A wish upon a star transports the luckless-in-love Jessica Blakely back in time to the thirteenth century. But her desire for a fair and gallant knight yields the fearsome Richard De Galtres. And it will take her tender touch–and stubborn will–to pierce his armor-clad heart…
Let me first state that I have never read a book penned by Lynn Kurland before an after finishing this one, I am in love. This book was just perfection to me an it had me hooked within the first couple chapters – it was that good. Everything was just perfect – the characters, the settings, and the story. I suppose it does help that I love a story with a bit of time traveling in it, I mean who wouldn’t want to be given the chance to go back in time to see the past, to walk the paths of great men and women before our time, to live and breath the same air, and see the un-altered land before everything was torn apart for our modern conveniences. This book just left me hungering for more, it was like a bag of delicious chocolate chip cookies that melt in your mouth and the tastiest morsel of this story was Jessica and Richards relationship.
At times it was down right hilarious – made me snicker a few times – an at other times, it was sweet and beautiful. Richard is a big brutal knight whom seldom gets challenged by others. He has harden himself and his heart off from everyone due to his unpleasant cruel childhood but he slowly lets Jessica in, letting her love him and he love her in return. I loved how when he wanted Jessica to do something or to listen to him (she is a bit independent and free spirited), he would bring up that he was wearing the ring at the moment so therefore it made him Lord and the ‘boss’ of their chambers.
Jealousy… boy is Richard one jealous man when he feels his territory (ie: his lady) is threatened by another man. The jealousy he displays when his friend Kendrick shows up at his castle is priceless, so much so that he became a brooding, bossy, grumpy, and possessive man around Jessica.
When I got to the end of the book, I was so happy that they got their happy ending and that it swayed the way I was hoping for. I will definitely be checking out more of Lynn Kurland’s books that’s for sure.
A hint of a smile crossed Robin’s features and he took Jessica’s hand. “Well met, then, lady. I vow I despaired of this one ever finding a woman strong enough to face him. You must be accustomed to holding your ground.” “The tales I could tell you,” Richard muttered. “But I won’t,” he added at Robin’s pursed lips. “Trust me, my lord, she holds her own very well. I’m sure the lady Anne will find her much to her liking.”
“Jessica,” he began. “Just leave me alone!” He turned her around. That she only hesitated briefly before she allowed it was a very good sign, to his mind. He pulled her close, then ran his blood-caked hand over her hair as gently as he knew how. She liked that. He would have walked from Hadrian’s wall to London on his hands if she’d liked that, too. Saints, what a fool love made of a normally sane man. He rested his bruised cheek against her hair. “Jess,” he whispered, “it was talk you shouldn’t have heard.” She tried to pull away, but he tightened his arms around her. “I said things I didn’t mean.” “You creep, then you don’t care about me at all!” “I care,” he said, forcing the words from between suddenly parched lips. He was so terrified, he was shaking. If she turned and walked away now, he wasn’t sure he would survive.
“I love you,” she said. “What brought that on?” She smiled. “It’s like a fever. It comes and goes. I think your smiles bring it on.” “Then remind me to give you more of them.” She rested her head against his chest and couldn’t help but marvel over how changed he was. He soaked up every expression of love she gave him. She watched him as he listened to her laugh or watched her smile. It broke her heart a little to see how hungry he was for such simple things, so she did her best to give them to him in abundance. She’d been repaid a hundredfold just by seeing his own smile and hearing his laugh.
Besides, as much as she loved Bruckner’s symphonies, he just couldn’t touch a man who had painted his bedroom walls with views of the sea to please her, who gave his precious smiles to her alone, who wept when he watched his daughter sleep.
Jessica jumped up, avoided Richard’s hand when he tried to grab her, and strode to the door. She jerked it open, slammed it behind her, and fled up the stairs. She heard the door bang not five seconds later and heavy footsteps come running up behind her. She hadn’t made it to the roof before Richard had caught her and spun her around. “Just leave me alone,” she spat. “You rude, arrogant jerk!” “Me?” he thundered. “Why, you stubborn, arrogant shrew!” “I am not arrogant!” “Aye, you are!” She turned her face away, hoping she wouldn’t make a fool of herself by crying. “Please,” she said quietly. “Please, just leave me alone.” He was silent so long that she finally had to look at him. By the light of the torch, she saw the expression she hadn’t seen since the first night he’d kissed her. Intensity. He backed her up against the wall, set her bodily on the step above him, and rested his foot on the step above her. She was trapped. Happily. “I can’t,” he whispered. “I want to and I’ll be damned for it, I’m sure, but I can’t leave you be.” And then he kissed her. His kiss was painful. Jessica managed to move her head from beneath his only by scraping the back of it against the stone. “You’re hurting me,” she gasped.
If Jessica had been pleased with his work, that was enough. He had bent to his work and poured his entire soul, black as it might have been, into fashioning something beautiful for his lady. His lady. He could no longer think of her as anything else. And that was the thought that left him standing in the lists, useless and fair blinded by the thought of his poor heart being so exposed.
