Today it’s my stop on the blog tour for this fun medieval romance!
Book: The Knight’s Tempting Ally by Ella Matthews
Publication date: 16th March 2022
Ownership: EARC provided free of charge via Rachel’s Random Resources. All opinions my own.
Content warnings: murder of a minor character; some violence towards heroine from villains; familial neglect/abuse/bullying; heroine has had previous traumatic, though consensual, sexual experience.
Buy link: here
A knight’s enemy
Becomes his closest ally…
Knight Theo Glenville will do whatever it takes to discover who’s plotting against his King. So befriending—and even romancing—his target’s middle daughter, Medea, is merely part of his sworn duty. But what isn’t? Falling under the spell of a woman who’s anything but plain in his eyes! Yet every day they become closer, the more torn he is between his allegiance to king or his heart…
I don’t often venture into the medieval side of historical romance – not for any particular reason, I just always seem to find myself picking up Regencies – so this fourteenth-century setting was an interesting, but refreshing, change for me! Much of the plot is built around the politics between England and Spain at the time, with our hero Theo trying to find a traitor at court, but all the context you need is explained well within the story, so even if (like me) you aren’t terribly familiar with the period, you should be fine. The era’s social rules certainly give this a very different feel than the marriage mart of the nineteenth century; I particularly enjoyed the scenes set at courtly events. I will say that the prose isn’t the most fluid I’ve ever read, and it took me a little while to adjust to the matter-of-fact way that the characters’ actions were described, but once I was more comfortable with the writing style, I flew through the whole book, so it certainly reads quickly!
Theo and Medea are both really likeable leads, and the friendship that develops between them before they realise their feelings was lovely to read. It’s one of my favourite things in romance to see characters meet someone who just truly understand and support them, and this book has that in bucketloads! Medea has spent so long being bullied by her mother that she has simply accepted that she’s worthless, so Theo just casually appreciating her for her personality and intelligence was shocking to her but heartwarming to me. I loved that he treated her like an equal throughout, asking for her opinions and respecting them when he heard them; it’s clear that she needed that experience to begin to love herself. I did have one minor issue with the romance, which is that much is made in the narration about Medea’s plainness, in both her viewpoint (understandably, since that’s all she’s heard) but also in Theo’s, which I liked less – yes, ‘she’s not exactly pretty but there’s *something* about her’ is a time-honoured trope, but at times I felt like he stated that she was unattractive too much, without enough ‘but she’s beautiful to me’ counterparts to combat it! Still, for the most part he was a really supportive and respectful hero, which is always catnip to me.
There’s a heavy focus on intrigue here, with Medea starting out as a convenient excuse for Theo’s investigations into the traitor, but swiftly becoming much more helpful in her own right as he teaches her how to spy. I loved seeing her gain confidence, and even though normally I prefer historical romance without a mystery plotline, I think this was balanced really well, perhaps because the focus is kept on the leads and their spying lessons rather than on the traitors themselves, and also how the eventual solution of the mystery ties in so well to the personal issues they face, particularly Medea. The overwhelming impression I’m left with is one of the sweetness of their romance, and particularly Theo’s gentleness. He really was the star of the book for me – so romantic!
If you’re a fan of medieval romance, or you’re just looking for a cinnamon roll knight to fall in love with, this is definitely one you want to pick up. Three and a half out of five cats!