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The Noble Servant by Melanie Dickerson

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The Noble Servant

1365 – Medieval Germany

The impossible was happening. She, Magdalen of Mallin, was to marry the Duke of Wolfberg. Magdalen had dreamed about receiving a proposal ever since she met the duke two years ago. Such a marriage was the only way she could save her people from starvation. But why would a handsome, wealthy duke want to marry her, a poor baron’s daughter? It seemed too good to be true.

On the journey to Wolfberg Castle, Magdalen’s servant forces her to trade places and become her servant, threatening not only Magdalen’s life, but the lives of those she holds dear. Stripped of her identity and title in Wolfberg, where no one knows her, Magdalen is sentenced to tend geese while she watches her former handmaiden gain all Magdalen had ever dreamed of.

When a handsome shepherd befriends her, Magdalen begins to suspect he carries secrets of his own. Together, Magdalen and the shepherd uncover a sinister plot against Wolfberg and the duke. But with no resources, will they be able to find the answers, the hiding places, and the forces they need in time to save both Mallin and Wolfberg?

The Beautiful Pretender by Melanie Dickerson

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The Beautiful Pretender

1363 – Germany

The Margrave of Thornbeck has to find a bride, fast. He invites ten noble born ladies who meet the king’s approval to be his guests at Thornbeck Castle for two weeks, a time to test these ladies and reveal their true character.

Avelina has only two instructions: keep her true identity a secret and make sure the margrave doesn’t select her as his bride. Since the latter seems unlikely, she concentrates on not getting caught. No one must know she is merely a maidservant, sent by the Earl of Plimmwald to stand in for his daughter, Dorothea.

Despite Avelina’s best attempts at diverting attention from herself, the margrave has taken notice. And try as she might, she can’t deny her own growing feelings. But something else is afoot in the castle. Something sinister that could have far worse—far deadlier—consequences.

Ashes to Ashes by Mel Starr

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1369 – England

Master Hugh, Kate, and their children attend the Midsummer’s Eve fire. Next morning early Hugh hears the passing bell ring from the Church of St. Beornwald, and moments later is summoned. Tenants collecting the ashes to spread upon their fields have found burned bones. Master Hugh learns of several men of Bampton and nearby villages who have gone missing recently. Most are soon found, some alive, some dead. Master Hugh eventually learns that the bones are those of a bailiff from a nearby manor. Someone has slain him and placed his body in the fire to destroy evidence of murder. Bailiffs are not popular men; they dictate labour service, collect rents, and enforce other obligations. Has this bailiff died at the hand of some angry tenant? Hugh soon discovers this is not the case. There is quite another reason for murder …

 

The Huntress of Thornbeck Forest by Melanie Dickerson

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The Huntress of Thornbeck Forest

1363 – Germany

A beautiful maiden who poaches to feed the poor.

A handsome forester on a mission to catch her.

Danger and love are about to unite in Thornbeck Forest.

The margrave owns the finest hunting grounds for miles around—and who teaches children to read, but by night this young beauty has become the secret lifeline to the poorest of the poor.

 
For Jorgen Hartman, the margrave’s forester, tracking down a poacher is a duty he is all too willing to perform. Jorgen inherited his post from the man who raised him . . . a man who was murdered at the hands of a poacher.

When Jorgen and Odette meet at the Midsummer festival and share a connection during a dance, neither has any idea that they are already adversaries.

The one man she wants is bound by duty to capture her; the one woman he loves is his cunning target . . . What becomes of a forester who protects a notorious poacher? What becomes of a poacher when she is finally discovered?

