Song of Isabel
by Ida Curtis
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Pub Date 17 Apr 2018 | Archive Date 10 Apr 2018
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 23 members
Ok, I read this book in one sitting (or night since I read before I go to bed). I thought this was gonna be a straight historical fiction when in fact it was a standard hero saves heroine but with the twist being that Lady Isabel is more then capable of saving herself and Lord Chetwynd. She manages to escape kidnappers, manages to get out of a queen's snare, and save her husband from a king's hatred.
Don't get me wrong, Lord Chetwynd and Lady Isabel need and love each other even though they start as a marriage of convenience it turns into a love match. The author leaves you hanging so hopefully there is more to their story. If you like romance novels in historical times then you will enjoy this one.
Recently on NetGalley.com a reviewer of Ida Curtis’s SONG OF ISABEL called attention to the author’s use of “an authentic 9th-century tale to produce a highly readable historical romance” but found that “a cursory internet search” turned up “no evidence to either confirm or deny that such a manuscript ever existed.” It does exist, as did its author, Dhuoda of Uzés, an isolated area on the edge of the Holy Roman Empire and near the Spanish March. When the manual was written, her husband Bernard of Septimania, an important figure in the court of Louis the Pious, lived at court with their sons, one a teenager and the other an infant, leaving Dhuoda at home to manage his remote estate and sustain the income that supported his career and enabled his influence with the king. At the time of Dhuoda’s writing, King Louis had died, and his sons were vying for power, leaving Bernard’s place in that world and the futures of her two sons in doubt. Thus, the manual addressed to the two boys: “Read all,” she tells them at the start, “and at the end you will know more fully.” Knowledgeable not only about “grain and wine,” the business of the estate, but also about the ins and outs of court intrigue and the fragility of life in general, Dhuoda stands out as a strong woman in a man’s world—like Isabel of the novel.
(The original manuscript was transcribed by Myra E. Bowers for her 1977 doctoral dissertation, “The Liber Manualis of Dhuoda: Advice of a Ninth-Century Mother for her Sons”; The Catholic University of America.)
Ida Curtis’ first novel tells the love story of Isabel and Getwynd who, after getting married out of convenience on both parts, get caught in a web of scheming, lies and plot at the court of Louis the Pious of Aquitaine. Louis’s son Lothar and queen Judith are at war with one another… and the newlyweds find themselves caught in between. Will Isabel’s love for her knight in shining armour be so strong as to save them both?
When Isabel, daughter of lord Theodoric of Narbonne, was a young maid of twelve a group of soldiers took her for a peasant and tried to assault her. She fought fiercely but they were five grown men and she was only a young maid. They would have taken their maidenhood if it hadn’t been for the angel that came to save her. He eclipsed the sun with his golden hair so she never saw more of him than that, his hair. From that moment she never agreed to marry any of the suitors her father and her grandmother put in her way, she was waiting for her golden champion go come for her. In the meantime, she never hides the scar above her eye.
Eight years after she’s still unmarried and her elders are losing hope. Isabel must marry or join a nunnery, but she hopes that her brother, who is in Aquitaine, calls for her. And certainly Justin does so, and sends a friend to look for her. Lord Getwynd of Aquis is a warrior in one of Louis I the Pious armies, he discovers a young woman swimming in the pond his friend spoke of, he knows she never married but at twenty surely a sensual woman like her must have a lover. All his hopes are now fading. The moment they meet he couldn’t help touching her scar, and she knows it’s him, he’s finally reuniting with her… but he’s so cold and hard.
They are unable to travel together even if they’re never alone, for his company of men and their wives are travelling with them. Therefore they agree to a marriage of convenience. He needs to send the message that his affair with queen Judith is entirely over and she wants to leave Narbonne and reunite with her brother. They agree to annul the marriage once they both get what they want. But, of course, what they want isn’t really what they say they want. He never forgot the fiery maiden who fought five men twice her size, and she never forgot her knight in shining armour. The more they deny themselves the joy of being together the more they long for each other’s touch. The way to Aquitaine is long and perilous, they almost lose each other when Isabel was kidnapped… and then when the queen met them and tried to separate them with her scheming, and when they’re finally at court they meet a new enemy. But way before then they are so in love that they’re willing to fight to protect that love.
