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Cover Art used by arrangement with Harlequin Enterprises Limited.  All rights reserved. ®and T are trademarks of Harlequin Enterprises Limited and/or its affiliated companies, used under license. Copyright 2008
 
INNOCENCE UNVEILED

Excerpt | International Editions | Reviews | Behind the Book | Author Interviews

When a mysterious, seductive trader arrives at her door, noblewoman Katrine de Gravere reluctantly agrees to give him shelter. The payment--enough wool to keep her precious looms filled.

Sleeping under the same roof, tempted every minute to let his fingers linger on this flame-haired, reserved innocent, Renard wonders if she suspects his real reasons for being there. In a town where no one feels safe, Katrine makes him yearn for things long forbidden, but can he trust her not to betray him?

JUNE 2008
Harlequin HistoricalsTM
ISBN 13# 978-0-373-29502-9
ISBN 10# 0-373-29502-2

Contest Achievements
Placed second in the Historical category of the 2009 Romance Writers Ink More Than Magic Contest.

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INTERNATIONAL EDITIONS
   
SPAIN

Innocence Unveiled by Blythe Gifford
   
INOCENCIA DESVELADA
(Innocence Unveiled)
HarperCollins Ibérica
June 2016

For more information, visit the HarperCollins Ibérica web site 


BRAZIL

Innocence Unveiled by Blythe Gifford

ITALY

La Benda Scarlatta by Blythe Gifford

UK EDITION


VÉU DA INOCÊNCIA
(Veil of Innocence)

Harlequin Brazil
ISBN: 9788539804375

For more information, visit the
Harlequin Brazil web site.

LA BENDA SCARLATTA
(The Scarlet Eyepatch)
Harlequin Mondadori
December 2010

For more information, visit the Harmony Mondadori web site 

INNOCENCE UNVEILED
Mills & Boon
Series: Historical
Release: March 2009

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

AUSTRALIA

Australian Release Blythe Gifford

SPAIN

Innocence Unveiled--Spanish version
GREECE

The Innocent Weaver by Blythe Gifford

Three Titles in One Volume
INNOCENCE UNVEILED
IN THE MASTER'S BED
HIS BORDER BRIDE

Mills & Boon
Series: Historical
Release: July 2010
ISBN: 9781742553924

For more information, visit the Mills & Boon web site.

INOCENCIA DESVELADA
(Innocence Unveiled)


Available in Spanish for Kindle.

Itunes
Η Αθώα Υφάντρα
(The Innocent Weaver)

