Adult Historical Fiction / Romance (396 pgs.)
He's a tall, handsome knight with a secret. She's an adventurous neauty with more than a few secrets of her own.
Finnula needs money for her sister's dowry, and fast. Hugo Fitzstephen, Earl of Stephensgate, is returning home to England from the Crusades, has money, saddlebags of gold and jewels, and lots of it. What could be simpler than to kidnap him and hold him for ransom? Especially when he's more than willing to allow himself to be caught by such a winsome captor.
Well, for starters, Finnula could make the terrible mistake of falling in love with her hostage, only to realize he's been lying about his identity all along... But then, so has she.
Now their lives--and the lives of everyone they know and love--could be in mortal danger. Is Finnula Crais in hell? Or in heaven?
This book had really good promise for me. I've only read a couple of the Princess Diaries books (I'm more familiar with the movies), but the ones I read were really enjoyable. When I first saw this book on the shelf, I thought it would be a great combination of Meg Cabot's signature humor and some good historical fiction.
This book just really missed the mark for me, and on every level... plot, characters, setting. I think with a bit more effort on Meg Cabot's part, it could have been much better written.
Let's start off with the characters. I really loved the character of Finnula Crais, our leading lady. She is strong, tradition-defying sassy wench, but as soon as her love interest is introduced, she loses it. She's so hell-bent on not conforming to the constraints of medieval society, yet she ends up becoming everything she is not... the quiet, sub-servient wife of a nobleman, who is completely won over every time she's taken for a tumble in bed, to be frank.
Hugo Fitzstephen, our protagonist male, starts off the book with promise, but doesn't really grow out of his "lusty" stage. I really couldn't see him coming to love Finnula any deeper than the lust he has for her sexually.
The villains of the story were totally cliched, with really nothing redemptive about them. In a novel, I like a villain to have something more... something that makes it a bit harder to really hate them. Not in this story. It was just cut-and-dry cliche.
Speaking of cliche, the whole plot of the story was completely unoriginal. It really read like a cheesy, Harlequin romance novel. I thought the beginning of the novel really had some promise, but by the end of the story, I was really left disappointed. It was like all of the hard work Meg Cabot put in to the beginning of the book was for nothing.
The historical setting was passable at best. I'm pretty sure medieval women who went around in men's pants (as our leading lady did) were either disgraced or burned for witchcraft in those days. The narrator also adds that kidnapping and ransoming noble gentlemen was common practice for those medieval maids strapped for cash. It was just completely unbelievable.
The only thing I got a good laugh over was how Meg Cabot managed to include some of the medieval vernacular into her dialogue. She made some medieval "thees" & "thous" sound a bit more modern, which was fun.
For those of you who don't know what the literary term "suspension of disbelief" is, look it up. You will become quite familiar with the term if you decide to read this novel.
Please do not think that this novel is appropriate for tween girls just because it is written by Meg Cabot! There are quite a few (surprisingly) graphic bedroom scenes. Please proceed with caution, especially younger readers!
Book #18 in Historical Fiction Reading Challenge