Monday, February 25, 2008
Winter's Heat - Denise Domning
I love medieval stories, both historical fiction and historical romance. I had heard of Denise Domning as being in the same genre has Denee Cody and Anita Mills and since I received a few copies of her books last week I couldn't resist starting one immediately.
Sent to a convent at seven and trained to be an abbess, Rowena of Benfield is forced from her nunnery to marry cold Rannulf FitzHenry, lord of Graistan. Left alone by Rannulf at Graistan Keep, Rowena shares the castle with Rannulf's deceased wife's pretty sister and his handsome younger brother, along with all their dark secrets. Rannulf FitzHenry has been a woman's fool once, an experience he's determined never to repeat. He wouldn't have married Rowena if not for her extensive properties, lands that meld well with his own. Now in his determination to protect his heart he blinds himself to the tide of treachery rising around him, not realizing that his only hope for survival lies in daring to trust, to cherish and to love unconditionally.
Rowena is promised to a convent life but her father decides to make her his heir and give her to a powerful knight who will protect her lands and riches. Rannulf and Rowena wed and although he is attracted to her he fights that as he doesn't want to love her. Rowena is only just getting to know her husband and his coldness hurts her and makes her distrust him. She is however knowledgeable in what a keep's lady duties are and when her husband leaves her alone to go and fight for king Richard she decides to improve and rule his hall to the best of her abilities.
I think Domning gives a true feel of the 12th century and people's behaviour then. The books has some flaws, or better said some characteristics of having been written during the 90s (an awful cover for instance) like a heroine that is a bit too feisty at time and some misunderstandings but I found that she created believable characters and never let them fall into TSTL or violent behaviour territory. Instead they tried to understand and reason with each other to find peace and contentment. This is more obvious in Rowena as women were more limited in their actions and depended on their husbands. Rannulf, is obvious from the beginning, is hiding a past hurt. I was glad Domning doesn't make him mistake his wife for the one who hurt him in the past. However it is his inability to be free of the past that causes problems between them and makes him blind to the villain and its actions. It's only after they have shared each other's lives and he feels not only an emotional connection to her but that she has always defended his interests and his happiness that he decides to trust her with the story of his past and that they are ready to face the future together.
I also like the set of secondary characters that helped bring to life a medieval keep with it's reality of everyday living. I was happy to know that Rannulf's brothers have their own books and I have them here so I'll read them next.
Note to self: find the author's other books asap!