Authors: T. J. Bennett
Tags: #Fiction, #Romance, #Historical, #General
TABLE OF CONTENTS
by TJ Bennett
“Bennett delivers a powerful evocation of an exciting period in history most romance novels have ignored. Her full-blooded characters take you on an emotional rollercoaster, for a trip you won’t soon forget. We’ll be seeing more of this author, and I can hardly wait.”
—Susan Squires, author of
Danegeld, Danelaw, No More Lies,
“Tempting, tantalizing, and terrific! T.J. Bennett is an exceptional new talent who delivers a fresh, satisfying romance.”
—Shana Galen, author of
Good Groom Hunting
When Dashing Met Danger
5 OUT OF 5 CUPS
“This story is superb … THE LEGACY is a riveting story that explodes with tight action. It is an interesting plot with in-depth feelings that even pierced this reader’s heart. There are situations between this loving couple that made my heart leap for joy. Drama at its best, this is one overpowering, extraordinary tale.”
— Cherokee, Reviewer for Coffee Time Romance
“Bennett offers a very interesting look at the reformation and the social changes it brought. The romance is central to the story, but the background is very well researched, and the plot is nicely executed … This is definitely an author to watch.”
—Bunny Callahan, Romantic Times BOOK reviews
“Ms. Bennett has penned a fabulous story that will keep the reader glued to its pages; a vivid, intriguing, and fast-paced tale that grabs your heart from the beginning and keeps it to the very end.”
—Lauren Calder, Affaire de Coeur
“T.J. Bennett highlights a fascinating and little-known historical period in this tender and moving love story.”
—Lynn Reynolds, Romance Junkies
“T.J. Bennett has crafted a believable story of two people both longing for love and yet not trusting another enough to embrace it when they find it. The depth of the characters and their ever increasing desire for one another make THE LEGACY a most enjoyable read … I definitely would recommend THE LEGACY to those readers who enjoy historical romance. It’s well worth the time.”
—Sabine Maurier, Novelspot
“T.J. Bennett’s debut novel is an extraordinary look into a fervent time in history, where romance is rare and true love is still powerful.”
—Diana Risso, Romance Reviews Today
“I started the book and within a few pages I was hooked … I loved this book and look forward to Ms. Bennett’s follow up book that will be out next year.”
—Tammie King, Night Owl Romance
“THE LEGACY is an excellent read … Ms. Bennett has written a romance that quickly pulls you in and leaves you eager for more … I highly recommend this book to everyone.”
—Wendy Keel, The Romance Readers Connection
“Definitely worth a read.”
—Eye on Romance
by TJ Bennett
“Lush, sexy and exciting, THE PROMISE offers a fascinating glimpse into a rarely visited age!”
—Victoria Dahl, author of
To Tempt A Scotsman
Rake’s Guide To Pleasure
“A delightful breath of fresh air in historical romance! With a unique setting and memorable characters, T.J. Bennett delivers a gripping romantic adventure that will leave you breathless for more.”
—Monica McCarty, New York Times Bestselling Author of
“A romantic adventure with a devastating hero that you’re sure to love. T.J. Bennett’s THE PROMISE is a breath of fresh air in the Regency-heavy historical market.”
—Kahlen Hughes, Romantic Times Reviewer’s Choice Nominee; author of
TOP PICK 4.5 Hearts!
passionate, enchanting, and moving…. Alonsa is a thoroughly captivating heroine, more than a match for the peerless Gunter. I enjoyed this story greatly and will be adding TJ Bennett to my list of authors to watch for.”
Night Owl Romance
“Ms. Bennett is a master at writing historical romance. She is able to capture the feelings and attitudes of the time period she is writing about without becoming too technical and losing her contemporary readers. Her books blend modern sensibilities with the difficulties and challenges of the past…. I enjoyed Ms. Bennett’s first book, The Legacy, and this book is just as good…. The journey these two people take is one of true love.”
—Historical Romance Writers
To Gina, Janet, and Tai, who insisted on saving Inés.
You were right. And for Dottie, always.
Published 2009 by Medallion Press, Inc.
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is a registered trademark of Medallion Press, Inc.
If you purchased this book without a cover, you should be aware that this book is stolen property. It was reported as “unsold and destroyed” to the publisher, and neither the author nor the publisher has received any payment from this “stripped book.”
Copyright © 2009 TJ Bennett
Cover Design by Arturo Delgado
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without written permission of the publisher, except where permitted by law.
Names, characters, places, and incidents are the products of the author’s imagination or are used fictionally. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
Typeset in Adobe Garamond Pro
Printed in the United States of America
1515, in the village of Aranjuez, near Toledo, Spain
RANJUEZ JOLTED AWAKE IN
her bed, heart pounding in the dark. She heard the sound that had awakened her once more: gravel pelting against the closed shutters of her bedchamber window.
The deep male voice called softly to her from the inner courtyard below.
A thrilling bolt of fear mixed with anticipation shot through her. How had Miguel managed to find his way inside the grounds? It would mean death for him if her father discovered him.
