Bantam, Jan 2001, 4.99
In the marketplace near the Cathedral, freemason Rhys observes a beautiful newcomer serenely and quietly trying to sell crockery. For some strange reason, Rhys finds himself enchanted by the “alien” and even more excited by her work that is geometrically perfect especially since he learns that she lacked the proper equipment. Reluctantly by gleefully for having met the latest hawker, Rhys finally moves on to conduct his own business.
A few days later, Rhys sees his enchantress in quite a different situation. Apparently she did something that led to her master blaming her. Now she is a victim of the stocks. Rhys rescues Joan by buying her indentured contract. Joan wants nothing to do with her savior even if he is kind and handsome, and she is falling in love with him. Even with the enticement of Rhys and his love, Joan's goal remains vengeance on those who destroyed her and her family though some of her enemies reside in the court of young King Edward.
BY DESIGN is an exciting late medieval romance that uses the political and economic conditions of the times as a backdrop to a warm historical romantic intrigue. The story line works because of the historical depth, especially that of the guilds which brings much color to the tale and leaves the audience feeling they are inspecting pottery among other wares. The lead couple seems real because of the full flavor of the period. Though Madeline Hunter has written a medieval romance that sub-genre fans will enjoy, readers of historical fiction will gain much pleasure from the novel too.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner