Fire Song is a medieval story, featuring a bride switched at the altar, a wonderfully likeable and competent heroine, and a tortured hero who has to learn to love and trust. While I liked the story and loved the characters, the book is flawed by an ending I thought too rushed and melodramatic.
King John of England has decreed Roland St. Sebastian, Baron of Kirkland is to marry Celeste, the daughter of Hugh Chalmers, Baron Penacre, to bring peace between the two warring families. On the wedding day, Celeste confesses to her younger sister, Meredyth, that she is in love with Sir Giles, her father’s knight, and has slept with him. If Celeste comes to the marriage not a virgin, there would be trouble, so Meredyth takes her place. The wedding is performed with Meredyth heavily veiled and she and Roland consummate the marriage in the darkness after Ronald has had a bit to drink. The next morning, Roland is very surprised to find red-haired Meredyth in bed with him instead of blonde Celeste.
Since Roland has married a daughter of Baron Penacre, it makes no difference to King John which daughter it is, so Roland and Meredyth set off for his household. Meredyth refuses to explain to Roland why she took her sister’s place and her sense of loyalty to her sister wins Roland’s grudging respect. At Roland’s household, Meredyth sees chaos and quickly begins to bring order and cleanliness to the place. Her efforts are met with a little grumbling, but when the members of the household see that Meredyth is not afraid to work along with them, they quickly grow to admire and then love her.
Roland remains distant from Meredyth. His mother, who was as outgoing and as capable a manager as Meredyth, left her family to run off with another man. Ever since then, Roland has been unable to trust. He finds himself falling in love with Meredyth, but for him, love has always lead to abandonment and betrayal and he is afraid to trust her.
Gradually, Roland and Meredyth learn to live with each other and he slowly learns that his love and trust are safe with her. Then someone tries to poison Roland and all signs point to Meredyth. This is when events begin to happen thick and fast. I thought that the middle section of the book was too slow and that incidents were piled too heavily in the last part of the book. If the pacing had been as good as the characters, I would have given it a higher rating.