- 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.
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