Tutored by Nathan King
A love story set against a background of 14th century religion, wars and politics.
Ximene has been educated as a Cathar, a religion in which sees nothing sinful in the giving or receiving sexual pleasure which it regards as simply a sample of what reunion with the Good God would be like.
Cathars are regarded as heretics by the Church of Rome. as a result the Cathars have long been subjected to a programme of persecution, torture and burning at the stake.
Ximene determines to fight against oppression she comes to see this as her destiny and searches for alliances with those who might help her achieve her ends.
Ximene’s uncle, Gaston, Compte de Foix, has been attempting to auction her hand in marriage around the royal houses of Europe. The attraction is that Ximene is the heiress to vast tracts of land,
One of the contenders for her hand is the Black Prince.
John Stanley, is son of a forester. His journey starts when he displays his ingenuity as a hunter to the Black Prince, heir to the English throne. John is recruited into the Black Princes’ army in Aquitaine.
After a series of adventures he is promoted to be a member of the Princes’ personal bodyguard, the Lions of Aquitaine. This brings him in contact with Ximene.
Charles , of the Franks—the Dauphin— son on Jean II is determined to stop the marriage of Ximene and the Black Prince and enters into an unholy alliance with the Church to eliminate Ximene. Their chief agent is an evil man called Bertrand du Guesclin
Ximene insists on seeing the Prince personally before agreeing to the marriage. John is appointed as her personal bodyguard for the duration of the meeting.
Ximene sees in John Stanley someone who has the potential to become her perfect knight. She then attempts to persuade him to help her escape completely, away from the influence of both the Compte de Foix and the Black Prince. She believes that only by gaining total independence will she able to negotiate a marriage contract which allows her to fulfil her destiny.
Ximene attempts to seduce John to secure his allegiance. It proves to be difficult as John has no idea how to respond.
Ximene arranges for him to take part in a Cathar Transition, which gives young people practical experience how to give and receive pleasure during sexual activity.
Joan of Kent, is the Black Princes’ long- time lover, who has an ambition to marry the Prince herself and become the next Queen of England. In the background she works tirelessly to throw Ximene and John together in hope John will distract Ximene from a marriage to the Prince.
Joan persuades the Prince to declare Ximene to be the head of the independant state of Occitan, thus allowing John to move his allegiance from the Prince to Ximene; from England to Occitan.
Du Guesclin makes several attempts to murder Ximene. She is well protected by John Stanley, but proves she can, if she has to, protect herself,
Together John and Ximene face continuing adventure and danger. As their relationship develops they ask themselves if they can learn to love? An what kind of love will it be, to survive the most traumatic of circumstances?
Eventually John is critically injured. Ximene exposes herself to considerable danger to find him on a battlefield and vows—whatever it takes—to save his life.