Bold Angel by Kat Martin (audiobook) – Narrated by Lucy Rayner

bold-angel

This title may be purchased from Amazon.

They were enemies in a divided land…

Saxon beauty Caryn of Ivesham longed to escape the chill gray cloisters of the convent to which she’d fled – but not in marriage to the towering, feared Raolfe de Gere, the Norman knight they called Ral the Relentless. Even though he had once saved her from a fate worse than death, she could not forget he’d raised the grim battlements of Braxston keep on her dead father’s lands or that his men had dishonoured her sister. If she wed him to bring peace to her people, he would have to lay siege to her bed. But their destiny was more powerful than the clash of swords. The darkly handsome warlord’s blood coursed with desire for Caryn’s burnished crimson lips, and his passion would not be denied. But in the wild ecstasy they shared Ral feared more than his heart was in danger. Could his rebellious bride be a traitor deadlier than the wolves and brigands prowling deep in English forests?

Rating: Narration – C; Content – D

I suppose I should have known what I was letting myself in for when I read the title and synopsis of Bold Angel:

“Saxon beauty Caryn of Ivesham longed to escape the chill gray cloisters of the convent to which she’d fled-but not in marriage to the towering, feared Raolfe de Gere, the Norman knight they called Ral the Relentless.”

It goes on to tell how the

“darkly handsome warlord’s blood coursed with desire for Caryn’s burnished crimson lips”

… yeah, I should probably have moved on at that point, but I had decided I wanted to listen to Lucy Rayner, who has been listed as the narrator of several Julia Quinn romances being released in December (Splendid, Dancing at Midnight and Minx), in order to get an idea of her abilities and performance style.

The result is a mixed bag. It probably didn’t help that the story is unoriginal and the heroine made me want to wring her neck for pretty much the entire (seemingly interminable) fourteen hours and forty minutes of the audiobook. And I couldn’t help thinking that Ms. Rayner’s crystal-clear tones – while not unpleasant – are rather too bright for a romance. I kept expecting her to shout “jolly hockey sticks!” à la Joyce Grenfell whenever things got heated, difficult or angsty.

You can read the rest of this review at AudioGals.

Mistaken for a Lady (Knights of Champagne #5) by Carol Townend

mistaken-for-a-lady

This title may be purchased from Amazon.

Wearing his ring again…

When a shocking revelation reveals Francesca’s illegitimacy, she worries for her marriage to Tristan, Comte des Iles. Her heart in tatters, she awaits her husband’s return… Will he request an annulment or give their union a second chance?

Duty has kept Tristan from his beautiful wife’s side for far too long, but the memory of her touch is seared into his soul. Now, with malevolent forces working against them, it’s more important than ever for Tristan to show Francesca that he’ll never let her go!

Rating: C

I used to read a lot of medieval romances, but for some reason haven’t picked up so many lately, which is one of the reasons I decided to read Carol Townend’s Mistaken for a Lady the fifth book in her ongoing Knights of Champagne series. Another is that it’s set in and around Brittany and I’m a sucker for stories set in France. It’s a decent read, but feels at times as though it’s romance-by-numbers; we’ve got a couple estranged by circumstances, a heroine who is insecure and doesn’t know where she stands, a hero who is used to bottling things up and keeping secrets (one of which is a doozy) and a villain who goes through the motions of being villainous but who never comes across as particularly clever or menacing – and ultimately I felt as though I was looking at a jigsaw puzzle in which the pieces didn’t quite fit neatly together.

Around a year or so after her marriage to the handsome, gallant Comte Tristan des Iles, his young wife Francesca finds herself left to her own devices when her husband is called to the service of the Countess of Brittany. These are troubled times for the duchy, which is under threat from both France and England (Brittany was an independent state until the middle of the sixteenth century), and as one of its premier knights, Tristan is needed to play a key role in subduing a rebellion and then helping to keep the peace.

But a planned absence of a month or two stretches into two years. Tristan is sent to England on a mission and when he returns, court politics continue to keep him away from home. During that time, Francesca, who had believed herself to be the daughter of the Count of Fontaine suddenly discovers she is not (I am guessing that this happened in Unveiling Lady Clare, the second book in the series), and that not only is she not nobly born, but she is likely illegitimate, too. While Lady Clare treats Francesca with courtesy and kindness, Francesca is horrified at the thought that she has married Tristan under false pretences, and leaves Fontaine because she feels it inappropriate to remain there. When, during the period of Tristan’s absence, he fails to answer any of her letters, she becomes more and more convinced that he regrets their marriage and will want it annulled.

