A Woman Of Passion, A Man Of Honor... A Sweet Burning Love Yearning For Fulfillment.
In an era made for men, Alinor is at no man's mercy. Beautiful, proud and strong-willed, Alinor is mistress of Roselynde and of her own heart as well--until she meets Simon, the battle-scarred knight appointed to be her warden, a man whose passion and wit match her own.
Boldly Alinor defies lionhearted King Richard's command to marry one of the land-greedy nobles swarming around her and shrewdly maneuvers through Court intrigues and alliances to be near the man who has awakened her to tender yet volatile love. Their struggle to be united against all obstacles sweeps them from the pageantry of the Royal Court to a daring Crusade through exotic Byzantium and into the Holy Land. As they plunge into the events of a turbulent age, they endure bloody battles, political treacheries and heart-rending separations before their love conquers time and destiny to live forever.
Roselynde is the first book of the famous series The Roselynde Chronicles by Roberta Gellis. I've been reading excellent reviews about it for ages and Ana T. is always recommending me this series (she is such a patient and persistent friend!;-)). I finally followed her advice.
One Saturday afternoon, I picked up the book and just couldn't stop until the very last page. No need to say that I immediately read the second one, Alinor, even if I dreaded some aspects of the story, especially the fate of our heroine's 1st husband.
Normally, I'm not very fond of very young heroines, they are often immature and very childish. At the first sight, Alinor seems to fit in this category, but just for some seconds. She might be young, but she is far from being the usual spoiled aristocratic young miss. She knows her value and her strengths. Since her birth she was taught by her grandfather how to manage her lands and business without relying in a man. This is quite unusual for these times but not unheard of. Strong women like Nicola Lahaye or even the ruthless queen Alinor were perfect examples of amazing women who wanted much more than men (and the Church!) allowed them to have.
Her relationship with Simon is quite unusual. Some might think that the age different is a bit too much, but these two are good for each other. There's a good symbiosis going on since the beginning, and despite Simon's objections concerning their age (he really is disturbed by his attraction to a much younger woman), I could hardly imagine anyone else at the side of someone like Alinor.
What pleased me the most in Roselynde? The politically incorrect view of the Middle Ages. Roberta Gellis isn't afraid of talking about subjects that normally would hurt our modern sensibilities but who were considered perfectly normal in those times, like the common use of camp whores or some physical abuse from husband to wife. Not that I would ever approve of such behavior, of course, but it makes me admire even more these women who stood up for what they wanted in times when their rights were close to nothing.
The historical background is also very rich and entrancing. Following the Lionheart in his quest along the Mediterranean and also some aspects of his life immediately remind me how little I like this English king. The author also mentions several times his possible homosexuality but even today historians are not convinced and mostly believe he was simply an asexual man who was more interested in his quests than actually have sex with everything that moved (like so many sovereigns before and after him). Prince John is, like always, the creepy and vindictive character who we all hate passionately. I often wonder if he really deserves it...
To be honest, I don't know if I would have picked this book only looking at the cover. Roselynde is not a historical romance, it's pure historical fiction with some strong romantic elements. It's also one of my best reads of 2010!