I'm writing nice short, choppy sentences because I want to get this review in before I put it off and forget to tell people how much I enjoyed this book!
I love discovering new authors, and this book reminded me of why I love historical romance so much.
I had never read anything by Barbara Samuel before but I liked her style in this book. Also I liked how in the story it was demonstrated how a woman could be shamed through no fault of her own-as when Anya, her parents & brother John were attacked when she was 13, her parents were killed, John was beaten nearly to death & Anya beaten & raped. I loved the intrigue & corruption that came out between Anya's brother William (Brother Simon) and Christian's father. Unlike a lot of historic romances I read, the stories just seem to good to be true and the sex scenes while good, not realistic.
When our heroine needs someone to champion her against her brothers schemes and help her save the peasants under her care, her newfound knight is up to the challenge. I was drawn in by the emotion of the story, but I was kept engaged while wondering how our intrepid heroine was ever going to win against her brother and the power of the church that long ago failed her and why the heros father sent assassins after him. Three years after the incident, John, the brother who was nearly killed, went to the Holy Land to fight in the Crusades, while William, her other brother became a monk, leaving Anya to care for Winterbourne, the family holding, and all the people of the nearby village alone. John has been gone for five years without a word, leaving everyone wondering if hes dead, and William wont release funds to help the peasants unless Anya declares John dead, gives Winterbourne to the church, and enters a nunnery. Ever since, Anya has been meeting God on her own terms, while turning her back on the church as a whole, so she receives no help or comfort from that quarter either. Although she fights Christian a bit when he offers her marriage, its only because she thinks hes doing it out of a sense of gratitude rather than genuine love or affection, but at the same time, shes not too proud to accept his help when offered. She also longs to know what it can truly be like between a man and a woman, and she discovers that and more in Christians arms. Hes the only bastard son of a cardinal who had a long-standing affair with Christians mother. As Christian recovers under the ladys tender care, he begins to fall in love with her and sees how difficult her life is. From an emotional standpoint and in the way that he treats Anya like an equal, Christian exhibits some beta characteristics, but hes also very confident in his own skin and with his own abilities, which is more an alpha trait.
The tension between Christian and Anya, the way they both fight against how they feel, yet are inevitably drawn together might seem like a predictable book.
I suggest this book to anyone who loves a great happy ending with bits of passion and worry and misunderstanding in the middle!
I love Barbara Samuels' books and this one was exceptional. Christian holds Anya in her heart and will be her champion, even though he has people trying to kill him.
Her work has captured a plethora of awards, including six RITAs; the Colorado Center for the Book Award (twice); Favorite Book of the Year from Romance Writers of America, and the Library Journals list of Best Genre Fiction of the year, among many others.You can find a full list of all titles here.