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The lady and the commoner...Lady Christiana Fitzwaryn was not opposed to marriage. But she demanded to be married on her own terms, not as punishment for a romantic indiscretion, and especially not to a common merchant. Yet she was in for a shock when she met David de Abyndon. For she was confronted by no ordinary merchant but a man of extraordinary poise and virility. He was unaffected by their difference in social status. And even less affected by her well-thought-out arguments against their upcoming betrothal. Instead, it was Christiana who felt uneasy in the presence of this naturally lordly man behind whose cool blue eyes she sensed the most uncompromising of passions.David de Abyndon understood Christiana's dilemma, for he too harbored a secret pain. How could he tell her that there was more to this arrangement than met the eye? How could he tell her about his deal with the king--a deal that meant he had all but bought Christiana sight unseen?What's more, now that he had seen this beautiful, spirited woman, how could he convince her that the love she sought was not in the callow knight she had romanticized but in the flesh-and-blood arms of the man who may have bought her body--but in the bargain lost both his heart and soul?From the Paperback edition.read more
By Arrangement has more human characters, and more human conflicts, that most romances - and I find that often, more realism equals less romance. I think that is the case here, where the dark atmosphere and gritty portrayal of David and Christiana's relationship made the book more intense, and more satisfying, but also less fun.
Hunter writes very well and I think she should get major kudos for writing about a period that is generally ignored - late medieval/early Renaissance - and for her attention to period detail and historical accuracy.
A lot of the book revolves around the class distinction between David and Christiana - David is a merchant, Christiana a baron's daughter. Christiana's marriage to David entails real sacrifices, and Hunter doesn't gloss these over - Christiana is taking a step down in the world. But Hunter also explores the changes in lifestyle and the freedoms that may have been possible for women in the merchant class.
One thing that I thought that Hunter handled very well was Christiana's age. She is very young and very innocent. She really thinks and feels like an 18 year old. David, on the other hand, is 30 - and a mature 30, at that, hardened by experience. This kind of disparity can be really disturbing, but I thought that Hunter did an amazing job of showing how David fostered her growth - he seems to be in love with the woman he knows she'll become even more than the girl that she is.
So much of the novel takes place while the two are actually married and the plot seems to revolve around issues that will impact their ability to live together and love one another long-term, rather than the excitement of the moment. Emphasizing Christiana's future, and the potential that David sees in it, adds to that aspect of the novel.
On the whole, definitely a cut above. Character driven, well put together, well written, with a core of emotional truth.read more
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