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In The Frenzied Crown novel:

Daughter of the Count of Roussillon, Melisende was sent to be fostered by Matilda of Boulogne. Her status as the child of one of the most prominent lords of Langedoc, as well as a respectable dowry, ensured that she would find a suitable husband when the time arrived. Men hungry for riches and honors seek just such a girl so the Countess of Boulogne decided to dangle Melisende before England's most influential men, in the hope that she could secure their support for her husband, Stephen, and his claim to the throne. More than one expressed an interest, leaving little hope for Melisende and her own desires.

The best she can hope for, it seems, is a husband understanding enough to allow her to exercise some control over her own destiny. In this case, she can take some comfort in Matilda's own marriage. The quick witted Countess of Boulogne manages her husband's affairs far better than he himself ever could - and, remarkably, Stephen is quite aware of the fact and willing to leave them in her capable hands while he pursues more martial activities.

Though Melisende has many men seeking her hand, the Countess appears to have narrowed the list down to two suitable prospects:

Thomas de Beauville is a proven warrior; he has led his knights against the king's enemies on numerous occasions, always covering himself with distinction. His victories have won Henry's respect and gratitude. In token of his appreciation, the king has granted Thomas lands scattered across England: quite an achievement for a younger son. Seeking to expand on his success, he has proposed a match to Matilda and Stephen but as he is known to remain faithful to his word, they doubt that he can be swayed to their cause. Yet Melisende finds him appealing as he respects her intelligence and independence.

Aubrey de Beauville is similar to his uncle in many ways. According to his reputation, he promises to be a warrior of great renown - both as a fighting man and a strategist. As the heir of the eldest son, Aubrey now holds the Beauville estates, prominent lands in England as well as their native Normandy. His ambition has fired him into making a bid for Melisende as well. This contest over the lady and her properties has sundered a strong bond between the two men; the enmity between them growing into a rivalry as strong as that between Stephen and Maud. Although he is titular head of the family, Aubrey finds that many of his men favor his uncle, stoking his resentment and determination to have Melisende at all costs!

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The Frenzied Crown

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