Published by Harlequin Historical on December 1st 2017
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Bound to her enemy
Ruthless warrior Lothar the Frank has laid siege to Castle Haword, but there's a fiery redhead in his way—and she's not backing down!
More tomboy than trembling maiden, Lady Juliana Danville would rather die than lose the castle. When she's caught on opposite sides of a war, a marriage bargain is brokered to bring peace. But is blissful married life possible when Juliana has a dangerous secret hidden within the castle walls?
~~Reviewed by Monique~~
Sergeant Lothar The Frank was sent by Empress Matilda to Herefordshire to seize Castle Hawood from Lady Juliana Danville, thus secure a bridge vital to Matilda in her attempts to become Queen of England. Juliana has held off a siege from Sir Guian de Ravenell for four months; she is exhausted, her men are famished. Juliana knows that if King Stephen’s reinforcements don’t come very soon, she is doomed. Lothar is a fair man, he admires Juliana’s determination to save her home, but he must ask her to surrender. Juliana has no choice but to accept: it’s her last chance to save Hawood, and Lothar’s conditions are more acceptable than Sir Guian’s.
Jenni Fletcher provides a concise but comprehensive overview of the political situation in 1147 in her historical notes at the beginning of the book, so I will not summarise any further. I thought it was a brilliant idea, as it avoids info dumping during the story; I am thankful for that, because it made it easier for me to enjoy the story. Ms. Fletcher does a spectacular job of integrating the political with the romance as well as everyday life in Medieval England, with the help of accurate historical details and descriptions of such clarity that I felt transported back in time, and many images will remain engraved in memory; the very first pages are unforgettable.
Lothar is a mesmerising presence, and Juliana captured my heart from the get-go because of her fierceness. I felt her despair, her bravery, and even though she was mostly improvising, she succeeded. Lothar and Juliana are both fabulous characters, but it’s a battle of wits, and an exercise in patience from both sides. I thought it very clever how the author told of the political events leading to the siege through conversations between Lothar and Juliana, while they get better acquainted, and try to understand each other. BESIEGED AND BETROTHED is not an easy romance: Juliana has never seen any need for a husband, and Lothar thinks he’s incapable of loving anyone. The romance was very tentative because they’re both wary of each other’s allegiances, and uncertain about acknowledging the attraction they fight to deny. Juliana has a secret, and when it is revealed, it is a doozy, and changes everything.
BESIEGED AND BETROTHED is utterly captivating because the author paints such an exceptionally vivid atmosphere, the chemistry between Juliana and Lothar is palpable, and because they are ever so interesting every step of the way; their relationship is explosive and very realistic. BESIEGED AND BETROTHED is a magnificent medieval fresco of a love that was meant to be between two very strong-willed individuals.
I voluntarily reviewed an advanced reader copy of this book.