Twiggy's Reviews > Lady Gallant (European Renaissance Duo, #1)

Lady Gallant (European Renaissance Duo, #1) by Suzanne Robinson
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U_50x66
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Nov 21, 11

bookshelves: dark-hero, tudor, spoilers
Read on November 21, 2011

I am not a big fan of medieval/tudor historical romances but overall this was pretty good.

I did struggle with the language a bit, which is very Tudor England and has many trulls, turnips, cocks etc etc . That said, it would have been fairly hard work to maintain the tone and the author manages this throughout the book and captures the time period well.

The book starts off with the hero Christian de Rivers rescuing the hapless heroine, Nora Becket from the infamous highway man Jack Midnight.
There is a bad past between Christian and Midnight and it turns out that Midnight had kidnapped him as a child and held him for 5 or so years. he physically abused him and trained him as cutthroat and thief. There is also an undertone of sexual abuse.

Accordingly Christian is not best pleased when he has to give up his revenge in order to save the Queen's quiet mousey lady's maid and he isn't shy about making his feelings felt.

At the outset of the book Christian is still associating with a low class crowd and comes across as a clever, spoilt, erratic, immature man who is quick to violence.

That said, somehow Christian finds himself drawn to Nora and starts to see her through fresh eyes.

Nora's father had rejected her at an early age and her self esteem has been shattered, making her think she has no value. She is also a sucker for animals - especially puppies and kittens - and she comes across as a really likeable heroine.

Within days Christian is in active pursuit. It's all very Tudor/Elizabethan - with poetry quotations, lustful kisses in the garden, secret messages to Lord Cecil, loss of temper and christian ranting and raving when he doesn't get his own way.

It turns out that Nora is a good girl and not minded to stray into loss of virtue, all be it she is increasingly attracted to Christian.

Matters come to a head when her uncaring father tries to arrange her wedding to a sex fiend known to have the pox.

Christian tries to encourage her to stand up to her father about the betrothal but he doesn't understand how much her father wants rid of her and the lengths to which he is willing to go.

At the same time Christian and his father are also in league with Lord Cecil and are hiding heretics in the basement. Both men are attacked and wounded when they try and get the heretics out.

Nora, having run away from her betrothal ceremony, helps them recover. She is then kidnapped by evil pox fiend but then rescued at the moment of "I do' by her gallant knight who pops the question.

At the start she is unsure whether he asked for her hand simply out of guilt or whether from genuine desire. Christian assures her that he loves her.

Of course, this only takes us to the half way point and it is now time for the Big Misunderstanding.

Mere hours before the wedding Christian deciphers a note that Nora was leaving and this causes him to believe that she was involved in the attack against he and his father and is a traitor in his midst. (he's not the brightest tool in the box...)

So he goes ahead with the wedding and beds his wife. Immediately afterwards he confronts her with her alleged treachery and when she refuses to explain, he tells her that she is plain and stupid and that he could never love her and that he only told her that he did in order to con her etc etc etc
He is very mean. Nora is very upset.

It is like kicking a puppy.

Thereafter he goes a bit psycho. He has her placed in servants quarters, denied her wardrobe and her liberty, he invites thieves and whores to dine with them, he flirts with a whore in front of his wife. After dinner he then takes the whore to bed, deliberately making a lot of noise so that Nora comes to see what is going on. He invites her to join in and then approaches her and rubs his bits against her, saying he will make her day if she will tell him the truth. It's just icky and pretty unhygienic!

Funnily enough this isn't particularly appealing to Nora and she runs into her room barring her door. (it does appear that Christian is unable to finish with the whore and so does not quite commit adultery)

Nora has a nervous breakdown and becomes extremely withdrawn. She develops an aversion to even the thought of sex. (Can you blame her?)

Christian starts to think that maybe he has gone too far and starts to contemplate that what he knows of his wife's character would not lead him to think she was in league with fanatical papists who want to burn heretics. He also realises that he still desires his wife and that he wants to bed her and is foolish enough to tell her so.

Nora panics at the thought and tricks him into thinking she has run away to London and he leaves in hot pursuit. In London he finds out that they have both been working for Cecil and Elizabeth and he is all remorseful. He eventually clues into the thought that she may never have left the manor.

Off he trots full of good will, remorse and a legitimate expectation that his wife will accept his apology and welcome with open arms.

Nora however really has come into her own. She does not forgive him. She is not appeased by gifts or quick words. She really makes him suffer.

It actually becomes quite funny and I liked the fact that she was not a roll over and that his penance lasted several months.

The scene with the hero trying to cast a spell to enchant the heroine was very warm hearted and by this stage the reader does think that he has been punished enough.

It is also nice to see that thereafter he experiences some insecurity about the heroine's turn about and he is no longer such a cocksure jackanapes.

There is a final interlude with Midnight and then a closing scene with Princess Elizabeth.

They all live hea.

I liked this a lot.

The hero has a rocky start and a bad middle but really gets it together by the end. The heroine was a lovely lady who comes into her own once she realises that if she can stand up for others, she can also stand up for herself.


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