Thursday, February 11, 2010
A Common Lady
For years she had thought he was dead. Yet when Addis de Valence strode into Moira Falkner's cottage, there was no mistaking the sharp planes of his face, and the scar she herself had helped to heal. The young squire who had once been her hero was now her lord, a hardened man who returned to claim the son she had raised as her own. But Moira couldn't deny that Addis roused a passion she never thought to feel--and a perilous hope for a future that could never be....
An Uncommon Love
Addis returned from the Crusades to find his lands usurped by his stepbrother, and his country on the brink of rebellion. Determined to reclaim his birthright, Addis could not afford to be distracted by a woman--even one as tempting as Moira. Yet the only living part of his contented past lay in Moira - and his desire for her was more dangerous than his deadly battles with the king's men. By law, Moira belonged to him...but possessing her heart might be far more difficult.
I've heard good things about this author and decided to finally get around to reading her medieval series. Some confusion over which book to read first, but I picked this one because it comes first chronologically, though it was written after the next in this series, By Arrangement. I must say at the start that this book did not thrill me. As medievals go it was fine as far as historical detail and settings, etc. but the story itself was tedious and frustrating, but I held out to the bitter end. Still, I'm a bit "medievaled" out. After The Greatest Knight and now this, I need a break from medievals for a while.
This is the story of Moira and Addis. Addis has been held captive and enslaved in the Baltics for several years, captured while returning from the Crusades, and has finally returned to his childhood home, ready to be lord of the manor again. Moira is a young woman, widowed twice (though they were loveless arranged marriages to older men who died soon after their weddings) She grew up in the household of Addis' wife, Claire (who is now dead.) Known as "Claire's Shadow", she was a sort of handmaiden to Claire, plus Moira's mother had been the mistress to Claire's father, so Moira comes from a dubious background. Not noble, but not wholly a serf either - somewhere in between. Now that Addis is back he must reclaim his lands and manor from his evil stepbrother who has usurped them with the approval of the king, Edward II. This is the Edward that was forced to abdicate the throne and was depicted as the effeminate young prince in the movie, Braveheart, who is married to Isabella of France. One of the sidelines of this book is Addis' role in dealing with Edward II and the Despensers who had Edward under their thumbs.
Addis is instantly attracted to Moira upon returning to his home and insists that she accompany him everywhere he goes. She claims she had been released from his family as a bondswoman when her father died, but Addis will have none of that and claims he still possesses her, and possess her he will! He wants to bed her, but Moira will not go to bed with him and end up just like her mother and have children out of wedlock, blah, blah, blah. I admired her will to be her own woman, for a great lord such as Addis could never marry a woman of low birth such as herself and what kind of life would she have as a lehman? And so is the crux of the whole long story: will Moira give in and sleep with Addis? What if she falls in love with him - what then? Or will she hold out forever, granting him small favors and enticing tidbits of passion yet not the whole thing? Can she let him go to marry another, even though she knows he loves her and she loves him? I have to admit, I just could not get into this plotline because I like my heroine's to be of noble birth - as well as my heroes! There! I've said it (hanging my head in shame) - I'm a romance snob!
Meanwhile Addis is growing more and more frustrated (as is Moira too for there is no small attraction between them) but it became so tiresome! The constant push/pull relationship between the two was so angsty and frustrating! He wants her, she wants him, but she can't and she won't! He won't marry her and she won't be his mistress! It went on and on, the rest of the plot swirled around this main one, and Moira must finally choose - a life with a freemason or choose Addis and live in sin as his mistress? The logical choice is to go with the nice freemason, Rhys, who likes her and wants to marry her, but she's not attracted to him - she's only attracted to Addis! Wah!
Eventually, she does give up and falls in the arms of Addis and they have many passionate nights together, but that still doesn't solve their big dilemma - how can they continue when he must eventually marry another for her lands and money? By the end, I barely cared. I just wanted to get the book over with already! Maybe you'll like it more than I did.
Now, I have it under good authority that Ms. Hunter's other medieval's are much better, unfortunately, I started with the one that seems to be most people's least favorite, so I'm not giving up on her, though I'm not reading the next in the series anytime soon. I think I should have read By Arrangement first. We'll see.