Yay! I love Medieval romances, and now that I've gotten through most of Patricia Ryan's back list, I'm happy to have found another author whose writing talents and historical knowledge I can appreciate. I love this book and all of its characters, and it was a good introduction to the world of this series.
I especially liked this heroine, because she was strong-willed and intelligent, and yet still behaved in a manner that was realistic for her time period.
I knew I was going to like her early on in the story when she said this: "I know nothing of being a wife, but have learned much about the running and maintenance of an estate. It may be that you will find my manner too straightforward for your tastes, but, my Lord, it is just that - my manner. Would that I die before I give up that part of me."
This is a story about an arranged marriage between a very reluctant hero and heroine, that eventually becomes true love - one of my favorite themes in the romance genre. Right from the start these two characters had some hot chemistry, but it took time and patience for that to become anything more. In fact, their interactions at first are quite painful, and they clash in many ways. It's only until they begin to open up to one another that past hurts are revealed and subsequently begin to heal. At one point, my heart nearly broke as the hero wants to be close to his wife, he says "What do we have servants for if you do all their work? Did you not just say you carried Graistan's good in your heart? Am I not Graistan? I have nothing to do and would greatly enjoy your company."
Watching as the hero waffled between hard and soft, anger and pain, warrior and lover - it was very sweet, and totally endeared me to him.
Also, he says this at one point, "By God's cock!"
which made me laugh out loud.
The historical detail is very well done, but it's so beautifully interwoven into the story that it never feels like you're reading anything but a novel. Highly recommend!