By Royal Command
Released on: Jul 02, 2012
Published by: Harlequin/Carina
Two brothers. One woman. Three hearts at war.
Katrin of Courtenay’s husband is dead—and she doesn’t mourn him. He was cruel and controlling, and she doesn’t need a husband to hold her northern keep. But her vengeful uncle, the King of England, has other ideas: intent on marrying her off, he’s ordered his Viking-bred warrior to return her to court.
On the journey, the Viking captures her interest, and for the first time Katrin understands passion. But her guard is honor-bound to deliver her to the king, and so it is settled—she must wed the mysterious Rafael le Senay, the Baron of Belmaine.
A forced marriage to a stranger slowly becomes something more, and Katrin realizes she is in love with Rafael. But with the shadow of her former lover hanging over her, and Rafael’s powerful brother making dangerous plans, can Katrin negotiate the delicate balance between survival and happiness?
When a step sounded on the stair, Katrin turned swiftly. Apprehension snatched her breath.
The sword-theyn filled her doorway, eyes sweeping the colorful spill of faded tapestries draping her walls, the clutter of scrolls and parchments among racks of burning candles, the great curtained bed. Harsh and forbidding, he could have been a Viking invading her home, tawny hair blazing with firelight.
When his gaze lit on her, she braced for an explosion of wrath.
“You have a facile tongue, Lady Katrin,” he said, low and dangerous.
In the gathering dusk that pressed against her window, his presence strung her nerves tight. Yet his expression was inscrutable. Impossible to tell if her lies had angered him. Still, her knowledge of men told her to step quietly.
Trying to pacify, she strove to flatter him. “I dare swear you were not long taken in.”
“By the time we reached this hunting lodge, I had my doubts,” he said grimly. “You revealed yourself by your ease of command.”
Perhaps she need not endure a thundering tirade, or summon her housecarls to restrain him. Still, she didn’t make the mistake of thinking this formidable warrior would easily forgive her deception.
Well, reduced in fortune and desperate she might be, but let him recall her rank. She was no serving wench to cower before him, no matter how shabby her estate.
“I pray you’ll pardon my small deceit.” Gracefully she sank into a chair, the table standing safely between them. “You and I were alone in the ruins, far from any assistance, and I couldn’t be certain of you. Do be seated.”
Frowning, he lowered himself into the opposite chair. Despite her gnawing worry, she was forced to concede he drew the eye: broad-shouldered and larger than life, even without his armor. Tonight he wore a tunic of ocher cloth bordered with knotwork, a dragon gripping the bronze buckle of his belt. He was certainly not handsome, his features too harsh for it: his nose too prominent, cheekbones slanting too sharply, skin chafed by sun and wind—a man who spent too much time frowning into the weather. His eyes seemed to penetrate the flimsy veil of her deceptions, to seek out her hidden truths.
He would be perilous to oppose. But oppose him she would.
When Gwyneth bustled in with the winecups, relief surged through her.
Perhaps this long-traveled nuisance will drink himself insensate. They await my word outside. We can leave him somewhere, lost in the wood, and bar the door against him. In any event, she would find some way to be rid of him.
She smiled. “Will you take wine?”
After a token swallow, he lowered his cup to the table. Dismayed, she realized he intended to spill out his business. Thus far, drink had not forestalled him.
She said the first thing that came into her head.
“Pray tell, how fares my uncle?”
He checked himself on the edge of speaking. Impatience drew his brows together. “That tale’s long in the telling.”
Praise God for that. She slid the flagon toward him.
Glancing around with a courtier’s caution, he propped his elbows on the table and hunkered forward. Firelight glowed on the bronze-hammered torques that banded his forearms, sinuous with a warrior’s strength.
“The king mourns the loss of another son. Edward died of a hunting accident on Lammas Day. All of England grieves for him.”
“God’s mercy! It’s the second son he’s lost, in as many years.”
“Aye, and he needed Edward badly for alliance. That marriage will never be made now. Five sons, four daughters, and all spoken for, with the king himself wedded to Normandy’s sister.” He leaned forward. “The Danes are overrunning these shores. Every summer the Forkbeard and his dragon-ships bring more of them. Ethelred’s spread thin as oil over famine bread—he needs more allies.”
