Genre: Medieval Historical Romance
Story Setting: 1485 A.D., England
Published by: Dragonblade Publishing
Published: April 1, 2014
Production Published by: Kathryn Le Veque Novels
Narrated by: Brad Wills
Release Date: August 28, 2014
Listening Length: 12 hours, 26 minutes
About the Story: On her way to meet her betrothed with her four hundred soldiers as part of her dowry, Lady Alixandrea Terrington St. Ave, needed to stop before she reached the castle. She had her men stop at a tavern very close to the castle itself to gather her wits and her ‘sloshing brains’ after nine days of riding a carriage with a bad axle and her driver’s inept ability to drive anyway that would make her more comfortable.
She had been betrothed to Matthew Wellesbourne for ten years. Her uncle, Howard Terrington, decided he had waited long enough. He would give Matthew Wellesbourne, The White Lord of Wellesbourne, no more time. He had to have access to Wellesbourne castle. Alixandrea had heard tales of The White Lord since childhood–a giant of a knight with a reputable reputation.
Being a beautiful well-spoken woman, she could not escape notice when she entered the tavern. She looked like an angel in the doorway of the tavern. Once in the tavern she was approached by a rather large man who offered to bring her refreshment. When she refused, he hardly believed it. All women were immediately enamored of him, wanting his company. Sir Luke introduced himself and conversationally introduced his brother, Matthew of Wellesbourne, who was sitting in the far corner of the tavern as being of ill-temper, ‘brooding like a bear’.
At this point, Alixandrea saw him for who he was, her betrothed. Politely, she asks why he is unhappy and Sir Luke, drinking liberally, spills that he is unhappy about the impending marriage for he does not want to marry, so he came to the tavern to drown his sorrow in drink and wenches. Obviously Sir Luke’s tongue is quite lose with drink because he mentions that Matthew’s betrothed probably isn’t all that attractive, but she’s worth something for she’s bringing with her 400 fighters and a large dowry.
Slightly bemused, Alixandrea now knows that she must marry, but not with any merits she herself brings to the union. All her girlhood dreams are gone. Hers will be a marriage without respect, let alone love. She accepts this bit of news with head held high.
The scene that follows has Matthew crossing the room to meet her after he’s heard all the foolish remarks his brother has spoken. He sees her beautiful and soft-spoken, a woman he’s attracted to.
So many forces are afoot around this union that soon begin to materialize. Are Matthew and Alixandrea strong enough to combat them all?
My Thoughts: This book was everything I could want in a Medieval historical romance. The cadence of its sentences, along with the superb (and frankly, ravishing voice) delivery of narrator Brad Wills, transported me from now to then. From the outset I was engaged with the humorous scene where Luke tells Lady Alixandrea the woes of his brother and how utterly ashamed Luke became once he knew who he spoke with.
Kathryn Le Veque’s descriptive words of imagery set the scene of each act. I clearly smelled the putrid stench of the tavern as Lady Alixandrea walked through the doors, the dirt of the road that her maid kicked up while walking, the terror of a battle raging around her head and helpless for escape, of stables smelling of hay and urine. I was there. I saw it all.
It was a story of heightened tension in a gripping storyline erupting even before Matthew could take Lady Alixandrea to the castle. Their neighbor, a Tudor ally, attacked them, something Matthew knew would eventually happen, just not that day. Luckily, with the additional 400 fighters with him he fought well, even though the attack was a surprise. They were able to fight them off, but Luke, Matthew’s brother, was struck by an arrow. He had been guarding Alixandrea. I was ready to see the lady shot or White Lord injured. But we find that Lady Alixandrea is not only beautiful and as graceful as any queen, but quick-witted, intelligent and courageous besides.
We learn Matthew is not only a fighting knight, but also a compassionate son. For the last 12 years, since his mother had died, their father, also a knight, had never been exactly sane. Anything could set him off. Matthew had taken it upon himself to try to manage his environment so he would not go over the cliff into madness. He’d drink and talk of his lost lady love, how much misery life was without her and very often would try to kill himself.
