Scold’s Desire

(4 customer reviews)

A Man in Love

Xavier Brice couldn’t be happier or more thankful for his wife, Io. She is his everything. And he’ll do anything for her.

 

A Woman Still Learning

Io Brice has come a long way from where she started. Xavier has taught her that life is meant to be lived, not just survived.

 

A Call from Court

When worst fears are realized, will Io trust in what she’s learned from Xavier? Will he be able to do what is needed to hold his wife at his side?

 

Publisher’s Note: This steamy medieval romance contains themes of power exchange.

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Sample Chapter

 

 

Xavier Brice dismounted, handed the reins to the waiting groom, and took the first of the last few steps bringing him to his waiting wife. Abruptly stopping, he turned back. The servants working to remove the supplies and saddle from the horse stopped and looked at him.

“Thank you,” he said, doing his best to smile. They all smiled back and seemed to give more effort to the tasks at hand.

Turning towards the house, Xavier shook his head and sighed tiredly. His wife, Io, was correct. Treating people well, no matter their status, produced good results. It was uncommon among his peers to acknowledge servants and common people working a house and its lands. In the last two years, Io had shown him, again and again, it did matter, all people mattered, regardless of rank or status.

Shaking his head again, he picked up the pace, trying to get back to the only person who mattered to him, Io.

He didn’t believe the welcoming he’d get would be completely warm. The punishment he’d imposed before leaving, while not severe, was wholly new for Io. But, he’d tried the normal things to get her to comply with his demand that she delegate more of the work to those around her, to not work herself to exhaustion. He knew it was his doing that Io felt such a need to prove she was a capable mistress. And while he told her everyday she’d nothing to prove to anyone, not even him, she still tried.

The last of his patience went when she’d tried to clear the rock slide brought down with the weight of the last snows. She wouldn’t take the engineer’s word, going to inspect the area herself and nearly being buried when more of the sodden ground gave way.

She needed to learn to trust others to handle matters without her direct guidance, so he’d forbidden her to leave their chambers. She’d only be able to act based on what she was told and she’d have to send others with word if she wanted anything else accomplished. Io was to stay in their chambers until his return.

Only he’d not known it’d take sixteen days to settle the matter on his western borders. Sixteen days, Io was likely a mad woman by now. As if on cue, Roth exited the house, stopped at the top of the steps, and, shaking his head, stared Xavier down. Then he threw his head back and laughed.

“My lord,” Roth said, coming at him with a smile and an extended hand. “Did you end up taking Lord De Frappier’s head?”

Xavier chuckled. “No, but I suspect once he receives the king’s demand that he step aside, he will wish I had.” He watched the knight shake his head; it wasn’t a surprise to anyone Xavier would recommend the incompetent fool be replaced. And, because it was Xavier doing the recommending, it was as good as done. “Are you here to warn me my own head will be rolling?”

His knight seemed startled for a moment then laughed. Laughed a little too long and hard for Xavier’s comfort. “My lord,” Roth said, still laughing. “My lady wouldn’t take off your head, at least not the one on your shoulders.”

Xavier ground his teeth. Friendliness toward servants wasn’t the only new thing in his house. The stiff decorum was replaced with blunt honesty. It was simply impossible to have anything else with Io. She still didn’t always understand implied meanings. Or maybe she did, but she didn’t have enough experience to always judge them. Everyone in the house said things plainly. And while the women managed to remain tactful, at least with him, his men never held back…at least not with him.

“My lord.” Roth set his hand on Xavier’s shoulder. “All is well. Your lady is very adaptable.”

“Is she?” Some of the tension slipped as he started up the steps, his knight beside him, still chuckling.

“She did very well. Better than we thought,” Roth said as servants rushed up with a tray of refreshments. “It took a bit of instruction, but within the week, she was doing exactly as you asked with little struggle.”

“Of course she was,” Gunther said, stepping up to greet Xavier. Again, warmth spread across Xavier’s chest. Any coldness that once lived between these walls was gone from the moment he set Io in as mistress. “And had you been home but four days sooner…”

Around him, several people groaned loudly. Xavier didn’t miss Roth’s grimace. “What happened?” He was hoping it wasn’t anything to make his homecoming less pleasant than it might be.

