Synopsis (from. M. Hunter’s site): The novella tells the story of Giselle, whose charming, spendthrift brother has been abducted and held for ransom. In desperation she turns to Andreas von Bremen, a merchant with the Hanseatic League who years ago had been a friend. As they try to save her brother, they rediscover their friendship. . .and much more.
Review: The story is part of "Tapestry", an anthology with four novellas. Originally I got the book because of Moning’s novella and didn’t even plan on reading this one. However, browsing through the book some German words caught my eye. I never saw German in a romance novel before, so, naturally, I became interested in the story after all.
The setting is quite interesting. The hero, Andreas von Bremen, is a wealthy German merchant belonging to the Hanseatic League being on business in London. The heroine is an English noblewoman who is impoverished. Very unusual, I don’t think I’ve ever come across a romance before where the Hanse was even mentioned. Not that I knew much about the Hanse when I started reading (I suck at German history), but the story got me into a bit of research. More to that in a second.
The romance was mainstream. A stupid, selfish, condescending brother to rescue, an impending engagement to cancel, a few angry merchants to placate, that was about it. The love scenes were more than tame, the connection between h/h was so so. All in all I expected much more from a good old German hero, don’t know why, based on my own experiences with German men, :-). I suppose I still have the stereotype of the virile Germanic hero in my mind.
The time in which the story took place was never mentioned explicitly, but Giselle’s father was disowned due to his involvement in a rebellion to overthrow Henry VII. Simon de Montford was executed in 1495 because of his help in that, so the time of the story must be at least a few years after that. By that time the Hanse was already on its decline, in London there existed already a lot of hostility against the members of the League. I’m not sure whether the respectful and even reverent behaviour of the London merchants towards Andreas is realistic. When I read the story I was oblivious to that, though, so I just took it for granted that everything was as it should be. Why the story isn’t set in a time that seems more probable, I don’t know. Why not, for example, set it around 1340, after Mortimer was hanged, his followers pursued, the Hanse was rising, ca. 20 years after the establishment of the London kontor. The whole story would have made much more sense.
An ok read, not to be re-read again.