Author: Hannah Howell
Release Date: 27 October 2015
There is little hope for sanctuary in the midst of the tumultuous Scottish border wars, yet one woman may find safe refuge . . . in the arms of her sworn enemy . . .
Jennet Graeme has witnessed terrible tragedy during the many years of strife between the Scots and the English. As Scottish invaders plunder her convent sanctuary, she defiantly resists the blond warrior who claims her as his prize. But his brute strength is overpowering and Jennet is forced to ride with him through the lawless lands, tending to the wounded, protected and desired by a man she wants to hate . . . but cannot . . .
Sir Hacon Gillard is moved by Jennet’s compassion and mercy. As a loyal knight, he’s pledged fealty to his king’s command, even as he loses his heart to this remarkable woman. Merciless in combat . . . yet there burns within him a spark for something far beyond the heat of battle…
Hacon slouched in a rough, heavy chair before the fire, heartily approving of the new-style fireplace and chimney set in the wall. It was far better than the usual, a hearth in the center of the room with an inadequate venting hole in the roof. He wondered how Dugald always managed to find such fine quarters for them. This had to be one of the few houses in Berwick that still had an intact thatched roof, one untouched by the fires that even now scorched the town. After glancing at the plunder scattered on the table in the center of the room, he fixed his gaze upon the female plunder sprawled unconscious at his feet.
Twice the girl had come awake while strapped to his back. Twice she had wrapped her lovely slim hands about his throat. Twice Dugald had had to strike her unconscious again to save his cousin. Hacon grinned. She had spirit. Dugald could well be right—she was the devil’s child, even though she had been hidden away in a convent. He would be sure to keep all weapons out of her reach. She could prove to be a very troublesome bounty.
But a bonnie one, he mused, leaning forward. She looked very tempting sprawled on the sheepskin with her thick raven hair splayed out around her. Her headdress had been an early victim of the battle in the streets. While he suspected her too-thin build was a result of the famine that had ravaged the area over the last two years, he found no fault in it. There were curves enough to please him. Her skin was the soft white of ivory touched with all the warmth of good health. He easily recalled her magnificent eyes, their vivid green enhanced by sparks of fury and defiance as she had faced him in the convent.
“Do ye think I have harmed her?”
Glancing up at Dugald, who stood on the other side of the girl, Hacon shook his head. “She breathes easily and there is a growing flickering in her eyelids. She will wake soon.”
“Then ye had best guard your throat.”
The way Dugald eyed the girl, as if she were as great a threat as any well-armed Englishman, made Hacon laugh softly. “She has more spirit than many another in this place.”
“Aye, which will make her a muckle lot of trouble. Wouldnae it be wiser to leave her behind?”
“Much wiser, but I willnae do it.”
“Why? She is naught but a skinny wee lass.”
“Ah, now there is a puzzle.” Hacon shrugged. “I just willnae.”
Jennet had grasped consciousness in time to hear the one man’s disparaging description of her and the other’s response. Her head ached and she knew it was their fault. She had made no move to reveal that she was now awake; her captor’s answer had interested her since it might reveal her fate.
Jennet is minding her own business after seeking sanctuary in a nunnery when carnage unfolds around her. Brutal scots warriors attack the town and the nunnery, and Jennet is prepared to defend herself when faced with Hacon, a rather imposing Scottish warrior. Taken as plunder by Hacon, Jennet has to readjust to her new life as a captive. But Hacon's treatment of her is unexpected and less harsh than she assumed it would be, leading to some very surprising emotions for Jennet.
Jennet is a great heroine, especially for her historical setting. She's got a spine of steel and an intelligent mind. She doesn't act rashly and get herself in unnecessary trouble, but considers her options and makes the best of what she can. I loved her resistance to Hacon at the beginning and the way she softened towards him as she gets to know him. Jennet has very set opinions on war and the men who participate in it. Understandably she just seeks peace but it was interesting to watch her battle her head and her heart when it came to Hacon and his men.
Hacon is a Scottish warrior loyal to the Bruce. He doesn't like fighting and war, despite being good at it, but he does it so he can win back his family lands that are in the possession of the Bruce. His intentions are honourable but it means that he has to fight, and in this time it wasn't just soldiers that were the victims of battle but innocents and whole villages and towns. Hacon does his best to avoid the slaughter of innocents and steers his men away from senseless rape and destruction. Poor Hacon does seem to be stuck between a rock and a hard place but you do come to understand his nature and why he does what he has to.
I loved the relationship between Hacon and Jennet. Even when her head tells her that Hacon is a bad guy, she begins to realise that not everything is black and white. They develop an uncertain trust that becomes a playful and passionate romance. Overall, I did really enjoy this read. I loved the historical setting and the conflict between the moralistic and realistic sides of war at the time. The story could be a little slow at times and was a long one, but it gives Hacon and Jennet plenty of time to overcome the conflicts between them and find peace together.
*I received a review copy for my honest review. Thank you.
About the Author
Hannah D. Howell is a highly regarded and prolific romance writer. Since Amber Flame, her first historical romance, was released in February 1988, she has published 25 novels and short stories, with more on the way. Her writing has been repeatedly recognized for its excellence and has "made Waldenbooks Romance Bestseller list a time or two" as well as was nominated twice by Romantic Times for Best Medieval Romance (Promised Passion and Elfking's Lady). She has also won Romantic Times' Best British Isles Historical Romance for Beauty and the Beast; and, in 1991-92 she received Romantic Times' Career Achievement Award for Historical Storyteller of the Year.
Hannah was born and raised in Massachusetts (the maternal side of her family has been there since the 1630's). She has been married to her husband Stephen for 28 years, who she met in England while visiting relatives, and decided to import him. They have two sons Samuel, 27, and Keir, 24. She is addicted to crocheting, reads and plays piano, attempts to garden, and collects things like dolls, faerie and cat figurines, and music boxes. She also seems to collect cats, as she now has four of them, Clousseau, Banshee, Spooky, and Oliver Cromwell.
Author Links: Website | Facebook | Goodreads
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