“This review was originally done by me for Romance Junkies.
Nicholas FitzTodd doesn't want a wife. However, he knows that the time has come to choose a bride. He can think of no better woman than his childhood friend, Lady Evelyn. When he arrives at her home, he's shocked to discover that she's fled to a convent. She'd rather live as a nun than be his wife. Feeling hurt and betrayed, Nick begins losing himself in alcohol. It's because of this that he finds himself in a compromising position with an intriguing Frenchwoman.
Simone DuRoche and her father, Armand, fled France after her fiancee, Charles, broke off their engagement and proclaimed her mad. No one will believe her stories of her brother's ghost. Simone is resigned to a loveless match in England; her father will marry her off to whomever offers the most coin for her. When she's offered a few moments of passion in the arms of a drunken Nicholas, she takes it. They're discovered and forced to marry. Will Simone be able to find the happiness with Nick that she's long been denied? What will become of their marriage when Nick learns her secret?
Simone's past catches up to her in unexpected ways, and she's unknowingly placed in harms way. It's left up to Nick and her newfound family to help her find the answers she needs. Will they figure out the true story behind the deaths of Simone's mother and brother? And will it be in time to save Simone?
I don't think it's possible to say enough about THE CHAMPION. Ever since reading Heather Grothaus' debut novel, The Warrior, I've been waiting for more. THE CHAMPION does not disappoint.
From the beginning you're drawn to the characters. Simone is a wonderful, passionate, young woman, and you want so badly to see her happy. Nicholas is a man full of flaws, but you fall in love with him right along with Simone. Watching his tenderness with her, despite his initial resentment, and watching him accept and take responsibility for his mistakes, you learn Nicholas' true character. Simone's younger brother, Didier, provides humor throughout the story. He also plays a key role in learning just what happened to him and his mother.
Fans of The Warrior, will be pleased to see Tristian and Lady Haith reappear in THE CHAMPION. There are many connections made between the two books that really bring the whole story into focus, and some of them may surprise you. For those who have yet to read The Warrior, don't worry, this book works well as a stand alone. Though, I guarantee once you read THE CHAMPION, you'll be rushing to the bookstore for more from Heather Grothaus.