Determined to elope with a peer whose name has been blackened by his murderous brother, Lady India Lindley boards a ship bound for Italy with her intended. But when the vessel is taken captive by Ottoman pirates, the independent beauty becomes a slave to Caynan Reis, ruler of the Barbary state of El Sinut-a mysterious man with a secret past.
India doesn't expect to fall in love with this infuriating man whose will is as strong as hers-but she does. Nor does she expect that a revolt by Istanbul's powerful Janissaries will tear her from his arms. But fate has a different plan for the proud beauty...
About the Author
Bertrice Smallhas written thirty novels of historical romance and two erotic novellas. She is a New York Times bestselling author and the recipient of numerous awards. In keeping with her profession, Bertrice Small lives in the oldest English-speaking town in the state of New York, founded in 1640. Her light-filled studio includes the paintings of her favorite cover artist, Elaine Duillo, and a large library—but no computer as she works on an IBM Quietwriter 7. Her longtime assistant, Judy Walker, types the final draft. Because she believes in happy endings, Bertrice Small has been married to the same man, her hero, George, for thirty-eight years. They have a son, Thomas, a daughter-in-law, Megan, and two adorable grandchildren, Chandler David and Cora Alexandra. Longtime readers will be happy to know that Nicki the Cockatiel flourishes along with his fellow housemates, Pookie, the long-haired greige and white, Honeybun, the petite orange lady cat with the cream-colored paws, and Finnegan, the black long-haired baby of the family, who is almost two.
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"Welcome to France, madame," the duc de St. Laurent said to his mother-in-law as he handed her from her great traveling coach.
"Merci, monseigneur," Catriona Stewart-Hepburn said, curtseying stiffly, her famous leaf-green eyes making contact with the duc's but a moment and then peering beyond him anxiously.
James Leslie, the duke of Glenkirk, stepped quickly forward, a smile on his handsome face, his arms open to enfold his mother into his warm embrace.
"Jemmie!" she cried out, her eyes filling with tears even as his arms closed about her, and he kissed her soft cheek. "My bairn!"
Glenkirk laughed, and then he hugged his mother. "Hardly a bairn, madame. Nae at my age." He stepped back, and gazed upon her. " 'Tis good to see you, madame. When we learned that you would be coming, we brought over our entire brood so you could finally meet your grandchildren, some of whom are already half grown."
"And your wife, Jemmie," his mother said. "You have been married more than a decade, and I have never met her."
"Jasmine has been so busy having our bairns that I couldna let her travel. She was nae a lass when I married her after all." He tucked her hand in his arm. "Come, and let us go into the château. They are all awaiting you, my wife and family, and my sister, and her children."
"Jean-Claude," Lady Stewart-Hepburn said, turning to her son-in-law, " 'tis really quite good of you to have us all."
"The château is large," the duc de St. Laurent replied cordially, "and a few more children makes little difference."
His mother-in-law raised an eyebrow, and then she laughed. James Leslie had three sons of his own, plus two stepdaughters and two stepsons. Seven in all, and it was hardly a trifle especially when added to her daughter and son-in-law's six children. Her youngest child, her daughter, Francesca, had married her dashing French duke fourteen years ago when she was sixteen, and had lived happily with him ever since. Shortly afterward her beloved second husband, Francis Stewart-Hepburn, had grown suddenly ill, and died. But he had lived to see both of his daughters settled. Francesca with her Jean-Claude, and Jean, or Gianna as she was known, the wife of the marchese di San Ridolfi. Their son, Ian, was another matter, and had yet to settle down.
"How is Jeannie?" the duke of Glenkirk asked his mother as they entered the house.
"So Italian that you would never fathom that she was a Scot," his mother answered him.
"And Ian? What mischief is he up to these days?"
"We must speak on Ian," came the terse reply.
They entered a bright salon where the family awaited them.
"Grandmère! Grandmère!" Francesca's children rushed forth to surround her, demanding her attention as they welcomed her.
"Welcome, Mama," the duchesse de St. Laurent said as she kissed her parent. "I thank God that you have come safely to us."
