Thursday, October 12, 2017

Review: Rebecca Brandewyne’s ROSE OF RAPTURE - Superb Medieval Romance Steeped in War of the Roses History

I knew this story, set in the 15th century, was going to make me cry when at the beginning Isabella, age 25, is saying goodbye to the ghosts that haunt her...all those who died in what would become known as the War of the Roses...all those she loved. And then we are sent back 20 years to where it began, when she was just a young child raised among the nobility.

With the death of her parents, she became the mistress of Rushden Castle. She and her treasured brother Giles, who is only a bit older than she and now Lord of Rushden, will have a "warden" appointed by the king to see to the young children's needs. But King Edward IV does not give them a kind man and so their youth is a hard one. Isabella's only solace is in her menagerie in the stables where she cares for and heals hurt animals.

The novel is divided into five "books": Against the Summer Sky, The Rose of Rapture, The Windswept Moors, Tears and Lonely Sojourn. Book one begins in 1490, then we're back to 1470, then back to 1453 as we experience the beginning of Warrick ap Tremayne, a half Welsh bastard of an English lord who grows up at his father's castle, Hawkhurst, to be a favored knight of Edward. When their first warden dies, the king makes Warrick the new warden of Rushden, and though he has no desire to marry, betroths him to Isabella, now 15. But she loves another...

This tale is rich in the history of the time, so much so that at times I had trouble holding all the names in my head as Brandyewyne weaves a complex tale of deception, intrigue, mystery and betrayal. The lives of all are influenced by the battle for the English throne that takes on the appearance of a game of musical chairs before it's done.

I'll warn you the ending is bittersweet, but it's a great love story...a well told tale of two worthy characters living in a tumultuous time. I highly recommend it.

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