Merciless (Tamara Leigh) – Review

~ About the Book ~


A battle. A crown. The conqueror. The conquered. Medieval England—forever changed by the Battle of Hastings. And the rise of the formidable Wulfriths.

Chevalier Cyr D’Argent convinced himself he joined Duke William’s invasion of England to reform its church and place its rightful king on the throne. But after a decisive Norman victory, the truth of his quest is revealed when his search for fallen kin leads to a Saxon grieving a boy slain by one of his own. Certain the defiant young woman will become the pick of the plunder, he forces her off the battlefield. Following a pilgrimage of penance, Cyr returns to England to seek his missing brother and claim the barony awarded by King William who stipulates he end the rebellion on his lands. He agrees, only to discover the woman he cannot forget is among those he must vanquish—and may even be their leader.

On a fateful autumn day in 1066, Aelfled of Wulfen’s mistake leads to the death of her lady’s son. Unforgivable—as is the silver-haired warrior who tempts her to put a blade in his back then does the unthinkable in protecting her from his fellow Normans. Now under the usurper’s rule, faith crippled by her people’s suffering, she finds her sanctuary threatened when she becomes a pawn of the rebel leader—and destroyed when betrayal delivers her into the hands of the man who haunts her dreams. As the fires of unrest scorch lives and lands, Aelfled struggles to shield her heart as well as her people. But perhaps love can unite Normans and Saxons. Perhaps she is meant to be here…with him…for such a time as this.

Genre:  Historical Romance
Series:  #1 Age of Conquest
Release date:  16 November 2018
Pages:  452

Amazon US  //  Amazon AU  //  iTunes  //  Goodreads

~ Excerpt ~

Returning his regard to her face, he realized he had fallen far short of one of the most important skills possessed by a man of the sword, that of being observant. Until this moment, he could not have well enough recalled her features to describe one whose pooled dark eyes, delicate nose, and full mouth were framed by blond tresses whose soft undulations evidenced they had recently lost their braids.
She might not be called beautiful, but she was comely enough to be among the pick of the plunder once less honorable Normans came looking for sport. Though her French might be nearly without fault, it would be of little use to one who numbered among the conquered, especially were she of the lower ranks as her simple gown suggested.
He started to warn her way, but in a husky voice almost sensual in its strains and likely beget of tears, she said, “You have not answered me.”
Casting backward, he recalled words spoken while he beseeched the Lord’s forgiveness. Did he truly believe the prayers of a savage, a murderer, a slayer of children would be heeded?
Offended as he had not been earlier, he fought down ire. There was much for which he required forgiveness, but he was none of what she named him. He was a soldier the same as her men with whom he had clashed. And she who had witnessed a humbling to which he had only subjected himself in his youth mocked him for it.
“My prayers are between God and me,” he growled. “His forgiveness I seek, not yours, Saxon.
She set a hand on a thin psalter suspended from her girdle, its leather cover stained at its upper edge. “What of the forgiveness of a mother soon to learn one most precious to her is lost? What of she who shall mourn her slaughtered child unto death?” The woman jerked her chin at the boy whose blood had likely stained the psalter, then with more contempt than he had managed, added, “Norman.
Cyr was not steel against imaginings of such loss he knew must be greater than that felt for a brother gone too soon. Had the eldest D’Argent son not survived the battle, never would their mother recover.
The Saxon lowered her chin, slid the knife in its sheath, and stilled. It was the psalter that gave her pause, and as he watched her slowly draw her hand away, he knew she had been unaware of the blood upon it.
A sound of distress escaping her, she pivoted and started back toward the boy.
It was then Cyr became aware of gathering voices and looked down the hill across the meadow. The Normans who had slept off the day’s battle were rousing.
“You should leave!” he called.
She halted alongside the boy and peered over her shoulder. “I am not the one who trespasses.”
He shifted his jaw. “Those who have little care for who has the greater right to be here will care even less when the unfolding day allows them to look near upon their dead.”
Her brow furrowed, and he knew she questioned his concern. Then she laughed, a sound that might have soothed a beast were it not so barbed.
“You are not safe here,” he snapped.
She narrowed her eyes at him, swept them over the body-heaped meadow. “This I know, just as I know none of England is safe whilst beast like you trample it.”

Want to read a longer excerpt? Head over to Tamara Leigh’s website.

~ Review ~

Oh my word! Never mind merciless; I’m breathless! Can medieval fiction possibly get any better than this? It’s no secret I’m a huge fan of Tamara Leigh’s Age of Faith series—it’s probably one of my all-time favourite series ever—but this series is already set to join it. The history, the characters, the romance—it’s just. So. Good!

There can’t be many more compelling historical periods to write about than the Norman conquest, but even so, Tamara Leigh takes that setting and capitalises on the inherent tensions. Because, it might be Saxon vs Norman in the history books, but real life is much more complex. An honourable Norman warrior cannot help but see the tragedy as well as the victory, and bitterness, ambition, and revenge can turn friend to foe even as a common goal and shared humanity can unite sworn enemies.

And Cyr . . . *sigh* Tamara Leigh writes some of the best male characters I’ve ever come across. Considering the period, it’s hardly surprising that they’re often warriors, but they’re never cookie cut-outs. They’re layered and intriguing, and best of all, she lets us get to know them through their actions. And Cyr with Aelfled . . . major swoon factor. And yes, some of that is attributable to specific moments, but really, much of it is there in the subtext—in Cyr’s intelligence and honourability, his care and consideration, and in the way he sees and admires the person Aelfled is rather than just the body she inhabits. Tamara Leigh is one of those authors who doesn’t have to hit you over the head with all the usual clichés—another reason she’s a firm favourite.

If you love historical fiction, particularly medieval settings, you really can’t go past this author!

I purchased my own copy of this book, and this review is my honest opinion.

~ About the Author ~

Tamara Leigh signed a 4-book contract with Bantam Books in 1993, her debut medieval romance was nominated for a RITA award, and successive books with Bantam, HarperCollins, and Dorchester earned awards and places on national bestseller lists.

In 2006, the first of Tamara’s inspirational contemporary romances was published, followed by six more with Multnomah and RandomHouse. Perfecting Kate was optioned for a movie, Splitting Harriet won an ACFW Book of the Year award, and Faking Grace was nominated for a RITA award.

In 2012, Tamara returned to the historical romance genre with the release of Dreamspell and the bestselling Age of Faith and The Feud series. Among her #1 bestsellers are her general market romances rewritten as clean and inspirational reads, including Lady at Arms, Lady of Eve, and Lady of Conquest. In winter 2018/2019, watch for the new AGE OF CONQUEST series unveiling the origins of the Wulfrith family. Psst!—It all began with a woman.

Tamara lives near Nashville with her husband, a German Shepherd who has never met a squeaky toy she can’t destroy, and a feisty Morkie who keeps her company during long writing stints.

Connect with Tamara:  Website  //  Facebook  //  Twitter  // Instagram  // Pinterest

About Fiction Aficionado

Homeschooling mum, word lover, reader extraordinaire, and follower of Christ
This entry was posted in Book Reviews, Christian Fiction, Historical Romance, New Releases and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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