Ranulf de Warbrooke, the Third Earl of Malvoisin is as rich as Croesus and carries the moniker The Black Lyon. He is feared in battle and his elite unit of men, called the Black Guard, is considered to be among the best in the world. However, Ranulf is missing one thing in his life - love. On a surprise visit to a lowly baron’s holding, Ranulf finds what he has been searching for - Lady Lyonene. She is the young daughter of the baron and is not impressed by Ranulf’s strength or wealth; instead she sees a lonely man in need of her care and comfort. When Ranulf offers to marry her, she quickly accepts expecting a life full of love and devotion with her Black Lyon. Soon, Lyonene discovers that all is not well in her marriage, Ranulf is haunted by the cruelty of his former wife and there are those who wish that Lyonene had never married Ranulf. Together these lovers must defeat both those that oppose their love and their own misgivings in order to save their marriage and both of their lives.
Jude Deveraux’s, The Black Lyon is one of my favorite novels. The reader immediately find themselves immersed in the time of knights, ladies, and lords in this novel. The truly moving story involves two people who meet fall in love and are then forced to hold on to their love through many trying circumstances.
The characters in this novel are so well done that the reader immediately becomes a participant in the action. Lyonene is an innocent who must grow up in a hurry in order to become the true wife to her lion. The mistakes she makes in her marriage are at times humorous but the reader always feels just a little sad that Lyonene must learn the lessons the author has put before her. Ranulf is a proud man who wants obedience from his wife, but instead is forced to deal with the true woman he married. The process of discovery that he must go through to discern who he really married is quite entertaining; Lyonene scares him, frustrates him, and generally drives him crazy throughout the novel.
The characters that complete this novel however, are Ranulf’s Black Guard. Six incredibly handsome men who share the Black Lyon’s dark coloring and are his closest confidantes and at times seem to steal the spot light from the main characters. These wonderful men gave this reader hope that there are still great men out there and have given me a reason to continue rereading this book over and over again.
I cried, laughed, and even got a little angry while reading this book. It takes a really wonderful story to produce such strong emotions and even though this story was written over a decade ago, it remains in a place of honor on my keeper’s shelf - in fact, when my first copy wore out I had to buy a second to replace it. I believe that this novel is one of Ms Deveraux’s best and is a truly entertaining read.