“You were able to find a ship?” she asked.
“Yes.” He gestured with the empty wooden spoon. “We won’t be alone. An emissary for King John bespoke it, but he agreed to share quarters with us.”
Her head tilted to one side. “How did you manage that? I can’t imagine a knight with such authority condescending to share anything with strangers.”
“I told him your brother had ordered you home and would be furious if you delayed. You and the maid will share a small cabin, while the lord occupies the captain’s quarters. I have no idea how large your chamber will be, but we’ll make the best of it.”
“We?” She didn’t look up as she took another bite.
Damn her, what did she find amusing in what he’d just said, for there was no mistaking the humor in her voice. She looked up as he stalked toward the bed. Yes, a mischievous light glimmered in her eyes. He loomed above her and slowly leaned in.
“You’d best try to appear the anxious maiden, in fear of her brother,” he warned. “Or questions might arise that none of us want to answer.”
The amusement faded. “What questions?” Her breath caressed his cheek.
He reared back. “Just behave yourself during the passage.”
“This is the second time you’ve warned me about my conduct. Do you fear I will ride off with one of the guards?”
He clenched his teeth to hold back a retort. Let her have her say. She’d be easier to deal with on the morrow if all her complaints were aired.
“We both know my behavior has been perfectly appropriate. And I’ve accepted each of your edicts calmly.” Her gaze flicked away, as if she knew that statement stretched the truth.
“But that’s not the problem, is it?” she added, her voice low, intent. “Why are you really on this journey, Stephen? We both know it’s not to protect me.”
Publisher and Release Date: The Wild Rose Press, September 2014
Time and Setting: England, 1199
Genre: Historical Romance
Heat Level: 2
Reviewer Rating: 4.5 stars
Review by Claudia
Lady Evelynn is in Normandy to care for her cousin when she gets a letter from her brother telling her that she is to be married by order of the king, and without informing her of the identity of her betrothed. She is also told to stay where she is – but after month away from home she decides to go against her brother’s orders. On her way home she meets Sir Stephen, a good friend of her brother, who has been sent to escort her.
After too much time on the battlefield and losing much to treacherous outlaws, Sir Stephen is bent on revenge. He cannot and will not allow himself love again – especially when he is finally close to finding the murderer he is looking for.
When Evelynn and Stephen begin their journey together they start more as enemies than friends; but the long road and evil turns they experience together bring them closer and their feelings change – although it might be too late for both of them.
I loved this book. The plot is more than interesting and the story is fast-paced and filled with action. It contains a wonderful blend of intrigue, passion, danger and romance, laced with betrayal and vengeance which kept me turning the pages. The characters are well drawn and engaging – the main characters as well as the secondary ones. All the members of the Brotherhood are interesting and I was left guessing right up to the end as to who the traitor could be.
Evie is a head-strong Lady who had a sheltered up-bringing but who nevertheless knows how to deal with a crisis. Although her journey with Stephen is everything but smooth, she is never weak. She grows further during the trip and learns to trust her instincts.
Sir Stephen is very bitter at the beginning – and although we know why he is doing or saying some of the things he does, it nonetheless seems sometimes cruel to Evie. But he is a man full of honor and loyalty and he proves it time and time again.
Their relationship forms over a long time and gives the reader time to see this growth as both characters struggle to come to terms with what they are feeling as well as to realise that it might be hopeless. The chemistry between them is sizzling.
My only complaint, and the main reason for the 4.5 star rating is that I found it a little difficult to get into the story, and that at various times, I felt as though I had somehow missed out on important information that would have helped me to make sense of what was happening. I suspect the author was being deliberately vague, but it did cause some confusion in the first ten percent or so of the book. also felt that the ending of the book was a little too perfect. It’s well done, and the author has left some threads to be picked up in future stories, but even so this didn’t feel like the first in a series – it seemed to me like everything was wrapped up and that the story arc of the Brotherhood has finished. But that’s a minor issue.
All in all this was a wonderful love story with much emotion, a wonderful relationship and great characters. I fully recommend this book for everyone who loves reading Medieval romances.
Barbara will be awarding a $25 Amazon Gift Card to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour, and a Ecopy of The Heart of the Phoenix
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Award-winning author Barbara Bettis has always loved history and English. As a college freshman, she considered becoming an archeologist until she realized there likely would be bugs and snakes involved. And math.
A former health insurance claims adjuster, a former journalist, a former journalism teacher, Barbara Bettis plans never to be a “former” author. Currently, she supports her writing habit as an adjunct English instructor at a community college near her home in Missouri.
She now lives in Missouri, where by day she’s a mild-mannered English teacher, and by night she’s an intrepid plotter of tales featuring heroines to die for—and heroes to live for.
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