Roen De Galliard is a successful warrior for King Henry. He expects his skill in battle to be rewarded with money, or perhaps lands. What he didn't expect is for Henry to give him an heiress. No, a choice of Heiress. A hard man embittered by his cruel upbringing, Roen wants no part of marriage. He sees women as greedy, grasping, and false. But Henry will not be satisfied unless Roen is married.
Leonora of Woodshadow sees no need for a husband. But her ailing father sees things differently. The deaths of his wife and son have made Leonora his only heir, and he wishes to see her settled and happy. But she holds out for love in her marriage, the same kind of love that her mother and father had. But her father feels that something is wrong at Woodhaven, that some unseen foe shadows the keep, waiting to strike.
To save Leonora, he contracts a false marriage agreement with Roen, to which Leonora protests. But when Roen threatens to wed her cousin, who is petrified of men and would likely kill herself before she would bed Roen, Leonora has no choice but to agree. Despite their beginning, they begin to get along and fall in love, until they marry and Roen helps Leonora's father ride off to die in the woods.
This deception hurts her deeply, but even this she could forgive. However, the deceptive nature of their union comes back to haunt them both. Can Leonora ever forgive her father and Roen for tricking her into marriage, even to save her beloved Woodhaven? And can Roen convince her that he married her because he loved her, not because of some agreement? Can their love overcome the deception that birthed it?
I usually like Medieval Romances, and this one was no exception. Roen is a stoic warrior who has to overcome a truly hellish upbringing with an abusive father and a mother who would taunt his father by not letting him know if Roen was truly his son. Thus, he has no idea of what a loving relationship looks like or how to deal with a woman who isn't greedy and deceptive.
Because of this, he treats her very harshly at first, however, he soon realizes that he misses her when she is not around, and is willing to do almost anything to get her back. She, too, must learn to rein in her sharp tongue, and to have sympathy for her husband. She learns to do this faster than he does, although he gives her lots of reasons to use her tongue, especially when he treats her badly.
The enemy behind the troubles came as no real surprise to me. And if Leonora sometimes acts in a stupid manner, well, she was trying to be sympathetic when she did so. I can also smell a sequel brewing, but time will tell in seeing if I was correct.