Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Best Medieval Romances!


Who among us ladies hasn’t dreamed of a knight in shinning armour? Or, of living in a time when valor prevailed and honorable men did great deeds and women of character loved them? (I did say we were dreaming, right?) Well, these historical romances will take you back to those medieval times.

Since the medieval period in European history spanned the 5th century to the 15th century, all the stories on my list take place during that period; however, some Scottish, Irish, Viking and Pirate/Privateer historicals from that time period not listed here can be found on those specific “Best Lists” (found on the right side of my blog).

All of these listed below have garnered 4, 4 and ½ or 5 stars from me:

A Kingdom of Dreams by Judith McNaught
Betrothal by Jenna Jaxon (the first part of a 3-part story)
Bianca by Bertrice Small (1st in the Silk Merchant’s Daughters series)
Blackheart by Tamara Leigh
Blue Heaven, Black Night by Shannon Drake (aka Heather Graham)
Bond of Blood by Roberta Gellis
Bride of the Lion by Elizabeth Stuart
By His Majesty’s Grace, By Grace Possessed and Seduced by Grace by Jennifer Blake
By Possession, By Design, Stealing Heaven, By Arrangement, The Protector and Lord of a Thousand Nights, 14th century London series by Madeline Hunter
Candle in the Window by Christina Dodd
Come the Morning, Conquer the Night, Seize the Dawn, Knight Triumphant, The Lion in Glory, and When We Touch from the Graham series by Shannon Drake
Damsel in Distress by Shannon Drake
Desire of the Heart by Katherine Vickery (aka Kathryn Kramer)
Enchantress, Kiss of the Moon and Outlaw, Welsh trilogy by Lisa Jackson
Everlasting by Kathleen Woodiwiss
Impostress, Temptress and Sorceress, Welsh trilogy with fantasy elements by Lisa Jackson
Keeper of the Dream by Penelope Williamson
Lady of Fire and Fire and Steel, from the Fire Series by Anita Mills
Lady of Valor from the Warrior trilogy by Tina St. John
Laird of the Wind by Susan King
Lespada by Kathryn Le Veque
Lie Down in Roses by Shannon Drake (aka Heather Graham)
Lord of Desire, Lord of Temptation and Lord of Seduction, Risande Family trilogy by Paula Quinn
Lord of Vengeance by Tina St. John
On a Highland Shore and Rivals for the Crown by Kathleen Givens
Princess of Fire and the sequel Knight of Fire by Shannon Drake (aka Heather Graham)
Prisoner of My Desire by Johanna Lindsey
Rosamund by Bertrice Small, 1st in the Friarsgate Chronicles
Rose of Rapture by Rebecca Brandewyne
Shadowhawk by Barbara Bettis
Shadowheart by Laura Kinsale
Siege of the Heart by Elise Cyr
Silk and Steel and the sequel Desire and Deceive by Cordia Byers
Silverhawk by Barbara Bettis
Sword of the Heart by Maureen Kurr
The Angel Knight by Susan King
The Bedeviled Heart by Carmen Caine
The Black Lyon by Jude Deveraux
The Christmas Knight by Michele Sinclair
The Conqueror, Promise of the Rose and The Prize, trilogy by Brenda Joyce
The Dragon Tree by Marsha Canham
The Falcon and the Flower, The Dragon and the Jewel and The Marriage Prize, the Plantagenet trilogy by Virginia Henley
The Game by Brenda Joyce
The King’s Pleasure by Shannon Drake (aka Heather Graham)
The King’s Rebel by Michelle Morrison
The Last Knight by Candice Proctor
The Lily and the Falcon by Jannine Corti-Petska
The Lion’s Bride by Connie Mason
The Outlaw Knight (aka Lords of the White Castle) by Elizabeth Chadwick
The Raven and the Rose by Virginia Henley
The Rose of Blacksword by Rexanne Becnel
The Rose of York: Love and War, The Crown of Destiny and Fall From Grace, trilogy by Sandra Worth
The Swan Maiden and The Stone Maiden from the Maiden trilogy by Susan King
The Warrior’s Game and Spring’s Fury by Denise Domning
The Wild Hunt by Elizabeth Chadwick
The Wolf and the Dove by Kathleen Woodiwiss
Through a Dark Mist, In the Shadow of Midnight and The Last Arrow, Robin Hood trilogy by Marsha Canham
Untamed, Forbidden and Enchanted, trilogy by Elizabeth Lowell
Warrior’s Song, Fire Song, Earth Song and Secret Song, medieval series by Catherine Coulter
When Love Awaits by Johanna Lindsey
Where Love Dwells by Elizabeth Stuart
Winter’s Heat by Denise Domning
Wonderful, Wild and Wicked, trilogy by Jill Barnett

And, if you will allow, do consider my own medieval romance just published this month, The Red Wolf’s Prize!

