Sometimes you must fight through the darkness to reach the dawn.
Isabel de Vere is all grown up and ready to marry. Once an out-going and vibrant young girl, Isabel cannot get over the kidnapping of her sister eight years ago. Prone to episodes of panic, she wishes for just one thing in a husband–a man strong enough to protect her.
Turstin has spent his life in Normandy in service to King Henry II. Now home in England, he is ready to take a wife. Though he finds Isabel to be suitable, love is the last thing on his mind. When he marries her he will get the one thing he cares about–Renoir Castle.
Turstin displays a distain for Isabel’s family that she does not understand, nor does he explain. Initially seeking a strong husband to protect her, Isabel now wants him to love her, just as she loves him. Will his life-long resentment of her family and his desire to claim Renoir Castle lead them astray or will they right the wrongs from the past?
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Icy fingers inched along her neck as a heavy weight pressed the breath from her lungs. She tried to scream, but no sound escaped her lips. As the darkness of the night mingled with the terror of her nightmare, Isabel thrashed about her bed, linens and furs tightening around her legs like iron bands, holding her in the inky abyss of her imagination.
Her arms flailed as she tried to shake off the dream, her mind blurring the line between dream and reality. The fingers pressed the slender column of her neck yet again, and she flailed harder as she tried to escape.
The paralyzing bonds of sleep finally broke, and her legs moved again. Bolting from her bed and dragging her bedding with her, she struggled to reach the window, her breaths now coming in jagged gasps. Her chest heaved as she shook off the darkness and tried to focus her eyes and mind.
It is not real, her mind screamed as she stumbled toward the open window. Pressing her hands upon the cold stone, she thrust her head out into the cool night air as she prayed for peace. Cool air flooded her lungs again and again until her breathing calmed and she no longer felt the walls pressing against her. The icy fingers from her dreams melted away as her eyes focused on the stars shining brightly in the night sky above her.
Isabel stood motionless as the episode finally passed and took deep, measured breaths. The episodes of breathlessness were not new, but the dream was. As the time to go home neared, the panic became more common. Her childhood was nearly over, and she would be required to marry soon. She wished to look forward to it, but instead, dreaded the thought of putting her life and her trust in someone she did not know.
The panic took her back in time to when she was but a girl—a time when the happy life she cherished turned into a twisted nightmare she could never quite get over. As her sister Gemma enjoyed a happy ending, Isabel’s problems had only just begun.
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