“The tub broke,” Thomas said, giving Xavier a formal bow. His squire was no longer his squire but in training now to be the house chamberlain. Xavier thought him too young by far, but Io insisted, and the boy, now nearly a man, rose to the calling. Xavier wouldn’t ever need to fear this man would betray either his wife or him.

“The tub broke? The bath tub?” Xavier asked, and nodding heads confirmed it was so.

“If your wife didn’t have such a strange obsession with bathing, it might have lasted years yet,” Roth complained, and everyone, including Xavier, laughed. It was far less an obsession with bathing and more that Io found calm when in water, be it bathing or swimming or just standing with her feet in a creek.

“She tried two days to be satisfied with buckets,” Gunther continued.

“Well, who thought that would work?” Xavier asked with great sarcasm.

“No one,” Thomas said.

“She was completely dissatisfied by last night, and I made the call to allow her to go down to the bath house this morning,” Roth said, taking the full brunt of the responsibility in acting against Xavier’s direct command.

“You made the decision?” Xavier glared at him then smiled, “Or did Ann threaten your life if you did not allow her mistress to soak?”

The man colored and glared back. “Mistress Ann would not…”

“She does.” Gunther laughed and shoved the man. “She keeps your sac in a vice worse than Mistress Sarah does Seth.”

Xavier tried not to laugh. Io was a rather keen matchmaker, and while she was sad to see her best friend wed and gone with Sir Seth to the house Xavier held in the south, everyone could see how well suited the couple was.

“Seth is wed to a tyrant; I have no such commitment to Ann.” Roth folded his arms over his chest.

“The last reading of the bans is this very Sunday, is it not?” Xavier asked, raising a brow at the man who colored more as Gunther acted out having a noose put around his neck and strangling.

“Mistress Ann said she would not wed him if he did not get out of the way so Lady Io could go to the bath house,” Thomas supplied, only to get smacked in the back of the head by the knight.

Xavier cleared his throat to try to bring back a little formality, “Can I assume then, my lady wife is in a better mood?”

“Who knows? She’s not gotten out of the bath yet,” Gunther informed him.

“Mistress Jude said she will not heat water again,” Thomas told him, rubbing the back of his head. “She said four times is enough.”

“Four times is plenty,” Xavier agreed. “Does this mean my chambers are empty for me?”

“No, my lord,” Thomas said, sounding appalled by the idea. “I sent in maids to clean and air it for my lady.” He hesitated, looking at Xavier for approval. “Mistress Ann said that was…”

“It is appropriate, Thomas, you’ve done well,” Xavier praised, watching the boy beam. “Let the maids finish the room. I will see about fishing Io from the water.” The men stepped aside, and Xavier headed toward the back of the house where the small building was built so Io would always have access to warm water and a large tub.

He bumped into Jude as she was coming out, scolding Io about staying in the water so long she wrinkled. He held a finger to his lips and slipped inside the warm room. Io’s head was tilted back, her eyes closed, and though the lighting was muted, Xavier didn’t mistake what his wife was about.

 

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4 reviews for Scold’s Desire

  1. Marybeth

    Oh my, we have the next book in what I call the Scold series. Io and Xavier are back and he is not being an ass! Will wonders never cease! Io has gotten comfortable in her role as Xavier’s goddess and then the hammer falls. They are called to court. This, of course, pulls every trigger that Io has! This has a HFN (happy for now) ending and we look forward to book eight! Five full stars as it is amazing!

  2. Redrabbitt

    The Worship series is one that must be read in written order to grasp the entire life and situations that play out in each book. There are key characters that are critical to each story in this ongoing saga. Just as in any great adventure, there are so many emotions, angst, and dialog. I gained a new respect for Xavier and his men, at the lengths they are willing to go for their Lady Io. His men, the knights, and warriors that are sworn to protect the crown and Xavier will protect Io even to the death if need be.

    “What is a man to do with such a vulgar, brash, and unseemly woman?”

