One Night in Hartswood
by Emma Denny
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Pub Date 07 Nov 2023 | Archive Date 28 Nov 2023
Harper 360, Mills & Boon
‘A thrilling, heart-stealing historic romp and achingly romantic.’
M.A. Kuzniar, bestselling author of Midnight in Everwood
‘A heartwarming tale of forbidden love that captured my heart from its opening page… Unputdownable’
Sunday Times bestselling author Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York
‘Road trips and secret identities…a beautifully thoughtful and deliciously sweet romance about getting lost in order to find oneself. I loved every moment spent with Penn and Raff.’
Freya Marske, International bestselling author of A Marvellous Light
‘A beautiful love story and journey of longing until your heart is torn apart and rebuilt.’
Liz Fenwick, bestselling author of The River Between Us
‘A heart-wrenching, spellbinding love story, and I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough to find out if Raff and Penn would get their happy ever after.’
Bestselling author Cressida McLaughlin
‘One Night in Hartswood is an utterly bedazzling novel, a compulsive page-turner rich in historical detail, and a heart-stopping debut romance.’
Kirsty Capes, Women’s Prize for Fiction longlisted author of Careless
When his sister’s betrothed vanishes the night before her politically arranged marriage, Raff Barden must track and return the elusive groom to restore his family’s honour.
William de Foucart — known to his friends as Penn — had no choice but to abandon his fiancé, and with it his own earldom, when he fled the night before his enforced marriage. But ill-equipped to survive on the run he must trust the kindness of a stranger, Raff, to help him escape.
Unaware their fates are already entwined, their unexpected bond deepens into a far more precious relationship, one that will test all that they hold dear. And when secrets are finally revealed, both men must decide what they will risk for the one they love…
Readers LOVE One Night in Hartswood
‘Beautiful, endearing and completely stole my heart from the very beginning.’
‘This book is EVERYTHING!! I cannot explain how much I loved it.’
‘I absolutely love this book.’
‘This was the queer historical romance I didn’t know I needed!’
Available on NetGalley
I finished this book wiggling and giggling. I really, really loved One Night in Hartswood. A perfect romance novel with lyrical prose and sparkling characters, this evocative book almost had it all. The historical setting was a little light but honestly it didn’t need to be more in depth as the spotlight was very much on the perfectly angsty, deliciously sweet romance. There was cuddling for warmth, tension charged sparring, miscommunication, protecting each other and more. While One Night in Hartswood is a debut, and does occasionally read that way, this book is a true gem that I cannot wait to share with my romance reading patrons.
Sweet and romantic, tempered by achingly painful moments and excruciating longing. I laughed, I cried, I held my breath through moments of disaster…a fun and wild ride that pays off beautifully.
I loved almost all the characters, not just the main two…and those I didn’t love I loved to hate. I love a book that has real feeling characters, that feel like whole complete people on their own.
The romance was so top tier it made me cry a little. I am going to make so many friends read this with me.
I absolutely adored this story and my heart is so full! Neither Penn nor Raff are living the lives that they dream of which is incredibly relatable. Watching their love blossom throughout the story was truly amazing, even though their meet cute was a tad traumatic. It has been a long time since I’ve read a historical fiction and this is my first queer historical fiction however, after this story, I’ll be adding this niche genre to my top three. Honestly I couldn’t say enough good things about this book. The only thing that was a bit hard was in the copy I read there is nothing to warn you that you are switching points of view. Even a little * between paragraphs to let the reader know it’s switching from Raff to Penn would be great to include! This story made me laugh and cry and filled my heart with love! I cannot wait to read more from this author.
Well, then, This was a lovely historical romance set in the 14th century. Penn meets Raff once he decides to skip out on his arranged marriage and get out from under the thumb of his abusive father. Little does he know that the helpful Scottish tracker he’s befriended is the brother of his jilted bride to be. With both main characters concealing their true identifies, the two grow closer as they travel through the forest and country together.
This book drew me in immediately and I loved the unique historical take on a traditional road trip story. There is, however, always a bit of tension in queer historical romance where you’re never quite sure what the HEA will look like and how they will find their way there. This is especially the case here as you’re waiting for the truth of their identities to be revealed. Towards the end, the plot got a bit muddled for me, as the politics of the day come into play but I still enjoyed the ultimate resolution.
Many thanks to NetGalley and Harper360 for the ARC in exchange for my honest review. I was honestly surprised that this was a debut and I look forward to what Emma Denny writes next.
Set in 1300s England, this is the story of Raff and Penn, both of whom are lying about who they are. Raff is tracking the nobleman who jilted his sister, and Penn is the very nobleman, escaping his cruel father. They journey together until the truth is revealed when Penn's father comes after him.
I always enjoy a medieval setting, and Penn and Raff are tremendously enjoyable characters. Well realized, though Penn a bit more than Raff, but the disparity doesn't show too much. A very fun cast of side characters in the families, and I would love to see more of their siblings in future books. I'll definitely be interested in more from Emma Denny!
Oh so good. Raff and Penn are such great characters and their budding romance so satisfying. Ash and the other siblings add to the great story. I didn't want it to end!
One Night in Hartswood is a delightful romantic novel starring two men, Raff and Penn, who both pretend that they are not who they say they are. As they discover each other, the reader is taken on a hike of sorts through a forest, wondering how this will turn out, until circumstances collide and the truth is revealed.
Thanks Net galley for this ARC.
This was a lot better than I thought it would be. Swoony and so romantic, the sparks were flying immediately. I loved our love interest and I loved their storyline.
I was going between 3.5 and 4 stars on this one because there was a good chunk of the story that seemed to really drag and the mistaken identity trope got really stressful after a while. But I loved both Penn and Raff so much and I really loved their relationship and how naturally they fell in love. I also adored Ash, Lily, and Jo so much and would love more stories in this universe from their perspective! I also really loved the ending and how everything was wrapped up! One thing I wish was explored more was Penn’s trauma and how low his self esteem was. It didn’t need to be in a graphic or super detailed way but I feel like how his trauma effected him was just kind of pushed to the back burner once they got their happy ending. But besides that and the pacing, I got a lot of joy from this story and I would definitely recommend it!! 🥰
What a delightful read! Fans of K. J. Charles and Freya Marske should definitely put this book on their TBR list! The story was fast-paced without being slammed with "action" and the romance was tender and endearing. I'm already hoping this is part of a trilogy for the Barden siblings!
YALL THIS WAS SET IN THE MEDIEVAL AGES
that was the first and foremost thing that drew me toward this novel. it is a time period i am quite interested in and to read about a queer relationship during this time was so intriguing.
they were PRECIOUS. positively adored them and their chemistry was palpable. everything about this was done so well and i can’t to see what else emma denny has in store!
This was a delightful story! I really enjoyed getting to know both of the main characters as the POV changed back and forth, Seeing how they were both feeling and adjusting to things really helped move the story forward. They had a lot in common but were still vastly different. I really loved them both and was rooting for them to make things work. I even enjoyed the side characters.
I did feel that their first encounter happened a bit to abruptly, which seemed even more abrupt when things practically screeched to a halt. I understand why everything were set aside for awhile, but the angsty slow burn nature of the romance got old after a while. Once Penn and Raff got past those initial issues, I felt like the story moved better. The pacing through the middle of the book was a bit slow while the beginning and end almost seemed rushed, but the story flowed well enough to keep my interest.
This is a great story for anyone who is looking and emotional romance in a historical setting without a lot of action.
Thank you to NetGalley and the Publisher for this ARC.
Thank you to Netgalley, Harper360, and Mills & Boon for the opportunity to review this amazing story.
A lovely story about two lords trying to find freedom away from their families. An amazing mix of sweet and spicy with secrets both our main characters hold until the truth comes out. Raff is from the traveling party ready to give away his sister in marriage (eagerly) but then the groom suddenly runs away. Raff and Penn both don't know who the other is or how closely their destiny is already intertwined. Raff was mistaken for a tracker and Penn is mistaken as a runaway servant trying to start anew both travel in the harsh cold to different towns trying to find Penn a new life. It is a slow burn and the spice level is low. We all need a man like Raff, he is so so so patient with Penn! We find out Penn did suffer abuse and is very embarrassed or ashamed of his scars. I literally gasped as this was revealed and wanted to know what did Penn do that was so wrong. As my first queer historical romance with a dual pov, the only thing I would ask for is a little more background of Penn’s brothers. I need to know what his brother Henry did! I also need clarification was Oliver important to Ash or Raff?! Who was he? Did he betray them? Was he with both of them? So many questions so few answers. Also Author… I wouldn't mind if Jo and Lily have their own spin-off… together… please?
“You look good. You look like - like mine.”
Penn and Raff are just so soft and adorable with each other, I genuinely was kicking and screaming for 75% of this book.
This book was absolutely chock full of my favorite things including but not limited to: Mistaken identity, camping/traveling, fighting lessons laced with sexual tension, nursing the love of your life back to health, and a dramatic sibling who causes chaos and is captain of the “pls just kiss already” ship.
This story takes place in the 14th century but I really didn’t get the feeling that I was anchored in any time period - It felt almost fantasy leaning, which is probably due to the majority of the book taking place in the woods while Raff and Penn were traveling so there was minimal interaction with the world outside of their little bubble.
Mistaken identity is trope I don’t see as often and when I do it is usually resolved fairly quickly and not made into a major plot point - I really enjoyed that Denny pushed that trope out and made it such a large part of this story - It served the conflict for these characters later on well. Speaking of conflict I do wish there had been a little more focus on the external conflict here - that being Penn and his abusive father the Earl. The ending felt a trifle too easy to me but considering this is a romance first and everything else second, I didn’t mind.
Listen, this book is the crème de la crème of the hurt/comfort trope. Every single page was soft and tender. All around the true definition of a comfort read and highly recommended if you want to be wrapped in a warm blanket.
Special thanks to Netgalley and Harper 360, Mills & Boon for the ARC in exchange for an honest review!
This is truly charming love story set in 1300s England. Penn is running from a cruel father and an arranged marriage, and Raf seeks time and space to figure himself out beyond the demands of his role as Earl's son. The two happen upon one another in the forest and band together, though each conceals their identity. Along their journey they become close, learning about one another as they learn also about themselves, but it's only a matter of time before one or both of them will be found out. Clear and quick to read, the MCs are incredibly lovable and the story engrossing. It is a bit of a slow burn, and beautiful. Will definitely be watching this author!
Penn must be protected at all costs. This was such a cute romance set between two characters who'd both gone through some rough times. The chemistry written between Raff and Penn was unmatched from moment one. And the fact that we as readers, not only got to follow along on their journey to freedom, but to watch them fall in love along the way.
The side characters - apart from Penn's father - helped make the story all the more enjoyable. Ash had to have been my favorite, and I would love a side story that gave us more insight into Oliver.
I can't wait to see what Emma comes up with next. Thank you to Netgalley and Mills & Boon for the e-arc!
Thank you to NetGalley, Harper360, and Mills & Boon for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.
*Trigger warning for abuse and trauma*
I don't tend to like books with historical settings, but Denny's debut novel had an intriguing premise (and an adorable cover), so I decided to give it a try - and I'm so glad I did! The historical setting isn't as fleshed out as some might like, but it was perfect for me. Overall, this book was absolutely adorable and gave me such warm fuzzies. Denny also does an excellent job with her spice, and avoids some of the common pitfalls of cringe-worthy language that still fell many well-known and loved authors. It was a lovely read, and I am eager to read more from this author!
This, overall, was a strong debut novel by this author.
Set in 1360, <b>Penn</b> and <b>Raff</b> are two sons of Earls, one from the south and one from the north of Englan.
Raff's younger sister is betrothed to Penn - his birth name being William, he prefers to go by Penn - yet they have never met and they don't know what the other looks like.
The day before they're to be wed, Penn sneaks out into the Hartswood forest to kind of get one last night to be on his own. There he meets Raff, as Raff and his brother and the rest of their retinue, aside from his sister and father, are further back for the night near the forest. Raff needed to get away after an argument with his older brother.
Since Penn goes by Penn, and he isn't dressed in his usual clothes as he sneaked out, and Raff as well isn't dressed expensively, they assume the other is a servant, and neither clears that up.
It makes sense at first, as they're thinking to just know each other for a night and then never again, but after that, when Penn truly runs away and Raff is sent after him to find him, and they run into each other, they don't clear up the lie.
And again, it makes sense at first as they don't know each other well at all. But of course the lies become these big unspoken things between them and even after Raff's lie is found out, Penn doesn't tell the truth and at that point I was just done with the lies. When lies go on for that long in books, I really dislike it. Especially when it gets to the point where it's like...why are you even lying anymore? At this point it's lying just to lie. I wish characters would just own up to the truth at some point.
With both Raff and Penn, their lies are found out by other people recognizing them, not because they owned up to their lies and just told each other.
That was one niggle with this. Another is this really drew things out between these two, and the slow burn became almost too much. The steam was also very low in this. What we got was good, we did get two steamy scenes, one fully penetrative, but neither was as fully detailed as I would have liked and was kept to a lot of vagueness. Almost to the point of...what was the point of them at all, if you weren't really going to go into them?
I wanted more steam, less about them just walking day after day, going to inns, blah blah blah. When something was happening, it was great and interesting, but there was a lot of just these two...not talking enough, almost doing something or wanting to do something, and not doing it, and them delaying the journey North to spend more time together and just have as much freedom as they wanted.
Which, understandable, but it didn't always make for exciting, entertaining material to read. Things got interesting when Ash showed up, but then he left fairly quickly.
Things really picked up at the end, though, and I think the ending was the strongest part of this book, actually.
While the rest of the book did build these two up to being in love, the most exciting things happened at the end when they were already there and had to find some way to be together in what seemed like an impossible situation.
I also wish the epilogue had been a little longer, it was fairly short. I wanted more of them getting their HEA together, but it was more of just a snapshot of it. Very rushed.
But overall, this was enjoyable and a strong debut novel. Definite room for improvement, and I do hope this author is steamier in her future works, but this was really enjoyable, and I really loved Penn and Raff as characters and together.
Definitely worth picking up this newbie author. Don't let the overall rating fool you, this is quite enjoyable.
I will be keeping my eyes open for more from this author in the future. This one was a delight to read and our main couple was good together.
Definitely has potential to get even better with time 🥰
Well, then. What a sweet story. Historical romance isn't my go-to by any means, but this book was so charming. It was a great take on a forced-proximity roadtrip trope.
Both of the MCs, Penn and Raff, are hiding their social identities from each other while at the same time getting to know the real people beneath any titles. Having grown up with obligations to their stations in life, neither is eager to let the other know who they are because for this brief trip they are free to be themselves.
I love the instances of little glances here and small touches there - SWOON! The mutual pining is oh-so delicious. I would have loved to see what ultimately happened to the side characters, but overall, very satisfied with the ending.
I wasn't sure what to expect from this, since the blurb is pretty bare-bones, but oh my gosh I am in love with everything it delivered. I love a good road-trip trope, and this puts an excellent spin on it with both the 1300s historical setting and the mistaken identity trope that leaves both Penn and Raff thinking that the other is much plainer in identity than he is. Of course, this comes with all sorts of additional delicious tropes - huddling for warmth, pining, sparring as foreplay, to name a few - as they make their way north and both of them stray further from their original intent and further into each other's orbit.
Penn is definitely the more-developed character between the two, or at least, the one who undergoes the most growth that we get to see. We hear from Raff's family that he has changed for the better, but we don't get to see much of a change other than his falling in love with Penn, which don't get me wrong, is beautifully sweet, but he is much more of a stable, loving force for Penn. Penn, by contrast, is so adrift at the beginning that to see how far he had come in the epilogue all but brought a tear to my eye.
Overall, it's a wonderful queer historical romance that I know I'll be returning to again and again, and holding out hope that there's more from Denny in the future, especially for some of the side characters!
One Night in Hartswood is a sweeping adventure full of danger, betrayal and so much love.
William is the son of a Lord, destined for marriage to the daughter of another Lord. Raff is a man seeking some sort of adventure of his own, free from the responsibilities of his Lord father’s title… which should belong to his older brother.
When Raff happens upon Penn in the woods, he aims to help the man, not knowing Penn is actually William, the man who is to marry his sister.
What happens is a sprawling love story between two men who are both longing for more from their lives, but there are endless obstacles. How can you start a life based on lies?
This was just such a beautiful story. I fell so hard for Penn and Raff. I wish that the two had communicated better throughout the story, but their hearts were totally in the right place.
I want to start this out by saying, I don't like historical fiction. But apparently that's not true, because I LOVED this book.
One Night in Hartswood, set in 1360, is the story of two men who find themselves on a road trip together. Both are harboring secrets that threaten to tear apart their budding relationship. What will happen when those secrets are revealed?
What I liked: Everything. This book was incredible. I could not put it down, I told everyone I knew that I'm reading this great ARC....I could not stop thinking about it. Their relationship was so filled with sexual tension, with tenderness, and you root for them the whole way.
What I didn't like: I loved the slow burn, but I would have loved to see just a touch more romance/spice. If I'm going to be teased, I want a reward :)
Many thanks to NetGalley and Harper360 for the ARC. I cannot wait to see what Emma Denny writes next!
All in all, this one was sweet. Raff and his siblings roll up to the territory of an Earl their father has decided to marry their sister off to the son of. They're all bantering around about what could possibly be wrong with these people because they don't know anything about them. Raff just wants to make sure his sister is safe and then duck out into the forest to clear his head.
Penn, the groom to be, is suffocating and does not want to be married, let alone to a woman and bails. He meets up with Raff and their connection is near instant. Both of them leave some pretty big details out, like who the other one actually is, and away we go. I thought Penn's character was developed quite a bit more than Raff's but he didn't feel unfinished. I just wanted more of him.
I appreciated how much Penn stepped up to the plate when he was so terrified of his father. He's been told he's a terrible heir and would make a terrible Earl but he seems to have done alright in my opinion. His father is just a terrible abuser and I hated that he never seemed to suffer true consequences for his actions.
One of my biggest questions in this book is what exactly did Leo do to get disowned and is this a series? I kept expecting him to pop back up but I never really understood what happened with him. I would love to see him pop back up and knock surly Ash on his butt.
Thank you to Netgalley, Harper 360, and Mills & Boon for a copy in exchange for an honest review.
Thank you to Harper Collins for this eARC! Did you ever watch the BBC series Merlin and scream at your TV for those two smitten idiots to just kiss already? Then this is the book for you! The way that these two learn to protect themselves and each other and the way they fall gently into love is so special. It feels quiet and careful and dangerous all at once. Seeing Penn grow into himself and learn to stand on his own two feet all to protect the man he loves is just so excellent. This was a really lovely read and I'm very happy to have gotten my hands on it.
I loved this book, I'm truly having a Pride and Prejudice fuelled old England romance readathon right now thanks to a call out from the barbie movie and this book fucking hit the spot. There are some questions I wish were answered, mainly surrounding what happened to Penn's family i wish there was a little clearer detail, I kept expecting Leo to pop up and never did, but overall I adored this book, it had my eyes welling up at points and I lovea dramatic turning yourself in to save your love moment. overall fantastic, will absolutely be reading again
Thank you Netgalley, Harper360, Mills & Boon for an ARC of this book.
Like Penn and Raff, I sometimes want to escape and this book provided that.
This was a cute mistaken identity/straight up lying tale that I had a hard time putting down.
I think what really made me enjoy this book was the Barden family dynamic. The love and acceptance they had for Raff made him a more open and protective person, and just what Penn needed.
