Life's not fair! That's exactly how this young man, Bryce Grayson, the prince of Willias, a kingdom in the countryside of England known for the true love its rulers, his parents, share, feels about his lot in life during the time of Queen Elizabeth, Shakespeare and Galileo. Striken with a mysterious, reoccurring illness since birth, Bryce would give anything to lead a normal life, where he can follow his dreams of becoming a knight and astronomer and even having a romantic relationship. Until-a young woman, the independent, London historian Lady Marie Dutton, who longs to end her loneliness and doesn't believe love is possible for her, crosses Bryce's path; that's when everything in both of their worlds begin to change. Slowly, Bryce and Marie realize that without each other they are incomplete and together they don't need the hassles the world brings them. Eventually, they discover a true love of their own.
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Bryce Grayson, Prince of Willias, is sick again. He has a mysterious illness that is re-occurring, but not fatal. When his sickness strikes him, he can't even get out of bed and he is weak for days afterward. Because of this illness, Bryce was not able to graduate and get his Astronomy degree, and he was also not able to complete his training to become a Knight in his father's court. Lady Marie Dutton is just coming home from a trip to Egypt. She is one of the few women to have earned her degree at Oxford, being a very well-known and respected historian. Unfortunately, she is also an orphan, but her parents left her well off. As she is getting off the boat, she notices her old friend, Cady Jickers, at the docks waiting for her. Cady and Marie were seeing each other for a time but it didn't work out. They have remained close friends ever since. Cady is a mooch and a rogue, and manages to get Marie to invite him to stay with her at her place. Marie has come to Willias to watch the tournaments. She notices a swordsman just as he is starting another fight. Because of his robes, she can't get a good look at him, but she definitely admires his skill with a sword. After the tournament is over, she finds out that the swordsman is none other than the Prince of Willias himself. She finds herself attracted to him. Bryce hates these State dinners, he doesn't like all the pomp and circumstance and tries to avoid them whenever possible. He notices a woman and is immediately attracted to her, and finally gets the nerve to boot her dinner partner out of his spot and introduce himself. As the women are getting ready to leave the men to their port and cigars, Bryce and Marie go to the garden. They spend the rest of the evening together. This is a story that is all about love. The King and Queen of Willias are famous for the fact that they are in love and still behave like honeymooners. Now, it is Bryce's turn to love and be loved. This story is filled with the love between Bryce and Marie, the King and Queen, even Queen Elizabeth and William Shakespeare. Bryce tries to hide his illness from Marie, but eventually she finds out about it. It is a story of how the two of them grow up and mature and learn to become dependent on someone other than themselves. They must learn to accept themselves and each other, in spite of any illness and weaknesses. This is a very entertaining moving tale of love.
Marie Wadsworth's new novel 'Bryce' begins with two qualifiers on its title page. The book is a 'fantasy romance,' two genres that offer most readers particular expectations. If I were designing the title and title page, I might have added a third qualifer. In some ways the novel is also a narrative for a 'mature young audience,' as in mature teenagers. For while the story deals with the adult subjects of love and romance, Wadsworth writes about them in a manner younger readers will particularly enjoy. 'Bryce' is the story of Bryce Grayson, a prince in a fantasy kingdom existing in the time of Shakespeare. Bryce meets Lady Marie Dutton, an independent-minded young woman who is like Bryce in that she too feels alienated from the world into which she was born. This is definitely a romance, and Bryce and Marie find love when they find each other. That is not to say that it's love at first sight. Their love develops slowly and is built on a solid foundation laid down by their explorations of each other's minds and hearts. Wadsworth fills her narrative with a grab-bag of interesting and unique characters. Even their names suggest their peculiarities. Her characters have names like Cady Jickers, Carson 'Drew' Emerson, Kurt Blackenridge, Phelps Couiture and Hamel Burchett. Perhaps unusual names might be expected in a fantasy that is also a romance, but I don't think I have ever read a novel of this length with such unique character names. The story is told episodically, containing 22 chapters in its 216 pages. That means, of course, that the chapters are relatively short and that there is considerable time and space differences in the action between chapters. In that style Wadsworth follows a traditional pattern in contemporary fiction. Most popular novelists today, from John Updike to to Tony Hillerman, write episodic narratives, written stories that can quickly be transformed into motion picture screenplays. And what with the popularity of fantasies in Hollywood and with large movie-going audiences, perhaps Wadsworth migh have producers calling if the story of the book gets circulated. Certainly, the odds are not good for a first-time novelist to be read widely, even though book stores such as Barnes and Noble and Borders seem to bring in huge numbers of readers these days. At least that is the case in larger cities, where the big book sellers have built steady businesses. Wadsworth's novel 'Bryce' has many things going for it. There was one inconsistency that I would like to have changed. At the beginning of particular chapters, the author places a teaser beneath the chapter number. For instance, Chapter 18 is titled 'Farewell.' I think it would have been better had all the chapters been given titles. Wadsworth accomplishes much with her first book. It is handsomely designed and nicely printed. The artwork on the cover is evocative and suggest much about the plot line and the tone of the story. Although some readers of 'Bryce' may be reading Wadsworth regularly in the Hobbs News-Sun where she works as a journalist, most readers will be looking forward to see where her next fictional journey may go. Is there fantasy ahead? Or romance? Or some combination of the two again? Wadsworth shows much promise as a writer of fiction. That should go well for this young woman who has already received praise for her journalistic endeavors.