The Knight of Rosecliffe
For a while when I started The Knight of Rosecliffe I felt like a newbie who had been plunked down in the middle of an X-Files conspiracy episodes marathon. “Who are these people and what are they talking about”? I wondered. Happily, I was able to glean enough of the previous story to figure out what was going on, but I warn the reader. This is the middle book in a trilogy and if you haven’t read the first book, you may be as confused as I initially was.
Rhonwen ap Thomas is Welsh and hates, loathes, and despises the English. Her hatred is fed by her friend Rhys ap Owen who also hates, loathes, and despises the English as much if not more that she does. Their hatred is focused on Rosecliffe Castle, home of the English lord Rand FitzHugh and his Welsh wife Josselyn, who is a friend of Rhonwen’s. Rand has a brother, Jasper, who is the focus of many feminine sighs.
When Rand leaves Rosecliffe for a journey, Jasper is in charge and one day Rhonwen spies him by the river. She lets fly an arrow that misses him. but he grabs the feisty little spitfire and they are soon in a liplock. Both Jasper and Rhonwen are attracted and repelled by each other and he lets her go. When Rhys finds out that Rhonwen knows Jasper, he persuades her to go along with a scheme of his to kidnap one of Rand’s children and use the child as a pawn to drive the FitzHugh family out of the castle and out of Wales.
The kidnapping plot is not successful and Rhonwen finds herself a prisoner in Rosecliffe castle with Jasper. Josselyn senses the attraction between them and plays a not so subtle game of matchmaker. At one point, she practically forces Rhonwen to bathe a very aroused Jasper insisting that it is good practice – a lady must know how to bathe visiting knights – rules of hospitality, you know.
Rhonwen and Jasper spend a lot of time in the “I love you, I hate you, I love you” – (Passionate love scene) – “I hate you, I love you, I hate you” – mode. This can get tiring and unless the writer is extremely careful, she can make the reader (me) dislike the characters thoroughly. While Jasper and Rhonwen came perilously close to being annoying, they never quite stepped over the edge. But they were not a particularly memorable pair either. Rhys (who will be the hero in the next book) is much more passionate than Rhonwyn and Jasper who are an O.K. couple, but rather bland as compared to the fiery Rhys.
The book is smoothly written and moves along at a brisk pace. Thankfully, it also avoids the “twas” and “tis” curse of too many Medieval romances. Some writers seem to think if they drop in the archaic word or two and sprinkle the conversation with lots of “tis” and “twas,” they will magically get ye olde medieval flavor. Becnel gives just enough and not too much.
I might have enjoyed The Knight of Rosecliffe more if I’d read the entire trilogy at once. As it is, I often felt like I came in on a continuing story and had to leave just as it was getting interesting. Maybe when the last book in the trilogy is published, I will read all three of them in order and see if the story becomes clear.