by Suzanne McMinn

November 2001
ISBN: 0-8217-6786-X
Reviewer Graphic Button Zebra Books
Mass Market Paperback

Lady Elayna is tired of being looked over by suitors who are mostly interested in her wealth as well as trying to be a good woman by medieval standards. Headstrong as well as lovely, she has a habit of trying to run away from her brother’s castle and finally succeeds for the first time as the book begins. Sneaking off in the back of a minstrel’s cart to escape her impending marriage seems like a good idea, until Elayna encounters some trouble and ends up left alone in the woods. Her only hope of rescue is Graeham, a man from her past.

The two were childhood friends and then sweethearts before a series of horribly tragic events separated them. But keeping them from reconciling is the mystery and scandal in his past that has changed Graeham. No longer the gentle, idealistic young knight she knew, he’s embittered by the loss of his father and family home, as well as the dishonor staining his family’s name. Elayna has to convince him to come forward and find the truth so that they everyone affected by the tragedy can heal, and they can finally be together.

The book begins slowly but soon picks up after the two are reunited, when the story becomes more of a mystery. The last third of the book, when the two have to face the world together and attempt to solve the puzzle, was the most interesting. Her family was also strongly affected by the tragedy, and the bad blood between their families presents another obstacle to be overcome. But even with all the different things going on, I wasn’t left feeling unsatisfied at the book’s end.

Elayna is a typical romance heroine - strong willed and intelligent, not to mention stunningly lovely; and Graeham is just as typical - courageous, stubborn, and of course, gorgeous. But it is their hope for something beautiful, which can only be found when they are together, that makes them compelling as characters, and which kept me reading. It wasn’t the most historically accurate novel, (the dialogue was often surprisingly modern), but in the author’s defense, I have to say that the real lives of people in the Middle Ages probably wouldn’t have been particularly romantic. The side characters were very intriguing, even the villain, and made me curious enough that now I want to search out the first book in this series, about Elayna’s older brother, and then read the books about her sisters which ought to be coming out soon. If they are anything like this novel, it should be a pleasant way to spend my afternoons.

Reviewed in March 2002 by Wendy B..

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