Review: His Castilian Hawk by Anna Belfrage

The Castilian Saga, Book 1

For bastard-born Robert FitzStephan, being given Eleanor d’Outremer in marriage is an honour. For Eleanor, this forced wedding is anything but a fairy tale.

Robert FitzStephan has served Edward Longshanks loyally since the age of twelve. Now he is riding with his king to once and for all bring Wales under English control.

Eleanor d’Outremer—Noor to family—lost her Castilian mother as a child and is left entirely alone when her father and brother are killed. When ordered to wed the unknown Robert FitzStephan, she has no choice but to comply.

Two strangers in a marriage bed is not easy. Things are further complicated by Noor’s blood-ties to the Welsh princes and by covetous Edith who has warmed Robert’s bed for years. Robert’s new wife may be young and innocent, but he is soon to discover that not only is she spirited and proud, she is also brave. Because when Wales lies gasping and Edward I exacts terrible justice on the last prince and his children, Noor is determined to save at least one member of the House of Aberffraw from the English king.

My Review:

This is a novel in the flavor of Anna Belfrage’s compelling series, The King’s Greatest Enemy. We have a Plantagenet king (this time the father of the inept Edward II), a protagonist who serves him loyally even though the king’s behavior is sometimes questionable, an arranged marriage under difficult circumstances with a headstrong wife. The setting is on the borders of Wales, as Edward I pursues his relentless campaign against his rebellious subjects. Llywellyn the Last is already dead, betrayed by his brother Dafydd who became his heir. But now Dafydd is on the run and he knows his days are numbered. Noor, our heroine and the Castilian Hawk of the title, is caught in the middle between her Welsh kin and the unforgiving King Edward.

“I had no choice.” Her husband didn’t reply. “What was I to do? Send to the king and tell him I had Dafydd’s mistress and children here?”
“Yes!” His hand slammed down on the chest. “That is precisely what you should have done! Have you lost all your senses? Just sheltering those babes is the equivalent of treason, and for treason you just don’t hang,” he yelled. “Oh no, for treason you are hanged, drawn and quartered.”

Not only was she compromised, so was her husband. By now their marriage had grown into a love match, and our protagonist Robert had his hands full protecting Noor against the king’s wrath as well as the raging jealousy of his previous mistress who refused to let him go. Boundaries blur between right and necessity, and compassion sometimes endangers lives. This is not a black-and-white world and our protagonists have to be quick on their feet to survive. Noor shows herself to be strong and resourceful, and her husband grows daily besotted with her. Too bad she is on a collision course with her unknown family history. Give this one a read; you won’t be sorry.


Meet Anna Belfrage

Had Anna been allowed to choose, she’d have become a time-traveller. As this was impossible, she became a financial professional with two absorbing interests: history and writing. Anna has authored the acclaimed time travelling series The Graham Saga, set in 17th century Scotland and Maryland, as well as the equally acclaimed medieval series The King’s Greatest Enemy which is set in 14th century England. 

More recently, Anna has published The Wanderer, a fast-paced contemporary romantic suspense trilogy with paranormal and time-slip ingredients. While she loved stepping out of her comfort zone (and will likely do so again ) she is delighted to be back in medieval times in her September 2020 release, His Castilian Hawk. Set against the complications of Edward I’s invasion of Wales, His Castilian Hawk is a story of loyalty, integrity—and love.  

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