The fair Lady Faye has always played the role allotted her. Yet the marriage her family wanted only brought her years of abuse and heartache. Now, finally free of her tyrannical husband, she is able to live her own life for the first time. But someone from the past has returned. Someone she has never been able to forget.
After years of servitude as a warrior for King and Country, Gregory is now free to pursue his own path: to serve God by becoming a monk. The only thing stopping him is Faye. Gregory has loved Faye since the moment he saw her. But their love was not meant to be. How can he serve God when his heart longs for her? He can neither forsake God nor the woman he loves.
When Faye’s son is kidnapped, Gregory answers her family’s call for help, only to find that even in the most dangerous of circumstances, neither can fight their forbidden attraction. An attraction that now burns brighter than ever before. And it is only a matter of time until it consumes them both.
My Lady Faye is the second book in Sarah Hegger’s Sir Arthur’s Legacy series, and it picks up the story of Faye, Countess of Calder and sister to the heroine of the first book, Sweet Bea. In that book, Faye finally finds the courage to flee her abusive husband with her two young sons, accompanied by her faithful protector, Sir Gregory. Throughout the seven years of her horrible marriage, the knight was Faye’s only true friend, the one man who knew the truth of what Faye had to endure at her husband’s hands, who offered her what comfort and solace he could and the man who was more of a father figure to her boys than their biological father ever was. It was clear, in Sweet Bea that there was something deeper than mere friendship lying between Faye and her handsome escort, but his long avowed intention to join a religious order stood between them; and having seen Faye and her boys safely returned to her father, he has left Anglesea to pursue his lifelong dream of taking holy orders.
Months later, Faye continues to feel Gregory’s absence keenly and is still angry with him for the ease with which he was able to walk away from her seemingly without regret.
Faye’s worst nightmare comes true one day when her eldest son goes missing, snatched by Calder’s men and returned to his father. She is distraught, knowing Calder to be a cruel, vengeful who will not hesitate to use the boy in order to exact his revenge upon her. Because a married woman and her children are legally her husband’s property – and because he is still looked upon warily following his participation in the barons’ rebellion against the now deceased King John – Sir Arthur’s hands are tied. He has no legal rights in the matter and cannot afford to attract the notice of the new king, and Faye is driven almost out of her mind with frustration and worry, until the arrival of the one man upon whom she has always been able to depend.
Brought from the abbey by Faye’s brother-in-law, Sir Gregory knows that his conflicting loyalties will be sorely tested by proximity to the woman he has loved for so long, but he cannot refuse to help her to get back her son. When she insists on accompanying Gregory to Calder, her father and brothers are adamant that she stay at Anglesea, but she will not be dissuaded. She and Gregory set off with Faye disguised as a boy, to make the journey back to the place she hates most in the world in order to effect the rescue.
One of the things Ms Hegger does very well in this story is to explore the nature of the conflict between Faye and Gregory, which one could almost describe as a Love Triangle. Gregory has wanted to enter the church since he was a boy, an ideal he clung to even when he was fostered out to Calder’s household in the way that boys of the nobility were at that time. He had not, however, bargained on falling in love, and given that Faye was married and there was no hope for them, he kept to his resolve to devote his life to God. Yet he is still torn between his love for his calling and his love for Faye which is, he knows, the reason he has not yet been allowed to take his final vows. He wants to help Faye in any way he can, but when thrown back into an even closer proximity to her than before, he is unable to deny the pull of the attraction between them.
Faye spends quite a lot of the story being angry because Gregory chose the church over her, which sometimes makes her seem rather selfish – but on the other hand, it’s easy to understand her feelings. The man she married turned into a monster and the only person she could rely on was the strong, taciturn knight set to guard her. When her only source of tenderness and comfort left, it’s natural that she should feel abandoned and aggrieved, but she has a habit of constantly needling Gregory that isn’t always easy to read. Fortunately, Faye is redeemed somewhat by the fact that she knows she’s being selfish and petulant, even though she can’t always help herself.
She also grows throughout the story, turning from the timid, helpless woman she had been during her marriage into one who is prepared to put up a fight for what she wants and not to be cowed by her brutal husband, even if it proves bad for her.
On the downside, the writing is a little choppy in places and there is a very modern feel to much of the dialogue, which often took me out of the story. I can’t believe, in this day and age of the internet, that non-British authors are not aware that the English slang word for posterior is “arse” and NOT “ass”. Honestly, every time I see an English heroine grabbing her lover’s ass during a love scene I wonder if there’s a donkey in bed with them! And similarly, a sentence like this:
Verily, the Abbey had not improved his conversational skills any.
– sticks out like a sore thumb and provoked simultaneous cringeing and laughter, because if you’re going to include faux-Medieval dialogue (most authors who set books in this period do, and I’m fine with it), don’t then juxtapose it with a modern-day Americanism. (In Britain, we don’t use the word “any” in that way.) We also don’t travel anywhere “a ways” and describing someone as “going spare” (i.e, freaking out) is certainly idiomatic English, but it’s a very modern expression and once again, feels very out of place. One can argue that the author should have written the book in Medieval French for authenticity, but that’s not my point and is, besides, an argument that is out of place here.
In spite of my criticisms, I did enjoy the story and am certainly not averse to reading future books in the series. Ms Hegger has a good grasp of the historical background and politics and she has penned a sweetly sensual romance between the Lady and her knight which takes serious note of the issues that lie between them. I’d certainly give the book a qualified recommendation to fans of Medieval romances, and to anyone looking for a new author to try.