Narrator: Saskia Maarleveld
Publisher: Deborah A. Cooke (2014)
Length: 12 hours 56 minutes
Series: Book 1 The Jewels of Kinfairlie
Set on the east coast of Scotland, in 1421, Madeline is 23 and her betrothed James was killed on the English assault at Rougemont. Her brother Alexander is laird of Kinfairlie and as such, has the power to marry off herself and her 4 younger sisters (Annalise, Elizabeth, Viviane, Isabella). Madeline’s aunt Rosamund and uncle Tynman advise Alexander to hold an auction to sell off some of the estates art and jewels, including the matrimonial hand of Madeline. Needless to say, Madeline is not thrilled about this. Alexander insists because he has some serious debts. The auction happens swiftly yet Madeline is not satisfied being sold to the highest bidder (Rhys FitzHenry) so she runs away. This leads to all sorts of romantic silliness and adventure.
This was a sweet romance and an easy read. There’s a few bits of history tossed into the book, but for the most part, the setting is just background and doesn’t play into the plot or the characters. In fact, there are some historical inaccuracies or, to be more gentle, anomalies. For example, Madeline is 23 at the age of her first marriage and it would be much more likely that she and all her sisters, except perhaps for 12 year old Elizabeth, to be married off by now. Another example is Madeline’s thoughts on what determines a baby’s gender; Madeline is adamant that the mother has no control over the gender (which we now know to be correct) yet in the 15th century it was widely believed that women did indeed have some control over the gender of their baby. If you can ignore these types of historical anomalies, then you can probably enjoy this book.
It is a fun, simple adventure romance. Bride and groom are forced by circumstance into a marriage and eventually a bedchamber where they find out that they are compatible in at least one area of marriage. Of course there are subterfuges, secrets, and misunderstandings on both sides which each party has to decide whether or not to forgive. Then there’s the coming clean and revealing why they’ve been asses which is followed by the heroic rescue and/or sacrifice. Then comes the lovey-dovey reunion.
I really enjoyed several things about this book. First, there’s a sprite and Elizabeth can see her and interact with her. The sprite reminds me of an impertinent Tinkerbell. Then there are horses and they have names and their owners do fuss over them (always a good sign in a human). The love scenes are sweet and a little steamy (they were steamier than I expected which is a good thing). I also liked Rhys’s backstory, it being the darker, heavier side to the novel. Rhys is also a decent story teller in his own right and I quite enjoyed his little tales.
Once all the misunderstandings are out of the way, there’s a rescue needed. While I felt that it was a bit out of character for Madeline and her sisters, I still couldn’t but help enjoy these final scenes. These ladies are no shrinking violets after all. I would have enjoyed this book much more if the author had gone full on Fantasy genre and made the ladies bold to begin with. I can tell from how this book ends that the author has the skill to write a decent Fantasy novel.
I received a free copy of this book.
The Narration: Saskia Maarleveld was a good choice for this book. I really enjoyed her Scottish accent for most of the characters. Her males voices were believable and she had sexy voices for the marriage bed scenes.
What I Liked: Nice cover art; fun romantic adventure; horses!; the sprite and Elizabeth’s connection with it; Rhys’s backstory and his story-telling abilities; the final rescue.
What I Disliked: Some historical inaccuracies; the final rescue seemed out of character for what we knew of most of the characters.
What Others Think: