If you keep up with my blog, you’ll know I don’t usually post book reviews. But recently, I’ve realised how important it is to celebrate good content and great authors. So, while I’m still figuring out how to go about this and balance it with the other stuff I enjoy writing about here, I’m just going to jump into it with a review of Jenni Fletcher’s Harlequin Historical novel, Besieged and Betrothed.
I don’t usually read historical romances. They’ve always intimidated me, to be honest with you, and while I do read them once in a while, I tend to read about worlds I’m more familiar with. But Besieged and Betrothed drew me in effortlessly, and I barely noticed I was reading a genre I wouldn’t usually.
Beseiged and Betrothed: The Details
Like I said, the details of historical romances intimidate me. So, though I know I should be giving you a brief overview of the plot here, I’m going to share the blurb and give you highlights instead.
Bound to her enemy
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. When she’s caught on opposite sides of a war, a marriage bargain is brokered to bring peace. But is blissful married life possible when Juliana has a dangerous secret hidden within the castle walls?
Our hero, Lothar the Frank, and heroine, Lady Juliana Danville, are on opposites sides of the war between Empress Matilda and Stephen of Blois for the English thrown. Juliana’s castle is pivotal in this war – an asset to both Matilda and Stephen – hence the siege. (And our setting for most of this book.) Lothar needs the castle for Matilda; Juliana’s holding it for Stephen.
This sets the scene for our enemies-to-lovers plot.
The Heroine: Lady Juliana
Jenni has a remarkable ability to create heroines who are fierce and strong, while remaining real and vulnerable. Juliana is no exception. While at first we’re led to believe that Juliana has pledged her allegiance to Stephen without duress, we soon learn of the complicated and personal motivation for her actions. So while Juliana is fire, the motivations for her actions layer her beautifully. And the emotional arc will have you rooting for her sassiness, while emphathising with her vulnerability.
The Hero: Lothar the Frank
Maybe I should say that Jenni creates characters who are both fierce and vulnerable since this is true for Lothar, too. He’s obviously an alpha male – from the fact that he’s somewhat of an enforcer for Matilda, to the way lesser men tremble in his presence – but he’s redeemable. And it’s his redemptive arc that makes him so captivating. He becomes protective of Juliana, and is deliciously annoyed by it.
By the time these characters wed, it’s clear that both of them are falling, and are falling hard. And naturally, neither of them like it.
And the verdict…
While this book is heavily rooted in real historical events, it’s done so seamlessly that someone like me – who had no idea either Matilda or Stephen existed – can easily accept it. (And even become intrigued by it. I can say this because I’ve just read the Wikepedia page dedicated to the Anarchy.) The chemistry between the characters are fire; their reluctance charming. There are moments of fire, and moments of tenderness, the combination of which create an amazing enemies-to-lovers story that I have no doubt you’ll enjoy.
Jenni Fletcher consistently creates strong stories that are intellectual and romantic. Besieged and Betrothed is no different. I absolutely recommend this book.