When beautiful, spirited Finnula Crais kidnaps the dashing knight Hugh Fitzstephen, she has no idea that she’s ensnared the new Earl of Stephensgate on his way home from the Crusades. Nor does she realise that Hugh is quite happy to be kidnapped by an enchanting tomboy, and will do anything it takes to avoid being rescued. With Finnula determined to hold Hugh to ransom, and Hugh equally determined to steal Finnula’s heart, it isn’t long before the fireworks start! And just when it looks as if there might be a happy ending, disaster strikes. When an attempt is made on the new Earl’s life, there is only one suspect – and even if he loves her dearly, Hugh can’t let her get away with it . . .
The cover of this book drew me in – classical and romantic – and the book did not disappoint. I found it to be a refreshingly different historical romance, in that it has a unique blend of the conventions of the genre and also elements of the most contemporary romances in terms of characterisation and writing style.
I really enjoyed Meg’s language in the book, which draws upon ‘ye olde’ English without reaching the point that the reader is lost or bored. I especially like her inclusion of quite modern imagery, such as this simile: ‘Finnula Crais, like a splinter, had worked her way beneath his skin with remarkable speed, and digging her out, he realized, was going to be no small task.’
The writing is witty and fun, and the story moves along with energy that kept me turning the pages. The story was interesting, with a good number of twists, and believable – despite the very twenty-first-century feeling heroine who is strong, sassy and courageous. Romance novels traditionally end with the marriage of the hero and heroine, and I liked the fact that in this book the wedding comes around halfway through, which allows us to see how Finnula and Hugh fare as husband and wife.
It’s a passionate and romantic book, and I thought the intimate scenes were well described. Meg remains sensitive to the fact that the heroine, Finnula, is young and inexperienced, and while during the time in which the book is set she would have been very much a woman (indeed, she’s on her second husband), a modern reader wants to feel comfortable that she is allowed to grow into maturity in her own time. At times, when reading about Finnula I found myself feeling like perhaps I was reading a young adult novel, but then Hugh reappeared – very much a man – and I shifted back to thinking this was an adult book. I expect it may work well as a crossover novel, though it is rather steamy for a young adult reader. Still, I was reading the likes of Mills and Boon in my teens…
Overall, a really good read I heartily recommend, and I will be looking out for other novels by this author in the historical romance genre.