Um, it’s a Bertrice Small book. I went into it expecting it to be pretty bad. And it is. Bad and dated a...moreOh my god. Bertrice Small. Why did I even try?
Um, it’s a Bertrice Small book. I went into it expecting it to be pretty bad. And it is. Bad and dated and full of revenge sex. Also, set in a harem, so there is this one scene that, had it not been paraphrased by the female participants in conversation with other women, would have been straight-up erotica rather than romance. Not that that’s a bad thing. It’s just that at some point, you reach a level of graphicness that pulls a book out of the romance genre and pushes it over into erotica. And Bertrice Small? Bertrice Small is the queen of this stuff.
Anyway, it’s set in the 17th century, but it’s a 17th century that never ever happened. Filled with silly names and impossible doings and punishing kisses and kidnappings and DRAHMA. Seriously, so many llamas it could be a petting zoo.
Sweet baby Jesus, but the genre has changed in … this was published in 1999? What!? I thought this was from the ’70s or ’80s! Bertrice Small must be stopped!(less)
This is the Mary Balogh that I love! The story of love between a man and a woman, not a ninny and an alpha male. Great (if idealistic) look at illegit...moreThis is the Mary Balogh that I love! The story of love between a man and a woman, not a ninny and an alpha male. Great (if idealistic) look at illegitimacy in the early 19th century. Certainly written to appeal to modern audiences, but I think I would not have been as satisfied with a story that deals with these issues if it had been written entirely from the viewpoints of people who were truly residents of the Regency era.(less)
I really enjoyed this. The heroine is reluctant to marry because depression runs in her family and it is seriously exacerbated by pregnancy. It was ju...moreI really enjoyed this. The heroine is reluctant to marry because depression runs in her family and it is seriously exacerbated by pregnancy. It was just so unexpected and *nice* to see the heroine have a problem that didn't focus around how independent and fiery and unconventional she was. It's not that she's afraid that marriage will rob her of all free will because of the nature of marriage. No, she actually likes the idea of being a wife and mother. It's that she's afraid that she will go absolutely insane after she has a baby and end up killing herself or being catatonic for the rest of her life, like her aunt or grandmother. It was also really nice to see a book that wasn't all sunshine and lollipops, where the idea of having a baby is the final step in the progression of love. Very realistic look at motherhood. Nuanced, even.
I also really appreciated that the hero and heroine weren't overwhelmed by their biology, i.e. there wasn't a point where the hero kissed the heroine and could not control his lust. In fact, there's a scene where they are both willing and wanting to have sex, but he *stops.* Why? Because the consequences are too much for the heroine as a single woman, and she has been very adamant about not marrying him or anyone else. He loved her too much to ruin her and see her turn into a social outcast, and he *listened* to what she said and considered it before acting.
It was just so refreshing! Neither of them were idiots! Being in each other's presence didn't turn them into idiots! They considered the consequences of their actions before plunging forward! That is ten times more powerful and moving than ripping off clothes. He listened to her. And then when they finally do have sex, he waits until she says out loud that she wants to. No punishing kisses, yay!
How sad is it that I find it completely exciting that the hero did something as simple as listening to the heroine and respecting her wishes? I mean, my god. That's so simple. But arrogant cockburn "alpha males" are endemic in romance. Because being a cockburn is masculine? I assure you that the hero is not an asshole, is confident, and is definitely masculine.
Only thing that annoyed me unduly: The hero is rather improbably named Hayden. As a first name, not as a last. I start to have trouble suspending my disbelief when characters are named things that are popular names for the under-five set. I probably would have enjoyed it more if I didn't have occasional memories of yelling, "Hayden/Jayden/Cayden/Aidan, please don't lick your classmates."(less)
I didn't really care for this. The dialogue is all in kind of stilted, forced pseudo-Elizabethan speech. I believe in writing historical fiction in na...moreI didn't really care for this. The dialogue is all in kind of stilted, forced pseudo-Elizabethan speech. I believe in writing historical fiction in natural dialogue, because otherwise it rings very untrue for the reader. This is especially true once you start throwing in all the methinks and god gi' you good'ens.
The plot was rather cliched -- heroine comes and sets the hero's life back into order, literally, by cleaning his house and whipping the kitchen staff into order. The villain is a woman whom the hero spurned, because he had been engaged since childhood to the heroine. So, the villain tries to have the heroine kidnapped and raped/murdered.
Also, the hero is a virgin, and I don't think he'd done so much as kissed a girl before, but he is somehow a phenomenal lover. Hmmph.