“I want a bath.” “Only if I’m there to give it to you,” he said, then heard his words and wondered where they’d come from. Oh, aye, he was trying to keep her safe. It would be a poor thing indeed if all his fine tending was ruined by a foolish bath. “Richard!” Her face was scarlet. Richard suppressed the urge to pull his suddenly stifling tunic away from his neck. “You’ll require aid,” he said defensively. “Would you rather have Warren help you?” “I’d rather have that little girl that helps Cook.” “She’s a child. She isn’t strong enough to hold you up should you faint.” “I don’t want you to do it,” Jessica insisted. Richard set his jaw. This wasn’t the time or the place he’d wanted to discuss their betrothal, but Jessica was being ridiculous and likely only because she didn’t understand their situation. “I have every right to do it,” he growled. Her gaze flew to his. She looked startled. “I beg your pardon?” “Those words we spoke,” he said, gesturing in the direction of the bed. “You remember which ones.” She ducked her head so quickly he didn’t have a chance to see the effect of his words. “The betrothal?” Her voice was barely audible. He cleared his throat roughly. “Aye,” he answered. “The betrothal.”
“Jessica,” Kendrick purred. “A lovely name for an even more beautiful woman.” Jessica laughed as she pulled her hand away. “That’s pretty good. Would it be rude to label you a womanizer right now?” Richard almost gasped at her cheek but Kendrick laughed. “Astute and beautiful. Tell me, Lady Jessica. Whence do you hail?” “’Tis on no map you’ll ever see,” Richard interrupted with a grumble. Jessica smiled serenely. “It is rather far away.” “Then it will obviously require a great deal of time to explain where it is,” Kendrick said delightedly, as if he’d just come up with a brilliant scheme. “Richard, fetch some weak wine and join us in your solar. I’m sure being out in this sun cannot be good for this sweet maid.” Richard took Jessica’s hand and pulled her away. “This sweet maid, as you call her, has work to do. Go finish my floor, Jessica. I’m sure Kendrick will survive without your attentions for the next little while.” “How possessive you are, my lord,” Kendrick said, his eyes twinkling. “This is a new side of you, Richard. It’s charming, truly.”
“I’m so happy,” she whispered. “I never thought I would ever be this happy.” Richard put his arms around her and held her to him. He rested his cheek against her hair and let her words sink deep into his heart. “Any reason why?” he asked, trying to sound casual. “You, of course,” she said. “How . . .” She pulled her head back and looked up at him. “Because you are a sweet, tender, passionate man and you treat me like you might just love me.” He smiled weakly. “Indeed.” She reached up and touched his mouth. “There’s that smile again.” “A poor one.” “It’s better than no smile at all. Don’t grin, though. I have to be sitting down for that.” She brushed past him and started down the steps. “Have a nice day, dear.” “Dear? How mean you that?” he asked.
“Good morrow to you, Jessie,” Kendrick called. “Jessica,” Richard said, giving Kendrick another jerk. “Her name is Jessica!”
The blush started at her toes and worked its way up. She threw her right arm over her face. “Go dry your hair,” she said, mortified. “Please.” Richard gently pulled her arm away and peered down at her, his expression grave. “Are you in pain? Saints, but the fever has begun again. You’re flushed.” “I’m embarrassed!” He blinked. “Why?” Jessica ignored the fact that Warren was standing not a handful of feet away from them, listening as if being able to repeat every word was imperative to his survival. “If you don’t know,” she said tartly, “I’m not about to tell you.” Realization dawned. She saw it in his eyes. And in the color that leaped to his cheeks. He lowered her arm to her side carefully and frowned. “No one else saw,” he muttered. “You did!” “What was I to do?” he countered defensively. “Leave you be?” “No,” she moaned. He took her chin in his hand and forced her to look at him. “I tended you as best I knew how,” he said roughly. “I wasn’t about to leave you to some addle-witted leech.”
If Richard trusted anyone with his life, it would have been Kendrick of Artane. But trust Kendrick with his woman? Not a chance in hell. He strode across the lists, intent on intercepting Artane’s lad before he spotted Jessica.
Richard opened the door, then stood back. “After you, my lady.” Jessica walked into the room and gasped. She turned around and around, trying to take in the entire view. He had painted the bedroom walls. Talk about an unobstructed ocean view. It was more magnificent than she ever could have imagined. She laughed and threw herself at him. “You’re amazing,” she said breathlessly. “It’s beautiful!” “Nay,” he said, shutting the door and bolting it. “You are the beautiful one.”
He pulled himself back up straight into his chair. Then, before she had any idea what he’d planned, he pulled her down into his lap. She fell, surprised. His embrace was passionless; more comforting than anything. She didn’t mind. It was too late at night for anything else. Richard yawned as he snuggled her close and rested his cheek against the top of her head. “I’m not good at apologizing,” he said with another yawn. She pulled back and put her hand over his mouth. “Yes, you are. Apology accepted.”
