by Laura Kinsale

April 2004
ISBN: 0-425-16232-X
Reviewer Graphic Button Berkley
Mass Market Paperback

Shadowheart is the long awaited sequel to author Laura Kinsaleís, For My Ladies Heart. The story of Allegreto, an assassin and Elena a princess. One bred for duty, the other sworn to vengeance.

Elena was raised in England in ignorance of her true heritage. Her godmother, Countess Melanthe and her sister Cara both thought she would be safer if she didnít know who she was and never returned to Monteverde. What they hadnít reckoned with were the ambitions of an English Lord and an exiled, excommunicated assassin. At 17, Elena was unaware of just what was in store for her when she began her journey to her betrothed in Monteverde.

Allegreto believed that Lady Melanthe owed him much for his rescue of the young, innocent Elena. When the opportunity arises for him to put his plans into motion, he never thought that he would fall in love. After all, he was raised to kill, so he has no heart.

Allegreto is a complex character, strong, sensitive, enigmatic, the man would sooner slit your throat then talk to you; yet from the first, he is tender, almost indulgent towards Elena from their first meeting. Honest, straight-forward and ruthless, he believes his mission is just and will stop at nothing to meet his goal, that is until he gives his heart to a 17 year old innocent. Elena didn't have a clue at first. She is by turns scared, nervous, confused but also intrigued and excited when she meets Allegreto. He sparks feelings that she thought she would only feel for her Raymond. With a strength and fortitude not often seen in such a young woman, especially during a time when it was believed that women who used their brains, weakened their ability to carry children to term, Elena courageously faced every challenge thrown at her. While she might not always have made the right decisions, she was always true to herself and what she felt was right. Watching her evolution from scared, naÔve teenager to confident, mature woman was a true pleasure.

I will admit to almost crying in a few places during this book. Ms. Kinsale has written a tale of love, ambition, pain and courage. The sex, while not to everyoneís taste is explosive and at the same time, poignant and affecting. The character development was incredible. These people were real and their emotions were deeply affecting. She made you feel as if you knew them and wanted to give them comfort in their hour of need. She brought the countryside and mountains of Monteverde alive for me and I for one believe that the long wait was worth it. I read this book twice and it will always hold a special place in my heart and on my bookshelf.

Reviewed in July 2004 by Carolyn.

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