I was expecting this book to be bad, but it surprised me. I was, in fact, expecting to be horrified by it, as … let me just type up the back cover.
...moreI was expecting this book to be bad, but it surprised me. I was, in fact, expecting to be horrified by it, as … let me just type up the back cover.
Annie Trimble lives in a solitary world that no one enters or understands. As delicate and beautiful as the tender blossoms of the Oregon spring, she is shunned by a town that misinterprets her affliction. But cruelty cannot destroy the love that Annie holds in her heart.
Alex Montgomery is horrified to learn his wild younger brother forced himself on a helpless “idiot girl.” Tormented by guilt, Alex agress to marry her and raise the babe she carries as his own. But he never dreams he will grow to cherish his lovely, mute, misjudged Annie – her childlike innocence, her womanly charms and the wondrous way she views her world. And he becomes determined to break through the wall of silence surrounding her – to heal . . . and to be healed by Annie’s sweet song of love.
Um, gag me with a spoon, right? It totally sounds like this guy is going to end up married and falling in love with someone who is more than mildly retarded, which sets off a whole lot of alarm bells for me. I work with kids in special ed, and some of them are high school age, and I worry a lot about the girls being taken advantage of by older men. They’re all so sweet and trusting and some of them are really pretty and THE HORROR. These girls are not without resources and abilities, but a baby would put brakes on so much of that. Therefore, I came into this book with a lot of real world concerns.
But it turns out that Annie isn’t retarded. (Thank God!) She had an ear infection with a high fever when she was six (and this is set in 1890, so there were no antibiotics), which resulted in partial hearing loss, which resulted in her parents thinking she was retarded, which resulted in her being basically unsocialized for 15 years so she is mute. OH JOY. Ugh.
Anyway, Alex (that’s the hero) has this younger brother who is a bad seed, and one day he rapes Annie in the woods, while four other men stand by and watch, because they are afraid that the younger brother will kill them if they object. He is just that crazy. And he’s got a knife.
Alex finds out about it when Annie’s father (who is a judge with political aspirations) comes to tell him about it, not because he wants retribution, but because he doesn’t want rumor spreading around town because it will ruin him politically for everyone to know his idiot daughter was raped. HEADDESK for father. The discovery leads to Alex kicking his no-good little brother out of the house without a penny. Four months pass and it turns out that Annie is knocked up, so Alex and her parents (without consulting Annie, because remember she’s supposed to be mentally disabled) concoct a plan wherein Annie and Alex get married in name only, and after the baby is born, Annie will go back to her parents and the baby will stay with Alex. Why? Because Alex had mumps in his early 20s, so he’s sterile. A-yup.
So the wedding takes place, and Annie’s mother forces her to nod her head, since she is without speech. Then she tricks Annie into getting into Alex’s carriage so he can whisk her off to her horse ranch. And once in the carriage, they have this physical battle, because no one has explained a thing to her, and she’s confused and scared, because a man who bears an uncanny resemblance to her rapist is attempting to spirit her away. Seriously, you guys, there is so much tragedy of good will in this book it is heartbreaking.
Once there, we discover that he has engaged a nurse to care for her, but she is a bad nurse. A very bad nurse, who pinches Annie so hard she bruises in places it won’t show because Annie won’t eat. Why won’t Annie eat? Because she thinks the reason her parents sent her away was because she was too fat to live with them anymore. That’s so sad! It made me angry, because she had been so neglected and no one had taken even five minutes to tell her what was going on because they thought she wouldn’t understand. I know now isn’t the 1890s, but it’s so important to explain things to people with mental disabilities, even if you suspect they won’t understand. It’s especially important to do so if they don’t have the faculties to communicate with you, because you can’t know how much they understand, and every human has the right to be informed. /soapbox But that’s all character inspired, not author inspired. The author does a pretty good job of painting a compassionate picture of deafness.
And then comes this slow discovery on Alex’s part that Annie isn’t mentally retarded – she’s just deaf, mute, and unsocialized. He’s really moved by her plight and horrified that she has been mistreated for so long. He learns to lipread and speak using sign language, so he can teach her, so they can communicate. And they fall in love as they learn to speak to each other, which is actually kind of touching, because it’s a great metaphor for the way people come to understand each other in a relationship. They each literally have to learn a different language to communicate because they can’t rely on spoken language.