Sunday, October 26, 2014

New Review: Rexanne Becnel’s THE ROSE OF BLACKSWORD – Exciting Medieval set in 12th Century England


Set in 12th century England, this is the story of Lady Rosalynde of Stanwood, a young beauty whose father consigned her and her young brother to live with their aunt and uncle when their mother died years ago. And now Rosalynde must travel home to Stanwood Castle to tell her father her brother has died.

On the way to Stanwood, outlaws set upon Rosalynde and her knights. She and her page escape, but the page is wounded and Rosalynde seeks the only help she can find—that of a condemned criminal—agreeing to handfast with him to save him from the gallows if he will help her get home. The outlaw they call Blacksword is really Sir Aric of Wycliffe, a knight of renown, who is none too happy about being nursemaid to a lady and her wounded page—he seeks only vengeance on those who falsely accused him of crimes. But when he learns that Rosalynde is now her father’s only heir, he decides to seek more than a reward—he wants to make their handfast a real marriage to gain her and her lands.
Original cover

This is a great story, well told—a page turner. Though there is no real history, there is a genuine historic feel and a real historic setting. Sir Aric is a noble knight but also a wily one, and Rosalynde (“Rose”) is not indifferent to his wooing. But her father sees Aric as a criminal and requires him to work as a servant at Stanwood Castle. Aric stays, rising to become a man at arms constantly reminding Rosalynde that she is his wife.

Lots of action, mystery and adventure with an exciting ending. I recommend it.

Friday, October 24, 2014

New Review: Marsha Canham’s THROUGH A DARK MIST – Wonderful 1st in the Robin Hood Trilogy of Medieval Romances

Marsha Canham has delivered an amazing set of medieval romances with her Robin Hood trilogy, wonderful tales of knights and their ladies. All are set in the time of Richard the Lion Heart and his brother and successor to the throne of England, King John—in 13th century England. All are rich in historical detail, lots of action and have love stories that will tear at your heart.

THROUGH A DARK MIST is the first and tells the story of the Black Wolf of Lincoln and Lady Servanne de Briscourt and is set in the woods of Lincoln and at the Bloodmoor Castle in England. The Wolf, also known as Lucien Wardieu, abducts Servanne for ransom on his way to regaining his rightful name and saving a young heir to the throne. His lands were stolen by his bastard younger brother, the Dragon Lord of Bloodmoor Keep (Lady Servanne's betrothed), who thought he had killed his older brother in the Crusades. The Black Wolf is a drool worthy hero and Lady Servanne is a delicate beauty with a spine of iron. Just the kind of hero and heroine I like!

Lucien had a cold heart that couldn't be touched until Lady Servanne's courage and purity of heart captured him. It’s a great story, well told and is followed by two more I recommend:

IN THE SHADOW OF MIDNIGHT is the story of the Wolf's cub, Eduard, and his red haired headstrong love, Lady Ariel de Clare, who will not be marrying the man King John has promised her to, thank you. She has her own plans, but even those go awry as her heart is captured by Eduard FitzRandwulf d'Amboise, who has been tasked to transport her safely to a prince in Wales her father has agreed she'll marry instead of the King's man.

THE LAST ARROW, which I thought was the best in the trilogy, though all are good, is the story of Brenna Wardieu, daughter of the Black Wolf and the sensual and dark Knight Griffyn Renaud, who is full of dark secrets but cannot withstand the lure of Brenna who can shoot the long bow better than any man and can ride a knight's warhorse. The third book, which gives the trilogy its name, raises all the Robin Hood legends and weaves a story that had me racing to follow the action and tearing up at the love scenes all at the same time. It was simply magical.

The Robin Hood Trilogy:

THROUGH A DARK MIST
IN THE SHADOW OF MIDNIGHT
THE LAST ARROW

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

New Review: Elizabeth Stuart’s WHERE LOVE DWELLS – Captivating Tale of Love Among Enemies in 13th Century Wales

This book won the RITA Award for Best Historical in 1991 and is among several wonderful romances by this author. This is one of those sweeping sagas that draw you in and hold you captive. Stuart is superb at integrating historical details and building characters with believable histories. Since she is Welsh, and this is a tale set in Wales in the late 13th century, it was a labor of love for her.

This is the story of the battles between England and Wales as the Welsh fought to hold onto their independence and their lands. Of course, it was a losing battle. The story opens as Lady Elen of Teifi loses her family (and her betrothed) in a battle that leaves her the last of her ruling family, a Welsh princess. Escaping into the north woods, she helps her remaining people lead raids on the English knights. The man who has protected her all her life becomes the Welsh Fox the English dread. In a raid on her rebel camp, Elen is taken prisoner by Sir Richard of Kent, King Edward’s liege knight who has been given the assignment to rid Wales of the rebels. He doesn’t know the young woman he has captured is the last of the royal Welsh family. Instead, he thinks she is the mistress of the rebel known as the Welsh Fox.

