This medieval historical romance was a captivating read. I enjoyed the twist of having the main characters married. Their lives were already intertwined, but during war-filled times, they had to always be prepared to defend their home and livelihood, which created a distance they longed to fill.
The plot and characters were well-developed, giving the story a smooth reading flow. The author has a great descriptive voice that places you in the scenes.
Guy listening and taking Vespa's ideas into consideration on how to help defeat the enemy shows his love, devotion, and respect for his wife, which strengthens their relationship, and makes this story a perfect holiday read. I highly recommend picking up a copy of this book. Rating 5 Stars Reviewed by Darlene
5 STARS Mistress of Book Reviews
When it comes to romance, in most cases the book ends with the happily ever after motto. But did you ever wonder what happened to all those stalwart handsome warriors and their brave ladies? Well, I can tell you Gini Rifkin certainly did when it comes to her book. She takes the reader inside a marriage and shows that to find happiness forever, you must battle life. Especially in the 13th century when you do not always know who the enemy is until it’s almost too late.
Guy Blackthorne and his beloved wife, Vespa, of Darkenwald are a couple that will sweep you into their lives purely because it shows the truth of marriage, war, and love. Remember not everything is tied up with ribbons and pretty paper. Sometimes the best love stories are those that are lived, loved, and linger in the minds of not only the hero and heroine but readers as well. This book is one of those. And if you believe that married couples aren’t as sexy as single ones, then you are wrong and missing out on a relationship that most married people would love.
Guy has always known Vespa was the woman for him. Sent away at an early age to fight in the Crusades, he not only brought home scars but his abiding love for her. After being wedded and bedded both Lord and Lady Blackthorne endure what life sends their way. Never doubting their love is as secure as the keep they live in. But now Christmas is drawing nigh, supplies are dwindling, and the enemy is at the door. Vespa knows Guy is the bravest warrior she’s ever known, but sometimes his inability to listen to the weaker sex is frustrating and could lead to his wife taking matters into her own hands.
The insight into this couple of warriors, for they both are warriors, regardless of gender, is awesome. And the steps they take to protect their own is extraordinary. With little at hand, but faith that is strong, the Blackthorns' of Darkenwald fight to leave a legacy for their children. Will they win? Well, the truth about life is that nothing is for certain, so pick up your copy of Promise Me Christmas by Gini Rifkin and find out for yourself. This book blessed me as a woman, a reader, and a book reviewer.
Tag Gini Rifkin pairs love, marriage, and battle into a beautiful tale of life in medieval times. Promise Me Christmas is a must read!
Excerpt: Northumbria, England, December 1264
“I can feel it in the air, Thomas. Like the land is holding its breath.” Lord Guy Blackthorne directed his remark to the man riding at his side. Thomas glanced at the murky forest nearby. “Far be it from me to doubt your words. In the past, your deep awareness of our surroundings has saved our backsides more than a time or two.” As they traversed the cleared area surrounding Castle Darkenwald, Guy’s gelding tossed its head and sidestepped a few paces. Did the gray brindle also sense trouble brewing? Guy trusted his horse’s reactions nearly as much as the unease twisting through his gut.
The renegade barons roaming Mercia were now reported to be heading toward Northumbria. Thankfully, Guy had taken the safeguard of sending a runner south to alert his brother. And the
perimeter sentry he’d posted had yet to see anyone lurking about. All remained peaceful on his hundred. Still, at the moment, the feeling of disquiet spoke otherwise, and he was glad today he had ordered the castle soldiers to train outside, and his bowmen to be stationed on
A large group of villagers and tenants had recently come to Darkenwald seeking protection, and this morning, several of them labored outside near the castle walls collecting the last of the dried garden herbs and sweet chestnuts. His wife, Vespa, was among those toiling on this temperate winter day. The sight of her gladdened his heart, just as her touch this morning when they were still abed, had pleased his body and heartened his soul—a recollection to be cherished.
At the sudden warning blast from the border guard’s hunting horn, Guy jerked to attention. His pleasant memories were crushed, replaced with his worst nightmare. The distant and unmistakable sound of men and horses crashing through the forest soon followed.
The call to arms he’d sensed coming was upon them.
“Run, Vespa. And don’t look back until you reach the castle. Do you hear me, Vespa? Run, and don’t look back.”
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Her husband, Lord Guy Blackthorne, sounded roaring mad, his words sharp with worry for her safety and ringing with anger for this unprovoked attack.
“I hear you,” she shouted to him. And dear Lord, keep him safe, she silently added.
Released from shocked immobility, Vespa scrambled over the rough terrain, her desperate plea echoing through her mind. Keep him safe, keep him safe, keep him safe.
Not daring to glance back at the man she loved with all of her heart, she gritted her teeth and ran harder, faster. Guy would watch her progress all the way to the stronghold risking his own wellbeing, dividing his attention until he knew she was out of danger.
The soles of her everyday footwear offered poor protection from the sharp stones, and she nearly tripped over an abandoned basket spilling forth the sweet chestnuts they’d been gathering.
Farther up the stony incline, her friend Edith urged her onward. Reaching the woman, she grasped the extended hand, and side by side they rushed to the entrance of the barbican. Only then, did Vespa stop and turn to witness the carnage unleashed beyond the castle proper. Her husband had survived many a battle—today was her first encounter with the ugly face of warfare.
Sword drawn and turning his beloved gray gelding to face the enemy, Guy made a stand, buying time for all who had been caught outside the protective walls. He rallied the house soldiers to fight for their heartland, and as metal met metal, voices cried out in pain and triumph, and the ravens circled the battlefield.
Outnumbered, Guy and his soldiers fought with their hearts and souls as well as their swords as they defended the land and their families. By shear will, they drove the traitors and mercenaries back into the surrounding woods. And when the last of the villagers who’d come seeking protection flooded through the castle gate, Guy called for his men to also return to Darkenwald.
First to the battle line and last to retreat, Guy then ordered the portcullis to be lowered as he followed behind his men. In a hail of arrows and riding for all he was worth, he barely crossed the threshold as the obedient guardsmen in the tower sent the heavy iron grillwork crashing to the ground.
They were safe—safe and trapped inside.