The Crown Rose by Fiona Avery was published in 2005. I just finished reading it. Sorry about the spoilers.
The cover jacket says:
This is the story of Isabelle of France, born heir to the throne, and the mystery of one man who enters her life at several key moments, becoming her icon, her soul’s other half, and her destiny – a man who may in fact be much more than an ordinary man. His bloodline goes back to the Holy Land and he is far, far older than he appears.
When she is older, she walks through the streets of Paris. Isabelle sees an old man working on a roof. She decides to help him and becomes even more widely known for doing that. Her family invites King Conrad (of Germany) to their castle. He comes and Isabelle learns that he is her betrothed. After a few months, they become good friends, but agree that they don’t love each other enough to get married.
A relic of the Holy Land, that was in the possession of the Church, was stolen. Prince Robert and Neci go on a search for the relic and find it quickly. They had some trouble with the delusional Pierre Mauclerc. Robert vows not to harm him as long as Pierre never harms his family. When they return with the relic, they discover that Isabelle, the only princess, had become a nun.
Robert and Louis go on a hunting expedition. Robert injures himself very badly. He is taken in and healed by Jean Adaret Benariel, who quickly becomes a friend of the royal family. Unbeknownst to the family (except Isabelle), Jean is the brother of the sisters in the Order of the Rose. Isabelle grows a closer relationship with Jean. Meanwhile, she keeps trying to avoid Pierre. Pierre keeps deluding himself that Isabelle is in love with him, even now that she is a nun.
She has a dream to found a convent. She tries to make preparations to do this through the Church. They give her some land that was anonymously donated by Pierre. The land he gave up happens to be some of the land that King Louis had just given back to a baron. The baron joins forces with King Henry of England and attacks Angers. Louis wins the battle. Isabelle soon learns that she caused the war and quickly gives back the land.
Again, Isabelle tries to get help from the Church. She takes Jean with her. He calls the Church out on not wanting to give up a small portion of land they can make a profit on, in hopes that Isabelle will give more land that was in her dowry. Consequently, they are thrown out of Notre Dame. She later learns that one of her favorite bishops took what Jean said to heart. The bishop joined a different religious order.
Pierre decides he has one more shot at winning Isabelle’s hand in marriage. He makes a strong go of ruining Jean’s reputation. The Knights Templar were very angry with him for making them lose track of the Order of the Rose. Robert kills Pierre for hurting his family. Jean and his sisters leave France. Many years later, Isabelle is still a princess and a nun. She finally has the convent she wanted built and lives there now.
I loved reading this. I didn’t want to put the book down. It was different to see that a princess become a nun, which I liked. The Order of the Rose and Jean were a real mystery to me. I liked the romance I read about Isabelle and Jean, but they never even so much as kissed. They were only destined to love each other and never get married. I also like that Louis led his soldiers into battle; he was in the front.
Throughout most of the book, I wanted to smack Pierre. About halfway through, I was ready to kill him. He is truly the character you love to hate.
It pains me to see the corruption of the Catholic Church (at least in Notre Dame) and the Knights Templar. One would like to think that the Church would have been more honorable, but I’m mostly focused on their greed with Isabelle. It was horrible that the Knights Templar were spying on the Order of the Rose and had Pierre as one of their [lower] members.
My favorite part was when Jean gave Isabelle a soul memory to remember him by. It was of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, his father. This begs a few questions. Jesus had a son? Was his mother Mary Magdalene? How does this make him live forever?
It was very well written. Avery pulls you right into the story. I’m not sure of its historical accuracy.
Genres: Historical Fiction, Christian Fiction, Fantasy
Stars (out of 5): *****