Alonsa leapt from the bed, threw a shawl over her shoulders, and leaned out of the shutters. At first, she saw nothing; then the shadows moved, divided—and he appeared. Even surrounded by the glow of moon-light pouring in from the high arches of the courtyard, his smooth, swarthy skin gave him an advantage in the shadowed night. He had dressed from head to toe in black, and with the blackness of his hair and eyes, he was a dangerous, seductive sight to behold.
He stared up at her, and she could feel the heat of his longing rising up like the scent of a burnt offering to a pagan goddess. She nearly swayed from the impact upon her senses.
“Alonsa,” he whispered urgently. “Come down. I must see you.”
“No!” she whispered back, and put a finger to her mouth in silent entreaty to her lover. She glanced over her shoulder, praying her
did not awake. The woman slept like the dead, a convenience Alonsa had taken advantage of more than once.
Oh, would that she had the courage to make those words come true in all their meaning, but she possessed a coward’s heart. She could never defy her father to such an extent. He had already chosen a husband for her; if she went to the man impure, Papa would be humiliated, and that she could not bear.
Miguel gazed up at her now. He became bolder all the time. In a way, it frightened her, and yet it was part of his forbidden attraction, the ultimate lure for a girl of seven and ten. Still, if her father knew … she could not be entirely certain he would not have them both killed.
“Alonsa,” Miguel whispered, and she could hear the ache in his voice. “Please. I can think of nothing else but you. I cannot sleep. I cannot eat. Come to me. Tonight. Just one more night, I beg it.”
She shook her head again, prepared to withdraw from the window and lock the shutters tight against his pleading gaze. A sharp sound from below made her stop. She looked down and, to her astonishment, saw he had begun to climb the trellis to her window. She thrust her head back out.
she whispered urgently. “I will come down. Wait.”
Anything to prevent this invasion into her bedchamber. She could not permit it, no matter how much he made her weak in the knees with his gaze, his kisses, his touch.
She sensed Miguel’s impatience. No time to secure footwear or even proper attire. With one last, cautious glance at her
Alonsa pulled the long woolen shawl over her head to conceal the dark hair tumbling down her shoulders, and climbed barefoot onto the tiny sill of the balcony, lowering herself over the other side. Clad only in the thin white chemise she wore to bed, she carefully descended.
She could feel his gaze on her bottom, watching as it swayed from side to side. Even before her feet touched the ground, he caught her up in his arms, swinging her down. She twisted to face him.
“Are you mad that you would come here?” she asked breathlessly.
he answered with a wolfish smile. “Yes, my girl. I am mad for you.” With that, he kissed her—a hungry kiss that made her take hold of his shirt and lean into him, despite her resolve. When she realized what she did, she immediately released him, but not before she heard his deep, knowing laugh.
Oh, when he kissed her that way she could not think properly! And he knew it, too, curse him. She finally gathered her wits enough to stop him from kissing her again.
“Miguel,” she hissed, and pushed at his chest. “It is too dangerous for you here. You must go at once.”
He drew back, and she saw his black eyes glitter in the darkness.
“But that is why you prefer me,
is it not? I am danger for you. You need this. You need me.” He bent to kiss her again, only this time thrusting his tongue between her lips and kissing her more intimately than he ever had before. His hand moved possessively to the front of the thin gown, and he covered her breast with his palm.
The heat of his flesh burned through the thin fabric of her chemise. She gasped in confused pleasure. Nevertheless, she slapped his hand away and pulled her mouth from his.
“No,” she said, but the word sounded like a moan. Hardly a convincing denial. She tried again, more firmly, and attempted to pull from his grasp. “No, Miguel. I am serious. You must go. You take too many chances, with both your life and my virtue. If Papa found out—”
“If your precious papa found out,” he said, and for the first time she heard a hint of something dark in his voice, “he would have to marry you to
instead of the ass he has chosen for you to wed.”
Astonishment spread through her. Of course, he knew it would be impossible for them to marry. She, a wealthy artisan’s daughter, and he, a
a Gypsy, one of the lowest classes of people. Her father would be enraged. The
with his permission, lived in a camp on the boundaries of their property for a few months out of each year. In most villages, they were hunted down and driven out, forced to keep moving from town to town. Only here, for a few months of the year when two or three of the leaders would instruct Papa’s younger apprentices in the heating and folding of blade steel, were they able to find safe harbor.
It did not stop her from being attracted to him, but it certainly stopped her from considering their marriage.
“You wish to wed?” she asked, fearing it might be true.
“Why not? Ah,
why not? You could join us. We could be happy together. I could teach you to dance the special dance a wife is allowed to perform only for her husband, and you would dance it for me every night.”
He smiled, and his teeth gleamed in the moonlight. He glanced around at the ivy-covered courtyard, at the pool of water set into the expensive carved brick where golden fish frolicked, at the arched and intricately designed architecture intertwining both the Moorish and Castilian style.