Tracy’s rating: 5 of 5 stars
Release Date: June 29, 2021
Sent to court to serve Queen Isabella, Lady Mathilde Gosselin of Rudstone was definitely a fish out of water and was thrown headfirst into the mystery, viciousness, and intrigue of court life. Not long after she began to serve the queen they went to France on a diplomatic mission and that is where she met Henry Wright of Ludlow.
Henry is a base-born man with obvious ties to the Mortimer family and he serves Roger Mortimer, whom he believes may be his father – but he really doesn’t know, his mother abandoned him at Mortimer’s estate when he was just six years old and he never saw her again. He hopes to gain lands and maybe a knighthood for his service to Roger and even though he is smitten with Mathilde, he has nothing to offer her. But that doesn’t stop him from wanting to protect her and to get to know her better.
As the years pass and the plots and machinations grow increasingly more dangerous, Henry worries for Mathilde and the hold Isabella seems to have on her. For his service during the removal of Edward II from the throne, he was awarded a manor house and land, finally, he has the means to support a wife and asks Mathilde to marry him in secret, as things are tense at court with Isabella and Roger acting as regents and Scots rebelling. He proposes they marry and wait until things calm down before asking permission to marry. Not happy about deceiving the queen, but wanting to have a life with Henry, Mathilde agrees.
More years pass and the time is never right to reveal their secret, but when the barons begin to grumble about Isabella and Roger’s regency, choices must be made and Henry and Mathilde find themselves caught in the middle and sadly on opposing sides. To save the woman he loves, Henry does the unthinkable and breaks Mathilde’s heart, hoping and praying that one day he will get the chance to beg her forgiveness.
This was a well-written, nicely paced, epic tale that spans over six years. This fictional romance is embedded into the true history of the deposing of Edward II by his Queen, Isabella of France, and her lover, Roger Mortimer. Our hero and heroine’s romance is definitely slow-burning, due to their positions at court, so they don’t spend a lot of time together, but when they do, their chemistry is undeniable and their concerns and fears are valid. The story is not as “romantic” as most historical romances, but it is steeped in historical fact and ends up being a very gripping and intriguing read. The story has secrets, lies, betrayal, heartache, warm love scenes, difficult choices, great secondary characters, and finally, a well-earned HEA. I thoroughly enjoyed this story, especially the author’s notes at the end, and would happily recommend it!
*I am voluntarily leaving a review for an eARC that I requested and was provided to me by the publisher. All opinions in this review are my own.*