Review: One Night in Hartswood by Emma Denny

In 1360 England, Penn and Lily’s powerful families are forcing a marriage neither wants in One Night in Hartswood. Penn finds a way to escape the keep into the nearby woods, and of course the alarm bells sound and the woods swarm with people looking for him. Lily’s brother Raff, who’s known for tracking and survival abilities, is among them. And he finds him, but mistakes him as a servant. Penn, who also has no idea who Raff is, begs him to take him along to freedom.

The two men travel quietly together, and the road trip is the heart of the story. Each had been seeking freedom and solitude, but then realize it’s easy to be around each other and start truly enjoying the company. And each is hoping the other feels the same way, but there’s much uncertainty and doubt.

Yes, this part of the story can get a little slow, but these characters needed the time and pages for the relationship to really build and grow. The journey illustrates the growing tenderness, depth of feelings, and personalities to shine. So I can’t complain too much about that.

The combination of feeling the characters’ sweetness, guessing when and how the secrets would come out, and wondering how the author would resolve all the conflicts really sold One Night in Hartswood for me. The resolution was clever, though really I just loved following these two genuinely good people and seeing them end up happy.

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Rating: 4
Steam: Medium
Themes and Tropes: Secret Identity, LGBTQ+, Road Trip, Forbidden Love
Pair With: Wines from Seneca Shore Wine Cellars, Medieval Wines of the Finger Lakes