"Emotionally and Historically Evocative Medieval"
Rhys is captivated the moment he lays eyes on the tattered
beauty selling pottery in the marketplace. He too is
skilled with his hands, a mason. In her wares, he
immediately recognizes a kindred spirit. He offers far more
than the asking price for a statue, as well as words of
Joan is not what she seems. She has suffered abuse at the
hands of a man whose pleasure is to misuse his power. Her
soul has been battered, her circumstances drastically
reduced. All had been lost, with the exception of her
younger brother, and a burning desire for vengeance. In
that cause, she had indentured herself to a tiler. She
would sell her goods, saving for the day she would have
enough to hire a champion to carry out her revenge.
Far sooner than she expects she finds one in Rhys. Their
next encounter finds her confined to the stocks for
selling defective tiles. They are not her work, but that of
her drunken employer. He immediately surmises that the
punishment is unjustified, but can do nothing except
comfort her until she is released.
Her condition poor following the ordeal, Joan is forced to
spend the night with the handsome mason. Though they share
the same bed, Rhys leaves her untouched. It is this which
fosters trust between the pair, for Joan has been badly
used in the past.
Rhys has hopes of some kind of future for them. He had
intended to take the tiler to task for allowing Joan to
take the punishment for his failures. Instead he purchases
her indenture. A shocked Joan believes her trust has been
misplaced, but Rhys has a deeper sort of commitment in
mind. He is patient, reserving his passion in order to
forge a deep bond that transcends the physical.
Only Joan is aware that their newfound happiness will be
short lived. The future that awaits her has been forged by
the events of the past. She would gladly sacrifice her own
life to protect the two men she loves, Rhys and her
brother, and to honor her vow to her slain father. Rhys
however, is determined to offer his aid even if it means
that he will ultimately lose her.
The nature of this story was deeply romantic, and was
evident from the first page. As beautifully portrayed on
book's step back cover, Rhys and Joan are the very epitome
of "soul mates". Though they know that they may be facing
a life apart, their love is strong enough to sustain them
for eternity. The historical aspect is richly woven
throughout the tale, attesting to the knowledge and talents
of the author. Both intense and heartwarming, BY DESIGN
belongs on the keeper shelf among the best of the best.
Copyright © 2001
Reviewed by Leslie Tramposch
Posted September 12, 2001