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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.
Yes, even in 1272, Eleanor is quite aware of April Fool’s Day, ‘t being a longstanding tradition. When in the village on this date, she will often see one peasant send another on a “fool’s errand,” much to the merriment of all. Sadly, Eleanor often feels like a fool herself, even ‘pon days that are not April 1, thanks to that arrogant Lord Hugh, he of the intense, blue-eyed gaze, who attempts to stare her down when they discuss the poaching crimes in their adjoining forests. She will not stand for that sort of treatment, and thus he thinks her insolent and a ninny, when she makes her case. The other reason she feels a fool is that her heart flutters a bit when Lord Hugh crosses the drawbridge to her castle, ready to meet again about catching the poachers. How could she have so many conflicting feelings at once? Is she a fool, indeed?
Ah, the luck of the Irish, Eleanor thinks wistfully. Perhaps someday, with any luck, that handsome, blue-eyed Lord Hugh will realize that she, and not her sister Mary, is the one for him. Such distress she endures! Not only is Lord Hugh determined to marry her younger sister, but, he continues to treat Eleanor with arrogance and condescension, so sure is he that she is a ninny –especially about the poaching in the forest and managing her lands — and not to be trusted. Little does he know! Luck — when will it arrive at the gates of her castle? Will it arrive in the person of Lord Hugh, whose intense gaze rakes her soul and drives all coherent thought out of her head? Is that the luck she should wish for? Such a dilemma….
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?