by Madeline Hunter

January 2001
ISBN: 0-553-58223-2
Reviewer Graphic Button Bantam Books
Mass Market Paperback

In a story where love is more important than status, wealth and power, a mason turns himself into a champion for the lady of his heart. Intrigue and loyalty, revenge and retaliation drive the characters in By Design with the passion of love and desire.

By Design brings the welcome return of Rhys, beloved character from Madeline Hunter's By Possession. A mason living in London, friends with people in high places and the ambition to make his name in his chosen field, he finds himself in between loyalties. A situation made even more complicated with Joan a woman he knows nothing about, but rescued from a dire fate in London's unforgiving streets.

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With intrigue ripe in high places, due to the first welcomed and now hated return to the English throne of Queen Isabella, her lover Roger Mortimer and her son Edward, an event that Rhys had helped to bring about and which left Joan without a home and a burning desire for revenge, Rhys doesn't know where his loyalties lie. He is a mason after all, not of the ruling class and therefore shouldn't be dragged into their power struggles. Of course his desire for Joan and his protective instincts towards her and her younger brother Mark might just ease his decision.

Once more Madeline Hunter takes her readers into medieval London, a place where skill and honour are not only found in the ruling class but in the people of the streets. Ms. Hunter treats her readers to a very realistic and accurate portrayal of medieval England's working class, giving an especially insightful view on women's rights, opportunities and punishment, all within the events of another struggle over the English throne.

Her accuracy, which Madeline Hunter supports with the information on her official website, leaves her readers free to trust her story and the characters, free to immerse themselves in a world vivid, colourful and entertaining, seeing every rich detail further the story and her characters' development.

With a pace that is steady, a language that is appropriate, a voice that is strong and assured, with plots that are innovative and unique always incorporating actual historical events and personalities, her hero and heroine are given the chance to not only be part of history but to make and change history.

As they grow larger than society's expectations throughout the story, Ms. Hunter's heroes deserve the readers' and their chosen partner's love, trust, respect and devotion, being as beautiful in their physic as they are in their soul and actions.

And with the introduction of Joan's younger brother Mark, a young man that shows the promise of a noble mind and the arrogance to go all the way, we've got a future Madeline Hunter story hero in the making.

I truly can recommend Madeline Hunter's books, all of them, to historical romance lovers that want more than just a very entertaining story. Madeline Hunter's novels are more demanding but reward the readers with a rich, sensual, adventures s and emotional plot and characters, meeting all the readers expectations, needs and more.

Reviewed in November 2001 by Kris Alice.

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