Need them he may, but he can find them elsewhere. I’ve done my duty.
“Aren’t you eager to hear his bidding, lady?”
Nay, he would have sensed by now she was anything but. Dread constricted her chest.
“To the contrary, sword-theyn. I’d prefer to hear nothing at all and be forgotten utterly. But I see ’tis too much to hope for.”
“The man’s your king, and you his sworn vassal.”
“The man is the Devil, and my husband was his sworn vassal! I swore nothing, nor was asked to.”
“He’s your kinsman.” Eomond frowned. “I thought your relations must be cordial.”
“When last I saw him, I was a pawn to be placed where it suited him, no matter my wishes or my grieving mother, my father barely cold in his grave.” Simmering, she thrust to her feet. “And here you find me. I assure you cordial is the last word to describe our relations.”
Restless, she strode to the casement and struggled to regain her composure. “I suppose you’ll relate what he sent you to say, whether I wish to hear it or nay.”
“So I’ve sworn.” He studied her through narrowed gaze, as though she spoke a foreign language.
Mercy, she could burn in those eyes of his—dark embers, no Viking blue at all. And he stared at her as though he saw nothing else.
She swallowed against the dryness in her throat. “I would hear it straight out, without softening.”
“My charge is to bring you to court,” Eomond said flatly. “You’re summoned to appear by Midwinter.”
Whatever she’d expected, it was never this. Her stomach sank with dismay. Her gaze flew to Gwyneth, who clearly shared her alarm.
Blindly, Katrin gripped the casement behind her, and anchored herself against the sweeping tide of fear. Still she felt small and helpless—a condition she despised—before this redoubtable warrior whose presence in her chamber was an unmistakable threat.
“So he’d end my exile at last,” she whispered. “To what purpose?”
“Ethelred seeks another great alliance, and all his kin are spoken for, save the babes in arms. He’ll seal it with your marriage.”
She felt as though she were falling from a vast height. Her blood hammered painfully in her chest. She couldn’t seem to catch her breath. Try though she might to think, her thoughts swirled like a rising river.
“Another marriage?” she breathed. “To whom?”
She’d murdered her husband when she prayed for his death. In secret, Lady Katrin of Courtenay had known God would call her to account for it.
Gripped by the vise of terror, her heart thudded against her ribcage. Her belly roiled and her hands were ice. No doubt she would die as she deserved: devoured by wolves, condemned by her own choices. Yet, divine judgment or no, she couldn’t resign herself.
Who would tend to their welfare without her—these precious folk who looked to her for safety?
She should never have returned alone to this keep she’d abandoned for the best of reasons. She should never have ventured so far beyond the uncertain shelter of her temporary walls, burrowed deep in the protective wood, and the swords that warded them. An act of sheer madness, when her lands crouched quivering beneath the twin menace of encroaching Scots and savage raiders from Denmark.
And if venture to these tragic ruins she must, why hadn’t she taken heed from the fire-blackened gates swinging inward into shadow, the silence that mocked her hesitant hail, the uneasy nicker of the goat in its pen? Instead, reckless, she’d dismounted—a man’s impulse rather than a woman’s—to seek the kindly steward who guarded the shell of her burned-out home. She’d barely lit a torch when her palfrey shied and bolted.
Now too late Katrin spied the wolf, lean and dangerous, slinking around the charred stable into the failing light of day. When his brethren slid from hiding, her heart sank to her boots. Six of them, for God’s love!
Her entire body ignited with the charge of flight. Well, that was a woman’s impulse, but come too late.
She thought desperately of her hunting bow, but it was strapped to her saddle, and the mare had fled. She had her belt-knife, but scarcely wished to allow the circling beasts close enough to use it. The wolves grinned at her as though they knew it, barely held at bay by the smoking torch.
Clenching her lip between her teeth, she thrust her flaming brand toward the nearest wolf. The monster bared yellow fangs, but inched back. Better.
Seizing her advantage, she edged sideways until her back bumped the stable. Now they couldn’t creep up behind her, perhaps she could sidle to the door and let herself in. It wasn’t as solid as she preferred, with her on one side of it and six wolves on the other. But she prayed it would be enough to hold them.
Aren’t these God’s creatures, driven by the spur of hunger? Who isn’t hungry, in this accursed land?