The story of how Elen and Richard discover their love for each other notwithstanding they are enemies is a wonderful tale, well told. However, there were some improbable occurrences early in the story that just didn’t make sense. I found that surprising for a RITA award winner until I read on—the book was so worth it, a 5-star keeper.

Here are some examples of what I found improbable:

--Richard assumes from her appearance that Elen is a “mere girl”--13 or 14 (she is 16) -- yet he instantly concludes she must be the mistress of the Red Fox who he believes to be well over 30, and therefore he also concludes she is not a virgin. He doesn’t even ask.
--Elen speaks beautiful French and Welsh, but Richard assumes she cannot speak English, too. He doesn’t even test his theory and speaks freely of his plans to capture the Fox in front of her. It seemed unlikely an experienced warrior would do that.
--Knowing she is the only hope of her people to birth the next generation of Welsh rulers, she plots to kill Richard by using seduction to gain his weapon, never thinking that if she slept with him, she would give birth to the children of her enemy. I had trouble seeing a patriot engaging in that behavior.
--Richard continues to believe Elen is the mistress of the Red Fox even after she told him her betrothed was slain in an earlier battle. If she were 16 and betrothed, she’d be no man’s mistress. Yet, Richard never even thinks about that inconsistency.

Even with those things, this is an amazing story and recommend it as a “keeper.”

Sunday, October 19, 2014

New Review: Denise Domning’s THE WARRIOR’S GAME – Authentic Medieval with a Great Alpha Male Hero in the time of King John

This is the third in the Warrior Series but it can be read alone. All three are set in the time of King John and the Magna Carta, a foundational document adopted at the urging of rebellious barons in the 13th century limiting the powers of the king.

THE WARRIOR’S GAME is the story of Lady Amica del la Beres (“Ami”), the widow of a knight and the ward of King John. Unbeknownst to Ami, the king has promised her to one of his favored knights, Sir Michel de Martigny, a commoner son of a merchant who distinguished himself at the siege of Nantes. In Ami’s mind, he is no match for a king’s ward. Michel wants lands and heirs and is hoping the king will keep his promise and give him Ami. With that apparently in mind, the king has made Michel administrator of Ami’s manors, much to Ami’s chagrin.

Ami is a woman who is strong in all things except when it comes to Sir Michel. Whenever he touches her, she melts in his arms and turns into a tart. Being well aware of that, and a man who has made his way in the world through his ruthless intelligence and courage, Michel uses it to his advantage, embarrassing her for her disdain of his commoner origins. Ami willingly plays into his hand several times.

Domning’s story reflects much research into the 13th century life at court and these historic details add richness and authenticity to the tale. Not just the historical setting, but the historic sounds and smells. You feel like you are there with Ami, struggling to gain a toehold on the future when she is merely a woman who, at the king’s whim, could be given to some unacceptable man. Like Sir Michel, for example. No matter the knight is handsome and sexy and his kisses render her a mushball. The king would play his game and she is but a pawn.

If you like a real historic feel in your historical romance (as I do) and you like the medieval period, this is the romance for you. It’s well written and kept me turning pages. I recommend it.

The Warrior trilogy:

THE WARRIOR’S WIFE
THE WARRIOR’S MAIDEN
THE WARRIOR’S GAME

Friday, October 17, 2014

New Review: Virginia Henley’s THE RAVEN AND THE ROSE – A 15th Century Romance and a Wonderful Tale!

It is the time when King Edward IV ruled England and faced threats from many enemies. Rich in history of 15th century England, this is a passionate love story between two stubborn, strong-willed people who reached for all life could give them and rose to every challenge, including the one presented by each other.

Beautiful Roseanna Castlemaine rides and hunts with the best of her father’s men and is an expert at horse breeding. She does what she pleases. At 17, she learns she is the illegitimate daughter of the king, who has been her mother’s lover since they were 14. Roseanna’s “first love” is a landless knight, Sir Bryan, who writes her poetry. They pledge their love to each other, though she has been betrothed for years to Roger Montford, Baron of Ravenspur. She has never met the baron and he’s never claimed her. The King did that mostly to protect Ravenspur from having to ward off the parents of marriageable young girls as he’d already had two disastrous marriages that ended in the death of both wives.

Wanting out of the betrothal that prevents her from marrying the man she loves, Roseanna rides to the hunting lodge where Ravenspur is staying to ask him to drop his claim so she can marry Sir Bryan. But her plans go awry when she is beset by a storm and her horse runs away. Tristan, Ravenspur’s younger brother, finds her in a bedraggled state and thinks her a simple village girl and decides she would make a grand prize for his brother entertainment.

