The Truelove Bride
An ancient legend, passionate emotion, and wonderful detail make The Truelove Bride a memorable tale. The climactic ending slips a bit into the unlikely, but the sheer power of the romance between two magnetic personalities left me sighing with satisfaction as I finished the last page.
Lady Avalon d’Farouche is the strong yet wounded result of a violent past and a bleak future. Released into society, she finds no ease to her lifelong loneliness, as it is swiftly apparent that she is fated to be either the target of animal lust or hatred and bitter envy. As a child, Avalon witnessed the slaughter of her family and friends, and the sacking of her castle home. She was rescued from sure death by her uncle, Hanach Kincardine, chief of the clan Kincardine, who kidnapped her to his lonely Scottish village and raised her with a cruel firmness meant to shape her into the woman warrior of the legend Hanach believed Avalon fulfilled. Avalon learned to hate Hanach, fiercely denied the truth of the legend, and vowed that she would never marry Hanach’s son, Marcus, to whom Avalon had been betrothed her entire life.
Marcus Kincardine has had his own devils to fight with his fierce father. He escaped the Kincardine’s heavy hand at an early age when he became a squire to an English lord. Marcus became a renowned warrior in the Crusades, and returned home only after being summoned upon the death of his father. As the new chief of the clan, it is time to claim his bride, whom Marcus and his clan believe to be their salvation – the breaker of the 100-year curse under which the Kincardine clan had long suffered. There are challenges to be overcome, of course. First there is Avalon’s kin, who want to break the betrothal and marry her to her English cousin instead, so they can keep her vast fortune and lands for themselves. Second, there is Avalon’s vow to never marry the son of Hanach, but instead find relative freedom as a bride of Christ in a convent.
The magic in this book is the powerful writing. Avalon and Marcus are vividly portrayed in their strengths and virtues, as well as in their faults and emotional wounds. Physical details make the scenes come alive, and there is none of the supposedly romantic dribble so prevalent in romance novels, like repetitive referrals to incomparable eye-colors, or constant odes to physical perfection. Instead we are treated to pictures like, “. . .her hair clung in long tangles to them both,” and “The wind was taking her hair and making it dance behind her in drenched tendrils. Rain dripped off her chin.” Marcus and Avalon are physically magnificent, but very real in their setting.
In addition, the back story is slipped in gradually and naturally, slowly illuminating the reasons both characters are what they are. The tension between them is exquisite, and keeps the story moving at a satisfying pace, while the outside threats to their happiness are real, and nurture a sinister foreboding that further adds to the drama.
My one disappointment with the book is in the final, climactic scene. Avalon has a supernatural gift that she fiercely denies throughout the story, but in the final moment when all appears lost, she suddenly accepts it and uses it skillfully in ways she had never practiced before. In addition, when the true villain is exposed, that character spends far too long reveling in the telling of all, rather than in actually getting the revenge the character supposedly wants.
These flaws are minor, though, compared to the sheer power of the romance, the vivid word pictures, and the passionate emotions that flow through this tale. A lover of medieval historical romance will find this book a treat.