Cerise Deland
With Her Kiss

With Her Kiss

Swords of Passion, Book 3
Totally Bound • September 6, 2013
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Defying his king, Geoffrey St. Claire invades a dungeon to save the woman he loves from cruel death. This time, he vows, he will save her and make her love him—or die trying.

Countess Katherine Harleigh knew her refusal to become King John’s lover courted his punishment. But she never thought he’d try to starve her. Cast into a dungeon—widowed, alone and disgraced—Kat fears no one can save her. Not even the one knight who always promised to love and protect her.

Geoffrey St. Claire serves his Sire as loyally as a sane man can. But when John imprisons the one woman Geoff has always adored, he risks his lands and his life to ride to her rescue. Yet, he knows she will never welcome his aid. She hates him too much for deserting her years ago. But he will not leave her this time.

Now, Geoff plans to save her from death and despair, nurse her back to health and then persuade her to love him as wholly as she once did. Seduction in her bath, her bed, her chamber is his only method and he prays he can restore her love for him before John appears with an army to take her from him once more…this time, forever.

“With a clever set of characters that mix the real and the imagined to set a scene wholly reminiscent of the early 13th century, Cerise DeLand has created a lovely story that provides readers with background information to understand the character’s motivations even if they (like I ) have not read the first two in the series. With some steamy sex, declarations of love and the well-described connection between Geoffrey and Kat add steam and sizzle to this installment, and provide a ready sense of the happy for now with potential for more to come.” — JEEP Diva

Read an Excerpt

Castle Winton
Southern England
April 1211

Geoffrey raised his wine to his mouth, his appetite for his supper and his King’s emissary draining with the last drop from his cup. “How many times have I fought this same battle with our King? Twice, three times? Do you know, Cluny?”

The hulking Norman, King John’s lackey, stared back at Geoff without an answer.

“Ten. Twenty!” Geoff’s gaze locked on those of his Sovereign’s messenger, daring him to appeal to him for more money for John’s endless wars and effete appetites.

Ranulf Cluny rolled his eyes at Geoff, then stabbed his meat and tore off a bite with his sharp little teeth. “I can tell my liege that you may refuse to pay him his latest tax, but you know he will come for you. Again. As he has before. Will you risk another taste of the White Tower’s excellent accommodations?”

Geoff leant back in his cushions, crooked his finger at his steward to pour more vin rouge for both of them. Having had his fill of wine and Cluny, he placed his chalice down upon his fine Egyptian linens. This idiot might be John’s newest bootlicker, but he had not the slyness to survive long amid John’s cunning. “Over the past eleven years, I have risked life and limb and sanity to tell our King his rightful duties, Cluny. My advice has fallen on deaf ears. John gave me this domain for the service I rendered and when he did, it was a swamp. I have reclaimed it at much expense of time and labour to myself and my people. I paid John his land tax in December. If he wishes to have more, he must come and take it from me.”

Cluny twitched his nose, his hell-black eyes damning Geoffrey. “Your friend Dumond and his comely wife refuse the tax. So too does your other brother-in-arms, De la Poer, and his wealthy countess. Does our king smell a conspiracy among you three to deprive his coffers of his due?”

Geoff stared at the man as if he were crazed. When Cluny blushed and blinked, Geoff gave him the best answer to their King’s troubles. “John’s nose has too oft been out of joint over minor matters. He needs to put his nose where it belongs. In his own household.”

Cluny stilled in his chair, some fight left in him. “Do I detect an accusation?”

“Of malfeasance?” Geoff chuckled at the shock on this idiot’s face.

“You are too bold, St Claire.”

“I match my arrogance to my opponent’s. But he must beware. He needs my support more than he needs to collect moneys from a new and usurious tax. If he continues to harass those of us who have tried to advise him in the right, he may try us too far. And then, Cluny, who will support him in his adventures against France and Ireland, hmmm?”

“He demands what is his.” Cluny sat back, his greasy fingers poised over his trencher, his gaze on Geoff’s. “He is in need of money, St Claire. What new solutions to that lack do you suggest? He cannot run England on good wishes.”

“There’s righteousness in fairness. Happiness for his subjects.”

“Bah! There’s poverty in that.”

“Better the King make a stricter budget, Cluny, than fight rebellion.”

“Now you talk treason?”

“Cluny, Cluny.” Geoff shook his head. “You jump to conclusions. Persist in that and you yourself will soon be without your sanity.”

The man’s brows twitched.

Have I got that through your thick brain?

Geoffrey sighed, then rinsed his fingers in a bowl of rose water. As he wiped his hands dry on a cloth offered by his steward, he spoke of his reasoning. “John must cease this constant greed, these terrible wars, the need to take women to his bed who are not his to claim. It brands him an outlaw.”

Cluny opened his mouth to reply.

Geoff got to his feet and pushed back his chair. “Finish your supper, man. I expect you and your escort gone by sunrise.”

“He will send me back here with a larger retinue,” Cluny called after him. “Perhaps with a trebuchet, as well.”

“Can he spare one from his fight with the French?” Geoff strode towards his solar and flicked a hand at his steward to remain to serve their guest. “I doubt that, Cluny.”

“I have taken an assessment of your strength here,” the man warned.

Geoff swung around. Hands on his hips, he glared at the impertinent oaf who still sat, fingers into the good roast deer Geoff had been so kind to serve him. “Look all you wish, Cluny. None of this can be taken from me easily. I have earned it. Bought it with my own blood shed in the service of our good king Richard and in years toiling for his young brother, John. Come with what force John will grant you. He has few to spare from his many conflicts. This you and I both know well. But understand, too, that this castle, this fiefdom, these proud people do me the honour to give me their loyalty. You may try to change their minds. I wager you will not be able. So by all means, come. Do as you are ordered. But none of this will fall to you by wishing it so.”

He nodded, leaving the messenger to scowl at him as he spun towards the outer stairs.