by Elizabeth Ashworth
Publication Date: July 14, 2010
SYNOPSIS: Using characters known to recorded history—including one to become the real Sheriff of Nottingham—Elizabeth Ashworth weaves a tale of loves lost and found during the exile of Richard the Lionheart.
Richard Fitz-Eustace's return from Palestine is far from joyous. Damned by leprosy, he must bid his family a final and sorrowful farewell and leave his estates at Halton Castle forever. Condemned to shun the company of others, he must now find a place of solitude where he can seek forgiveness for sins committed in the Holy Land for which he is certain he has earned God’s curse. Resolved to live out his life as a hermit, he journeys north into the newly named county of Lancashire. But this is no arbitrary journey; there is one last obligation to be undertaken for his grandmother—he must seek out her kinsman, Sir Robert de Lacy, at Cliderhou Castle and there press his consideration of her claim to his estate. While at Halton, Richard’s headstrong 14-year-old sister Johanna is distraught. Her other brother, ruthless and ambitious Roger, has returned to take his place as head of the family. He and Johanna’s mother have contrived a marriage for her to a wealthy old landowner, and without Richard’s protection there seems little she can do about it—unless of course she can escape and find him.
Being short myself, I’ve always subscribed to the “good things come in small packages” mentality, and now I can apply that to the new novel by Elizabeth Ashworth, The de Lacy Inheritance. At 280 pages this short book packs a powerful and emotional punch that I wasn’t quite expecting!
Richard has just returned home from fighting the infidels in the Crusades, but the homecoming is bittersweet as he has returned with leprosy and as such, must be declared dead by a priest, banished from his childhood home and cut off from his family. Before leaving he promises his grandmother that he will find her cousin, Robert de Lacy and help ensure her inheritance. Although they aren’t the only ones who expect to inherit the de Lacy lands and Richard must work carefully to secure his family’s rights without revealing who he is.
From the very beginning I felt an immediate liking for Richard and sympathized with his plight. The first few pages had me teary eyed as he receives the Mass of Separation from his priest that takes away everything he has ever held dear - his home, his family and any hope of a meaningful future. His love of his family, unfailing devotion to God and constant atonement for his one moment of weakness is endearing. I seriously wanted to jump through the pages and hug him!
I didn’t really expect to love this book as much as I do and I expect that Richard will be staying with me for a long time. There was never a point in the book where I was bored, once started it was a quick read that kept me entranced. Elizabeth Ashworth has earned a fan in me and I look forward to future books from her.
For more information, please visit Elizabeth Ashworth's WEBSITE.
FTC DISCLOSURE: Thank you to the author for sending me her fantastic book for review!