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Lindsay Townsend

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To Touch the Knight
by Lindsay Townsend   

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Books by Lindsay Townsend
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Category: 

Romance

Publisher:  Kensington Zebra ISBN-10:  1420106988 Type: 
Pages: 

347

Copyright:  2011 ISBN-13:  9781420106985
Fiction

Price: $5.95 (eBook)
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Romance and deception in England during the frenzied years of the Black Death.

As a pestilence sweeps medieval England, a low-born woman has only the sharpness of her wits—and the courage of her heart…

Edith of Warren Hemlet plays a dangerous game. At the knights’ tourneys across the land, among the lords and ladies, she is a strange foreign princess. But in the privacy of her tent with the other survivors of her village, she is but a smith’s widow with a silver tongue. They are well-fed, but if discovered, the punishment is death. And one knight—fierce, arrogant, and perilously appealing—is becoming far too attentive…

Sir Ranulf of Fredenwyke cares little for tourneys: playing for ladies’ favors, when his own lady is dead; feasting, while commoners starve; “friendly” combat, when he has seen real war. Still, one lady captivates him—mysterious in her veils and silks, intoxicating with her exotic scents and bold glances. Yet something in her eyes reminds him of home…and draws him irresistibly to learn her secrets…

 
Excerpt
"He has walled us in alive! Our own lord has abandoned us!"

"He cannot do this!"

But he has done so, Edith thought, as she crouched to give her shivering cow a drink from a bucket of water. Sir Giles de Rothencey, their brutal lord of Warren Hemlet, had driven all of them, villagers and beasts alike, into the church and had ordered his men to seal them within to die.

He might have spared her, for she was the smith's widow, skilled in metal-working and so useful, but she had entered the simple, windowless church willingly enough. It could be that they would all die of the pestilence soon, and she wanted to be with her own people.

"We have wine and water," she reminded the others, rising to her feet and speaking above the hammering as their lord's men barred and sealed the door. "We are in a holy place." She hoped her voice would not waver as she said this - she had fallen out with God. "We are together."

"What use is that when our lord herds us in here, the hale and the sickening, so all perish?"

Edith trod on the loud-mouth's foot.

"We are together," she repeated. "Those men outside will not stay for long. If we go quiet and stay quiet, they will think us dead. We know this has happened before, in other places."

Around her the villagers grew silent, thinking perhaps, as she was, of the ghastly rumors concerning the pestilence. Only last month a peddler had come to Warren Hemlet with gruesome stories of people going to bed healthy and dying in the night; of people dying in the fields, in the washing houses, in the streets. No one was safe, or spared. She had seen it herself, all this last week, in her own village. So many had died. From their village of four-score souls, only three and twenty were left. Of these, Anwyl was already coughing in one corner and Peter the shepherd lay shuddering and whimpering amidst his scrawny sheep, his neck covered with red boils.

And then their lord had come - not to save them, but to ensure the sickness did not spread to him. Which was how they came to be here, in the church: a stone building Sir Giles intended would be their tomb.

"But we shall escape," she said aloud. If she was to die, she wanted to do so out of doors, under the blue sky and trees. "We shall break out."

"And flee this place, that God and his saints have left," said her brother quietly. Gregory could always speak and be heard: he was the priest here, so people listened.

"How do we do that when we are locked in?" demanded the loud-mouth.

Edith threaded her way round the villagers to the stone font and picked up the baby she had carried into the church with her and laid in the dry stone bath. She unwrapped the "baby's" saddling bands to reveal her own metal-working tools, bundled together in a rough blanket.

"We shall get out," she said.

"And then?" demanded the loud-mouth.

He was as noisy as a miller, Edith thought, but she did not say that. Their miller had been one of the first to die at Warren Hemlet and since then there had been too much death, and talk of death. She glanced at her brother, but Gregory was tending a shuddering old man, Martin, who lay against the south wall of the church, giving him his own cloak. Soon, Edith guessed, he would be leading his depleted flock in prayer, but her thoughts ran to more practical measures.

"First we must be quiet. Those outside will not leave until we are." To mark her point she crossed back across the nave to her cow and settled down beside Daisy, taking a small comfort from the warmth of the animal. When she said nothing more, the other villagers began to lament afresh, then they too fell silent.

