It’s another edition of Erin’s Bookshelf, and I’m staying in the world of brooding heroes and sassy heroines. Romance! This week’s recommendation is particularly special, because it is one of my favorite books. I found a copy in a thrift shop years ago, picked it up on a whim, and fell in love with the story right away. It’s a little older, but I think it more than deserves some affection.
I’m talking about Castle of the Wolf by Sandra Schwab!
You can purchase the Ebook on Amazon (admittedly, the paperback version might be a little harder to come upon).
Celia (Cissy) Fussell thought she was doomed to a life of spinsterhood and loneliness following the death of her beloved father. However, she is surprised to learn she was left an inheritance,the Castle of Wolfenbach tucked away deep in the Black Forest. There’s just one catch: In order to claim her castle, she must marry the Wolfenbach son. With the promise of a real future before her, Cissy travels from England to Germany to claim her inheritance and meet her future husband. Unfortunately, her intended is not as keen to meet her. Fenris Wolfenbach is haunted by more than the scars on his body. A former soldier who lost his leg in war, he has retreated from the world into his family’s former castle, and doesn’t appreciate the intrusion of the pretty English woman who claims his home is now hers. As the two clash within the walls of Wolfenbach Castle, they come to realize that all that glitters is not gold, and love can blossom even in shadows.
There are so many things I love about this book. It’s a fairly quick read, but it’s packed with emotion and detail. Cissy is one of my all time favorite heroines. She is naive and sheltered (as most women of somewhat noble birth would have been), but she’s funny, stubborn, smart, and views the world with a sense of wonder. Her love of fairy tales creates the framework within which the story is told.
Fenris is also one of my all time favorite heroes. Yes, he’s your typical brooding leading-man, but there’s a sweetness and vulnerability to him that makes his character endearing. He is terribly self-conscious about his body, and is riddled with guilt about his perceived ruining of his family. Not only is he strong, handsome, and overall swoon-worthy as any good romance hero is, but he’s emotional, and wants Cissy to love him even though he doesn’t think he deserves it.
Apart from the two main characters, this book is also beautifully written. The historical details are sharp without overburdening the story, and the author’s whimsical style of story-telling creates a good balance of drama and lightheartedness. There’s also a nice blend of Gothic themes with fairy-tale tropes (and not Disney fairy-tales…I’m talking old school Grimm brothers). The romance is steamy, but the emphasis is on the emotional development of the two characters rather than their physical attraction to each other (though that’s definitely there as well).
Though I obviously recommend it to everyone, I’d highly suggest this book to anyone who wants to dip their toe in the romance genre pool and see how they like it. Also, to anyone who leans more on the side of sigh-worthy stories over bodice-rippers. I promise, you won’t be disappointed.
Until next time!