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She's disguised as a man in a place where women are forbidden.  Now, she's met a man who, for the first time, makes her want to be a woman. What will happen when he discovers her secret and she's discovered IN THE MASTER'S BED?

September 2009
Harlequin HistoricalsTM

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Finalist in the Readers Crown Contest sponsored by RomCon.
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Named Best Read of 2009 by Romance Junkies.

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In the Master's Bed by Blythe Gifford

In the Master's Bed  by Blythe Gifford

In the Master's Bed by Blythe Gifford
(Passion in Cambridge)
Harlequin Les Historiques
April 2, 2016
For more information, visit the
Les Historiques web site.
(Lessons of Seduction)
Harlequin Ibérica, S.A.
June 2015

For more information, visit the
Amazon web site.
(Lessons of Seduction)
Harlequin Históricos

For more information, visit the
Amazon web site.


In the Master's Bed by Blythe Gifford--French edition


In the Master's Bed--Italian Edition


In the Master's Bed by Blythe Gifford
(Desire for the Master)

October 1, 2010
ISBN: 978-2280214117

For more information, click here.

(Lessons of Love)
Harlequin Mondadori
June 2010
ISBN: 9788858971192

For more information, visit the Harmony Italia web site 

Mills & Boon
Series: Historical
Release: August 6, 2010
ISBN: 978-0263876000

For more information, visit the Amazon.co.uk web site.



Australian Release Blythe Gifford


In the Master's Bed--Harlequin Iberica

In the Master's Bed by Blythe Gifford

Three Titles in One Volume

Mills & Boon
Series: Historical
Release: July 2010
ISBN: 9781742553924
(Hidden Behind a Disguise)

Harlequin Ibérica
ISBN: 978-8467193244

For more information, visit the Harlequin Ibérica web site.
Available in Spanish for Kindle.
Η Προστατευόμενη του Ντάνκαν
(Duncan's Protégé)

Harlequin Classic

For more information, visit the Harlequin Classic web site.

