This book is great fun--a fine, imaginative read. I loved the setting--a trek through medieval market towns--and the way the story dances nimbly among the genres of period, romance and fantasy, but draws its power from the flawed humans at the center of the story and their antagonistic pairing.
For the record, the author defines "Steadfasting" as the practice of standing up as a sort of "best man" at a wedding. However, if the groom doesn't show, this stalwart soul has to marry the bride. Odd, yes, but it works.
Karsten is an itinerant trader who is literally unaware of what he's getting into when he agrees to Steadfast for a man he does not know well; as the story opens, he finds himself bound by this strange tradition to an equally unwilling wife, the lovely, cranky Arialla. The couple trudge off into the grubbiness and danger of a trader's life--he, searching for the most expedient way to make her agree to return home; she, stubborn (and at times downright hostile) in her resolve to stick with his wagon and team, too proud to return alone to face the ridicule of her small town.
Both characters are not what they appear to be, and therein lies the story. Which is very well written, and very well edited (a plus in KindleWorld).
I feel this book would make an excellent movie, one that might prove superior to most of the current fantasy fare.
The one problem I had with The Steadfasting was the author's use of an early-English-ish grammatical structure and dialogue. It felt awkward, initially. However, once I became accustomed to it, it fell into sync with the spirit of the book.
For the sake of disclosure, I should mention that I've met Doug Boulter; we were part of the same virtual writers' workshop for some time, and I read an earlier iteration of The Steadfasting, back when it was more novella than novel. The original story was decent, but this is far better--fuller, more human, more believable. It's good to see Boulter take the plunge into Kindle with his stories; he's much too good a writer to keep his material on a single computer.
Sue O'Neill Don't Mean Nothing