Ximene (Shemaine)Trencavel has noble blood in her veins.However her family has lost everything by refusing to give up their Cathar faith, a very different version of Christianity. They have been deposed and their lands have been stolen. They made several attempts to regain their inheritance but ultimately ran out of money and had to give up the fight.
Now there are plots and counter plots to put Ximene back in a position of power.
Gaston, Compte de Foix offers her hand in marriage to the royal houses of Europe hoping to gain political and territorial advantages from any marriage which might result.
Edward Of Woodstock, heir to the english throne, the Black Prince becomes the favoured candidate but he involved in a most noble “menage a trios” with Joan “Fair Maid” of Kent and his best friend William Montacute, Earl of Salisbury. Nevertheless he agrees to meet Ximene who is is determined to establish control of the negotiations which will determine the terms of her her marriage contract
She is determined to stay true to the old religion and to put the interests of her people ahead of any other consideration. The Inquisition, ruthlessly determined to root out and destroy any remaining Cathar sympathies is therefore an ever present threat.
John Stanley, at the age of seventeen, just a little older than Ximene, has been given the opportunity to prove himself. The chance has come due family connections but he advances himself rapidly in the service of the Black Prince through hard work, a strong sense of loyalty and his courage.
Bertrand du Guesclin is evil. He boasts that he uses terror as his secret weapon. He is given the task of eliminating Ximene, as her inheritance covers a third of the frankish realm and with
Joan of Kent decides she no longer wants to be the Prince’s mistress but to marry him herself. She does everything she can to distract both the Prince and Ximene from the intended marriage. Her attention is drawn to John Stanley when he wins an archery contest and she plots to ensure that John meets Ximene. They are but pawns in her greater game.
Ximene sees in John the potential to be her champion, a perfect knight. She believes he has the potential to protect her and those who have faith in her, against those such as Du Guesclin and the inquisition who threaten her.
John sees Ximene as the most outrageously desirable woman he could possibly imagine. He is aware that her interest in him is, in turn, providing improved opportunities for him. If handled well these opportunities can only lead to his attaining the first step towards nobility-a knighthood. If handled badly he could be declared a traitor and face a grisly death.
Together they face adventure and danger.
As their relationship develops they ask themselves if they can learn to love? A love which must survive the most traumatic circumstances?