But hunger made them cunning, just as it had for her. When she dared to creep toward shelter, the lead wolf crouched, its snarls deepening. She thought the wolves sensed what she was about, and were clever enough to thwart her.
A gust of wind caught her rope of hair and flung it forward. The cord loosened, and a skein of red-gold curls unraveled across her face, blinding her. Swiftly she stripped it back, and tasted the bitter knowledge of her fate.
She would die here, in the bailey of this gutted ruin where she’d come as a reluctant bride. The castle was destroyed, her few retainers left cowering in the forest lodge where she, too, should have remained. God knew what dire fate had befallen the faithful steward and his wife. Her life, with its grim daily struggles for food and the strength to hold her meager lands, would be over. She’d spent her brief years uselessly, like a candle burning in an empty room. Now that struggling flame would be blown out.
Sudden fury surged through her, crowding her terror aside. A current of energy coursed down her spine. By God, they would not have her—not without the mother of all battles.
She bared her teeth at the wolves and shouted. “Come on then, you bloody great beasts! Come and try for a piece of me.”
She’d thrust her torch down the throat of the first to leap, and bury her knife to the hilt in its fierce beating heart. Beyond that, she didn’t think. Fiery hair streamed around her as she swept the torch before her.
The leader bunched its shaggy body and sprang, closing on her in a snarling rush. Savagely she swung her torch. It crunched into the monster’s head, the shock of impact slamming through her. Yelping, the beast tumbled sideways in a tangle of flailing limbs.
Already another wolf was leaping, eyes red and teeth snapping. Katrin swept her torch in a wide arc and screamed defiance. Two strides away, the beast lost its footing and collapsed, its nose against her boot—an arrow like a miracle sprouting between its ribs.
She scrambled back, floundering in her woolen kirtle, and wielded her torch with fear-driven strength. Through the veil of flying hair, the thunder of hoofbeats rolled over her, pierced by the metallic shing of steel. All around her, wolves were growling and snapping. As she shook back her hair, another high-pitched yelp rang out.
When her vision cleared, she found an impossible sight: a mounted warrior the size of a siege tower, encumbered in battle armor, head concealed in a cavernous helm as he commanded the yard. Gaping at this new menace, she pressed against the wall as he roared past, broadsword sweeping in a perilous arc. The blade sheared into another leaping wolf and grated against bone.
With brutal efficiency, the stranger unsheathed his sword from the dying wolf. His stallion screamed a challenge and reared, heavy hooves crushing the remains. Overwhelmed by this superior force, the other wolves took to their heels, gray bodies flying low to the ground as they streamed through the gates.
Katrin’s brain functioned with painful slowness. She couldn’t seem to grasp that she’d survived. Not divine judgment after all, since God spared me. Yet she couldn’t turn her thinking so swiftly to counter this new threat.
She stood trembling, clutching the torch, and dragged in great gulps of air. Tremors of aftershock rippled through her. This stranger may have saved her from the wolves. Still, the instrument of destruction filling her courtyard with his dangerous presence was no guardian angel dispatched by God to rescue one reckless woman from folly.
Four years of exile astride the shifting Scottish borders had taught her to view armed strangers with the utmost suspicion.
As if sensing her fear, he turned slowly in his saddle to study her, ring-mail chiming in soft menace. Behind him, the red sun hovered low and burning.
Katrin braced herself and seized the offensive. “Declare yourself, stranger.”
He swung down from his saddle with the chink of steel on steel. Her chest tightened with alarm as the intruder cleaned his blade on the slain wolf’s pelt. When he sheathed his sword, she released her breath.
Whatever his intent, at least he wouldn’t hew her down where she stood. Was he a Scottish border thief or Viking raider or some new peril? When he strode toward her, she brandished her torch.
“Declare yourself, I say!”
Brave words. What will you do if he doesn’t?
He halted, cast in silhouette against the bloody sun. One hand rose, clumsy in a steel-ringed gauntlet, and hoisted off his helm. The wind unraveled a mane of tawny hair behind him.
She circled sideways, lifting a hand against the light. With a sinking heart, she took him in: utterly foreign, stern and unrelenting, with scything cheekbones, the blade of a nose, keen eyes glittering. Copper whiskers blazed against cold-reddened skin.
