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!

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