Title: By Royal Command*
Author: Laura Navarre
Genre: Historical Fiction / Romance
Publisher: Carina Press
Date/Year: July 2, 2012
Reviewed by: ElaineReads
*This book was provided to the reviewer by the author in exchange for an honest review
Summary from the publisher:
Two brothers. One woman. Three hearts at war.
Katrin of Courtenay’s husband is dead–and she doesn’t mourn him. He was cruel and controlling, and she doesn’t need a husband to hold her northern keep. But her vengeful uncle, the King of England, has other ideas: intent on marrying her off, he’s ordered his Viking-bred warrior to return her to court.
On the journey, the Viking captures her interest, and for the first time Katrin understands passion. But her guard is honor-bound to deliver her to the king, and so it is settled–she must wed the mysterious Rafael le Senay, the Baron of Belmaine.
A forced marriage to a stranger slowly becomes something more, and Katrin realizes she is in love with Rafael. But with the shadow of her former lover hanging over her, and Rafael’s powerful brother making dangerous plans, can Katrin negotiate the delicate balance between survival and happiness?
1005 A.D. – England
This book is historical fiction with a strong romantic component. I like knowing that about a book going in because my expectations are different. Some books are romances with a historical setting. Other books focus more on the setting and historical events with the romance as a subplot. This one is somewhere in between.
Katrin of Courtenay is a strong female character who is not afraid to do whatever is necessary to protect her people. She feels guilty when she must lie to achieve her aims, but will do so anyway. (Should I admit that I admire her for putting the people she protects before her own moral code?)
Unfortunately, Katrin is the pawn of her uncle Ethelred, (Aethelred) the King of England. He has already married her off once to secure the border and now that she is a widow, he plans to do so again. Lady Katrin feels she is quite capable of holding her lands without a husband’s help, but is given no choice in the matter.
The king sends Eomond, a knight and captain of his guard, to bring Lady Katrin to court to be remarried. Katrin is just as determined not to go as Eomond is to obey his orders. And that is why I just couldn’t bring myself to like Eomond. As the story progresses, it didn’t matter how Katrin felt about being given to another man. It didn’t matter that Katrin and Eomond fell in love. The only thing that mattered was that Eomond followed his king’s orders. Yes, I know that was the honorable thing to do, but it definitely wasn’t the romantic thing.
The second half of the book is actually better than the first. Katrin is sent to the home of her future husband where an entirely different subplot develops. I can’t really say more without spoiling the book, but new characters are introduced that I found a lot more appealing than Eomond.
I guess I would summarize this book with the following question: Which is more important . . . a man’s honor or a woman’s heart? Although I had issues with the romantic elements of this book, the story itself was wonderful. Any book that entices me to explore its historical setting has obviously hooked me.
By Royal Command should be read for the excellent writing as well as the plot. Once the story moves away from the romance between Eomond and Katrin, it is difficult to put down.
Overall: 4 stars
Sensuality level: 3