Book Review: For Life or Until by Anne Garboczi Evans
Publisher: Cavé BooksTM
Publication Date: August 15, 2017
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
Rejected by the man she’s loved since age fifteen, Celtic villager Ness of the Catuvellauni takes the next man available.
Tribune Aquilus adores Ness, but all his life he’s trained to do one thing—stoically serve the empire. So when Ness damages a politic connection, he lays down the law.
But Celtic women are not known for following the rules and a Celtic divorce isn’t hard to obtain. Well, except for Aquilus’ garrison of legionaries standing in the way.
Will Roman might, or Celtic stubbornness, or something else entirely prevail?
I have to say, one thing that intrigued me about this book was the setting. It’s set in Rome in 85 A.D. I’d never read a book set during this period, or in Rome.
The book is chalked full of cultural and historical references without sounding like a textbook. The heroine is multi-lingual, but there’s no overload and the meanings are shared, so no need to google for translation.
Ness is head-over-heels for Cedric, and he seems fond of her, although it’s obvious Ness’s feelings are lot stronger. Cedric ends up marrying another, and although that was well within his right, I did wish that he’d broken it to her gently (he had to have known how she felt about him, although she’d never come out and said it), instead of letting her find out when he proposed to the girl at a dance in the presence of others (although Ness had already left and hadn’t personally witnessed it).
Ness ended up accepting Aquilus’s proposal, and of course they had to take some time to get to know each other. It’s not unusual for marriages to happen quickly during this time, but I did wish for a little more between the two before making that leap. Aquilus’s’s declaration of love seemed to come out of nowhere considering he knew very little about his new bride, so it was difficult for me to accept it.
I love historical romances. Even when the couple is forced to marry because they’d been caught in a compromising position – positions that are sometimes very innocent – the beauty of the story lies in witnessing their feelings grow for one another. They share their likes/dislikes, talk about their pasts, and pay close attention to each other, picking up on little nuances, quirks, and learning what makes each other tick. Aquilus traveled a lot, so the couple is not together much. When they made love for the first time, I wasn’t even aware. I realized it later because of something Ness said.
The story develops almost into a love triangle. The characters are complex, and individually I was able to connect to them. As a couple, however, it’d been a little more difficult.
The book has the elements of a romance, but the story is more chick lit in a way because it centers more around Ness finding herself and her way more than it does her relationship with Aquilus, although it is front and center and affecting and being affected by everything Ness does.
Evans has definitely crafted an original work. I, personally, have never read anything like it. Although the concept of being rejected and then being found in an arranged marriage is not in itself unique, the unfolding of this story is.
I find myself in somewhat of a predicament when it comes to offering a rating. I’m used to certain things when it comes to a romance novel – and I prefer those things, which are missing in this book – however, I can’t ignore the uniqueness of the story and the very vivid descriptions. I do recommend reading the book for those reasons.
Anne Garboczi Evans is a military spouse, mental health counselor, and mama to an opinionated little boy named “Joe-Joe” and a very dramatic baby named “Chip.”
Setting her water jar down, Ness gripped the hawthorn gate post to the smithy. The shadow of the wattle and daub shop fell across the dusty yard. Inside the door, sparks from the smithy’s fire rose high as he labored over metal.
Under the eaves stood another man. Cedric. Sun reflected off his bare chest, the tang of his sweat just scenting the air. He lounged back against the thatched wood. Ness’ soul soared.
“Ness.” Cedric grinned at her. The leaves overhead made patterns on his body. “You break an ax too?”
“My brother did.” She felt her ears redden at just the sight of Cedric. She’d now seen eighteen summers. Surely this summer he’d ask her to marry him.
Cedric flicked her hair, his long fingers sliding through the golden strands. “Why the frown?”
“Just turning the future over in my mind. Fiona’s father is selling two ewes this week. I’m thinking of buying them.” Heart pounding, Ness watched Cedric’s eyes. Did he love her? She’d loved him since before she knew what love meant.
“Still planning that sheep farm?” Cedric moved his gaze to the smoke rising from the smithy roof.
“Yes, only I need pastureland first.”
Cedric swatted away a humming insect. The mark of briars scraped across his hard stomach and the burn of the sun reddened the tops of his shoulders. “Doesn’t your father have an extra field?”
She stood straighter, the blue wool of her dress swishing in the breeze. “One extra field, yes. I plan on building my herd to a hundred sheep.” Behind Cedric’s father’s fields lay a vast plot of unclaimed land. If she felled the trees, she could use that land.
“What are you going to do with all those sheep?” Cedric raised one arm and leaned more heavily on the smithy shop. His big shadow fell across her as he turned his gray-green eyes toward her. A tawny cockroach moved its disgusting body up the wattle and daub structure.
“Shear them.” Ness ran the tip of her tongue across her lower lip. Her heart thumped against her ribcage as she dug her toe against a lone blade of grass. “Weave clothes for my children.” The entire village had paired their names together for three summers now. He must feel something for her. If only she dared bring up the topic.