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The Saxon's Daughter by Tara O'Dell
(Zebra, $4.99, R) ISBN 0-8217-6061-0
****
The Saxon's Daughter is a lusty tale of medieval romance that contains a bit more realism than most books in this genre. Although the plot is standard fare, the quality of the writing and the research raise the level of this romance.

When Norman warrior Jorbert de Brevriene conquered the Saxon hold of Oxbury, he didn't realize he'd also captured its mistress, Edeva Leowine. The daughter of a Saxon Lord, Edeva fought with her brothers for her home, only to be taken at the end of battle.

Unusally tall, Edeva was almost hanged with the rest of the fallen Saxon warriors until a guard noticed she was female. Now, Jorbert doesn't know what to do with this warrior woman who would like to kill him for taking her home.

Believing he will rape her if she doesn't comply with his wishes, Edeva agrees to take over the running of Oxbury. Jorbert insists that she spend her nights in his bed he's not entirely sure he can trust Edeva not to support her outlaw brothers in attempting to reclaim Oxbury. But Jorbert can't deny his attraction to Edeva and he wonders if he's insane to allow her to remain chaste in his bed.

I like the fact that this book doesn't pull any punches. Rape and brutality were part and parcel of conquest during these times and while Ms. Dell certainly doesn't flaunt or exploit these loathsome acts, she doesn't pretend they never happened.

I also appreciate that the conflict in this book is not just about whether or not Edeva will side with her brothers or the man she comes to love and respect. Edeva and Jorbert's future remains uncertain because of a few historically plausible reasons.

For those who like medieval romance, The Saxon's Daughter is a fine example of the genre. The hero and heroine are both likeable and lusty; the plot, which includes a number of interesting historical facts, is realistic. The combination makes this story an above average read.

--Judith Flavell


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