Review: Squire's Hazard by Carolyn Hughes
I'm delighted to share my review for Squire's Hazard, Book 5 in The Meonbridge Chronicles, by Carolyn Hughes.
It's currently on blog tour with The Coffee Pot Book Club. Check out the other fabulous stops on the tour here!
This is my first encounter with the good folk of Meonbridge (and beyond), and I found it very enjoyable.
Squire's Hazard begins with Dickon de Bohun, a young squire, in training to (hopefully) become a knight. But despite his best attempts, the training isn't going too well. But that's not Dickon's fault – for reasons he can't fathom, he has made an enemy in Edwin de Courtenay, a fellow squire in training. Edwin, together with two other boys Dickon has previously thought his friends, plays tricks on him, but Dickon never finds proof. Not that he would tell on the miscreant. The code of honour is already ingrained in his way of thinking, and he considers it poor practice to give away another. So Edwin's pranks go unchallenged. Until one goes awry when the favourite mare of Dickon's lord is injured. Yet without definitive proof, what can he do?
A break at Christmas helps Dickon get away from the bullies, but he soon falls for his childhood friend, Libby, an attendant with his grandmother. As the heir to the de Bohun estates, he is of course way above her in station, and he initially refutes the idea of giving up on his feelings.
But as the story – and time – progresses, other issues preoccupy Dickon's mind, least of all Edwin's continued scheming, and when his grandmother's life is threatened, both he and Libby realise that they have no future together. A big step in their path of growing up, and beautifully told.
The characters are really well-formed, with their flaws, ambitions, fears, and worries. We can sense the teenage hormones in Dickon's and Libby's emotions, but Dickon's already strong code of chivalry means he does not take advantage of the girl – so the family history he uncovers won't repeat itself...
The research is impeccable, and the author has created an authentic setting into which she has placed several families that feature on The Meonbridge Chronicles. In Squire's Hazard, we learn of past plots and political intrigues between rival families, and the description of the times, in a kingdom still in recovery from the devastation of the Black Death, is wonderfully portrayed.
I liked Dickon as a main character. A boy who loves horses and learning to fight, but hates letters and writing. He is still a bit shy, a but uncertain in so many ways, but he has a sense of right and wrong, unlike Edwin de Courtenay who is blinded by his jealousy. A great adversary, especially going forward into the next novel.
As this is a series, whilst some loose ends are tied up neatly, others continue, and they will feature in the next instalment, I expect. I'm very curious about how it continues.
At times, I found the additional details and threads provided a bit overwhelming, with so many characters past and present vying for the reader's attention, and I had to look them up regularly to understand the family connections. It would probably be an advantage to read the series from the beginning, to get to know all the characters as they appear. But Squire's Hazard still works well as a standalone novel, as it has its own plots that unfold.
A thoroughly enjoyable read, well-researched and with endearing characters.
How do you overcome the loathing, lust and bitterness threatening you and your family’s honour?
It’s 1363, and in Steyning Castle, Sussex, Dickon de Bohun is enjoying life as a squire in the household of Earl Raoul de Fougère. Or he would be, if it weren’t for Edwin de Courtenay, who’s making his life a misery with his bullying, threatening to expose the truth about Dickon’s birth.
At home in Meonbridge for Christmas, Dickon notices how grown-up his childhood playmate, Libby Fletcher, has become since he last saw her and feels the stirrings of desire. Libby, seeing how different he is too, falls instantly in love. But as a servant to Dickon’s grandmother, Lady Margaret de Bohun, she could never be his wife.
Margery Tyler, Libby’s aunt, meeting her niece by chance, learns of her passion for young Dickon. Their conversation rekindles Margery’s long-held rancour against the de Bohuns, whom she blames for all the ills that befell her family, including her own servitude. For years she’s hidden her hunger for retribution, but she can no longer keep her hostility in check.
As the future Lord of Meonbridge, Dickon knows he must rise above de Courtenay’s loathing and intimidation, and get the better of him. And, surely, he must master his lust for Libby, so his own mother’s shocking history is not repeated? Of Margery’s bitterness, however, he has yet to learn…
Beset by the hazards these powerful and dangerous emotions bring, can young Dickon summon up the courage and resolve to overcome them?
Secrets, hatred and betrayal, but also love and courage – Squire’s Hazard, the fifth MEONBRIDGE CHRONICLE.
This book is available to read on #KindleUnlimited.
Universal Link: https://books2read.com/u/bW5yJz
Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Squires-Hazard-Meonbridge-Chronicle-Chronicles-ebook/dp/B0BHKH1QB1/
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The paperback is available to buy at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Waterstones.
About the Author:
CAROLYN HUGHES has lived much of her life in Hampshire. With a first degree in Classics and English, she started working life as a computer programmer, then a very new profession. But it was technical authoring that later proved her vocation, as she wrote and edited material, some fascinating, some dull, for an array of different clients, including banks, an international hotel group and medical instruments manufacturers.
Having written creatively for most of her adult life, it was not until her children flew the nest several years ago that writing historical fiction took centre stage, alongside gaining a Master’s degree in Creative Writing from Portsmouth University and a PhD from the University of Southampton.
Squire’s Hazard is the fifth MEONBRIDGE CHRONICLE, and more stories about the folk of Meonbridge will follow.
You can connect with Carolyn through her website www.carolynhughesauthor.com and on social media.
Connect with Carolyn:
Book Bub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/carolyn-hughes
Amazon Author Page UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Carolyn-Hughes/e/B01MG5TWH1/
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