Immediately Aurore, dressed in peasant homespun like a dull sparrow in a flock of exotic birds, flew out of the door. She cried, “Dominique!” and threw herself into his arms. He took a step back at the impact and held her lush little body tightly against his own, his gloved hands grasping at the laces that crisscrossed her back.
She started chattering almost immediately. “Did you see the king, too? He said he would talk to you. Did he tell you? I am sure he did, if you are here and the Coucher is over. I am so relieved, so pleased. Oh, Dominique, we will get our home back, chéri.”
Dominique was unable to reply. Her leap had knocked the wind out of him, and the only thing he could think to do was to kiss her. Right there in a hallway of the Palais de Vincennes, with aristocratic peers mincing past on high-heeled shoes and servants pretending to not notice, he kissed his wife, his life and soul, the way he had wanted to since the moment he saw her standing on a little stage in a square in some tiny village north of Paris.
He came to himself a short while later, when he stumbled as he turned to press Aurore against a wall. He set her down and took a small step back as she opened her eyes drowsily to smile at him in the way she had when they were first married.
“So this is what the aristocracy is coming to, then?” said a sharp voice behind him.
Dominique turned quickly, shoving Aurore behind him, his hand automatically reaching for the knife which he did not have; Cédric’s valet had complained that it spoiled the line of his waistcoat.
Henri wrinkled his nose. “It’s a good thing our brother had your back, you know. All this kissing would drive anyone to violence.”
Aurore was delighted when a marriage was arranged with the boy she loved, her older brother's friend Dominique, Comte de Bures. But in a few years the first rush of joy has worn off, and their promising life seems ruined by loss, betrayal, and misunderstanding.
One terrifying morning mercenaries overrun their château and usurpers take Aurore hostage. Miles away at Versailles, where he is required to dance attendance on Louis XIV, Dominique is nearly killed by a crossbow bolt.
Escaping, Aurore travels with a troupe of itinerant musicians, hiding in the open while discovering hidden resources within herself.
Dom sets out to find his wife. He needs his old life back. He needs revenge. But his lands, his title, and his honor mean nothing unless he can win back the love of his indispensable wife.
Philippa Lodge has been an avid reader since she asked her mother to point out where it said "Ma" in Little House in the Big Woods. She read everything she could get her hands on until grad school in French Studies, at which time she lost her reading mojo. Only through the twin discoveries of Harry Potter and romance has she gotten her groove back and gone back to the stuff she loved about seventeenth century France: kings, swords, opulence, and love. She lives in the suburbs of Sacramento, CA with her husband, three children, two cats, and a head full of courtesans (Oo la la!). She does the newsletter for her local chapter of the Romance Writers of America.
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