Destiny’s Pawn ($16.95, 360 pages, ISBN: 978-1-60381-365-5), is a reprint of an early historical romance by bestselling author Mary Daheim. Originally published in 1984, Destiny’s Pawn follows the story of the niece of Thomas Cromwell as she fights for survival and yearns for true love during the reign of King Henry VIII of England.
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“Mary Daheim’s novels are a rare treat for the lovers of deeply detailed, highly historical love stories that bring history to vibrant life.”
Topaz-eyed, tawny-haired Morgan Todd of Faux Hall is on the verge of glorious womanhood. Though sent to England’s King Henry VIII’s court as a lady-in-waiting on Queen Anne Boleyn, Morgan has one unwavering desire: to be reunited with the man she loves, Sean O’Connor. But Sean, a Catholic, is not in the good graces of the King, and by no fault of hers, Morgan is no longer the young virgin who first kissed him. Mistaken for a willing servant in a field near her family’s estate, she has been ravished by a passing nobleman.
Morgan’s powerful uncle, Sir Thomas Cromwell, arranges a marriage for his niece to further his own ambitions. The alliance with Sir James Sinclair sends a heartsick Morgan to a loveless union and a desolate castle on the North Sea. But the cruelest blow of all is when she discovers that James’s younger brother, Francis Sinclair, is the nobleman who deflowered her. Although pallid James proves to be an indifferent groom, Francis stirs Morgan in ways Sean never did.
Who will bow to King Henry’s defiance of the Pope and who will cling to their Catholic faith? The wrong choice can lead to torture, the Tower, and the executioner’s axe. Though strong-willed and courageous, Morgan is a helpless pawn in the games of the King, Cromwell, and their toadies. Motherhood, war, and intrigue will come between them, but through it all, Morgan never stops yearning for Francis. Despite his rough North Country ways, he is an honorable man in a land of schemers. And only Francis shares the passion for life and the instincts for survival that match her own.
Says the author, “Destiny’s Pawn was the first book I ever wrote. My Aunt Helen was into genealogy and had discovered we were descended from Thomas Cromwell. I decided to add a personal touch to the story by making the heroine, Morgan Todd, his niece. It’s the only one of my seven historical romances that bears its original title. I think you’ll like Morgan’s story. She, too, is an original.”
Mary Richardson Daheim, a Seattle native, began her publishing career with the first of seven historical romances before switching to mysteries in 1991. Since then she has published at least 55 books. Click here to find online.
Keep reading for an excerpt:
The fox feels more lush,” Morgan declared, wrapping the cape around her and turning full circle in front of Francis.
“You look like a small bear,” Francis said.
“Nonsense. The tan and brown suits my hair and eyes.”
“It makes you look all of the same color. You need contrast, not camouflage.”
“I know what I need. I’ve always worn tan and brown!”
“And looked like a tabby cat most of the time, no doubt.”
Though Morgan’s shoes had begun to dry out, her feet hurt and she was very tired. Francis’s obstinacy was making her furious. “I want this one,” she asserted, clutching the tan cape close to her body.
“You shan’t have it. I’m paying for it!” Francis’s gray eyes were cold with anger. “You’re a spoiled chit, Morgan Todd, and you’ll take the blue or none at all!”
Morgan pulled the tan cape from her shoulders and flung it at Francis. “Then it’s none! I’ll freeze in your northern wasteland first!”
Francis loomed over her, both capes clutched in his hands. The furrier had kept his distance throughout this exchange and now had disappeared altogether. His only other customers, a Flemish burgher and his portly wife, had left as soon as Morgan and Francis had begun to quarrel.
Morgan was fumbling at her own gray cloak, unsteady hands trying to fasten the small silver clasp which held it together. Francis carefully laid the hotly disputed capes down on a table and then abruptly grabbed Morgan by the shoulders. She thought he was going to shake her but instead he kissed her, hard, almost violently, and she reeled against him, stunned and off-balance. Morgan tried to push him away but her efforts were as vain as they had been in the orchard. His mouth continued to plunder hers and her feet were actually off the floor. She felt dizzy in his embrace and knew if he let go of her without warning she would fall; her arms went around him—to prevent a nasty tumble, she told herself hazily—and she was further shocked to feel that odd sensation begin to burn in the pit of her stomach. She was even more stunned to discover that she was kissing Francis back, letting his tongue explore her mouth, allowing his hands to roam at will down the curve of her back and to her buttocks. At last he released her lips and set her on her feet, though his arms were still around her.
“Christ,” he growled, his sandy hair disheveled, the thick brows drawn together, “you make a man want to either strangle you or make love to you. Why couldn’t you have been—bland?”
His choice of words made Morgan laugh, a choked, shaken little sound that was almost a hiccough. “All I wanted was the fox-trimmed cape,” she said in a voice that shook.
“Mmmmmm.” He started to release her, then pulled her back against his chest. “You will cause me more problems than fox and sable, Morgan Todd,” he said in his gruffest voice over the top of her head. “Why don’t you run away with that Irishman?”
She wondered if he were serious. If only he were, he could help her and Sean …. Morgan looked up at him, attempting an innocent gaze through her tawny lashes. “It might be all for the best, you know. I don’t think your brother likes me.”
Francis broke away and stomped about the furrier’s shop, his riding cloak billowing behind him like a huge banner of war. “It’s not my brother I’m thinking of.”