My review contains spoilers and they're mostly my thoughts as I went with the book...
Mmmm, I’m fast becoming a fan of Elizabeth Moss’s writing as well as her Lust in the Tudor Court series. I love how history is melded in this series with a healthy dose of naughtiness thrown in it. I also enjoyed the day to day activities of Tudor-era England. Ohhh and the covers of this series (by Sourcebooks Casablanca) are gorgeous!!
I really enjoyed book 1, Wolf Bride. When Eloise Tyrell, lady-in-waiting of then Queen Anne Boleyn meets her future husband, Lord Wolf, she wasn’t expecting anything but a life of misery where she has to bear the expected heirs, then be cast off by her husband in favor of some more sophisticated court beauties. Either way, Wolf wasn’t a man of many words and he was more often than not curt and distant and his words could often be wrongly interpreted. Eloise was sure that she was going to spend the rest of her life managing her husband’s country estate as Wolf takes mistresses as he reside in court. Even though she herself was enamored of a young buck herself, soon Eloise realizes that love comes in many forms. Her uninhibited lust for Wolf catches Eloise off-guard as she was a virgin prior to their marriage. Wolf’s aloof mannerism would dissolve in bed and Eloise would be left to hunger for more. That hunger soon formed into something unique and true; Eloise fell in love. But what of Wolf, her aloof husband?
Wolf was simply confused. Being a hardened soldier, emotions don’t play any part in his life. But Eloise seemed to have totally turned it upside down. He saw her, wanted her, and asked for her hand to her autocratic father John. He was granted the favor because of his title, fortune, also because he’s a close companion of King Henry the VIII and has the “King’s ear” or so to speak. He knew he could bed the enchanting Eloise, get her with child that he badly wants, but not once, did he think of love. Then why does he feel so jealous when he spies her with any man? Even knowing she would never betray him? Wolf has a past with another court beauty. A young passionate affair that didn’t end well. It showed Wolf was capable of falling in love, though that taught him a lesson. He vowed never to fall again. But with Eloise, he can’t seem to keep that vow straight. It took many misunderstandings, words exchanges and hot sex ;) to prove both Eloise and Wolf that all they needed was to talk and let each-other into their hearts.
In book 1, we see some great historical figures as secondary characters like Stinky Henry aka Henry the VI and Anne Boleyn, as well as, some other notable figures were also included as a part of the storytelling. We’re also introduced to Eloise’s younger sister Susannah and Wolf’s good friend, the King’s clerk, a young man named Hugh.
Now, Rebel Bride is narrated almost simultaneously with Wolf Bride as some incidents occur in both books to connect them together. Eloise’s power hungry father John made the match with Wolf for money. Though, for her, the match turned out to be the one to last, Susannah wasn’t so lucky. In book 1, she ran away from home to save herself from an unwanted marriage to one of his father’s friend, who is as old as, if not more, her father! She met Hugh at Eloise-Wolf’s wedding and been attracted to him ever since. There was something very obvious between them and Hugh was the one to come forward to go rescue her, then bring her back to court, which he does. It was told that between both sisters, Susannah was the most beautiful. She was, apparently, also the most stubborn, as she proves over and over again which, to me, seemed like on the verge of being TSTL. I had no idea just how much of a PITA she was going to be but boy she tried my patience in her own book!
First, about our hero Hugh. Being one of the lesser sons of a Lord, Hugh neither had money nor a title to keep Susannah in style. So he, and the rest of them, knew that John Tyrell will never accept his offer for Susannah. But tell that to his body! It’s crazy about Susannah no matter what he does. Susannah has already made her interest known, as we learn from the part that weren’t told in book 1 is told here; from Susannah and Hugh’s POVs. Hugh firmly denies her what she wanted, knowing how big of a mess they’re going to be if they sleep together. It hurts Susannah, though she should’ve known herself that Hugh wouldn’t wanna dally with the SIL of a close confidante of the King. Besides, John Tyrell can always make trouble for Hugh. Yet after her rescue, Hugh and Susannah are thrown together in court more often than not, and there was no way they could just not deny the clamoring of their bodies, especially when Susanna was simply shameless in her pursuit in becoming Hugh’s mistress......... Er, wait a min!
