[BookStrand Historical Romance]
She is Beauty, but is he the Beast?
Elfrida, spirited, caring, and beautiful, is also alone. She is the "witch of the woods," and no man dares to ask for her hand in marriage until a beast comes stalking brides and steals away her sister. Desperate, the lovely Elfrida offers herself as a sacrifice, as bridal bait, and she is seized by a man with fearful scars. Is he the beast?
In the depths of a frozen midwinter, in the heart of the woodland, Sir Magnus, battle-hardened knight of the Crusades, searches ceaselessly for three missing brides, pitting his wits and weapons against a nameless stalker of the snowy forest. Disfigured and hideously scarred, Magnus has finished with love, he thinks, until he rescues a fourth "bride," the beautiful, red-haired Elfrida, whose innocent touch ignites in him a fierce passion that satisfies his deepest yearnings and darkest desires.
A BookStrand Mainstream Romance
- Erin O'Quinn
5 KISSES: "Elfrida is a gentle, good witch who serves her villagers with healing and makes sacrifices for her sister who is about to marry, but she’s also a lonely young woman who has no hope of having a husband or family of her own. She is a witch after all and who would want to marry a witch? When her sister is taken just before her wedding, Elfrida is determined to sacrifice herself to get her sister back. She dresses in her best attire to offer herself to the monster as a “Snow Bride” in the hope of discovering who took her sister and the other brides, and somehow find a way to rescue them. Magnus is a knight who has given much for king and country. Maimed and scarred from battle, he yearns for a woman who might find it in her heart to love the monster he has become. He doesn’t believe there could ever be such a woman until he rescues the Snow Bride from the sinister abductor who has been stealing brides from the villages with evil intent. She is a woman like no other and she does not fear him. But, he may never get the chance to find out if she could ever return his affection if he doesn’t help her find the real monster before time runs out. I was completely enraptured by The Snow Bride. It’s the best story I’ve read in quite some time. Ms. Lindsay Townsend creates scenery so vibrant I thought I could touch the mistletoe and freeze from the cold. Magnus became a beautiful knight in spite of his scarred face and maimed body as I saw him through the eyes of the heroine. His spirit of kindness and self-sacrifice made me believe he had a heart as big as the sky. I fell in love with him. The heroine Ms. Townsend created was the kind of woman who could heal a broken heart and mend a wound with her unusual abiding kindness and devotion. She had a steel spine and courage but wisdom enough to listen to the voice of reason. The Snow Bride has everything a reader could ever want in a story: romance, intrigue, redemption and adventure. Ms. Townsend’s wonderful book, The Snow Bride is not to be missed. I could turn around and read it all over again." -- Mac, TwoLips Reviews
5 STARS: "Lindsay Townsend’s medieval romance The Snow Bride is a radiant tale that brings together a beauty and a beast, in language that is poetic, evocative and unforgettable.
In twelfth-century England, beautiful red-haired Elfrida is the white witch, the good spirit, the Christian healer. Magnus is the scarred, blunt, ugly and maimed returning Crusader who has given up hope that any woman will ever love him. And when they come together in a kind of miracle, he feels “after so many years of reluctant, hasty couplings with women who stared at the coins he gave and never at his face, a healing, loving balm.” Yes, they come together. The physical joining is always joyful for both of them. And yet the times out of each other’s arms–while the two of them go in search of three endangered brides in the clutches of an evil man–those are times of indecision and passion, worry and misunderstanding and clashing of wills. Before I go on, I would like to take a few short sentences to appreciate Lindsay Townsend’s writing. I appreciate the subtlety of the story-telling, the way of saying something without saying it, as when the author describes Magnus’ long-withheld sexual urges: “And then a deep, abiding ache, bedding down in the great hall alone.” The many tiny metaphors tossed throughout like sequins on a bodice: “her needles flashing like a small sword.” “He clamped his body behind her like moss on a boulder.” The cadence, the sense of poetry, that is palpable in almost every line. The Snow Bride is not an easy book to write about. Don’t get me wrong–it is easy to read, for the characters are engaging and the pacing is brisk and exciting. But the themes that bend and weave and interplay in the story are like quicksilver to catch and describe. Lindsay Townsend tells both a simple story and a complex one–a story of Christian healing and white magic battling against dark necromancy. It is a fairy tale, a beauty and the beast tale for the romantic at heart; but it is also a moral tale of good versus evil and light versus dark. The Snow Bride is all that, and more–a tale told by a modern beguiler who weaves her own magic to tell the tale of Magnus the scarred, ugly brute and Elfrida, the Snow Queen. This love story between two unlikely characters is very real and fully imagined. To Magnus, “if she [Elfrida] was a Madonna, he was a gargoyle.” And to Elfrida, he is her “man-angel in demon dress, her beast knight and snow knight.” Beauty, merge with beast…and delight us happily ever after." -- Erin, You Gotta Read Reviews
