by Elsa Watson
An orphan and heiress to a large country estate, Marian Fitzwater is wed at the age of five to an equally young nobleman, Lord Hugh of Sencaster, a union that joins her inheritance to his and vastly enriches his family. But when she is seventeen, Lord Hugh, whom she hasn't seen in years, dies under mysterious circumstances. Marian is left alone again--a widow who has never been a bride. Like all unmarried young ladies of fortune, she is made a ward of Richard the Lionheart, England's warrior king.
But King Richard is away on Crusade and can’t be bothered with business at home. Marian's fate lies in the hands of his mother, the formidable Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine, who will arrange her second marriage. The lucky bridegroom will get Marian's lands and, in return, pledge his loyalty--and silver--to King Richard. Marian herself is irrelevant and she knows it. Determined not to be sold into another sham marriage, she seeks out the one man whose spies can help uncover the queen's plans: Robin Hood, the notorious Saxon outlaw of Sherwood Forest.
Marian is surprised to discover that the famed "prince of thieves" is not only helpful but handsome, likable, and sympathetic to her plight. Following her plan, Robin’s men intercept a letter from Queen Eleanor, from which Marian learns, to her horror, that she is to marry her late husband’s brother. His family has a history of mysterious deaths, and Marian knows she is in danger. Once married, her land becomes theirs and she can be easily disposed of--a fate she may have escaped once already. On the eve of her wedding, Robin Hood spirits Marian back to the forest, still in her wedding gown. Queen Eleanor believes her to be dead, and Marian begins a new life with Robin Hood's outlaws, who pledge to help her regain her fortune and expose the treachery of her enemies.
From the Hardcover edition.
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