Kathryn Loch writes beautiful medieval stories. Her stories do not have evil villains or jerky heros. It is like reading King Authur, Lancelot and all the roundtable knights where chivalry played an important role and knights seek the ladies' favors. I understand why ladies like a brooding or tortured hero. And Ms Loch's heros are a little tortured, fear not, fair maidens. They are just also knightly and do not fret so much over feeling protective of their ladies.
The book features a beautiful first half, where Talon the hero and Gwen the heroin, came together in love, but not in marriage. Talon abducted Gwen believing that Gwen's father abducted his 8 year old daughter Rose. He is a respectable knight and treats the lady and her maid well. Gwen, being the lady that she is, gracefully did not go nuts about being captured by her family's enemy. She realizes quickly that the man who abducted her bears her no ill will and accepts the situation with grace and dignity. Tender feelings grow and I enjoy reading about them coming closer to each other.
The 2nd half of the story however, is the missing star that I took away. It is not poorly written. It is just the story centered on politics and Talon and Gwen are separated for a long time. We then read about their lives separately, Talon being kept away on King's business, facing political struggles, Gwen being attacked by Talon's enemy and barely survives. The principal characters of the second book in this series, Bryn and Rose, also make an appearance because Bryn saves Rose from her abductor. Lots of things happening but none of it directly relates to the romance. I was not disappointed but a little distracted, yeah. These events are necessary for the story to progress but it felt like it was moving slowly for me.
Talon and Gwen, remind me of the lead characters in Amanda Quick's Desire, only roles are reversed. In Heart's Ransom, Talon is the one who has the holding and Gwen takes refuge in his keep. In Desire, hero is a landless knight and is granted the island of Desire through marriage to the heroin. But both sotries make me feel the same way: 2 strangers who did not meet in the best of occasion, getting to know each other and caring for each other. As a reader you learn to care about the characters, but they don't fight about their independence (not overly much). They fight for each other, fight to have and to hold. I find that very romantic. (OK I know........I am saphead.....)