REVIEW: Red Adam’s Lady by Grace Ingram
How I wish she’d written more books. I’d read posts touting Red Adam’s Lady and due to the generosity of another Avid Reader (thanks Keishon!), I got my hands on a copy of it. Depending on how readers like their realism, this one might be worth it though. It really gives a *you are there in the cesspool of a medieval hold* feeling. But it has humor and a great hero to balance that out.
Julitta de Montrigord is the daughter of a younger son and was raised on the tourney circuit in Europe until her father’s death when she was placed in a nunnery and then cast on the charity of her stingy uncle. She’s been ill treated by men her whole life and frankly doesn’t see much good in any of them. But she’s a realist and knows that her future will either be with a man her uncle picks for her or back in the convent. However, when faced with a forced marriage to Adam de Lorismond, she actually thinks life as a poor dependent in a convent might not be a bad idea.
Her first encounter with her beloved takes place when she’s on her way back to her uncle’s hold and has to stop in a village ale house while her horse is reshod. It’s there that she meets a very drunk Adam and three of his buddies, all sloshed to the gills, and gets mistaken for a strumpet. Adam invokes his *right of the lord* and hauls her off, thrown over his shoulder, back to his keep and upstairs into his bedchamber. Where she whacks him upside the head with a stool and ties him to the bedpost. When he comes to, Adam realizes his mistake and is determined to make things right. He offers marriage and Julitta’s politically minded uncle, who wants Adam on his side for a proposed uprising in favor of King Henry’s eldest son, agrees.
Now Julitta is stuck with a man she sees as a grinning fool, in a slovenly keep whose chatelaine let it go to hell in a handcart over the past few years while treason swirls in the air and there is danger of the gawdawful Scots coming over the border at any time. Just what any 17 year old dreams of for her married life. But Red Adam is determined to prove to his heart’s delight that she might not know all there is to know about men in general and him in particular.
Julitta starts out as a bit of a prickly pear. She’s been tossed around her whole life and not been valued by any man so it’s not surprising that she views Adam with skepticism, especially considering how they first met. It takes her a long time to warm to him but I found it more believable than if she had fallen head long in love at first sight. Watching her begin to set her new home in order gives a great view of the life and duties of a castle lady of the time. Don’t let your kitchen maids turn to slatterns, keep your rushes swept to avoid an infestation of fleas, make sure you have plenty of wood ash boiled with urine to make lye to scour the floors if you do, at all costs, keep your kitchen free of entrails and be sure your scullions don’t piss in the cook pots.
Red Adam is fun. He’s a reformed rogue who cheerfully admits to his wild oat sowing. But in Julitta he’s found the woman of his dreams and he won’t stop til he’s won her heart as well as her hand. He’s also a man wise beyond his years from his own hard upbringing and he’s determined to hold to what is his at all costs. What I really loved about him is the vulnerability of his heart and his belief that a lord is truly responsible for the welfare of his dependents.
There is a slight mystery which is fairly easily solved and some of the secondary characters, especially the nobles, are a bit two dimensional but Ingram really showed the hardships of daily living in the time and the horror that can happen when things go truly wrong. I thought the she also did a good job in showing the relationships between the peasants and the nobility (pretty darn one sided).
There isn’t much sensuality here (kisses for the most part) but I had a fun time reading about Red Adam and his Lady. B+