Tuesday, December 27, 2022

Review Tuesday: Knight Errant by Rue Allyn – #HistoricalRomance #MedievalRomance #ReviewTuesday

Knight Errant Cover

Knight Errant by Rue Allyn

Prowl Books, 2015

The year is 1294. Lady Juliana Verault is a noblewoman, cousin to the King of England, but she has fled her privileged existence to join a community of lay religious women called Beguines, headquartered in Belgium. Intelligent, courageous, compassionate and stubborn, she wants to follow her faith, heal the sick and remain single. Her personal history has taught her that men are vicious beasts and that women who wed them are little better than slaves.

Sir Robert Clarwyn has been sent by King Edward to retrieve the Lady Juliana and bring her back to England, where she’s to be the pawn in a political marriage. He catches up with her in Italy, but finds his mission far more difficult than he’d expected. Not only is Juliana unwilling to accompany him, but she and her sister Beguines have attracted the attention of a cruel but influential priest who views the lay sisters as heretics, and delights in torturing them. Sir Robert must rescue her, then keep her safe during the long journey back to her home country. Meanwhile, he finds himself falling in love with her. He has undertaken the King’s commission in order to free himself from dishonor, but his passion for the forbidden Juliana could easily be viewed as treason.

I really enjoyed this historical romance, especially the background on the Beguines. I wasn’t previously aware of this movement, but it provided a realistic and compelling context for the love story in Knight Errant. Ms. Allyn begins the book with a disclaimer about the characters and historical accuracy, but my researches after I’d finished indicate that the basic situation with the lay religious movements was as she describes. The women wanted to be left alone to live in peace and offer charity. The men in charge of the Church saw them as threats. (Indeed, there are still echoes of this dynamic in modern Catholicism.)

Juliana is a delightful heroine, truly admirable while still having some flaws. She saves a number of lives over the course of the novel, while risking her own. Her efforts to sidestep Sir Robert and stymie his commission are just this side of humorous. Though he has many excellent qualities, he’s no match for her. Ultimately, of course, she succumbs to her attraction for the brave and austere knight. The circumstances of her deflowering are surprising, and I won’t spoil the pleasure by sharing them here, but suffice to say that their coming together only ratchets up the conflict.

In fact, I don’t read that much romance because I often find it overly predictable. Of course I knew that this novel would have a happy ending, but I could not guess exactly how the author was going to resolve what seemed like a near-impossible situation. And when Robert and Juliana finally are together, with the King’s blessing, I felt the satisfaction that keeps romance readers coming back for another HEA.

I bought a copy of Knight Errant after reading in the author’s newsletter that it was on sale for ninety nine cents. Just an indication that author newsletters and special deals do work! I’d never read any of Ms. Allyn’s work before. If Knight Errant is representative of her romances, I’ll definitely be seeking out other titles.

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