by Joyce DiPastena
- File Size: 1563 KB
- Print Length: 372 pages
- Sold by: Amazon Digital Services
- Language: English
- ASIN: B007IX6UVA
Available in print format as well.
Genre: Historical Romance
My Rating: 4.75 of 5.0
Publication Date: January 17, 2012
Her father has been accused of stealing from the king, an allegation that has reduced her family to poverty. She has one chance to find and marry a man who can help her prove her father's innocence. Lord Therri, heir to a rich barony, has the wealth and connections Mathilde needs to delve into the mysteries of her father's past. Furthermore, Therri embodies all her romantic dreams.
Etienne, the younger son of a disgraced family, has neither wealth nor connections, but is smitten with Mathilde at a glance. She finds the knight intriguing, but believes he is only out to seduce her. While she seeks for a way to win Therri's attention, Etienne tricks her into granting him her favor, an embroidered white ribbon, for a tournament, setting in motion a dangerous chain reaction of events. Can Etienne save Mathilde from a nightmare from her past and prove himself the true hero of her dreams?
The story is set in 1181 in the periphery of the ever present Plantagenet jealousies, including power struggles between the brothers, Young King Henry and Richard, Duke of Aquitaine. The rising figure of William Marshall plays a part of the back drop for this tale.
Mathilde’s father has been accused of stealing from the Royal Wardrobe. Not only has his reputation been disgraced but he has lost most of his holdings over the years to a ruthless and ambitious neighbor, who was once betrothed to Mathilde. Mathilde has come into society with the goal of marrying a man who will help her prove her father’s innocence. Of course it would be lovely if her hero is dashingly handsome and wealthy.
Etienne is the younger son of a father who was deemed a traitor. Etienne could serve his brother who has married a woman of wealth and lands (Illuminations of the Heart) but he is intent on making his own way and not being beholden to his brother. Etienne has only the winnings from tournaments unless he gains the hand and suitable dowry of a wealthy lady.
Etienne is smitten by Mathilde when they meet but unfortunately she has eyes only for Etienne’s best friend, Therri, a too handsome fellow whom Mathilde dubs “the Vision.” Etienne coaxes a satin ribbon from Mathilde to wear as a favor during the tournament. She didn’t mean to give up the token as it was lent by her brother who is absolutely furious that she has allowed a champion to claim it when she doesn’t even know his name!
Etienne is doing well during the tournament melee until he is attacked by three masked opponents demanding that he give up the ribbon. Although Etienne can’t understand why they are making a fuss over the token he refuses to let it go but holds fast to the ribbon even when he is beaten and shot.
Therri, who has a reputation as a womanizer is thwarted in his efforts to win the hand of Violette who is hosting the tournament to choose a husband. Violette’s spoiled stepdaughter has her mind set on Etienne even though he is not interested in her charms. The personality misunderstandings and conflict between the couples is frustrating but well played.
Ms. DiPastena has woven a romance that grows from gentle to fervent (passionate in a clean way) while danger and intrigue, as well as obstacles of practicality, circle the young couple. This is the sort of story one expects to be song as a ballad of medieval intrigue, chivalry and love. The plot is extremely well crafted with likeable and annoying characters, and a mad, obsessed villain. There is plenty of action that keeps the story moving along at a good pace. I enjoyed the medieval setting and detail that intertwined the historical backdrop with the personal drama of the hero and heroine. If you like medieval romance with plenty of intrigue this is an author you shouldn’t miss.
A couple of lovely quotes for you to enjoy:
Of all the erratic sensations he had thus far stirred in her, none of them prepared her of the scorching conflagration that exploded through her at his kiss. Location 1570.
It had been an empty, dangerous dream to expect Etienne or any man to come riding to her aid and restore her father’s honor. ...
[s]he had learned that in real life, sometimes the villain won. And sometimes the hero died. Location 3125.
I received this from the author and her publisher, Leatherwood Press. Thank you.I will include this on my ARC challenge list.