Shadowheart

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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 ...

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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

From Barnes & Noble
Allegreto, the charismatic young assassin from For My Lady's Heart, takes center stage in this much-anticipated follow-up by New York Times–bestselling author Laura Kinsale. Known for her compelling, complicated characters, thrilling love stories, and rich historical background, Kinsale outdoes herself in Shadowheart. The dangerous and dashing Allegreto wants nothing more than to regain his rightful place in the rich Italian principality of Monteverde. Happily, the means to do so have just emerged -- in the form of the young Lady Elena (also known as Elayne), newly discovered to be the long-lost Monteverde princess and sole heir to the kingdom. Though she is promised to his rival, Allegreto seizes her ship, takes Elena prisoner, and weds her, thus beginning their battle of wits and passion. While Elena is a naïve young woman when the book begins, by journey's end she becomes Allegreto's equal and, sometimes, master, reuniting the kingdom in the process.
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: 9780425211663
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Publication date: 9/5/2006
  • Pages: 496
  • Product dimensions: 5.20 (w) x 7.90 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Laura Kinsale, a former geologist, is the bestselling author of The Shadow and the Star, Seize the Fire, The Prince of Midnight, Flowers from the Storm, My Sweet Folly, The Dream Hunter, For My Lady's Heart, and Shadowheart.

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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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Table of Contents

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 28 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(11)

4 Star

(7)

3 Star

(3)

2 Star

(0)

1 Star

(7)

Your Rating:

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 28 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 18, 2006

    Worth the wait.

    The assassin, Allegreto, first appeared in the novel 'For My Lady's Heart' and readers screamed for his story to be told. Finally, his story has arrived! ................ Elena's life had been simple, sweet, and shielded for as long as she could recall. When Sir Raymond de Claire went to his lord and asked for Elena's hand in marriage, the customary background check was done of her blood lines. That was the end of her innocence. The shocking truth was revealed. Unknown to most, including herself, she was Princess Elena Rosafina di Monteverde, the direct descendant from the ruling house of Monteverde. She was the granddaughter of Prince Ligurio and long since thought dead. The Lady Melanthe (from 'For My Lady's Heart') had hidden Elena, with the help of an assassin, from the sight of those who would see her dead. .............. The house of Riata ruled Monteverde for now. Knowing the people would embrace Elena as the true ruling house, she was charged to marry Franco Pietro which would combine the houses of Riata and Monteverde. Unhappy, but with no other choice, Elena set sail for Monteverde and her marriage. ............ Allegreto Navona, the illegitimate son of the cruel Gian Navona intercepted Elena's passage. She was taken to his island and was saved from being forced to wed the Riata. Instead, she would be forced to wed Allegreto of the Navona house. His marriage to Elena would seal his claim to rule Monteverde. Then he and his men, specially trained by him, would invade the city Monteverde and become the ruling lords. ........... Elena fell in love with Allegreto, but he was a man with many dark secrets. He claimed to have no heart, but pledged his life and service to Elena. Once in Monteverde, Elena must somehow return her people to the peaceful ways of her grandfather. But the houses of Riata and Navona caused unrest and some others plotted Elena's death, thus eliminating the last of her house. ............. ***** Author Laura Kinsale and her legendary ability to weave spell binding tales has come forward once again to offer readers the long awaited story of the mysterious assassin known as The Raven. The result is 'Shadow Heart' and it was worth the wait! .............. Elena's character is so realistic that readers can easily sympathize with her and feel the uncertainty that consumes the young princess and slowly changes her to become the strong leader the people so desperately need. As for the two house leaders who fight to claim Elena's hand, the reader is able to see and understand BOTH sides. The story, itself, flows smoother than silk with remarkable secondary characters that will claim the hearts of all. Highly recommended reading! This book will stand out from all others on your Keeper Shelf! *****

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 17, 2005

    Darkly Erotic, Deeply Disturbing Tale of Redemption!

