The Christmas Knight (Zebra Historical Romance)
“He loved, and was loved in return.”
I picked this novel up quite by chance and found myself ignoring everything around me as I devoured it. I have not read such an intriguing and character/relationship driven novel in quite some time.
This novel is about a Knight named Ranulf de Gunnar who has been ordered by his new King to take over Hunswick Castle. While on his boat trip back to the castle an accident occurs on the ship he is on and a man Laon de Breton, dies. While heaving his dying breath he forces Ranulf to promise to marry his youngest and most beautiful daughter. You see he has three daughters and the eldest is not supposed to be attractive to men.
Well neither is Ranulf attractive to most women. You see, Ranulf has been scarred horribly in a fire and is also missing one of his eyes. His disposition is well less than amiable and he has no trust for the opposite sex. Ranulf’s bitterness in how he has been treated show through in almost everything he does.
On his way to Hunswick Castle he spies a man and a woman fighting in the woods. He realizes the man is intimidating the woman and fires of an arrow. And, this is where our story really takes off. The woman was Bronwyn de Breton the eldest daughter of Laon.
Bronwyn de Breton has two younger, more attractive sisters and knows that the youngest sister is being forced to wed Ranulf. Lillybet cannot bear this idea so the three sisters devise a scheme in which Bronwyn pretends to by Lillybet. Then they plan to leave the castle in a few days to go be with relatives.
Ranulf sees through Bronwyn scheme and soon is attracted to her, but he feels there is a story that he is not being told. And there is. It seems that another Knight, a neighbor of the castle wants Bronwyn and will stop at nothing to have her.
While this story does have action, it really is not until the midway point that it will take place. Instead of relying on the action to move the plot, the author has told a superb story based on a character/relationship driven plot. It was a fascinating look at what happens when someone keeps the truth from someone else merely for his or her own good.
The author gives us the added bonus of starting each chapter with the history, religious and secular, of the entire Yule season as seen in the 11th century.