Sara Bishop had despaired of ever having a man ask for her hand. Her looks weren’t the problem because she was (of course) stunningly beautiful, but she had no dowry and her greedy stepfather wasn’t about to provide one for her. So when she is offered marriage in exchange for a strip of land in Ireland, Sara jumps at the opportunity. She is quick to rub her good fortune in the noses of her half-sisters and excitably waits to meet her husband-to-be. However, Sara is furious when on the day of their wedding her betrothed doesn’t even deem to show up and instead sends his brother so that their wedding can be performed by proxy. Thus, in her anger Sara’s alter ego, Sabre Wilde, is let loose!
Shane Hawkhurst, a.k.a. “The Sea God”, married Sara for two reasons and two reasons only: to please his dying father and to gain the Irish land Sara holds. He has no intentions of having a real marriage and informs his brother to ship Sara off to one of his remote holdings immediately after the ceremony while he returns to Queen Elizabeth’s court. Sara, or rather, Sabre, has no intentions of being sent away while her husband enjoys himself at court so she persuades Shane’s brother, Matt, to take her to London where she is determined to seduce Shane into making her his mistress. Naturally, Shane is inflamed by lust as soon as he sets eyes on Sabre and sets about to win her, making Sabre's task all that easier. Little does Shane know that Sabre is already his - his unwanted wife!
The love story between Shane and Sabre in The Hawk and the Dove commenced rather predictably and held no real surprises. The secrets between the two caused the usual problems and of course there was also what seems to have been the customary rape scene in books written in this time period where afterward the hero was showed “suitable” remorse by offering the heroine a diamond bracelet and all is well! I was never really convinced of the primary characters’ love for one another - sure there was lots of lust, which was very hot in typical Virginia Henley style, but little genuine affection between the two. Sabre was typically confused in her quest for revenge - she loved and hated Shane at the same time (sound familiar?), and Shane had loads of physical desire for Sabre but neither trusted her nor felt any remorse over threatening her and using brute force when he felt it was necessary.
The saving grace in The Hawk and the Dove was Ms. Henley’s descriptive look at life in Queen Elizabeth’s court and the constant intrigue and danger that was always lurking beneath the surface. Also, the secret life Shane lived by being half Irish and half English and the turmoil he felt by being torn in two gave him a depth he was otherwise lacking.
If you are a fan of this time period and Ms. Henley’s work, I would suggest giving The Hawk and the Dove a try. Otherwise, you might want to give it a pass.