I need follow up stories on Lily, Jo, and Ash. This is going to be a series, right?
Totally loved it! Don't read much fiction and especially not books set in the 1300's.
One Night in Hartswood really sucked in though and I kept wanting to know what would happen next. I can't believe how quickly I finished it. Will probably read it again.
I found the writing exposition-heavy and wasn't personally gripped. Stopped after chapter 1 (7%). I kind of think there was no hope for me with this one, partially because I hate when characters run away from their problems, and that's .. well, the premise of the book ;-)
Thank you to NetGalley and Harper 360 for the ARC.
This was a fun read from an author who is new to me. I love a good LGBT story set in the past, and this didn’t disappoint. Raff and Penn fall in love, not realizing the other is keeping their true identity secret. Angst abounds once the secrets unravel.
Thanks as always to NetGalley for the ARC.
This book took me a little while to get into, but once I got into it I could not put it down. It was a wonderful story that I had to know the ending of as soon as possible. A great book, I definitely recommend.
When I saw that this novel was set in 1360, I immediately wanted to read it. Ultimately, I'm glad I did...despite the constant feeling I had that the setting was fairly arbitrary and it really could have been any pre-industrial time period.
On the upside, the lack of strong historical worldbuilding allowed the relationship between Penn and Raff to dominate the story. They complemented each other very well, and I certainly enjoyed their chemistry. I particularly loved how gently but adamantly Raff challenged Penn's shame, the result of so many years of physical and emotional abuse. Watching Penn realize his own worth and grow into his strength was more than satisfying. And even though I knew how the story would ultimately end up (I love a guaranteed HEA!), I still thought the way it was brought about was clever.
Even though the two MCs were traveling alone for most of the story, a few of the secondary characters were surprisingly well-drawn, most especially Raff's brother Ash who shows up in the narrative a number of times. Honestly, I would have enjoyed seeing even more of him in this book, and I would absolutely love to see him get his own novel.
Overall, One Night in Hartswood was a lighthearted read that still managed to navigate some heavy themes with skill and compassion. I will definitely be recommending it during readers' advisory discussions, and I look forward to more from this author.
This book 😍
Raff is ready to hit the open road after seeing his sister married off in a politically advantageous marriage. He isn’t sure what is next for him, but he’s feeling restless and ready for adventure.
Penn is supposed to be the husband in said politically advantageous marriage, but after putting up with decades of his father’s abuse he has finally had enough and decides to flee the keep.
Raff & Penn’s paths converge, with neither of them knowing exactly who the other is. But the longer they travel together, the harder it is to deny the feelings growing between them.
When identities are finally revealed, they will have many large obstacles in the way of their happiness — including angry parents & the threat of war.
This book was filled with action but still managed to be so tender and beautiful. The stolen moments between Raff and Penn were truly perfection (and their siblings were pretty cool too!)
Loved this from beginning to end.
Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for providing me with this ARC.
One Night in Hartswood is a historical romance that is beautiful and cozy. This is not an overly complicated world which is a change from some of the historical novels that I have read. It is a nice change of pace. It is a simple world that is easy to imagine. It takes place in the 1300s which is the first that I have read for a historical m/m romance.
Raff and Penn have such great chemistry from the moment that they meet. It was easy to see why they wanted to be together, and you wanted them become lovers. There are a lot of romances out there where I don't understand why the two characters ended up together but that is not the case here. They are both adorable and cute in their interactions. They are perfect for each other.
One of my favorite scenes was when Penn stood up to his father to protect Raff. I couldn't help but cheer, And when the two finally admitted that they loved each other I couldn't help but feel mushy.
This is a nice steamy romp that is addictive and charming. I would recommend this to anyone who is looking for a cozy romance.
It was a light read suited best for when one is in the mood to experience a historical AU mistaken identity gay romance. Please don’t come into this book expecting an immersion into history, the events firmly take place in the same Romancelandia where there is a rakish duke to reform for every sarcastic debutante, and I say that with longstanding fondness for the genre. This novel takes place in a world where everyone wears historic costumes and talks about arranged marriages and tournaments and family obligations and such. But it is a love story between two men with recognizably modern sensibilities and anxieties, adorned with some colorful historic window dressings. Is that a bad thing? Depends on what you are looking for. Personally, I don't come to historical m/m for an scientifically accurate use of cutlery and medieval hygiene. It would have been nice to have a deeper sense of place and time, but in a romance, granted, but it is faithful to the tropes promised by the package.
What I am happy about is definitely that a mainstream romance publisher is making a choice in favour of a soft gay historical to break up the line up of safer titles.
Thanks to #Netgalley and Mills & Boon for an arc of #OneNightInHartswood.
Solid debut novel set in a historic time period not often seen in Romance. Raff travels south with his family or his sister's wedding to the son of a newly powerful Lord. While there, he meets Penn -- a man he assumes to be a servant -- and shares a heated moment. When the mysterious son of the Lord goes missing, Raff is sent off to find him, happening to find Penn along the way. He offers to help him on his travels, setting off with him to the north.
The POV switches between Raf and Penn quite quickly, sometimes in separate sections and sometimes in separate sentences. This made it a little difficult to always know whose perspective I was reading. Mistaken identity is a common trope, but I still enjoyed it. The relationship between Penn and Raff is organic and sweet. Overall a solid debut, and I look forward to reading her further work.
<b>✰4.5 stars✰ rounded up</b>
<blockquote><b>“I was not rid of you . . . I have not been rid of you since that first evening in Hartswood Forest.”</b></blockquote>
<b>I absolutely adored this book every step of the way. [author:Emma Denny|22343292] is an amazing writer, not just in how she creates a story but in how to describes it and the prose she uses when writing.</b> It’s clear that she’s dedicated a lot of time to her craft.
This story is set in the 14th century as a historical romance, and while I do agree that it is certainly those things it almost feels as if it could fall into fantasy as well. Not because it’s unbelievable but because it’s beautiful and feels fantastical(good love stories always do) even without any elements of magic that you usually find in fantasy.
All of the tropes in this one seemed to flow and work really well together, there’s mistaken/hidden identity, there’s forced proximity from traveling and camping together and needing to stay warm, there’s fighting lessons that turn into sexual tension, and there’s “I want you but I don’t think I can have you”.
Character wise, Penn and Raff were perfect for each other. Even when they were hiding their titles from each other, they were being their true selves at the root of it all. Taking the titles away really stripped them down to what they are behind that and it gave them the chance to get to know one another on a deeper level.
I also loved Raff’s siblings and how supportive of Raff they were. They knew about Raff’s inclination towards men and despite it being taboo and wrong for the time, they didn’t care and only wanted what was best for him.
They were definitely on the Raff and Penn ship before Raff and Penn were even fully on it themselves. It definitely gave “okay, now kiss” vibes which I thought was incredibility endearing and sweet.
The conflict here gets resolved easier than realistically possible, so if you’re about having your historical romances be completely rooted in reality then the angst and resolution of the end of the story might not be your cup of tea.
But here’s the thing, I didn’t mind at all. I’m not picking up a M/M historical romance and expecting it to be 100% realistic because the reality of that time is far less pretty and happy for most gay men in the 14th century.
This book stays true to historical views but isn't going to overly highlight those bad things every step of the way because I think this is meant to feel warm and cozy, like the love these two men begin to realize they share feels.
<blockquote><b>“We have been apart for less than a day.”
“And I have missed you for every moment of it.”</b></blockquote>
Nothing in this book felt forced or unnatural, and I can’t emphasize enough how neatly the author writes. It’s beautiful but accessible in a way that it isn’t hard to understand. Sometimes in historical romances they are written in a way that takes you longer to figure out what’s happening just because the prose is dense and unbending. That isn’t the case here and it’s done in a way that is perfect for the story.
<b>Overall, I highly recommend this if you are looking for a warm, mood read with hurt/comfort that leaves you with a cozy feeling when you finish.</b>
"One Night in Hartswood" by Emma Denny is an enchanting historical romance that sweeps readers into the world of Oxford in 1360. With a backdrop of political intrigue and forbidden love, this novel weaves a tale of passion, sacrifice, and the enduring power of connection.
Denny's prose shines as she introduces readers to Raff Barden and William de Foucart, also known as Penn. When Penn disappears on the eve of his arranged marriage, Raff becomes entwined in a journey to bring him back and restore his family's honor. The story unfolds with vivid historical detail, immersing readers in a bygone era and skillfully creating a sense of time and place.
The heart of the novel lies in the growing bond between Raff and Penn. As they navigate challenges and rely on each other for survival, their connection deepens into a love that is both forbidden and profound. The chemistry between the characters is palpable, and their emotions are portrayed with sensitivity and depth, making their journey all the more captivating.
Beyond the romance, the novel explores themes of trust, loyalty, and the choices we make for love. The characters' journeys are filled with twists and revelations, keeping readers engaged and invested in their outcomes. As secrets come to light, Raff and Penn must grapple with their feelings and make decisions that will shape their futures.
"One Night in Hartswood" is a beautifully crafted debut that captures the essence of historical romance while offering a fresh and engaging narrative. Denny's ability to transport readers to a different time while delving into universal emotions makes this novel a standout in the genre. Fans of historical romance will be swept away by the intricate plot, well-developed characters, and the tender and enduring love story at its core.
I really enjoyed the duel POV of this book, switching between Raff and Penn. The setting with them traveling together while they get to know each other better was very romantic and helped us readers become attached to both characters.
The thing I didn't enjoy as much is that their relationship was built on lies from both sides. I also felt the slow burn was REALLY slow. But it was so worth it when they finally give in to each other.
The side characters were great and it was kind of shame only Ash seemed to get fleshed out more. Penn's father was a delightfully awful protagonist in the story and had me truly rooting against him.
It was enjoyable to read Penn coming out of shell and finding his own talents and realizing he did not deserve his father's abuse.
Overall this was a fun and engaging read. I don't care that the end was a little predicable because it's just what I wanted in this romance.
