Knight of Pleasure
When Isobel was 13, her father married her to old Lord Hume. Eight years later the Lord finally dies. Lady Isobel Hume expects the castle and lands to be willed to her. But due to some conniving, she loses it all. Now she is joining King Henry V in Normandy. He wants to her to marry one of the French nobles to form an alliance between the English and the Frenchmen in Normandy where the English are conquering. Her first marriage was arranged to save her family. Now her second one is to preserve England's safety.
There she meets the knight Sir Stephen Carlton. He is a handsome rogue with an eye for the ladies. She is immediately attracted although she can't understand it. He is an honorable man as a knight and in his loyalty to England. She tries to avoid him while she waits for the king to choose her next husband. Once he does, she is resigned to marry a man she doesn't know and doesn't like.
King Henry V knows he has to be wary of the French. He finds a noble who isn't married and who can accept the English rule. Stephen and the other knights are willing to do what is needed to conquer this land. They have to go to a nearby abby to save a couple men. Isobel sneaks off with them because her brother is one of the men at the abby. While there they are attacked by a group of brigands. Isobel sees the attackers and is able to identify some of them. When she later sees one with her future husband, she knows she has to get a message back to the English king.
Margaret Mallory chose a period of history that is not well known in the United States (unless you've read the Shakespere historicals). I don't much about the period at all and found the history in Knight of Pleasure interesting. Unfortunately, the book never clicked well for me and drags. Finally about 3/4 of the way through I gave up and flipped through the last part of the novel. I picked up the important details - the snakiness of the French noble, Sir Stephen's pursuit of Lady Isobel, her spying for the King, and her escape from the Frenchman.
The end is charming, especially when Lady Isobel finally meets with her father. Her inner fight with trust is believable as she decides on her future. I'm of mixed opinion on this book - the end and the romance is satisfying. It just seemed to take forever to get there.
Notice: Explicit sexual content, Graphic violence
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