"The archer and the swordsman meet in this fine medieval romance"
Reviewed by Clare O'Beara
Posted June 12, 2015
Romance Historical | Romance Gay
This historical romance is set in England in 1300. Sir
Christian, Lord Brandon's youngest son, was brought up
tough by his brothers and nicknamed the Crow, the better
names such as boar being taken. William, a young man in
crowd, watches the Crow take part in an archery
wondering if he earned those gilded spurs which mark a
knight or if he is just a pretty face.
THE LION AND THE CROW are about to meet. Sir William
Corbet, nicknamed the Lion, is a large young man, bearded
and imposing. He wins a joust at the tournament, and
prepares to attend the night's banquet. The Crow has
noticed him and daydreams about such a fine man, but he's
got his own troubles. His older brother Malcolm seems
deranged, and jealous that Lady Gwendolyn smiles at Crow.
Crow can't admit that he's not interested in women.
Tensions are building from early in the story and they
mount when William explains that he hopes to visit his
married sister Elaine and see if the rumours are true;
she is beaten, starved and imprisoned by her husband.
Crow's father takes some time to accept the young man's
offer to accompany William as a guide, and scout out the
territory of the landowner in northerly Kendal, who is
disliked. But at Malcolm's prodding the arrangement is
made. So the two men travel across country, coming to know
and respect each other, unable to admit to attraction.
Outlaws and troubadours populate this tale, horsemen and
priests. Archery and swordsmanship become the tools of
survival. And disguise serves where outright force would
not. I liked a lot about Eli Easton's account of the
from the fine detail to the acceptance that many people
were scarred, pock-marked or maimed.
THE LION AND
THE CROW are two very likeable and genuine young men who
face battles without fear and go out of their way to help
others. We could do with more such people in any time.
This romance contains adult scenes in a loving
relationship, and tells a fine tale.
In medieval England, duty is everything, personal honor
more valued than life itself, and homosexuality is not
tolerated by the church or society.
Sir Christian Brandon was raised in a household where he
hated for his unusual beauty and for his parentage. Being
smaller than his six brutish half-brothers, he learned to
survive by using his wits and his gift for strategy,
him the nickname the Crow.
Sir William Corbett, a large and fierce warrior known as
Lion, has pushed his unnatural desires down all his life.
He’s determined to live up to his own ideal of a gallant
knight. When he takes up a quest to rescue his sister
her abusive lord of a husband, he’s forced to enlist the
help of Sir Christian. It’s a partnership that will test
every strand of his moral fiber, and, eventually, his
understanding of the meaning of duty, honor, and love.
THE FIRST time William saw him, he was riding onto the
tournament field on a red horse. His tunic was brilliant
blue with a white eagle spreading its wings on the front,
identifying him as one of Lord Brandon’s sons. Glinting
plate armor covered his shoulders, his arms, and the tops
of his legs. Underneath he wore black hose and boots.
It was a warrior’s habit to size up an enemy—or a rival.
So William felt no shame in staring as he took the
youth’s measure. What armor he wore was polished but
functional. It was well used, not that of a mere peacock.
A black velvet girdle hung low on his narrow hips. His
shoulders were broad for his frame, but his chest was
slender and his waist slim. There was nothing of the
larder on him. He rode his mount as light as a feather.
William’s eyes dropped to his spurs—gilded. He was a full
knight. But William knew well enough that such a thing
was expected for a son of the nobility and not always
The round was archery, and the young knight was dressed
for decoration rather than protection. On his head he
wore neither helmet, beads, nor braids. His hair was
nearly black, chopped shorter than was fashionable, and
it was bristled on top in a barbaric style. It was a
harsh warrior’s cut, but on him it only made a more open
frame for his face. It was the finest face William had
ever seen—long, narrow, and delicate, with full, quirked
lips, a straight nose, dimpled chin, and broad, arched
brows over large dark eyes. His skin was as pale as a
bucket of cream. There was a natural rosy cast on the
proud bones of his cheeks, which any maiden would kill
her own dam for. It was a battle flush, perhaps, in
anticipation of the contest.
