For five turbulent years, Ariane of Claredon has dutifully prepared herself for marriage to King Henry's most trusted vassal, the feared Norman knight Ranulf de Vernay. But cruel circumstance has branded Ariane's father a traitor to the crown. And Ranulf is returning to Calredon, not as a bridegroom...but as a conqueror.
Survivor of a hellish youth, Ranulf knows well the treacheries of noblewomen--- and mistrusts the regal, defiant beauty to whom he once was betrothed. But while he shields his wounded heart with impregnable armor, she sears his soul with sensuous fire. And though he has come to claim her lands and her body as his prize, it is the mighty Dragon who must ultimately surrender to Ariane's proud, determined passion and her remarkable healing love.
It was one of my all time favorites. I found it quite by accident and was enthralled with the story. It is about a young maiden entrusted by her her father to care for their castle while he is gone. Guilty for not being born a son, she sets forth to do her father proud. Her father is mistakenly condemed a traitor, and the castle given (without her knowledge) to a well deserving knight. It just so happens that this knight is her bethrothed that she has not seen nor heard from for half a dozen or more years. She is desperated to hold possession of the keep and goes through numerous plots to do so, earning the wrath and distrust of her betrothed in the process. Of course, she is pure in her motives and eventually the warrior becomes obsessed with her beauty both outside and within.
The warrior is a beast of a man who's only need for a woman is to fulfill his base urges. He values the land he has come to claim as well as the serfs that come with it , thus earning respect from his betrothed. She becomes his unwilling leman, and eventually his very willing bride. The warrior has to overcome his bad history with women and begin to reconcile himself with the fact that he cannot live without the woman who has come to mean so much to him.
I loved how Ms. Jordan delved into the hero's heart and head and let us know his feelings. I felt like I could really like both of these characters, both had faults that were understandable because of their pasts. There were also many wonderful bedroom (and bathroom) scenes! I adored the ending and read it over and over. I would recommend this book to anyone and it is among my top 10.
any others? drop me a line