Wednesday, April 21, 2021

TBR Challenge: Patricia Ryan - Falcon's Fire

Beautiful and impulsive, Lady Martine vows never to fall in love after her mother dies of a broken heart. But for her brother’s sake, she agrees to wed, sight unseen, the younger son of an English baron. The betrothal has been arranged by her brother’s old friend and fellow Crusade veteran Thorne Falconer, a landless knight in service to the baron.
Born into wretched poverty, the powerful and handsome Thorne pursues the one thing that separates the rich and the poor: land. As a reward for finding a wife for the hot-headed young Edmund, Thorne is to receive what he most craves, a grand manor of his own.
Neither Martine nor Thorne counts on their overwhelming attraction to each other. As the two improbably lovers struggle to deny their desire, they are drawn into a passion so fiery it sweeps away everything but all-consuming love. 

Comment: Time flies! It's time for another TBR post and the theme for April is "old school" which can be interpreted freely (that's the goal), within some rules of course, so the possibilities are always broad. Although, to be fair, anyone who doesn't want to follow the prop can choose something else.

For me, the expression "old school" always reminds me of books written a long time ago... so I picked a book written originally in 1995 (I was ten years old then lol so, suitable for, "old") and in mere four years it will be thirty. I also tend to think of "old school" as something written in a time where certain styles and trends were the norm and for me personally I'd put this up to things I would see up to 2000, 2001 and whereabouts. I might change my perspective a decade or more from now, who knows.

In this story we meet heroine Martine de Rouen who is traveling with her brother Rainulf, a former crusader now following his religious faith, to England, where she will be married to Edmund, an overload's son. The match was thought by Thorne Falconer, another crusader who was friends with Rainulf, so that the overload could finally give him the promised land he covets. However, as soon as Thorne meets Martine he can't help but like her, even when her behavior seems inconstant and it appears she appreciates him as well. Something between them is impossible for several reasons but the heart might not least until terrible events make things happen much quicker than anticipated and then, it might be too late for them to reach for happiness...

This is the first book by the author I try. I can't remember but I think I added this to my TBR (in 2016) because it was certainly mentioned somewhere on having some sort of allure to my I have finished, I assume it was the opposites attract sort of vibe Martine and Thorne have when they meet... nevertheless, I finally purchased the book and I decided to read it for the challenge. I should say I don't tend to be crazy over medieval romances (in contrast to Regency or Victorian for instance) because my contemporary self simply can't stand the even worse treatment of women at that time but,  you know, the old dream of a reader never ceases: to find a hidden gem!

I'll say it right away in case your eyes didn't see my grade immediately: I did not like this book. It was nothing like I imagined and although I'm perfectly aware taste is relative, for me the content in this book did nothing to wow me in a positive way. I thought this would be a sweet romance about two people who shouldn't be together but were falling in love anyway, perhaps Martine would struggle in a new place, perhaps the other people in the estate might not like her...anyway, I created some ideas but for me this didn't work at all in the end.

I suppose I could rant a little and give examples of the things I disliked but between not wanting to write that much (!) and not wanting to give spoilers in case someone really feels this might be a possible read, I'll just leave some general words on the kind of things I found made this a bad read for me...

- the treatment of women. I know medieval times weren't exactly enlightened but there are romances where the writing and the choices by the author can give realistic indications of this without ruining the "romantic" aspects. Some scenes made me mad and others so sad... like how Martine's future brother-in-law treated his wife. Yes, historically speaking things might be close to accurate but...

- mistreating and torture of animals. Again, maybe it was the way people behaved back then but I certainly do not want to read about it on the page.

- the lack of communication between some characters and the lack of honorable behavior among some groups/secondary characters, despite rules of conduct in place by the overload and the law itself. Even for plot purposes, I think the author went a bit too far in how descriptive some crimes were committed.

- the religious aspect might be true for the time with all the suspicion and lack of understanding but towards the end, when a key moment is happening, it felt like it was there to simply allow the hero to "save the day".

- the intimacy scenes didn't seem that romantic and for supposedly clever characters, both Thorne and Martine saw themselves in trouble because they couldn't think ahead. I can justify this as a plot device to force them to act a certain way, like when her marriage to Edmund goes badly and Martine and Thorne along with a friend think of a plan and that backfires.

Well, I could say more but I believe you can get it I disliked this one. I hoped things might improve and a better path might happen but it felt like the author did her research on medieval times and of the many characteristics we now know of how things were, she picked several of the most negative aspects and put them in this story. I struggled to be entertained and decided that the author's style just wasn't for me. I guess I'll need to be fair and compare this with another book one day but probably not so soon.

In the end, I simply didn't enjoy the choices the author made. I think a more balanced story would have helped to bear the negative aspects but it just felt like because it was in the medieval times, everything had to be bad, everything had to be so obviously hard and the characters had to face so much adversity to justify their HEA at the end.

I hope I'll have better luck next time, both for the challenge and in reading something by this author. Sadly, this didn't work out for me but I can see how others might focus on different aspects and appreciate it. For me, it just wasn't fun to spend time with these characters.
Grade: 3/10


  1. I'm only two years older than you but I feel attacked at hearing old school being 1995, lol. I'm sure me calling 1974 has some feeling the same way.
    Back in 1995, Medievals were my favorite but I feel you on feeling cringe sometimes but I also can't give up the hope of finding a hidden gem.

    Hope you're next pick is better!

    1. Hello!
      I suppose it's all in our own perception. It feels like the 90s were a different era, it's true not many years have gone but it feels like that and in terms of writing and the type of content authors would include (or how they would include it) was done with a different mind frame. I have liked many older books, even prior to 1995, but this one wasn't as good as I wanted.

      Thankfully, there are many books out there!
      Happy world book day and happy reading to you!