Monday, November 28, 2022

Alexandra Ripley’s SCARLETT – If You Only Saw the Movie…you must read this sequel to Gone With The Wind. It’s a great love story!

After seeing the movie Gone With The Wind for the umpteenth time and once again being disappointed there was no happy ending (sorry you classic lovers, but the ending where Scarlett says she’ll find a way to win Rhett back just begs for the rest of the story!), I was glad there was a sequel. It was commissioned by Margaret Mitchell’s estate and the author selected in a competition.

 

Scarlett satisfies the romance lover’s need for the ending we crave. It tells us what happened to Scarlett and Rhett after he left her, when she declared her love for him and he told her he didn’t give a damn.

 

The story begins in 1873, as Melanie, Scarlett’s lifelong friend, is buried and the mourners standing around gossiping about Scarlett, saying she’s “all business, and no heart.” When Atlanta society shuns her, Scarlett is left very much alone. It’s the bane of a strong woman’s existence, that people think she doesn’t care and hate her for it when, in fact, she cares very much though she doesn’t allow herself to show it. Of course, in Gone With The Wind, Scarlett was selfish and spurned Rhett’s love when offered. And when she finally realized she loved him, it was too late. He believes she only wants him because he doesn’t want her. But stay tuned…Scarlett is about to grow up.

 

Where you wanted to slap Scarlett in the movie, now you will want to hug her as she triumphs over trials that would break any other woman on the way to learning how to love.

 

For much of the 823 pages, the story is told through Scarlett’s perspective. Though Scarlett shows great kindness to others and pursues Rhett because she genuinely loves him, her motives are often misunderstood and others, quick to judge, reject her. Society snubs her and Rhett is cold, even cruel. His only aim is to get out of the marriage, describing her as a drug that will destroy him. (It was easy to see Clark Gable saying those lines.)

 

The book is divided into four sections, each finding Scarlett in new place:

 

Lost in the Dark (Atlanta)

High Stakes (Charleston)

New Life (Savannah)

The Tower (Ireland)

 

Ripley paints a compelling picture of Ireland, its people and their struggles, with wonderful characters, rich dialog and emotional scenes. We mourn the lost history of the O’Hara family as Scarlett seeks to regain her family’s land. And we cheer Scarlett as her incredible intelligence and courage rebuild, at least in part, what was lost.

 

If you are used to the pace of a normal historical romance, this story may seem a bit meandering. (There are whole chapters where Scarlett and Rhett never encounter each other.) Still, I found it a very satisfying love story and it kept me reading late into the night (two nights in a row!). When the “black moment “ came, it was the blackest I’ve ever experienced. But the ending is a sweet reward.

 

The book is a treasure, a keeper. I recommend it!

 


 

Friday, November 25, 2022

Victoria Holt’s THE PRIDE OF THE PEACOCK –Mystery, Opals and Love with a Peacock in Victorian Australia

Set in the Victorian era (about 1880), beginning in England, this is the story of Opal Jessica Clavering, the youngest daughter in a family that treats her as if she doesn’t belong. At one time the family was wealthy, but now they live in the Dower House next to the estate, Oakland Hall, they once called their own.

 

When she is 16, Jessica makes friends with the owner of Oakland Hall, Ben Henniker, an opal miner who made his money in the mines of New South Wales. Ben offers her the chance for a new life and Jessica takes it even though it includes a marriage of convenience to his illegitimate son, Josslyn Madden (“Joss”), called “the Peacock” for his pride and his home, Peacocks, in Australia.

 

Once married, Joss returns to Australia with Jessica, who begins to wonder if her husband isn’t planning to kill her. The famous jewel called the Green Flash at Sunset goes missing and there are no clues as to who took it. And then someone is murdered.

