~ About the Book ~
FAR BETTER TO LOVE WITHOUT PROFIT…
Even if she must sell herself in marriage to the highest bidder, Lady Laura Middleton is determined to provide her daughter a home and protector. But when Queen Eleanor presents her cousin with four suitors, among them is one who believes Laura betrayed him ten years past. Despite her attempts to discourage his pursuit, he is determined to have her for the dowry needed to save his lands. Should he prevail, how is she to shield her daughter from the enemy who lurks within his walls? And what of her heart? If she reveals the truth of her betrayal, might he love her again?
…THAN LOVE NOT AND REAP BITTERNESS
Beware the Delilah, my son. Beware the Jezebel—advice Baron Lothaire Soames should have heeded as a young man. Now in need of funds, he faces marriage to the woman he lost to scandal. Though he vows to find another way to return prosperity to his lands, his former betrothed proves his only hope and he grudgingly vies to become her worthiest suitor—only to be struck by how little it takes his heart to pick up where it left off. Can he forgive what cannot be forgotten? More, will she forever yearn for the man who fathered her child?
Series: #7 Age of Faith
Genre: Historical Fiction (Medieval)
Release date: 19 January 2018
~ Excerpt ~
“Lady Laura, the queen approaches,” a voice called and knocked again.
Having steadied her lady, Tina whipped up her own skirt and wiped at Laura’s face. She dropped back, winced. “Well ’tis not as if Her Majesty is not expecting this, eh?” She squared her shoulders and opened the door—with no time to spare.
“Lady Laura!” Eleanor’s voice was like a whip against its recipient’s back. “So we waste our time finding you a husband and your daughter a protector?”
Laura splayed her hands amid her skirts, turned.
The queen’s frown deepening, she made a sound of disgust and peered over her shoulder at Tina. “You. Close the door.”
“I should remain, Yer Majesty?”
As Tina swung the door in the faces of the queen’s ladies who stood in the corridor, Eleanor motioned Laura forward.
“Forgive me, Your Majesty.” Laura halted before her sovereign. “I know I should not have left the hall, but would that you had told me Baron Soames was in attendance. As you must know it was a shock to see him again. ‘Tis difficult enough accepting I am to wed a man I do not want without so painful a remainder of the man I…”
“Loved,” the queen said. “Perhaps still love, hmm?”
“I do not. Can not. It has been ten years, and I would be a fool to love one who feels only loathing and revulsion for me.” A tear fell. “Pray, send him away so I may do what I came for.”
The queen studied her so long a half dozen more tears fell ere she spoke again. “What you told us is true, Lady Laura?”
That which had remained a secret to nearly all while Lady Maude lived. “It is, Your Majesty.” She felt the presence of Tina who may have guessed but did not know with certainty the circumstances of Clarice’s conception. “‘Twas not I who made a cuckold of Lord Soames.”
Eleanor’s smile was slight. “Then you have four prospects. By week’s end, you shall be betrothed.”
“Four! Surely you do not mean Baron Soames—”
“We do, and him most of all.”
Not ill timing. The queen’s timing. Laura’s knees softened, but she snapped them back lest she drop at her sovereign’s feet and make Eleanor further regret the aid given her cousin. “Pray, reconsider, Your Majesty. I do not know I can do this with him present. ‘Twill be torture.”
The queen put her head to the side. “Have we not given counsel every day since your arrival? Have we not been heartened to see your body and resolve strengthen? Have we not summoned these men to court given your assurance you are ready to be a wife to the one we deem best for your daughter and you?”
Laura was ashamed by the spill of more tears. “Aye, Your Majesty, but—”
“Then enough! You will not disappoint us.”
~ Review ~
Tamara Leigh is my go-to author for medieval romance, and this has been one of my all-time favourite series ever since I discovered it several years ago. Needless to say, I’m lapping up these new releases as quickly as she can get them published. That said, I wasn’t sure my heart was ready for this one, knowing the painful past betwixt Lady Laura and Lothaire and the misunderstanding that surrounds it. But despite adamantly protesting the match while they had the chance, both characters worked hard to make the best of their situation, and that helped my poor little heart cope with this story so much better than it might have!
It’s a while since I’ve read the first five books in this series, so perhaps my memory is failing me a little, but there was a gentleness about Lothaire, despite his pain, that seems to set him apart from the heroes who have come before him. I loved the way he interacted with Laura’s daughter, Clarice, balancing firm with nurturing, and I loved watching him soften toward Laura.
As for the other members of Lothaire’s family…well, there’s quite a bit going on there, most of which you’ll have to discover for yourself. Let’s just say Lothaire’s mother made no secret of the fact that she did not welcome Lady Laura and her daughter to High Castle. The question is, how desperate is she to prevent the marriage? It wasn’t until towards the end that I began to suspect what was really going on there, so this added a nice element of suspense to the plot.
In more general terms, this novel had all the usual things I love about Tamara Leigh’s writing. She integrates elements of faith that are appropriate for the time period, her writing is evocative of the medieval era without being incomprehensible to the modern reader, and her settings are thoroughly authentic. And she incorporates work and leisure activities of medieval life into her scenes so well—in this case, sheep farming!
Now to patiently await Sir Elias’s story—because patience is a virtue. Not because it’s actually going to be easy or anything. 😉
(I purchased my own copy of this novel)
~ Previous Books in the Series ~
~ About the Author ~
In 1993, Tamara Leigh signed a 4-book contract with Bantam Books, and her first medieval romance, Warrior Bride, was released in 1994. Continuing to write for the general market, three more novels were published with HarperCollins and Dorchester and earned awards and became national best sellers.
In 2006, Tamara’s first inspirational contemporary romance, Stealing Adda, was released. In 2008, Perfecting Kate was optioned for a movie and Splitting Harriet won the prestigious ACFW Book of the Year award. The following year, Faking Grace was nominated for a RITA award. In 2011, Tamara wrapped up her Southern Discomfort series with the release of Restless in Carolina.
When not in the middle of being a wife, mother, and cookbook fiend, Tamara buries her nose in a good book—and her writer’s pen in ink. In 2012, she returned to the historical romance genre with Dreamspell, a medieval time travel romance. Shortly thereafter, she once more invited readers to join her in the middle ages with the Age of Faith series. Tamara’s #1 Bestsellers—Lady at Arms, Lady Of Eve, Lady Of Fire, and Lady Of Conquest—are the first of her medieval romances to be rewritten as clean reads.
Tamara lives near Nashville with her husband, sons, a Doberman who bares his teeth not only to threaten the UPS man but to smile, and a feisty Morkie who keeps her company during long writing stints.