Friday, May 17, 2013
New Review: Carmen Caine’s THE DARING HEART – Unusual Scottish Historical Romance with a Venetian Heroine and Venetian Assassins
This is the third in Caine’s Scottish medieval series. Set in 1482, three years after The Bedeviled Heart, the story begins in Sarlat, France where Lord Julian Gray is awakened from sleep by a knife pressed against his ribs. The young woman wielding the stiletto is Liselle, sister to Orazio di Franco and a part of the Vindictam, the renowned Venetian family of assassins. Julian, who pretends to be a profligate spending his time drinking, gambling and wenching, is really the spy Le Marin who is keeping an eye on Alexander Stewart, the Duke of Albany, who wants to take the throne from his brother James III of Scotland. Liselle, who looks forward to the day she will be given her first assassin assignment is thrilled when she is sent to the Scottish court.
The first half of the story does not take place in Scotland and so there is a different feel to this one. Half the characters are Venetian assassins and there are many Italian words interwoven into the text. At times it felt more Italian than Scottish. It is a clever tale and well written and yes, there is Scottish history woven in, too. Cameron (from The Bedeviled Heart) is very much involved in trying to hold the clans together to fight the English as Julian flits around Europe, England and finally Scotland in his attempts to thwart Albany’s plans and deal with all the Italians.
This is a good story though I did not like it as well as The Bedeviled Heart and that may be due to the heroine’s being a Venetian, and Julian’s inability to deal with her at times, and the more Italian historical feel. As with her other novels, there are no love scenes in this one but some good chemistry.
The Highland Heather and Hearts series (I recommend reading them in order as the characters pop up in each other’s stories):
The Kindling Heart (Bree & Ruan)
The Bedeviled Heart (Cameron & Kate)
The Daring Heart (Julian & Liselle)
The Bold Heart (Merry & Ewan—coming in 2014)