by Brenda Joyce

October 1996
ISBN: 0-440-20609-X
Reviewer Graphic Button Dell Publishing
Mass Market Paperback

During the bloody war between the Normans and the Saxons, Ceidre vowed loyalty to her half-brothers and their keep, Aelfgar, no matter what the cost may be to her. When Rolfe De Warenne, a.k.a. Rolfe the Relentless raided a village near Aelfgar, the only thing that saved Ceidre from rape and most likely death was claiming to be her half-sister, Lady Alice. What Ceidre hadn’t known was that by claiming to be Lady Alice, she was only making things more difficult for herself since Alice was promised to Rolfe as his bride by the king himself!

When Ceidre’s deception was made known, Rolfe was furious – not only because of her lies, but because Ceidre was the one Rolfe wanted as his bride, not Alice. However, an alliance with Ceidre would not serve his purposes since she was not the heir to Aelfgar, being the illegitimate daughter of a kitchen maid. Ceidre not only had to bear the stigma of being illegitimate, she was also believed to be a witch by most of the villagers. Because of her one eye’s tendency to wander, the villagers believed she could look in two directions at once, and this paired with her healing abilities left them no doubt that she was a witch.

Despite her beauty, Ceidre was used to men being repulsed by her, not desiring her, but Rolfe did not believe Ceidre to be a witch and treated her like a real woman. Unfortunately, Rolfe is one of the hated Normans and Ceidre will do anything to help her brothers regain Aelfgar, including treason against Rolfe, who is supposed to be her new lord. To make matters worse, her sister Alice is extremely jealous of Ceidre and hates her for her beauty so when Rolfe’s obsession with Ceidre becomes obvious, things really get ugly. But thankfully, Brenda Joyce succeeds in making love bloom in the harshest conditions and under the most improbable circumstances.

Medieval settings are probably my least favorite of all the romantic genres, so when I find one that has me eagerly turning the pages, I know I have found a good one. The Conqueror did just that! I couldn’t wait to find out what happened next in this gripping tale of two lovers on opposite sides of a historical battle. The sensuality was so hot that it was blistering, the plot was entirely believable with actual events interspersed with the fiction and the characters were well developed from the hero and heroine to the villain.

While at times I questioned Ceidre’s unwavering loyalty to her half-brothers when they didn’t appear to be very concerned with her well being, it was understandable when considering that they were one of the few people to treat her with affection, not shunning her for a witch. Rolfe’s reactions were also very believable when he discovered Ceidre’s acts of treason, and while we are not privy to much of the inner thoughts and emotions beyond the warrior, his actions spoke volumes about the man within.

In summary, whether you are a fan of medieval romance or not, anyone who appreciates a great story is bound to enjoy The Conqueror!

Reviewed in December 2002 by Nicole.

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