This review was posted at My Secret Romance
Since this book was published in 1985, there is no need for me to go into full detail about this book. There are over 280 reviews-and that's only counting the 5 star ones, about this book on Amazon. What could I possibly say that hasn't already been said? That it was the most beautiful book ever written? That it has more romance than I have ever read in my life? That I cried, I laughed, and I had the shakes because my heart was racing so fast? That after reading this book, it renders one speechless as does her other book A Kingdom of Dreams
? No, that has all been said by many many other people. And all of it is true. So my review will just be of all highlighted parts from this book, since I have yet to see anyone do it. "Must you stare at me?" she snapped. "Yes," Cuthbert rasped, grasping her arms and trying to pull her toward him, "I must."
"Cuthbert," Whitney warned ominously, "I'll give you just three seconds to take your hands off of me before I start screaming the house down." Unexpectedly, Cuthbert did as ahe commanded, but his arms dropped and his body followed. Falling to one knee, he placed his hand over his heart, preparatory to proposing matrimony. "Cousin Whitney", he murmured hoarsely, indulging her in a visual folding of her from the tips of her toes to the top of her head and back down. "I must tell you what is in my heart and my mind--"
"I know what is in your mind," Whitney interrupted scathingly. " You have been ogling me for hours. Now get to your feet!"
She snatched her skirt away, half convinced that he intended to lift it and peak beneath it. Deprived of her hem, his hand returned to cover his heart." I admire you with every fiber of my being. I have the deepest regard for--" Gulping, he broke off, his widened eyes riveted on a point behind her.
"I sincerely hope," drawled a lazily amused voice from the doorway, "that I am not interrupting a devoted man at his prayers?""I aught to break your neck!" Clayton interrupted. "Allow to me congratulate you on a fine day's work, Madam," he said sternly. "In less than twelve hours, you've brought Whittcomb to your side and Cuthbert to your feet."
-Clayton to WhitneyClayton's eyes raked contemptuously over her. "We have no agreement," he said scathingly. "It's over. Done with. It should have never begun! The betrothal was an insane idea and I curse the day I thought of it."
Sick with failure and defeat, Whitney dug her nails into the flesh of her palms and shook her head in denial.
"It never had a chance to begin because I wouldn't let it."
"Your two minutes are almost up."
"Clayton, please listen to me!" she cried desperately. "You-you told me a long time ago that you wanted me to come to you willingly, that you didn't want a cold, unwilling wife."
"And?" he demanded furiously.
Whitney's voice shook, "And, I am here. Willingly."
-Whitney to Clayton after realizing that she loves him and wants him to marry her, and not Vanessa."Don't you dare disobey me," he hissed, his fingers clamping on her upper arm as he marched her away from the curious grooms and stablekeepers.
"Disobey you?!" she repeated, stamping her foot. "Do you mean to actually remind me of my vows? Why of all the-Would you like me to remind you of yours, my lord?"
"I will give you a warning. Just one," Clayton enunciated viciously. "Call it advice, if you prefer."
"If I wanted advice," Whitney retorted, her eyes sparkling with jade fire, "you would be the last person on earth I would ask!" She opened her mouth to say more, then changed her mind at the boiling wrath her outburst brought to his features.
"Defy me one more time-just once more, and I will lock you in your rooms until that brat is born!"
"I'm sure you would like nothing more!" Whitney said, hating him for calling her baby a brat. "You are the meanest, cruelest....you're a fraud and a liar! How dare you have told me you love me then treat me as so! And another thing, my lord duke," she added in a chocking fury, "which I'm sure will come as a tremendous surprise to you: It so happens making love makes babies!"
Clayton was so stunned by her ridiculous "revelation" that he never saw the blow coming. She caught him full on the side of the face with the flat of her hand, then reared back, looking like a tempestuous goddess in all her fine fury.
-Whitney and Clayton after Whitney disobeyed orders not to ride her horse. She reached up behind her and began to unfasten her dress on the way to her dressing room. "Keep it on!" his voice slashed out, "until I leave."
Clayton came to his feet, advancing on her with the predatory glace of a stalking panther. Reflectively, Whitney started to back away, then checked herself and held her ground. He loomed over her, his graze a frigid blast. In a silky, menacing voice, her said, "Do you remember what I told you would happen if you dared to disobey me again, Whitney?"
He had threatened to lock her in her rooms until her baby was born. Whitney was angry and frightened-and so much in love with him that even her voiced throbbed with it. "Yes, I remember," she said in an aching whisper. "I remember all sorts of other things, too. I remember the words you have whispered to me when you are so deep inside of me that you have touched my heart. I remember....."
"Shut up!" he snapped furiously. "Or so help me God, I'll......"
"I remember exactly the way your hands feel against my skin when you touch me and...."
He caught her shoulders and shook her. "Damn you! I said stop!"
"I can't." Whitney shuddered in his grasp but persevered." I can't stop, because I love you. I love your eyes, and your smile, and your...."
Clayton yanked her into his arms, his mouth capturing hers in a savage, punishing kiss that was meant to silence and hurt and retaliate. He was bruising her lips, and she was crushed so tightly against him that she couldn't breathe. But Whitney didn't care; she could feel the hardness of his need swelling rigidly against her, and when he mouth began to slant fiercely over hers with wild hunger and desperate urgency, she wrapped her arms around his neck and clung to him."Are you trying to see exactly how far I can be provoked?"
"No my lord," Whitney replied demurely, aware of the curious looks from the arriving guests. "How could I possibly provoke you more than I already have by offering you a child."
-Whitney to Clayton after Clayton sees the dress Whitney chose to wear to a party."Where the living hell is your betrothal ring?" he snapped angrily as her whirled her in perfect time to the waltz.
"The token of your love?" Whitney asked him, her chin proudly high, her pale face fragile and beautiful. "That betrothal ring?"
"You know damned well which ring."
"Since it was a token of the love I no longer have from you, I felt it was a hypocrisy to wear it." She waited breathlessly to hear from Clayton that his love for her wasn't dead.
"Do as you damn well please," he said with cynical indifference. "You always have.""Don't!" she cried out softly, reaching her arms around his powerful shoulders and burying her face in his neck. "Please, please don't do this. Just talk to me. Please talk to me."
"I can't," he whispered against her shining hair. He drew a long, tortured breath. "I can't find the words."
The naked anguish in his voice brought tears to her eyes as she leaned back and looked at him. "I can," she whispered brokenly. "You taught them to me-I love you. I love you."
Threading his fingers through her hair, he framed her face with his hands and gazed at her. "I love you," he whispered hoarsely. "God! How I love you!"" Your grace?"
Everyone in the room looked up at Hugh Whittcomb who was standing in the doorway, looking haggard.
Clayton froze. "Yes?"
"Would you like to go upstairs and greet your son?""Whitney-my wife and my love."
This book is over 700 pages long, so I had more than a few that I wanted to share. The best part of the book, for me, was at the very end with the treasure box/memory chest. I love of old vintage keepsakes, letters and pictures so reading that part was so great and emotional. Especially the letter and likeness from the 1st Duchess of Claymore, Jennifer Merrick Westmoreland.