by Shannon Drake

January 2003
ISBN: 0-8217-7287-2
Reviewer Graphic Button Zebra Books
Mass Market Paperback

In a wide-ranging and sprawling historical tale, Shannon Drake takes us back to the time of Robert Bruce, when Scottish and English soldiers were constantly fighting over the nebulous areas that bordered their countries. Tributes were regularly paid, and overlying the pastoral calm of these lands were the political machinations of the weak King Edward II and his manipulative henchmen.

When the tribute comes due from Hamstead Heath and Lady Christina Steel finds herself unable to pay, she enters a battle – a battle to negotiate with her enemy, Sir James Graham, who has come on behalf of Robert the Bruce to collect. Needless to say, plans go awry.

This is an unforgivably simple description of a mightily complex story, rich in detail and style, and peopled by wonderful characters. However, the scope of this tale is far beyond this reviewer’s humble attempts to describe, so we’ll suffice by saying that this may be a history lesson, but it is presented in terms of real people and real emotions. Christina’s bold (and reckless) spirit permeates this tale, her actions may be rash, but her courage and steadfastness in her beliefs would shame her English King. Her skills are unusual and varied, and it’s only to be expected that when she falls in love her passions are aroused to fever pitch as well.

And yes, Jamie is there to provide the flint to her tinder. Unyielding, uncompromising, sensual and intelligent, Jamie is more than a match for Christina, and even though they profess to loathe each other, Ms. Drake skillfully paints a picture of two people inexorably falling deeply into love with each other. The adventures lead through battles and sieges, betrayal and revenge, and the whole book is filled from cover to cover with the fragrance of medieval times. If you’re a historical fan, this should be on your must-read list, because it’s an engrossing and very entertaining story.

Reviewed in February 2003 by Celia.

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