Illustrator: Leslie Pellegrino-Peck
Book Series: Medieval Series #1
Genres: Historical Romance, Bodice Ripper, Medieval Romance
Format: eBook, Paperback
Buy on: Amazon
SPOILER ALERT ⚠
“[At worst] yon Welshman has one dangling nut.”BLOOD RED ROSES by Katherine Deauxville
Blood Red Roses is, understandably, a difficult book for some readers to enjoy. However, it stands as one of my most-loved medieval romances.
It could be nostalgia goggles on this one for me, plus a love for the glorious red stepback cover. Or it could be the vivid Middle Ages setting, my favorite time period. Or it could be that this book is really a wonderful piece of romantic fiction, styled to appeal to a niche audience.
I read this Medieval romance by Katherine Deauxville (aka Maggie Davis) twice. Once in middle school and then years later in high school. The story swept me away both times.
Alwyn, the Heroine
Alwyn, the heroine of Blood Red Roses, is 28 years old. That is practically ancient for her time period for her to be unmarried. She’s a seemingly wild Welsh woman forced to be a prize in marriage to the Norman knight, Fulk de Joburg, as she’s heiress to her dead father’s lands.
They spend a passionate night together before Fulk is off again to fight for King William.
It rang true to me that a woman would be forcefully bonded to her enemy. It seemed authentic that her husband, being a man of war and conquest, would go off to fight while she lived in her castle, awaiting his return.
Fulk, the Hero
What initially drives Fulk is simple. He won lands in conquest and to help solidify the bonds of conquest, he must marry the daughter of the former lord of said lands. What drives Alwyn is simpler: hate towards her enemy and a desire to be free.
Fulk and Alwyn don’t spend much time together, they’re not deep on intimate conversations either. Their times together are passionate and forceful.
My liking for Blood Red Roses could be because I love the brutal incivility of the Middle Age era. Deauxville injects an earthy historical ambiance that I really appreciate. What is the point of historical romance without history?
There’s a scene where Fulk and his men torture a man and semi-castrate him before he flees. Fulk comments that it could have been worse: “At worst yon Welshman has one dangling nut.” Another scene depicts Fulk and his men as they stare at a woman with hairless pudenda.
The Medieval Setting of Blood Red Roses
The genital references seem to be a theme in the Deauxville Medieval series. There is a dwarf with a giant dong in the second book, Daggers of Gold, which also has lots of talk about circumcised penises (the hero is Jewish). The third, The Amethyst Crown, features more references to dwarves, foreskin, castrations, and shorn vulvas.
Blood Red Roses has middling ratings on some review sites, yet here I am praising it. I often have a contrarian opinion on certain books due to my personally peculiar tastes.
The red-haired hero is extremely cold and distant.
While Fulk is away, Alwyn has an emotional romance with a blond Scottish mason she fantasizes about and kisses.
Later is taken captive by Powys, a black-haired Welsh lord from the hills. The latter was foretold to Alwyn by a fortune-teller who told her to choose Powys as her man.
Then, there is Fulk’s cousin Geoffrey who seems to have designs on Alwyn himself.
Final Analysis of Blood Red Roses
Fulk and Alwyn have a lust-based relationship, one not based on trust or communication. Is it a love story for the ages? Probably not, but I enjoyed the atmosphere and the authenticity of the time period. Blood Red Roses is a Historical romance with a capital H on the history.
Fulk is no reformed kind-hearted hero at the end, and Alwyn will always be a disagreeable shrew. Still, I can’t give this book a lower than “I love it” rating, because frankly, I did.
Perhaps it’s a matter of temporal tastes, as back in 1991 when Blood Red Roses was released, it was fairly successful, winning the Romantic Times Reviewers Choice Award for Best Medieval Romance.
IN A LAND DIVIDED BY TREACHERY AND ENDLESS WARRING, THEY SHARED A PASSION THAT KNEW NO BOUNDS
When King William’s knight, Fulk de Jobourg, is sent to reclaim the lands of a hanged traitor, he is also commanded to take the man’s unwilling daughter as his wife. Bound and gagged, the furious Lady Alwyn is wedded to this dark-eyed, massive man who spends but one night in her bed before galloping off to fight the king’s battles once more.
Left behind to tend to the Castle Morlaix, Alwyn cannot bring to mind the face of the husband she barely knows. But her body remembers the feel of his hot touch…and the urgent passion he ignited within her. When Fulk returns, Alwyn fights his efforts to take control of her family’s estate. But she cannot resist what he brings to her at night…a sensual pleasure that binds her to him forever against her will…—BLOOD RED ROSES by KATHERINE DEAUXVILLE