Book Title: Enthralled
Author: Isabella Hargreaves
Genre: Historical Romance
Release Date: November 4, 2016
Hosted by: Book Enthusiast Promotions
He made her his thrall, but she enthralled him.
The newly-widowed Lady Eadlin of Mercia yearns for an independent life in control of her own destiny, but King Edward of Wessex has other plans. When he commands her to marry again to forge another political alliance, she flees to a convent in Kent. During a Viking raid, Eadlin is captured and taken to the English Danelaw where she is out of the king’s reach, but her life is again controlled by a powerful man.
After one last Viking raid, Jarl Thorolf plans to put down his sword and farm his lands, which he realizes is the only way to achieve long-term peace in England. However, the young defiant novice whom he enslaves is King Edward’s runaway goddaughter and worth a large ransom.
If Eadlin escapes her captor, she risks falling into King Edward’s hands. If she stays, she risks falling in love with the enemy. Captivated by Lady Eadlin, Thorolf must decide whether to protect her or return her to King Edward and prevent war with the Anglo-Saxons. Will he choose peace or love?
Eorl Ælberht’s Hall, 909AD
The thatch-roofed wattle and daub hall dominated the surrounding settlement. The largest in the shire, it befitted the seat of an Anglo-Saxon ealdorman with a hundred armed men in his employ and many more farmers serving him who could be called up with the fyrd to defend his land.
In this part of Mercia, he had called on them many times to keep the dreaded Vikings out of the Saxon kingdom.
Inside the hall, a host of men were gathered around the long tables in its centre, or sitting on benches against its walls. On a dais at one end of the hall sat a slender young woman gowned in woad blue, her chestnut-brown hair covered by a matching veil held in place by a gold fillet.
Looking around the hall at her husband’s gathered family and vassals, Lady Eadlin of Mercia raised her hand for quiet. The assembled company slowly acquiesced.
Her voice rang out, clear and commanding.
“Dear friends and family of my late husband, thank you for your good wishes. Eorl Ælberht was an important man and we honour him. As evidence of his esteem, today we welcome a messenger from King Edward of Wessex.”
She nodded in the direction of a hard-faced warrior, indicating that he should add more glory to her husband’s name. “Swidhun?”
The squat, battle-scarred man stood. “I bring greetings from King Edward, who esteemed Eorl Ælberht so greatly he gave his god-daughter, Lady Eadlin, in marriage to him.” He gestured towards Eadlin. “Ælberht was a supreme warrior.” The man raised his drinking horn high. “To Ælberht.”
The hundred-odd men in the hall echoed him.
Swidhun paused until the noise died down before continuing.
“Now the king once more has need of Lady Eadlin and wishes you to bid her farewell as she leaves to take up another role in our king’s service.” He raised his drinking horn again, to toast Eadlin. “To Lady Eadlin.”
A cheer rolled through the room.
Eadlin’s stomach lurched. She gripped the armrests of her ornate wooden chair. Schooling her face to show only interest, she smiled, eyes blank, her mind racing.
He could only want her to seal another alliance with an ealdorman through marriage.
“Well said, Swidhun. Thank you for your kind words,” she said.
Swidhun inclined his head towards her. “We must leave at dawn, Lady Eadlin.”
“So soon?” Her voiced dropped so only Swidhun and a few around him heard.
Face set, his words clipped, he replied, “The king commands it.”
No! Looking around the room, Eadlin forced another smile to hide her fear and anger. Her voice carried across the hall, clear and calm. “I must bid you all good evening and prepare for my departure. I leave you under the capable leadership of the new Eorl, Ældred.” She gave a brief, tight smile at her stepson seated nearby.
Standing, Eadlin paused and smoothed her richly embroidered dress. Nausea threatened her poise. Collecting her fractured thoughts, she turned and made her way to the doorway that led to the darkening evening. She leant down once to whisper to Cenric, a grizzled warrior seated near the opening. “I have need of you.”
The man followed her outside.
Isabella Hargreaves writes Romance through the Ages. From the Anglo-Saxon and Danish frontier in tenth century England, to the English Civil War, to Regency London and outback Australia in the 1920s, she has a romance to tell.
Isabella lives in Brisbane, Australia with her family and a house full of pets. Her love of history surfaced in childhood when she subscribed to a history magazine for children. Now she works as a historian, researching and writing about Australian people, places and institutions.
When she’s not reading and writing, Isabella loves horse-riding and walking. She dreams of an around-the world trip to indulge these passions.