Lord Gawain's Forbidden Mistress

Lord Gawain's Forbidden Mistress
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FORBIDDEN FRUIT ALWAYS TASTES THE SWEETEST…Elise keeps her cards close to her chest. Few people know that she’s also Blanchefleur le Fay, the celebrated singer. But she has an even greater secret… Her baby daughter is the result of a brief but intense affair with Gawain, Count of Meaux.Duty-bound to marry, Gawain is back in Troyes to meet his bride. So why can’t he stop thinking about the sweet silver-voiced girl he met the last time he was there?And when he finds his mistress again Gawain must choose between duty… and forbidden desire.Knights of Champagne: three swordsmen for three ladies


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The tenets of the Knights of Champagne will be sorely tested in this exciting Medieval mini-series by

Carol Townend

The pounding of hooves, the cold snap of air, a knight’s colours flying high across the roaring crowd—nothing rivals a tourney. The chance to prove his worth is at the beating heart of any knight.

And tournaments bring other dangers too. Scoundrels, thieves, murderers and worse are all drawn towards a town bursting with deep pockets, flowing wine and wanton women.

Only these three knights stand in their way. But what of the women who stand beside them?

Find out in

Carol Townend’s


available now

Arthurian myths and legends have been popular for hundreds of years. Dashing knights worship beautiful ladies, fight for honour—and sometimes lose honour! Some of the earliest versions of these stories were written in the twelfth century by an influential poet called Chrétien de Troyes. Troyes was the walled city in the county of Champagne where Chrétien lived and worked. His patron, Countess Marie of Champagne, was a princess—daughter of King Louis of France and the legendary Eleanor of Aquitaine. Countess Marie’s splendid artistic court in Troyes rivalled Queen Eleanor’s in Poitiers.

The books in my Knights of Champagne mini-series are not an attempt to rework the Arthurian myths and legends. They are original romances set around the Troyes court. I wanted to tell the stories of some of the lords and ladies who might have inspired Chrétien—and I was keen to give the ladies a more active role, since Chrétien’s ladies tend to be too passive for today’s reader.

Apart from Count Henry and Countess Marie, of whom we have brief glances, my characters are all fictional. I have used the layout of the medieval city to create my Troyes, but these books are first and foremost fictional.

Lord Gawain’s Forbidden Mistress

Carol Townend


CAROL TOWNEND was born in England and went to a convent school in the wilds of Yorkshire. Captivated by the Medieval period, Carol read History at London University. She loves to travel, drawing inspiration for her novels from places as diverse as Winchester in England, Istanbul in Turkey and Troyes in France. A writer of both fiction and non-fiction, Carol lives in London with her husband and daughter. Visit her website at www.caroltownend.co.uk

To Melanie with love and thanks for always being there. (I won’t embarrass us both by counting the years in public!)

August 1174—an encampment outside Troyes in the County of Champagne

Troyes was bursting at the seams—the summer market was at its height and every inn and boarding house was packed to the rafters with merchants and housewives. Tumblers and singers jostled for the best spots in the market squares. Mercenaries and cutpurses roamed the narrow streets, searching for the shortest route to an easy profit. Indeed, so many people had descended on the town that a temporary campsite had been set up in a field outside the city walls. The encampment was known as Strangers’ City, and line after line of dusty tents filled every inch of the field.

One tent stood out from the rest. Slightly larger than the others, more of a pavilion than a tent, the canvas was dyed purple and painted with silver stars.

Inside the purple pavilion, Elise was sitting on a stool next to Pearl’s cradle, gently waving a cloth back and forth in front of her daughter’s face. It was noon and even for August it was unusually hot. Elise wriggled her shoulders. Her gown was sticking to her and it seemed she had sat there for hours. Thankfully, Pearl’s eyelids were finally drooping.

Voices outside had Elise narrowing her gaze at the entrance to the pavilion. André was back, she could hear him talking to Vivienne, who was nursing baby Bruno in the shade of the awning.

Elise waited, gently fanning Pearl. If André had news, he would soon tell her. Sure enough, a moment later André pushed through the tent flap.

‘Elise, I’ve done it!’ he said, eyes shining. He put his lute on his bedroll. ‘Blanchefleur le Fay has been booked to sing at the palace. At the Harvest Banquet.’

‘The palace? You got a booking at the palace already? Heavens, that was quick.’ Elise bit her lip. ‘I only hope I’m ready.’

‘Of course you’re ready. I’ve never heard you in better voice. Count Henry’s steward was thrilled to learn Blanchefleur is in town. The Champagne court will love you.’

‘It’s been a while since I performed—I was afraid that I might already have been forgotten.’

‘Forgotten? Blanchefleur le Fay? That’s hardly likely. Elise, it’s the booking of a lifetime. I can’t think of a better setting for Blanchefleur to step back on stage.’

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