Ann Lawrence





Leisure, January 2003
Reviewed by Barbara Fielding

Adrian de Marle has been posing as Adam Quintin, a Flemish mercenary, since the banishment of his father by King John. When he is recruited to spy for William Marshal, the ruling regent for young Prince Henry, Adam must go to his ancestral home under the pretense of a suitor for Mathilde de Pointers, and discover the names of the malcontents who have secretly joined forces with Prince Louis of France. Adam risks exposing his true identity by taking on this assignment but he is promised "...the reward will be worthy the deed. You may name your price." If Adam succeeds, he may obtain the means to restore his family honor and regain Ravenswood Castle. It will also be the first time a woman has ever proven to be of use to him.

Joan Swan is the adopted daughter to Master of the Hunt at Ravenswood. Her father Nat suffers memory lapses in his old age, and Joan has developed a set of hand signals she uses with the dogs to cover for his forgetfulness. Bishop Garvant, guardian for Mathilde de Pointers, announces a Harvest Hunt and Tournament, with the object of finding Mathilde a husband. Upon Adam Quintin's arrival to Ravenswood he is rescued from a wild boar by Joan and her pack of trained hunters. Even though Joan is attracted to Adam she is more than leery of Flemish mercenaries, because a group of them were responsible for her parent's death.

When Adam finally succeeds in his pursuit of Joan, he discovers not only a passion for her but a need beyond any he has ever known for a woman. But how can he uncover the treasonous plot while posing as a suitor to Mathilde, and secretly woo Joan without anyone discovering he is the son of their former lord?  With so much at stake, all Adams' wits and cunning are put to the test. Can Joan learn to trust this man with so many secrets, and sort through the deadly lies and troubles that threaten her happiness?

This is a delightfully complex story. Ann Lawrence has written a plot full of passion, deception and betrayal. The author used the hunt and tournament backdrop beautifully to carry out all the dramatic intrigues. Secondary characters worthy of mention are Mathilde de Pointers, the bride-to-be. She has all the appeal of a medieval Erica Kane. You will love her and hate her. Mathilde's secret lover, Hugh de Coleville, is Adams' best friend. I love Hugh's biting humor. He has no illusions about the kind of woman Mathilde is and he is still helpless to resist her. I really enjoyed this book.  It isn't a flawless book by any means; it flows beautifully in some scenes and it reads as though you must have missed something in others. This book follows two other titles by Ms Lawrence, LORD OF THE MIST and LORD OF THE KEEP.

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