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Ruth Kaufman
The Bride Tournament
Ruth Kaufman, author
Lady Eleanor de la Tour’s life turns upside down on her wedding day. Instead of her betrothed, she must wed Richard Courtenay, to whom the king has given his title and lands. Though handsome and intriguing, Richard pursues his father's alchemy quest, anathema to her because the obsession to turn base metals into gold is destroying her father. She wants Arthur, the man she loves and chose. Richard needs and wants to stay wed to Eleanor to uncover her father’s secrets. He vows to win her even as she arranges a bride tournament to find him a better, and willing, wife. The happier Richard seems with his potential brides, the more Eleanor regrets her choices. But he won’t stop seeking the alchemy formula for the king, and she can’t stop events she put into motion. How can they attain what they most desire?
Kaufman hits her stride with this enjoyable third entry in her War of the Roses Brides series, set in Northumberland, England, in 1462. Lady Eleanor learns on her wedding day that instead of marrying Arthur, her betrothed, King Edward has decreed that she will marry the new earl of Glasmere, Richard Courtenay. Like Eleanor’s father, Richard’s father was an alchemist, believed to have recorded the mystical formula in lost scrolls for which Richard and others search at the king’s behest. Eleanor believes that the pursuit of alchemy is heresy, and she’s determined that other “women may submit to a man’s commands, but no man controls me.” She seeks to annul this forced marriage so that she may be with Arthur. Richard, admiring his willful bride, agrees to postpone consummation in order to woo her, while Eleanor plans to find him a more suitable bride by means of a tournament. The reluctant lovers become aware of their hearts’ true desires only as Eleanor’s plan succeeds, publicly ending their marriage. Appealing protagonists, a satisfying pace, engaging supporting characters, and numerous obstacles to overcome combine in this emotionally satisfying romance. (BookLife)