Harlequin Classic
Paperback

For more information, visit the Harlequin Classic web site.
READ AN EXCERPT
 

From Chapter Four

      Unwelcome moonlight chased him into the shadows.  The man he’d seen outside the house was missing tonight, but he could not afford to be questioned by the watch.  He had taken the risk of staying out past curfew hoping she would be abed when he returned.  He must avoid her questions.  And her temptation.  
     Wrinkling his nose at the lingering scent of cabbage soup, he slipped into the kitchen, the familiar weight of his dagger molded to his palm.  The glow of uncovered embers drew him, cautiously, into the front room.
     Katrine slept over her account books again.  Her wimple askew, a lock of hair, reflecting red from the dying coals, escaped to caress her cheek.  An ink blot stained the middle finger of her right hand, protectively stretched atop the ledger.
     He sheathed his dagger and stepped into the room quietly so she would not wake.  The fire’s glow left deep shadows in the narrow room’s corners.  The house did not stretch far beyond the firelight.  Such a small place.  King Edward needed more room than this just to pace.
     Yet this was all she had.  No fields, no serfs, no vast estates toiled for her outside these walls.  Only a cherry tree and a bolt of cloth shielded her from starvation.
No wonder she needs the wool.  Couldn't this husband of hers take care of the woman? 
     He knelt before her, his face dangerously close to hers.  Before he could stop them, his fingers slipped past his self-control to touch the lock of hair on her cheek.  When he tried to tuck it beneath her wimple, the strands slipped through his fingers like silk.
     At his touch, she woke, brown eyes weighed down by a thicket of lashes and a sleepy smile touching her lips. 
     A matching smile tugged at the corner of his mouth.  He spoke softly, the Flemish rough in this throat.  “Do you fall asleep over your accounts every night, mistress?”
She blinked, suddenly awake, and drew away, leaving his fingers empty.  “The business is all I have.  I will do anything I must to keep it.”
      He rose, abruptly, wondering what passion she had left for her husband.  If she had one. 
     Suddenly, it seemed important to know.  He had negotiated with kings.  He could certainly force the truth from a simple weaving woman.  “And your husband, will he, too, do anything he must?”
      Her dark eyes looked huge in her pale face, framed by the rumpled wimple.  “Of course.”  She hesitated over the words.
      He was certain in that moment she had no husband.
      The rush of blood throbbed in his loins before he could summon his control.  No man possesses her. 
      Denial struggled with hot, sweet desire. 
      He clenched his jaw and felt his eyelid flinch, but he refused to break his gaze, glad to be safely towering over her again.  He would resist her, but she mustn’t know that.  “If you will do anything you must, mistress, will do anything I ask?”  He must keep her off balance, wondering about his intentions. 
      A delicate flush--anger or shame?--spread beyond her cheek.  She bit her lower lip with small white teeth, inflicting enough pain to steady her resolve.  He had seen a knight in battle try the same trick, slashing his forearm to create a new, superficial wound to distract him from the mortal blow.
      Staring back at him, her defiant eyes did not waver, but he heard the whisper of inheld breath, as if she had recognized the fire in his eyes and was burned by it.  “What do you ask?”
      Longing rushed through his blood like poison. What he would ask had no words, only the vision of wild joining. 
      He fought the image.  Even if he permitted himself careless pleasures of the flesh, he was hiding in the belly of a country that might soon be at war with his.  One unmeasured word uttered in passion could be his death.  He gritted his teeth against the feeling.  “I ask for the truth.”
      She rose and slipped into the shadows surrounding the loom.  Hiding. 
      He would not let her.  “And the truth is, you have no husband.”
      She whirled to face him, the wool of her skirt crushed in her fist.  “I have no husband.”  Angry words.  “Would you have dealt with me had you known?”
      Yes, but he would not tell her that.  He shrugged.  “Then why wear the wimple?”
      Her slender arms crossed her chest like a shield.  “There is little safety on the streets these days.  People are more respectful of a married woman.”
      “But you are not on the streets now.”
      “I still need protection.”
      “I thought I was to protect you.”
       She smiled.  “Who will protect me from you?”
      She had turned his words back on him.  He had thought to keep her off balance, yet he was the one who felt dizzy.  He donned a mask of disdain to blot out all traces of attraction.  She must not know his weakness for her.  “What makes you think you need protection from me?” 
      Her eyes widened and narrowed in an instant, but he saw his insult had hit its mark.  For a moment, was sorry of it.
      “I am glad to hear I do not.”  She patted the wrinkles from her skirt, now all brisk business.  “When will I see my wool?”
      Uneasiness rippled through him.  She had recovered faster than he expected.  He had thought her a simple burgher mistress but so far, this woman was nothing that he had expected.  “I cannot order contraband wool at the market.  If it were easy, you would not need me.”
     “How long must I wait?”
      “As long as it takes.”  As long would it take to turn the people of Flanders to Edward’s side.  “Weeks, not days, mistress.”
      “I’ve waited months already.”  Urgency shook her voice.
      “Patience is a virtue you don’t possess.”
      “Patience is no virtue when dealing with spinsters and weavers.  I have no patience for sloppy work or I will have nothing fit to sell.”
      Her words intrigued him.  What would it be like to be so pleased with who you were and what you did?  “You are proud of your work, aren't you?” 
      The smile that transformed her face would have, for most women, come at the mention of a paramour.  “The mark of the Four-Petaled Daisy is known throughout the Low Countries.”
      She sounded lovesick, he thought, irritably.  “And what makes your cloth so special?”
      “I can recognize the best wool by touch.  My spinsters deliver seven skeins a day instead of five.  When my dyers are finished, the color is fast.  My weavers' work is so tight we rarely need the fullers' craft.”
      “Fullers?”  He followed most Flemish words, but sometimes missed the meaning.  “What do they do?”
      She cocked a suspicious eyebrow.  “How can you deal in wool and know so little of it?”
      “Do I need to know how to grow wheat in order to trade it?  Or how to take salt from the mines in order to sell it?” 
      “Well, if you knew wool, you would recognize our mark.  Even before I was born, we made a special fabric for the Duchess of Brabant.”
      A burning numbness filled him, like a blow from a broadside sword.  Duchess cloth.  A scrap of indigo dyed wool carefully wrapped around a dagger of German silver.  An orphaned bastard's only inheritance from the princess who had married a duke. 
      What terrible fate had drawn him to the very shop that made the cloth his mother had worn? 


 
READ THE REVIEWS
 

"I was enthralled by the mystery and delightful characters."

Emily
PW Beyond Her Book Blog

"...Innocence Unveiled proved compelling and interesting...I enjoyed reading Innocence Unveiled very much, and strongly recommend it to those who like the Medieval setting and a character-driven romance."

Rike Horstmann
All About Romance

"I love books with compelling characters, and particularly books with heroines I like. This book definitely has both, and I would recommend it to fans of medieval romance."

Shannon C.
The Good, the Bad and the Unread

"In "Innocence Unveiled," Blythe Gifford takes a refreshingly different setting and adds a plot brimming with dangerous secrets and deadly intrigue to create a richly detailed and completely compelling medieval romance."

