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Just when you thought the air conditioner was cool enough, here comes Lord Hugh…and those intense blue eyes….
Here’s the latest: Young widow Eleanor of Strathcombe has never a met a more infuriating man than her arrogant neighbor, Lord Hugh of Wykeham. First he accuses her of being responsible for the poachers running rampant, then he begins feuding with her over the control of their forest boundaries. Not about to give in to him, Eleanor strikes back. But unsettling feelings confront her as she deals with Hugh, feelings she never felt in her brief, loveless marriage.
When Lord Hugh returns from the Crusade to discover his forest is being poached upon, he’s justifiably furious. Knowing that his people would never betray him, it’s clear it must be that Lady Eleanor whose lands border his–a woman who obviously has not the faintest idea about how to run an estate and is too busy fluttering and dithering about to take care of business. Sure that she will quickly succumb to his demands, Hugh is astounded when instead the she stands up to him. And as the attraction builds between them, he’s forced to realize that his assumptions about Eleanor were all wrong. But he’ll have to learn trust to win this young widow’s heart…
Check it out, dear readers, and turn up the AC!
Naturally, Lady Eleanor has no idea that the U.S.A. will exist, since she lives in England, in 1272, but, if she knew, she would laud the brave knights–er–military who have served their country well and kept it free. Eleanor knows something of bravery herself, she who confronts that arrogant Lord Hugh and the sleazy Lord Litchfield to keep her lands and even her young sister safe. Never underestimate the power of an intelligent young woman, right, dear readers? Ah, and how that intelligence can be used to further her own interests, especially that interest especially targeted at Lord Hugh….
Of course, Lady Eleanor has no idea Hawaii even exists, but, if she did, she would love to be there with (sigh!) Lord Hugh….The spirit of aloha, indeed…..
Eleanor wishes all a very happy Christmas (as they say in England). Clasping her hands together in wishful thinking, she admits to herself that her Christmas would be complete with a special visit from (you guessed it!) that handsome Lord Hugh. Will he arrive with all his knights to toast the Christmas Eve in the Great Hall? She gazes out the window at her forests, hoping against hope she will see his entourage making its way through the trees. Do you think he can put aside his quarrel with her for just one day and feel the Christmas spirit? Ah, truth be told, he does have feelings for her, as well, but chooses to try and ignore them. We never know what the magic of Christmas can bring, dear readers!
Ah, yes, he doesn’t resemble the rotund fellow garbed in red with whom we are familiar, but Eleanor knows this San Nicola, the original Santa Claus. She has a few wishes for gifts under the tree, and one of them has intense blue eyes, a haughty manner, and–she is sure–a heart she wants to try to win. Will she receive her wish, dear reader?
Yes, gentle readers, above is Pontefract Castle, West Yorkshire, England, whose turbulent history is memorialized in some of Shakespeare’s plays as “Pomfret Castle.” Indeed, this could very well be where Lady Eleanor meets Lord Hugh, only to fall head-over-heels for his blue-eyed gaze that stares right through her to the depths of her very being . His castle is not far, a few hours’ ride. Marcie’s ancient ancestor, Lord Thomas Darcy, Baron of Templehurst, held that castle for King Henry VIII — until Lord Thomas led the Pontefract Rebellion against the king — an action which did not endear him to Henry. Alas, thus, Lord Thomas’s life was ended at the Tower of London, in King Henry’s usual fashion. Lady Eleanor does not know this, because of course, she lives in 1272, almost three hundred years before this sad event. To her, Pontefract is home…and, much as she hates to admit it to herself, how she dreams of sharing it with Lord Hugh. Her rebellious nature (genetic, no doubt!) leads her to confront Lord Hugh angrily time after time during their meetings about the forest poachers and demand that he treat her with respect. Lord Hugh, however, is quite sure no woman is neither to be trusted or respected. Eleanor has her work cut out for her, and so she paces the floors in the castle, planning and plotting how to vanquish Hugh, once and for all. Oh, but would not Lord Hugh grace the Great Hall with his handsome, arrogant face?
Yes, he united all the islands, the first ruler to do so. Eleanor has no idea, of course. The only uniting she cares about is seeing Lord Hugh again — and under kinder circumstances than the last time, when he condescended to her, as always. Why is he always so arrogant? Why does he not trust her intelligence? Eleanor sighs. She will vanquish him; just give her time! Then, he’ll see what ruling really means.
Eleanor greets Valentine’s Day with a mixture of dread and longing….After all, that handsome Lord Hugh is never far from her thoughts, but oh, so far from her embrace! But, how can she wish to be with him, be held by him, when, at the same time, she dreads his presence? ‘Tis a constant frustration, to be sure, because when she sees him and his intense, blue-eyed gaze, her heart races, and yet, once he speaks in that condescending tone, chiding her for allowing poachers to ravage their forests, fury bubbles up in her, and she has to stifle the sarcastic words she would be so happy to say, but knows she should not. After all, he threatens to arrange to have her forests remanded to her liege lord, the disgusting Lord Litchfield, so to anger him further would not be politic. Ah, but Valentine’s Day….if only the forest problem could be resolved, then, then, perhaps she could receive her Valentine’s Day hope. What think you, dear reader?
Eleanor does think this small creature quite adorable, even thought ’tis not the hedgehog she is familiar with here in medieval England, but she does know the legend and custom behind it and this day, which is to celebrate Candlemas Day. “If Candlemas be fair and bright, Come, Winter, have another flight. If Candlemas brings clouds and rain, Go Winter, and come not again.” So, she is attentive to the weather outside the castle today. She will light candles and wait for the day to unfold. Of course, if Lord Hugh were to arrive, the weather would be fair and bright — but, no, she remonstrates herself–he would bring clouds and rain. Frowning, she remembers his condescending manner as he chided her for allowing poachers into her forest. As if she would do so! Heavens forfend! His arrogant manner would indeed bring clouds and rain and thunderstorms. But….those blue eyes of his….perhaps a little bit of sun….dare she even imagine?
Ah, yes, Eleanor is no Cinderella, she who owns her lands and chase and castle as a fief from the wretched Lord of Litchfield, but, she has the wherewithal and spunk to defeat most anyone. Most of all, she would like to defeat Lord Hugh, who, at the moment is aggravating her to the umpteenth degree by being his usual arrogant self, disparaging her ability to manage her lands and forest, and, heavens forfend, impugning her honor by accusing her of being so inept that the poachers have almost overridden both their chases. But, all that said, Lady Eleanor would love to write something that would sting Lord Hugh into recognition of her abilities and her honor and her integrity. But, for that, she may need to be published….and even then, if he were to read it, would he be able to infer her longing for him, despite her rancor? So many mixed emotions, dear reader. What think you?