Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Through a Dark Mist by Marsha Canham

This is the first of the Robin Hood trilogy - not that the book is about Robin Hood, but takes place loosely in the same timeframe as the myth and is loosely concerning people of the myth. Of the 3, this one is my favorite, and earned 5 stars from me. I left it with Vicky's niece in Mount Shasta, California, because she said she likes medieval romance. I hope she enjoys it as much as I did!

The heroine is Lady Servanne de Briscourt, a widow at the tender age of 18, being married off to another lord, Lucien Wardieu. She is waylaid in the forest on her way to Wardieu's castle by a man claiming to be Lucien Wardieu, also known as the Black Wolf. He says the man using his name is his bastard half-brother Etienne, who tried to kill him while they were on a Crusade. He managed to live, although horribly scarred for life, and is coming back to avenge his name.

Lady Servanne is a feisty, independent heroine, but she's no hoyden - in my opinion, she earns her reputation as a lady. She stands up for herself and for her people, but she is also intrigued by the Black Wolf. He has in mind having his way with her first, then sending her on to his brother, as part of the revenge. She wasn't a virgin anyway, although her first husband was elderly, so she wasn't exactly learned in the ways of love. But she also owns, as the Briscourt widow, a lot of valuable land, which is what Etienne seeks first and foremost.

There is another villain in the mix - a woman who was lover to both Lucien and Etienne, and bore Lucien's child 13 years ago. She is truly painted as completely without morals, bad bad bad in every way. She enjoys torture. She never had 1 moment of maternal instincts for her son. It was meant to be a swashbuckling adventure in which every character is over-the-top, but she managed to chew the scenery all the way through - personally, I like to see even villains have some measure of humanity.

Servanne does end up being a pawn in the power play between the 2 brothers, with some kingly things going on as well. Richard the Lion Hearted is away on crusade while his brother John plays regent, and also plays fast and loose with the local royal laws. However, the Black Wolf, after having ravished Servanne beyond thought, finds himself in love with her as well, which makes his adventure to save princes and princesses that much more complicated.

It's such a fun ride - you do need to be in a swash-buckling, bigger than life story mood, but if you are, then Ms Canham will take you up and down and around until your head spins.

5 stars

No comments: