Tuesday, December 30, 2014

New Review: Kathryn Le Veque’s BEAST – An Arranged Marriage Neither Wants Leads to Love between a Noble Knight and His Lady

This is the 3rd in the de Russe series. Set in 1431, it’s the story of Sir Bastien de Russe, first knight of the Duke of Bedford, who, while fighting in France, was assigned the job of guarding the captured Maid of Orleans, Joan of Arc. During the course of her captivity, they became friends. Before he death at the stake, she asks Bastian to bring her remains back to England to bury. He doesn’t do that, but he does bring back a piece of her.

The Duke of Bedford, orders Bastien to London to become the “Lord Protector” for young King Henry. For his service, Bastien receives lands, the title “baron,” and the hand of Lady Gisella le Bec. Bastien and Gisella get off to a bad beginning when Bastien shows up at the manor where she lives and she is engaged in a play he finds appalling.

While neither desires to wed, they quickly get over that and a sweet romance develops. Le Veque does an excellent job of portraying their budding romance. For all his bravado with his men, Bastien is a softy when it comes to the women in his family and, uncharacteristic of a warrior, he is comfortable showing emotion, both tears and “giggles.”

It’s a tale with many characters, some no doubt from earlier books in the series, and some historical, but it can be read as a stand alone. Le Veque develops the secondary characters well. There is much action and intrigue as the French patriots who want the part of the Maid’s remains Bastien took from France and his new wife misunderstands his feelings for the Maid.

This is a long one at 418 pages and a lot of it is taken up with medieval life, the food, the travel and the obligations of a knight serving nobility, and the relationships between Bastien and his family, all of which are well described. Le Veque places the story well in the history of the time. The ending was sweet and the epilog endearing. Fans of Le Veque’s work will love it.

The de Russe Legacy series


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