In Brittany at a time of unrest and uncertainty with France and England fighting over its sovereignty in a civil war that raises warrior women at a time that leaves men in fear of certain defeat by the plague, a woman, convent raised and convent bound, takes up the sword to protect what is hers.
Anna de Leon, believed to be touched by angels for she had survived the plague and took it upon herself to nurse others back to life was looking forward to the abbey, to a life she felt suited for. In arms to defend her estate and her people she didn't believe in her beauty and desirability. A notion that only one man can change. A man, a name, a face, all of Madeline Hunter's readers had been waiting for. Morvan finally gets his story written down in The Protector for the readers to enjoy and devour and for Anna to find her match in.
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The man Anna was betrothed to as a child, only to have said betrothal annulled when that same man tried to rape her, is now laying siege to her castle to gain what he desires. And Morvan, who had found his way into her castle and her care due to an outbreak of the plague within his troops traveling the continent, offers his strength and his arms. An offer she accepts only for its military might but not for her own protection. She refuses to stay behind in the battle and joins in.
In a surprising but powerful role reversal Joan in the course of trying to protect Morvan, a move that we as the smug readers know is completely unnecessary, finds herself wounded on the battlefield and Morvan tending to her wounds. A role reversal that gives a freshness to a tale that otherwise might have been only a story well told instead of becoming with the help of Madeline Hunter's excellent storytelling talent, a story, interesting, challenging and empowering to read.
Having secured her hold against one enemy Anna needs the protection of the ruling duke, a need that sees her traveling with Morvan to the English court and seeking an audience with the king in the hope of securing a protector for her lands. And as Morvan is set on seducing her and regaining his own lands the outcome of said audience shouldn't come as a surprise.
Madeline Hunter's heroines are strong women who take their destinies in their own hands, proving their ability to protect and provide for themselves. They are passionate, vivacious women who may only surrender to enchant their captors and protectors; heroes that are always worthy of those women, appreciative of their talents but never frightened or intimated by them. They are equals who might not be political correct and fair in their dealings with each other but all is well in the name of love, trust and pleasure. And as always in Ms. Hunter's books they are ready to leap of off the pages and into the readers' hearts.
With Madeline Hunter you never get what you expect, with her first books I didn't expect much and was pleasantly surprised, with the last I expected lots and got more!
Ms. Hunter is stunning, her writing enthralls the reader into passionate stories that are well thought through and always manage to surprise with yet another twist and turn. Her books are not just simple constructed stories, but they are multi-layered in that they require dedication and concentration to catch every nuance, every telling detail. And let me tell you every little nuance and detail is worth discovering.
If Madeline Hunter continues exceeding readers' expectations I will have to come up with a way to show it in my rating. The Protector is one of my favourites for the year 2001 and I'm giving it five roses. I dread to see what will happen with her January 2002 release.
Beware, Madeline Hunter won't leave you be, once she's got you in her stories' clutches!