Separated in infancy, rediscovered by chance, can they unravel a mystery and find a way to reunite?
Wistful and passionate, the wayward Cecile d’Armagnac has enjoyed the indulgent childhood of a French noble, but life for the young woman is about to change when she learns of her sister.
Catherine Pembroke, a naive novice, has endured a lonely existence behind convent walls, but when Cecile’s letter is intercepted by the malicious Earl of Salisbury, the shy nun is thrust into a dangerous and foreign world. Placed into the custody of a cynical knight, Simon Marshall, Catherine struggles to unravel a past that threatens her future as William of Salisbury begins his own hunt – after the girls – hoping to use them as pawns in his desperate quest for power.
Trapped by one of England’s most powerful lords, Cecile yields to him to save her sister. She flees with the aid of the Prince’s courier, Gillet de Bellegarde, but will her journey see her lose all she holds dear, or just her heart?
In an age when women have no control over their lives, Cecile and Catherine find themselves immersed into political turbulence, intrigue, danger and romance. Their hopes of meeting are thwarted by the powerful men around them – even as they provide both distraction and passion, for none appear to be who they claim.
The Lily and the Lion will catapult you into a world when knighthood was revered and love was to be cherished.
Targeted Age Group:: 16 to 80
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
The authors Catherine A Wilson and Catherine T Wilson met online by chance via a writers group. Having emailed each other for three years, they decided to base the premise of their first novel, The Lily and the Lion, on their long distance friendship. It was not until they were part way through writing their third novel, before they finally met.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
The female protagonists, Catherine Pembroke and Cecile d'Armagnac are sisters, who were separated in infancy. Cecile is raised by a wealthy family in France whilst Catherine lives in poverty, in England. The authors choose to place their characters apart, in the same way they themselves were, writing to each other and building a friendship at great distance. Both Catherine A Wilson and Catherine T Wilson (who are not related) share a love of medieval history so choose to place their characters in the time period that they both related to.
‘Poxy, whoring, conceited bastards.’
Cécile d’Armagnac spun to confront her father, her anger far from spent. ‘My betrothal to the Duc de Berri is severed without explanation. Am I to greet this news with lines of poetry, Sir? The Dauphin craves the alliance of Armagnac and I know his brother desires me, so what malady ails them?’ She slammed her gem-encrusted goblet down. ‘Merde! I was to wear gold Luccan brocade and the finest rubies in France. Instead I shall be the laughing stock of the court!’
‘Sheathe your tongue, girl! I am yet your father.’ Jean d’Armagnac’s stomach churned at his own words. He sank onto the stool and stared for a moment at the rich tapestries decorating his daughter’s royal chamber. Then he drew a deep breath. ‘The Dauphin still requires the alliance of Armagnac. Duc de Berri will marry your sister, Jeanne, and I am here to give you explanations.’
‘Jeanne? Mother of God. She is a milksop! A snivelling baby. She’s more likely to wet the Duc’s bed!’
‘Céci,’ groaned Comte d’Armagnac, ‘give me a little peace.’
Cécile heard the defeat in her father’s voice and sharply swung around. This parent was everything to her. With growing alarm she noted his drooping shoulders and the dark smudges beneath his eyes. His whole bearing slouched rather than sat.
‘Papa! You are ill.’ Almost tripping over her velvet hem she kneeled at his feet and laid her cheek in his lap. She gently kissed his hands. ‘Forgive me, Papa. Forgive my wicked temper. Tell me what grieves you so?’
Jean d’Armagnac withdrew his warrior-calloused palm and stroked the honey-blonde hair. ‘The truth, daughter. And it is you who must forgive me. The Dauphin was right to break your troth, and the fault is mine alone. For years I have lacked the courage to speak.’ He lifted her chin the meet the clear, blue gaze. 'Cécile, you were a gift to me beyond my expectations, but you come not from my loins. Your blood is not Armagnac.’
Cécile stared in open-mouthed bewilderment. She drew back slowly, her eyes glazed. ‘I am not Armagnac?’
‘Then Jean le Bossu and Armand …’
‘Are not your true brother and cousin.’
‘And you …’ The breath caught in her chest and was squeezed from her in a murmur. ‘God have mercy.’ She rose unsteadily and walked to the casement to stare beyond the palace walls, her hands clutched over her heart, a shield against the pain. ‘You are telling me that for nineteen years I have lived a lie?’
‘Seventeen. You came to me in your second summer.’
‘Tell me,’ she whispered.
Comte d’Armagnac watched the hurt on his daughter’s face and muttered an oath. God knew he loved her as his own. No. That was a blatant lie. He loved her more but only God, his priest and he were privy to that. Had he been compensating for this one day all along? He’d allowed her uncommon free will in her youth and suffered the ridicule of his neighbours. As her sisters had toiled over needlework, this unfettered daughter had ridden the countryside in play with her foster brother and cousin, her eloquent tongue the result. He had never wished to curtail her spirit. He knew one day she might need it.
‘It was long ago,’ he began, ‘when I received a message from a Lady Mary St Pol, Countess of Pembroke, urging me to meet with her. Her father, Guy de Châtillon, was from one of the most notable families in the north and Lady Mary had a strong connection to the Clermonts, my wife's kin. Fearing some scandal was about to fall upon us, I agreed.’ The Comte stared, his attention rooted to the wall as if apparitions had suddenly appeared upon the grey stones. ‘I will never forget it. We met at the Abbaye de Flaran by Larressingle in the dark of night. I can still see Mary standing there clutching her cloak against the wind, her lips pressed tightly as plainsong echoed from the chapel. She beckoned me to follow her through the cloister, up a stairwell to a private chamber. Her finger raised in a gesture for silence as she stepped to an alcove and swept aside the curtain. There, fast asleep on the palliasse, lay a tiny girl shrouded in a mantle of golden hair.’ He smiled warmly at the memory and a twinkle danced in his eye. ‘She was a scrap of a child but Mary knew how to ensure success. “Her name is Cécile,” she said, “and I want you, Jean d’Armagnac, to keep her for me, in honour of our families’ ties. She has nowhere else to go and I could wish for no other to care for her. The world must know her as your own. Silence any tongues that beg to differ. You must ask me no questions and your goodwill shall be handsomely rewarded.”
A shadow of tenderness darkened Jean's eyes as they fastened upon his daughter. ‘My mother’s name was Cécile. She was a princess. I had no need of questions. I loved you upon the instant.’
With a sob, the young woman flung herself into his arms, their tears mingling as he rocked her. ‘Forgive me, child. I should have told you the truth long ago but I could never find the right moment.’
Cécile slid her arms around her father's neck and felt his love engulf her like a warm, soft blanket. Granting the forgiveness he craved, she tenderly kissed his roughened cheek.
‘Mon père. I love you.’
‘And I you, Princess.’
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