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The Maiden's Hand

Cover of The Maiden's Hand

The Maiden's Hand

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Roguishly handsome Oliver de Lacey has always lived lustily: wine, weapons and women are his bywords. Even salvation from the noose by a shadowy society provides no epiphany to mend his debauched...More
Roguishly handsome Oliver de Lacey has always lived lustily: wine, weapons and women are his bywords. Even salvation from the noose by a shadowy society provides no epiphany to mend his debauched...More
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  • Roguishly handsome Oliver de Lacey has always lived lustily: wine, weapons and women are his bywords. Even salvation from the noose by a shadowy society provides no epiphany to mend his debauched ways.

    Mistress Lark's sole passion is her secret work with a group of Protestant dissidents thwarting the queen's executions. She needs no other excitement--until Oliver de Lacey drops through the hangman's door and into her life.

    As their fates become inextricably bound together in a struggle against royal persecution, both Oliver and Lark discover a love worth saving...even dying for.

Excerpts-
  • From the book



    Spencer, you would not countenance what that yea-forsooth knave said to me." Lark paced the huge bedchamber of Blackrose Priory. "Of all the effrontery!"

    "Said to you?" Spencer Merrifield, earl of Hardstaff, had the most endearing way of lifting one eyebrow so that it resembled a gray question mark. Sitting in his grand tester bed, his thin frame propped against pillows and bolsters, he was bathed in the early-evening light that streamed through the oriel window. "You spoke to him?"

    "Yes. I--at the safe hold." She cringed inwardly at the small lie and studied the pattern of lozenge shapes that tiled the floor. Spencer would object to her being present for the hanging. But the safe hold was run by godly folk whose goals matched Spencer's own.

    "I see. Well, then. What did Oliver de Lacey say to you?"

    She frowned and plopped down onto a stool by the bed, tucking her soft, kerseymere skirts between her knees. "I thought his name was Oliver Lackey."

    "That is one of his names. In sooth he is Lord Oliver de Lacey, Baron Wimberleigh, son and heir to the earl of Lynley."

    "He? A noble?" The man had been wearing a stained shirt and plain fustian jerkin over torn and ragged canions and hose. No shoes; those were always appropriated by prison wardens. He had looked as common as a mongrel dog--until he had smiled at her.

    Spencer watched her closely as if seeking to peer into her mind. She was familiar with the look. When she was very small, she used to liken Spencer to the Almighty Himself, with all the powers of His station.

    "Betimes he goes about incognito," Spencer explained, "I suppose to spare his family from embarrassment. Now. What did the young lord say to you?"

    Will you have my baby?

    Lark's face burned scarlet at the memory. Her response had been a drop-jawed look of astonishment. Then, humiliated to the depths of her prayer-fed soul, she had flounced away, instructing him to hide in the cart until Dr. Snipes joined them and they reached the safe hold.

    "I shall lie low," Oliver had said, "but I should be more content if you were lying beneath me."

    Thank heavens Dr. Snipes had returned and spared her from having to respond.

    Now she looked at Spencer and felt such a wave of horror and guilt that her hands trembled. She buried them deep in the folds of her skirts.

    "I do not recall his precise words," she said, lying again. "But he had a most insolent manner."

    "Perhaps his brush with death put him in a foul mood."

    It was an unusually tolerant observation from a man of little tolerance. Lark blinked in surprise. She tried to will her flushed cheeks to cool. "He could use a lesson in manners."

    "Be he rapscallion or man of honor, did he deserve to die?"

    "No," she whispered, instantly contrite. She took Spencer's hand; his was cool and dry with age and infirmity. "Forgive me. I lack your generosity of spirit."

    His fingers squeezed hers briefly. "A woman cannot be expected to comprehend the matters that move a man to courage."

    She felt a sudden urge to snatch her hand away, then just as quickly buried the impulse. She owed all that she was to Spencer Merrifield. If from time to time his well-meaning comments grated, she should ignore them with good grace.

    "And what lofty purpose do you have in mind for Oliver de Lacey?" she asked.

    She could see the flame of the dying sun reflected in Spencer's cloudy gray eyes, which peered all the way through to her...

About the Author-
  • Susan Wiggs is the author of many beloved bestsellers, including the popular Lakeshore Chronicles series. She has won many awards for her work, including a RITA from Romance Writers of America. Visit her website at www.SusanWiggs.com.

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