When three knights band together against their overlord to reveal his treacherous plot against the king, they are rewarded by gaining his land to split between them. But it’s not long before the barons of Godsmere, Emberly, and Blackwood are at each others’ throats–burning crops, slaughtering cattle, and attacking lands by stealth. It’s up to King Edward III to force them to reconcile. His method: marriage alliances….
BARON OF GODSMERE (The Feud #1)
The one-eyed Boursier is reputed to be a wife-beater, at least that’s the story Elianor of Emberley’s aunt has told everyone about her former husband. Elianor has experienced enough abuse at the hands of her own late husband that she is desperate to avoid another violent match. To protect either herself or the young Thomasin de Arell from being forced into marrying the Boursier, Elianor takes measures to kidnap him and hide him away in an underground prison. If she can hold him for long enough, he will default on the king’s decree and lose his land. But when her plans go awry and Elianor is forced to marry Bayard de Boursier herself, she learns that he is not quite the monster he has been made out to be.
In this opening title of The Feud series, it took me a little while to get oriented about who was who. The prologue was a little confusing with a multitude of names from past and present time, but eventually it all came together and formed the necessary introduction to a fascinating novel about false names, hidden hurts, unmerited reputations, and the patient kindness of a loving man. Bayard quickly became one of my favorites of Tamara Leigh’s heroes, a good man placed in difficult situations with the wisdom and kindness to deal well with those weaker than himself.
BARON OF EMBERLY (The Feud #2)
When Bayard Boursier marries Elianor, ending the feud between their two houses at the king’s behest, that leaves Baron Magnus Verdun no choice but to wed Thomasin, the illegitimate daughter of de Arell. Strikingly handsome in an era when a man’s brawn is far more important than bis beauty, Magnus is everything that is proper, correct, calculated, and controlled. Thomasin, on the other hand, runs wild like a forest sprite, speaking in the accent of the lower class and unwilling to be confined by the dictates of what a lady should be. Aware that Magnus might recoil from her illegitimacy and her upbringing, Thomasin is surprised to find her husband drawn to her. But there is more than one area of his life he insists on hiding from her scrutiny, and she knows their love cannot be fully realized until he reveals his true self to her.
Magnus was an intriguing hero. His quirks of character are gradually revealed, showing a man who must struggle hard to fit into the rough society of the medieval world and who is braver and more worthy because of it. Without giving any spoilers, I will say that I love how Tamara Leigh’s couples all have a different obstacle to overcome, and the way she painted the challenges for the Baron of Emberly and his wife made a delightful story.
BARON OF BLACKWOOD (The Feud #3)
When Quinton Boursier advances on his castle with a host of men demanding that he release her brother, the bemused Griffin de Arell allows her to inspect the premises, absolutely certain that she will give up her foolish quest. An altercation leads to Quinton pulling a dagger on the lord of the castle and becoming a captive herself, and as they spend many days in each other’s company, Griffin begins to wonder if marriage to Quinton might be the desire of his heart, even if her brother Bayard’s lands are forfeit.
This third and last book of The Feud series backtracks to retell the story from Quinton and Griffin’s perspectives. Many events that were already seen in the other two books appear again, a method of storytelling that was slightly tedious at times. The shared antagonist of all three families is finally revealed in this tale, and the three families–both husbands and wives–must work together to avoid destruction. As a couple, Quinton and de Arell were the least interesting of the three; however, as a series finale, this title is a must.