Genre: Historical Romance
Source: Received from publisher for review at Romantic Historical Reviews
At the mercy of her enemy!
Abducted by Saxon outlaws, Constance Arnaud comes face-to-face with Aelric, a Saxon boy she once loved. He's now her enemy, but Constance must reach out to this rebel and persuade him to save her life as she once saved his…
Aelric is determined to seek vengeance on the Normans who destroyed his family. Believing Constance deserted him, he can never trust her again. Yet, as they are thrown together and their longing for each other reignites, will Aelric discover that love is stronger than revenge?
**This review was previously posted at Romantic Historical Reviews**
The Normans have recently conquered the Saxons and the bad blood is still brewing between those in charge and those who are subjugated. Aelric, a Saxon, loses his whole family, who were hung as traitors by the local baron, who just happens to be the brother-in-law of the girl he is in love with, Constance. Aelric subsequently goes on the run and his relationship with Constance abruptly ends, but years later when they have a chance encounter they have to work through their feelings to determine what if anything still remains between them.
There is not nearly enough historical fiction, romantic or otherwise, set around the time of the Norman invasion of England. It is a time full of so much upheaval and change that it is ripe for storytelling. Hobbes took advantage of this upheaval and used it to create the conflict between the main couple of Aelric and Constance. They are from two very different worlds and the place that they live is still very volatile and they must tread carefully.
I really enjoyed the concept of a second change at love story, even though neither of them went looking for it. Aelric and Constance were split up eight years ago and had not seen nor heard of each other since. They had no idea that they would chance upon each other in a wood, and even then were not all that inclined to like each other. So much had changed in those eight years; they had grown up and lived through many life experiences that colored that early relationship. They remembered that early love they shared, but would that still hold true now; could they get past all of the hurt and the secrets? Constance and Aelric were well-crafted characters; they were multidimensional and you could feel their emotions, the hurt and anger most keenly. For what they went through it would be very difficult to put the past behind them. I can’t say that I could identify with either of them exactly, but I found them realistic and interesting. The author chooses to give Constance a physical disability and I wonder at the choice of that. It makes the character unique and while it made several small appearances I would have liked it to maybe have more of an importance given that it was pointed out extensively early on. The peripheral characters were not as fleshed out as the main two, but there were enough details that you had a sense of who they were, which was enough for me to keep track of who was who.
The romance here is primarily emotional as the two rebuild their relationship and determine what they mean to each other. Although there are a couple sex scenes, which have vastly different tones from each other, sex definitely took a backseat in this novel. Beyond the romance element, this novel was chock full of drama right from the first scene. There is an ambush, a hostage situation, a mass execution, some spying, and a foiled plot that unfolds in an awesome way. The best part is that none of this felt out of place; the characters still acted very much the way I would expect them to for the time in which they live.
If you are looking for a novel that is more of the action packed variety and lighter on the romance, or if you are looking for a novel set in an oft overlooked setting/time, this might be the novel for you to pick up. It kept my attention all the way through and I thoroughly enjoyed the story.
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