The Valcourt Heiress
Putnam, Oct 5 2010, $25.95
In 1278, considered by many to be a witch, the widow of the Earl of Valcourt, Abbess Helen of Meizerling Abbey sells her daughter Marianna de Luce de Mornay to the highest bidder, the malevolent Jason of Brennan. Rather than marry the evil Jason, Merry sneaks out of the castle wearing a lad’s garb, but is caught by the Earl of Wareham, Lord Garron. Merry manages to escape again, but follows Garron and his retinue to his keep.
At Wareham, Garron is stunned by the massacre that greets him. Few survive the horror. Merry sneaks into Garron’s keep and masquerades as the dead priest's illegitimate bastard daughter. Caring for others, Merry tries to help the survivors, which brings her to the attention of Garron. He realizes she is The Valcourt Heiress and plans to escort her to the king. Instead she seduces him, which forces the honorable Garron to have to wed her. However, her odious mother kidnaps her and holds her prisoner until she is released and returned to Wareham. However, her behavior is totally the opposite of her first time here, but Garron knows something is not right as Merry is nothing remotely like the woman he fell in love with; especially when Helen arrives allegedly to negotiate.
This is an engaging medieval romantic suspense starring two fascinating lead characters and an evil Abbess who steals the show with her machinations. The story line is fast-paced from the moment Merry sneaks out of the castle and never slows down as the diabolical Helen insidiously works her schemes by taking advantage of the psyches of everyone who crosses her sphere. Although good and bad are drawn to the extremes, fans will enjoy Catherine Coulter’s exciting thirteenth century thriller.