From Chapter Three
Cambridge, England, 1388

      Just ahead, a large man towered over a young lad, pinning him in place with a hand on one shoulder. It was near dusk, but he recognized the pale gold hair.
     Little John was in trouble already.
     His heart lurched. Without thinking, he stepped over and put his hand on John’s other shoulder and his best Cambridge accent on his lips.  “What’s going on here?”
     John jumped at the touch, but his eyes, blue, Duncan noted for the first time, widened in recognition.
     The man didn’t let go.  “This boy was sneaking around the stable.  Probably going to steal a horse.”
     “I was not,” John began.  “I just wanted---.”
     Duncan squeezed his shoulder.  He was oddly glad to see the boy, but the lad was no good at holding his tongue.  “There must be some misunderstanding.”
     The man peered at him.  “Who are you?”
     “I’m his master.”
     John’s head snapped up in surprise.  Thankfully, this time, he kept his mouth shut.
     The stableman wasn’t ready to let go.  “You don’t look like no grad.”
     Duncan’s strong arms and shoulders didn’t fit their image of a scholar and he hadn’t yet shaved his summer beard.  “Maybe not, but that’s what I am and he is one of our Solar boys.”  That would put his punishment in the hands of the University, not the town.  “I’ll vouch for him.” 
      The man’s grip loosened enough for Duncan to take control.   He turned to John, ignoring the other man as if the matter were settled.   “Come along now.   The bedchambers need sweeping and the laundry’s waiting.”
     The lad’s grateful expression turned belligerent.  “But---”
     “Not a word!”  One wrong move and the stable master could still attack.  “Leave one more time without permission and you won’t get another chance.”  He put his hand behind the boy’s neck and pulled him up High Street, out of the man’s reach.
     “You’re a wretched lot, all of you!”  He called, to their backs. 
     Duncan heard boots crunch on gravel, then something sharp and hard hit his back. The next rock hit John’s shoulder.  He grabbled the boy’s arm and shoved him ahead.  “Run!” 
     Duncan’s back took three more blows before they turned the corner, out of range.
     When he was sure the man was not going to follow, Duncan stopped, gasping for breath, and shook the boy for lack of sense.  He searched the lad for damage, but his blond curls seemed to halo a flawless face.  “I warned you.”  The words came out in a snarl.
     “You warned me about the butchers!”  He tried to twist away, but was no match for Duncan’s strong hands.  “That was a stable master.”
     “Well, they don’t like us much either.”
     “Us?”  Little John stopped wriggling and looked up.  Not only were the lad’s eyes blue, they had a disturbing tendency to linger.  “You and me?” 
     His palm pulsed against the boy’s shoulder.  “Not exactly.”  The phrase implied a connection Duncan didn’t want to feel.  “I meant any University men.  And you might thank me for saving your miserable hide.”
     John’s gaze, like Duncan’s hand, refused to let go.  “I thank you, then, but I didn’t ask you to rescue me.”
     There was something in those eyes, some combination of bravado and vulnerability that tugged at places uncomfortably deep inside. 
     “If you don’t want to be rescued, stop getting into trouble.  What were you doing there?”
     A sullen frown marred the boy’s face.  “Nothing.  I didn’t hurt anything.”
     Duncan sighed, exasperated.  “The widow turned you out?”
     The boy hung his head, mercifully breaking his gaze.  The words came slowly.  “There never was a widow.” 
     Prideful liar.  What else had the lad lied about?  “You had no place to sleep, did you?”
     “I did, too!  I was sleeping in the stable until he threw me out!”
     “You wouldna have been so lucky.”  His voice rose and his Cambridge accent fell as he envisioned what almost happened.  He could have lost the boy, lost another one because he’d looked away, just for a moment.  “He was going to bray ya bloody, break yer neb, and hand ya to the sheriff, who would have thrown you in gaol with the murderers.” 
     Even in the fading light, he could see the boy’s face turn pale.  Something stirred inside him.  The lad’s shoulder trembled beneath his palm and he pulled it away.  “When did you eat last?”
      Little John raised a thumb and then two fingers.  “Monday.  They gave me a bowl of porridge at Michaelhouse.”
     He sighed.  “Well, I’ll not leave you to be beaten like a stray dog, though I’ve a mind to beat some sense into you myself.  If you’ve got no more brains than to refuse help when it’s offered, you’ll never earn your bachelor’s.”  He might not have saved Peter, he might not be able to save his fadder, but he could save one would-be scholar from starving in the streets.  “I’m taking you back to the hostel.”
     “As your student?” 
     “I didn’t say that.”  He wanted to help the lad, but the idea of becoming his master made Duncan uneasy. It seemed like more than an academic commitment.  “Besides, why should I?  You’ve turned down every offer of help I’ve made.” 
     His words were met with a pout.  This lad was the most prideful piece he’d ever met.  “Oh?  Does that not please you, young gentleman?” he said, with a sharp tongue.  “Then stroll over to Trinity Hall and ask for a bed.”
     The lower lip quivered.  “Trinity turned me down.”
     Duncan regretted his harsh words.  Beset with his own demons, he forgot the lad was alone in the world and still young enough to cry.
