Monday, January 23, 2012

Book Review: The Running Vixen by Elizabeth Chadwick

1126. Heulwen, daughter of Welsh Marcher baron Guyon FitzMiles, has grown up with her father's ward, Adam de Lacey. There has always been a spark between them, but when Heulwen marries elsewhere, to Ralf le Chevalier, a devastated Adam absents himself on various diplomatic missions for King Henry I. When Ralf is killed in a skirmish, Heulwen's father considers a new marriage for her with his neighbour's son, Warrin de Mortimer. Adam, recently returned to England, has good reason to loathe Warrin and is determined not to lose Heulwen a second time. But Heulwen is torn between her duty to her father and the pull of her heart. Adam is no longer the awkward boy she remembers, but a man who stirs every fibre of her being - which places them both in great danger, because Warrin de Mortimer is not a man to be crossed and the future of a country is at stake ... 

Synopsis courtesy of

My Review

3.5 Stars

The Running Vixen, the second novel in Elizabeth Chadwick's Ravenstow Trilogy, follows the lives and loves of Adam de Lacey and Heulwen, daughter of a Welsh Marcher lord.   Raised together, Adam has always loved Heulwen.   But Heulwen, who has never thought of Adam as anything more than her foster-brother, marries another man.  In an attempt to forget about Heulwen, Adam leaves Ravenstow and enters into the service of King Henry I.   The novel opens with Adam's return to the Welsh Marches, where he finds Heulwen recently widowed and vows to win her over.   While Adam's return raises feelings in Heulwen she didn't know she had, she is determined not to let her heart rule her decision on whom to marry.    Will Adam win her hand, or will Heulwen make a marriage match purely for political purposes? 

Set against the backdrop of an England on the verge of political upheaval with the naming of Empress Matilda as Henry I's heir, The Running Vixen is, at its heart, a love story.   But this is not a straight forward love story - Adam and Heulwen's relationship is complex, and their path to love and happiness is not an easy one.   As is usual with her novels, Chadwick has once again crafted a strong storyline that is rich in historical detail and features a strong cast of characters.   While I would have preferred a more emphasis on the politics that characterized the period in English history in which this novel is set, it didn't significantly detract from my overall enjoyment of the book.   

Although this novel stands well on its own, I do recommend reading The Wild Hunt, the first book in the Ravenstow trilogy, prior to this one given it provides background on many of the key characters  in this novel. 

Recommended for readers of historical fiction, especially those interested in the medieval period.