Samantha Holt has written yet another winner with this stirring medieval romance in Borderland Bride, set in the wilds of Northumbria. Secrets and intrigue abound in this tale of love, which features not just one, but two gorgeous men, a strong heroine and a villain out for revenge. I have in the past by-passed the Borderlands, but after reading this novel and finding out how chivalrous the men can be, I feel I need to visit and do a little exploration of my own…
In the tale Lady Isabel, who has been set on by outlaws, is rescued by Jake, a brooding knight and taken back to the home of his enigmatic brother Dominic, where she slowly recovers from her injuries. There is an instant connection forged between Isabel and Jake, despite the fact that her injuries mean that she has lost her hearing and her ability to speak. Jake takes a strong interest in Isabel’s recovery. He is very protective and the passages where the couple succeed in communicating, despite her injuries, are both romantic and touching.
Jake’s younger half-brother, Dominic, is lord of Thornewall Keep, but Jake often resides there to assist with his affairs and protect the keep and the local people from border reivers, the criminals who prey on the Borderlands. Dominic is a consummate flirt. He quickly notices Jake’s attachment to Isabel and takes every opportunity to tease and torment him as only a brother can. Jake is a widower, scarred physically and emotionally from the relationship with his wife, who died in tragic circumstances. Usually uncomfortable around women, he feels a growing attachment towards Isabel. However, he is tortured by his past and his emotions are conflicted, for whilst he does not feel worthy of Isabel, at the same time he finds it hard to trust another woman and has no wish to marry. He also has a strong temper, which he finds difficult to control.
Isabel has her own secrets. Despite her noble bearing, the brothers do not recognise her as belonging to one of the local families and she refuses to reveal to them her true identity or why she was alone in the Northumbrian countryside. Isabel is a strong and feisty woman, who is sometimes wilful, but is very grateful for her rescue and the protection offered to her by Dominic and Jake. She is attracted to Jake and their relationship becomes very physical. However, before matters progress further and Isabel can reveal her secrets, people from her past appear and Jake feels betrayed. Isabel is forced into making a life changing decision to protect the two brothers she cares about, but which does not reflect her heart’s desire. There is also a villain waiting in the wings to complicate the plot further before a HEA can be found.
This is the third book that I have read by Samantha Holt and I love the way that she writes her romances. Much of the focus is on the interaction between the hero and the heroine and how their relationship develops and this is how I feel it should be in a romance novel. The sensual scenes in the novel are beautifully written and paced to reflect the growing attraction and passion between the main couple. Isabel is certainly no shrinking violet and I loved her passionate character and the way she often took control, as her confidence grows. I also liked how the author did not immediately reveal Isabel’s past and why she was alone in the wilderness, keeping the reader, as well as the brothers, guessing. This created a strong element of intrigue, which not only acted as a good counterpoint to the developing romance, but drove the plot forward.
The interaction between Jake and Dominic when faced with Isabel in their midst was fascinating, as were the differences in their characters. Jake being more serious and brooding, with a quick temper and Dominic, the flirt, who is more even tempered but whose facade hides a complex character. There was often a great deal of humour in their banter, which I enjoyed.
I recommend this book to all lovers of romance, especially those who enjoy reading sensuous medieval romance. I am looking forward to reading more instalments of The Borderland Legacy and other books by Samantha Holt. If you’d like to read an interview with Samantha, please scroll up to the post above this one.
Find Borderland Bride at Jupiter Gardens Press
Cover art by Valerie Tibbs
Please click on the link for A Reader’s Review Blog’s review of Samantha Holt’s The Angel’s Assassin.