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My Forever Love    by Marsha Canham order for
My Forever Love
by Marsha Canham
Order:  USA  Can
Signet, 2004 (2004)
* * *   Reviewed by Martina Bexte

Ciaran Tamberlane was once an honoured Templar knight and a formidable warrior who fought alongside his liege, Richard the Lionheart, in the Holy War against Saladin's infidels. After witnessing the brutal death of one too many innocent, he questions his purpose, and more importantly, whether the slaughter he and his fellow knights had taken part in, was truly 'God's work'. Denounced by his Brotherhood as a traitor and shunned by church and countrymen, Tamberlane returns to England to live a solitary life of self-imposed exile, his only duty to protect the villagers who live outside his castle.

Orphaned at an early age and sent to live at the mercy and whims of her uncle, Amaranth de Langois has known the brutality of many men. Her first husband beat her mercilessly for refusing to be an 'obedient wife'. After his untimely death, Amie was returned to her uncle only to be sold off to an equally cruel Baron. Odo de Langois sees his new wife's royal blood as a stepping stone to riches and the ear of Prince John, who, Odo is certain, would welcome any alliance that would help rid him of his hated elder brother, Richard Lionheart. Suffering even greater cruelty at Odo's hands, Amie flees, only to be hunted down by the Baron's mercenaries. They proceed to slaughter an entire village to try and flush her out. Near death, she's rescued by Tamberlane, furious over the carnage wrought upon the villagers under his protection.

My Forever Love is another of Marsha Canham's quiet masterpieces, rich in character, atmosphere and history. The daily existence and also the brutality of the Middle Ages come to life in her fine descriptions. She includes another rich cast of secondary characters, most notably the mysterious healer, Marak, a longtime friend of Tamberlane, and a man whose own afflictions cast him in a 'devilish' light to the superstitious masses. Tamberlane and Amie dominate, however. Canham does a fine job of portraying Ciaran Tamberlane as a decent, kind and honorable man, who must fight a growing internal battle to remain true to his vows of celibacy as he gets to know Amie. Nor can Amie resist the stoic Lord Tamberlane, who is unlike any man she's known.

Both walk a precarious emotional path. Their trust and love grow as they keep one step ahead of Odo de Langois in his quest to recover his errant wife, and they then thwart a murderous attack orchestrated against the returning King. My Forever Love sweeps readers away into the grandeur of another time and also a fine love story.

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