Historical romance can be a hard thing to pull off, requiring strong characters, knowledge of the time, and a plot which allows for suspense and revelation. This novel manages to combine all those elements very well; although the date is a little imprecise, the nature of medieval power struggles and the countryside is well done. Ellena is a strong heroine, full of passion, courage and determination. Sir Braedon Leofric, known as the Beast, is an impressive knight physically and in ability. The countryside is full of woods and forests, the accommodation consistent, and the tracks well described. The plot, a perilous journey with a cunning and dangerous pursuit, is strong and allows for suitable suspense. This well researched novel is a really effective read, with a strong female lead who shows great determination on many levels. I was very pleased to have the opportunity to read and review this engaging novel.
As the novel begins, the Lady Ellena Swein is unhappy at being prised out of her late husband’s castle by a troop of warriors led by Braedan, an experienced and able knight from her father’s castle. She had hated her late husband for his brutality to her and his inability to run his strategically important castle and estates; since his death she has been grateful for her freedom and proved herself an able administrator and manager. Her father has been demanding that she return to his castle, however, so that he may marry her off to another politically significant associate. He has promised Braedan a generous reward for his service in retrieving his daughter safely.
Unfortunately for the travellers, there is an enemy, Copsi, who is keen to capture Ellena and force her into marriage to gain not only her as a woman but also claim her lands and estate for himself. Thus he and his men pursue the party of warriors, and threaten to kill all her defenders. As Ellena and Braedan seek to evade their pursuers and reach the safety of her father’s castle, they must depend on each other in every respect. However, they each realise that even if they achieve their objective, they will still be subject to Ogmore’s, Ellena’s father’s, will for their lives. As they each have their own ambitions and determination, any attraction between them must be impossible, and any scandal disastrous.
This book is quite a simple story, but it is well handled by a skilful writer and is very engaging. Their physical danger is well described, and there are some hot pursuits and narrow escapes. This is a book of romance in every sense, and makes the most of featuring attractive characters. I really enjoyed it as an escapist read, well paced and robustly written. There is an element of historical fantasy here, but it is solidly expressed in terms of place, behaviour and personality. I enjoyed the vivid writing and consistent characters, and recommend it as a really good escape or distracting read.
I am pleased to be starting the run of reviews and posts for this book. It is certainly well written. Historical fiction is undoubtedly one of my favourite genres, and I am pleased to review this book. I have some really exciting hardback historic novels around the house to embark on, the result of several literary festivals, collecting favourite authors’ books, and other gems. As I am still moving from book to book on a whim, it will be interesting to see which book comes next ( or maybe it will be something completely different!)