Series: The Gifted Ones #2
Published by Self-Published on October 17th 2016
Genres: Paranormal/Urban Fantasy
I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
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I was asked to write up a First Look on this story for Heroes & Heartbreakers. It was actually hard to do because there was so much I wanted to focus on that I couldn’t make it all cohesive for one short post.
For those who are also fans of Dianne’s Immortal Guardian series, this story was a long time coming. When we first met Marcus Grayden in Night Reigns, in 2011, Marcus was still emotionally scarred 800 years later over the fact that as a young squire, he had fallen in love with his knight’s wife, a woman who had come from the future, and more particularly, a woman who he had made sure was at the exact right place at the exact right time so that she could be sent into the past. Although he mourned his unrequited love for centuries, Marcus loved both Lord Robert and Bethany and never made his feelings known.
For those of us who follow both series, how excited are we to finally get Robert, Bethany and Marcus’s background story.
Bethany is a bounty hunter and she goes with her brother, Josh, into the woods of Texas on a long-shot tip to find two wanted killers. The tips pays off but Beth and Josh do not exactly take these guys by surprise and a shoot out leaves the killers dead and Beth and her brother in bad shape. As Beth loses consciousness, she isn’t certain she is going to wake up again.
But she does awaken, completely healed and in a section of forest which is more lush and green than the one she passed out in. What is missing is the cabin, the killers and more importantly, her injured brother. Beth frantically searches the woods, fearing Josh will bleed out from his injuries before she can find him. She then comes upon four men on horseback dressed in typical knight garb of chainmail. She tries to get their help, but they refuse to speak modern English and are only speaking Middle English. Lucky for Beth, her mother was a history professor and taught her and her brother how to communicate in Middle English. She believes they are simply a very obsessive reenactment group.
Lord Robert, the Earl of Fosterly, and his knights have been searching the forest for marauders who have been preying on his people. They believe these bandits attacked Beth and her brother and offer to help her search. The longer they are with Beth, the more they note that more than just her speech is odd and they start to believe she might be a little mad. They are fascinated by her and with all of the odd objects she has with her.
Both groups know that something is not quite right, but it is once they arrive at the castle that Beth realizes just how bad the situation is for her. She knows that time travel just isn’t possible, but there it no doubt when she sees the brand new castle and village full of people, all dressed the same and speaking Middle English, that something happened to her. There is no group that dedicated to their craft they would live like they actually are in the thirteenth century. There is also the fact that she hasn’t seen one thing that points to the modern world.
This is a standard fish-out-of-water story, but the fun here is less watching Beth learn how to navigate life in the thirteen century, but watching everyone’s reaction to this woman who is more than just unconventional. She is more openly affectionate than is acceptable. She speaks oddly and is very vivacious. She has a bizarre collection of items that are fascinating. She will also be bringing a little women’s lib to Fosterly a few centuries early.
I will say that the only thing I was disappointed about was that Dianne made Beth a virgin. She did have a reasonable excuse why Beth never engaged in casual sex and why she was still a virgin. But Beth was a beautiful woman in her mid-twenties and there really was no reason that Beth could not have been given a long-time love interest before she met Robert and they could have gone their separate ways for any number of reasons. Robert was no virgin and was written to have a prior love-interest who had died some years before. I would have like to see how thirteenth centuries morality would accept twenty-first century’s more tolerant values. Would Robert have delighted in Beth’s more creative and less conservative sexuality or would he have hesitated in offering marriage to a woman who wasn’t pure when she came to him? In making Beth a virgin, Robert accepting Beth into his bed and into his life caused him no moral dilemma. I would have like to see him spend some time overcoming his regimented beliefs that his bride needed to be pure and whether his love of Beth was enough to overcome the moral dogma of the time.
Overall, this was an entertaining and simply fun story with a sweet romance.
Beth is getting the knights to clean their barracks and keeping them from grumbling by telling them dirty limericks.
Seated upon a tall stool just inside the doorway of the north tower, Beth felt a shadow fall across her. Turning, she smiled as her heart leapt. “Robert!”
Hopping off the stool, she took two steps toward him, then notice his expression.
Uh-oh. He looked rather displeased. Had he heard one of the dirty limericks?
Behind her the knights quieted and anxiously stood at attention.
Robert raised one eyebrow, daring one and all to offer an explanation.
“Um…” Without looking at Robert’s men, Beth flung one arm out and pointed at them. “They made me do it.”
Gasps ricocheted through the room.
Beth peeked over the shoulder to gauge the reactions of the accursed. The looks of shock and abject horror that painted the men’s rough faces were absolutely priceless.
She burst into laughter. “I’m just kidding, you guys.”
“Jesting, my lady,” Marcus corrected softly, his gaze darting back and forth between her and Robert.
“Jesting,” Beth amended, waving her hand at the men, who seemed uncertain how to react. “I’m just jesting. You guys should see your faces. It’s hilarious.”
Still chuckling, she strolled forward, slid her arms around Robert’s waist and leaned into him. There was nothing sexual in the gesture. Just another expression of affection that probably astounded all present. “It was me,” she admitted freely, rocking slightly from side to side. The glint of amusement she saw enter Robert’s eyes confirmed her guess that he wasn’t truly angry. “I was desperate to get them to clean this place up and thought it might distract them. Although they did,” she said, raising her voice, “assure me that all was good and proper.”
Robert closed his arms around her and locked his hands at the base of her spine. “I suspect you knew otherwise.”
She winked. “Guilty as charged. I missed you today.” Rising onto her toes, she kissed his chin. “Did you miss me?”
A smile tugged at his lips. “Aye.”
“Good.” She lowered her voice so that only he would hear her. “I’m sorry, Robert. I know it wasn’t proper. But this place was a real health hazard. When I walked past it earlier, I almost gagged at the stench. Something had to be done. And the men were whining so much about having to clean up their own mess and doing what they considered women’s work that I had to hurry and distract them before I gave in to the desire to strangle them all.”
“Why did you not simply assign some of the women from the castle to…” He trailed off when she narrowed her eyes.
She had fielded that question far too often today. “Because there is absolutely no reason these men can’t pick up after themselves. They’re not children for crying out loud. Besides, I was afraid any women I sent in here would end up with her skirts tossed over their heads.”
“You are a woman, are you not?” he asked, his expression unreadable.
“Aye, but we both know none of them would dare touch me. And as you can see, my skirts are still down around my ankles.” Her voice sank to a whisper. “Plus, if anyone ever did try aught, I would totally kick his arse.”
“I know that. Others do not.”
She frowned. “What do you mean? Someone might actually think the men have been in here gangbanging me all afternoon?” She kept forgetting that appearances meant everything here. “Well, it doesn’t matter anyway, because here everyone already thinks I’m a–” She broke off, remembering that he didn’t know about the whole whore thing.
He frowned, “A what?”
“Nothing. I mean, naught.” Alice had done a complete turnaround since the kitchen incident, going out of her way to help Beth despite the continuing ribbing and belittlement of her peers. The two of them were actually becoming friends. Beth didn’t want to get her into trouble, so she changed the subject. “Hey, while you’re looking all fierce and murderous, would you order the men to finish their cleaning so we can sneak off and be alone together?”
“You would not perchance be attempting to distract me, would you?”
“I would,” she conceded. “I have been indulging in some very imaginative fantasies about you today, and thought maybe we could try a few of them out.”
Robert scowled over her head. “Finish the task she has set before you.”
Beth whispered. “And repeat it every fortnight.”
“And repeat it every fortnight.”
No one protested, though Beth suspected he would hear a few grumbles tomorrow.
“You’re wonderful,” she praised him with a smile.