Katrin stared into those eyes, heart bumping against her ribs. By his coloring, he looked like a Viking. May all the saints defend her if he was.
Bracing his helm beneath one arm, he said gruffly, “Have no fear, girl. The wolves are fled.”
Ah, but a woman has more to fear than wolves. At least he spoke a civilized tongue, clear of the guttural Danish accent.
“Who are you?” she demanded.
“I am Eomond, sword-theyn and captain for Ethelred, king of England.”
Her belly knotted. Surprise and uncertainty fluttered in her chest. Not a Viking after all—unless he was lying. But if he came from her royal uncle, she would fare no better.
“What purpose brings you to Courtenay Hall?”
His eyes swept left and right across the ruins. “Girl, take me to your mistress.”
She suffered a stab of bitterness. Clearly she’d grown so shabby since her exile this royal emissary thought her a baseborn serf. Her green kirtle was fine-woven, but she wore no jewels, just the brooch that pinned her cloak. Her hair still streamed, unbound and wind-tangled, around her slim frame. She knew men called her fair, but no man would think her a lady now.
“You seek an audience with Lady Katrin?” Still wary, she held the smoking torch between them. “What is your business with her?”
“That business is best discussed with the lady.” The man called Eomond pushed out a breath. “Odin’s pain, girl, I mean you no harm. Lower your weapon.”
A flash of humor chased across his face. How could he not scorn her feeble defense? If this formidable figure meant her ill, she would hardly be able to fend him off with a dying torch. Reluctantly, she lowered the brand, thoughts racing.
The king of England had banished her to an unwilling marriage, sealing the fealty of a border lord who was the key to England’s defense against the Danes. He’d offered no assistance when Maldred of Courtenay died, leaving her unprotected as plague decimated the land. That she survived the pestilence while it mowed down her neighbors like summer wheat, that she contrived to keep starvation and bitter cold at bay, owed nothing to Ethelred.
So she viewed this emissary with no good will. At this late hour, the king couldn’t mean to aid her.
Settling on a strategy, she sent a swift prayer toward Heaven. Forgive the lie, but it’s needful.
“Lady Katrin isn’t here. Perhaps you’ve noticed this keep stands in some neglect.”
He eyed the fire-blackened timbers. “Neglect indeed, when serving girls must fend off wolves in the bailey with little more than bare hands and courage. ’Twas a brave thing you did, girl, standing your ground.”
For an instant, she burned in the dark flames that kindled in his gaze. Sweet Jesus, he unsettled her. Perhaps he meant nothing more than casual appreciation for a fair face. But, unguarded and alone, she couldn’t afford to draw his interest.
Katrin turned away from his stare. “It requires little courage to defend one’s own life. What else was I to do?”
“I’ve seen grown men behave less bravely.” Suddenly, he closed the distance between them. When he lifted the dead torch from her grasp, her heart lodged in her throat.
Now he was too close, overwhelming her with the size of him. All men looked massive to her in their armor—even Maldred, though he hadn’t been tall.
Of course, Maldred hadn’t needed size to frighten her.
But this monumental fellow towered over her like a war-engine. She was painfully conscious of her own slight frame, wrapped in a few layers of wind-whipped wool, vulnerable before his armored strength. Swiftly she slipped aside, catching fistfuls of her flying hair.
For the moment, he didn’t pursue her, except with words. “You say Lady Katrin isn’t here—which I can well believe, to see the place. Are you alone?”
“Nay.” She slid him a guarded glance. “My—the steward and his wife are here. I was trying to find them when the wolves came.”
“Strange they didn’t come to your aid.” Thoughtful, he skimmed the heights, where the jagged palisade stood black against sullen skies. His warhorse stomped, blood-bay coat rippling, mane lashing the air with black flame.
Frowning, the sword-theyn pivoted and strode across the yard, then vanished behind the stable. Abruptly, his footsteps stopped.
Seized by the cold hand of dread, Katrin ran after him, knowing there were specters in these haunted ruins she feared more than him. Something was badly amiss, and she’d known it even before the wolves attacked. At once he reappeared, gauntlet raised in warning.
“Come no closer.”
“What have you found?” Fear tightened her throat.
“I daresay I’ve found all that remains of the steward and his wife. The wolves had at them. Some days ago, by the look of it.”
