Friday, October 3, 2014
New Review: Mary Jo Putney’s UNCOMMON VOWS – A Worthy Tale from 12th Century England
Adrian de Lancey, Baron Warfield thought to become a priest, but the death of his father and older brothers at the hands of their enemy, Guy of Burgoigne, gave Adrian the title and a reason for vengeance. Adding to that, Matilda names Adrian Earl of Shropshire and King Stephen bestows the same title on Guy.
One day when Meriel is hunting with her falcon, she strays into the royal forest where Adrian and his men find her and accuse her of poaching. Meriel fears to tell him she is a Norman from her brother’s holding, Avonleigh, because they support King Stephen and she knows Adrian supports Matilda, so she lies and tells him she is a Welsh commoner. Adrian takes her back to his castle at Warfield and forcibly holds her prisoner in a small stone chamber, telling her she will remain there until she agrees to become his mistress. Meriel vows never to give in, preferring death to dishonor.
Adrian is her knowing his perfidy by her amnesia…which renders her a docile female, hardly recognizable from the strong-willed beauty she had been. Of course, Adrian takes full advantage.
This one will definitely keep you turning pages. Though it did bother me a bit that Meriel could have been free any time if she but told Adrian who she was. Alas, she does not and remains Adrian’s prisoner. For Meriel, who loved her freedom, it was a horrible fate. Adrian apparently buys her tale that she is common born, though her speech must have been that of a lady. And, though he realizes she is an innocent, he prays for wisdom to seduce her. (The word “cad” came to mind.) I so wanted him to grovel in the end.
The falconry aspects of the story are fascinating and Putney has done her research to present the noble sport well. The historical background is rich and surrounds the romance. I quite liked that. This story has it all: history, a great romance, vengeance, treachery, deceit, amnesia and, at one point, near rape. Oh yes, the ending is an exciting one!
A worthy medieval romance, I recommend it!