Between Two Fires

Written by Mark Noce

Wales, 597 AD. The marriage of 16-year-old Lady Branwen, the only legitimate child of Vortigern, the King of Dyfed, to Morgan, the King of South Wales, is no love match. It marks the alliance of two warlords against a common enemy: the Saxons invading Wales.

Wrenched from her childhood home by Morgan on his way to a battle, Branwen lands at the castle of her surly brother-in-law, where she’s surrounded with strangers. She dreams of a real home and a true love someday, while trying to adapt to her new family. She’s flattered when Morgan sends her on a secret mission, but someone close betrays her plans to the Saxons, who try to kill her. Branwen trusts no one now – not even her half-brother – until a handsome young hedge lord enters her life.

Although Noce uses way too many “grins,” “half-grins,” “cackles,” and “smirks,” the author is very good at describing Branwen’s innermost worries, fears, and yearning in the words of a naïve young woman. When Branwen speaks her mind – in a way that no 6th-century teenager would have dared – her intelligence and strength of character are appealing. Between Two Fires is recommended for those who enjoy historical romance with an unusual backdrop, ancient Wales. Two sequels are in the making.