4.5 BLUE RIBBONS: "At twenty-nine, Sir Magnus, famous for his exploits, is a battle-scarred, wounded warrior, longing for a love of his own. The one woman he felt he could have loved, Alice, had been won by his friend Peter, but he did not begrudge them their hard won love. Even though Alice had begged him to stay with them, he could not intrude on their happy home. He knew he should buck up and be a man like his Viking granddad. After all, Magnus had land, a house, good friends and two healthy godchildren, thanks to his two friends, Alice and Peter. But he wants his own family and a woman who would love him. For now, he had to seek out the council who had sent word to him, asking for his help in finding and defeating a monster, which they called the Forest Grendel. This month already one of their maids had gone missing because of it and the monster had stuck a nearby village last month. The fact that the monster had spread out over three villages, three settlements made it harder to pin him down. They had told their womenfolk nothing about it, not wanting to upset them. Elfrida and her sister Christina were the daughters of a wisewoman and their father was a healer and douser. Although Christina had still shown no signs of inheriting any of their talent, it seems that Elfrida had claimed all of it. Through her many talents, Elfrida had put together a good dowry for Christina, who was now engaged to Walter. The loving couple could be seen kissing all over town. As the eldest, Elfrida had promised their parents on their deathbed that she would keep Christina safe and healthy and that had been her goal over the years. All that Christina had ever wanted was her own home and family and now it looked as if she would get it. The local priest had preached that redheads were witches. Being a redhead, Elfrida was rumored to be a witch. The town council was meeting that night and Walter would be attending. Elfrida was anxious over the town’s topic for their meeting. She had noticed that Walter seemed concerned over the safety of the women’s home. Returning from tending her beehives, Elfrida saw Walter stumbling towards her, his arms covered in claw marks. Christina had been taken by the Forest Grendel?! After two days of searching and listening to Walter’s ramblings, she was left with certain pieces of information as she, with Walter’s absence, was finally able to use her witch power. Christina had been the third woman to be captured and they had all been dressed as brides; one dark haired, one brown haired and Christina was blonde. Knowing the beast was in the surrounding woods; Elfrida knew just how to lure him. Coming upon a bound woman in the woods, Magnus, at first, believes that the villagers are using her for bait. But it doesn’t take long for him to discover that this courageous woman is putting herself in danger to rescue the sister that she dearly loves. At first, Elfrida wonders if Magnus is the beast who has been kidnapping the brides. That is, until she discovers the gentle knight beneath the scars. Elfrida is everything that Magnus has ever wanted in a woman. But as they work together, learning to deal with each other’s unique abilities and trying to find the stolen brides, he wonders if she is the one woman for him. The woman who can see beyond the scars left by the Scaracen’s blade to the deep love he bears for her…a love that is the answer to Magnus’ dreams – his own SNOW BRIDE? A magical read, THE SNOW BRIDE is an intriguing, passionate historical romance that will keep you up late into the night, avidly turning pages to see what happens next. Magnus and Elfrida are two ideally suited people. They put others first before themselves and are able to see the hidden qualities in people. Despite a language barrier, Magnus and Elfrida were able to overcome it, with a language they claimed as their own. Packed with dreams, curses, magic, kidnapped brides, mystery, humor, complex characters, clever banter and true love, this story is a wonderful escape into the land of witches, knights and forever after love. I absolutely enjoyed this story and look forward to reading more works by talented author Lindsay Townsend." -- Dottie, Romance Junkie Reviews
4.25 STARS: "This novel tells the story of Magnus, a Crusader back from the Crusades, horribly beaten and downtrodden in spirit, and of Elfrida, a talented forest witch, and the trials which bring them together. Elfrida is caretaker for her sister, Christina, and when Christina is abducted, along with other innocent women, a call goes out to knights to help, and Magnus answers the call. Magnus and Elfrida have fierce battles of will, each one learning to work with the other, and to know and learn the others talents in order to stop the abductor and rescue the three women who have been taken. Through the trials they face together, they must learn to trust each other, and to rely on each other, or the stolen women would not be saved. Ultimately, they will learn to play their skills off of each other to their best advantage, and will trust and learn to love, in spite of their differences. The novel is very exquisitely written, showing great depth of character and a well thought out plot line. The characters themselves are gorgeously written and vivid, making them seem almost lifelike in spots. The Snow Bride is a fantastic story for romance lovers everywhere." -- Hitherandthee, Night Owl Reviews