“May God have mercy on their souls,” she whispered.
Faithful to their last breath, her old friends had kept their vigil, with nary a word of complaint. She should never have asked it. She should have found someone else, except there was no one else. There were too few of them left in these dark days. All her choices were hard ones.
Eomond glanced grimly around the ruin. “Girl, where is your mistress? Time is short.”
She hesitated. “My mistress is…at Foresthold, her hunting lodge in the wood. We removed there when this keep fell, and the Danes surged south. There were too few fighting men left after the battle—and then the fire—to hold this place. It stands too close to the road, and there was…trouble.”
“A story often told in these dark days. The loss of this keep was a disaster for the realm. Ethelred hasn’t been able to close this gap to the Danelaw since Courtenay fell.” He glanced at her sharply. “I must demand you take me to your mistress now.”
“Why, so I shall.” Foreboding prickled her skin. What charge from the king can be so urgent, after years of exile and neglect?
She could see no immediate escape, but at least her mind was working again. Somehow she must deal with this unwelcome emissary—her uncle’s sworn man, the Devil’s own minion come to serve his master’s purpose.
Whatever it was he wanted, she’d do what she must to thwart him.
Georgia Romance Writers Maggie Contest 2005
First Place, Historical Category
From the Heart Romance Writers Golden Gateway Contest 2005
Second Place, Historical Category
Spacecoast Authors of Romance Launching A Star Contest 2005
Second Place, Historical Category
Heart of Denver Romance Writers Molly Contest 2005
Third Place, Historical Category
highly recommended.—Henry Bankhead, Los Gatos P.L., CA
Navarre, Laura. By Royal Command. Carina: Harlequin. Jul. 2012. 998Kb. eISBN 9781426894008. EPUB $5.99. HISTORICAL ROMANCE
Katrin of Courtenay, niece to the King of England, has been forced into a loveless marriage simply to secure English alliances. But when that horrible husband dies of pestilence, the King again sends for her‚ for another arranged marriage. Vowing to fight this union every step of the way, Katrin arrives at court sharing her bed with Eomond, the King’s sword-theyn. She struggles with the passion that drives this unlikely coupling, but it is Eomond who teaches her what love feels like in the bedroom. King Ethelred needs alliances, however, and announces her betrothal to the Baron of Belmaine. When Eomond refuses to run away with her, Katrin goes to her baron, Rafael le Senay. Expecting him to be the monk that he almost was, Katrin is excited and pleased by her attraction to the elegant noble. But all is not well, as Rafael must fight his own brother to keep his new wife. As the brother’s duel, Katrin realizes that she has fallen hopelessly in love with her new husband. After enduring life’s hard journey, Katrin finds safety, security, and love in the most unexpected place‚ her marriage.
Verdict Author Navarre chronicles the subterfuge of the royal court, transporting the reader to England in 1005 C.E. and bringing it to life. Her strong writing and dynamic characters will captivate readers in Katrin’s struggle with love and passion. A sexy and smart new addition to the genre; one love story not to be missed!—Judy Garner, ECPI Univ. Lib., Glen Allen, VA
All About Romance
By Royal Command
July 2012, Historical Romance (1005 England)
Carina Press, $5.99, 275 pages
This eBook is available at Amazon and other eBook retailers.
If you love Medievals, definitely check out By Royal Command. Set in Anglo-Saxon England, a very colorful and under-utilized time period, this novel caught my interest from the dark and moody beginning and held it to the very end. It wasn’t perfect, but it was quite good.
As the novel opens, we immediately get a glimpse into heroine Katrin’s plight. Young and widowed, she is lady of what appears to be a desolate, sparsely populated holding in the north. Cut off from much of the world around her, she must find a way for the household to survive, as well as keep a watchful eye for the ever present threat of Viking invaders. It’s a grim existence, but at least her holdings lie far away from court so that she does not have to encounter her uncle, King Ethelred, known to history as Ethelred the Unready.
