I am always keen for a good medieval romance so I thought I would try this new series by a new to me author. This one was set during the times of Richard the Lion Hearted and his brother Prince John of Robin Hood fame though there is no tie to that legend (sadly). An honorable knight, a kingly commission, a spirited lady, a greedy rival, and a pivotal piece of land all mean for an exciting romantic adventure.
The story opens with Ramon de Segrave made a Baron and appointed to King Richard’s Baron’s Council. Ramon has been Richard’s right hand man while away at war in the Holy Lands, but now Richard calls upon his most trusted knight to serve him in a different capacity. Richard sends Ramon into the Welsh borderlands to secure that land and marry the widow who holds it all to act as a stabilizing element to keep the Welsh under control and also gain a profitable holding. Ramon is not happy with this quest because after being cuckolded by one wife, he is not keen to take another even for Richard. However, he will do his duty by his king. When he sees the widowed Lady Isabel, his duty becomes lighter and much more attractive.
Lady Isabel Camoys was married off too young and to a man who didn’t treat her well or appreciate her. Now that she is a widow and holds her husband’s lands as her own, she has no intentions of ever giving over control to a man again. Her position is precarious at best now that Richard has taken all the knights for his new crusade with the Welsh threatening in the west and robber barons and renegade knights and men looking to increase their power and wealth in Richard’s absence. She knows the sensible path is to accept de Segrave’s protection and even to to accept him as her lordly husband, but old fears rise and she will fight the changes that have come upon her to her utmost.
The situation changes when Ramon’s predictions about her situation come true as another knight enters the picture determined to take her and her lands by less than honorable means. Suddenly Isabel realizes that her stubbornness and distrust might have endangered her life and the life of the people in her care. Ramon shows his strength, honor, and battle skills hoping it is enough to save them all.
Alright, so this one had so many elements that I love about medieval romance plots. A beautiful, strong lady is holding key lands and a knight is sent to strengthen that hold through marriage and his knowledge. There is the greedy villain who uses the knight’s honor against him even as the poor knight has a tough wooing of fair lady. I had a good time with this story line up to a point.
I get that Isabel had a bad experience and she was very young at the time so it traumatized her and I get that we need some barriers so the romance isn’t bland, but a naive, willful woman who ignores common sense and wisdom can only keep me interested up to a point. She pulled a few stunts that cracked me up when she tried to outwit Ramon, but she had more than one stubborn-stupid moment, too. Her treatment and mistrust of Ramon who proved himself time and again started to get old after a while.
Ramon was the strong point. He was truly swoon-worthy whether it was his sword fighting, brilliant tactics, sharp wit, or sensual lovemaking. Definite hero material! He was amused by Isabel’s antics and had such patience with her while she doubted him and fought him all the way.
The passion and sizzle in the romance whether it was the verbal sparring or Ramon showing Isabel what she missed out on the first time around was good stuff.
The book sets up for what is to come in the series and I am definitely interested to get Ramon’s second in command’s story.
Medieval era historical romance fans should give this one a go particularly if feisty heroines, passionate romance, and the true knight in shining armor with skills that will make you swoon does it for you.
My thanks to Sourcebooks Casablanca for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.
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