    Seventeen years old, Elayne of Italian descent, lived in the forest of Savernake, in the fifth year of the reign of King Richard II. Elayne has gorgeous dark long hair with unusual violet-blue colored eyes¿ Raised by her sister, Cara, both who lived under the protection of Lady Melanthe Countess of Bowland, Elayne¿s Godmother. Elayne is a simple, happy Christian girl, who had a tendency towards spells and magic. This was a constant concern of her family. The devils work, people believed. Elayne, was a dreamer, who thought herself in love with Raymond de Clare a knight in Lord John of Lancaster¿s service. Little cat, that was Raymond¿s pet name for Elayne, he is an arrogantly handsome peacock. She has made a love charm to make Raymond fall madly in love with her, so she thinks. Elayne was waiting for Raymond to request her hand-in-marriage, but he later announces to be marrying another. Broken hearted, Elayne¿s Godmother Lady Melanthe, sends her on a pilgrimage to Rome, to become more polished and refined. She also finds out, that she is the last unmarried princess of Monteverde blood, and will be married at the end of her journey to her families sworn enemy, Franco Pietro from the house of Riata. Little did Elayne know, that this journey into darkness, would forever change her soul¿ Allegreto Della Navona, is an exiled illegitimate son from the house of Navona. His family was overthrown and cast out of Monteverde by Franco Pietro. Allegreto is now, so full of hatred and contempt, he will stop at nothing to usurp what he has lost, not even if it means selling his soul to the devil¿ Allegreto, has the ship Elayne is traveling on waylaid and brought to his private island fortress, high upon the cliffs. The first time Elayne sees Allegreto, she envisions her ideal dark angel on earth. What she finds out, is more like Lucifer made real, the lord of light fallen down to perfect darkness in the flesh. Elayne nicknames him, Raven, because of his long black hair, dark deadly eyes and a body of a harden killer. Allegreto displays of power and magic scare and enthralls Elayne. Allegreto, also has a nickname for Elayne, Hell-Cat. He sees her not as a sweet innocent soul, but an embodiment of sin and fire ready to unleash. The erotic obsession between Elayne and Allegreto throughout this book is dark and unholy. You will find yourself turning the pages unknowingly. Engrossed in this tale of dark sensuality and the poignant message of redemption, that is¿SHADOW HEART¿

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 27, 2005

    The book may get only 4 stars, but Kinsale gets 5!!

    I waited for Shadowheart for so many years, and basically counted the days to get it in my hands. The story started out great, but when it got to the S&M, I have to admit to feeling very uncomfortable, and just when I was contemplating setting it aside, finally Kinsale let me see into Allegretto's mind. Without the viewpoint change, I just might have let it go. My Sweet Folly was another Kinsale book that didn't sit well with me, but when I reread it (I have read each of her books at least 3x, except Shadowheart), that second time opened up a new perspective, and I finally found the beautiful imagery and characterization that sets Kinsale at the top of her profession. And I plan on rereading Shadowheart in the near future. The thing I love most about Kinsale, is her ability to create such deep characters. She gives them real-life situations and flaws that make the reader think, and at the same time, takes you to another time and place away from your own. If this is your first time ever reading a Kinsale book, and you didn't like it, go out and read one of her earlier books, and focus on how she weaves the storyline and characters into solid, realistic entities that will leave you feeling breathless and inspired.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 14, 2013

    Shadowpaw's bio {(UPDATE)}

    Name: Shadowheart<br>
    Mentour/Apprentise: none/none<br>
    Other: Oh, Lightningpaw, where ever did you go?

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 25, 2013

    Not your average romance!

    I found out about Laura Kinsale as an author when I googled past RITA award winners. I read For My Lady's Heart, where the character of Allegreto first appears. This book, Shadowheart, won the RITA award for best book. Since then I've read most of Kinsale's work. She stands out in the romance genre. Her books stay with you long after you've read the last page. Much has been said about the bdsm elements, but the scenes are tastefully done and highly emotional...also fairly tame by 50 Shades of Gray standards.

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  • Posted January 24, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    At the end of an earlier book, For My Lady's Heart, Allegreto da Navona rescues and delivers young Elena de Monteverde to her sister Cara in England and disappears.

    Now Elayne, 18, and in love, always relying on her dark angel to comfort her in bad moments, learns that she's a princess of the house of Monteverde, a kingdom of intrigue and power struggles. Against her will she is sent off to marry Franco Pietro, the current tyrant of the house of Riata. Pirates attack her ship (her bodyguard is peculiarly ineffective) and the pirate leader is none other than the dark angel - the brooding, mysterious, psychologically wounded-to-the-core, Allegreto. But Elena is the only one who can bring light into his life where he has known only treachery, humiliation, and betrayal all his life. Elena must help him overcome his deepest fear for his immortal soul (he's been cast out of the church for his sins) and of losing her after death. But Elena prevails; she rules Monteverde democratically, gets the two sworn enemies (Franco/Allegreto) to swear peace. Truly fearing the wrath of God, Allegreto confesses all his sins to the local priest, who forgives him! He can't quite believe it, but it's enough to enable him to marry Elena in church and rule happily ever after. This plot line may sound benign, but I found this story of the love struggles between the two protagonists to be the darkest, most difficult book of Kinsale's to read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 2, 2009

    good story

    story was very interesting

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 23, 2009

    Always Wonderful

    Laura Kinsale books are always wonderful. You can't go wrong!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 31, 2006

    A pain filled read

    I did not like this book at all, the s&m was horrible, how can you admire, or respect a man who enjoys that kind of pain? There is nothing sexy about it. The plot was disjointed and the story did not flow well. Elayne was not a believable character, one does not go from an innocent sheltered existence, to being a women who enjoys and participates in s&m. Dont waste your time.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 26, 2005

    Not Even Worth The Star...