This is another good one by Henley, with a great story, sexy love scenes, a worthy hero and a heroine to inspire. It’s in the vein of the others she wrote at this time, and may I say the cover is one of my favorites!

Highly recommended.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

New Review: Penelope Williamson’s KEEPER OF THE DREAM – Enthralling Welsh Medieval Romance!

This is one of the best medieval romances I’ve read, but then I’m a fan of Penelope Williamson.

Set in the mid 12th century when England was at war with what would become Wales, and the "marcher lands" were a battleground, it tells of Raine, bastard son of the Earl of Chester, and Ariana, a Welsh woman who becomes part of the conqueror’s spoils.

Raine’s father was a Norman nobleman who treated Raine cruelly (beating him when he asked for a pony on his birthday, confining him to work in the stables, turning him over to their enemies). Raine overcomes his rude beginning and all he has suffered to become The Black Dragon, a favored knight of King Henry. Raine returns to Rhuddlan, a castle in Wales where he was once held captive, now held by Owain, lord of Gwynedd. When Raine takes the castle, only a young son of Gwynedd and his daughter, Arianna, remain. Arianna witnesses Raine kill her brother and hates him for it. (She is a seer and had a vision of a Black Dragon and realizes Raine is the one is she dreaded.)

As the story develops, Henry allows Raine to keep Rhuddlan and gives him Arianna to wed. She hates the Norman who has killed her brother and the start of the marriage is a disaster.

I cannot begin to tell you how well woven this complex tale is, but suffice it to say it is very well done and you will be glad you read it. The characters are well developed (and there are some wonderful ones, not the least of which is Taliesin, the wizard who is weaving his own story). The history of the period so well presented that you feel you are there, which is one of the author's great talents. She takes time for details that make it real. You become a part of the world she has created and it's wonderful. Needless to say, the love story will tear at your heart.

I do have to say, however, that this hero has a very rough and mean side so be prepared. It's a bodice ripper. But it's a keeper and it won the coveted RITA award. So, of course, I recommend it!

Monday, October 13, 2014

New Review: Tamara Leigh’s BLACKHEART –Great Medieval Romance!

This is a classic--a real "keeper."

Set in 12th century England, this is the story is of Gabriel de Vere, the oldest son of a Norman Baron who rejected Gabriel as his heir because on her deathbed his mother confessed to having taken lovers. Since Gabriel and his younger brother, Blase, have her dark looks, the father wonders if they are really his. To solve his problem, Gabriel’s father chooses as his heir the fairer third son.

Gabriel leaves, vowing to make it on his own. He succeeds, becoming a powerful knight fighting in the Crusades and gaining the favor of King Richard who gives him a castle and estate in Normandy.

Gabriel’s close friend, Bernart Kinthorpe, blames him unfairly for a wound that robbed him of his manhood in the Crusades. When Bernart returns home, he marries Gabriel’s betrothed Julianna without telling her they can have no real marriage. Since Bernart cannot consummate his marriage to Julianna, he decides to gain a son with another man's seed. Out of revenge, he picks Gabriel, so that he can take from him what he feels Gabriel robbed him of--the capacity to sire an heir. Bernart lures Gabriel to his castle in England with a high stakes tournament and then, using threats against her much loved sister, forces Julianna to go to Gabriel's bed in the dark of night disguised as a castle wench. Julianna complies, though she is against the whole idea. (She is a faithful, albeit virgin, wife.)

Believing Bernart's lies about Gabriel, Julianna initially has no feelings for Gabriel other than disdain, but soon discovers him to be a man of courage and honor. In their moments of passion over the week he's at her husband's castle she gives her heart to Gabriel. When Gabriel discovers the ruse, he vows to claim any child that results and have his revenge on both Julianna and Bernart who he sees as co-conspirators.

The author captures well the 12th century, balancing the language of the time with a need to be understandable to modern readers. Hence we know clearly what is going on but we know we are back in the time of Richard the Lion Heart. Great attention is given to castle life, preparation for battle, food, dress, customs and the history of the time so that you feel you are living it. But since this is a romance, the love story is central and this is a good one that kept me reading late into the night (always a good sign).

The characters are well defined and you care about them, the love scenes realistic, and the tale very well told. You won't regret reading this one!

Saturday, October 11, 2014

New Review: Susan King’s THE SWAN MAIDEN - Impressive Second in the Medieval Celtic Series

Set in Scotland and England in the early 14th century, this is the tale of Sir Gawain Avenel, a noble knight, who is half Scot, born Gabhan McDuff. When his father was killed and their castle burned, his English mother took him to England where his stepfather, a nobleman, raised him.

King masterfully weaves history, legend and great storytelling into a wonderful medieval romance. Sir Gawain is the knight who aided Jamie Lindsay and Isobel Seton in LAIRD OF THE WIND.

