Series: de Macy #1
Published by Fawcett on March 12th, 1987
Genres: Historical Romance
Purchase on: Amazon | B&N
In the harsh, turbulent Middle Ages, lovely Lady Melyssan remains as she always has been sweet, timid, and content to be alone. But in a desperate move to resist the advances of the dreaded king, she claims to be married to his worst enemy, Lord Jaufre de Macy, the legendary Dark Knight. Seeking temporary shelter in Jaufre’s abandoned castle, Winterbourne, she is unprepared for the fierce, angry warrior who returns to confront her. He is a man as rough and unforgiving as the Welsh border lands he rules and she is as gentle and innocent as a new day. But neither Jaufre’s dark heart nor Melyssan’s innocent one can resist the love that is their destiny nor protect them from the danger drawing ever closer…
For years, I have been searching for this book. I couldn’t remember the title or the author, only that it was set in medieval England and featured a tortured hero, a childhood crush, and a crippled/lame heroine. Turns out the novel I longed for was actually two books—WINTERBOURNE by Susan Carroll and IF I HAD YOU by Lynn Kurland. Somehow in my memories I kind of meshed them all into one story. Now wonder it took me so long to find them! Here are my thoughts on WINTERBOURNE by Susan Carroll.
In a desperate attempt to resist the unwanted advances of King John, Melyssan flees to Winterbourne and masquerades as Jaufre de Macy’s wife, the kings most feared lord and Melyssan’s childhood “Sir Lancelot.”
Dreadfully naive and hopelessly timid Melyssan is thought of as lovely but weak. She’s actually rather courageous. She’s on the run from the king, posing as the wife of one of England’s most terrifying knights, and terrified out of her mind, and yet she has the bravery and compassion to willfully commit treason to help a family in need.
I admired Melyssan’s backbone, especially when she was going head-to-head with the Dark Knight. She gives as much as she gets when it comes to the gruff lord’s temper. It was also difficult not to feel for our unfortunate heroine. She goes through a lot of sorrow, turmoil, and loss in WINTERBOURNE.
JAUFRE DE MACY
Our infamous hero is the reason for most of my issues with this novel. While Carroll sees it fit to redeem our tortured hero, I wasn’t able to forgive and forget so easily. The Dark Knight might have an honor code, but he’s still a bully with too much power. He torments those weaker than him and lashes out at Melyssan when he’s too cowardly to acknowledge his own feelings.
“I heard a sermon once regarding women. Vessils of sin. Of male and female, ’tis the woman who is most lascivious. You need to keep up your own guard against your own evil, my lady.”
He does have reason to feel unsavory against the fairer sex and his past riddled with those who’ve betrayed him. Still, to damn an entire gender due to the actions of the few? It’s hard to swallow, but his hatred for women isn’t the only thing that turns me off. it’s the countless times he disappoints and hurt Melyssan that kills his character for me.
Despite the character flaws, I actually enjoyed the world building and setting. For historical romance, Carroll crafted a novel that feels more realistic than other novels in its genre. In real life, problems don’t end when you find the person you want to spend the rest of your life with.
In WINTERBOURNE, Melyssan and Jaufre are forced to confront war, past demons, treason, and death while they attempt to carve out a life for themselves in the harsh and dangerous Middle Ages. While it can be hard to stomach, I admire the Carroll’s attempt at a realistic historical romance during a time when marrying for love was nothing more than a fairy tale.
Though WINTERBOURNE had issues, and a rather frustrating hero, I am glad I found it again. To say it was a nostalgic experience would be an understatement. I enjoyed the novel and though it looks like the de Macy series was dropped before completion, I find myself yearning for more from this author.
Reading this book contributed to these challenges: