Conqueror’s Kiss by Hannah Howell
Overview by Amazon:
There is little hope for sanctuary in the midst of the tumultuous Scottish border wars, yet one woman may find safe refuge . . . in the arms of her sworn enemy . . .
Jennet Graeme has witnessed terrible tragedy during the many years of strife between the Scots and the English. As Scottish invaders plunder her convent sanctuary, she defiantly resists the blond warrior who claims her as his prize. But his brute strength is overpowering and Jennet is forced to ride with him through the lawless lands, tending to the wounded, protected and desired by a man she wants to hate . . . but cannot . . .
Sir Hacon Gillard is moved by Jennet’s compassion and mercy. As a loyal knight, he’s pledged fealty to his king’s command, even as he loses his heart to this remarkable woman. Merciless in combat . . . yet there burns within him a spark for something far beyond the heat of battle . . .
This book is a reprint, originally published in 2006. I am always amazed at how many books Hannah Howell has published. It seems like there is always a new book being published or on the horizon. What is even more amazing is the quality of these books. The books that I have read have all been consistently four and five star books.
What is great about this book is how Hannah Howell weaves history and fiction. This book is incredibly well researched, using historical events to guide the story. Since I am a HUGE fan of Monica McCarty’s Highland Guard series, the time of Robert the Bruce is well known to me and very interesting. What is different about this book than the Highland Guard series is the stark reality laid bare on the pages. The heroine Jannet has lived and breathed war her whole life. We see the bloody horrors of war in this book and it is not romantic or kind. While I don’t think I would consistently read books that feature this much downtrodden details, it was an important element of the plot.
Jannet is captured by Hacon and kept as his plunder. Obviously a relationship of sorts develops, but the major struggle for the two was the war and Hacon’s role as a Knight. Jannet accompanies Hacon on a plundering march through Northern England. A bare bones army camp is not the most romantic of settings. Jannet is very set in her ways and very opinionated. Her experiences in life have not been kind and she can’t trust her feelings for Hacon.
This push and pull between the two goes on for a long time. This is played out between sieges and battles. Every time they seem to have a moment together, war and fighting pull them apart. While you know as a reader that they will end up with their happily ever after, it is the events that lead up to it that keep you engaged.
Hacon has a deadly enemy within the Scottish ranks. This enemy was extremely well written and I found this part of the plot very engaging. I wanted Hacon to be able to face his enemy and battle for his honour. I found this part just as exciting as the romance between Hacon and Jannet.
The secondary characters are very strong in the book and play large roles. After binge watching on Outlander, it wasn’t surprising that a small caravan of men would be travelling together considering the cost of war. The adventure the group has creates a close intimacy and allows the characters to shine.
Another good book by Hannah Howell! How does she do it?