Published by Avon on July 25th 2017
Purchase: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo
No one blends humor and sensuality like
New York Times
bestselling author Lynsay Sands in this captivating story of feuding nobles forced to marry…and destined to fall in love
Love thy neighbor, ’tis said. A fine idea, except when the neighbor in question is Lord Holden. Lady Helen Tiernay has complained frequently about his treatment of his people. Too frequently perhaps, for the king intends to curb their constant bickering by ordering them to wed. Helen can’t refuse a royal decree, but she’ll do everything possible to drive away her devilishly attractive husband-to-be.
Holden has faced all manner of horrors on the battlefield. But marriage to “the tyrant of Tiernay” is still a worrying prospect—until he glimpses Helen in the flesh. What flesh it is…soft, lush, made for his touch. If she weren’t so intent on thinking up devious ways to prevent consummating their bond, Helen would see how perfect they are together, and that a marriage begun as enemies can turn to absolute pleasure.
“Lady Tiernay,” Templetun greeted, jogging up the last few steps to come abreast of Hethe as he passed before their two hostesses. “May I introduce Lord Hethe of Holden. Lord Holden, this is Lady Helen of Tiernay and her aunt Lady Nell Shambleau.”
Hethe moved up another step so that his face and Helen’s were on a level, and managed a smile as he gazed into his fiance’s sky blue eyes that matched her gown. Actually, his mouth was responding to his nether regions, and it fashioned itself into a beaming grin of pleasure for the woman—until she smile back and said, “How do you do?”
His smile died an abrupt death, becoming a dismayed grimace. It wasn’t the woman’s words that affected him so but her foul breath that blew at him as she spoke. The shock of it made Hethe take a hasty step backward. He would have tumbled down the stairs had William not steadied him with a fist at his back.
“God’s teeth!” he gasped in horror, bringing a perplexed and even slightly offended look to their hostess’s face. It also brought him a rather sharp and confused look from Templetun, reminding him of his manners. Forcing a false smile of apology to his lips, Hethe turned his face slightly to avoid the noxious fumes and excused himself by muttering, “Nearly lost my footing.”
“Oh, well, you must be careful, my lord,” his betrothed breathed at him sweetly. Leaning closer, she snatched his arm through her own, presumably to save him from losing his balance again. She then smiled brightly and sighed gustily into his face. “Such a handsome man. We would not wish you to tumble down the stairs and break your neck! At least, not before the wedding, hmmm?” she teased, her eyes sparkling.
Hethe nearly whimpered. His head was swimming under the onslaught of her poisonous exhalations. Sweet Saint Simon! He had never smelled anything quite so raw or putrid. He hadn’t thought it possible for such a scent to come out of a human’s mouth. And the fact that it was coming from the sweet bow-shaped lips of the lovely woman before him just seemed to make the horror of it that much worse.
“Shall we go inside?” the woman’s aunt suggested cheerfully.
“Aye,” Lady Tiernay agreed. “I am sure you gentlemen are ready for a nice mug of ale after your journey.” She spoke the words to Hethe, her breath wafting over his face like an ill wind carrying the stench of death. Feeling his stomach roil, Hethe nodded faintly, more than eager for any excuse to move and avoid the situation he was in.
Lord love me, I have to marry this wench, he thought as he hurried rudely up the last step and into the keep, dragging her a step behind. She would be breathing this putrescence at him for the next fifty years or so, he thought faintly, too dismayed to even realize how rude he was being by pulling Lady Tiernay about and leaving her aunt and the others to follow.
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~~Reviewed by Lisa~~
To be caught between two strong and opinionated people is tough, but it is NOT where a King wants to be. So, he makes them each the other’s problem.
Helen is a very proud, strong willed and compassionate leader of her fiefdom. She has the loyalty of her subjects and has taken on many of Lord Holden’s people because of his cruelty. She does not shy away from sharing her opinions with the king and wants him to take Lord Holden in hand. She was a disappointment to her father by being born a girl.
Lord Hethe Holden is really an absent ruler of his fiefdom. He has left things for 5 years in the hands of his chatelaine. He is oblivious to what is really happening with his people. He has ghosts and guilt that are ruling his decisions and they are in his way of not only happiness but loyalty from his people. His father was a bully and was not impressed with his progeny.
Lady Helen Tiernay, the Tyrant of Tiernay and Lord Hethe Holden, the Hammer of Holden both believe the other is horrible. They have never met, yet they despise the other. When they are forced to deal with each other by order of the king things go terribly wrong. There are pranks, garlic, lice, posies, salves and lots of sparks! This HEA had me giggling and laughing out loud. It was nice to read about a forced marriage that held humor and room for the “combatants” to find humor in themselves, their situation and their future.
This is an interesting and fun story! There was villainy, murder attempts, some judicious tincture usage, fabulous arguments and revelations that bring out the good in some and the true nastiness in others. The twist at the end caught me unaware and I enjoyed that. Ms. Sands has created wonderful characters that I hope to see more of. Helen’s supporting cast of characters were a treat bringing more humor, some outrageous ideas and explanations, and helped to bring out the tenderness in Hethe. Helen provides the balm to soothe the wounds of Hethe’s past and he helps her to feel cherished and wanted. I thoroughly enjoyed this story and look forward to more from Ms. Sands.
I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book.