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April 30, 2004
As the illegitimate cousin of King James, Richard Llewellyn has lived the life of the upper class, albeit with the stigma of being a bastard. Disguised as a peasant serf, Richard is on his way to McDermitt Castle to investigate rumors of treason. When he happens upon beautiful peasant girl Branwyn swimming, he knows then and there that he must have her.
Because of her age and station in life, Richard assumes Branwyn is an experienced woman and will be agreeable to a quick tumble. Calling himself Llewellyn, he sets about seducing her. It's not as easy as he thinks. Branwyn has managed to keep her virginity because the villagers are suspicious of her gift of sight. They come to her as a healer, but they consider her strange and keep their distance otherwise.
Even after Branwyn manages to elude Llewellyn's attentions, he follows her back to her village. Thinking it would allow him to stay around without suspicion, Llewellyn eventually lets the vile lady of the castle force Branwyn to marry him. He wants Branwyn in his bed anyway. He's also arrogant enough to think this temporary marriage will be an improvement for Branwyn, even though he plans to leave her when his job is done.
At first, Llewellyn is almost too alpha. He practically bullies his way into Branwyn's life. Slowly, though, as he begins to show his softer side with his kindness and devotion to Branwyn, he won me over. Eventually Llewellyn becomes a sexy, caring husband. Branwyn is an admirable heroine. Even after having such a hard life, she does the best she can to care for herself and is kind to the villagers who are, at best, indifferent to her.
Allie Bates has written a wonderful medieval romance filled with unexpected plot twists. The background history is exactly that - background. Ms. Bates gives the reader a sense of being in the medieval age without getting lost in the historical details and period language. I also enjoyed the picture of village life. Most medievals tend to focus on the upper class, and understandably so. Peasants didn't have a very pleasant existence in those days. However, a glimpse of what it was like for them is a nice change of pace.
Last, but certainly not least, the sexual chemistry between the hero and heroine is electrifying. The love scenes burn with passion. But it's the romance that is the best thing about Earthchild. The evolution of emotion that the hero and heroine experience is beautifully written. There are moments in the story that made me sigh out loud!
Earthchild is a keeper for this reviewer. I definitely look forward to this author's future work.
Reviewed by: Shelley