Alys of Marlowe thought that Raymond d’Aix was a penniless knight who had come to her father’s keep seeking a livelihood. He was brave and courteous, intelligent and hardworking, and he thought she was a miracle among womankind. What was irresistible was that he did not value her for her beauty, for which many other men admired her, but for her common sense and practicality. Knowing he was not a proper match for her, Alys tried to resist but was soon head over heels in love—and Raymond with her despite his own knowledge of unsuitability and resistance. Raymond was no penniless knight. He was the eldest son and heir of the Comte d’Aix.
Young love was fortunate. Politics, a threatened war, King Henry’s constant need of money and love of intrigue made available suitable properties to bestow on Alys so that she and Raymond could marry. Danger lurked in all the king’s gifts, but the greatest danger of all was within Raymond’s family. There a fierce struggle for power exposed old sins that could tear the marriage apart.