Title: The Pagan Bride
Author: Patricia Grasso
In: The Mammoth Book of Scottish Romance (Trisha Telep)
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Politics, Romance,
Format: Short story
5th sentence, 74th page: Avril could have throttled her brother.
Avril is on her way to meet the man she married when she was five years-old. Luckily, for her, he might be the man of her dreams, not so luckily, there are deadly politics of play as she holds court with Mary, Queen of the Scots.
I was honestly annoyed at the beginning of this story. Avril was married to a man ten years her senior when she was five years-old. Now, as an adult she is returning to his estate and taking her place as a wife. And he’s quite rude from the very beginning – leaving her waiting, assuming that he gets his “husbandly rights”… he’s kind of a douche. But, he gets better, and even though I don’t actually like him at the end of the story, I do like their relationship.
It took me a little longer than I would have liked to realise that this story featured Queen Mary of the Scots (or something like that), the woman who was imprisoned and executed in England after being one of Henry’s infamous wives (I believe). Even this, I’m not 100% sure of. But I loved the way in which a touch of the “other” (in the form of the Sight), works its way seamlessly into the machinations of a political court that was completely real.
The marrying of real life political intrigue and events with a fantastical romance worked really well here. I loved being able to imagine that this actually did happen way back when… that Avril’s descendants are happy and healthy somewhere in the world.
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