Shadowheart

Shadowheart

3.5 28
by Laura Kinsale
     
 

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Elegant yet violent, breathtakingly handsome yet brutal, the assassin Allegreto has returned in this long-awaited sequel to Laura Kinsale's FOR MY LADY'S HEART.

14th-century Europe is a vicious place, awash with murky alliances and political maneuvering. As the bastard son of the Navona family, Allegreto seeks to claim his rightful place in the Italian principality

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Overview

Elegant yet violent, breathtakingly handsome yet brutal, the assassin Allegreto has returned in this long-awaited sequel to Laura Kinsale's FOR MY LADY'S HEART.

14th-century Europe is a vicious place, awash with murky alliances and political maneuvering. As the bastard son of the Navona family, Allegreto seeks to claim his rightful place in the Italian principality of his birth. When his standard tools of deception and murder prove unable to complete the task, Allegretto must take a bride--the lovely and innocent Lady Elena, the princess of Monteverde--by force. Soon it becomes clear that Fate has brought these two close--but it is a dangerous passion that binds them together.

As Allegreto and Elena journey to Italy, will they be safe from her jealous fiancé? Or from their own dangerous desires? Filled with rich, historical language and period detail, SHADOWHEART lays out a tale of intense passion and shifting power that will leave its readers breathless.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
This long-awaited follow-up to Kinsale's last book, For My Lady's Heart (1993), takes place in 14th-century Europe, where Allegreto-assassin, pirate, brute and bastard son of the Navona family-attempts to reclaim his birthright in the Italian principality of Monteverde. To this end, he captures Elena, the princess of Monteverde, and makes her his wife in a particularly violent sex scene ("She met him with a fierce reply, opening her mouth against his shoulder, a willing she-cat to his leopard, biting him as viciously as if she could draw blood"). As Allegreto and Elena journey to Italy to face Franco Pietro, Elena's former fianc and a rival of Allegreto's family, lust and affection spring between the two (in that order), but Elena's disdain for Allegreto's ability to murder without remorse gives rise to an abundance of romantic tension and some intense love scenes. Kinsale's characters speak in stilted phrases resembling Middle English, and she loads the book with historical detail, making it both realistic and ponderous. Those who have waited 11 years for Kinsale's return will lap up this romance, but others will be turned off by its length and its controlling, sometimes cruel, alpha male hero. Agent, Richard Curtis. (Apr.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
In Kinsale's latest, set in the late 14th century, Elayne is shocked to learn that she is the long-lost princess of Monteverde and must resign herself to marrying for political reasons. But when she is waylaid on her voyage to Italy and taken to Il Corvo, the home of the Raven, a handsome renegade assassin-turned-pirate who is determined to claim Monteverde as his own, Elayne not only ends up as a pawn in a deadly power game but also finds herself attracted to the very man who holds her captive. Noted for her well-developed, complex characters, richly descriptive historical detail, and emotionally involving stories, Kinsale has written a number of award-winning romances, many of which tested the limits of the genre in characters and plot as well as setting. Fans will be thrilled with this long-awaited release, which has links to For My Lady's Heart. Kinsale lives in Santa Fe, NM, and Dallas. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780425162323
Publisher:
Penguin Group (USA)
Publication date:
04/06/2004
Pages:
512
Product dimensions:
4.32(w) x 6.72(h) x 1.14(d)

Read an Excerpt

"Is it safe here?" Elayne asked, looking down the little beach in the last of the silvered light. Rosemary and citron trees grew along the base of the castle walls, and even palms, a strange sight against the dark background of snow-capped mountains.

He paused, holding a pair of robes he'd taken from his father's chest over his arm. "You are learning to ask," he said, with approval. He moved ahead without giving an answer to her question, barefooted still, a soft shadow in the dusk. They followed a faint path that wound between the water and the castle walls. As he passed by one of the citron trees, he yanked down three of the yellow fruits from a low-hanging branch and carried them in his palm.

The air was warm even as the sun set across the lake, but the water looked chill. Elayne carried a linen bag with soap of olive oil and herbs. She could smell the faint heavy scent of it, mingling with the rosemary, as familiar as Cara's coffer where she stored her Italian treasures.

Beyond the castle, a row of arches stood, black silhouettes against the day-glow. He led her along the ancient pillars that lined the shore. The lake seemed to be all around them now, at the farthest end of the peninsula. A faint white mist rose from the water ahead, a citron-scented haze that drifted through the trees.

There were steps carved into the rock. In the fading light she followed him down to a bathing grotto. Antique columns and marble tiles formed a spacious vault, the clear blue water reflecting and shimmering against pale stone. Wild rosemary bushes grew among blocks of stone and broken friezes. The trunk of a huge olive tree overhung the entrance, its twisted branches and silvery leaves shielding the grotto from the lake. Steam rose from the smooth surface, drifting and vanishing into the evening air.

The pirate dropped his burden onto the carved and fluted capstone of some ancient fallen column. Without hesitation he released his waist-belt and laid it out over the flat shelf edge, with the daggers' hilts turned toward the water. He pulled the loose volume of his doublet and cape over his head, tossing them aside, revealing vambrace guards of leather and metal strapped to his forearms, and another knife sheathed along the inner side. He turned his fist up and unbuckled the straps.

While she stood wide-eyed on the last step, he untied his hair and released his breechcloth. His back was to her as he stood for a moment, then lowered himself with a soft groan and a stiff move to sit naked on the edge, his bared arms and chest and loins awash with shadowy blue light -- flawless, each muscle and limb formed in perfect harmony, the skin of his back and shoulders smooth and unscarred under the black fall of his hair. He paused only an instant, watching the steam, and then slid into the water.

He went fully under in the purple depths, and then rose like some lost water god, sending waves and ripples to the walls as he shook back his head and swept his hands over his face and hair.

He caught the shelf with one hand, turning to her. His blackened eye gave his face a strange asymmetry in the failing light, as if half of a pagan mask had been painted upon his temple. He tilted back his head and opened his arms on the steamy water with a fierce sound of pleasure.

"Heaven," he said, with the vapor rising around him, his voice echoing in the vault. He looked toward her, unsmiling. "Come join me. This is as close as I will ever come to it."

Copyright � 2004 by Laura Kinsale.

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