Stephen accidentally kills Lord Faierfield, leaving his heir at risk. Young Alex, made deaf by abuse, is believed mad and unfit to inherit, and his uncle plots to kill him to claim the lands. To protect the family made vulnerable by his mistake, Stephen weds the sharp-tongued daughter, Nicole, and faces her hostility and loathing. Stephen wins her trust, only to be charged with treason on the battlefield. Can Nicole outwit her uncle to save her husband’s life?
First Place Winner of the 2015 HOLT Medallion Award.
Harvest Festival, 1459 – On a moonless night, the half-Gypsy Stephen Ellingham accidentally kills Lord Faierfield. With her father not yet buried, Nicole Miles marries the man who killed him–without the king’s blessing and under the shadow of her family’s curse. Nicole doesn’t care whether her new husband believes the rumors that her womb is cursed, but Stephen has vowed to protect her younger brother, Alex. Rendered deaf when his mother boxed his ears, Alex has tried diversions over the years to keep people from realizing he’s deaf. His efforts have backfired, though, and people believe he’s mad, unfit to inherit his title or hold claim to the Faierfield lands. Stephen weds Nicole to make amends for accidentally killing her father and leaving her family vulnerable. He must protect Alex from their ambitious uncle, who plans to kill the young boy to claim the family’s holdings.
Then the Battle of Blore Heath erupts, the first of many in the War of the Roses, and Stephen must face Nicole’s uncle on the battlefield. The chaos of war is a perfect breeding place for treachery, and the uncle stages an incident that leads the king to declare Stephen a traitor. Only Nicole can help him, but she finds no evidence to prove his innocence, and it is, in the end, a matter of trust. It’s fortunate that he has good armor, though this particular set of armor may lead to his death.