Two brothers. One woman. Three hearts at war.
Katrin of Courtenay's husband is dead-and she doesn't mourn him. He was cruel and controlling, and she doesn't need a husband to hold her northern keep. But her vengeful uncle, the King of England, has other ideas: intent on marrying her off, he's ordered his Viking-bred warrior to return her to court.
On the journey, the Viking captures her interest, and for the first time Katrin understands passion. But her guard is honor-bound to deliver her to the king, and so it is settled-she must wed the mysterious Rafael le Senay, the Baron of Belmaine.
A forced marriage to a stranger slowly becomes something more, and Katrin realizes she is in love with Rafael. But with the shadow of her former lover hanging over her, and Rafael's powerful brother making dangerous plans, can Katrin negotiate the delicate balance between survival and happiness?
By Royal Command was a book that I wanted to like, but had so many flaws that I couldn't even manage that. I don't like giving negative reviews, so I'll try keep this short to avoid ranting.
First of all, Katrin, for all her bravado of being strong and independent, was just as meek as any other royal medieval woman. She pretends that she's all tough, but in the end, she submits every time. It wouldn't have bothered me that she was weak, that was what a woman was expected to be at that time, but it bothered me that she kept pretending otherwise.
Then, the "romance." Let me explain how the romance goes. She is taken to her uncle's court by the captain of the army and falls in love with the warrior. They have a short, tumultuous love affair. She gets to court, then she's sent off to marry another man. She eventually falls in love with the man,while the man's brother tries to get with her. Sound a little messed up? Yeah, it's actually worse than it sounds.
Eommond (I think that's how it's spelled) is the captain. I have no idea what possessed her to fall in love with him. He was nothing but mean to her. And the first time they hooked up, he just barged into her room and claimed that she shouldn't have tempted him, then falls onto her like an animal in heat. Despite Katrin pleading with him to not take her to court, he takes her anyway. Then, when she gets engaged, he gets all angry. AS IF HE HAD A RIGHT TO BE! He's the one who took her to court! How can he get angry when the exact thing she told him would happen, and what she wanted to avoid when he refused to run away with her, happened? That romance was just utterly unbelievable. Literally, I couldn't believe for a second that Katrin actually liked this asshole. Excuse my language. Once she gets married, Eommond makes a brief cameo appearance, then is promptly forgotten expect for a few mentions of him. So at least I didn't have to put up with that insanity for long.
Then the two brothers. Raphael is the brother she gets married to. He's the only character in this book that I actually liked. He's really the reason I didn't hate this book entirely. He was sweet, and understanding as Katrin got over that other jerk. He's someone that I can actually understand Katrin falling in love with. I adored him, and was so happy that Katrin finally made sense when she fell in love with him. Really, it saved the entire book for me.
But then Raphael's brother. He was a total creep. When he sees Katrin, he decides he wants her, EVEN THOUGH SHE'S HIS BROTHER'S FIANCE. Even after they get married, he still tries to get with her. And when seducing doesn't work, because one of Katrin's few good attributes is that she's faithful, he tries to rape her. He was so nasty. It didn't help that he was married. To a girl so young that he had to wait two years of marriage with her before she got her first period so that they could start working on an heir. I know that was commonplace in that time period, but it still didn't stop me from being grossed out. And it obviously didn't help his case one bit.
The last complaint I have is Katrin's uncle. He was so nasty. He hinted several times that he wanted to get with Katrin. It literally made me nauseous. I was so glad when his appearance in the story was over.
If I can say one thing that I liked besides Raphael, it would be the flawless setting. The details and descriptions were perfect for the time period. It really felt like I was back in Europe's Dark Ages. That plus Raphael are the sole reasons this book wasn't a total train wreck.
I think I ended up ranting a little, didn't I? I don't like to give negative review, but I honestly couldn't like this book. If you feel that you can overlook the things that bothered me, by all means, read By Royal Command. The fact that I didn't like it won't stop me from recommending it to people who think they might feel differently about the book. But otherwise, if you feel like the parts that bothered me will bother you as well, I would stay away from this book. Seriously, it will save you a lot of frustration.
Thanks to Netgalley for a copy!