William could form an impression in an instant, and he
rarely changed it. In his mind there were men made for
battle, rough-hewn and crude. Those were the men you
wanted by your side—if their tempers were not too odious
whilst in their cups. And then there were men made for
the pleasing of women, as if God had put such men on
earth for the sole purpose of warming a woman’s blood for
her husband’s bed, thus guaranteeing the spread of the
human race. The latter might well claim to be the former—
as good in battle as any man, but rarely had William
found it to be the case. Perhaps it was a problem of
motivation. What man, given the choice, wouldn’t rather
be thrusting between a woman’s thighs than thrusting a
spear on the practice field? Beauty was most often lazy.
This young knight was definitely a woman-pleaser. He was
beautiful in a way William had never seen in a man. In
truth, he’d never seen it in a woman. That did little to
inspire his trust. He registered the distinctly feminine
cheers of welcome the crowd afforded the rider, aptly
proving William’s point. And then the young knight rode
past William… and looked at him.
It wasn’t a mere glance. The knight met William’s eyes
when still ten paces away and held his gaze, unrelenting,
as he rode in front of William. He even turned his head
as he passed before letting his gaze finally slip away.
William did not back down from the stare. He dropped his
eyes for no man. But he stood stoically, nothing showing
on his face. It seemed to take forever for the knight to
pass, eons in which those eyes were locked on William’s.
They were a rich dark brown and full of warmth and life.
Even with the knight’s face placidly composed, those eyes
seemed to speak volumes in a language William didn’t
understand. They reached inside him and made his stomach
clench hard with feeling.
Confusion? Curiosity? Outrage?
What did he mean by looking at William thus? They’d never
met. Was it a challenge? A welcome to a stranger? The
admiration of a young warrior to a mature one? Had he
heard tales of William’s prowess? Or had he mistaken
William for someone else?
William had stopped to watch the procession of archers on
his way back from the stables, where he’d taken his tired
mount after the last round of jousting. Now he found
himself in a crowd of the castle’s laborers. One of them
was a blacksmith, his beefy form wrapped in a scarred
“D’ya know ’im?” he asked William. “The Crow?”
The blacksmith had apparently noticed the exchanged look.
William frowned. “No. Did you say ‘the Crow’?”
The man chuckled. “Aye, poor lad. ’E’s the youngest of
seven boys, and ’is brothers took all the more favorable
Another man, craggy and shrunken with age, spoke up.
“Lessee, there’s a bear, a boar, a fox—”
“Badger!” a third man said brightly. “That’s Sir Peter
“Aye. Badger. Hawk’s one, innit?”
“’Tis Sir Thomas,” the blacksmith agreed amiably.
“Lessee. Must be one more….” Craggy Face pondered
“Lion?” the third man suggested.
The blacksmith glanced at William’s tunic knowingly.
“Nay. None of the lord’s sons ’as earned that title. And
if the first two don’t, you can bet the rest won’t. Elder
brothers won’t be outdone.”
“’Ence ‘the Crow.’” Craggy Face snorted.
“Hound,” the third man supplied helpfully. “Sir Malcolm,
that one is.”
“’Ound! That’s got it done. He’s the tracker, innit?
Looks a bit ’oundish too.” Craggy Face bared his teeth
and chomped. A stench wafted on the breeze.
William’s eyes were drawn back to the Crow as he moved
away, tall and straight in the saddle. From the back his
shoulders looked broader still. They narrowed in a
defined V to an almost delicate waist. William could feel
his lip curl. “And that one? The Crow? Are all Lord
Brandon’s sons like him? In my experience, a man so
pleasing to the womenfolk is hard put to raise a sword,
much less swing one.”
The blacksmith looked offended. “’Is name is Sir
Christian. Aye, he looks fair enow, but ’e’s earned them
spurs. Them brothers of his gave him no quarter. ’Ard as
nails, every last one of ’em.”
“Aye, ’e’s a goer, Sir Christian is. Let’s go watch ’im
shoot.” Craggy Face was all eager anticipation. He and
his companion hurried away from William, following the
general flow of the crowd toward the archery targets.
The blacksmith paused and gave William a friendly look.
“Come and watch? The archery round’s the best o’ the
William was tempted. He was curious to see the Crow
shoot, to see if he had any skill to match that noble
bearing. But then he thought better of it. He did not
know what to make of the youngest Brandon, knew not the
meaning behind his look. But an uneasy feeling warned him
that keeping his distance was the most expedient course.
“Nay. I’m in search of a meal. Good morrow.”
William headed for the food stalls. He was here for a
purpose. He needed to put his cause to Lord Brandon and
earn his help. He couldn’t afford to antagonize any of
the lord’s sons. And he couldn’t afford to get led astray
with wenching, gaming, or fighting, either. His suit was
too important—to Elaine and to himself.
