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A Rough Wooing by Virginia Henley

Saturday, April 14, 2012

A Rough Wooing (novella)

Virginia Henley
Medieval Romance
Published in 2012

H/h - Sir Lancelot Greystoke/Douglas Elliot
Setting: Beaumont, Northumberland, 1603.

Read in Apr, 2012.
My rating:
                                                            [spoiler alert]

I was originally going to give this book a 2 star yesterday or make it DNF after reading the 1st  2/3 chapters. But I decided to give it another chance and read it with a clear head (don’t ask!) later. I did today and well, it wasn’t that bad a book. VH’s writing is great. But to me, in the beginning there were just too many historical clap-trap that made my head spin and bored me to sleep. Also, it took me a while to get hold of the characters because it felt like I was reading in the middle of a novel. But the story picked up soon enough and I would’ve given it a higher rating, had I not ended up disliking the heroine, Douglas. Yes, her name is DOUGLAS.

So, let me start my review with the heroine’s name. Douglas, for crying out loug?! Lord, from the blurb, I actually thought that’s the hero’s name. Then I came across Lance and I was like, huh? It confused the hell outta me and... let me just tell you that I didn’t like reading a heroine who is called Douglas. I don’t know if VH’s other heroines have such atrocious names, the last I read was called Burgundy! :|

Anyway, story is pretty simple if I skip the historical stuff. Douglas is a Scottish woman, lives close by the border of England and Scotland. Hers and the other clans do raid English borders (and English do the Scottish, vice versa). One day, while on looking for a particular English castle, she comes across the Border Warden Sir Lancelot aka Lance. From his whereabouts, name and so on, Douglas promptly understood who it was but she kept her cool. Lance was suspicious that she’s a Scot but he also doesn’t say anything, mostly because both are attracted to each-other on the first sight. Lance gives her a tour of the castle, while Douglas takes in the things she’d like her brothers to steal, like Lance’s precious thoroughbreds and a pendant in his library that’s a centuries old artifact. After she returns to her keep, Douglas coaxes two of her brothers into the stealing. While Lance was on his duty of securing the borders, her brothers stole his horses. Douglas also accompanies them in breeches but she doesn’t immediately steal the artifact thinking Lance would be suspicious.

Afterwards, news arrives that Queen Elizabeth has died and King James is now the new ruler. It’s known that the raids in the borders would go up now before the new ruler claims the crown. It certainly goes. But, Lance is angry about the stealing in his property. He starts his investigation along with the other raid cases. He catches a man, who swears up and down that he bought the horses from the Elliot brothers, paying a hefty price. So, Lance’s men pay a visit to the Elliots and arrest all of them, including Douglas. There was confusion over her name but they arrest her anyway. Only their eldest brother was in Edinburgh with the King himself so he couldn’t be found. When they are brought in, Lance immediately recognized the woman who has been on his mind since the day he saw her and named her Firebrand (loved the name) when she won’t give hers to him. Later, against his better judgment, Lance helps Douglas. He takes her to his home, bathes and feeds her... and in the course of all these, they end up making love. Now, even though Douglas wanted Lance, her ultimate goal was to see her brothers released and so, she thought this would give Lance some incentive to free them. She was also feeling guilty because she knew they are imprisoned because the whole raiding was her idea. See why I didn’t like her? Let me tell you more...

But the next day, what does Douglas do? When Lance leaves to take care of his job, she is disappointed that he didn’t mention anything about her brothers and so she pays him back by stealing the artifact and running away taking one of his horses. God, I wanted to slap the hell outta her! When the poor guy returns, he’s hurt and angry by her deception because he actually believed in her.

Some stuff happens by the time it ended but I wasn’t much interested. After all the havoc she caused, she is rewarded when finally Lance forgives her and asks for her hand to the King. Oh, c’mon! Really? You act TSTL causing big troubles and then, end up being married to a sexy Lord? Oh the misery!!

Life is so bloody damned unfair!

3 stars because overall it wasn’t as bad as I initially thought.

I got A Rough Wooing free from smashwords last month (March, 2012) on its sidewide promotion deal but it’s not a listed freebie. This novella, as per the Author’s Note, can also be found in the anthology Masters of Seduction.


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