Saturday, October 1, 2011
Lady Emmalene Eberhart becomes famous at the court of Richard II when she requests that he order her husband, Lord Fulk, to bed her after two years of unconsummated marriage. But her husband dies before the deed can be accomplish and no one knows what will become of the very wealthy, landed, and virginal Lady Emma. Her deceased husband's cousin would be next in line to inherit but the king fears that Bertrand is involved in a plot to depose him so he needs to marry Emma to someone he trusts so that the land and title will not be used to enhance his enemies' power. He decides that Amaury de Aneford, a landless and bastard knight who saved his life in Ireland, would be perfect and that it is a great way to reward loyalty. Amaury has of course heard of Lady Emma and dreads marriage to a woman whose own husband would not sleep with her, but upon meeting Lady Emma he realizes he had completely misjudged her. Despite her complete lack of faith in her appearance Emma is beautiful and her ability to belong, to earn respect from her servants, make him want her, and want to belong with her.
Amaury is much different from Fulk, bigger and far more masculine, but Emma knows she must do her duty even if it quickly becomes apparent she is not sure what that duty is. Their wedding night is full of fumbling and mistakes but during the beginning of the marriage they begin to make things work and Emma starts to enjoy herself. Amaury is confused as he has bought into the teaching's of the church but he is easily convinced that it is great that his wife enjoys his attentions and they settle into a comfortable routine. Their routine is upended when Amaury is attacked in the woods twice and it becomes clear that someone is after him and the only one they can think who might want him dead is Bertrand and his evil, controlling mother. For the first time things are looking up for Amaury and he feels like he finally belongs and has found people who will love him for who he is and he worries that it is about to be snatched away from him. He and Emma, with the help of friends, family, and the King, will have to stop those who wish to do them harm before they can be at peace with their love.
I believe from the prologue that this was Sands first book, written to make her laugh, and while I certainly enjoyed it and found aspects of it humorous I definitely did not feel it was her best book even though it followed a familiar pattern. Emma was a smart, very in charge, yet innocent and naive woman while Amaury was the tough warrior who didn't know how to deal with a woman, especially one who was his wife. The wedding night had an entertaining little misunderstanding which would have been cute except I was expecting it and it had been done before in her other books. Emma's naivete was well done and I was not annoyed by it at all because it was well explained and worked with her character and because it made Amaury's "teaching" her that much more pleasant. I liked that he had to teach her how to love herself, to have confidence in her looks, even while he had to grow comfortable with her own confidence with her people, while he felt like an outsider. I would have liked to see more of her helping him become comfortable in his new life and helping him finally belong somewhere.
I felt like there relationship developed rather suddenly and in bursts through inner musings, like him wondering if he was in love with her a couple of times and going through the reasons why he would love her and her sudden realization at the end. I liked that it mentioned they talked and shared with each other, and found it especially nice because talking to a woman was a new and surprisingly enjoyable experience for him, but we didn't actually read these conversations. There was certainly a lot of sex and it played a big part in their relationship and lead to lots of funny moments and while it was fairly hot, after awhile she just started closing the door on what was going on, which was not that bad after the last book I read. The side plot involving the evil Bertrand his mother wanting to kill Amaury was kind of boring and kind of just popped up randomly throughout the book in the form of bandits and assassins until about 2/3 of the way through when it just seemed to take over. It wasn't really a mystery, but there were some twists that were nice even if it ended completely predictably.
Rating: A fun book that was a fast read, featured interesting if predictable characters and plots, but it was enjoyable even if I would have liked more relationship and less side plot.