Wednesday, February 24, 2010

F is for Felber

Queen of Shadows: A Novel of Isabella, Wife of Edward II by Edith Felber

I absolutely loved this novel. Felber publishes romance novels and historical romances under the name Edith Layton, though I have never read any others of hers.

The following is the product descirption that I copied from Amazon. I know I wrote a review of this book for my library's staff reccomendations shelf, but it seems to have been misplaced.

In fourteenth-century England, beautiful Queen Isabella-humiliated by her weak, unfaithful husband-is emerging from the shadows to take her revenge. But her newly arrived, twenty-oneyear-old Welsh handmaiden, Gwenith de Percy, also seeks vengeance-against the English invaders who crushed her beloved Wales. Isabella's once-golden marriage is now her penance. Due to his rumored relations with men, Parliament forced Edward to share his throne-a demeaning arrangement that torments Isabella.
With the help of her secret, noble lover, Roger Mortimer-an enemy of her husband, imprisoned in the Tower of London-the queen plots to take control. Thrilled by this turn of events, Gwenith realizes that a king cannot afford to be weak-especially when his formidable, discontented queen seeks his power as her due.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

E is for Eleanor the Queen

Another review for Historical Novels Review for Eleanor the Queen by Norah Lofts.

Eleanor the Queen is a vivid account of the life of one of the world’s most famous queens, Eleanor of Aquitaine. Beautiful, freethinking, and strong-willed, Eleanor was not the typical woman of the 12th century. The novel is divided into four parts, each one focusing on a different period of Eleanor’s long life, beginning with the time when it was dangerous to be the unmarried heiress to the richest and largest provinces of France, Aquitaine and Poitou. Following her arranged marriage to King Louis VII of France, Eleanor embarks on crusade with Louis, and readers are immersed in the long, arduous journey of the Second Crusade. She exhibited bravery and strength, risking her life on the religious journey.

When her marriage to Louis VII ends in annulment, Henry Plantagenet asks for her hand in marriage. Their union produces two future kings of England, Richard the Lionheart and John Lackland. International bestselling author Norah Lofts does an excellent job of portraying the rivalries that exist between the sons and Henry II. Set in France, England, and the Holy Land, readers are transported to a world of intrigue, double dealings, and complex relationships. What is most revealing is the time that Eleanor spends in captivity in England. Lofts recreates the struggle that Eleanor goes through during her years of imprisonment and the feelings of being separated from her children, with little to do but think about the past and hope for the best for the future.

Eleanor the Queen was originally published in 1955, now reissued, and is a story filled with love, pain, betrayal, and politics of the 12th century. Lofts paints a rich portrait of the times, giving readers a compelling novel that should not be missed.

D is for Shannon Drake

Here is a review I wrote for Historical Novels Review for the novel Emerald Embrace by Shannon Drake.

Originally published in 1991, Drake’s tale set in Scotland in 1865, delivers a gothic feel and an element of suspense. When Lady Martise St. James learns that her friend, Mary, has suddenly died, she travels from America to Scotland to investigate her friend’s death. As soon as Martise arrives at Castle Creeghan in the Scottish Highlands, she is met with a sense of foreboding. The Lord of the castle and the late Mary’s husband, Bruce Creeghan, is a mysterious and attractive man, but there is something about him that Martise does not trust though she immediately feels the passion developing between them despite her better judgment. Martise’s goal is to uncover the mystery behind her friend’s death, retrieve a missing emerald that she knows must be hidden somewhere in the castle, and escape the clutches of the castle alive.
Though the pacing of the novel is fast and is packed with steamy love scenes, readers may get a sense of déjà vu because the dialogue between the two main characters is very repetitive. Drake does keep the reader guessing as to who is behind the mystery and deception at the castle, but the best quality of the book is the atmospheric descriptions of the castle and its surroundings.