by Linda Lea Castle

June 2002
ISBN: 0-8217-7267-8
Reviewer Graphic Button Zebra Books
Mass Market Paperback

Aislinn, at nineteen, had already buried her fourth husband. It’s no wonder that castle gossip labels her “The Poison Flower”! Because her husbands precipitously met their demise before the wedding night, Aislinn has never been bedded – an embarassing fact that she hides from everyone. But convinced that she’s somehow cursed, she vows never to marry again.

However, King Henry III had other plans. Not content to leave a vast holding such as Sevenoaks to a young widow, he orders another to wed Aislinn. This time he wisely chooses a hale, hearty, and young knight, one who can withstand the vigors of a wedding night - as many believe that is how Aislinn’s previous grooms met their death. Desmond Vaudry du Luc, having no wish to lose his head to the ax man, ‘agrees’ to marry the cursed widow, expecting to wed an old and withered crone. As strong and young Desmond is, he is, more importantly, intelligent. He was more than happy to find Aislinn, a young and beautiful bride – but he was more concerned for their safety, as he is convinced that there is a mystery in Sevenoaks that involves the murders of her previous husbands. Who is the villain that resides in Sevenoaks? Or is the young and virginal Aislinn responsible for their deaths?

Although Surrender the Stars is, in all accounts, a good read, there are elements that are a bit over the top. Desmond’s vocal insistence that Aislinn love him only became tolerable when it turned into a private running joke between them. There’s also his refusal to bed Aislinn after their wedding, intent on solving the mystery first. But when he did finally submit to his lust for Aislinn, he isn’t really any closer to solving the mystery, so holding back didn’t really make much sense. (To be fair, maybe he was close, but he hadn’t solved it yet!) Although the intimate scenes were SCORCHING, the sexual tension between them is not terribly convincing.

Nevertheless, Desmond and Aislinn are both likeable characters. Aislinn is a bit gullible and easily intimidated, so it’s easy to remember that she was first widowed at fourteen years old and widowed four times over by nineteen. On the other hand, she quickly regained her confidence once Desmond has convinced her that her husbands’ deaths were not her fault. Desmond, properly versed in all heroic acts in and out of the marriage bed, is waaay too honorable to be believed. Granted, he also got over it once he properly beds Aislinn.

Like I mentioned, it’s a good read. There are parts that I wasn’t too keen on (e.g., predictable bad guy with an unpredictable and anti-climactic reason for being bad) and some that I enjoyed (you have to read their intimate scene on horseback to believe it!). If there’s currently nothing on your to-be-read pile that interests you, this is probably just as good as any of them.

Reviewed in September 2002 by Veronica.

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