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All art is unstable. It's meaning is not necessarily that implied by the author, There is no authorative active voice. There are only multiple readings. David Bowie, 1995

Saturday, July 18, 2015

...of knights and ladies, love and duty

A Sword for His Lady (Courtly Love #1) by Mary Wine 

Ramon de Segrave newly appointed Baron by King Richard is sent by his king to the marshes bordering Wales. He is to marry the widowed Isabel of Camoys, the Lady of Thistle Keep.
Isobel is anything but gracious about the plans others have for her. Strong wills clash igniting the fires that lie below the calm surface of the Lady of the Keep and her robust Knight.
Having been given in marriage before against her will Isabel is reluctant to give up her independence. Richard has taken her garrison to the Holy Lands. Now she is defenceless, except for Ramon. Then there's her husband's dastardly brother Jaques Raeburn who wants the family lands back, at any cost. King Richard plays a part here. Richard's need for monies for his crusades has allowed Jacques to be elevated to a baron. (Ramon reflects somewhat sourly on the fact that he earned his baron status alongside Richard in war whilst Jacques bought his.)
Whilst Isobel may be able to protect her lands and people by agreeing to Ramon's terms, can she protect her heart? Certainly Isobel is faced with her own sensuality, something that has lain hidden until now.
Mary Wine gives us a fascinating look into practices in these Medieval times and the role of women, particularly of the nobility. I was fascinated by Isobel's methods of collecting and protecting her geese and their feathers, essential for the arrow shafts needed by Richard, the bathing customs of the day and other little tidbits about daily life at the keep.
I was also struck by the inner battle of Jacques' servant sent to spy, Donald. He has sworn before a God to carry out his Lord's orders but what to do when they conflict with his conscience? Donald's struggle highlights the strict religious aspects of feality and medieval practices. 
Ramon and Isobel's fate may be dictated to by a King but ultimately they decide upon it by themselves. The choice of the how's is up to them, with a little help from circumstances and duty.

A NetGalley ARC

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