John Charles
Chicago Tribune

"Betrayals and secrets all came into play in this powerful tale of love and passion. Masterfully weaving in actual historical events with the fictional characters of Renard and Katrine, Ms. Gifford keeps the passion and adventure simmering with volatile human emotions. Gifford’s passionate and creative historical scenarios work fabulously when put together by an author whose word-smith talent excels in creating amazing characters and complex relationships culminating in fabulous love stories."

Marilyn Rondeau
RIO - Reviewers International Org.

"INNOCENCE UNVEILED is a riveting tale of medieval Flanders where the people want Edward's help, but their rulers are pro-France. And caught in the middle are Renard and Katrine ...There is plenty of drama and mystery surrounding the duo, as well as the growing romantic attraction. Will Renard give up his celibate future? And will Katrine let down her guard for the man she loves? Readers won't want to miss this exceptional novel."

Jani Brooks
Romance Reviews Today
 

"I thoroughly enjoyed Blythe Gifford's INNOCENCE UNVEILED. The story is laced with much excitement and many interesting plots for the characters. She's developed believable characters and woven a beautiful love story, while still giving the reader historical facts."

Kay Quintin
Fresh Fiction

"Absolutely fascinating... enchantingly different…prepare to be transported to another time and place.”

Debby Guyette
CataRomance  4 1/2 Stars

"I liked a lot of things in the book and as usual am delighted whenever an author utilizes a different setting."

Jayne
Dear Author

 

 
BEHIND THE BOOK
 

Life in a Medieval City

by Blythe Gifford

 

 

 Image:Gent.graslei.jpg

The Graslei in Ghent.  Picture by http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:China_Crisis

License by http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5/

The words “medieval romance” conjure up notions of courts and castles, knights and horses.  The truth is, by the late Middle Ages, there were thriving urban areas full of people who never lived in a castle nor galloped into battle.

My June release, INNOCENCE UNVEILED, takes place in such a city, Ghent, then in the duchy of Flanders, now located in Belgium.  Although the city surrounded the Count’s castle, it had urban problems we recognize: crime, overcrowding, and dirty streets among them.

In the 14th century, Flanders was the cloth-making powerhouse of the continent.  Responsible for the second of the basic necessities (food, clothing, and shelter), the city imported the wool grown on the backs of English sheep by the ton.  The export of this wool was so important to England (and the tax on it so important to the government) that the Lord Speaker of the House of Lords sat on a “Woolsack,” actually a sort of ottoman stuffed with wool, until just two years ago.

When they got this wondrous wool, the cloth makers of Ghent went to work spinning it into gold for their coffers.  There was a guild for each part of the process:  weaving, dying, and so on.  The spinners (or spinsters) were the most poorly paid of the workers.  (Need I add they were all women?)

The drapers were the hub of this activity.  Like the “piecework” of the early days of the textile trade in this country, they sold and bought each segment of the process.  For example, the draper would sell wool to the spinsters and buy back the yarn they spun at a higher price

The work rules of the guilds were as strict as our present day unions, designed to preserve quality of the goods as well as working conditions.  Cloth with a particular “trade mark” (the origin of our modern word) developed a reputation for quality that kept the price high. 

Technology continued to advance during this time.  The spinning wheel was invented at the end of the century before my story.  Though it was faster and more efficient (it cut the number of spinners needed to supply a weaver by half), it also created complaints about weak, lumpy thread, initially, too.

Because of the close economic ties between England and the Flemish cloth makers, the burghers, or the middle class, in Flanders found their economic and political interests tied to England’s, while the Count of Flanders was tied to the Court of Paris and the French king.  Even language divided them, with the burghers speaking Flemish and the nobles speaking French.

But the economic power of the guilds had been turned into political power as well, and they had rights unheard of in other duchies.  In fact, so important were the weavers, that the Encyclopedia Britannica states:  “By the 14th century, however, the democratic craft gilds, notably that of the weavers, had asserted themselves; the citizens were divided for civic and military purposes into three classes; the rich (i.e. those living on capital), the weavers and the members of the 52 other gilds.” http://www.1911encyclopedia.org/Ghent  .

It is this powerful faction the hero of my book must woo to support King Edward’s claim to the throne of France.  And what happened as a result of this tug of war changed not only the history of England, but the history of France and Flanders as well. 

Among the sources for this article were the books of David Nicholas, The Low Countries and the hundred years' war, 1326-1347, by by Henry Stephen Lucas, and Cathedral, Forge, and Waterwheel, by Frances and Joseph Gies. 

 

 
AUTHOR INTERVIEWS

Tips from a Road Warrior--Blog post by Blythe Gifford

The Good, The Bad the Unread--Author blogging

History Hoydens--Author interview and research post

Unusual Historicals--Author interview blog post

DePauw University--Author feature


 

Copyright 2003-12, W. Blythe Gifford

Cover copyright 2008, Harlequin Enterprises

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