The Love Knot
The Love Knot is a story for readers who really want to sink their teeth into the medieval period and experience everything, almost as if they were there. Although Catrin and Oliver’s love story is well told and with a HEA, the reader should be at least inclined to also enjoying historical fiction and not only historical romances.
The story is set in England in 1140 when it is being torn apart by Civil War. The late King Henry (son of William the Conqueror) legitimate and illegitimate offspring are vying for the crown. Because of the fighting, Oliver Pascal is now a landless and widowed knight and Catrin is is one of the few survivors of a brutal siege. Oliver and Catrin meet at the start of the book after a massacre in which she is one of two survivors. He takes the two back with him to the Lord he serves, Earl Robert, while promising to take personal responsibility for both. Their relationship develops from there. Oliver is a wonderful man, loyal and true, but not dashing or startlingly handsome.
A lot of very engrossing, detailed activity follows. Catrin becomes an herbalist and midwife, and Oliver allies himself with Henry FitzEmpress, great grandson of the Conqueror and son of Mathilda, who is Empress during this Civil War. A man comes between Oliver and Catrin who is a very complex villain, then a murderer also comes among them. And there are yet more plotlines. One of the most interesting of these is Oliver’s fear of childbirth and midwifery, rooted in the loss of his first, beloved wife and child. Fortunately, Chadwick is a writer who can easily handle all of these plotlines and bring them together.
This was the third Chadwick novel I’ve read and, ultimately, I found it very engrossing and well done. However, because the author does not introduce the biggest conflict into the narrative until roughly the book’s mid-point, the first half of the book drags somewhat. Even so, after reaching that point, I couldn’t put The Love Knot down.
Chadwick is English herself and her historical detail seems impeccable, just as it did in her earlier The Conquest and Daughters Of The Grail. I would have graded both of these novels higher than this one simply because they do not delay the most important conflict of the story.
In many ways, Chadwick’s work reminds me of Laura Kinsale’s, but it’s rendered for historical fiction and not historical romance. If you have finished all your Kinsale books and really need something similar, you might give Chadwick a try. Much of her work is available at the public library if you don’t want your first venture to be too expensive; this one’s a hardback.