My review contains spoilers and they're mostly my thoughts...
I picked up The Slayer’s Redemption because it was recommended somewhere. I read the blurb and wanted to check it out. And I can honestly say I haven’t regretted that decision.
The Slayer’s Redemption, book 1 of Warriors of York, by Marliss Melton is the reissue of her debut novel Danger’s Promise. I haven’t read anything by the author prior to this, not even the original so can’t really do a compare and contrast. However, what I can tell you is that I’d be waiting for any medieval/historical romance she writes from now on! This was a pure feel-good medieval romance, like those I had read from other famous authors like Julie Garwood. It had fun, some quirkiness with some mysteries and really odd stuff happening throughout. The heroine was adorably clueless sometimes but she was not TSTL by any means. And the hero, nicknamed The Slayer because of rumors of him being a killing machine, was nothing like that. He was also adorably clueless, and grumpy. Most of the times. But he was true and loyal where it mattered the most—in his heart. The Slayer definitely had a heart and it wasn’t black contrary to what everyone, including himself, believed. And that is what the author set out to tell us in this adorable little novel.
The story is set in the Anglo-Norman era when battles and blood were the way of life... or so it seemed. Christian De La Croix is the by blow of a Danish heathen, a mercenary who was once wrought terror in these lands by his name only. The Dane had later settled down as a Lord. The tale of Christian’s birth is rather gut-wrenching but he somehow did find his way closer to his “father” (that POS was no father to him, ever), such was fate’s play in his life. But he didn’t know about the relationship until much later when Christian had already trained under the brute and earned his spurs. Christian was sorely abused and severely mocked—for his faith in God, for his pure ways of life, for being kind until the Dane succeeded moulding him into his own cast...almost that is. He can definitely thank his pater for the scar on his face. That brute paid for it with his life too, when Christian, after hearing everything, was so enraged, all he could think of was avenging his mother. Though he doesn’t regret doing what he did, he has regretted how his live had progressed in the next years. Nothing was ever the same again. The tale of him killing his father, that mixed up with the tales of his own prowess in war has gotten to such an extent that people are now terrified of him. To their eyes, he’s the Devil incarnate. Christian seemed to have resigned to this sad and lonely existence.
Until very recently, Christian had no other ambition in his life but to win any battles he had been a part of. His life had been full of misery and chaos. Battles and blood and grit. Lives taken by his own hands haunting him, the guilt resulting in many sleepless nights. Then he found a sanctuary of somewhat when he’s recruited by John, the Baron of Helmsley. He also married the lord’s gentle and saintly, only daughter Genrose. John liked Christian and knew he’d protect Hemsley and Genrose at all cost since he’d be the next baron. But again, nothing went according to plan. In a year since their marriage, Genrose lost both her parents, then lost her own life while giving birth to Christian’s son who was later named by his father as Simon. That’s where our story begins, that horrible night when Christian had to resort to drastic measures to save Simon’s life for it would seem that Genrose had perished from the strain of childbirth. At that time, Christian had only one thing in mind, to do something so his son doesn’t follow his mother. Most people hated Christian in this place and was terrified of his wrath so he wasn’t surprised when it was bandied about quite gleefully, no thanks to the b!tchy hoursekeeper Maeve, that he’d killed Genrose.
Now Simon needed a wet nurse as soon as possible. Time was running out and Christian was desperate to do something. Sir Roger, who had followed him from his father’s home and been with him through all his ups and downs, who is now his right-hand man, is given the job of finding one. He finds one alright; a pretty little thing called Clarisse at the market and brings her back into the castle pronto. Only he didn’t know that Clarisse was sent by a ruthless Scot named Ferguson to kill Christian. The reason why she lied to get into the castle.
But Clarisse du Boise didn’t want to do this and yet, she was desperate too, to save the lives of her mother and sisters. Their home was also cruelly torn apart by Ferguson with the killing of her gentle father in the most gruesome way possible. Her mother met another fate that no woman ever wants to experience in her life. Then she was forcibly married to the Scot. Jeannette now looks more like a wraith, a shell of her former beautiful and vivacious self. Clarisse tried to rebel, but it had only resulted her being punished by a rigorous whipping. The Slayer is the biggest enemy of the Scot so he wants him out of the way. As an extended punishment, she’s sent to The Slayer’s lair to poison him. If she fails to do so within a month, her mother Jeannette and sisters Merry and Katherine, will be hung. She will hang too if Ferguson ever lays his hands on her. But maybe, the Slayer’s men will take care of it once she’s been caught for the deed. To say Clarisse was scared would be an understatement but she had to what she had to do to get closer to the man in question to accomplish what she’s been sent for.
Clarisse was wretched and desperate, and until she met Christian, she thought she may be able to accomplish the deed. She also envisioned him to be a much older man by all the reputation he’d garnered, however unsavory it may have been. But the moment she meets Simon, crying for a bit of milk... and Christian and his fatherly concerns, stark fear of losing the only family he’d left, Clarisse knew she could never get through with this plan. She must find another way to save her family without harming Simon and Christian. But the question was, how?
I will try not to divulge any more but only that Clarisse and Christian’s relationship was portrayed in quite an adorable (there’s that word again), and in a very believable way. They didn’t just fell in love, though both were attracted to each-other from the very beginning. Their love was a slow burn but it shone through in the end, in a way that’d leave no doubt in anyone’s mind. Neither was evil so they simply followed their heart and The Slayer gradually became the slayer of only his Lady’s heart. :P Though various troubles such as enemies threatening lives, mingling with some distrust (which was also understandable since both were wary of strangers for good reason) had kept them from being together for a long time, I didn’t mind it. Clarisse’s love for little Simon had evolved to such an extent that I had trouble believing what I read. At one point, her body transforms to feed him, which I found a bit too OTT (that was the only part where I rolled my eyes in the whole book) but it strengthened their bond. She kept Christian at bay, not knowing if he’d ever turn on her after knowing exactly why she’d been send to Helmsley. However, he wasn’t that rash, so when he found out her true identity, and her rather sad circumstances, he was quite pouting that she didn’t trust him enough to confide in him.
Love scenes were mild, but I loved them as Clarisse and Christian’s chemistry was great. There were some hot kissing scenes though, portraying their attraction quite thoroughly. ;) Writing was excellent, plot engaging. I just gobbled it up and have already picked up book 2, The Black Knight’s Reward, which is Clarisse’s middle sister Merry’s book. Merry rather came off as a rude individual but I think that inside, there hides a very frightened girl. After reading that they both witnessed their father’s gruesome execution, I can only imagine..... No, I actually can’t. My stomach simply cramped by the thought of it. :(
Unfortunately, not a lot is learned about Genrose, the first Lady of the manor who died so young, but only a little through people’s reminiscence of her. Christian termed her as a saintly woman who wanted to become a nun but married him because her father needed an heir for Helmsley. He doubted he ever really knew her that well. Genrose wasn’t unkind, just not interested in the physical side of marriage all that much, so Christian was forced to become celibate. As far as I can remember, he never cheat on Genrose... and he wasn’t with anyone until Clarisse. He only wanted her and that’s how it remained until they married. No matter what, I felt really sad at Genrose’s plight.
I would recommend this story to anyone who is looking for a well-written medieval romance. There was not a single boring moment in the book! 4.5 stars.