Mark of the Cross
In 1263 in England, Philip de Tollard, bastard of Ralph Aubernon, earns his livelihood as a groom because his father refuses to recognize him. Although Philip falls in love with Beatrice, a noblewoman, he will not marry her until he can provide for her, so he asks his father to be recognized as his son and for a small inheritance. But before Ralph can fulfill Philip’s requests, he dies mysteriously. Gareth, Philip’s legitimate half-brother, and his mother, Clarise, accuse Philip of the murder, forcing him to flee and join the Crusades. Beatrice waits years for Philip’s return, but is forced to marry the brutally abusive Gareth, who forces her to accompany him on Crusade.
In the Holy Land, a band of brigands led by Philip kidnaps her. Beatrice strikes a dreadful bargain and is forced to return to Gareth. Life with Gareth returns to its pattern of drastic physical abuse. In a nail-biting climax, Philip confronts his failings to prevent further loss of life and rescue Beatrice.
The story is rich with characters the reader will love and hate, and its soul-searching moral dilemmas are wonderfully presented. The ending leaves the reader with a sense that justice has prevailed.