Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Denise Domning -- Spring's Fury

Denise Domning -- Spring's Fury Rated: ♥ ♥ ♥ . ♥   {3.85}
Action: ♠♠♠.♠ / Emotion: ♣♣♣♣ / Romance: ♥♥♥♥.♥ / Sensuous: ♦♦ / Suspense: ♠♠♠
Action: 3.75 / Emotion: 4 / Romance: 4.5 / Sensuous: 2 / Suspense: 3  //  Medieval Flavor: 5 / Laughter: 8 / Tears: 0

  Romantic Times : 1995 Best Medieval Historical Romance Nominee
First met Nicola of Ashby, in Winter's Heat (first book in Denise Domning's The Graistan Chronicles).  Knew Nicola would make an interesting heroine in her own story (Spring's Fury, third book in the series) because of her strong-willed determination to became a warrior who rules her own lands -- no matter what anyone said to the contrary.  Having been spoiled by her father, and being a youthful seventeen, Nicola was still blinded by her dreams to the realities of what life was to be like for a woman of medieval times.

In the prologue, Nicola relives the scene that determines the course of her new life.  Nicola remembers trying to save her wounded father, John, when Gilliam FitzHenry lays siege to Ashby in his efforts to rescue his brother, Rannulf, who is being held prisoner (with his wife Rowena).  Domning writes an interesting and well-described, smoke-filled, burning-keep, action-packed sequence in which Nicola sees her father die at the end of Gilliam's sword -- all from John of Ashby's point of view.

Nicola is now ward to Rannulf FitzHenry, Lord of Graistan and is plotting her next escape attempt in an effort to avoid her marriage to Ashby's new Lord, Gilliam FitzHenry.  Nicola's best friend, Tilda, arrives in the cellar (where Nicola is being held) to tell her all is ready for her escape from the wedding service.

Meanwhile, soldiers and villager's were placing bets about whether Gilliam would be alive the morning after his wedding.  Gilliam has been given his heart's desire (as revealed in Winter's Heat) -- his own lands.  He is determined to make his lands and people prosperous, but to do that he must wed Nicola because as new Lord of Ashby, he needs the support of the people who love their previous lady of the keep, Nicola.

Adding further interest to the story, Geoffrey FitzHenry, Gilliam's elder full-blood brother arrives with a thirteen-year-old, weakling lad, Jocelyn, to be fostered under Gilliam's tutelage as a knight.  Jocelyn is a very well-developed, interesting and intriguing acquisition.  Love the way Gilliam completely ignores Jocelyn's determined attempts to circumvent his training and treats him as a boy full of potential instead of a weakling to be pampered.  Domning brings such life to the characters by including little things that carry a lot of realistic weight; for instance, Gilliam constantly addressing the lad as "Jos" and Jocelyn constantly replying, "My name is Jocelyn."

Nicola has been trying to prevent her marriage to her father's murderer by claiming that her neighbor, Hugh de Ocslade (a man she detests), has a betrothal contract with her father.  When the greedy, grasping villain of Spring's Fury rides up to the chapel door to claim his rights as the betrothed, Nicola springs into action; she {1} wounds Gilliam with her mantle pin; {2} kicks Rannulf in stomach; and {3} flees through the crowd with Tilda to arrive at their hidey-hole to transform herself into a lad.

Suspense builds as Nicola senses a change in her "more sister than servant" best friend.  Tilda is another example of Domning's well-developed supporting characters that she includes in her books.  Tilda has bent men to her will -- using her beauty and sexuality in her efforts to free herself from the commonness of her birth.  She is willing to turn Nicola over to Hugh de Ocslade in return for money and a place in his house.  Not only is Nicola beset by the emotional angst of losing her father, now her best friend has betrayed her -- and accused Nicola of causing Tilda's mother's death when Nicola's efforts to play "lord of the realm" caused Ashby to be burned and invaded.

Gilliam goes after Nicola on Witasse.  Domning features another aggressive, battle-trained mount in book three (as in other books of the series).  This tidbit of "a man and his horse" adds a realistic flavor to the novel.  Enjoyed this aspect in each of the books of The Graistan Chronicles.

Tilda leaves Nicola to defend herself when ruffians attack as they travel to Ashby.  Nicola's years of training enable her to slay several men before the others flee, leaving her alone in her misery (first kill) to hobble (another Domning realism -- boots too small) towards Ashby.  When Gilliam finds Nicola and takes her to Ashby to immediately marry, Nicola feels the bite of betrayal again because "her" villagers side with Gilliam.  Gilliam won the villager's favor because he started the reconstruction of Ashby by first rebuilding the villager's cottages.

Although Gilliam acceded to Nicola's wishes to leave the marriage unconsummated, there was no doubt about the sexual tension and romance that began to radiate between Nicola and Gilliam.  Nicola does not believe she could be desired for anything but her lands because she has always been considered too tall and plain and has witnessed men making fools of themselves over the beauteous Tilda.  Gilliam, however, is a giant of a man, who can easily lift Nicola into his arms to haul her wherever he wishes.  Added to that, when Tilda cut Nicola's hair to a boy-short length, it softened her features and made her more attractive.  When Gilliam treats Nicola with respect and listens to her ideas about the management of Ashby, her pre-conceived ideas towards him start to change.  When Nicola finally gives in to her desire to make love with Gilliam, there is more romance involved than sensuality.  After that, the villagers are betting on how long Gilliam and Nicola can keep their hands off one another.

Another animal is featured in Spring's Fury.  A huge dog, Roia, is Gilliam's constant companion who tends to growl at Nicola and snuggle with Jos.  Again, it is these little things that add depth and flavor to Domning's stories.

Although Gilliam displays his capability of being an authoritative warrior, his tendency to joke and enjoy life is a decidedly different attribute not usually featured in a medieval romance hero.  This personality trait brings a softer feeling to the story, even as Ashby is beset with troubles because Ocslade is stealthly raiding Ashby's crofters to incite Gilliam to war.  But Gilliam's tendency to laugh and joke also leads people (like Ocslade) to miss the intelligence behind the smiles.

At times, the day-to-day life of twelfth century England caused the story to lag a bit, but all-in-all, Spring's Fury is a very entertaining, interesting, intriguing read.  It is a very nice addition to the series.  It contains {1} guilt-ridden, but strong, fun alpha hero; {2} strong-willed, emotionally-scarred warrior woman; {3} well-developed supporting characters; {4} a strong historical flavor; {5} plenty of action to feed adventure-loving readers; {6} the suspense of how hero would win not only heroine's love, but defeat the villain; and {7} the romance and sensuality that developed between the hero and heroine.
--Vonda M. Reid (Sunday; January 30, 2011 : 2:10 p.m.)

Books In The Series: "The Graistan Chronicles"
# Date Title Hero Heroine
01.02-1994Winter's HeatRannulf FitzHenry, Lord GraistanRowena "Wren" of Benfield
02.08-1994Summer's StormRichard "Temric" FitzHenry, Lord MeynellPhillipa of Lindhurst
03.04-1995Spring's FuryGilliam FitzHenry, Lord AshbyNicola "Colette" of Ashby
04.11-1995Autumn's FlameGeoffrey FitzHenry, Lord CoudrayElyssa of Freyne
05.12-1996A Love For All SeasonsRobert of Blacklea, Grossier of LynnJohanna of Stanrudde

