|Betina Krahn: The Husband Test|
Books (Paperback), ISBN 0-553-58386-7
Throughout the Norman world, the noblemen know that the Convent of the Brides of Virtue produces pious, well-mannered, accomplished, pleasing brides, well trained to manage a medieval household. Most of the novices come from noble families overburdened with too many daughters, or they lost their families because of some pestilence. Before the abbess agrees to part with one of these paragons, she demands that the Earl must pass the Husband Test. Who better to administer this test than Sister Eloise, the convent's most opinionated and headstrong novice?
In exchange for providing a bride, Peril must pay a hefty fee. The Convent runs on cash, not charity. Since he's not one of those rich lords of the manor, Peril cuts a deal with the abbess. He signs a medieval version of the installment plan, volunteering to tithe part of his estate to the Convent over the next ten years. He stands to lose more than a wife if Sister Eloise finds him lacking in husbandly qualities.
After a cold, dangerous voyage across the English Channel accompanied by Peril and his men-at-arms, Eloise and a fellow sister arrive at Whitmore. As they ride toward the manor, she discovers untilled fields, sagging haystacks and barren forests. She understands why Peril needs a bride of virtue to break the spiteful curse uttered many years before Peril became lord. But Eloise won't cut him any breaks. If he fails the test, too bad. She'll do her duty, then return to the convent to take her vows. On the other hand, what if he passes the test? Can she give him up to the bride the Reverend Mother sends?
As the days and nights pass, Eloise confronts a test of her own -- a growing passion for Peril that weakens her resolve to take her vows. Peril faces a similar struggle as he fights an unwelcome desire for this troublesome novice. Betina Krahn devises a fanciful tale that seems quite unlikely in the real world. Do not read this novel if the lack of historical fact ever gets in the way of a good story. But The Husband Test scores high marks in the romance world.
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