|The Knight And The Rose|
|By Isolde Martyn
(Bantam Australia, 1999)
Reviewed by Frances Grattan
|he story opens in the year 1322, and like most of the middle ages, it is a time of political unrest with nobles fighting each other in order to obtain power.
The heroine is Johanna FitzHenry. She is the third wife of a Sir Fulk De Enderby. A cruel, formidable man who is furious his third young bride has failed to fall pregnant with his child. Johanna is subjected to daily beatings and humiliations by her husband and plans somehow to escape him.
The heros, Gervase De Laval, real identity remains a mystery for most of the novel. We know he has fought at the Battle of Boroughbridge and is fleeing the Kings army with one of the most wanted rebels, Edmund Mortimer.
Gervase struggles to find a sanctuary for Edmund, who is severely injured. He stumbles onto lands belonging to the FitzHenry family and there is offered some help. Johannas mother, Lady Constance FitzHenry, has formulated a plan to free her daughter from her tyrannical husband—legally!
Her intention is to find a man who will pose as Johannas first husband, making the marriage to Fulk null and void.
Lord FitzHenry, who arranged the marriage between his youngest daughter and Fulk, has had a stroke, leaving Johanna and her mother free to invent a past of their choosing.
Gervase is reliant on the FitzHenrys for their sanctuary and their silence, so against his better judgement, he poses as Johannas first husband.
Naturally, such a huge undertaking has its pitfalls. Sir Fulk is rich and powerful and they must battle all his underhanded attempts to prove their tale is false. Bounty hunters are about and Gervase must be kept out of their clutches.
Hardest is the battle they have with their own conflicting emotions. Johanna is bruised, both physically and emotionally, from her first marriage. Gervace is determined to help her heal, so when he leaves she will be able to look for love elsewhere. Johannas heart does mend and she desperately wants Gervace to stay.
Gervace has Edmund Mortimer to think of, and then there is also the problem of his secret identity. Would Johanna still want him if she knew who he really was?
Isolde has based her plot on an actual medieval court case. It makes the story all that more exciting and credible. She has also visited many of the places in the story—the battlefield of Boroughbridge, Durham, Richmond and others.
Isolde is a new author in the genre of medieval historical romance. I reviewed her first book, The Lady And The Unicorn, in a past issue of OAP. If you enjoyed Lady (the Australian Romance Book of the Year) then you wont be disappointed with The Knight And The Rose. As with Lady, the cover is gorgeous. I can see Isoldes books are going to make a nice collection and not just for the superb stories.
If you love romances set in the middle ages, go out and get yourself a copy of The Knight And The Rose. And alsomake a note to look out for future books by Isolde Martyn—I certainly will be.