by Tracy L. Ranson

July 2003
ISBN: 1-58608-212-4
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Kieran of Stratford halted his horse at the top of a rise overlooking his lands and his castle. While he had been fighting in the Holy Land, those things were taken from him by his brother, along with the woman he was engaged to marry. He hadnít loved Odette, but had offered her the protection of his home until he returned. Instead, in his brotherís keeping, she had found heartbreak and death. This state of affairs is what The Conqueror faces when he returns to England. He had helped conquer the Holy Lands, now he must conquer his own land.

Kieran hasnít the men necessary to recapture Stratford, but he knows who has. To gather information as well as food and shelter for his men, Kieran goes to the local abbey, where he has a friend, Father Cesare.

Father Cesare also knows who has the army needed to retake Stratford: Constance, the Duchess of Ravenwood. Kieran had grown up around Constance, but they had not had a cheerful relationship. As a plump girl she had tagged after him, wanting to be part of his life, and he had teased and tormented her. She had sworn that if ever he came to her for help, he wouldnít receive it.

Kieran not only needs Constanceís army, he discovered while he was gone that he needed her. Although engaged to Odette, all he thought about was Constance and what he would do when he got home. But will she believe him, or will she think his words of love are only spoken to get her army? And what of Hugh, Kieranís evil brother? Heís ready to make a play for Constance, too. Kieran has left one war only to find another, requiring a different kind of strength and cunning.

The story of The Conqueror is a classic. To me, Tracy Ranson did a very good job of writing the characters. Kieran tries his best to use patience, but it's difficult when he knows so well what it is he wants. Constance still remembers how she hurt when Kieran taunted her as a child, but she knows she feels something else for him as an adult. Ms. Ranson does a good job of explaining both of them. Bringing Kieran to the point where he declares and proves his love was particularly well done.

But unfortunately, for this reader, the book moved very slowly. Dialogue went on for several paragraphs that didnít seem to move the story along. Worse than that were the errors I found throughout. This book needed some serious editing. I donít fault the author for this (unless she took it upon herself to do her own editing), but it was bad enough to be distracting while I read.

This was quite a disappointment. I like historical romances very much and had actually purchased this book for my personal TBR stack. With some editing to catch the grammatical and punctuation errors, and some pacing changes, it would have been far better. Ms. Ranson, please give it another try with some better post-writing support.

Reviewed in August 2003 by Kris.

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