Thursday, February 28, 2008

Spring's Fury - Denise Domning

As you can see I couldn't resist this one either...

Nicola of Ashby, unusually tall and strong for a woman, was allowed by her father to train with a sword. Not that John of Ashby ever intended to make his daughter into a woman-warrior. For him it was a way to coddle a beloved child. For Nicola it was the means by which she intends to take and hold her home as its lord. But all her training and skill doesn't help her when her father falls beneath the blade of Gilliam FitzHenry. Instead, she watches her father die, then is forced into marriage with his killer. Nicola will do anything, even murder, to free herself and her home from Gilliam's control.
Even taller than Nicola, Gilliam FitzHenry finds in Ashby's heiress a woman who could be his equal--that is, if she doesn't kill him first. Amid treachery and tragedy, rival knights and the pain of past wounds, Gilliam sets out to win Nicola's respect, then her heart.

The main characters are Gilliam, Rannulf and Temric's brother, and Nicola the girl whose father he killed at the end of Winter's Heat. It seems obvious by now that Domning likes to put her characters in a difficult position to start with. As a curiosity Domning mentions on her website she based Nicola on the true historical character Nicolaa de la Hay, who in the XIII century was sheriff of the city of Lincoln.

As its normal Nicola hates Gilliam. Gilliam neither likes nor dislikes Nicola but he wants to rule the keep that belonged to her family - Ashby - and so he has to marry her. Nicola wants to put a stop to those plans and fakes a betrothal with a neighbour She feels that Gilliam not only killed her father and ruined her home but now wants to possess her. Desperate to avoid that she fights him and runs away. Gilliam eventually captures her, after she has fought and killed a few outlaws and takes her to Ashby.

Without her knowledge Gilliam has been rebuilding Ashby's village and, despite the fact that he destroyed them in the first place, he has now convinced the villagers he is the right man to rule. And it's those villagers who convince/force Nicola to accept the marriage. And Gilliam, on learning of her fears, tells he wants her and needs her due to her skills as a castellan, he wants them to work together for the good of Ashby and if she is not ready he will wait to consummate the marriage. Although Nicola biggest wish was to never marry and be herself Ashby's ruler she feels that she can accept this agreement has it will allow her to rule the keep as she always did and she won’t have to be intimate with Gilliam.

I think one of the things I enjoyed the most about this book was that for a big part of it Gilliam and Nicola developed a relationship between them, they learned about each other, started to trust each other and only after that did they fall in love. When Nicola once again shows her grief over the way her father was killed Gilliam doesn't defend his actions (which he could have) but tells her he wishes he could have done it differently. Nicola’s biggest wish was to be in charge of her own castle but in those times it was difficult for a woman to be allowed that and Gilliam conquered her by dealing with her on equal terms, fighting for the same goal of restoring Ashby.

There is a subplot involving the neighbour that Nicola chose for the fake betrothal who wants to ruin them and conquer Ashby and what he does to harm them, and another about a boy that Geoffrey, another brother, brings Gilliam to foster but this book was basically about the characters getting to know each other and falling in love.

Once again a true feel of the period!

Grade: B+

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