*** (3 stars) Historical romance that pulls you in at first.
Stella Marie Alden clearly has a handle on the art of "hooking a reader." She hooks you with the title first and then pulls you in with the beginning of the first chapter. You immediately have questions and need to know the answers. Who is this man? Why is he this angry? Who is he angry with?
This wasn’t a case of love at first sight. The relationship between Marcus "The Beast" Blackwell and Lady Ann of the Meadows developed over time. Marcus and Ann were thrown into what amounted to an arranged marriage when King Edward ordered that Marcus wed Ann. Both characters had a stubborn nature and often didn’t understand why the other person acted a certain way. These components often led to arguments between the two, which added to the realism of a developing relationship between two individuals who were thrown together without any real choice.
Not only were there external conflicts such as the danger looming over Ann’s head, but there were internal conflicts for Marcus and Ann that added to the drama and tension. Events and people from the past had affected Ann and Marcus, and it could be seen in their actions, reactions, and perceptions.
I enjoyed that this book had a clear beginning, middle, and end, as well as answered all the questions I had. The main question presented at the beginning wasn’t fully answered until the resolution. Yes, additional information was provided and other questions were answered, but the author did a good job of not filling in all the blanks and left the primary question unanswered until the end.
While this was an enjoyable read and I liked the main characters and how their relationship developed, there were some issues that pulled me from the story. A few of these were directly related to the story, but some were with the writing.
Marcus is often referred to as "The Beast," and I kept waiting for an example of how he had earned this nickname, but one was never given. There were some things that did not fit with the time period such as Lady Ann, a woman in medieval England, being in charge of not just every aspect of running an entire manor and its supporting town.
No book is completely free of grammar, spelling, and/or punctuation errors, and I am willing to overlook some of these; however, when one type of error is constantly repeated, not only does it affect the sentence structure, but it begins to become noticeable to the point of being jarring and pulling you from the story. The other issue that pulled me from the story was the foreign language terms and names that were misspelled and/or used incorrectly. This is something that I expect an author checks, but I can overlook some of this. Unfortunately, there was no overlooking a French Templar knight being given a female name. This was rather confusing and completely pulled me from the story to re-read the sections before and after this character’s introduction to figure out if I missed something or if something had been left out.
If it wasn’t for the issues that pulled me from the story, this would easily have been a four-star book. For her debut publication, Stella Marie Alden did a wonderful job and has provided readers with an enjoyable historical romance.