The Sun and The Moon
Phillipa de Paris is a scholar, and the illegitimate daughter of Baron Gui de Beauvais, who finds herself on the wrong end of a dagger one night after attending a lecture. She’s holding the dagger, mind you, and is pointing it at her opponent, but Hugh of Wexford can only shake his head at the slight girl who thinks herself protected because she’s holding a blade. He disarms her easily enough, but before either ravishment or death can occur, as Phillipa fears, he explains that he has been sent by Richard de Luci, King’s justiciar, to recruit Phillipa and her intellectual talents, in order to bring a corrupt churchman to justice.
Although Phillipa objects to spying, even if it is for the crown – and she still thinks Hugh dangerous on some level – she listens to him and in the course of their conversation, reveals her rather unorthodox views on love. She understands the idea of courtly love that reigns at the court of Queen Eleanor. Hugh, of course, dismisses all of it as nonsense, but his attraction to Phillipa becomes torture when he finds out that she not only believes in courtly love, and, not being restrained by society’s rules, but that she’s taken lovers before.
It gets worse when Richard suggests that Phillipa seduce her former suitor, Aldous Ewing – the person she and Hugh are meant to bring down. Did I say worse? Phillipa must get the information out of Aldous while pretending to be married to Hugh, who will go along to offer some degree of protection.
Phillipa only accepts the mission after being dared to do so. After a brief visit to Hugh’s sister Joanna and her husband Graeham (the hero and heroine from Silken Threads), they are on their way, but not before she thoroughly confuses Hugh by rejecting his ardent, amorous advances.
Once Aldous sees the woman he once courted, he becomes single-minded about bedding her, and invites the “happy couple” to stay at his home. Phillipa fears the moment she will have to share Aldous’s bed – so she tells Hugh she wants to make love with him.
A heroine like Phillipa is a rare gem, indeed, and is such a delight to read and get to know. She’s got plenty of what in modern times we call “book smarts” but not as much in the way of “street smarts,” and she’s all the more endearing for it. Her brief visit to Joanna and Graeham (the man she was actually supposed to marry) leaves her questioning her superficial contentment with her scholarly life. The feelings she has for Hugh come to the surface as she has to spend her nights next to him in Aldous’s home.
While Phillipa has a secret she reveals with perfect timing, Hugh never makes a secret of his attraction to her. He has spent years living his life the way he wants to. Selling his soldiering services to the highest bidder have earned him a reputation – and the missing thumb from his sword hand. He cannot stand watching Phillipa tease and seduce Aldous, and he’ll happily grab at the chance to make her his own.
Watching these two accept their love for one another is a treat. The medieval setting and the court intrigues are neither “wallpaper” nor overwhelming, and although this book is a sequel, it stands very well on its own. I highly recommend The Sun and the Moon and hope you enjoy it as much as I did.