Tuesday, March 18, 2008

The Harlot's Daughter - Blythe Gifford


The Harlot’s Daughter
Blythe Gifford
Harlequin

Historical Romance

To the court of King Richard II, Lady Joan Weston is thought of, when she’s thought of at all, as ‘the harlot’s daughter.’ Her mother, Lady Alys Weston was the very public mistress of King Richard’s grandfather, King Edward III. Upon Edward’s death, Alys and her daughters were instantly evicted from Court. Now, almost a decade later, Joan (called Solay by her mother and others) has returned to Court, desperate to secure a grant from Richard to keep her family from starving.

When Lord Justin Lamont sees Solay presented to Richard, he understands for the first time how a woman can ensnare a man’s mind. Justin’s mind is dedicated to his career as a lawyer. He serves as liaison between Richard and the Council appointed by Parliament to oversee (and stop) Richard’s profligate spending. When Richard offers Solay to Justin as a wife, Justin requests the time between Yuletide and Easter to make his decision, with the unusual stipulation that he must be sure she loves him before he will consent to the marriage.

The pairing is both happy and painful for Solay, who grew up at her mother’s knee, learning the ways and intrigues of Court. She knows that there must be a benefit for Richard in this. Richard wants Solay to extract information from Justin, by any means necessary, about the actions of the Council. Solay, who already cares for Justin more than she expected to, knows that she must obey the King for the sake of her family. Justin, who values honesty and truth above all else, may not forgive this betrayal.

This is a historical romance that’s very much grounded in real history. The author includes a note at the end that details her inspiration and where she took some license with real events. That license was used very well, as this novel feels quite real. The characters of Solay and Justin begin on opposite sides of the philosophy of life – both correct from their own perspectives - and the interest lies in watching them inch toward each other. The background of Court intrigue is fascinating and integral to the plot, but never overshadows the two main characters. This one is a treat for any reader who enjoys a historical novel with depth.

Rating: 8
October 2007
ISBN# 978-0-373-39470-1 (paperback)

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