4 CELTIC ROSES: '"The Snow Bride" by Lindsay Townsend is the latest ebook release by a very talented British author whose settings range from ancient Egypt to Roman Britain, medieval Europe to Mediterranean locales, but nowhere has her writing disappointed me. This book set in England during the the Crusades is not specifically Celtic, but its depiction of black and white magic, witches and sorcerers, demons and familiars won it a place in my heart and on this blog. Her name is more suggestive of a lingering Anglo-Saxon heritage, but Elfrida's "magicks" appeal to the Celt in me. Sir Magnus is the lusty knight of yore and I could not resist him. Battle-scarred and battle-wise, he is summoned by villagers whose brides--including Elfrida's sister--are being stolen by an evil phantasm--a Forest Grendel. Although Magnus has long since accepted that his maimed limbs and scarred face make him unacceptable in any woman's bed unless he pays for the privilege, he is nonetheless captivated by the strong-willed white witch who offers herself as bait to the monster in an attempt to free her sister. Saving Elfrida from her ill-thought-out plan, he falls in with it and in love with her, lending his redoubtable courage and shrewd battle skills to the cause. I will not give you spoilers about the identity and motivation of the Forest Grendel, but Ms. Townsend's tale of these two lonely people joining forces to track him to his lair is non-stop, rich and lyrical. Her voice is distinctive, her writing style a delight, and the ending is both satisfying and promising in that a sequel would be possible. I would classify this novel as sensual but not erotic, with tenderly arousing sexual content which is essential to the story. I give it four out of five Celtic Roses." -- Miriam Newman, The Celtic Rose
4 HEARTS: "Lord Magnus is a battle-hardened crusader, returned to his home after years of fighting. He is missing a hand and a foot, from the battles he participated in during the crusades. His face has been wounded and healed leaving scars across it. Women scream at the sight of him, calling him a monster. He is used to it, but after visiting with a fellow knight and his wife, he too wishes that he had someone to love him like his friend does, despite his appearance. Fearsome even missing appendages, three villages ask for his help in apprehending the Forest Grendel, an unknown that has stolen three brides from the three villages. On his way to assist, Magnus passes a statue of a saint, and prays for a woman to love him, to make his wife.Elfrida is the village wise woman, or witch. She is a beautiful red headed woman, with a bit of a temper. Being the village wise woman, Efrida has never had a suitor. She lives in a cottage with her younger sister who is one of the missing women. Elfrida’s only thought is to rescue her sister Christina and return her home. She had promised her mother that she would take care of Christina. Angry that the men hid what was happening, she plots out her own rescue attempt by tying herself between trees to temp the Grendel out. He did not yet have a red headed bride. She dresses in her best dress, puts out a wedding feast and sets herself up as The Snow Bride. Lord Magnus comes upon Elfrida, and rescues her, thinking the villagers put her up as a sacrifice. She is sick from being outside, but he cannot help admiring her beauty. He releases her and takes her in to help make her better. He finds out that she tied herself up, and admiring her courage, eventually comes to the conclusion that she can assist him. Magnus is willing to let Elfrida handle the witchy stuff, while she knows he can handle the battle plans and strategy. Together they plan to rescue her sister and the other women. The Snow Bride is and entertaining medieval love story, one of my favorite kinds. I enjoyed that Magnus is willing to woo Elfrida by treating her as an equal, no matter how hard it is for him to do. They have their ups and downs as they learn each other, leading to confusion and doubt on occasion. Both are well rounded, sometimes stubborn and proud characters, and willing to give and take to work together to rescue Elfrida’s sister. I enjoyed the glimpses of life at a noble’s castle, the look at the peasant’s and villages life styles. The banter between Magnus and Elfrida was entertaining, as was the growing love between The Snow Bride and Magnus." -- M Dobson, Sizzling Hot Book Reviews
4 RED ROSES: "Elfrida is a witch whose sister has been kidnapped by someone that is stealing brides from the different villages. Now Elfrida is willing to use herself as bait so that she can save her sister before it is too late. What she isn’t ready for is her attraction to Sir Magnus. Being the witch of the woods has guaranteed that no man is willing to ask for her hand in marriage no matter all her many kindnesses. All that seems to change when she joins Magnus in his bid to find the missing brides from the villages and her sister. Elfrida knows if they aren’t able to find the brides it might end up being to late to save them from the one that has them. Magnus is a knight that has fought in the crusades and has the scars to prove it. Now he has been summoned to some villages to help them recover some missing brides. Now he is doing everything to find the three missing brides. First he is going to have to use his wits against the stalker so that Magnus has a chance to find the brides and bring them home. What he