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A Kingdom of Dreams. By Judith McNaught. Westmoreland 1. In truth I imagine he sent to him.. We will often find out this sentence everywhere.. FREE shipping on qualifying offers. A Kingdom of Dreams has 37, ratings and 1, reviews. Chapter One "A toast to the duke of Claymore and his bride! Goblets of wine would have been raised and more toasts offered in celebration of a grand and noble wedding such as the one which was about to take place here in the south of Scotland.
But not today. Not at this wedding. At this wedding, no one cheered and no one raised a goblet. At this wedding, everyone was watching everyone else, and everyone was tense. The bride's family was tense. The groom's family was tense. The guests and the servants and the hounds in the hall were tense. Even the first earl of Merrick, whose portrait hung above the fireplace, looked tense. The bride smiles because she's been able to convince him of it.
The guests smile because, amongst the nobility, a marriage connotes the linking of two important families and two large fortunes -- which in itself is cause for great celebration and abnormal gaiety. Not on this fourteenth day of October, Having made the toast, the groom's brother raised his goblet and smiled grimly at the groom. The groom's friends raised their goblets and smiled fixedly at the bride's family. The bride's family raised their goblets and smiled frigidly at each other. The groom, who alone seemed to be immune to the hostility in the hall, raised his goblet and smiled calmly at his bride, but the smile did not reach his eyes.
The bride did not bother to smile at anyone.
She looked furious and mutinous. In truth, Jennifer was so frantic she scarcely knew anyone was there. At the moment, every fiber of her being was concentrating on a last-minute, desperate appeal to God, Who out of lack of attention or lack of interest, had let her come to this sorry pass. Surely, I deserve something better than this forced marriage to a man who stole my virginity!
I didn't just hand it over to him, You know! Nearly every evening," she amended hastily before her conscience could contradict her again, "except when I fell asleep before I was finished. And I tried, I truly tried to be all that the good sisters at the abbey wanted me to be. You know now hard I've tried! Lord," she finished desperately, "if you'll just help me escape from this, I'll never be willful or impulsive again.
Bring in the priest," Lord Balfour commanded, and Jennifer's breath came in wild, panicked gasps, all thoughts of potential sacrifices fleeing from her mind. You aren't going to let this happen to me, are You? Her groom stepped into position beside her, and Jennifer jerked an inch away, her stomach churning with resentment and humiliation at having to endure his nearness.
If only she had known how one heedless act could end in disaster and disgrace. If only she hadn't been so impulsive and reckless! Closing her eyes, Jennifer shut out the hostile faces of the English and the murderous faces of her Scots kinsmen, and in her heart she faced the wrenching truth: Impulsiveness and recklessness, her two greatest faults, had brought her to this dire end -- the same two character flaws that had led her to commit all of her most disastrous follies.
Those two flaws, combined with a desperate yearning to make her father love her, as he loved his stepsons, were responsible for the debacle she'd made of her fife: When she was fifteen, those were the things that had led her to try to avenge herself against her sly, spiteful stepbrother in what had seemed a right and honorable way -- which was to secretly don Merrick armor and then ride against him, fairly, in the lists.
That magnificent folly had gained her a sound thrashing from her father right there on the field of honor -- and only a tiny bit of satisfaction from having knocked her wicked stepbrother clean off his horse! The year before, those same traits had caused her to behave in such a way that old Lord Balder withdrew his request for her hand, and in doing so destroyed her father's cherished dream of joining the two families. And those things, in turn, were what got her banished to the abbey at Belkirk, where, seven weeks ago, she'd become easy prey for the Black Wolf's marauding army And now, because of all that, she was forced to wed her enemy; a brutal English warrior whose armies had oppressed her country, a man who had captured her, held her prisoner, taken her virginity, and destroyed her reputation.
But it was too late for prayers and promises now. Her fate had been sealed from the moment, seven weeks ago, when she'd been dumped at the feet of the arrogant beast beside her, trussed up like a feastday partridge.