Thank you to Netgalley and Xpresso Book Tours for the ARC for an honest review.
A really lovely historical romance with unique and memorable characters! I enjoyed watching them grow so close, and loved the way they balanced each other out.
I absolutely adored this book! A runaway heir, fake identities and a slow burn romance? What’s not to love?!
Penn and Ash are thrown together in the woods one night and their stories become entangled from there as they search for freedom from their respective roles and expectations. They traverse the forest side by side as their feelings for each other secretly grow until they’re forced to reckon with the burdens they’re running from.
I fell in love with these characters! They took me on such a rollercoaster of emotions! And the LONGING in this book is tangible and almost painfully real. I couldn’t get enough of this story and tore through it! This book is perfect for fans of Cat Sebastian and/or Alexis Hall, I promise!
Thanks to NetGalley and Harper 360, Mills Boon for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Thank you Mills & Boon and Netgalley for this eARC, these opinions are my own. William is expected to be married, he’s supposed to marry Raff’s sister. No one in Raff’s family have ever seen William. William desperate to escape what his father has planned runs away and straight into Raff. The two keep who they are from each other, William going by Penn. Together they travel North. Can Penn escape? What happens when the two begin to develop feelings? I really enjoyed this queer historical romance. The time spent with Raff and Penn as they travel the countryside was super sweet and charming! A slow burn with a satisfying ending, highly recommend!
This is a wonderfully tropey historical fiction with a world that feels rich and fully realized and a secret-identities twist that's both fun and impossible to look away from. It's missing the special something that would make it a favorite, but it's absolutely a read I'll recommend and one that will appeal to historical fiction lovers looking for LGBTQ stories.
When Raff finds a disheveled man in Hartswood forest, the last person he expects it to be is his sister's betrothed who is attempting to escape his father's control. Penn tells Raff that he is a servant and Raff helps him escape to the north while also concealing that he is much more than a tracker. Though both are lying to each other about their identities, they also cannot deny their pull towards each other.
This book is so so sweet, heartwarming, and really everything I want out of a queer historical romance. Raff and Penn's relationship is so loving and the scene where Penn finally allows Raff to look at his scars both broke my heart and put it back together. Their love is tender and so caring. I truly adored them together and this story. The spicy scenes also really moved their relationship forward and were truly lovely.
Though Penn in the beginning appears a bit helpless and wholly dependent on Raff but he really holds his own with his charisma and ability to spin a story, getting the pair out of trouble quite a few times!
Read this for:
- Cuddling for Warmth
- Alllll the caregiving
- Medeival setting
- Queer historical
Another buddy read in the books with @meggatzabookclub and I had so much fun and am SUPER impressed that this is a debut!
Thank you to Netgalley and Harper360 for the eARC. All thoughts and opinions are my own and I am leaving this review voluntarily. One Night in Hartswood publishes on November 7th in the US.
Genre: historical romance
Oxfordshire, England, 1360
Raff Barden cares deeply about his family, even as the second son of an earl, he’s taken on the mantle of responsibility when his well-meaning-but-irresponsible brother has not. The Barden family has traveled south, to the lands of the de Foucart earldom, where Raff’s sister Lily will marry the heir William de Foucart. But Penn, as WIlliam is called, isn’t interested in marriage any more than Lily is, and instead flees his father’s keep. Raff, a skilled tracker, offers to go in search of the missing fiance. Raff finds Penn, but believes him to be a servant who he had previously met in Hartswood, and they travel north together both assuming they are parts of a lord's retinue, rather than lords themselves.
One Night in Hartswood was gentle, tender, heartwarming, and desperate. I honestly haven’t read much medieval romance before, but I love the tone this set by starting in Hartswood, the King’s forest. Raff and Penn encounter one another in the middle of the night, total strangers, and take the risk to trust one another with a secret that could get them killed, even if they won’t trust themselves with their true identities.
At first, I thought Penn was going to be a bit of a pushover, but this proved untrue. He demonstrates his strength of character and of will as he becomes more sure of himself through the book. His ability to charm his way out of many situations in villages was impressive, and proves to be just as life-saving as Raff’s ability to track and live off the wilds of the forest.
I buddy read this with @stephreadsallthebooks and at one point she said “I hope we get sick/hurt comfort vibes” … and we certainly do. The way Penn and Raff care for one another in times of need was beautiful and tender, especially in the face of those who might hurt them.
Thank you to Harper360 and NetGalley for an eARC for review. One Night in Hartswood is already out in UK and comes out in the US 11/7/23.
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One Night in Hartswood by Emma Denny
adventurous emotional funny hopeful slow-paced
Plot- or character-driven? Character
Strong character development? Yes
Loveable characters? Yes
Diverse cast of characters? It's complicated
Flaws of characters a main focus? It's complicated
I loved this story. It was fun and soft most of the time. Raff and Penn are so worried about how they come across to either other in the most endearing way! If only they would talk! (They do, I promise!) This book deals with heavy topics but at the same time they are dealt with such care. Raff and his family are gems to this world and Penn is just a great addition. The ending was a little predictable if you know anything about certain court politics (*cough* thank you d20's a crown of candy *cough*) but I don't think it took away from the story. I'm excited to read more from Emma Denny.
I found this book to be really engaging and I loved the premise. I'm a sucker for queer romance so this story was right up my alley. I am looking forward to reading other books by the author.
This story and the main characters had me from the beginning. A really beautiful love-story that has a bit of everything - royal family feuds, sweet sibling relationships, slow burn with spice, and a search for freedom. For those who both love the Heartstopper series and grew up watching A Knight’s Tale, this book was made for you (do take a quick peek at the trigger warnings though)!
Thank you to NetGalley for providing this ARC for my honest review!
This was fanciful and heartwarming, I really enjoyed it. Raff is the aimless younger son of an Earl, trying to find his place in the world. While attending his sister’s betrothal celebration, he meets a mysterious man in the woods and they share a kiss. When his sister’s fiancé disappears, Raff stumbles upon the same man again and offers to help him escape, not knowing he’s aiding his sister’s runaway intended. As they travel, they fall in love but have to deal with the lies they’ve told each other as well as their respective families.
I normally don’t enjoy when characters keep secrets for too long, but this worked ok for me as they were both keeping their identities secret for part of the story. Both characters were so deep and relatable - Raff’s initial caution and respect and then his joyful love, and Penn’s fear and eventual bravery in standing up to his father.
The side characters were also great, especially Raff’s siblings. I hope we see more of Lily and Ash!
Very much enjoyed this book! First, I was very happy that this was a queer historical romance set in the Middle Ages, as this seems to be a less common setting for queer historical romance.
I really enjoyed reading about Penn and Raff fall in love. I thought it was very sweet and that they had good chemistry as characters and that their love was believable.
I really liked Penn and Raff's growth throughout the book, both individually and together. Likewise, I thought that Penn especially had an excellent arc. I would have liked a tad more about Raff, however, in general. The side characters were also very likeable.
The only reason I didn't give it a 5-star rating was because it read a bit too much like a fanfiction would in terms of writing style. Otherwise, I liked it :)
Enjoyed this historical romance. I did make the mistake of thinking I was reading a YA romance and thought it was quite spicy but then I realized it was an adult romance novel and that made more sense. But the romance was very sweet and the characters were all fully developed and interesting.
Loved Penn and Ash as individual characters and their relationship. The longing and pining between them was everything. Also appreciated how it dealt with heavy topics, but was still a soft and enjoyable read. Can’t wait to get the physical copy of this!
📣 medieval M/M romance with mutual rescuing
📖 where would you like to spend one night? I’d love to go to a beach but honestly I would be happy going anywhere that was quiet & had soft comfy bedding 😴.
Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for the complimentary ARC. All opinions provided are my own.
A road trip romance with some let’s-snuggle-to-stay-warmer & mutual rescuing moments?!?!
One Night in Hartswood by Emma Denny is a character-driven romance with some big moments at the end that really amp up the action & the dramatic gesture quotient for each lead.
The book opens with Raff, the son of an Earl, traveling to the home of his sister’s intended, William, who is a nobleman she will soon marry to shore up an alliance between their families.
But William leaves before the wedding, before Raff and his family even meet him, & when Raff is tasked with tracking William, he enters Hartswood Forest and finds only the servant Penn that he met in the forest a day or so before & kissed.
Seeing that Penn needs assistance with his own escape from the keep, Raff says Penn can accompany him on his journey North & find another way home & employment on the way.
So, in short, Raff & Penn are on a journey away from the keep together, both of them keeping secrets that will soon blow up in their faces.
This book is soft, with several moments where the leads try to protect each other. Both leads are loyal, steadfast, & brave, and both show how they’re willing to face pain for the sake of the other.
Moreover, there’s an emotional consideration to the protection too, as Raff worries about the social dynamics between him & Penn, the man he believes to be a servant.
ONIH is a great historical romance & I adore how these two are able to make a happy, safe life together because they made it happen.
4.5 ⭐️. Out 11/07.
CWs: Penn’s past abuse. Reference to death, family exile.
[ID: the ebook rests on an open hardback placed on a white quilt & a floral duvet. Thunder, a gray cat, has his paw placed on the hardback.]
This book was incredible! It was the perfect balance of romance, political intrigue, and adventure. While Penn and Raff have one perfect night in Hartswood, their story has barely begun and it takes months worth of longing gazes for them to be truthful with eachother and themselves. For fans of Red, White, and Royal Blue with a touch more adventure- this is for you!
Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for providing me with this book in exchange for an honest review.
This was a new genre read for me, but I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed it! I would have preferred a bit less of of an immediate infatuation on both ends, but the last 1/4 of the book 1000% made up for it. Great LGBTQ historical romance read.
One Night in Hartswood is an incredibly sweet and emotional story of Raff and Penn trying to find their freedom in a world that really does not lend itself well to them reaching it. These two are the best of "cinnamon roll" heroes, and their slow dance toward each other was a delight to read. This was the ultimate in slow-burn, pining romance, and I am here for it. Because when everything is finally laid out in the open, the reward is worth the journey to get there.