    I would have to agree with the other reviewers who after reading this book I had to toss it...I was thoroughly disgusted with the book and author...I couldn't get into any of the characters. I thought that Allegreto had so much potential in For My Lady's Heart. The promise of his character was not ful-filled. If anything the 'deviant' sex scenes are just another sure sign that true romance writers are lost..all you have is 'trash' I wish I could demand my money back...for those of you who are giving this book rave reviews I think your appreciation is as low as this author's ability to write about romance..I guess your motto is when all else fails turn to smut it sells...

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 26, 2004

    Shadowheart

    OK, I'm a certified Laura Kinsale fan, ever since 'Midsummer Moon' came out (after which I hastily bought her only other title at the time, 'Hidden Heart'). Kinsale's stories always feature challenging, three-dimensional characters and her prose is top-notch. I've collected all her books--first edition paperbacks, hardbacks from Severn House, large print--but this stinker's going OUT. 'Shadowheart' features huge plot holes, a hero who is pathetic rather than enticing, and waaaayy too much (deviant) sex. I'm already looking forward to her next book--because it can only be an improvement.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 22, 2004

    Have to say I loved it...

    I was not sure I would like this book -- bought it in a used book store in case it wasn't a good investment. I had not liked the prequel to it, but recently read again one of my favorite books ever which is by this author, Dream Hunter, so I thought I'd give this one a chance. Allegreto reminded me in some ways of the guy from Dream Hunter. I love this because to me these books are more realistic than the light fluff romance novels normally are. Instead you see a type of love that is so strong it seems, and is sometimes, literally painful. Allegreto's love for Elena isn't just expressed through trite words, but in actions, in lowering his defenses, which for someone trained to be dangerous and expect danger to himself, is an ultimate act of love. You see how the characters think, and for me what they do does make sense in the setting they are in.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 24, 2004

    Unforgettable!!!!

    This is truly one of Kinsale's best books. She stays true to Allegreto's complex character. It is a dark, emotional, and sometimes disturbing story, but it is what one would expect, considering Allegreto's tormented past. I commend Kinsale on staying true to his story and not shying away from the darker aspects of his sexuality. Shadowheart is a story you will never forget.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 17, 2004

    Worth the long Wait

    Ms Kinsale has a unique talent in writing. The theme and the narrative are her specialty. One can hardly put down the book, looking to turn the page to see what's coming.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 25, 2004

    Well worth the long wait!

    The assassin, Allegreto, first appeared in the novel 'For My Lady's Heart' and readers screamed for his story to be told. Finally, his story has arrived! ....................... Elena's life had been simple, sweet, and shielded for as long as she could recall. When Sir Raymond de Claire went to his lord and asked for Elena's hand in marriage, the customary background check was done of her blood lines. That was the end of her innocence. The shocking truth was revealed. Unknown to most, including herself, she was Princess Elena Rosafina di Monteverde, the direct descendant from the ruling house of Monteverde. She was the granddaughter of Prince Ligurio and long since thought dead. The Lady Melanthe (from 'For My Lady's Heart') had hidden Elena, with the help of an assassin, from the sight of those who would see her dead. ........................ The house of Riata ruled Monteverde for now. Knowing the people would embrace Elena as the true ruling house, she was charged to marry Franco Pietro which would combine the houses of Riata and Monteverde. Unhappy, but with no other choice, Elena set sail for Monteverde and her marriage. .................... Allegreto Navona, the illegitimate son of the cruel Gian Navona intercepted Elena's passage. She was taken to his island and was saved from being forced to wed the Riata. Instead, she would be forced to wed Allegreto of the Navona house. His marriage to Elena would seal his claim to rule Monteverde. Then he and his men, specially trained by him, would invade the city Monteverde and become the ruling lords. ........................ Elena fell in love with Allegreto, but he was a man with many dark secrets. He claimed to have no heart, but pledged his life and service to Elena. Once in Monteverde, Elena must somehow return her people to the peaceful ways of her grandfather. But the houses of Riata and Navona caused unrest and some others plotted Elena's death, thus eliminating the last of her house. .......................... ***** Author Laura Kinsale and her legendary ability to weave spell binding tales has come forward once again to offer readers the long awaited story of the mysterious assassin known as The Raven. The result is 'Shadow Heart' and it was worth the wait! ........................ Elena's character is so realistic that readers can easily sympathize with her and feel the uncertainty that consumes the young princess and slowly changes her to become the strong leader the people so desperately need. As for the two house leaders who fight to claim Elena's hand, the reader is able to see and understand BOTH sides. The story, itself, flows smoother than silk with remarkable secondary characters that will claim the hearts of all. Highly recommended reading! This book will stand out from all others on your Keeper Shelf! *****

