By Queen’s Grace

The Conqueror

The Ideal Husband

Knave of Hearts

Once a Bride

 
At Her Service by Shari Anton
(Warner, $6.50, PG) ISBN 0-446-61465-3
****
While some readers avoid medieval romances, I enjoy reading about this rich time in history. Shari Anton’s At Her Service is set in this time period. Readers who like their historicals to be heavy on historical aspects may be disappointed in this book. However, while At Her Service is light on history, it’s heavy on romance.

Lady Joanna is a widow with a young daughter. Her husband ruled Lynwood Manor and his family with an iron fist. Now that he’s gone, Joanna sees an opportunity to make improvements and to become a beloved leader. Unfortunately, Lynwood has been targeted by thieves who are raiding the village, and Joanna lacks the number of soldiers needed to go after them. The villagers are needed to tend to the crops. When the latest raid results in injury to her daughter, Joanna sends the captain of the garrison to hire mercenary Logan Grimm to find and apprehend the thieves.

When Logan hears about the thieves, he sympathizes with the fact that children have been hurt. Then he learns that he would be working for a woman, something that makes him less willing to get involved. When the garrison captain offers him money to go to the village and simply speak to Lady Joanna, Logan agrees. He is recovering from a leg injury, and he decides it would give him more time to recover and earn money at the same time.

When Logan meets Joanna, everything changes. He still plans to refuse the job, but he finds himself unwillingly attracted to Joanna. He is also intrigued by the mystery in spite of himself, so he allows himself to be goaded into accepting.

Joanna and Logan’s conflicts are familiar. Joanna’s husband was a tyrant, and she plans never to marry again. Logan was betrayed by a woman he worked for and thus doesn’t trust women in general: “Celeste had drawn him into her web with heady enticements of wealth and love, and he’d nearly paid for his lack of foresight with his life.”

While these may be standard conflicts, At Her Service tells a satisfying story about two characters who learn to trust again. The conflict feels real, and I sympathize with both Logan and Joanna. Logan’s growing affection for Joanna’s daughter is particularly sweet.

Logan’s search for the thieves is an interesting subplot, and it’s handled quite well. Readers learn early in the book who is behind the attacks, though it takes more time for Joanna and Logan to discover the answers. I appreciated the fact that this part of the plot doesn’t overwhelm the romance, nor does Joanna run recklessly into danger.

If you’re looking for a leisurely story to help you fill an afternoon, At Her Service is a great choice. It may not be a gripping read, but it’s still an enjoyable one.

--Alyssa Hurzeler


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