I know my summary’s been kind of snarky, but this book really did exceed my expectations. Annie’s deafness and muteness really were a believable obstacle to her and Alex’s happy-ever-after, which is something that is frequently is the least believable part of a romance. You know, Big Misunderstandings that could be solved with two lines of dialogue. There were parts that squeeved me out, like Alex finding Annie attractive when he still believed her to be mentally impaired. It really set off my forbidden trigger to read about him thinking about how feminine and soft her breasts were while he was trying to restrain her. I’ve been in situations like that, and the last thing in your mind is about their bodies – you’re thinking about how you can get the situation under control without causing either of you physical harm. Maybe it’s because I’m a straight woman. I don’t know. But it was uncomfortable reading.
I was really all over the place reading this book. Some of it was just excellent – there’s one scene that is one I’d love to see more of in romance, because the hero and heroine have an actual conversation about their relationship, like, I dunno, a healthy couple in real life might. Imagine that! There were other parts that gave me some serious pause, such as the fact that Annie has been poorly socialized and so her ability to reason as an adult is compromised. She is written as very much an innocent – at one point she thinks that instead of giving vaginal birth, she’s going to lay an egg, because no one has ever explained the facts of life to her. She doesn’t understand that sex leads to babies, and, historical barriers or no, I’m just not comfortable reading a story about a woman who is stuck in childhood engaging in a sexual relationship with a man.
But parts of it were so good! And believable! And then other parts of it were weird. Because the author kept saying her heroine was childlike, and the hero was drawn to her childlike innocence. I just … GUH! Why!?
P.S. Alex’s man-juice came through in the end, and there’s a baby epilogue. A baby who is his and Annie’s biological child. Because God forbid a romance hero be sterile.(less)
I really enjoyed this. I wrote about it in my LJ, and I’m just going to copy/paste that to save me time.
… was actually pretty good, and I picked it up...moreI really enjoyed this. I wrote about it in my LJ, and I’m just going to copy/paste that to save me time.
… was actually pretty good, and I picked it up because I thought it would be one of those ridiculous Scottish romances with the och ayes and I cannae luv ye, sweetings in it. There was even a woman who appeared to be wearing a half-slip and a teal tartan on the cover and the stepback had surprisingly tanned people on it. As in it looked like their armpits were probably tan. How do you end up with a tanned armpit? You don’t.
What book is this? To Scotland, With Love by Karen Hawkins, a Regency. Venetia (silly name, yes, but her parents are very silly people) is tricked into accompanying one of her suitors to Scotland, from where she is staying in her family’s London house, because her suitor is in desperate straits and thinks that abducting her and forcing her to marry him at Gretna Green will bring some financial calm. He does this by flat out lying to her about her mother being close to death at her grandmother’s castle in Scotland. Never fear! This is not the hero of the book. The hero of the book, Gregor, who has been her best friend since childhood, races after their coach, in order to avert ruin. Only his family is cursed in such a way that when they get angry, it storms. (Yes, I know, very silly.) And he’s pissed at what this suitor has done! Because it’s really kind of uncouth! So there’s a blizzard. And the coach crashes and they are all stranded at a country inn under assumed names to avoid scandal. Things proceed from there, with Gregor going, “I will marry you to save your honor, because I am just so damned noble” and Venetia responding, “Who cares about my honor? Marry me for me, you dolt.” Paraphrased, of course.
It was fun and quirky and just a touch silly. I really appreciated that the heroine was in her 30s (yes, her 30s!) and that this didn’t take place in the London season. Nice friends to lovers story, more character driven than plot driven. Nobody wrapped their hands around their lover’s neck, which was a big relief, as this is something that has been popping up a lot in my reading lately.
OK, and maybe I liked it a lot because the heroine looks a lot like I do. Short, plump, dark brown hair that curls in humidity and shows red in the sun? Occasionally opens her big mouth when she ought not? I’m a trifle ashamed, but a part of me crowed inside as each detail was revealed. Hooray for short, fat heroines!
Of course, neither the girl on the cover nor on the stepback matches the description given in the book. They’re both decidedly thin, and I’m pretty sure the hero would describe them as scrawny.
Or maybe I just liked it a lot because none of these Scottish people used outlandish accents? And neither did the lower class characters. Not an och aye among them!(less)
I generally really enjoy Rae Muir, but this one was very meh to me. This book is part of a series, and I have read other books in it. They just don’t...moreI generally really enjoy Rae Muir, but this one was very meh to me. This book is part of a series, and I have read other books in it. They just don’t hold up to standard of The Pearl Stallion, which is her first book. ::sigh:: I don’t know. They’re all travel novels, where the characters are on a journey. Maybe it’s that The Pearl Stallion holds the journey entirely, while the books in this series are all on the Oregon Trail, the journey stretches across all of them, so you don’t have the resolution that you have in the single book unless you read them all. Except then you don’t to take the journey with one couple, but jump to different couples from book to book.