I had never read anything from Ida Curtis before (then I found out it’s her first novel); I had fallen in love with the synopsis and the cover when I requested this book. And what a pleasant surprise it was for me to enjoy reading this story so much. This story is so beautifully written that I wasn’t aware of the time passing as I was reading. I loved every line of it, or almost every line. And the characters! I wanted to protect Isabel and Chetwynd just as much as they wanted to protect each other. You can read between the lines that Curtis loved her characters, that was moving, indeed.
These characters are so loveable, I think there wasn’t one character that I really disliked (except for two, but I can’t tell which, spoilerssss). I loved Marianna the maid, Jerome the squire, Ingram the second in command, Gilda the nun, Emma the friend, Ivo the priest… they are all fantastic, all with their unique personalities, all loyal to the heroine and her champion. I loved Chetwynd so much. He really is a knight in shining armour, he’s willing to go to the end of the world for Isabel… only it isn’t really necessary, and he knows that very well. This lady, his Isabel, saves herself. She’s my favourite character… she really does save herself every time. Ok she also gets herself in trouble first, but she’s brave, and resourceful. No, she doesn’t need protection, all she wants from him is his love, and to never leave her alone. Isabel’s love can save them both, with a little help from their friends.
Ida Curtis’ first published novel (something tells me that there are more hidden in a drawer in her office) happens to be a romance, and you can see that for the inexperience writing lovemaking scenes. Don’t get me wrong, Curtis can make the reader know that the couple have a passion for eachother, but she doesn’t really write the scenes, and that’s ok, only it feels a bit rushed and insufficient. There are writers who provided too much detail and there are writers who just avoid the question, like in the movies. I think Curtis wanted to be somewhere in between and failed, it felt a bit awkward at the beginning.
Also I wasn’t totally satisfied with the solution to the mystery of Isabel’s kidnapping. It was just ok, but it felt simple. Not the explanation, that was perfectly understandable, but I guessed why from the moment she was with her captors. They weren’t very good at kidnapping really.
You know, sometimes, I wish someone else could write my thought for me because I honestly barely took notes while reading this book, not because I’m lazy (but most likely) BUT SERIOUSLY THOUGH. I thought I don't want to disturb myself while in the middle of reading it because I was so invested in the story and wanted to know how things would play out.
Song of Isabel, by Ida Curtis is a sweet and cute story of historical fiction and romance. Mistaken as a peasant, Lady Isabel was trapped by several guards, and tried to harass her for their own pleasures. Just in time, Lord Chetwynd rescued her from that perilous situation and ever since then, Lady Isabel could not remove the thought of her “champion”. Eight years later, they meet again but this time, in a marriage of convenience both with a different objective in mind. As the couple embarks on a journey, the attraction they feel for each other is taunted. Will the marriage end with an annulment or stay intact? Song of Isabel is a charming and adorable historical coming-of-age story that will make for a cozy read.
I was really, really excited to read this book when I got it from Netgalley. The synopsis was interesting and it’s a historical fiction plus romance and I couldn’t help myself but read the book!
Only recently, I’ve come to enjoy historical fiction and this book made me realize the things about why I’ve come to enjoy this genre. Here’s why:
-There’s less drama
-The characters most likely have a mature attitude
-They are true to their word (!!!) Like how they say “I promise” and keeps it all the waaaay
-The romance runs deeper than a clown’s pocket
-They are up front about almost anything other than top secrets that they think should be really kept (you know what I mean?)
-Straight to the point (characters don’t go round and round, making excuses here, making excuses there, etc.)
