The Bastard (The King’s Cousins Book 3)


Sir Quill Cardon has a secret, guarded since the night he was spirited away from Blackstone Castle, the only home and family he’d ever known. A ward of Lord Oswin, Earl of Bonderville, in the shadow of war, Quill learned fealty to his liege lord and the crown guaranteed he’d never be exposed. It also guaranteed he’d never be heartbroken again. Dedication to the Knights’ Code would save him from vulnerability. Lady Tristanna Willoughby was vulnerable. Devastated after a family tragedy left her at the mercy of her violent fiancé, Tristanna fears a loveless marriage might be the least of her perils. But in a moment of impetuous intervention, both Quill and Tristanna sense in each other the missing piece in each of their lives.

Alexa Aston’s “The Bastard,” 3rd book in the “The King’s Cousins” series, is set during the Britannic wars of the mid-fourteenth century. Her passionate story brims with illicit affairs, political coups, murderous servants, treasonous lords, and nobility with secrets dark enough to topple the balance of power. The story, however, feels too familiar. And while Ms. Aston does a good job defining the mediaeval settings; the dialogue is missing je ne sais quoi; a spontaneity lending credibility to her characters’ interactions. Although the main plot is predicated on the main characters’ back stories, these potentially vibrant revelations seem lackluster, leaving the reader nonplussed. But, although the pacing is forced, with no time to tantalize the reader with the nuances of a blooming romance, Ms. Aston does deliver some well-placed surprises. With enough plot twists to delight historic romances lovers, newcomers and fans to Ms. Aston’s work will not be disappointed.

Kimberly Gunvaldson