Yah, you heard that right, she didn’t want marriage. She wanted to be one of those “free” women who got to do whatever they wanted and not be a chattel to a man’s whims. Susannah was sick of her father’s tyranny. But it went up a notch the moment she finds that he’s been sleeping with their elderly nursemaid ever since their mother died some 15 yrs. ago. He doesn’t even treat Morag right, who, it was very apparent, loved her lord. He has simply been taking what he deemed his to use. Yet he talks about all sorts of righteous things with pompous arrogance and expects everyone to obey him without a word. Otherwise, his anger would take over and he’d simply forcefully extract what he wanted. Such a manly man! Susannah has gotten so fed up that she thought running away was her only option. Now if she can just become Hugh’s mistress, her father can’t force her to marry anywhere as she’d be considered ‘damaged goods’. On one hand, knowing it all I couldn’t blame her entirely. John Tyrell was disgusting. On the other hand, being sheltered she had no idea what kind of a dangerous place court can be for women who has no protection of any kind, or worse yet, women who are tagged as “sluts” and “whores”, doesn’t matter the truth or the untruth.
We see the detailed attempt of Susannah’s rescue that wasn’t in book 1. We also find that Hugh finally gave into the temptation and took her virginity, which is what Susannah wanted all along. It worries Hugh what might happen if words got out. He keeps blaming himself for not strongly controlling himself, but trust me, Susannah was more than willing. She was, in fact, the instigator.
After she’s brought to court, Susannah is at first awestruck by the splendor of it. She’d always envied Eloise for, what she deemed, was her sister’s good fortune. Eloise could “see” the sophisticated world that Susannah always craved. Now she’s ever determined to stay here, and spend time seducing one Hugh Beaufort if she can. But Eloise knew the real face of court under all that glitz and glamour, so she tries her best to protect Susannah, as does Wolf and Hugh. Yet she’d find herself in one scrap or the other while trying to assuage her insatiable curiosity, more often than not, nosing where she shouldn’t have been. For all her rebellious nature and stubborn streak, she was an inexperienced girl who’d simply be devoured in the blink of an eye by the more experienced and debauched sophisticates of the court. Her openness and subtle flirtation with Hugh and a few other men was already catching unwanted attentions. Plus the tale of her rescue and a brief captivity under a vile lord had already spread. She begins hearing equally vile whispers about her reputation. It didn’t help that, knowing it all, Susannah continues to get herself in trouble.
But Susannah’s main target was Hugh, even though he was very conflicted about the whole matter of making her his mistress. As I mentioned before, he understood the severity of the ramifications way more than she did. Susannah was rash and had the temper tantrum of a teenager. She kept throwing herself at Hugh at every turn, whenever they’d get some privacy. I would say both wanted each-other so it kept happening more often than not. I don’t entirely blame her but the way she wanted the whole thing to happen (to make point to her father I’d say) was not remotely mature. After a few trysts when he began worrying about a child, Hugh naturally proposed marriage. And this ticked Susannah off totally. She.Won’t.Marry... like ever! Her reasons were childish at best, but there were some truths in it too. I could see her vulnerabilities and distrust in men where marriage was concerned and exactly why.
Funny thing was, try as she might, Susannah couldn’t make herself feel interested in any other men, and more than a few were interested in her for a tryst or two, thanks to the gossipmongers. Susannah wanted Hugh, and Hugh only. Her body would sing for him, and not for anyone else. So how as she going to make herself an independent woman in the court? What was her plan? She kept throwing out Hugh’s marriage proposal, then does her best to make him jealous by flirting with other men though she had no interest in them. Denying one such lecherous a$$hole brought both her and Hugh trouble later in the story.