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 16, 2004

    Vanilla S & M

    I made it half way through this book before I tossed it. I rarely do that, but I simply could not stand wasting my time over an unbelievable plot that was a vehicle for page after page of descriptions of the 'heroine's' obsession with S & M. Frankly, I couldn't see why the 'hero' didn't tell her to go take a hike. I did and I'm glad. Don't waste your time on this truly bad book unless you like a lot of trashy sex scenes.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 5, 2004

    UGH

    Whoa, what a disgusting, disjointed book. Couldn't stand either character. I hate buying a book, then trying so hard to complete, I had to toss after 300 pages. I just couldn't finish. It is so black, so unpleasant, so disjointed. I have only read 4 LK books previous to this. The Shadow & the Star, My Sweet Folly, Uncertain Magic. All of which had good writing but fell off at the end. After reading so many reviews on books by this author, I thought I would give her another shot. I read Flowers from the Storm. Now there LK showed she could write a book. Excellent. Well, I give up, no more books by her. I just can't stomach another like this one. It's one thing to waste money, it's another to actually feel sick, not being able to shake the morbid feelings this book makes you feel. Ugh.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 1, 2004

    Shadowheart

    Huge plot holes, harrowing sex scenes (and so dang MANY of them!), a pathetic hero..gah! It's definitely Laura Kinsale's worst book ever--and I am a 17 year fan of hers. 'Regulars' will read it anyway out of loyalty , but people who have not read Kinsale before this should start with ANY book of hers but this.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 9, 2004

    Shadowheart

    The very reason others hate this book is the reason I adored it. I love that it outrages conventional wisdom of how romances should unfurl. I love to have my reader expectations confounded. I loved that I've never seen love portrayed like that - I loved the role reversal, the exploration of the power dynamic in the relationship... after this novel, I have no wish to return to the comfort zone of the standard formula; this took me somewhere I'd never been in a mass market paperback romance, and I liked the stretch. The word 'novel' has two meanings - a literary form, of course, and also 'unfamiliar.' This novel was both.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 25, 2004

    Shadowheart

    I think reducing the lead character, Allegreto, to the description 'assasin' does little to illume his motivations or describe this complex book. It would be better to think of him as 'Machiavellian' in the original sense of the word. When last we saw him, in For My Lady's Heart, he was off to seize the throne of a Renaissance city-state out from under the tushes of his dynastic rivals. Something must have deterred him in the 12 year interum, however, because as the story opens we find him outside his target kingdom, looking in - ensconsed on a Mediteranean island, gathering a fleet to launch an invasion of the kingdom. Because he is depicted somewhat as a large poisonous spider casting webs over the whole of the Middle Sea, it did not strain this reader's credulity too much that he manages to have delivered to him at his island lair the bride of his mortal rival to the throne of Monteverde - Elena. This 'remarkable woman' was born with a large red X on her back, born to be a casualty in the interminable political strife which has engulfed her principality since her grandfather's death. She was smuggled out of Monteverde as a child, and raised out of the way of the danger of poisoning, kidnapping, and assasination that the almost clan-like blood-feuding in her native land would have destined her for. Whoever she marries will have a strong claim to legitimacy as the ruler of Monteverde. There is moment, near the beginning of the novel, when she realizes that she is not a pawn in the geopolitical maneuveuring of the time, but rather the only queen surviving on the board. When she finds her power, both ascribed and achieved, she becomes the only human who could contain the malevolence of Allegreto. She doesn't just contain him, she subverts him, controls him and finally redeems him. All with the power of love, and a little dominance thrown in. I just loved this novel, but I realize that not every reader will open it expecting to have to invest something more of themselves and their attention than the average mass market paperback romance.

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