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The Silken Cord by Leigh Bale

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

The Silken Cord

Leigh Bale
Medieval Romance/Inspiritional
Published in 2013

H/h - Wulfgar de Conteville, the Earl of Glyndwr/Princess Ariana of Welsh
Setting: In the time of William the Conqueror.

Read in Jan/Feb 2013.
My rating:

                                                          [spoiler alert]

Have to be honest here that I’ve never read anything by Leigh Bale, until I saw this freakin’ GORGEOUS cover that just sucked me right in, which is why I jumped into reading The Silken Cord. I also love medieval romance. The starting of this book was excellent, I got hooked from the first chapter. But as mentioned, it is more of an inspirational story than the kind of intense and hot romance I’m used to with. But I’m not saying I didn’t enjoy it. Our hero, Wulfgar was damned sexy.

If only... *sigh*

Wulfgar, a Norman baron and a favorite of King William has been cast into slavery due to his traitorous status. No one knows why the King didn’t have him beheaded. Wulfgar’s title of the Earl of Glyndwr and all his lands were taken away and given to this man call Carlingham, a man total opposite of Wulfgar. He’s vile, greedy and tortures all of Wulfgar’s people when he inherits Castle Cynan. Wulfgar worked so hard to build this castle and looked after his people so well that everyone loves him without condition. And even though, their loyalty should be to the King, Wulfgar’s people are mainly loyal to him. We find a battered and bruised Wulfgar in a slave market, being auctioned off. Wulfgar says little. He’s a man of great strength, with the height and brawn to accompany it. I did love his physical description and how he didn’t seem to care about these slave traders who were treating him so horribly. The first scenes of the book were excellent! Wulfgar’s bearing and gaze show off his noble birth. No one can deny it. When he sees some of his men came to buy him off the slave trader, hope feels within him. Maybe he’s going to be released now and do something about Carlingham. He knows what a cruel man like him is capable of. Wulfgar also knows that he’s innocent of the crime for which he’s been suffering till now and that he has to work to convince the King of his innocence if he wants to state his case to him.

But there is someone else who wants to buy him as well. A man accompanying a lady. This lady, though Wulfgar doesn’t know, is Princess Ariana of Welsh. Welsh and Norman are fighting bloody battles and are sworn enemies. But Ariana is desperate. She lost all her older brothers and her father, King Rhys, in the battle. Now Carlingham has her younger brother, her father’s only heir, Dafydd. He has made a trap for her, which she can neither abide by, nor can she deny. Surely Carlingham wants everything that killing Dafydd will bring him, which include Ariana herself. But Ariana loves Wulfgar… Yes, she does (which we don’t get to know for a while). They have been betrothed quite young, and Ariana fell for Wulfgar on her first sight of him. She was quite young and so, she knows Wulfgar won’t remember her. The marriage didn’t take place for various reasons but right now, Ariana’s only hope is to buy Wulfgar back because one, he’s the one who knows the secret passage of Castle Cynan, through which she wants to rescue Dafydd. And two, she hopes that maybe... just maybe Wulfgar remembers her and would want to help her out because of that betrothal.

Her man Jenkin performs the buying, though it almost empties Ariana’s coffer. Afterwards they set sail. Ariana is a bit troubled about giving this man, who is known to have been betraying his own king, a chance. Jenkin is very possessive of his Princess and can’t at all stand Wulfgar. We later find them often facing off concerning almost everything that includes Ariana. But for now, Ariana feeds Wulfgar who hasn’t been fed for a while. Wulfgar wants to know her identity, which she denies. She doesn’t think it’s the right time to tell him. But Wulfgar is intrigued. Why would this beautiful, obviously a lady, would buy a slave this way? Baffling thought indeed! Wulfgar is determined to find out soon enough.

As soon as they set sail, Wulfgar’s men attack Ariana’s ship. A bloody battle ensues. No one seems to care about anything but killing a Norman or a Welsh. In the skirmish, Ariana falls into the sea. Wulfgar jumps in to save her. They float and are washed on the shore of a small island. A man who lives with his little family here and takes care of the King’s sheep takes them in. They spend a few days here, waiting to be rescued. In that, Wulfgar and Ariana have some talk. Ariana finally tells him who she is, but not that her father is dead. Wulfgar now knows why she wants his help, which he will with his life. Loved how Wulfgar was so honest and noble, and wanted to take care of Ariana from the beginning, even with all the distrust and hatred between both parties. No matter what, even when Ariana was influenced by her men’s words, Wulfgar remained stalwart about Ariana. He never stopped caring for her well-being.

Anyway, after they are rescued, they journey to Ariana’s land which borders with Castle Cynan. Her people are also being tortured and Ariana is now desperate. Being a princess is not a fancy thing. Ariana is constantly aware of the trouble her people is fending off and how they’re being mistreated and harmed by Carlingham. She would do anything to help them, and help Dafydd. So saving Dafydd is her only focus at the moment. After everything is done, she’d let Wulfgar go... at least that’s what she plans to do. As they proceed, we see much enmity, mainly coming from Jenkin. It was clear as the daylight that he’s infatuated with Ariana and probably quite obsessed and possessive as hell too. I knew a triangle will form, and I’m not fond of those. Jenkin might have been a bit mean sometimes, but I really didn’t dislike him in that sense. He was just a guy who wasn’t lucky in the end, and I felt sad for him. I will come to that point later but as they reach Ariana’s land, they find everything burning. Wulfgar accompanies all the men (his and Ariana’s) inside, only to find mindless slaughtering of people. Seems like none is alive, even Ariana’s last remaining relative, her aunt and her young cousin. The grief weights down on Ariana when Jenkin gives her the news. She breaks down in his arms. Wulfgar watches, wanting to soothe her tears away, but he knows he is not likely to have this opportunity in his life, if ever.

