by Bertrice Small

October 2002
ISBN: 0-451-20637-1
Reviewer Graphic Button New American Library
Trade Paperback

At last! A heroine worthy of the considerable talents of Bertrice Small. Unencumbered by ancestral doings, Rosamund Bolton is free to stride through the pages of this book just as she strides over her precious estate, Friarsgate — free, determined, and smart as a whip!

Leaving the complex family dynasties behind, Ms. Small has returned to what she does better than anyone else — telling an enthralling tale of passion, growth, love and history. Intertwining Rosamund’s adventures with those of the young Prince Hal (who would become Henry VIII) this novel brings history to life. I have often mentioned in other reviews that medieval romances can be overburdened with political details and historical settings. Well never fear, this book will educate you but you’ll be so entertained you won’t realize it. The characters come alive at first meeting; Rosamund is almost a catalyst for many of them, for example helping us to see young Henry as a lust-filled teenager with a serious case of testosterone overload. A fitting description of one whose marital interests would reshape the religion of an entire country.

Rosamund herself is a perfect heroine. She is very young at the beginning of this tale, and many might wonder at the widowing (twice) of a girl not yet fourteen. But this was five hundred years ago, when women were merely part and parcel of land deals. Life expectancy was very low, especially for childbearing women, so such behavior was not surprising. The fact that Rosamund survives and thrives is a testimonial to her brains, her courage and her passion for what is hers. This spills over to her husbands, whom she is fortunate enough to love dearly, albeit in different ways.

I was saddened to reach the end of this story, it had held me enthralled as I turned the pages and lost myself in a time long past. I cared about Rosamund, Hugh, Tom, Maybel and, yes, even the King. They had become real people with real frustrations and triumphs and pains, and it takes a skilled writer to produce such characters. Ms. Small has shown her fans once again that she is a very skilled writer. Romance lovers will rejoice in Rosamund and look forward to its sequel. I know I am!

Reviewed in October 2002 by Celia.

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