The story is chockful of characters, history and plot twists. It is very frustrasting to read this story because the youthful Kassia makes bad decisions over and over again. Her ignorance leads to her victimization at the hands of her husband, female competitors and other characters who take a dislike of her. It was unbelievable that Kassia couldn’t get advice from her elderly nursemaid or any other kindly male adult. I almost wanted one of the other characters to kill her off. It seems to be reflective of the times how the husband Graelam treats his wife and his female servants whom he beds but I found myself disliking Graelam immensely. I had to grit my teeth to get through this book and have to say it is one of my least favorite reads that I’ve come across in years.
Kassia de Lorris is heiress to the magnificent keep of Bellaterre, but she may not live long enough to inherit. The lovely young woman is suddenly taken ill and her father, Maurice, fears that powerful forces may take advantage of this apparent weakness in the succession. Kassia’s cousin, Geoffrey, covets the wealthy property, but Maurice knows he isn’t fit to command. In a desperate move to protect Bellaterre, Maurice weds his daughter, Kassia, to a virtual stranger, Lord Graelam de Moreton. Graelam is a knight hardened in battle. Little touches him, but the sight of Kassia’s sweet face and fragile hands affect him greatly. To honor their friendship, Graelam weds Maurice’s daughter on what may be her deathbed. Sadly, he assumes that he shall never see his young bride again. Graelam returns home to England and, at last, prepares to take a wife. The lovely Joanna is chosen for him by Cornwall, but Blanche, Graelam’s sister-in-law from a previous marriage, also wishes to wed the knight. Graelam is handsome and strong. Wolffeton is also a powerful keep. Although lacking in social amenities, the vast holding will secure Blanche’s future and that of her young son. As Blanche prepares to oust the Lady Joanna, a stranger suddenly arrives from Brittany, a small woman named Kassia, claiming to be Graelam’s wife! No one is more surprised by Kassia’s arrival than her husband. Wolffeton is set on its ear as the three women vie for Graelam’s attentions. At last, Joanna departs in a huff, but Blanche continues her assault on the young mistress of Wolffeton, twisting the truth to suit her devious plans. Again and again, Kassia is made to look the fool, but she cannot help herself. Despite Graelam’s gruff manner and harsh handling, she falls in love with her handsome husband. Will Graelam realize the truth in time or will Kassia be forced to return home to Bellaterre in misery and disgrace? Great period piece filled with intrigue.
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