Saturday, March 24, 2012

New Review: Roberta Gellis’ BOND OF BLOOD – A Medieval Classic…a Keeper to Treasure!

This is a classic from 1965 that all historical romance fans should read. Set in 1147, it is intricately detailed, starkly realistic and historically accurate, reflecting great research. So much so it’s like watching a movie in your mind. It’s the story of Leah, daughter of the Earl of Pembroke and Cain, Lord Radmor, a Welsh marcher lord who, by heritage, was more Welsh than English. Though Cain was sworn to King Stephen, Cain recognized the country was ill served by the weak monarch. The tale begins as the country’s noblemen are all plotting to enhance their own coffers with the news that Henry of Anjou, Maud’s son, may be coming to England to take the throne. Henry is only 16, but already looks more the ruler than Stephen.

Cain is a scarred man, both inside and out, who didn’t want to marry but did so at the urging of his father to make an heir. What he got in the bargain with the scheming Earl of Pembroke were rich lands and a 15-year-old beauty (though he doesn’t see her as such), who is amazingly giving and wise beyond her years. Cain is just possibly the most selfish, sometimes brutal, cad ever to grace a romance novel, whereas Leah is so good it’s hard to believe. Beaten by her father and isolated to the women’s quarters, intelligent Leah has few expectations for a husband. She is pleased when it seems Cain isn’t as cruel as her father, the earl. Leah’s father hates the Radmors but consented to the marriage in order to gain the Radmor lands by assuring the death of both father and son; his ambition is to become the ruler of Wales. But the earl’s attempts to take Cain’s life keep coming to naught as Cain outwits him, all the while straddling the fence between his oath to Stephen and his reason telling him Henry is better for England.

It is hard to believe that years before Kathleen Woodiwiss’ THE FLAME AND THE FLOWER, a romance like BOND OF BLOOD was sitting on the shelf. In fact, this was not even Gellis’ first historical romance; KNIGHT'S HONOR was published in 1964.

Take my word for it; this is not one to pass by. Intriguing, captivating and absorbing. If you’re tired of the light offering of so much of modern historical romance, try this one. There’s lots of the really good stuff here.


  1. Regan, I have been a friend of Roberta's for many years (and used to stay at her book-filled house in Long Island when I visited NYC). She is a scholar and an amazing woman - and she continues her impressive career - an inspiration for us all!

  2. Cyndi,
    I would love to meet Roberta--perhaps she'll be at RWA this year...? I have so much respect for her research and how she stays true to the history while delivering up a satisfying tale of love between a man and woman of the time. I just finished THE DRAGON AND THE ROSE and was, once again, in awe of her work. She'll be on my list I'm posting on April 7 (tomorrow). I do hope you let her know so she can check in to see it.

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