July 2008, Medieval Romance (1060s England)
Harl Historical #239, $5.99, 281 pages, Amazon ASIN 0373305486
Reviews for average books are the hardest to write and, unfortunately, His Captive Lady is a prime example. Although it offers a unique twist on an old theme, the book failed to capture my interest and left me with mixed feelings.
Though half Saxon, Wulf Fitzpatrick is a Norman invader determined to achieve knighthood. As a bastard with few connections, he must win the position through loyal service to his lord, so when an opportunity for advancement presents itself, he seizes it regardless of the degrading nature of the mission. In this case, he is required to play the role of a Saxon rebel to discover and infiltrate a camp. However, as his tenure as a spy is about to end, Lady Erica of Whitecliffe enters the rebel camp and heís forced to rethink his strategy.
Desperate to save her people, Lady Erica proposes to end a blood feud with an enemy lord in order to join forces and wage a campaign to run the Normans out of the north of Britain. Unfortunately, her enemies arenít ones for forgiveness and Wulf aids her at risk to himself. Thinking Wulf is an honorable knight of her own people, she trusts him blindly until she discovers his secret and begins to work against him at every turn. Despite their opposing loyalties and differences in station, each understands the other and a truce develops between the two.
While I felt genuine sympathy for the hero, the heroine's overly self-sacrificing qualities, the questionable decisions she makes that put her in extreme danger, and her stubbornness, all added up to behavior that was too often TSTL. Lady Erica annoyed me, which made it difficult to really get into the story. But more about Wulf, who is not your typical Medieval romance hero. Instead he is poor, common, and takes steps at the end of the story that in reality would have probably had terrible consequences. It didn't help that the book is set in the middle of winter with few comforts. I just couldnít imagine anything less comfortable or harsh Ė something that continuously pulled me out of the story.
On the other hand, the story is unique for its setting. Though Iíve read many romances set during the Norman invasion, itís been awhile and it is refreshing to see an old theme revisited in a unique manner.
All in all, His Captive Lady is simply average Ė take it or leave it. Though it is a different twist on an old plot, the characters (mainly the heroine) are uninspiring and at times the story lacked the necessary momentum to keep me interested.
-- Heather Brooks
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