If Lady Isabel had her way, she'd never marry. She is so opposed to the idea that she constructed a so-called curse to dissuade potential suitors. Any man who tried to force a loveless marriage with Isabel or one of her two sisters would face disaster. But Braesford doesn't fear the curse. He relishes the idea of marrying Isabel... and his friend King Henry has helped him, by giving him the lady in a royal decree.
At first, it seems that Isabel will be spared the marriage she hopes to avoid. Just before the wedding, Braesford is arrested on suspicions that he killed the King's illegitimate newborn. The couple is summoned to the King's keep, but even while the investigation is underway, Henry hastens the marriage. The story follows Braesford's quest to prove his innocence, while a relationship develops between him and his new bride.
I understand that this is a different time. But over and over, I cringed to watch Isabel's wants and feelings be completely disregarded. She is forced to marry Braesford. She is forced into a physical relationship. I felt her helplessness her indignity. Of course, she comes around as Braesford awakens her to sensual pleasures, but I had trouble getting past what she had to endure before then. And even as she came to enjoy her interludes with her husband, Isabel's complete lack of control over her life, both in and out of the bed continued to bother me.
As circumstances worsen for Braesford, Isabel has a rare window of opportunity to make her own path in an attempt to exonerate him. It was nice to finally see her make her own choices and embrace her freedom while she has it. There was a lot of intrigue surrounding Tudor-era politics. It got a little complicated, when we got into the specifics of bloodlines and loyalties.
The best thing the story had going for it was the romance. I'm glad Isabel developed feelings for Braesford, since Lord knows she had so little say in the matter. He is a good man... stalwart, with a strong moral code. He clearly loves Isabel and despite the disparity of power between them, I did want them to have their happy ending. It was just a long road to get there. 3 stars.*ARC Provided by NetGalley