Medieval Mania: A Royal Marriage by Rachelle McCalla

Oh, look — another book written JUST FOR ME. I love it when that happens.
 A Royal Marriage by Rachelle McCalla

  • Title: A Royal Marriage
  • Author: Rachelle McCalla
  • Series/Category: Love Inspired Historical
  • Genre(s): Historical, Inspirational
  • Publisher: Harlequin, November 2012
  • Source: NetGalley ($4.19 ebook, $5.75 mmpb)
  • Length: 288 pages
  • Trope(s): Insta-Love, Kidnapping, War, Betrothed to the Enemy
  • Quick blurb: Ruler of small Mediterranean kingdom rescues Charlemagne’s daughter from kidnapping, but must deliver her to her unwanted betrothed – who happens to be his lifelong enemy.
  • Quick review: Fabulous setting/premise and strong heroine, but romance was disappointing
  • Grade: B

“Why? Must you ask why? Must I speak the words I should be ashamed to speak aloud? You, the emperor’s daughter, pledged to marry another? You, who have rescued my heart from the pit where I cast it to die?”

His lips moved down her nose with tiny, featherlight kisses, as though he warred with himself and lost each time he planted one. “You, who have captured my heart.”

I hope this is the first of a series, because I LOVE the ninth-century setting. The historical world-building was spot-on, with just enough detail and only a few minor anachronistic word choices.

I was also really impressed with the presentation of Charlemagne’s daughter Gisela as a strong, smart leader in a historically believable way (see below). She’s one of the best Harlequin heroines, and inspirational heroines, I’ve read so far.

But the insta-love romance was blah — no emotional conflicts, just external political intrigues. Neither the hero nor the heroine had any flaws to overcome; they were both perfectly perfect from start to finish. It would have been MUCH more compelling to have them at odds in the beginning, then slowly learn to respect and trust each other.

Scale back on the military maneuvers and focus on the relationship-building, and this would have been an A grade.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

The history geek unleashed

I now have three Charlemagne biographies on my wishlist, and I spent hours discovering fascinating facts, such as:

In Charlemagne’s seventy-odd years of life, he had four wives, six concubines and at least seventeen children.

Charlemagne and His Scholars by Karl von Blaas (1815-1894)

Charlemagne and His Scholars
by Karl von Blaas (1815-1894)

Source: History in an Hour

He was so careful of the training of his sons and daughters that he never took his meals without them when he was at home, and never made ajourney without them; his sons would ride at his side, and his daughters follow him, while a number of his body-guard, detailed for their protection, brought up the rear. Strange to say, although they were very handsome women, and he loved them very dearly, he was never willing to marry any of them to a man of their own nation or to a foreigner, but kept them all at home until his death, saying that he could not dispense with their society. Hence, though other-wise happy, he experienced the malignity of fortune as far as they were concerned; yet he concealed his knowledge of the rumours current in regard to them, and of the suspicions entertained of their honour.

Source: Einhard’s Life of Charlemagne

His ideas of sexual morality were primitive. Many concubines are spoken of, he had several illegitimate children, and the morals of his daughters were very loose.

Source: Encyclopedia Britannica, 1911

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4 thoughts on “Medieval Mania: A Royal Marriage by Rachelle McCalla

  1. Speaking of Charlemagne from a strictly fantasy/fictional perspective: Have you ever read Katherine Neville’s “The Eight”? If not, it’s a total OTT caper, starting with the Montglane chess set, created for Charlemagne but of such incredible power, the set is broken up and the pieces sent to various abbeys in pre-Revolution France. Forward to 1970s America and a computer expert who is banished to work with a new group called OPEC. Someone wants the chess pieces, others are prepared to kill for it and there’s even time for a romance. My love for this book is boundless and although the to-ing and fro-ing from historical France gets kind of old, it’s such a great adventure that I refuse to surrender. Anyway, your more erudite pursuit of the real Charlemagne prompted me to mention “The Eight” because ADVENTURE!

      • I KNOW. Another similar book–wherein “X” marks the spot–is Peter Watson’s “Landscape of Lies.” The eponymous and rather ugly painting has hung in Isobel’s family farmhouse for almost 200 years. Someone offers to buy it, she refuses, and then the painting is stolen. It turns out the painting is a record of the priceless treasures hidden by the monasteries when Henry VIII rampaged through and dissolved everything. Interpret the painting = find the treasure. This book, too, is OTT, and yet it is still one of my favorites because it’s such a terrific story. Both this book and The Eight came along way before Dan Brown and the authors’ writing skills are significantly better. I know they won’t appeal to everyone, but if the idea of buried/hidden/lost treasure piques your interest, these are the ones to reach for. Unfortunately, neither is in digital format, AFAIK, but used copies abound.

        Finally, and then I’ll go quietly, is Arturo Perez-Reverte’s first book, “The Flanders Panel.” Another painting, this one of a chess game in progress, that when cleaned reveals the words “Who killed the knight?” How do people not immediately pick this stuff up and lock themselves away to read? *sigh* As a kid, I used to haunt the library card catalogs, searching for “magic” and “treasure” and “fairies.” Fifty years later, I’m still at it.

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