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Friday, May 09, 2008

Friday Flashback

From October 2002:

Moonlight and Shadow by Isolde Martyn. Historical romance.

I swear I'm learning a lot more of English history from historical romances than I ever did in school. What a concept---reading historical romances for history classes! Wonder what else you could teach that way? Science? Math? Pardon my fit of giggles while I contemplate a math romance.

Okay, I'm over it.

Moonlight and Shadow covered a period of history I've seen in other books, but not this close up. The hero was literally a 'power behind the throne'. Thankfully, Ms. Martyn gives us a cast of characters at the beginning of the book, because the political maneuvering in the middle got me a little confused, and I had to refer back to the cast of characters to straighten myself out. To anyone who's familiar with the rise to power of Richard III, I'm sure it would have all been crystal clear.

I liked how it blended a wealth of historical details with two very interesting characters. Heloise, with her prematurely gray hair and her premonitions, and Miles, with his ambition and scarred face.

I don't think I've read many romances with ambitious heroes who didn't give up their ambitions. The only one I can think of off-hand is All the Possibilities by Nora Roberts, the hero of which becomes President. Ambition often seems to be seen as a negative trait in romance novels, and it certainly can be negative, but not always. This is one of those times. Miles's ambition makes him seem very strong and attractive, and even though he's the power behind the throne, he doesn't deny that the ambition is for himself as well as for Buckingham. As for his smallpox scars, I mostly forgot about them, and I think Heloise did too.

I've read other books where the heroine, dressed as a man, fights the hero, but this book put a twist on it. Heloise didn't make a habit of doing this, but only disguised herself to save her family's honor. And I was really amazed that Miles was determined to apologize for it, instead of being angry.

I don't remember reading another book where neither the hero nor the heroine wanted to marry the other but were forced into it. Usually one or both of them doesn't really want to marry the other, but is willing to for practical reasons. It's definitely to Miles's credit that he doesn't really blame Heloise for it.

What happened to Dionysia in the end really shocked me. I'd expected something much different.

I always like when books surprise me, and take turns I didn't expect, and this book definitely did that. There's so much more about this book I could mention---if anyone else has read it yet, please do post--I'd like to chat about it with you.

Originally posted here.

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