Marianna Dunbar has everything she ever wanted – her career as a young doctor is flourishing, and she’s marrying her perfect man in the morning!
But when she finds him cheating on her with her best friend minutes before he plans to say, “I do”, Marianna runs away from her French cathedral destination wedding to the cold, dark Medieval ruin on the church grounds – and emerges from a freezing confessional into the court of Louis VII and into the arms of the knight of her dreams!
Here Eleanor of Aquitaine rules the roost. While the fiery Queen has pledged to go on Crusade with her pious husband, she plots behind closed doors with more than one secret lover to assassinate King Louis!
Marianna becomes a pawn in the Queen’s deadly game. The lusty knights of Louis VII must pledge that they will conspire with her Majesty against the King – and one will receive Marianna’s hand as his reward. Only her true love can save her – and His Majesty – from the Queen and her plot to take the throne!
A Lady Lost: Marianna Dunbar has been swept from the betrayal of her wedding day through time to the court of Louis VII and Eleanor of Aquitaine – and has taken her place as a lady in waiting. Now she’s trapped in 1146, and at a loss as to how to fit into Eleanor’s court – she’s desperate to return to her own time, but not until she meets the man who helped her as she first arrived in this time. She already dreams of him after only a few days trapped in the past – how will she ever find this man with the blonde curls and insightful blue eyes when she doesn’t even know his name?
A Noble Knight: Geoffrey of Poitiers is the man Marianna dreamed of from the moment she arrived in 1146 and Louis VII’s court. Suddenly she has become his fiancée – because Geoffrey has accepted the dowry Eleanor granted her and claims he will assassinate the king on Crusade. Geoffrey intends no such thing, but how can he warn the besotted king about his wife’s plans to replace him?
It is Marianna, with her pious reputation, who connects with a man who once trained for the priesthood. Will she form the connection needed to warn the king of his wife’s intentions? Or will the intensity Louis feels toward her backfire?
A King Confused: A chance encounter with Louis VII has placed Marianna in the center of Geoffrey’s plan to warn the King about Eleanor. As Louis finds himself commiserating with the pious noblewoman, Marianna and Geoffrey prepare for the wedding that confirms Geoffrey as the king’s assassin. All the while Louis becomes enamored with Marianna – or the idea of the virgin bride she represents to him – their chaste love affair escalates when Louis demands that Marianna become his mistress. Will Louis’ interest in Marianna be the beginning of the end for Eleanor’s marriage to him? Or will Eleanor move to ensure Geoffrey and Marianna pay?
A Savage Queen: Marianna has singlehandedly upset Eleanor’s plan to take over France. She might have a willing executioner for Louis, but she lacks a willing Regent, and with Louis’ decision to appoint a holy man, she will not get one. And then to add injury to insult, she finds out that Louis has always known she wasn’t a virgin bride and has bought Marianna’s presumed virginity for a huge sum! Will Louis’ interest in Marianna be the beginning of the end for Eleanor’s marriage to him? Or will Eleanor move to ensure Geoffrey and Marianna pay?
A Wife Jubilant:
As I always do, I went looking into Medieval history for a strong female character – and found Eleanor of Aquitaine. Wife to two kings, mother to two more. She lived for eighty years and dominated two different countries in her time.
Historical figures like Eleanor of Aquitaine are the reason why writers choose to go into historical fiction writing – I am thinking about working on a series about her from the earliest days of her marriage to Louis at the age of 15 to the end of her life – it’s a fascinating story.
Eleanor was, as the heir apparent to Aquitaine, the richest and most powerful woman in Europe by the time she was fifteen, at the time of her father’s death. It was unsurprising that Louis VI’s reaction to becoming her guardian upon her father William X’s death was to marry her to his son Louis who was soon to become Louis VII.
When Eleanor and Louis were married, the couple were enthroned as duke and duchess of Aquitaine. It was agreed that the duchy would remain independent of France until Eleanor’s oldest son became both king of France and duke of Aquitaine. Thus, her holdings would not be merged with France until the next generation. This condition of the marriage shows the relative power of Eleanor’s status as Duchess of Aquitaine. The Duchy of Aquitaine was the largest and richest province of France. Poitou, where Eleanor spent most of her childhood, and Aquitaine together was almost one-third the size of modern France.
By all accounts, Eleanor’s father ensured that she had the best possible education. Eleanor came to learn arithmetic, the constellations, and history. She also learned domestic skills such as household management and the needle arts of embroidery, needlepoint, sewing, spinning, and weaving. Eleanor developed skills in conversation, dancing, games such as backgammon, checkers, and chess, playing the harp, and singing. Although her native tongue was Poitevin, she was taught to read and speak Latin, was well versed in music and literature, and schooled in riding, hawking, and hunting.
Eleanor was extroverted, lively, intelligent, and strong-willed. Possessing a high-spirited nature, Eleanor was not popular with the staid northerners once she came to live in Paris with her husband; according to sources, Louis’s mother thought her flighty and a bad influence. Eleanor’s conduct was repeatedly criticized by church elders, particularly Bernard of Clairvaux and Abbot Suger, as indecorous. However, the king was madly in love with his beautiful and worldly bride, and granted her every whim, even though her behavior baffled and vexed him. Much money went into making the austere Cité Palace in Paris more comfortable for Eleanor’s sake. The closeness of her relationship to Raymond, Prince of Antioch during the Second Crusade, did apparently lead to rumors in the court that Eleanor was having an affair with her uncle.
My portrayal of Eleanor of Aquitaine, Queen of France, takes advantage of every negative rumor and fit of pique that has come down to us from history. In all honesty, I believe that Eleanor was an intelligent, strong-willed woman who was far too powerful for the comfort of a court watching her captivate their demure and pious king. No doubt the source of the rumors during her lifetime has much more to do with misogyny and classic patriarchal expectations that a powerful Queen did not meet than anything else.
Elevating Raymond to both the Queen’s lover and the head of a harem of seductive ladies in waiting simply allows me to provide more characters involved in hot and steamy sex that might not have been possible in the actual era itself. I happily admit I have to do whatever is necessary in that regard. This Eleanor is meant to be a work of fiction, and I must admit up front that I am far more fascinated by the political animal that she certainly must have been to have survived eighty years and two marriages to monarchs than anything else.
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