At first, I was put off by the heroine. She uses her eyelashes and sexual promises she has no intention of delivering to get her way. She ends up rubbing the kind--a man not fond of women to begin with--the wrong way. And when you end up on the king's bad side, there's always repercussions especially when it's a new king who needs desperately to exert some power and influence over someone. In Edward's case, it's Godiva.
First of all, her and her husband have the most charming and sweetest marriage. I'm going to say this is one of my favorite couples of all time. Her friendship with her abbess friend is not perfect, but is so real. I love the conflict they faced, how the are there for each other, even when one's meddling causes problems.
Most of all, I love how Godiva handles herself in the end, starting down men will ill intentions, standing up for her people, not showing shame or fear, turning their own bulliness around on them.
The novel is also really rich in historical detail. At times it was more than I needed, namely when it went on and on about towns or the history of some people. BUT I've heard of many of them before so some of it wasn't new to me. Some of it was though--such as the decorated eggs. I had no idea this is how that started.
The humor....Godiva has a terrific sense of humor--her husband too. I highlighted examples, but I fear the review will be too long. She's witty, sarcastic, and portrayed like a woman before her time, but it made for great reading.
"Edey, it is plain as wheat. There is a glow around the two of you. The spirits of the unborn babes who want you as their parents are shrieking at you to disrobe."
The plot: Lady Godiva disputes a very high and no longer necessary tax. King Edward--not fond of her--gives her a choice: he'll tax ONLY her town and not the rest of England, meaning she will pay everything she owns. OR she can give him the town, which he wants, putting her people directly under a tyrant's rule. OR she can ride naked through her town, losing respect, tarnishing her reputation, humiliating her husband, and being declared a heathen and excommunicated from the church--which has serious consequences.
How Lady Godiva manages to turn things around...is awesome and I'll say no more.
Bravo to Nicole Galland. Bravo. Five bikes. I received an egalley of this from the publisher.