THE LADY AND THE COMMONERLady Christiana Fitzwaryn was not opposed to marriage. But she demanded to be married on her own terms, not as punishment for a romantic indiscretion, and especially not to a common merchant. Yet she was in for a shock when she met David de Abyndon. For she was confronted by no ordinary merchant but a man of extraordinary poise and virility. He was unaffected by their difference in social status. And even less affected by her well-thought-out arguments against their upcoming betrothal. Instead, it was Christiana who felt uneasy in the presence of this naturally lordly man behind whose cool blue eyes she sensed the most uncompromising of passions.David de Abyndon understood Christiana's dilemma, for he too harbored a secret pain. How could he tell her that there was more to this arrangement than met the eye? How could he tell her about his deal with the king -- a deal that meant he had all but bought Christiana sight unseen? What's more, now that he had seen this beautiful, spirited woman, how could he convince her that the love she sought was not in the callow knight she had romanticized but in the flesh-and-blood arms of the man who may have bought her body -- but in the bargain lost both his heart and soul?
Outraged by her unwilling betrothal to a common merchant and infatuated with a handsome knight of the royal court, medieval Lady Christiana Fitzwaryn pleads with her fianc� to end this misalliance arranged by King Edward of England. For personal and political reasons of his own, David de Abyndon refuses to renounce the marriage and begins a gentle but resolute seduction of his innocent bride. As Christiana awakens to the painful realities of her first love and becomes a part of David's London world, she learns to cherish the husband she first despised. David tries to shield her from his old enemies and a mysterious French familial connection as he secretly assists King Edward in planning an invasion of France. This first novel in a planned trilogy intertwines the difficulties of David and Christiana's marriage with a subplot that contains both political and personal peril as well as a lively cast of secondary characters. Just enough historical detail of 14th-century England enhances a love story that culminates in the sacking of a French city and the revelation of David's true identity. Debut author Hunter begins this new series with a thoroughly satisfying launch that leaves the reader eager for the next episode in the lives of her engaging characters. (June) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
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June 05, 2000
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Excerpt from By Arrangement by Madeline Hunter
Chapter 1 If your brother finds out about this, I'll be lucky to walk away with my manhood, let alone my head," Thomas said. The moon's pale light threw shadows on the walls of the shops that lined the street. Ominous movements to the right and left occasionally caught Christiana's attention, but she didn't fear footpads or nightwalkers tonight. Thomas Holland, one of the Queen's knights, rode alongside her, and the glow from his torch displayed his long sword. Christiana expected no challenges from anyone who might see them in the city out after the curfew. "He will never know, I promise you. No one will," she reassured him. Thomas worried with good reason. If her brother Morvan found out that Thomas had helped her sneak out of Westminster after dark, there would be hell to pay. She would take all of the blame on herself if they were discovered, though. After all, she could hardly get into any more trouble than she was in right now. "This merchant you need to see must be rich, if he doesn't live above his shop," Thomas mused. "Not my business to pry, my lady, but this be a peculiar time to be visiting, and on the sly at that. I trust that it is not a lover I bring you to. The King himself will gut me if it is." She would have laughed at his suggestion, except that her frantic emotions had left her too sick to enjoy the dreadful joke. "Not a lover, and I come now because it is the only time I can be sure of finding him at home," she said, hoping that he would not ask for more explanation. It had taken all of her guile to slip away for this clandestine visit, and she had none to spare for inventing another lie. The last day had been one of the worst in her life, and one of the longest. Had it only been last evening that she had met with Queen Philippa and been told of the King's decision to accept a marriage offer for her? Every moment since had been an eternity of hellish panic and outrage. She was not opposed to marriage. In fact, at eighteen she was past the age when most girls wed. But this offer had not come from Stephen Percy, the knight to whom she had given her heart. Nor had it been made by some other knight or lord, as befitted the daughter of Hugh Fitzwaryn and a girl from a family of ancient nobility. Nay, King Edward had decided to marry her to David de Abyndon, whom she had never met. A common merchant. A common, old merchant, according to her guardian, Lady Idonia, who remembered buying silks from Master David the mercer in her youth. It was the King's way of punishing her. Since her parents' deaths she had been his ward and lived at court with his eldest daughter, Isabele, and his young cousin Joan of Kent. When he had learned about Stephen, he must have flown into a rage to have taken such drastic revenge on her. Stephen. Handsome, blond Stephen. Her heart ached for him. His secret attentions had brought the sun into her sheltered, lonely life. He was the first man to dare to pay court to her. Morvan had threatened to kill any man who wooed her before a betrothal. Her brother's size and skill at arms had proven a depressingly effective deterrent to a love match, just as her lack of a dowry had precluded one secured by property. Other girls at court had admirers, but not her. Until Stephen. This marriage would be a harsh retribution for what had occurred on that bed before Idonia had found them together. And not one that she planned to accept. Nor would this old merchant want it when he learned how the King was using him. She and Thomas followed the blond head of the apprentice whom they had woken from his bed in the mercer's shop. The young man had agreed to guide them to his master's house. He led them up the lane away from the Cheap and then over toward the Guildhall before stopping at a gate and rapping lightly.