Brianna wishes to marry only her one true love, but King Henry has commanded she marry one of the three sons.
She falls for Luc, eldest of three (trilogy, duh) Welsh brothers Fitzgavin (son of nasty G). To thwart conqueror English Henry II, Bri declares the winner for her hand will be the son who brings the gift that makes her laugh most. Luc has a "great" honker, dresses plainly, gave up knighting after the Crusades 15 years before, gardens rather than compete, even advises her to choose heir Burke (next book).
I am not a huge romance reader, but this book has enough of a story that it is more about the growing love than smut.
There is nothing like a fairy tale theme to get me smiling even before I begin the read. Brianna, daughter to the King of Tullymullagh, does not want to be forced into a marriage. Brianna is to marry his son. The elder son, Luc Fiztgavin, does not want to participate. On principle alone, Luc was prepared to dislike everything about Tullymullagh, no less its spoiled princess. He loves working the land, a love he gained in his childhood when he lived with Pyrs, a man who saw the caliber of person Luc is. Brianna is curious about this man who wouldnt fight to win her hand. Curiosity and Lucs teasing nature, keep Brianna coming back to the orchard. From Luc, he doesnt want a princess, but his eye and reaction to her, he cant control. Luc wants to protect Brianna, for death walks closest to her. Luc doesnt like him overly much, but when Gavin beats him and hes defenseless, he stops the beating, stands before his sire, ready to be beaten himself. It is part of his soul, his character and all invasive.
Set in medieval Ireland, the story opens with Brianna's father, Connor of Tullymullagh, acknowledging his defeat at the hand of a Welsh mercenary serving King Henry of England. Gavin immediately puts forward Burke, his heir, but desperate to maintain both her own independence and somehow keep the castle for her father, Brianna demands a choice. Her spirit amuses the king, who supports her request, and Gavin is forced to send for his three sons to allow Brianna a choice. Brianna is willful and used to getting her own way, but she also genuinely cares about the people her father rules and grows into someone who does for them over the course of the book instead of simply taking her position for granted.
The characters were interesting, Luc more than Brianna, and the conflict was strong. Brianna was a bit silly and spoiled acting in the beginning until Luc starts to see the real her. I have read the Bride Quest II trilogy and enjoyed them, so I will definitely see what the other two books in this original Bride Quest series has to offer.
This book hits a home run on every front - scintillating romance, strong and chivalrous hero, feisty yet capable heroine, exquisite historical accuracy down to the very smallest detail, and a cast of characters that make Tullymullagh a place you wish was real enough to plan your next vacation.
But evil lurks in halls of the castle and Luc must do all in his power to keep Briana safe.
For books written under the pseudonym, Claire Cross, see: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/... For books written under Claire's own name, Deborah Cooke, please see: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/...