Women of noble birth in the middle ages and later, were given little or no choice in whom they married. Fathers arranged marriages for their daughters, usually when the girl was about fourteen years old, although royal families sometimes arranged marriage for infants. The arrangement took into consideration monetary gain for the family, alliance, or increased social position. Love was rarely factored into such decisions. Couples often came to have special regard for each other after years of living and working together, although just as often they did not. Those who did not find love in marriage might well find it elsewhere.
Betrothal begins with the announcement of Lady Alyse de Courcey’s betrothal to Sir Geoffrey Longford, a man she has never met. Not unusual, as I stated above. The problem? Alyse is infatuated with another courtier, Thomas Knowlton, Lord Braeton. Who, unbeknownst to her, is Geoffrey’s best friend.
Do we see a conflict brewing here?
Arranged marriages of the period gave rise to the tradition of courtly love and the art of chivalry. Knights bold and ladies fair. However, the rules of courtly love are clear--a knight’s favored lady must not be his wife, but the wife of someone else.
That’s right. Courtly love was adulterous in nature, though it was not always acted on physically.
So Alyse, Geoffrey, and Thomas are poised to create a lovers’ triangle, in the tradition of the time. Will they defy tradition and seek a happier ending? Will there indeed be time enough to love? Only time itself will tell.
Time Enough to Love, Book 1
by Jenna Jaxon
Lady Alyse de Courcey is head over heels in love with a man to whom she’s barely spoken, Thomas Knowlton, a nobleman in King Edward III’s court. Alyse would give anything to marry him. However, she must come to terms with her betrothal to Thomas’s best friend, Sir Geoffrey Longford, a handsome and imposing knight, yet hardly the man she wants to wed. She continues to cherish hopes of Thomas, though as her nuptials approach, Geoffrey is the one most often on her mind.
Sir Geoffrey Longford is bound by his father’s hand to wed Lady Alyse. And Geoffrey is eager to do so after meeting the young maid. She is gentle and beautiful, with just enough spice and wit to make her seem a willing partner in and out of bed. But when Geoffrey learns of her infatuation with his friend, and sees her regard for the man growing as their wedding day approaches, Geoffrey takes matters into his own hands. Can he win his lady’s love without killing his friend into the bargain?
Alyse shot up off her seat, afraid she had kept the king waiting. “I beg pardon, Sire.” She hurried from behind the table to stand before the king. “ What do you require of me, Majesty?” With a sigh of relief, she dropped gratefully into a deep curtsy, face hidden in the folds of her skirt. She disliked being a spectacle at the court and wished she could remain bowed thus before his majesty for the remainder of the evening.
King Edward laughed. “Obedience, Lady Alyse, as I require of all my subjects. As your father requires of his daughter.”
Her heart thumped wildly in her breast. That could only mean one thing.
“Rise, my lady.”
She did so on unsteady feet. “I am ready, as always, Your Majesty, to obey my father as I would you.” Holy Mary, let it be Thomas Knowlton.
King Edward lifted an eyebrow toward Alyse. “A very pretty answer. And are you ready to accept your father’s decree for your betrothal? His messenger has today reached me with the contract, as I am to stand in his stead in this matter.”
Alyse took a deep breath and hoped her voice did not tremble. “Yea, Majesty, I will obey my father and accept his choice.”
King Edward nodded. “What say you then, Sir Geoffrey? Does the lady not speak fair? I vow she will make you a proper wife, and a dutiful one as well.”
Alyse turned, until that moment unaware that Geoffrey Longford stood beside her before the king. Chills coursed down her body as the king’s words echoed in her mind. The sensation of falling backward assailed her, as though she rushed away from the tall man at her side even as his figure loomed larger and larger in her sight.
Not Thomas Knowlton. Her numbed brain repeated the phrase, trying to comprehend that instead he would be her husband. Geoffrey Longford. God have mercy on me, for by the look of him, this man will not. Fearful, her gaze climbed higher, over his chest, over his chin, finally resting on the dark blue eyes turned toward her.
Geoffrey returned her appraisal, his eyes sweeping her figure as a smile crept over his face. “Your Majesty.” He spoke to the king but his attention remained fixed on Alyse. “I also give my obedience to you, and to my father, doing your bidding in all things. My father told me of the betrothal contract before I left his home and I resolved then to play the dutiful son. I find, however, I do not wish to act that role after all.” His eyes held hers as he paused.
Dear God, does he mean to renounce me here before the entire court? Alyse fixed her stare on the man beside her, willing herself to remain erect, despite the chills and heat that alternated through her body.
“Now I find I would rather play the ardent lover.” An amused murmur ran throughout the hall at his words. Geoffrey grinned, his eyes now sparkling with humor and something more. Despite the uneven light, Alyse saw an unfathomable promise in their dark depths.
~~About the Author~~
Jenna Jaxon is a multi-published author of historical and contemporary romance. She is currently starting revisions to Betrayal, the second book in the Time Enough to Love series. Her Georgian novel, Only Scandal Will Do, the first in a series of five interconnecting novels, was released in July 2012. Work on the second book of the series, Only Marriage Will Do, has begun. Her third full-length novel, As Long As You’re Mine, set in Victorian London and Richmond, Virginia is currently out to an agent.
Jenna has been reading and writing historical romance since she was a teenager. A romantic herself, she has always loved a dark side to the genre, a twist, suspense, a surprise. She tries to incorporate all of these elements into her own stories. She lives in Virginia with her family and a small menagerie of pets. When not reading or writing, she indulges her passion for the theatre, working with local theatres as a director. She often feels she is directing her characters on their own private stage.
She has equated her writing to an addiction to chocolate because once she starts she just can’t stop.
Jenna is giving away a copy of Betrothal to one lucky commenter. Please leave your email address in your comments.