Penn is the son of a noble who has been chosen to marry Lily, Raff's sister. Neither really want to go through with it, for different reasons. Raff has his own issues trying to step up to what he needs to be for his family and those they hold power over. Both men just want a moment to be free, and not what others expect them to be. In a chance meeting (or two), Raff and Penn mistake each other for being a tracker and a servant, respectively. They forge a bond as Raff vows to help Penn flee the grasp of de Foucart (unknowingly helping the man flee marriage to his sister). Their tentative pull toward each other grows stronger the more they spend time together on the road.
This book does have depictions of abuse (not between Raff and Penn), and it is a queer romance set in the 1300's. However, our heroes do find acceptance that they do not expect. The final obstacles that they overcome make the HEA even sweeter. Raff and Penn stole my heart, and I loved seeing their journey to both individual freedom and their acceptance of what they meant to one another.
Super sweet and charming, with the added bonus of taking place in a historical period that isn’t as common these days. I hope to see more from this author (there are all those siblings who need their own happy endings?)
I’m coming to find out that I really enjoy any kind of romance as long as it’s character-driven. I’ve tried historical romances in the past, even queer ones, and couldn’t jive. I know now it’s because I need the focus to be on the characters.
That’s exactly what ONE NIGHT IN HARTSWOOD gives and I fell in LOOOOVE. I mean, Raff and Penn were just soooo good together. The angst. The pining. The stolen touches and glances. The absolute romance of it all. I am smitten. I haven’t had a book feel like this in a minute.
Emma Denny’s writing is top notch. I obviously got completely sucked in and by the time I finished it after reading more than half of it in one sitting, I forgot where and who I was. Like… oh… I’m NOT in Hartswood Forest with Penn and Raff? Okay? Rude.
I even loved the plot and the drama as it just added to the beauty that is Penn and Raff’s love story. I also really loved Raff’s family. Ugh, that one scene where Raff is watching Penn make Ash and Cecily laugh? And the one where Ash and Cecily ask Raff if he told Penn [redacted] and Raff just smiles and they all laugh? GOD. I can picture it so vividly in my head. So gorgeous.
I clearly had a blast reading ONE NIGHT IN HARTSWOOD. I am now an Emma Denny stan. CONVERTED. Read this book! I loved it!
A rather sweet and romantic book. If you are not one for pining and some serious longing in a story, then I think you might struggle with this one. However, if you genuinely do not mind that, this book would be perfect.
Overall, this is not a low angst read, but it does, eventually, have a lot of warmth in its plot. I found it truly compelling and unique in its storytelling. I love it when writers take a chance on their writing. Historical Romance with a Queer element just feels so right to me. I adored this one.
ARC provided by Harper 360 via NetGalley, and I have given my honest review.
This is a really sweet historical romance between Penn and Raff. Both are hiding big secrets about who they are but also sharing some very sensitive topics. I want to make a content warning about abuse really just talking about some severe abuse in this book.
I enjoyed this, but I did have a little trouble believing this fast connection between them. However, it's so sweet, so I did like it.
Out November 7, 2023!
Thank you, Netgalley and Publisher, for this Arc!
Thank you so much for the opportunity to read and review this book. My review will appear on episode 33 of my podcast which drops Monday, November 6. My review will also appear on my website and Goodreads and I will also post something on Instagram that week.
I don't know why, but for some reason, when I think of the Middle Ages, I always tend to immediately think of dragons, unicorns, and magic, so when I find out that a book is set in this time period, I just assume it's a fantasy. I say that because when I saw this book on Netgalley, I assumed I was going to be reading a fantasy novel with a same-sex romance, but that's not what I got - and that's okay because I loved it nonetheless.
The story begins with Raff Barden, his father, and his older brother Ash escorting their sister Lily from Northern to Southern England to be married. As was customary back then, their fathers arranged this marriage, and the two have never met. While traveling, we learn that Raff intends to journey out on his own once Lily is married. Raff feels as though he has been missing something in his life and intends to set out to find it.
Once they've arrived, Raff goes out to explore the woods in the area, and it's here that he meets a young man named Penn. The two spend the evening walking through the woods and talking. The next morning, they share a very passionate kiss before going their separate ways. The next day, Raff learns that his future brother-in-law is missing and is tasked with finding him. He once again runs into Penn, and this time, Penn tells him that he is desperate to leave the area, and Raff agrees to help him. What Raff doesn't know is that Penn is actually William - the guy his sister was betrothed to. Along these same lines, Penn has no idea that Raff is the brother of the woman he was betrothed to.
The two head North toward Raff's home and, along the way, develop a deeper relationship that soon becomes physical. Eventually, they begin to fall for one another, but what will happen when both of their secrets are revealed?
What I liked most about this story was that the romance seemed believable. A lot of times, romances seem rushed, with the couple falling in love immediately. Here, we get characters who are definitely attracted to one another, but for at least the first half of the book, there's a lot of wanting, a whole lot of "what if he doesn't like me back" and "what if the kiss was a mistake" along with some light flirting, which I loved. Once Raff and Penn finally have sex, they've earned it. I love the buildup in a romance. I felt the intense attraction and the need these two had for each other. I love the whole "Does he feel the same? Should I make a move?" dance that happens. It makes the payoff so much better when the couple can't help themselves anymore and finally connect.
As far as characters go, this book is filled with some great ones. With his unwavering loyalty and determination, Raff is a protagonist that readers will root for from the beginning. Penn, haunted by the choices he has to make, adds another layer of complexity to the story. Their relationship is beautifully depicted, evolving from strangers in desperate circumstances to two souls connected by an unbreakable bond.
I also loved Raff's relationship with his siblings, Lily and Ash. They honestly had each other's backs, and I loved that. On the flip side, Penn's father is someone you love to hate. We completely understand why Penn was so desperate to leave home.
While One Night in Hartswood is a tale of love and romance, it also touches upon themes of family, honor, and sacrifice. The characters face difficult choices and must confront their own fears and prejudices. It left me reflecting on the lengths I would go for the one I love.
Overall, this is a captivating historical romance that will transport readers to another time and place. With its beautifully crafted storyline and engaging characters, it is a must-read for fans of historical fiction and LGBTQ+ romance. I adored Raff and Penn and their story. In a way, this book almost reminded me of a medieval Brokeback Mountain. It is a tale of love that lingers in the mind long after the final page has been turned.
This was so unexpectedly pleasant! I barely get on Netgalley anymore but a few weeks back I was bored and decided to request a shit ton of books. Since I permanently live in my MM era now this one definitely caught my eye. I wasn’t sure how it’ll go because it’s a historical romance, and I had never read one before. However that was one of my favorite things about it!
I really enjoyed Penn & Raff a lot, how they met and how everything progressed for them. It was such a good slow burn, and everything after the discovery of the secret was amazing! I also loved to see Penn stand up for himself to his father. I enjoyed their dynamics, the side characters, their journey. It was such a sweet romance and the longing between them was 😘🤌🏻 I had such a great time and I can’t recommend it enough! So go read it! The book will be out November 7
One Night in Hartswood by Emma Denny follows Penn (William) as he flees from an utterly unwanted arranged marriage forced on him by a brutal father. He takes solace in the forest at hand, and runs into Raff, the brother of his soon-to-be-wife. Neither man knows the other’s true identity, and after the meeting, which sets sparks flying, they part—only to find themselves reuniting again, unexpectedly. Penn is fleeing under the guise of a servant, and Raff is sent to find and bring the wayward son back. He promises to help Penn escape instead, which sets off a chain of consequences that could destroy them both even as they find themselves growing closer while on the run.
This book was absolutely lovely! I stopped at like 15% for a break, and when I picked it up again, I meant only to read a bit. I ended up reading up to and past the break of dawn (!!), as the story gets more gripping as the pages fall away. I found myself devouring it in the last perhaps third or fourth of the book.
The chemistry between the two was powerful, the intimate scenes were wonderful, and the palpable ache brought forth in a couple scenes between the two…? Magnificent. Also—I’ve read a few novels with queer themes and I have to say that the 14th century generally isn’t a period setting people clamour to use. I think I’m relieved the author didn’t try to stuff the dialogue with overly flowery phrases to suit the time; I feel it would have bogged the work down and detracted from the crackling urgency that permeated the novel.
Anyway! I would definitely recommend this book to people who like a good love story, and doubly so for those who want it queer.
I received a copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
This book was so charming - I loved Penn and Rafe and the comedy of errors in their misunderstood identities, even when things took a darker turn toward the end. I really enjoyed seeing the two of them travel together and open up to one another, turning a natural interest and great chemistry into deeper intimacy. The stakes were high and I felt like they paid off emotionally! All in all, a fun little journey!
I really loved this book! I thought the plot was a unique concept and I absolutely loved all of the traveling in it! I fell in love with Raff and Penn right away and loved seeing their story play out. There are some great side characters and a true villain in the book as well. I’d love to read more work by this author!
I received and ARC from Netgalley for and honest review
I absolutely loved this book. I did not want the story to end but at the same time I couldn’t stop reading.
Thank you, NetGalley, Harper360 and Emma Denny for providing a copy of 'One Night in Hartswood' for review.
⭐⭐⭐⭐ - Available 7 November 2023
One Night in Hartswood is a very cute road trip tale of Penn and Raff falling in love. Fourteenth-century England, castles, Earls, Lords, Ladies and extremely cold winter nights - this has it all.
I had a great time following Penn and Raff on their journey. It was compelling reading and I flew through this story. Raff's family is also very adorable.
An extremely solid read for those interested in medieval gay love stories and fully played-out lovemaking. No fade to black here.
