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Something dark stirs within the peaceful walls of the prosperous city of Graywall, something only the mysterious vigilante known as The Shadow—a man torn between a sense of justice and the desire for revenge—can overcome. In reality the nobleman Sir Calan, The Shadow is sent to hunt down smugglers who have run rampant after the levying of a harsh tax by King Edward. When he learns of a plot against the just ruler of the city, Lord Shaufton, on his mission, he must enter a pseudo courtship with Shaufton’s daughter...
Something dark stirs within the peaceful walls of the prosperous city of Graywall, something only the mysterious vigilante known as The Shadow—a man torn between a sense of justice and the desire for revenge—can overcome. In reality the nobleman Sir Calan, The Shadow is sent to hunt down smugglers who have run rampant after the levying of a harsh tax by King Edward. When he learns of a plot against the just ruler of the city, Lord Shaufton, on his mission, he must enter a pseudo courtship with Shaufton’s daughter under his guise of Sir Calan, even as he wrestles with emotions stirred by the lovely Elsbeth, Lord Shaufton’s niece. Elsbeth may be the only person who can heal Calan’s troubled soul, but she has secrets of her own. Rife with deceit, greed, inner struggles, betrayal, and love, this page-turner will grip readers from the opening lines.
Posted August 21, 2013
Review by Kayla Shirley
I was hooked from page one with this novel. I honestly didn't want to put it down because I was transported so effortlessly back in time. The setting was done in a manner where I felt as though I could've walked outside and been wandering down the path towards a castle or getting ready to head to the May Day celebrations. The setting of the novel seemed more detailed than any other historical piece I've read - the wording threw me for a loop because, hello, I have no idea what a kirtle or surcoat is...(plus a million other words regarding clothing). LoL Of course, obviously, I'm no expert on the time period; However, you can see the effort that the author put into capturing the small details and specifics regarding the time period.
The characters are absolutely brilliant. Stunning. Elsbeth and Calan are completely and utterly well-rounded characters in my opinion. I felt their every emotion nearly coming off of the page. I was immediately drawn to Calan with his current charm and Elsbeth's fond memories of driving him bonkers when she was child. Then, you begin to get to know him more. I fell hard for him as lead male character. He ultimately housed the magical characteristics of the Knight who all women would love to come sweep them off their feet. He was valiantly trying to rid the kingdom of smugglers and evil-doers but was slowly losing his grasp on a positive life. He was being overcome with cynicism because he was forever-facing and dealing with the scum of society. It was hard for him to see any good left in the human race. Elsbeth was the complete opposite. She was constantly trying to do good for others, nearly forsaking the wealth that she had at her disposal while living with her uncle. My heart was desperately broken for her loss with regards to her mother and father. My heart received a horrible ping every time she traveled down memory lane, especially when she visited the remains of her family's castle. Her lack of self-worth simply because of her scars broke me. I felt horrible for her and angry and the men who she recalled coming to court her - only to disappear once seeing her scars.
Elsbeth brought light back into Calan's view of the world... while Calan brought self-worth back into the life of Elsbeth. Not to mention, FINALLY, a masculine character who doesn't smell like sandalwood, musk, or something of that regards. Cinnamon... ahh....I have a new respect for the fragrance of that wonderful spice. :)
The plot was spectacular! There wasn't a single, solitary, dull moment. Something was going on constantly and the mystery revolving around identifying the traitors within their midst keeps you glued to the pages. The only thing I have to admit is that I had already determined who that mystery traitor was well before Calan and Elsbeth. It was sort of like I knew the answer and wanted to scream it through the pages for all of them to hear.
Everyone except Calan saw the best or hoped for the best in everyone. There's a great point honestly. It's good to hope for the best in everyone but not good to put your blind trust in them even since you never know their true intentions. I loved when The Shadow and Elsbeth bantered back and forth over their viewpoints on the subject matter.
Overall, I was completely enamored with Shadows of Valor and didn't want it to end. I could've read more about the characters lives for several hundred more pages and been completely happy.
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Posted October 1, 2014
When I first read the summary for SHADOWS OF VALOR, I knew it was a story that I would more than likely enjoy. Park’s narrative deals with Elsbeth Rawley, orphan and ward to her kind uncle, Lord Shaufton. Elsbeth lost her parents to a tragic fire, leaving her with scars, both literally and figuratively. She has done her best to deal with both for ten years since their deaths. During this time, her life has been one of relative contentment with her cousin Genna, five years younger than herself, as her constant companion at Graywall.
Sir Calan Beaumont has always been in Elsbeth’s heart. Even when she was a young child, she idolized him. He was called away by the King of England to rise as one of the Sovereign’s most trusted knights. Elsbeth hasn’t seen him for the past ten years, not since he saved her from the tragic fire that claimed her parents. But now he is back for the tournament games at Graywall and to supposedly pursue Elsbeth’s cousin, Genna.
