Top critical review
14 people found this helpful
Borderline - fair to just OK
on March 21, 2006
I felt that the plot of this novel, together with the characterizations, were all rather "been there, read that before". The forced marriage scenario; the tormented hero who refuses to believe he can be loved; the heroine who's warm & loving and will bring him back to life; the concerned family members & loveable little children thrown in for good measure...it was not fresh.
On the other hand, the author has a definite way with words, and there were a few revelations of self-knowledge in certain characters (as when the hero realizes that his foster brother is guiltily relieved that he wasn't chosen to be a Saracen hostage, as the hero was).
But I definitely felt that while the hero's pain & suffering over his past was believable, it was somewhat overdone. (Every second page, we learn about some new torment inflicted by the hero's family, or from his days as hostage -- after a while it was, like: enough, I get it, he's SUFFERED. I kept waiting for someone to announce his boyhood puppy had been drowned, too.)
The heroine's instant attraction to the hero, given that very past & his fearsome reputation, was a disappointment as it didn't ring true. Despite the excuse given that he was so kind to her little brother while they were King Henry's hostages.
The Scottish setting didn't add anything to the story, being merely a rather standard "Scots good, English bad" utilization. The (under) use of Henry II's court also added nothing. With such great historical background to build tension, you expect something exciting. But the plot never built to a rousing climax (no pun intended).
So while I can praise the book as a readable one, the plot and/or characters weren't especially inventive, fresh, or memorable. I can't really recommend it.