Authors: Nicki Bennett and Ariel Tachna
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Length: 270 Pages
Category: Historical Romance
At a Glance: In my opinion, Stronghold is by far the best love story in the All for Love series.
Reviewed By: Maryann
Blurb: “Are you surprised that strength is drawn to strength?”
For the last six years, the gypsy healer Raúl has lived a life he never dreamed possible. Gerrard Hawkins has stood at his side, his love a source of silent strength like nothing Raúl has ever known.
When a letter from Gerrard’s estranged father forces them in separate directions—Gerrard back to England to make peace with his family and Raúl to Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer for his annual pilgrimage—Raúl expects to suffer for their parting, but he holds on to their plans to meet again in France when Gerrard has satisfied his father’s demands.
Gerrard left England never expecting to return, especially after he pledged his life and love to Raúl. Yet he cannot dismiss his father’s offer of peace without some acknowledgment. When he arrives in England to find tragedy, his sense of duty toward his family’s tenants wars with his promises to Raúl.
As tensions mount and illness spreads in France, Raúl stands as a bastion of hope, but his strength is not limitless. Gerrard is the rock he leans on, and without that strength, Gerrard’s arrival in France may come too late.
Review: Gerrard Hawkins has to leave his longtime lover, Raúl, to take care of family obligations in England. Gerrard’s hope was to resolve issues quickly with his father and then return to Raúl, but when he returns to his father’s estate, he finds he cannot leave the people of the village to suffer any longer. Gerrard doesn’t want the prestige of the title; he knows who he will designate to inherit the title. The issues take longer to resolve, and he misses his chance to reunite with Raúl.
Raúl is a Rom, often referred to as a gypsy; he is also a healer. On his pilgrimage to Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer where he was to reunite with Gerrard, he finds himself being called upon to heal many people who are suffering from the plague. When word gets out of his healings, Henri, comte du Sainte-Remy de Provence, seeks him out to heal his son. Raúl finds himself in danger as the villagers start to blame him for the continuing illnesses. When word gets back to Raúl’s loyal friends, Teodoro and Christian, that Raúl is in danger, the musketeers join Teodoro to seek a way to rescue Raúl.
This is definitely a story that belongs to Raúl and Gerrard, alone. They are from two different worlds, but they both have a strong connection to one another. One thing Gerrard knows for sure is that he cannot live without Raúl, and Raúl has fears that he may never see Gerrard again. They both reminisce about their meeting and time together while they are apart, and they will have to make a crucial decision about whose world they will live in together.
In my opinion, Stronghold is by far the best love story in the All for Love series. Bennett and Tachna have created a splendidly romantic love story for Raúl and Gerrard. This story really takes an in-depth look at Raúl’s and Gerrard’s characters, and their six year relationship and life together. It was also filled with action, danger, suspense and camaraderie with the characters from previous stories. The writing of this story and the use of Spanish language takes you on a believable journey into the 1600s, to England, Spain and France.
As a side note, there’s a really amazing black and white drawing of Raúl and Gerrard at the beginning that shows the tenderness between the two. I believe it was done by Anne Caine. All for Love is an absolutely entertaining series: Checkmate will introduce you to Christian, Teodoro, Raúl and Gerrard. All for One will take you on an erotic journey with the three musketeers: Aristide, Leandre, and Perrin. Both of these books are available in audio, and Peter B. Brooke does an amazing narration. Hopefully, he will do Stronghold too.
You can buy Stronghold here: