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WhiskeyintheJar Romance

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The Red Wolf's Prize by Regan Walker

The Red Wolf's Prize (Medieval Warriors Book 1) - Regan Walker

I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an unbiased and honest review

It's 1066 and the Normans have invaded, Serena's father is dead and her brother is unaccounted for in the north.  As William and his men sweep across the land, The Conqueror gifts his loyal knights with property and English ladies for wives.  The combination of these two gifts allows the Normans to entrench and guard what they have bled for and hopefully ingrain themselves more smoothly into English's lives.  Understandably, a few English women have a problem being gifted to their Norman overlords and flee to seek the veil.  Our heroine Serena also flees but not to seek the veil, to hopefully, meet up with her brother Steinar in the north. For you see, not only has her home been given to The Red Wolf, a fearsome legendary Norman knight, but also her hand in marriage.  Alas, Serena flees too late and is caught by the Wolf's men and brought back.  However, with the aid of some walnut hair dye and her people's silence she pretends to be Sarah, the handmaiden to the escaped Lady Serena.  Renaud, The Red Wolf, is clueless to the fact that his intended is right under his nose and is starting to harbor some inappropriate feelings for Sarah, a mere servant.  While Serena is starting to find her hidden identity a very heavy burden with every act of mercy Renuad shows her people and every tingle of pleasure she feels in his presence.  
First off, I have to mention that I love the map, list of characters, and pinterest board the author provides as supplements to go along with the book.  I don't know if this is considered the extra mile or what but all of it combines to fully immerse you into the past and world Ms. Walker has created.  The time period really did steal the show for me.  The tensions of the time are felt as conquerors and the conquered must now learn to live together, especially our leads Serena and Renuad.  
For the first 40% or so, Renuad does not know who Serena truly is and I felt like this hurt their ability to connect not only in the story but with me as the reader.  The flow is a little disjointed at bits as blocks of time are skipped through and to and the characters almost seemed like actors on a stage performing everything by rote.   This could be looked at as story growing pains as the relationship and romance aspect ramped up in the second half of the book with the reveal of Serena's identity.  
Even though Serena has a couple "the lady doth protest too much" instances, you really feel for her.  Her uncertainty and conflicted emotions about who she is actually betraying in the end by denying her feelings for Renuad create quite a few heartfelt moments.   Renaud was a nice change of pace from the usual sword thrusting rape threatening male lead typically found in medievals.  He is the boss but acknowledges the need to form good, strong lasting relationships with the people of his domain; Renaud is a strong armed knight with a gentle grip. Each time he treats her people with respect, the reader can see Serena fall in love with him a little bit more.  Serena and Renuad have a gentle romance that clashes wonderfully with the outside atmosphere of bitter strife.  
There are also a couple secondary romances, with one being resolved and another that will probably be the star of the show in a following book in the series.   The romance involving the past mistress to Serena's father and one of Renaud's knights had some particular aching moments involving not feeling worthy enough that had me wanting to see more from this couple.  For the most part though, the secondary characters helped move the story along but never stole the spotlight from our leads.  
As newly published medievals are pretty rare, the excellent attention to detail and emotional feeling, in regards to the time period, Ms. Walker has created make The Red Wolf's Prize a strong addition to the romantic retellings of William the Conqueror and his knights.