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Crusader's Lady Kindle Edition
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In CRUSADER'S LADY, Lynna Banning makes an exciting entry into the world of medieval romance. Previously known for her western romances, Lynna Banning adds a freshness, giving readers a look at the lesser explored landscapes and alliances of the medieval world. Soraya's disguise provides the ground for several humorous and sexy scenes as her innocence and womanhood are awakened by Marc's body. Lynna Banning unmasks the disguises for the reader, but not for her characters, creating a suspenseful atmosphere as two characters missions overlap and diverge from one another. Outside Marc's small group, danger threatens from the outside, adding another layer of suspenseful action as Marc and Soraya travel across the landscape, a landscape of countries with their own allegiances and political aims. At each step, one slip could spell danger for the king or the members of their party.
CRUSADER'S LADY makes medieval history an integral part of the romance, bringing real historical events and persons into key moments of the romance's plot as well as the development of her characters. Lynna Banning's ability to synthesize history and imagination into the very heart of this romance makes CRUSADER'S LADY an exciting romance for medieval lovers. The exquisitely placed portrait of Eleanor of Aquitaine brings a whole layer of richness to this romance and the transformation of her characters as romance enters their hearts. Medieval history lovers will find a special delight in Lynna Banning for upping the level of historical detail to more than just a backdrop. The romance, the themes of disguise and unmasking, and the layers of suspense are an added bonus that just make this romance fun reading from cover to cover.
COURTESY OF BOOK ILLUMINATIONS
As soon as Soraya and "her uncle" sneak into the English camp, they encounter Marc de Valery, a war-weary Scottish knight and one of King Richard's confidants. Marc mistakes Soraya's "uncle" for an assassin and kills him. Soraya vows to avenge her "uncle"; she is also committed to completing her "uncle's" mission for Saladin, which means she must stay close to Marc because unknowingly he holds the message to warn Richard of his Austrian enemy.
Marc is summoned by Richard and is entrusted with transporting the sick king back to England. But they must travel in disguise because the king has too many enemies and no one must know he is on the road to England.
And so begins Marc, Soraya, and Richard's voyage from the Holy Land of 1192 back to England. They travels by ship to Cypress and Italy and then cross the wintry Alps to France.
All this time Marc has no idea that Soraya is a female. But a special bond is formed between them, one of trust and friendship. Marc lost his brother in the war and is deep in sorrow. Soraya's company helps him deal with his grief. The long middle of the book depicts the long voyage with the rowdy king. It is a story of knights camaraderie in a very interesting period in time, but unlike most medievals in which we encounter the hero when he returns home, this book takes us with the hero to the fighting in Jerusalem, Cypress, and so forth.
I was impressed by the extensive research done for this book. The entire period came to life for me and I enjoyed every moment. The romance takes a back seat to the voyage and the friendships of the men throughout most of the book. It didn't really matter to me because lots of historical romances these days just give the sexual tension with very little story. To categorize this book as a romance would do the book a disservice. It is absolutely wonderful. I wish the author didn't feel she had to compensate with lack of romance with the ending, which in my opinion dragged on when the story was all but done. Soraya's makeover scene, in which she discards her boy's clothes for woman's clothes and suddenly becomes a goddess was an unnecessary cliche the book could have done without. The long ending in Scotland with Marc's fiancee was also redundant and took a lot of the spark of the story. So that by the time I finished the book, I had lost the excitement I felt throughout 2/3 of it. Nevertheless, the book is great and I recommend it to readers who also enjoy historicals with less romance.
I know she has more great medievals from Harlequin coming, and I can't wait to pick them up. I'm glad Ms. Banning, who also writes historical westerns, is stepping into the Middle Ages!