Though raised in England, Sir Gawain never forgot his Scottish roots. His gallantry (he has a propensity to come to the aid of those in need) leads him to rescue the proud Scottish beauty, Juliana Lindsay ("the Swan Maiden") when her castle is attacked. Years later, he comes to her rescue again at King Edward's court when he seeks to embarrass her by challenging his knights to tame “the Swan.”

Each must come to terms with their true nature and loyalty as they also deal with their passion and love for each other.

Definitely worth the read.

The series:

THE SWORD MAIDEN
THE SWAN MAIDEN
THE SWORD MAIDEN
LAIRD OF THE WIND

Thursday, October 9, 2014

The Allure of Medieval Romance



Yesterday, an article I wrote on the resurgence in medieval romance appeared in USA TODAY's Happy Ever After section. I thought you might like to read it--and I'd love to know your thoughts!

You can read it below and see it as it appeared HERE.



The Allure of Medieval Romance by Regan Walker

Medieval romance has been around for centuries. The love story of King Arthur, Lancelot and Guinevere, as memorialized in Lancelot, le Chevalier de la Charrette, an Old French poem, written in the 12th century, and Wagner's composition of Tristan und Isolde are classics we never tire of. And, many of us read Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott, set in 12th century England, when we were in school. It might surprise you to know that romance writing developed in Britain after the Norman Conquest and flourished right through the Middle Ages. But it just might be that medieval romance is experiencing a resurgence today.

On Amazon, for example, there are nearly as many medieval romance novels as there are historical romance novels. Many of the new ones are self-published, possibly because publishers haven’t been as interested in the subgenre. But some of the authors I have spoken with are making a good living off their medieval stories. Some are Amazon bestsellers. So, perhaps the publishers should take note.

Why do we love to read about that time when knights battled for their king and ladies swooned at their victories? Perhaps it is the notion of chivalry, a valuing of womanhood and virtues such as truth, honor and valor. A knight who rises to duty, and the maiden who would take her place at his side. In Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales, he describes a knight as being distinguished in truth, honor, generosity and courtesy, who is both wise and modest. A nobility of spirit, not just a nobility of title and lands.

In today’s medieval romances, readers want good love stories, but they also want more. They want to experience a time when, putting on rose-colored glasses, a simpler life allowed for the graces and time for romantic love. A knight might woo his lady with love notes and gifts, and take a ride with her on his palfrey, not just swing by for a beer. And he will be saving her from certain peril at some point. With all the modern fiction available, full of crude language and ill treatment of women, readers are looking for a change. A look into the past, when women wore courtly gowns, their virtue was (generally) protected and a man’s honor was everything, is refreshing. Of course, the heroine must be intelligent and courageous. I don’t wonder if that is one reason Game of Thrones is such a popular TV series. Though not set in any particular time in history, it definitely has a medieval feel, and the females are among the strongest characters.

One of my fellow authors, Kathryn LeVeque, told me “more and more readers enjoy getting involved in a big medieval book for the adventure and romance.” According to Kathryn, “readers are 'over' vampires, werewolves, ghosts, shape-shifters, bad dukes and sinful earls.” According to her, “They like the thought of a virtuous knight sweeping them off their feet and a good, old-fashioned damsel in distress.”

I heard much the same thing at the Romance Writers of America when it comes to future trends in historical romance. It made me think medieval romance is about to experience a come back.
I was drawn to medieval romance myself, both as a reader and as an author. My earlier novels and stories were all set in the Regency era, though I would never have described them as “light” romances. (Each has real history and mystery as well as a love story.) But the deep past kept calling to me. It was an adventure to dive into the 11th century and take a look at England after the Norman Conquest. It wasn’t all a pretty picture, to be sure. No, indeed. William the Conqueror was a brutal king who treated his enemies despicably. But the knights in my story, The Red Wolf’s Prize, are of a noble bent, inclined to pay homage to womanhood, even if the hero does lust after the heroine. And of course, my heroine is brave and noble of heart, though her independence leads her into trouble. Since it’s a romance, you can expect conflict and difficulty, but in the end, even an English maiden will succumb to a Norman knight if he proves himself to be a man of valor and honor.

So, as you consider your reading options, take a look at the more than one thousand medieval romances available for your reading pleasure. And, please take a look at The Red Wolf’s Prize!

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

New Review: Barbara Bettis’ SILVERHAWK – Classic Medieval Story of Knights and their Ladies in the time of King Richard

Set in Lincolnshire in 1197, this is the story of mercenary knight Sir Giles of Cambrai (“Silverhawk”), who was ambushed by outlaws on his way from France to see Lord Henry of Chauvere, and Lady Emelin of Compton, whose men rescue Giles.