 

Holt is a great storyteller and immediately had me deeply involved in Jessica’s life. Jessica is a woman who has a curious mind, an adventurous spirit and is courageous to the core. I liked her very much. Joss is arrogant, like a peacock, but he also has depth. Since we are never in his mind, his thoughts remain a mystery except for what he tells Jessica. The fact he wants to see how Jessica changes as she “grows up” suggests he might like her after all.

 

The characters are richly drawn, the story absorbing and the excitement subtle as Jessica takes on the mystery of the missing jewel, the murder and her husband.

Wednesday, November 23, 2022

Stacy Reid’s WHEN THE EARL WAS WICKED – Bare-fisted fighter teaches a lady of quality to fight

Set in the Victorian era, this is the story of Lady Verity Ayles who, having been assaulted by a nobleman, decides to learn the art of self-defense. For her tutor, she chooses James Radcliffe, the Earl of Maschelly, who has a reputation for bare-fisted fighting, among other rakish pursuits.


James, who has come from poverty and not quite ton material notwithstanding his title, decides to take her up on the offer.  He will teach her how to fight and, in exchange, she will instruct him on all the refined manners needed to win a lady of quality.

 

Much of the book is taken up with her brother’s attempts to marry her to a villain and her clandestine meetings with James to learn to defend herself. She comes to see James as a worthy, kindhearted man and he sees her as a potential mate. A clever idea, well-told and a light, enjoyable read.

 

Friday, November 18, 2022

Candice Proctor’s SEPTEMBER MOON – A Masterful Tale set in Australia

Set in 1864 in Australia, this is a story of love in a foreign land, of discovering the world that opens to your heart when you embrace the things you fear the most. When her employer to whom she served as a companion dies, Englishwoman Amanda Davenport is suddenly stranded in Port Adelaide, Australia with no funds. Desperate and running out of money, she accepts a position as governess to Patrick O’Reilly’s three children in the isolated wilderness of the Flinders Ranges in the Outback (see picture below). Her only thought was to work for a year to secure passage home to England.

 

What happens when you love the man but hate the land he loves? And when he’s not even free to call you his own? That is the dilemma faced by Amanda. And the land she hates is harsh: “It was the endless, aching vistas of a land empty of all pretense, where everything was raw and vast and awe-inspiringly magnificent. A land as wild and wide open and untamable as a man’s soul.”

 

Proctor has once again served up a sweeping saga, a compelling tale of conflicting emotions, as the hero and heroine are forced to deal with the ghosts of their past and the failings of others.

 

Her descriptions of wild Outback Australia are so vivid you will feel like you’re there. She includes exciting scenes of a horse race that will have you on the edge of your seat and a massive dust storm that will make you taste the sand. The secondary characters are wonderful, especially the O’Reilly’s children.

 

As lovers of historical romance, we are used to reading about a man leaving a woman, but in this story it’s the O’Reilly men who fall in love with Englishwomen only to have them leave because they hate Australia. And when a woman comes along who might be different, whose love might compel her to stay, well…

 

Let me just say, you will not be disappointed with this one.


 

Wednesday, November 16, 2022

Johanna Lindsey’s A ROGUE OF MY OWN – Queen’s Maid of Honor forced to Marry a Rogue

Set in the Victorian era, this is the story of Lady Rebecca Marshall, whose mother gets her a position as maid of honor at the court of Queen Victoria. Rebecca finds herself between a nasty roommate and a noblewoman who uses the maids as courtly spies. Worse, she is attracted to Marquis Rupert St. John, an agent  secret agent of the crown who leads a double life.

 

Naïve Rebecca makes a dumb move and ends up in his bedchamber where Rupert seduces her. He’s sleeping with half the court but only Rebecca ends up pregnant. She confronts him and he marries her but believes she set a trap to force him to do just that. Anger eventually turns into love.

 

It’s an engaging tale though not Lindsey’s best. The plot is a bit skimpy and the back and forth arguments between Rebecca and Rupert do get a tad old. Still, it has the Lindsey magic that will keep you turning pages.

 


 

Thursday, November 3, 2022

Dorothy Eden’s RAVENSCROFT – Mystery, Suspense and a bit of Romance

 I am a huge fan of Dorothy Eden. One of the things she does really well is the emotion between the characters. Set in Victorian England, this is the story of Bella McBride and her sister Lally, who find themselves without family or funds. In London on their own, a seemingly kind older woman, they have no idea they are about to be sold into slavery or worse. However, they are rescued offers them shelter. Soon they discover the woman and her son are horrible and holding them captive for some nefarious purpose. Bella shouts for help out an open window and the handsome Guy Raven, a wealthy politician, comes to their aid.

 

Guy is still in love with his dead wife but he decides to marry Bella anyway to save the girls’ reputations. Their delayed wedding night is nothing to write home about and he soon tells Bella he will never love and leaves Bella and her sister in his country home as he returns to London.

 

Expecting his child, Bella and Lally experience a foreboding as concerns the criminals who had tormented them and were exposed by Guy. They are soon to be released from prison and Bella fears they will take revenge. The way it happened kept me guessing.

 

Several engaging secondary characters add depth to the story which kept me turning pages. I recommend it for intrigue and suspense. You will have to judge yourself as to whether Guy comes around at the end.

Tuesday, November 1, 2022

Giovanna Siniscalchi’s THE TRUE PURPOSE OF VINES – A Romance for Wine Lovers, Especially Lovers of Port

November is Victorian month on Historical Romance Review. I’m starting with a cleverly written tale set in Portugal in the Victorian era. 

Julia Costa, a widow and a winemaker in the Douro region in northern Portugal. There she harbors a secret valley where she grows new vines unlike any other. Her business partner who has loaned her funds wants to know if his investment will pay off so he sends the Englishman, Griffin Maxwell, to check on things. Griffen, an expert in accounting and trusted by Costa, is willing to do it because he wants a partnership with Oport’s largest trading firm. And Costa, the owner, wants Griffen to marry his daughter.

 

Opposites attract, and the independent widow, who is knowledgeable in all things to do with vines, and the Englishman, who knows the financial side of the business, are soon a pair. When a mysterious plague decimates the vineyards, Griffin and Julia race to find a cure. As attraction leads to passion, Griffen fails to tell Julia he is engaged to another. Lurking in the background is an aristocratic Portuguese who is bent on having Julia as his wife and a politician who knows much about vines who also has her in his sites.

 

This book is well-written and full of information about growing grapes for wine, port wine to be exact. It’s cleverly done weaving together the story of the vines and wine and the growing love between the two lead characters. Some exciting scenes add spice. There are explicit love scenes should that be an issue.

 


Saturday, October 29, 2022

Best Medieval Romances!

 

Who among us ladies hasn’t dreamed of a knight in shining armor? A valiant hero living in a time when honor prevailed and a woman of character who loved him. (I did say we were dreaming, right?) These historical novels will take you there.

 

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 time; however, some Scottish, Irish, Viking and Pirate/Privateer historicals not listed here can be found on those specific “Best Lists” (links 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

Autumn’s Flame by Denise Domning

Baron of Godsmere and Baron of Emberly by Tamara Leigh

Betrothal by Jenna Jaxon (the first part of a 3-part story)

Bianca by Bertrice Small

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 (aka Heather Graham)

Crimson Secret by Janet Lane

Damsel in Distress by Shannon Drake (aka Heather Graham)

Desire Lines by Elizabeth Kingston

Desire of the Heart by Katherine Vickery (aka Kathryn Kramer)

Devoted by Alice Borchardt

Enchantress, Kiss of the Moon and Outlaw, Welsh trilogy by Lisa Jackson

Everlasting by Kathleen Woodiwiss

Fair, Bright and Terrible by Elizabeth Kingston

For the King’s Favor by Elizabeth Chadwick

Forever and a Lifetime by Jennifer Horsman

His Stolen Bride by Shelly Thacker

Honor & Roses by Elizabeth Cole

Impostress, Temptress and Sorceress, Welsh trilogy by Lisa Jackson

Keeper of the Dream by Penelope Williamson

Knight’s Honor by Roberta Gellis

Lady of Fire, Fire and Steel and The Fire and the Fury from the Fire Series by Anita Mills

