The Damsel (Bride Quest #2) by Claire Delacroix
Synopsis: Once upon a time, the legendary knight Burke Fitzgavin galloped into Kiltorren Castle and fell in love with Alys, the lord’s orphaned niece. But her uncle was determined that Burke marry one of his homely daughters instead. Through tricks and lies, Burke was sent away believing that Alys wanted nothing of his heart.
Pledged to a Bride Quest, Burke has vowed not to return home until he finds his long-lost love. He returns to Kiltorren to discover that the fiery young innocent has become a woman, a servant on her uncle’s estate. Paying penance for Burke’s long-ago embrace, she wants nothing to do with him. Burke knows he must earn her trust again.
Even as he slowly rekindles her desire, Alys’ family attempts to thwart their romance—determined that Alys should not marry before her cousins do. But Burke is a warrior and this battle to win the hand and the heart of his one true love will be his greatest challenge ever…
Review: Book two in the Bride Quest series brings us Burke, the man who tried to win Brianna’s hand with a troupe of performers in book 1, The Princess, though it was clear his heart was not in it. He had already given his heart to a woman three years prior to this poor attempt to win Brianna so when she charges him to go find this woman and win her, he does. What he finds is a spirited woman who is treated as a servant though she is directly related to the people of Kiltorren. She also hasn’t forgotten Burke and she doesn’t hesitate to speak her mind about what she thinks of his betrayal, abandonment, and the fact he has come to woo her cousin and not her. Or so she thinks. Lies told by the family to keep them apart come to light and her past with her dead mother’s memory leave Burke with a challenge to prove to her his affections are real and that he doesn’t want a simple tumble in the hay, he wants forever. It was a cute story. Antagonists were really easy to hate; it almost had a stepsister and stepmother/ Cinderella vibe to it at times. The plot was slow at times and the character development could have been a bit more fast-paced. The story as a whole was enjoyable if a bit slow. There is one moment I found annoying though, near the end of the story when Burke goes to see his mother alone, Alys immediately jumps to the conclusion that he has come to his senses and left her after she promised him that she wouldn’t doubt him again. I found her lack of trust in Burke a little frustrating. He proved himself to her and the first moment of testing that trust, she let her doubts and fears lead to her doubting him. I would have liked to have seen her trust in him more in that moment. Overall, it is a good story, not great, but good.