This changes when the Viking Eomond and his men come to the keep, bearing orders from the king. As the king’s niece, Katrin is a valuable pawn, so he has called her to court. She knows immediately that he plans to make yet another politically advantageous marriage for her. Her first marriage brought no happiness and she does not trust Ethelred, so Katrin doesn’t exactly jump at the prospect of a journey to court. Nevertheless, after some sparring, Eomond prevails and Katrin finds her way to court. On the journey, Katrin and Eomond also find themselves growing more and more attracted to one another. For a woman married off in her early teens to a man whom she never loved, this is a new experience. However, Eomond is a landless knight who has sworn fealty to the king while Katrin is a niece destined for a political alliance. Not surpisingly, this causes tension.
The tension does not abate at court, even after Ethelred announces that he intends for Katrin to marry Rafael le Senay, Baron of Belmaine and younger brother of the Earl of Argent, a region whose resources and support Ethelred covets. Given that Rafael had been intended for the church, Katrin and everyone else around her expects a monkish man little interested in marriage, but when Katrin finally meets Rafael, she finds a man both handsome and intelligent, who is most definitely interested in consummating a marriage with her.
If you do not enjoy love triangles, this may not be the book for you. However, for me this ended up being one of the better love triangle stories I’ve ever read. It has a bittersweet quality at times, but it also had an ending I could believe. Eomond and Rafael are both strong characters, and I found much to enjoy in both. Eomond more closely fits the alpha hero mold, with his tendency to be somewhat overbearing and overtly strong. Sometimes he goes too far for comfort when sparring with Katrin, but there is believable chemistry between these two. Usually, I can’t stand relationships that seem to swing back and forth between love scenes and power struggles between the leads, but with Katrin and Eomond, both the arguments and the romantics work. Rafael also shows great strength and intelligence, but lacks that overbearing, almost macho quality I would associate with an alpha hero. With his various talents and intelligent repartee, he actually reminds me most of Westley from The Princess Bride. I especially loved some of his conversations with Katrin.
Since both men are definitely hero material, the fact that the author keeps readers guessing for quite a bit who Katrin’s hero will be certainly kept me reading. In addition to enjoying the heroes, I also loved the vivid setting and the heroine’s journey as a character. In some ways, Katrin has a certain sense of maturity about her. After all, she enjoys a high position in society and she has had to run a keep independently. However, she was also married very young and has lived in isolation, so she definitely lacks some understanding with regard to relationships. She can be bratty at times in the first part of the story, but throughout the book we see her grow as a person as well as learning to trust other people. In addition, because both of the men in this book are hero material, the choice Katrin must make is a wrenching one, and readers experience that emotional journey with her. Even though women had almost no power to chart their own destinies in early 11th century England, Katrin’s story shows her taking on her circumstances and making the best life possible for herself. It may not be kickass in the typical sense, but it definitely takes guts and resolve.
Beyond the characters, the plot itself is filled with twists and turns. Katrin begins her story in a remote keep, spends time at the royal court with all of its intrigues, and then finds herself sent by the king to Argent for a marriage. There she finds even more plotting and intrigues. In fact, it may look like I’ve given lots and lots of plot summary here, but this review really only scratches the surface of what goes on in this book.
With a vivid and sometimes dark setting, By Royal Command ends up being both an unusual and enjoyable Medieval romance. At times, the pacing felt a little rushed, but Katrin’s love triangle still held my interest and the political wrangling in the background of this story makes for fascinating reading. Little is known about Ethelred as a person or about some of the personalities at his court, but the author fills in the blanks to create an unforgettable picture of what may have been. If you enjoy meatier historicals, this is one to try.
— Lynn Spencer
With a historical romance voice that oozes ‘period’ context, author Laura Navarre delivers a solid medieval romance that captivates effortlessly.
By Royal Command is a story with a foundation of political maneuvering set during a period of England’s volatile medieval time. The story especially captures the tale of one young woman whose life has essentially been shaped by her uncle, the king of England, Ethelred.
Katrin of Courtney’s first marriage was arranged by her uncle to secure an alliance that would protect the northern borders. Married at a very young age, Katrin was thrust into a marriage that held no love, kindness, nor passion. At eighteen, Katrin found herself widowed, on the verge of financial and land holding ruin, and once again forced into yet another arranged marriage to a man she’d never even heard of, and on the other side of England.
