In this delightful medieval romance, a spirited lady and a vagabond minstrel with a penchant for trouble engage in a battle of wills with a powerful earl in King John’s court.
Ranulf de Villon, baron of Ashbury Castle and a hard, cruel man, has engineered the betrothal of his daughter, Marguerite of Winbourne, to the ruthless, licentious Earl of Saxton, favored counselor to King John.
The proposed marriage is one of political expediency for all concerned: Ranulf gains prestige by arranging an alliance with the most powerful earl of the land, and Saxton will use income from the estate that comes to him with Marguerite’s dowry to curry favor with King John.
Though Marguerite loathes Saxton and has the right—as stated in her grandfather’s will—to refuse Saxton’s hand in marriage, Ranulf has made certain that no one can get news of Marguerite’s plight to the proper authorities before she is wed.
Ranulf’s wife Leah, Marguerite’s mother, is too afraid of her husband’s violent tendencies to side with her daughter against him. Marguerite’s cousin Richard, who cares deeply for her, is horrified by the prospect of the match and willing to cross Ranulf, but Ranulf’s men are watching his every move. Trapped and powerless, Marguerite turns to the only man who may be able to help her, Robert Marcel, a traveling minstrel.
DiPastena has once again crafted another epic tale of romance and intrigue in thirteenth century England during the reign of King John. France and England have been at war for years, and the king requires a stream of unlimited funds for his campaigns to take back the duchy of Normandy.
Women such as Marguerite are viewed as property, as chattels used to produce heirs and to provide assets through their dowries. Members of the peerage survive and hold onto their ancestral lands only by paying court to an ambitious and merciless king.
The Lady and the Minstrel is the story of two star-crossed lovers, Marguerite and Robert, and their struggle to survive in the face of the ruthless ambitions and political conspiracies that are the order of the day.
DiPastena has crafted a rich story world that immerses the reader in the culture, the politics, and the language of thirteenth century England. Meticulously researched and deftly told, this historical novel will captivate readers of this genre.