When Tristan is finally able to return to Francesca, it is to deliver the sad news that the man she regarded as her father is on his deathbed and has been asking to see her. Tristan is annoyed, to say the least, that his wife is no longer residing at Fontaine and believes the fact that she has abandoned their home there indicates that she must have decided that their marriage is over.

Around the first third of the book is basically each of them thinking that the other wants an annulment but not directly saying so. I can understand that not having seen or communicated with each other for two years is partly to blame, and the fact that they didn’t really know each other all that well before Tristan left (in spite of having been married for more than a year) won’t have helped, but I can’t deny that the continual repetition of their assumptions as to what what he/she must have been thinking without either of them actually voicing those thoughts was frustrating.

Fortunately, however, once they embark on their journey back to Brittany things improve, and Francesca and Tristan begin to actually talk to each other. They find out that the other did not receive any of the letters they each sent, and Francesca broaches the subject of her newly discovered lack of nobility (and dowry) and posits the idea that Tristan must surely now want a wife who can bring something to their marriage more than just herself and an uncertain lineage. But Tristan insists he doesn’t want another wife and is more than a little surprised at the strength of his desire to keep Francesca with him.

Francesca, however, remains doubtful. She has realised that she is a different person to the naïve girl Tristan married and that if they are to make a life together, then things are going to have to be different to before. Tristan is a man used to command and to keeping his own counsel; and she realises that if there is no trust between them, then their mutual attraction and delight in their physical relationship will not be enough to sustain a marriage.

Early on in their journey, Tristan notices that their small party is being followed. He suspects he knows by whom, but not why; he takes on some extra guards for the rest of the way and they eventually arrive safely at the Castle des Iles, where a whole new set of challenges are going to face him and Francesca as they try to repair their relationship.

As I said at the beginning of the review, there are interesting elements to this tale, but the book as a whole doesn’t quite hang together, and I struggled to maintain my interest in it. While I liked the setting and am usually a fan of second-chance romances, a lot of the uncertainty around the central relationship here feels overly drawn-out and the journey towards the HEA just isn’t compelling. The villain is introduced early on and makes appearances here and there throughout, but never feels integral to the story; and while there is some interesting historical detail, most of it is given in obvious info-dumps and “as-you-know-Bob” conversations. I liked the fact that Francesca recognised things between her and Tristan needed to change and that he was keeping secrets that perhaps he needed to talk about, but didn’t like her method of drawing him out, which was to keep poking and prodding him in a most unsubtle manner. However, my biggest problem with the book is that neither of the protagonists is particularly interesting or engaging and there is no real spark between them. I can forgive much in a romance in terms of the plot if the characters pull me in and the chemistry is there, but sadly, neither of those things is the case here.

I’m not averse to trying more books by this author, but unfortunately can’t really recommend this one.

Lord of Danger by Anne Stuart (audiobook) – Narrated by Susan Ericksen

lord of danger

This title is available to download from Audible via Amazon.

Half-sister to Richard the Fair, Alys has been schooled in the sheltered ways of the convent, far from the treachery and intrigue of castle life. Until she is taken from the cloister and brought to a place filled with secrets. Here she is to meet her future husband, a man some call a monster. His name is Simon of Navarre, a powerful and mysterious lord practiced in the black arts. This sensual stranger both terrifies her and fascinates her…and sets her heart burning with an unfamiliar fire.

Jaded by war, no longer able to believe in human goodness, Simon has turned toward the realm of darkness. But the master magician finds himself bewitched by the innocent Alys, who fears his very touch could damn her forever. Yet even as Simon begins to work his seductive magic, Alys senses the wounded soul beneath the cooly elegant facade. Now, as the two become pawns in Richard’s treacherous scheme to become England’s king, only one power can save them: the unstoppable force of love.

