Title: Fires of Winter*
Author: Roberta Gellis
Genre: Historical Romance
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Format: paperback, e-book
Date/Year: November 2011 (reissue)
Reviewed by: ElaineReads
*This book was provided to the reviewer by the publisher in exchange for an honest review
Summary from the publisher:
A SPARKLING PRIZE OF WAR: The beautiful, cherished daughter of Scottish nobility, Melusine of Ulle had all the privileges of rank. But her family and her life were destroyed by the ravages of war. And her noble name made her a threat to the new king . . .
A LOYAL VASSAL’S REWARD: A bastard son of an English lord, Bruno of Jernaeve was born with nothing. But through loyalty, cleverness and brute strength, he carved out a spot at the right hand of the king. And to remain in favor he would do anything, even accept the hand of his enemy . . .
They have nothing in common and every reason to hate each other, but even in the coldest of winters one spark can ignite a fire too hot to tame.
Told in alternating chapters, Winds of Fire tells the story of the lives of Melusine and Bruno. I have classified this book as a historical romance, but it is really more history than romance.
The book begins during the childhoods of each character. Melusine is the only surviving daughter of nobility and has been allowed more freedom than most girls of this time period. Bruno is the son of an English lord and the manor whore.
Melusine’s entire family is destroyed and her lands are taken from her by the English king because her father had supported Scotland. Her focus throughout the book is to convince King Stephen to return her lands to her. As a female, this means she must have a husband in the King’s favor.
Bruno is a soldier of King Stephen and attends him at Court. He has given the king his oath of loyalty and although he recognizes the king’s weaknesses, his honor and his love for the king keeps him at his side.
King Stephen gives Melusine to Bruno as a bride to serve two purposes. He is rewarding a loyal soldier and he believes Bruno can control any of Melusine’s desires to overthrow the King.
Taking place during the 1100s or High Middle Ages in England and Scotland, the author spends a lot of time discussing the political maneuverings of various characters at the beginning of the book. These are not the two protagonists, but various lords, princes, and religious leaders. This is not a time period that I am particularly familiar with so it is probably a good thing that the author spends some time setting the landscape . . . but, eighty-five pages!
It is not until the eighty-sixth page that Bruno and Melusine meet. He weds and beds her and she tries to kill him. Probably not the best start to a marriage.
I almost gave up on this book several times. If it had not been a book I had promised to review, I would never have finished it. As I said earlier, it is more history than romance. I felt there was way too much time spent discussing the political landscape to the detriment of the story between Bruno and Melusine.
Having said that, I am glad I finished it. I now know something of the history of that time period, although I do not know how accurate it is. The book had a solid ending with enough information about Bruno and Melusine to satisfy my curiosity on how their lives turned out.
I would never recommend this book to someone who is looking for a romance. However, if you are interested in a political history of the time period, this is definitely the book for you.
Overall: 2 stars
Sensuality level: 3.0