I really enjoyed this read! It was adorable and hopeful, and I’m so glad that it had a happy ending. I already want a second book focusing on Ash and Penn’s older brother. It’s a very quick read and for that I was thankful, I’ve been in such a spot where I don’t want to read because everything’s so long. The quotations took a second to get used to but otherwise was seriously amazing!
This sounds fun and cute and like a book that will get me out of a slump if I ever fall into one. High predictions!
⚠️ Stay Safe, Friends: animal injury/death, child abuse, scars
⛰ Cliffhanger: NO AND I AM SOARING
🌶 Spice Check: Tobasco on my spice scale (you can find it in my profile!)
⭐️ Rating (?/5): 5/5!!!
🔂 Re-Readability: Y E S
Thank you, NetGalley, for providing an ARC in exchange for an honest review!
TROPES SPOTTED IN THE WILD
•Arranged political marriage (adjacent?)
•Lust at first sight
SUMMARY + BASIC CHARACTER INFO AND RELATIONSHIPS
Raff and Penn, known to the rest of the world as William de Foucart, meet on the night before William is due to wed his new bride in Hartswood Forest. Raff and Penn team up and escape, unaware that their lives were intertwined before their first meeting. Freedom is their original goal, but maybe love will become more important.
🗡️Raff: protective, loyal, trusting, sturdy, golden-hearted, selfless and almost self-sacrificing. He's the one you want on your team, to be your ride-or-die. He's willing to help, if he can, and he has a strong sense of justice.
👑Penn: a little feisty, no self-love to be seen, cunning, witty, intelligent, quick and strategic. He's an asset as a political strategist and great at manipulating scenarios that will benefit those he is working to protect. He may not be able to save you with a dagger, but he's able to save you with his tongue (wow).
Like every book, there's a fun cast of side characters! I definitely enjoyed Raff's family way more than Penn's. Shocking myself, I ended up loving Ash after the first little bit. (view spoiler)
WHY YOU SHOULD PUSH THIS ONE UP/DOWN YOUR TBR
•It's a quick and enjoyable read! The pace is fast, reading like a contemporary romance, and it never felt sluggish or like a chore to get through.
•Raff and Penn's relationship was just so wholesome and sweet and endearing, even when things got a bit angsty or uncertain. I was rooting for both of them, as a couple and as individuals. They are a couple I know I can go back to when I need a comfort read; I feel like that is so hard to find, which just makes me cherish them and this book even more.
•Common tropes that drive me insane (like miscommunication or jumping to conclusions) happen here, but they aren't beaten to death and they are resolved pretty quickly which makes them more effective and digestible.
•Ash really added a level of (I hate to say) mystery and intrigue that I really didn't expect. He was like a thin hidden layer of darkness and grit in an overall sweet and (mostly) lighthearted historical romance. In the beginning, I was sure I would dislike Ash and would want to skim through his page time, but it didn't take long for him to grow on me. My precious troubled boy 😭.
•I.. don't think there's anything in here that is enough to make you push this down on your TBR? Not gonna lie, I'm a little shocked to realize I can't think of a single thing that bothered me or flagged enough to actively note it as a negative.
I loved this so much. So, so, SO much, especially coming off the back of reading The Trouble With Hating You. It was so nice to read something and not only love it but also be so excited for any future books that may join this universe.
Finding a new comfort read wasn't on my October 2023 bingo card, but we're here and we're winning!
Until next time!
Reading the synopsis for this book, I expected to really like it and I'm glad to say that I was right. I really enjoyed the book. The writing was very good and the characters were really likeable. I left the book feeling not quite satisfied, though. I think it was because, at least for me, the climax didn't feel as...well, climactic as it could've been, and so, when everything was getting wrapped up, it all felt a little too neat. Not to say I don't enjoy nice, neat endings, but to me it just seemed a bit underwhelming. Like I said, it definitely didn't keep me from enjoying the book, I just feel like it could've better stuck the landing. Overall a great debut novel, though.
This book was full of adventure, longing, and sacrifice. Raff finds Penn in the woods and helps him to escape to a safer place, but they've both lied about who they are. Revelations of how their paths ha e already been intertwined will either pull them apart or closer together.
I loved how they really began to fall for one another. It was sweet, desperate, and so pure. The romance was not left out of this one, and it left me with a warm fuzzy feeling of comfort.
This was a very beautiful story of two people stuck in lives they wish to escape. Raff and Penn meet in the woods while Penn is attempting to escape his father and getting married to Raff’s sister. Throughout their entire journey together through the woods, they do not disclose their true societal standings with one another. It isn’t until the second half of the book where things begin to unfold. The relationship between Raff and Penn was lovely. They were each fighting with their own personal battles and wanted to escape the lives they had.
The pacing of the story felt slow at time. They spent a lot of time traveling through the woods trying to avoid Penn being recognized. Spending all the time in the woods did allow their relationship to blossom. Raff and Penn’s relationship felt natural. The way they care for one another was heartwarming. Also the fact that they were willing to protect each other no matter the cost made me love them that much more.
We read a lot of historical romance, but not a ton of medievals, and definitely not a ton of queer medievals. In fact, we think this was our first trad-published LBGTQ+ medieval romance. It hits a lot of spots:
It's a road trip romance set in a time when just traveling through the forest was a scary undertaking;
A romance where both leads are hiding aspects of their identities from each other (but are able to be more themselves by not being their "public" selves);
A hard look at families of origin, and how they end up affecting us in ways we might not even realize;
A tender romance between two really appealing characters who get a true HEA.
We wouldn't say this is lighthearted, but it's not as angsty as MM Medieval Romance might make you think. It's also an open door romance - Emma Denny doesn't shy away from showing the reader what weeks of forced proximity on the road will explode into once our characters get a chance to act on their feelings!
Definitely recommended for fans of historical romance who are looking for something new!
This objective review is based on a complimentary copy of the novel.
4.5 stars, rounded to 5 for NetGalley.
A queer historical romance, set in the late 1300s, this book follows the tale of two men whose fates are woven together closer than they would have ever imagined. Penn, William to his father, can’t imagine being married to a woman he doesn’t know and that he knows he’ll never love in the way that his family claims he eventually will. Raff is suspicious about letting his sister marry a man they know nothing about, especially when the rumors of the family are not kind. In an attempt to escape his abusive father and his unwanted engagement, Penn flees into the woods – not considering how ill equipped he is to take care of himself. Raff, unsuccessful in his search for his sister’s missing fiancé, is drawn to this man who’s trying so hard to survive his escape from an unforgiving lord. Raff invites Penn to join him in his journey back home in the north – expecting him to find a good place to settle along the journey. Little do the two men know how much the journey would draw them together. With both of their true identities hidden, what will happen when these secrets are forced into the light? Is their new and fragile love worth risking their lives and the lives of those they love?
All I can say is I’m in love. This was such a heartwarming romance, and I couldn’t get enough of it. I adored how considerate both men were of the power imbalance between their real life position and the mistaken identity of the opposing man. They put the idea of a romantic relationship on the backburner to protecting each other. I also thought it was incredibly nice that while they obviously acknowledged the stigma and dangers of being in a queer relationship in the 1300s, ultimately that wasn’t the main barrier to a happily ever after. The real villain and obstacle was an innately abusive father who can’t stand his son being anything other than an exact replication of his expectations. This book had tons of twists and turns that I didn’t see coming and was overall an absolute delight to read (I read this book in two sittings). My only complaint was that I’m not used to seeing both characters’ perspectives in one chapter, and I was a bit confused at first as I got my bearings for the story.
CW: physical abuse, injury, violence, blood, sexual content, death of a parent (prior to events of book)
I enjoyed this book so much! I love how it was not based in the regency era like a lot of romance novels are. It was something different, and I thought it was done well. You can feel Raff and Penn’s connection immediately! And as they travel together, all of the angst and pining they do for each other is *chef’s kiss*. I really enjoyed the last 40% of the book the most. So so good. Interested to read more from this author!
I thought this book was super cute with a very fun road-trip via horseback. The romance between Raff and Penn was very beautiful and I absolutely adored them! It was great seeing their relationship bloom over the course of their trip across the country! Also who doesn’t love a little “it’s cold so we should cuddle to preserve heat” moment and we get a lot of them in this!
The main reason this book was not a 5 star for me is because their relationship starts on a lie and I always hate that. Raff let’s Penn believe he’s not a nobleman and Penn never tells Raff he’s the runaway groom. I will say the 3rd act breakup does deal with this super well though!
My other issue with this book is I wanted more to happen with Penns abusive father and I felt it fell a little flat there. But I did love seeing Penn navigate the political side of everything!
But all in all this was a very cute story that I absolutely adored and had a blast reading. A great debut from Emma Denny!
CW// parental abuse
Thanks NetGalley for providing me with an arc for my honest review
A chance encounter in a forest on a winter's night. Two men, seemingly lost, find solace in one another. The problem: one man is engaged to the other man's sister, and neither of them knows it. Their chemistry can't be denied as these two embark on the journey of a lifetime. Each longing for escape, they find home in one another...but can it last?!?
Penn is gay, which isn't accepted in 1300s England. As our story begins, he's engaged to Cecily, Raff's sister. Penn feeling trapped, decides to escape into the forest one evening for one last breath of freedom. It's at this point that Penn meets Raff, Cecily's brother, who is also feeling unhappy with his lot in life. They feel an almost immediate bond, which is quickly revealed to be undeniable chemistry. They decide to leave Penn's home together, but not before having a scorching-hot kiss. Penn is looking to get away from his father. Raff wants to see Penn happy, even if they believe they can never be together. They attempt to deny their feelings as they travel across gorgeous landscapes and towns. They begin to fall in love in this beautiful slow-burn romance. But can they overcome prejudice, lies and fears and be together in the end?