     Duncan had never been that young.  “A man doesn’t meet defeat with tears.” 
     “But they’ve all turned me down.  St. Peter’s, King’s Hall, Clare Hall, Michaelhouse,” he stopped for a gulp of air.  “All of them.”
     Duncan felt a twinge of sympathy  As a young student, he’d forced his way into St. Benet’s Hostel.  He’d had to force most of what he’d gotten from life.  The only reason he was here at all was because some self righteous bishop thought a Cambridge education would overcome the ‘waste, desolate and illiterate condition’ of a young man from the north country.  The man’s exact words. 
     Duncan had memorized them. 
     “What did they say?  Why won’t they take you?”
     “My Latin isn’t good enough.”
     “Well, I said the same, lad.  Did you not believe me?” 
     “I don’t know what to do now.”
     “You go to the hostels, of course.”  The colleges had permanent buildings and wealthy benefactors, but hostels like Solar, which outnumbered them, were a truer community of scholars, to Duncan’s mind. 
     “They won’t take me either.”
     “How many have you been to?  Five?  Ten?  Twenty?”
     John looked down at the street again, silent.  One thing about the boy.  He knew when he’d been caught. 
     “Confess, Little John.  You haven’t been to Solar Hostel, I know that for a fact.”
     “Five.  Maybe six.”
     Duncan sighed. “Well, you’ve many more to try.  And if you can’t find a master among them, you’ll go to grammar school until you’re ready and try again.”
     He wrinkled his nose.  “That’s for the little boys.”
     “Your father never took a rod to you, I can tell that.”  The boy’s sagging jaw confirmed it.  “You’ll never make a bachelor if you quit so easily.” 
     “I’ve been trying ten days and they’ve all said the same.  Please.  Will you take me?”  The boy’s eyes pleaded as strongly as his lips. 
     Duncan wanted to say yes, but for all the wrong reasons.  Peter would have been just a little older than this if… 
     His thoughts followed their familiar wheel ruts.
     If only he had watched more carefully, if only he hadn’t turned his back, if only he’d tied the boy to him.
     His fadder had beat him for his sin.  No harder than he beat himself.
     He watched the boy’s expectant, upturned face and wondered at his change of heart.  He’d saved John from a beating tonight, but he wasn’t sure he, or anyone, could make him a scholar.  Besides, he would do the lad no favor if he threw him into rhetoric ill-prepared.  The other scholars would eat him before they broke fast.
     “I’ll have to think it over.”
     “But you said you would help me!”  Now, it seemed the lad was going to cry.  If he didn’t develop tougher sensibilities, he’d never last a year under any master.  “If you don’t, there’s nothing else I can do.” 
     Duncan’s sympathy vanished.  “Nothing else?  Are ya still breathin’?”  How many times had his father asked that question?
     John’s head snapped up, eyes wide.  He nodded, biting his trembling lip.
     And every time, knowing the answer was aye, his father had said the same.  “Then there’s more you can do.”
     The boy squared his jaw and swallowed.  Face calmer, he nodded, tears gone.  “Tell me and I’ll do it.”
     The blue eyes, defiant and pleading, didn’t leave his.  Drawn into the gaze, Duncan had the strange sensation of staring into a reflecting glass, in which things appeared real, but were actually backwards.
     He shook off the spell.  “All right.  I won’t leave you to the mercy of the Master of Glomery.  I’ll help you with your Latin until you’re ready to study with a master.”  He had the feeling he would regret this, but he couldn’t leave the poor helpless orphan alone in the street.  “We pay our own way.  Do you have money for board and fees?”
     “A few farthings.” 
     He sighed, having known the answer.  He was stuck with a penniless orphan with rudimentary Latin who deserved to be in grammar school “Then you’ll have to work for it.”
     “I will.  I promise.”  John nodded, all smiles again.  Then, he gave Duncan an assessing frown.  “What happens when my Latin improves?  Will you take me on then?”
     The lad was relentless, he’d give him that.  But those eyes seemed to claim something more personal than lessons.  Something he wasn’t ready to give to anyone.  “When I’m though with you, you’ll have your pick of masters.”
     “Your Latin’s that good?”
     Cheeky lad.  He had to admire the boy’s outspoken pluck, even when it was insulting.  “My Latin received a special commendation at my inception.” 
     The answering grin was mischievous.  “Probably because no one could understand your English.”
     He socked the boy’s arm, gently.  “It’s your Latin that needs work, Little John, not my English.  But if you’re willing to work, I’ll make you fit to lecture in Latin to these flatlanders.”
“You don’t like people from this part of the country, do you?”  John gave him an odd glance through his eyelashes.
     Odd.  He’d never noticed a man’s eyelashes before.  “Some days, I hate them.  And they don’t like me much either.” 
     “Do you hate me?”
     The lad had twisted his feelings in all directions, save that one.  “No, I don’t hate you, lad.”  He put his hand on the gilt gold hair and tussled it.  A few strands wound their way around his fingers.  “You’ve some growing up to do, but when you’re not whining or pouting, I nearly like you.” 
     And the blinding smile John gave him caused a strange shiver in the pit of his stomach.