doesn’t count on is his reaction to the “fourth” bride that he ends up rescuing before she can be kidnapped also. With his scars and disfigurement he is sure that he will never have a chance at love or ever have a wife but all that changes when he meets Elfrida. Magnus knows that as soon as Elfrida and he find the missing brides he is going to see about building a future that he suddenly sees as possible now that he has found Elfrida but first they are going to have to out smart the one that has taken the brides. That is proving not to be as easy as he would like but Magnus knows that he needs to help Elfrida find her sister so that they can start on their own future. They will have to find a way to outwit the one behind the kidnappings otherwise the outcome will be very grime. This is a wonderful twist on Beauty and the Beast. The story unfolds for the reader and draws the reader in as they watch two strong willed people learn to compromise so that they can find the happiness they both want so badly. The paranormal elements in this one make it very interesting and will keep the reader guessing what is going on and what will happen next. For readers that enjoy Beauty and the Beast they will love this one and won’t want to miss it. The author took the original story and made it her own with the twist and turns she gave this tale."-- Anne, Red Roses for Authors Reviews
Magnus was worried. The fire he had made should have brought his people. It was an old signal, well-known between them. His men should have reached the village by now—that had been the arrangement. They were bringing traps and provisions in covered wagons, and hunting dogs and horses. He had been impatient to start his pursuit of the Forest Grendel and so rode ahead, returning with the messenger until that final stretch when the man turned off to his home. He had ridden on alone, finding the wayside shrine.
But from then, all had gone awry. Instead of the monster, he had found an ailing witch, and the snowstorm had lost him more tracks and time.
Magnus shook his head, turning indulgent eyes to the small, still figure on the rough pallet. At least the little witch had slept through the night and day, snug and safe, and he had been able to make her a litter from woven branches. He would give his fire signal a little longer and then return Elfrida to her village. There he might find someone who could translate between them.
Perhaps she did have power, for even as he looked at her, she sat up, the hood of her cloak falling away, and stared at him in return. She said something, then repeated it, and he drew in a great gulp of cold air in sheer astonishment, then laughed.
“I know what you said!” He wanted to kiss her, spots and all.
He burst into a clumsy canter, dragging his peg leg a little and almost tumbling onto her bed. She caught him by the shoulders and tried to steady him but collapsed under his weight.
They finished in an untidy heap on the pallet, with Elfrida hissing by his ear, “Why have you done such a foolish thing as to burn all our fuel?”
He rolled off her, knocked snow off his front and beard, and said in return, “How did you know I would know the old speech, the old English?”
“I dream true, and I dreamed this.” She was blushing, though not, he realized quickly, from shyness.
“Why burn so wildly?” she burst out, clearly furious. “You have wasted it! All that good wood gone to ash!”
“My men know my sign and will come now the storm has gone.” He had not expected thanks or soft words, but he was not about to be scolded by this red-haired nag.
“That is your plan, Sir Magnus? To burn half the forest to alert your troops?”
“A wiser plan than yours, madam, setting yourself as bait. Or had your village left you hanging there, perhaps to nag the beast to death?”
Her face turned as scarlet as the fire. “So says any witless fool! ’Tis too easy a charge men make against women, any woman who thinks and acts for herself. And no man orders me!”
Magnus swallowed the snort of laughter filling up his throat. He doubted she saw any amusement in their finally being able to speak to each other only to quarrel. Had she been a man or a lad, he would have knocked her into the snow, then offered a drink of mead, but such rough fellowship was beyond him here.
“And how would you have fought off any knave, or worse, that found you?” he asked patiently. “You did not succeed with me.”
“There are better ways to vanquish a male than brute force. I knew what I was about!”
“Truly? You were biding your time? And the pox makes you alluring?”
“Says master gargoyle! My spots will pass!”
“Or did you plan to scatter a few herbs, perhaps?”
He thought he heard her clash her teeth together. “I did not plan my sickness, and I do not share my secrets! Had you not snatched me away, had you not interfered, I would know where the monster lives. I would have found my sister! I would be with her!” Her voice hitched, and a look of pain and dread crossed her face. “We would be together. Whatever happens, I would be with her.”
“This was Christina?”
“Is Christina, not was, never was! I know she lives!”
Magnus merely nodded, his temper cooling rapidly as he marked how her color had changed and her body shook. A desperate trap to recover a much-loved sister excused everything, to his way of thinking.
She called you a gargoyle! This piqued his vanity and pride.
But she does not think you the monster, Magnus reminded himself in a dazzled, shocked wonder, embracing that knowledge like a lover.