As seen in Issue 4 of Uncaged Book Reviews - to read my interview with Kathryn and an excerpt from The Red Lion, please see the issue - link below.
1320 A.D. - Madelayne Gray l’Ebreux is the queen of all that is lost. Her child, her husband... everything. Or, so she thinks. The same battle that killed her husband resulted in the serious injury of her husband’s commander, Sir Kaspian St. Hever. As Kaspian lays badly wounded, Madelayne is asked to tend the man in a most unconventional and intimate way. Instead of using her milk to nurse her child, who was born dead, she nurses a man who is forbidden solid foods because of a belly wound. And so, a unusual and sometimes erotic relationship develops between Madelayne and her patient.
Kaspian is tended by a woman who offers him her breasts as way of sustaining his life. At first, he looks at the situation as a necessity but he soon comes to crave it. He struggles to keep his feelings from the widowed woman but it becomes increasingly difficult. For a man who has known little compassion or kindness in his life, Madelayne comes to represent everything he has been missing. She soon becomes to represent everything he wants, and he wants her.
Join Madelayne and Kaspian on their journey through life, loss, lust, and passion in this adventure - packed and unconventional Medieval Romance. Can Madelayne finally change her stars with Kaspian’s help?
Madelayne heard the footsteps enter behind her but she didn’t move. She was certain it was a servant, perhaps even someone with her dead son in their arms. Perhaps they’d come to show her, as she’d requested. Sick to her stomach, she didn’t want to turn around and look. Now she was suddenly afraid to look, panic welling in her chest. Perhaps if she didn’t look at the baby, he really couldn’t be dead. She could pretend that someone had stolen him away and she would always hold out hope that, someday, he would come back.
But those were foolish thoughts. Deep down, she knew she was being ridiculous. Taking a deep breath, she forced her bravery and turned around, surprised to see that Mavia had entered the chamber. Right behind Mavia came Thomas, dirty and exhausted from days of fighting. As soon as Madelayne saw Thomas, fear welled in her heart and she struggled to sit up. She felt a good deal of angst at the knight’s appearance.
“Mavia, nay!” Madelayne hissed weakly. “You did not tell Thomas, did you? I do not want him to tell Cairn. I must do it!”
Mavia went to her, quickly, trying to soothe her. “Do not trouble yourself, darling,” she said, taking one of Madelayne’s hands and squeezing it. The other hand was on her shoulder, trying to keep the woman on the bed. “I swear to you that Thomas will not… darling, he has come to speak with you. Please be calm. You should not trouble yourself so.”
Mavia was being insistent and soothing, but to Madelayne, she came across as demanding. She was practically pushing her back onto the bed. Madelayne frowned, trying to push the woman away because she seemed too eager to put her hands on her.
“Did Mavia tell you?” Madelayne asked the weary-looking knight. “My son was born this morning. He is dead. I will tell Cairn myself so you must not tell him. Please, Thomas. Do not tell him!”
She was pleading with him. Thomas sighed heavily, mentally preparing what he had to say. Lady Madelayne was pale, her lovely eyes dark-circled, and she had a rather wild-eyed look about her at the moment. He simply couldn’t get past that panicked expression, terrified with the thought that Thomas was going to tell Cairn of his dead son before she could. He held out a hand to her, silently begging for calm.
“I will not,” he said, his voice dull and hoarse. “Lady, surely, I cannot. I wish to God that I could. I wish to God that you could, but you cannot. Lady l’Ebreux, God has taken Cairn to heaven to be with him. He fell in the battle at Beeston and he is gone. It is my wholly unhappy duty to tell you this news, especially in light of what happened this morning, but I have no choice. I pray that you can forgive me for the news I bear and understand that your husband died a glorious death.”
Madelayne blinked as if she didn’t quite understand what she was being told. She had not slept in almost two days, long days of laboring to bring forth her dead son, so her mind was muddled. She stared at Thomas as Mavia kept trying to squeeze her hand. She yanked her hand away from the woman, unwilling to be comforted. Her gaze upon Thomas was intense.
“That cannot be,” she said with an odd calm. “He assured me that he would be home in a few days. He assured me that it was a light skirmish. Surely he is coming home; you must be mistaken, Thomas.”
Thomas shook his head sadly. “Alas, I am not,” he replied. “Cairn was set upon by rebels and they took his life. I have brought him home to be buried, now with his son that did not survive. I am so very sorry for your losses, Madelayne. Cairn was a good man.”
Madelayne stared at the man as she came to realize what he was telling her. The news suddenly hit her like a hammer, colliding with her fragile mind, and her eyes widened and the breath left her. She couldn’t breathe at all, now clutching at her throat.
“Nay,” she gasped. “It cannot be true!”
“It is not! He promised to return to me!”
Thomas sighed heavily, hanging his head. “I have brought him home for you to see him,” he said, rather coldly. “He is being taken to the vault. I will take you there when you are strong enough to bear it.”
Madelayne was looking at him but she wasn’t really seeing him; she was looking through him, perhaps seeing all of those dreams she’d had with a happy husband and family, now gone forever. Swept away by the winds of fate, up into the heavens where memories and souls were kept. Cairn was now one of those lost stars, too, those dead souls that nearly everyone she had ever loved had become.
Uncaged Review: Don’t let the blurb throw you off this one, this is a great book. It’s a bit unconventional, but it’s a solid story, with characters you love, and a villain you hate. This is medieval times, and the English are trying to fend off the Welsh – and there are a series of castles and strongholds that they are defending from Welsh attacks. Kaspian –in command of Lavister Crag Castle along the Welch Marches, his knights and warriors are aiding one stronghold, Beeston Castle from a Welsh attack. Cairn, Kaspian’s loyal knight and second in command, is killed, and Kaspian himself mortally wounded. When they are brought back to Lavister, Kaspian is growing weaker as he can’t get nourishment. Madelayne, Cairn’s widow, gave birth to a still-born son, and Dolwyd – the psychic and doctor for the castle, suggests that Madelayne give Kaspian the gift of her breast milk to keep him alive.
As this story progresses, the man that will stop at nothing to take command away from Kaspian, is Nicholas de Dalyn, who does nothing to stop the death of Cairn, and acts as a hero.
This story has great action, there is violence, loss, heartbreak, loyalty and a heartwarming storyline and will keep you engaged throughout the book. You will not want to put this down for long, if you like historicals or have never read one, and even if you are on the fence with medieval times, this book may change your mind. This book will go down as one of my favorite reads this year, and being someone who reads 15-20 books a month, that’s saying a lot.