Rating: Narration – B; Content – B-

Originally published in 1997, Lord of Danger is a standalone historical romance set in Medieval England at the time of the reign of Henry III. It has all the ingredients one would expect from an Anne Stuart novel – intrigue, suspense, a heroine with backbone and an amoral, dangerously sexy hero, all wrapped up in an above average narration by Susan Ericksen.

Lady Alys de Lancie and her younger sister Claire are half-sisters to Richard, known as Richard the Fair, who is cousin to the twelve-year-old king. The ladies have been brought up in a convent but are now to leave it and travel to Richard’s castle at Summersedge so that Alys can marry the man chosen for her, Richard’s trusted advisor and, according to rumour, a wizard and practitioner of the dark arts. Naturally, the idea of marriage to such a man is not an eminently appealing prospect, but Alys is a pragmatist and knows that she has no choice in the matter.

You can read the rest of this review at AudioGals.

A Very Belated Best Of 2015

read all dayAlmost six weeks into 2016, and I haven’t been able to get around to writing up a post about my favourite reads and listens of 2015. I’ve written one each for All About Romance, Romantic Historical Reviews and AudioGals (running soon), and of course for each one, I could have chosen different titles or more titles… I had a good year last year when it came to books and audiobooks which made choosing the ones I enjoyed the most a difficult task.

I’m only including those books for which reviews appeared in 2015, as in most cases, I don’t put them here until they’ve appeared at the outlet for which they were initially written. This means that some of the books and audiobooks are ones I might have read or listened to at the end of 2014; similarly, there are a few missing from the end of 2015 for which reviews didn’t appear until 2016. Confusing perhaps, but if I had to go and check the date I’d actually finished each title it would have made the job of compiling this post an even longer one and given me another reason to put it off!

From my Goodreads stats:

Of the 231 books I read and/or listened to I gave 57 of them 5 stars; 97 of them 4 stars; 52 of them 3 stars; and 16 of them 1 or 2 stars.

As Goodreads doesn’t allow half-stars and I know that a large number of my 5 star ratings are actually 4.5 stars, here’s how I work them out. At AAR, we use a letter grading system; B+/B/B- and so on, so for me, an A is automatically a 5 star book (I’ve only given one A+ so far). A- and B+ equate to 4.5 stars, but I round an A- up to five and a B+ down to 4. B- and C+ equate to 3.5 stars, but I round a B- up to 4 and a C+ down to 3 and so on.

Top Books:

– ones I’ve given 5 stars or 4.5 stars and rounded up (A+/A/A-)

Honourable Mentions:

– a few of the B+ books I enjoyed

Of Rakes and Radishes by Susanna Ives
In Bed With a Spy by Alyssa Alexander
The Soldier’s Dark Secret by Marguerite Kaye
The Duke and the Lady in Red by Lorraine Heath
The Earl’s Dilemma by Emily May
The Marriage Act by Alyssa Everett
The Chaperone’s Seduction by Sarah Mallory
The Highwayman by Kerrigan Byrne
The Lure of the Moonflower by Lauren Willig
The Soldier’s Rebel Lover by Marguerite Kaye
A Talent for Trickery by Alissa Johnson
Cold Hearted Rake by Lisa Kleypas
Daniel’s True Desire by Grace Burrowes
The Spinster’s Guide to Scandalous Behaviour by Jennifer McQuiston
Sweetest Scoundrel by Elizabeth Hoyt

Top Audiobooks:

– ones that have received 4.5/5 stars or an A/A- for narration AND at least 4 stars/B for content.  This will naturally exclude a few titles where an excellent narration hasn’t been matched by a story that was equally good, OR where a really good story hasn’t been paired with a narrator who could do it justice.

I’ve also (finally!) got around to updating my 2015 TBR Challenge post with the list of books I chose to read last year. I completed the Mount TBR Challenge at Goodreads, too, knocking 32 or 33 books off my pre-2015 TBR pile.


(There are some overlaps with the TBR Challenge, and as I’ve been compiling this post, I’ve realised I missed a few out!) But I’m back into both challenges again this year and shall attempt to update my progress more regularly than I managed in 2015.

