Lady Alys Delamere is a woman who is more interested in stories than in men. Indeed, ever since she has been young, she's been more interested in writing down the stories she learns and the ones she makes up. To this end, she wants to enter a convent and become a nun, to dedicate her life to learning and writing. But her parents ignore her and have instead sent her to the manor of l'Eau Clair to learn how to be a proper, accomplished lady- all the better to marry her off to someone who will enhance the fortunes of her parents, especially her father.
Now finally finished with her education at l'Eau Clair, her parents have sent a troop of men to l'Eau Clair. She hopes it is to take her to a nunnery, but she knows it is more likely that it is to bring her home to Winterbourne and marry her off to some man. But among those men was the Knight known as Padraig ab Huw, and for once in all her life, she found herself drawn to him, and he to her.
Padraig is a honorable knight, and he knows that he shouldn't touch the Lady Alys- she isn't meant for him, but her innocence and interest spark an answering interest in him, and he finds himself wanting to touch her- to hold her, and to kiss her, even knowing that he shouldn't. But when a chance storm strands them with wounded in the midst of the countryside, Alys herself is injured, and Padraig struggles to bring his party back to Winterbourne so that she and the others can heal in safety.
But to do so, he finds that he must get close to her, to heal her wounds and put her shoulder back in joint. A long journey with the wounded finds them back in Winterbourne, only to find that it has been taken over by a party of Welsh raiders, and they capture most of Padraig's men, except for one, Rafe, and Alys, and both Rafe and Padraig are wounded by arrows fired by the Welsh raiders.
With nowhere else to go, they take shelter in the Devil's Forest with a young boy named Dickon, the last survivor of his family from a massacre in the village, and find a secret passage underneath the earth where they hide from the Raiders. It is here that they begin to heal their wounds and where Alys and Padraig finally come together in love. But with her father prizing her only as a pawn to be married off as he wills, will Alys and Padraig ever find happiness together, or will her father's anger and blindness to her wants and happiness make their love end in tragedy?
I found myself really drawn to this particular love story, probably because I, too, am a writer, and have devoted my life to writing and reading (and blogging about what I read, at least for the last few years). I also really liked the innocence with which Alys approached life. It didn't descend into stupidity or "too stupid to live" territory- she approached life openly, but was willing to follow orders if it made her safer or to help someone else.
And by the end of the book, she gains the courage to stand up to her very frightening father, and demand a life that she wants. It's not to be a nun- she only wanted to join the nunnery to learn and write, and she can have that with Padraig. Admittedly, though, she does need the help of some others to pull it off, but she does stand up for her love, and so does Padraig.
I enjoyed this book. Yes, it's a Harlequin Historical, set in Medieval times, but the story is fine and seems complete despite its relative shortness of length. I enjoyed this writer, and often do- she's one of the better Harlequin Historical writers, and her books are always interesting to read. Recommended.