Cursed to take the form of the wolf by day, Rolfe de Viandin is skeptical that love can save him. All he wants is to return home from crusade by the Yule and even the pleasures of a magical palace cannot console him…until a beautiful and bold maiden arrives at his gates, seeking sanctuary, and Rolfe’s hope is restored.
Hunted in the forest, Annelise de Sayerne has to surrender her desire to wed for love, as the price of entering the only refuge is marriage to its enigmatic lord. She fears he must be a monster, but once she experiences his kindness, Annelise resolves to find love with her new husband—if she can just claim his heart.
Even as Rolfe is beguiled by his bride and Annelise unravels his secrets, a spurned suitor pursues Annelise, determined to claim her legacy at any price. If Rolfe’s curse is not broken, how can he defend his beloved wife from the villain? Will their future be lost before it is truly won—or will Rolfe be convinced of the power of love in time?
An earlier version of this story was published by Harlequin Historicals under the title Enchanted. This version has a different ending.
“One Knight Enchanted is a revised book and is the start of a new series Rogues & Angels. The series will be about knights returning to their homes from years at the Crusade. Before they all left on their journey, each was given a special gift that’s supposed to help…in the future to come. Book one is the story of Rolfe de Viandin… along with the misfortune that he encounters. Lady Annelise de Sayerne stumbles across Rolfe de Viandin on her trip to a convent in hope of avoiding a forced marriage… This book supplies romance, laughter and adventure. If you like “fairytale” stories then this is a great beginning of a delightful series to come! Five stars!”—Amazon Reviewer
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(N.B. – Goodreads has merged the reviews for One Knight Enchanted with the original edition of Rolfe and Annelise’s story, Enchanted. The ending is different in One Knight Enchanted. One Knight Enchanted was published January 9, 2018, so you might want to look at reviews posted after that date.)
This Pinterest link is for the entire Rogues & Angels series and mixes up the images. Each book has its own board, plus there’s a board for Tulley, one for the gifts and one each for heroes and heroines.
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An excerpt from One Knight Enchanted:
Rolfe heard the party of knights in his woods and was relieved by the sound. He cared little about their mission—it was enough for him that they were here, close enough to aid him in gaining his freedom.
This last month had shown the curse was real, indeed. Rolfe’s skepticism of djinns and their powers had been eliminated by the experience of changing from man to wolf and back to man again with a relentless repetition that echoed the sun’s rise and fall each day.
The second djinn had proven to be right about the timing. He had spent that first night as a wolf but not another since. Perhaps because night had been falling when she cast her spell, its effect had to wait until sunset the next day. Rolfe did not know.
He only knew how profound his relief had been when he changed back to a knight.
And how devastated he had been at the dawn to feel that silver tail again.
Each night since, as soon as darkness fell, he found himself a man again, but confined inside the palace as surely as he was locked out of it by day. Within the palace, he had every luxury. There was fine fare and a soft bed, a garden of pleasures and his horses to tend. Outside, there was the wilderness and the wolves.
Each day since, he had taken the form of a wolf and found himself outside the palace walls. He feared to leave the area as a wolf, for he might be hunted and his horses would be abandoned. He dared not leave as a man, for he knew it was several days riding to any abode. He had no desire to be a man alone in the forest at night.
It was a vexing situation.
The other wolves avoided him, although the djinn’s acceleration of winter had made them gaunt with hunger. It was as though they knew him to be different, though Rolfe had little desire for their company.
His life, such as it was, was a lonely business.
The familiar sound of men and horses brought him running, but not before his fellow wolves had attacked. To Rolfe’s dismay, the largest and meanest wolf had separated one rider from the group.
A noblewoman. And on a small palfrey. Though the horse was quick-footed in terror, Rolfe knew the lady had no chance against the wolf’s determination.
The oath of knighthood he had sworn years before burned in his heart. Though he might be condemned to look like a wolf, Rolfe was yet a knight to his marrow.
