When I started A.N. Busch's first book, I didn't know exactly what to expect in terms of writing quality or editing skill. Many self-published volumes...moreWhen I started A.N. Busch's first book, I didn't know exactly what to expect in terms of writing quality or editing skill. Many self-published volumes with a good narrative can lose their story in a plethora of typos and grammatical errors. Tempting Fate did not suffer from that problem to even a moderate extent and offered up an engaging story that made it more than possible to overlook a few tricky sentences.
After I started this book and reached the 30% or so mark on my Kindle, I had a few speculations about where the story, a big romance between main characters Abby and Westly, was going but couldn't quite figure out its ultimate destination. My curiosity about the fate of the main characters propelled me through the latter portions of the story at a good clip, and when I reached the big finale, I thought "Wow, I never really saw that coming." Before I go further, I will let you read this synopsis of the book from Amazon to get a handle on the basic plot:
So, in this book, I really liked Abigail, Westly, and Abigail's family and friends. I feel like most of the secondary characters were pretty good reflections of the ragtag group of friends one can make in college while the over-protective and powerfully curious family members are also an unfortunate reality for many of us (the nosy part, not the family itself).
The book bounces back and forth between a current (relatively speaking) storyline and a grown-up, married, and professional Abigail and dreams she is having that reflect on her college days. These reflections allow us to compare the adult woman with the college girl. This difference manifests itself in a more confident, if somewhat confused, Abby who takes a great deal of pleasure in her work. As someone with a great appreciation for architecture I loved that Abby was an architect and that the author spent a good deal of time discussing Abby's work and, in particular, the restoration project plans that lead her to New York City and...
I think you will enjoy this book and appreciate the story and the fact that you are enjoying an engaging narrative crafted by someone without a full team dedicated to the book and it's success. As stated above, I found it quite easy to overlook a few, and I mean a few, minor errors in the text because of this and because the story was more than interesting enough to propel me, the reader, straight over small blips.(less)
Montfort opened with a chapter that really helped show the power and intensity that Simon carries with him throughout the rest of the book (and presum...moreMontfort opened with a chapter that really helped show the power and intensity that Simon carries with him throughout the rest of the book (and presumably throughout life). It is an intriguing kind of intensity - a blend that one rarely finds outside of a deeply religious person with other passions that also run deep. The soul of such a person is always searching, seeking, and wondering if the things they seek are spiritually toxic or enhancing. In Montfort's case, he finds more of the former than the latter.
Descriptions of the book offer this much, so I will lay it out here: Montfort married a nun and, perhaps, fathered the future heir to the throne of England with the king's wife. The first statement is certain, documented fact, while the second is one of the speculations laid out in this book because historical data is inconclusive (more about that later). When one adds these two events alone to the fact that Montfort deeply, deeply believed in Roman Catholicism, one could see where the internal conflict comes in.
Katherine Ashe brought this internal dialogue and intensity to life so well in this first book that it was a challenge not to hang three days on the rack and finish the series entirely. One can feel the welts on Simon's back as he uses flagellation to atone for his first sin of bedding the nun, Eleanor, whom he loved and as he seeks to live life in the black clothing of a penitent to make up for his further sins of adultery. Katherine makes the reader feel Montfort's devotion and raw power in these portions of the book while showing us different sides of him later.
Montfort journeyed to Jerusalem with King Henry's brother Richard to help settle some issues and engage in warfare if needed. In this portion of the book, Katherine transitions Simon into a man who fully came into his power with control and a determination to do what is right. While he is soaring on the wings of a job well-done, he is always mindful of who he is, what he should be doing, and who he serves. Despite its relative brevity, this section was my favorite as Ashe served up the proper mixture of career-oriented (military and administrative) detail, family commentary, friendship, and containment of personal ambition. Simon de Montfort breathed real oxygen on these pages as he toiled in the Lord's city.
Before I tie off this review and progress to the next, I did want to follow up on the use of historical data in this volume. Katherine Ashe researched this volume set for decades, and it truly shows. On her "Acknowledgments" page she mentions that the historical details on Simon's life are often hard to pin down because many statements are contradictory. This is what led her to create a fictional narrative - to fill in the gaps with well-reasoned theories about what happened. In the back of the volume there is a "Historical Context" section that breaks down various facts and potential facts mentioned in the book and references the historical data or book used to obtain the information. Katherine also explains the logic behind some of the "fiction" in the book.
After I finished the volume, I spent some time online looking up information from the Historical Context section and the copy. I looked for a portrait-head of the Queen's sister as the Queen and her sister seem to have been great beauties (alas, I did not locate the portrait-head in my search but did see a painting). I looked up Kenilworth castle and saw photographs of it in its present day state and read about the gradual renovations there through the centuries and saw the layout of the estate. The additional learning opportunities were appreciated and made the first book feel much more alive and will likely add to my enjoyment of the next three books.(less)