|Ann Lawrence: Lord of the Keep|
Spell/Perfect Heroes (Paperback)
The romance begins in 1190 with weaver Emma Aethelwin and her child barely scratching out an existence outside the walls of Hawkwatch Castle. Emma made certain vows -- vows unfortunately not sanctified by a priest -- to the man who stole her innocence and left her with child. And despite her condition, despite the cad's unseemly repudiation of her and their babe, she refuses to forswear herself or divulge the father's name.
Emma's stubbornness on these points creates serious problems for her when she comes to the notice of Gilles d'Argent, the ruler of Hawkwatch Castle for the second time. Emma remembers the first time they met as one of the most humiliating days of her life, and she holds little hope for the outcome of their second encounter.
Older, wiser and smitten Gilles sees Emma as a person, not a chattel he can order to warm his bed. He brings her and her child into the castle and installs her among his staff of (mostly male) weavers. This well-intentioned but misguided action makes Emma a target for all the predatory males in Hawkwatch Castle. She runs away, but Gilles finds her and takes her back, this time placing her under his personal protection.
In Gilles and Emma, Lawrence creates creates two remarkable characters, flawed and worn by life but somehow admirable. The lesser characters also shine -- especially a man who will never make any woman's Perfect Hero list. The circuitous, deceptive plot furthers the romance by allowing it to evolve naturally. Much like a master cook in any era, Lawrence knows a pot needs to simmer before it can boil.
Patricia White is the Sapphire Award-winning author of A Wizard Scorned. Her current book, the western Edwina Parkhurst, Spinster, is available from Hard Shell Word Factory.
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