The House of Baric Part Two

A Brother's Defense

Fiction - Historical - Event/Era
512 Pages
Reviewed on 08/08/2022
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Asher Syed for Readers' Favorite

The House of Baric: A Brother's Defense by Jillian Bald is a European historical fiction novel taking place in the late 1600s and is book two in The House of Baric Trilogy. Book one is Shields Down and book three is Widows and Weddings, and the entire trilogy is available for reading in succession now. The main characters are the Baron of Baric, Mauro Baric, and his Baroness Resi Baric, formerly Resi Kokkinos, born into the Thessalonian merchant class. The newlyweds' home of Baric Castle is situated in a Venetian barony in Croatia, and the castle is where almost all of the story takes place. Mauro greets his brother-in-law Patrik with all the grace he can muster, despite fragile relations, for a sojourn at the castle alongside his compatriots, Bem, Cyro, Soren, and Salar Nassim. Ladies in attendance are quick to engage with the intriguing foreign guests and the eclectic mix is a launchpad for dalliances, some innocent and others not so much so. Mauro's first and foremost responsibility lies with his barony and the safety of his Baroness, and he is prepared to protect both against all threats, whether they come from outside or within.

“You said in the chapel that you loved me from the first day.”
“...Our connection is felt deep in my being, and I yearn to see you each day.”

In the interests of full disclosure, I started this series with The House of Baric: A Brother's Defense and not the first book but did find it was perfectly fine as a read on its own. Having said that, it is far more than engrossing enough to have me want to go back and read author Jillian Bald's first book to get the backstory and foundational plot of the trilogy. The prose is impressive and the tension between lovers and friends clings to the castle walls in all the scenes. It is interesting to get into the mindset of 17th-century life and the reminder that women had little agency but what little they did have was employed and manipulated with gusto. The mercenaries' backstories are unveiled with the more sub-rosa parts given to the reader alone and this affords the reader a greater understanding of motive. The sizzle between Mauro and Resi is a welcome thread of heat and the chemistry has a genuinely organic feeling. A different type of climax happens toward the end of the story and it's the part where furious page-turning kicks in, as it should be. Exceptional storytelling by Jillian Bald and very highly recommended.

Jamie Michele

A Brother's Defense by Jillian Bald is a historical fiction saga set in the 17th century and the second book in the completed trilogy, The House of Baric, preceded by book one, Shields Down, and followed by book three, Widows and Weddings. The marriage of Resi and Mauro Baric was arranged for purposes far from love in an effort to put bad blood between the two families to bed. So they put Resi and Mauro to bed, and ultimately the merchant's daughter came to love her husband, a baron of the Croatian aristocracy. Harmony is once more tossed out the window when Resi's brother Patrik arrives with experienced soldiers and a chip on his shoulder. However, this is nothing compared to the flirtations and faux pas, broken hearts and broken trust, and a cataclysmic finale where The House of Baric has the potential to topple.

Loads and loads and loads to unpack from A Brother's Defense but what a joy it has been getting to this point! Jillian Bald is an extraordinary writer with a particular skill at dialogue, which feels almost poetic, especially when it tumbles from the lips of the delicious Salar Nassim. The 'sellsword' is my favorite character and I may or may not be a little bit in love with him. To be fair, I fit right in because everyone seems to be in love, or in lust, with everybody else in this novel. There are love triangles and then there are pentagrams, and you'll have to read to find out on which side the couscous crumbles. The historical intricacies are exhaustive but not overly indulgent to the point of information dumping. The pace is slower as a result sometimes but readers who adore an immersive experience as I do will be thrilled. Overall, this is a well-constructed, captivating read and I am so fortunate that Widows and Weddings is already out so I can dive right in.

K.C. Finn

A Brother’s Defense is a work of fiction in the historical drama subgenre and is the second installment in the House of Baric series. It is aimed at mature readers and was penned by author Jillian Bald. In 1649, the various members of the House of Baric have their well-earned peace stirred by a series of revelations of family secrets and a string of blossoming courtships. At the center of the whirlwind of intrigue and romance lies the distinct threat of war looming for the family, but the colorful cast of inhabitants at Baric Castle has seen off danger before, and together they can do it again.

There’s a very real risk with novels that entertain as broad a cast as this that a reader will get to the end without the feeling of getting to know any of the characters, or worse of having the characters blur into one. But author Jillian Bald’s skill for colorful characterization is excellent as everyone from Mauro to Danica comes to life on the pages, working in harmony to present a beautiful tapestry as their tales weave in and out of each other. The fusion of the many characters and their unique storylines allows the narrative to cover considerable ground without ever losing focus on the House of Baric and its members with romance, intrigue, and armed conflict all taking their turn in the limelight. Overall, A Brother’s Defense is an outstanding example of a sequel done well, building on what the first book has established whilst telling a distinct story that stands on its own merits.