Sensual Medieval Romance
I have been planning to read an Amber Dane novel for some time now and sincerely wish that I had not waited quite so long! I adore historical romances, especially those set in the medieval period and I am pleased to say that I have now found another great author to fulfil my fantasies of alpha knights in shining (or even tarnished) armour and sensual tales of how they find their heart’s desire in the midst of such violent and turbulent times. This book is the first in her Northern Knights series, of which book 2, Conquering the Dark Axe and book 3, The Beast of Renald, have already been published as well as other works.
In Gem of Gravane, Knight Aric Claydon is honoured by William the Conqueror, his King and lord, who gifts him, amongst other demesnes, Gravane and the hand in marriage of its lady Danielle, a conquered Saxon. However, this fierce and battle hardened warrior, whose heart pays homage to no woman, delays claiming this particular prize and its lady for a year.
Lady Danielle welcomes her new lord and husband to her home with mixed feelings. Held in contempt by the men in her life – first her father and then her odious cousin Thomas, her guardian, she lacks confidence and is highly conscious of a slight affliction she has. She is disappointed when Aric’s initial reaction to her is less than enthusiastic, confirming her fears that he has avoided the union as he has been made aware of her lack of worth. She still harbours a secret hope however, that although Aric is not happy to take her as his bride, his overlordship of Gravane will put many wrongs to right that have been inflicted on her people.
Aric is far from immediately enamoured with Danielle, but will do his duty and will endeavour to beget an heir. He knows that something is badly wrong at Gravane and is determined to bring the perpetrators to justice. As soon as the marriage takes place, Aric finds that he is more and more drawn to Danielle, attracted to her soft curves, her kindness to others and even her quirks and he seeks to protect her from any perceived dangers. It also becomes clear that his bride is stronger than he thinks and that she harbours secrets. The more he finds out about her, the more he realises that there is more to her than he first thought. Unused to and uncomfortable with such feelings Aric strives to keep his distance, except in the bedroom, where he is gentle and attentive.
The presence of Thomas and his sister Rose and the appearance of characters from Aric’s past do little to alleviate Danielle’s fears and she despairs that Alric will ever return her growing love for him. At the same time danger threatens both Aric and his lady. As we find out if Danielle will succeed in persuading this powerful warrior to take a chance on love, the unfolding tale is laid out like a sumptuous medieval feast. It is brimming with treachery and violence, as well as humour, passion and numerous sensual scenes. I found it a compulsive read!
I loved the character of Aric, a proud and powerful warrior. He is protective of Danielle from the off and against his better judgement he cannot keep his emotional distance from her. I also revelled in how Danielle grew in confidence and stature as she was able to assume her rightful role as lady under Aric’s protection, even as she struggled with what she believes is unrequited love.
The author’s portrayal of supporting characters were a delight to behold. Aric’s second-in-command Balwain and Danielle’s maid Edie deserve special mention as do the not so savoury characters of Thomas and Rose. We are also introduced to the knight Rourke, the Dark Axe, the hero of the next novel in the series, Conquering the Dark Axe.
I recommend Gem of Gravane to readers of historical romance, especially medieval romance, who enjoy a romantic and sensual tale, with engaging characters, which does not shy away from depicting the violence and the treachery that was commonplace at the time.
Reviewed by Tina Williams
Cover art: LDF Design