Sunday, September 16

By Arrangement by Madeline Hunter

Lady Christiana Fitzwaryn was not opposed to marriage. But she demanded to be married on her own terms, not as punishment for a 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 has 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?

This book reminded me of just how much I enjoy MH's medieval romances. I never cared for her Regency romances after just reading one sample--The Seducer. But after reading this book, it left me wanting to read her other earlier books set in medieval England.

The story of David and Christiana had always intrigued me for quite some time as I've read them in The Protector and Lord of a Thousand Nights. Even appearing in select scenes in those books, I had the feeling that theirs would be a fascinating story to read. And MH didn't disappoint with this effort. Nor did David de Abyndon and Christiana Fitzwaryn. I might not have finished this one in one sitting but that wasn't for the lack of trying. Sleep deprivation and too much stress won over the interest to finish this book (plus maybe another) in one go.

But no matter.

The chemistry between hero and heroine was sizzling at the very least, The circumstances that brought them together wasn't the greatest, not even a good one, as it was surrounded with mystery to begin with. And I love the fact that David was a commoner merchant and it proved that they can be great heroes as much as noblemen and knights and such can be. Reading from the other books, I knew that Christiana had some spirit but reading about her here tells more of her character as she never allowed herself to be bullied and stood her ground. We had here two proud characters who managed to meet halfway during their conflicts.

Okay, so David turned out not to be so common after all (he was a nobleman's illegitimate son). But he refused what was his by right to remain loyal to friends and country. (Although he did turn out to have inherited the title two books later.) But he did turn out to be more noble than most when at the end, he insisted to pay the bride price for Christiana that he had let her believe he paid for her at the beginning. That way she would never find out that the money that changed hands at the start was really a rich merchant's part in the King's campaign against the French--and David got the King's ward for a bride to cover up the exchange.

As much as I love this book because of the two main characters, one of the factors that really won me over was Christiana's relationship with her brother Morvan. I already loved him from his own book but I'm loving him more because of his part in giving this tale a happy ending--even if he disapproved of David at the onset. It's one of those times that makes me wish I had a brother of my own.

Another keeper from MH, no doubt about it.

Final verdict: 8/10. Good read, must-have.


Dev said...

I need to read MH ~ I actually have this trilogy on my wishlist...I just need to get around to actually reading it.

Kristie (J) said...

This was a jolly good one wasn't it? I loved everything about it, even the heroes name - David. He turned out to be much more than what we thought at first didn't he?

ReneeW said...

Great book. I've read all of her medievals (except one I'm saving for a rainy day) and have to agree that I like them so much better than her regency historicals. Definite keepers. Loved you review.

Kookie said...

Start with MH's medievals because I don't think her Regency books will leave you with much impression AND this series is actually quite more than good.

I have always been wondering what David's story is after I've read about him first in The Protector...and I love him after this. Good things come to those who wait and such. LOL!

Thanks, girl. Ditto--absolute keepers!

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