THE NORMAN'S BRIDE
Harlequin Historical #696, February
Reviewed by Barbara Fielding
THE NORMAN'S BRIDE is the second in a historical series by Ms. Brisbin. William de Severin, the lead character of this novel, was the villain of THE DUMONT BRIDE, the first title in this series.
Sir William Royce de Severin faked his death following a sword fight with Lord Christian Dumont. He was gravely wounded and pretended to die in order to save his sister from being used as a pawn in Prince John's schemes. Now, he goes by the name of Royce and lives in exile, far from the royal court, serving Lord Orrick of Silloth-on-Solway.
One day he finds a badly beaten woman, left for dead near his secluded hut. Too seriously injured to be taken to Lord Orrick's keep, Royce and the village healer nurse the woman back to health. But when the mysterious lady regains consciousness, she cannot remember her name or anything about her life prior to her injuries. Royce gives her the name Isabel, and discovers from her manner that she is a noblewoman who speaks French and English. As he helps her regain her strength, she awakens in him a desire for a life beyond the mean existence he has allowed himself.
Isabel may not know who she is, but she grows to realize she is still in danger from her unknown attacker. As her recovery progresses she comes to care for the lonely, tortured man who has saved her life. But can a man who has forsaken his true identity find happiness with a woman who cannot remember hers? Are they safe hiding behind secrets and lies?
Ms. Brisbin weaves a tale of romance and redemption in THE NORMAN'S BRIDE. William de Severin's passage from villain into a tortured hero was convincing. Even though I read THE DUMONT BRIDE I had forgotten some of the truly despicable things Royce had done for Prince John, but the character we see in THE NORMAN'S BRIDE is a much different man. He has come to grips with who he is, and gladly suffers all his losses, until he meets Isabel. I applaud Ms. Brisbin for attempting to write a more gallant ending for Royce. However, the focus of the story was entirely on the emotional journey of these two characters. I would have enjoyed the story more if it had included scenes that moved them beyond their isolated relationship
The next title in this series, THE COUNTESS BRIDE, is due out in June of 2004. It is reported to feature the story William de Severine's sister, Catherine and Lord Dumont's younger brother, Geoffrey Dumont. There is also a prequel in the works to THE NORMAN'S BRIDE featuring secondary characters, Lord Orrick and Lady Margaret, who have an intriguing back story and play a matchmaking role for Royce and Isabel. The prequel is titled THE KING'S MISTRESS. Ms. Brisbin is a fresh, new voice of Medieval romance tales and I look forward to her new releases.
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