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Dreams of lilacs, p.1
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       Dreams of Lilacs, p.1

           Lynn Kurland
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Dreams of Lilacs


  Praise for New York Times

  bestselling author Lynn Kurland

  “Clearly one of romance’s finest writers.”

  —The Oakland Press

  “Both powerful and sensitive . . . a wonderfully rich and rewarding book.”

  —#1 New York Times bestselling author Susan Wiggs

  “A sweet, tenderhearted time travel romance.”

  —Joyfully Reviewed

  “A story on an epic scale . . . Kurland has written another time travel marvel . . . Perfect for those looking for a happily ever after.”

  —RT Book Reviews

  “[A] triumphant romance.”

  —Fresh Fiction

  “A perfect blend of medieval intrigue and time travel romance. I was totally enthralled from the beginning to the end.”

  —Once Upon a Romance

  “Woven with magic, handsome heroes, lovely heroines, oodles of fun, and plenty of romance . . . just plain wonderful.”

  —Romance Reviews Today

  “Spellbinding and lovely, this is one story readers won’t want to miss.”

  —Romance Reader at Heart

  “Breathtaking in its magnificent scope.”

  —Night Owl Romance

  “Sweetly romantic and thoroughly satisfying.”

  —Booklist

  Titles by Lynn Kurland

  STARDUST OF YESTERDAY

  A DANCE THROUGH TIME

  THIS IS ALL I ASK

  THE VERY THOUGHT OF YOU

  ANOTHER CHANCE TO DREAM

  THE MORE I SEE YOU

  IF I HAD YOU

  MY HEART STOOD STILL

  FROM THIS MOMENT ON

  A GARDEN IN THE RAIN

  DREAMS OF STARDUST

  MUCH ADO IN THE MOONLIGHT

  WHEN I FALL IN LOVE

  WITH EVERY BREATH

  TILL THERE WAS YOU

  ONE ENCHANTED EVENING

  ONE MAGIC MOMENT

  ALL FOR YOU

  ROSES IN MOONLIGHT

  DREAMS OF LILACS

  The Novels of the Nine Kingdoms

  STAR OF THE MORNING

  THE MAGE’S DAUGHTER

  PRINCESS OF THE SWORD

  A TAPESTRY OF SPELLS

  SPELLWEAVER

  GIFT OF MAGIC

  DREAMSPINNER

  RIVER OF DREAMS

  Anthologies

  THE CHRISTMAS CAT

  (with Julie Beard, Barbara Bretton, and Jo Beverley)

  CHRISTMAS SPIRITS

  (with Casey Claybourne, Elizabeth Bevarly, and Jenny Lykins)

  VEILS OF TIME

  (with Maggie Shayne, Angie Ray, and Ingrid Weaver)

  OPPOSITES ATTRACT

  (with Elizabeth Bevarly, Emily Carmichael, and Elda Minger)

  LOVE CAME JUST IN TIME

  A KNIGHT’S VOW

  (with Patricia Potter, Deborah Simmons, and Glynnis Campbell)

  TAPESTRY

  (with Madeline Hunter, Sherrilyn Kenyon, and Karen Marie Moning)

  TO WEAVE A WEB OF MAGIC

  (with Patricia A. McKillip, Sharon Shinn, and Claire Delacroix)

  THE QUEEN IN WINTER

  (with Sharon Shinn, Claire Delacroix, and Sarah Monette)

  A TIME FOR LOVE

  Specials

  TO KISS IN THE SHADOWS

  THE BERKLEY PUBLISHING GROUP

  Published by the Penguin Group

  Penguin Group (USA) LLC

  375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014

  USA • Canada • UK • Ireland • Australia • New Zealand • India • South Africa • China

  penguin.com

  A Penguin Random House Company

  DREAMS OF LILACS

  A Jove Book / published by arrangement with Kurland Book Productions, Inc.

  Copyright © 2014 by Kurland Book Productions, Inc.

