"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
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
In a world of rebellion and intrigue, their love
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
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
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--
be forever altered as they defy everything to surrender to
the most daring seduction of all...