    Xavier has been away tending to business and gone longer than he had anticipated and during that time, Io was ordered to remain her their quarters. But he is home, and the reunion is sweet. There are still issues that Io has that causes angst between Xavier and her, like her refusal to ride another horse besides Wednesday, but it is something he will finally insist on her accepting his orders. Each of the shires she visits and the inhabitants she encounters has nothing but the highest respect for her. She has been teaching Xavier the importance of treating everyone kindly, and using manners—and it seems to make a difference. Wherever Io goes, she makes a lasting and positive impression.

    “Sometimes, it is less about the kind of battle and more about finding victory. It’s good to be the wife of a warrior.”

    Io still has issues with their marriage, even after two years. After having suffered the insults and abuse from his mother, Lady Charlotte and her choice for him, Lady Sabrina. Leaving Io with not only mental scars but physical ones—ones that will take time to heal.

    “What need have I for a lady when I have a goddess?”

    I am so happy to see the Xavier realized before it was too late how much he loved Io and opened his eyes to the abuse of his mother. Will he ever be able to make it up to her and help her see that she is all he wants? How far he will go to make her happy?

    “Because you are the only thing in my life I have of value,” he ground out. “You are priceless to me. Nothing I have gained through all my efforts will ever match what I gained when I claimed you. If I had everything plus more, but not you, I would still have nothing. If I have you and not a thing else, I have everything I could ever need.”

    When messengers from the King arrive informing Xavier and Io they must appear at court; Io will refuse and try everything to keep from going. She has nothing but painful memories of being uprooted and moved around, taken from one household to another and all the mistreatment she has endured in her young lifetime. Why is she being taken from Xavier and what can he do to convince her that she isn’t leaving him? That this is only temporary?

    “I cannot leave here. I cannot. I need to stay. I cannot lose forever again. I never come back. Once I am gone, it is forever.”

    As a reader who had enjoyed each of these stories, I am glad to see that Xavier realizes what a prize in Io he has before it was too late. The chemistry and love for each other grow stronger. I am looking forward to more in this series because there are critical secrets that have not been revealed. The story does include sex scenes between a married couple, along with several spanking or discipline scenes.

  3. Julie

    This is book 7 of the worship series and another great read. I love this series and the way the author fills this ebook full of emotion where anyone who has been through obstacles can understand what Lo is feeling.

    Xavier falls deeply in love with Lo though his mother Lady Charlotte swears Lo is all wrong for him and he must choose his mothers choice of a partner for Sir Xavier Brice the one and only Lady Sabrina.

    Xavier refuses his mother’s instructions and chooses Lo instead causing Lo to suffer significantly with the abuse and insults given by Lady Charlotte and Lady Sabrina, leaving Lo full of additional mental and physical scars. It was so easy for them to add to the ones she already possesses from her previous life.

    Can Xavier help Lo heal from all the pain and suffering she has received getting her to trust him completely and unconditionally? Things never can be easy though thinking he was starting to get through to her until Xavier is delivered a message from the King stating that both he and Lo must attend court.

    Lo has been to court many times and has a fit when she finds out. They are taking Xavier away from her, and she’ll never see him again.

    What an emotional book and it’s easy to lose yourself in this book and hard to put it down. I would recommend this fantastic book to anyone who likes this type of book.

  4. Rhea

    Marie Hall does such an absolutely exceptional job in her writing of both characters, plot and language that I don’t think I have ever been taken on such an emotional journey through a book before as I have in this series. The characters are so real and flawed in such a natural way that you forget they are fiction. I have during the span of the series loved Xavier, hated him, loved hating him and loved him again. I have felt Io’s trust issues and despair deep and I have shared her anger and hurt over the injustices done her deep in my soul.
    As you follow them on their journey in this, the seventh book of the series, the characters stay true to themselves, even as they develop and I promise you that you won’t be disappointed. The plot is once again intriguing, the characters raw in their humanity and the writing and language amazing. I’m very much looking forward to the continuation in book eight. I deeply and warmly recommend this book, and if you haven’t read the first six book of the series, I envy you that you get to do so for the first time.

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