  Penguin supports copyright. Copyright fuels creativity, encourages diverse voices, promotes free speech, and creates a vibrant culture. Thank you for buying an authorized edition of this book and for complying with copyright laws by not reproducing, scanning, or distributing any part of it in any form without permission. You are supporting writers and allowing Penguin to continue to publish books for every reader.

  Jove Books are published by The Berkley Publishing Group.

  JOVE® is a registered trademark of Penguin Group (USA) LLC.

  The “J” design is a trademark of Penguin Group (USA) LLC.

  For information, address: The Berkley Publishing Group,

  a division of Penguin Group (USA) LLC,

  375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014.

  eBook ISBN: 978-1-101-59912-9

  PUBLISHING HISTORY

  Jove mass-market edition / May 2014

  Cover art by Jim Griffin.

  Cover design by George Long.

  This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

  Version_1

  Contents

  Praise for Lynn Kurland

  Titles by Lynn Kurland

  Title Page

  Copyright

  Chapter 1

  Chapter 2

  Chapter 3

  Chapter 4

  Chapter 5

  Chapter 6

  Chapter 7

  Chapter 8

  Chapter 9

  Chapter 10

  Chapter 11

  Chapter 12

  Chapter 13

  Chapter 14

  Chapter 15

  Chapter 16

  Chapter 17

  Chapter 18

  Chapter 19

  Chapter 20

  Chapter 21

  Chapter 22

  Chapter 23

  Chapter 24

  Chapter 25

  Chapter 26

  Chapter 27

  Chapter 28

  Chapter 1

  ENGLAND, 1232

  ARTANE

  Isabelle de Piaget leaned against the wall of her father’s great hall, out of the torchlight, and wondered if it were possible for a woman to hide her almost unbearable urge to panic so her family wouldn’t notice.

  It wasn’t something she considered very often. In fact, she supposed she had never once in her score and three years of life considered such a thing. Her life, she would be the first to admit, was so near to perfection as to be indistinguishable from it. Her parents were kind and loving, her siblings very tolerable, and her surroundings magnificent. She had never once been beaten, never not had enough to eat or warm things to wear, never had anything terrible happen to her. Her life had been substantially less pleasant when she’d been sent to market for fathers of potential husbands to look over, but that hadn’t been her family’s fault. In truth, she could have expected nothing less.

  What she hadn’t expected, however, was what a messenger had handed her but a handful of hours earlier, a missive she had the very unpleasant feeling would completely change the course of her life—

  “You’re thinking very hard.”

  She closed her eyes briefly when she realized her twin brother, Miles, was standing next to her. She wondered if she’d said anything aloud in her distress, then decided the best thing to do was attack before Miles thought too much about what she might or might not have said.

  “’Tis good for the faculties to engage in robust thought now and again,” she said briskly. “You might give it a try.”

  He only leaned back against the wall casually. “I would, but don’t want to hurt myself. You, however, seem to have little fear of the same. Would you care to divulge what strengthens y
our robust faculties at the moment?”

  As if she would trust him with her current thoughts! Miles was a vault when it came to the hearing of secrets guaranteed to produce a swoon in those with a less sturdy stomach, true, but to reveal the contents of the missive she had just received would be too much for his ironclad belly.

  She glanced at him to find that he was still studying her with undue scrutiny.

  “I wasn’t thinking about anything,” she protested.

  He shot her a skeptical look.

  “Very well,” she said, desperate to get him to go away. “I was thinking about how much I love my family. Why don’t you go sit with them over by the fire and allow me to think kind thoughts about you as well?”

  He shrugged slightly. “You looked as though you might need aid in your latest plot. How could I not offer my services?”

  “Plot,” she repeated, wishing she’d been able to add to that what might sound more like a careless laugh than a sick sort of quack better suited to a duck preparing to have a final waddle before winding up on a spit. “I’m not plotting.”

