From Publishers Weekly
Martyn's first novel, The Lady and the Unicorn, won the RITA Award for Best First Book from the Romance Writers of America, so readers will understandably be eagerly awaiting this follow-up. In 14th-century England, Lady Johanna FitzHenry is stuck in an arranged marriage to Sir Fulk de Enderby, who delights in beating her. Given the laws that entitle him to do so, Johanna's only chance at freedom is to find a man to claim in court that she married him first. Enter valorous Geraint, a troubled fellow on the run whom Johanna only knows as Gervase de Laval, supposedly a scholar. For a price, he is willing to pretend to be her first husband. Unfortunately, the two do not get along a problem, since they must persuade the court that they're in love. Then Gervase discovers that Johanna has renounced sex and love because of Fulk's violent treatment of her, and it becomes Gervase's personal mission to liberate her in every way. Johanna is the kind of medieval "women's libber" often found populating historical fiction, and her oil-and-water exchanges with Gervase are sprightly fun. But there are flaws. The period dialect tends to grate on modern ears and the truth concerning what Gervase is really up to, involving King Edward, comes so late in the drawn-out tale that the historical half of "historical romance" becomes incidental. By the time Gervase confesses his true identity and motivation for concealing it, Johanna may still care, but readers no longer will.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
In 1322, Lady Johanna Fitzhenry attempts to escape her brutal husband by visiting her ill father, but her mother concocts a convoluted scheme to pretend that Johanna was secretly married to someone else first. The "someone else" is a man posing as a scholar who is being blackmailed into helping because he's on the run from enemy soldiers. British author Martyn's busy plot involves the imposter and Johanna's evolving love, the various ruses they must use to convince the authorities that they were indeed previously married, a separation while he goes off to war in France and she becomes a lady-in-waiting to the queen, and Johanna's discovery of his true identity. RITA Award-winner Martyn's English medieval historical setting and fascinating court intrigue are more authentic than those of most romances, but they do slow down the love story. Readers who prefer a mere backdrop for sexy romance will be disappointed, but those who like lots of social and political historical detail will be pleased. Mary K. Chelton
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