"The trip is long, and it is tedious, Francesca," her mother replied, "but not dangerous." How beautiful she was, Cat thought. She has his wonderful auburn hair, and my eyes. When she smiles, I see him. She acknowledged Francesca's children, the four boys and two little girls, greeting each by name. Then, looking across the salon, Lady Stewart-Hepburn saw that her eldest son had joined a beautiful woman with night-dark hair and spectacular jewelry.
Seeing the direction of her gaze, the duke of Glenkirk led his wife forward. "Madame, my wife, Jasmine Leslie."
Jasmine curtsied gracefully. "Welcome to France, madame. I am pleased that we finally meet."
"As am I," the older woman said, kissing her daughter-in-law on both of her smooth cheeks. Then she stepped back a pace. "You are very beautiful, Jasmine Leslie, and quite different from the wife I chose for Jemmie when he was young."
"I hope I compare favorably, madame," Jasmine answered.
Lady Stewart-Hepburn laughed. "Isabelle was a sweet child, but a moon to your sun, my dear. Now, I want to meet my grandchildren! All of them! I consider your bairns mine, too, as my Jemmie has been father to them longer than their own sires, eh?"
For a brief moment, Jasmine was speechless, and her turquoise eyes grew misty. Then, recovering herself, she beckoned her offspring forward. She was truly touched that Jemmie's mother could be so generous.
"Madame, may I present my eldest child, Lady India Lindley."
The young girl curtsied prettily.
"And my eldest son, Henry Lindley, the marquis of Westleigh. My second daughter, Lady Fortune Lindley. My son, Charles Frederick Stuart, the duke of Lundy."
While the girls curtsied, the young boys bowed.
Lady Stewart-Hepburn acknowledged them graciously, saying to the eleven-and-a-half-year-old duke of Lundy, "We are distantly related, my lord, on your late father's side."
"My grandfather spoke of you once," the young duke replied. "He said you were the most beautiful woman in all of Scotland. I see he did not lie, madame."
His stepgrandmother burst out laughing. "God help us all, my lord, but you are surely a true Stuart!" She wondered what this boy would say if he knew that the now-deceased old man who had been his grandfather had once been an unstoppable satyr who had destroyed her first marriage.
"And these are Jemmie's bairns," Jasmine was continuing. "Our eldest, Patrick, then Adam, and Duncan. We had a little lass, but lost her almost two years ago. She caught measles and died a month after my dearest grandmother. She was named for that lady, and for Janet Leslie. Janet Skye."
"I remember my great-grandmother, Janet," Cat told Jasmine. "We called her Mam. She was a very formidable woman."
"As was my grandmother," Jasmine replied.
"Is it true you were once in a harem?" India Lindley suddenly burst out.
Cat turned to look at the girl. She was easily on the brink of womanhood, and every bit as beautiful as her mother with black hair and the most wonderful golden eyes. "Yes," she answered. "I was in the harem of the sultan's grande vizir."
"Which sultan?" India persisted.
"There is only one sultan," Cat said. "The Ottoman."
"Was it exciting or awful?" India's eyes were alight with unbridled curiosity.
"Both," Cat told her.
"India!" Jasmine was mortified by her daughter's outrageous behavior, but then, India was so damned headstrong, and always had been.
"My mother was raised in a harem," India volunteered.
"Was she?" Now it was Cat's turn to be intrigued.
"My father was the Grande Mughal of India," Jasmine explained. "My mother was English. She is married to the earl of BrocCairn."
"I remember your mother," Cat replied. "Velvet is her name. She stayed with us at Hermitage years ago. You don't really look like her, do you?" "I have some of her features, but I am mostly a mixture of my maternal grandmother and my father," Jasmine answered.
That would indeed account for the slightly Oriental tilt of Jasmine's unusual turquoise eyes and the faint golden tint of her skin, Lady Stewart-Hepburn thought. She let her gaze wander to the pert India. The girl had skin like milky porcelain and a faint blue sheen to her midnight-colored hair, but where had she gotten those eyes? They were like a cat's. Gold, not amber, and with tiny flecks of black in them. The older woman settled herself into a chair by the fire. France in April was a chilly place. The fuss of her arrival had died about her. Her children and their mates had ensconced themselves about her on a settee, a chair, and a stool. Her grandchildren were amusing themselves.
