Message From The Author

Author's Message

Dark knights and the noble ladies who loved them, castles in the mist and the echo of distant battlesthis was the world of the first romances, the romances of the Middle Ages, a world of arranged marriages and unrequited love, where happy endings were few. The medieval world has always fascinated me, but in my stories, love and hope are guaranteed to triumph.

My latest book, THE LAST KNIGHT, is a tale of star-crossed lovers, of a nobly born woman bound by her familys ambitions and her own honor to wed a man she cannot love, and of the hard-eyed knight with a devils smile and a tortured soul who comes to love her.

A true romance hero, Damion de Jarnac is both ruthless and dangerous. A rogue knight whose life was torn apart in one dreadful night of lightning-split skies, hideous revelations, and blood-drenched death, he now professes to scorn the knights codewhen, in truth, he is willing to die for it.

On a secret mission for the aging King Henry II of England, Damion encounters Atticus dAlerion, a courageous youth with a mission and a secret of his own. It is only after Atticus wins Damions respect and friendship that Damion learns the truth: that Atticus is, in fact, Attica, a nobly born woman betrothed to the future viscomte de Salers. And when respect and friendship deepen into love, they both learn the price of honor, and the pain of divided loyalties.

In a sense, Ive been dreaming about and researching this book
all my life. I grew up exploring the crumbling castles and ancient churches of Europe, and Ive since earned a Ph.D. in history. Because THE LAST KNIGHT is a road book, it offers readers a glimpse of what medieval life was like outside the walls of the castle as Damion and Attica travel through a world of monasteries and fairs and public baths, of roving troubadours and pilgrims and sad-eyed slave women.

Write to Candice at cproctor@adam.au or care
of Ballantine Books, 201 E. 50th Street, New York, NY 10022.

Excerpt from THE LAST KNIGHT:

He wanted to hold her forever. Simply hold her.

He rolled onto his back and gathered her in his arms so that she lay on her side with her head nestled in the crook of his shoulder, one hand flung across his heaving chest. When he reached to smooth her hair from her damp forehead, his fingers shook.

Hed known this about love. That it could run so strong and deep that when combined with the heat of desire, it became dangerously overwhelming. Hed known this, yet hed thought himself somehow different, thought he could resist. Now, he knew himself humbled. And very afraid.

He felt her breasts press against him as she drew in a deep breath and pushed it out in a sigh. I keep thinking I should feel guilty, she said, her voice hushed. She turned, resting her bare forearms upon his chest so she could lift herself up and look into his face, her eyes wide and dark with emotion. But all I feel is joy. A terrible joy.

He could see her well now, in the gathering light. He let his gaze rove over the delicate bones of her face, the high, wide brow and long, aristocratic nose, the proud, strong chin. He thought he could look at her forever. He wanted to look at her forever. He wanted to look into the faces of his children, his grandchildren, and see her features, her essence, mingled with his for all time. The thought of a life without her suddenly seemed almost more than he could bear.

A terrible joy. Yes, he thought; as great as it is, this joy is terrible, for it brings with it such fear of loss,
and the promise of unbearable pain.

He heard a larks song floating sweet yet oddly sad from the wooded hills above. The morning air seemed to hurt his skin, hurt his chest as he drew in breath. With a fearful sense of urgency, he drew her up so that she lay along the length of his body. He caught her face between his hands, his lips capturing hers in a deep, desperate kiss. He had known these things about love, he thought, but he hadnt really understood. Hadnt understood at all.


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