Originally published in the anthology "Tapestry"
Comment: And here we are, with the first post of the TBR Challenge for 2017. As it's tradition, the january post is usually dedicated to a short story, a novella, something not too big. Yes, all choices are exactly that, a choice, so readers can pick whatever they want but personally, the fun part is to try to meet the theme.
This novella was originally published in the Tapestry anthology.
It's the story of Giselle, a woman living in medieval England and how she is down on her luck, her house and all her things might be taken from her because her missing brother hasn't been able to pay his debts. The only valuable thing Giselle has is her virtue so when Andreas, a now wealthy family friend, she makes a joke saying that would help but he doesn't laugh. Giselle also tries to sell the tapestry she has hanging in a room, something she was told was valuable. But can Andreas take advantage? Can Giselle's brother be found?
The author is Madeline Hunter, a writer whose work I'm familiar with so it wasn't difficult to be interested in reading this. I was recommended this to read years ago, probably because I was chatting about the author's books. I got this novella but it has been in the pile for years! This year I thought it would suit the january theme quite well.
This was a short story but it has several details that make it feel more complex. I liked it but I must confess medieval plots aren't as interesting for me nowadays as they used to so I wasn't particularly eager to be in such a set. Like most short stories, we also have a rushed end and situations and that doesn't allow time for characters to fully develop. The protagonists have never been involved but they aren't strangers and it's always very difficult to maintain the balance between familiarity and sudden feelings...something I think wasn't completely well done here.
Giselle is a sweet woman and she isn't aware of her brother's true careless personality and how he doesn't worry about her or their house. I think it's not that far fetched to imagine but in such a short amount of time obviously the things that should happen, her growing up as a character and how she deals with finding her brother's issues and flaws wasn't done with the proper time for it to be believable or complex. So it just felt too quickly done.
Andreas is an intriguing character, I wish we could have seen more of him. He is wealthy but of course he isn't God so he can't do everything he wishes for. He does help Giselle but at the end there is one price for his help. It's cute but sadly, the short amount of time isn't enough to structure such a complex cast and situations well enough, in my opinion.
The romance is quick, as you can imagine. Both Andreas and Giselle have doubts, have things they wish they could say but HEA apart, their relationship just doesn't have enough time to settle well. I know it's difficult to structure a romantic relationship properly without time but then why pushing things just to say there was a romance? Authors can always give that idea, even presenting the HEA notion without creating so much unanswered situations that only make the plot feel weaker. I'm glad the author didn't use the friends to lovers or the lovers reunited tropes because Giselle and Andreas were sort of friends but haven't been equals so it didn't feel like he had to help her. He did because he liked her but honestly I don't think this is true love between them. We just don't have enough scenes leading to it.
I was more interested in the little details included, like the message behind the tapestry presence in the story, what it meant, also the brother's character, we could read a lot between the lines just by having him say a few things or the secondary stuff we learn from others. I liked the author used time to make the main characters act and look for Giselle's brother, looking for answers. Some details about the plot, the environment and the medieval society were also very interesting but just not as good as they could to bring my grade up. Novellas are tricky, there's a certain balance to be achieved but it's possible and even it less pages that this one.
I just think this one focused on one or two things that were unnecessary and not on what would have made it very good.
All things considered, this was a positive story, has interesting elements and characters but isn't solid enough for me in terms of romance and resolution.