Lord of the Keep

Virtual Desire

Virtual Heaven

Lord of the Mist by Ann Lawrence
(Lovespell, $5.99, PG-13) ISBN-0-505-52443-0
Cristina le Gros has become wet nurse to Durand de Marle’s daughter Felice, after the death of Felice’s mother, Marion. Durand has been absent from Ravenswood Castle serving King John, only returning upon word of his wife’s death.

Cristina and her merchant husband Simon have been at Ravenswood for only a few months, so she is quite interested in getting her first glimpse of the warrior lord she’s heard so much about. She’s surprised to find herself strongly attracted to Durand and to discover that attraction is reciprocated.

Cristina is determined to keep to her duties as wet nurse and stay as far away from Durand as possible, but her husband has other plans. Simon decides to use Cristina’s abilities as an herbalist to ingratiate himself with Durand and improve his position in the castle. That plan forces Cristina into Durand’s company more often and the attraction they have for one another becomes more and more difficult to fight.

Durand is determined not to succumb to his desire for Cristina. He still feels the pain of his late wife’s unfaithfulness and has told no one that the infant Felice could not possibly be his daughter. He will not love another man’s wife.

But things suddenly change when a bishop is murdered, a valuable book is stolen and King John calls for Simon’s arrest. Simon falsely accuses Cristina of being an accomplice and Durand is compelled to come to her aid - even if his actions are certain to infuriate the King.

Lord of the Mist is a fairly complex story and this brief synopsis doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface. It’s a tale filled with treachery, mystery and lust. There’s a lot in this book I liked, unfortunately I had to wade through two-thirds of the book to get to it.

There’s so much detail at the start of the book I often found my mind wandering and each time I put the book down, I had to force myself to pick it back up. Had I not been reviewing, I might not have bothered to finish it. Although when all the plot threads came together during the final third of the book, I couldn’t put it down.

The author does a remarkable job with the historical elements, although I’m the first to admit I’m no expert on medieval England before the signing of the Magna Carta. The historical detail is an integral part of the story and never feels merely tacked on.

Both Durand and Cristina are well-developed characters. Durand, in particular, is a larger than life hero who fits perfectly into his medieval world, even as he struggles with the questions of loyalty to his king versus love for Cristina and his family. While Cristina behaves within the strictures of her time throughout much of the book, her courageous actions at the end of the book assure the reader that they are a perfect match.

Lord of the Mist is a sequel to an earlier book, Lord of the Keep. Readers who enjoyed that book will enjoy seeing the hero, Gilles d’Argent once again. Although Lord of the Mist is a bit slow moving at the start, readers who relish a medieval romance with an abundance of historical detail may well appreciate Lord of the Mist.

--Karen Lynch

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