The year is 1180 A.D. and times are very dark. England is lawless for the most part and the people live in fear. Rising to power during this time is the vicious and brutal knight Ajax de Velt. His mission is to conquer a large stretch of the Scots and Welsh border, commandeering wealth and property along the way. He wants to be the most feared and powerful warlord in all of England, Wales and Scotland, and he is well on his way. The last in a long line of dark and brutal warriors, Ajax is the most ruthless and ambitious knight in the Isles; even the heartiest warriors fear the man for his coldblooded tactics. More than that, his bloodlust, as well as his sheer skill with a blade, is legendary. But as Ajax and his army conquer the latest castle in his plans to secure the borders, he unexpectedly meets his match in a spitfire of a woman named Kellington Coleby. Beautiful, intelligent and feisty, Lady Kellington refuses to surrender to the man as handsome as he is brutal. The warlord and the maiden go head to head in this unforgettable story of love, battle, devotion, fear and adventure.
After Ajax de Velt’s undeniable and bloody success in the Welsh Marches, he leaves his trusted generals in command of six strategic castles and continues his relentless, destructive but so profitable conquest entering Northumberland en route for the Scottish border.
The barbarians who burst in Pelinom's keep aren't knights in shining armors. No, their armors are filthy and splashed with the blood of a whole garrison that has just been slaughtered. They are de Velt’s ruthless mercenaries and they're here to kill and conquer.
Sir Keat Coleby and his only child, Lady Kellington, are on their knees in Pelinom's great hall that doesn't belong to them anymore. Kellington has always thought that she was living in a little paradise, until the devil crossed the threshold. She was told that Hell is for the dead, she is going to discover the hard way that it can also be for the living. That very day their lives changed for ever.
Kellington, a lovely young woman is an intriguing mix of innocence, impetuosity and boldness. Miraculously, for at least eighteen years, Pelinom has remained sheltered from any battle and siege, until that fateful day. She has this idea that one can be fierce but at the same time stay fair and show mercy. The "way of war" is a notion she cannot even begin to grasp.
Ajax de Velt is a ferocious warlord that matches perfectly these dark and harsh times. A ruthless code without honor has been ingrained in him by his father who came himself from a long lineage of warriors. He believes that brutality and slaughter show power. Men and Kings fear him!
He appears to be invincible on a battlefield or during a siege but what about a battle between two minds and with words ...!
Kathryn Le Veque has created two brilliant and very exciting characters that couldn't be more dissimilar. Their completely opposite minds collide and initially you doubt they'll ever find a common ground. She does a marvelous job at describing both their confusion and inner struggle and, little by little, the relation captor-prisoner that begins to shift. How I loved to observe Ajax certainties crumble under Kellington's gentle but firm assault of words against his mind!
Kellington is very easy to love, in fact I loved her from the start. She's intelligent, curious, goodhearted and would do anything for her people, even being disobedient despite her fear. She's the kind of person that always seeks the best in everyone, and she's going to try the impossible by making Ajax become a better man.
As to Ajax, it's a whole different story. He's a callous killer without conscience . However, the day he conquered Pelinon becomes his downfall: somehow the inconceivable happens, Kellington makes him feel ... makes him smile ... and he finds himself not in control anymore.
I'm not going to say more; there's a lot going on in this book—unexpected turns, betrayal on both sides and danger at every corner. It is such a strong and gripping story. Ms. Leveque is not afraid to describe with crudeness the violence and atrocities of war, and in my opinion she does it masterfully. And in the midst of such a turmoil and devastation, she's able to make love bloom and you believe in it!
This is the first book of Kathryn Le Veque’s that I have read and it surely won't be the last. I love the very personal and effective style she uses to tell her story, I simply became addicted. I highly recommend it and give it 5 big stars.