Lady Emelin is on her way from the convent where she was living to wed Lord Osbert, a stranger to her. Osbert essentially bought her as a broodmare from her evil brother, so that he could gain an heir. Despite this, Emelin is willing because she thinks even a bad marriage that will give her children is preferable to life as a nun. When they come across the wounded Sir Giles, she insists they take him with them so his wounds can be tended, little knowing that Giles knows her betrothed and loathes him.
Lincolnshire

This is an adventure with lots of mystery as Sir Giles’ past remains in question until the very end. Emelin is a worthy heroine, brave and yet will do her duty to help others. Giles (“Silverhawk”) remains a noble knight enamored of Emelin but believing he is unworthy of her. There are many great secondary characters that populate the story, and some who scheme to gain the advantage for King Philip of France over King Richard who remains on Crusade throughout the story.

A lively tale, I recommend it.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

New Review: Elise Cyr’s SIEGE OF THE HEART – Great Debut and an Entertaining William the Conqueror Romance

This was Cyr’s debut novel and it’s a well-written, entertaining story from the time of William the Conqueror.

The story is set in the south of England, beginning in December 1066, a few months after the Battle of Hastings. Lady Isabel receives word her father, a thegn, while on his way to Hastings, died of wounds sustained at the Battle of Stamford Bridge, fighting for King Harold. And then a Norman knight, Alexandre d’Evreux, shows up at her castle at Ashdown to take her and her family to meet William, soon to be crowned king.

Isabel has no desire to leave, particularly when she has received no word of her brother who fought at Hastings. So she stalls the knight, telling him she is waiting for her father. Little does she know that William has already given both Ashdown and her to Alex.

Alex is a noble and gentle knight, a saint when it comes to the rebellious Isabel. Rather than demand his way, he prefers to woo her. He tells Isabel only that he is charged with taking her and her father to London. And Isabel withholds the truth from him that her father is dead. Though Isabel is resigned to her fate that William will give her to one of his knights, it never occurs to her that Alex is that man. She is independent and can take care of herself—and often does in her battles with the Welsh. She is surprisingly accepting of what has happened to her family and her country.

Cyr brings to life Ashdown and the time immediately after the Conquest, and includes some nice secondary characters. If you like medieval romances set in this time period, this one has to appeal. It will be interesting to see what setting Cyr chooses for her next book, but with her fondness for the medieval subgenre, we can expect more like this!

Friday, October 3, 2014

New Review: Mary Jo Putney’s UNCOMMON VOWS – A Worthy Tale from 12th Century England

Not many readers of historical romance may know that Mary Jo Putney wrote a medieval, but she did, and this is it! Set in 1143, when England was torn apart by the war between King Stephen and Matilda, King Henry I’s only legitimate heir, it tells the story of Lady Meriel de Vere, a high spirited young woman who loves riding fast and training her falcon. Convent raised, she is considering taking the veil until a vision of a mounted knight blocking that path warns her from it.

Adrian de Lancey, Baron Warfield thought to become a priest, but the death of his father and older brothers at the hands of their enemy, Guy of Burgoigne, gave Adrian the title and a reason for vengeance. Adding to that, Matilda names Adrian Earl of Shropshire and King Stephen bestows the same title on Guy.

One day when Meriel is hunting with her falcon, she strays into the royal forest where Adrian and his men find her and accuse her of poaching. Meriel fears to tell him she is a Norman from her brother’s holding, Avonleigh, because they support King Stephen and she knows Adrian supports Matilda, so she lies and tells him she is a Welsh commoner. Adrian takes her back to his castle at Warfield and forcibly holds her prisoner in a small stone chamber, telling her she will remain there until she agrees to become his mistress. Meriel vows never to give in, preferring death to dishonor.

Adrian is her knowing his perfidy by her amnesia…which renders her a docile female, hardly recognizable from the strong-willed beauty she had been. Of course, Adrian takes full advantage.

This one will definitely keep you turning pages. Though it did bother me a bit that Meriel could have been free any time if she but told Adrian who she was. Alas, she does not and remains Adrian’s prisoner. For Meriel, who loved her freedom, it was a horrible fate. Adrian apparently buys her tale that she is common born, though her speech must have been that of a lady. And, though he realizes she is an innocent, he prays for wisdom to seduce her. (The word “cad” came to mind.) I so wanted him to grovel in the end.

The falconry aspects of the story are fascinating and Putney has done her research to present the noble sport well. The historical background is rich and surrounds the romance. I quite liked that. This story has it all: history, a great romance, vengeance, treachery, deceit, amnesia and, at one point, near rape. Oh yes, the ending is an exciting one!

A worthy medieval romance, I recommend it!

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

The Red Wolf's Prize is here!

October is medieval romances month on my blog, and what better way to begin than with my very own medieval romance, just released today--The Red Wolf's Prize! It recently hit Amazon's Top 100 Medieval Romances list, and that based on preorders alone. (My thanks to those of you who are among the 400+ who have pre-ordered it!) Since it's release, it's now #1 in Ancient World Romances, #5 in Hot New Releases and #9 in the Top 100 Medieval Romances.