Or maybe it was just that the main character’s named was Hawken and he had amnesia. Yeah, amnesia. I don’t know.(less)
Um, I kind of love this book. The writing isn’t ohmigod, knock-your-socks off amazing or anything, but it’s competent. Very readable, and that is some...moreUm, I kind of love this book. The writing isn’t ohmigod, knock-your-socks off amazing or anything, but it’s competent. Very readable, and that is something that is very difficult to do. No, I love this book because I love the characters in it. OK, the hero has a toddler son, and I pretty much universally find toddlers in romances kind of annoying, because instead of being characters, they’re more like props to bring the hero and heroine closer together. Kid is cute, asks if H. is new mommy/daddy, there is awkwardness, and then the kid disappears until like the end of the novel. I’m just saying, romance hero/ines don’t do a lot of parenting most of the time. So, this book has a bit of that, but there’s a Mexican nanny, so I guess the toddler is not being allowed to roam the Texas frontier on his lonesome.
Anyway, post Civil War Western set in Texas. The hero is neither a cowboy nor a marshal, though, and the heroine isn’t some sort of rancher princess. No, the hero is the editor of a small town newspaper, and the heroine is – get this – his typesetter and pressman. You know, the person who sets up the type and then prints the paper? Yeah! She’s got a job that isn’t teaching school or riding a horse! Or a whore! And what’s more, the hero lost a leg in the Civil War, which led his wife to desert him and commit bigamy. Yes, bigamy! And heroine worked as the typesetter at her father’s newspaper, but had to leave town because an Army captain seduced her with promises of marriage and ruined her reputation. And she’s a Yankee, while the hero is a good ol’ Southern boy.
I just … nobody writes Westerns like this! Amputees and non-virgins? Yes, very yes. And he praises her for the good job she does on the paper? Amazing. And there’s also a character who’s black who has, like, dimension to his character. Wow. Romance, if you’re not reading specifically African-American romances, is a very white space.
Now, if only the cute kid factor wasn’t there …(less)
This is apparently part of a series about the Cynster family. Regency England, natch. I thought it was tremendously silly, and not necessarily in a go...moreThis is apparently part of a series about the Cynster family. Regency England, natch. I thought it was tremendously silly, and not necessarily in a good way. Maybe outrageous is a better adjective. It’s one of those books where the heroine does things that are just slightly risqué by modern standards, but by period standards, they would basically turn her into an outcast from society. Naturally, the only consequence she suffers is being married to the man she loves, which is really what she was angling for all along. OKAY!
Yeah, I wasn’t a fan. The writing is pretty solid for a romance novel, though, and the characterization doesn’t have any tremendous leaps. But the anachronism is so thick in it that I kept going, “Guh.” And we have established that I am not a big fan of anachronism, right? Pretty solidly, I’d imagine. The book also has plenty of romance stereotypes: impossibly beautiful hero and heroine, sex in seemingly all the garden conservatories of the haut ton – bleh. I mean, I’m glad that they’ve got a spark between them, but sometimes I feel that the physical side of love has started to overshadow the spiritual side of it in a lot of Regencies. I mean, there’s sex and there’s a plot that conspires to bring the hero and heroine into constant contact with each other so that they can have sex, but I don’t really feel them falling in love. In lust, sure. But love? I’m not certain.(less)
Western romance novel, set 1870 in Montana, outside of a stagecoach station named Springwater Station, hence the title.
The heroine is the widow Evange...moreWestern romance novel, set 1870 in Montana, outside of a stagecoach station named Springwater Station, hence the title.
The heroine is the widow Evangeline Keating, whose much older husband died of natural causes. She had to get out of town because her stepson, who is actually older than she is and inherited everything, started making untoward advances and he happens to be a toad, so there’s no way she’d marry him. It turns out that her dead husband had a cousin in Montana who was looking for a wife, so she becomes his mail-order bride. Just one snag: When she and her daughter Abigail arrive at Springwater Station, they’re expecting him to pick them up, but he’s hauling cattle to market down in Texas. So, who’s there to haul them to the ranch? Scully Wainwright, who just happens to be the handsomest man she’s ever seen. Of course, he’s also very honorable and could never engage in a relationship with his best friend’s fiancee. Drama ensues. Delightful drama filled with sexual tension as Evangeline and Scully must live together in a one-room cabin all winter. Maniacal laughter!