Lady of the Forest by Jennifer Roberson

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 Heather Graham

Lily Fair by Kimberly Cates

Lord of Desire, Lord of Temptation and Lord of Seduction, Risande 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

Red Adam’s Lady by Grace Ingram

Rose of Rapture by Rebecca Brandewyne

Sense of Touch by Rozsa Gaston

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

Spellbound by Nadine Crenshaw

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 Breaking Dawn by Jayne Castel

The Bride Gift by Sarah Hegger

The Christmas Knight by Michele Sinclair

The Conqueror, Promise of the Rose and The Prize, trilogy by Brenda Joyce

The Deepening Night by Jayne Castel (7th century Britain)

The Devil to Pay by K.C. Bateman

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 Irish Princess by Elizabeth Chadwick

The King’s Pleasure by 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 King’s Man by Elizabeth Kingston

The Knight’s Scarred Maiden by Nicole Locke

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 Swan Maiden and The Stone Maiden from the Maiden trilogy by Susan King

The Unveiling by Tamara Leigh

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 by Marsha Canham

Uncommon Vows by Mary Jo Putney

Untamed, Forbidden and Enchanted, trilogy by Elizabeth Lowell

Warrior Poet by Kathryn Lc Veque

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

Wild Moonlight by Miriam Minger

Winter’s Heat by Denise Domning

Wonderful, Wild and Wicked, trilogy by Jill Barnett

 

I hope you will also consider my own award-winning medieval novels:

The Medieval Warriors series: The Red Wolf’s Prize, Rogue Knight, Rebel Warrior and King’s Knight.

 The Refuge, An Inspirational Novel of Scotland

And my newest from The Clan Donald Saga: Summer Warrior, 12th century Scotland,  and Bound by Honor

Wednesday, October 26, 2022

Elizabeth Chadwick's FOR THE KING'S FAVOR - A Woman Forced to be the King’s Mistress Dares to Have Her Own Life

King Henry II had the power to take any young woman as his mistress that he wanted. Even easier if she is his ward. So, Henry claims 15-year-old Ida de Tosney, forever changing her life. As a royal concubine, she is treated well, though some call her “the king’s whore”. After she gives birth to Henry’s son, Ida wants out. She would have an honorable man and a family of her own. But the king forces her to give up her new son if she is to go.

Roger Bigod arrives at King Henry’s court to settle a bitter inheritance dispute for the title Earl of Norfolk with his half-brothers. Already an acclaimed warrior, Roger is smitten by Ida. She sees in Roger a chance to begin a new life with an honorable man. But their love will be tested in the difficult times in which they are living.

Chadwick brings the era to life and provides us with a great “prequel” to the William Marshall series. This intriguing story tells of the court intrigue, battles and treachery that surrounds the Plantagenet court as Henry dies and his son, Richard, takes the throne. A great read!

The William Marshal series:

For the King’s Favor
The Greatest Knight
The Scarlet Lion
For the King's Favor
Templar Silks
To Defy a King

Monday, October 24, 2022

Kathleen Givens’ ON A HIGHLAND SHORE – Superb Love Story, a Keeper Rich in the History of Medieval Scotland

Kathleen Givens was an award-winning author of Scottish historicals, each rich in historical detail. Each is a keeper.

 

Set in 13th century Scotland, this tells the story of Margaret MacDonald and Gannon MacMagnus, who find love after tragedy. In both this book and its sequel, Rivals for the Crown, Givens does a superb job of weaving English and Scottish history into an epic romance and a tale of Highlander families swept up in the great themes of Scotland's history.

