In war torn England the battle lines between Saxon and Norman are clearly drawn. The Saxons must fight for everything they have in the hopes of winning their country back from the Normans who are determined to break their resistance. Rowena Godwinson, the sole remaining member of the defeated royal family, stands proudly against the Normans that would trample them underfoot.
When the new King decrees she marry a powerful Norman knight, her subjugation appears to be complete. The handsome soldier with the kind brown eyes and gentle touch is a threat to her determination to defy the interlopers. Can she hold firm to her Saxon heritage and refuse to give in to his advances? John of Normandy resists marriage and wants only to prove himself worthy of William's trust but when rewarded by King William with the gift of an earldom and a Saxon bride, he balks at marriage, driven by the guilt of knowing her father died by his sword. However, John's reluctance is soon replaced by a deep desire to please this woman and win her over as well as her people. As their people look to them for guidance and peace, can John and Rowena find a love that unites all of England?
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A Norman. I have been given to a Norman to wife.
Rowena Godwinson, daughter of the late Earl of Essex and the last living member of that powerful Saxon family, stood before her reflection in the polished brass. The wedding gown passed down through three generations of Godwin women before her, draped softly across the shoulders, skimming down her waist and falling over the tips of her deerskin slippers. She blinked back with vacant eyes.
Fear tripped up her spine and her stomach clenched. She had lived among the victors for nigh on five years now. Their disdain for her people was quite obvious. Now the man who had usurped her own uncle as rightful king at the Battle of Hastings had ordered her to marry. With both parents dead, she was his ward.
Rowena clenched her teeth and turned to the window. She glimpsed the slate roof of the chapel beyond the trees where the nuptials would take place this very day. Her family's chapel. Countless celebrations with uncles, close friends, and more cousins than she could name, had taken place there. Those were happy years.
Rowena looked at the drawn face of her handmaiden, Joan. The blonde sheen of her hair, long gone with the stress of the circumstances and occupation they were all forced to live under.
Joan gulped. "Do you think he will be kind to you? Tonight, I mean?"
Rowena's breath caught in her throat. The marriage bed. How would her husband treat her? With kindness? As her husband, he gained much by this union. A lot of responsibility, yes, but also power. Some men loved power.
She tipped her chin up.
"I believe he will be kind as I will give him no reason not to be."
Joan's eyes rounded. Rowena smiled tightly.
"Fear not, Joan. I will be amicable."
"My lady, would that I could impart upon you my own knowledge, but I have none. Your mother's death before she prepared you leaves you in a bad way."
"Perhaps he will be a gentle man. John." His name was all she knew.
"Yes, my lady. He is one of William's most trusted knights."
"A warrior." Rowena's tone was flat and for an instant she saw again her father. Cold and dead. Blood all around. She forced the memory aside. "Then he will be a good protector."
"Yes, but of whom?"
Always an avid romance reader herself, Ashley York enjoys bringing history to life through vibrant and meaningful characters, writing historical romance novels full of passion and intrigue set in the 11th and 12th century British Isles. Her newest release, The Saxon Bride, is the first in the Norman Conquest series.
When she is not writing, talking about writing, or thinking about writing, Ashley relaxes with visits to the local pubs listening to live Celtic tunes. She lives in southern New England with her husband and 3 very spoiled animals.