Love, Power and Betrayal are three of the key elements in this captivating historical romance by Laura Navarre. Lady Alienore fled her home at Lyonstone when her brother Benedict returned from the Crusade and informed her of their father’s death. Benedict plans to marry Alienore to the Duc d’ Ormonde, a man well known for his debauchery and advanced age. When Alienore realizes that she can’t change her brother’s plans she flees to her godmother, Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine. Her plan is to seek her assistance in obtaining King Henry’s permission to take possession of Wishing Stone Manor, her father’s bequest to her prior to his death. She didn’t plan on getting caught in a web of secrets and espionage that could lead to being charged with treason.
The Raven, a soldier with unknown parentage and legendary expertise on the battlefield, has come to the court of Eleanor. Known as a man who would sell his sword to the highest bidder, no one is sure of his allegiance – could he be a spy for the King Henry, who’s currently at odds with his wife? Or is he there on another mission – bringing Alienore home to face the Duc?
Alienore first meets the Raven on a jousting battlefield; she’s disguised as a knight in order to defend her cousin’s honor. He proves to be more than a fitting opponent, though he doesn’t realize he’s fighting against a woman. When they next meet, both feel a recognition on a deeper level, though Alienore is the only one who knows they have met before. The scenes between Alienore and the Raven are full of emotional and sexual tension, they both feel the attraction, however, Alienore is known as the most virtuous lady in Eleanor’s court and she refuses to acknowledge her feelings. Plus neither one trusts the other, with good cause- Alienore is keeping secrets for the Queen and the Raven is a spy for King Henry and has a secret mission of his own.
There are many secondary characters and they all contribute to the intrigue in this story. We meet Queen Eleanor, who plots to place one of her son’s on the throne and depose her husband, and her sons Prince Richard and Geoffrey of Brittany, who have treasonous plans of their own. We meet Sir Guy Aigret, currently serving as Eleanor’s jailor and loyal to the King and who knew Alienore’s father. He tries to warn her that the Queen is not trustworthy. We also meet Sir Bors Bedingfield, a man who has nefarious plans for both Alienore and her brother and is involved with the King’s sons in their plot to depose their father.
In trying to serve her queen, Alienore, finds herself in a dangerous position. She eventually realizes that she’s crossing the line between acceptable service and treason and soon finds herself a prisoner. Given no other choice, she finds herself married to the Raven, whose secret mission is finally revealed – he’s Jervaise de Vaux, the new Duc d’ Ormonde, and the man she’d been trying to avoid. Now both Alienore and Jervaise will have to face the king and convince him that she’s innocent of treason. They also discover more plots against the king, who we finally meet and whose throne is saved by the actions of both Alienore and Jervaise. There are several twists and turns in the plot and the story concludes in a more than satisfactory way. I look forward to reading more of Ms. Navarre’s work.
In the glittering, sumptuous court of Eleanor of Aquitaine, betrayal lurks around every corner. The queen is at odds with her king, and to obey one could mean treason against the other. Even Alienore, considered the most virtuous lady at court, holds secrets: whether masquerading as a knight on the tourney field to defend those without a champion or desperately trying to keep her lands—and her maidenhead—from the Duke of Ormonde.
THE BLACK KNIGHT
He is called the Raven—his face scarred by a Saracen blade, his voice raspy with the effects of Greek fire. His parentage is unknown, his prowess legendary. And he’ll sell his sword to the highest bidder. As his piercing eyes track her every move, Alienore wonders who he’s working for now: finding a spy for King Henry? sent by the duke to fetch her home? Or is each heated touch, each whispered promise of pleasure part of a much more personal mission?