The Rebel Heiress and the Knight
I have never seen a medieval cover before that accurately depicted a heroine with her hair covered, and that raised my hopes that The Rebel Heiress and the Knight would be an immersive, well-researched experience. I’m sorry to tell you that the cover is the only thing I can praise about this dull, predictable, and amateurish book.
Let’s run through the first forty pages or so (I had a Kindle arc, so my page count is fuzzy):
- Hugh de Villiers narrates to us that he’s been at Tallany Castle with a message from King John for the lady of the castle, Eleanor, and she hasn’t let him in for three days.
- Eleanor muses that she doesn’t really know why she has kept Hugh outside for three days, and that it has “incensed” him, which “was not something she had intended. But she didn’t want to know the contents of King John’s missive.” What are you, five?
- The priest reads the missive in front of the entire hall. She and Hugh are so busy making angry faces at each other that she literally doesn’t listen to the reading.
- Both Hugh and Eleanor are SHOCKED that they are to marry each other. Why wouldn’t King John have told his most loyal knight this before sending him off?
- Hugh “knew he should feel honoured at having such an heiress bestowed upon him, but he didn’t want a wife. His experience had taught him that women were not worth the inevitable heartache.” Oh, lord, NOT ANOTHER ‘wah some lady in my past had feelings’ man. Plus, a landless knight doesn’t want an estate? Or legitimate heirs? What century is this supposed to be?
- Robin Hood (excuse me, Le Renard) is running around Eleanor’s land stealing the King’s taxes. Clearly Hugh needs to stop him. Except – and please note that all prose styling here is original, including the BUM BUM BUM ellipsis:
“Not only did Eleanor help the outlaws, but that she was also one of them! She was, in fact … Le Renard.”
BUM BUM BUM!!!!!!
Basically, after the first four chapters, there is no need to read any other scene in the book. You already know what’s going to happen. Eleanor is going to bemoan her dual loyalties to robbery and Hugh’s dick. Hugh is going to miss an enormous range of clues because this entire concept is, honestly, so ridiculous I don’t blame him for not suspecting it, and then he will worry about his loyalty to King Douchebag, and how it all seems vaguely hypothetical the further he gets under Eleanor’s skirts. There will be unrealistic fight sequences. It’s all going to work out, as anyone with a modicum of English history could have told you when they saw that the book was set in 1215.
Why a D- and not an F? Hard to say. It’s unoriginal and boring and bad, but it isn’t mean or misogynist. And I do like the cover.
I’m not een kidding when I tell you that the last line of the book is “As you wish, my love, as you wish.” “As you wish” is the iconic declaration of love from The Princess Bride. Well, for a book that didn’t have any other original ideas in it, I suppose it’s a fitting end.
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I'm a history geek and educator, and I've lived in five different countries in North America, Asia, and Europe. In addition to the usual subgenres, I'm partial to YA, Sci-fi/Fantasy, and graphic novels. I love to cook.
|Review Date:||July 9, 2020|
|Book Type:||Medieval Romance|
Well, after reading the review I had to check out the excerpt. I think what I enjoyed most were all the narrative sentences ending in exclamation marks :
“God give him strength!
Oh yes, a face and body that could send a man to purgatory!
By God, she was infuriating!
Not that Eleanor cared what he thought!
She shuddered at the thought of that!
There had to be a mistake!
Dear Lord, this could not be happening!”
The prose is trying. It’s not having any effect on me, but it’s trying.
“The prose is trying. It’s not having any effect on me, but it’s trying.” LOL! Always love your posts, Marian. And I miss your reviews. :)
Thank you! I read another couple of romances recently, so when I have some days off next week I’ll write up reviews for them.
What a waste of a gorgeous cover. I agree it’s one of the best depictions of a Medieval woman I can remember seeing on a book cover. No question I would have bought it on that basis alone if I hadn’t read your review. Talk about false advertising!
Caroline! OMG. This sounds awful. Seems like we are of similar minds with our reading…I just finished the first book in Marsha Clanham’s Robin Hood-esque trilogy. I enjoyed the first book and am currently working my way through the second one. I finished The Wolf and the Dove, by Kathleen Woodiwiss, earlier in the week. Most medievals require the reader to simply grimace and get on with it re: female characters…and I find once you are in this mindset, it’s jarring to read a contemporary romance! I’ll all about escapist romance these days – and medievals are working for me. This world is nothing (thank god!) like my own. If you stumble across a hidden gem, LET ME KNOW. I am here for it.
Did you read Jo Beverley’s Dark Champion, which I recommended in my column the other day? There are three our four chances it has to take a hard turn to Modern and it always refuses and I love it. She actually has a lot of medievals, but we don’t seem to have reviewed many. My memory is vaguely telling me that I loved The Shattered Rose maybe seven years ago. Her Lord of Midnight has a DIK here as well: https://allaboutromance.com/book-review/lord-of-midnight/
It’s on my list…I spent WAY TO MUCH money the day your piece came out. I hoped our library would have a lot of the titles, but they don’t. These books are longer/denser than regular romance fare so it’s a slower pace. I didn’t like the few Jo Bev regencies I read; I’m willing to try her in a different time period though.
Interestingly, I don’t love her regencies either! Hopefully that’s a good sign!
As a medieval fan, I was shaking my head at this one two paragraphs into the review. There’s nothing worse than when a book’s potential dies away not because it’s incredibly, campily awful, but because it’s just that dull and unoriginal. It could at least have the guts to be bad in a unique or memorable way, but no! Good work, Caroline!
My favorite line in the whole review: “Eleanor is going to bemoan her dual loyalties to robbery and Hugh’s dick.” LOL!
Thanks, Caroline, for slogging through this. The cover attracted me as well, but the description screamed “Gender-Swapped Robin Hood Knockoff” to me- and not in a good way.
Love the review, sorry you had to read the book in order to write it. :-)
Love reviews that make me laugh out loud. Great one, Caroline! Thanks, sounds like a real stinker.