Genres: Historical Romance
Published by Tantor Audio
Released on January 7, 2020
June is Audiobook Month so it is the perfect time for me to search out books collecting on my audio shelves and get them listened to. It has been some time since I picked up a medieval romance, but this one caught my eye with title and cover and then the blurb hooked me in. A Machiavellian hero and a heroine who is desperate enough to rush to him for aid in this forced marriage court intrigue romance read by the delightful Anne Flosnik was a gem.
His Forsaken Bride is the second book in the Vawdrey Brothers series. I had no trouble jumping in where I did other than the sense that some of the story about the brothers and an earlier romance for one of them carried over. I would definitely advise getting them in order though, as I said, I was able to jump in mid-stream and enjoy this one.
Fenella Thane rushes to court to get Oswald Vawdrey to assist her in stopping her husband’s divorce proceedings. She will coerce him by showing him the old engagement documents that were drawn up by their fathers if necessary. But, when she arrives, she learns she is too late but, not only that, she misread those papers and has been married to Oswald all this time. Fen is naturally in quite a state to learn of the divorce and remarriage of the man she thought she was married to even as she is completely shocked to discover she is the wife of an earl who is high up in court and has the ear of the king. She is just a simple woman from the country and courtlife and her complex, cold-as-ice husband are a severe challenge for her.
Oswald was in a jam when Fenella came along. The king was pressuring Oswald to marry his latest mistress so he could carry on with her without the ugliness of another divorce scandal. Oswald is proud and has no desire to be seen as the cuckholded husband of a whore- even a high born one. Having an impediment like an existing wife suits him fine. He doesn’t want a wife and wants to focus on his court intrigues and work so he thinks to settle Fenella on his estate in the country and carry on as usual. But, he soon finds that he cares very much what his wife is up to and that includes the attention of other men. Fenella is leading him on quite the merry dance without even trying and has no idea that under the coldness, she has inflamed the spymaster.
Having never read/listened to this author’s works before, I did not know what to expect. It started out on rocky ground for me because I found Oswald manipulative and Fenella something of a wet rag. But, I kept listening and discovered a bit of charm in her sweet temper that slowly found her place through a series of mishaps and won Oswald over. I was impressed that Oswald finally won me even though he didn’t really change all that much- Fenella made him feel. I like those sort of characters. He was still a manipulative intriguer and was high-handed with Fenella, but he acts for her good.
The setting is a made-up medieval kingdom, but it is a thinly disguised England of the Henry VIII period. I enjoyed the court intrigues and medieval world that was set up.
The romance is the central storyline, but there was other threads going on, too. Loved Oswald as the spymaster at the center of things and keeping his finger in all the pies and Fenella got into her own scrapes, too. There were some lagging moments that made the book feel too long at times, but I never got bored. I was left wanting to go back for Mason’s story and go forward with Roland’s. The characters are flawed, but engaging and there is something about the author’s writing style that I liked.
As to Anne Flosnik’s narration work, it was good stuff. I’ve listened to her before so I knew what to expect with her ability to voice a variety of characters. She definitely enhanced the already good storyline and brought out the humor that is laced through the book particularly when Fenella gets Oswald agitated and he does the same to her.
All in all, I found this more entertaining than I expected and the unusual personalities of the characters was a refreshing addition to a good slightly spice medieval romance. Recommend.
My thanks to Tantor Audio for the opportunity to listen to this book in exchange for an honest review.
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