Ruthless warrior Lothar the Frank has laid siege to Castle Haword, but there’s a fiery redhead in his way — and she’s not backing down!
More tomboy than trembling maiden, Lady Juliana Danville would rather die than lose the castle. Caught on opposite sides of a war, Lothar and Juliana find a marriage bargain is being brokered to bring peace.
But is blissful married life possible when Juliana has a dangerous secret hidden within the castle walls…?
I will open my review with just one word; Wow! What a terrific read, I will apologise for the amount of gushing I will most likely be doing about this book, but I have so much to say about it. Jenni Fletcher has real out done herself with this, it is such a compelling and highly charged romance that grips you from that very first page where our bulking, tank of a hero spots the fiery haired, tomboy on the battlements. I was literally hooked, and I was eager to finish and yet when I did turn the last page it was a sobering moment as that was it, done. I could’ve read this again as soon as I had finished. It’s fun, witty and at times heart-breaking, and fabulously engrossing. I just love it.
She looked like a Celtic Queen, rebellious and undaunted, the long coils of her red hair tumbling loose over the parapet wall in front of her, the only splash of colour against drab, unrelenting grey.
For a fleeting moment he found himself wishing that they were on the same side of the battlements….
In a time when King Stephen and Empress Matilda were at logger head’s over the country, the mighty Castle Howard is the foot hold that both of them want, it is currently under the protection of the Danville family – or more accurately, the Chatelaine; Lady Julianna Danville. Julianna – after the death of her father and her re-alliance with Stephan – has been holding off a siege from Matilda’s army for months. Her army is on their last legs, their supplies are practically none existent they are all exhausted, starving and hiding a terrible secret within the walls of her castle, a secret so bad that if anyone finds out it could mean terrible repercussions for her and her men. When the menacing, hardened warrior with the most mesmerizing grey eyes and a body a god could only dream about turns up to do the Empresses bidding, and finally take back Castle Howard, Julianna knows that she is in terrible trouble.
Julianna is a spirited young woman, her out bound personality is hardened and steel like and just as fiery as her hair, she is a warrior in her own right being the Chatalaine of Castle Howard she is just as brusque and strong as that of her loyal men. They respect her for who she is not just because she is the Chatalaine but she has proved herself to them again and again just what a courageous force of nature she is. But when she closes her chamber door on the world she is a frightened, cynical young girl who has the weight of the world on her skeletal shoulder’s, she knows that she can’t keep up the siege for much longer but being a gentle and caring woman, she doesn’t want her faithful men – men who have been with her since she was a child – to be harmed. Like Lothar she too just needs someone to take a bit of the burden from her and look after her.
“Perhaps you’ll allow me to show you, while my horse is resting?”….
….She wasn’t accustomed to acting the lady either – she couldn’t remember even the last time a man had offered her his arm – and yet somehow she couldn’t resist temptation.
She placed a hand on his bicep, twisting her face away as a thrill of excitement raced through her body…
Lothar the Frank – isn’t that a great name? – Is there to do one job; take Castle Howard for his Empress. He is a career soldier since Matilda took a shine to him when he was a boy and took him in to her court, he is the best soldier in Matilda’s army and with his handful of select men he has broken more sieges than he can count and this one will be no different – or so he thinks! As soon as he spot’s the windblown beautiful, fiery red-head on the battlements of the castle, Lothar has the distinct impression that Lady Julianna is more than what she appears. After knowing and fighting alongside her father; William, Lothar knows that any daughter of the great Lord Danvilles’ will be a force of nature and deep down he is relishing the thought of just meeting her once.
My goodness, Lothar just maybe one of my favourite heroes from this year. I like how isn’t a lord but just a regular soldier who has worked damn hard to get where he is, he has gone through so much in life already and those past experiences have shaped him into this wonderous man he is. He is highly respected by his little band of men, I have always thought you can really gleam an idea of a man by what his men think of him and his leather, black clad warriors would die for their fearless leader. He is the finest warrior, he hasn’t gained that title by the amount of battles he has won but by how he goes about thing’s he is a very moral man who doesn’t like injustices and if he can he will always try to win the battle peacefully. Then there is his well-hidden tender side that he keeps wrapped up, he is a thoughtful and caring man who really just wants someone to care for him.
Finally, after an attempted kidnapping, a drugging and more arguments than what you would get at a family Christmas, the siege ends. Lothar thinks that he has won and he has done his duty with a single person getting hurt and he is ready to pack up and leave for his next assignment, but he can’t bring himself to leave the fragile Julianna especially as he knows she is keeping something from him. Something doesn’t quiet add up so against his better judgement he stays and as he slowly breaks through her personal defences he finds out things – not just about her, but about himself – that shocks him.
I love the enemies to lover’s trope and this is superb, their relationship from the first moment of meeting just sizzles and creates a fun, exciting and enticing love story. They go through some much inner turmoil; their bickering is just as much fun to read as their tender moments – especially when she threatens to hang him by his feet over the battlements and he asks if he can wear his boots – you just have to read it!
“There. Now don’t take it off for a few hours and no playing with swords for the meantime.”
“Yes,” her eyes glinted with humour, “But if you must, remember the sharp end is the end to avoid.”
“I’ll try to remember that, now have your finished laughing at my misfortune?”
“Almost.” She sat back on her haunches, though still she didn’t release his hand. “You can’t blame me for enjoying one small victory, I haven’t won many of late.”
He gave a low chuckle, “Then, I’m glad I’ve made you feel better.”
“You have,” she tilted her head to the side again, “You know I’ve never heard you laugh before.”
“It happen’s, but not very often…”
Fletcher is really coming into her own in the medieval genre and her real and skilled writing is rivalling the best in the business, her writing is vivid, intelligent and atmospheric. I knew from her debut novel that here was an author that had so much to share with us and who would go far and again she has confirmed that initial thought. I love how at the beginning of the book she gives a brief history lesson into the story of Matilda, I will admit that I didn’t know that much about her before, but since reading this I am very eager to learn more about the Empress that for me is the proof of a great author where they make you want to go out and start learning the history behind their work.
I love it, Besieged and Betrothed is just so good and one that will take pride of place on my book shelf forever and I cannot recommend this enough. This will appeal to all romance readers, not just those of us who have a certain penchant for medieval this should be read by all.
It really is perfect.
This was an ARC copy from the author in exchange for an honest review.
Besieged and Betrothed is out 30th November and can be pre-ordered now at Amazon.