Historical Romance Review: Siren Song by Roberta Gellis

Siren Song, Roberta Gellis, Playboy Press, 1980, cover artist TBD

4 Stars

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The first book in Roberta Gellis’s Medieval Song trilogy, Siren Song, takes us to 13th century England.

Lady Elizabeth

Lady Elizabeth is not a beauty, but she is intelligent, capable, and now heiress to vast lands, with her brothers and father recently deceased. Elizabeth is married to Mauger, a cruel, murderous lord who wishes for nothing more than to aggrandize himself by whatever means necessary. Mauger has the looks of an angel yet the disposition of a demon. There is no deed too vile for him, as he eagerly breaks every Commandment. It is no mere coincidence that Elizabeth’s brothers conveniently died, leaving her, and thus Mauger, quite wealthy.

Years ago, Elizabeth had been in love with Sir William of Marlowe, and he with her. But parental manipulations led to them being forced to wed others. Now, William is a widower with a daughter of soon-to-be marriageable age.

Mauger has eyes on Marlowe and seeks to wed his and Elizabeth’s eldest son, Aubrey, to William’s daughter, Alys. Once the two are married, Mauger has plans for William’s untimely demise.

Sir William

William seeks only one thing: to be near to Elizabeth again. She is the only woman he has ever loved. William will do whatever it takes to be with her. And so he pursues the married Elizabeth, even though it may cost him his life.

Adultery is a cardinal sin in the Church. During the Middle Ages, a woman risked more than just her soul if she committed such an act, no matter what mitigating factors surrounded it. Thus, it does not matter that Mauger openly flouts his leman in front of his wife, having her reside in their manor acting like a second wife. Nor does it matter that their parents tricked Elizabeth and William into believing that each had betrayed the other, wedding other people under false circumstances. Evil as Mauger may be, he is Elizabeth’s husband.

William is a wonderful hero in pursuit of his beloved. He’s no dummy, but Elizabeth is his blind spot. While Elizabeth is dismissed as a mouse by her husband, she is actually a woman of strength and deep and abiding passions. She and William become lovers and engage in several lusty, furtive love-making sessions, marked by Gellis’s standard earthiness.

Final Analysis of Siren Song 

As there is only one way Elizabeth and William can be together, the end comes to a satisfyingly violent conclusion.

Siren Song also had the other major hallmark of Roberta Gellis’ work, a healthy heaping of history. Yet, it was in no way bogged down by dull recitations of facts and events, like some other Gellis books like Fires of Winter. The characters were true to their time period, in both beliefs and actions. The romance was passionate and convincing. Mauger was perhaps a bit extreme in his evil, but his wickedness is a huge plot point for Book 3 of the series, Aubrey’s story, Fire Song, which is one of my all-time most beloved romances. Unfortunately, Siren Song doesn’t quite reach those heights for me.

Nevertheless, it’s an entertaining love story that I would heartily recommend to anyone who enjoys authentic history with their historical romances.

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