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REVIEW

"Duty divides this medieval couple by day. By night they find heaven under the stars"

As always I found Ms. Hunter's work enchanting, however there was a delightful bit of irony in this tale which was for me the icing on the cake. Fans of Madeline's medieval romances will remember Marcus of Anglesmore as the younger brother of Joan, heroine of her third novel BY DESIGN.

In spite of reduced circumstances for most of his youth, Marcus was a man who saw things pretty much in black or white. He had been well aware of what his sister had sacrificed to spare his life when their lands were disseized, and their father slaughtered for his loyalty to the deposed king. Joan had scrimped and schemed for years to recover what they'd lost, and Marcus was appalled that upon her success she chose to throw it all away for the love of Rhys Mason, a man far beneath her station. Now the baron he'd been born to become, her refusal to obey his order that she submit to an advantageous marriage of his choosing had caused a rift between them for many years. Time and the urging of Marcus' former warden, Addis de Valence, has partially healed the rift between the siblings.

It is now 1340, and Marcus finds himself ordered to marry a young Welsh noblewoman, a political alliance to bridge hostilities created by the new king. Marcus is not sure he is happy with the arrangement, although as the king's man he has sworn to do his duty. The bride is no more eager than he, feigning illness and delaying the betrothal to the point of insult. His patience at an end, and determined to end the stalemate Marcus breaches a wall of the crown's estate where his future bride awaits.

He is caught immediately in the moonlight garden by the woman herself, or so he believes. He is captivated by her, and vows that the wedding will advance with due haste. But the next morning when he walks in through the front door he receives a terrible shock. His betrothed is not the woman who had stirred his soul, but rather her younger sister. Though Genith is even more beautiful than her sister, and if the tales were true more virtuous, it is Nesta who had stolen his heart, Nesta who had been made notorious in song, reputed to be the king's whore.

Once again Marcus steels himself to do his duty, a duty made more difficult by the king's order that Genith's sister be allowed to live with them at Anglesmore. How could he hope to be a proper husband to his bride when the woman he really wanted was close enough to remind him of what he could never have.

The king's dalliance with Nesta had been said to have caused the rift between the English and the Welsh. Her father, Llygad ap Madoc, had raised his banner against the king and had led the Welsh rebellion until his death. Marcus' marriage to Genith was to be an appeasement, however Nesta had a different marriage in mind for her sister, another political alliance which would insure the success of her late father's cause.

In light of the king' interest in her, it would have been an insult for Edward to have offered Llygad's eldest daughter for Marcus to wed, but when Genith makes good the plan to escape, Marcus follows his heart and betroths himself to Nesta in her stead, rationalizing his duty to marry a daughter of Llygad. Though Marcus had stolen her heart in that moonlit garden as well, Nesta vows to do her duty by her father and ensure the success of his cause. Her renouncement of the betrothal is to no avail, but she lets Marcus know in no uncertain terms that it is her destiny to betray him. Marcus agrees that he must do his duty as the king's man as well, but proposes that the nights hold a truce in which the two of them could be but a man and a woman in love, to steal a little bit of heaven beneath the stars. By day each follows the course set by their duty, and while Nesta's actions move them closer to war, Marcus must employ every ounce of wits he possesses to ensure a victory for his king that will not result in the sacrifice of the woman he loves.

The battle between the two lovers is like watching a chess match between two master players. Marcus and Nesta are well matched, both determined, intelligent and clever. Although Marcus wins the final move, there is no loss of dignity for Nesta, for they both take home the prize. I very much enjoyed the reappearances of some old friends, Addis and Moira de Valence, David de Abyndon, and Joan and Rhys Mason, from previous tales. I recommend that you steal some time to read Ms. Hunter's wonderful sixth historical romance novel, STEALING HEAVEN.

Copyright 2002

Reviewed by Leslie Tramposch
Posted July 29, 2002

SUMMARY

In a world of rebellion and intrigue, their love divided their hearts and loyalties.

Marcus of Angelsmore was not at all happy about being betrothed by the king to a woman he'd never laid eyes on. So when the brooding English knight accidently comes across her in a moonlit garden, he was both surprised--and delighted. Intelligent, charming, and beautiful, she was the most captivating woman he'd ever met. But the magic of that enchanted moment is soon shattered by cold reality: Nesta is not the woman he is to marry, but her sister. Of all the women Marcus might desire, none could be more dangerous than the wild and tantalizing Welsh witch with secret ties to both rebellion and king. For Nesta no one could jeopardize her plans more than a man who would know secrets of both her heart...and her body. Yet the course of their lives--and the destinies of their two nations-- will be forever altered as they defy everything to surrender to the most daring seduction of all...

Read an Excerpt

 

Stealing Heaven
by Madeline Hunter

Bantam
July 1, 2002
ISBN #0553583565
EAN #9780553583564
304 pages
Paperback
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Other Books by
Madeline Hunter

The Sins of Lord Easterbrook
The Sinner
The Charmer
The Saint
The Seducer
Tapestry
Lord of a Thousand Nights
The Protector
By Design
By Possession
By Arrangement


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