Friday, October 30, 2015

Valentine (Brotherhood of Fallen Angels #1) by Heather Grothaus

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Introducing the Brotherhood of Fallen Angels—an epic new series set in the medieval Holy Land, where four heroic Crusaders find themselves caught in the crosshairs of revenge, devotion—and love…

He’s a man of passion and principle. But would he kill for his convictions? That’s the question that has Valentine Alesander fighting for his innocence. He’s been accused, along with three other Brothers, of orchestrating the horrific siege at the Christian fortification of Chastellet. Could this fatefully-named Crusader be a lover, a fighter, and a traitor? One woman from his past is about to find out.

Gorgeous, free-spirited Lady Mary Beckham has escaped her guardians in England to travel across the world—and find the notorious Valentine. Years ago, she was promised to him…and now she wants out of their marriage contract. Mary wants to wed another and requires Valentine’s blessing—until she discovers they share a tempestuous attraction. But with a vengeful band of sworn enemies at Valentine’s heels, is desire worth the risk of losing…everything?

I have a deep fondness for history but unfortunately, I don’t get to read too much of it because for me, it requires concentration and taking notes and research. Yes, folks, I am THAT particular when I read a history book. Coming across TheBrotherhood of Fallen Angels series allows me to dip my toes into a time period and region that I have always been fascinated about but without my usual seriousness.

Lady Mary Beckham is all that's left of her parents' legacy and they died during her infancy. She has been lovingly raised by her governess. She passes her days at her estate by dreaming up lives for the passerby outside her window. Now that she has come of age, she is to marry. Months before her nuptials she comes to learn that she has already been betrothed and will need to have that contract voided in order to marry her love. However, the man she was promised to is currently a criminal, evading his family and other parties who have much to gain from his demise. Mary has to go find him, bring him back to England so they can null their marriage contract. This is a risky undertaking on its own being that Mary has never traveled much beyond her village, let alone England.

With a price on his head, Valentine has had little choice but to go into hiding these past years as many believe him responsible for the siege and downfall of Chasellet where many lives were lost. Valentine wants to prove his innocence and bring the real traitors to justice but he has to be cautious. There’s more at stake that just his name. While in hiding, he has befriended a small circle of friends who know his story. Their tight bond is one of the few things in the world, besides his own instincts that he can trust.

I delighted in Mary and Valentine’s chemistry. When they first meet, Valentine is very much the charming, flirty rogue who enjoys a beautiful woman. He’s taken in by Mary's beauty and innocence. After spending time with her, he’s impressed by her courage and sass. Mary is not so easily dazzled by this Crusader’s rugged looks and womanizing ways, though she catches glimpses of the real him. The Valentine that cares about his family and friends, the one who would lay down his life for those he loves. Their high-stakes escapades unite them, forging a deep connection between them. I enjoyed how Grothaus described their sexual tension; how much of it was left to my imagination. Sometimes that’s all that’s needed.

Grothaus gave me all my loves in one: adventure, romance and intrigue, against one of the most fascinating historical backdrops. Valentine as the hero is educated, resourceful, shrewd, passionate and strong. He’s a man’s man. Mary is no dainty, helpless thing though. She’s equally smart and resourceful, developing a flare for adventure. I got exactly what I wanted and that was to be whisked away to some other time and place. Now I cannot wait to read, Adrian next. I mean, have you seen these covers?

~ Bel

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