"How old is India?" she asked.
"She will be seventeen at the end of June," Jasmine said, suspecting what her mother-in-law would next ask. She was not disappointed.
"And she is not married?"
Jasmine shook her head.
"You had best see to it soon then," came the pithy observation. "The wench is ripe for bedding. Close to overripe, and susceptible to trouble, I would wager."
James Leslie laughed at his mother's words. "India has nae yet met a man to attract her attention, Mother. I want my girls to wed for love. I did, and I hae never been happier."
"Mam had me betrothed to your father at four, and we married but moments before your birth when I was barely sixteen," Lady Stewart-Hepburn noted. "Love was not a consideration in making the match, although I came to care for your father."
"But you loved Lord Bothwell unconditionally," the duke of Glenkirk reminded his parent. "Besides, yer first marriage took place forty-seven years ago. Times have changed since then, Mother."
"And you would allow your stepdaughter to make an unsuitable match in the name of love?" Cat was surprised to find she was appalled. I am obviously growing old, she thought.
Jasmine interposed herself between her husband and his mother in the conversation. "India will never choose unwisely, madame, for she is most proud, and extremely aware of her heritage. She is the grandchild of a great monarch, and her father's family was an old and very noble one. It pleases her that my stepfather, and her stepfather, both have ties to the royal family. She adored my grandmother, Madame Skye, and was weened upon the tales of her adventures, and her relationship with Great Bess. When the time comes, India will pick the right man."
"Have you had no offers for her?" Cat was curious.
"Several, but they did nae please India. In most cases, she felt the families involved were simply looking to her fortune, and nae to her," the duke of Glenkirk told his mother. "She was correct. India can be very astute."
"A girl in love for the first time is not always careful or wise," Cat cautioned.
"Well, as no one has yet caught India's fancy, I do not believe we have cause for worry," Jasmine replied.
The Leslies of Glenkirk had come to France to represent their country at the proxy marriage of the new king, Charles I, to the French princess, Henrietta Marie. King James had sickened, and died unexpectedly on the twenty-seventh of March. The marriage negotiations had already been concluded, although there was some difficulty about the princess's religion. Charles Stuart had no time to argue with his government. He was suddenly king, and without an heir. While he did not feel he could depart his country to personally celebrate his marriage with his father newly deceased, he felt strongly that the marriage must go forward immediately, and his queen be brought to England.
The marriage, which originally was to have been celebrated in June, was now moved forward to the first of May so Charles's enemies in the parliament would not have time to marshall their forces, and delay or prevent the match. The duke of Buckingham was to have acted as the king's proxy at the June celebration, but now he had to remain in England to attend the old king's funeral, which was set for the end of April, for it was not unusual for a king to lie in state several weeks. Instead, the duc de Chevreuse would act as the English king's proxy. Chevreuse was related to both the French royal house and the English, through their mutual ancestor, the duc de Guise. He was therefore a suitable choice, and acceptable to both sides.
Most of the English court remained in England, but Charles had asked the duke of Glenkirk and his family to attend his wedding. It would be a far more pleasant occasion than poor old Jamie's funeral, the duke conceded to his wife, and if his sister, the duchesse de St. Laurent, would ask their mother to come from Naples for a visit, Jasmine and the children could at least meet Catriona Hay Leslie Stewart-Hepburn.
The young king's reason was more personal. James Leslie himself was distantly related to Charles, and his stepson, little Charles Frederick Stuart, was the new monarch's nephew, although he had been born on the wrong side of the blanket. Such accidents of birth did not matter to the Stuarts except where the succession was concerned. They had always welcomed, recognized, and considered their bastards legitimate members of their clan. The king wanted some of his family blood at his wedding ceremony, and the Leslies of Glenkirk would acquit themselves, and therefore the Stuarts, quite well. They were also not important enough to be missed at the official mourning ceremonies since they only rarely came to court.