I LOVED the writing! This author wrote the scenes beautifully. Winter almost felt like its own character. The forests, the quiet barns, the mountain ranges...I felt like I was THERE. I also reveled in the way the author built their chemistry. The little touches and looks were everything! The spice was there too, building over time and incredibly emotional! The only thing that could have made the writing better, perhaps, was writing in first person from each of their perspectives. It was written in third person omniscient, which meant that we were getting lots of the pronoun "he" and sometimes I got confused about whose eyes were were looking through.
The third act didn't feel quite as BIG as I wanted it to, but still closed with a very satisfying ending. I enjoyed the writing and the story so much that Emma Denny will likely become an auto-buy author for me. An achingly beautiful story that swept me away!
Trigger warnings: killing of an animal, physical abuse (off page)
I'd like to thank Harper 360, Mills & Boon, and Netgalley for the e-ARC of this book. All opinions expressed are my own.
I started my romance journey over twenty years ago when I discovered my mother’s bodice-ripping historical romance collection. And while I may have ventured away from that genre, when I saw this mm historical romance set back in the 1300s, it called to me and I’m so glad I delved back into this genre (minus the bodice-ripping lol).
Told in third person POV, Raff and Penn’s love story is a slow, sweet, sensual build from camaraderie to lovers. Both are harboring secrets as the travel through the Hartswood Forest but those secrets stay hidden as these two discover a love so deep and endless between them.
I’ll admit, the spice surprised me. I thought it would be more closed door but it had some heat behind it. Bravo!
I’m not one to usually like secrets but I really adored these two and their swoony love. I’ll admit at times I didn’t FEEL like I was in the 1300s. And the use of single quotation marks instead of double was a bit bothersome.
𝘙𝘦𝘭𝘦𝘢𝘴𝘦 𝘋𝘢𝘵𝘦: November 7, 2023
𝘼𝙍𝘾 𝙥𝙧𝙤𝙫𝙞𝙙𝙚𝙙 𝙩𝙤 𝙢𝙚 𝙛𝙤𝙧 𝙛𝙧𝙚𝙚. 𝙈𝙮 𝙧𝙚𝙫𝙞𝙚𝙬 𝙞𝙨 𝙫𝙤𝙡𝙪𝙣𝙩𝙖𝙧𝙮.
Thank you to NetGalley for this ARC in exchange for my honest review!
I absolutely adore queer historical books, so I was very excited about this one. This book covers the topic of abuse while also fitting in a beautiful romance between 2 men in a time period that would be pretty much non-existent. I loved the MC’s and the romance that blossoms between them. This is beautiful and full of heart/comfort, secret identity, and genuine queer love!
Raff is traveling with his family to deliver his sister Lily to her husband to be. An arraigned engagement - neither wishing for as they haven’t even met…and other reasons - the meeting is further delayed when husband to be, Will, takes off in the middle of the night.
When tasked with tracking down his sister’s intended Raff without benefit of a portrait or even description, and his sister’s request that he *not* be successful, it’s not much of a surprise that he returns empty handed.
What would have been surprising, would be for Raff to learn he actually met Will night before when they shared *a moment* in the forest, thinking him a servant of the house named Penn.
Assumptions and the mistaken identities they lead to only escalate as they leave the area together, both wanting an escape of their own.
Overall this was a pretty chill read, a slow start but an emotional end. It was sweet to see them dance around each other - even if it was because the time and circumstances they’re in required it, and that in itself is not really ideal - but still, I enjoyed it.
I was looking forward to seeing how things would go, where they end up - hopefully together! - and maybe just a smidge anxious of how the reveal was going to work out once they learn who exactly the other was. I don’t want to go around specifically spoiling anything, but I think I can safely say the ending was satisfying.
Thank you to NetGalley and Harper 360 for the ARC!
I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley and am voluntarily posting a review. All opinions are my own.
One Night in Hartswood is a fun queer historical romance-adventure, and I really enjoyed this. It’s definitely more on the fun side, with it somewhat playing fast-and-loose with the history, but as someone who isn’t super-well read in the period (I’m more knowledgeable about the Tudors and the Regency/Victorian eras), I wasn’t super bothered, especially given some of the dark aspects I’ve often heard about it books set in this time weren’t present.
The “secret/hidden identity” trope did give me some pause, but I ended up mostly enjoying how this was handled, especially with the twist that both Raff and Penn are hiding aspects of themselves from each other…and the world. I enjoyed seeing them get more comfortable with each other, and come to reveal aspects of their real selves.
Even with it being more aesthetically driven, I liked that the stakes were still there with the aspects of the medieval world that Emma Denny chose to include, keeping it in doubt whether Raff and Penn could be together, due to things like the broader political games their families are involved in, and the fact that Penn is betrothed to Raff’s sister. The obstacles made the happy ending much more hard-won and well-deserved.
I really enjoyed this book, and would recommend it to lovers of queer historical romance.
In “One Night in Hartswood” by Emma Denny, the beautiful romance is at the heart of this story. The author does a wonderfully compelling job of introducing her characters, Raff and Penn and then giving time for the relationship to slowly evolve from friendship into love.
I loved how complex both characters are written, Penn with a conflicted past with his father and Raff who tries to take care of his entire family. Each has their reasons for escape and I love how that is developed in the romance. I also loved the mistaken identity allowing the relationship to bloom. The historical details are another aspect that drew me in, the author authentic to the time period and nothing out of place. The resolution of the story is gorgeous.
If you love historical lgbtq romance and friendship that develops into love, this is the story for you. It is a beautiful complex love story that has a beautiful romance. It is compelling and heartbreaking in all the best ways. The characters will make you fall in love with them.
I enjoyed this story. It was a cute, gay, historical romp across 12th century Oxford. I was positively obsessed with Penn and wanted to wrap him in cotton wool and protect him from all harm. Thankfully, he had beefy tracker Raff to do the job though.
One Night in Hartstown was full of funny moments, but had some serious moments too, but it was ultimately, a romance. I loved how the feelings between Penn and Raff developed and how much they each cared for each other. The climax of the story was the prefect ratio of angst to happiness, and the ending was pretty satisfying. I look forward to future books from Emma Denny.
One Night in Hartswood is MM fairytale romance full of arranged marriage, sword fights, handsome men, and secret lords. When Penn and Raff meet in the Hartswood as Penn is fleeing his arranged marriage to Raff's sister Lily, sparks fly. But Penn thinks Raff is a hunter/tracker just along with the wedding party and Raff thinks Penn is a servant running away from his cruel master (Not the lord's son running away from his horrible father and impending marriage!) Both men want to confess their feelings but what happens when the other finds out the truth about their identity? I read through this is a day because I couldn't put it down. If you like bisexual romance with a medieval twist, this book is for you.
Set in 1300s Oxford, One Night in Hartswood follows Raff Barden as he tracks William de Foucart, the nobleman who disappeared on the night of his wedding to Raff's sister. That night, Raff meets up with a cute man named Penn, who says that he is a servant of William de Foucart who is trying to escape after his master's disappearance. The two have a moment and against his better judgement, Raff decides to help Penn escape. However, Penn is actually William de Foucart who is trying to flee from his impending marriage. The two navigate familial expectations, mistaken identities, attraction, and trying to find happiness in a world that does not affirm deviation from expected norms.
OMG this book!! It honestly had me at 1360 Oxford, not a time or place that I usually see in historical romances! I loved the romance between Raff and Penn. It was very sweet. I usually have some issues with mistaken identities because there is usually such a liar reveal/breakup that I HATE! This book really didn't have that, which made me happy. The hurt/comfort in this book is also top notch! This was just generally a fun ride that I loved reading in the fall. Highly recommend for some atmospheric seasonal reading!
Overall, I loved this book and highly recommend if you are at all into historical fiction or historical romance! I'm very excited to read the sequel!! 5 stars from me. Thank you to Harper 360 and NetGalley for the electronic advanced reader's copy of this book, my thoughts are my own!
Raff is asked to help find his sister's betrothed after he goes missing, but all he finds is Penn, the servant that he met on his first night on de Foucart's land. Penn and Raff had kissed before they were interrupted, but now Penn asks, and Raff offers, to take Penn away from de Foucart. Neither of them know who the other is: Raff is a lord, and Penn happens to be William de Foucart, his sister's fiancé. Neither of them are living the lives they want, though: Raff has been stuck acting as the oldest son while Ash is away, and Penn's father is horribly abusive. It doesn't help that both of them are attracted to men in a world where they're expected to marry a woman and produce heirs.
I'm not the biggest fan of Friend of Masked Self/Mistaken Identity tropes, but I still appreciated how well-written this book was: the plot was interesting and the characters were lovely. It was a little slow for my taste, but if you're looking for a queer romance set in the 14th century with lingering looks and pining, this is the book for you!
This book was so sweet and romantic, with lots of angst, which is just how I like it. The writing is beautiful, and the story is engaging and surprising. I love the characters and how they come together.
This is a period that doesn't get a lot of romance books, especially gay romance, so I especially liked seeing a book in this setting. I was wary going in, not sure how the author would handle the time period, but it was done beautifully.
This book was perfection, one I couldn't help racing through and then was sorry when it was over.
A cozy queer love story traipsing the landscape of 14th century England - great characters, incredible tension, and enough steamy to make this the perfect weekend read.
queer love | bi and gay main characters | romance | historical fiction | spicy
Review at Smexy Books:
One Night in Hartswood begins with both main characters lying to one another about who they are. William de Foucart, aka Penn, is fleeing an oppressive marriage arranged by his abusive father who needs this alliance and is repulsed by his son’s preference for men. Penn is posing as a servant. Raff Barden, who is supposed to be hunting his sister’s fleeing fiancé, meets Penn in the woods and claims to be a simple tracker, capable of escorting Penn to safety far away from Hartswood. Such a premise starts us off with immediate tension: who will learn the truth first? And when they learn it, what will happen? Harwood is a historical romance in the loosest of sense. It doesn’t feel anchored in 14th century England, except for a few scenes and historical references. If I hadn’t read the description, I would have thought I was reading a fantasy (minus the fantastic) That didn’t bother me, but I imagine readers who are more versed in history might find it annoying.
