On a bleak November day in the year of Our Lord, 1307, Eve de Clavering rode away from the Staffordshire Castle of Heleigh into an uncertain future. Wracked by grief at losing her young husband, Thomas de Audley, Eve carries a guilty secret, one which will affect the rest of her life.
When she arrives back in Essex, the home of her dominating father, Sir John de Clavering, Eve discovers her future has already been decided. No time for grief, Eve reluctantly meets Sir Thomas de Ufford, the second son of a kinsman to the Earl of Suffolk. Infuriated by her father's insensitive behaviour, it sparks a rift between father and daughter which will never be resolved.
However, against all odds, Eve discovers an ally in her second husband but will the chance of happiness be overshadowed by her secret? Meantime, Thomas introduces her to court life where she meets the powerful and colourful characters surrounding the Edward II and his queen Isabella of France, but Eve hates the hypocrisy and underlying tensions.
In 1314, Thomas joins the knights and earls of the king to face the Scots at the fateful Battle of Bannockburn where the English suffer an ignominious defeat and where the king even loses the Great Seal of State.
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Once again Eve finds herself a widow but this time, she has three young sons to protect. A proposal of marriage from James de Audley throws her into a quandary, beset by guilt, Eve refuses. How will she overcome her emotions and will she now seize the chance to marry her girlhood love?
When her brother-in-law, Hugh de Audley escapes from Nottingham Castle, Eve finds herself in danger as the king's treacherous favourite, Hugh Despenser the Younger, sends troops to search her home at Stratton.
Set against the dysfunctional reign of Edward II, Eve's destiny unfolds against a backdrop of civil wars, through a time of desperate poverty and the unending struggle with the Scots, in a period of history which is filled with treachery, intrigue, and controversy.
Come, let us accompany Eve through the years of her eventful life; meet the four men who play a intrinsic role in her destiny and watch, as the terrible fate of a king's favourites unfolds. These are the years of 'The Secret, the Sword and the Seal'.
Books by Fran Norton...
The Twisted Legacy of Maud de Braose
Isolde, Lady de Audley: The Mortimer Myth
The Secret, The Sword and the Seal