If I Had You
For most of Anne of Fenwyck’s life she has resided at Artane. And for almost as long, Anne has been in love with Robin of Artane, the eldest son. Robin, for his part is also in love with Anne. When the two are young, Robin falls ill and Anne has an accident that permanently injures her leg. Anne becomes the butt of a lot of teasing and while Robin is still recovering, he tries to defend her honor but is beaten by an older knight, Baldwin of Sedgwick. Because of Robin’s embarrassment over this loss of face, he pushes Anne away. Anne naturally feels that it’s because she’s lame. This sets the stage for a big misunderstanding that lasts until they are grown.
Of late, Anne has been living at her father’s holding in Fenwyck – he wants her around because he plans to marry her off. Geoffrey is insistent upon finding a husband for his daughter, but when someone dies at Artane, Anne wants to return to the home of her youth. Geoffrey is not too happy about the idea, and he vows that her stay will be short. Since Geofrrey is so domineering, it’s easy to see why Anne prefers Artane. Robin and his younger brother Nicholas have also recently returned to Artane from France. Both have been away for many years, fighting in wars.
Robin, while his mother’s eldest son, is not the actual son of Rhys of Artane. His biological father died when he was young, and his mother Gwennelyn married Rhys, her true love thereafter. Robin has some serious issues. First off, he doesn’t feel he’s worthy of Rhys, his adopted father, or that Rhys really loves him because they aren’t of the same blood. He also has spent years trying to convince himself that he is not in love with Anne, which anyone can see is just silly. Methinks the gentleman doth protest too much! He’s embarrassed over something that happened years ago that Anne never knew about. Anne, for her part, has no problems admitting she’s in love with Robin. But between her leg and what she sees as her poor looks, she doesn’t feel anyone could be in love with her. If anyone is paying attention to her, she believes it’s out of pity. She tries very hard to rebuff Robin’s attentions by being cold and biting to him, but everyone but Robin can see that it’s all an act.
While the romance is blossoming between these two stubborn people, there are other more devious things going on at Artane. Someone is trying to harm Anne and Robin. It’s not a surprise who it is; the reader is let in from early on who is causing the accidents. And it’s no surprise who wants to kill Robin either. So, while this part of the story is not really suspenseful and I really think with a little more thought, it could have been solved earlier, it does not overshadow the romance. And the relationship between Robin and Anne is really a very poignant one. When the two admit they love each other, I did get teary eyed. Once they give their hearts over to each other, their bond is very strong and they trust each other completely.
In general I am not a fan of the big misunderstanding, but Ms. Kurland handles this one very well, and I was not at all annoyed by it. In fact, I didn’t realize it was a big misunderstanding until I got past it. These two are wounded people and their misunderstanding, silly as they might seem to us, is entirely believable. Rather than wondering why these two wouldn’t sit down and talk out their differences, I was able to focus on the way they healed each other.
I also enjoyed some of the secondary characters, particularly Robin’s siblings, and in particular, his brother Nicholas – I hope he gets his own story soon. Their sister Amanda is both amusing and annoying. As for the villains, they were somewhat less well developed. Yes, they were indeed menacing, but I never really understood the reasons for their actions, so this part of the book fell a bit flat for me.
There is also another secret in the book – but you’ll just have to read it to find out. Overall this is an enjoyable book with wounded characters who come to feel whole because of their love for each other. I encourage medieval fans to give it a try.