Book Review For His Border Bride
Written by: Blythe Gifford
Reviewed by: S. Burkhart
Gifford crosses the border into Medieval Scotland with “His Border Bride.” Gavin Fitzjohn has an English father and Scottish mother which divides his loyalties. Mistress Claire Carr is the daughter of a Scottish noble charged with holding a tower on the border. Can Gavin give Claire what she wants?
As the story opens, Gavin, the bastard son of an English prince, is given orders to burn a Scottish church by the king. He refuses to do it and leaves Edward’s army heading north to Scotland.
Claire has gone out with a small party and her falcon to hunt. Claire adores her falcon, Wee One. She encounters Gavin and reluctantly, she allows him shelter in the keep. Despite the unspoken chemistry between them, Claire keeps Gavin at a distance.
The war is over for now, and Claire’s father returns with his soldiers, including a Frenchman, Alain. Claire was fostered at his manor in France and knows the ways of lady-like behavior. She expects Alain to ask for her hand. Her father knows better, he gives her until Beltane for Alain to come forward.
Gavin proves himself to Claire’s father. He’s chosen between his divided loyalties and that choice is Scotland. When Alain doesn’t speak for Claire, her father betroths her to Gavin.
Claire has many misgivings about Gavin. They do share a passion – falcons, but is it enough of a foundation to build a loving marriage on?
Gifford’s plot flows well and never lingers. Her writing is sharp, yet a bit terse as she uses quick, short sentences. They impart a sense of urgency and apprehension to the reader, capturing the spirit of the times.
Gifford weaves in a falcon/hunting analogy into the story which is interesting. Her use of dialogue brings a convincing authenticity to the story. It’s easy for the reader to picture the setting in their mind.
Both Gavin and Claire are dynamic leads. Gavin feels a duel nature within, being half-English and Scottish. He doesn’t necessarily fit in either world so it is admirable he makes a decision to embrace, his Scottish heritage. He suffers from an ill-warranted reputation, but wear the stain with courage and nobility. Despite Claire’s apprehension, he is loyal to her.
Claire, having been fostered in France, has certain high-minded ideals of what its like to be a lady and a knight. Gavin meets none of her knightly expectation, yet she can’t deny that his attention excites her. After having her ideals shattered by Alain’s lack of action, Claire has to learn to reconcile her upbringing to what reality is.
The novel has several love scenes between Gavin and Claire that are sensual. Overall, “His Border Bride” is a passionate escape into the past.