My Lord Conqueror
After finishing My Lord Conqueror, I began hunting down more Samantha James medievals. Yes, this book has its weak points, but it also holds enough promise and enjoyment to recommend its siblings. My Lord Conqueror also wins the prize for best recovery, ever. At page 25 I violently hurled the book to the floor so hard it slid across the room. That the story recovered enough to verge on a B- before descending again says something in itself.
The Normans have just conquered England and Merrick has been awarded the castle of Brynwald. There he encounters Alana, bastard daughter of the former lord. Since she might foment rebellion, he takes her as his prisoner.
Alana is torn in several ways. Not only is she technically a peasant who cannot aspire to be more than the mistress of a lord, she has the gift of true dreams and they warn her away from Merrick. She finds him a lot nicer than he seems, but he has turned her noble sister into a servant and forbids her to see her old friend Aubrey in the village. Merrick, on the other hand, suspects there are enemies and traitors around, and finds it difficult to take Alana at her word. Not only do her actions not exactly inspire trust, but she is a mouthy handful, however lovely.
In fact, it is Alana’s big mouth that instigated the early wall-banging incident. Let’s just say that if I had just been saved from being gang-raped, I’d have been a bit more polite. Some readers might find Alana and Merrick’s incessant “now I trust you, now I don’t” a stumbling block.
This book contains sex scenes between the villains that perpetuate the tradition that only bad girls are allowed to freely explore their physical desire. Heroines can only do that with the hero, and only after having been thoroughly bedded by the hero for most of the book.
Merrick’s sister Genevieve and the Saxon man-at-arms, Radburn, provide a welcome secondary romance, as well as reasons to move the story forward, whenever advice, jealousy or a pretty dress is needed. The writing is light and not unnecessarily bogged down in medieval realities and terminology.
My Lord Conqueror is definitely a mixed bag. It is filled with all the Saxon-vs-Norman-in-1066-clichés, and yet the very familiarity of the story and its characters had an appealing quality. Because the story is told unevenly, however, it doesn’t quite make the cut as a comfort read. Sometimes the pages zipped by in fast and intensive reading. Sometimes I wanted to shake Alana and Merrick warmly by the throat. It was a bumpy ride that and I nearly closed the book with a forgiving smile – nearly, but not quite.