shortlisted for Book of the Month
"Ms Belfrage is very good at writing reality by expertly creating a sense of actually being there"
The King's Greatest Enemy #1
(Audio version 'read')
Fictional Saga / Romance
"Adam de Guirande owes his lord, Roger Mortimer, much more than loyalty. He owes Lord Roger for his life and all his worldly goods, he owes him for his beautiful wife – even if Kit is not quite the woman Lord Roger thinks she is. So when Lord Roger rises in rebellion against the king, Adam has no choice but to ride with him – no matter what the ultimate cost may be. England in 1321 is a confusing place. Edward II has been forced by his barons to exile his favourite, Hugh Despenser. The barons, led by the powerful Thomas of Lancaster, Roger Mortimer and Humphrey de Bohun, have reasons to believe they have finally tamed the king. But Edward is not about to take things lying down... Adam fears his lord has over-reached, but Adam has other matters to concern him, first and foremost his new wife, Katherine de Monmouth. His bride comes surrounded by rumours concerning her and Lord Roger, and he hates it when his brother snickers and whispers of used goods. Kit has the misfortune of being a perfect double of Katherine de Monmouth – which is why she finds herself coerced into wedding a man under a false name. Domestic matters become irrelevant when the king sets out to punish his rebellious barons. The Welsh Marches explode into war, and soon Lord Roger and his men are fighting for their very lives. When hope splutters and dies, when death seems inevitable, it falls to Kit to save her man – if she can."
I confess: I had read this book when first it was published, but I treated myself to the audio version. And yes, what a treat it was! The narration was well done.
The story takes place during the reign of Edward II. Our main characters, Kit and Adam, are to be married by an arranged betrothal, and neither of them are happy with the prospect - or each other. Except the situation is more complicated than that, because the bride is not who she is supposed to be (no spoilers), while the politics and troubles of the time add to the tension of the kingdom and between our feisty couple.
This is an adult read, for there are explicit adult scenes, and some violent ones - this is the 1300s where battles, torture and even daily life were often vicious and gruesome, and Ms Belfrage is very good at writing reality by expertly creating a sense of actually being there, even where dungeons and torture are concerned. But that is the point of Ms Belfrage's excellent writing skill - she can and does write very well.
For the historical side of the factual events, Ms Belfrage is equally as skilled. Her research is immaculate.
This is a 'romance', with the usual mixture of a love-hate relationship between our intrepid couple and where, occasionally, you just want to bang their silly heads together. There are a couple of things that you may need to swallow with some scepticism where, for instance, the believability of the endurance of suffering is concerned (and Kit's initial deception?) but then, that's what makes fiction entertaining: the heroes are heroes because they can endure, and the heroines are feisty women because they are determined to survive in a world where men are the lords and masters.
I also very much like the new cover which has replaced the original.
© Anne Holt