In eleventh-century France on the eve of the First Crusade, Isabel de Vermandois becomes the wife of a man old enough to be her father. He is Robert de Beaumont, Comte de Meulan. A hero of the Norman victory at Hastings and loyal counselor to successive English kings, Robert is not all Isabel had expected. Cruel and kind by contrast, he draws her into the decadent court of King Henry I. As Robert’s secrets are unraveled, Isabel finds her heart divided. Her duties as a wife and mother compel her, but an undeniable attraction to the young William de Warenne, Earl of Surrey, tempts her. In a kingdom where love holds no sway over marital relations, Isabel must choose where her loyalties and her heart lie. Based on the life of a remarkable medieval woman forgotten by time, The Burning Candle is a story of duty and honor, love and betrayal.
Romantic Historical Fiction
Heat Level 2
Reviewer Rating 4 Stars
Lisa Yarde’s heroine, Isabel de Vermandois, is betrothed to the Comte de Meulan by her harsh parents, a man of fifty she has never met. Isabel rejects the arrangement, but finally relents after being beaten and left without food. Sent to Paris to live with her uncle the King until the marriage can take place, Isabel meets her future husband in the company of William de Warenne, the Earl of Surrey.
When the Comte is injured and lays close to death, Isabel visits him and is offered a surprising bargain. He needs sons, though he will wait until Isabel is of age, and wants to formalise their union immediately – despite the fact they have not yet received permission from Rome. Touched by his apparent kind heart and desperation, Isabel agrees and marries de Vermandois in a private ceremony.
When Isabel’s parents discover what has happened, they withhold her dower lands and urge her to remain a virgin until the papal blessing arrives. Isabel, however find herself growing closer to her husband, though the illusion is shattered when Isabel learns her husband’s relationship with his clerk, Thorold, is too close for her not to feel uneasy, and de Vermandois also has several illegitimate sons.
With her husband absent from home for long periods, an injured William de Warrenne reappears and Isabel feels obliged to nurse him to health. Their relationship is prickly, but the pair are attracted to each other, and as a result, Isabel’s formerly quiet life becomes disrupted by kidnapping, forbidden love, betrayal, and the revelation of old secrets.
The Burning Candle is an authentic, compelling story about the realities of life in Medieval England and the restrictions and hardships endured by women, and Isabels’s humiliation and disgrace.
Part historical fiction, part biographical, the plot of this novel contains many plot twists and surprises, with an authentic atmosphere of medieval life which kept me reading.
Anita Davison is a Historical Fiction Author whose latest release, ‘Royalist Rebel’ a biographical novel set in 17th Century England, is being released by Claymore Books in January 2013 under the name Anita Seymour