I enjoyed Lady Isabel’s character most of all, in this book. She was stubborn, independent, adventurous, and stands for herself. Additionally, she is witty and creative in dire situations. I love that about her! Her character is both strong and fragile and Lord Chetwynd is such a perfect match for her!
I couldn’t help but fall in love with Isabel and Chetwynd’s story because of how sweet they are for each other, but in a not-so-obvious-but-obvious kind of way.
Overall, Song of Isabel is the type of book that will make you feel comfy in your chair when it’s raining outside.
Song of Isabel
by Ida Curtis
She Writes Press
Historical Fiction , Romance
Pub Date 17 Apr 2018
I am reviewing a copy of Song of Ida through She Writes Press and Netgalley: In this book we will travel back to ninth century Narbonne.
When Lady Isabel is only twelve years old, she is saved from being raped by Lord Chetwybd, the warriors in his company were the ones trying to rape her. Eight years later they meet again, they both have good reason to enter an arranged marriage.
The two embark on a perilous journey to the court of King Louis. On the way they face danger from enemies, which brings them even closer together. But when they arrive at the court they are nearly broken apart by rivalry and intrigue nearly parts them. They both survive the trials using their own native wit and charm, and in doing so they gain a new respect and deeper love for one another.
I give Song of Isabel five out of five stars!
A feisty beautiful young noblewoman Isabel combined with a handsome lord who falls under her spell makes for a heart warming romantic story with sexual tension and intrigue, siècle 817 Narbonne France. This read is set just after the time of Charlemagne, Charles 1 the Great where Aachen today is part of Germany, at this time it is the centre of greatness and control. The author gives the reader a small amount of historical narrative giving insights into the pious but weak King Louis, his sons Lothar Pepin and Louis and from his 2nd wife Charles (still an infant) but the main narrative is set around Isabel.
During this time there were so few options for women, particularly those of noble birth, owned by their fathers they were either married off young, as soon as they could produce children or if a match could not be made they entered the cloisters of the church. The question of love as in movies probably rare. Noble marriage would also be political positioning. This is where Isabel finds herself, having fended off a marriage arrangement to an old man, she is on the verge of having to enter the nunnery. Fortunately with a plan by her grandmother with her own best interests at heart she schemes and succeeds in arranging a marriage, in name only for Isabel to Lord Chetwynd in order that she avoid the nunnery and giving Isabel the ability to travel to where her brother lives. On arrival at the Court of King Louis an annulment is planned.
During this long and perilous journey several stops are made and with Isabel’s interest in Roman ruins the author takes the reader with Isabel on a discovery tour, not unlike tourists of today who still seek out such ruins. During one of these events Isabel is captured by villains but is able to escape through her own ingenuity. The sexual tension continues to mount between Isabel and Lord Chetwynd, both believing that there is a secret lover of each other until finally all truths are declared.
Set in 9th Century Germany during the reign of Louis the Pious, son of Charlemagne, Song of Isabel is a solid, enjoyable historical romance from a little-covered time period. I gave it 3.5 stars, rounded up to 4.
Lady Isabel first meets handsome warrior Chetwynd at the age of twelve when he rescues her from an attempted assault by Frankish warriors. After delivering her safely home, he disappears, and Isabel is left with vague but romantic memories of a golden haired, angelic knight. When they meet again 8 years later, Isabel finds him alarmingly handsome, but not the gentle champion of her daydreams. Yet she finds herself swiftly wed to the cold, stern knight in a temporary marriage of convenience and on a long journey with him to be reunited with her brother in Aachen. Far from an easy journey, Isabel and Chetwynd face kidnappings, political intrigue, powerful enemies, and the growing suspicion that they might not want a temporary marriage after all.
Well written, with believable and likable characters, including strong, self-determined female characters, I can easily recommend Song of Isabel! I also think it's hardcore that the author is in her 80s and a polio survivor. I tip my hat to you, Ida Curtis!
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