Tina St. John Lady of Valor

ISBN 13: 9780449004241

Lady of Valor

 
9780449004241: Lady of Valor
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About the Author:

LARA ADRIAN is the New York Times and #1 internationally best-selling author of the Midnight Breed vampire romance series, with more than 2 million books in print in the United States and translations licensed to more than 17 countries. Her books regularly appear in the top spots of all the major bestseller lists including the New York Times, USA Today, Publishers Weekly, Indiebound, Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, etc. Her debut title, Kiss of Midnight, was named Borders Books bestselling debut romance of 2007. Later that year, her third title, Midnight Awakening, was named one of Amazon.com's Top Ten Romances of the Year. Reviewers have called Lara's books "addictively readable" (Chicago Tribune), "extraordinary" (Fresh Fiction), and "one of the best vampire series on the market" (Romantic Times).

Writing as TINA ST. JOHN, her historical romances have won numerous awards including the National Readers Choice; Romantic Times Magazine Reviewer's Choice; Booksellers Best; and many others. She was twice named a Finalist in Romance Writers of America's RITA Awards, for Best Historical Romance (White Lion's Lady) and Best Paranormal Romance (Heart of the Hunter). More recently, the 2011 German translation of Heart of the Hunter debuted on Der Spiegel bestseller list.

With an ancestry stretching back to the Mayflower and the court of King Henry VIII, the author lives with her husband in New England, surrounded by centuries-old graveyards, hip urban comforts, and the endless inspiration of the broody Atlantic Ocean.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

The Holy Land. September 1, 1192

The dead man lay there, motionless and sprawled on the dirt floor of the tent where he had crumpled moments before. A bleeding wound at his side spread out like spilled wine, staining his Crusader's surcoat and the ground beneath
him a deep crimson-black. Left arm outstretched, his now unmoving fingers were curled into the hard-packed earth mere inches from the boot of an English foot soldier.

Cabal--Blackheart, as he was better known these more than two years on campaign--stood in the dim illumination of a sputtering candle that had been upset during the struggle and considered that clawing, desperate hand with sober reflection, like a man awakened from the depths of a black and heavy dream.

Outside the tent, darkness had settled over the desert, cooling the vast sea of scorching sand but doing little to calm the bloodlust of the Crusaders camped there. The bonfire that King Richard's army had lit hours before would burn long into the night, as would the men's drunken voices, raised in celebration of the day's small victory.

Camped for more than a sennight and wanting for action, the soldiers had raided a village that afternoon, taking with it scores of Muslim lives. Never mind that the numbers included women and children; they were all soulless heathens according to the church. As such, they had been afforded less regard in their slaughter than would the lowliest vermin. But the dead were the fortunate ones. They were spared the horrors suffered on those left living as prisoners of the Cross.

Staring down at the dead officer, Cabal ran a hand over his grimy dark-bearded face and blew out a weary sigh. Damnation. What manner of beasts had they become in God's name? Worse, he wondered, could it actually be starting to matter to him?

Before a long-forsaken conscience could rouse to needle him further, Cabal's ear was drawn toward the approaching sound of footsteps scuffing in the sand outside the tent. The flap was thrown open and a laughing soldier ducked inside, bleary-eyed, stinking of sweat and overmuch wine. "Sir Garrett, ye selfish bastard! Do ye mean to keep the chit all to yerself?" The mercenary drew in a choking gasp, stumbling back on his heels. "God's wounds, what happened--"

When he made to advance, Cabal held him off with a dismissive flick of his hand. Crouching beside the fallen nobleman, he reached out for a jeweled dagger that lay next to him, slick with its owner's blood. "I came upon the struggle too late," he offered blandly. "There was no saving him."

"She killed him! The damned Saracen whore killed him!"

"She was no whore, Rannulf. Only a child." Cabal could scarcely contain the edge of disgust in his voice. "No more than ten summers if she was a day."

"Child or nay, the filthy bitch will suffer--"

The soldier's sputtered exclamation broke off as Cabal rose to his full height and faced him, forced to incline his head under the cramped slope of the tent's ceiling. "The girl is gone."

The mercenary frowned, looking past Cabal to a severed length of rope that lay on the earthen floor. Sir Garrett of Fallonmour had leashed the thick braided cord about the young Saracen's neck when he plucked her from a crowd of screaming villagers that day, intent on keeping her for his own base amusement. Though Rannulf seemed hesitant to voice his doubts about the prisoner's escape, his expression was suspicious, questioning.

Cabal answered frankly. "I set her free."

"Set her free? So she can stab another man in the back? The murdering little wench should be run down and gutted!"

"Any man who goes after the girl or any other peasant in retaliation for this will answer to me."

Rannulf gaped at him in disbelief. "God's blood, Blackheart! Ye fought beside Sir Garrett for nigh on two years. Why, to hear ye now, that peasant slut's life meant more to you than his!"

Cabal met and held the incredulous stare without respond-
ing. Garrett of Fallonmour was certainly no friend of his, but then Cabal did not place much value on anyone's life, not even his own. He took a small amount of satisfaction in seeing that bleak understanding register fully in the other man's eyes.

"Jesu," the mercenary whispered suddenly, as if just
now realizing the breadth of his folly. Few dared challenge the man whose reputation deemed him among the worst of King Richard's savage henchmen. Face fading to an unhealthy pallor, Rannulf swallowed hard. "Sir Cabal, please. I assure ye, I meant no offense--"

Casually, Cabal wiped Garrett's bloodstained blade on the edge of his surcoat, biding his time in contemplative silence while Rannulf spewed a fretful string of apologies. Better that the mercenary's immediate worry for his own neck blind him to the disturbing truth behind Cabal's actions regarding Garrett's innocent young hostage. A truth that Cabal himself was only recently coming to realize ...

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