I love Linda Lael Miller’s western historicals. Yeah, they can be a little hokey, but it’s like eating vanilla pudding. I do love vanilla pudding; I just don’t mistake it for tiramisu.
My one complaint is that almost the entire book is spent denying their attraction to each other, so when everything works out in the end, the love scene feels a little tacked on. I almost would have preferred a fade to black, since everything up to that point had been a very gentle, restrained courtship, that sort of relishes in stolen touches, and then they get hitched and all of a sudden he’s going down on her. It was weird.
But! I did enjoy it, since it broke up the usual romance novel rhythm.(less)
The premise of this is a little weird. In the 18th century, this architect built a mansion in London, and it passed to his son’s wife and his grandson...moreThe premise of this is a little weird. In the 18th century, this architect built a mansion in London, and it passed to his son’s wife and his grandson when he died, except the grandson is the son’s wife nephew. (I think. It got confusing.) They hit hard times, and are forced to take in boarders/tenants into the mansion, which the ghost of the architect is pissed about. His one goal of the afterlife is to get all of the tenants out of his mansion, and maybe his grandson and daughter-in-law, too. They’re utter failures in his eyes, seeing as they’ve allowed interlopers into his precious mansion.
This is apparently the second book in the series, which doesn’t really show, since there’s so much exposition given. Parts of the story are told in first person by the architect-ghost, such as the prologue. The prologue’s OK, but the later sections in his voice I feel slow down the story. I didn’t really enjoy them.
The basic plot is that there are these sisters living in the mansion, and they have hit upon hard times. Their father and mother are both dead, and the house they had been living in had gone to a male cousin because of the way it was entailed. (That’s the end of the P&P similarities, though.) Sibyl is very calm and sweet and retiring but Meg … Meg is different. Meg practices “abstracted thinking”, which I gather is meditation/yoga, so she frequently falls into trances to avoid difficult situations.
Things are quite desperate financially for Meg and Sibyl Smiles, and when a “French” prince moves in on the street, so that his sister might snare a titled English lord during the London Season, Meg has two goals. 1) Become the companion (governess, sorta-kinda) of his sister, and 2) become the prince’s wife or, barring that, his mistress. Financial security will soon be hers!
The hero’s name is Jean-Marc, Count Etranger, and he is the illegitimate son of the king of a fictional country between France and Italy. So he is foreign and Mediterranean. Ooh, aah. And he also feels that England is his spiritual home, as his countrymen do not have the same English efficiency and practicality and blah blah. It was a bit nationalistic, really, and I kind of tuned it out. Rest assured that his accent is charming, but his English is flawless. His big problem is that his father has decided to make him the heir to the throne of Mont Nuages (the minuscule French/Italian country)
The first half of this book is a fairly normal and typical Regency romance, except for the whole meditation bit on the part of Meg. Then it gets weird. There’s this costume ball to introduce the prince’s sister to Society, which is weird, because how would you introduce someone to Society when she’s wearing a mask and everyone is supposed to be anonymous? Also, during the course of the night, the hero gets drunk and the heroine is sexually and physically assaulted by a masked man. (The hero’s drunkenness has nothing to do with the assault; it’s not through negligence on his part.) She enters the ballroom, where the hero is stretched out drunkenly on a sofa, for some reason, and the hero discovers the assault, scoops her up in his arms, and deposits her in his bed, where she’ll be safe. And then they have sex.
Wait, what? She was just sexually assaulted and less than an hour later she’s ready to have sex with anyone? Not cool, authorperson. Not cool.
It all culminates in a Three Stooges scene, where no fewer than five people have pistols drawn on each other in an inn room, and a guy throws himself out the window to his death rather than being shipped back to Mont Nuages for criminal charges. I like to think he did it because things were just getting too silly.
On top of all that, with the introduction of the costume ball, the book stops feeling like a Regency and starts feeling like a crack fest. There are really too many characters and the plot is cluttered. The book is about 150 pages too long. It’s 440 pages as is, and could have easily been about 350 with better writing and plot.
