In the thirteenth century in England Lord Hawken provides protection, schooling and employment to his illegitimate son, Philip de Tollard, but never recognizes his offspring as officially his; thus the lad is filled with anger at the world. Hawken's other son the rightful heir Gareth is a nasty person especially towards the stepbrother whom he scorns and loathes as beneath him. When their father suddenly dies, Gareth accuses Philip of killing their sire; Philip is fortunate to escape with his life.
Beatrice Marlowe loves her long time friend Philip, who has always been nice to her in spite of his loathing of just about everyone else. When Gareth, who she hates for his haughty abuse of others, demands she accept his offer or his wrath, she worries about her beloved and acquiesces while praying to God for Philip's safety. Meanwhile, angry at God and his late dad for his plight, Philip filled with rage plans to avenge all that Gareth has done to him especially his mistreatment of his dear Beatrice. To succeed might cost him his already damaged soul; to fail might cost him his beloved.
Though Gareth is so nasty he seems more a caricature of evil than an adversary, MARK OF THE CROSS is a fabulous medieval inspirational romance starring two star-crossed wannabe lovers. Beatrice, in spite of her woes, remains a firm believer in the Lord while Philip no longer trusts God. Thus the strong story line centers on Philip's necessity to find redemption though he feels he does not need to if he is to rescue the woman he loves from his most despicable foe. Medieval fans will appreciate Philip's trials and tribulations as he bears the MARK OF THE CROSS.
I stopped reading half-way through. Stupid heroines tend to annoy me and what part of marry anyone but my brother because I cant stand the thought of you being in his arms means dont marry my brother unless hes taken over your late husbands lands and is stealing the inheritance from your son? When you make a promise, keep the promise, especially when it means sleeping with/not sleeping with the creepy villain. Decent writing though.