Then there’s The Shadow, a vigilante who takes matters into his own hands for king and country. Dark, mysterious, and ever present when needed, he soon enlists Elsbeth’s help to find out who is smuggling goods and wool in the surrounding area of Graywall, evading taxes to the king.
I’m not a lover of spoilers so I will try and keep my remaining comments informative, but not too revealing. I enjoyed SHADOWS OF VALOR. It is a cute, sweet romance, with some mystery and intrigue entwined.
Elsbeth is an engaging character that I was able to like easily. The evil characters were just dastardly enough that I truly wanted them to receive their just desserts. And the hero, Calan, was the epitome of a “knight in shining armor.”
SHADOWS OF VALOR is a pleasant, faith-promoting story that can be enjoyed by tweens, young adults, and adults alike. It kept my interest and, although it was predictable as to whom the villains were, it was enjoyable just taking the journey. There is a bit of sword-fighting and demise, and a few mild expletives, but is most definitely kept to a “PG” rating.
Two issues I had with the story were, one, the speech. Most of the time Park did a good job writing in such a way as to convey the time period of A.D. 1300. However, there were times where her writing was a bit anachronistic. Contracting words were distracting for me, as that is not how they spoke in medieval times, and could easily have been remedied by simply keeping the words separate. And her word usage, at times, had the same problem. Words like: referee, ajar, and suave, were not used in that day and age, and proved to be a bit jarring for me. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate that the speech wasn’t all strict medieval prose, as that can get boggish, but more could have been done to keep true to the time period.
And, two, I wish Park had kept The Shadow’s identity more of a mystery, rather than revealing his character so early on in the story. I think keeping Calan’s and The Shadow’s characters separate for the reader, until Elsbeth clued into the “cinnamon” factor, would have been so much more entertaining, making the reveal that much more dramatic for us. I was also surprised that Elsbeth didn’t recognize the scent of cinnamon sooner than she did, especially considering her shared intimate moments with The Shadow. It was mildly unbelievable since the scent was such a prominent draw for her.
However, despite my issues, I found SHADOWS OF VALOR to be a very entertaining read, one that I recommend without reservation.
Posted September 10, 2013
Known as The Shadow, Sir Calan Beaumont came to Graywall to find smugglers. He had to be very careful no one knew his other identity. While watching for smugglers, Calan heard a conversation about a kidnapping. His first thought was the nobles daughter, Genevieve. Sir Calan knew he must protect her at all costs. After approaching the castle, he found out his childhood friend Elsbeth was living there as well. Elsbeth was a friendly person who helped serve the village and castle. She was content with the knowledge she would never marry. Sir Calan sent her thoughts in the other direction though.
The story is a good one and you'll enjoy the mystery and intrigue this book offers. A little light on the romance, but that's okay. When it does have a romantic moment it's sweet and special. I recommend this book for everyone. You'll enjoy the refreshing approach Ms Park takes. For a debut novel, this one ranks right up there.
I found only one issue. It takes awhile to build up to the conflict and then ends quickly. Up to that point, it's a little slow in parts.
When all is said and done, I gave this one 5 out of 5 cheers. Great debut Elsie Park!! ~Copy of book provided by author in exchange for a fair review~
Posted September 3, 2013
Shadows of Valor by Elsie Park is a step back into a medieval England where a noblewoman’s outward scars hide an inner beauty and fire as a dark knight walks a fine line between upholding the law, revenge, and becoming what he most despises. It’s a delicate dance between light and darkness, subterfuge and revelation, and a flirtation that never wavers past squeaky clean.
But you knew the maiden and the Shadow were going to have a thing for each other, right?
Lady Elsbeth is the good maiden, serving as a midwife and caring more for the common people of Graywall than herself. Sir Calan returns to Graywall under the guise of courting Elsbeth’s cousin, but in reality he’s on a secret mission to hunt down smugglers and to stop a plot against Lord Shaufton. As his alter-ego the Shadow, Calan battles his own inner demons to find the good in humanity, a faith that’s unshakable in Elsbeth.
Like many hero in disguise tales, there’s mistaken identify, misdirection, conflicting codes of honor, and snappy banter between the would be lovers. Elsie’s meticulous research into medieval England is apparent in her details of period clothing, food, social graces, and music. To the modern ear, the novel’s language harkens to the more formal speech patterns of the past. While purists may spot a few rough patches, it doesn’t get in the way of the story.
Lovers of entertaining non-bodice-ripping medieval romances will find an easy afternoon escape into another world. When the dark knight has a thing for cinnamon, you know it’s gonna be good.
Posted August 21, 2013