Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Review: The Valcourt Heiress by Catherine Coulter

The Valcourt Heiress
Author: Catherine Coulter
Publication: Putnam Adult (October 5, 2010)

Description: Set in medieval England, this lively historical romance delivers the trademark wit that fans have come to know and love from the #1 New York Times-bestselling author.

When Garron of Kersey returns home from the king's service to claim his title as Baron Wareham, he's shocked to find Wareham Castle very nearly destroyed by a man called the Black Demon. 

According to the last starving servants still clinging to life inside the castle walls, the Black Demon was looking for gold belonging to Garron's brother Arthur. Among his remaining servants is the enigmatic Merry, the bastard child of the castle's priest. Garron quickly realizes that she is much more than a servant: She reads and writes and makes lists, just as he does. Together they bring Wareham back to its former splendor. 

But this is only the beginning. Did Arthur have a cache of gold? Who is the Black Demon? And the biggest question of all: Who is Merry?

My Thoughts: This was a pleasant historical romance. Merry is the Valcourt Heiress and, therefore, a matrimonial prize. When her father dies, her mother returns from her convent with a potential groom - Jason of Brennan. Merry's mother is a well-known witch and the groom sets off Merry's creep alert. Merry sneaks away from home, is kidnapped by evil Sir Halric, and is rescued by Garron of Kersey. During the rescue attempt she hides from Garron but then follows him home to Wareham.

As the blurb says, Wareham is almost completely destroyed. The Black Demon has killed most of the people and destroyed most of the property in his search for the hidden silver. Merry convinces the remaining servants to say she had always lived there as the bastard daughter of the local priest and begins her work to restore the castle. She and Garron form a relationship. At first, it is based on their shared desires to restore Wareham but personal attraction soon enters the picture. 

Merry is a strong character. She can read and write and she wants some say in determining her future. Merry decides that she would prefer Garron as a husband and seduces him. Garron is King Edward's man and knows that he has to make things right with him in order to be allowed to marry an heiress. Edward is very interested in the hidden silver too because he wants his cut. The villains, including Merry's mother, Jason of Brennan, and Sir Halric, are all in pursuit of Merry and the treasure. 

Many exciting episodes fill this book. Merry's mother kidnaps her, drugs her and casts spells on her. Garron goes to her rescue but is foiled by Merry's mother's potions. There are a lot of medieval expressions in the story. I found it entertaining to watch for the next saint's body part used for emphasis in a conversation. My personal favorite was "praise St. Cuthbert's padded belly."

This is recommended as a light historical romance for lovers of the genre.

Favorite Quote:
An heiress knows her own worth and thus she is too proud. She complains endlessly, she whines, she casts out orders, and all dislike her heartily and hate to look at her because she very likely has rabbit teeth and foul breath. To be a husband to an heiress curdles my guts.
Challenges: RYOB Reading Challenge 

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