The Rose and the Shield
Leisure, Mar 2009, $7.99
In 1066 as William and his Normans defeated the Saxons, one of the Conquerors loyal nobles Baron Guilbert de Silva and his troops slaughtered the defenders of Hendsmille. Nine years later, the bloody Baron orders his master mason to build a cathedral that will enable him to obtain God’s forgiveness for killing so many. However, unlike when he built the Baron’s castle, age has taken its toll on the master Mason. His daughter Rosamund, who hates the Normans, knows her father ails and cannot lead the effort. She dresses as a male to help her dad build the odious baron’s edifice.
Ross rescues robbery victim Sir Dagan. As he recuperates from his fatal wounds, Dagan realizes why he cannot ignore his young savior’s delicate face; he realizes beneath that youthful male garb is a beautiful woman he desires. However, he hides his attraction because his vow is to keep his Rose safe from the abusive deadly baron. Rosamund is in love with her knight, but also loathes him for being Norman.
Fans will relish this Conqueror romance as the feisty heroine learns the hard way how destructive stereotyping can be to the soul of the person filled with hatred and bias as the kind but brave Dagan teaches her that not every Norman is a butcher like the Baron is. Although women dressing as men have been used frequently by writers like Shakespeare and in movies like Shakespeare in Love, Elaine Barbieri keeps her historical brisk with two strong lead characters and a villain everyone will despise.