After this, all parties agree, if somewhat reluctantly, to work together. Finding Dafydd wouldn’t be a task once they are inside but they have to make their way there. Wulfgar is determined for revenge, just as Jenkin is. They still have extreme kind of enmity, and Ariana tries her best to level things down between all the men. She takes care of some of Wulfgar’s men who were attacked on the way and were injured. They even meet some of Ariana’s people who ran away from Carlingham’s brutality, and took refuge in the forest. They have a little relaxation and rest there. Wulfgar and Ariana exchange a few kisses, though no one yet answers his question about King Rhys’s whereabouts.

When they reach the castle, Wulfgar is unhappy to see how his people are being treated. They lie in wait to get inside at night. Ariana has been pestering Wulfgar to show her and her men the secret door that only Wulfgar knewm of. Even though he denied any knowledge of such sort, Wulfar later gives in. he would help, but Ariana has to stay safe. Even Jenkin agrees that the Princess must remain safe. But it’s easier said than done, especially when the said Princess puts her foot down to be taken with them. I was a bit annoyed by a few of Ariana’s actions. One was, sometimes she would act really stubborn, even when she was warned of the danger. She’d try to wield her Princess Power on everyone. But thankfully, she wasn’t a TSTL, so I could handle that. Another was, her preference of her brother more than Wulfgar. I know it’s her brother, and the heir to the throne but I already mentioned that Wulfgar’s feelings for her was rather unconditional. He’d help because he can’t deny her anything, which spoke a lot about his feelings for her. Yet Ariana was always hovering, confused and definitely would think of saving her brother no matter what; her thoughts always revolving around that. At times it felt like if she had the choice to exchange Wulfgar for Dafydd, she’d do that without batting an eyelash. For a long time, this was what I felt from her. Needless to say, it made me extremely unhappy. I really really adored Wulfgar and I wanted his regard returned by equal measure.

Then there was Jenkin and his extreme reactions where Ariana was concerned. But I felt for him when, before they attacked Cynan, Jenkin professed his undying love for her. Ariana was aghast. I mean, she was really uncomfortable and kind of grossed out when he tries to kiss her. I don’t know but I felt like smacking her. I knew that her heart was already occupied by Wulfgar, even though she was still not sure about him... I wish this love triangle wasn’t there because I hate to see a good man getting hurt. Maybe Jenkin was a bit over the top about Ariana but I think he genuinely cared for his Princess. Ariana’s rebuff hurts him a lot without a doubt, yet he’d do anything for her, and so, he accompanies them inside the castle.

As they find the secret door, Wulfgar finds one of his loyal servants in the dungeon. He’s mad at Carlingham again. I loved this rescue process and all the action that went with it. Wulfgar was super in his role. As he fights to keep them safe, Ariana finds Carlingham’s son Markus. Markus stammers and his father hates him. I felt for him too, since the poor boy never had his father’s affection. And he knew that his father killed her mother. Jenkin was with Ariana, and they take Markus to find Dafydd. When they find him, the ever loyal Jenkin fights with Carlingham’s mercenaries and gives his life to save Ariana and Dafydd. Jenkin’s death certainly brought tears to my eyes. Poor guy!

Later Ariana is caught by Carlingham, who always wanted to marry her. Somehow, she manages to let Dafydd run and go find Wulfgar. Carlingham takes Ariana to the King, who was waiting for the news. The King takes her as his hostage, to be married off with someone of his choice. Carlingham is sure that he’s the one the King will choose. Wulfgar tries to follow them but is caught later and thrown into the same dungeon through which is the secret passage. He’s tortured again. Carlingham doesn’t waste the chance to taunt Wulfgar about his marriage to Ariana. I really loved the last part because by that time, there was no doubt in Ariana’s mind as to whom she wanted. Now that Dafydd is safe (she knows Wulfgar would’ve done something to keep him safe), she would fight for Wulfgar. If it means marrying Carlingham to set him free. She was adamant to do that when the King calls her. He wants answers from all parties. I didn’t know what to think of the King’s role till then. Wulfgar probably was his most favorite of the barons and yet, this is how he has been treated. But later, the King’s shrewdness, even his fondness for Wulfgar, was proven when his own plans to save his life were revealed to us.

Anyway, at the moment, in the gathering, Carlingham is trying his best to convince the King of Wulfgar’s treachery. Wulfgar is brought in and Ariana is worried to see him wounded so badly. By now, Wulfgar knew that King Rhys is dead. He is determined to give William whatever required to see Ariana safely returned to her people. He would’ve married her (and he was determined) but now, he’s not so sure about his future. In the trial, Markus proves his mettle by telling the King what his father has done to his mother. Also, the main accusations against Wulfgar were proven false as the proof of Carlingham’s involvement was found. I think everything was executed rather well, and I was happy with the outcome. The only thing I missed was... yes, I already whined about it, a little heat or intensity between Wulfgar and Ariana. They were both lovely characters, in a good story but... but... *sigh*

3.75 stars and recommended for a good medieval story. LB’s writing is simple, yet very smooth and flowing. But, for the smut lovers out there, expect no heat.


Leti Del Mar said...

I've been meaning to try a medieval romance. Thanks for the heads up! I like reading what you have to say :)

Punya said...

Leti, thank you. This one was good. If you don't mind having no heat in your story, you'll enjoy I think. Almost made 4 stars for me. :)

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