The Marriage Prize
by Virginia Henley, historical (2000)
Delacorte, $22.95, ISBN 0-385-31823-5


The Marriage Prize is a loose sequel to The Dragon And The Jewel - remember that one, with the hero Simon de Monfort whose extra-endowed thingie stretched to half the back of the heroine (I am not kidding - it says so in that book!)? - only this time around The Marriage Prize tells the story of Eleanor's ward and a knight. The backdrop conflict is Simon's fall from the throne.

Rosamond is infatuated with Rick deBurgh, but egads, she is betrothed to Rodger de Layburn (Rod - ooh! - to everyone). She is not very happy, and in grand passionate Virginia Henley heroine tradition, says it loud and proud. Hubby-to-be Rod hears this and isn't pleased, naturally. When he comes to claim her, she declares that she will see that the marriage is annulled ASAP. But not if Rod has his way.

Meanwhile, as our two lovebirds bicker and boink and throw exclamation marks around most tempestuously, political storm clouds brew over the horizon. And look out, Roddie got a secret!

Well, The Marriage Prize is grand vintage old-class bombastic story that Ms Henley does best. Lots of flowery prose, and of course, tossing around of our heroine's curls and she stamps her feet petulantly and demands that things go her way or else. And well, Rosie gets her way, and she is right on top in the end, in all ways that matter. That's good. And Rod sure knows how to use his lance. Lots of thrusting and jousting going on, proving that Rod is a knight to be reckoned with.

And there are also lots of Bloody me and bloody you (aha aha) (sorry, ABBA). Great campy fun, of course, with lots of bawdy language, steamy sex and passionate bickering abound. So what if some readers find Virginia Henley tad too purple or old school? Me, I have a jolly good time.

The Marriage Prize still can't dislodge Tempted from my fave Ms Henley book, but it's still a fine fun cheesy read.

Rating: 83


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