Jennifer swallowed. No, before that -- she'd veered down this path to disaster earlier that same day when she'd refused to heed the warnings that the Black Wolf's armies were nearby. But why should she have believed it, Jennifer cried in her own defense. But on that day, seven weeks ago, it had been woefully true.
The crowd in the hall stirred restlessly, looking about for a sign of the priest, but Jennifer was lost in her memories of that day At the time, it had seemed an unusually pretty day, the sky a cheerful blue, the air balmy.
The sun had been shining down upon the abbey, bathing its Gothic spires and graceful arches in bright golden light, beaming benignly upon the sleepy little village of Belkirk, which boasted the abbey, two shops, thirty-four cottages, and a communal stone well in the center of it, where villagers gathered on Sunday afternoons, as they were doing then. On a distant hill, a shepherd looked after his flock, while in a clearing not far from the well, Jennifer had been playing hoodman -- blind with the orphans whom the abbess had entrusted to her care.
And in that halcyon setting of laughter and relaxation, this travesty had begun. As if she could somehow change events by reliving them in her mind, Jennifer closed her eyes, and suddenly she was there again in the little clearing with the children, her head completely covered with the hoodman's hood Grinning beneath the concealing hood, she assumed the pose of a classic "monster" by holding her arms high in front of her, her fingers spread like claws, and began to stomp about, calling in a deep, ominous voice, "You can't escape me, Tom MacGivern.
Breathless and laughing, Jenny yanked off her hood to see whom she'd captured, mindless of the red gold hair tumbling down over her shoulders and arms. Do I got to wear it? Sweeping her up into her arms, Jenny hugged her tightly. They don't sceer me 'tall. Braver than I! Tom silenced at Jenny' s pleading look and argued no more about her alleged fear of frogs. Why, last Sunday during the priest's long sermon, Lady Jenny's head had nodded forward, and only Tom's loud, false coughing in the bench behind her had awakened her in time for her to escape detection by the sharp-eyed abbess.
Smiling, she watched the children scamper off to their favorite hiding places, then she picked up the wimple and short woolen veil she'd taken off in order to be the hoodman. Intending to go over to the communal well where the villagers were eagerly questioning some clansmen passing through Belkirk on their way to their homes from the war against the English in Cornwall, she lifted the wimple, intending to put it on.
One of them stepped forward, respectfully removing his helm and cradling it in the crook of his arm. He's comin' this way, not far behind us, wit a big band o' men. His face answered Jenny's question even before he said, "'Twas all but over when we left. In Cork and Taunton it looked like we might win, and the same was true in Cornwall, until the devil hisself came to take command 'o Henry's army.
Hatred contorted the man's face and he spat on the ground. Henry's sendin' him here with a fresh army to crush us for supportin' King Edward. The clans are making haste to come home and get ready for the battles. Royce decides to give Jenny her dream, but she is spirited away by her one good step-brother, William before he gets the chance to tell her.
What follows is a nightmare for both Royce and Jenny, and when they are finally brought together in marriage, each is bitterly hurt and humiliated. Worse is that Jennifer has gone from one home where she is considered a pariah to another where she is considered the same.
Royce and Jenny begin their lives together and slowly regain some of what they had felt before she was wrested away from Royce.
Jenny manages to earn the respect of her new people and helps them to see Royce as he truly is, and not a fearsome warrior.
Where do her loyalties really lie? With her husband or her family? As Royce sets out to regain her love and trust, he makes a promise that could ultimately kill cost him his life.
Even the most cynical reader will be reaching for a box of tissue. I especially love Royce; as battle-hardened as he was, he still possessed a heart of gold.
That he was able to see beyond the false bravado and give Jennifer what she needed the most made me love him more. If I could but travel back to medieval times and meet a Royce of my own!
I loved Jennifer as well because I can think back to times in my life when I felt as she did. All those teen-aged insecurities! Trying to fit in and belong!