Edith closed her eyes, pretending to sleep. She had plans. If they lived, she had many plans that would bring them food, riches, honor and a different life to slavery in their lord's fields. Gregory disapproved, but so he must for he was their priest, and he had sworn to keep his distaste to himself. He had grudgingly admitted they had few choices, and none virtuous.

Edith considered her scheme afresh. Again she was glad her grandfather had once been a sailor, and that her old husband, Adam, had been so excellent a smith. From these two worthy men she had a fund of stories she could draw on and more besides: bundles of cloth, paintings on the tops of tables, strange devices, knowledge of steel and surgery, fine pottery. The things were buried in her herb garden, the memories in her head. She would need both.

If they survived....


Professional Reviews

Red Roses for Authors
Ranulf is called the Black Knight for good reason. He defeats all challengers in the joust and he broods – on the death of his wife and his guilt. When he meets the Lady of the Lilies – a princess from far Cathay - he is intrigued and his mood lightens. The Princess always goes veiled and her clothes are exotic scraps of fine cloth, which she fashions in her own style. Who is she and why does she follow the tourney? Torn between the Princess and a little brown maid he saw peeping at him on the riverbank, Ranulf is determined to solve the mystery.

Edith and her people have run from a cruel master. In a land stalked by pestilence they have to find a way to survive both the Black Death and hunger, and they live in fear of discovery by their old lord. Only the Lady of the Lilies and her mystery stand between them and a terrible punishment. But perhaps now there is a new saviour in the person of the Black Knight. Can Ranulf keep them safe and lead them to a new life?

The time of the Black Death was terrible for people in England and Europe. Townsend treats this period with honesty and sympathy. Parts of the book are perhaps dark because of the period but there is also a great deal of humour, fun and sensuality in this book, which should delight Townsend’s fans. I found it a thoroughly enjoyable read and the equal of her earlier knight books. This author is one to be followed as she carves a prominent place for herself on the historical list. If you enjoy medieval you must read this, because it is one of the best.

This book completely deserves its five red roses.


Romance Junkies
Taking place in 1351 England, we are introduced to the brave Widow of the late Warren Hemlet, Edith, who has decided that the only way to save what is left of her village is to impersonate an exotic foreign princess. Being from the serf class herself, Edith knows she has no choice but to go ahead with the impersonation regardless of the deadly consequences if she gets caught. She is willing to face death to save the survivors of the Black Plague in her village from starvation and is determined to go after the heartless "nobles" who don't find it in their hearts to help their serf villagers willingly.

Knight Sir Ranulf of Frendenwyke is attending the tournament, but he is not your usual aristocrat, as he is a true idealist and does not care for the elaborate extravagances, while people in the neighboring villages are dying. Sir Ranulf is intrigued by the beguiling mysterious princess who does not act like the other aristocratic and noble women of her time and her unusual nature has his interest from the moment they meet.

Each with their own secret to hide, the black death at their door and lives at stake; the reader will find themselves taken back to a time when clearly the nobles were anything but, and those who are willing to sacrifice everything for the poor, are few and far between. You will fall in love with the sensuous, but sweet interactions between Sir Ranulf and the mysterious princess as their story takes us on a journey through one of the most horrific times in history. A definite must read...


Joyfully Reviewed
The plague is sweeping medieval England and the worst atrocities seem to be felt by those who are not privileged. Edith of Warren Hamlet is one of those women but she has the forethought and sharpness to make a change in the lives of those she becomes trapped with. Now they are living a secret life and rebuilding their lives, though fearing the one that caused them great harm. But, their new lives seem to be working well in keeping them hidden, even though they are in plain view.
Edith has taken on the persona of a foreign princess and those at the knights’ tourneys believe all that she tells them. She is a woman of mystery and many flock to her side. She is able to keep just enough distance from each and every knight that her real identity is still hidden. But, when a new knight (Sir Ranulf of Fredenwyke) suddenly seems to be a little too attentive, and Edith finds herself thinking of him too often what will happen. Will Sir Ranulf be appalled or intrigued if he learns her secrets?
'To Touch The Knight' is a finely woven tale that has more than one intrigue you don’t expect in a historical. Ms. Townsend is able to bring forth a happy ending to a group of people who were horrifically affected by the plague. I was so intrigued by the plot in 'To Touch The Knight' I was unable to put it down until I finished the last page. If you want a little different historical romance then I Joyfully Recommend 'To Touch The Knight'.


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