He gave chase, hoping that the large wolf would be satisfied with the horse. Somehow, Rolfe would save this woman, even if he had to pay the price with his own miserable existence.
There was nothing else a man of honor could do.
The palfrey ran like the wind. The stark silhouettes of the trees danced past in endless succession as
Annelise sought some glimpse of a sanctuary ahead. She would call back to Yves if she found one. She would see them all saved.
But the carpet of snow appeared endless.
The sounds of the other horses faded behind her, but she could not have slowed her palfrey to save her life. The beast was possessed of such terror that it might run to Outremer. It cared little for its footing and Annelise feared she would be thrown, that both of them would be injured. She tried murmuring to the horse and stroking its neck, to no discernible effect.
When she heard an anguished cry, her mouth went dry.
Had one of the men fallen prey to the wolves?
Surely it could not be Yves.
Annelise dared to look back, but she could not see the other riders. Their shouts carried to her ears and she was certain they fought a battle. She tried to turn her horse about, but then she saw a lone wolf loping through the forest directly toward her.
It had separated from the pack. It was large and its gaze chillingly cold. Too late Annelise realized that she had only a very small eating blade with which she might protect herself.
Then she saw that a second wolf dogged the footsteps of the first, and her heart sank to her toes.
Even if she defied the odds and outran the first wolf, the second would still claim her life. Annelise clutched the reins. The palfrey ran on, as yet unaware of these two wolves in close pursuit.
The sounds of the men faded even more.
Annelise was alone.
She glanced over her shoulder just in time to see the first wolf leap clear of the forest. It trotted in the tracks of her horse, not more than ten paces behind. It neither drew closer nor fell farther back.
Just as the man-at-arms had said, the beast would follow her until the horse collapsed.
What a patient and cunning creature.
Perhaps she could outrun the fiend. Annelise dug her heels into her palfrey’s ribs. The mare’s nostrils quivered in fear and a shudder ran over its flesh. It must have smelled the wolf, for it spurted ahead more quickly at Annelise’s command.
The wolf loped behind, keeping the same distance, as though aware that it was only a matter of time.
Annelise was unnerved to know the wolf’s intent and be powerless all the same. She leaned over the mare, urging the creature onward, but the horse stepped suddenly on a patch ice.
It whinnied in terror and threw back its head as it slipped.
The wolf did not miss a moment.
Annelise looked back to see long white fangs bared all too close. She screamed. The horse fought to regain its footing, but fell on the ice. It landed hard on its rump, hooves flailing as it slid further on the ice. Annelise only managed to jump from the saddle in time, then she slipped on the ice, as well. She fell, realizing that the ice covered a small creek. At the perimeter, there were small stones and she crawled toward them.
She looked back in time to see the wolf jump. Annelise screamed again and threw a stone at the wolf.
The stone hit its back but the beast was undeterred. The mare shrieked as the wolf’s claws dug into its rump, and the wolf bared its teeth again.
Blood flowed from the mare’s flank and Annelise seized another rock. She flung it at the wolf and hit the back of its head. It raised its head to snarl at her and the horse struggled to rise. Annelise fought to her feet and lunged at the wolf, her eating knife in her hand.
“Not my mare,” she whispered with heat and lunged for the wolf. The wolf’s eyes were so cold that she knew she would be next and she did not care. It snarled and eased closer to her, choosing its moment. Annelise held the knife before herself, not even daring to blink. The mare stumbled up the bank of the stream, blood running from its flank, and Annelise hoped it would escape.
She feared they would both die.
The wolf suddenly jumped toward her, its jaws stained with the mare’s blood.
There was a blur of silver fur as the second wolf attacked the first, taking it to the ground. Annelise stared as the two rolled on the ground, biting and snapping, battling for supremacy. The second wolf paused and lifted its head, then barked at her, baring its teeth.
As if it meant to tell her to run.
