Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Summer's Storm - Denise Domning

After enjoying Winter's Heat so much I couldn't resist starting the next one in the series, Summer's Storm.

In a world where folk are either common or noble, Temric FitzHenry, bastard of Graistan, is neither and both. When he finally meets his equal, Philippa of Lindhurst, also a bastard raised to noble expectations, it's too late; Philippa is already married. Then, Temric discovers the abuse she endures at her husband's hands and his heart demands he make her his own. Philippa cherishes each day with her kidnapper, loving this kind and caring man who promises she will never again know pain. But, she also knows her husband will find her and, when he does, they'll both die. To make Temric hers, Philippa must find the courage to defy death and escape a heritage that makes their love the deepest of sins.

As the previous book this one grabbed me right from the start. It could have been a total failure as it deals with adultery and incest in the medieval sense (a woman can not marry the brother of her sister's husband) and it was easy to take a modern look at it.

When Temric meets Philippa he has already spent quite of few months thinking about her. Because she is bastard born, like him, he feels an immediate connection with her and instantly falls in love. Their relationship is forbidden because she is married, albeit to an abusive husband that beats her, and because Philippa's half sister Rowena is married to Temric's half brother Rannulf.

This is especially painful for Temric who feels his chance at happiness is nonexistent, while Philippa is still getting to know him and doesn’t feel it as strongly. She just wants to be free of her husband, since she can’t have Temric, end her days in a nunnery. But when she is abused and almost killed by her husband Temric decides that it's better to lie and live in sin than let her die and they both escape to his mother's house in Normandy.

There were several things to enjoy in this one. Once again the medieval feel, the preoccupations of that period and how that is dealt with. For instance the priest tells Philippa that he doesn't believe her feelings for Temric are offensive to God. This could have been too modern and anachronistic but he goes on to explain that he believes it because he has seen many times how couples use that excuse all the time to petition the Pope for an annulment, when they married knowing it was so. That made sense to me, it happened countless times. Then I liked that she changed the setting of this one to a merchant reality, Temric's mother was married to a merchant and it’s in that reality that they live as man in wife. Domning doesn't give that much information but it was interesting to have a glimpse of a different reality.

They do live happily for a while but the truth eventually comes out. Temric has finally accepted that he is a knight and longs for the life in a keep as he has always lived with his brother. And Rannulf wants to give him his own keep which leads them to have to face their lies before they finally reach happiness.

It’s interesting also how, in contrast to other books, the ending is now about the h/h coming together but about finding a way for them to be accepted socially when they so clearly live in sin. I think the solution also has a ring of truth there. Something different would be impossible to believe in.

Grade: B+

I read the 1995 edition but the book was re-edited in 2001 and Domning mentions on her website that she corrected some errors.

1 comment:

  1. Ana, I can now say that I'm dying of curiosity about this author! I normally avoid stories with adultery and/or incest but it seems it's done with logic and even some originality. Modern reactions or attitudes in a medieval is something that really annoys me and I'm happy to see that Denise Domning can easily create a medieval feeling in her books. It seems you found another gem!;-)


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