I may be able to put my ideas forward through your husband. I never believed it possible, my little Eva wed to a close friend of the King of the Romans!'

'When is it to be?' Eva asked abruptly, knowing it was useless to protest against the marriage while her father was flushed with his triumph, and weary of hearing his gloating tones. What did she care about the quarrels between the King and his barons, when her own happiness was at stake? It might be difficult to persuade her father, for once set on a course Sir Edmund de Beauville would rarely be deflected. But she reassured herself she possessed some of his obstinacy, and he would learn that in so important a matter as her marriage she would not be forced against her will. She would find a way of avoiding it even if it meant entering the cloister.

'As soon as Sir Piers is free to claim you,' Sir Edmund replied complacently. 'He wrote he expected to be in Oxfordshire before the beginning of Lent and the wedding will take place at once or at Eastertide,' he declared.

Two weeks, possibly three before he came, Eva was thinking. Not a great deal of time, but enough for her to act. She scarcely listened to her father as he talked on, telling her how he expected her to conduct herself. If all else failed, she suddenly realised, she might by design offend the unknown Sir Piers so deeply he would himself refuse to take her.

With this thought she smiled brightly at her father and he was struck yet again at her likeness to the girl he had married twenty years before. A girl who, despite his denials, he had married for her beauty and willingness to adore him, disregarding her lack of worldly possessions.

Eva was just like her mother, although slightly taller. She was of middle height for a woman whereas Eleanor had been petite. Her figure was slender but shapely. Ripe for marriage, he thought with satisfaction. Sir Piers would be a difficult man to please if he were not content with the lovely heart-shaped face, clear complexion and bright blue eyes. She wore a close fitting dark green gown of fine woollen cloth, intricately embroidered at the neck, which suited her to perfection. Her long russet hair was braided into shells over her ears, only partially concealed by the lacy crespin which covered it.

Lady Isabella had trained her well in the years she had spent at Holdfast, he thought complacently. She had docile and pleasing manners and would be a credit to him.

*

Soon, and Eva suspected thankfully, her father set off on his long journey home.

'The river was running high, and those black clouds promise more rain,' he explained anxiously.

She helped him wrap the fur-lined cloak about his somewhat ample figure and accompanied him to the stables where he mounted Faithful, the ancient charger he always rode. Followed by two men armed with clubs he went through the gate, Faithful breaking into a lumbering trot as his rider took the westward track beyond the drawbridge, past the bare fields then skirting the forest before it plunged into the valley and across the river, which at this season was only just fordable. Eva picked up her skirts and ran swiftly up the outside stairs to the curtain wall where a couple of men were always on duty scanning the surrounding country.

She spared no glance towards her father's retreating figure, but walked quickly along the allure inside the wall to where one of the men stood.

'Gilbert, I must talk to you.'

The man she spoke to turned and smiled down at her. He was above the average in height, fair haired, blue eyed and ruddy cheeked. In age he looked less than his five and twenty years with his smooth open face.

'I'm longing to hear what my dear uncle had to say,' he replied resentfully. 'He did not even ask to speak with me.'

'I don't think he knew you were here,' she said slowly. 'I dared not tell him, for – oh, Gilbert, he has promised me to some horrid old man!'

She shivered and drew her gown closer about her in a fruitless effort to keep out the chill of the cold February day.

'What? Who? Eva, what did he say?' Gilbert asked urgently.

'All manner of things, that he was rich, it would be a triumph for me, he would be able to influence the King through his brother, and that he didn't marry Mother for love when everyone knows he did!'

'Hold a moment, Eva, who do you mean? I can't follow all these hes. Wait,' he said, turning away from her to stare out across the distant undulating hills and the nearer fields beyond the cluster of cottages outside the castle gate. 'We can't talk here, I'm supposed to be on duty and Robert is looking suspicious.'

'Robert!' Eva exclaimed scornfully, glancing at the other man on the opposite side of the battlements. 'Surely you're not afraid of him?'

'Of course not, but he's jealous and will complain of me if he has the slightest excuse. I'll not progress in Lord Henry's favour if that happens. I finish the watch soon, I'll meet you in the stables.'

With that Eva had to be content. She went listlessly down to the courtyard and stopped for a while to talk to the farrier, warming her hands at his fire and telling him yet again the story of Faithful, who had saved her father's life by standing over his master when he had been unseated during the Poitevin expedition, when Eva herself had been a baby, until help had arrived. Then, seeing Gilbert's relief walking along the battlements towards her cousin, she casually strolled across to the stables and went into the stall where her own mare, Fleet, greeted her enthusiastically.

'Fleet, Fleet, what shall I do?' Eva whispered, burying her face into the mare's rough mane which was almost the same colour as her own reddish brown hair.

Fleet snuffled, nuzzling Eva's hand in search of the apple she normally brought, and when finding no offering turned back with a snort to the net of hay she had been nibbling. Eva laughed slightly, then looked up as Gilbert slipped into the stall beside her.

'Gilbert, he's coming before the beginning of Lent. We must think of something.'

Gilbert took her hands in his and pulled her towards him, dropping a swift kiss on her cheek.

'Eva, be calm. Who is he? What man has your father chosen?'

'Sir Piers de Granfort,' she replied impatiently. 'I can't see that it matters since I'll not wed him or anyone else but you.'

'Granfort!' Gilbert whistled softly. 'I've heard much of him, he is an important baron as well as rich. He's been in Germany with Richard of Cornwall for two years, and before that I heard he had some dealings with Llywelyn when the Welsh objected to Prince Edward's bailiff setting up shires there.'

'Well, that didn't do much good, Llywelyn controls all of Wales now,' Eva said impatiently, 'and it doesn't concern me.'

Gilbert drew her close and kissed her again.

'Of course not, my love. What did you tell your father?'

'What could I say? I had no warning, no idea he was coming to visit me until he arrived. I dared not say we wished to marry just like that, he'd have been so angry he'd never have listened to me.'

'Then can we never tell him?' he demanded, stepping slightly back from her. 'I ought to approach him now, before this Sir Piers arrives to claim you. I'll tell him how we feel about one another, plead for the right to make you happy.'

Eva shook her head. 'It would do no good. You should know him better than that. Once he is determined on something it takes more than mere pleading to move him. He must be prepared, made to think it is his idea to change his mind,' Eva said briskly. 'I am sure that if I had been warned, had time to think of the best way of telling him we loved one another, he would have been willing to consider it.'

Gilbert shook his head slowly. 'I doubt if he ever will. I'm far from rich but one day you will inherit all his lands. He would not consider me suitable. Sir Piers is extremely wealthy, far more so even than your father. It's a triumph for him to have found such a husband for you.'

'But he is old!' Eva protested. 'He is friend to Richard of Cornwall and he must be well over fifty!'

'But rich, able to offer you far more than I can,' Gilbert said slowly. 'If your father can wed you to such a man he would never consider permitting you to marry me.'

'Gilbert, he must!' Eva exclaimed. 'I love you! I won't marry anyone else!'

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