Sunday, December 28, 2014

New Review: Bertrice Small’s A DANGEROUS LOVE – Wonderful and Unique Historical Romance

This is the first in Small's Border Chronicles...and it's a good one. If this is your first by Small, I note that she has a very different style and tells very complex stories. But adjusting your expectations from the typical romance to embrace her unique style will reap a rich reward of plunging into a deep historical setting with well developed characters whose life experiences are realistic for the time, the late 15th century, and the place (the border between Scotland and England). 

Small uses long narratives, repeated scenes told through different characters' eyes, "head hopping" from one character's perspective to another in rapid succession when it helps her give the scene depth, and a well woven tapestry of lives for a captivating story. One has to love the "historical" part of these historical romances as Small gives you a lot of what was going on at the time, including the food they ate. But it all contributes to a rich background. Finally, you must adjust your expectations for the hero and heroine. Not all have one love and live happily ever after. Oh, there will be a happy ending, don't get me wrong, but it won't be what you expect and may not be with the hero you expected. Nevertheless, they are quite absorbing.

This first book tells of strong-willed Adair Radcliffe, the Countess of Stanton, and the "brat" (bastard daughter) of King Edward IV.
During the War of the Roses, when she is six , her mother and her "adoptive" father are killed by the Lancasters, and she is taken into King Edward's household to be educated and raised in the royal nursery. At 16, she flees to her family's estate to avoid the king's plans to wed her to a Lancasterian. While she's on the run, the king marries her by proxy to a 14-year-old Tudor boy. When he shows up at her estate, Adair refuses to accept him. Just as well since he is killed by Scots.

Her second marriage is to handsome neighbor Andrew Lynbridge who served Richard, Duke of Gloucester, brother to King Edward. But Andrew is killed along with Richard, now the king, in a coup. The new Tudor king brands Adair a traitor for her husband's loyalty to King Richard and strips her of her title and property. Adair returns to her beloved home only to be taken into captivity by Scottish raiders and sold to border laird, Conal Bruce. And now begins the story of her love affair with Conal.

See what I mean about the hero changing in the story? But trust me, it works. And, that is just what happened in the lives of many women of that time. It's a well told tale with lots of twists and turns and much adventure. I highly recommend it.

Here are the Border Chronicles in order:

A Dangerous Love
The Border Lord's Bride
The Captive Heart
The Border Lord and the Lady
The Border Vixen
Bond of Passion

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