Excerpt from IN THE MASTER'S BED
Copyright © 2009 by Wendy Blythe Gifford
Permission to reproduce text granted by Harlequin Books S.A...

"Blythe Gifford has created two loving and insightful characters that will capture your heart. Skillful storytelling and beautiful imagery of, at times, a painfully difficult time in medieval Briton, Gifford takes you on an adventure that I assure you, you will not want to end."

Book Junkie Blog

"...a superb job of mixing romance and history…magnetic, realistic…very readable, sensual, and historical…"

Viviane Crystal
Crystal Reviews

"...expertly crafted…fascinating historical details…give this sexy historical a richness and depth…"

John Charles

"What the author did here was amazing… highly engrossing…highly recommended."

Marilyn Rondeau
4 1/2 stars--CK2s Kwips and Kritiques

"...sweetly seductive, subtly spellbinding..."

4½ stars--Romance Junkies

"...smart and sensual medieval..."

Michelle Buonfiglio
Barnes and Noble Unabashedly Bookish Blog

"A wonderful medieval romance filled with lots of history and great characters."

Kay Quinton
Fresh Fiction

"excellent…Blythe Gifford is the true Master…"

Debby Guyette
4½ stars--Cataromance.com

By Blythe Gifford

For most writers of historical romance, the "mother of all dynasties" is the English royal family. Many of us have a vague notion of the medieval segment of the story: the Plantagenets, Lancaster, York, and the War of the Roses, the Tudors, and finally, the Stuarts/Stewarts from Scotland after Queen Elizabeth died childless.

The official family tree is hard to follow, but if you study the genealogy, you will discover that the Lancasters, the Yorks, the Tudors, and the Stewarts all have a direct and clear line of inheritance back to the Beauforts, the children of one of the Middle Ages' most romantic couples: Katherine Swynford and John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster.

Many readers are familiar with Katherine Swynford because of Anya Seton'sKatherine, published in 1954 and still in print today. It fictionalizes the love story of Katherine and John, who was a younger son of Edward III. (Now Katherine has finally gotten her due as two biographies have recently been published: Mistress of the Monarchy by Alison Wier, and Katherine Swynford: The History of a Medieval Mistress by Jeanne Lucraft.)

Among the facts we know is that John and Katherine were lovers for many years, she bore him four children, and the two finally married very late in life. After their marriage, their children, called the "Beauforts" after a French castle John claimed but did not hold, were legitimized. (It is a myth that the children were born there. Neither John nor Katherine ever set foot in the castle.)

Katherine was governess to Gaunt's children by his first two wives and most evidence suggests the siblings of the blended families (her children by her first husband, his children by his previous wives, and their bastard children) got on well.

John's son with his first wife, Blanche, Duchess of Lancaster, became Henry IV of England and the founder of the Lancaster faction in the later War of the Roses. John and Katherine's second son, Henry Beaufort, held the post of Chancellor of England under Henry IV for a time, and subsequently served as Chancellor for his son and grandson, Henry V and Henry VI.

John, the eldest Beaufort son, held the title of Marquess and Earl of Somerset. Somerset served Henry IV, his half-brother, on several diplomatic and military missions. (His shield is pictured above.) Along with him, he often took Thomas Swynford, Katherine's son with her first husband.

The other two first generation Beaufort children were Thomas, who became Duke of Exeter, and Jean, whose second husband was Ralph Neville, Earl of Westmoreland. The Yorkist kings descended from the Neville family, who have been known by history as "Kingmakers."

So the legitimized children took their rightful, active places in the power structure of England. But in 1407, new words were inserted into the Parliamentary document that had legitimized the them ten years before. The addition read that the Beauforts had all rights excepta dignitate regali, that is, all except the royal rights of succession.

Depending on which biography you read, these words were added by Henry IV or by his Council, but regardless, because the change was never ratified by Parliament, they were conveniently forgotten, or ignored, in the years to come.

The full story of the Beaufort family is too long to recount here. They were in and out of favor over the years, but when you follow Katherine and John's descendants, the path of royal succession is clear and direct.

From John's son by his first wife Blanche, Henry IV, comes the line of Lancaster (Red Rose) kings. Through Blanche, John held the title of the Duke of Lancaster.

From Katherine and John's daughter, Jean, you have a direct line to two Yorkist Kings: Edward IV and Richard III, both of whom were Katherine and John's great-grandsons. Their great-great-granddaughter, Elizabeth of York, was the first Tudor queen.

From Katherine and John's oldest Beaufort son, John, you have a direct line to the first Tudor King, Henry VII. So the founders of the Tudor line, Henry VII and Elizabeth of York, were both great-great-grandchildren of John and Katherine! In fact, this was clearly recognized at the time and because of consanguinity, the two had to get papal dispensation to marry.

Joan, who was John and Katherine's granddaughter, married James I of the Scottish Stewart kings. So when James VI of Scotland became James I of England many years later, it was, again, a direct Beaufort descendant who took the throne.

So today's English royal family name might more accurately be not Windsor, but Beaufort!


Copyright 2003-11, W. Blythe Gifford

Cover copyright 2009, Harlequin Enterprises

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