  Miles only lifted an eyebrow briefly, then smiled and leaned his head back against the wall. Isabelle attempted to imitate his pose, but the best she could do was wrap her arms around herself and try not to shiver as she looked out at the group of souls clustered there in front of her. She could bring innumerable evenings to mind where the family had either gathered where they were currently in the great hall or in a more intimate setting in their sire’s solar. If anything happened to them . . .

  She pulled herself away from that thought before it got away from her and blossomed into a panic she truly couldn’t control. She took a deep breath, then considered her family in a measured, detached fashion.

  Robin was there with his wife, Anne, and their two spawn. Amanda was there as well with her husband, Jackson the Fourth, along with their daughter and newborn son, Jackson the Fifth. She herself was there with Miles, of course, which was perhaps rarer than she would have cared for. Miles tended to have itchy feet, which kept him always looking for the next adventure.

  Her younger brothers, John and Montgomery, were also there, freshly knighted and looking particularly happy to be sitting sprawled in chairs before the fire. Well, Montgomery looked happy. John looked as if he might be plotting something. Then again, of late John always looked as if he were considering things he shouldn’t have been. Dangerous things.

  She understood that, as it happened.

  The only ones missing were Nicholas and Jennifer, who were currently at Nicholas’s keep in France, Beauvois, awaiting the birth of their second son. Her mother planned to travel to France soon to be of use to her daughter-in-law. Robin would stay at Artane with his family, no doubt, to see to their father’s affairs, but it was very likely that the rest of the family would find itself in France to celebrate Nicky and Jennifer’s new child. All in close proximity.

  An interesting coincidence, that, to be sure.

  “You’re wheezing.”

  “I spent too much time in the stables today,” Isabelle answered without hesitation. “It’s entirely possible I sniffed too much hay.”

  It was also possible that the thought of her family being together in France in the near future was enough to leave her unable to breathe. How much easier life had been when she and her siblings had been young and innocent and heedless of any potential danger. She sighed.

  “Why must things change?”

  She wished she could take the words back the moment she said them, but it was too late. She looked reluctantly at Miles to find him studying her too closely for her comfort. Indeed, he had turned to face her, leaning his shoulder against the stone.

  “Time is a river you cannot stop,” he said. “All you can do is navigate it as best you can.”

  “I might have an opinion on where my boat is going.”

  He didn’t look at all surprised, which made her wonder if perhaps she should be more discreet about allowing her thoughts to show on her face.

  “And are you considering manning the tiller?”

  “Of course not,” she said, trying to put just the right amount of firmness in her tone. “I’m just babbling. Besides, where would I go?”

  “Perhaps a better question is, where would you go if you could filch a horse and be on your way without having to ask permission?”

  “My only destination is the fire across the hall where I might sit with my family and enjoy the evening.”

  He didn’t seem inclined to lead the way. “You know I won’t say anything to anyone,” he remarked mildly. “If you cared to unburden yourself.”

  Which, she had to concede, was the absolute truth. If there were anyone alive she could trust with her most appalling secrets, it would be Miles. She suppressed the urge to look around her to see if she were being eavesdropped on, paused, then gave in to the impulse. She glanced about her whilst trying not to look as if she were glancing about herself. Then she looked at her brother, just to see if he looked at all queasy.

  He didn’t, damn him anyway.

  She, however, felt profoundly ill. It wasn’t that she wasn’t used to a fair amount of scheming. She was a de Piaget lass, after all, and her mother and older sister were famous for their plots and schemes, things that were discussed regularly and with great enthusiasm. By the ladies of the hall, at least. Her father tended to close his eyes briefly, breathe carefully a time or two, then find something requiring his immediate attention elsewhere when faced with a retelling of those tales. Her brothers simply shook their heads, as if they were unequal to expressing their admiration for deeds accomplished.

