Medieval Ireland — castles, princesses, and knights! I can never resist medieval romance novels, so I had high hopes for Claire Delacroix’s The Princess, first of the Bride Quest Trilogy. And I wasn’t disappointed! Delacroix combines interesting dialogue, engaging characters, and a new twist on a classic “forced- marriage” plot into a story reminiscent of a bard’s tale.
According to King Henry II’s decree, Brianna of Tullymullagh, only child of Connor, King of Tullymullagh, must marry one of the three sons of the man who conquered her father’s kingdom. Although the three knights (Luc, Burke, Rowan) seem like nice guys, Brianna grew up listening to happy stories about her parents’ love-match, and has decided that she will only marry her “one and only true love.” She sends the three men on a quest to find something to make her laugh, knowing that she won’t even let herself smile.
Burke and Rowan set off to fulfill Brianna’s quest, after all, she is gorgeous (people call her the Rose of Tullymullagh) and Tullymullagh itself is a prosperous holding. However, Luc, who gave up his knight’s spurs a long time ago, refuses to participate. He only came to Tullymullagh at King Henry’s request, and wants nothing to do with the seemingly corrupt world of knights and ladies.
Evil arrives at Tullymullagh, soon after Burke and Rowan leave on Brianna’s quest. People start getting murdered, including the priest of Tullymullagh and Brianna’s father. Luc helps Brianna determine that someone is after another “Rose of Tullymullagh” that Brianna’s father has been hiding for many years. The crisis draws the pair together, and Brianna realizes that she truly loves Luc and would be happy to spend the rest of her life with him. It takes Luc a little longer to come around, but of course he cannot deny his feelings.
Delacroix has a very musical style of writing, transforming this story from a romance novel into a bard’s tale of knights, quests, mystery, and love. To some, the style might be too embellishing, but to me, it heightened my enjoyment. Although the book is long, the great dialogue between the characters and the steady development of Luc and Brianna’s relationship kept me interested. Once the mysterious “Rose of Tullymullagh” was introduced to the story, I was hooked, because I wasn’t sure who was the murderer.
I’m not sure how Brianna kept from laughing after Rowan and Burke returned from her quest. I know I was laughing out loud at the ensuing scenes, and I always enjoy a book that makes me laugh. I also liked the way Delacroix handled the growing intimacy between Luc and Brianna. I felt their progression from innocent kissing to making love was realistic, yet still very sensual and loving.
Good storytellers weave plot, romance, and intrigue seamlessly, surrounding the reader with the sights and sounds of the story. Delacroix captured me after I read the first sentence of the book, “Tullymullagh could not be lost!” and left me wanting more when I finished the last chapter of the book. I’m looking forward to the next two books in the trilogy, and I may have to re-read this one in the meantime.