Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Autumn's Flame - Denise Domning

I couldn't resist picking this one up as soon as it arrived having enjoyed the first three books in this series. And I was even more curious because the heroine's son is a secondary character in book nº 3 and he made me curious about his mother.

Released from an unhappy marriage when her husband suddenly dies, Lady Elyssa of Freyne hopes for a better life, until she is put under the care of the notorious sheriff Geoffrey FitzHenry, whom she vows to resist at any cost.

When her second husband dies leaving her with a 12 year old son and pregnant Elyssa believes she will be finally free of men and able to live as she wants. However the king makes her son the sheriff's ward and she has to go live with them to be close to him. Soon it is obvious that Elyssa and Geoffrey have very different ideas about how to educate Jocelyn.

I thought this book had a lighter tone than the previous stories. First because although Geoffrey has had a difficult past and his scars lead people to call him the devil he is not bitter or rash, only sad that he can't go close to his daughter. And despite seeming a bit cold and intimidating at first once he decides Elyssa is what he wants he pursues her in a rather sweet way, totally at odds with his reputation. The book is centred in them and their feelings and maybe because of that there was less "medieval atmosphere". There isn't exactly a mystery in this book although it takes Elyssa some time to pry the truth about his first wife's death out of Geoffrey and a villain is working in the shadows against her well being.

I found this really curious information about the plot on the author's website:
The rest of the story came out of a wonderful reference book by one N.J.G. Pounds entitled "The Medieval Castle in England and Wales; A Social and Political History". Did you know that the Medieval sheriff is required to take into his custody all pregnant widows (at least those with property) and witness the births of their babies? Sensible, when you think about it. After all, a greedy widow might try to substitute a peasant's healthy child for her own stillborn baby in order to have control over her dead husband's property. Or, some unscrupulous relative might try to kill the newborn new heir. And there it is in a nutshell--the plot of Autumn's Flame.
I had no idea and I found it really interesting...

Grade: B+

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