Heart of the Dragon

The Shielded Heart

Lady of the Keep by Sharon Schulze
(Harl. Historical #510, $4.99, PG) ISBN 0-373-29110-8
Lady of the Keep is the fifth installment of Sharon Schulzeís LíEau Clair Chronicles. While some of the book stands on its own, reading the previous books in the series will definitely enhance the readerís enjoyment.

It is the year 1215 and the death of Lord Brien FitzGerald has made the Irish fortress of Geraldís Keep vulnerable to attack. Sir Connor FitzClifford has been sent by his twin brother Rannulf, the overlord of the castle, to protect its inhabitants from the MacCarthy clan. The barbarous MacCarthys see Lord Brienís death as the perfect opportunity to take possession of Geraldís Keep.

Lady Moira FitzGerald has done everything in her power to protect her people. But the men in her life have, as usual, been more of a hindrance than a help. Sir Ivor díAthee, one of the late Lord Brienís knights and a powerful presence within the keep, feels one of her choices was directly responsible for her husbandís death. His increasing disdain is becoming more and more difficult to ignore. To make matters worse, her own brothers have sided with the savage MacCarthy clan and wish to use Moira as a pawn to seize Geraldís Keep.

When Connor arrives, he is immediately entranced by the lovely, but very pregnant, widow of Lord Brien. He vows to make Geraldís Keep once again safe. Moira is intrigued by the noble knight, but past experience makes it difficult to trust a manís word. Could Connor prove himself different?

Thereís a lot to like about Lady of the Keep -- the fast paced plot grabbed me from the start and the oh-so tender romance that developed between Connor and a heavily pregnant Moira (who remains pregnant throughout most of the book). Although, I had some difficulty with the characterizations, Connor in particular.

Connor seems the perfect romantic hero (goodness knows Iíd love having him around if I were pregnant!), but one with a profoundly troubled past that has shaped the man heís become. Unfortunately, I have no idea what actually happened in his past and that information seems vital to fully grasp his character. I continually re-read passages to filter out the clues that would help clarify his motivation.

Itís evident that the secret to Connorís traumatic past lies in the previous books of the LíEau Clair Chronicles. Those of you who have enjoyed them are in for a treat with Lady of the Keep. But if this is your introduction to the series, you may come away feeling as if a sizable chunk of the book is missing.

--Karen Lynch

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