Taming the Wolf
Seven. What makes an ordinary number like seven so, well, magical? The seventh son of a seventh son was enchanted. Seven brothers wed seven brides. Seven magnificent men fought for the right. And, a lost princess was given sanctuary by seven diminutive miners. Bonded in some way – often as brothers – seven stalwart males facing evil together is a recurring theme throughout legend and song.
Enter the strikingly handsome de Burgh brothers: Dunston, Geoffrey, Stephen, Simon, Robin, Reynold, and Nicholas. Bound by blood, these seven brothers stand shoulder-to-shoulder, swords drawn in battle, fighting for honor, and for each other. Very sexy. Kind of makes you sigh just thinking about it, doesn’t it?
Taming the Wolf tells of Dunston de Burgh, Baron of Wessex, eldest son of the earl of Campion. Dunston, known across the kingdom as the Wolf, is a formidable warrior who keeps his own counsel. He is feared, revered, and loved by his six brothers to whom he appears awesome and invincible – no battle-hardened army can bring down the Wolf! But you and I both know one soft woman can, do we not?
Lady Marion Warenne of Baddersly is attacked and all in her entourage are killed save for Marion. However, a concussion has left her with no memory of who she is, her past, where she was going, or why. She is saved from death by two of the de Burgh brothers, who take her back to Campion to recover her health. While she does mend in body, her mind still refuses to remember who she is, to the point where she becomes violently ill when she even tries.
In the months she lives at Campion, Marion grows fond of the de Burghs and lets herself think of them as her own family. She believes she has never been happier, nor felt more safe – ’til the day Dunstan, whom she has not yet met, strides into the great hall, and she finds her response to his height, broad shoulders, and handsome features is far from sisterly. Dunston brings with him the news that Marion’s uncle has learned she lives, and he wants her back. Having no legal recourse, Campion is forced to return Marion to her uncle, and Dunston is tapped for the assignment. For tearing her from her happiness, and for being arrogant and pushy besides, Marion hates Dunston. She is certain only death awaits her at Baddersly and secretly vows to escape Dunston as soon as she can.
What follows is a road story, and a good one, too. Marion and Dunston are constantly at odds. The air between them crackles with sexual tension and when their passion ignites, there’s no turning back. Medieval road stories can be trite and boring, but Deborah Simmons has done a great job bringing her characters to life and keeping the story moving; there’s wonderful humor as well. Dunston, Marion, each individual brother and their father are all immensely likeable characters, and I look forward to reading about the brothers in the de Burgh stories to come.
The only real itch I had was with Marion’s single-minded efforts to escape. At first, they fit and the escapes and recaptures were done with humor. Then, during one escape, Marion is nearly raped, yet still clings to the idea of running away. Even after Dunston marries her, she still plans to escape him because he doesn’t love her! Here’s a tall, dark, handsome, rich baron who saves her life (twice), protects her both with his fists and his name (when he insists they wed), promises her a castle and strapping sons of her own, and makes love like a randy stallion, and she wants to escape from this guy? Am I the only one who might think this unrealistic?
At any rate, Taming the Wolf is a fine medieval romance – you’re gonna like it!