The St. Laurent château was in the countryside two hours from Paris. The Leslies had been included on the guest list for the signing of the marriage contract and the betrothal ceremony on the twenty-eighth of April, as well as the wedding on May first. They would attend with the five oldest children. The St. Laurents, Lady Stewart-Hepburn, and the two youngest Leslie children would come for the wedding only. The Lindley children, and their Stuart half-brother had been too young to participate in King James's court when Queen Anne had been alive. She had died the year India was eleven. The queen had adored fêtes and masques. She had loved art, music, and dancing. Her dour husband had tolerated her follies, as he called them, for love of his Annie. Once the queen had died, however, James's court became less entertaining. It was hoped that the new French queen would enliven Charles Stuart's court even as the late Anne of Denmark had enlivened the court of James Stuart.
Glenkirk and his family were astounded, even openly awed, by the elegant magnificence of the Louvre palace. There was absolutely nothing like it in England. They were met by the two royal English ambassadors, the earl of Carlisle and Viscount Kensington, who quickly escorted them to King Louis's chamber where the signing would take place. First, however, the proper protocol had to be followed. The two ambassadors handed the contract to the king and his lord chancellor to read. This done, the king signified his acceptance of the terms previously agreed upon, and only then was the princess summoned to her brother's presence.
Henrietta-Marie arrived, escorted by the queen mother, Marie di Medici, and the ladies of the court. The princess was garbed in a gown of cloth-of-gold and silver, embroidered all over with golden fleurs-de-lys, and encrusted with diamonds, rubies, emeralds, and sapphires. Once the bride had taken her place, the bridegroom's proxy was called. The duc de Chevreuse came into the king's chamber wearing a black-striped suit covered with diamonds. He bowed first to the king and then the princess. Then the duc presented his letter of authority to the king, bowing once again. Accepting it, Louis XIII handed it to the chancellor, and then signed the marriage contract. Other signatories were Henrietta-Marie, Marie di Medici, the French queen, Anne of Austria, the duc de Chevreuse, and the two English ambassadors.
The contract duly signed and witnessed, the formal religious betrothal was performed in the king's chambers by the princess's godfather, Cardinal de la Rochefoucauld, the duc de Chevreuse answering for the king of England. The ceremony over, the princess retired to the Carmelite convent in Faubourg St. Jacques to rest and pray until her wedding on the first of May, and the guests departed, the duke of Glenkirk and his family returning to Chateau St. Laurent.
On Henry Lindley's sixteenth birthday, which happened to be the thirtieth of April, the Glenkirk party, the St. Laurents, and Lady Stewart-Hepburn traveled to Paris for the royal wedding. It was better, the duc said, to go the day before rather than waiting until the first, but the roads were clogged anyway with all the traffic making its way into the city for the celebration. By chance, James's brother-in-law had a small house on the same tiny street as did Jasmine's French relations, who would not be coming for the wedding. The de Savilles lived in the Loire region, many miles from Paris, and while of noble stock, they were not important. Besides, it was springtime, and their famous vineyards at Archambault needed tending more than they needed to be in the capital for the princess's wedding to the English king, so they gladly loaned their little house to their relations.
The wedding day dawned gray and cloudy. By ten o'clock in the morning it was raining. Nonetheless, crowds had begun gathering outside of the great square before Notre-Dame the previous evening. Now the square was overflowing with people eager to see the wedding. The archbishop of Paris had gotten into a terrible row with the Cardinal de la Rochefoucauld. It was the cardinal who had been chosen to perform the wedding ceremony, despite the fact that the cathedral was the archbishop's province. The royal family had brushed aside the archbishop's protests as if he had been no more than a bothersome insect. Furious, the archbishop had retired to his country estates, not to return until after the wedding. He could not, however aggravated he might be, deny the princess the use of his palace, which was close by the cathedral, and so at two o'clock that afternoon in the pouring rain, Henrietta-Marie departed her apartments in the Louvre for the archbishop's residence in order to dress.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Bedazzled"
Copyright © 1999 Bertrice Small.
Excerpted by permission of KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Also by Bertrice Small:,
Prologue - LONDON, 1616,
Part I - ENGLAND, 1625–1626,
Part II - EL SINUT, 1626–1628,
Part III - SCOTLAND AND ENGLAND, 1627–1628,
Epilogue - OXTON, SUMMER 1629,