 

I grew to love these men and women and felt like they could have easily been real people--people who experienced deep, lasting love, demanding challenges and heartrending losses. Gannon is an heroic figure, half Norse, half Irish, who comes into Margaret’s life at a tragic time. One of my very favorite heroes.

 

Givens’ writing is so believable, so compelling, I found myself reading her stories late into the night. These are not formula romance books or superficially historical but sweeping stories, well-researched and well worth the read. You won't be disappointed. There are fewer love scenes than in some romances but the ones included are tender and well worth the wait. The sexual tension she creates fits the story and the characters.

 

Givens gave us two other 2-book series –all  Scottish historicals (The Legend and The Destiny and Kilgannon and The Rose of Kilgannon). They are all we will have of her work as she passed away in early 2010, a great loss for historical romance fans. She was a great talent.

 

If you like sweeping sagas rich in historical detail, you will love this one.

Friday, October 21, 2022

Jennifer Roberson’s LADY OF THE FOREST – An Opus Telling of the Robin Hood Legend, Rich in Historical Detail

Set in Nottinghamshire in 1194, at 608 pages, this is a thorough telling of how Robin Hood came to be… and the love story of Sir Robert (Robin) of Locksley and Lady Marian of Ravenskeep. In the words of the author, it’s “…a fictional interpretation of imaginary events leading to the more familiar adventures depicted in novels…” And so it is.

 

The whole cast of characters is included in intricate detail: Alan of the Dales, Little John, Friar Tuck, William Scarlet, one-handed Wat and the boy, Much, to name some—Saxons made outlaw by Norman cruelty, King John’s egregious taxes and the Sheriff of Nottingham’s “justice” fed by his selfish ambition. Richard the Lionheart, though not a character, is mentioned frequently and motivates the stalwart souls to engage in thievery to raise his ransom.

 

Sir Robert (whose mother called him “Robin”) returns from the Crusades as a broken man, plagued by memories of his captivity with the Saracens. His father, the Earl of Huntington, has plans for his son to take his place as heir to their castle at Locksley. But much has changed in England while Robert was gone and Robert/Robin has little desire to live in the castle.

 

Self-serving, ambitious Prince John seeks to rein in his brother’s sted and William de Lacey, the Sheriff of Nottingham, seeks more power and wants Marian in his bed. With the death of her father, Marian is now a ward of the Crown and alone at Ravenskeep.

 

Marian begins as a woman too easily manipulated by the conniving Sheriff, but at times shows a backbone as she learns to stand on her own when she is abducted by a murderer (Will Scarlet who, with good reason, murdered four Normans) and is then rescued by Robin with whom she spends the night in Sherwood Forest. She is ruined, no matter that nothing happened.

 

I am a fan of Roberson and loved Lady of the Glen. So, I couldn’t wait to devour this one. It’s a bit different and you just need to be ready for that. Unlike Lady, this story, though it  kept me turning pages, contains a lot of detail, a lot of perspectives (every character had one) and at times was just a tad repetitive. Still, it’s superb storytelling and it has Roberson’s wonderful characterization and writing.

 

I love her work and this is an exceptional effort. The sequel is Lady of Sherwood.

 



Thursday, October 20, 2022

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!

 


Tuesday, October 18, 2022

Anita Mills’ LADY OF FIRE – A Keeper with a Great Heroine!

For medieval romance lovers, this one should be on your keeper shelf. I loved it, and though it was my first by Mills, it will not be the last.

 

Set in 11th Century Normandy and England, this is the story of Eleanor of Nantes, daughter of a Norman count. She is young and innocent, but oh so courageous and spirited. When William I first encounters her defending her bastard half-brother, Roger FitzGilbert, the king is taken with her and would betroth her to his own son, Henry. But fate takes a harsh turn upon her mother’s death and 12-year-old Eleanor is sent to a convent to stay until she is 19. And another would swear to have her, rich, powerful and cruel Robert of Belesme. Her heart, however, belongs to Roger, who unknown to her, is not her brother at all.

