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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