The rain is torrential. Famine and unrest spread across the country and when Sir William Bradshaigh joins Adam Banastre’s rebellion against their overlord, the Earl of Lancaster, things do not go to plan. Sir William is lucky to escape with his life after a battle at Preston and, as a wanted man, has no choice but to become an outlaw. Meanwhile, the lands at Haigh are forfeit to the king and are given to Sir Peter Lymesey for a year and a day, and Lady Mabel Bradshaigh must make a hard choice if she is to protect her inheritance and herself.
REVIEW BY SABRINA
“Her bare feet were bloodied and torn and the snow-laden wind made her shiver as she limped forward, bareheaded and dressed only in her linen chemise.”
We are treated to this prologue before the story begins. We are aware that something has gone terribly wrong with the character, Mabel, but just how and why follows in this fascinating story.
The year is 1315 and famine has struck, children are dying. William and Mabel are distraught for the villagers of their estate and want to alleviate their sufferings but do not agree on what to do about it? The Earl of Lancaster holds all the power in court after the Kings defeat at Bannockburn. He institutes heavy taxing on estates which makes things difficult for the people. William and several other Lords want to rebel against the Earl of Lancaster to alleviate the burden of extra taxes. Is this the best course?
It is clear Mabel and William have a strong relationship. They love each other and are receptive to each other’s feelings and opinions. Mabel may not agree with William’s decision, but in the end is hesitantly supportive and prays for a safe and swift outcome. The book switches back and forth from Williams POV to Mabel’s. This gives us an opportunity to see how both sides fare during the rebellion.
From Mabel’s perspective we are shown the other side of a battle; the effects on the ones who are left behind and the tough decisions they are forced to make. It is frightening how vulnerable the people, mostly women and children, are. The struggles are aptly described and I could feel Mabel’s pain and sorrow as she fights to hold onto her family’s estate while her husband is missing.
William’s rebellion doesn’t end as planned. He is declared a traitor, an outlaw and is forced to flee into the forest to survive. William’s troubles are different then Mabel’s, but he also struggles. He must learn to survive in the forest and find a way to restore his good name so he can return to Mabel and his family. Can this happen? Elizabeth Ashworth created a page turning story, rich in history, and one that I truly enjoyed reading.
** This title is currently available for $2.99**