This is an Official Review by an Eye On Romance Official Reviewer
for Honorable Rogue, An (UK)
Date of Review: 01/05/08
Official Reviewer for Eye On Romance
In love with your best friend? A common theme throughout romance novels is taken to a new place in this wonderful story by Carol Townend. Benedict Silvester is a lute player in the year 1067. He has secretly been in love with his best friend, Rozenn Kerber, for years. He travels Brittany playing his lute a various strongholds and castles to make money. His life is one of a wanderer and he is never in one place for more than a few days. Ben cannot imagine his life without his lute and cannot picture himself settling in one town. He has had to give up his dream of a life with Rozenn.
Rozenn Kerber, recent widow of a fabric merchant, craves the stability of a home and hearth that she can call her own. Although she enjoys Ben’s lute playing and his entertaining ways, she has trouble taking him seriously and knows that he will never have the stable life that she seeks. Rose sees Ben as the flirt and womanizer that he plays at being. Rose is thrilled when her brother, Sir Adam Wymark who is a knight in England, sends word that he would love for her to come and live with him. The messenger also tells Rose that her brother’s friend, Sir Richard of Ascult, has offered to marry Rose. Since Sir Richard is a knight with his own stronghold and wealth, Rose knows that he will be able to offer her the home and stability that she wishes for.
When Rose makes the decision to leave Brittany and travel to England, Ben offers to help her along her journey. He is familiar with the roads and tells her that he hopes to find new audiences in England. Ben does not tell Rose that he is a secret spy for the Duke of Brittany. Ben uses his guise of traveling lute player to gather information for the Duke that will help the Duke solidify his own political position. Ben and Rose travel together on a journey plagued by hidden dangers and new friends.
Ms. Townend has set her story in the years just after the Battle of Hastings when things are still in a precarious state in Brittany and in England. She uses this uncertainty to give Ben a job to do that is secret from all of his friends which builds the suspense of what will happen when Rose learns that Ben has been lying to her and keeping secrets. The main story is the relationship between Rose and Ben. From their first appearance together in the book, I waited in anticipation of the moment when they confessed their feelings for each other and were able to be truly honest about what they wanted. The romance between Ben and Rose is one that embraces the misconceptions and fears in changing friendship into something new and deeper. Neither one of the characters wants to jeopardize a friendship on feelings that may not be reciprocated or may not be long lasting. Each thinks they know the other so well that they cannot imagine the other person accepting what they have to offer to the relationship. Throughout this story, Ms. Townend weaves in the history of an era giving the story life and reality. I can picture Ben and Rose as they travel through the wilds of Brittany seeking the coast, sleeping on the ground in temporary shelters and trying to maintain privacy on a journey that has few comforts.
I greatly enjoyed this story. I was drawn in from the first page and kept reading until the conclusion. I liked being able to revisit Sir Adam Wymark and his wife, Cecily, from Ms. Townend’s novel The Novice Bride, but one does not need to have read the first book to enjoy the second. I look forward to more of Ms. Townend’s books.