What did bother me was the pacing. I love stories of journeys, whether they are escapes like Hartwood or travels toward a singular goal. However, this section of the book plodded on for too long with no real purpose than to draw out the development of the relationship between Penn and Raff. Their early instant attraction is replaced by a sturdier love, but this in turn is frustrated by their need to continue their lies and ponder about the lies to themselves as they get closer to Raff’s homeland. It was great stuff, in moderation, but the length of this section attenuated it for too long. In my opinion, it would have worked better if the journey had felt less blow by blow and the conflict between the two lovers, when it finally came, was given more time.
One of the best characters in the novel is Raff’s older brother, Ash. Both Raff and Penn are earnest, “good” characters. Their skills even complement one another, as they learn on the road. Ash, on the other hand, is a little broken, a little defective, and I think that makes him stick out like a glittering diamond. I hope he appears in a sequel.
One Night in Hartswood is a debut novel by Emma Denny. I look forward to her next book!
One Night in Hartswood is a delightful, swoony mistaken-identity historical romance about Raff and Penn, who are each searching for their own freedom. This book is incredibly entertaining and compulsively readable. I loved the tension, build-up, and chemistry in Raff and Penn’s romance. I also really appreciated the dynamics each had with their siblings. My only gripe with this book is the last 15% starts to drag a little bit, but overall this is a very sweet, fun romance, and I look forward to whatever’s next from Emma Denny. Thank you to NetGalley and Harper 360 for this arc
A sweet LGBTQIA+ historical love story! Especially love that tit takes place during Medieval times! A very unique period to be able to read about, and such a romantic story with lovable and well-written characters
Queer historical romance is just about the only sort of historical romance I find enjoyable. I felt immediately sucked into this book. Love the unique road trip story. I felt like both characters were developed & had plenty of depth.
Thank you to the publisher, author, & NetGalley for a copy of the arc.
Oh wow, I couldn't put this one down! I haven't read a lot of historical romance, much less MM historical romance, but One Night in Hartswood by Emma Denny is a GREAT one. It kind of reminded me of a Cat Sebastian book - low angst, lots of feelings, and vivid characters. Add in the fact that it's set in 14th century Britain, and I was absolutely hooked. Definitely check this one out!
The son and heir of a powerful earl, Penn is desperate to escape his marriage to the daughter of an old noble family. To clear his head, he decides to take a walk through the Hartswood forest. There he happens upon an intriguing stranger, assuming him to be a tracker for the visiting wedding party. The men end up spending the entire night together walking in the woods, aware of a growing spark between them. The night before the wedding, Penn decides to run away for good. When the man, Raff, once again runs into him, he assumes Penn to be a wayward servant seeking freedom from a cruel master. They decide to journey together to Raff's home to find a place for Penn to settle, but they never reveal their true identities. As they get closer and can no longer deny their attraction, their secrets become harder to hide. Will they ruin their burgeoning relationship when they both finally tell the truth?
This book is primarily a journey story, and everything about it is subtle, yet I was completely mesmerized from page one. I loved that BOTH guys have hidden identities, so they really get to know each other without pretense from the start. The story switches POV's often, so we get frequent glimpses into Penn and Raff's thoughts, and, while it's obvious from the start that they are attracted to each other, the slow burn is just delicious. We also get some very cleverly done forced proximity ("oh no, it's cold, we have to share a bed roll!"), "who did this to you", and beautiful hurt/comfort scenes (the only real source of serious angst in the story, despite the direness of Penn's situation). Not a ton happens until the end, but while I loved getting to see their relationship develop, the emotional ending gave me all the feels.
I think this book just lit a fire under me to seek out more queer hisrom, I really forget how much I love this subgenre until I read it. If you are looking for something refreshing and unique, this book is it. I'm very grateful to NetGalley for the ARC, it's an amazing new release.
A truly spectacular debut for Emma Denny!
Raff and Penn's twisty little lies and excruciating tenderness sunk their claws into my heart. This novel took everything one could want from a queer historical romance and ran with it until the very last page.
Denny created characters that shimmer with personality and left us wanting to see more, to know more (Ash and Lily, I'm looking dead at you). Raff's unconditional kindness was borderline heartbreaking to bear witness to. Penn's chaotic spiral of lies and guilt and fire was an intoxicating mix that left me second-guessing the truths and lies.
Penn's trauma was well-represented, which resulted in the last third of the book being gut-wrenching. Raff's sturdy, dependable presence simultaneously grounded and propelled the plot forward. All in all, a delightful whirlwind of a read.
As always, thank you to NetGalley for the ARC!
My thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for this digital ARC. This is my honest review.
I requested this as soon as I saw it was historical fiction.
The story takes place in the 1300's and starts with Raff's family heading to meet his sister's betrothed, for their politically arranged wedding. It starts off with Raff's family--his father the Earl, his brother–a somewhat embittered former military man, and his sister. It was good getting a glimpse of the family dynamic before the actions began.
We get a similar intro to Penn and his sisters and then the story gets going. William, the betrothed, and Penn are the same person! And Penn is not a willing participant in this arranged marriage. Cue a daring escape, chance encounters, subterfuge and lies of omission on both sides as well as a tender exploration of expectations, family dynamics, chronic emotional and physical abuse, and toxic family relationships.
Penn and Raff were lovely together and they both defied the expectations of those around them to fight and support each other. There were definitely some questions left unanswered in this book--such as the true stories of Penn's brothers, Raff's brother's backstory and more. I could see a second book about the secondary characters of this book.
Overall an enjoyable read. Tropes include arranged marriage, mistaken identity story with some darker themes as far as toxic family and emotional and physical abuse.
I absolutely loved this book and I wish I read it sooner! Denny does an incredible job of not just making you fall in love with both characters and their love story, but also the setting of the book and the Hartswood forest. The whole book is beautifully written and I loved feeling like I was also on an adventure with Penn and Raff through the beautiful English countryside during winter. The plot was fantastic and I did not see a lot of the twists and turns coming which really helps keep the reader interested in the story beyond the romance. I would love to see books for each of Raff's siblings, they were wonderful side characters and I loved how they supported him.
I highly recommend this to anyone who is looking for a queer historical romance that is the perfect cozy read.
I love this book and its characters so much! A M/M historical romance set in 1360 England, Raff and Penn meet by accident and feel an immediate spark, although both hide the truth about their true identities. They later find themselves on the road together, as their attraction continues to grow. But they have more connections between them than each of them know, and there will be severe fall-out when their secrets come out, How everything is resolved is a journey well worth taking. Highly recommended.
I absolutely loved the use of the 14th century time period in this novel! It was completely unique and helped with book stick out to me. The romance was full of beautiful chemistry and intense emotions and still had room for secrets and inter-relational politics.
This was such a wonderful story. It was well written, and the story flows naturally. There were a few places I wish could have been made a bit longer, in particular, the ending felt a little bit rushed.
I loved Penn and Raff. They genuinely cared for each other, but the romance evolved over time. And the supportive family in 1300’s England is so amazingly wholesome. I think things will turn out well for these two. I’m so glad I was given the chance to read this book. So if you like historical romance please pick this up.
I was surprised when I read the first page and noticed it was set in 1300! That was a lot earlier than I was expected from the blurb for some reason. It gave me the sense of the some what more common Victorian set historical romances. Which actually ended up being the same sense I got throughout the book. Truly the most medieval thing about the book is that they had a dungeon/cells. I assume those were done away with by the Victorian period? Other than that it was just the diving right of kings and mentions of squires that placed the novel's setting as unique.
That being said I did enjoy the story. Raff and Penn had good chemistry. That they were both lying to each other was always something in the back of your mind however. So you will be waiting for the other shoe to drop.
I would say this was medium spicy and a lot a bit sweet between the MCs. I would recommend this to readers of historical romances that want a slightly different setting but no fantasy.
This book was SO lovely to read! It was a slow-burn, which I enjoy because two people need time to get to know one another before jumping into anything romantic. The characters of Penn and Raff are both so different from one another and yet compliment each other perfectly. I loved each of their POVs and learning how they viewed the other. There were many warm, beautiful, steamy moments once they finally finally give into their feelings. Penn grows so much during the story and learning about his past trauma was heart-wrenching. We never learn fully about Raff's past, but there are enough hints for us to know it involves pain and grief. Seeing these two wonderful characters find peace and happiness together (after going through so much to get there) was gratifying. I'm definitely recommending this book!!
One Night in Hartswood is an excellent debut by Emma Denny. It's refreshing to read a queer historical set in the medieval era (rather than Victorian or Regency London) and One Night in Hartswood incorporates its historic setting without getting bogged down by it.
Rafe and Penn are charming protagonists whose double-mistaken-identity and forced-proximity road trip serves as the heart of the plot (which One Night in Hartswood is admittedly light on). They are endearing as their insta-lust grows into something sweeter and more tender.
I don't have a lot of bandwidth for romances where characters don't clear up misunderstandings when offered the opportunity to do so and One Night in Hartswood is definitely a bit predictable, but overall, it's a lovely read.
Thank you, Netgalley, Emma Denny, Harper 360, and Mills & Boon for the ARC.
One Night in Hartswood is must read. It is sweet, suspenseful, and angsty rolled in to the perfect read. Penn is the son of the Earl and set to marry. Instead he runs away in an attempt to live happily ever after. Raff is the son of a nobleman and brother to Penn’s betrothed. Raff finds Penn lost in the woods and proceeds to help him escape; neither knowing whom the other is. What occurs next is probably the sweetest love story ever. That being said its not with out strife.
One Night in Hartswood is one of the best historical romances I have read in a while. It reads almost as a cozy fantasy instead of a historical romance, despite the struggles the boys face. The characters are lovable and relatable. Penn and Raff have the most tender of moments and both have hearts of gold. I will be rereading this!
I received an arc of this and am leaving this review of my own volition.