Well, simply put, she had no plan but just a stubborn streak that could’ve been her asset if she used it correctly. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case. The only 2 places she used that streak of her was 1. Getting herself in trouble and, 2. In continuing to refuse Hugh’s marriage proposal. WOW my head hurt! It was rather a cycle; Susannah would do things to rile Hugh up, to make him jealous. Get in trouble, from where Hugh would rescue her. Then they’d end up in bed, or wherever they were... Then Hugh would propose again, she’d vehemently deny. She’d tell Hugh that she doesn’t want marriage, while on the inside she wanted more than that. After some weeks into their affair, she wanted to be Mrs. Beaufort, but the only problem was Hugh never said the words she wanted to hear.
Rinse and repeat for the rest of the story.
I know I may sound like a broken record but I lost count of how many times Susannah said “no” to Hugh’s proposal. And Hugh was nothing but chivalrous to her. He cared, there was no doubt about it. Always coming to her rescue until the end when she got herself in another scrape. This is what happens... After Susannah is sent home, Hugh goes to see her. John Tyrell found out and went on a tirade, humiliating Hugh with bitter words, especially when Susannah declares her non-virgin state. I could tell she did it just to rile her father up. Thumbing it on his face. Then she tells Hugh without any qualms that “it’s over” between them, all because he didn’t say “I Love You” first. And all this after the man once again sought her hands and got humiliated for all his troubles. Seriously?! Did you tell him you loved him, hmm Susannah? Ugh! I don’t even know why Hugh was still after her... oh wait, he was in love with her already but after so many rejections, the poor guy was pretty sure Susannah didn’t return the feelings. *SMH*
After Hugh leaves, John beats Susannah and locks her up. But she finds a way to run away... again (which was apparently her only solution when she got herself in trouble). This time, while lying in a cave in the woods, she understood what she’d done by rejecting Hugh. That, with Hugh, she could’ve been safe from her father, AND she could have had him in bed whenever she wanted to. Whatever realization came to her, I couldn’t help thinking that it was all because she was in trouble again, and Hugh had always been her savior, not because she loved him even if that’s what she claimed later. All I knew that Susannah had no idea of what ‘love’ meant. Nope. If she was indeed in love, she would’ve expressed her feelings to him first. If he denied and hurt her, I’d give that she tried. But Susannah wouldn’t budge until Hugh said the words. She didn’t till the end. Real love doesn’t work that way m’dear!
Anyhoo, Hugh is an idiot so he rides up again the next day only to hear that Susannah has ran away... again. He saves her... again. They ride to court... again. But this time, Hugh is indeed in trouble thanks to John Tyrell who accuses him of kidnapping Susannah and worse, defiling her. Poor guy hasn’t had a hint of peace since Susannah came into his life. Someone with more brains would’ve stayed away from that girl, but I guess when you’re in love, you just can’t help being an idiot. We all do idiotic things for the sake of the ones we love, don’t we? *sigh*
Some good things do happen apart from Savannah’s continuous “brush with trouble”. Eloise has her baby, strengthening her happiness with Wolf. They were some couple and it takes Susannah a long time to actually understand that her sister is extremely happy and in love with her brother in law, who returns the feelings. Since the moment she convinced herself she is indeed in love with Hugh, who was at that time languishing in Tower of London under her own father’s accusations, Susannah realized how much of an idiot she was. And that told me she was finally getting a grip of her callous behavior and that maybe, there’s some hope for her yet. Personally, I do hope she’d learned her lesson and would cherish Hugh for the rest of her life for all the trouble she’d put him through. :/
But don’t let my review put you off of. And please start with book 1 to get the most of the series. You may enjoy the story more than me (I blame Susannah for it) because the sex scenes were hot. I wish there were more of those between Wolf and Eloise. Mmmm. ;)
Throughout the story we see some very interesting developments about book 3, Rose Bride. That one’s going to be about Margery, Wolf’s first love, who returned to court suddenly and had been of tremendous help to Wolf. I won’t say how, so you gotta read to find out. I can only say that so far she’d seemed like a gracious, if a bit troubled, woman and I’d like to know more about what happened that put Wolf off so much. And what kinda sexy scrapes she gets herself into with the King’s physician. ;) For Rebel Bride, 3.5 stars.