From the first, I was caught in battle, intrigue and the wicked ways of greedy men. I was privy to how knights discuss strategy and warfare. I was party to reasons why men fight each other, why some men would follow Richard III and others Henry Tudor, how women could be used as pawns to barter.
I enjoyed the scenes where the four brothers, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, all knights, would work together to protect their own and their king, would discuss the great battle soon to be fought because it was evident something large was going to happen. When divisions were apparent among the brothers, it never interfered with how they pulled together. The author created a great story in the throws of history. Certainly, this would make a great film!
This story gave me a real sense of the peril people lived in during that time of history in England, with the constant wars. It was a gripping tension-filled read, further enhanced by the excellent performance of narrator Brad Wills. His voice for Matthew was perfect. It is a deep bass voice that only bespeaks the size of the man. I coward when he spoke and then he’d use his voice speaking words of respect and love to Lady Alixandrea which would melt my heart. But with such a huge, massive voice, he paradoxically spoke the dialog of Lady Alixandrea eloquently, befitting the woman. His voice for the lady’s maid, had a rather raucous pitch and volume much as I envision the non-nobility of that time period speaking. Brad Wills’ performance perfected a most perfect story. She’s gained another besotted fan!
About the Author: KATHRYN LE VEQUE is an Amazon All-Star author, and a #1 bestselling, award-winning, multi-published author in Medieval Historical Romance and Historical Fiction. She has been featured on USA TODAY’s HEA blog along with numerous other publications and blogs.
In September 2014, Kathryn was the 41st MOST READ author on Amazon. She is extremely prolific with over 50 published novels and 37 #1 Hot New Releases in Medieval Historical Romance since May 2012. Her August 2014 release, NETHERWORLD, was a #1 Hot New Release in Medieval Historical Romance for over five weeks. When new readers see how many novels she has published, the inevitable question is…
“She writes so many novels! Are they any good?” The answer is… YES!!
Welcome to Medieval England – hard-core, battle-scarred, power-driven alpha knights of the highest Norman order and the women who love them. Like High Middle Ages action and romance? Welcome to the Le Veque Medieval Machine.
Kathryn’s Medieval Historicals have been called ‘detailed’, ‘highly romantic’, and ‘character-rich’. She believes that total immersion in a time period is essential to creating the perfect story. More than that, she writes for both women AND men – an unusual crossover for a romance author – and Kathryn has many male readers who enjoy her stories because of the male perspective, the action, and the adventure.
See Kathryn’s fanpage on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/kathrynlevequenovels?ref=hl
Join her on Twitter @kathrynleveque
Visit her website at http://www.kathrynleveque.com
About the Narrator: Brad Wills has been narrating audio books for a little over two years, specializing in the Historical Romance genre. His most frequent collaborators are Kathryn Le Veque, Suzan Tisdale, and Amy Jarecki.
Other titles he has narrated for Ms. Le Veque include LORD OF THE SHADOWS and GUARDIAN OF DARKNESS, with NETHERWORLD and SERPENT currently in production.
In addition, upcoming projects include numerous titles from Ms. Le Veque’s 2015 lineup, a four-novel series for Ms. Jarecki, and FREDERICK’S QUEEN from Ms. Tisdale’s Clan Graham Series. Before diving into the realm of audio book narration, Brad spent 20 years in New York as an actor/singer. His credits include the 20th Anniversary Broadway revival of ANNIE, touring with MAMMA MIA! and THE WIZARD OF OZ, and numerous regional productions. As a singer, Brad made appearances in several cabaret shows, and sang with the á capella jazz octet Pieces of 8, with whom he recorded the album FALLING TOGETHER. He was also featured on the Grammy-nominated (Best Opera Recording, 2004) studio recording of composer Edward Thomas’ operatic adaptation of DESIRE UNDER THE ELMS.