Merrimon Book Reviews

From Medieval Book Reviews
The Novice Bride
The Novice Bride by Carol Townend
by Carol Townend

Kind Hearts and Romance in a War-Torn Anglo-Saxon and Norman World

Set during the turbulent times of the Norman Invasion of the Anglo-Saxon world shortly after the Battle of Hastings, Carol Townend's THE NOVICE BRIDE brings to life a period of history that is less readily available in Medieval literature. The fast-paced, humorous beginning draws the reader immediately into the heroine's lovable character. On her knees in prayer, the novice Lady Cecily of Fulford is interrupted by the entry of her sister Emma. Normans have invaded Fulford Hall, their family home. Emma has been made a ward of Duke William to be given over to marry one of his knights, Sir Adam Wymark. Emma, disdainful of marriage to this Breton, has no choice but to marry or escape. Anxious to leave the convent, Cecily strikes up a bargain to take her place even if it means marrying this man. Adam is drawn to Cecily from the first glance but can a lady, inexperienced in the ways of men, find true love in this marriage of convenience with the conquering enemy? Will Adam ever be able to trust his new bride when political land divisions, war and secrets threaten loyalties? Will Cecily be able to find true love of the heart with this foreign knight when even her own father ruled like a tyrant?

Readers are likely to include Cecily and Adam in their list of favorite hero and heroine matchs. Their kind hearts, torn by political loyalties and inner battles, yet truly noble in even the smaller gestures make them unforgettable. The impossible Prioress is a fantastic secondary character, infusing humor into the story while also allowing the reader to catch a glimpse of the Medieval religious view on women. Mother Aethelflaeda draws the reader in from the beginning, both with a sense of admiration for her independence and moxie but also with a twist of delightful humor as Carol Townend shows some of her less admirable and infuriating qualities as well. Each detail creates a fine painting, bringing alive emotions, inner thoughts and mixed loyalties as well as the terrain and history. After the convent scene, the narrative unfolds while the hero and heroine travel on horseback, giving THE NOVICE BRIDE a different and delightfully new feel to the Medieval world as seen in romance. The fast paced beginning slows slightly in the middle to allow the reader a glimpse into the political loyalties and histories of the characters. Although less focused specifically on the hero and heroine, this background lays an important foundation for the next romance (AN HONORABLE ROGUE) in the WESSEX WEDDINGS series. One word describes the ending --- beautiful!

THE NOVICE BRIDE is a historical romance that will find a special place in the heart of medieval enthusiasts. The author writes the historical language conflict into the plot and dialogue, with the Anglo-Saxons and Normans not understanding each other's language. Carol Townend makes history and the history of language come alive in a real and human way as it might have been lived by the actual people rather the laborious translations needed to access stories told during this difficult English language period. Exquisitely done! A fine romance for two inwardly noble and kind hearts!

Publisher: Harlequin Historical (2007)

Reviewed by Merrimon, Medieval Book Reviews
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