To sum up, almost half the books I read and/or listened to last year got at least 4 stars, which I think is a pretty good strike rate considering the numbers of books put out (and the amount of dross that’s out there to wade through).  2016 is also off to a good start, so keep watching these pages (or find me at my other haunts!) to find out what’s making me happy 🙂

The King’s Man by Elizabeth Kingston (audiobook) – Narrated by Nicholas Boulton

The Kings Man audio

This title may be downloaded from Audible via Amazon

Ranulf Ombrier’s fame throughout England for his skill at swordplay is rivaled only by his notoriety as King Edward I’s favorite killer. Ranulf’s actions have gained him lands, title, and a lasting reputation as a hired butcher. But after years of doing his king’s bidding, he begins to fear for his mortal soul and follows his conscience away from Edward, all the way to the wilds of Wales.

Gwenllian of Ruardean, Welsh daughter of a powerful Marcher lord, has every reason to leave Ranulf for dead when one of her men nearly kills him. As a girl she was married by proxy to a man Ranulf murdered, only to become a widow before she ever met her groom. In the years since, she has shunned the life of a lady, instead studying warfare and combat at her mother’s behest. But she has also studied healing and this, with her sense of duty to knightly virtues, leads her to tend to Ranulf’s wounds.

Saving her enemy’s life comes with consequences, and Gwenllian and Ranulf are soon caught up in dangerous intrigue. Forced together by political machinations, they discover a kinship of spirit and a surprising, intense desire. But even hard-won love cannot thrive when loyalties are divided and the winds of rebellion sweep the land.

Rating: A+ for narration; B for content

A couple of months ago, Laura Kinsale announced on her website that although Nicholas Boulton had finished recording all her books (boo!) he was going to be recording some more historical romances (yay!) – “recent titles that I’ve loved and appreciated for their quality and emotional intensity”. That recommendation together with the prospect of being able to listen to more of that velvety voice was enough to have me eagerly snapping up the audiobook of Elizabeth Kingston’s début novel, The King’s Man.

The story centres around two emotionally damaged characters who have spent most of their lives doing the bidding of others. Both of them are struggling to break free of the expectations that bind them to their pasts, but only together can they find the strength to be true to themselves and to lead their own lives.

Ranulf Ombrier, Lord of Morency, is known throughout the land as King Edward’s man, his enforcer, a man as ruthless as his master and one for whom no deed is too foul. At the beginning of the book, Ranulf awakens in a strange bed in a strange room and looks up to see what he thinks is an angel tending him. He has been severely wounded in a skirmish with a group of knights from Ruardean, a formidable stronghold on the Welsh Marches, and gradually comes to realise that he has been close to death. A death he would actively welcome as a way of finally escaping the memories that haunt him.

His ‘angel’ is Gwellian of Ruardean, a young woman who has been groomed since birth to be ready to lead the people of Wales in an uprising against the King. But having to constantly be what her domineering mother wants, to prove herself to be stronger and faster than the men around her, to inspire and lead is exhausting, and all Gwenllian really wants is to be left alone with her herbs and plants to further her knowledge of the healing arts. But her men respect her and look up to her, and no matter how much she wishes things to be different, they are what they are, and she accepts the weight of command to which she has been bred. Because of her unusual upbringing and military training, Gwenllian believes herself lacking as a woman – tall and leanly muscled, she knows she is unprepossessing and has none of the feminine accomplishments that ladies of her status are expected to have acquired.

While Ranulf is healing, he is rude and dismissive towards Gwenllian, seeing nothing in her of his ‘angel’ and wondering how he could ever have taken such an unattractive woman for such a thing. His taunts and barbs eventually lead to an armed confrontation between them – and when Gwenllian bests him, Ranulf becomes even more resentful. Yet even at this early stage in the story, and after such an inauspicious beginning, there is the sense that there is something growing between them, that these are two kindred spirits who are drawn to each other in spite of their wariness and distrust.

The King’s Man is very much a character driven story, in spite of the turbulent times in which it is set. The pacing allows time for the (at first) reluctant attraction between Ranulf and Gwenllian to build to an almost incendiary degree, and for the author to gradually reveal more and more about what makes them tick. Both characters have serious hang-ups; Ranulf was brought up by a cruel, ruthless man who never subjected Ranulf to the abuses he heaped upon everyone else, leaving him ashamed of the fact that he had loved his foster-father even as he had been ultimately driven to murder him. And Gwenllian has always been a pawn in the strategy of others, never allowed to live for herself or be herself – even her name is not truly her own, having been given to her because of the expectations that she would take on the mantle of her legendary namesake, the Welsh princess who led an army against the Normans more than a century earlier.