When the ruggedly handsome, viking-bred, sword thane comes to take her to her uncle – and ultimately to her betrothed – Katrin’s path unfolds like that of a woman starved for a taste of life filled momentarily with happiness, freedom, and passion, that has always been denied. Her fear, passionless and confined life drives her to make decisions that propels her down a path unforeseen.
Her attraction to the large, fair-haired Viking, awakens the first glimpse of sexual fervor she had never before experienced. Jeopardizing both his life and her future, their heated attraction is undeniable, but not enough to capture the dream of forever. Her uncle has no issues shipping her off to her new betrothed, disregarding her feelings entirely.
Enter the mysterious and oh-so darkly handsome, Rafael le Senay, the Baron of Belmaine. How can Katrin be so instantaneously attracted to this man, while feeling though her true love had been taken from her? But, Rafael is a different man entirely. Closer to her age, holding his own mysterious past closely guarded like herself, and with a quiet, yet intense disposition that leaves Katrin feeling at peace and … safe for once in her life, not to mention deeply attracted to this stranger.
Their relationship grows from respect into a passionate love neither was looking nor prepared for. The only problem is the castle is too small for Refael and his older and more titled brother who can’t seem to keep his eyes – and hands – to himself when it comes to Katrin.
Navarre writes a solid story that brings to life what it must have been like living as a female during the medieval time period. With a writing style that is both intelligent and gripping, historically rich landscapes, artifacts and daily life add a sense of life-like depth to the story that seems to leap and captivate.
While not depicted as such, this story almost has two different parts to it. The first half allowing Katrin the once denied passion that she’s able to find in her forbidden Viking lover, who also grants her her first true sense of what it must feel like to be wanted and cared for. And the second part of Katrin finding a true love. A love that blends both passion and a sense of deep devotion and respect together. Throughout the duration of the story, however, there is always a dark undercurrent of what all the players in the king’s game of political chess must feel and be part of.
The attributes of the different characters create for four convincing lead characters – each with a role to play, each a pawn in political maneuvering, yet all having flaws and obstacles that need to be overcome. Maybe they’re all alike after all.
I was first introduced and quickly deemed a fan of Laura Navarre’s work in The Devil’s Temptress ( a completely different historical romance). And after now having read By Royal Command, I think it’s safe to say that Navarre has a gift for writing historical storytelling with dark and political undertones that compel a reader to keep turning the pages to find out what’s next.
It is more than obvious that careful thought and research has gone into the making of By Royal Command, and I can safely say that I am officially a true fan of Laura’s.
The recommendation: I wholeheartedly recommend By Royal Command to fans of historical romance placed in the medieval time period. Fans who love to identify with real world hardships of what it must have felt like to constantly be at the whim of the king, a political pawn to be used at will, and a female, nonetheless, during this time. Fans who aren’t afraid to ask, ‘what would I do if I was placed in Katrin’s position’? And last but not least, fans who want to feel passion with a Viking, and fall in love with dark, handsome, mysterious, and protective man all while heating up the pages with their own form of passion.
I would definitely recommend By Royal Command with the intelligent and historical contextual writing style that transports the reader to the Medieval ages.
I cannot rave enough about this book. I absolutely loved it, and I cannot find a single flaw in it. Honestly.
Katrin is the king’s niece, and has been used as a political pawn before. Now, years after her husband’s death and aged merely 18, she’s about to be married off again. She’s delivered to the king by a Viking’s bastard, who’s honour isn’t strong enough to stop him lusting after Katrin.
The whole book is passionate and breathless, and steamy, but it’s more than a story of Katrin’s loves and marriages. It’s a story filled with politics, and intrigue and suspense. Katrin’s relation to the king affords the reader a great overview of all the troubles facing England in that time, with the constant Viking threat.
The setting and the historical detail seem flawless (I say they seem flawless simply becasue I’m not qualified to really comment on it.)
I would recommend this to any fans of historical romances with more to the plot than “just” the romance. Well, let me clear, the romantic plot is the main plot here, it’s just that I loved all the background action and details.
Some reviews I’ve read have complained that Katrin is a weak character. I couldn’t disagree more. She struggles against her fate as much as any woman could in those days. And yes, there are nasty characters in the book (the king being a great example; he’s practically a criminal mastermind), but who wants sunshine and light all the time? It was a crappy time to be a woman, so of course Katrin is constricted in what she can do to prevent being married off. And there are awful people. And there was some amount of incest (the King kinda has the hots for his niece). Historical accuracy is to be applauded in historical romances, not condemned.
