The last thing Leofred Toustain ever wanted was to be tied in marriage to the daughter of an enemy lord. Yet, when a peace treaty is forged in an attempt to mend the war-torn realm of Alemere that is precisely what he is faced with. To add insult to injury, the bride chosen for him is a sullen, silent shell of a woman who recoils from his every attempt at intimacy. Resigned to his fate, he strives to at least form a friendship of sorts with her. In the process, he will discover that there is far more to the woman he married than meets the eye.
After a harrowing incident left her broken and hideously scarred, Lady Emery Calliot fully intended to avoid marriage. However, when her only living male relative and guardian signs her life away in a peace treaty, she is left with no other choice. Determined to keep her scars - both physical and internal - a secret, she seeks to place as much distance between herself and Leofred as possible. Yet, the more time she spends with her new husband, the harder hiding from him becomes. Emery will face a daunting decision: reveal her scars and the dark secret accompanying them to her husband and risk his disgust and scorn, or bare her secrets and find acceptance, love, and perhaps, the strength she needs to become whole again.
©2015 Elise Marion (P)2016 Elise Marion
This is my first story by this author, and I really enjoyed it. It's a wonderfully descriptive tale in uncommon ways. And it's one that delivers a convincing, romantic, minimally deep (especially for a short story) coming together of 2 people different in ways often scoffed at in our society. It is also well balanced, as you get a sense of the story from both primary characters, Emery & Leofred. And Emery, the primary female character, is just as strong and brilliant as Leofred, very effectively redefining what it is to be womyn. And her beauty is one that requires a deeper look. It is this aspect that makes this story above average to me. I, like so many others, love a story that seeks to go beyond the typical in our society, especially in loving ways. And so I love a story that details how a person finds another person, one who is unconventional, to be just as beguiling, beautiful and desirable as those who meet the traditional views of these traits in our materialistic and image-based society. So I absolutely loved watching Leofred take that deeper look at Emery and the trust and desire that develops as a result of it.
The story is not centered on sex at all, but the two sex scenes are well-done. They are sexy and romantic, somewhat descriptive without explicit sexual language, and quite appropriate to the movement of the story. Only 1 of the 2 times is intercourse. And c**t is stated once during an incomplete sexual encounter. One negative is that, initially, there's a lot of telling what's happening instead of showing what's going on. And, though the narrator was fine, I truly wish there was another narrator for Leofred.
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