Not sure if you're ready to commit to free until you know more about the novella? Here's the back cover copy:
For the first time in her many lives, Eve would rather be anywhere but home.STILL not sure?
In 15th Century France, Eve would have burned as a witch if it hadn’t been for the too-timely arrival of the Marquis DeLeon to save her skin. But Eve didn’t ask to be rescued, and their hasty marriage is off to anything but a smooth start. As tensions in the town grow and plague threatens, Ryam DeLeon knows if he and Eve cannot find common ground, their first Christmas may be their last.
How about a snippet?
“The crowd will thin after they’ve seen you,” Ryam murmured against her ear as he helped her from his carriage. She had not been quite prepared for such a crowd of men and women, and for a moment she remembered the mob which had come to her house in Avignon, demanding her father give her up…
She blinked and the angry mob became a host of excited faces, hoping to catch her eye. Some of the tension eased, her stomach unknotting.
“Not more than half of them will stay,” Ryam was saying, “and the children will be sent to their beds, to be sure.” He drew a pouch from inside his houppelande, and held it out to her. “Gold pieces for the children. For the Christmas goose.”
“My lady!” a mother called, holding her child tight to her chest. “My lady, please, your blessings for my son!”
Ryam smiled reassurance. “They had despaired of my ever finding a bride at all, I think, after my mother died. You would have liked her. It was her idea to start giving the people gold instead of silver.”
That was something Jesus would have appreciated, too. She took one of the coins from the pouch, frowning at it. What should have been the King’s coat of arms was instead a lion’s head, with not a fleur-de-lis to be found at all, only an odd shaped hammer on the back. If she hadn’t known any better, she would have thought it some pagan symbol. “But this is no écu.”
“The House of Lions has struck its own coins since the time of Charlemagne, though we pay our taxes in ingots,” Ryam explained, guiding her toward the women and children, lined up neatly and waiting for their coins. “We are so isolated in the mountains and so disinterested in the affairs of Europe, the king does not fear we will compete against his own currencies and very few of our Lions reach his coffers, besides.”
She gave a coin to the boy belonging to the woman who had called to her, and pressed a kiss to the child’s forehead. Beside her, Ryam did much the same, touching a little girl’s head, squeezing a boy’s shoulder, reassuring a grief-stricken widow and her twin daughters that they would not lose their farm if they could not make the rents. He might have believed they had come to see her, but a word from their Marquis, who knew them each by name, was the reason they left with their heads held higher and shoulders unbowed. Their concerns had been heard, their fears eased. She began to wonder if they had not wished to see her, only to reassure themselves that marriage had not changed their lord.
“My lady,” a young girl said softly. “If you could—me brother’s home sick in his bed, too ill even to do more than moan in his sleep. Me ma said that I might ask for an extra piece of gold, for a doctor to come see to him.”
She glanced at Ryam, but they’d been separated by so many people, all she could find of him was his blue and gold sleeve. If the boy was truly that sick, the family had probably waited too long for what passed for healing now to save him. She pressed her lips together, crouching down before the small, ash-haired girl, taking the hand held out to her.
“Tell me how it began. Was it a cough or a sore throat or aches in his body?”
“His neck hurt, my lady. That’s what he said. And then under his arms, too. Sometimes he lies in his blankets and shakes and shudders, his tongue lolling like he’s possessed. Me mam keeps him all covered, neck to toes and says we aren’t allowed near him. But his face was so dirty—I tried to wash it but the dirt is stuck to his nose.”
A chill slipped down her spine, and she swallowed against the tight ball of fear rising from her stomach. Plague. The boy had the plague. “Take me to him. At once.”
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