I thought you might like to see the cover, the description, some early praise, the trailer and a short excerpt, so here they are!

HE WOULD NOT BE DENIED HIS PRIZE

Sir Renaud de Pierrepont, the Norman knight known as the Red Wolf for the beast he slayed with his bare hands, hoped to gain lands with his sword. A year after the Conquest, King William rewards his favored knight with Talisand, the lands of an English thegn slain at Hastings, and orders him to wed Lady Serena, the heiress that goes with them.

SHE WOULD LOVE HIM AGAINST HER WILL

Serena wants nothing to do with the fierce warrior to whom she has been unwillingly given, the knight who may have killed her father. When she learns the Red Wolf is coming to claim her, she dyes her flaxen hair brown and flees, disguised as a servant, determined to one day regain her lands. But her escape goes awry and she is brought back to live among her people, though not unnoticed by the new Norman lord.

Deprived of his promised bride, the Red Wolf turns his attention to the comely servant girl hoping to woo her to his bed. But the wench resists, claiming she hates all Normans.

As the passion between them rises, Serena wonders, can she deny the Norman her body? Or her heart?

Some early praise:

“Ms. Walker has the rare ability to make you forget you are reading a book…the characters become real, the modern world fades away and all that is left is the intrigue, drama and romance.” Straight from the Library

“An engrossing love story grounded in meticulous research. Regan Walker makes the transition from Regency London to Anglo Norman England with consummate ease.” Glynn Holloway, author of 1066 What Fates Impose

“Regan Walker has once again written a story that grabs hold and doesn’t let go. There is intrigue, action and a beautifully developed romance." Vickie Moore, The Reading Cafe

The trailer:



An excerpt:

The door opened with no warning knock.

Serena gasped and pulled the cloth over her breasts and belly, keenly aware her legs were bare for anyone to see.

The Red Wolf stepped into the chamber, his piercing gray gaze sliding over her body and coming to rest where her breasts strained against the thin cloth. She could feel the heat of her blush as she looked down to see the drying cloth clinging to her wet skin.

Without saying a word, he turned to the side and took off his belt. Then, with a grunt, he pulled his mail over his head and struggled out of his tunic. She would have offered to help had she not been so scantily clad. Had she not been so shy of his disrobing before her.

When his tunic slid to the floor, she nervously asked, “What do you intend, my lord?”

“I should think that was obvious, my lady. I am claiming my bride.”

“Now?” She gripped the drying cloth more tightly to her still damp body. The long strands of her pale hair, wet from the bath, clung to her skin. No man had ever seen her in such a state.

“Yes, now.” His eyes considered her carefully, and he shook his head. “God knows I’ve left it overlong.”

While still staring at her, he shed his spurs and boots and doffed his linen shirt, leaving his chest bare and his lower body clad in only hosen and braies. He was a beautiful man with his bronze skin and muscled chest. Her eyes were drawn to the white cloth circling his upper arm.

“Your wound,” she said, as she focused on the white bandage around his upper arm. The wound from the arrow he took for Jamie. How could she not love such a man?

“Aye.” He glanced down at the bandage. “My token from the siege at Exeter.”

“Does it pain you?”

His gray eyes narrowed intently. “If you are asking if it will impair my performance in our bed, nay.”

If you are so disposed, you can order it on Amazon HERE.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Best Bodice Rippers!



I belong to a group on Goodreads, Bodice Ripper Romance Anonymous, that has sent me some of the greatest recommendations for historical romances. And so I could not resist this new list, however difficult this category may be to define. Some think this subgenre is comprised of just the classics. That is not so. While many of the classics were bodice rippers, certainly not all were. And, lest you think it’s a subgenre of the past, there are new bodice rippers being written today (some of which are on this list).

At least one of my Goodreads pals defines this subgenre as stories “containing an element of sexual peril.” Possibly that is so, as the ones on my list all have this. But for me, there is usually more. Typically there is a forced seduction by the hero involved or an actual ripping of the heroine’s bodice. Let’s just say I know it when I see it.

These won’t appeal to all, but certainly they are all well done. All have been rated 4 or 5 stars by me. Some are keepers. If you like stories that feature an alpha male hero who begins demanding his way, but falls at the heroine’s feet at the end to beg forgiveness and confess his love, you’ll find them here.

Do let me know if you have read a good one I’ve missed.

