Avon, Apr 2003, 5.99, 384 pp.
In 1072 at a Yorke party, singer Briar Kenton feels this night she will have the opportunity to destroy Lord Radulf, whom she has hated for two years. She believes Radulf murdered her stepmother leading to her father, considered a traitor by the king, committing suicide. Briar plans to use her body to seduce her enemy, make him hers, and destroy his happiness with his wife.
Briar flirts with the man she believes is Radulf, but is actually the disgraced former knight Ivo de Vessey. Ivo and Briar make love and his tenderness and how much she feels for him shocks her. When she learns that Radulf did not come to the party because he misses his wife Lily, she angrily tells her bed partner to leave. To her shame she knows she cannot go after Radulf after meeting the kind Ivo, who feels a strong need to protect Briar. They begin to fall in love, but a defrocked knight and a daughter of a traitor have no prospects together especially when she loathes his employer.
Though Briar's behavior can become irritating to the reader and her plan on how to gain revenge seems weak, ONCE HE LOVES is an exciting conclusion to a marvelous medieval trilogy. The tree tales interconnects through the cast, but each novel can stand-alone. The story line, like its predecessors (see THE LILY AND THE SWORD and THE ROSE AND THE SHIELD) is action-packed and colorful so that the era comes to full bloom. Sara Bennett finishes her miniseries with a wonderful conclusion that readers will appreciate.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner