Leigh Kramer's Reviews > For My Lady's Heart

For My Lady's Heart by Laura Kinsale
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1/14/21: I read this almost exactly one year ago and decided to buddy read it with friends. Good heavens, this story!!! Just as gripping the second time around. I picked up many more details because Laura Kinsale sure does love to cram a lot of plot into her plots. I think this might have been my first Old School Romance (if not the first, then close to it) and I've now read half of Kinsale's backlist to boot. On the whole, this book holds up well. There are, of course, elements that have not aged well and there's dubious consent and aspects of Ruck's past that are not in keeping with his otherwise great character. But if you can overlook those things, which are very minor when compared to other horrifying problematic Old School Romances, I highly recommend this one. I read the Modern Condensed version this time and as far as I can tell, only the dialogue has been modified. It was just as enjoyable but I was horrified that my favorite sentence "I have studied" was modified to "I've studied." Reader, this did not pack the same punch and I was very dismayed. What did the "have" do to you, Laura?? In any case, I'll be sticking with the original Middle English version from here on out.

Original review:
Absolute perfection! My first Kinsale did not disappoint. This is the second medieval romance I’ve read but this one felt the most medieval. The characters speak Middle English, which can take some adjusting to at first but it adds such a lovely lyrical quality to the dialogue. But if Middle English feels like too much for you, Kinsale released a modern condensed version alongside the original in the 2011 ebook and I plan on reading that eventually to see how it compares.

The story was inspired by Tolkien's translation of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (King Arthur). We meet a noble knight and a heroine who has just had to survive political intrigue her whole life and doesn’t trust anyone. Ruck has a whole lot of feelings, not to mention he’s been celibate since his wife joined a nunnery 13 years ago. He’s served Melanthe on some level as she interfered with him joining his wife’s fate but when fate brings their paths back together, he begins acting as her bodyguard as they travel across the country.

Melanthe is prickly af and for good reason. Gian Navona has killed everyone she’s ever cared about since he decided he was going to marry her someday. She’s doing everything she can to avoid that particular cruelty, while making sure Allegretto, Navona’s son and her constant shadow, stays unaware of her plans while also appeasing the King and hopefully getting herself to a nunnery where she can spend the rest of her days. All I’m saying is don’t mess with Melanthe because she will put you in her place.

There’s a lot happening in this plot but here are some reassurances: while Ruck was married, there’s no love triangle, nor is there any cheating. There is a slow burn between Ruck and Melanthe and once it ignites, it’s everything. This book is really all about the buildup and it’s so worth it. Ruck has put those years of celibacy to good use in learning the desires of the flesh. The last paragraph/sentence of chapter 16 is one of the best I've ever read. I’m still fanning myself! All hail, Ruck, hero unparalleled.

Gorgeous writing, through and through. I laughed, I cried, I sure enjoyed the journey. I cannot wait to read more of Kinsale’s work! I’m also delighted Allegretto gets his own book because he absolutely deserves his own HEA for all he endured in this story.

CW: sexism, violence, dubious consent, references to and concern of plague, side character was castrated (view spoiler), threat of murder, threats of assault, murder, poison, heroine was wed at age 12 to someone 30 years older (he did not have sex with her until 16, which was possibly generous for the time, and they only had sex three times), brief reference to heroine’s two year old child being smothered/murdered, older man obsessed with heroine decided she’ll marry only him and he’s murdered anyone who has shown interest in her for the last several years, gender essentialism, "hunchback" mute minor character (view spoiler), ableism, prologue includes reference to past marital rape (not on page) and the hero considering physically abusing his first wife (wives were considered property at the time and so he was advised to ignore her wishes; he did not continue assaulting her after she made a vow of chastity)

This was a buddy read with Beth! It was so great getting to discuss (and swoon over Ruck!) together.
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Reading Progress

October 1, 2018 – Shelved
October 1, 2018 – Shelved as: to-read
January 11, 2020 – Started Reading
January 12, 2020 –
5.0% "Gorgeous writing."
January 13, 2020 –
16.0% "This is a great book for people who love hawks."
January 14, 2020 –
25.0% "I could weep for Ruck. He was done wrong!"
January 14, 2020 –
31.0% "“I have studied.”

*fans self* 🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥"
January 15, 2020 –
38.0% "Ack! I am heartsick for Melanthe."
January 15, 2020 –
42.0% "This is getting so intense! Gian is despicable."
January 15, 2020 –
48.0% "Absolute perfection! My first Kinsale did not disappoint. And now I get to read the modern condensed version to see how it compares."
January 15, 2020 – Finished Reading
January 25, 2020 – Shelved as: buttoned-up-hero
January 25, 2020 – Shelved as: favorites
January 25, 2020 – Shelved as: forced-proximity
January 25, 2020 – Shelved as: buttoned-up-heroine
January 25, 2020 – Shelved as: historical-romance
January 25, 2020 – Shelved as: grief-and-loss
January 25, 2020 – Shelved as: only-one-bed
January 25, 2020 – Shelved as: pets
January 28, 2020 – Shelved as: made-me-cry
April 19, 2020 – Shelved as: laughed-out-loud
August 2, 2020 – Shelved as: road-trip
October 25, 2020 – Shelved as: ripped-my-heart-out
December 7, 2020 – Shelved as: buddy-read
December 8, 2020 – Shelved as: bodyguard-or-security
December 8, 2020 – Shelved as: royalty
December 8, 2020 – Shelved as: slow-burn
January 9, 2021 – Started Reading
January 14, 2021 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-4 of 4 (4 new)

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message 1: by Rachel (new) - added it

Rachel McMillan I LOVE HER BOOKS!

b.andherbooks You write such great reviews Leigh!

Leigh Kramer Rachel wrote: "I LOVE HER BOOKS!"

This was so good! I'm just going to swoon forever.

Leigh Kramer b.andherbooks wrote: "You write such great reviews Leigh!"

You just made my day! 😊

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