Author: Scarlett Valentine
Publisher: Tirgearr Publishing
Publication Date: October, 2011
Description: Ysbail of Ellesmere is a pawn in her guardian's war. For decades there has been unrest between the marcher lords and Owain Gwynedd ap Gruffydd, King of Gwynedd. The most recent war had been the bloodiest she could remember in her eighteen years. Madog ap Maredudd, Prince of Powys, and his allies lost untold numbers of men at the hands of Owain's soldiers. When a settlement of truce is presented to Madog, it's at Ysbail's expense. She is to marry Bedwyr ap Owain, one of King Owain’s bastard sons, and his most notorious henchman. If all the rumors and stories she's heard are true, she knows her marriage will be rife with horror and fear.
Since proving himself worthy with his sword, Bedwyr fights at his king's side. He's shed oceans of blood and sent untold numbers of men to their graves. He's become what his name foretold—the grave-knower. He's afraid of nothing, least of all death. All men fear him, including those who fight at his side, and sometimes even his own king. Terror of him lives within women's hearts; only the bravest of whores accept him into their beds. And children weave their own tales of the monster they hear him to be, embellishing the details to their own gruesome degrees.
When King Owain informs Bedwyr that he's to marry Ysbail of Ellesmere as part of a peace settlement with Madog, Bedwyr is furious. A man such as Bedwyr can only survive on the battlefield. For without love, hatred will send a man like him to the edge of insanity. Then push him over. But when Bedwyr sees Ysbail for the first time, blood-thirst turns to blood-lust, and he vows to show her that she should have no fear of him.
My Thoughts: I’ve never really been a fan of the erotica genre, but historical romance was my first favorite genre. Even if you aren’t a fan of erotica romance or have never read the genre before, Awakening by Scarlett Valentine is a good place to start. In 12th century Wales, women are viewed as nothing more than property and vessels to birth heirs. If women even survive the childbirth process, they have no rights, no voice. Our heroine, Ysbail, knows this and knows she has no choice when she is given in marriage to Bedwyr, one of the King’s bastard sons, who has a reputation as a blood-thirsty warrior. Most people are afraid of him. I didn’t get the sense that Ysbail was afraid of him, however. My first impression of her was that she can be quite defiant and stubborn in her own right. She proves this when she has to deal with some trouble makers while Bedwyr is away. She possesses inner strength and determination that will serve her well in the surroundings she has been forced to live.
The rumors about Bedwyr are all absolutely true. From childhood, he has been groomed to fight and kill in a kill or be killed environment. He has learned to stifle emotions like mercy, compassion and love and live without them. There is no place for them on the battlefield. When he is told that he is to marry, obviously he isn’t happy but acquiring property as part of the arrangement sweetens the deal and he agrees. Bedwyr is no fool and he realizes how fortunate he is when he meets Ysbail for the first time and experiences a fiercely strong desire and sexual hunger for her.
The story begins after the wedding and the wedding night has commenced. A fortnight has passed and Bedwyr and Ysbail have arrived at their new home and Bedwyr wants to introduce his new bride to the sensual side of marriage. Ysbail is a quick learner, though at first, I thought she would resist. The bedroom scenes are very intimate and explicit without being overly graphic or obscene.
Awakening delivers a good story outside of the bedchamber as well as inside. Strong characters and coherent dialogue make the story flow so smoothly that I found myself surprised when it was over. If you are looking for something a little different than your usual reading choices, give Awakening a try.
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