A Crowning Mercy by Bernard Cornwell
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Dorcas Slythe is constantly humiliated and mistreated at the hands of her Puritan family and their servants. Then she meets Toby Lazender while bathing in a nearby stream and begins to dream of a life filled with love and beauty.
Forced to marry Samuel Scammell she despairs but her "Father's death" reveals a secret and a fortune. When Dorcas finds the Seal of St Matthew she takes the name of Campion and flees from her home. Hoping to find out more about the mysterious Covenant she seeks out Sir Grenville Cony. Cony is the holder of the Seal of St. Mark and his one desire is to assemble 3 of the Seals so he can claim Campion's fortune as his own. But Campion has a stalwart champion in Toby and he frees her from Grenville's clutches and she spends many happy months with Toby's family.
But with the help of Campion's "brother" Ebenezer Slythe, Grenville destroys the Lazender's home and takes Campion prisoner. Denounced as a witch she is held in the Tower of London and barely escapes the executioner when the mysterious Devorax whisk her away to safety. He delivers her to Mordecai Lopez the holder of the Seal of St. Luke. Lopez reveals that her Real Father is Christopher Aretine and that he assembled the fortune for her. Lopes helps her escaped to the Royalist Stronghold of Oxford and reunites her with Toby whom she marries. He gives her his Seal and promises to help her claim the two in Grenville's possession.
Devorax meets with Ebenezer and strikes a bargain he will share the money from the Covenant with him. He arranges for Ebenezer to get Grenville to come with his Seals to an old church and promises to have Campion and her Seal there. Grenville, Toby and Campion are taken prisoner by Devorax and Ebenezer. Devorax test Toby's love for Campion and when Toby passes the test he takes Ebenezer prisoner and lets Campion and Toby go with the Seals. He has Campion and Toby taken to Lopez's ship and couple sets sail for Amsterdam, while Devorax stays behind to deal with Ebenezer and Cony. Only after they have set sail does Toby realize the package Devorax gave Toby for Lopez is really intended for Campion. When she opens it she finds the Seal of St John.
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