A realistic, emotionally powerful historical romance set in a turbulent past.
This novel was a surprise for me. It's nothing like the first book in this series, THE KING'S MAN (which I also really enjoyed). This story is one of 'second chance romance'. A man and woman, both around forty years of age, who rekindle their relationship 18 years after it ended. It's certainly not a tale for those who prefer lighthearted romance, but if you're ready to tackle a few heavy topics, and deal with a embittered heroine bent on revenge, it's a really rewarding story.
Elizabeth Kingston writes beautifully. She captures the regret, bitterness and hope of Eluned and Robert. One of my favorite quotes in the book was this one - it sums up the conflict between the hero and heroine perfectly:
“To love you was the making of me. But now it is only my undoing.”
I love bittersweet moments.
Eluned isn't an easy woman to like. She's proud, manipulative and scheming. She had an affair with Robert many years earlier when her husband was away but is forced to give up her lover when the realities of life intrude on their private world. The author does a really good job is showing the moment Eluned turns bitter. The heroine can't accept the fact that life isn't hers for the taking, that she cannot have everything she wants - and as a result shuts down her feelings and focuses on political ambition, in schooling her daughter to fight for the Welsh cause.
In contrast, Robert is a truly good man. However, he doesn't let Eluned boss him around or manipulate him. I enjoyed the scenes when he stood up to her. After their marriage - organised by Eluned's son - he is shocked to discover that the carefree, fiesty young woman he remembers is gone. He has spent years loving a woman who only existed in his memory.
The novel is well researched, and gives you a real sense of the political turmoil of the Welsh Marches, and how the Welsh would have felt after years of persecution and bloodshed. It's an intense read, and I believe many women of Eluned's age (which I am!) can relate to some of what she struggles with. Many women (and men!) never get over the disappointment that life hasn't worked out as they had hoped - and Elizabeth Kingston portrays this theme bravely and realistically.
Buy a copy of FAIR, BRIGHT, AND TERRIBLE on Amazon.com.