Title: The Wolf & The Witch Blood Brothers Series, Book 1
Author: Claire Delacroix
Genre: Historical Romance, Medieval
Setting: 1375, Scotland
Published by: Deborah A. Cooke
Publication Date: May 11, 2021
Summary: The three sons of a notorious mercenary should never have met…but now that they are sworn allies, the Scottish Borders will never be the same…
Denied his rightful legacy, Maximilian de Vries devised a plan to avenge himself upon his father and see his own future secured. Allied with his two half-brothers, he descends upon ancient and mysterious Kilderrick, determined to seize the keep once promised to him, regardless of the price. A woman rumored to be a witch is the sole one bold enough to defy him, but Maximilian has a solution—he will take her to wife, whether she be willing or nay, and seal his claim.
But this powerful warrior has yet to match wits with Alys Armstrong, a maiden with a thirst for vengeance and a fury that might exceed his own. Alys has no intention of capitulating to the proud and powerful rogue who stole everything from her—no matter how seductive his touch might be—and she does not share his compulsion to fight fair.
Bitter enemies from the outset, Maximilian and Alys’ match is a battle of wills. When passion flares, will either of them be able to resist temptation? And when Kilderrick itself is in peril, will they join forces to save the holding they each prize—and the unexpected love they value above all else?
My Review: Before I even began reading, I was intrigued. Wolves and Witches? Yes, both on my push-button list.
Insight: The characters’ beliefs and passed experiences fuel their present events.
I relate to this premise. Much of how we react to present events and situations stems from previous experiences and certainly our beliefs guide us to what we believe is truth. Sometimes our past experiences favor what we do in the present. Other times, not. A story isn’t a story unless events challenge physically, mentally and emotionally the characters. This, books by Claire Delacroix, do just that, creating an exciting, emotional rollercoaster for the reader.
Each of the two main players—Maximillian and Alys— were shaped by a difficult past.
The author gives us the lay of the land early on through the eyes of Murdoch, a Scot out for revenge with his secret of parentage. He is the snake hidden beneath the foliage. When will he strike?
The Silver Wolf, Maximillian de Vries, the proper son of Jean le Beau, was shaped for whom he was—a mercenary. Dutifully, as a son, he did his father’s bidding. Hidden under his armor of toughness, were facets of his personality he shared with no one. The reader learns about these with the unfolding of the story.
It becomes clear the three brothers fathered by Jean de Vries – Maximillian (the rightful heir), Amaury (the son of Maximillian’s mother’s maid and Jean le Beau), and Raphael, Maximillian’s half-brother, had high hopes with the demise of their father, Jean le Beau. Each were disappointed, for the oldest son of the de Vries was not among them. Only the eldest son of the de Vries family, mother to Maximillian would snag the title and property.
Angered, frustrated, and feeling alone, the brothers made a blood pact. They journeyed with six others to Maximillian’s consolation prize, Kilderrick Castle, thrown at him like some unwanted bone. The hold was promised to Maximillian years ago when upon his father’s command he pillaged it, seeking a treasure, he never found, nor had he heard any other had found it. With the pact, the brothers pledged an oath to defend each other, and to reclaim Kilderrick but it was humored to be haunted with evil spirits and witches. Of these both, Maximillian believed not a word.
Four women, each with their her story of wretchedness live in the forest, robbing thieves passing along the road near Kilderrick. This story involves all four, but Alys Armstrong is the woman who gains Maximillian’s interest.
Once Alys knew who had come back to Kilderrick, she sought revenge. He was the man who killed her father and burnt her father’s keep. She would have her revenge.
When Maximillian came back to find the treasure, he found mischievous women who thieved horses, Amaury’s falcon, and scared the villagers and those under his protection. He, for one, did not believe in witches. His interest was piqued, as he enjoyed a good challenge. Once he knew who Alys Armstrong was, he used her to cement his hold on the keep. She would be his wife.
The story line is as complicated as the relationship between the brothers. It is infused with action and three clever women who are just trying to survive and keep the pillage of the thieves for themselves. When Alys was captured by Maximillian’s men, the other three continued what they had learned so well to do—strike fear in the superstitious.
A good story, layered with several subplots, enriches the read and interest. The author pens a story with a touch of paranormal happenings, action-packed scenes, and some very thought-provoking ones when she lets us into the mind of several of the characters. I felt the perilous shifting of sands beneath the witches’ feet, as they battle their new enemy. Would they win this battle with Maximillian and keep the land for their own?
The author created a unique setting, one I’ll remember for a long while. She ably fleshed-out the four witches and three brothers and I already have some feel of their character traits.
Author Claire Delacroix’s writing style and story-writing ability in her Medieval Historical Romances has always charmed me. Even though this is Maximillan and Alys’s story, her character building of the supporting characters is not stagnant. Rather, there are changes afoot for them all. I eagerly await the next book in the series.