From the BLURB:
The year is 1066. William, bastard Duke of Normandy, has claimed the English throne by right of conquest. To quell the Saxon unrest, William sends out his most trusted knights to secure the land. One of those knights is his cousin, Sir Rohan de Luc, known far and wide for his bloody deeds as The Black Sword. . .
Bold and courageous, Saxon maiden Isabel of Alethorpe is the only one left to protect the people of the manor and its lands. When Rohan de Luc seizes Alethorpe, he offers to spare the life of Isabel’s young squire in exchange for her willing gift of the charms of her body.
Betrothed to another, she vows to that while he may take her maidenhead, her heart will remain her own. But even as her lips say no, Isabel’s traitorous body is awakened to desire by the seductive attentions of this potent invader. Can she remain true to her own people, or will Sir Rohan’s skilled touch capture her unwilling heart as surely as his prowess with his sword captured her father’s lands?
'Master of Surrender' is the first book in Karin Tabke's 'Blood Sword Legacy' series.
I went into this book expecting a light bit of historical romance. . . what I got was a surprisingly robust and raunchy historical romance series to sink my teeth into.
Rohan de Luc is a bastard son. Along with a band of likewise illegitimate knights, de Luc heads the Black Sword and fights for William the Conqueror. The year is 1066 and William fights for the English throne against Harold Godwinson, the current Anglo-Saxon king.
Rohan de Luc and his Black band of men are riding in on Alethorpe, to take Rossmoor from one of Harold’s Saxon sympathizers. It is here at the Rossmoor battlements that Rohan first lays eyes on the lady of the manor, Isabel of Alethorpe. And in a moment Rohan decides he shall have her – claim her as a part of his victory. Little does Rohan know the fire and fury that rages inside of Isabel – her mother dead, brother and father gone to war and likely never to return. The last thing this lady intends is to let a Norman bastard trespass on her person or steal her maidenhead.
Rohan will have a fight on his hands with lady Isabel. And more than that, Rohan will have to fight his destiny when it comes to the fair maiden. For de Luc and his men were cursed a long time ago, back in the Holy Lands of Iberia during their crusades. A mad woman sorceress gave them a blessed curse and helped free them from their heathen torturers;
She closed her eyes and chanted unintelligible words. Her body stiffened. When she opened her eyes, a faraway look clouded them.“Take heed with your seed, Blood Sword knights. It is potent but will strike only the fertile ground of the woman destined to bear your first sons.” She closed her eyes and took a deep breath. “But such a womb will not come willingly, and the price for it will be high.” She jabbed the dagger higher into the air. “For to claim it, you must spill the blood of her kin!”
Honestly I went into this book thinking that it would be a bit of light historical romance fluff. Judging from the pretty front cover and a promise of steamy erotica in the blurb. But I was surprised and delighted to read the depths of Karin Tabke’s historical commitments.
She hasn’t just used the Battle of Hastings as a cheap romantic ploy. Tabke actually goes into heavy historical detail – at once impressing and giving a subtle English history lesson. Tabke writes about the Saxon/Norman hatred and especially delves into the harsh life of the crusading knight. Rohan and his men all bear the physical and mental scars of their battles, and Tabke does not shy away from some rather gruesome war-stories.
The romance is incredible. Tabke takes ‘will-they-or-won’t-they’ to a grand level. Isabel and Rohan are caught up in their respective patriotism and Saxon/Norman feud – and they really truly hate each other. It helps that Rohan is a truly awful character. . . he’s not a ‘rake’ (wrong time-period) rather he is a barbarian and blood-thirsty fiend. I loved him. He’s so awful in the beginning that it makes his romance and redemption all the sweeter. And Isabel is the perfect fiery female to ignite his passions. . .
Perhaps it’s not terribly realistic that Rohan wouldn’t have just raped and pillaged Isabel after her took Rossmoor – but Tabke writes around that by making Rohan so egotistical and assured of his masculinity that he would rather ‘tame’ Isabel than force her. And the sex scenes are deliciously hot and plentiful – with so much tension to keep things brooding and unpredictable.
I will say that the ending got a tad repetitive – with Isabel playing the damsel in distress in two very similar situations. Regardless, I loved this book and was pleasantly surprised and delighted that Tabke wrote such a fulfilling and exacting historical romance. Wonderful, and I will definitely be reading the next two books in the ‘Blood Sword Legacy’ series.