The first wolf snarled and the pair fought again.
Annelise fled after the horse, seizing its reins and urging it onward. She did not know where they ran, and the trail of blood that the mare left in the snow would certainly send any wolf quickly after them.
They had a reprieve and she hoped it would be enough.
She was not surprised some time later to hear the soft patter of his footfalls in the snow behind her.
She cast a glance over her shoulder to find the second wolf close behind. He was large, too, but of a paler hue of silver than the one that had attacked her first.
The mare smelled him and whinnied, charging onward despite her injuries. Annelise ran alongside the mare, certain the predator waited only for their inevitable exhaustion.
The sight of a path ahead gave Annelise new strength. She cut between the trees, plunging through knee-deep snow. She fell once, trapped by her skirts, but her grip on the mare’s reins pulled her to her feet. Her hair fell loose about her face as her veil was ripped away by low branches and she risked another backward glance.
The wolf, she saw, took a more roundabout path.
Annelise caught her breath that she had gained a bit of time. She stumbled onto the path and ran blindly as she shook clumps of snow from the hem of her kirtle.
The mare nickered and Annelise looked up to see walls.
Her knees nearly gave out beneath her, though they were not safe as yet.
It was not the convent she knew, for its walls were only as high as Annelise’s shoulders and made of rough stone. These walls were white and smooth and soared high.
As she hurried closer, Annelise knew she had never seen the like of these walls. The stone was fitted with such skill that the surface appeared to be as smooth as a sheet of silver. She approached a castle, although Annelise could not guess why it was in this remote spot.
Nor did she care.
The wolf behind her seemed to have slowed his pace.
Perhaps he feared whoever lived at this palace. Annelise ran for the gates and the mare needed no encouragement to hasten onward. The wolf loped after them, keeping his distance, and Annelise had the curious thought that he guided her toward the palace.
The gates were closed, but at dusk, she would have expected nothing else. She had only to awaken the gatekeeper. She pounded on the wooden portal with first one fist, then both.
The mare’s ears flicked and her nostrils flared.
“Who knocks?” demanded someone within.
“Annelise de Sayerne.” She spared a glance over her shoulder at the wolf. He drew yet closer, his proximity agitating the mare, and she pounded again on the door. “I beg you for sanctuary! A wolf pursues me!”
The keeper’s words were spoken with a slow precision that seemed inappropriate to the circumstance.
“A price must be paid for your entry to this place.”
Surely such details could be settled once she was inside?
“Anything!” Annelise declared. “I will pay anything if you let me in.”
“The price of your finding sanctuary here,” continued the voice slowly, “is that you wed the lord master of this abode.”
Annelise stepped back from the portal, shocked at the curious request. She frowned, wondering what manner of ogre the master of this fortress must be to gain a wife in such a manner.
A snarl behind her recalled her to her senses.
The mare tugged at the reins as if she would flee. Annelise backed into the gates, unable to tear her gaze away from the wolf, who steadily stalked closer, his head lowered and his gaze fixed upon her.
“Let me in!” she cried. “The wolf is close!”
“You must give your pledge,” that voice intoned. “You must promise.”
It was madness.
Marriage to a stranger or death.
With such stakes, Annelise could only set her resolve aside.
“I promise! Open the cursed gates, I beg of you!” she cried.
The portal abruptly fell open behind Annelise and she stumbled backward, nearly losing her balance completely. The mare cantered through the gates, hastening past Annelise.
The wolf leaped, as though he, too, would enter.
Annelise screamed in terror. As his jump brought him closer, she caught a glimpse of the wolf’s eyes.
One was blue and one silver-gray.
The heavy wooden doors abruptly slammed shut—leaving the wolf trapped outside.
He howled, but he was on the other side.
Annelise shook as she caught her breath, unable to believe her good fortune.
They were safe.
An excerpt from One Knight Enchanted
Copyright © 1997, 2018 Deborah A. Cooke
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