So, if you’re bound and determined to read it, read to about chapter 23 or 24 (page 275-ish), and then make up your own ending. Really. I like to think that Jean-Marc proposed to Meg, there were fireworks, her sister married his footman who was really a secret agent of the crown and a nobleman, and Jean-Marc and Meg became King Jean-Marc and Queen Margaret of Mont Nuages, while Sibyl and Viscount Verbeux bought the Smiles family home. Everything was sunshine and lollipops and wild copulating after dark. Maybe in the afternoon if the mood took them. They were happy, and the incredibly annoying architect-ghost fucked right off. THE END(less)
The good: An unusual setting for historical romance, namely the English Civil War, winter 1645 to spring/summer 1646. Thank goodness for me that every...moreThe good: An unusual setting for historical romance, namely the English Civil War, winter 1645 to spring/summer 1646. Thank goodness for me that everything I know about this era comes from Blackadder’s The Cavalier Years. This is novel, because historical romantic fiction tends not to be set in this era. So that’s cool.
The characterization is also good. Usually in romance, the hero and heroine go under this big metamorphosis when they realize they’re in love with each other. Like BAM! Fall in love and all of the sudden you’re a consummate lover, though you had at no point in your life before then been one. Or rather, the heroes do that. The heroines generally don’t change that much, though they might suddenly want to have a baby or stop being a hoyden and become a lady. But in this book, the two main characters do fall in love, but they still keep their characters intact without turning into great balls of treacly mush. That’s great!
The bad: There is one huge historical error in it. Like, the entire plot hinges upon it. Phoebe, the heroine, is the younger sister of the hero, Cato’s wife Diana. After Diana dies, Cato and Phoebe’s father arrange for a marriage between Cato and Phoebe. The only problem with that is that a marriage between a man and his deceased wife’s sister was emphatically illegal and socially frowned upon in the 17th century. A marriage of that nature was considered incestuous, basically. Sooooo, that’s a big goof on the part of the author, since that was illegal until 1907.
(And yes, whenever I was read Cato’s name, I thought about the Roman dudes.)
Also, Cato is 35 to Phoebe's 19. In addition to that, his 16-year-old daughter is Phoebe's best friend and his 21-year-old niece is her other best friend. It's kind of disturbing and squicky.
Once I got past all that and the fact that none of the women seem to wear support garments, I enjoyed the book a lot. Except for the witch finder subplot, which was just kind of weird, considering that the main plot was plenty exciting enough.
OK, so there were sections of the book that I enjoyed, and other parts that I had big problems with. But the enjoyable parts were enjoyable. Did I mention that it was enjoyable?(less)
Shelly's review here pretty much captures my opinion of the book. There were lots of features of it that I just didn't find believable. It was annoyin...moreShelly's review here pretty much captures my opinion of the book. There were lots of features of it that I just didn't find believable. It was annoying. Super annoying.
It was also published in 2000, but there was a real 1980s "bodice ripper" feel to it. Maybe it's because the hero ripped the heroine's clothing repeatedly while ravishing her. I don't know. That "taste" of the 1980s was really disappointing to me. I don't expect that in recently published romance novels.(less)
Dialogue is written in Scottish "dialect". Ach, nay! I canna tell ye how it pained me! I willna suggest it to anybody, as I found it verra annoying. I...moreDialogue is written in Scottish "dialect". Ach, nay! I canna tell ye how it pained me! I willna suggest it to anybody, as I found it verra annoying. I suspicion that it will be found pleasin' to those whose hearts trip a little faster around kilts, though I canna remember a single mon wearin' one.
Ach, aye! Toss it in yon bonnie bankes and yon bonnie braes! (less)
**spoiler alert** I found this book to be a great disappointment. The idea is so promising: Visions! Religion! The conflict between the Welsh and the...more**spoiler alert** I found this book to be a great disappointment. The idea is so promising: Visions! Religion! The conflict between the Welsh and the English and two people's struggle for identity! True love! All of that was sort of glossed over. Things happened, but I didn't really feel them happening. They happened because otherwise there wouldn't have been a plot.
I felt that the author missed a lot of opportunities to really explore a medieval world and conflicts that are not part of a modern world. What we really got was excessive violence and . . . some more violence! Also, the villains were all insane. I think insanity is a lazy way to write a villain, and it was just unbelievable that two people that crazy would come together in the same place at the same time.
On top of that, I found multiple historical errors. Minor things, but also things that a five minute Google search would clear up. Squashes in medieval Wales, via the Middle East? Uh, no.
All in all, it reminded me of a trashy sci-fi/fantasy novel, where there is massive, casual violence, or one of those "historical" novels from the '70s, where there is also massive, casual violence.(less)