“You’ll not go anywhere,” he announced. “Yes, I will,” she said, through gritted teeth. “You’ll use a chamber pot.” “I will not!” He thrust his hand in front of her face. The heavy silver ring sat prominently on his middle finger. “This says you’ll obey me,” he growled. “You’ll use the chamber pot because I command you to do so!” “You’ll have to hold me there and that just isn’t going to happen,” Jessica argued. “What is the difference between that and—” “Richard!” He made a sound of impatience. “’Tis nothing to be ashamed of, Jessica. I would expect the same care from you. And if memory serves, I had it when I had the fever before. Isn’t that so?” “It was different.” “Aye, ’twas me with my arse bared to the daylight!”
Jessica tended Kendrick’s hurts before the fire and Richard only had to unclench his fists two or three times. And then his turn came. He sat down on the floor and Jessica fussed over him. He couldn’t remember the last time someone had done the like. It had probably been at Artane years ago. Somehow, Lady Anne’s touch hadn’t pleased him as Jessica’s did. When she pulled away, he opened his eyes to beg her not to cease, then realized there was nothing left to do. He caught her by the hand and pulled her close, not caring that Kendrick sat behind him and was likely on the verge of laughing. He very carefully pressed his lips against hers. “Thank you.” “You’re extremely welcome.”
Eventually, after listening to a good deal of grumbling and muttering, Jessica felt the bed dip. A calloused hand reached for hers. “It is late?” she asked. “Late enough.” “Hold me?” How gentle were those powerful arms as they gathered her close. Jessica pressed her face against Richard’s neck and sighed at the pleasure of the warmth. His hint of a beard was rough against her forehead but she didn’t mind that either. She put her hands on the hard wall of his chest and let the heat of his body seep into hers. Richard’s hand trembled as he brushed her hair back from her face and she knew it was because he was trying to be gentle. She snuggled closer to him and felt herself drifting off to sleep.
“Woman, if you leave me smelling like roses . . . I’ll see you regret it,” he warned.
He cleared his throat roughly. “I’m not gentle,” he said, tossing the words away as if they pained him. Jessica had no idea where that had come from, but she had the feeling he was comparing himself to Kendrick’s suave ways. She looped her arms around his neck. “You are,” she said, “the most gentle, passionate man I’ve ever met.” He didn’t move. “Have you met many?” “No. Would it matter if I had?” “It would matter only in that I will be dead several hundred years before they are born and I cannot find them and geld them.” “You’re very chivalrous.” “I’m spoiling you,” he mumbled.
“I am not a gentle man,” Richard said, against her mouth. “Uh-huh,” she said as he lifted her in his arms. “Nor am I a practiced lover,” he said as he carried her across the room. “Nobody’s perfect,” she managed as he lowered her to the bed. “But I do love you,” he said as he stretched out next to her and leaned over her. “And I will give you the best that I have.”
She felt sleep creeping up on her like a relentless tide. She tried to summon up a craving for German chocolates. Or New York traffic. Late-night television. Nope. What she really needed was currently scratching her back with the most careful of scratches, humming an off-key melody under his breath. Jessica smiled.
It was cold. Richard tried to put a cloak around Jessica’s shoulders but she shook it off. “Jessica,” he said helplessly. She said nothing. He realized in that moment that silence was his usual response. No wonder she became so irritated by it. Kendrick built a fire. Richard tried to eat but found his appetite had gone the way of his lady’s affection, if she’d ever felt it at first. “Jessica?” he called softly, trying to get her to look at him. She did. He wished she hadn’t. The hurt in her eyes made his own eyes burn. He started to reach out to her, but she moved aside, then crawled to her feet. She walked down the shore and Richard rose to go after her. Kendrick’s hand on his ankle stopped him. “You hurt her, you fool,” Kendrick accused. “How do I apologize?” “Try, ‘I’m sorry. Forgive me.’ It has been known to work wonders.” “She’ll never believe me now.” “And you want her to?” “Of course I want her to, idiot!” Kendrick released his ankle and smiled smugly. “I knew you loved her.” “A fat bloody lot of good it does me now!” Richard thundered. “Thanks to you, you blabbering fool!”
He was, and she had to swallow very hard to keep from choking, the most terribly beautiful man she had ever seen. He had a long, wicked scar that traveled from his temple down his cheek to the side of his chin and below his jaw. Somehow, though, it just didn’t detract from his handsomeness, dark though that was. His face was all planes and angles, harsh even in the deepening gloom. His hair was dark and his eyes were full of cynicism.
“Jessica,” he whispered hoarsely. “Ah, merciful saints above, I thought I’d never have you again.” He clutched her to him. “Say you’ll never leave me. Vow you’ll never leave my arms again. Nay, I’ll never let you go.” He held her tighter. “Nothing will take you from me again, not even time. No more wishes. No more wishes unless we make them together.”
• “What?” Richard demanded. John merely shook his head and smiled. “She rides very well.” “What?” Richard turned to see his horse’s rump now far in the distance. “Damn that woman!”