Characters Found In "Spring's Fury"
Character Description
Gilliam FitzHenry, Lord of Ashby[Hero] giant of man (11) pale blue eyes (24) chin and brow perfectly proportioned; nose neither too small or to large, no bump, handsome man (34) 22-y-o (34) massive shoulders; broad chest (__) gentleness {139) intelligent (152) pride; arrogance (153) beautiful; gentle curve of brows; fine rise of cheekbones; strong column of neck; shoulders twice width of hers; (157) masculine swell of chest; flat plane of stomach; scar from waist to hip; no excess weight; long, thick legs; long feet (158) rise of his fine cheekbones; gentle curve of mouth; beautiful man (259)
Nicola "Colette" of Ashby[Heroine] warrior woman; overly tall; plain; no feminine softness (9) hazel eyes (11) hip length lively brown hair in ringlets (14) virago; loyal; true; healer (28) magnificent eyes turned plain girl striking; almond shaped ringed by thick, dark lashes; brows almost straight; color shifted with moods (33) beautiful as a boy; wild and tangled curls framed her face, a dark halo of hair, softening and shortening her features (107) jawline round and feminine (108) headstrong (138) long slender fingers (147) sleek as a cat; fragile-looking as a reed; white smooth skin (160) strong; capable; deadly (179)
. . .. . .
Agnes[No Appearance] Tilda's mother; Nicola's nurse (17) Tilda blamed Nicola for her mother's death (92) Aggie raised Nicola; taught her healing (266)
Alexander[Brief Appearance] Ashby village child; injured (334)
Alice[Brief Appearance] Ashby villager; bright coppery read hair (146) offered to say Nicola's vows for her (147) pregnant (214)
Alfred[Brief Appearances] Gilliam's man (55)
Alan[Secondary Character] dark hair to shoulders; bold face; thick beard; pride in set of shoulders (65) knight; Tilda's boyfriend; helped Nicola escape (70)
Anne[Brief Appearance] Ashby village woman; toll taker's wife; part of Nicola's bridal chamber activities (155)
Arnold[Brief Appearance] Ashby master mason (374)
Arnult[Brief Appearance] Graistan castellan (39)
John of Ashby[Brief Appearance] Nicola's father; killed in battle (7)
Tilda of Ashby[Major Secondary Character] Nicola's best friend since girlhood; lush form; fine features; honey and cream coloring; petite; wealth of tawny hair; bright brown eyes (17) revenge could be vicious; Nicola's closest companion (18) Nicola had treated Tilda as sister, not servant (62) Ocslade paying Tilda to deliver Nicola to him (91) fine oval face; brows lifting in gentle arch over luminous brown eyes; lush, full lips (320)
Athelina[Brief Appearance] Ashby village woman; village ale taster; rough hands part of Nicola's bridal chamber activities (155)
Berthilde[Brief Appearance] Ashby village woman part of Nicola's bridal chamber activities (155)
Cecilia[No Appearance] Geoff's daughter (372)
Dickon[One Appearance] member of Alan's ragtag band of six (82) big man (86)
Emotte[Brief Appearance] Ashby villager; Ralph by Wood's wife; sour-tempered; heavy (154)
Geoffrey FitzHenry,
Lord Coudray
[Secondary Character] [Hero of Book Four] Gilliam's mom's oldest son (23) injured by now deceased wife (24) golden hair; missing eye; scars; darker blue eye (24) rich baritone voice; hair just as golden as Gilliam's; eye color a deeper blue; nose had same perfect length and width; high cheekbones; strong jawline; scar traveled from top left of brow, across bridge of his nose, beneath patch covering his right eye, trailed off toward his ear (369) second smaller scar cut directly down from the shielded eye to curl into the corner of his mouth (370)
Rannulf FitzHenry,
Lord of Graistan
[Secondary Character] [Hero of Book One] Gilliam's brother (11) Nicola was his ward; could not wait to get trouble-maker off his hands (57)
Jocelyn of Freyne[Important Secondary Character] small, bony lad; pale skin; knotted spikes of fine brown hair; generous forehead; wide-set brown eyes (23) heir to Freyne; to foster with Gilliam (25) 13-y-o; weak (26) dour; joyless; play-less; dam wanted him for church (27) "Jos" (125) expression in eyes far older than his youthful features (126) Jos had never had a toy "ball" before; his mom frowned on such frivolity (215)
Lady Elyssa [of Freyne][No Appearance] [Heroine of Book Four] pregnant; staying with Geoff because he was sheriff (372)
Johanna[Brief Appearances] Thomas's daughter-in-law; fresh-faced; bright eyes; 1 year older than Nicola; Young Thom's wife; 2-y-o son (236) pretty (237)
Isotte[No Appearance] Rannulf's second wife (29)
John over Brook[Brief Appearance] Ashby villager; grim-face; middle years (141)
Alexander atte Lane[Brief Appearance] Ashby carpenter (141)
Hobbe atte Lea[Brief Appearance] Rannulf's huntsman (102)
Maida[Brief Appearance] Ashby village woman; oldest woman in village; grandson's farmed her husband's lands part of Nicola's bridal chamber activities (155)
Margery[Brief Appearances] Ashby villager; Alice's compassionate sister; coppery hair (154) soft brown eyes (176)
Mad Muriel[Brief Appearances] Ashby villager; poorest woman in village (240)
Osbert[Brief Appearances] Hugh de Ocslade's nephew; dark complexion; black eyes; near her height; powerful shoulders (350)
Hugh de Ocslade[Secondary Character] contracted to marry Nicola (9) black hair and beard streaked with silver (47) shorter than Nicola; sharp, sallow features; black eyes; hated Nicola (50) bleed own properties dry; greedy; lived beyond himself (65)
Father Reynard[Secondary Character] Ashby priest; great beak of nose; wide mouth; dense beard streaked with gray; thick brows; brown eyes; web of creases along his cheeks; nature gave him his tonsure; remaining fine dark hair in ever-expanding circle atop his head (132) homely face (362)
Robert[Brief Appearance] Gilliam's man (55)
Robert, son of Robert[Brief Appearance] Ashby villager; Muriel's 16-y-o son; hard-working (240)
RoiaGilliam's dog; great, square muzzle; huge spotted dog (169)
Seger[Brief Appearance] Ashby cook (265)
Abbot Simon[Secondary Character] trying to break free of Rannulf's rule (25) sanctimonious little monk (32) small; slender; meek features; pride (41) prideful (56)
William Smith[Brief Appearance] Ashby blacksmith (142)
Young Thom[Brief Appearances] Thomas' son (190)
Thomas[Secondary Character] Ashby reeve; Tilda's father; rolling gait caused by rheumy hips; thick hair covering legs (140) wild tawny hair; heavy beard; deeply set eyes; stocky (141) burly; redness in beard; thick chest (237)
Walter[Secondary Character] Rannulf's knight (75) plain face (235)
William[Brief Appearances] Hugh de Ocslade's nephew (151) lied about vows between Hugh and Nicola (49)
WitasseGilliam's battle trained mount (96)

