Gypsy Baron ($14.95, 212 pages, ISBN: 978-1-60381-371-6) is a reprint of an early historical romance by bestselling author Mary Daheim. Originally published in 1992, Gypsy Baron features the son of a nobleman and a gypsy whose allegiance to his war-torn homeland of Bohemia stands in the way of committing to the woman he loves. She is a nobleman’s daughter whose ill-fated engagement to an accused conspirator forces her to live in exile. Much of the story centers around the brief reign of Elizabeth Stuart as Queen of Bohemia in 1619. Elizabeth was the daughter of James I of England and wife of Frederick V, Elector Palatine. She was known as “The Winter Queen,” her husband as “The Winter King.”
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With the release of Gypsy Baron, Camel Press has reprinted all seven of Mary Daheim’s historical romances. The other titles are Reunion (original titled Pride’s Captive), The Royal Mile (originally Love’s Pirate), Gosford’s Daughter (originally Passion’s Triumph), Destiny’s Pawn, King’s Ransom, and Improbable Eden.
“Mary Daheim’s novels are a rare treat for the lovers of deeply detailed, highly historical love stories that bring history to vibrant life.”
Darkly handsome Stefan Dvorak, Baron Ostrov, is the son of a gypsy and a venerable but disgraced Bohemian nobleman. Though educated at Oxford and welcomed by King James’s court, Stefan is a wanderer by nature and not inclined to take love seriously. But he has never met anyone like the innocent and dazzling Lady Katherine de Vere, who is mourning the death of the man she hoped to marry: Henry, Prince of Wales.
Despite their powerful attraction, neither Stefan nor Kat is free. The king decrees that Kat must marry a preening prig named Sir Thomas Overbury. She escapes the odious union, only to face a worse fate. After Sir Thomas falls afoul of the king’s toadies and dies of poison in the Tower of London, his enemies cast the blame on Kat. Threatened with prison, she flees first to Heidelberg and then to Prague.
Stefan’s allegiance to his homeland of Bohemia, torn between Catholic and Protestant factions on the brink of war, trumps any notions of domestic bliss. Though he loves his little Kat, what can a penniless Gypsy baron offer a genteel aristocrat? And Kat has her own troubles. Not only does a cloud still hang over her name, but the king has threatened to confiscate her ancestral home.
Says the author, “Gypsy. The word evokes a wagon-load of images. Fortune tellers. Caravans. Gaudy, jangling jewelry. Stealthy flights by night. Gyp—a pejorative derivation. But wait—there’s more. Romance. Music. Dancing. Mystery. For a writer, what’s not to like?”
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 her online. For more information about these historical romances, please like the Facebook page for these historical romance titles.
Keep reading for an excerpt:
Kat gasped as Dvorak grabbed her by the shoulders, snapping her head back. “Don’t ever speak so of the Roms! My mother was a Gypsy, as good and virtuous as the fine English lady who bore you!” One hand swung up, then his mouth clamped shut and he dropped his arm at his side. “You’re a fool, Katherine de Vere,” he said, his face wooden but his eyes flashing. “Like most of the English, you’re a smug, ignorant boor.”
Kat’s temper was boiling, but her mind was a blank. He was a brute, a savage, a half-breed foreigner with nothing to his credit but an Oxford education. “If you think so little of English ways, why ever did you come here?” she demanded.
An odd, pained expression crossed Dvorak’s face. “You heard Milord Essex. I am not welcome in my own country. I had nowhere else to go,” he said, and his voice sounded hollow. Strange, he thought, that Kat’s opinion should matter. She was of no importance to him, merely a silly wench he’d met at a state funeral. He grabbed her wrist with his other hand, pulling her so close that her breasts brushed his doublet. It would do no good to try to shake sense into the chit. She was too obtuse, too self-righteous, too English. “I told you,” he said curtly, “you don’t understand.” The black eyes glittered with anger, and for a brief moment Kat thought he might actually strike her. Instead, his lips came down on hers in a crushing kiss. Kat reeled with the sensation of that hard mouth on her lips. This was not at all like Henry’s gentle embrace, soft and sweet as morning rain. She tried to escape, but his arm was at her back, holding her captive. In the pit of her stomach, an alien sensation welled up, muddling her brain and stirring her senses. Kat was afraid, and at the same time exhilarated. She wasn’t entirely aware that her lips were responding to Stefan’s as if they had a will of their own.
Abruptly, with the anger still in his veins, he let her go. Kat momentarily lost her balance, falling backward against a stone wall. Stunned, she searched his face, hazily noting that while his annoyance hadn’t faded, the dark eyes had softened. With a sigh of vexation, Stefan shook his head.
“Excuse me. That was a foolish action. A good shaking would have served as well.” He was aware of the rough edge in his voice and inwardly cursed himself. Impulse was not his way with women; passionate interludes were carefully calculated, based on mutual consent. Stefan felt like an unruly schoolboy.
Kat swallowed hard and tried to regain her composure. “I’m not a trifle,” she declared, sounding quite lame. “My upbringing has not accustomed me to such … dalliance.”
For a brief moment Dvorak looked as if he might smile, but he did not. “No,” he said flatly. “That’s clear.” With a little bow, he strode away from her, up the path toward the palace.
Kat stayed in the garden, not wanting to follow for fear of further confrontation. Stefan Dvorak had no right to kiss her, especially in anger. Indeed, no honorable man should kiss any virtuous woman except as part of courtship. His behavior was as inexplicable as it was unsettling. Along the torchlit path, Kat felt the first soft drops of rain. She must go in, as soon as Dvorak was out of sight. Tentatively, she touched her mouth. It felt bruised. It felt wonderful. Kat didn’t understand the conflicting emotions. Slowly, she walked up the path, shivering with cold. Yet inside she felt quite warm.