Friday, April 06, 2007

By Design by Madeline Hunter

PAGES: 373
SETTING: Historical - Medieval
TYPE: Straight Romance
SERIES: Second (chronologically) in Hunter's medieval series. Takes place after By Possession and before By Arrangement.

REASON FOR READING: I love a good medieval and I bought the whole series at the same time.

SUMMARY: [from book cover]
Bound by honor...

The moment Rhys saw the stunning young woman selling her exquisitely crafted pottery in the marketplace, he was captivated. But the wealthy freemason would never have guessed that just a few days later, a misunderstanding would land Joan in the town stocks and he would become her unlikely savior. After the grueling ordeal, Rhys tenderly cares for Joan's bruised body -- and her bruised pride. Yet he longs to do much more ... to satisfy the fire that sparks between the pair the moment they are alone.

Rhys could not have known that Joan once enjoyed a more privileged life. She'd had no choice but to become an indentured servant, but she is determined to avenge the crimes that ruined her family and destroyed her world. When Rhys meets with her employer to buy pottery -- and buys her instead -- Joan is furious. She vows to resist falling under the spell of the handsome, imposing Rhys. But she finds that her resolve quickly softens when tempted by Rhys's powerful charms -- and she can only hope to find a way to avoid surrendering to her potent desire....
In By Possession, Moira the heroine was interested for a short time in marrying, Rhys, a freemason. But eventually Addis wins her. Rhys gets his own story here and because Rhys is such wonderful beta hero, he made this book even more enjoyable than BP.

Freemasons in medieval times were skilled stonemasons who built castles, cathedrals, and palaces and created sculpted statues and ornamental works. Rhys is very skilled and therefore financially prosperous. But his social standing would probably be considered a middle class commoner, being neither a poor peasant nor wealthy nobility. Rhys is a kind and decent man and the best part about this book.

Joan is an indentured servant who is being mistreated by her master. When he discovers her in the stocks he stands by and protects her from the vicious crowd who were pelting her with rotten fruit and tearing her clothing. I hadn't realized before how torturous this form of punishment can be. After she is released he takes her to his home and cares for her injuries. But Joan is very distrustful of his motives.

Later when he buys her indenture papers, she is furious. I really couldn't understand her anger and distrust, and expected her to be grateful. But Joan is actually a high born lady and daughter of a lord who was murdered by orders from Roger Mortimer, the usurper to young King Edward III. She and her brother were forced to escape their home and are hiding out until she can earn enough money to exact revenge. Joan's entire focus seems to be vengeance against Mortimer and when she sees that Rhys appears to be working for Mortimer she is very distrustful of him. Consequently, Joan was hard to warm up to until her backstory is revealed. Unknown to Joan is the fact that Rhys has very good reasons to appear to be helping Mortimer.

As in BP the medieval setting is extremely well written as well as the political intrigue which again was fascinating. But it was not too overly detailed that it lost the threads of the romance. The love story and historical detail flow together very smoothly. Addis and Moira from BP make an appearance and are an integral part of the story.

Hunter skillfully handles their growing love and the uncertainty created by the disparity in their social standing. And made me very unsure how they would get their HEA but again Hunter handles it beautifully and realistically. An unforgettable story like this sent it straight to my keeper pile.



Kristie (J) said...

You're really making me want to read these ones again. And I have so many yet to read!!! Like you I really like the hero in this one and the heroine was a bit hard to warm up too wasn't she?

Rosario said...

What Kristie says! I remember feeling the same way about the heroine. She took her resistance a bit too far, but the yummy hero made up for that!

ReneeW said...

Kristie & Rosario: Looks like we are all on the same page. Another yummy book for my keeper shelf.

Rosie said...

I really liked these first three books but then I'm a sucker for medievals. I still buy her, but those first ones were really good.

Kookie said...

Good review, Renee!

I adore MH's medievals! But this one I haven't read...will, though. As soon as soon as I find a copy of it. :o)

Jennie said...

I'm in the middle of this trilogy too! Except I was not so savvy as you and didn't know the proper order. LOL. It's very confusing, isn't it?

I have this one on the way to me from PBS. I think I'm going to love Rhys!

ReneeW said...

Rosie: I have liked some of her later books but these first two By books have been great.

Kookie: I hope you find a copy cuz it's worth a read and especially since you love her medievals.

Jennie: I think someone posted the order on AAR's message board a long time ago and I wrote it down. I'm sort of obsessive about reading things in order. I predict you'll love Rhys. Great beta hero.

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