Friday 21 June 2024

Wheel of Fortune: 1 (The Tarnished Crown) - C.F. Dunn

1469. England is in turmoil. For almost ten years, the attractive and charismatic Edward IV has ruled with the Earl of Warwick’s support, but now rebellion threatens the fragile peace.

Strong-willed and single-minded, heiress Isobel Fenton is determined that nothing will separate her from her beloved manor of Beaumancote even if she does have to marry to stay there. But as unseen witness to a summary execution, she is propelled into the world of personal feud and national politics, and her life will never be the same.

Left in the protection of the formidable Earl, Isobel soon discovers that she is much more than the daughter of his loyal retainer, but holds the key to the power base in a troubled region.

And she is about to marry Thomas Lacey – heir of the Earl’s enemy for whose peremptory execution he had been responsible.

The Earl of Warwick and the Duke of Clarence foment rebellion. With the Midlands in uproar, King Edward wants peace in the shires and the last thing he needs is potential trouble in the form of an unwed heiress.

Isolated and alone, Isobel turns to the Earl’s younger brother, Robert Langton - newly sworn to Richard, Duke of Gloucester - and as unrest boils into war, she is drawn into the very heart of the conflict.

Facing extremes of courage and moral ambiguity, Isobel has to predict the motivations of those who decide her own and England’s fate. Caught between two men and a lie, and with nothing left to lose, which way will she turn?

What did I think?

I knew I was going to love Wheel of Fortune as soon as I opened it and saw not only a map but a family tree and a list of characters too.  It's little things like this that make a good book great and Wheel of Fortune is an outstanding piece of historical fiction and a riveting start to an exciting new series.

I absolutely loved the main character of Isobel; she is so feisty and strong-willed but unfortunately, lives in a time when women should be seen and not heard.  Isobel is betrothed to Thomas Lacey and is looking forward to her wedding, but when her father dies she is transferred into the care of the Earl.  No longer the mistress of the house, Isobel is treated like a servant and tasked with looking after the Earl's daughters.  She thinks it's only temporary until her wedding, but the Earl has other ideas: the wedding is cancelled and Isobel's future is thrown into doubt.

Set during the reign of Edward IV and in the midst of the Wars of the Roses, everybody must choose a side and nobody can be trusted...least of all those who should be protectors.  I really felt for Isobel, having her whole future mapped out and then suddenly vanishing before her eyes on the death of her father.  Women, even those of high birth, had no rights even if they were more than capable of managing estates without a man by their side.

Wheel of Fortune is a captivating step back in time as the 15th century is brought vividly to life through C.F. Dunn's wonderful writing.  I am so pleased that it is the first of a new series as I didn't want the story to end and I can't wait to read more.  Very highly recommended.

I received an ARC to read and review for the blog tour and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

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