  She paused. Well, perhaps that wasn’t entirely accurate. Her eldest brother, Robin, tended to roll his eyes and summarily dismiss any of the truly noteworthy pieces of mischief his female relatives had combined. Her next oldest brother, Nicholas, was wont to simply walk away without comment. Miles generally smiled indulgently, whilst her next youngest brother, John, would never stand still long enough to hear the successful resolution of the adventure. Her youngest brother, Montgomery, was the one who shivered violently at any retelling, though she had the feeling that it was less out of admiration than it was sheer terror. Then again, he had been in the thick of more of their plots than he likely cared to think on.

  That was definitely something to remember, should the need for a willing participant in a plot arise.

  “Iz?”

  She took a deep breath. “I’m thinking about an adventure.”

  There, that sounded reasonable. It sounded a far sight more reasonable than telling him that she’d received a missive addressed to her specifically that instructed her to find a way to present herself immediately at a particular abbey in France or her grandparents’ lives would be the forfeit. She’d been so stunned first by the fact that anyone would know her name that she’d hardly had the presence of mind to ask who had engaged the messenger. The man had said he’d simply been handed the missive by someone in York who had paid him very handsomely for his services—

  “Does this adventure involve a boat?”

  She looked at her brother to find him smiling faintly at her, as if he thought to tease her for her plans. She took a deep breath.

  “It might, actually.”

  His smile faded abruptly. “You cannot be serious.”

  “I thought you were merely listening, not commenting.”

  He shut his mouth that had fallen open. “So I was. Go ahead.”

  Isabelle suppressed the urge to shift. Miles would notice that and know that she was being slightly less than frank.

  “I was thinking I might make a little journey,” she said. “To see a relative or two.” She paused. “Not in England.”

  “I see,” he said, and no doubt he did. “Whilst I’m always eager to make a journey, I wonder why—if you’re seeking an adventure not in England—you don’t wait and be about your business with Mother and her enormous guard?” He looked at her pointedly. “She’ll be go
ing to France in a month, as I’m sure you already know.”

  “Oh, I don’t know,” Isabelle said, waving her hand about in what she hoped was an airy, careless fashion. “I thought it might be interesting to make a journey alone.”

  “To France,” he said carefully.

  “It has been done before.”

  He looked almost . . . unsettled, which for Miles was rather unsettling indeed. “Isabelle,” he said, using her entire name, which for him was also rather unusual, “you cannot simply traipse about the wilds of England and France by yourself.”

  “Why not?” she asked. “You do.”

  “I am not the stunning youngest daughter of Rhys de Piaget.”

  “You aren’t ugly, Miles,” she said. “Not entirely.”

  He smiled and even she, who had more than ample memories of just how awful he’d been as a lad of ten, had to admit he was quite possibly the most handsome of her parents’ sons, damn him anyway.

  “I have a sword,” he noted.

  “I could find a sword.”

  “I know how to use mine.”

  “And you think I couldn’t manage the same?” she said archly.

  He turned, leaned his back against the wall, and rubbed his hands over his face. “Iz, I don’t doubt there are many things you could do if you set your mind to it,” he said with a sigh, “but hefting a sword isn’t one of them.”

  “I’ve watched you lads in the lists often enough. And Amanda can use a sword. Why can’t I?”

  He shot her a look. “Because you haven’t the temperament of your older sister who would just as soon stab me as to look at me if I vexed her.”

  “I won’t need a sword,” she said confidently. “I thought I would go in disguise.”

  “Of course you did.”

  “As a lad.”

  “What else?”

  “I don’t think anyone will notice me.”

  Miles looked at her, then laughed. “Believe that if you want.”

  “A little dirt here, a smudge there, and voilà,” she said firmly. “A lad too uninteresting to bother with.”

  He shook his head. “I imagine it would take a bit more than dirt to hide who you are to any but the most witless of men, but we’ll argue that point later. I still don’t understand why you can’t simply wait for Mother and go in her company.”

  “I need an adventure.”

 
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