“My lady.” To her surprise and secret delight, Haakon strode to her and knelt at her feet. Now he looked up and a quiver of laughter furred his deep voice. “It will be my pleasure.”
Clare bit her lip, aware that at this moment, birthmark or no, every maid in the village envied her. Impulsively, she brushed his broad shoulders with the oxlips she carried. “A lady’s blessing,” she said aloud and knew she had done right when she heard a sigh from the older matrons. She tucked a bloom behind his right ear, realizing that his color was suddenly more than the devil’s mark: he was blushing.
At once she felt her own cheeks begin to burn. Had she been too bold?
“Thank you,” he said softly and lifted her straight off her feet into his arms, sweeping her into the carrying chair an instant later. Clare closed her eyes at the giddy speed, feeling like a tumbling swift but also very safe, and then was sorry again once his warm, strong hands had left her.
He bowed and turned to Father Peter. “I shall walk with you, father.”
“That is as it should be,” the priest began. A loud cry made him break off, and the priest frowned at the vulgar interruption.
Squire Edwin and a group of young men-at-arms rode into the churchyard, whooping and yelling. One, a lusty youth with a thatch of badly-cut hair, lunged at one of the village girls, tearing at her headdress, but Edwin rode at Clare.
“Fetch me the little nut-brown dairy maid!” the young man bawled, spurring his horse closer. “She will do well for our revels!”
Review Reviewed by LindaB
MIDSUMMER MAID is another of Lindsay Townsend’s exciting stories brimming with love and full of historic detail, this time a sweet, medieval Beauty and the Beast tale. In an historical romance world awash with rich, heroic nobility, Ms. Townsend weaves magic from the lives of ordinary people. Ordinary in birth her heroes and heroines might be, but they are anything but ordinary in their actions. Her heroes are always men you would want for your own. I love woodsman Haakon, honorable and brave, standing tall despite the facial birthmark that makes him an outcast among superstitious villagers. Dairy maid Clare is my kind of woman, intelligent (she can see the man behind the mark when no one else can), and who stands up for herself in a world where women had few choices. When the nobles, who are anything but noble, try to hurt Clare, Haakon and Clare join forces. In true romantic tradition, the two of them together are stronger than each alone. Once again, Ms. Townsend gives us everything a romance should be. A great story.
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