Publisher William Morrow, February 2004
This historical novel opens in the year 1200. Alais Capet, once in line for the throne, is a middle-aged spinster, an aging Princess of France who lives in Paris at the mercy of her brother and his court. Her youthful betrothal to Richard the Lionheart, King of England, was never consummated and Alais blames her stepmother, Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine. (Richard married another, selected by Eleanor). All the bitterness she felt over the failed betrothal returns with the arrival of a letter from her stepmother that contains an outrageous demand and a promise.
The demand: That Alais retrieve letters that Eleanor had written to Thomas Becket, long hidden in the wall of Canterbury Cathedral. In return the Queen is willing to give her estranged stepdaughter information on a child Alais believed dead, the love child of her youth. The letter sets Alais on a journey and adventure that transforms her life.
A masterful blend of history and imagination, the often-mysterious events in this novel are based upon a situation that was hinted at in the chronicles of the time, but never elaborated upon or proved.
“A rich, regal adventure to be savored and remembered. Though clearly anchored in the days of yore, the story is as compelling as a contemporary page-turner.”
— Karen Harper, author of the Elizabeth I mystery series.