“This endearing love story is ideal for historical romance fans looking for a break from Regency-era lords and ladies.”
“An engaging love story, historically captivating and romantically gripping.”
We first meet Sister Gilda after a swim, without her nun’s habit, soaking wet, with her hair uncovered and tumbling over her shoulders — and Lord Justin cannot take his eyes off her. Clearly, this opening scene and the title of Ida Curtis’s novel let readers know this is a story about love and lust versus commitment and propriety, blurring the lines between them.
The second of Curtis’s historical fiction, The Nun’s Betrothal (She Writes Press) is also set in ninth-century France under the reign of Louis the Pious, when brave men served their king and women did as they were told. However, the women of these stories will not be bound by convention. Headstrong and independent, they charm, offend and exasperate the men in their lives.
We met Lord Justin and Sister Gilda in Curtis’s previous novel, Song of Isabel, and in The Nun’s Betrothal, they become an unlikely pair. Justin, trusted counselor to the king, is a committed bachelor with a convenient mistress; Gilda is a novice who has yet to take her final vows. However, they’ve been chosen by the king to straighten out a “mistake.”
Count Cedric has married 14-year-old Lady Mariel, having sent his half-brother Philip to act as surrogate; but in the interim, the count found a match more to his liking, one that would enlarge his estate. He needs to get his marriage to Mariel annulled even when the king supports the Christian tenet of the lifelong commitment of man and wife.
So it is that Lord Justin is sent by the archbishop, along with two members of the religious community, our saucy Sister Gilda with Sister Freda as chaperone, to investigate the count’s situation. Everyone must tread lightly to avoid the ire of the count who can throw Philip in a dungeon or shout, “Off with his head!” at any moment. Poor Lady Mariel is languishing back at the convent, and Philip has fallen in love with the woman Count Cedric has his eye on.
As the connections get more complicated and danger is hiding in plain sight, Lord Justin and Sister Gilda deftly navigate the complicated expectations of medieval French society. Lord Justin may find Sister Gilda’s nun’s habit unnervingly alluring, but Gilda sees it as a badge of personal freedom. As a nun, there was no husband or father to obey, no children to take care of, and no manor house to supervise, and she had no intention of giving up that freedom.
But Curtis introduces Sister Gilda’s first kiss in the prologue, so we know where this is going. The Nun’s Betrothal is a jaunty ride, a bit of a tease and a mystery, with a helping of French history. Fans of Curtis’s Song of Isabel will find this sequel just as charming.
The Nun’s Betrothal is now available for purchase.