As the new castellan, Sir Nicholas Beringar has the daunting task of rebuilding Ravenmoor Castle on the Scottish border and gaining the trust of the locals—one of whom wastes no time in trying to rob him. Instead of punishing the boy, Nicholas decides to make him his squire. Little does he know the thieving young lad is really. . .a lady.
Lady Elizabet Armstrong had donned a disguise in an attempt to free her brother from Ravenmoor's dungeons. Although intimidated by the confident Englishman with his well-honed muscles and beguiling eyes, she cannot refuse his offer.
Nicholas senses that his new squire is not what he seems. His gentle attempts to break through the boy's defenses leave Elizabet powerless to stem the desire that engulfs her. And when the truth is exposed, she'll have to trust in Nicholas's honor to help her people—and to surrender to his touch. . .
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the pages fly by, and you are left with a smile on your face
I can’t help myself: historic romance is my downfall and weakness. In this lovely story, Diana Cosby brings us a knight, Sir Nicholas Beringar, an Englishman sent to become the new Castellan at Ravenmoor along the Scottish border. Anyone remotely familiar with English / Scottish history will know that this is a wonderful setting for drama as the “Sassenach” is placed in a location where not all the locals will be friendly.
Elizabet Armstrong has resorted to desperate measures to free her brother and father from the dungeons at Ravenmoor. Disguising herself as a boy, this lady is taking innumerable risks to person and reputation to help her family, and unfortunately for her, she is a terrible thief. To his credit, Beringar doesn’t wish to retaliate, instead hiring the youngster as a squire.
While this trope is familiar, Cosby twists and refreshes it, adding her stamp and originality to this plotting device, and giving the characters quite a solid sense of confusion regarding their own feelings for one another until Elizabet’s secrets are revealed. And what a series of twists and history she brought to each character: Elizabet’s mother died when she was young, and she has tried to gain her father’s love at every turn. Her plan to free them from the dungeon is what she decides will cement her position and gain the love from her father she so desperately wants.
Nicholas is far from a ‘difficult’ master, preferring to treat his new squire Thomas with kindness as he notices the boy’s hesitancy about men, but plain speaking when questioned about the village’s emotions, feelings and situations as we consider the strife of the time: 1291 England under Charles I (Longshanks) the Plantagenet King who rested allegiance from Scotland, and was rather a bit of a bully in the Scot’s eyes. But Nicholas is not just protective of the young lad, he is finding himself inexorably drawn to him, in ways that don’t sit comfortably.
For her part, Elizabet / Thomas is also experiencing feelings and thoughts about Nicholas that confuse her: she shouldn’t like him, he is the enemy, but his undoubted kindness and fairness shown her, along with her minor machinations to free her people from the dungeons have her on edge. And then, as always must happen – her disguise is discovered and her choices are few: leave in failure or trust in the man who has been the epitome of fair, with eyes that mesmerize her.
These two are beautifully drawn and developed, with stories that feel honest and open, and their attraction is palpable. From laugh-out-loud moments to giant sighs, this story carries all of the emotion that you could hope for, with just enough tension stemming from the politics of the age and Elizabet’s rather tenuous position that the pages fly by, and you are left with a smile on your face. These two are a lovely couple and the story is so full and rich with description and emotion, with just enough sensuality to please every reader.
I received an eArc copy of the title from the publisher for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.