Bond Of Blood by Roberta Gellis
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Set in England during the reign of King Stephen. A noble fifteen-year-old girl is married off--for political reasons--to a neighboring lord. He's a hardened soldier with a foot deformity. She's sweet and innocent. And her father is secretly plotting at very high levels to kill his son-in-law, recoup his own lands as well as his son-in-law's, and consolidate a power base in Wales. A lot of the plot of the book revolves around this scheme and its resolution, as well as related conspiracies involving Henry Plantagenet (later Henry II).
The hero of this book is the first romance hero I've read in a long time who is actually horrible in bed! And he's--let's say less abusive to the heroine than her father is. This book is probably historically accurate when it comes to relationships but still sounds horrible to modern people--the husband is possessive, jealous, unfaithful, and inconsiderate, and beats the heroine on a few occasions. The heroine is submissive and uses her tears to manipulate her husband; on the other hand, her own behavior at court shows that she is smart as a whip. I would have liked to see them working together as a team in the court-intrigue-political part of the plot, that would have been more compelling but their lack of trust--for good plot reasons--precluded this.
And they call this a romance! or they did in 1975.
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