The Abbot’s Agreement by Mel Starr

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1368 –  England

My life would have been more tranquil in the days after Martinmas had I not seen the crows. Whatever it was that the crows had found lay in the dappled shadow of the bare limbs of the oak, so I was nearly upon the thing before I recognized what the crows were feasting upon. The corpse wore black. Master Hugh is making his way towards Oxford when he discovers the young Benedictine – a fresh body, barefoot – not half a mile from the nearby abbey. The abbey’s novice master confirms the boy’s identity: John, one of three novices. But he had gone missing four days previously, and his corpse is fresh. There has been plague in the area, but this was not the cause of death: the lad has been stabbed in the back. To Hugh’s sinking heart, the abbot has a commission for him …

Rest Not in Peace by Mel Starr

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1368 – England

Master Hugh is asked to provide a sleeping potion for Sir Henry Burley, a friend and guest of Lord Gilbert at Bampton Castle. Sir Henry, (with his wife, a daughter by a first wife, two knights, two squires, and assorted servants), has outstayed his welcome at Bampton Castle. The next morning after Master Hugh provides the potion, Sir Henry is found dead, eyes open, in his bed. Master Hugh, the target of the wife’s wrath, is asked by Lord Gilbert to determine the cause of death …

The Tainted Coin by Mel Starr

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1367 – England

Master Hugh is enjoying the peaceful life of Bampton, when a badly beaten man is found under the porch of St. Andrew’s Chapel. The dying man is a chapman — a traveling merchant. Before he is buried in the chapel grounds an ancient, corroded coin is found in the man’s mouth. Master Hugh’s quest for the chapman’s assailants, and his search for the origin of the coin, make steady progress “ but there are men of wealth and power who wish to halt his search, and an old nemesis in league with them. Master Hugh, and his assistant, the groom Arthur, are determined to uncover the thieves and murderers, and the source of the chapman’s coin. They do, but not before they become involved with a kidnapped maiden, a tyrannical abbot, and a suffering monk …

Unhallowed Ground by Mel Starr

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1366 – England

Thomas atte Bridge, a man no one likes, is found hanging from a tree near Cow-leys Corner. All assume he has taken his own life, but Master Hugh and Kate find evidence that this may not be so. Many of the town had been harmed by Thomas, and Hugh is not eager to send one of them to the gallows. Then he discovers that the priest John Kellet, atte Bridge’s partner in crime in A CORPSE AT ST. ANDREW’S CHAPEL, was covertly in Bampton at the time atte Bridge died. Master Hugh is convinced that Kellet has murdered atte Bridge “one rogue slaughtering another. He sets out for Exeter, where Kellet now works. But there he discovers that the priest is an emaciated skeleton of a man, who mourns the folly of his past life. Hugh must return to Bampton and discover which of his friends has murdered his enemy…

A Trail of Ink by Mel Starr

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1365 – England

I had never seen Master John Wyclif so afflicted. He was rarely found at such a loss when in disputation with other masters. He told me later, when I had returned them to him, that it was as onerous to plunder a bachelor scholar’s books as it would be to steal another man’s wife. I had, at the time, no way to assess the accuracy of that opinion, for I had no wife and few books …’ So begins another delightful and intriguing tale from the life of Hugh de Singleton, surgeon in the medieval village of Bampton, near Oxford, and bailiff of Bampton Castle at the behest of Lord Gilbert Talbot. Hugh sets his cap at the delightful Kate, who proves equally resourceful in the search for the missing books. Some very determined adversaries are out to stop him, permanently if necessary – but are they motivated by greed or a more personal animosity? Then the corpse of a poor scholar, who had tried to sell one of the books, is found in the river: but he had not simply drowned …

A Corpse at St Andrew’s Chapel by Mel Starr

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1365 – England

Alan, the beadle of the manor of Bampton, had gone out at dusk to seek those who might violate curfew. When, the following morning, he had stillnot returned home, his young wife Matilda sought out Master Hugh de Singleton, surgeon and bailiff of the manor.

Two days later Alan’s corpse is discovered in the hedge, at the side of the track to St. Andrew’s Chapel. His throat has been torn out, his head half-severed from his body and his face, hands, and forearms lacerated with deep scratches.

Master Hugh, meeting Hubert the coroner at the scene, listens carefully to the coroner surmise that a wolf had caused the great wound. And yet . . . if so, why is there so little blood?

 

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