"Spring's Fury" Quotations
205. . . she saw in the lad her own reflection, stubbornly refusing change because others asked it of her. . . .
240. . . I cannot look at my daughter without spewing harsh and hateful words. . . .
284. . . Tilda always said that if you held a man by his cock, you owned him.
310. . .   "There is no guaranteed outcome to anything, Jos.   You must never wager what you are not willing to lose. . . .

"Spring's Fury" Review and Information Links
Rated Posted Site Notes, Comments, Etc.
----Denise Domning's WebsiteAuthor (aka: Denise Hampton)
4.44 average{36 reviews}Amazonas of: October 22, 2012
B+02-28-2008Aneca's World 
4.00 average{5 ratings}Barnes & Nobleas of: October 22, 2012
----Fantastic FictionList of Denise Domning's Books
----Fiction DBList of Denise Domning's Books
----Fantastic FictionList of Denise Hampton's Books
----Fiction DBList of Denise Hampton's Books
3.89 average{9 reviews}Good Readsas of: October 22, 2012
----Historical Romance Writersshort biographical interview
4.40 average{5 ratings}Library Thingas of: October 22, 2012
3.50 average{5 ratings}Paperback Swapas of: October 22, 2012
4.50 Top Pick--RT {Romantic Times} Book Reviews1995 Best Medieval Historical Romance Nominee
4.00 average{2 reviews}Shelfarias of: October 22, 2012
3.8502-09-2011Wolf Bear Does Booksshorter post on Amazon, Good Reads, Shelfari

♥   Disclaimer:   I Purchased This Book
♥   Very Subjective Rating
♣   Will add your Spring's Fury review link to table, just ask

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