Review: The Raided Heart by Jennifer C. Wilson

I'm thrilled to review a beautiful novel today, The Raided Heart by Jennifer C Wilson. A big ’thank you’ to Rachel’s Random Resources!

I must admit I know very little about the border between England and Scotland, and I feel I learnt much when I read this riveting story. Set in the 15th century, Ms Wilson really shows her in-depth knowledge of the era. The terminology suits the time and setting, and the reiver practices are well described. 

We meet Meg Mathers early on as a headstrong, slightly spoilt young woman. When she is kicked by Will Hetherington's horse, she blames him, although the fault was hers, so he must support her as long as she is unable to walk. This provides ample time for the two of them to get to know each other. There is some subtle humour that shines through now and then, but all is set against the uncertain backdrop of the day – with nightly raids on other villages, on both sides of the border, regular and dangerous occurrences. These dangers make for a strong undercurrent that remains in place throughout the novel.

Despite Meg and Will falling in love, they know they cannot be together. Will appeared in their village to stay with his sister and her husband, and has nothing of value to offer her. So when her brothers arrange her marriage to the son of their new ally, a brutal but influential reiver called Alexander Gray, they are distraught but resigned to their reality. But when Alexander's wife suddenly dies before her marriage, seemingly of an accident, Meg finds it hard to come to terms with her new wed scheming Gray himself.

The story carries a sense of tension throughout, and despite some light-hearted moments, Ms Wilson keeps readers in no doubt about the daily dangers people faced. There is plenty of conflict, external as well as internal, to occupy the main characters, and the fast pace leads to a gripping ending.

A beautiful, realistic romance with dark undertones, The Raided Heart is one of those books you find hard to put down.

The Raided Heart
Meg Mathers, the headstrong youngest sibling of a reiving family on the English-Scottish border, is determined to remain at her childhood home, caring for the land and village she’s grown up with. When an accident brings her a broken ankle and six weeks in the resentful company of ambitious and angry young reiver Will Hetherington, attraction starts to build. Both begin to realise they might have met their match, and the love of their lives, but 15th century border living is not that simple, as Meg soon finds herself betrothed to the weakling son of a tyrannical neighbour, Alexander Gray. When tragedy strikes, can Meg and Will find their way back to each other, and can Will finally take his own personal revenge on Gray?

Author Bio
Jennifer C. Wilson is a marine biologist by training, who developed an equal passion for history and historical fiction whilst stalking Mary, Queen of Scots on childhood holidays (she has since moved on to Richard III). Enrolling on an adult education workshop on her return to the north-east of England for work reignited her pastime of creative writing, and she has been filling notebooks ever since. In 2014, Jennifer won the Story Tyne short story competition, and has been working on a number of projects since, including co-hosting the North Tyneside Writers’ Circle. Her Kindred Spirits novels are published by Crooked Cat Books and her time-slip novella, The Last Plantagenet?, by Ocelot Press. She lives in North Tyneside, and is very proud of her approximately 2-inch sea view.

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