Author: Anne Stuart
Published: 1997, Zebra
Category: Historical Romance
My first Anne Stuart! I have been wanting to read her for a while now, and got this one because it was on Cindy's (Anne Stuart's
top 20 list. OMG!! Thanks, Cindy! Because I loved this book soooo much. I have been in a little reading slump lately. I read all these romances, and so many are just so average, or fine, or meh. I get frustrated and think, why am I so hooked on this genre when it's all crap? Then I read a book like this (well-written, funny, smart, deliciously romantic) and it restores my faith. And the world makes sense again. :)
The setting is medieval England. Alys and Claire are two illegimate half-sisters of Richard the Fair, a high ranked Englishman only a few steps removed from the throne. Claire is the younger beauty, Alys is older, plainer, and smarter. Richard has brought the sisters from the convent where they have been living because he plans to marry one of them off to Simon of Navarre. Simon is believed by most people to be an evil magician. In fact, he is simply an herbalist/healer who has cultivated this fear people have of him to give himself power over them. He chooses to wed Alys, intrigued by her intelligence. Alys is afraid of Simon, but she is determined to marry him, first to save Claire from him, and then because she finds herself strangely drawn to him.
Stuart is known and loved for her dark, dark, brooding heroes. I, myself, do not usually get the dark hero thing. I like my men nice. But Simon is a f*ing fantastic character! He is jaded and thinks that humanity is a pathetic lot. He may not think he has a conscience anymore, but we, and Alys, see that there is still good in him. Alys is great too. She's so smart, but never pushy or annoying. She's such a curious mixture of brave and scared, which is very endearing. And Richard is such a disgustingly awful, wonderful villain!
Definitely going on the keeper shelf! I finished it and immediately started flipping back to reread parts I especially liked. My favorite scenes: the one on the battlements, in the rain. Uh, yeah! And when Alys is in the prison/carriage thingie and Simon creeps up in the night. *SWOON!!*
So I need more Stuart recs!! Give 'em to me, peepz. I was at the bookstore today and wanted to buy one, but they only had Cold as Ice and I want another historical. Are any of her historicals even in print still? Mailyn, which is the one you like best? Rose... something?