THE HEIRESS BRIDE
Lady Rosaleen's uncle, Sir Anselm, abuses her in an attempt to force her marriage to an accomplice who would hand over Rosaleen's inheritance to Sir Anselm himself.
Without waiting for her injuries to heal, she sets out for London to petition King Henry for protection. She arrives at the Red Fox Inn where traveling knights assume she's a whore. She pleads for a stranger, Hugh Caldwell, to help her, and when Rosaleen awakens the next morning, she has blurred memories of the rescue, of pain, but also of soft whispering, gentle hands, sweet lips...
She enlists Hugh to escort her to London. She learns that he rejects and hates the highborn and all their customs due to harsh circumstances surrounding his birth. Though a soldier, he's not a knight because he refuses the honor.
Fearful of his attitude, Rosaleen doesn't reveal her true identity. On their sexually charged journey, both keep secrets yet learn each other's suffering and their deepening love leads to a "Gift of the Magi" ending where each makes the ultimate sacrifice for each other.
Susan Paul draws the reader into a highly credible Medieval setting, charming characters and an intensely readable love story. (Jan., 303 pp., $4.50)