When Burthred comes courting on Christmas Eve, Meg rejects his advances. She has her heart set on becoming a nun and insists that he call her Christina, the spiritual name she has chosen for herself. She tries to make him swear on her box of holy relics that he will not pursue her, but he carefully words his oath to allow him to stay in her candlelit chamber and try to change her mind.
What Meg does not confess is that her reliquary box holds a secret.
Burthred needs a wife, and no one will satisfy him except Meg. He swore on his father’s deathbed that he would marry her. But Burthred has a secret, too. When they come together before the Yule fire, their shared revelations will either join their hearts together or tear them apart.
Burthred watched the candle’s flame with steady eyes that she could not read. But after a moment, a little smile played on his lips. “I remember that day when we were betrothed. You spit on me.”
Meg gasped. “I what?”
“You spit on me.”
She stiffened with such indignation that the candle wobbled in her grasp. “How dare you! I have never spit on anyone.”
“Oh, you were only a baby. After the betrothal ceremony, which I scarcely understood myself, your mother took you out of the cradle and put you into my arms. I had to sit down, because I almost dropped you. I remember how she said, ‘Hold her like this, against your shoulder, and pat her gently on the back so she doesn’t cry.’ And then you spit all over my new surcote of crimson velvet. It was embroidered with my mother’s perfect stitches, too.”
Joyce DiPastena dreamed of green medieval forests while growing up in the dusty copper mining town of Kearny, Arizona. She filled her medieval hunger by reading the books of Thomas B. Costain (where she fell in love with King Henry II of England), and later by attending the University of Arizona where she graduated with a degree in history, specializing in the Middle Ages. The university was also where she completed her first full-length novel…set, of course, in medieval England. Later, her fascination with Henry II led her to expand her research horizons to the far reaches of his “Angevin Empire” in France, which became the setting of her first published novel, Loyalty’s Web (a 2007 Whitney Award Finalist).
When she’s not writing, Joyce loves to read, play the piano, and spend time with her sister and friends. A highlight of her year is attending the annual Arizona Renaissance Festival. She lives with her two cats, Clio and Glinka Rimsky-Korsokov, in Mesa, Arizona.
Did you know that Lucianna (the heroine of “Loving Lucianna”) has her very own Pinterest board? http://www.pinterest.com/jdipastena/loving-lucianna/
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Top 10 Favorite Fiction Books (in no particular order)
1. Friday’s Child, by Georgette Heyer
2. These Old Shades, by Georgette Heyer
3. The Three Musketeers, by Alexandre Dumas
4. Twenty Years After, by Alexandre Dumas
5. Walk With Peril, by Dorothy V.S. Jackson
6. Catherine Called Birdy, by Karen Cushman
7. Charmed Life, by Diana Wynne Jones
8. Wuthering Heights, by Emily Bronte
9. The Crystal Cave, by Mary Stewart
10. Johnny Tremain, by Esther Forbes (except I overdosed on reading this too many times in a row in high school and haven’t been able to read it again – but it’s still a favorite!)
A Candlelight Courting: A Short Christmas Romance by Joyce DiPastena
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