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Jane de Weston feels totally incompetent as a woman. She can't cook, sew, help with midwifing for her sister and so much more she knows is expected of a young wife in 14th Century England. So she runs away although she doesn't have any idea of what she will do when she gets to Cambridge. She knows she wants to be a student and learn what men do but she has no references, money or a place to live. On the journey, she meets a Scotsman, Duncan, who is a master teacher of grammar and rhetoric and a student of medicine. Duncan helps her get to Cambridge, but Jane knows she has to ditch him or he will surely discover that her boy disguise is a dangerous ruse, one that could land her in jail and innumerable other troubles.
Duncan for some strange reason can't forget this boy; and when they again meet in Cambridge, he realizes this boy has no place to live and has been rejected by four of the major school/universities. He volunteers to teach the lad enough that she will be better prepared to enter the university and stay there because of being better educated. However, Duncan has his own conflict to handle as well, arranging for his imprisoned father to be ransomed and freed and living with the devastating effects of the King's battles in Duncan's beloved Scotland.
Yes, there's plenty of romance and rising passionate flames increasing but all of this happens in the middle of a historical battle between the King and his adversaries. Jane is supposedly the illegitimate child of King Edward, a fact Duncan has never heard and hopefully won't as he views the King as his deadly enemy, and, by virtue of connection, anyone related to him.
Meanwhile Jane's family is totally distraught over her absence and searching everywhere for her. After Duncan realizes Jane is a woman, those dormant, fleeting feelings between them begin to kindle and roar into an almost out-of-control fire! But can it hold in the middle of political divisions when the truth is told about what side each is taking? In story world, anything can happen, but Blythe Gifford does a superb job of mixing romance and history in a magnetic, realistic fashion which makes the reader want to know what happens after the last exciting page of this very readable, sensual and historical novel. In The Master's Bed is screaming for a follow-up novel!
Very nicely done, Ms. Gifford!
Reviewed by Viviane Crystal on September 10, 2009