Between Two Fires by Mark Noce
Expected publication: August 23rd 2016 by Thomas Dunne Books
Goodreads Summary: Saxon barbarians threaten to destroy medieval Wales. Lady Branwen becomes Wales’ last hope to unite their divided kingdoms when her father betroths her to a powerful Welsh warlord, the Hammer King. But the fledgling alliance is fraught with enemies from within and without as Branwen becomes the target of assassination attempts and courtly intrigue. A young woman in a world of fierce warriors, she seeks to assert her own authority and preserve Wales against the barbarians. But when she falls for a young hedge knight named Artagan, her world threatens to tear itself apart.
Caught between her duty to her people and her love of a man she cannot have, Branwen must choose whether to preserve her royal marriage or to follow her heart. Somehow she must save her people and remain true to herself, before Saxon invaders and a mysterious traitor try to destroy her.
Branwen’s story combines elements of mystery and romance with Noce’s gift for storytelling.
Review: I received a copy of this book through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
When I read the description of this book I got really excited. I’ve been more in the mood for historical fiction lately and this one sounded great! Unfortunately, that’s where the excitement ended. Within the first chapter, the main character refers to herself as ugly or some other form of the word or synonym for ugly. Obviously I’m fine with having a character that doesn’t fall under the beautiful category but to have her continually debase herself in this way was just really getting on my nerves. I kept going and anytime she talked about herself in reference to how other people see her… the ugly word just kept coming back. I decided to keep looking past that because otherwise the story seemed interesting. I haven’t read many books taking place in Wales, especially this early in time (around 597 AD) so that part was interesting. Wales is divided into smaller kingdoms and they are trying to unite to protect themselves from the Saxons. There were two instances where Branwen finds herself in danger. And within a very short time, she is miraculously saved! It all just happens too easily. The other thing that bugged me is kind of hard to describe since we’re not supposed to quote from ARCs. The dialogue seemed to change partway through to certain characters, the servents mainly, to having rough speech that included improper use of some older words that we don’t use today, ” ’twas” for example. I cringed when I read that word where it was placed because it was so wrong, even for an uneducated servant to say. I ended up DNFing shortly after that because I just couldn’t deal with the inconsistencies any longer. Overall this book had a lot of potential, I just don’t think it was executed very well.