Feature book: The French Prize
Dr Olivia Walker is an Australian-born historian working at Oxford in England. She is reputed to be one of the best Crusade historians in the world. Her love of this subject came from her grandmother, who told her about the fabled sword Durendal that belonged to the warrior Roland, a legend from Charlemagne’s court. While she was growing up she had always believed the stories and hoped that one day, through her research, she would find this magnificent sword. But legend says she will need to find the pottery goblet, La Tasse du Chevalier, the cup of the Grey Knight, that holds a riddle to help find the sword.
The Blancard family have been entrusted with the secrets of Durendal for centuries and over the years have gathered many artefacts that should really be in a museum, but are kept safe and secret from the world. Raimund Blancard is a soldier in the French Legion but he has just lost his only brother, Patrice, who had spent his life searching for Durendal. It was Patrice’s passion but when he is taken in a horrible way from this world, Raimund is determined to find this sword and put the past behind him. He has no intentions of falling in love. He wants the Blancard family to end with him and get back to being a soldier and he is sure that he should never love.
Raimund hires Olivia to help find La Tasse. This cup holds the key and without it they will never find the sword, but there is a spark between these two people. Raimund comes across as a cold uncaring man but Olivia is sure there is more to him. When they find the cup and are attacked, Raimund does everything in his power to keep Olivia safe. She starts to learn a little more about this handsome man and starts to unravel the reasons why he is the way he is. Although he is not an easy man to get talking, she manages, and with each day they spend together, she falls more in love with him. But Raimund keeps putting up this wall around himself. When they arrive at his godparent’s house and Raimund shows Olivia the treasures kept in the special room she is totally amazed. Together they get working on the riddle the cup holds. Both are getting closer, but Raimund is so stubborn he refuses to give in. Olivia is also very stubborn and will do anything to get Raimund to understand that love is what they both need.
This is a story you should not miss. It has everything: a fabulous setting, a sensual romance and an adventure with danger that will keep you on the edge of your seat, grabbing tissues and smiling. The characters are rich and so real you feel like you are on this journey with Olivia and Raimund. Olivia works very hard to get Raimund to discover that he can have love and the precious sword that has caused so much heartache for the Blancard family over the centuries. The history is so interesting that you will be captured from the first page and not want to put this one down until the end. This story will stay with me for a long time to come.
Reviewed by Helen S
A review copy of this book was provided by the publisher. All ARRA members who leave a comment by 3 December 2014 will go in the draw to win the book. (The giveaway is now closed. The winner was Cassandra Samuels.)