Thursday, December 12, 2013

Shadows of Valor

Ah, a historical romance set in medieval England. Sigh. I love to flip back and forth between historical and contemporary romance books. It makes both genres that much more enjoyable when you break them up occasionally.

Shadows of Valor by Elsie Park seems to be her debut novel, at least Amazon doesn't list any other books on her author page. If I'm wrong, feel free to correct me.

Ms. Park takes us back in time to merry old England and into the life of Elspeth a young woman who's written herself off as eligible marriage material due to the scars she secured as a child attempting to rescue her parents from their burning home. She doubts her self worth, despite being a 'strong' woman as she serves the community as an herbalist and midwife from her uncle's estate. She's carried a torch for Sir Calan most of her life, but has rarely seen him since he rescued her from the fire. When he reappears courting her beautiful cousin, it seems love is not to be. But then, this wouldn't be much a romance.

Thank goodness for the Shadow!

Storyline wise, you can see many things coming from a ways off, but that doesn't take away from the charm of the story or the lip biting that ensues as you journey to those plot points ahead. We have villains ugly and beautiful, knights, tournaments and songs.

The songs are impressive, especially as they are all original (if I read the back of the book right) and there's even music for one of them at the end! A writer who is also a songwriter and musician is my kind of girl!  I'd love it if she added the music for all three songs in subsequent editions. (I think there were 3.)

We get the flavor of the setting and clothes from the great descriptions that aren't bogged down in history. In fact, Ms. Park manages to explain to us future folk some of the items we aren't familiar with in present day without pulling us out of the story or wondering if we should pause to go look it up on Wikipedia.

A story well told. I'll be looking forward to her next one.

Do you have a good historical romance to recommend?

Through the muddy, mired streets of medieval England, The Shadow is a man shrouded by legend and fear. He is the enforcer of justice for King Edward, a man who has set an unreasonably high export tax to the point that smuggling now taints his kingdom.

The Shadow, who is really a simple man known as Sir Calan, is tasked with capturing the smugglers. Although talented and just, Sir Calan struggles to keep justice from becoming ruthless revenge and wars within himself to keep his actions in check.

While journeying to Graywall, Sir Calan learns of a deadly plot against Lord Shaufton. In an effort to unveil the evil that lurks behind the city’s walls, The Shadow takes on his original guise as Sir Calan and enters a pseudo courtship with Lord Shaufton’s daughter.

However, it isn’t Lord Shaufton’s daughter who stirs Sir Calan’s buried emotions, but Elsbeth, Lord Shaufton’s niece. Elsbeth seems to be the only one who can heal Sir Calan’s troubled soul, but she has a story of her own.

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