The Tempest by Charlotte Hawkins (2010)

Book review: The Tempest: A Guy of Gisborne Story by Charlotte Hawkins (Amazon Kindle, 2010 – also available in hardcopy)

Guy of Gisborne is a fierce, brooding knight. He is both feared and scorned by those under his command. But under his harsh exterior is a tormented soul, haunted by his many sins…

Cassia is a peasant with a gift for healing, and a secret longing for the feared lord Gisborne. When fate thrusts him into her hands, she quickly finds that he lives up to his dark reputation. But she also learns there is more to him than meets the eye…

Soon they are drawn into a passionate affair, discovering that love is a power that can overcome all things.

This is a novel which I had heard about previously, but hesitated to look up. After all, it’s about Guy of Gisborne – specifically: as he was portrayed by Richard Armitage in the BBC series Robin Hood – and it sounded a bit too fanfic-y for my taste. Then I read Finding Grace by the same author (Charlotte Hawkins is a pen name of Sarah Pawley) and thought, “you know what? I enjoyed this, I might just give it a go anyway”. When I so kindly received a review copy of the sequel to The Tempest, I thought it only fair that I went and got that one and read first. And I have to say: WOW. But let’s get to that in a minute, shall we?

The Tempest stars the brooding, scowling, smirking (there’s a lot of this in the book) and generally pretty horrid Sir Guy of Gisborne, a henchman of the Sheriff of Nottingham. When Sir Guy is badly hurt in an accident, he’s taken in by a peasant and his daughter Cassia, who nurses him back to health. However, Sir Guy isn’t exactly the most grateful of patients, so Cassia has her work cut out for her. Good thing she’s as strong-willed and unbending as he is! She has also always had a thing for the infamous man in black, and caring for him means there are things stirred which perhaps should have been left alone …

One of the things I love about this story is that it gives series 3 of the BBC series a big two-fingered salute (if you’re not British: substitute “a big middle finger”) with regards to the fate of Guy of Gisborne. It also changes the ending of series two, because there is no going to the Holy Land and Guy doesn’t ram a sword into someone’s (deserving *cough*) guts. The person still expires, but rather differently, and he has nothing to do with it. HAH! It still has the desired effect, however, because Guy becomes Mr. Broody, as he didn’t help in time and so on. Changing things around also means that there is no double-crossing sister and Guy’s fate is a lot nicer than it was in the show, so that’s a huge bonus.

But the thing is, it’s not fanfic at all.

“Wait, what? Why have you been talking about Robin Hood the BBC show just then if this isn’t fanfic?” Clearly, the character of Sir Guy is the same as in the show, and some elements are similar (such as being dumped at the altar by Marian), and there’s a bit where we see classic Sheriff Vasey show up as well. But the point is, the cast of Robin Hood is part of folklore and up for grabs. The Sheriff here is called Briwere, but it’s clear Briwere has more in common with Vasey than the guy Alan Rickman famously played.

It might sound frightfully dull if I said that about half the book is mainly about Guy being nursed back to health and finding Cassia more and more attractive. You’d think that, but you’d be wrong. Their emotions and thoughts draw you in, so when things start heating up, I was eagerly cheering them on.

Which brings us on to … the sex scenes! There were a fair few of those, but not gratuitous. They were written with a lot of emphasis on touch and emotions, and that was great, very lovingly done. If I have any criticism of them, it would be that they don’t tend to do it just once, it’s always straight back after the first run. It got a little predictable, but I didn’t mind. After all, it was passionate lovemaking, which I like, not … gross sadomasochistic perversions that my brain wishes it could un-read.

Characterisation-wise, Cassia is a good heroine. She does her own thing and is not willing to be mastered by someone just because he’s a nobleman who enjoys barking orders at people and having his way. She’s got guts, and I applaud her for it. Guy keeps to the wrong side of being a complete bastard for a long time before he finally starts coming around and turn into a human being – even if his nobleman manners still get in the way a bit.

“My foot hurts like the blazes!”
(Yes, he does say that or something like it.
Just like Rochester, squeee!)

There are so many things I could say about this novel, but they can be summed up in two words: “read” and “it”. If you’re a fan of Richard Armitage’s portrayal of Guy of Gisborne, this is definitely a novel for you. If you’re into historical romance novels, this is for you. If you never really liked Marian because she’s a deceitful bitch and Robin Hood is an arrogant twerp, this is for you (and Cassia agrees with you very much). If you’re of the view that Sir Guy is not just that horrible man who puts babies in the woods but actually has a heart and soul behind that scowling exterior, this is for you.

In many ways, it reminded me of Tara Bradley’s Jane Eyre’s Husband, where the oft-misunderstood Mr. Rochester is shown not to be a scowling bigamist but actually a man that was very hurt by how life had treated him. And how the love of a good woman can set him straight and give him that Happily Ever After he’s always dreamed of but thought he was denied forever. The ending also made me think of it, but as I don’t want to give away the ending, I can’t really go into detail. Suffice it to say that if you’re into Jane Eyre and on Team Rochester, that’s a book you NEED to read. Much like this one. Team Guy? Yup, I’m definitely there, and this is a book every Team Guy member should snap up and devour.

To think there was so many things I was planning on doing this past Saturday, and instead, I ended up reading for most of the day, because I couldn’t put this book down. When I forced myself to, I kept having cravings to go back and continue, so in the end, I ended up reading half of it in one session. And that doesn’t often happen, unless it’s a really short book, and this one wasn’t (5126 Kindle locations).

With rich historical detail and with only minor comments like “did that church ceremony really have to be spelled out word-for-word?”, I give The Tempest a comfortable 5 out of 5 straw beds.

Charlotte is a fellow blogger, and her blog is called From the Quill Tip – why not pop by and see what other writings she’s up to? 🙂 For instance, did you know that there is a sequel to The Tempest, called My Lady Gisborne, that has only recently been released? You don’t even have to have read this one in order to read it. Started reading mere minutes after finishing this one.

The Tempest by Charlotte Hawkins is available in both paperback as well as an eBook for Kindle on Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com, but other retailers are probably available too. 😛

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