4 out of 4 stars
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The Lady and the Minstrel is a tale about Marguerite, daughter of a baron, and the lowly minstrel she falls in love with at her betrothal feast. Lord de Villon, Marguerite’s father, has forced Marguerite to get engaged to the Earl of Saxton, a man with much power and an advisor to the king. Marguerite’s father wants a powerful connection to the king; Marguerite wants a man she can love. The haughty and unfaithful Earl of Saxton only wants the extensive lands Marguerite will inherit upon their marriage.
When the minstrel, Robert Marcel, sees the Lady Marguerite de Villon while playing music at her betrothal dinner, he recognizes her as the young girl who helped him escape into the woods seven years ago. After speaking treasonous words and punching the lord of the manor where Robert and his family worked, Robert flees to the woods. There Marguerite, running away for reasons of her own, helps Robert escape from Lord Christopher. Seeing Marguerite all these years later, Robert wishes to thank her for her kindness.
After the two speak, they cannot help but keep seeing each other in a secret glade in the woods. Against Robert’s better judgement, they fall in love. Though he is a free man, he knows he is not her equal. Marguerite, eager to marry a man who is not only handsome but also kind, overlooks Rob’s lowly status. Trials, wars, sickness, murder accusations, imprisonment and near death encounters follow the couple as they try to find a way to be married.
This story is so much more than a romance. I grew more and more attached to the characters as I learned their backgrounds and their greatest desires. More than anything, Robert wants to live life as a free man. Though his father bought Robert’s freedom from the lord of the manor when Robert was a child, Rob is still not free to marry whom he wishes or live how he pleases. I identified with Robert as he craved freedom above all else. Though we are mostly free in this world today, there are still those who seek to control us through what they think of us or how they think we should live our lives. We must challenge ourselves, as Rob did, to be true hearted and live the way we believe we should, in spite of the ridicule we may receive.
Joyce DiPastena combines the very best of romance, adventure and history to create a breathtaking story of beauty, evil and love. I could write this entire review with nothing but praise for her work. Some of my favorite elements were the sweet but desirable way she depicted romance. There are no explicit sex scenes here. I was grateful to find a book like this. So many are peppered with nudity and two people jumping in the sack before they even know each other. I also liked the way Joyce made not only the dialogue but the very writing of the book in the style of medieval speech. This style created a relaxing pace, and I sank deeply into the story. I was taken back to my younger days when I would soak in the beauty of castles, ladies and knights. Joyce’s description of their bejeweled gowns, the vast stone fortresses, and the bustle of the villages created colorful pictures in my mind as I read. I love the way she wove historical events into Robert and Marguerite’s story. The book has been well researched. The pace speeds up consistently as you move through the book. During the final third, I was in such suspense as to how everything could be solved in the remaining pages. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. There is nothing about it that I disliked.
I rate The Lady and the Minstrel 4 out of 4 stars. Having found only one or two typos, I would say this book has been professionally edited. I could tell Joyce put a lot of work into writing this one. I’m also pleased to find out she has other books as well. I will be checking those out promptly.
I recommend this book to those who love historical fiction, specifically the Medieval Era. I found the length of the book and the descriptive passages similar to Outlander. Those who have enjoyed that series might enjoy The Lady and the Minstrel. If you do not care for lengthy books or stories set in 1214 England, you may find this a difficult read.
The Lady and the Minstrel
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