Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Hearts of Fire - Anita Mills

Fiery-haired Gilliane de Lacey was as proud as she was beautiful. She defied the King of England himself when he commanded her to wed a lord she despised. The one man she did want she could not have as a husband. Richard of Rivaux's passion for her had ignited her burning need, but he was honor-bound to wed another. Yet as he defied death to rescue Gilliane from royal wrath... and as he drew her into the perilous swirl of conflict between England and Normandy, Gilliane and Richard knew that nothing would ever stop them from risking all for love and giving all to desire...
We jump another generation and now follow Catherine and Guy’s son though his adventures. This book is somewhat different in tone from the two previous books. Richard is not yet a leader of men like his father and grandfather were and he feels he is always under his father’s shadow. He doesn’t have an easy relationship with him, as both like to have their own way, and is thinking of supporting a different claimant to England’s throne. Richard wants to support Robert of Gloucester and his father feels duty bound to honour his oath to the Empress Matilda. Richard’s defiance of his father has even leaded him to negotiate a betrothal between him and another noble house against his father’s wishes.

Gilliane de Lacey has just lost her older brother who was attacked by a neighbour who wants their lands. She mistakes Richard’s approaching forces for her brother’s killer only to realize her mistake. Richard was her brother’s friend and can’t help feel a bit responsible for Gilliane and her family since England is at the time a lawless place without a uniform authority and likely they will be attacked by Stephen’s men soon. He also feels very attracted to her and makes that fact known.

Richard is unable to offer Gilliane marriage even after he realizes he would like to make her his wife because he bound to another and is next to impossible to dissolve betrothal bonds. Even despairing of their happily ever after I thought Mills introduced them importance of church and it’s power in society very well in this situation. Gilliane struggles with her situation of being Richard’s leman, she is a young lady of good family and her moral code goes against what she feels. In fact on two occasions she is publicly humiliated for being what she is to him and on the second situation she is attacked and almost killed for it. Although she is accepted by his family who treat her like a daughter she feels bitterly that she can never be his wife. When she finally becomes pregnant she refuses to have the stigma attached to her child and chooses to runaway and marry another to give her child a name.

Gilliane and Richard’s life apart is not easy for any of them and sometimes it felt that Gilliane might have made the wrong the decision, she made her child legitimate but her actions brought heartache to others as her new husband was never happy and that reflected on others. In a way both of them, Richard and Gilliane, are a stark contrast to the previous two generations. They are not loud, determined to get their way against all odds. They wait and resist till they find a way to get their heart’s desire. It surprised me at first to find them so different and it took me a while to warm up to them and understand them but I guess now I do.

Grade: B

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