This book has a perfect blend of gritty historical reality and genuine romance. It’s a must-read for all historical romance fans!
Eye on Romance
This is an Official Review by an Eye On Romance Official Reviewer
Katrin has a man problem. There are many men who want and desire her but she only wants one.
Katrin of Courtenay was quite happy living in her deceased husband’s holdings although the people there could have had more food and support. She is then ordered back to King Ethelred’s side so that he can arrange another match for her but more importantly shore his borders against the Danes. On the journey, she finds herself involved with Eomond, her protector for the journey. She is very attracted to Eomond and decides to seduce him to get her way in things. It is the reality of court life that brings things undone for Katrin and she is sent to marry a baron, a second son. Eomond had been sent away to fight but returns just as she is leaving and he feels very betrayed. Even the title and lands cannot repair the hurt he feels.
Katrin arrives at her new home and finds that the both earl and the baron, the man she is destined for, are rivals for her affections. When Katrin arrives at her future husband’s home and finds a tourney happening and the Black Fox is the main attraction, a man known to be close to the baron. He takes her and she discovers it is her future husband, and this is a secret she must keep. Rafael, an almost bishop in the church, and Katrin talk about their future and she indicates that she will not renege on the marriage contract. In the meantime, the earl has designs upon Katrin even to admitting that he should have married her when he had the chance instead of the Welsh woman. This causes all manner of complications but nothing more so than when her past lover, Eomond, arrives at the keep.
This story is told in two parts, Katrin’s life before her second arranged marriage then her new life with the de Senays. Her two lives are very different but Katrin has rules she lives by but does fear authority and realizes she is but a pawn in the game and outwardly complies with “the rules” even though she works them to her advantage if she can.
The intriguing part of this story is you really do not know which of the men Katrin will end up being with, Eomond or Rafael or Borovic, until much further into the story and Katrin is forced to make choices. It is the battle for her affections that frightens her the most and she and the dowager must work out an ego soothing solution to the problem.
I really enjoyed this story especially as it was a little different to the usual girl meets boy and have problems. She really did have her choice of men but did follow her heart.
ward-Winning Historical Romance Author Delilah Marvelle
“Be prepared to be swept back to a time when mighty swords ruled and
men knelt for their ladies. Beautifully written and breathtakingly
passionate and seductive, BY ROYAL COMMAND is medieval romance at its
best. It will leave you absolutely breathless!”
Delilah Marvelle, author of PRELUDE TO A SCANDAL
New York Times Bestselling Author Nancy Holder
“Laura Navarre’s BY ROYAL COMMAND is a king’s ransom of a fantastic
read. This is a lush, sensual page-turner that I simply could not put
down. Another jewel in Navarre’s crown! Long live the new Queen of
NYT author of WICKED
DiSCLOSURE, an RT Top Pick
Award-Winning Historical Romance Author Leigh Michaels
“With loving attention to detail, Laura Navarre works her trademark magic in
bringing Saxon England to life.”
— Leigh Michaels, award-winning author of The Birthday
Scandal and On Writing Romance
Romantic Times Book Review
BY ROYAL COMMAND
by Laura Navarre
Genre: Historical Romance, E-book, Medieval, England
RT Rating 4 1/2 Stars
Betrayal leads to second chances in Navarre’s well-played novel. Plot
twists, authentic settings and court intrigue all enhance this
impressive tale. The relationships are fully developed and emotionally
charged in this book rife with deceit and deception.
Katrin is niece to Ethelred, king of an England besieged on many
fronts. She is mistress of a keep left to her after her husband of two
years died of the pestilence. Eomond, a captain for the king, arrives
and informs her she must once more marry by order of the king. As the
journey to Court nears, Eomond and Katrin develop an attraction,
although they know it can lead nowhere. Their relationship is
consummated in a passionate encounter that leads to disaster. When the
king has his way and sends Katrin to her betrothed, and bequeaths a
title and territory to Eomond, betrayal effectively separates the
couple as well as distance. What will their future bring?
(CARINAPRESS.COM, dl $5.99)
Reviewed By: Donna M. Brown
Published: July 2012