Monday, October 1, 2012

New Review: Shannon Drake’s COME THE MORNING – 1st in the Medieval Scottish Series A Worthy Read!

This is the first in a series of Drake's (aka Heather Graham) historical novels of the Graham clan (the next: CONQUER THE NIGHT, SEIZE THE DAWN, KNIGHT TRIUMPHANT, THE LION IN GLORY, WHEN WE TOUCH and THE QUEEN'S LADY), based on her own family history of the Graham's. I’ve read them all and recommend them.

Set in 12th century Scotland when King David I reigned, it begins as our hero, Waryk de Graham is 14 and on the battlefield with his father and uncle, both of whom are slain. In a heroic feat, he manages to rise from the assumed dead and save the remaining Scottish warriors and kill the leader of the Norse opposing forces, Renfrew. For this he is knighted by the king, and named "Lord Lion," and promised future prizes.

Ten years later after he has faithfully served the king and won many battles and his reputation has spread far and wide, the King is of a mind to finally give him the promised reward. Prompted to move by the death of Adin, once a Viking conqueror who then became truly Scottish and loyal to King David, the king gives Waryk the Blue Isle—a wondrous holding—and his daughter Mellyora MacAdin, who is known as beautiful and a brilliant swordswoman. Unaware of this, when her father dies, Mellyora asks the king to allow her to rule in her father's sted and to marry the McKinney who is a laird in his own right and lives on Blue Isle. But the king wants a powerful warrior defending Blue Isle and he wants to reward Waryk.

Waryk has had a mistress he has loved for years and wants to marry her. But he will bend to the King's will if only to gain the lands. Mellyora, headstrong and courageous, after many attempts to escape, is finally resigned to marry Waryk, or suffer the loss of her lands. Neither likes the other and so begins the story of their tumultuous love.

It's not a unique formula and Graham (aka Drake) has done it many times over, very successfully, I might add. Still, her writing is wonderful, the action does not stop, and the romance is compelling.

My only negatives with this one were these: At times, Mellyora, who was supposed to be a brilliant strategist, could appear quite stupid in falling into Waryk's traps, and he was at times less than honorable, even mean. When he finally consummates the marriage, it seemed more like a rape than a seduction. It all comes together in the end as Graham brings the story to a brilliant conclusion as she always does, but those were issues for me.

The historical elements are well done and Graham even includes a timeline in the back for those of us truly interested in the history.

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