ROMANTIC HISTORICAL FICTION
HEAT LEVEL 2
REVIEWER RATING: 4 STARS
THE BEAUTY In the glittering, sumptuous court of Eleanor of Aquitaine, betrayal lurks around every corner. The queen is at odds with her king, and to obey one could mean treason against the other. Even Alienore, considered the most virtuous lady at court, holds secrets: whether masquerading as a knight on the tourney field to defend those without a champion or desperately trying to keep her lands—and her maidenhead—from the Duke of Ormonde. THE BLACK KNIGHT He is called the Raven—his face scarred by a Saracen blade, his voice raspy with the effects of Greek fire. His parentage is unknown, his prowess legendary. And he’ll sell his sword to the highest bidder. As his piercing eyes track her every move, Alienore wonders who he’s working for now: finding a spy for King Henry? sent by the duke to fetch her home? Or is each heated touch, each whispered promise of pleasure part of a much more personal mission?
I really liked this. It has quite a bit more going for it than your typical romance. It takes place during one of my favorite time periods–the rise of the Plantagenets, and our heroic couple finds themselves pawns caught in the battle between Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine during their sons’ rebellion. I liked both of the leads, though they both have a tendency toward a lot of melodramatic introspection. I like dark, scarred heroes, and the Raven fits the bill nicely. He’s got a hidden agenda, and he keeps the reader guessing, not sure who’s side he’s really on until the very end. Is he working for Henry? Or Eleanor? Richard? Or even Alienore’s jilted betrothed, the Duc d’Ormonde? Speaking of Richard, he plays a large role in this story, too, and at first I was put off by his portrayal as a randy skirt-chaser, since I’ve never seen him like that in anything else I’ve read, but he is only sixteen in this story, and I suppose it’s not too far-fetched.
Alienore of Lyonstone is a strong heroine. She’s smart, brave, and noble, and she has an agenda, too. She wants her manor house and lands back. They were promised to her in her father’s will, but her brother won’t let her have them unless she marries the man of his choice, and that she refuses to do. She’s found shelter at Eleanor’s court, but she longs to take her petition before Henry. But she’s been ill-used by Eleanor–carrying messages on her behalf that turn out to be treasonous, and soon she’s fleeing for her life…with the Raven right beside her. And that’s another thing that sets this romance apart: it has a well-developed, twisty-turny plot. It suffers from a few slow sections, but it makes up for it with some really exciting sequences–chases, battles, dangers, and betrayals galore! And a couple of big revelations that turn Alienore’s world upside down, and which I didn’t see coming. All around an entertaining read, with a lot of action, mystery, and historical detail, and a couple that you really want to see overcome their differences and lower their defenses to find love and happiness with each other.
** At the time of review the Kindle price of this title was $5.79**
ABOUT THE REVIEWER:
I’m a book blogging, history geeking, dog loving, sun worshipping, football watching southern girl, and I love romantic historical fiction! There’s only one thing I like more than falling in love, and that’s being swept away to another time and place to fall in love! Put history and romance together and I’m in heaven! I adore romances that transport me to a bygone era, offering me a glimpse of the triumphs and struggles our ancestors faced as they shaped the world we live in today. I post reviews of books I recommend to my blog, Let Them Read Books, and I love to talk books on Goodreads and Twitter. Come join me!