Saturday, October 15, 2016
Review: Janet Lane’s CRIMSON SECRET – Love Amid the Wars of the Roses
This story is set in the 15th century during what later came to be known as the Wars of the Roses, fought between supporters of two rival branches of the House of Plantagenet, Lancaster and York. While Lane has done considerable research for her story, I had to look up the wars to remind myself of the players.
Bridge builder Luke Penry (“Lord Penry” in the story, though he is a younger son) is on a mission for the Duke of York when he is discovered by Joya, the half-gypsy daughter of a nobleman loyal to King Henry who, because of his mental issues, is dominated by his ambitious queen, Margaret.
Joya considers Luke a traitor, but once he is taken prisoner, she repeatedly disobeys her father to see “the Yorkist”… and she keeps kissing him. (At that point, we do not have Luke’s point of view and so we do not know why he is interested in kissing her except possibly he won’t turn an anxious woman down.) She also convinces her father to allow Luke the run of a part of their castle.
I did find Luke a more compelling hero than Joya was a heroine. He is an introvert, a loner and she is a social butterfly. While he has reservations about how they suit, he still pursues an intimate relationship with her.
Lane has an unusual writing style that was very clipped at the beginning but smoothed out as the story proceeded. Along the way, she introduced numerous characters that were just names to me. (I had no feel for who they were or what they looked like.) This is the 4th book in a series (which I did not know when I first began the story), and it may be necessary to read the others in the series first to follow all of the characters. I do recommend that.
A few modern words threw me (fiancé, meaning a betrothed person, dates from the Victorian era; smoke-screen from the 20th century, etc.). And, regrettably, the map is too small in the Kindle version to see. But for those who love well-researched historicals that include real history, and who read the series from the beginning, this is a great find.
And if you want to start with book 1, Tabor's Trinket, it's HERE.