The romance between Ranulf and Gwenllian is intense, passionate and refreshingly free of so many of the tropes and stereotypes that abound in historical romance. I admit I was a little sceptical of the idea of Gwenllian as ‘warrior woman’, especially as women of the time were so powerless; but Ms Kingston has written her in such a way as to make it plausible and easy to accept.

Both Ranulf and Gwenllian are strongly-drawn, flawed characters who do not always do the right thing or act admirably. Yet they are compelling and easy to root for, especially when Gwenllian’s mother’s purpose becomes clear and it seems as though the couple are doomed to be on opposite sides in a long-brewing conflict.

I’m sure there were many other fans of historical romance audiobooks who, like me, were hoping that the final audiobook of Laura Kinsale’s oeuvre (so far) wouldn’t be the last we heard of Nicholas Boulton as a narrator in the genre. He really has raised the bar when it comes to audiobook narration, to a height only a very few can hope to match; and here, he once again proves himself a master of artistry and technique. The narrative is expressive and perfectly paced, and every single character, regardless of the amount of ‘screen time’ they get, is clearly and distinctly rendered, so there is never any question as to who is speaking at any given time. Mr Boulton has an incredibly wide range of timbre and accent, many of which he uses to excellent effect here, whether it be for the gravelly-voiced, Welsh-accented Madog, Gwenllian’s cousin and protector, or the tightly controlled, sometimes harsh-edged tone he employs to portray Ranulf, who is clearly a man wound incredibly tightly and full of hidden vulnerability and emotion. The principal female characters of Gwenllian and her overbearing mother are easy to tell apart in their scenes together, with Mr Boulton doing a terrific job with his interpretation of Gwenllian, getting to the heart of the character and skilfully conveying the self-doubt that lies beneath her warrior-queen exterior.

The King’s Man is a well-written, character-driven story, rich in historical detail and in the complexity of its characterisation. If I have a complaint, it is that Ranulf’s journey towards redemption is perhaps a little too easy for him, but overall, this is a strong début which is only enhanced by another incredibly accomplished performance from Nicholas Boulton.

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The Highlander’s Bride by Amanda Forester (audiobook) – Narrated by Mary Jane Wells

the highlander's bride

All Highland warrior Gavin Patrick wants is to get back to his native Scotland. Before Gavin leaves the battlefield, he’s given a final mission – escort Lady Marie Colette to her fiancé. Under no circumstances is he to lay hands on the beautiful heiress…no matter how desperate the temptation.

Forced to pose as a married couple to escape from France, Gavin and Marie Colette find themselves thrown into peril…and each other’s arms. As the danger mounts, so does forbidden passion. It isn’t until Marie Colette is taken from Gavin that he is forced to decide if he is willing to lose the woman who stole his heart or jeopardize his honor, defy his promise, and steal her in return.

The Highlander’s Bride may be purchased from Amazon

Rating: A- for narration; C+ for content

I don’t have a very good track-record with Highlander Romances. I haven’t read or listened to a great many, it’s true, but those I have read have tended to have identical plotlines (boy-meets-girl-from-opposing-clan, boy-and-girl-hate-each-other, boy-and-girl-fall-in-luurve – that sort of thing), so I’ve been wary about choosing review titles with the word “Highlander” in the title. In fact, I’d seen The Highlander’s Bride on our regular list of new releases and ruled it out – until I saw Mary Jane Wells listed as the narrator. She hasn’t let me down yet, so I waded in, thinking that even if the story was disappointing, I’d at least be able to enjoy her performance.

The story turned out to be a predictable one, but was enjoyable nonetheless. The romance simmers with sexual attraction and longing, although the obstacles that are necessary to every romance are somewhat flimsy here and I could have wished the two protagonists had been little less blandly “nice”.

You can read the rest of this review at AudioGals.

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My Lady Faye (Sir Arthur’s Legacy #2) by Sarah Hegger

MyLadyFaye - SarahHegger

The Lady
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.

The Warrior
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.

The Promise
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.

Rating: C+

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.