Claiming the Rebel’s Heart
by Alison Stuart
War divides families…love unites hearts…
Herefordshire, England 1643
As the English Civil War divides England and tears families apart, Kinton Lacey castle is one of the brave few loyal to the roundhead cause.
With her father away, Deliverance Felton will do whatever it takes to defend her family home against the royalist forces ranged against it. She can shoot and wield a sword as well as any man and anything she needs to know about siege warfare she has learned from a book…but no book can prepare her for what is to come.
Captain Luke Collyer, soldier of fortune and a man with his own reasons for loyalty to the parliamentary cause, is sent to relieve the castle. Everything he knows about siege warfare in general and women in particular he has learned from experience, but when it comes to Deliverance Felton has he met his match?
Deliverance will not give up her command lightly and Luke will have to face a challenge to his authority as fierce as the cavalier foe outside the walls. He will do whatever it takes to win Deliverance’s trust but will he run the risk of losing his own, well guarded, heart?
Deliverance waved a hand in the direction of the west wall. “Oh, he’s over there, supervising the men on the earthworks. I suppose I should go and find him.”
The two women walked the length of the curtain wall, emerging from the Hawk Tower. As Deliverance looked along the battlements, she realised that quite an audience had gathered. In fact every maid in the castle seemed to be leaning over the stonework, laughing and jesting with the men below.
Penitence leaned over the ramparts. “Oh,” she said. “Oh my! I really do think he should put some clothes on.”
“What on earth do you mean?” Deliverance joined her. “Oh…I see.”
Last time she had seen him, Luke Collyer had been fully clothed, albeit with his jacket unbuttoned and his shirt unlaced at the neck. Now he swung a mattock like one of his men, naked to the waist. His back glowed with the healthy tan of a man used to working outdoors…without a shirt.
Her eyes widened. She had never thought of men as being particularly attractive creatures. There had been no opportunity in her life to spend her time thinking about men much at all. While young, handsome men had queued at the gate for Penitence’s favours, the only offers Deliverance had received were from three old, bald and foolish men of her father’s acquaintance. Mercifully her father had not sought to force her into accepting any of the offers.
Now, as she watched the smooth muscles across Luke Collyer’s back moving rhythmically to the swing of the mattock, she revised her opinion of men in general. She shifted her gaze to Ned Barrett, working a shovel not far away and similarly unclothed. Ned’s tan ended at his neck and his body was pale and freckly. Further along the line of straining men, Sergeant Hale, wielded a mallet, his great hairy, bear-like chest heaving under the effort of each stroke of the mallet.
She turned back to Luke Collyer. Compared to Hale, he seemed almost slender and graceful. Almost—she bit her lip ashamed even of the thought—beautiful.
Another wonderful historical read for Harlie. What sets this story apart from the rest is the setting and time period. I don’t think I’ve ever read a book set in the 1600’s in England. This time period is rife with civil wars and people doing whatever they had to do to keep their lands and homes. Again, I was reminded a bit about Robin Hood but this story really felt real and honest with me.
I’ve never read a book from Ms. Stuart and I honestly don’t know why either. Her settings are lush, descriptions are rich in detail and let’s not forget about her characters. Oh my, Luke was a dream. He honestly didn’t know what to think of Deliverance once he meets her. Come on, she shot at his head when they first meet. I’m sorry but I truly thought that was funny. Keep in mind this is the 1600’s so meeting a woman that can fight, shoot a gun and keep her wits was unusual. Their relationship was a slow build in trust, friendship and then love. It takes these two some time to figure things out between the two of them and I loved that about the story. It wasn’t instant, but palable for the time period.
Deliverance was strong but naive when it came to men. She honestly didn’t have a clue when it came to Luke as a man. She only viewed him as a fighter. She is fighting not only for herself but her people too. Having to deal with Luke is something that she didn’t count on in the beginning. Their dialogue was spot on and not rushed.
The thing that really got me was the mystery surrounding the castle. I couldn’t figure it out at all. Normally, I figure stuff out but lately, authors have been surprising me with the whodonit stuff until the end. 🙂 🙂 Plus, with the whole mystery element, I never felt lost in the book. Ms. Stuart had a knack to keep me in the story from start to finish. I really felt like I was in the English countryside fighting off the enemy. From the tiniest detail to the action/adventure in the book, I was there. Fighting, loving and living amongst them. Ms. Stuart really did her research with the book and it shows.
I can’t say enough of the book. If you are looking for a sweet/sensual story in a time period that most authors won’t touch, pick this one up. You will find escapism at its best with Luke and Deliverance. 😉
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Alison Stuart is an award winning and Amazon best selling Australian writer of cross genre historicals with heart. Whether duelling with dashing cavaliers or waywards ghosts, her books provide a reader with a meaty plot and characters who have to strive against adversity, always with the promise of happiness together. Alison is a lapsed lawyer who has worked in the military and fire service, which may explain a predisposition to soldier heroes. She lives with her own personal hero and two needy cats and likes nothing more than a stiff gin and tonic and a walk along the sea front of her home town.
Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Alison-Stuart/e/B004CB59LI/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1372485971&sr=1-2-ent
Alison will be awarding a $50 Amazon Gift card to a randomly drawn commenter during the tour. Make sure you leave a comment and email addy. Good luck!