BLOOD RED ROSES is set during the Norman invasion. The heroine, Alwyn, is Welsh. Her father was a baron who was executed and has been mistress of the castle but now William has assigned one of his knights to marry her, a man named Fulk de Jobourg. She is literally bound and gagged and married while tied up, so that gives you an idea of what passes for courtship in this book.
Alwyn is incredibly resourceful and is constantly finding new ways to thwart her husband and his awful knights while also carrying for the people who have been under her family's charge. I recently read a book that was basically medieval in name only, so it was positively delightful to read a book that was drenched in all the unsavory aspects of history. I thought Deauxville did an excellent job showing how jaded people became to the everyday horrors of medieval life, just trying to survive and do the best they could with their circumstances. It's slightly horrifying, but I think if the past couple years have taught us anything as a society, it's that calamities often arrived stacked like a deck of cards and we just have to make do or perish.
My favorite part of the book was probably the siege at the end, but I also liked the scene when Alwyn saves a mason from execution using a secret passage and some of Fulk's hilarious outbursts (like his rage at a bard who is singing mean songs about him, LOL). I'm docking a star because the romance really wasn't so great. I kept hoping for a grovel or something but the hero and heroine basically went from hating each others' guts to being willing to sacrifice everything for one another with virtually no middle ground. I loved the writing and the story and the heroine is probably one of my favorite romance heroines I've encountered in a while, but this was merely good instead of being great.
That said, I'm definitely going to be buying more from this author. If you enjoy old skool bodice-rippers, this is your jam.
4 to 4.5 out of 5 stars