This review may contain spoilers, so fair warning, upon reading the review.
About The Book
Her noble name made her a threat to the new king.
To remain in favor he would do anything…even accept the hand of his enemy.
The beautiful, cherished daughter of Scottish nobility, Melusine of Ulle had all the privileges of rank. But her family and her life were destroyed by the ravages of war.
A bastard son of an English lord, Bruno of Jernaeve was born with nothing. But through loyalty, cleverness, and brute strength, he carved out a spot at the right hand of the king.
They have nothing in common and every reason to hate each other, but even in the coldest of winters one spark can ignite a fire too hot to tame.
The Tales of Jernaeve series:
Tapestry of Dreams (Book 1)
Fires of Winter (Book 2)
What reviewers are saying about Fires of Winter:
“Five stars…Fires of Winter is the best a book can be…I dare anyone not to be hooked!” —Affaire de Coeur
“Fascinating and well-written…a romance with substance!” — Knoxville News Sentinel
“A masterpiece…Only a consummate writer of Ms. Gellis’s talents could bring the Middle Ages so brilliantly alive.” — Rave Reviews
Sorrows, like any other burden, should come small at first and then larger, until one has gained the strength to bear them.
Fires of Winter is the second book in the duo series by Roberta Gellis. I have known of this author for years, but have yet to read her. I found this treasure actually through my library’s digital catalog and I tried a sample and I was drawn immediately into the story. So I immediately downloaded this one to my kindle. I do know that this was one of the books that Sourcebooks republished a few years ago but to be honest the older cover just fit the story so much more. I wasn’t sure exactly what I was expecting, as this book was published the year I was born (so 35 years ago, and yes I am that old haha). But despite how long ago this book was written, I do think much of it could stand the test of time, there was only one scene that might offend some modern sensibilities but to be honest, it didn’t even phase me and it was written in such a way that would affect me. I will say that this book is a blend of historical romance/and Historical Fiction. There is quite a bit of history that is laid out here and the romance is more than half of the story so it’s of the style of older historical romance that tended to be more like what we see in Historical Fiction these days but I was quite fascinated and I LEARNED a ton.
One does not thank those one loves. They understand without.
Bruno of Jernaeve was born a bastard and was always having to fight for what he became. Eventually, he found a home among the Jernaeve clan and made his home there, but the nature of his birth and the circumstances of England led him eventually to work alongside the King. Then we have the beautiful Mellusine of Ulle, who was loved by her father and four brothers, and their decision to side with a certain king decided their fate and they were killed and she lost her family home. The King and his wife took her into their court, and she became a Queen’s lady but there was a level of mistrust as her loyalties aren’t determined. The King then decides to arrange a marriage between Bruno and Mellusine. Bruno never thought he could ever attain status of his own or that a family would be one he could have, but he is determined to embrace his marriage. Mellusine is still divided, her love and loyalty is to her lands and she will do whatever it takes to get them back. But the devotion and care that her husband shows her, makes her second guess where her true loyalties are……will her love for Bruno be the final test of whose loyalty she will be devoted to?
The whore’s bastard would hunger for riches or for power and that no gain of either or both would ever satisfy him, for what is lost at birth can never be fulfilled. But I had been wrong, as far wrong as I could be. What Bruno starved for was love, to be cared for and caring.
What I Loved
Despite my rating, there is quite a bit that I quite enjoyed in this story. There is so much history that is compacted within this book, so it can seem overwhelming. I did go into this one blind so there is that. However, I loved the taste of history that this author gives us. She really knew her stuff and you can tell in her writing style. I really enjoyed the trope fo this being an arranged marriage. Many of you probably know that it’s my favorite trope but especially in historicals. This story takes place around the early 12th century. There is a level of grittiness and historical detail that really make history come alive with this one. There is a level of compassion and kindness that I wasn’t expecting and was completely intrigued by. There is such courage and strength which is displayed within the story. I absolutely adored the hero and the way he is able to show Mellusine a different way and that is through love. He is completely all in with the marriage but also stands by his loyalty to his King. There is much described the warfare of the time, harsh living conditions, and how easily alliances shifted back then. There is a rich background of the court life that will be fascinating for a lover of history. The romance was slowly built, and the sex scenes were actually more steamy than I expect (there is even a BJ scene and I was like oooh I wasn’t expecting that at all). I really quite enjoyed the way that Bruno and Mellusine explored each other both physically and mentally. I also really loved the cover here, because the scene here with them on the bed with how he is holding her hand and comforting her is a true scene in the book. And their clothing is just how its pictured in the book and has a more medieval feel to it. There is such level of heart and emotion that blew me away.
What I Struggled With
Now for what I struggled within this one. I will be honest the writing was really long-winded at times and the pacing was in and out and there were parts I just skimmed over at times. It felt like the story was dragging all the way through, most of the story is more historicalesque. So there is much more focus on the history than the actual romance, and I really wanted to see more of Bruno and Mellusine. But I also know that this is how older historicals were written.. I can see the appeal of it. There was also a level of sadness to some aspects of the story. It really is realistic to the time period. But I think my biggest issue with the pacing of the story. It had so much more potential for enjoyment, and this aspect just made it feel like I was trudging through mud at times.
I found Fires of Winter to be an authentic, historical gem that delivers in brilliant emotion, tender intimacy, and the growth of spirit in a time of war and challenge. A brilliant historical star!!
Vague dreams may be renewed when disappointed; but dreams fixed in reality shatter, and shards pierce the heart.
Title: Fires of Winter
Author: Roberta Gellis
Genre: Historical Romance/Fiction
Length: 498 Pages
Storytelling Quality: 3.5
Story Itself: 3.5
Character Development: 4
Writing Style: 2.5
World Building 5
Feels + The Romantic Heart 4
Cover Art 5
Overall Rating of the Book
Simmering—soft warm touches and light intimacy
Warm- a medium level of sexual tension, a balance of sexual and emotional intimacy, lighter on the details in the sexual moments.
Steamin’ up the room -the sexual content is more explicit in the language and tone, heavier amount of sexual scenes.
Blazing fire to the building-The prime focus is the sex scenes, scorching hot, and could burn one. Less focus on the emotional intimacy to the relationship.
Tales of Jernaeve
A Tapestry of Dreams-Pub 1985 #1 in the Series
Fires of Winter-Pub 1987 #2 in the Series
About The Author
Roberta Gellis has been one of the most successful writers of historical fiction of the last few decades, having published about 25 meticulously researched historical novels since 1964. She was married to her husband Charles for over 50 years and they lived together in Lafayette, Indiana with a lively Lakeland terrier called Taffy. She has one child called Mark.
Her page at the Internet Speculative Fiction DataBase