Tracy’s rating: 3 of 5 stars
Release Date: December 27, 2022
It has been a year since the tragic events at the hands of the Norman Earl, Robert of Rhuddlan, stole everything from her, Princess Gwennan ferch Cynddylan Fawr refused to surrender. She put away her kirtles and embroidery and picked up her dead husband’s sword and along with the few men left on her father’s lands and fought against the Normans invading Wales. A personal war that has been going mostly in her favor until tonight when her small band of men were ambushed, she called the retreat but was struck down herself and taken captive.
Even though she is dressed as a man, Sir Rolant Guyarde knows that the fallen soldier is a woman and protects her identity from his men by taking her prisoner and claiming her as his new page. Gwennan regains consciousness and learns the troop is on their way to her home – Carn Egryn – and bides her time. Soon enough, her men attack and she escapes – but has to leave her sword and horse behind, for now. Later she turns the tables on Rolant and not only retakes her castle but takes him hostage. She makes her demands to Earl Robert, her parents in exchange for Rolant. But Rolant has a better idea, he suggests she petition the King – but the price the King demands may be more than either of them wants to pay!
I thought this was a well-written, interesting read, and though it used the common enemies-to-lovers trope, it still managed to feel fresh and original. I really loved Rolant and I felt his pain keenly, he harbored so much guilt and wanted love so badly, that I wished I could comfort him – I certainly would have been nicer than Gwennan. She too harbored a lot of pain, but unlike Rolant, I couldn’t sympathize with her – she was hard for me to like, and she spewed a lot of venom at Rolant – many times unjustly and was so wishy-washy regarding her feelings. I understand that she loved her husband, but this went beyond that – one minute she is thinking she loves Rolant and the next she is verbally flaying him – I felt confused and annoyed. I could tell you why he loved her – but I still don’t have the foggiest as to why she loves him or when she fell in love. This book has fighting, lies, secrets, loss, heartache, surprises, wonderful secondary characters, heart-retching confessions, more than one romance, very mild love scenes, a sweet declaration scene, and finally a HEA complete with an epilogue. I did enjoy this book, but I don’t think I would read it again, as the romance just moved too slowly for my taste. I did however love the setting in Wales and adored Rolant – he makes the book worth recommending!
*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.*