 

Eleanor is a heroine to admire, consistent in her strength, intelligence and nobility of character. Roger is the kind of knight every woman longs for. He sees all Eleanor’s faults and loves her passionately, proudly, notwithstanding. Robert of Belesme, the villain who is obsessed with Eleanor, is terrible and cruel yet also strangely sympathetic. The story is rich in historic details with an intricately woven plot, fast-moving dialog and action. It’s a page-turner and so well written. I recommend it!

 

 

The Fire Series:

 

Lady of Fire

Fire and Steel

Hearts of Fire

The Fire and The Fury

Winter Roses



Tuesday, October 11, 2022

Carmen Caine’s THE BEDEVILED HEART – Superb Love Story from 15th century Scotland!

Ever wonder what a 5 star historical romance looks like with no love scenes? Well, this is it! Oh there’s lots of kissing and wooing but we’re not shown into the bedroom when the action happens. And though I might have liked to see those scenes, I truly did not feel deprived. I just loved this story from old Scotland…a true historical romance superbly told with wonderful characters, the history of the time and many layered like a rich tapestry. I highly recommend it.

 

Set in Scotland in 1479, it’s the second of Caine’s Scottish Medieval series and tells the story of Cameron Malcolm Stewart, Earl of Lennox. Cameron, a handsome Scottish noble, has been married and made a widower 7 times, never consummating the marriages before his brides died. So, he reasonably believes his marrying any woman condemns her to an early death.

 

On one spring day near Stirling Castle, Cameron encounters a young woman, Kate Ferguson, who is selling charmed stones in one of Stirling's alehouses. He tosses Kate a shilling in exchange for a kiss. He is charmed by her winsome ways. Later he ends up helping her ailing father and finds he can’t stay away from the lass. She thinks he’s an outlaw, and against her better judgment, falls in love with him. 

 

Meanwhile, Kate and Cameron are caught up in the intrigue swirling around King James III’s court. As the king falls prey to his indulgence in the black arts, accusations of witchcraft and treachery abound. The fate of Scotland hangs in the balance, and Cameron attempts to unravel the plots while trying to hold together the country he loves. 

 

The fast paced story will have you reading late into the night. A quality story very well done.

The Highland Heather and Hearts (Scottish Medieval) Series:

  

The Kindling Heart

The Bedeviled Heart
The Daring Heart
The Bold Heart

 



 

Friday, October 7, 2022

Denise Domning’s AUTUMN’S FLAME –A Medieval Rich in Historical Detail

Set in 1194, this is the story of Elyssa of Freyne, a pregnant widow, who seeks to avoid a third, forced marriage. She also wants custody of her young son Joselyn, who she considers too weak to be a squire, as everyone would have him. However, Geoffrey FitzHenry, Lord Coudray, the shire's new sheriff, disagrees. As sheriff, he must make Elyssa his ward until her child is born and he thinks Joselyn should be sent away to become a squire. Instantly he and Elyssa are at odds.

 

Geoffrey is scarred from the attack on his face by his mad wife, now dead. All women except Elyssa are repulsed by him. Worse, he despairs of ever having the love of his young daughter, who once loved him but now avoids him. Elyssa’s coming will change all that.

 

Domning vividly creates the world of late 12th century England with a story that is rich in colorful characters. It’s also a story of a mother's love that holds her young son too close. She will learn many lessons from a man she thought to hate. And he will find the widow too attractive to leave alone.

 

The action scenes are quite good including an attack on the Freyne castle and the historical detail reflects much research. However, as this is part of a series and other couples appear, I recommend reading it in order so as not to be confused when the other folks show up en masse.

 

The Graistan Chronicles, 1194-1197, (aka the Seasons series)

 

Winter’s Heat

Summer’s Storm

Spring’s Fury

Autumn’s Flame

A Love for All Seasons