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It has been so long since I have read a medieval romance, and I don't know how I completely forgot how wonderful it can be reading about this time period! These days historical romance is focused mainly on the Regency era, which I greatly enjoy. However, I feel there is not enough attention on the other time periods that are deserving of great love and enjoyment. Everley Gregg is a new author, with The Warrior and the Wildflower being her debut novel, and I have to say - I expect great things from her! Just the author's note in the beginning made me jump for joy, as she explained to the reader more about the time period and why she chose it for her series. I adore history, especially learning about time periods that aren't taught often in schools, and I found it fascinating that Duke Philip III of Burgundy had so many illegitimate children. Although we'll never truly know if his wife, Isabelle, was as kindly as she seemed in this book, I thought it a wonderful concept by the author to give the illegitimate girls an opportunity at living a better life. Isabelle wasn't able to get the love match of her own, but in this series, she will do her best to make sure her "stepdaughters" get their own happily ever after.
Eva of Utrecht has grown up the daughter of a former mistress of Duke Philip and the unwanted stepdaughter of her mother's husband. Born with a club foot, she has always been different, and coupled with the fact that she is a bastard, she doesn't expect much in life. When her father summons her to his castle for the May Day Festival, she is both apprehensive and excited. Escorted by a handsome servant of her father's court, Mathieu de Flandre, she arrives at court unsure of what to expect. Soon she finds herself surrounded by newfound half sisters and a "stepmother" in the duke's wife, Isabella, who decides to take her under her wing and give her the confidence to create a new future for herself. Only sixteen and still unsure of her path, Eva at first feels she must marry a chivalrous knight to be truly happy, but as she grows closer to Mathieu, who has no interest in being a knight, she begins to question all that she knew. For chivalry isn't just for knights, and while Mathieu may not be a knight in truth, he has certainly become a protector in her heart.
Eva and Mathieu were certainly a frustrating pair at first, but I loved them anyway! Eva was so young, and I kept having to remind myself that she had grown up so sheltered that she didn't know the way of the world and men. Both she and Mathieu had to overcome prejudices of each other, because Eva looked down on Mathieu for being "just" an ostler and falconer, while Mathie looked down on Eva for being illegitimate and crippled. From my perspective, neither were mean in their prejudice, just ignorant, and Mathieu recovered faster from his than Eva. Perhaps because he was older and therefore more mature in his reasoning, and most of his prejudice was expressed internally during times of anger. Eva was so unused to being accepted and desired, so once she began to get attention, I'm not sure she knew how to handle it. She clearly had feelings for Mathieu from the start, but her preconceived notions of what love is kept her from acknowledging her feelings until much later. I was so glad as they grew closer, to see their friendship blossom into more. Both had warm and generous hearts, it just took time for them to come together as a team.
I'm already anticipating the next book in the series, and I'm curious how the author will handle the tangle the next sister has in store for her. It's sure to be an enjoyable ride through the medieval period.
**I received a free copy via NetGalley and this is my honest review.**