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Romantic Suspense with Arthurian Twists
Fans of Mary Stewart's romantic suspense or her Merlin series should be pleased with Susanna Kearsley's newest novel, as it utilizes the best of both. Named of the Dragon blends modern-day romance with the mystery of Arthurian legend to create a suspenseful and entertaining story.
When London literary agent Lyn Ravenshaw is coerced into spending the Christmas holiday with Bridget Cooper -- one of her more eccentric and demanding writers and the author of a series of highly successful children's books -- she hopes the time away will be healing. For Lyn is still plagued with horrifying nightmares that have haunted her sleep for the past five years, ever since the death of her baby. Sweetening the deal for Lyn is the fact that James Swift, a big-name author who is currently represented by one of Lyn's biggest competitors, will be staying in the same rambling farmhouse. Rumor has it James is looking for a new agent and signing him on could mean a huge promotion for Lyn, who has long admired the man's work. The fact that Bridget is currently romancing James put the odds in Lyn's favor.
When she first arrives at the farmhouse, Lyn is both enchanted and intrigued by the building's history and those of the ruins nearby. And things with James seem to be going along quite well. But then the dreams start, different dreams this time that feature a strange woman and a little boy. The dreams take on a more puzzling flavor when Lyn meets Elen, a strange young widow who keeps muttering things about someone taking her son away. At first, Lyn assumes the woman is a little off, affected by her grief over her dead husband. But then certain things happen that make her wonder if there isn't some truth behind Elen's seemingly hysterical ravings.
As if things aren't complicated enough, Lyn also runs into Gareth Gwyn Morgan, a brooding and reclusive -- though highly acclaimed -- playwright who lives nearby. Gareth is immediately wary, assuming Lyn is only there to try to sign him up to her agency. When someone in Lyn's office issues a directive to do just that, things get really sticky. But simple survival soon takes preference over any business needs as Lyn delves deeper into the mystery of her dreams, the Arthurian legends they are tied to, and the role Elen's young son seems destined to play.
Kearsley clearly knows how to spin an enchanting tale and does a masterful job of bringing the past to bear on the present. The characters are just quirky enough to make them utterly fascinating and so realistically drawn that they seem to leap off the page. Kearsley's vivid depiction of the setting -- a small village along the quaintly picturesque coast of Wales, replete with castle ruins and odd inhabitants -- is as intriguing as any of the characters and serves to accentuate the mystery, magic, and well-masked mayhem. Named of the Dragon is a winner on all fronts.