Reviewed by Francine:
For too long this book has been sitting in my TBR file, and finally I’ve read it. Thus, fully expecting a damn good read, Ms Riley has most definitely thrust her historical punches on the research front. From page one Justin Ambrose brings to the fore the atmosphere surrounding Banbury Castle, not least the town, and its underlying Puritan leanings. Whilst he and his men suffer the consequences of soldiers as good as under siege and not daring to slacken their guard within the castle walls, there are moments of respite and of course trading for wares to be enacted. But not all the townsfolk are as willing to oblige those looked upon as the enemy, and the streets can be a dangerous place for the unwary. What is more, when cavaliers patronise specific establishments and female eyes stray from the dour countenance of their brethren to dashing young blades, scorn and abhorrence soon gives rise to contention of a differing nature to that of mere allegiance to opposing forces. Personal grievance can lead to vendettas, and when budding romance crosses the boundary of social acceptance retribution brings inevitable heartache and fear of worse to come. Hence Banbury Castle becomes a refuge for more than those who have sworn to hold it against all the odds set against them until relief arrives, if ever that can be. Therefore, A Splendid Defiance is true to its title, enhanced by historical fact and peppered with touches of fiction to stir emotions as only love and romance can alongside swashbuckling military feats of endurance. A thoroughly enjoyable novel.