For the reader content with only a smidgen of historical flavor added to its romance, the richness and intensity found in Isolde Martyn’s latest offering might feel distracting and cumbersome. For those of us that enjoy the historical details, Moonlight and Shadow, set during the reign of Edward IV in 1482, is a feast. A feast for all senses!
Heloise is different. Silver hair and her clairvoyance have her in constant fear of being found out and labeled a heretic. They also allow for not much happiness at her father’s hands. And to make matters worse, he forces her to accept a wedding to a groom held at sword point. But not only doesn’t the new husband, Sir Miles Rushden, want anything to do with his new wife—he needs to keep this marriage secret to fulfill his promise to another—he’s also the very ambitious adviser to the Duke of Buckingham and the driving force behind plans to overthrow the house of York. Left behind with no protection, Heloise is forced to seek refuge in subterfuge. To be close to her runaway husband, she insinuates herself in the Buckingham household as governess. This action, with her strong ties to the Gloucester household, leaves her open to malicious scrutiny when it comes to her loyalties.
Moonlight and Shadow is more than just a story of love. It’s one of trust, opportunities and opportunisms. Held together by two fictional characters that could have easily have been real—they certainly come alive under Isolde Martyn’s talented storytelling—I was left captivated and enthralled by history unfolding and the couple ensnared in all its intrigues. Giving Heloise and Miles strong and courageous personalities, Isolde Martyn enabled them to step off the pages and into my heart.
What I admire about Isolde Martyn’s characters is how loyal they are. Not only to their Lords but also to their values. Very strong in character, it is an impossible task for them not to honor their pledges and their alliances. They might be persuaded to see a different view of history unfolding but honor doesn’t allow them to betray trust and friendship bestowed on them. It also doesn’t make life, especially Heloise and Miles' private life, easy to deal with, no matter how strong their passion and regard for the other.
For my taste in historical fiction, Moonlight and Shadow is a very well balanced combination of history and romance. I do believe though, that many a reader unwilling to delve into historical details will find this story too slow for their liking. This truly is a story for those of us that find fulfillment in reading about past intrigues and battles involving real historical figures and allowing the sense for all of it to have happened exactly as being presented. Fascinating and heady stuff. As always very well researched by Isolde Martyn, who despite an enormous amount of historical details managed to keep me riveted to the pages in suspense and passion for its characters’ story. A definite keeper!