Title: His Forbidden Lady
Author: Nicola Davidson
Length: 80 pages
Rating: 4 Stars
Tudor England, 1542
When beautiful widow Lady Annabelle Benton-Hayes is ordered to court, she is terrified. Heny VIII desires a sixth queen for his bloodstained throne, and her scheming family cares not for her wishes. Annabelle yearns for love, but there is no escaping her fate: escorting her is Rafe de Vere, the man who abandoned her to become England's most loyal and brutally successful soldier. Rafe is utterly weary of war and its impossible demands. Thankfully, his final task is the easiest: accompany a wellborn lady to London for Henry's perusal. Until he discovers she is Annabelle, the woman who swore to wait for him but married another. Rafe isn't permitted to care, yet time hasn't dulled their sizzling attraction and his orders are increasingly difficult to obey. To love her, he would have to risk all and cross his king to secure the ultimate prize - Annabelle's heart.
The story of Lady Annabelle Benton-Hayes strikes a familiar cord due to its ties to the Tudor court.
It is in fact Annabelle's summons to court as the next possible bride to a grieving King Henry, that serves as the quandary in which this doppelgänger to the late Queen Jane finds herself.
With scheming minds and unbridled ambition, her father and and uncle, Edward Seymore, waste no time in their plot to place her before the king.
What they have no way of knowing however, is that fate is a fickle mistress. The one man charged with the delivery of their prize to the king; is the one man destined to claim that prize for himself.
The story of Anabelle's forced audience with the king, and the utter hopelessness of its heroine at the prospect is enough to capture and hold the attentions of readers from the story's start.
The monkey wrench in this whole affair, otherwise known as Rafe de Vere; proves a tension building element and ratchets the emotional appeal of this read to new heights.
Authoress Nicola Davidson scores big points for her expert weaving of Annabelle's chapter into the well known story of Henry and his court.
The passion and wanton nature of Annabelle and Rafe's relationship is well established, even though the length of this story is but a scant 80 pages.
The only drawbabacks of such a short novel come not in the story at hand, but in the backstory of Rafe and Annabelle. Though the allusion to said ties is made early on in the read, the lack of a true foundation for the all encompassing love that these two share, leaves their story a bit unfinished.
What is beautifully and surprisingly finished however, is the sweet ending what is tied with a most royal bow.