As William walked away, the thwunk of arrows and the roar
of the crowd rose up loud behind him.
“THE CHAMPION’S purse for archery goes to our own Sir
Christian Brandon!” Lord Brandon held up the money pouch
so the crowd could see it, and then he handed it to
Christian made a formal bow. “Father.”
The crowd cheered, and Lord Brandon met Christian’s gaze
and smiled. It wasn’t a big smile, not the sort he gave
Christian’s brothers freely and often, but it had genuine
warmth in it all the same.
Christian’s blood thrummed in a splendid rush. It had
been a good day. He’d won the archery competition
handily, and the crowd had been behind him. Now this. It
was worth the hours and days and years he’d spent
practicing with the bow to have a skill that made his
Lady Gwendolyn leaned forward. Her lips were soft and
perfumed as she gave Christian a lingering kiss on the
cheek. The crowd’s murmurs turned into hoots of approval
and a few cries for more. Christian ducked his head,
pretending shyness, which earned him laughs and hearty
slaps on the back from his father’s men on the dais. But
he didn’t miss the look of disdain his older brothers
Stephen and Duncan shared.
Let them be jealous, then. Or let them find him
ridiculous. He didn’t care. To prove it, he waved the
purse at the crowd and did a mock salute. That earned him
more enthusiastic calls. But as he faced them, Christian
found himself searching for one particular face in the
crowd, one with lips not soft and most definitely not
He didn’t find it.
THE KNIGHT wearing the red surcoat with the white lion
over his armor reappeared in the late afternoon. He was
competing in a joust against Christian’s brother, Sir
Peter. The crier announced the stranger as Sir William
Corbet. Christian had heard the name before. He thought
the Corbets lived some distance southeast. Why had Sir
William come so far for a modest tournament? Was he
passing through and looking to win a few coins? Or was he
possibly looking for a new lord? Would he be staying?
Christian had seen the knight’s face in the crowd on his
way to the archery round, and it had stopped his heart
and his common sense both, incinerated them in a whoosh
like shavings of wood thrown on a flame. Even with his
visor down, as it was now, Sir William drew attention
effortlessly. He was tall and broad, strong and confident
in the saddle. He rode sure and easy, and he handled the
lance with restrained power. Peter was built like a stone
wall, like most of Christian’s brothers, and he was one
of their best jousters. But Sir William ducked Peter’s
first charge easily and on the second hit Peter’s
shoulder solidly with his lance and sent him tumbling
from his horse.
William reined in his own mount and jumped to the ground,
despite his heavy armor. He ducked under the center rope
and helped Peter to his feet. Peter removed his helm,
red-faced and breathless. Christian had a moment of fear.
Peter had a foul temper, and he didn’t like to lose. But
he acknowledged Sir William’s win with a nod and raised
William’s hand to the crowd. William said something, and
Peter laughed. The people approved, cheering them both
William took off his helmet and strode to the dais to
receive his acknowledgment from Lord Brandon. He was
Christian stood near the front of the dais, and he took
in the sight of the Lion like a great draft. William had
light brown hair, worn straight to just below the
shoulders, serious and kind blue eyes, a square face,
full lips, and a closely shaved beard. He looked tough—
had the face of a man you wouldn’t want to cross. Yet
there was honesty and a pleasing harmony in his
expression that said he would never cross you. He was, in
short, everything a knight was supposed to be—noble,
powerful, and true. Christian had never seen his equal.
Desire spiked in him, that dreaded, hot, heady, unwelcome
feeling that betrayed and stung him, like an adder in his
Christian realized he was staring openly. He silently
cursed and looked around to be sure he hadn’t given
No one was looking at him.
Lord Brandon tossed the purse to Sir William. William
caught it easily and bowed. His eyes flickered to
Christian, and Christian dared a small smile and nod. A
chill came over William’s face, and he turned his back—
deliberately, it seemed—to face the crowd. He waved once
more to the onlookers.
Christian felt the sting as if it were the swift slice of
a bright-edged knife. He turned his head away in
disappointment—only to find that someone was watching him
after all. His brother Malcolm’s pinched and disapproving
face stared at him from the back of the dais, his eyes
hooded and far too knowing.
What do you think about this review?
No comments posted.
Registered users may leave comments.
Log in or register now!