Sir Stephen Lambert works for the court of King Henry and Queen Eleanor. He tries to ease tensions between the king and queen, the king and the archbishop, and where ever else he is needed. During one of his visits to court, he is gambling with Sir Grinwold, a man with a gambling habit and known for making outrageous bets. On this day, he gambles away most of his lands but offers Stephen his daughter in instead. Stephen, though not wanting to remarry, agrees traveling to Grinwold’s home to collect the 16 year old, Lady Rebecca.
Rebecca is well aware that her father wanted another son and not a daughter. He sees women as useless. Of course, he doesn’t exactly get along with her brothers either! The only person that Rebecca knows loves her is her brother, Richard. She dreams of marrying someone who will love her just for herself so is shocked when her father returns home to inform her that she is leaving with Sir Lambert immediately. She doesn’t even have time to tell her beloved brother good-bye.
Stephen is twice Rebecca’s age and has been married before. His first wife died. Still, Rebecca is determined to make this marriage work until she finds Stephen in her maid’s arms. Unable to live in a house without love again, Rebecca runs away not knowing that what she saw was innocent. Will Stephen find her and explain or will Rebecca be forced to move on in her search for love?
I actually found that I like the characters, Rebecca and Stephen. She, will very pig headed, was likeable. She knew what she wanted but not how to get it. This leads to miscommunication and adventures. Stephen was a patient, gentle man who tries to work things out. Though he doesn’t communicate well with his wife, he does love her and wants to make her happy. Rebecca and Stephen’s characteristics and personalities are very well done.
However, I was beginning to think that this book was published so readers can figure out how many historical inaccuracies they could find and perhaps win a contest. This book was set in the early 11th century. Many of the items and details in this book were from much later times and the situations in the book did not reflect the 11th century. This was a time of great turmoil. Land was secured by might and not diplomacy. Landed gentry had homes that were easily defended or fortresses, not houses with expensive glass that would be broken in battle. Tobacco is from the new world, which was even found yet while silk and tea are from the Far East and would not be found until the crusades. Schools for men were established towards the end of the 11th century and were called colleges. Few men except those with the church knew how to read and it was considered a waste of time and money to teach a woman. Arranged marriages for political or monetary gain were the norm and brides seldom expected to know their husbands prior to their wedding at 12 to 14. I could go on and on about historical problems, but I won’t,
The dialog was very stiff and awkward. Seldom did it flow naturally. Many times sentences were fragments where is fine in many cases but not as frequently as it happened in this story. Also, it was as if the author felt that throwing a few thee, thou and thys into the mix would make it the correct English for the time. However, this period is shortly after the Norman, William conquered the Saxons making a form of French the language of the gentry or upper classes.
All this being said, I still liked the basic story. Most of the time, I could imagine this set in the 17th or 18th century or maybe even slightly later. The characters and their actions would have fit in that time period much better. As it was, I had to work on not letting the historical data drive me nuts while I try to enjoy Stephen and Rebecca’s story.
My suggestion to the author is rewrite this book at the later time period and do a lot more research before writing another historical. There is nothing more annoying to a fan of historical fiction than things not be historically correct.
Playing peacemaker between King Henry and Queen Eleanor, accepting an unwanted wife for a debt, and collecting taxes keep Sir Stephen Lambert irritated and busy.
At sixteen, Lady Rebecca Grinwold exchanges her papa, who despises her because she isn’t a son, for an unknown master. She doesn’t expect to fall in love with Sir Stephen. Well-educated but unworldly, she has no voluptuous body to entice a world-traveled, handsome man and no idea how to win the notice and affection of the man she’s fallen in love with.