A Dangerous Love, The Border Lord’s Bride from The Border Chronicles by Bertrice Small
A Gentle Feuding by Johanna Lindsey
A Kingdom of Dreams by Judith McNaught
A Pirate's Love by Johanna Lindsey
And Gold Was Ours by Rebecca Brandewyne
Ashes in the Wind by Kathleen Woodiwiss
Almost Heaven by Judith McNaught
Black Sword by Kathryn LeVeque
Bonds of Love by Lisa Gregory (aka Candace Camp)
Bound by the Heart by Marsha Canham (the original print version)
Bride of the Baja by Jane Toombs
Callista by Cordia Byers
Captive Bride by Johanna Lindsey
Chance the Winds of Fortune and the sequel, Dark Before the Rising Sun by Laurie McBain
Comanche Moon by Catherine Anderson
Crimson Rapture by Jennifer Horsman
Damsel in Distress by Shannon Drake (aka Heather Graham)
Dark Fires by Brenda Joyce
Dawnfire by Lynn Eirckson
Deceive Not My Heart by Shirlee Busbee
Desire in Disguise by Rebecca Brandewyne
Devil's Desire by Laurie McBain
Devil's Embrace by Catherine Coulter
Dream of Me by Josie Litton
Embrace and Conquer by Jennifer Blake
Edin’s Embrace by Nadine Crenshaw
Fair is the Rose by Meagan McKinney
Fires of Winter and Hearts Aflame from the Viking trilogy by Johanna Lindsey
Forbidden Love by Karen Robards
Forever and a Lifetime by Jennifer Horsman
Forever My Love by Rebecca Brandewyne
Golden Fancy by Jennifer Blake
Gypsy Lady by Shirley Busbee
Innocent Fire, Firestorm and Fires of Paradise (part of the Bragg Saga) by Brenda Joyce
Island Flame, and the sequel, Sea Fire by Karen Robards
Keeper of the Dream by Penelope Williamson
Lady Highwayman by Tanya Kayley
Lady of Conquest by Teresa Medeiros
Lady of Fire by Anita Mills
Lady Vixen by Shirley Busbee
Lespada by Kathryn Le Veque
Lie Down in Roses by Shannon Drake (aka Heather Graham)
Lions and Lace by Meagan McKinney
Love, Cherish Me by Rebecca Brandewyne
Love Only Once and Gentle Rogue from the Mallory series by Johanna Lindsey
Love's Wild Desire by Jennifer Blake
Magic Embrace by Jennifer Horsman
Midnight Masquerade by Shirlee Busbee
My Lord Monleigh by Jan Cox Speas
My Wicked Enchantress by Meagan McKinney
No Gentle Love by Rebecca Brandewyne
Notorious Angel by Jennifer Blake
Once and Always by Judith McNaught
Ondine by Shannon Drake (aka Heather Graham)
Pirate Royale by Cordia Byers
Princess of Fire by Shannon Drake (aka Heather Graham)
Prisoner of My Desire by Johanna Lindsey
Rangoon by Christine Monson
Rose of Rapture by Rebecca Brandewyne
Royal Seduction from the Royal Princes of Ruthenia duology by Jennifer Blake
Season of the Sun by Catherine Coulter
Shadowheart by Laura Kinsale
Shanna by Kathleen Woodiwiss
Silver Storm by Cynthia Wright
Skye O'Malley by Bertrice Small
Stormfire by Christine Monson
Surrender in Moonlight by Jennifer Blake
Swan Road by Rebecca Brandewyne
Sweet Savage Eden by Heather Graham
Sweet Savage Love by Rosemary Rogers
Tara’s Song by Barbara Ferry Johnson
Tender Betrayal by Jennifer Blake
The Black Lyon by Jude Deveraux
The Black Swan By Day Taylor
The Conqueror by Brenda Joyce
The Darkest Heart by Brenda Joyce
The Demon Lover by Victoria Holt
The Falcon and the Flower by Virginia Henley
The Flame and The Flower by Kathleen Woodiwiss
The Flesh and the Devil by Teresa Denys
The Game by Brenda Joyce
The Ground She Walks Upon by Meagan McKinney
The Pagan’s Prize by Miriam Minger
The Pirate and the Pagan by Virginia Henley
The Silver Devil by Teresa Denys
The Spanish Rose by Shirlee Busbee
The Storm and the Splendor by Jennifer Blake
The Taming and Ride Out the Storm from a trilogy by Aleen Malcolm
The Wind and the Sea by Marsha Canham
The Wolf and the Dove by Kathleen Woodiwiss
This Other Eden by Marilyn Harris
Till Dawn Tames the Night by Meagan McKinney
Uncommon Vows by Mary Jo Putney
Under Crimson Sails by Lynna Lawton
Until You by Judith McNaught
Virgin Star by Jennifer Horsman
When Angels Fall by Meagan McKinney
When the Splendour Falls by Laurie McBain
While Passion Sleeps by Shirlee Busbee
Whitney, My Love by Judith McNaught
Wild Bells to the Wild Sky by Laurie McBain
Winter's Heat by Denise Domning