Thursday, October 18, 2012

New Review: Jill Barnett’s WONDERFUL – Delightful First in the Medieval Trilogy

This is the first in Barnett’s medieval trilogy (WILD AND WICKED follow)—and I loved it! Barnett injects humor effortlessly into a very convincing medieval tale of a stubborn, rigid knight and his innovative unorthodox lady. It wasn’t forced humor either, but naturally came out of the heroine’s personality and often the hero’s reaction. The second half of the book is more serious and looks like a more classic medieval romance. There are also some wonderful side characters, including a falcon that does not fly, a one-eyed cat and an old crone who may be wiser than she appears. Very well done!

Set in the Welsh Marches in the late 13th century, it tells the story of Merrick de Beaucourt, famed warrior known as the Red Lion, and friend of King Edward, who returns from fighting in the Crusade to finally claim his reward, Camrose Castle and the woman he was betrothed to 6 years earlier. Lady Clio is an impudent young woman who Merrick left twiddling her thumbs in an abbey. She thinks it is fair turnaround that now he wait on her. Her one passion is brewing her ale, looking for that lost legendary “Heather Ale” formula said to have magical properties. Meanwhile, Merrick refortifies the castle and tries to come to terms with a woman who is constantly shaking up his well-ordered world.

I particularly enjoyed Merrick’s reaction to the antics of Clio and her sidekicks when their ale making destroyed the keep’s well: “Merrick did not say a word. He just looked from one pale face to another and another, then turned and stared out the window, searching for something. Patience. Wisdom. Divine intervention.”

It’s a good story and I think you will like it, too. The first half is on the lighter side, but you can tell the book is based on considerable research, as castle life is well described with all the proper terminology. The second half is somewhat different with attacks by the Welsh and some difficult challenges. I recommend it!

WILD tells the story of Marrick’s friend, Roger FitzAlan
WICKED tells the story of Marrick’s squire, Tobin de Clare

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